As much time as I spend in Southern California, I don't often get the chance to play tourist in my own hometown -- I grew up in LA, went to college there, and lived there until I was 26. When a good friend from here wanted to experience the true Southern California, I was happy to play tour guide last week. It was fun to show her some of my favorite places, and take a lot of photographs at the same time.
The above sign can be found at Zuma Beach in Malibu. To tell you the truth, I have never seen the stand open, but love seeing the food stand as you turn the big curve on Pacific Coast Highway heading north. The first couple days we were there were unseasonably warm, and the beach was lovely -- complete with a pod of dolphins playing in the nearby water.
The Southern California growing season is always a bit ahead of our Northern California season. The Wednesday Santa Monica farmers market was full of visions of spring, and it was really wonderful to see the abundance that we have to look forward to in Northern California soon. My find of the day was La Nogalera walnut oil -- a nicely balanced, light walnut oil that is grown and processed in Central California.
While firmly in the "Californian Mexican" camp, I have always loved Border Grill for their appetizers and cocktails. We stopped in one afternoon and shared a shrimp & hearts of palm salad, and a mushroom quesadilla along with about 20 pounds of chips and their wonderful salsas.
Nearly every Southern California trip in the past couple years has included a stop at Patisserie Chantilly in Lomita. A Japanese bakery with French-style pastries, everything I have ever eaten here has been impeccably executed. The epitome of perfection at Chantilly is the cream puff. As soon as I walk into the patisserie, I usually have a huge smile on my face that remains during the whole trip.
We stopped by the old farmers market on Fairfax and Third -- just a quick run-through to check it out. This particular farmers market (much more of a tourist destination with permanent store booths than the modern farmers market) makes me feel very old and curmudgeonly as it's hard for me to believe that a modern mall has sprung up around the market in what used to be the parking lot. This photo is of the famous diner called Du-Pars which is famous for its pies and breakfasts.
The trip was great. Additional food highlights included Mozza Pizzeria and Sunday Supper at Lucques, a vegetarian dinner we cooked for my family, along with other bites and nibbles throughout the Southland. Even five days felt short, and I feel like I didn't do my hometown justice. But there's always next time ...