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Cheese and fruit plate

California

California: Innovating Cuisine

By: Samantha Crespo

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  • States:
    California

From north to south, California is renowned for its diverse, eclectic and innovative cuisine

The restaurants are iconic: rustic French Laundry in Yountville, sunny Chez Panisse in Berkeley, stylish Spago in Beverly Hills and so many more. At these pioneering restaurants, chefs collaborate with local farmers and menus change nightly, inviting diners to join in California’s bounty.

California’s Unique Culinary Influence

Continue your celebration at the source. Kayak in oyster-rich Humboldt Bay, in Eureka on the North Coast. In Mendocino, watch as autumn rains coax out rare candy cap mushrooms and morels. Join the Paso Robles Olive Festival in August. Or, taste plump olives at historic Graber Olive House in Ontario.

These and other raw ingredients are waiting. Waiting for chefs — and for visitors passing sunny mornings on you-pick farms, for picnickers loading their baskets at farmers’ markets and for artisanal producers, from Central Valley’s Hilmar Cheese Company to Indigeny Reserve, where you can sip hard cider amid their orchards in Sonora.

California’s unique culinary influence changed the definition of “ethnic” food in the USA. For a taste, sample “Sierra Latino” fusion cuisine in the mountain towns of the High Sierra, and Asian-inspired fare from food trucks statewide. Ingredients also inspire local traditions — sip a creamy date milkshake in the “Date Capital of the World,” near Palm Springs, or head to Balboa Beach for a chocolate-dipped ice cream bar.

For a unique experience, arrange a farm tour or stay. In the Shasta Cascade Region, Big Bluff, a working ranch, welcomes guests with rugged charm.

Begin your California exploration in the culinary meccas of San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego, all home to bustling international airports.

San Francisco

Speciality: fresh ingredients (try Atelier Crenn, Coi or Quince, and shop the Ferry Building Marketplace). Hip Mission District restaurants serve everything from falafel to tacos, whilst Off the Grid food truck events can satisfy any craving. Side trips: California wine countries Napa and Sonoma; Monterey

There's no better way to dine in California than al fresco, whether your table is set with a view of the ocean or vineyards

There's no better way to dine in California than al fresco, whether your table is set with a view of the ocean or vineyards
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Los Angeles

Specialties: celebrity chefs; ethnic foods. Chef-driven restaurants include Ford’s Filling Station L.A. LIVE. For international flair, go for barbecue food at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong in Koreatown, ramen at Tsujita in Little Tokyo or green corn tamales at El Cholo. Side trips: Santa Monica; Santa Barbara

In California, dishes and cocktails are made with local ingredients, giving patrons an authentic, delicious taste of the state's innovative eats and drinks

In California, dishes and cocktails are made with local ingredients, giving patrons an authentic, delicious taste of the state's innovative eats and drinks
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San Diego

Specialties: craft beer; seafood. Start with brunch at Brockton Villa overlooking sparkling La Jolla Cove. Have a casual lunch downtown, where restaurants line San Diego Bay. For dinner, cross the bay to Island Prime or Tom Ham’s Lighthouse. Side trip: Temecula

The California coast is lined with rugged cliffs and Pacific Ocean beaches, inviting walks and waterfront dining

The California coast is lined with rugged cliffs and Pacific Ocean beaches, inviting walks and waterfront dining
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