Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat, and Entertain the West Coast Way + Fish Tacos + Win a copy!

Abrams Books sent me a copy of Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat, and Entertain the West Coast Way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart. 

Although Nathan Turner didn’t get as much air time as the other stars of Million Dollar Decorators (probably because he stayed pretty clear of the drama), I always wished we’d seen more of his California Casual style. “To me, it means a laid-back room, a friendly host, and a beautiful table with simple recipes and fresh ingredients,” the decorator/author/entertainer and California native says in the introduction to his new book (and my wish come true), Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat and Entertain the West Coast Way

The book is a journey up and down Highway 1 that takes readers from the redwoods and rustic coves of northern San Francisco to the picturesque foothills of the Sierra Nevada to the beaches and Spanish colonial towns of Southern California. Easy recipes and ingenious ideas for entertaining are featured alongside never-before-seen interiors. Stunning photographs capture the homes, people, and food of each unique place in glorious, sun-drenched detail.” — Nathan Turner’s I Love California

The book has something for everyone. Armchair travellers (and traveller-travellers) will love Nathan’s illustrated lists of must-see attractions, accommodations and restaurants in each region; interior design and decor lovers will appreciate Nathan’s tips for achieving California style and beautifully photographed spaces; and home cooks and hosts will find all kinds of inspiration in Nathan’s family recipes and advice for entertaining. (The latter emphasizes make-ahead, family style, and self-serve options so the hosts can enjoy themselves too.)

Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco

California’s famed Golden Gate Bridge.


“I often use vintage fabrics (here on the chair and stools) to upholster pieces in a beach house,” Nathan says. “They instantly create a relaxed, perfectly worn-in look.”


Hibiscus iced tea, an alternative to lemonade or traditional iced tea.


Among Nathan’s tips for creating effortless arrangements: keep it low. “There’s nothing more annoying than trying to talk to someone across the table behind a massive arrangement. Keep your table arrangements low so guests can chat and interact.”

The recipes are as diverse as the landscapes, with everything from rustic ranch chili con carne and jalapeño corn bread to a peanut ramen-noodle salad and sweet and spicy wings. Sweets include a mixed berry cobbler, a Mexican chocolate cake and a frozen zabaglione pie.

I would have liked to see the recipes in the table of contents and an index. Perhaps in a second edition?


Try Nathan’s Malibu-inspired fish taco recipe. Note: If you can’t find Mexican Crema, here’s a quick and easy recipe for a homemade version.

Fish Tacos

Serves 4

A Southern California staple. After years of filets falling in and losing bits of crumbling fish on the grill, I decided it would be so much easier to just broil the fish in the oven. Another upside to this is they get a nice little crunch on top. I used a cookie sheet to broil the fish. Feel free to cook them in advance and then keep warm in the oven set on low until you are ready to assemble the tacos. 

The coleslaw is the perfect topper for the fish tacos. I also often serve it as a side when I cook any kind of Mexican food at home. 

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons salt, divided

2 cups (190 g) shredded cabbage

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup (113 g) pico de gallo (recipe follows)

1/4 cup (60 ml) crema mexicana

1 1/2 pounds (680 g) cod filets

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 corn tortillas, warmed

2 limes, cut into wedges

Preheat broiler.

In a small bowl, combine chili powder, paprika, cumin, onion powder, and 1 teaspoon of the salt.

In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, green onion, pico de gallo, crema, and remaining salt and mix well. Set aside.

Rub cod with olive oil on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with spice rub, coating all sides. Broil for 6 minutes per side.

Serve fish in tortillas topped with Baja slaw and lime wedges.

Pico de gallo

Makes about 4 cups

I usually make a ton of this on a Friday night to enjoy all weekend. It’s great with chips at cocktail hour, on my eggs on Sunday morning, or over a salad. Like ketchup, it goes with practically everything.

6 roma tomatoes, chopped

1 small white onion, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon diced jalapeño chile

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.


Thanks to ABRAMS Books, I’ve got a copy of Nathan Turner’s I Love California to give away. To enter to win, tell me about a trip you’ve taken to California — where did you go? What did you do? — or if you’ve never been, why you’d like to win this book. (This entry is mandatory.)

For an additional entry, visit try small things on Facebook and like (or love!) this post and leave a comment, then tell me you did so and your name on Facebook in the comments below. (Shares aren’t necessary, but you know I really appreciate it!) 

And feel free to tweet the following once per day and leave the url for your tweet in the comments below (one entry per tweet). Make sure you’re following try small things on Twitter for your entry to count.

California Casual // #Win “Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat, and Entertain the West Coast Way” from @trysmallthings  CAN 7/24 

The contest is open to Canadian residents 18+ excluding Quebec and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on July 24, 2018. The potential winner (chosen at random) must respond to prize notification within 48 hours and provide the correct answer to a skill-testing question, otherwise another winner will be selected.

Update July 25, 2018: Congratulations Erin L! 

Recipes and images 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and the cover shared here with permission from the publisher. Text copyright © 2018 Nathan Turner. Photograph 2 by Frank S. Balthis. Photographs 3, 4, 5, and 6 © 2018 Victoria Pearson. Cover © 2018 Abrams. Photograph by Victoria Pearson. 

116 thoughts on “Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat, and Entertain the West Coast Way + Fish Tacos + Win a copy!

  1. I haven’t had the privilege of visiting California! But it’s certainky a place I’d love to visit with my family!

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