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 border
and beyond. My dad had just died.
I'd finished school and I had no idea
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 dangerously...
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 winter's day."
And it was, of course, California Dreaming.
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 going all
the way to Mexico.
Because I want to find what has changed,
what's Californian cooking like and what's the food of Mexico that is so
much part of my culinary imagination?
-Ladies and gentlemen, we're taking it down
to the dock of the bay right here in San Francisco.
# Sitting in the mornin' sun
# I'll be sittin' 'til the evening come
# 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 must.
Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay, Otis Redding.
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 came
during the gold rush of the 1840s.
It has a similar feel, I think, to Southend,
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 course,
and loads of seafood cocktails.
Well, I was last here on Fisherman's Wharf aged 21 and my
first thought was, how has it changed?
Well, not a lot. It's got a bit more commercial.
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 some nice
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 small city,
it's more sort of European in its feel.
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 really think,
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, there's something...
great anticipation, there's great food, there's great sights, it's lively.
And San Francisco is that for me.
It's my city by the bay, too.
San Francisco is the start of my journey.
I'm going south, past LA, crossing the border into
Baja, Mexico and onwards through the mainland,
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 Tadich Grill.
By American standards, it's practically medieval.
168 years old.
It's been here ever since the Gold Rush.
In fact, it's as old as San Francisco
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 frittata.
Very good. How did it get its name, then?
Well, Hangtown was a nickname of Placerville, California,
where they had a jail.
And obviously, they...
-Hung people there, exactly.
So it was very difficult to transport eggs
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 death row,
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 dining counter.
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 politicians.
People just up the street come in,
mix and mingle together and enjoy a meal together.
I was sort of thinking, yeah, I might open a restaurant like this.
It's just so convivial, really, isn't it?
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 sought-after.
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 fishermen
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 now.
I suppose a very useful by-product of my travels is to find recipes
that I could cook when I got back home.
Especially to adapt the ingredients to what we find in our shops and local supermarkets.
I got the idea for this dish in San Francisco,
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 supermarket!
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 olive oil.
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 strained, this.
And now some celery. And again, this is very much a Californian element.
You wouldn't get this in the Italian.
And neither actually, next, is the green peppers.
But this makes it different,
this is the way food moves from country to country and changes slightly.
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 over,
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 syrup.
And it just makes tomato sauce come alive.
And now oregano.
That was definitely in the cioppino dish.
But I think there were some other spices which they wouldn't tell me about,
but I could certainly pick up oregano.
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 tomatoes.
As I always say, if you're not in the right time of year,
better to use tinned.
Now salt, about a teaspoon, I suppose.
Needs to be a bit salty, it's a seafood stew.
And finally pepper, about ten turns of the black pepper mill grinder.
I never worked out how to actually measure it.
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 there.
And I always say, don't throw away your shells,
you get so much flavour from prawn shells.
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 it's ready.
One thing I always do before I put mussels in an expensive dish like that,
is just give them a little sniff because if there's one that's died,
it will taint the whole stew and ruin it.
When the mussels have opened, it's done.
Put the lid on to help that process.
And then to serve, a slice of toasted sourdough.
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 restaurant.
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 monkfish.
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 community.
It wasn't a tourist Chinatown, at all.
This is where the Chinese live and run their businesses and have always
done so, since the days of the Gold Rush,
the magnet that first drew so many Chinese to America.
But of course this is now something of a must for everyone who comes here.
I was very fortunate to meet a man I've heard of for years.
He's a chef, he has his own TV show, he's brilliant
and his name is Martin Yan.
One, two, three.
This first batch of Chinese immigrants,
they came over here to work in the gold mines.
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 sauce.
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.
-Oh, yeah, yeah.
-But that's more for...
-What happens 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.
-Oh, of course.
That's the reason why. And then of course, you know, steamers.
I use steamers a lot. When you want to steam,
you just put it right on top of here.
-And the steam...
-So you've got a steamer...
-Yeah, you can stack them all up.
And if you want, you can have two dishes together.
This is good for fish, for ribs, for chicken, for lobster, for crab, everything.
You'd get a whole lemon sole in there.
I've learnt everything there is to know about a wok in about five minutes!
Five minutes. Actually, you could do it in three minutes, or less!
-Are you hungry?
-Yeah! Let's go and have some...
-Dumplings, Shanghai dumpling, OK.
Now this is cooking theatre.
These chefs know what turns the locals on and that's making it a cooking spectacle.
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 into noodles.
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 dumpling dish.
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 boiling water
for about eight minutes or so.
For the sauce, and it's a really good sauce,
it's two tablespoons of grated ginger
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 too.
Soy sauce, a good lot, about four tablespoons.
Then six of white vinegar.
Now sugar, four of those tablespoons.
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 dumplings.
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 important.
-I watched these being made.
They're fabulous! So lovely.
I just wanted to ask you two questions about,
well, I suppose Chinese food in San Francisco particularly.
Those two dishes, chow mein and chop suey.
What are they and where did they originate from?
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 hamburger,
the hot dog, and Mum's apple pie.
But what I wanted to see was how they make the famous fortune cookies.
I find them really amusing.
A lovely smell.
Smells good outside. Smells better here.
It does, doesn't it?
Now, this is our semi-automatic fortune cookie machine.
Take a look. It smells good. It's amazing.
Fresh-made cookies always taste better.
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 one.
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, you add
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 life.
"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, Martin.
Well, in 1968 when I was here, the film that, well,
just wiped the board for me was Bullitt.
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 judged.
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 or two,
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 three thirds
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 very nicely.
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 American food.
There we go.
Now to fry off the pancetta, the bacon.
We all know macaroni cheese,
but macaroni cheese with smoked bacon or smoked pancetta
is something else.
Good chunks of dry-cured, smoky bacon,
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 best friend.
The United States' president Thomas Jefferson
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 fried onions
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 crab.
Now, I was a little bit serious, and in fact, my first wife, Jill,
when I told her I'd been here in 1968,
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 distance
just to have a real bite of the sea.
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 cocktail
between saltwater and fresh.
I'm no expert but it smells just right here.
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 Sweetwater Pacific.
So, I don't know how you open oysters.
-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 call fat.
-That's the fat there, is it?
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 whole time.
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 meatiness...
..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 with you,
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 farming business
as an alfresco restaurant.
I mean, you don't need much when you eat oysters.
A view of the sea will help,
but this little sauce really helps them slip
It's made up with a chopped, deseeded jalapeno pepper,
then chopped coriander and then a shallot.
Shallots go really well with oysters,
hence shallots with red wine vinegar.
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 full-bodied experience.
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 in cooking.
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, Cesar Chavez,
a man who in the '50s and '60s fought for the rights of thousands
of Mexican fieldworkers
in the mighty Salad Bowl of America, California.
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 experience
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 of these.
But, well, I can't say no.
I was just looking at the festival out there and this guy came up and said,
"You should have some tacos in here."
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.
-It's been sitting here
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 concept,
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 our arses
-and other days we feel that we're all good.
-Can we try some?
-Yeah, 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 years
and I walked into another bakery.
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 ovens.
-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 sourdough loaf
and my wife Sarah suggested this.
The ultimate Californian open sandwich.
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 to it.
So, I'm just taking a slice or two here.
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 for ever.
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 going mouldy.
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 be grilled,
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 nice.
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 else,
so this is how you cut up an avocado.
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 knife
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 off.
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.
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 California
is influenced by Mexican cuisine.
So, I'm making chipotle mayonnaise.
First of all, sour cream.
Equal quantities of sour cream and mayonnaise.
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, rich flavour.
Fabulous. And now just drizzle that on top.
Look at that. I mean, that is so appetising.
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 America has
to our own Elizabeth David,
and therefore, young chefs flock here to work and learn
in her - I must say, very agreeable - kitchen.
It's full of the most fabulous fresh produce,
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...
Taste them. 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 know,
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 in Brittany
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 so delicious?
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 doorsteps
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 seemed...
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, just good,
fresh ingredients, prepared expertly, with care.
Take this rhubarb tart.
I couldn't take my eyes off the preparation here.
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 French Revolution.
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 the bus.
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, cold beer.
For some reason, I didn't come here
on my earlier travels as a 21-year-old.
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 perfect backdrop
for the writer John Steinbeck's Cannery Row.
The story relied on a group of disparate characters
led by a lovable rogue called Mack.
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 Cannery Row.
When I read it as a teenager, I just wanted to be in that world
of Doc and Mack and his collection
of ne'er-do-wells in the Palace Flophouse Grill.
It was a really gritty book about Cannery Row.
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 Cornish pilchards.
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, Ted Balestreri,
who was one of the first to set up a restaurant
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 world.
Eight blocks of canneries, all deserted.
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 afford.
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 since 1968.
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 at home.
Or why would you go out?
Why would you go out?
We never, ever advertised home-cooked meals.
If you and I can't do a better job than that,
then they might as well stay home.
But I have to ask you something.
You know, when you would come in, Rick,
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, now.
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, Rick.
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 wrong way,
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, Rick.
-By the way, right over here,
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 rooms.
I want you to come by and meet my partner, the chef.
Oh, good stuff.
This is Ted's long-time partner, Bert Curtino.
He is cooking one of the restaurant's specialities,
sand dabs with breadcrumbs and Parmesan.
Then, in another pan,
he cooks some Swiss chard with the tough stalks removed,
fried gently in butter with shallots and seasoned.
Now the fish, I can't really say I recognise it,
but they look like lovely fillets.
I bet this is the most popular dish on the menu,
because it is what it is, it's simple.
He naps the dabs with their own maitre d' butter sauce,
and that's it.
I must say, when I heard about sand dabs,
I thought I have got to taste these.
I have read about them,
but I've never tasted a sand dab before.
What have I been missing
-all my life? I love the seasoned flour.
-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.