Sitting inside Walter and Margarita Manzke‘s popular French-leaning Los Angeles restaurant République, with its Instagram-worthy tiling, hefty wooden tables, and open kitchen, you might be surprised to learn that you’re actually enjoying a little piece of the Philippines. That’s because there is a République of sorts in Manila, complete with its long pastry counter and winding queue of eager diners. Even the Courier-font menu in Manila is a near-mirror image to the one you might be holding in Los Angeles, filled with dishes like shakshouka and a decadent croque madame. It’s the sort of hearty late-morning weekend fare that’s well-known within L.A.’s prodigious brunch community, but might otherwise seem out of place in Southeast Asia.
A bit of cultural appropriation or outright brand thievery? Not exactly. The restaurant, calledWildflour, is the happy work of the Manzkes themselves, and it’s as busy — and as comfortable — as any of the best places you’ll find on the West Coast. Except this is Manila, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, filled with economic disparities and infrastructure issues and anabsolutely booming urban population, eager to stand side-by-side with the biggest cities in the world.
Wine-loving folk in Baja, Mexico, speak with pride about the Valle de Guadalupe, a surprisingly lush, wide cut of land just off the coast from Ensenada. One of the more popular tales comes from the age of the Spanish occupation of Mexico itself, when it’s believed that conquering Spaniards took such a shine to the intense grapes being grown in the Valle that they stopped importing bottles from Europe nearly altogether. To save face and keep a sense of national pride about their own wines, the Spanish government had the vineyards destroyed, throwing the Valle out of the wine game altogether for a few hundred years.
Today the grapes are back. Many vines are still young, and growers in the Valle continue to experiment with varieties as they work to develop a local signature, but there’s no denying the sense of exploration and innovation happening a mere 90 minutes south of San Diego. Along with the dozens and dozens of above-board wineries, garagiste-style winemakers proliferate the Valle, turning a small crop of grapes into individual hand-labeled bottles that have intrigued many a wine-lover. And the region has become something of a travel destination in its own right; not just for wine, but food as well.
“Garbage In, Garbage Out” is the old corporate ethos to describe failures in quality and consistency at every end. Begin with inferior raw products, a poor value system or less-than-stellar team members, and expect to push out a product that is equally low quality. So what’s it called when you begin your corporate journey with integrity, carry yourself with pride through every phase of operation and produce goods that are well-known, even lauded, market-wide?
Whatever the proper phrasing — quality in, quality out, perhaps — there are precious few companies that subscribe to this ethereal mantra, especially in the food universe. Scaling anything from baked goods to wholesale meats to packaged snacks usually means a compromise somewhere in the chain, in order to keep products fresh, customers happy and margins high. But for King Arthur Flour, there are no anonymous stakeholders to answer to, no corporate whales taking up a disproportionate share of the financial tank. The Vermont-based flour and baking accessories house can afford to conduct themselves with sincerity, because everyone who works a shift in the employee-owned company is a shareholder themselves. From corner office to mop closet, everyone has a stage in the gains.
The second weekend of Coachella tends to be a more timid affair. The first-in-line buzz crowd has already gone, ‘grammed and gotten back to their desk jobs by the end of weekend one, and there are usually fewer celebrity surprises and big name drop-ins as a result. You might say that weekend two is downright relaxed.
Well, perhaps not entirely. There’s still the blazing sun, endless set times and impenetrable crowds to manage. But for those with the discretionary income to enjoy themselves (read: anyone who bought a Coachella pass), it’s possible to make for the desert without overdoing it, even during high music festival season. Spend a little more time near the pool at your Palm Springs hotel, avoid the early traffic by taking in a late lunch, or — better still — spend an evening at Workshop Kitchen + Bar in Palm Springs, drinking cocktails and enjoying the stripped-down interior. You might not make it to the polo grounds at all, but that’s okay.
“Arrowhead’s got the water … Big Bear’s got the beer!” That’s the sentiment behind Big Bear Mountain Brewery, the small yellow house just off Big Bear Boulevard that’s home to the mountain’s only commercial brewing operation. Sure, pulling into the parking lot might make you think you’re stopping over at someone’s private residence for a beer. And sure, you’re just as likely to find yourself sitting inside on a floral love seat as you are a barstool, but that’s just the way Big Bear Mountain Brewery is. Cozy, quiet, unassuming; their beer is much the same.
Still, it’s a fun atmosphere at Big Bear Mountain Brewery, with plenty of beer signs, old glass bottles and signed dollar bills tacked up to the wood paneling. There’s a small piano in one corner, lots of old black and white photographs, and enough Americana to make you red white and blue in the face. In other words, it’s classic Big Bear: woodsy and historical, with a fun sense of exactly its place in the universe. And with a chatty staff that will happily let you nose around all the kitsch, it’s not a bad place to spend a Saturday afternoon, after a few hours in the snow or lakeside summer sun.
If you’ve ever had even a passing interest in camping along California’s Central Coast, you’ve probably heard the rumors about Jalama Beach. The different gossipy variations tend to focus on one or more of the following: it’s a beach camping oasis, it’s the one of the last approachable strips of isolated beachfront in the region, it’s so packed with summertime campers that you can’t even scrounge up a site, it is seriously windy along the shore, and their camp store serves up one of the tastiest hamburgers you’ll find. And each one is absolutely true. Jalama Beach (that’s with a soft J, to be pronounced like an H) is all of those things, but it’s also so much greater than those limitations. More than anything, Jalama Beach is a fantastic weekend trip.
Looking west from the coast, it’s easy to spot the Channel Islands, a run of eight mostly rocky sanctuaries floating out there in the Pacific. Santa Catalina, known to summertime tourists and roughly 4,000 year-round residents as Catalina Island, is easily the most well-traveled of the group. Avalon, the civic heart of the island, boasts thousands of campers, hotel sleepers, and day trippers every year, making it a very approachable (if sometimes crowded) introduction to the island chain.
Beyond Catalina, the other Channel islands remain relatively pristine destinations unto themselves. While San Nicolas and San Clemente are operated exclusively by the U.S. Navy, the remaining five (Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Santa Barbara) make up the Channel Islands National Park. That means you can hike, camp, kayak, and swim along the nearly untouched coastlines that ring the five islands, all year round. Spring, with its rising temperatures, budding flora and migrating grey whales, offers the perfect opportunity to spend a few days among California’s most pristine landscapes. Here’s a quick guide to camping, hiking, and sightseeing throughout Channel Islands National Park.
So you’ve got the car all packed up, you’ve dusted off your sleeping bag and the gas tank is full. Now that spring is here, all your road maps are pointing you north to Yosemite, right? Well, not exactly. If you haven’t experienced the glacial-carved beauty of the Yosemite Valley since you were a kid, it’s quite possible that things have changed — including easily getting a campsite in the summertime. Open sites go on sale months in advance, and the most precious plots of spring and summer real estate are usually snapped up in seconds.
So, short of carrying bear mace for some backwoods Yosemite tent camping, trying your luck at a first-come campsite an hour outside of the valley floor or ponying up the cash for a cabin, what’s an intrepid forester to do? Drive to Kings Canyon National Park instead.
Spring is the perfect time to get out of Los Angeles for a weekend. Sure, there’s something tempting about the crisp morning air here, or the occasional warm day that leaves you pining for the beach. But after a long, cold winter, the rest of America is just starting to warm up, which means plenty of travel options. And while California is a west coast land slab of gigantic proportions, you can still escape eastward relatively easily, and tuck into Arizona for a night or two. Since you’re headed there anyway, why not stop off for some of the best pizza that America has to offer?
Pizzeria Bianco is, by all accounts, making the best pizza in the entire United States. Owner Chris Bianco’s Neapolitan-inspired pies come from a hand-built wood-fired oven in the heart of downtown Phoenix, hardly a well-known food destination otherwise. Yet the perfectly charred edges, warm cheese, and fresh ingredients from the outside garden are all considered top-notch, and have helped make Bianco (both the man and the restaurant) a living pizza legend. Best of all, it’s an easy drive from Los Angeles.