In 2010, the cash-strapped owner of the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington, placed an ad on Craigslist for a head chef. Blaine Wetzel, who was raised in nearby Olympia and had spent the last two years cooking (and, of course, foraging) at Noma in Copenhagen, was looking to come home. “Home” soon meant a 9-square-mile island dangling in the Puget Sound just 30 miles south of the Canadian border.
I have been trying to enjoy Los Angeles. Or at least dismantle my aversion to it. It all started in January when my L.A.-based friend, who knows I’ll find any excuse to decline a visit—impromptu family reunion, cardiac arrest—gave me two robust months’ notice for her 40th birthday party. I was going whether I liked it or not. And besides the two-plus hours of stop-and-start maniacal traffic, I think L.A. finally broke me.
Our first time in Cabo San Lucas, situated on the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula, we knew it would be more margaritas and less Mayan ruins. This is a sun-and-fun getaway for Americans: you can use dollars interchangeably with pesos, you’ll find both Costco and a luxury shopping mall, and it seems almost every visitor we spoke to owned a time share. And if you don’t own a time share, there is someone with a clipboard who would like to speak with you.
In case you haven’t heard, Tijuana is the next big thing in food. Not only have people in the know been frequenting Baja for years, but the media finally caught on, too. Anthony Bourdain, Rick Bayless, and Andrew Zimmern made recent trips with camera crews in tow, and media darling Javier Plascencia was profiled by the New Yorker and the New York Times for innovative cuisine served in a modern glass box above the city’s rainbow-colored bungalows.
Organic food is what we are meant to be eating. It contains no additives, preservatives, fertilizers, or pesticides—widely associated with various types of cancer. It is not genetically modified—widely believed to cause organ damage and other serious health problems. It has not been sterilized with radiation or ammonia, like most fast food meat. Organic farms are required to constantly test both their products for nutrients as well as their irrigation water (non-organic farms use “sewer water” that can contain biosolids like heavy metals, lawn pesticides, gas, detergents). Convinced yet?
PHOTO ESSAY: Visiting my brother and his family in Santa Cruz with a stop at Manresa restaurant in nearby Los Gatos
“30th on 30th“—held on 30th Street on the 30th of each month in North Park, San Diego—is a food and drink event that promotes a handful of neighborhood restaurants while also encouraging the community to come together and celebrate chefs who value sustainable and local ingredients. Eaters can enjoy an affordable bite and one of San Diego’s renowned craft beers in front of the establishments, so people can essentially “food hop,” if you will, from one place to another. In the end, it’s a bit like a food-obsessed block party, and—in the eighth largest city in the country—patrons are able to enjoy the communal bounty of just one tasty street.