CHEF'S TRAV­EL­OGUE

Mal­colm Lee ex­plores the un­spoilt wilder­ness of San Fran­cisco on a whirl­wind road trip.

Epicure (Indonesia) - - CONTENTS -

Ex­plor­ing the hid­den gems of San Fran­cisco

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 sun­flower seed.

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.) Chef-owner 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.

Cruise con­trol

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.

Mal­colm Lee is the head chef and owner of the first Miche­lin­starred Per­anakan restau­rant, Can­dlenut. Lee, is also the first Sin­ga­porean re­cip­i­ent of the Miele Guide Schol­ar­ship. In­fus­ing mod­ern tech­niques with tra­di­tional flavours. The 33-yearold chef has cre­ated sev­eral no­table dishes, such as the Buah Keluak Ice Cream – buah keluak nut ice cream made with 80 per­cent Val­rhona choco­late, served on a bed of salted caramel, choco­late crum­ble and topped with milk choco­late es­puma.

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.

Yosemite Val­ley

TREATS by Lazy Bear: Gummy Bear, Cos­mic Brownie, Mac­aron and Gold Nugget Lazy Bear’s Honey, Ba­nana, Wal­nut Lazy Bear’s Sea­weed, Kale, Matcha

Lazy Bear

Early Win­ter in Sonoma County, a din­ner se­ries by Sin­glethread Farm Restau­rant Hill­side Villa Decks, Rush Creek

El Cap­i­tan, Yosemite Val­ley Wine down with a glass of vino after ar­riv­ing Wine­maker Week­ends, Rush Creek Lodge Sin­glethread Farm Restau­rant

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