The Gold Rush. The Summer of Love. Silicon Valley. San
Francisco has many nicknames. She’s like a chameleon
who changes every year. It’s a city unlike any other in the
United States. Working long hours at my restaurant Candelnut
makes me yearn to travel. I jump at any given chance to take
both long or short trips to recharge and gain new inspirations
for my dishes. Last July, I spent two weeks spent in San Francisco,
which was just what I needed for my mind, body and soul
Conquering Yosemite Valley
I had the crazy idea to spend a couple of days in Yosemite during
summer. I wanted to witness the full beauty of Mother Nature so my
plan was to hike up to Nevada Falls and Bridalvail Falls, as well as Mirror Lake; I have heard plenty of lovely stories from friends who
went to the latter
During my hike to Nevada Falls, adorable squirrels were out in full force, even though they seemed more interested in the backpackers who were trying to keep their food safe. They made hiking up the stairs to reach the the top of Nevada Fall less painful. Being at the top, sitting on the warm granite and feeling the cool sprays of water from the fall takes your mind off stress and problems.
Mirror Lake, on the other hand, was not as impressive as the sandy beaches and views of the granite walls above, but it was interesting to learn about its history and why visitors were once charged for admission. I spotted a group of teenagers tubing on the lake. Tip: remember to bring a tube and join in the fun.
Bridalveil Falls was the highlight of my days in Yosemite Valley. Not only is it the most accessible waterfall (you’ll see it when you enter Yosemite Valley), it is also, in my opinion, the most beautiful waterfall you’ll ever see. Plunging at 189 meters, the Bridalveil Fall has a light and swaying flow; when the sunlight hits you’ll be surrounded by an ethereal mist. The most exciting part of my hike was when I came face to face with a grizzly bear. It was just a few meters away from me but it merely gave me a look through and went about its merry way. Now, this is an experience to speak about
Eating through the Golden City When it comes to dining, you have to try SingleThread Farm Restaurant. It offers three 11-course, kaiseki-style menus daily. Each showcases the current moment in nature and uses produce that is at its absolute peak, as determined by chef Katina Connaughton’s Japanese belief that there are 72 microseasons throughout the year, rather than simply spring, summer, autumn and winter. The ingredients come from her five-acre plot in the nearby San Lorenzo vineyards and the rooftop garden atop the restaurant, while meat and seafood are sourced locally.
The wine list features a great
selection of global wines and Japanese sakes, but its catalogue
of rare Californian vinos is the standout. If you can, stay at one
of SingleThread’s five guest rooms – hosting guests overnight
according the principles of omotenashi, the Japanese style of
hospitality which anticipates a guest’s every need, has always been
an integral part of the concept. There are cosy touches in the rooms,
including a fireplace, heated bathroom floors, a huge soaking tub
and a Japanese toilet. There’s a space-age-silver Ratio coffee maker
and Teforia tea maker (the latter scans your choice of tea pod
and sets the water temperature and steeping time automatically); treats in the complimentary snack bar include pressed juices and
homemade ice creams in flavours like rhubarb, and lavender and
Another interesting stop is Lazy Bear, an underground supper
stop. You sit where you’re told, eat what’s placed in front of you,
and make polite conversation with strangers throughout the meal.
Each course seems familiar. (There is just one menu a night.) Chefowner David Barzelay can’t get too adventurous, but each dish has
unexpected elements that will make diners sit up and take notice.
The crisply seared scallop is flanked by bright yellow sunflower
petals, a hint of persimmon, brown butter and crisp sunchoke chips.
Try the matsutake soup, an intense mushroom broth infused with
Douglas fir that tastes the way a fresh-cut tree smells.
From Rush Creek Lodge I headed to Big Sur, a very worthy road
trip destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. The rugged
stretch of coastline offers stunning beaches and mountains and also
some really great restaurants. Take Highway 1; despite the longer
travelling time, the views of the Pacific Ocean, rocky bluffs, sandy
beaches, towering redwoods, and vibrant green hills are worth the
extra time spent on the road.
Make a pit stop at Pebble Beach for the nearby Spyglass Hill Golf Course. There are picturesque views as well, all of which you can see on this scenic drive. Stop at Fanshell Overlook to view a white sand beach where harbour seals are. The Cypress Point Lookout offers one of the most dramatic views of the coast in the entire state. Check out The Lone Cypress, which has stood alone, clinging to its granite pedestal for over 250 years.
Don’t miss the Natural Bridges State Beach.
It’s famous for the natural arch in the huge rock
located right off of the shoreline. This stop is a
must-do as it’s the only one of the three original
arches that remains and is in danger of collapsing
due to erosion. If you don’t see it now, you might
not see it ever. Keep an eye out for migrating
gray whales, monarch butterflies, and sea otters.
There are also tide pools where you might be
able to spot hermit crabs, urchins, and sea stars.