Sea Ranch, CA — For those in the Bay Area longing for a serene staycation, look no further than the newly refurbished Sea Ranch Lodge.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Sonoma Coast just 100 miles north of San Francisco, this 53-acre property is the perfect place to unplug, unwind, unravel and thoroughly revel in the beauty of nature.
That’s just what I experienced when I was invited as a guest overnight recently.
The look of the property is all Scandinavian chic, punctuated by clean lines and exteriors the calming color of driftwood.
Pomo Native Americans once gathered kelp and shells from the shores. Early settlers established sheep ranching in the 1800s, which is reflected in the eye-catching ram logo of the property.
In 1964, a master plan was forged for the community that would preserve its natural beauty while allowing for the construction of 2,200 homes. Walk the trail above the beach and you’ll spot markers with more information about the community, including how the homes were built around a central meadow so that each one is afforded an unobstructed view. Some of the houses still sport the original Scandinavian-inspired sod roofs, too, with native grasses sprouting from them.
Sea Ranch Lodge, built in 1968, is one of the oldest buildings, which originally served as a community hub with post office, general store, and later a hotel.
Ashland, OR. — Stanford grads Kathy and Tim O’Leary were looking for a second home that would allow them to take a break from their hectic lives in Palo Alto where she was an engineer and he was an attorney.
They started scouting around in a circumference of a 2-hour’s drive away in California before ultimately settling on a spot nearly 8 hours away in Oregon.
That’s why their Ashland winery was dubbed Long Walk Vineyard. Or so the story goes. You can understand why they extended their search so far north, though, once you gaze upon this this 50-acre historic orchard on a hill that they purchased in 2000.
That’s what I found when I visited the beautiful property a couple weeks ago, where unlike most wineries in this region, Pinot Noir is not king, but Rhone varietals are.
There are recipes in this book to be sure. But more than that, there are stories that will touch and stay with you long after you set its spine down.
“Recipe for Disaster” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy, is by Alison Riley. It is the first book by this Brooklyn-based writer and creative director, and founder of the paper and text studio, Set Editions.
It’s a unique collection of 40 essays and recipes highlighting how good food provides sustenance in so many ways through so many trying times. Riley has assembled an impressive roster of big-name contributors who share strikingly personal stories about how food has soothed and assuaged during some of the worst moments in life.
Comedian Sarah Silverman writes about how chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies known as pinwheels were the only thing that comforted her when she first experienced long-term depression at age 13. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse reveals how the throes of the pandemic made her appreciate all the more the beauty of a fresh salad made with the produce grown by her local farms.
Actor-comedian Bowen Yang admits that as a child he didn’t care for his mom’s cooking, but now appreciates it so much that her version of ma po tofu is the first thing he wants when he goes home to Colorado. And in one of the most stirring accounts, broadcast journalist Alex Wagner explains how her simple, hastily made canned-tuna sandwich that she toted to work would turn out to be the only thing to offer any sense of normalcy on Sept. 11, 2001.
Wine in cans is sure having a moment. And these from Djuce are as dramatic as they get.
Founded in Stockholm, Sweden, this sustainable-wine company just expanded into the United States in Los Angeles and San Diego, and soon to arrive in San Francisco. The cans are decorated with striking, contemporary artwork from artists around the world, and filled with wine from European producers.
Cans were chosen not only because they are lighter and easier to transport, but according to the company, also because they are 28 percent more efficient to recycle and their use cuts CO2 emissions by 79 percent compared to glass.
Currently, Djuce offers 11 wines from seven regions in Europe, all sustainably farmed, certified organic, vegan, and low in sulfites.
I had a chance to sample three of them. Each can is 250ml or roughly 1 cup, which makes for a generous portion for one person or a modest pour for two people to share.
Lahaina, Maui, HI — If you’re lucky enough to be on Maui from now through Saturday, you can enjoy the inventive dish that landed Assistant Executive Chef McKenna Shea of Pacifico On The Beach victory on the Food Network’s “Chopped” last month.
For the past month, the inviting beachfront restaurant has featured that special abalone salad that helped her trounce three other chefs and score the $10,000 prize.
Admittedly, she was initially befuddled upon opening up the mystery basket to discover abalone and ube cheesecake. Who wouldn’t be, right?
Not only that, she had never worked with abalone before. But harnessing the skills she’d learned from her mentor, Pacifico’s Executive Chef Isaac Bancaco, she set to work.
Visiting Maui last month, I had a chance to dine at Pacifico, a 28-year-old restaurant that Bancaco was hired to revamp a year ago. Don’t be surprised if some of the fresh catch of the day was actually caught by Bancaco, who’s an avid fisherman, too.