Folded Hills

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Folded Hills

4 Comments Gaviota, California
Folded Hills Farm, California Organic Farms, Los Alamos Travel Guide, California Road Trips, Figueroa Farms Olive Oil, Los Alamos, Gaviota, Gaviota California
 
Folded Hills Farm, California Organic Farms, Los Alamos Travel Guide, California Road Trips, Figueroa Farms Olive Oil, Los Alamos, Gaviota, Gaviota California
 

I feel at home on a farm – the open fields, animals, fresh air – they put me at ease and bring my spirit the purest form of joy. As much as I love the city, I equally love miles of land with not a person in sight. Being alone is something I truly appreciate, and for this reason, I love traveling solo dolo. While on my last trip to Los Alamos I had “visit a local farm” on my list of things to do. I had familiarized myself with the gems of Los Alamos, but now it was time I discover other pockets of Central California and the California Coast.

I wasn’t sure which farm I would venture to, but I did plan on asking the townspeople of Los Alamos where in the area I could see animals, buy produce, and get my life on a rolling hill. A young woman working in house keeping at The Alamo Motel was kind enough to give me a list of her personal recommendations. Her mother and I had bonded earlier on my trip speaking entirely in Spanish, and the three of us developed a friendship during my stay. After our great conversation about nearby farms, I decided that I would set out to Folded Hills, located in Gaviota, about 30 mins located from Los Alamos, between Santa Barbara and Buellton, off of Highway 101. On the beautiful drive to Gaviota I saw “Blueberry Picking” signs and cows roaming the green pastures. It was beautiful and true California living.

When exiting the highway, I gleefully followed the signs to the farm. I pulled up on a dirt road that led me to a gorgeous steel barn. I could see a small donkey in the distance and I knew I was about to lose it. Hopping out of the car, I spotted piglets and goats, which nearly made me collapse to the ground, as I couldn’t handle the cuteness surrounding me. I quickly befriended the goats, who were sunbathing; I could’ve ended my trip there with the amount of fun I was already having. Interesting fact, as a child and into my teenage years, I had considered veterinary medicine and started studying the practice as a volunteer at the Pasadena Humane Society. At the time UC Davis had the best program and I wanted to learn about more about the treatment and care of farm animals. I digress.

I made my way into the barn, which I discovered to be a shop selling organic fruit and vegetables from the land on which it occupied. The produce was vibrant in sight and smell, with prices too good to pass up. It’s wild to hold, taste, and experience food that has just been plucked out of the ground, void of poisons and pesticides. This is my ideal food story – and I hope one day a majority of us California residents have access and education (especially poc) to grow our own organic produce. Ron Finley, who I've been following for the past couple years and recently heard lecture at CAAM, is a leader in that discussion, who I recommend you check out.

 
Folded Hills Farm, California Organic Farms, Los Alamos Travel Guide, California Road Trips, Figueroa Farms Olive Oil, Los Alamos, Gaviota, Gaviota California
 

Being incredibly inspired by the fresh produce I was fondling, I decided to purchase a picking basket from the farmstead and head to the field to gather my own strawberries. Being Mexican American, who’s grandmother worked in the fields, this moment was not lost on me – I had a mixed emotions, especially with the understanding of how migrant workers are treated in our country. I also began to think of my culture and family’s connection to the Earth and how important yerbas, plants, and gardening has been to our lives. Being among the flora and fauna has always felt like second nature to me, and it’s unfortunate that this tradition has been disrespected and undervalued.  

Everything about my visit to Folded Hills was nourishing to my life – the food perfection and the farm so lush I could've taken a nap in the lettuce field. The local and organic olive oil from Figueroa Farms (only $8, that I bottled myself) was so insanely good that I got mad at all the trash I'd been buying back home. While wrapping up my visit, the farmer who oversees the property picked up on my enthusiasm for farm life and welcomed me to take a private tour. It was on this excursion I had the opportunity to meet his pet hog, chickens (they also sell fresh eggs), and play with the piglets. I cannot wait to return.

Folded Hills | 2323 Old Coast Highway Road, Gaviota 93117

 
Folded Hills Farm, California Organic Farms, Los Alamos Travel Guide, California Road Trips, Figueroa Farms Olive Oil, Los Alamos, Gaviota, Gaviota California
Folded Hills Farm, California Organic Farms, Los Alamos Travel Guide, California Road Trips, Figueroa Farms Olive Oil, Los Alamos, Gaviota, Gaviota California
 
Folded Hills Farm, California Organic Farms, Los Alamos Travel Guide, California Road Trips, Figueroa Farms Olive Oil, Los Alamos, Gaviota, Gaviota California
Folded Hills Farm, California Organic Farms, Los Alamos Travel Guide, California Road Trips, Figueroa Farms Olive Oil, Los Alamos, Gaviota, Gaviota California
Bob's Well Bread Bakery

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Bob's Well Bread Bakery

3 Comments Los Alamos, California
bob's well bread bakery, best california bakeries, los alamos restaurants, los alamos ca, where to eat in los alamos, los alamos travel guide, los alamos dining
 
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Bread is not the enemy, despite what living in Los Angeles or reading any fashion magazine might tell you. There was a moment I was foolish to believe that wheat and gluten was going to kill me, but then I realized it was actually the herbicide sprayed on wheat that was making me sick. It’s an outrage living in a country that knowingly poisons us through food all in the name of capitalism, especially when it comes to something so classic as bread. It’s for this reason, I have embraced all that a quality loaf of bread can do for my life and I am willing to pay more for that experience.

One of the things I look forward to most when on the road to Los Alamos is sitting down at one of my favorite bakeries in California, Bob’s Well Bread Bakery. There’s never a drive up I don’t day dream about sitting down with Bob’s incredibly flakey and delicious almond croissant, which is only available on the weekends. That’s my absolute favorite menu item at Bob’s and if you want to indulge, you better make sure to show up before noon, because they will sell out! I repeat, they will sell out.

I love going to Bob’s because I appreciate the time, love, and effort that goes into making every piece of bread in the shop. His wooden counter and glass case is filled with croissants, baguettes, a variety of loaves, bagels, and English muffins, to name a few. Bob’s Well Bread Bakery is dedicated to hand-made artisanal bread, made with quality ingredients and natural starters. You won’t have to worry about preservatives as the bread is prepared with the simplest of ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast – how it should be, imagine that. The only problem you will face when eating at Bob’s is deciding on what to choose from the menu. Or you can be like me, and drop at least $20 for bread and pastries to take back home.

 
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bob's well bread bakery, best california bakeries, los alamos restaurants, los alamos ca, where to eat in los alamos, los alamos travel guide, los alamos dining
 

In addition to glorious racks of bread, stamped with his grandmother's seal, Bob also serves some stellar breakfast options like Bagels & Lox, Beans on Toast, Eggs Benedict, and a delightful “Egg-in-a-Jar” made with purple potato puree topped with gruyere cheese, poached egg, bacon lardons, chives and crème fraiche. I have eaten all of the aforementioned and strongly encourage you to do the same. When’s the last time you had a homemade English Muffin? You can also have that here.

There is no rush at Bob’s Bakery, which is my preferred choice for dining. It’s always a magical moment when I swing open the shop door, see Bob behind the counter, and am welcomed with the warmest hello. When I’m here, people know me by name and I love that. I feel relaxed at Bob’s, I’m chill here. After I place my order, I like to cozy up on the patio with a newspaper, sip on a latte, and breathe in the fresh air. The staff is always friendly, the bread rarely disappoints, and it’s the exact opposite feeling of almost every restaurant in Los Angeles. In essence, it’s near perfection.

Bob's Well Bread Bakery | 550 Bell St, Los Alamos, CA 93440

 
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The Alamo Motel

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The Alamo Motel

Comment Los Alamos, California
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As much as I love Los Angeles, leaving this city on the regular is crucial to my mental health. One of my favorite places to go semi-off-the-grid is Los Alamos, a cozy town less than 3 hours Northeast of L.A. I love hitting the open road to clear my mind and the drive to Los Alamos is a beautiful one. On this journey up the 101 to the 154, there is an expansive ocean view, lush mountains, rolling hills and the ability to inhale the kind of air you often forget exists in California. I open my sunroof, roll down all the windows, blast my favorite tracks, and breathe out all the bullshit. Highly recommend.

 
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The Alamo Motel is my lodging choice when staying in Los Alamos. Completely renovated by the creative duo behind Shelter Social Club, this boutique motel offers everything I need when I want to unwind – a clawfoot tub, cozy bed, and outdoor fire pit perfect for star gazing. A personal favorite is the portable heater - which looks like tiny fireplace - that I like to place at the foot of the bed in the colder months. Across the street from The Alamo Motel are some of my favorite restaurants in California. Los Alamos is killing the farm-to-table culinary game and I cannot wait to share my favorite spots with you; keep your eyes open for my complete restaurant guide. And if it's wine you love, this makes for an ideal location for a wine turn up, because everything is within walking distance. Don't want to leave the property? Pull up a stool at Muni Wines, located on site, with lots of great options. Rosé in the Spring is just my vibe

Nice things don't always have to deplete your bank account and this is another reason why I love staying at The Alamo Motel. The standard room during the week can be as low at $99 and on the weekends $199. I'm going share a secret with you though. Are you listening? You can cop a room for $80 on a weekday via the Hotel Tonight app. That's something I discovered on my own and my life has been better for it since. Whether you snag the deal or not, Los Alamos is the perfect place to unplug, or to start writing that book you've been putting off. Need a solo getaway, a girls trip, or romantic romp – Los Alamos is ideal for it all.  

The Alamo Motel | 425 Bell Street, Los Alamos CA 93440 

 
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MatchaBar

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MatchaBar

1 Comment Los Angeles, California
 

It feels like every day Los Angeles welcomes the opening of a cute new restaurant. As of late, I have become exhausted and overwhelmed with simply how curated every space in our city has become. This is one of the primary reasons I unfollowed nearly every food or lifestyle Instagrammer – it’s too much for me, it’s not my vibe. One of my best friends recently described this epidemic as “influencers influencing other influencers” and I nearly fell out my chair. She nailed it.

I was hesitant to accept the invite to MatchaBar, especially as I stay grumbling about the changes to the Eastside, once so beautifully Latinx. But I love matcha and I heard Amara Kitchen (a personal favorite of mine from Garvanza, also on my Essential LA list) was serving food in the space, so I went in with my pal Jazper on a weekday morning. I’m glad I made the visit because I had the opportunity to sit down with the owner, meet the team, and try a bunch of dishes off their menu. There was only one true miss on my visit and that was the Baklava Croissant from Gjusta, which photographed so beautifully. It was dry, over-baked, and not impressive. I wasn’t totally surprised, as I’ve continually been underwhelemd with pastries from Gjusta, so my question is this: what are y’all eating there that you love so much? It’s beyond me and considering the prices, I gave up on trying anymore. Please let me know in the comments if you have a recommendation.

MatchaBar is a chill space to start your day and I love that. The cafe is filled with natural light, the vibe relaxed. The staff is warm with their welcome and the drinks comforting. Last year my Chinese herbalist suggested that I begin my mornings by drinking something warm to improve my overall well-being, and the Golden Latte was the perfect match. Made with organic turmeric and ginger, this creation is a healthy cup of liquid that’ll put some positive energy into your step . I felt at ease while sitting on their patio soaking up the sun and sipping on matcha, I was relaxed, despite being on insane Sunset Blvd. There aren’t plugs or wifi passwords at MatchaBar, and I appreciate that tremendously. That means you aren’t dogging screenwriters and freelancers for tables that you’ll probably never get, because they’re camping out for 8 hours, when they should be at the library. This is a cafe where you can come and enjoy yourself, eat and drink something that makes you feel good, then go out into the world and try your best.

 
 
 

As mentioned, I was hyped that Amara Kitchen had expanded their reach from Garvanza to Silver Lake. One of the best paleo-friendly restaurants in Los Angeles, I’ve been eating at Amara for a couple years now. I love their bowls, avocado toast, and freshly made almond milk. They have some pickled sea vegetables that made me lose my mind the first time I tried them! Having become more mindful of what I consume, I am now predominantly seeking food that makes me feel nourished after I’ve eaten it. I was tired of the itis, you feel me? At MatchaBar, Amara is coming strong. I tried their Purple Egg Pot which was perfection, made with homemade pesto, pickled cabbage, pickled onions, roasted potatoes and a poached egg. This was everything I needed in a jar. If you try anything here, eat this. My sweet god! Also delicious was Amara’s granola with Straus Organic Yogurt, served in a pot. I am a sucker for good granola and I’ve stopped apologizing for it. This is my California nature, through and through. You will not be disappointed with theirs.

After starting my morning wrapped in a warm blanket found in latte form, I wanted to be bit more extravagant and ordered the Maple Latte, made with cinnamon, maple syrup and a Himalayan Salt. Only a tad sweeter than the aforementioned, I treated this drink as my “desert drink” to accompany my avocado toast. Nothing on this menu taste like liquid sugar and I need you to know that before pulling up to MatchaBar. They’re not serving the matcha variety you find at Starbucks, this is ceremonial grade matcha, with the intention of making you feel energized. Plant molecules y’all! For all my people who cannot process dairy or prefer nut milks, you will feel blessed with the mylk options here, 6 in total: almond, soy, hemp, macadamia, coconut, and a housemade cashew & almond milk. It’s these kind of accommodations that impress me in 2017.

My Maple Latte paired nicely with the organic Avocado Toast made with mashed avocado on sourdough bread, purple cabbage, pesto, and poached eggs. They also make this dish in a vegan, gluten-free, and dairy free option. The quality of ingredients is apparent and if Amara is making it, the pickled elements are going to be great. You feel better after eating organic food prepared with care, it’s as simple as that. I understand why this culinary pairing works so well, as MatchaBar has the same approach with their drinks. This is about wellness and feeling good. I look forward to returning to try their Sparkling Cucumber-Lime Matcha once it gets a little bit warmer. 

MatchaBar | 3534 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

 
Institute of Mentalphysics

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Institute of Mentalphysics

Comment Joshua Tree, California
 

The Institute of Mentalphyics and Joshua Tree Retreat Center is where I stay when I am in the High Desert. I first wrote about this magical place in 2012 and have been returning at least once a year since it came into my life. Also in ’12 I invited someone from Donald Glover’s Royalty crew on my desert tour, and although he couldn’t make it, I brought him back a meditation book from the center. Years later they held Childish Gambino’s “Pharos Experience” at the same space which I thought was quite interesting.

I had told Matty in length about where we were staying, but having spent many nights there over the past 6 years, I know that you don’t quite understand the power of the Institute of Mentalphysics until you step foot onto the property. Our room was modest, as all of them are. There aren’t amenities or robes, so if you describe yourself as “bougie” this place is not for you.  If you enjoy strolls in the desert sand surrounded by Joshua Trees, incredible architecture, labyrinths, late-night jacuzzi sessions, and most of all, spiritual awakenings, then this place should be added to your list. Rooms range from $60-$75 a night, plus a $8 pool/jacuzzi fee. The retreat center also has a great book store, offering an nice selection of Mentalphysics books, crystals, and singing bowls; I never leave there empty handed.

If its sacred geometry and earth magic that you love, you need to explore the Institute. The grounds are vast and the energy is vibrating on extra high levels. If you are in tune with nature, you are going to feel it here. Designed by world-renowned architects Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd, most of these unique buildings were built using sacred geometry circa 1941. The design of the land was carefully constructed, as to harness the powers of the ground below. The land on which the Center was built rests upon a aquifer (a running river), “producing an intriguing magnetic effect on those who enter this ancient and sacred space.” The energy at the Institute is unique and restorative – I’ve experienced many indescribable things while here. Matty can now also say the same, ask him. If it’s healing that you need, spend a couple nights here and I promise life will become clearer. 

Seeking mystical, mid-century modern, and magnetic forces? The Institute for Mentalphysics and Joshua Tree Retreat Center is the place. Although this spot has never been a secret, it has flown under the radar for decades. When people ask me where to stay in Joshua Tree, depending on who they are, this is where I suggest they stay. Not because it’s luxurious but because your spirit leaves with a full recharge. If you’re open to it, that is.

Institute of Mentalphyics | 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, CA 92252

 
 
Salton Sea

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Salton Sea

3 Comments Mecca, California
Salton Sea at Sunset
 

The Salton Sea is one of my favorite places in California. I’ve been going there for years and whenever I am in the desert, I always make time for a trip out there. It’s a strange and beautiful place. It feels nearly abandoned and is surrounded by death, but there is magic in the air if you open yourself up to it.

If you are coming from Joshua Tree, the drive to the Salton Sea is about 1hr 15mins and if you’re coming from Palm Springs, the drive is under an hour. I typically enter through the visitor center off HWY 111, either on my way to or from Salvation Mountain, located in Slab City just beyond Niland, approximately 30 mins away. I know this drive like the back of my hand but I recommend if you’re new to this adventure, pay close attention on the highway or you just might miss it. Look for the large light blue road side that reads “Salton Sea Recreation Area.” 

When I bring friends to the Salton Sea, I can never anticipate what their response will be and that’s mostly do to the pungent smell coming from the hundreds of thousands dead tilapia washed up on the shore. Upon arrival I say not a word and then lead my guest onto the sand. As we begin to walk, someone always mentions the crunch of the sand underneath our feet. I lean in and say “that’s not sand, we are walking on decaying fish carcases.” The sound can be best described as walking on Captain Crunch. It makes for an interesting moment to say the least.

This was the first time I had been at the Salton Sea during sunset. Matty and I had a full day of my favorite desert sights and we were speeding back from Salvation Mountain in order to catch the Salton Sea before it got dark. We found ourselves chasing the sun every day on our road trip, as we weren't going to let a moment go to waste. I’m glad it worked out this way because I had never experienced such beauty at the Salton Sea. It was surreal. The beauty of Earth never ceases to amaze me, but after all these years, I experienced something new at a place I was so familiar with. I was hyped that Matty was in awe too. 

Salton Sea | 100-225 State Park Rd, Mecca, CA 92254

 
Salton Sea, Mecca California
 
Salton Sea California
Maachew Bentley at the Salton Sea
Dead fish at the Salton Sea
Sunset at the Salton Sea, Mecca, California
Salton Sea, Joshua Tree, Mecca, California
Bristol Dry Lake

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Bristol Dry Lake

Comment Mojave Desert, California
 

I have been traveling to Bristol Dry Lake for over 5 years now and it's one of my favorite places in the country. When I'm out here, it almost feels like I'm on another planet, or the closest thing I can imagine it to feel like. This is not such an easily achievable feeling, nor is it easy to find, which makes this beautiful landscape a rare one on Earth. Over the years I have invited people to experience this beautiful place but only the realest have made the journey. In the Mojave Desert, there is an entirely different vibration and it stays calling me.

If you love to drive, the trek to the salt fields satisfies those open-road urges. With no glimpse of life as you know it, you may find yourself testing out how much speed you truly need behind the wheel. To know it, you must experience it. 

About 50 mins Northwest of Twenynine Palms and 15 mins Southeast of Amboy and Route 66, you'll find Bristol Dry Lake. There are no signs or indicators so keep your eyes peeled for a bedding of raised earth and a reflective water source. If you're coming from Twentynine Palms, it'll be on your left. Parking is simply on the side of the road, you'll figure it out.. And never forget, leave a place just as you found it or even cleaner.

34.4622º N, 115.6739º W

 
 
Desert Christ Park

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Desert Christ Park

Comment Yucca Valley, California
 
 

One of the first stops on Matty and I's desert excursion was Desert Christ Park, located in Yucca Valley. I've always had an affinity for places that feel abandoned, especially when there is erosion and the sense of loss is near palpable; there is plenty of that at this once-pristine desert amusement park dedicated to Christ's life and teachings. Established in 1951, this outdoor museum is home to forty Bible-inspired statues sprawled across a 3.5 acre desert landscape. If it is an interesting desert energy that you seek, climb up the hill surrounding the area and allow the wind envelop your entire body. When the breeze subsides you have the potential to tap into silence with each step up you take. It'll change your attitude.

Desert Christ Park | 56200 Sunnyslope Drive, Yucca Valley, CA 92284