June 10 – TBD
Thus, would begin a couple of months of settling in, the house pretty much straightened out and organized as much as it would get, leaving us with free time, a nice place to be after five months of moving and the emotional and physical baggage it brings with it.
The first five years or so we lived in Charlotte was a period of exploration, checking out restaurants, local sights, and watching what would become a great brewery scene develop. And now, after eleven years away from Los Angeles, we’d get a chance to repeat that process of discovery, hitting old favorites and seeking out new ones.
But our quest for food would not rule the day entirely; in mid-July we took in a Sunday morning concert at the Laemmle Theater as part of their Laemmle Live Series which featured members of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra. It was a nice to spend an hour with talented folks performing works by Mozart, Beethoven, Crusell and Haydn and it set the tone for rest of the day. After a stop for lunch at Wildflower Pizza, we (six of us including that day’s birthday girl, Heather) drove up Pacific Coast Highway to the Getty Villa, just north of Sunset Blvd.
In the mid-1950’s oil tycoon J. Paul Getty had the Villa, a near replica of the Villa dei Papiri, a luxurious Roman residence in Herculaneum, Italy that had been buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., built to accommodate his growing collection of antiquities dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria (a region of Central Italy located in an area that covered part of what are now Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria).
Following his death in 1976, the museum inherited $661 million and began planning a much larger campus, the Getty Center, in nearby Brentwood. To meet the museum’s total space needs, the museum decided to split between the two locations with the Getty Villa housing the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities, which now number 44,000 dating from 6,500 BC to 400 AD.
They include the Lansdowne Heracles and the Victorious Youth (submerged until 1964, ancient bronzes are exceedingly rare today because the metal was often melted down).
Like many great museums, the building is art in and of itself and its galleries enhance the works presented within them and the gardens, terraces, vista points and three-foot-deep central reflecting pool are a world unto themselves. An acquaintance of Heather’s is a docent at the museum and provided us with an hour tour that took us right up to closing hour and we left vowing to return.
It caused me to reflect on how often we live somewhere and don’t explore places like this that are on our doorstep. Having lived in Los Angeles almost all of my life, I’d not visited the Villa once even though it is relatively close to the house and best of all, offers free admission. How many of us never visit a site like this until some friend comes into town and asks to? And when we do, then wonder why we didn’t before.
We’d next embark on a series of dining adventures, one during Los Angeles Restaurant Week and three at local happy hours. The first of these was nearby on Venice Blvd. at The Mar Vista, another new place to us and one we’re glad we hit for happy hour.
Drink prices (one beer and two house wines) were $8 apiece and we enjoyed an order of the Spring Rolls and the Mushroom Fundido. Both items were tasty but I’m not sure we would have ordered them at their full price of $16
Next up was our visit to The Upper West on Pico in Santa Monica for restaurant week (three or four courses for a fixed price) with our neighbor Marilyn joining us. We’d timed our reservation to coincide with the last part of Happy Hour there and it paid off as we each had a very good cocktail for the princely sum of $7 each. Joanna and Marilyn both enjoyed their restaurant week entrees of Salmon and Flatiron Steak, respectively, and I, following the routine that we follow for this promotion, ordered a house specialty, the Chicken Tawook.
This dish is a yoghurt and tomato marinated chicken thigh served with chickpeas, spinach, dried apricot, green pico de gallo and labneh (a yoghurt cheese). It had a unique taste, redolent of the spices used in its preparation and I found that it grew somewhat tiresome as I consumed it. I will say that its leftovers were taken home and devoured enthusiastically by Joanna. So, one could conclude it was a hit.
To round out our Happy Hour explorations, Marilyn later joined us to walk an easy mile to Washington Blvd to hit two establishments next door to each other.
Our first stop was at The Corner Door where Moscow Mules and an Old Fashioned were consumed for under $10 per drink and along with a nice plate of Romanesco Tempura.
Romanesco is actually part of the broccoli family, but has the same mild, buttery flavor as cauliflower. Deep fried to a golden brown and dipped into a selection of interesting sauces, we destroyed our serving in no time at all and could easily have consumed another portion, but left it as we had bigger fish to fry next door.
We settled up and walked to The Detour Bistro Bar where we again enjoyed a cocktail apiece, each for $8, a Brain Storm for Marilyn, Son of a Peach for Joanna and a Honey Old Fashioned (Evan Williams Bourbon, Bitters and Honey) for me.
Joanna and I split a Phili Flatbread and Fish Tacos. Both were good sized portions with the tacos taking the prize for best execution.
Our outing had been successful and although we’d eaten and drank more than our recommended daily allowance, the walk back home helped to ease the digestive process and any pangs of guilt we might have felt. In just a couple of months we’d managed to explore much that had changed in our old neighborhood and had experienced positive results. Later, we’d return to a couple of the spots (Upper West and Rasselbock) and make plans to hit the others again. We were off to a good start.
Laemmle Live: https://www.facebook.com/events/1269341953242319/
Getty Villa: https://www.getty.edu/visit/villa/
Villa dei Papiri: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_of_the_Papyri
The Mar Vista: https://www.themarvista.com/
The Upper West: https://theupperwest.com/
The Corner Door: https://www.cornerdoorla.com/
The Detour: http://www.thedetourbistrobar.com/