Driving to Davis from the Bay Area on Interstate 80 last week, I spotted a cow jumping over the moon.
More specifically, I saw the longstanding sign for the old Milk Farm restaurant in Dixon, which I’ve now learned, after poring over readers’ submissions about iconic roadside attractions, is a landmark for many travelers in the Sacramento area. Seeing it in person made me feel as if I was getting a peek into a whole new side of California that I had yet to explore.
I wrote last week about popular roadside sights, like Pea Soup Andersen’s or the Harris Ranch, that can feel so personal to Californians, reminding us of old commutes or family road trips of long ago. It’s been a pleasure to read the emails you have sent in response, and to see the state’s highways and landmarks through your eyes.
On that same trip to Davis, I pulled over at Ikeda’s, following the suggestion of one reader, David Hayashida, who wrote that the country market was his go-to stop when traveling from Greenbrae, where he lives, to Sacramento. He recommended the crumbly Dutch apple pie, and it did not disappoint.
Here are some more suggestions that readers have sent, lightly edited:
“A favorite landmark memory for our family is of the color-changing lighted pylons at the LAX gateway. Driving down Sepulveda Boulevard back when our sons were young, we would look ahead to the pylons and make a guessing game of what color combination the columns would be in by the time our car reached them.” — Kathy Tyrer, Santa Barbara
“Whenever we are out exploring California on road trips and heading home, we are always thrilled to see the beautiful Placer County courthouse right by I-80 that signals we are almost home.” — Jan Foster, Auburn
“One of my favorite roadside attractions was Santa Claus Lane between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara. A Christmas-themed strip on the old Highway 1, it had a giant Santa Claus on top of one building and a giant snowman on another. There were eateries and souvenir stores, and as a young child the Santa’s train that ran around the area was a must-ride. It was always a real treat when traveling with my parents way back when. It is still called Santa Claus Lane, but all signs of Christmas past are gone now. “ — Jim Buster, Solvang
“Schat’s Bakery in Bishop was a stop that my father always made as we drove to and from Mammoth every year on vacation when I was a child. They made the best sheepherder’s bread, and my father would insist on a loaf for sandwiches while camping and another loaf on the way home.” — Donna Whitham, Idaho Falls, Idaho
“Who can ever forget the year-round smell of garlic just west of Gilroy on Highway 152?” — Barry Goldblatt, Princeton, N.J.
“Driving north on 101 through San Rafael as a kid, I remember seeing the Marin County Civic Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and thinking, ‘What the hell is that?’ It was straight out of the future.” — Anthony J. Newton, Oro Valley, Ariz.
Today we’re asking about love: not whom you love but what you love about your corner of California.
Email us a love letter to your California city, neighborhood or region — or to the Golden State as a whole — and we may share it in an upcoming newsletter. You can reach the team at [email protected].
And before you go, some good news
The chef Sylvan Mishima Brackett of the popular San Francisco restaurant Rintaro is known for bringing California flair and local, seasonal ingredients to traditional Japanese cuisine.
As a New Year’s custom, Brackett typically prepares osechi bento, handmade boxes with traditional Japanese holiday dishes, for customers who preorder them. But that custom was interrupted in 2022 when a flood in the restaurant destroyed the bento orders and forced Brackett to close his doors for awhile.
This year, Brackett and his mother cooked a holiday feast for their close friends and family instead, with drinks, a curated playlist and of course, his signature Californian-Japanese dishes.
Jessica Battilana broke down the festive meal, from soup to nuts, in a recent article for The New York Times Style Magazine. The article, which features photographs from Philip Cheung, describes the meal, the table and the scene, and includes the recipe for Brackett’s mother’s marmalade chicken, a holiday staple. It’s also in the new Rintaro cookbook.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back on Monday. Enjoy your weekend. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.