Hello friends! Hope you all had a good holiday season and a Happy New Year! I am doing some behind-the-scenes work to make this blog a better experience for readers and an easier user interface for myself, so bear with me as the changes come along.
As I mentioned in my last post, we also have a LOT of catching up to do. Thanksgiving seems like it was a lifetime ago at this point, but we had a wonderful weekend in Los Angeles with Max’s family. Surprisingly, the drive from Monterey to LA wasn’t terrible – no worse, and frankly probably a little better, than a similar 5+ hour drive I used to make with relative frequency from Northern Virginia to Connecticut. Route 1 was/is still unusable south of Big Sur, so we opted to take 101 south and cut over at Paso Robles to catch route 5. I didn’t do much research into the drive, and realized later that we were pretty close to the James Dean crash site, so we missed out on that.
It was a relatively uneventful drive, with some desert views and mountain views:
We arrived in Los Angeles after only a little bit of traffic near Santa Clarita, much to our surprise, and met up with the family for dinner at Wild Carvery in Burbank. I took zero pictures of dinner, but I had a delicious Greek chicken salad. Max, his brother, his brother’s girlfriend, and I followed up dinner with a few drinks at Story Tavern. The night before Thanksgiving is a pretty aggressive drinking night in Syracuse/Buffalo, so I was amazed that the bar was almost completely empty.
Last year, when we celebrated Thanksgiving in Knoxville, TN, my brother-in-law and I ran a 5k Turkey Trot and accidentally started a tradition. This year, we got up early to run the Burbank Turkey Trot, which was a great race except for the part where it was 90 degrees at 8 AM. I am not used to running in 90 degrees ever, let alone at eight in the morning, so I most definitely did not put up a great time. I have been casually and slowly running 5ks since my first race for Thanksgiving 2015, and managed to put up a 10:30 mile on the first mile which is faster than my standard pace, so I will take that as a victory despite it being too hot for me to run the race the way I wanted to. But I survived, and they gave me a medal!
(As you can see – this year’s Turkey Trot was much warmer than last year’s.)
After the Turkey Trot, we enjoyed a day of football, food, fun, and family (and alliteration, clearly) for Thanksgiving. I thoroughly enjoyed not having to cook this year! But, truth be told, I do love cooking and throwing dinner parties, so I did feel a little like I was just sitting around and twiddling my thumbs at times.
Friday was a pretty chill day which we used to recover from the craziness that was Thanksgiving. For breakfast, we ate at Eat n’ Park in Burbank, which was a pretty good diner – and seemingly not related to the Pittsburgh-area Eat-N-Park chain so my excitement about Smiley cookies was instantly thwarted. I got excited to order a pancake sandwich, which turned out to just be a pancake plate, which was disappointing but ultimately delicious and gave us some good laughs for the rest of the weekend. The afternoon was spent playing board games and relaxing at home until dinner. We had dinner with the other side of my brother-in-law’s girlfriend’s family, which was full of delicious Persian food and lots of music and drinking and dancing.
Saturday we began with breakfast at Another Broken Egg Cafe in Burbank, which is a chain restaurant but a delicious one. We ate at one of these restaurants in Atlanta a few years ago – our history in Atlanta suggests that we may not have been 100% sober when eating there, so I remember the restaurant being good but couldn’t say much else about it. I am glad we had another opportunity to eat at a Broken Egg Cafe! I got huevos rancheros, one of my breakfast standards, and they were FANTASTIC. Also a mimosa, because duh, and an iced coffee, because I cannot function without caffeine.
After breakfast, we spent some time playing games – Oregon Trail, which we couldn’t master at home with two people so we needed a crowd, and Exploding Kittens complete with the Imploding Kittens expansion pack and Cone of Shame. Afternoon took us to Brewyard Beer Company in Glendale, where we continued our gaming with a round of Munchkin and a few beers. They had a pretty wide selection of beers, fulfilling the hoppy beers that I love and the dark beers Max loves, so we were all happy. I LOVE “repurposed industrial” type spaces (our apartment in Mystic was a converted factory building and I will forever love that apartment), so I fell in love with Brewyard pretty much instantaneously. The beer was a definite additional perk!
Since it was also my mother-in-law’s birthday, we had dinner reservations to celebrate at Cafe Santorini in Pasadena. Cafe Santorini is a Mediterranean restaurant overlooking a courtyard/alleyway in Old Town Pasadena, complete with brick walls and balconies. I am a sucker for any menu that is even vaguely Middle Eastern (give me lamb all the time thanks). I ordered a cocktail called the “Ginger and Maryann” which was a ginger-basil-elderflower concoction that was incredibly refreshing and delicious. For dinner, I had the lamb souvlaki (to die for) and Max ordered yuvetsi, a roasted lamb, tomato, orzo, and cheese dish that was one of the best bites of food I have ever put on a fork. I loved the lamb souvlaki, but in the event we end up back at Cafe Santorini, I will definitely have to get more of the yuvetsi. SO. GOOD. These are not the best pictures, but you get the idea.
On Sunday, Max, his brother, and their dad went to a Rams game, so the girls had a lovely day out beginning with brunch at Jane in the Highland Park area, featuring this delicious omelet:
…and then went to the Huntington Library and Botanical Garden. If the word “library” is involved, you can sign me right up, no questions asked. The gardens were beautiful, the art exhibits were really cool (Colonial American art!!! I am a huge Revolutionary War-era nerd, in case my love of Hamilton didn’t clue you in), and it was a gorgeous day to spend outside.
After the botanical garden, my mother-in-law and I headed back to Burbank to get a couple cocktails and kill some time waiting for the guys to get back from the football game. We went to Granville Cafe and enjoyed some cocktails and sweet potato fries and watched the end of the Rams game.
Once the men got back to the hotel, it was unfortunately time for us to hit the road and head back to Monterey. We ended up taking a small detour near Bakersfield, but otherwise it was once again an uneventful drive after a wonderful long weekend.
I’ll leave you with this poem from one of the art exhibits at the Huntington that really spoke to me. Happy reading – we’ll continue to catch up soon. 🙂