Category Archives: Great Finds

Experiencing The Inn At Newport Ranch

A picnic-like dinner delivered to my room at the Inn at Newport Ranch.
A picnic-like dinner delivered to my room at the Inn at Newport Ranch.

Fort Bragg, CA — Will Jackson, a retired Wall Street investment manager on the East Coast, had never set foot on this rugged and picturesque Mendocino coast before. Even so, when he spied a for-sale ad in the Wall Street Journal in 1985 for an 850-acre cattle ranch here with more than a mile of oceanfront land, he grew intrigued.

So much so that he called a friend who lived in the area and asked him to go investigate. The friend’s verdict? That Jackson ought to high-tail it out this way to snap it up.

He did just that, falling in love at first sight. In 1986, Jackson took over the property, which back then had only a small B&B.

In 2016, he officially opened The Inn at Newport Ranch, an intimate luxury inn that boasts 10 distinct accommodations, plus a gourmet restaurant that’s open only to guests.

Over the years, he’s expanded the property to more than 2,200 sweeping acres. I had a chance to explore this secluded property recently when I was invited to stay as a guest of the inn.

The inn.
The inn.
A sitting area inside the main building.
A sitting area inside the main building.
The more formal private dining room.
The more formal private dining room.

About a 3 1/2-hour drive north of San Francisco, the last mile or so on Highway 1 will take you on winding turns surrounded by breathtaking, old-growth redwoods. The oft-present foggy mist will eventually reveal the California ranch-style inn built next to a majestic cypress tree that’s more than 130 years old.

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Michelin-Acclaimed Vancouver Eats, Part II: Pidgin

The incredible foie gras rice bowl at Pidgin.
The incredible foie gras rice bowl at Pidgin.

Vancouver, CANADA — Should I admit that I ended up booking a reservation at Pidgin solely because of one dish that I spotted on the menu?

That dish is pictured above in all its majesty: foie gras rice bowl with unagi glaze.

And I’m here to report that it was epic.

You see, my husband and I, unfortunately live in a state in the United States that has for years has banned restaurants from serving and selling foie gras. So, when we were planning a trip to the Great White North, the first thing my husband uttered was “I’m eating some foie gras!” And did he ever. Not just here, but at our hotel restaurant, the Alouette Bistro, where he chowed down on a bountiful burger with a small lobe of seared fatty duck liver on the side.

The bar at Pidgin.
The bar at Pidgin.
Michelin fun.
Michelin fun.

Foie gras is not the only thing to celebrate about Pidgin, which, after all, is Michelin Guide-recommended.

There’s so much more to relish at Chef Wesley Young’s restaurant, where the food is bold and at times irreverent.

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Michelin-Acclaimed Vancouver Eats, Part I: Published on Main

Fragrant, Thai-style squid at Published on Main.
Fragrant, Thai-style squid at Published on Main.

Vancouver, CANADA — The Michelin Guide is a newcomer to this city, having debuted its first dining guide only in 2022. Among the first eight restaurants to garner a Michelin star for the first time in is Published on Main, which has continued to maintain that achievement.

Serving elegant, contemporary Canadian cuisine with global influences and an emphasis on sustainability, it was opened in December 2019 by Executive Chef Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandon, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, who worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in Germany and spent a summer working at restaurant Noma in Copenhagen.

It’s located in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood that’s plenty pleasant, indeed, with an abundance of parks, gastropubs, bakeries, and restaurants.

The restaurant, done up in white, gray, and black, sports bar-height chairs throughout the dining room that are quite comfortable, too, with built-in bars to rest your feet.

The real Michelin star plaque hangs on a different wall, but this whimsical one can be found on a shelf above the bar.
The real Michelin star plaque hangs on a different wall, but this whimsical one can be found on a shelf above the bar.
The dining room.
The dining room.

Choose either a tasting menu or a la carte dishes that are easily shareable. The latter is what my husband and I chose. With a favorable exchange rate, we ate like kings, too (and queens).

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Spoon Up Sensational Shells with Miso Butter and Scallions

An easy pasta recipe that's ever so creamy -- yet has no cream in it.
An easy pasta recipe that’s ever so creamy — yet has no cream in it.

Not that I need any excuse ever to eat more pasta, but “Anything’s Pastable” sure has me jonesing for it voraciously.

That’s because the new cookbook (William Morrow), of which I received a review copy, is full of creative and craveable pasta dishes, the kind that don’t take all day to put together but are so full of flavor that you’d swear that they did.

The book is by Dan Pashman, a two-time James Beard and Webby Award-winning creator and host of “The Sporkful” podcast, and the host of the Cooking Channel’s “You’re Eating It Wrong.”

This is a man so obsessed with pasta that he actually spent three years to create a brand-new shape, cascatelli, which he swears excels in the most crucial aspects of “forkability,” “sauceability,” and “toothsinkability.”

Named for the Italian word for “waterfalls,” its initial run of 3,700 boxes sold out in less than 2 hours. Not only that, it was named one of the “Best Inventions of 2021” by Time magazine. It’s now a runaway hit, sold online and at retailers that include Whole Foods.

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Dining at the New Sushi Roku

A5 Japanese Wagyu on a hot stone comes sizzling to your table at Sushi Roku.
A5 Japanese Wagyu on a hot stone comes sizzling to your table at Sushi Roku.

Sushi Roku, the contemporary upscale sushi restaurant that’s been a sensation in Southern California since its founding in 1997, finally opened its first Northern California outpost late last month in Palo Alto’s Stanford Shopping Center.

Not far from California Pizza Kitchen on the Sand Hill Road side of the mall, the new restaurant comes complete with a nicely appointed outdoor dining patio. Sushi Roku is part of the Innovative Dining Group, which now boasts five different restaurant concepts in 13 locales.

By all indications, even in a well-heeled city such as Palo Alto, which has no shortage of premium sushi places including Nobu downtown, Peninsula patrons are eager to get in the door.

Two weeks ago, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant even before its official grand opening, people were walking up to the host stand, clamoring to snag a seat at the sushi bar, despite it being full and the wait lengthy.

Outdoor seating at Sushi Roku at the Stanford Shopping Center.
Outdoor seating at Sushi Roku at the Stanford Shopping Center.
The sushi bar.
The sushi bar.

Despite the name, Sushi Roku offers up a whole lot more than just sushi, too. And everything is easily shareable.

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