The hills were rolling, the mountains captivating, all a transfixing and calming mixture of greens and browns. The drive from Los Angeles to Malibu was a magical journey, the light bouncing off the Pacific Ocean illuminating all. The air was buoyant, the mood light. We lunched al fresco at Malibu Kitchen & Gourmet Country Market, then were on our way to a vineyard, a small plot of Chardonnay planted by Elliott and Lynn Dolin in 2006 on a sloping hill perched high above the ocean. The afternoon was warm, the wine and conversation flowed, and our Central Coast sojourn had begun well.

The Dolins are making Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Rosé, and lead (and have led) interesting lives. Over dinner, I spoke with Elliott about Jack Clement, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, and wine. You can read about the couple — and see some photos of their lovingly restored Spanish Colonial Revival home — by clicking here. (Our California trip continued in Santa Barbara and environs, more about which later.)

Like Salmon? It’s a popular fish, of course, in many ways too popular — if you have not read “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food” you need to — and the farming of it has gotten out of hand. Watch this:

I endeavor at all times to eat only wild salmon, and recently tasted some very fine Sockeye, hot-smoked at Houston’s Ibiza and served with crème fraîche carrying the wonderful flavors of orange and dill. On top, caviar. Delicate and rich, this dish is perfect with a glass of Cava. Here’s my take on the rest of the meal at the restaurant (hint: order a Campari and Soda to begin your meal there). Charles Clark has been in the kitchen at Ibiza for a long time now, and his experience and passion show.

From salmon to chicken, specifically two hens I made last week. One I roasted (garlic slivers under the skin, lemon and onion in the cavity) the other I poached in milk.

Sockeye, hot-smoked

Both tender, both full of flavor. We served then with a simple salad, and I made a soup from leftovers, enriched by a homemade stock. Don’t throw away those carcasses and scraps and offal … instead, save everything and spend a few hours creating something earthy and honest. (Click here for a recipe/method from Jacques Pépin.)

A stock begins …

The soup: onions, celery, carrot, olive oil, stock, and shredded chicken meat, plus heavy cream, cilantro, and basil. Crusty bread, a green salad, and a Chenin Blanc completed the picture.

Vegetables, chicken, and cream: a fine trio.