Thursday, April 26, 2012

California Get Away

Just got back from a fun little So. Cal. trip with Shannon!
While I like to revisit some of my old favorites, there are plenty of places I haven't yet visited.

I had never been to Descanso Gardens before and we both loved it! Created on a Camellia Farm, purchased from the Japanese owners for a "fair price", when they faced internment during World War II, it was just absolutely, beautiful.

Another So. Cal. favorite, Phillipe's-Home of the Original French Dip Sandwich, was also new to me. Shan and I both found ourselves "mmmming" as we ate, so good and such a unique place! French dip sandwich, pickled egg, heavenly dill pickles, homemade lemonade, coleslaw, all delicious! We loved it!

The "Best Chinese Restaurant in Monterey Park", according to several on-line sites, was indeed the best CHINESE restaurant. It was AUTHENTIC and we were the only non-Chinese in the place, which was a very large and packed restaurant. No Sweet and Sour here, oh no, we're talking jellyfish, tortoise, duck feet and an interesting complimentary, Barley dessert "soup', kind of a watery, lightly sweet, cinnamon(?) porridge...It reminded me of something a very sick person would have been fed in a Dicken's novel. Only chopsticks were provided and I did my best, which isn't saying much! Finally one of the many waiters who were standing on the sidelines, almost at attention, came over and asked, "you won fowk?" Everyone in the restaurant was eating the lovely fried, giant, prawns "in toto", just as they were prepared, heads, little legs, shell and all. I figured "when in Rome" and decided to attempt the same... I am blaming the shells for my latest bout of Diverticulitis. Anyway, Shan and I agreed that a loud outburst of laughter and conversation probably ensued once we walked out the door! I'm sure we were a comical sight., at least I was, Shan is chopstick savvy.

Speaking of Chinese Americans.Everyone knows that there is at least one donut shop every block in So. Cal. and the best donuts, in my experience, are the ones made by a Chinese cook. We, once again, turned to google to find the best donuts in our area and when we walked in and was greeted by an old Chinese guy behind the counter, Shan and I looked at each other and shared a silent, exultant, "YES!" We knew we had chosen wisely. Oh! They were good!

After visiting the Getty Villa in Malibu, we had lunch at M Cafe, an interesting place.  We were seated by the bar since we had actually missed our reservation because I took a wrong turn, necessitating 40 minutes of hairpin switchbacks through a wild Malibu canyon, (car sick, anyone?) anyway... Once we got there it was largely populated by a mix of Malibu/Hollywood Hybrids ( if I ever see one more plumped upper-lip, spray tan or insanely high wedge sandals, it will be too soon) and families with dogs and kids running around. Shan felt out of place with our conservative attire, but me... one of the gifts of getting older is, "I don't give a DAMN what they think, my money is just as green as theirs." Check out the website, it is much less "manicured" than shown, almost had a mom and pop feel to it or maybe just budget problems, but still, I liked it!
                                      It looked like this the day we were there>

So, that's it in a nutshell. So fun to spend some time with my girl, back in the land of my youth!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Break! Girl Gone Wild!

Returned to school after a week of exotic travel, intellectual stimulation and...

Well, what really happened is, I didn't do much of anything for 5 days and it suited me just fine, thank-you.

 I attended the funeral of a good friend's brother. It is horrible when it takes a funeral to get the two of us together but, I was glad to be a small support to her and to be able to honor her brother and his surviving partner, of 25 years. He was listed, by first name only, as his best friend in the obituary. I am not judging those who authored the obit. I know they were doing the best they could. But it broke my heart and made me hope for the day when fear won't keep us from proudly acknowledging the caring, committed relationship of a loved one.

I had lunch with a friend who told me she had promised herself she would not be "negative" at our lunch date. I advised her, as her "therapist", that in this case negative was good. Where else can you be "negative" if not with a trusted friend? I go home feeling purged after one of my "sessions" with my "therapists". Hey, lunch is a lot cheaper than real therapy and I would guess there's also a lot more humor involved! So bitch away! Then go home with a smile on your face, knowing you aren't alone in the battle and it's possibly not as bad as it seemed before you brought it all out across the lunch table and umpteen refills of diet coke.

One early morning, I took my synthetic down comforter, and a jillion quarters, to the laundromat. Although having all the machines to yourself brings a kind of "early-bird getting the worm" sort of self satisfaction, being in a laundromat alone, in a deserted strip mall is creepy.  I thought of just going to sit in my car to wait for my load, but I LOVE that dang comforter and I guess I would risk robbery rather than have it snatched from the dryer! I was really relieved when another early bird, arms loaded with Big Load items, showed up.

Having watched 1-4 episodes per day, I can proudly say that I am caught up to Season 4 of Breaking Bad. I have become addicted to it, much like the meth heads often portrayed in the show. I just think it is genius, so well written, the characters well developed, causing me to laugh out loud one minute and to yell out, "hurry, hurry!! arghhhh!", the next. I'm hooked! The new season doesn't start til Fall! How will I survive?

Lastly, took Shannon and Barry to a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place over on the west side of town, and I mean WEST in the worst sense of the word. Or the best sense, depending on what you're looking for. You want dive, holeinthewall, go west young man! This place had four small, 4 person booths and a counter that was almost part of the tiny kitchen, seating another four. Food was served on old,finely cracked, melamine plates of the beige, slightly speckled 1960 variety. I can only wonder how many thrift stores the owners had to scour to get a set of 13. No soda machine, bottled-pop only, and plastic forks. The food was great, very authentic. Barry loved it, saying it took him right back to his Central Mexico Mission, in more ways than one. It was delicious!...and waay too much money! I guess in the novelty of the experience, I didn't notice the prices while ordering. While the food was wonderful, the service-ware and general state of the building called for a price break. I thought $9.00 (an old) plate was a bit much! But it was fun being together, feeling adventurous, so worth it. And I guess you are paying for the ambiance.

Hope you enjoyed a love filled Easter!