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Dispatch from our US book tour: new finds and old favorites from LA to SF to Napa; Seattle to DC; Amelia Island and Atlanta. Plus: comfy but chic pants to travel in and Capri's cool new (oldest) hotel
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been on a book tour for my husband Matt’s new cookbook, A Man & His Kitchen. We started in LA, then drove up to Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Marin, and Napa; from there we flew to Seattle and on to DC, then trained up to New York before flying down to Amelia Island and ending in Atlanta. All in two weeks’ time. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s also exhilarating! I love getting to meet some of you(!) plus experiencing new places as well as revisiting some old haunts. Here are some highlights from our fast and furious tour! —Y.E.
Los Angeles to San Francisco to Napa Valley
Our friends Linden Pride and Natalie Hudson, who own Caffe Dante in New York, opened up Dante Beverly Hills on the rooftop of The Maybourne Hotel and were so kind to host our book party there. Their kitchen served Matt’s Mom’s Meatballs and Clam Bread (both from the cookbook) and we toasted Matt (with Negronis, of course!) while looking out over the Hollywood Hills. Even though we were in the city for only 36 hours, we had our dog Prune with us, which meant plenty of walking—always the best way to discover a place, even LA. On the hunt for coffee, we found a cool new Korean cafe just outside of the Maybourne, Maru. The coffee was perfect (we like a standard drip), and when we came back to buy a second cup holding our cup from the first round, they just refilled it for free. Very sweet. Five minutes’ walk across Wilshire is South Beverly, where there’s a Blue Bottle and South Beverly Grill (a part of the Hillstone Group, for those of you who are Houston’s fans), where we had a solid meal the last time we were here. But the new discovery was the old-school health-food store called Total Body Nutrition, where the owner makes incredible protein shakes and knows everything about every supplement, and has great materials on it all (French grape seed extract?!). Sadly we didn’t have time for a Bigan Facial at Tomoko Spa, but there’s always next time. From there, we walked to see our friend Silvia at Boffi—we’re collaborating on a kitchen for our new studio in the Wm Brown Barn—in the heart of the home design area (where Ulla Johnson just opened a store). We had lunch nearby at The Ivy, which I hadn’t been to in at least a decade. It may not be the best Cobb salad I’ve ever had, but I’m deeply nostalgic for this early ‘80s it restaurant—I love all the garden roses on the table, along with the French countryside-ish decor, the staff, and the people watching. It also helped that it was literally on the walk back to the hotel. And about the hotel: it was our second stay at The Maybourne, and we love it. Granted it’s a splurge, but the staff, spa (incredible steam/sauna/mineral pool), and gym are stellar, and in addition to the rooftop pool and Dante, there’s also The Terrace, which is great for breakfast meetings. After our book party, we went for dinner at The Grill on the Alley, a discovery from our last trip. Old school, great staff, solid food (love the shrimp cocktail and the burger), and best of all—not hard to get into.
We drove to Santa Barbara, and as soon as we dropped our bags at our friends’ house, we headed straight to the fish market on the pier. Matt picked up local rockfish, mussels and clams—but one of the highlights was the local uni that they sell in a little container, which never makes it as far as the car. The tide was super high at any time we would have wanted to walk, plus there was a marine layer, so we didn’t manage to fit in any ocean walks before our signing at the Montecito Country Mart. Afterwards, we went to the Manor Bar at the Rosewood Miramar, a favorite spot of all of our friends who live in the area, or are visiting. The singer and pianist were incredible, as were the drinks.
The next morning was an early rise for the long drive to San Francisco. Our friend Dewey Nicks was driving and about an hour in, he made a great stop at Bob’s Bakery in Los Alamos, just off the highway. We wished we’d been able to time it to have one of our favorite egg-salad sandwiches in the world at Bell’s, but we had a place to be. Breakfast sandwiches and coffee at Bob’s were great, but for Northeasterners who don’t like the kind of counter chat that leads to a long line, this may not be your vibe.
Our event was at Tailor’s Keep, a men’s bespoke and made-to-measure shop in Jackson Square, one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. (Matt is also doing his own version of our trip in his newsletter this weekend, which will be much more man-world focused, if you want to read more about these guys.) Besides that, we didn’t do much more than have dinner at Bix, an all-time favorite—best room, best jazz trio, best cocktails, and a great old-school menu. Next time I’m out there I can’t wait to visit Postscript, a cafe/market that my friend Gina recently opened.
Saturday morning we were at the Marin Country Mart (if you haven’t been to the Brentwood, Montecito, or Marin Country Marts, an incredible curation of stores and restaurants from Jim Rosenfeld, make sure you check one out if you’re nearby–I so wish Jim would do versions of these on the East Coast!). Marin had one of the most impressive farmers’ markets I’ve seen in ages, with so many vendors selling breakfast treats—our breakfast burrito was insane. We were at the Trading Post, which is officially a post office, but Drew, who runs it, has the best eye—such a great book and magazine collection, as well as things like St James striped shirts and totes you can’t live without, even if you have too many.
We raced up to St Helena in the Napa Valley, where Matt was doing a talk at the new No/Ma House Cafe & Collective. They have an incredible edit of housewares and books and a tiny selection of clothes from Matta and Marfa Stance. But my favorite was this cooler from Belgium that is the chicest thing and makes me want to throw a tailgate or have picnics in the forest.
Tacoma & Seattle
Next on the itinerary were Tacoma and Seattle—just an overnight in Tacoma so we could meet my parents for dinner at Harbor Lights in Old Town, a place I’ve been going to for special occasions since I was a kid. They used to serve these big buckets of clams, which were so good, and while they’ve stopped that, I think the food has actually gotten better. All the seafood on the menu is wild, not farmed, and our halibut fish and chips, Dungeness crab Louis salad, and crab cioppino were all so good. But the surprise winner was the dessert: a huckleberry slump, which is basically a wild native berry cobbler with ice cream on top. We stayed at the Hotel Murano, which was just okay—probably much better when we were there 12+ years ago. The glass artist theme is clever (Dale Chihuly is from Tacoma–that’s why they play this up), and the gym was surprisingly good, but downtown is a little bleak and unless you’re there for a convention (half a block away), I’d stay by the water. (I thought the Silvercloud looked decent from our drive-by.) Normally, we have great luck with antiquing in Tacoma on its antiques row, but all the shops were closed—most are only open Thursday-Sunday. We were desperate and went a little out of our way to the Pacific Antiques Mall, which had some good finds (mid-century furniture and ceramics), but no deals. This is why I love flea markets in Europe—people aren’t looking at eBay to do their pricing. In so many of these antiques collectives I swear the vendors are just using their space as storage—their prices make me think they really don’t want to sell.
Onward to Seattle, where we were staying at the Palihotel, just a block up from Pike Place. I wanted to revisit the Four Seasons, which I hadn’t been to in at least a decade, but they were sold out, as was the Lotte, which seemed to have good ratings and was supposedly very pet friendly. (Next time.) The Pali didn’t disappoint, but the neighborhood sure did. Sadly Seattle, like Portland, SF, and LA, has a real drug and homeless problem—honestly, sort of zombie apocalypse vibes. However, Pike Place seems unchanged—good energy, lots of interesting purveyors (they all give samples so you can fall in love and then buy it or ship it). We always like to go back to Lowell’s in the market—especially since it was a Monday and most places we wanted to check out were closed. This time we took the server’s suggestion and tried the salmon chowder, which had smoky chunks of king salmon with lots of potato—it was truly the best chowder we’ve ever had. We beelined for the Book Larder, a bookstore dedicated to cookbooks, where Matt was signing books. It was probably one of the most inspiring bookstores I’ve been in—the team was so knowledgeable. I’d ask, “What about a book on Greece?” and they’d all chime in with multiple options. Naoise the manager was also great when it came to restaurant recs. A Monday in pretty much any city is a challenge, and Seattle is especially so. She suggested we head to Bateau, the meat restaurant from Renee Erickson, and if it was open, to start at Life on Mars, a very cool bar that is more on the Japanese cocktail-vinyl lounge side of things. Sadly it was closed, but she gave us a backup plan—to get drinks at Boat Bar, which is connected to Bateau. We followed her instructions and were served a delicious Manhattan at Boat Bar, along with the best clam dip and Ritz cracker appetizer. Dinner was really great—the NY Times says Bateau is the best steak house in the country—and we both agreed that it was stellar. However, you have to go into it knowing it’s going to be a little Portlandia—super earnest, an impossible-to-understand menu on a huge chalkboard that only one side of the restaurant can see, telling you about cuts of beef you’ve never heard of (each one needs a lengthy explanation). It made us wonder why they wouldn’t just put it on something legible in front of us. When a certain cut is sold through, the waiters come through with a very long stick with chalk at the end and ceremoniously cross off the listing. We thought our meal was great, but there were definitely moments of absurdity. It doesn’t need to be so complicated. We did love the decor—very considered, very non-corporate, like each piece was chosen by someone who knew exactly what their vision was and hunted each thing down. That part was definitely inspired.
We arrived into town at the end of the day, and checked into the Riggs Hotel, a former bank a few blocks east of the White House, which opened in 2019. Our friends who handle their PR had invited us to stay there—they were sure that Matt was going to love the bar, the Silver Lyan. We dropped our bags and headed downstairs to the award-winning bar, which hails from London. It’s a super-cool space in the former vault—cozy, with good loud music, very smart waiters who are all bartenders. We aren’t so experimental with our orders (martini or Negroni), so we started with a classic gin martini and ordered some food from the bar menu—things like a wagyu beef hot dog with kimchi, and tater tots with a ranch dressing. Perfect drunk food! For a second drink, we split one of their signature cocktails suggested by our waiter, and it was really good. If you’re someone who likes a lengthy narrative to go along with your drink, this is the spot—it’s like the Noma of cocktails. Dinner upstairs at Cafe Riggs was lovely, on the main floor of the former bank, with very tall ceilings. We holed up in a booth and had a great meal—barbecue chicken and a riff on an iceberg salad. The next morning, after working out in their great gym and giving Prune a long walk to the Washington Monument, we moved over to their sister property, the Lyle, in the Dupont Circle Neighborhood. While the Riggs was great, the Lyle is more my personal vibe–decor is cool-minimalist meets Art Deco, with a well-appointed bar and restaurant, and a neighborhood with great architecture. We walked to Georgetown to see our friends at the Mashburn store, who then turned us onto what is now our new favorite home store, Manse. Our event was at Chez Billy Sud, put on by their cooking bookstore Boldfork Books, and then we had dinner there—one of our favorite restaurants in the country. The menu is uncomplicated, literally everything is delicious (the duck confit is a favorite!), the decor is subtle and tasteful. We were so inspired by everything we saw and all the creative/interesting people we met in DC, that we’re planning a DC Black Book for early this spring.
We took Amtrak back, a first for both of us. We loved the stations on both ends–Union Station in DC, which underwent a renovation about a decade ago and has the most impressive gold leafing, and the new Moynihan station in NY, a far cry from the old Penn Station. The trip itself was lovely during peak foliage, and though we weren’t on an Acela, we arrived only 20 minutes later, for a far smaller fee. Being in New York felt like another stop on the book tour, since we were there for just two nights and we’d actually made the trip because Matt was booked on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (stage wife alert–you can watch it here!). We had an epic Indian feast at the relatively new Jazba with our friend from the Original Madras Company, and after the big interview, we celebrated at Aretsky’s Patroon, one of our favorite restaurants in the city.
Next stop: Amelia Island
The last time I was in this neck of the woods, we were on our way to Cumberland Island, a magical place which I wrote about in our American Summer issue (vol. 7). We met the nice people at the Book Loft in Fernandina Beach, and they invited Matt to come back for a signing. We stayed at the sweet Amelia Schoolhouse Inn, which is easy to park at and then walk everywhere. After the event, we had dinner at Wicked Bao, which serves great Asian street food—the grouper bao was a highlight. On the walk home we passed Mezcal, which looked really good, and went in to have a mezcal nightcap. If you’re driving on I-95 and want a nice place to spend the night, I’d definitely recommend detouring the 14 miles east to Fernandina Beach—there’s a lot to choose from (España also came highly recommended), with a surprising range of options way beyond the fried fish variety.
Our event was at the Sid Mashburn store, so we headed straight there from the airport, dropped our bags, and walked to Taqueria del Sol, the great taco place we always go to with Sid. I think the move here is to ask for corn tortillas for the tacos, and my favorite is the Memphis, which is chopped smoked pork with spicy coleslaw and a tequila BBQ sauce. Insane. We didn’t book a hotel this time because we stayed with the Mashburns, but I am coming away with an epic dinner rec for you: Lucian, a restaurant with a bookstore, that is completely without gimmick. It’s just brilliant. The food is seasonal, uncomplicated, and inspired (chicory salad, gnudi with wild boar) and the wine list is thoughtful. And the book selection is as amazing as the restaurant.
GUEST BOOK: Hotel La Palma, Capri
By Yolanda Edwards
Best for… A romantic splurge!
The look and feel… The oldest hotel on the island (since 1822!), underwent a very thoughtful and lengthy renovation, with interior designer Francis Sultana at the helm. It’s in the center of town, but feels like an oasis once you step inside. There’s a subdued energy when you walk into the lobby, which has murals by Roberto Ruspoli and furniture that is lovely and comfortable, but doesn’t shout. Everything is supremely tasteful–from the pool (with a great bar!) on a terrace up above the hustle bustle of the island–to the rooftop bar and restaurant. I’m a big fan of all the Oetker Collection properties (the Bristol in Paris, Hotel du Cap, The Lanesborough to name a few), so it makes sense that this would be done just right.
The rooms… The white and turquoise palette felt like a confident move to me—because it can go wrong—but it worked perfectly here—making it feel like it’s always been there, rather than a design trend. Rooms are airy and bright…we had one room that had a very big terrace and then when our flight was cancelled we had to move to a room on the ground floor next to the pool. While it was physically smaller it was well laid out so it didn’t feel small, and we liked the direct access to the pool from our little terrace.
The wellness… I opted for the Augustinus Bader facial which was divine—but they have Tata Harper treatments as well.
The food… Breakfast is a real star here. Besides a buffet that is one of the best that I’ve seen in Italy (which is saying a lot!), they have a fig toast they make table side that is insane. There are several great restaurants and bars, but the lunch I dream of is the vongole at Da Gioia, their beach club, which has the most beautiful little private cove for swimming, as well as sun beds for guests.
Parting words… If Capri is on your list, and you’re splurging, this is the place.
Date of stay… September 2023
TRAVEL UNIFORM: Comfy pants that don’t look like sweats
I’m on a plane so often, I have my uniform down—always the Ann Mashburn Faye pant in navy, either a white leather tennis shoe from Goral (that I wear like slip-ons) or a Belgian loafer, a chambray (love this one from Gap) or striped shirt (love this shirt from Alex Eagle), a navy or tan sweater, and a scarf from Drake’s. That is the constant, no matter the season. Every piece works as elements in outfits for the rest of the trip.
But I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. And so I’m super excited that we’re bringing in our dear friend, stylist Sarah Meikle, to be a contributing editor to Yolo. We worked together at Traveler, and even though it’s been five years since we last collaborated, I watch her Instagram with all of her style inspirations on it, and want to buy every single thing. She loves navy, black, gray, camel and cream as much as I do, as well as classic shapes. But because she’s such a stylist to her core, she is always finding the best new things on the market, and teaches me how to go just a little bit out of my comfort zone. I also love that she is not just about expensive. When we started talking about working together, I suggested we start with travel pants, because I like the idea of pants that don’t have a constricting waist when I’m on a plane or, frankly, sitting for a long period of time—in a car or on a train. I love all of her suggestions, and I put some of mine in here too. —Y.E.
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From left to right:
P.S. Tell us what travel wardrobe questions you have, and we’ll ask Sarah to research!