Sunday, November 9, 2014

California Road Trip! October 7-16

When I learned of the date of my girlfriend Wendy's wedding in California earlier this year, I began working on our itinerary which turned into a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. ♥ The planning was calming, as well as the blogging of it now! Enjoy!

About 500 miles but we broke up the trip nicely. :)

Oct. 7 Los Angeles & Santa Monica

My first time in L.A.! (I've only been to San Francisco and Napa in California.)

LAX's Encounter! 
The space age restaurant is now closed until further notice, but you can still check out the observation deck on weekends.

We picked up our rental car from Fox, which I recommend by the way—lower rates than the competition! Thank you, Kristina, for suggesting! We then grabbed lunch at In-N-Out Burger.

I chose Santa Monica for our first two nights because I was fascinated by the Santa Monica Pier that I have seen so many times in pictures and on TV. This is our hotel's pool, which I enjoyed late in the afternoon upon arrival. 

Views from our room ---Bloomingdale's to our right and Santa Monica Pier to our left! Fainting!

Because my girlfriend Rachel likes stars so much, I was always think of her when I see one.

We had a refresher at the Water Grill. :)

Sunset from our room

Our friend, Frank, recommended Mercado to us. One of the best dinners I've ever had. I devoured the
 Carnitas – Chef Jose's slow-cooked natural pork, guacamole, chile de arbol salsa, cauliflower with escabeche  I don't recall ever having more flavorful pork in my life.

Oct. 8 -  Santa Monica, Malibu, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles

This beachfront hotel on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica caught my eye! Looks fab, doesn't it?

The Loews was also beachfront

I loved walking by The Hotel California. I had looked into staying there but quickly changed my mind when I went to Yelp and read that there was no air conditioning and one reviewer wrote, "The bathrooms seriously look like somewhere you'd see a heroine junkie shooting up in a movie. They haven't been renovated since the 1950s and features lots of aqua ceramic tile and rusted metal..." hehe

I loved our short drive to Malibu up Highway 1 en route to the Getty Villa. I wouldn't mind living in one of these units with breathtaking views of the Pacific. 

The Getty Villa: 
J. Paul Getty's, Roman Villa Recreated in the early 1970's—modeled after a first-century Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy.

The Getty Villa was cool, but because of the drought, no water in the pool or the fountains. :( 

Pomegranate Tree

Floor detail

My original plan for lunch after the Getty Villa was Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills. I tweaked our itinerary a few times.  It would have taken us 45 minutes to get there and, guess what? When I'm hungry, I'm hungry. Thankfully, my girlfriend, Kristina, had emailed me about Duke's for drinks and snacks after she saw my Facebook posting of traveling to Malibu. :)

This was our second time at Duke's. The first was at their Honolulu location, 6 years ago!

My Mai Tai above along with our appetizer: TAHITIAN SHRIMP - Grilled papaya, coconut milk, avocado, tomato, cucumber, lime, shaved peppers

It's here, that I received a text from my niece Tarissa. I knew that her half-sleeve tattoo would be completed while we were gone. Even though I'm not a fan of inking your body,

2005 - Grammy with her favorite person :)
Tarissa did ask me if I wanted to do matching since this particular one that she had done was in memory of Grandmother Pansy. I respectfully declined. The text came in as we were seated and relaxed with the Pacific waves crashing to my right.

Driving us to Beverly Hills!!!

This is the first pic I took in Bevery Hills! I had only read about the stars dining there! OMG THERE IT IS! hehe

Our first stop was Kyle's store from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. They surprisingly had some affordable clothing.

Scott Babe made himself at home♥

Next stop, Lisa Vanderpump's Villa Blanca (another reality star from RHOBH)
"Life isn't all diamonds and rosé, but it should be."

"In Beverly Hills they drink rosé during the day!"

The bar was smaller than what I had imagined. Wendy, I see Right Gin on the top shelf for you! 

When I posted this pic on FB, my gf Elisa wrote "Underwhelming flowers! Lisa V. has dropped the ball!"

Rodeo Drive:

Street art by Becca around the corner from Rodeo Drive. 

I organized a group dinner at Hatfield's in L.A. with my favorite New Yorker cartoonist, Bill Haefeli, my dear friends Tamar, and newly engaged Frank and Chris. 

Delicious amuse-bouche - scallop crudo

Mango pulp, Persian cucumber, avocado, crispy shallot

Yellowtail sashimi, prosciutto, sunny side up quail egg, grilled brioche

Basil oil, feta, mizuna and herbs

Caramelized endive, dried plum reduction, mushroom-hazelnut duxelles

Cherry tomato, fava bean, sherry beurre fondue, zucchini coulis

Charred broccolini, potato purée, caper hollandaise

Frank, me and Tamar

Scott Babe, Bill Haefeli, Chris

A recent clip on Bill Haefeli - click here. :)
Whenever I can't get my car defrosted, I think of this cartoon by Bill.♥

*Stay tuned for our Santa Barbara adventure


  1. thanks again for that star pic and shout out! i LOVE this whole post!

  2. Makes me want to visit LA! Love the pics especially the Santa Monica hotel shots!

  3. So talented, I love your blogs! :) Chris