While Frank was away in Chicago, I took my mom and brother to California. We initially planned to visit San Diego but hotel room rates were astronomical - Thank you, Comic-Con. Plan B was to go to Huntington Beach and Hollywood; we stayed in Anaheim at Hotel Pepper Tree. The location was convenient, the price was right and it was plenty big for the three of us. We had a kitchen with a full size fridge and a large patio. It is a really great option for families visiting Disneyland.
We left Vegas on Friday after work, stopping in Barstow for dinner. We stopped at Lola's Kitchen. The Mexican eats were pretty darn tasty and reasonably. I had a chile relleno and enchilada. My mom and brother had carne asada burritos. Chips and salsa to start were great and they had refreshing water with cantaloupe and blueberries. It was well after nine o'clock when we rolled into our hotel. We enjoyed a beer on the patio, and then I crashed fairly early. It had been an extremely long week.
Saturday morning we drove to LA for Langer's Deli. We needed a pastrami fix and an order of potato pancakes didn't hurt. It was fantastic as always. From LA, we were headed to Huntington Beach, traffic on the 405 was terrible. It took a couple hours, bummer. It was about three before we arrived at the beach. It was really overcast and breezy. I bought an umbrella to protect me from the sun, but this day I'd only need it in case it rained. We got situated on the beach. I sprawled out and got comfy; I was ready to read and nap. My brother hit the water with his boogie board and mom went to get her feet wet.
My mom returned quickly, it was too cold. All summer she's complained of the heat and she's wished for water. I bring her to the beach and it's too cold. "Ok, goldilocks, remember this when you're sweating your butt off at home." Not too long after Mike returned and he was getting beat up by the waves. Plus there was an under toe. He didn't feel fit enough to safely play so he called it quits. It hadn't even been an hour and they were ready to go. We packed up, they changed and we decided to walk down to the pier so we could get a little more out of the parking - we paid for all day.
We walked over, The US Surf Open had begun that day. They had stands set up for viewing and a bunch of tents for vendors and such. We walked the pier and sat to watch the surfers shred. It's always a good source of entertainment. I'm always amazed at what they're able to do. If only my core had that kind of strength. The winds picked up and the sun began to set so we left. We stopped at Ikea in Costa Mesa. We picked up a few goodies there and then went to Costa Brava for dinner, but they were closed. We ended up at Eat Chow instead. It's neat space in an odd location, it is attached Bel Bambini a high end baby store. Yes, a baby store. Odd, right?
We started with onion rings with blue cheese dipping sauce. Oh my goodness, these were so good! The onions were tender, the breading was light and crisp and combined with the blue cheese they elevated to a whole new level of deliciousness. Their shoestring fries were mighty tasty too. Crisp, yet fluffy in the center and not the least bit greasy. We also had an order of the tater tot fondue. I've never seen such a thing offered so I had to try it. The tots came in the cheese and were a bit soggy because of it. They'd be better served on the side.
Moving onto entrees, my mom had the French dip, Mike had the meatloaf sandwich and I had the cubano. All were good, none were great. Service was attentive, no complaints there. I only wish the meal ended as strong as it began.
After dinner we went back to the hotel. Mike and I planned to grab drinks at the bar inside the Mexican restaurant nearby, but it was closed for a private function. Again, it ended up being an early night.
Sunday, we drove to Hollywood. We had brunch at Joan's on Third. Mike and I have been before but it was a first visit for my mom. It's a neat place with a market and restaurant. Seating inside is first come first serve and outside you put a name on a list and wait it out. We placed our orders and waited for a seat outside. It only took about ten minutes. I enjoyed a bacon gruyere croissant while we waited. So savory and sinful, I just love it. For lunch I ordered the prosciutto parma sandwich and a side of Brussels sprout salad. I had the salad before and it was just as yummy as I remember. It's a complex blend of dates, manchego and hazelnuts with a light mustard grain dressing. The sandwich was even better than I expected. It was loaded with prosciutto and the fresh mozzarella and red peppers were stellar. I'd definitely get it again. Mike ordered their lemonade and I wished I had. This had the perfect blend of sweet and tart and there was no syrupy after taste. I can't recall ever having a better lemonade. I regret not ordering one. My mom and Mike had the chicken sandwich with brie. Mike had it before and love it, this time didn't disappoint. Mom wasn't a fan of the brie and didn't enjoy it as much. On the side of their sandwiches they serve housemade sweet pickles. These pickles remind us of the ones our grandma would make. No other sweet pickles compare to grandma's but these are damn close. One bite brings us right to our childhood. Mike and I both bought pickles to bring home.
Mike and mom had never seen the Hollywood Walk of Fame so we went to check that out. I've done a tour before and figured it's a good way to see the hotspots and celeb homes so the plan was to negotiate a good deal and go. It took a few tries, but we secured seats for fifteen bucks. $40 is regular price. Most will go down to $20, but that extra five took some convincing. This tour took us up near the Hollywood sign for a photo opp. My mom doesn't get around real well so we opted to stay in the vehicle, while the rest of the group went. The rest of the tour was similar to the last one I took, only saw a few less celebrity homes because the prior tour didn't get so close to the sign. Here's a few I recall and some I don't. My brother is hugely into music and he was mostly interest in the music clubs. We saw them all.
TMZ offices are located on the floor with all of those windows
The Greystone Mansion, used in many movies - too many to name
Christina Aguilera's house, former residence of Ozzy and family.
The last residence of Michael Jackson
Former Spelling House
Simon Cowell's House
A few I don't recall
We walked a good stretch of the walk of fame, the building next to the grauman's chinese theatre is underconstruction so that area was a real shitshow. We avoided it. There seemed to be fewer characters than previous visits. Maybe they left LA for Vegas?
I wanted to get home at a decent time so hit the road for home. It was a good trip, it could've been better had the sun come out, but there's always next time.