Travels

San Francisco Highlights

Maxence, Milan and I have recently returned from a positively idyllic, two-week stay in San Francisco, for which we swapped apartments with our friends Heidi and Wayne.

We had a blissfully relaxing, inspiring, and delicious vacation. It was crazy good to be back, catch up with friends and family, and meet some of you lovely readers at my Omnivore Books signing. And now that I am starting to crawl out from under the pile of work that awaited me on my return (not that I’m complaining), I would like to revisit some of our favorite eats and share them with you if you’re game.

Smitten ice cream

~ Thriving on a diet of (almost) one ice cream a day — mostly from Bi-Rite Creamery on Divisadero (outstanding walnut maple banana ice cream sandwiches); but also from Smitten in Haighs Valley, where the ice cream is freshly mixed and churned in liquid nitrogen before your very eyes (pictured above: TCHO chocolate, and maple brown sugar squash); and, on a slightly less refined, but no less enjoyable level, from Easy Breezy in Noe Valley, where the organic frozen yogurt and toppings are self-serve (dangerous!) and you pay by the weight.

Kale salad

~ Eating kale of all kinds practically every day, and especially loving the red kale salad I made a couple of times with avocado, cilantro, and pomegranate seeds (pictured above).

~ Sampling the best carnitas burrito ever from La Taqueria, thanks to a recommendation from my friend Emily (who is also, unrelatedly, my lovely Pilates instructor in Paris).

Morning bun

~ Starting the day with the buttery, cinnamon-y morning bun from Tartine.

Continue reading »

U Salognu: A Sunny Place in Corsica

During our recent trip to Corsica, we chanced upon U Salognu — “the sunny place,” in Corsican — as we do many of our happiest discoveries: by following a roadside sign.

“Traditional Corsican cuisine,” the sign promised from a grassy shoulder off the road that leads from Cargese to Piana. We hadn’t had lunch yet, the hour was creeping dangerously into mid-afternoon territory, and we pulled over hopefully.

It was an old sheep pen made of stone, like there are thousands of abandoned ones across the island, but this one had been restored and turned into a tiny restaurant: six tables inside, and maybe twice more on a terrace outside, overlooking a deep, untouched valley with a waterfall in the far distance.

On the door, another sign announced, “Our menu is composed of ingredients from local sheep breeders and our own farm.” We looked at each other with mirror twinkles in our eyes.

U Salognu

Continue reading »

Stratford and Toronto Recommendations

Maple leaves
Maple leaves photographed by William Warby.

I am writing to you from Canada, where I am spending two weeks at the Stratford Chefs School outside of Toronto: I’ve been invited as their Gastronomic Writer In Residence (I know, right?), and I’ll be devoting my time to working with the students on various assignments to hone their food writing skills.

I will also be hosting a few public lectures and events in Stratford and Toronto; please see the full details here. I hope to meet some of you then!

And although I have a full schedule with little free time, I’m hoping to explore my surroundings a bit, and I’d like to ask for your best recommendations: what are some of your favorite places in Stratford and Toronto, and what’s not to miss? Thanks in advance for your insights!

Corsica Highlights

As those of you who subscribe to the free C&Z newsletter already know, Maxence and I have just come back from Corsica — the French island that’s floating in the Mediterranean between France and Italy, just above Sardinia — where we spent an altogether enthralling vacation with my sister and brother-in-law.

It was our first time there after years and years of thinking we absolutely must go, and although our expectations were as lofty as the accounts made by friends who’d already been, they were exceeded by the reality of this insanely gorgeous piece of land and sea.

We stayed in Cargèse, a small village with twin churches on the western coast of the island, about an hour north of Ajaccio. There we devoted our time to exploring the coast, swimming and snorkelling in limpid waters, hiking, boating, and swimming some more. We ate extremely well, too, even in the simplest of places, and took full advantage of the local produce and seafood.

As can be expected after such a wonderful trip, it’s a little hard to get back to work, so I hope you’ll indulge me as I savor some of my fondest memories:

Continue reading »

Japan Highlights

Torimikura Chaya

In the late eighties, my aunt took a trip to Japan and got me a pair of round-toed flats with a red flower pattern, and a little buckle to the side. I was nine, and these were the prettiest shoes I had ever owned. This, and the captivating tales she also brought back were likely the sparks that ignited my interest in all things Japanese: it seemed like she had visited another, mysterious planet, and I burned to go there myself some day.

It has taken me a little over twenty years to act upon that desire, twenty years during which I seized every opportunity to learn more about the culture and the people and the food, so I think it’s fair to say this is the single most anticipated trip I’ve ever taken. Part of me worried this might lead to some form of disappointment, but I’m thrilled to report that our trip managed to surpass even my sky-high expectations.

In broad strokes, what we did was this: fly from Paris to Tokyo; stay almost a week in Tokyo, where we swapped apartments with a friend of a friend who lives in the Omotesandō area; go to an onsen a little way north from Tokyo, where we stayed at a ryokan (a traditional inn) and bathed outdoors in the hot springs; spend a day in Osaka; go south to Kōya-san, a small mountain town that is a major holy site for Shingon Buddhism, where we stayed overnight at a temple-inn; stay in Kyoto for a few days, where we rented a little machiya in the Higashiyama area; fly home from Kyoto.

I seem to have spent the entirety of our vacation in a state of permanent elation, excited beyond words to just be there, observing everything and everyone, taking in street and nature and temple scenes, browsing shelves in stores big and small, walking, walking, and walking some more, riding gleaming trains, and eating like I gladly would for the rest of my days.

The one drawback is that it’s a little hard to come down from such a high, and already I am trying to find ways to plot another trip. But in the meantime, I would like to revisit a few highlights with you if you’re keen. Not a day-by-day, bore-you-to-sobs, comprehensive report but rather, as is my preference, a pointillist account of what delighted me most:

Edokko Sushi
Edokko Sushi in Kanda (Tokyo)

Continue reading »

Get the newsletter

Receive a free monthly email with a digest of recent entries, plus exclusive inspiration and special announcements. You can also choose to be notified of every new post.