Rick Stein travels down the Californian coastline immortalised by Steinbeck, past citrus groves, vineyards that inspired one his favourite movies and into the city of dreams.
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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'd 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.
I started this journey to Mexico in San Francisco
and I loved it,
especially the old bars serving a fisherman's fish stew
straight from the market that morning.
I like Fisherman's Wharf, too.
It's a bit tatty, but its heart's in the right place.
Chinatown, with the famous Martin Yan, was brilliant.
I loved the dumplings and the noodle dishes.
And then I met a hero of mine.
I'd like to say she's America's equivalent
to our own Elizabeth David - Alice Waters.
My kind of ravioli.
I drove south to Monterey, immortalised by John Steinbeck
in his book Cannery Row.
There were more canneries here than you could shake a stick at.
Well, that was until the sardines disappeared.
Same old story - some days there just ain't no fish.
Now I'm heading south,
not on the brilliant coastal highway -
that's closed because of mudslides.
This part of my journey will take me towards Los Angeles
and then down to San Diego,
a mere 20 miles from the border with Mexico.
I'm going towards Pismo Beach.
The weather is changing and a mist is coming in from the sea.
I do, and I've always felt slightly, you know,
dewy-eyed about California, that I do think it's the centre
of the cuisine that I aspire to -
buying things fresh every day
and really trying to keep local, keep organic, as well.
But so far my impressions are incredibly favourable.
I mean, I really like to be here, and I think it's...
I think, actually, every time I come to America, you know,
in the UK, people are a bit sort of down on it.
I suppose there's a touch of jealousy there, really.
But every time I come here, I think, "I like to be in America."
It's such a lovely place, and people are so friendly,
and people are so good-mannered.
We all like to think of the British being good-mannered,
but the Americans are, too.
It looks to me like it's one of those Cornish early summer days,
when the land has warmed and the sea air turns to mist,
switching everything into watercolour.
I know it sounds a bit strange but Pismo Beach in the 1950s
was known as the clam capital of the world -
so many clams, in fact, that they had to use ploughs to harvest them.
Needless to say, like the sardines of Monterey further up the road,
they all disappeared, but their legacy lives on in this cafe,
with its famous clam chowder.
Aficionados of Californian chowder
told me that this is as good as it gets,
and it has to be served in sourdough,
and definitely not a Styrofoam cup.
Just looking in on the kitchen,
I can see it packed with clams of various types,
potatoes - of course there are potatoes -
loads of cream, parsley and celery, too.
I'd say as a cook this is a chowder that's evolved with time,
adding things, tasting things over the years
and arriving at what it is now.
-There you go.
-That's a bit of a plateful and a half.
-So I've got the chowder in bread, and I've got some more bread.
Well, yes, you get the core, buttered and toasted,
-served on the side.
VOICEOVER: The boss here is Joanne Currie.
Couldn't be better weather to eat this, it's very
New England, the weather. But your clam chowder is...
The Californian clam chowder.
-..it's really good.
-We use a lot more of the heavy cream,
a lot richer. In our chowder we have three different kinds of clams.
So we use the deepwater chopped clams, which give it
kind of that briny flavour, and then we use the surf clams,
which are kind of those more meaty, sweet clams. They're kind of orange.
If you look around, you'll find orange pieces.
And then the little, itty-bitty cockles
that are like teeny-weeny cherrystones.
It is such a lovely dish. Tell me about the bread.
-Do people eat it? The bread that...?
They start out with the core, tear it up, dip it in there and eat that.
And then you finish it, and then you fold the bread bowl like a sandwich.
And then just eat it, like a chowder sandwich.
-It's really true.
-I think what I love about the States,
and California in particular, if you think of a dish,
it's done bigger and better, like you said here.
-And you say, why not?
-You know, if we're going to have
-a clam chowder...
-Let's do it up. Load it up.
-..don't leave the cream, load it up.
-Load it up.
Put cheese on it. Some people put everything on it.
I was a little bit gloomy, Joanne, with this weather, you know?
-I know. Now you're happy.
Thanks to your chowder.
You cheered me up.
-That's what food should do, I think.
-Cheer you up.
There you are, that's right. Food should definitely cheer you up.
-Well, thank you very much, I'm going to finish it.
-Glad you're enjoying it.
-In great joy.
I love that chowder.
And it was one of the first things
I had to cook when I got back home to Padstow.
It's deeply comforting food.
So, I'm just going to leave that for two or three minutes,
till the water really starts boiling,
and then the clams will start popping open.
As soon as you see them popping open
it's almost time to take them off the heat,
cos once they open they're cooked,
and if you leave them any longer they tend to get a bit tough.
So, here we go.
So, now to make the chowder proper.
I'm just adding a lot of butter into this hot pan.
And now some chopped shallots, just stir that in.
I've had to guess this cos she wouldn't give me the recipe,
but I don't blame Joanne for not giving me the recipe.
I mean, they've only got that one dish,
and famous dish it is, too,
and if that was me I wouldn't give the recipe, either.
Because, you know, once everybody knows it
you haven't got that unique, wonderful chowder.
But I've made quite a few chowders, so I've got the general idea.
Now some chopped celery.
And now some chopped leeks. Just sweat that off.
This is the really important part of a chowder, I think.
It's the bacon. Lots of bacon.
So add that in, too and just allow that to sweat off.
There we go, and now a bit of thickening with flour.
Just add that. Very important with a chowder,
don't let anything colour too much.
Because it is the whiteness of the chowder
that makes it look so appetising.
And now for the clam juice.
They're drained sufficiently, so in we go.
Very important to get that clam juice into the chowder,
it gives it a nice salty taste and a bit of depth.
Just as a rule of thumb,
whenever you're using juice from mussels or clams,
just leave the last bit in the bowl.
If you can see, there's probably some grit there,
which you don't want in your chowder.
And now a bay leaf, preferably fresh,
and a rasp or two of nutmeg for that spice.
Milk, about a pint...
..and then half that of cream.
And I'm sure they didn't put cod in the recipe back in Pismo Beach,
but I'm just adding a little bit of cod, as well,
cos I just like the fish and clam element.
And finally some boiled potatoes.
There we go. Now I'm just going to leave that to simmer about five
minutes while I just remove the clams from their shells.
I love clams, and you could eat them at any time of the year.
The serious experts say that they're at their best
between September and April, but that shouldn't stop you making this.
And if you can't get clams, mussels are perfect.
Anyway, that's done, and all it needs is a bit of seasoning.
So, that's the perfect consistency.
It has to be quite thick, but not too thick
and definitely not too thin.
So, now I can put that in my sourdough bun.
Serving food in bread sounds like
a very faddy San Francisco thing to do,
but, of course, a few hundred years ago
all manner of food was served on bread,
especially slices of roast beef.
Then they were called trenchers,
hence, "trencherman" - a lover of food.
Oh, so good.
You know, when they talk about comfort food,
this is comfort food.
I'm making my way down to the Santa Barbara wine country.
I can remember when American wine was quite a new thing.
In the '60s, as far as most people were concerned then,
wine belonged to France, Spain and Italy,
but the climate, the soil, the sun and the sea air
makes growing grapes here a natural.
If you like food and wine,
there's a good chance you've seen the film, Sideways. I loved it.
It's about two best friends on the search
for the perfect glass of Californian Pinot Noir,
amongst other things.
It's set around the vineyards here,
and one of the main stopping points is this place, The Hitching Post.
Lovers of that film come in their droves to taste the wine.
The boss is a restaurant owner and a winemaker extraordinaire,
Where would Pinot be without oak, I say.
You know, it's just absolutely essential.
Why Pinot Noir in this area?
Turns out that, um, you know, we're way south of Napa, where...
-..and so you would think it would be a warmer climate,
but we get breezes that actually come from Alaska,
so our climate is cooler than Napa and most of Sonoma,
which are further north,
so we have this ability to have a long growing season,
cos we are south, things can start earlier.
We don't get the rains that they get in California
and in Northern California at harvest time,
and the climate is moderated by these ocean breezes.
Well, we noticed it this morning,
-there was so much fog, it was so cold...
-So, we've experienced it.
-That's it. We have this influence.
And for us, in the afternoon, the breeze comes in
and cools things off, and we have cold, very cold nights,
so that preserves acidity,
and the Pinot Noir is so delicate that it just can't handle hot,
hot weather like other grapes.
I mean, we don't make the simple kind of Pinot Noir
-that is just fruit-driven.
-Just fruit, yeah.
-Ours is earthy, spicy.
-We believe in the Burgundian style
where you leave the leaves from the...
The yeasts from fermentation are still in the barrels,
and we never rack them off.
We never aerate the wine.
We emulate the Burgundian style
with our own grapes that are quite different, but...
Well, I'm thinking immediately now
let's have a lovely steak and a glass of your Pinot,
-and I'll tell you what I think.
This is a great find,
a steakhouse noted for its red wine.
What could be better than that?
And this is America to me -
these great, thick, well-marbled steaks cooking over oak wood.
You just know they're going to be so tender.
It makes my mouth drool with anticipation.
So, that's the New York.
-Do you like it, Rick?
Cos, I mean, it's just got that wonderful scent
of wood smoke in there. It's just a perfect way of cooking a steak.
And, as we've said, I've got to try the wine with it.
Oh, that's really good, isn't it? Cos, I mean, sometimes Pinots
are a bit too light to go with something like meat like this,
but it works with the beef.
It's all about balance in food and wine.
Oh! FRANK LAUGHS
Just tell me about Sideways, then, because, I mean,
-it's wonderful to be sitting at the bar.
-Yeah, well, you know,
we were lucky enough to have Rex Pickett, who wrote the novel,
sit at the bar and he befriended the bartender,
and he also had a crush on a waitress,
and he wrote them into his book.
And then Alexander Payne bought that and made a screenplay out of it,
and filmed that movie, 2003.
They didn't have any money, they just came through
and had a great time, and it was a wonderful production,
but we didn't think it would go anywhere. And then...
-No, no, they told me it would show
in two theatres when they opened it.
So, after it, I bet everybody wants to sit at the bar now.
Everybody wants to sit here.
There is a list with somebody waiting for this seat right now.
-Oh, well, we better go, sorry.
-We better eat. Eat and drink.
Get on our way.
VOICEOVER: Oh, that was so lovely.
Frank doesn't need the business, you can tell,
but I'll go back there again and again.
I've managed to avoid the mudslides that have closed the coast road,
but now I'm back on the much-loved Pacific Highway.
These hardy people I think are committed surfers.
I used to be a committed surfer,
in the old days I couldn't wait till lunch servings were over
and I'd dash to the beach with my surfboard,
and sometimes my dog, Chalky.
I'm not sure if I'd do this, though,
live in a camper van waiting for the right wave.
I wasn't THAT committed.
In the early days, before I became sort of quite well-known,
I always used to ask chefs that were coming for a job, in Padstow,
I said, "Do you surf?"
And if they said yes, I knew they would come and work for me.
Unfortunately, it's an onshore wind today, so it's a bit messy,
but I wouldn't mind betting that quite a few
of the people along here would come from Cornwall,
because for surfers from places like Newquay, this would be nirvana.
Always remember that Beach Boys song, Catch A Wave.
"Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world".
Indeed you are.
I'm driving past miles and miles of citrus groves.
This stretch of coast is famous for its oranges and lemons,
and especially its tangerines.
I think there's a good example of the Californian dream here,
and that is producing something special, rare and niche.
And here, on Churchill Farm,
Jim and Lisa do just that with the pixie tangerine.
What they seem to do is send a box of them to a couple of top chefs
and soon the whole country wants them.
It's the Californian way.
So, pixies are a variety that is intrinsically seedless.
They are always seedless.
We've been growing them since 1990,
and I've found two seeds in that time,
so I think we can say they're seedless.
-Can I try one, Jim?
-Oh, yeah, yeah, here.
We wouldn't do a commercial harvest in the rain, cos...
-Oh, it makes you miserable. You get soaked.
-Oh, I thought it had something to do with the flavour.
Oh, my first pixie.
Tasting my first pixie.
Well, it's an abundance of freshness.
There's a wonderful sweetness, wonderful tartness to it.
Second only to wine, I'd love to have a citrus orchard.
Can I offer you another?
Another pixie? Yeah.
-This is Mike.
Mike turned out to be a lawyer who gave it all up
in favour of growing tangerines.
He's totally passionate about the people who migrate here
to pick the fruit. Without them, he says, it would rot.
Yeah, this idea of excluding immigrants, mostly Mexicans,
is, like...it's so dumb.
It's so dumb.
We are utterly dependent on professional harvest labour.
Like, we couldn't... we couldn't do this.
-You guys are here, like, and it's cool and rainy, but...
..it was 95 the other day.
-These guys go out and pick all day long.
-People live in the city and they don't,
they don't get it and they think...
They're going to build a wall, right?
-That's so, so dumb.
it's so disrespectful to where your food comes from,
but also to these human beings who...
They just want to work.
They all... They just want to work, and nobody here will do it.
All restaurant food in California is Mexican food.
And it's probably true across the United States, really.
I've done a bit of fruit picking in my time -
it's backbreaking work,
and I fully understand their predicament.
I know for a fact that lots of daffodils wouldn't be picked
in Cornwall if it wasn't for our European friends.
And of course I think my fish and chip shop and cafes
would definitely slow down.
So I see there could be trouble ahead.
It was back at home in Cornwall that I came up with a recipe to celebrate
the citrus fruit of California,
which is as important as the wine over there.
It's a cake, a zingy, citrusy, moist orangey cake.
And it's delicious.
So, I'm just dropping these two clementines into boiling water,
and I'm going to cook them for about 20 minutes
till they're nice and soft. You can use any citrus fruit.
I would suggest tangerines, obviously, or oranges,
and, actually, this cake is on the back of visiting
the Churchills' farm where they were growing pixie tangerines.
The point of pixie tangerines is they've got no pips.
Right. While those are boiling, I'm just going to do zest this lemon.
The zest is going to go into the batter.
Very nice. I love zesting.
It really brings out the oil.
You can really smell it.
So, now, four eggs, just breaking one after the other.
OK, now some sugar.
And I get my electric beater
and just start to amalgamate all that.
And now, very important, very Californian,
quite a lot of extra virgin olive oil, gives a lovely, lovely flavour.
So, just beating that till it's about the consistency
of a light mayonnaise.
There we go. That's looking rather nice, I think,
and smelling delicious.
And now for my almonds.
It's a gluten-free cake, which is very, very popular in California,
I venture to say.
Just fold those in.
So, now I'm going to put those in my wonderful new blender.
All other blenders, mixers, whatever, in the garage now.
Looking a little sad, they're there along with the fondue set
and with the rice cooker, and, of course,
the one that's been there the longest of all,
the sandwich maker.
But I have a feeling that fondue set
may be getting back into the main kitchen.
Now just pouring that into the cake mix.
And, last of all, and I always tend to leave this last of all,
the baking powder which is going to give the main aeration in the cake.
Just fold that in.
And now just pour that into my greased and lined baking tin
and off into the oven.
So that goes into a fan oven set at 160 degrees,
or a conventional oven set at 180 degrees, for 45-50 minutes.
While that cake's baking, I'm just going to make a sweet lemon juice.
This is a bit like a lemon drizzle cake meets clementine sponge.
There we go. All the juice out of there.
And now just heating this pan up, up here.
In goes the juice and then some caster sugar, just stir that around,
just a little bit so that it's all dissolved.
So, I'm just, I think the correct term is docking the cake.
Using a bit of pasta,
just making little holes because the next thing I'm going to do
is add that lemon syrup. There we go.
Now just pour the lemon syrup on.
It is indeed a fine cake by any standards.
Soft, open textured, fresh tasting, and tangy.
I like it because it's so Californian.
Almonds, sugar, olive oil, and sweet little pixies.
I'm heading to LA on what is surely
one of the most exhilarating coastal roads in the world.
It's wonderful, and I get the great sense of freedom.
I feel like driving forever.
I'm at Malibu now - so exotic, that name.
They say if you've made it big time, you live here,
and it won't be long before I reach the outskirts of LA.
I was thinking, is there another place in the world
that could rival LA?
Because to me it really lives up to its tag line, the city of dreams.
The glittering prizes and the crashing failures.
Has there ever been anything invented
that's been more potent than a movie?
I don't think so.
I'm going to a restaurant in Hollywood that I've only read about,
but it's really fuelled my imagination.
It's called Musso and Frank's,
and it's been serving writers, producers,
directors and stars for nearly 100 years,
long before talkies.
Stars like Marilyn Monroe would eat here.
Also Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo,
and, lately, Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt.
The owner is Mark Musso.
So, when it opened,
why do you think it was taken up by so many actors and writers?
Well, in the very early days of it,
I'd say from the early '20s to the early '30s,
Hollywood was just getting inundated
by a really diverse, um, immigration.
You know, people were coming from all over the world to be in this new
moving picture industry.
And the chef that was here at that time, a French chef named Jean Roux,
really capitalised on that and he started making dishes
that were very intercontinental
and that anybody from anywhere around the world could come
and feel like they were at home.
So it just, you know, always has been
a place where the celebrities like to come
and we always just let them be who there are.
Our motto is, "We treat locals like celebrities
"and celebrities like locals."
And it seems to work. Both sides like that, so...
It's like going into really famous old church, in a funny sort of way.
You think, what things have happened here?
-It could be the same with that.
And the only thing that can tell us is the wallpaper upstairs.
Seen it all.
-Well, I'm tucking into a Charlie Chaplin dish.
Charlie Chaplin's kidneys.
-Not literally speaking.
-Yeah, not literally, no.
But he had it every day for lunch,
and his studio was right down the street,
and he would race his horse with Rudolph Valentino
from his studio to Musso's.
-Of course, the loser would have to buy lunch.
But there's only one booth in the whole restaurant that has a window,
and so they would tie their horses up in front of that window
and sit in that booth so they could keep an eye on their horses.
And that became known as the Charlie Chaplin booth
and they'd eat lamb kidneys every day.
Your name's Rick, right? You're sitting in Steve McQueen's seat.
You know that, right?
Bullitt. Wrong city, but fabulous film.
-You liked him, right?
-I love Steve McQueen, yeah.
-Steve McQueen, The Great Escape.
I think he did his final escape right out of here.
Our staff has been here for a very long time.
We've got some servers who get flown all over the world
by the Rolling Stones to go to their concerts.
You know, and other servers will only serve...
..Johnny Depp. Johnny Depp will only, you know, have that one server.
And so they kind of have created this, you know,
movie-like character for themselves, and it's really cool.
One of my chef friends back at home
told me about the food-truck culture in America.
I'd never heard of it before.
He said it's so exciting and I'd better check it out.
And so I've come here, west of the city on the coast of Santa Monica,
to find this van selling its own Korean LA version of fast food.
The owner is Roy Choi.
-How are you doing, chef?
-Nice to meet you.
-Pleasure. Welcome to LA.
-Welcome to Santa Monica.
-Nice to be here. I haven't been
-to Korea, but I love Korean food.
Oh, yeah, yeah. But I'm from LA, so I don't know.
OK, fair enough, fair enough.
-Kogi is an LA representation of immigration, actually.
-You know, it's, um, it's not Korean food.
It's us, a second generation
and how we grew up here in this country, in America,
and this is our expression.
So, really, it has nothing to do with Korea,
other than maybe some of the flavours
and, like, some of how we grew up.
But it has nothing to do with the Motherland,
-it has to do with Los Angeles.
-Well, also, to do with Mexico.
Yeah. They grow up here and end up becoming American, you know,
and that's what Kogi represents.
-Can we order? Can you just...?
-Yeah, yeah, let's order some stuff.
Hey, Santos, um, short rib burrito.
Blackjack quesadilla, kimchi quesadilla,
sweet chilli chicken quesadilla and sliders.
Todo mismo. The...
-So, tell me about food trucks.
Well, food trucks were here before Kogi.
Yeah. And it's always been a staple of LA life.
-But it usually existed within the Latino neighbourhoods.
-Taco trucks and tamale trucks and pupusa trucks,
but then it was also in the construction sites of Los Angeles.
-You've got to feed the workers.
-You got to feed the workers, right?
You got to feed the blue-collar.
And they can't leave the site,
so that where the trucks really became a part of LA culture.
Hey, ay-ay! Que paso?
My first taste of a Korean-Mexican taco.
-Oh, that is good.
-Hell, yeah. Welcome to Kogi.
That wasn't scripted. That's like real stuff!
People ate that for the first time and were just like, "Whoa!"
What's so great about this is the kimchi element in it,
so you've got a sort of fermented cabbage,
hot fermented cabbage in there.
It's just...you're adding another dimension.
Oh, yeah. And then this is our sliders.
-A beef slider now?
That one is the... That one is the drunk one.
-You eat that when you're drunk - oh!
-Forget about it.
-This demands a few beers.
Los Angeles began here, Olvera Street.
This is its Mexican roots.
This was the town set up by the landowners, the farmers,
the ranchers, who came here in the late 18th century from Mexico.
Of course then it was governed by Mexico, not the United States.
I have to say I was a little underwhelmed
by the amount of souvenirs on sale here.
To my mind it doesn't exactly celebrate the historical past.
I mean, if I was cynical I would say it cashes in on it.
But if you're a visitor to LA,
then I suppose this is as close as you can get to its true origins.
But one good point is
I notice that there is a lovely smell in the air,
the smell of chilli, of tacos, and hot red sauce.
Yeah, could I have two beef taquitos please? Yeah.
-Would you like something to drink?
-Yeah, I'll have a coke, please.
-And a coke.
-Thank you so much.
Well, I was really attracted, just walking down Olvera Street,
I smelled the smell of hot corn,
and it always means lovely hot tortillas for me.
And these are called taquitos.
That just means "Little tortillas".
And they're also known in Mexico as flautas.
These are slow-cooked beef, rolled up in a tortilla and then fried.
Also has a bit of avocado sauce on top.
When I taste something like that I think I've got to go to Mexico.
Do you get many Mexicans coming in here?
Oh, yeah. I mean, Los Angeles...
It's known for its Mexican culture. You see, people...
I met up with Chris Espinosa, a fourth-generation Mexican.
I could tell immediately he was a serious foodie
who loves the cuisine of his homeland,
especially the famous chocolatey,
smoky, chilli-flavoured mole.
This is a special walking district.
Yes. It's actually a paseo,
and it's meant for strolling and shopping, relaxing.
If you look at all the restaurants that we have over here,
they are covered patios
so that you can enjoy your beer, or your margarita...
Just, you know, without getting the hard sunshine.
Um, we also have really nice mole restaurants.
-Yes, chocolatey, um, some are green with pistachios,
so many different type of moles that go on top of chicken, or maybe,
you know, a chilli relleno.
-That a fried...
-Yeah. A stuffed chilli.
So would you say you had as good moles
as somewhere like Puebla, then?
Could you, honestly, hand on heart, say yours is good as the...?
Oh, my. That's hard to say because, you know, Mexico is the homeland...
-And, for some reason, when you get down there, the taste,
there's just something more authentic about it.
But Los Angeles does an excellent job, um,
because we have so many Mexican immigrants
-and so many generations...
I'm fourth-generation here in Los Angeles, so...
-There you go.
-We carry those traditions with us.
Now, down Melrose Avenue, which is quite high rent,
is a restaurant called Mozza.
It has a bar that specialises in dishes made from mozzarella.
Next door, they own a really good pizzeria.
The crew really loved it,
especially the one with the egg on top and the lovely caramelized leeks
and salami and fontina cheese.
It was delicious.
But I digress.
The owner here is Nancy Silverton.
-And do you know burrata cheese?
-I certainly do, I'm addicted to it.
Yeah, it's wonderful.
It's mozzarella with cream in the middle, or...?
Yeah, it's cream in the middle, but also strands of mozzarella.
-And we're lucky enough in Los Angeles
that we have a local burrata maker.
How does it compare to the Italian version?
A little bit different. Um, this is brown butter.
-That I'm going to...
-Gosh, that looks lovely.
..pour over. People always ask me, like,
"How do you come up with your combinations of dishes?"
And, when you're in a restaurant, what's great is that you have
so many different containers of so many things...
-And I make a habit of walking down the line
and eating a little bit of this and a little bit of that,
and I figure out, at the same time, what I think really goes together
because, I don't know, I don't think I would really think of
asparagus and burrata.
And then we top it off with some guanciale, which is cured pork jowl,
some almonds, seasoned with salt, and extra virgin olive oil.
So when you think about it, Nancy,
if you are having this in Puglia,
the idea of putting butter with burrata would be a bit weird.
They'd probably, um, shoot me or lock me up, I know,
but see that's the beauty,
-I think, about living in America...
..or living outside of Italy,
where everything is based so much on tradition.
-It's that you get to... You're inspired by them, right?
So, you get to borrow all their technique and flavour
and then you can come back home and kind of shake it up a bit.
Right. I know I'm going to enjoy this, particularly the guanciale.
-Just a little bit...
-Yeah, very, very porky.
-Oh, I love porky!
There we go.
One of those popular little assemblies here
is slices of ham, or speck, wrapped around the burrata.
It's accompanied by fresh peas that arrived this morning.
English peas they call them, for some reason.
And sliced sugar snap peas, sea salt,
black pepper, and olive oil.
Now some Parmesan and then some chopped mint
that will give it a burst of freshness.
It's topped off with a bit more Parmesan,
and it's a great, light LA lunch.
-So, these have the English peas and the sugar snaps.
Peas and mint, that's delicious.
Actually quite a good thing to do in my retirement, I think.
A mozzarella bar, right?
-I wouldn't dream of it.
-My suggestion is, like, ten seats.
-OK. No more.
Yeah, lunch times only.
And lunch time only.
Actually I don't think I could live here.
I like it, really like it, don't get me wrong,
but it's a little bit too faddy for me,
especially in a health-conscious way.
At home I sometimes like the occasional pie and a pint for lunch.
Do you know, I don't think I could utter those words here.
It's like sacrilege.
Anyway, it's time to leave LA,
but, before I go, there's one last dish
that represents modern-day Hollywood.
I had it at the La Scala restaurant
with the owner, Gigi Leon.
This is where the movie aristocracy go.
The chopped salad was designed to be eaten
while doing million-dollar deals,
so that you don't accidentally launch bits of lettuce
to land on your friends' Armani suits and dresses.
And this is delicious.
-Glad I got to try some.
-So glad you like it.
Somebody once complained about, "Can't you make this easier to eat?"
So my dad and the chef at the time, Emilio,
they just decided to chop it.
And that was it.
History was made. It was easy to eat.
It also changes the flavour of it.
-It does, yeah.
-And it just... It just took off from there.
They don't normally allow filming in here,
hence the empty restaurant.
Some people shouldn't be being seen with other people,
and then also celebrities, or just people are private.
I mean, we all love our cellphones, don't we?
But, I mean, it must be such a difficult thing.
I mean, you never used to allow cameras in here.
Just at the restaurant back then, there weren't cellphones,
there weren't... Nobody was recording anything,
so it got...
..raunchy and stars felt at home and at ease to do what they wanted
because nobody was filming it.
There was no...history.
Where now everything's filmed,
so everybody's on their best behaviour all the time,
but back then it stayed open until people left.
-It could close at five in the morning.
There were still the liquor laws where you had to stop
serving liquor at two, but everybody would order a ton at two o'clock,
and then just keep drinking through the night.
So it was... It was a wilder time.
I must say, I can't imagine
the likes of Dean Martin or Kirk Douglas eating this.
I think they'd probably like pasta with a nice, meaty wine sauce.
But, anyway, I thought it only right to prepare a chopped salad
as part of my culinary tribute to California.
So, I've got two types of lettuce, first of all romaine lettuce,
which I'm just going to slice very thinly.
I don't want the shreds to be too long either.
And now iceberg for texture.
A lot of people knock iceberg, but it's got a lovely, crunchy texture.
Same thing. Shred the iceberg, a bit more iceberg than romaine.
And now salami, well, this is quite easy to chop up.
You just get a big pile like that, and you want pieces about that big.
In they go.
And now mozzarella. I've tried grating mozzarella,
but actually I find it easier just to chop up like this.
So I'm just building up all these chopped ingredients.
And now for some chickpeas, which I've previously cooked.
In they go, too.
So now the tomatoes, I'm just going to sharpen my knife a bit here
because we've got skins on them, they take a bit more cutting.
So, you see, I'm building up this chopped salad.
And the thing about it, I think,
and actually talking to Gigi at La Scala,
it's really business food, this.
It's a sort of funny concept,
but it's not about picking up slices of chicken,
gravy, or eating pasta with lots of sauce.
It's about things that you can just pick up in a fork
and eat decorously.
And you don't want to be messing around with difficult food.
And that where I think a chopped salad really comes in.
I once actually cooked for the Queen and I was given this list of things
that, well, they said that she doesn't like,
but it's not really about what she doesn't like,
it's about what she can't pour down those wonderful dresses, I think.
Is the same sort of thing with a chopped salad.
There we go. There's the tomatoes.
And then some cucumber - about, I don't know,
three or four inches of cucumber, just cut up.
And, finally, a chiffonade - I love that word - of basil.
A lovely, heavy scent, basil.
I can't understand why people put basil into cooked food,
you can't taste it after a while,
but you sure can taste it in a salad like this.
There we go. Beautiful.
Right. Now to make up the dressing.
I always like to go for 4-to-1, one part vinegar.
Be mean with the vinegar, red wine vinegar here.
About four times as much olive oil.
There we go.
And then some mustard. Always like a bit of mustard in my...
..salad. And then some salt.
Quite a lot of salt, I think,
because we've got a lot of salad to go through there, to season,
this is the only time I'm going to put some in.
Some sugar, I always like a little, tiny pinch of sugar,
about half as much sugar to salt.
I put about half a teaspoon of salt, so a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar.
Mix that... Oh, I forgot my pepper!
A bit of pepper.
About ten turns of the black pepper mill.
I'm not too worried about it falling down my shirt
because everything falls down my shirt but...
..the fact is, it's a very nice salad.
Interestingly, it hasn't got any garlic or any onion in it.
And the reason is, I guess,
you don't want to be talking to the likes of David Selznick
with onion or garlic breath, do you?
He's been dead a long time, Rick.
I know he's been dead, but I said the likes of, you know?
-All right. You don't want to be...
..talking to Francis Ford Coppola
with a blinking oniony breath, do you?
-I think he'd like that, though, he's Italian.
-Coppola, I mean!
MARCHING BAND MUSIC
So, now it's onto my last stop before the border with Mexico,
San Diego, a famous naval port, hence the music.
Bing Crosby sang about it
as the place "where the turf meets the surf".
I like that.
But there's a statue on the quayside here that I just had to see.
It's so Hollywood, so James Dean, the US Navy,
South Pacific and VJ day
rolled into one gorgeous moment.
It's a timeless scene,
repeated a million times in any naval dockyard the world over.
I love it.
It's a sculpture from a photo which I well remember,
from VJ day in New York.
Victory over Japan day.
And it's now called Embracing Peace,
but it used to be called Unconditional Surrender.
The reason the name's changed is that a lot of feminist groups feel
that it is a little demeaning to women,
the way she's leaning over like that,
as if in some sort of physical surrender.
I think it's a bit sad
because I just think it harks back to the end of the Second World War,
a time of great hope and expectation
for a peaceful future and it sort of captures the moment,
but I can understand what they mean.
It's not just the statue I came here to see, although I'm pleased I did.
No, it's because San Diego happens to be one of the best places
in the world for sea urchins.
I know they're not everybody's cup of tea, but the Japanese,
the Italians, and sophisticated lovers of seafood adore them.
-Hello. Nice to see you.
-Very nice to see you.
-Please, come aboard.
-Oh, thank you very much.
This is the Peter Halmay.
He's one of the top divers
collecting these spiky balls of flavour from the sea bed.
-That's some good roe there.
-They're big, aren't they?
I'm very partial to sea urchins, as it happens.
A lovely colour.
Oh, they're really good. That is just lovely, and I think...
What I really like about sea urchins is that when you first taste them,
you just taste the saltiness
and then after about half a second the sweetness comes in,
and the fragrance of them...
They're very good.
I can't understand why more people don't like them.
Is it the look of them or what?
They're not very pretty to look at.
-But it's just something new.
Yeah. I think... I think because there aren't enough chefs
that are saying, "Try this, try this."
"I like it and this is the way I like it and prepare it."
What we do with them, is take all the stuff out, OK,
and then mix them with scrambled egg and put them back in the shell.
And it's just, you know, restaurants are all about show...
It looks really good on the table.
Plus, it masks the, er...
-So, you've been out there fishing since 1970?
I started diving for abalone in 1970.
Are you getting a bit long in the tooth -
no disrespect, cos you're the same age as me - for still diving then?
You look very healthy.
It's a fantastic lifestyle.
There's nothing to not like about it.
And it keeps me from doing the household chores
that my wife has set out for the last 35 years.
But, you know, at my age,
I can't compete with a 40-year-old any more.
But I can go out there o=in the roughest weather,
because I'll go out there and they'll take a day off.
So my wife asks me, "How'd you do today?"
I says, "Competitively or financially?
"Competitively, I was number one.
"Financially I maybe broke even,
"but I probably would have been better off..."
But that competitive urge in fishing is always there.
You know, we call them highliners,
the ones that catch a lot more than the others.
And today we're starting to rethink that idea.
Maybe catching more isn't the way you should do it.
Exactly. Exactly. Presumably you've got...
I mean, I don't have the temerity to ask how much you make
but, I mean, those need to be really expensive
to have them like that in a restaurant, don't they?
You don't have the temerity cos you're a gentleman.
Most people say, "Oh, how many of you get of those a day?"
And I said, "Oh, about 200."
He says, "What do you charge?" I say, "5."
And then they quickly multiply out, and then the third question is,
-"Do you have a real job?"
-"Cos this can't be..."
-Well, that says it all.
-Says it all.
-Yeah. They go, "This can't be a job."
What a man. Living the dream life on this fabulous Californian coast.
And, Peter, long may it last.
I'm really getting to like this trip round California.
I've only got less than 20 miles to go before the border,
but this is a real delight for me.
Because not far away is the famous Hotel del Coronado,
featured in my favourite film, Some Like It Hot.
I'm often finding myself in my restaurant quite late at night
in a passionate conversation with a load of people
about their favourite films.
Inevitably, Citizen Kane comes up,
and I just never liked it, really.
I don't know why everybody's so keen about it.
But the other one, a personal favourite of mine,
is Some Like It Hot.
And in the film Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis
are on the run from the mafia,
and to get out of their way they fall in
with an all-female jazz band, and they dress up as females.
And, of course, one of the females is Marilyn Monroe.
And, the thing is, it's filled with the most wonderful one-liners.
I just remember one. Tony Curtis is taking off Cary Grant
and Marilyn Monroe says to him,
"Isn't water polo very dangerous?"
He says, "Yes, it is."
"I've had two ponies drown on me already!"
I'm not a great city lover. I prefer beaches and nice shacks
serving cold beers and grilled seafood,
but I like San Diego.
I like it because it's compact and not an amorphous sprawl.
I think it's beautifully defined and it's got a great seafood reputation.
And that's why I'm here.
I'm on a mission.
If I lived round here,
I'd probably spend an awful lot of time
at this amazing seafood emporium
run by an extraordinary man, Tommy Gomez.
-How are you?
-Nice to meet you.
-Good to see you.
I'm really liking the look of this.
-Yeah. Smells like money!
-It smells like...
So, here, take a hairnet let's go for a walk.
Some expensive looking fish here, I must say.
This place is a seafood lover's dream,
everything you want from the California shore and beyond.
Really good tuna, as good as I've seen at the Tsukiji market in Tokyo.
And these prawns, big and firm.
I'm told they're the best thing you can eat around here.
I think they're called ghost prawns
because you can see right through them.
Oh, my gosh!
So, this is a...
-This is a big-eye tuna.
-Oh, yeah, yeah, I was just looking at this opah.
I am a great fan of the opah.
I have tasted them before.
I find it one of the best tasting fish in the sea.
-We shouldn't be talking about it because we don't want people
to know how beautiful it is.
This is the most underutilized species on the planet.
Um, the great thing about the opah
-is there's so many different cuts of meat in this fish.
Right in here is an unbelievable muscle that...
It looks like a Frisbee disc.
And down in here there's another one
that looks like a little mini football,
and the two are connected,
and this actually is the downward...
-You can see the chest.
-You can see it moving there, yeah!
We need to utilise the whole fish.
We need to get away from the four-ounce, frozen,
lemon pepper, vacuum-packed, boil-in-a-bag type fish
and start getting back to talking to your fishmonger,
going to the butcher's shop and talking to a butcher,
and going to what we call farmers markets
and talking to the farmers, and getting back to our food.
You know, we have to honour the fact that this fish
gave up its life in order to feed us.
So we have to treat this fish with the honour and respect
that it deserves. It's a wild animal.
Tommy decided to make me a chilli
from the pectoral muscle of the opah fish,
very firm and lean.
And normally thrown away.
So, the proof of the pudding,
he just chopped it up and fried it in peanut oil,
adding taco seasoning - I'm doing this in shorthand now -
then red enchilada sauce...
..loads of pepper,
a similar amount of garlic powder...
..some tomato salsa - he'd already made that up -
and, finally, kidney beans.
This is a fish chilli, fisherman style.
I think I'll just taste it now, if you don't mind.
-Oh, this looks... Oh, we've got some cheese, as well.
What sort of cheese is this then?
It's a shredded white Cheddar and a yellow Cheddar.
That's lovely. So now I suppose you could have that with the rice,
-Well, you can see the liquid here,
and if you throw rice in there...
-..it'd make a nice gumbo as it soaks up the liquid.
And then you take that,
you throw a little bit of lettuce on there and throw in a tortilla
and you make a wrap or a burrito.
So you've got all these different meals out of one pot.
If we can eat it on the boats,
we can certainly serve it to our loved ones
and family and neighbours. And that what food's all about.
Can I just ask you this? You don't have to answer.
You lost all your brothers fishing?
Yeah. In one form or another, yeah.
How many brothers did you lose fishing?
Nine. There was nine boys. I'm the last one still here.
But you still believe in it?
I-I got no choice.
This is what I do. It's what I know.
I left school to be a fisherman and I wanted to be a fisherman
like my dad and my brothers.
Now you're going to get me crying!
-You're going to get me all crying now.
So, yeah. The chilli's very hot.
It's burning my eyes!
VOICEOVER: Tommy's a typical fisherman.
He's brave, stoic and no matter the country, the creed,
there'll always be a Tommy Gomez the world over,
challenging whatever the seas throw at them.
I still can't take it in.
Next time, I finally cross the border into Mexico,
and it's only a short hop to Tijuana,
home of the famous Caesar salad.
I try what some people say is the best breakfast in the world.
Well, some like it hot.
And, of course, I have to have a margarita
at the bar where it was first created.
I finally return.
Rick Stein continues travelling down the Californian coastline immortalised by Steinbeck, past citrus groves, vineyards that inspired one his favourite movies, Sideways, and into the city of dreams, Los Angeles. There, movie icons of old like Charlie Chaplin enjoyed eating lamb's kidney with bacon alongside the perfect martini on Hollywood Boulevard and where the A-listers of today opt instead for chopped salad off the avenues of Beverly Hills. On the edge of Downtown LA, Rick discovers Olvera Street, where the Hispanic origins of the city took root. Then onwards, south to San Diego, where he meets 79-year-old Peter Halmay, the oldest sea-urchin diver in town, and where a local fishmonger cooks him the best fish chilli he has ever had.