A West Coast Swing – Change is in the Air – Part Two

March 12 – 23

The next three days would be full of activity as we worked around the Mar Vista house to prepare it for pictures to be taken for its listing later in the week. I did drive down to Huntington Beach on Tuesday to meet up with J.B. and Evan for a couple of beers at Gallagher’s Pub & Grill. We’d tried to schedule for another day as that Tuesday was St. Patrick’s Day, and the notion of meeting at an Irish pub might be considered unwise by those with common sense, but we figured if we got there early enough we’d be OK.

I arrived first, around 1:00pm and the bar was a bit crowded and loud, but was able to snag a table out on the small-enclosed patio that would prove to be a wise move, as the bar would fill up with the live band getting louder as the afternoon progressed. J.B. got delayed taking a call at work and so Evan and I hung out for an hour or so, working our way through a couple of beers, getting caught up on the progress of his recovery from surgery the prior year and just generally enjoying each other’s company.

Gallaghers Pub

Gallaghers Pub on the Patio

J.B. showed up giving the three of us a chance to get caught up and discuss a future gathering of the Cisco’s later in the year. Evan then took his leave and J.B. and I spent some quality time chatting about our lives, the changes that had occurred in the last year and where we thought the next one would take us. I left for home around 4:00pm and drove all the way back to the Westside on Pacific Coast Highway, not wanting to mess with the 405 freeway. Amazingly enough, traffic was light and I made it home in good time, marveling at how little traffic congestion had interfered with my trip down the coast, a rare occurrence in Los Angeles.

Partially demolished Taco, Rice, and Beans

Partially demolished Taco, Rice, and Beans

Wednesday brought errands around town, lunch for me at Campos, and a meet up with Heather and Ron that evening at Barkowski, a new bar on Pico Blvd in Santa Monica. Self described as a “a 60s dive bar with a little class and without the filth,” the friendly bartender made us feel at home as we caught up on Ron’s travels and Heather’s work challenges, the type of an evening good friends share.

Barkowski Interior

Barkowski Interior

Thursday was spent packing for the move and closed with another nice dinner at Enterprise Fish Company, where their consistently good food and service bring us back time after time. Friday morning, after a flurry of cleaning and straightening, the realtor’s photographer showed up around 11:00am to shoot the house for its listing.

Enterprise Fish Co.

Enterprise Fish Co.

Once accomplished, Joanna and I hit the road for the drive back up I-5 to Oakland. Along the way we may our obligatory stop at the In-N-Out in Kettleman City, filling up on a Double-Double apiece knowing it was our meal for the day given that Jessica and Kris wouldn’t be getting home until late in the evening as they were attending a Bill Nye the Science Guy event in the City.

Bill Nye the Science Guy

Bill Nye the Science Guy

Saturday had a slow quiet start, as we knew that Kim and Marty, Kris’ parents would be joining us for the afternoon and evening as they were presenting at a conference in the city and had some free time that day. Upon their arrival we sat around the apartment putting a dent in the collection of beers that Kris and I had procured before heading over to the City on BART to meet up with some other folks from the conference at CHA CHA CHA , a Cuban Tapas Bar n the Mission District. Located in the former bar known as McCarthys, its an old narrow space with high ceilings and lots of vintage trappings.

CHA CHA CHA Mission

CHA CHA CHA Mission

We were seated upstairs and started our evening with a couple of pitchers of the house Sangria, then rounds of food started appearing, my favorites being the Ceviche, Chicken Pallard (grilled chicken breast strips with Dijon mustard cream sauce) and sautéed mushrooms (with sherry wine, fresh herbs & garlic). It was warm upstairs and quite loud, the noise from downstairs ratcheting up the energy level. We left full and satisfied and made our way a few blocks to a small bar for a final round, before bidding adieu to the conference goers, who we would see again the next day.

Sunday would be another full day, starting with laundry at Washingtown for Jessica and Kris while Joanna and I met up with Kim and Marty for breakfast at Thai Temple. Having described a visit there in an earlier post I can report that the food was as satisfying as before with the exception that we all felt the portion sizes were a bit smaller. We got an order of green curry to go for Jessica and Kris and met them back at Washingtown, then returned to the apartment to drop off the clean laundry and walk over to Lost and Found for a couple of hours of beers and Cornhole.

We had some snacks at Lost and Found but saved up our appetites for the long walk around the Lake Merritt to Portal, a new discovery for Jessica and Kris. We started off with a couple of orders of their Garbage Bread (essentially a calzone), one with meat and one without. I found the vegetarian one, with a wallop of mushrooms and cheese on the palate, to be the winner. We then followed up with a mix of Turkey Meatballs (Spicy tomato sauce, grana padana, and grilled levain), Mini-Burgers (Beef with Cheddar and horseradish aioli, Diestel Farms Organic Turkey with – Chevre and tomato aioli, Grilled Mushroom with provolone and pesto and Fried Chicken with Jalapeno Slaw and Cilantro Aioli).

Portal Menu

Portal Menu

I spent most of my time with the chicken, but also found the beef to be a winner, with great taste and complexity, also dipping frequently into the basket of the Frites Kennebec Potatoes that we ordered just lightly salted. By the end of the meal we were bursting and thus the long walk back around the lake was good for all, the exercise and lively conversation helping our digestive process as well as making the time fly by.

Portal Patio at Night

Portal Patio at Night

We bade farewell to Kim and Marty who were going to BART back to the city. With work for the kids and the flight home for us the next day, and having had a long full weekend, early bedtime for all of us was an appealing option. Up the next morning we saw Jessica and Kris off to work and then walked back up to Broadway for our BART ride out to the airport and the non-stop flight home.

It was great to visit less than two months after our last trip out; it’s hard to be so far away from the ones we love. While there we made concrete plans for Jessica and Kris to visit Charlotte over the 4th of July weekend, something to look forward to for lonely Mom’s and Dad’s. We’ll fill up the spring with trips and activities and keep reporting on them, hopefully bringing you the reader, some level of entertainment. Keep the comments coming. It helps the creative process and guides the writing.

View from the Portal Patio

View from the Portal Patio

Links

Gallagher’s Pub & Grill: http://www.yelp.com/biz/gallaghers-pub-and-grill-huntington-beach

Campos: http://www.camposfamousburritos.com/

Barkowski: http://www.barkowski.com/

Enterprise Fish Co.: http://www.enterprisefishco.com/home

Bill Nye: http://billnye.com/

CHA CHA CHA: http://www.cha3.com/cha-cha-cha—mission—about.html

Portal: http://www.portaloakland.com/

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