Tuesday, October 30, 2007
GREETINGS FROM CALIFORNIA PART II
The next day, A and I took up where we left off and mapped out the rest of the book, made a wish list for photos needed and discussed what directions to take the text that hadn’t been already covered. I now have until mid-November to write a draft for the first half (120 pages) of the book (yikes!)
Ev picked me up and we headed for Venice. The Blue Bungalow (the name Fred and his roommate Jono gave their cottage) is decorated college style with family hand-me-downs and Craig’s List bargains. The rooms had been cleaned up in honor of our and Jono’s mom’s coinciding visits.
The perfect host, Fred served us Chai tea and bruschetta (made with juicy farmers market tomatoes). Note the spice cupboard filled with Penzey's spices. Post snack, the three of us headed to The Inn at Playa Del Rey to drop our bags and change for dinner.
We have stayed at The Inn several times before. I love it so much that we even featured it in an issue of Cottage Style.
People who travel to Los Angeles usually tend to stay at downtown hotels and miss out on one of the city’s best assets – its beaches. There are also canals perfect for kayaking.
The Inn, a two-minute walk from the beach, pampers guests with scrumptious breakfasts, spa-quality bath products and binoculars for sighting the egrets and eagles that soar in the in the adjacent Ballona wetlands, a protected saltwater marsh and wildlife preserve.
“When we opened ten years ago, the only birds I knew were the pigeon, the sea gull and the crow. Now, I can name many more species and even recognize a particular returning bird like the white-shouldered kite – like a returning guest,” says owner Susan Zolla.
Each guest room is individually decorated. Many of the rooms have balconies overlooking the 300-acre Ballona wetlands and fireplaces for those rare occasions when Los Angeles cools off -- or those not-so-rare occasions when a crackling fire adds a perfect romantic touch.
We arrived in time for the evening cocktail hour. Guest gather in the cozy living room to watch the sunset, sip a glass of wine, make plans for dinner and make new friends. Tonight’s nibbles included cheese, crackers, fruit and crab dip.
Eventually, we headed back to Venice (a 10-minute drive, non rush hour). Fred and Jono had made reservations at Lillys French Café, where Fred’s girlfriend Jessica and Jono’s mother Jane joined us.
A table of adventurous eaters, we got to taste a variety of Lilly’s specialties-- Escargots de Bourgogne au beurre d'ail (snails in herb butter), Flamiche Chevre et Poireaux (a tart with goat cheese and leeks on a crispy dough base), lobster bisque, moules frites (steamed mussels and homemade French fries, salmon with French lentils and ginger sauce, beef bourguignonne (beef stew with wine sauce), a decadent chocolate soufflé and Ile Flottante (a baked potato size meringue "island" floating in English custard sauce with almonds and other embellishments.
A post-dinner stroll included a stop at Equator, a quirky book store/art gallery and some window-shopping along Abbott Kinney Boulevard.