Monday, April 27, 2009

Voyager Bien: 1.5 days in LA

A friend told me this week that I should probably get paid to introduce people to LA as a personal tour guide. It is one of my favorite things to do - driving from neighborhood to neighborhood, pointing out the best hidden strip mall treasures, James Beard award-winning taco shacks, legendary rock n roll monuments, haunted hotels, gorgeous apartments I tried to rent, best city views, secret beaches, design boutiques, specialty food markets, treat shops, and margarita cantinas. I sure exercised my guide muscle this past weekend, with a new challenge. Two of my best friends who reside in Portland came down for a grad school visit/whirlwind "get to know you, LA" trip - A 36 hour kinda whirlwind. The clock was ticking and I was set on doing my best to traverse common misconceptions of the City of Angels and thoroughly impress them!
Here's a rundown of some top hits from the schedule:

• In lieu of a pricey cab, I had them take the $6 FlyAway Bus from LAX to historic Union Station downtown and chill on Olvera Street until I could get out of the office and down to meet them. I was greeted with smiles and a bag of candied whole limes stuffed with coconut and fragrant chili dusted tamarind balls.

• After freshening up we hit Mexico City in Los Feliz for a satisfying dinner of sopes, carne asada, delicious mole poblano and of course margaritas. We walked down Hillhurst to Alcove to pick up dessert to go, selecting a molten chocolate souffle and pb&j cupcake. Grabbed a 75 cl Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue) on the way back home and enjoyed our indulgent gatherings.

• An early rise called for hand-shaken Iced Angelenos at Intelligentsia pronto!

• After leaving campus, our leisurely lunch hunt landed us at M Cafe de Chaya for winning salad The M Chopped (organic hearts of romaine, mixed greens, avocado, cucumber, chickpeas, herb-baked tofu, scallions, ume-pickled radishes, carrots, beets, tamari-roasted almonds, crumbled tempeh “bacon” and tofu-peppercorn ranch) and a celeb sighting or two. Followed by a Laurel Canyon/Mullholland drive and brisk walk partway down Runyon Canyon.

• A serene drive out Sunset Blvd to the PCH and north along the Malibu coast to Point Dume for a late afternoon seagazing landed us at the Malibu Pier Club on the way back down for cocktail hour. Our Royal Hawaiians (Mai Tais) and Canyon Margaritas were accompanied by tasty french fries sprinkled with ground dried Japanese seaweed and a creamy sriracha dipping sauce. Yum!

• Back in Hollywood, our original plan of making a taco dinner after such a long day sounded daunting, so we pulled over at La Brea and Wilshire and settled into Luna Park for a casual supper of sausage pizza, spinach salad and beers. Recalling a previous mention, my guests requested one last stop at Scoops where we savored their signature ice cream flavor, Brown Bread. I quite enjoyed the Goat cheese Fig and Coffee Molasses flavors as well.

We fell into our beds Saturday night deep in sun and comfort food comas. I could only imagine my friends' flight at dawn continuing in the same fashion (and judging from the photos, I was right).

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