I love LA! Yes indeed I do, oh my. John and I just returned from a long, lovely weekend in La La Los Angeles. Sunny and 80 degrees, my friends, heavenly. Perfect medicine – warmth, color, flowers, birdsong. We put in place our tried-and-true, John-and-Stephanie formula – great hotel + great scenic drives + great food = amazing trip. And it worked! We arrived on Thursday afternoon, rented a convertible, and made our way to our hotel. Waved good-bye to Lionel Ritchie (he departed as we arrived) and settled in the bar for a snack and a glass of wine. Cheers! After chilling, unpacking, and spiffing up a bit, we tooled over to the way hip Chateau Marmont for a garden-side cocktail and light dinner (I had a particularly delicious deconstructed “salad” of poached warm shrimp in a light sauce, alongside a stack of butter lettuce leaves, a little pile of toasted cashews, and a fan of sliced avocado. Pretty and delicious.)
Friday morning we were up and at ’em, bright and early – or in our case, dark and early, since the two-hour time change had us drinking coffee by oh, about 5:15 am. Which worked in our favor, actually, since our Friday plan was a top-down, ocean-side drive up to Santa Barbara and beyond. I’ve never been to Santa Barbara before…it’s now a favorite, ha. Wow, what a place. We wandered into a lovely lunch spot, sat on the patio, enjoyed the warm sun and cool breezes, delicious salads, and then set off for Los Olivos (setting of the movie Sideways), thinking we’d stop at a winery or two. But the drive through Los Padres National Forest was so stunning, and intoxicating on its own, that when we arrived we decided we didn’t really want any wine! (Who ARE these people who took over our bodies?!) Plus, we were anticipating our 7 p.m. dinner reservation at Lucques, and fretting about traffic, so we headed back to LA…
…and good thing, since it took us forever to get back into the city. Oh my, the traffic, it really is beyond description and worthy of its reputation. Like, 10 minutes to travel one block at one point. Aaaagh! Forget about prettying up for dinner – oh no. We went hot and sweaty straight to Lucques and barely made our res. It was hard to calm down and enjoy our dinner, although we did our best. The food was incredible (I particularly loved my white bean soup with nettles and green garlic), the service top-notch, the setting lovely and cozy. Hard to beat. I definitely need to go back in a different (more relaxed!) frame of mind.
Saturday we drove around Beverly Hills and Bel Air a bit (again, wow, the money, it’s pretty mind-boggling) then made our way over to John’s high school friend David Cremin’s lovely home. We hung out there a bit, chatting and catching up with David, his wife Dana, and the youngest of their three daughters, Jessica. Then the five of us piled into their car and headed over to Canter’s Deli for lunch. Classic, fabulous deli, OMG was it good. Crunchy, garlicky pickles. A pile of warm pastrami on soft rye. A giant, tender matzo ball in rich chicken stock. A chopped hearts of romaine salad. And the best – The Best – chocolaterugelach I have ever had. We rolled on out of there – stuffed! – bade farewell to the Cremins (who we’ll hopefully see in Minnesota this summer!), and made our way back to the hotel for poolside digesting. Which we didn’t achieve – there was a waiting list for chairs by the pool (darn!) so we had to relax in our gorgeous room, balcony doors thrown open, sipping cold beer from the mini-bar. Yeah, it was tough, you should feel really sorry for us. We did eventually rouse ourselves, and spiff up a bit, and after an elevator ride with Morgan Freeman (he’s tall!) we made our way to the hotel bar to hang out for awhile – it is definitely a scene. Such fun to pe
ople-watch in LA, there’s nothing like it.
So! Now we’re back. The cold snap has broken, thank goodness. Time to return to normal eating! Normal sleep! And yes, normal Minnesota weather (heavy sigh….). And even still, it’s damn good to be home.