Road trip: Los Angeles

Not to be confused with the real one. 

It’s about time we got down to LA, right? We finally had the time, money, and organizational skills to plan a trip to the LA area, so that’s what we did for our “spring break.”

Last time I was driving through on my way to Orange County, I noticed the gorgeous Pyramid Lake area. So I suggested to Mike that we camp there the first night to get in a little nature before we surrounded ourselves with Bentleys and Botox.

This turned out to be a bad idea for several reasons. First, even in southern California it is frickin’ freezing at night. Like actually 30 degrees. So we froze our butts off in our little tent.

We also got to listen to our fellow campers screaming about Jager shots all night. Fun times. And most importantly, that night turned out to be one of the ones when KU was playing in the NCAA tournament, so we actually went to a barbecue restaurant in Santa Clarita for a few hours to watch the game. So much for nature.

Rock chalk!

On the plus side, Rattler’s BBQ was really good, and KU won the game. I also discovered a new food —tri tip, which I did not realize was a big thing in SoCal. It’s like somewhere in between steak and brisket, and it’s really good.

In the morning we woke up to the sound of dozens of quail wandering around our campsite. They’re actually really interesting looking birds, and we saw lots of them on our trip. But we had to get moving onto the city, so we headed into LA in search of coffee and breakfast. It was about that time that we discovered that our first neice, Grace, was born that night while we were freezing in our tent. Welcome to the world little lady!

We also discovered that Proof is an amazing place to have coffee and breakfast.

Proof was one of the restaurants I learned about from Joy’s blog. Every pastry there looks divine, and we sampled the quiche and a morning bun. Highly recommend!

So appropriate that there really is a Bentley sitting there.

Next we decided to do some exploring by car around Beverly Hills, various other neighborhoods, and up to Mulholland Drive. We bought a cheesy star map, saw the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air house, etc. etc.

By lunchtime we decided to head to the beach in Santa Monica. To me it is exactly what I think of when I think LA. Brightly colored, beachy, full of palm trees and people on cruiser bikes.

It was the perfect place to do this.

Mike found this Italian deli pretty close to the beach where we got some yummy sandwiches.

Bonus points if you can tell what’s wrong with this picture.

And we continued our good eats that night when we went to Berlin Currywurst in Silver Lake. (Which is a super cool neighborhood, by the way). Apparently currywurst is a foodie trend I have not kept up with, because we saw at least two more restaurants that had it in LA. But we finally tried it.

It’s basically sausage cut up into chunks and covered with a curry sauce. You pick it up with a little toothpick thing. We also got seasoned fries that you dip in mayo, just like you would in Europe. What’s not to love about that?

Also in this neighborhood we saw an Isetta parked on the street.

We finished our night with Intelligentsia coffee, which is seriously intense! I thought Blue Bottle held the title on coffee snobbery, but now I’m not so sure. The people were really nice, though. In fact people generally were nicer than I expected. I actually loved LA. We both did. It’s got a huge personality, and so many different things going on. It surprised me, in a good way.

The next day we decided to pack in as much sightseeing as possible since we had limited time. The weather was a huge fail — cool and rainy, at times even pouring — all day and night, but we made the best of it.

Before the rain had a chance to get going, we went to the Hollywood farmers market. It’s a great size — just enough vendors to find everything you’d want. If I lived around there I’d definitely go regularly.

We got to try another new food, these Thai coconut pancakes. They remind me of Dutch poffertjes, but with coconut goo in the middles. Very yummy.

Best part? The little leaf boat they come in.

We had a so-so pupusa (I’m about to give up on finding a better one than the ones at the Des Moines farmers market), but then Mike found this killer blue corn tamale.

And my favorite part was the Carmela ice cream truck. I got a real education from the guy working there about all the natural goodies used for their flavorings.

Despite the weather I ended up getting a strawberry-buttermilk ice cream sandwich, one of the best I’ve ever had. Bi-Rite still hold the title of best ice cream in my mind, but this was pretty close.

By then the rain had started falling, but we trekked up to Griffith Park to see the observatory. On a better day it would have been a great place to hike, but we pretty much just wanted to see the place where the famous scenes with James Dean were filmed.

You can also get a great view of the Hollywood sign up there.

Next we needed another indoor activity so we headed to the La Brea tar pits museum. For nerds like us it was a lot of fun.

In addition to all the fossilized bones (which they constantly remind you are not dinosaurs!), they also have a big glass room where you can watch people cleaning tar off new finds.

Yikes! Also, did you know there existed huge ancient sloths?

After that we had to find another place to watch the next KU game, so we actually stumbled on The Counter, which is right across the street from the museum.

It’s a build-your-own-burger place with a big bar where you can watch big-screen TVs. I loved it. I thought the food was excellent, and I liked that you could get half sweet potato fries and half onion rings (or other ‘fring’ combinations).

KU won again, so we were very happy. That night we met up with my college friend Tanner, who works for Entertainment Weekly. It was awesome to catch up with him in his very cool West Hollywood house.

I think we managed to squeeze everything we possibly could into those three days. But there’s more! We actually went to Orange County after that so we could take a trip to Catalina Island. And then we went down to San Diego for a couple days. But I think I will save those for other posts because this has gotten crazy long already.

Loving: grownup pb cups

Growing up, my favorite candies were definitely anything with Reese’s in front of the name, so of course I loved these organic peanut butter cups. They feel a little more special, a little more grownup. And they taste better, too!

I’m also loving that Trader Joe’s has such cheap bunches of flowers. I couldn’t resist these bright orange gerbera daisies the other day ($4.99 for a bunch of 8 or so). Gerberas just make me happy. So happy, in fact, that I have one tattooed on my foot. But the real thing is just as good.