Sorry for the long intermission between posts, from final exams, relaxing during my first weeks of winter recess and spending five days with my family in California to watch Wisconsin play in the Rose Bowl, there hasn’t been too much spare time to blog. Hopefully these next few posts of recent food exploits and the great food we enjoyed more than make up for the recent void.
We arrived in Cali around 2:30 p.m. pct, and dropped off our bags at the Airport Crown Plaza, where we spent the first night of our stay. After dipping in and out of the hotel, we hopped on the number three-bus line and headed to downtown Santa Monica. Due to the change in time zones, it was only 5 p.m., but everyone was tired and starving, so we settled on eating an early New Years dinner.
Walking up and down the block, we examined every possible eatery within sight and we settled on Trastevere, an Italian restaurant situated in the heart of Third Street Promenade. Here I ordered, Linguine Salmone e Piselli; linguine pasta and sautéed salmon with peas, vodka and a creamy tomato sauce. The salmon was perfectly cooked in tomato sauce and it was one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve ever eaten at. This restaurant was a little pricey, but slightly cheaper than the more expensive Lago further down the block. Service was fast, the employees were very kind and an amazing dinner was capped off with the best Tiramisu I’ve ever had. Following dinner, we retired to our hotel as it was two hours later in the Midwest, and rested up for the next day of our trip.
As we woke up to beautiful weather in LA, Minneapolis had been hit with a large snow storm (although none would stick), this caused our last family member’s flight from Minneapolis to Dallas to be late, in turn causing her to miss the connection in Dallas. This left Dom stuck on a plane as we encountered the same group of friendly badgers fans who had taken the bus back from Santa Monica with us the night before on our bus to Venice Beach. Almost everywhere you went, you could see the invasion of LA by Wisconsin and Oregon fans as they geared up for the Rose Bowl, the Granddaddy of Them All. The bus driver recommended us to a great breakfast place off of Lincoln Ave in Venice called “George’s”. The prices were very reasonable, the food was prepared fast and it seemed to be a locally known secret. My mother and I each ordered a breakfast burrito (one egg, one ham). However, we realized those two burritos would have easily fed four people, one being almost the size of my mom’s head. Filled with potatoes, ham, salsa, beans, cheese, and onions, it was tasty, and all for five dollars. I’ll definitely come back here next time I come to LA, as it’s affordable, friendly, clean and right off of the bus route.
After breakfast, we all waddled our way to the Venice Boardwalk, which we are all two familiar with due to a number of childhood trips to Venice. Venice beach is an experience in itself that I cannot capture in words, pictures or even a video. Simply, it’s an experience, from the vendors, to the street people, muscle beach and the ocean itself. While walking down the boardwalk, I found myself with a delicious cup of gelato, 1 part pistachio, and 1 part coconut pineapple. All in all we walked down the boardwalk, and all the way to the Marina of Marina Del Rey (due to a “directional” error) but it was enjoyable as well. Without any kind of structure activity, we were able to just walk and explore, enjoying the moment and our journey to find a bus stop.
Following our trek through south Venice and Marina Del Rey, we arrived to meet the fifth member of our travels and pick up a rent-a-car.
Our second hotel was the Marina Del Rey Hotel. It provided great location being on the marina, good food and a fair price. After getting established at the new hotel, we drove to Tony G’s Bar and Grill in Santa Monica. To our server’s recommendation, I ordered a flat iron steak (medium rare), which came with mashed potatoes, and fresh vegetables. The steak was cooked to perfection and not over seasoned, which is just my style. While my sister was not a huge fan of her food, I really liked my steak, had a great triple berry cobbler, and our server was friendly, really pretty and was always there to help.
The day is January 2nd, and it’s time for the Rose Bowl. We quickly at our hotel, I ordered a Belgium waffle with chopped strawberries and bananas. After the highest scoring game in Rose Bowl history we returned to the third street promenade in Santa Monica looking for a place to eat. To my sister’s recommendation, we chose a French restaurant, Café Crepe. I ordered some fantastic lemon chicken, which came with ratatouille, and split a sugar and butter crepe for desert. Overall, the prices were great, but the food was even better.
Tuesday morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and headed down to Santa Monica. Fortunately, we never made it there since we stopped on Ocean Ave in Venice to look at some small shops. I stumbled upon The Panini Garden. All of their baked goods are made in house, and the vegetables are fresh and organic. I ordered a pear and walnut salad, which included fresh vinaigrette and chopped walnuts. Between this restaurant and Café Crepe, I have a hard time choosing which had the best food we had. Since I was the only one to eat here, my whole family went out for Italian down the street and it was quite excellent. Unfortunately I don’t remember quite what it was called.
As a result of our late lunch, we didn’t eat dinner till around 8 p.m., and we decided on Sushi Roku in Santa Monica. We started with some edomame for appetizers, and I ordered a Shima Roll: Shrimp wrapped Spicy Tuna with cilantro & avocado, which was absolutely delicious. Following the entrée, we ordered a kind of chocolate mousse cake and every bite was delicious.
Wednesday morning, my dad and I woke up early to walk Venice Beach one more time before we hopped on a flight back to Minnesota. As we trotted down the beach, we decided to eat at The Fig Tree, located on the boardwalk. The coffee was good, service was fast, and the menu was filled with local organic foods. I ordered Raisin French Toast with bananas, and it was delicious. After breakfast we hustled back to our car to grab the rest of our crew and head to the airport. Sadly our trip in California had to end sometime.
P.S. All over California we carried my Mom’s Army Corp of Engineering mascot around to take pictures of him at the Rose Bowl for her office, and here he is at the Rose Bowl.