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Modern California Gold Rush -Top 3 Cities for Culinary Diversity - GTH
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Modern California Gold Rush -Top 3 Cities for Culinary Diversity

One of Nathan's fav memories is our first time in Four Seas restaurant for Dim Sum, in the heart of San Francisco's China Town. // (c) GTH & Marc Kassouf

One of Nathan’s fav memories is our first time in Four Seas restaurant for Dim Sum, in the heart of San Francisco’s China Town. // (c) GTH & Marc Kassouf

In today’s California, in itself one of the largest economies and cultural melting pots in the world, there’s a curious trend. Visitors are flocking to the Golden State’s cities in search of diverse culinary experiences of food, wine, and the cultures that planted them. This modern-day gold rush is driven not by the taste for gold, but rather the taste for exotic, eclectic, and exquisite cuisine found nowhere else in such rich deposits. GTH combed through our recent year’s travels to pull together a quick list.

Here’s our pick of the top three culinary capitals:

  • San Francisco

You may have left your heart in San Francisco, but your taste buds are the ones that get the most action here. While there are amazing cuisines to be had throughout this metropolis, two entire enclaves of Asian delights are what caught our palette. China Town offers restaurants of all calibers. Though the Oriental Pearl draws many fans, my partner and I prefer a less acclaimed hangout popular with the locals. Our favorite for Dim Sum in The City is Four Seas, right in the heart of the tourist traps. Yes, perhaps the fried foods are a bit too greasy, but it’s comforting to see Chinese Americans lounge and while away the afternoon drinking tea. Then there’s Japan Town, really one large mall-like structure and surrounding neighborhoods. We haven’t decided on a favorite here yet, mainly as an excuse to try new fare with each visit. One of our oldest friends -both because he’s over ninety and due to the length of our friendship- is an avid pottery collector and swears by the nearby Japonesque Gallery, making a point to stop for ‘art eye-candy’ after his meals. San Francisco shows that you don’t have to be queer to have a fabulous feast, with some of the best pan Asian food concentrated throughout the city.

  • Straight-from-the-barrel tastings are one of the perks of visiting Temecula Valley during one of its many wine festivals, like last year's Harvest Celebration barrel tasting at Europa Village winery // (c) GTH & Nathan DePetris

    Straight-from-the-barrel tastings are one of the perks of visiting Temecula Valley during one of its many wine festivals, like Harvest Celebration barrel tasting at Europa Village winery // (c) GTH & Nathan DePetris

    Los Angeles

A Korean friend once jested that she never eats Japanese food in LA, since all these restaurants are owned by Koreans. Of course, I paid her little heed and have enjoyed many Japanese or Korean-esque Japan fusion in the ensuing years. During the past few decades, much of southern California saw an influx of Koreans and many have settled in the South Bay areas of Torrance, Carson, or in the OC which are peppered with both authentic and chain restaurants. This article doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on the Korean culinary tapestry blanketing LA, especially in Korea town; we’ll have to do a whole piece, or series, on Korean food just to cover the basics. For a simple, inexpensive and reliable meal, head to one of half a dozen BCD Tofu House restaurants in so-cal. Locals have our favorites, since each one serves up slightly different side dishes and daily specials. Another Korean must is the Barbeque, some of which are all-you-can-eat. Our top pick for LA All-you-can-eat Korean BBQ outside of K-Town, hands down, is Ko Ryo Jung in Torrance (ironically, it’s right next to a BCD Tofu House). This is not a fancy place as, for about $25, you get top grade Wagyu beef, meats, amazingly good side dishes, soon, and Bibimbap until you can eat no more.

  • Temecula Valley

California is also synonymous with excellent wine globally. For many years, our European friends and family have enjoyed drinking our California wines in their home countries, or visiting the many excellent wineries in Northern and Central California. We’ve tried to keep the secret of Temecula Valley, southern California’s wine country, hidden to ourselves. This gem of a community has flourished and seen a revitalization in recent years with an influx of young working families. Several events are available year-round all focused on wine, food, and the amazing marriage of the two. One of our favorites is the Harvest Celebration wine tasting weekend. This is one of the rare times the cellar masters and wine makers roll out the barrels for tastings of finished and unfinished wines. The celebration event marries wine with food pairings at each winery. Old Temecula offers additional wine and food options, including Olive Oil tastings at the Temecula Olive Oil Company.

What began centuries ago as a rush of ambitious gold prospectors has transformed into today’s influx of savvy visitors looking for culinary diversity. Few destinations deliver the wealth of rich cuisine that can sate even the most demanding of palettes as does the Golden State’s cities.

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