Monday, February 25, 2008

California Dreaming (of food)

The freeway
[More Trip Photos]

Well, after a well deserved vacation, I return to my cruel reality of nine to five and fluorescent artificial lighting. I did spend quite the weekend down in sunny Los Angeles, California focusing on relaxation and eradicating worries. How I love the Southwest. It reminds me of home. The people, the food, the way of life, and the weather. Oh boy, the weather. Although we had a few sunny moments, it was pretty chilly for the most part, which made my dreams of running shirtless through the beach, wearing only white canvas pants, impossible. Heh.

I'll start at the beginning, however. It all started at around 4:30 in the morning when I was to be picked up by a Super Shuttle van, where little did I know, but I was about to embark on yet another GPS-deficient adventure in search of passenger homes. This would be the 2nd time, 1st time coming back from the El Paso wedding a few weeks ago. These guys charge you close to $30 in fare and pre-added gratuity. Don't open doors nor do they help you with your bags, yet they still get angry and demand you tip them again. No way. Not to mention that they don't know how to get anywhere, and none of them have any type of GPS or maps. Well that's untrue, some of them carry paper maps, which they make you (the passenger) read to them so they know how to get to your destination. I was convinced that' what fare was for, a service provided. Horrible experiences each time I've been with them, I probably will not be using them again. I think I will write to them and give them a piece of my mind.

Shortly after our passenger-guided trip, I arrived at Dulles International Airport where I proceeded to my gate. I was flying Virgin America, for the first time (pun entirely coincidental). Wow. I cannot say enough good things about this airline. The Captain came out to the waiting area and introduced himself, greeted every passenger there, and assured us of punctual departure and arrival. The air staff was kind, polite, and attentive. !!!! Then the good stuff. Getting on the actual plane. All leather seats, plenty of room to move around in. Which is usually an issue for me being 6'1" and all. It was like a night club in there, Latin house was playing in the background of a purple/red lit lounge. I didn't know if I should sit or go looking for the bar. Amazing. The once in my seat, I was greeted by RED. Their on-flight do-all service screen. Cable TV, premium TV shows, extensive movie catalogue, video games, ipod-like mp3 jukebox with a bunch of good stuff including, but most definitely not limited to Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Orbital, Underworld, Atmosphere, Common, amongst others, inter-seat chat rooms, food and drink order menus, and you just slide your card through the monitor and you're set. I need to use the facilities, Justice is playing in there! Wow again. And the ticket price was beyond reasonable. I just wish they had more domestic destinations. I'd be all up on that.


I arrived quite early and was welcomed by a delicious brunch at an Irish-like pub right on the ocean front. Where, due to our long wait, we were treated to a round of free beers by the waitress.

henessy bfast!  yay for free drinks

I proceeded to order a burger how I like my burgers. With a fried egg on top.

bacon cheeseburger (w/ a fried egg!)

After that a weekend of rest, drinking, and partying ensued. Clear skies and palm trees.


Didn't do very many tourist-like things other than walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard. Saw a street break dance circle where we were accosted by the dancers to tip them. I mean, I can appreciate what they're doing, but they are seriously a bit on the demanding end of the tipping spectrum. Stopped in along the way at Beard Pappa's for the most delicious cream puffs, ever. Needless to say we went back for more.

I wanted to have babies with that box
[Beard Papa's]

Time for drinks. After all, I'm what once was my homeland. So what better way to set off the festivities, and carry them along through out the trip than delicious Palomas. Tequila and grapefruit soda. which has been my choice of drink in the fatherland since I can remember drinking. Well, that and vodka pineapples.

Round 1 begins

Followed Shortly by a quick stop taco dinner at a Taco Bell-ish joint with a way more Mexican touch. Del Taco. Where I proceeded to devour a quesadilla and some beef tacos.

Del Taco

Did visit a lot of "musts" while down there. Hit up LACMA, for an awesome exhibit of this weird gigantic balloon figure art, and some great displays of contemporary art with greats such as Warhol, Lichtenstein, Basquiat, Miro, Picasso, Kirchner, amongst others. The whole thing was that there was no photography allowed in the museum, and I was threatened by a 60 year old security guard to be kicked out of the museum if I kept up my shenanigans. I was a great time, not to mention the weird carnival-esque people on stilts and the dancing swans outside. Quite a visually gratifying experience.

[More LACMA Photos]

After walking around for a bit we hit up Scoops for some delicious gelato.


Now when Scoops was explained to me, it was not by any means belittled. It was no less than described as the grandest gelato spot to ever exist. With random flavors whipped up every day such as Mango Red Bull, Espresso Mascarpone (which I had), Chocolate Wasabi, amongst others. It was delicious and it was housed on a strip of coffee shop type spots, where I'm convinced that if I lived in LA, I would definitely spend a lot of time in.

At one point or another I was treated twice to come visit a night club, where an incredible friend of mine works. The party was Giant at Vanguard. Where I heard some amazing music and literally put holes in my sneakers from so much dancing. This place was huge, I mean larger than anything I'd seen at least, or so it appeared. Huge back patio with heat lamps and full of nearly nude girls. (!!!) Great time.

Later on (or the next day, the trip is a little hazy) we set out for In N Out burgers. Man, it seems you have to wait in line for everything in LA. The line was ridiculously long, and no parking in the near vicinity. But boy, oh boy, was it worth it. Delicious fries

Double Double

Shortly thereafter we set out on an excursion to Beverly Hills to get coffee and dessert. We attempted to hit up the oh so famous Sprinkles for cupcakes. again, the line was outrageous.

The line at sprinkles and the reason why we didn't even bother getting down

So instead we hit up Crumbs, which was only a couple of blocks away, and equally as intriguing and delicious. Where I had an amazing Cappuccino cupcake which I chased down with a delicious Vanilla Latte from the Coffee Bean. OMG, the Coffee Bean, I mean I love my coffee black and bitter, and every so often I'll venture out and get a sweet vanilla latte. This, by a mile, has been one of the most delicious lattes I've drank, whatever they use for flavoring is quality and amazing.

To end the night, I was courteously invited to one of the coolest little dives I've ever been to. One of the Tiki-Ti fame. Awesome little bar, not very big, very dim lit with Christmas type lights, and full of decor ranging from tiki heads to license plates, to pirate gear, to neon signs. All tropical drinks made to order ad super strong. I myself had the tequila sunrise and it was strong. Great place to pass the time. The owners, who also run the bar, were friendly and welcoming.

Tiki Ti's

After a continuous non-stop drinking parade, the only way to have breakfast is fried. So I went out to the market and worked up a savory treat with my special Heart Attack Platter. Fried bacon, refried beans in bacon fat, fried tortillas in bacon fat, fried eggs in bacon fat, and pico de gallo.

Then off to meet the family. From an estranged family, I am to meet my half-brother and half-cousin for the very first time ever. Wow. That was such an intense experience and yet not what I had expected, not at all what I had expected. Things went by too fast. Not enough dialogue. Things seemed rush, in a subconscious stream of adrenaline, excitement, nervousness, it was like a lot happened. A big step in figuring myself out as a person and where I come from. Yet so empty in so many ways. But as it was stated then and there. there's time, and this was merely the first step of a journey of a thousand miles.

Los Irabienes

Followed this charade, which incidentally trickled over into my birthday celebrations into a party called Monday Social at Nacional. A smaller venue, although probably bigger than most places weekly dance parties are held in DC. 2 floors. One dance floor. And a whole lot of rave. In a drunken stupor apparently I was greeted, or met in any case, Bunny from Rabbit in the Moon and I want to say Scott (?) from the Crystal Method, both artists I've seen perform more than once at more than one place, so that was kind of cool I guess, although a blur.

Once the party dispersed, once again my amazing and most gracious host took me for birthday dinner to counteract the tequila fire in my insides. I was taken to the Roosevelt Hotel for some burgers of gargantuan proportions and a basket fo fries and rings that was to die for. Literally.

Build-a-Burger Workshop @ The Roosevelt

On that note we ended a great night and celebrated my birthday in a fantastic way. And woke up to yet another case of Beard Papa's Cream Puffs. Glorious.

Right before catching my flight, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant, I couldn't have been to Cali and not gone for some delicious Mexican. We went to Los Burritos. where I ordered an amazing platter of Chiles Rellenos (which could have used a bit less batter, but were good no less) and a side of Tacos de Aguacate. Fabulous. Drank it down with some Jamaica and It was heaven in my mouth. This place was awesome, and although it almost had the feel of a family-owned establishment, it appears to be a small SoCal chain.

mexican food rules you

Eventually I made my way back to LAX, where I promptly rant to my boarding station to hop onto the club zone flight. I got lucky again and had the whole row of seats to myself, where I propped myself up with my feet on the seats and pillows and blankets. I believed I napped for about 30 minutes, but then watched The Office and Dexter (my new addiction), until I landed at 6:30 am.


Once back at Dulles, where I had a reservation for another Super Shuttle to bring me back into DC for work, I realized it was early enough to make it home, shower, change and drive to work. But alas, their amazing customer service failed again and said that if I wanted to go Fairfax, I had to pay extra fare. So decided to not give them any more of my time, energy, and most definitely money, I came straight to work, where I believe I fell asleep more than once at my desk. So not ok. Thankfully I work with great people that instead of graciously waking me up or ratting me out to the boss, they kept creeping up on me and yelling real loud to try and make my heart explode in fear. >:o