Sunday, September 25, 2011

San Diego

It's about 2 hours from our hotel in Pasadena to San Diego so we planned on getting there by lunch time. I found Cafe Chloe through Yelp and it was really delicious.

How cute is my lavender lemonade?

 I got a small cheese plate and pomme frites with dipping sauces.

 Next up was the San Diego Zoo! It was AMAZING. Dan's first stop was the most important:

I have a lot more zoo pictures on my regular phone, but here's a nice one of the flamingos.

My friend Erin used to live in SD and recommended Pokez for Mexican food. We met up with our friend Jimmy for dinner and it was good! I got potato flautas and they were ginormous.

I'm going to try to hit the hay early tonight. We have an early start and it's a full day of traveling to get back home. I'm sad it's over!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Los Angeles 3

Oh, man, brunch at Gjelina was amazing. It's in Venice, which I found to be a really cute area. At Gjelina I got the lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh raspberries on top. They were the best pancakes I have ever eaten. They don't look like anything particularly special, but they are incredibly light and also moist - you can see flecks of lemon and ricotta and they add the most delightful, fresh flavor. It didn't even really need maple syrup but I poured a little bit on. 

Dan got the Morrocan fried eggs and those were great, too. 

I couldn't resist getting dessert; butterscotch pudding with fresh whipped cream, a little caramel drizzle and sea salt. I love salty and sweet!

Then we walked around Venice and checked out shops. Dan tried on hats. 

We took a nice long walk on the beach in Santa Monica. The waves were gorgeous and there were quite a few surfers. A bit chilly, though.

 Windswept, but happy.

We didn't really need more food, but I just had to try out this place, Harajuku Crepe. It's a cute place in Beverly Hills - isn't the chandelier pretty?
 We shared the American Usual crepe - Earl Grey batter for the crepe itself, vanilla ice cream, fresh whipped cream, strawberries, bananas, nutella, and Pocky!
 This is serious.

After this we chilled at our hotel for a bit until dinner at Take A Bao. So, technically, this place is in a mall food court. But it was really good and kind of a crazy fun time. Also, it is a very fancy mall. I got the sweet soy grilled tofu bao and some crispy wonton chips. 

Now I'm going to have some jacuzzi time at the hotel! We have a big day planned in San Diego tomorrow. 

Los Angeles 2

Today one of the highlights was lunch at Food + Lab. It's an adorable little sandwich, salad, and coffee shop. I got the gorgonzola dolce sandwich, which has fig compote, honey and pear on toasted raisin walnut bread. It was so, so amazing. I think I should try to recreate it at home.

Dan's chorizo sandwich. Not sure what else is on it.

Dan's coffee drink was served in the same style bowl we have at home for cereal! My mint lemonade was great, too.

After lunch we were ready to hit the Griffith Observatory. This place had spectacular views and some cool things to see inside.

We also went to the Getty Museum. I was sort of iffy on the artwork but the building and grounds themselves are really spectacular.

After all of that walking we had worked up an appetite for dinner. This time it was my friend Vanessa's pick. A vegan Vietnamese place called Vinh Loi. This place was totally cute and the food was amazing. Even Dan was impressed and he's usually really wary of vegan and even vegetarian places. Another great food day!

Los Angeles

We said goodbye to the lovely Santa Barbara and hopped on the 1 to LA! The views were gorgeous, as usual. Malibu sure looks like a nice place. Ahh, to be rich. We rolled into Los Angeles just in time for lunch, at Susan Feniger's Street. This meal was absolutely amazing. I started out with a tamarind, ginger cooler and Dan and I shared some of these crazy appetizers: 

Think "spicy Rice Krispie treat." There is marshmallow, turmeric, black currant, fennel, and probably some other things I'm forgetting. They were really unique and delicious. We also shared the Kaya Toast, which is toasted bread with coconut jam that you dip into a fried egg that has been drizzled in soy and pepper. A really neat combination of the sweet coconut, that was almost custard like, and the salty soy sauce. 

For my main course I got the Banh Mi Baguette which typically has meat on it but I was able to get mine vegan (an option for many dishes here, which was great).

Dan got a cheeseburger and thought it was amazing. Angus beef, Vermont cheddar (seriously, Vermont knows how to do cheddar) a yuzu kosho sauce (?!) and homemade pickles, which I stole. We both left stuffed!

Our hotel is technically in Pasadena but it sure is cute here, too. There are some great views of the mountains across the way. Next up was the MUCH anticipated dinner at Cube Cafe. Dan and I got a cheese plate to share and for my main course I had the black truffle pizza with mozzerella and fried egg. It was fabulous.

The highlight of the meal, however, was the s'more pie. Served in a teacup with a salty, buttery graham cracker crust, melty dark chocolate and gooey marshmallow. It was heaven.

After dinner we zipped over to see old friends before calling it a night. Oh, I almost forgot - Cube was the location of my first celebrity sighting here. Do you guys know Chris Hardwick? He's a comedian and back in the day he had a weird dating game he co-hosted with Jenny McCarthy called Singled Out. Anyway, he was standing outside with his date who had on pointy elfin ears. After she finished her cigarette, they came inside and sat down. A few minutes later another couple joined their table; some guy and another girl with elfin ears. !! Weird. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Santa Barbara

After grabbing a quick breakfast at our hotel, we headed south to Santa Barbara. On our way we stopped at an In and Out Burger. I told Dan, "I'm like a real person, going to a fast food place!" Uh, as a vegetarian I don't go to any really, but it's probably not something to brag about. Dan got a burger and we both got an order of fries, Animal Style! I guess you have to be in-the-know about their secret menu. Dan figures that the California laws about posting nutritional information has a little something to do with the secret menu. Here you've got fries, gooey cheese, carmelized onions and a sauce that instantly made me nostalgic for a Big Mac (that thousand island-type sauce or whatever it was)!

As soon as we got into Santa Barbara I knew that I loved it. Even the street signs are adorable (some sort of polynesian font! Why can't I find a picture?)! Our first order of business was getting a cupcake from Crushcakes, per Julia's recommendation.

Here is the Strawberry Blush cupcake I ordered:

And here is Dan's pumpkin cheesecake:

We wandered around outside of the Santa Barbara Mission and took some goofy pictures. 

We hadn't booked a hotel for this city, and I was a little wary because many people mentioned how expensive it was to stay here, but we found a cute place that ended up being the cheapest place, so far, on our trip! After we dropped off our bags, we walked down the main strip, State St. and shopped. At the end of State St. you hit the ocean and it's just gorgeous. 

We had some okay Thai food and then caught a showing of Drive at a cute movie theater there. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Big Sur, San Simeon and Cambria

After grabbing breakfast at the adorable Mariposa Inn we headed off to Pfeiffer Park to see some redwoods. The views on this leg of the trip were so amazing. I can't even really describe it. We stopped on the side of the road whenever we felt like it, to snap some pics. I know the photos can't even do it justice! For most of the ride, the fog was entirely over the ocean so it felt like we were above a cloud.

We reached Pfeiffer park and I hiked! You guys! Like 3 miles and that is A LOT for me, as you probably know. But I did it, after just a tiiiny bit of complaining. They have a cute little waterfall there so I got some pics for posterity. At this point I feel the need to give a shout-out to my friend, Kate and the Born Susanne boots. Kate is a friend and one of my fashion inspirations, so when I saw her rocking the Born boots I knew I wanted to copy her and get some of my own. I hiked in these and they were awesome. There is no "breaking in" period for these boots. You put them on and they are comfortable for all day wear. It's crazy but I'm SO glad I got them and then bought another pair in black. Ha! Thanks, Kate! I will be copying you more from now on. Twins!

After grabbing a post-hike snack, we headed further south to San Simeon for the Hearst Castle tour. It was really fun and the house is amazing. I wish I could live there. We got to see several rooms inside and spend as much time outside on the grounds as we wanted. The tour guide was so awesome and knowledgeable that it would have been great to be able to see more rooms inside and learn more about the house. I think I saw at least two carpets that look just like the ones my parents have. The outdoor pool was really something spectacular. The tour guide made all of us jealous when she explained that the pool was going to be closed off for an employee swim that evening. Lucky!!

After we had gotten our fill of the Hearst Castle we hopped in the car for a very short trip to our hotel, Moonstone Landing, in Cambria. Cambria! Who knew? It's such a cute little seaside town with a ton of boutiques, shops and restaurants. You could really spend some time here exploring. The front desk lady at our hotel nailed it with her restaurant recommendation. She even called them right up and made our reservation. The place is called Robin's and it was so fantastic. Amazing service and phenomenal food. I'm really glad we got this recommendation because I had done a little research and found a place that I wasn't really excited about.

Moonstone Landing is also another great find. Our room is super nice and has a lot of perks. Technically this place and Mariposa Inn are motels because the room doors are on the outside, but I'm really feeling it. This is totally the way to go because they are super convenient to get in and out of with luggage, are much cheaper than hotels, and come with a lot more charm and perks!

Monday, September 19, 2011

San Francisco and Monterey

We had a great evening in San Francisco - our friend Lyndsey took us to Shalimar, an awesome hole-in-the-wall, authentic Indian place. After that, Dan and I hit The Utah for a Jonny Corndawg show. The venue was divey and intimate. Jonny put on an amazing show and it was nice to chat with him afterward. I'm really glad we went.

The next morning we headed to Brenda's Cafe for brunch. Their menu of French soul food was really unique and we were super excited. We weren't too stoked about the 40 minute wait for food but my granola pancakes with fruit were delish. There was granola covering the top of the cakes, which gave it a really nice texture.

After exploring some coffee shops, clothing stores, and book shops in the Mission we hit the road for Monterey! We headed straight to the Monterey Aquarium and it was so, so fantastic. One of the best "museums" I've ever been to. The seahorses exhibit was especially fantastic. 

After walking around for a while we headed over to check into the Mariposa Inn. This place was totally fantastic - nice big rooms with H20 bath products (my fave!), fireplace and a huge comfy bed. I wish we could bring this place with us on our travels. They have a pool and a hot tub, too. Dan found this place and it was way cheaper than a lot of places in Monterey.

Dinner was one of my finds, Lalla Grill. They have a big menu and the food was really great. Dan got a steak and twice baked potato with crab and gorgonzola. The steak is buried under there somewhere!

I got two small plates, which were really filling. The sweet potato gnocchi and goat cheese ravioli.

I think tonight we'll relax in our awesome hotel and watch some Breaking Bad. Ahhh, vacation!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

San Francisco

It's that time of year again, when I turn my craft blog into a travel blog. This time, Dan and I flew out to California to road trip it! We flew into California, picked up our rental car, and checked into our hotel in San Francisco. It was a really long day of travel so, after we settled in, our first stop was the highly recommended, Burma Superstar. I got a ginger lemonade, the burmese samusas, tea leaf salad (aka crack salad), and the Superstar vegetarian noodles. Everything was so fantastic and I wish I could bring this place back to Milwaukee.

This morning we headed over the bay to Emeryville for brunch at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe. The food was fantastic! I got a pomegranate lemonade and the California Blackstone special (toasted ciabatta, tomato, avocado, two poached eggs, hollandaise and chives). It was really cool to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, too. After brunch, we drove up some crazy winding roads to Muir Woods but it was so insanely packed we would have had to walk a couple of miles just to get to the woods. 

Next up is dinner with friends at an Indian place and a Jonny Corndawg show at The Utah. The scenery here is amazing, believe me, but I have a feeling this trip is going to be ALL about the food. Blogging might be a little tricky, though because I forgot the cord for my digital camera. For now, I'll have to rely on the sub-par photos from my phone. Maybe I can blog as much as I can on the go (so I don't forget!) and then supplement all of the entries later with better photos, once I get home.