>> Tuesday, March 6, 2012
After being stuck in traffic for over an hour, I finally made it in to work today and the first thing I did (after turning on my laptop) was search for flights to snowless destinations. Plus, I get to look forward to the rush hour commute home. All this reminds me of my birthday trip to Los Angeles. A last minute surprise and what a nice surprise it was.
Since my birthday lands in January, I can usually expect it to be snowy, cold and dreary. So it was quite amazing to walk around downtown LA and Santa Barbara in a t-shirt and sandals. Makes me wonder why I don’t go on vacation every year for my birthday or better yet, why I don’t live in a warm sunny climate (hello so-cal!).
It’s been a while since I’ve been to LA, the last time I was still a teenager and let’s just say; LA in your teens is vastly different from LA as an adult. I would almost compare it to being in Las Vegas as a minor…almost, maybe not quite as extreme. This time around, we still did the touristy things: Hollywood Boulevard and walk of fame, Garman’s Theatre, Sunset Strip. But there were aspects of LA that I definitely appreciate more now that I’m older.
One of those is the vineyards of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez valley. I never knew there were so many wineries in that region! Due to the climate in that region, majority of the grape varietals grown there are either Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Neither one are my immediate go to at a restaurant (chiantis or malbecs are my usual preferences). But a good Pinot is always great with lighter fare and even fish like salmon and Chardonnay, well I’ll work on it.
However, the Pinots that I tried at the many different wineries that our tour guide brought us to were very surprising and didn’t drink like a typical Pinot. They had quite the range and some almost tasting like a Cabernet or even a Shiraz since they were so dark and full of oak. Even the Chardonnays were crisp and sweet, not dry like the usual ones I’ve tasted before. I’d highly recommend doing a private tour as well because after 3-4 vineyards, it’s best not to have too many witnesses. Just saying.
LA’s foodie scene has grown quite a bit since the last time I was down there and we just happened upon LA’s Dining Week this year. Admittedly, as a teenager I probably wouldn’t have really paid much attention to it, but now that I’m a foodie. You really can’t travel with me and not be prepared to eat! We managed to try both Craft LA and Katana which offered delightful dining week menus (reviews to come!) and also squeezed in the talked about Osteria Mozza, Mario Batali’s mozzarella tasting bar and restaurant.
One thing that never gets old is the shopping in LA. Whether it be at the Desert Hills premium outlets, Rodeo Drive or Century City, you’re faced with some good finds. Even walking along all the little artist booths down at Venice Beach I was able to pick up a few goodies.
All in all, my trip to LA brought back many memories as it was memorable. It was special to begin with but being in 25ºC weather in January wearing shorts and sandals made it even more so. Now where was I? Ah yes, back to my search of sunny weather and warm climates (and looking forward to the commute home, y-a-y).