Rick Stein journeys from northern California to Mexico. In San Francisco, Rick tastes legendary dishes, such as the hangtown fry - oyster pancake.
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It was 1968 when I first came here
to San Francisco.
I wanted to do my own road trip from
the United States to the Mexican
and beyond. My dad had just died.
I'd finished school and I had no
what I wanted to do with my life.
It was the year after the summer of
love and things like enchiladas,
burritos, guacamole, I had only
heard of from the radio,
but they sounded wonderful.
But it wasn't just the food.
I wanted to live a little bit
And I did.
In the 1960s there was a song that
really caught my imagination.
It started, "All the leaves are
brown and the sky is grey.
"I've been out for a walk on a
And it was, of course,
And it sort of filled me with a
desire to come here to California,
where the sun shone all the time,
where the fruit was bigger,
where the vegetables were riper, and
finally, I made it in 1968.
So, here I am again, starting a
journey here in San Francisco and
the way to Mexico.
Because I want to find what has
what's Californian cooking like and
what's the food of Mexico that is so
much part of my culinary
Ladies and gentlemen,
we're taking it down
to the dock of the bay right here in
# Sitting in the mornin' sun
# I'll be sittin' 'til the evening
# Watching all the ships roll in
# Then I watch them roll away again
# Oh I'm just sittin' on the dock of
the bay... #
Is there a better introduction or
a more fitting place
to start my culinary jaunt?
I don't think so.
This is Fisherman's Wharf.
If you like seafood, or Otis, it's a
Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay, Otis
Right here in San Francisco.
Thank you sir, appreciate that.
You know what? That song is so good,
I might have to do it twice.
The famous Fisherman's Wharf was
started by Sicilian fishermen who
during the gold rush of the 1840s.
It has a similar feel, I think,
with a smidgen of Margate thrown in.
Anyway, instead of cockles and
whelks and jellied eels,
there's cod and grouper with
coleslaw, snow crabs,
fettuccine with scallops, chowder of
and loads of seafood cocktails.
Well, I was last here on
Fisherman's Wharf aged 21 and my
first thought was, how has it
Well, not a lot. It's got a bit more
But what matters to me is they're
still selling boiled Dungeness crabs
and clam chowder. So I bought myself
some picked Dungeness crab with
cocktail sauce. I just really like
the way the Americans do a cocktail
sauce. It's just ketchup and
horseradish. It works a treat.
And this Dungeness crab, wow.
It's lovely to be back
here in San Francisco.
I'm always sort of thinking, it's a
it's more sort of European in its
But that's something to be said for
many a city that's on the ocean.
There's a sort of feeling of, I
don't know, excitement.
The one thing about America that I
every time I get off the plane,
I feel excited.
And a lot of people say,
"Oh, America this, America that."
But I guarantee that most of them,
when they get to the States,
they feel the same way.
There's something exciting,
great anticipation, there's great
food, there's great sights, it's
And San Francisco is that for me.
It's my city by the bay, too.
San Francisco is the start of my
I'm going south, past LA, crossing
the border into
Baja, Mexico and onwards through the
ending in Yucatan and the warm
waters of the Caribbean.
Most of the time when I first came
here, for food I just grabbed what I
could. A hot dog, a burger, a pizza.
But one of my foodie friends in the
UK... and remember,
I wasn't even a chef then,
I actually wanted to be a DJ.
..one of my friends suggested that
if in San Francisco,
you've got to go to the
By American standards,
it's practically medieval.
168 years old.
It's been here ever since the
In fact, it's as old as
and their most famous dish is one
called Hangtown Fry.
It's a sort of oyster omelette for
those about to die.
The boss here is David Hanna.
So it's a bacon, oyster and egg
Very good. How did it get its name,
Well, Hangtown was a nickname of
where they had a jail.
And obviously, they...
Hung people there,
So it was very difficult to
to the Placerville area and to
get oysters, fresh oysters,
from the Pacific there was very
expensive, as well.
So... And it took a lot of time.
So what people would do who were on
they would ask for a Hangtown Fry.
Seems an odd thing to ask for just
on the eve of your death!
Absolutely. But it would extend
their life by a few days
because to get all three of those
ingredients in the same place at one
time was kind of a feat.
They're good stories!
It's a great story and you know,
it's a great dish.
We're one of the very few places
that still serve this.
More important, for me,
is eating this very traditional
Californian dish from
the Gold Rush days
in this beautiful restaurant which,
I mean, it's just so American.
This sort of enormous bar.
It's sensational. With everybody
sitting round it eating.
Well, we love it. It's called the
I mean, it's a great place.
We've had senators from, you know,
from Washington DC
who have come
out here and have a meal.
There are actors, actresses, other
People just up the street come in,
mix and mingle together and enjoy a
I was sort of thinking, yeah, I
might open a restaurant like this.
It's just so convivial, really,
You know, you never know who you'll
find yourself sitting next to,
that's the thing.
I love the menu here
and this dish is the most
It's a fish stew made with the best
of what's landed the night before,
plus a few clams.
Some say it's from Sicily,
or maybe Liguria.
But anyway, it's definitely Italian.
I'm really liking this dish.
It's really simple. It's just a load
of seafood, bit of olive oil,
bit of white wine and their sauce,
tomato-based sauce, which actually,
Barney won't give me the recipe!
Which I perfectly understand!
Apparently it's called cioppino and
it was a recipe from Italian
who chipped in with various seafood,
presumably that they'd caught.
But the other thing I really like
about this kitchen is
it's very hot in here.
There's a charcoal grill here,
a coal grill and this solid top
is really, really hot.
It reminds me of my first kitchen
which was similarly hot.
Sometimes it was hellishly hot,
but I feel quite nostalgic about it
I suppose a very useful by-product
of my travels is to find recipes
that I could cook when I got back
Especially to adapt the ingredients
to what we find in our shops and
I got the idea for this dish in
but my version is very much
a fish stew, Padstow style.
The first thing I do in order to
make this Italian style stew
is to peel these raw tiger prawns.
And they DID come from my local
Take the shells off, like so, and
put the skins, the heads, the tails,
into a well-seasoned fish stock.
So now to make the base.
This is the sauce.
First of all, some butter.
Now, this isn't an Italian element,
I don't think, in this sort of dish.
This is very much Californian.
And now some olive oil, plenty of
It really richens it up nicely.
And garlic. You might be surprised
about the amount of garlic,
but it really does pay off.
That's about five cloves, that.
And now some onions, a small onion,
all chopped up,
because it's not going to be
And now some celery. And again, this
is very much a Californian element.
You wouldn't get this in the
And neither actually, next, is the
But this makes it different,
this is the way food moves from
country to country and changes
There we go.
In goes the green peppers.
And now some white wine, just any
old white wine will do.
You know, any stuff you've got left
don't feel you've got to buy a
bottle of wine
just to make a cioppino.
There we go. Now I'm just going to
let that bubble down a little bit.
Now this is what I call gastrique.
Actually, the French
call it gastrique.
It's actually red wine vinegar,
three or four tablespoons,
and about a teaspoon of sugar,
just reduced right down till it's a
And it just makes tomato sauce
And now oregano.
That was definitely in the cioppino
But I think there were some other
spices which they wouldn't tell me
but I could certainly pick up
And now chilli, and I have taken a
bit of a liberty here, too.
We are on our way to Mexico,
so about a teaspoon of chilli.
And then tomatoes, just tinned
As I always say, if you're not in
the right time of year,
better to use tinned.
Now salt, about a teaspoon, I
Needs to be a bit salty, it's a
And finally pepper, about ten turns
of the black pepper mill grinder.
I never worked out how to actually
There we go. Just look at that.
I mean, I know I use the word a lot,
but it's very unctuous.
And now just to strain the stock in
And I always say, don't throw away
you get so much flavour from prawn
There we go. In that goes.
And now I'm just going to leave that
to simmer away for about another
ten, 15 minutes.
Anybody can fillet a monkfish.
There's only the one backbone in it.
And the great thing about monkfish,
it's so firm and it doesn't sort of
shrink up massively when you put it
into a stew like this.
Interestingly, I've only got three
pieces of seafood.
Monkfish, prawns and mussels.
The Tadich Grill had about 11,
as far as I can remember. Three
types of fish, mussels, clams, crab,
two types of prawns.
Scallops. Have I left anything out?
I'm not sure. But when I looked
at it, it is a restaurant dish.
It's magnificent. But nobody's going
to cook something like that at home.
There's too many expensive pieces
of seafood in it.
So I've just stuck with monkfish,
prawns and mussels.
Once the fish and the prawns are in,
then it's virtually done.
I'd say about five more minutes and
One thing I always do before I put
mussels in an expensive dish like
is just give them a little sniff
because if there's one that's died,
it will taint the whole stew and
When the mussels have opened,
Put the lid on to help that process.
And then to serve, a slice of
That's very San Francisco.
Garlic, a good, rough rasp of it,
and olive oil.
And now the stew.
It's smelling wonderful.
Like a good old-fashioned fish
Butter, garlic, and seafood.
I think fish stews to do at home
should be as simple as possible.
Only three main ingredients, the
mussels, the prawns, and the
And simple, keep it simple and then
it becomes really cheap, too.
When I first came to San Francisco's
Chinatown as a 21-year-old for my
usual bowl of noodles in soup and
pak choi in a lovely oyster sauce,
I remember thinking that this is a
real living, breathing Chinese
It wasn't a tourist Chinatown, at
This is where the Chinese live and
run their businesses and have always
done so, since the days of the
the magnet that first drew so many
Chinese to America.
But of course this is now something
of a must for everyone who comes
I was very fortunate to meet a man
I've heard of for years.
He's a chef, he has his own TV show,
and his name is Martin Yan.
One, two, three.
This first batch of Chinese
they came over here to work in the
They worked the railroad and then
afterwards they opened restaurants,
chop suey house. And this is why I
call it the living Chinatown.
People actually live here.
All the woks in the world.
This is what I call a lolly shop!
I don't know about you, I actually
have six woks in my kitchen!
I've only got two!
But then I'm not Chinese!
Yeah, I love that...
The toss. The food toss.
That is proper stir-fry.
The food tumbles.
That's the reason why a round
bottomed wok is so functional.
And also the liquid reduces really
quickly, so you concentrate the
That's right, because the heat
is concentrated right here.
So you can concentrate,
you can reduce the heat.
Just the right amount of sauce.
And this has got two -
a handle and...
It's heavy, that one.
But that's more for...
is when you get older, like me.
You're still young,
you're too young!
But then when you're not able to
lift up with one hand,
you can use two hands.
That's the reason why. And then of
course, you know, steamers.
I use steamers a lot. When you want
you just put it right on top of
And the steam...
So you've got a
Yeah, you can stack them
And if you want, you can have two
This is good for fish, for ribs, for
chicken, for lobster, for crab,
You'd get a whole lemon sole in
I've learnt everything there is to
know about a wok in about five
Five minutes. Actually, you could do
it in three minutes, or less!
Are you hungry?
Let's go and have some...
Shanghai dumpling, OK.
Now this is cooking theatre.
These chefs know what turns the
locals on and that's making it a
They've been headhunted
in China and brought back here
to San Francisco.
This chef, Tony Wu, I'm told is the
master noodle-maker of the world.
He is, I think, quite spectacular.
What he's doing is putting air and
tension into the dough,
to make it elastic enough to split
He makes thousands of strands in
five minutes and the more he twists
and turns and stretches the dough,
the thinner the noodles become.
If you come here, then try the
Chef Wu is making spinach dumplings.
It's just spinach blended with water
and mixed with flour.
Now the filling. It's chopped fresh
prawns and scallops,
seasoned with salt and white pepper.
And he wants to get a consistency
that's almost like a thick paste.
This he puts into the shell,
a bit like making ravioli.
Those little dumplings go into
for about eight minutes or so.
For the sauce, and it's a really
it's two tablespoons of grated
and the same amount of garlic.
Coriander, chopped spring onions,
a couple of tablespoons of chilli
and garlic sauce.
Chilli oil and also some sesame oil
Soy sauce, a good lot,
about four tablespoons.
Then six of white vinegar.
Now sugar, four of those
And give it a good stir throughout.
It's a brilliant sauce.
It's spicy, sweet, and sour
and it goes so well with these
Now, this is for you.
Something that everybody can learn
how to do.
Now, you pick one for me.
Oh, is that polite?
Beautiful. Now then, this is so
I watched these being made.
They're fabulous! So lovely.
I just wanted to ask you two
well, I suppose Chinese food in
San Francisco particularly.
Those two dishes, chow mein and chop
What are they and where did they
You know, that's a great question.
A lot of people always think you
know, chop suey, chow mein,
is very Western.
Very European. Very American.
Actually, chow means stir-fry.
Mein is noodle.
Pan-fried noodle is chow mein.
So it's just a way of cooking?
It's just, we've got fried noodles
on the menu here.
Right, how you present the dish and
the basic amount of sauce that you
put it in.
So you could never find the
definitive chow mein,
because there isn't such a thing.
No such thing. Because everybody
would do it differently.
What about chop suey, then?
Chop means mixture.
Suey means cut up pieces.
Basically all the Chinese dishes,
is a mixture of cut-up pieces
in the plate!
So in the true sense, all the
Chinese dishes are chop suey.
Well, I'm blowed. So
it just means we've got
fried this and that?
In Chinese, Ganbei.
That means cheers?
Bottoms up. Ganbei.
When you think about it,
Chinese food here in San Francisco
is every bit American as a
the hot dog, and Mum's apple pie.
But what I wanted to see was how
they make the famous fortune
I find them really amusing.
A lovely smell.
Smells good outside. Smells better
It does, doesn't it?
Now, this is our semi-automatic
fortune cookie machine.
Take a look. It smells good. It's
Fresh-made cookies always taste
So, what's in them? They're lovely.
Basically it's sugar, butter, flour.
That's basically it. Very simple.
And, "Regular and chocolate
adult X-rated" fortune cookies.
Check your fortune.
Hm. I don't think I can repeat that
Well, this is a really nice one.
It says, people find it difficult to
resist your persuasive manner.
But my wife has this thing that
whenever you open a fortune cookie,
the phrase, "In bed", afterwards.
So, now it reads, people find it
difficult to resist your persuasive
manner in bed.
How about mine?
And yours, Martin, is...
.."You'll make many changes before
settling satisfactorily in bed."
It just... It's funny because even
kids love it, you know?
Check this one, check this one.
There's so many fortunes in
"Rely on long-time friends to give
you good advice in bed."
It's so silly.
OK, this one means...
You do it.
You do it then.
No, this one's...
"You're lucky because today you'll
meet a new-found friend."
No, not in bed.
I don't think so,
Well, in 1968 when I was here, the
film that, well,
just wiped the board for me was
People have seen it recently and
said, "Oh, it's dated."
But no film that Steve McQueen ever
made could be dated for me.
But what they all say is that what
isn't dated was the car chase going
down this street - Taylor - is the
car chase by which all others are
Right, I've got an urge now just
to put my foot down.
And if you've seen it you know that
every time they go over the hill the
car sort of leaped up
in the air, but I can't do that now.
Of course not.
I'm quite proud of the fact the
director of such an iconic film
was a British man, Peter Yates.
Paradoxically, he also directed Sir
Cliff's film, Summer Holiday,
where they all stop work for a week
hopped on a double-decker bus
and sang for much of the time
in a carefree sort of way.
What's so wonderful now is I never
would have believed that I would be
driving the same car, a Mustang,
down the same street.
Fabulous. And now I should put my
foot on the accelerator!
Look at that!
Ask a San Franciscan, or indeed any
American of a certain age,
what is the most famous dish you
associate with the city?
And the chances are it would be
mac and cheese.
They say this dish saved thousands
from starving during the Depression.
One box of it satisfied a family of
four for 20 cents, and it's lovely.
So, just pouring my
macaroni into some boiling,
And now to make the roux.
Basically, you just put some butter
into this pan.
And now stirring in some flour.
About an equal quantity of flour,
just stirring that in.
And now a teaspoon of mustard.
That just gives the sauce a little
piquance, of Dijon mustard, that is.
Don't let that cook too much or else
it turns the mustard bitter.
And now some milk, a lot of milk.
Here we go.
Stirring that full cream milk in.
I always tend to add it in about
when making bechamel sauce
which, essentially, this is.
You have to be a bit patient.
I like jobs like this.
I used to do gallons of it in
the hotel I worked at as a lad.
There we go. That's thickened up
And just adding a bay leaf here
and some nutmeg.
Enough nutmeg that you can really
taste it in the final dish.
And now some cream.
I really like dishes like this.
In fact, when you first go
to somewhere like California,
and I noticed this time,
the Italian food tends to be
not like you get in Italy.
It's generally much richer.
If you've got a pasta dish, there's
always tonnes of sauce
and the sauce
tends to be rather creamy,
and you think, well,
this isn't proper Italian.
Then you suddenly realise, well,
this ain't Italy, it's California.
And a dish like this,
mac and cheese,
it's very much a Californian
sort of dish.
It's all about excess, I think.
There's lots of milk in it,
lots of cream, lots of cheese,
and when you eat it, you just think,
that's what I like about
There we go.
Now to fry off the pancetta,
We all know macaroni cheese,
but macaroni cheese with smoked
bacon or smoked pancetta
is something else.
Good chunks of dry-cured, smoky
no salty water coming out of it into
the pan, now hard fry and out.
I'm using grated Cheddar.
I'm told the Americans
use Monterey Jack.
This dish has the honour to be known
as the American housewife's
The United States' president
loved mac and cheese so much
he served it at a state dinner.
And why not? It's lovely.
Top with a mixture of Parmesan and
breadcrumbs and into a medium to hot
oven for about 20 to 25 minutes,
until golden brown.
And that's it.
Oh, god, it smells so good.
I mean, just that mixture of cheese,
hot cheese and bacon,
a little bit of breadcrumb,
a little bit of Parmesan too.
It is a fabulous dish.
Well, I feel I need hardly tell you
where this is.
Just look around.
And I came here in 1968,
the year after the Summer of Love.
I was a bit of a serious boy
at the time.
I was 21 and wasn't really
interested in marijuana.
I was more interested in the fact
you could get gallon cartons of milk
in fridges in San Francisco
and that hamburgers were not just
in a hamburger, but you could
get mayonnaise and salad,
and particularly dill pickles.
And also down at Fisherman's Wharf
you could get fantastic Dungeness
Now, I was a little bit serious,
and in fact, my first wife, Jill,
when I told her I'd been here in
she said, "You're probably the only
21-year-old that didn't go to
Haight-Ashbury and turn on."
I fancied some oysters and
I was told to go to Hog Island,
about an hour or so
north of San Francisco.
Well, I would have driven twice that
just to have a real bite of
I find the countryside in this part
of California very appealing.
There's something about Scotland
here, or Ireland.
It seems so familiar.
It is, in its own way, very inviting
for the traveller,
for the wandering gourmand in search
of something good to eat.
This is a great thing to do.
Oysters, I know, are not everyone's
cup of tea,
but for me they're a real delight.
Well, not all of them,
because so much depends
on the quality of the water,
where they grow up and the delicate
between saltwater and fresh.
I'm no expert but it smells just
And these are the oysters.
Compact, lovely texture and colour,
and great smell.
They're the sort of oysters that
people who don't know if they like
oysters or not would love.
The man who loved them
as much as I do
is the oyster farmer, Terry Sawyer.
You see, these are the Hog Island
So, I don't know how you open
Just traditionally on the hinge.
Yeah, go to the hinge.
And then what we do is we have
just a little bit of purchase.
Yeah, a bit of a worry,
I always like to say it's a bit of a
worry on the end.
Worry, I like that.
This is in beautiful shape.
The meat is firm.
It's got good colour.
I want to see that it's actually got
a certain amount of what we would
That's the fat there, is
Yeah. But certain times of year
you'll come in and this will be
a very clear oyster, and that's just
got no flavour.
This is just ready to go
for the market.
We're not going to look at it the
We're going to enjoy this.
So, this is...
What did you get?
That's a good oyster.
I get... I get minerality,
I get saltiness,
I get sweetness and I get
..and a fragrance,
a fresh beautiful fragrance.
Somebody else agreed there.
You know, what are we, an hour,
an hour and a half from
a major metropolitan area?
And, yet, it's an area that
will produce that water quality.
The plankton that they're feeding
on is just rich,
the water quality is great.
So, this is what I get to share
which is an enjoyable way
of making a living.
Cheers. I've just had
two while you've been talking,
which probably is a bit rude of me.
You're ahead of me.
I'll let you get that open and then
I'll cheers you.
I sort of wonder why people don't
like oysters because that, honestly,
is one of the true tastes of the sea
really, wouldn't you say?
It brings me right here every time.
I can be anywhere and it brings me
right back to here.
Smelling the smell of the weed and
the oysters and all that, it's just
Well, you say it better than I do.
In California - I'll go
on the California side -
we call it a full-body experience.
Fantastic. That is so typically
Californian, isn't it?
Terry is a devoted oyster man and
I love people who love oysters.
He's sensible enough to open his
as an alfresco restaurant.
I mean, you don't need much when you
A view of the sea will help,
but this little sauce really helps
It's made up with a chopped,
deseeded jalapeno pepper,
then chopped coriander and then a
Shallots go really well with
hence shallots with red wine
Now rice vinegar.
Well, it is California.
A squeeze of lime
and then black pepper.
There's a lot going on there.
Terry calls his sauce hogwash.
I'm glad I did that.
It was indeed, as Terry said,
the most perfect Californian
But now back to the city
for a late lunch.
Funnily enough, the crew don't
really like oysters
but don't get me started on that.
One of the things that interested me
was to find out how much
the Californians owe to the Mexicans
And this is what I like about making
these films -
I learn things as I go along and
this, I think,
is very pertinent to my journey.
It's a tribute to a Mexican hero,
a man who in the '50s and '60s
fought for the rights of thousands
of Mexican fieldworkers
in the mighty Salad Bowl of America,
It was for those who planted
the seeds, weeded the land,
watered and nurtured
and harvested the crops.
They who also cleaned the pools,
looked after the kids, fed the dogs.
It was a tough, long battle that
inspired generations of Mexicans.
Today is his day, and in my humble
where there are festivals,
never mind what country,
what culture or creed,
there is always food nearby.
I know because of the journey ahead
I'll probably be having quite a lot
But, well, I can't say no.
I was just looking at the festival
out there and this guy came up and
"You should have some tacos in
He said they're the best tacos
in San Francisco.
So I'm just going to try.
These are, by the way...
Carnitas come from Michoacan
and it's pulled pork.
The pork is cooked really,
really slowly in lard with a bit of
cumin and a bit of orange normally,
and this is served
with some chopped onions,
some chopped coriander and a bit of
chilli and tomato sauce
and a bit of
salsa verde, green chilli sauce.
Seriously, you would not get a
better taco than this in Mexico.
If you're of a certain age,
it's impossible when you're here
not to think of those heady days of
the Summer of Love.
However, for me it's pretty hard
not to think of sourdough bread,
introduced to San Francisco by
European bakers during the days of
the Gold Rush in 1849.
In fact, the local football team are
the 49ers and their official mascot
is Sourdough Sam.
Whoops. Slipped on a chip.
Anyway, sourdough is still alive and
well and doing big business
at the famous Tartine Bakery.
The head baker is English.
Richard Hart, a real sourdough
evangelist if ever there was one.
This is our dough.
for probably three and
a half hours.
It's going through
bulk fermentation stage.
It's very soft. It's very...
It's very wet and airy...
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
..and full of life.
The job of a baker...
..is you're almost like...
You're like a farmer,
you're a yeast farmer.
And the yeast are your cattle
and the dough is your plain.
And this is a bit of a crazy
but, like, it's real because it
makes you think about the fact
that you have to look after it
like it's alive.
So, it's not like if you think of,
sort of, industrial bakers,
it's all about timing,
it's all about, like,
retarding the dough and having these
special proving things and all that.
So, here it's kind of like this is
the boss. The bread's in charge.
Like, we believe that we know what
we're doing but the reality is this
is the boss...
..and it tells us what to do.
And some days it kicks
and other days we feel
that we're all good.
Can we try some?
let's try it, let's try it.
I mean, just look at that.
Look at the colour of that
and also the pockets.
Pockets, yeah, of air.
I mean, that was really,
really lively yeast, wasn't it?
Do you know what I think?
Sourdough is what this part of
California is all about.
Like, it's this passion you've got.
But it's attention to detail
and it's back to what is really good
for you, you know?
I've been here from England ten
and I walked into another
It was a barn on a farm
with two wood-burning ovens...
..and it could have been
baking at any moment in history.
And at that moment I was like, OK,
I have to learn how to do this.
Like, I have to do this.
And you're exactly right, this part
of California started that.
There was a guy called Alan Scott
and he was an oven builder...
..and he had toured around
this part of Northern California
building these old wood-burning
And it kind of ignited
this bakery movement.
And getting here ten years ago,
it just blew me away
and I moved from being
a chef to a bread-maker,
and I've never looked back.
I love it.
Back home in Padstow I was searching
my mind to come up with something
that would honour a delicious
and my wife Sarah suggested this.
The ultimate Californian open
Well, here's some bread
that we've made in our own bakery.
I must confess I couldn't make it as
good as that
but it looks pretty Californian.
It's got that lovely dark colour
So, I'm just taking a slice or two
Look at the bubbles in that.
And I'm just going to brush them now
with a little bit of olive oil,
one side and then the other,
and put them on my griddle here.
Just a little bit of a toast,
but not too much.
So just trying to get a few bar
marks in this hot griddle pan.
I think it's impossible to overstate
the importance of sourdough
to California. I mean,
it came to California...
..in 1849, the 49ers, you know,
the Gold Rush.
Apparently, it was a couple of
French bakers that brought it over,
and of course, it was perfect food
for the gold miners because it keeps
Do you know, I keep sourdough
for about two or three months
in the fridge in a little bag.
That's how long it will keep without
Right, then. Onto my chopping board
and now I asked my wife, Sass -
the perfect open sandwich?
Sydney, California, very similar,
and that's where she comes from.
She said, well, first of all,
some good lettuce.
So, just chiffonade these little
baby gem lettuces,
sprinkle those on top of the bread.
And then she said
this is very, very important.
Chicken breast, but they mustn't
they've got to be poached so they're
nice and moist.
So I've done that. Thin slices,
there you go, chicken breast.
And some good tomatoes.
Well, this time of year in the UK
we've got Heirloom tomatoes.
You know the ones, lovely fancy
colours - greens, browns, reds.
Thinly sliced as possible.
Just layer those on.
That's beginning to look rather
Now, avocado. Now, the thing I want
to say about avocado -
I read recently that avocados cause
more domestic accidents in
the kitchen currently than anything
so this is how you cut up an
Put it on the chopping board.
Cut round. Make sure you're cutting
towards the chopping board,
not towards your hand.
Cut round like that.
Open it up and then just take your
and take the heel of your knife
and just above the heel,
cut into the stone and then just
knock it against
a chopping board to knock the stone
And now this is the easiest way
to take an avocado out of its skin.
You just get a dessert spoon
and scoop it out like that.
And now slice it.
It is very ripe,
so it's difficult to get neat slices
but it's almost, the neater the
slices the underripe the avocado,
and vice versa.
So that goes on like that.
So that goes on like that.
Now, a little bit of salt, not too
much, and some black pepper.
And finally some mayonnaise,
but not any old mayonnaise.
It's got to be Mexican.
So much of what you see in
is influenced by Mexican cuisine.
So, I'm making chipotle mayonnaise.
First of all, sour cream.
Equal quantities of sour cream
And now the wonder ingredient, which
is called chipotles in adobo,
and that's basically chipotle
chillies cooked down
with a tomato and garlic sauce
till it's got a really deep, smoky,
Fabulous. And now just drizzle
that on top.
Look at that. I mean, that is so
That is California to me.
It's my last day here and I've got
one final trip before I leave
San Francisco on my journey south
to Mexico, and it's Berkeley,
about 40 minutes from the city,
and the famous Chez Panisse,
the restaurant of Alice Waters.
She's a bit of a hero to me because
she thinks about food the same way
as I do.
It's all about buying local
and cooking what's available from
the market, or fish market,
or fisherman that day.
I'm really excited.
I look upon Alice as the nearest
to our own Elizabeth David,
and therefore, young chefs flock
here to work and learn
in her - I must say, very agreeable
It's full of the most fabulous fresh
from rose petals to rhubarb.
She tastes all the new seasonal
dishes the young chefs make.
This is a sweet pea ravioli with
ricotta and morel mushrooms.
Simple, not too many ingredients,
and all very much in season.
My kind of ravioli.
I hate to say this
but maybe the peas want to be cooked
one tiny bit more.
They're just a little...
They're just a little crunchy.
Just that one little thing,
but it's delicious.
This restaurant's been here since
the early '70s
but it was borne out of a
very simple eating experience
in France nearly 50 years ago.
Gosh, I love these.
Do you call them favas?
We call them broad beans.
I must say, I feel a bit nervous,
because when I set out my wish list
before we even travelled here,
the first thing I put down
was a chat with Alice Waters.
I didn't think we'd meet.
I thought it was a real
outside bet, but here we are.
Well, I'm so delighted to be here,
Alice, because, I mean,
as you... Well, you probably don't
but it means an awful lot to me
to meet you
because you're just so...
..You're so important in the sort of
food that I love to eat.
Simple local food.
Just tell me that sort of epiphany
moment, if you like,
when you suddenly saw the future.
That epiphany kind of happened out
when I went to a little
tiny French restaurant
and I had this really perfect lunch.
And it was so simple.
It was a piece of melon and some
prosciutto, or ham, French ham.
And I had a trout with almonds,
and I had a raspberry tart.
And I thought, well, why are these
And I came back home and tried to
make that raspberry tart
but I couldn't
find the raspberries.
And then I wanted to find trout
and there wasn't any trout.
And it was like that, that I was on
a search for taste.
And at the beginning of the
restaurant, I wanted that thing.
And I ended up finding it at the
of the local organic farmers.
And then we became friends
and the rest is history, really.
Well, I mean, you know how important
you are to food,
and certainly the food I love to eat
and cook, and so many other people.
I suppose it was almost a case of
being in the right place
at the right time in California.
I just thought I would open
a restaurant for my friends.
I never thought that this would be
anything more than that.
Truly, I didn't. But because it was
in such contrast to a fast food
world out there,
what we were doing just
Almost, you know, like you were
going into somebody's house,
and just eating at home
and so almost quaint and naive.
And I wanted everybody to have a
good time, so we only had one menu.
So we were pushed very quickly
to finding ingredients
to make the menu interesting.
I think that
was how we started to build
this network of suppliers.
Well, that's how food should be,
completely uncluttered by design,
fancy tricks, latest trends,
fresh ingredients, prepared
expertly, with care.
Take this rhubarb tart.
I couldn't take my eyes off the
She is using orange zest, sugar,
new season's rhubarb,
picked that morning,
and juice from the orange.
A bit of white, sweet wine...
Now, this is probably a recipe
that goes back
maybe before the
Alice was never taken by
the fancy restaurants of Paris.
She loved the small, no-menu places
of the French countryside
but cooked whatever was fresh
that morning from the market.
It was so simple,
as simple as apple pie.
So, I've watched all the stages of
this being made by Laura.
Now to taste.
The taste is wonderful,
it's very lovely vanilla ice cream.
I think what's so special about it
is it's so crisp.
And it's sweet
but it's not too sweet.
It's the sort of pud,
the sort of pud I absolutely love.
So, now I'm heading south to the
coastal town of Monterey.
When I came here 50 years ago,
most of the travelling was done on
Greyhound buses were featured
in loads of films then,
and they were regarded as cool.
However, I think it's fair to say we
spent far too long at Chez Panisse,
and the sky is starting to darken.
There are prettier routes,
but the hotel is beckoning.
That and the prospect of a nice,
For some reason, I didn't come here
on my earlier travels as a
I was in too much of a hurry,
I think, to get to Mexico.
Anyway, I wish I had,
simply to catch the last days
of the famous Cannery Row,
when sardines were in their plenty.
It's a pretty rich part
of the world, this.
First, the Gold Rush.
Then 50 years or so later,
the sardine explosion.
This, of course, provided the
for the writer John Steinbeck's
The story relied on a
group of disparate characters
led by a lovable rogue
All their lives revolved
around the canning factories,
and it was set in the days
of the Depression.
It was a sort of Under Milk Wood,
but set on a Californian shore.
I can't believe there's many a
person of my age or probably younger
that hasn't read John Steinbeck's
When I read it as a teenager,
I just wanted to be in that world
of Doc and Mack and his collection
in the Palace Flophouse Grill.
It was a really gritty book about
I mean, Steinbeck started the whole
book by saying,
"A poem, a stink, a grating noise,
a quality of life."
Actually, when I hear those words
and read those words,
it's a bit like many
a British fishing port,
and indeed many a British fishing
port that has lost its fish.
Because that's what happened here
in Cannery Row. The sardines went.
Nobody quite knows why. Some people
think the current just changed
and the fish went elsewhere.
Perhaps a bit like
But maybe the answer is a little
more simple than that.
A local marine biologist here was
asked about that,
what happened to the sardines, and
he said, "They are all in tins."
I met with a local restaurateur,
who was one of the first to set up
in an old abandoned
canteen for the factory workers.
When you opened, what was
Cannery Row like?
There was nothing here.
It was all canneries.
I don't know if you realise,
this was the sardine capital of the
Eight blocks of canneries,
One was still going,
the Hovden Cannery,
where now the aquarium sits.
Eight blocks deserted, so why did
you open a restaurant here?
My partner and myself,
27, 28 years old,
that's the only rent we could
But you opened in 1968?
October 2nd, 1968.
We flipped the lights on, didn't
know if anyone was going to come in.
I haven't been to California
I never came here in 1968.
I went to San Francisco.
Good thing we don't have to depend
on you to make a living, Rick.
You are a little light
on the tourism department.
I suppose it's because it would have
been, in its rundown way,
it would have had a lot of
atmosphere, wouldn't it?
Oh, it was the kind of place that
nobody knew about,
it was your special place.
We had a saying, then -
if we made you feel at home,
we made a million-dollar mistake.
Our job is to make you feel better
Or why would you go out?
Why would you go out?
We never, ever advertised
If you and I can't do a better job
then they might as well stay home.
But I have to ask you something.
You know, when you would come in,
you'd come to the restaurant 20
years ago, you know, shirt, tie...
I would allow two hours for dinner.
You would dine. People don't dine
any more, they eat.
We have lost the ability, Rick.
Where did it go?
Everybody is like...
I'm doing this all the time as well,
Absolutely. Absolutely, I just
wanted to check you out,
now you'll get a reservation.
But, I mean. If you don't
get back a little sooner,
I'm going to scratch
you from the list.
Ted, we've all got too
much, that's the thing.
We've got too many things
and not enough time.
Too many things
and not enough time.
My dad used to say, you know,
I'm proud of you,
because you did what we call
the American dream.
A man or a woman who never had
a chance, never took a chance.
And you did and I'm proud of you,
I'm proud of you, too.
We've got a lot in common.
It's about time. How come it took
you so long to get to see Steinbeck?
I don't know.
If I depended on you, I'd go broke.
I found Ted very entertaining.
I'm sure he won't take this the
but he could take a significant part
in the series The Sopranos.
I said, Ted, don't take this
the wrong way.
It's a compliment!
Welcome to the sardine factory,
By the way, right over
that bar is where Clint Eastwood
has his seat.
That's where he directed his
first movie, Play Misty.
Gosh. Well, I...
We have five different dining
I want you to come by and meet my
partner, the chef.
Oh, good stuff.
This is Ted's long-time partner,
He is cooking one of the
sand dabs with breadcrumbs and
Then, in another pan,
he cooks some Swiss chard with the
tough stalks removed,
fried gently in butter with shallots
Now the fish, I can't really say I
but they look like lovely fillets.
I bet this is the most popular dish
on the menu,
because it is what it is,
He naps the dabs with
their own maitre d' butter sauce,
and that's it.
I must say, when I heard about sand
I thought I have got to taste these.
I have read about them,
but I've never tasted a sand dab
What have I been missing
all my life? I love the seasoned
It's really light.
You probably know our Dover sole.
Yeah, it's one of the finest fish
in the world, the Dover sole.
I've got to say, we have a little
competition with our sand dab,
it's our Dover sole.
You've got good taste, Rick.
Well, it's time to say goodbye to my
new friends, Ted and Bert.
Men after my own heart, I feel.
Because now I'm heading south,
through the Salad Bowl of America.
First stop Pismo Beach,
for clam chowder.
I'll take in the vineyards,
particularly because the Pinot Noir
is so famous here.
I'll do my best to enjoy the
restaurants and bars of Los Angeles.
And I'll even pay homage at one
of the settings
for my favourite film,
Some Like It Hot...
..before I hit the Mexican border.
Rick Stein journeys from northern California to Mexico, enjoying unique dishes and the enduring legacy of Mexico. It was 1968, and having heard the Mamas and Papas' California Dreaming, Rick was filled with a desire to embark on his own road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway to the Mexican border and beyond.
Nearly 50 years later, he's back to retrace his steps. In episode one, Rick enjoys sitting on the dock of the bay in San Francisco, tasting legendary dishes like the hangtown fry - oyster pancake; a dish that can trace its origins to the California gold rush, which created the most famous Chinatown in the world.
San Francisco is also the home of sourdough and where America's love affair with seasonal cooking took hold. Particularly important to the spread of this philosophy were groundbreaking restaurants like Chez Panisse, run by the legendary Alice Waters, who Rick is keen to meet. But it is also where he got his first taste of Mexican food. Enchiladas, guacamole and burritos were no longer names he had only heard on the radio, so the food of Mexico, an essential part of his culinary imagination, became real.