We just got back from nearly a week in L.A., and every day was full of eye candy and mouthwatering meals.
We head down to Los Angeles every year to visit David’s Mom, celebrate Thanksgiving with his side of the family and pack in as many delicious meals together as we possibly can.
So in no particular order, here are some of this year’s highlights.
Let’s start with our phenomenal Thanksgiving meal we enjoyed at my husband’s cousin’s house in the Valley.
His cousin Lisa is an amazing chef (with two adult sons who have followed her lead) and so all the food was fantastic.
We enjoyed expertly cooked turkey and whipped potatoes
and spinach gratin and broccolini with shaved Pecorino and roasted vegetables (I added turmeric to the sweet potato/carrot/rainbow carrot/fingerling mix)
and I love how the goat cheese hugged the curly endive, pear and hazelnut salad.
There were more desserts than I could even get to (I made a valiant attempt at the apple crisp) and afterwards, I spent a few minutes with some of Lisa’s most dog-eared cookbooks.
(Cookbooks are like a language between avid cooks; show me a favorite of yours and I’ll guess your cooking and entertaining style. It’s no surprise that Lisa’s cookbooks feature heavy doses of Barefoot Contessa and Smitten Kitchen as their easy elegance mirrors her own.)
Then of course there are all those wonderful meals we regularly enjoy at restaurants while visiting.
After a couple year hiatus, we returned to Mozza on La Brea. Some consider this Nancy Silverton spot the high temple of pizza perfection on the West Coast (forgive the lighting, it was terrible for photo-taking).
We started with Nancy’s Chopped Salad — a mixture of radicchio and iceberg and sliced salami and chickpeas in a zesty oregano dressing.
We also had olives and garlic bread and then an onslaught of wonderful pizzas, like this Bianca
and even more impressively, the sausage with leeks.
And to finish, we always have the Caramel Budino.
We also had a bit of a blowout at her favorite neighborhood sushi restaurant Matsumoto.
It’s always so delightful when someone treats you to soft-shell crab and spicy eel and tuna sushi in addition to more tempura than one person should eat in a week.
Lest you think that all we did on vacation was eat, I bet to differ.
We played mini-golf (a favorite outing while there)
and we always crack each other up trying to distract one another.
And truly, could you find a cuter golf outfit?
(You can’t tell from the photo but she has gingham Tretorns on, too).
And I’m happy to report that we were also able to carve time out of our busy schedule to get back to Venice Beach.
For one, I think Venice Beach has some of the best retail in Los Angeles and this shop called Tumbleweed & Dandelion is a charmer.
It offers stacks of imported linens and Falconware enamelware and baskets and so many beautiful things.
Believe it or not, it wasn’t the shopping that drew us here– it was a return visit to Gjelina (I talked about them after our last trip here).
I’ve been thinking about those pancakes every week since our last time there.
You’d never know from their modest exterior
that such a vibrant world of flavors is just inside.
I love the interior– all zinc, brick, and airy, beachy vibes– and the food is always spectacular.
I had the steak sandwich
and I have to say that I think that this wood-fired steak laden sandwich might be the best one I’ve ever had.
I also think that their Bianca pizza (seen here with olives) is better even than Mozza’s version.
The meatballs (served handsomely in their own Staub cast-iron skillet) were mouth-watering
and I love all the sides we ordered as well — Brussels sprouts with walnuts, cilantro and chile oil
and an extraordinary Puntarelle salad with Parmesan, rye croutons and an anchovy dressing.
So there you have our L.A. adventure.
There were all those spectacular meals out.
And all those taken in from Lemonade, another L.A. favorite.
There was all that time spent window shopping in some of the nicest settings I’ve seen on this coast.
We loved the putt-putt and taking daily coffee breaks
including lattes at delectable, impeccable Blue Bottle Coffee.
But I’ve saved my favorite L.A. experience for last.
Many of you know that Oliver and I are huge football fans; the Seahawks are our favorite team but we also love the Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Oliver and I were surprised to hear last minute that the giant match-up between division leaders Rams and Chiefs was being re-located from Mexico City to L.A. (due to poor field conditions) just five days before the game, but it wasn’t until last Monday and we were having lunch at Umami Burger
that we figured out what that meant.
The game of the century (as many called it in the days leading up to it) was happening in just two hours — and fifteen miles away.
(Little did we know that when we sat down for lunch tailgating pre-game was in fact already well under-way).
With almost no time to spare, we bought two tickets on-line
and he and I grabbed an Uber to get to L.A. Coliseum.
Apparently they’d sold almost 80K tickets in the five days leading up to the game and we must have snagged some of the last ones.
As we walked up to the ticket booth with thousands of rowdy fans, Oliver and I got so excited.
I went up to nearly every Kansas City fan I could, meaning I hung out with these guys (among countless others)
and I made friends with mothers of NFL players (like this gal, the mom of Travis Kelce, the Chiefs superstar tight end).
Our tickets were fantastic, just twenty eight rows up from the goal post that saw most of the action during the game.
We watched all the players warming up and chatted up other fans; we were all so excited to see the expected football fireworks.
Before you knew it, we were seated and ready for the big game.
The next three or so were mind-blowing; back and forth the two teams battled and advanced. Score. Interception. Score. Field goal. Interception. Score. Another score. Another interception. Fumble. Score. (Turns out it was the highest scoring Monday Night Football game of all time).
There was a sister and brother sitting directly in front of us who were also cheering on the Chiefs and the four of us shared snacks, fist bumps and encouragement.
While the Chiefs lost by just three points, the game was enthralling — dramatic and historic –and Oliver and I had a blast. I’m so glad that we acted spontaneously with the tickets and went to this crazy-eventful game (and got to see upfront and personal some of the best players in the league).
A special thanks to Grandma who didn’t complain about us leaving her for the night, my hubby who bought the tickets, and my lovely daughter who was a good sport when Oliver and I practically ran out the door to the game.
Now that I’m back at home, I’ve been wanting to extend that Thanksgiving vibe a little longer with our own turkey feast.
Last night we had a Friendsgiving of sorts with a big turkey dinner (served with a shallot pan gravy, roasted rainbow carrots and Trader Joe’s exceptional Cranberry Orange Relish).
The benefit of making my own turkey last night meant that today’s lunch was the best kind of leftovers:
Say hello to a Turkey-Avocado-Mashed Potato-Cranberry Sandwich.
And someone I missed very very much.
Happy almost-December, all!