Though I travel more than the average person I know and do so with complete reckless abandon, I’m never paralyzed by the thought that every trip, every country, every city, every neighborhood and even every block has something new to offer. Something new for me to take home.
Experiencing a different sight is so refreshing and can really give new perspective to my (and your) daily grind.
My last trip offered all of those moments I look for when I travel, but it was much simpler this time. You’d think it was an over the top encounter with new people (well, that did happen but not appropriate to speak of here–at least not now), or a lovely walk through a stunning exhibit.
Nope. None of that. It was lunch. A really good, but simple lunch.
I was in L.A. last month to meet some really cool people — people that might help change the path of my career — and to speak at a blogger’s conference. Though meetings occupied 90% of my schedule, leaving no time for entertainment and seeing the haute spots, eating out was on the agenda at every waking moment of my 8 days visit. My hosts were most kind and considerate knowing I have a picky palate and had plenty of joints to tease me with.
On my last day there, my new friend Marcos interrupted his Hollywood-kinda-busy day to take me out to grab a bite. The day was gorgeous. A perfect 72 degrees. Breezy. Sunny and sexy. We hopped in his Benz and I allowed him to work up my appetite while he meandered through the streets of Marina del Rey — a place of seeming tranquility, plenty of hippie bike riders along the boardwalk and lots of transplanted palm trees.
He offered me a foofoo shishi or laid-back setting. I went for the latter since the former could have created a tone for our casual meeting that I wasn’t in the mood for.
I’d like to think that Marcos took me to Café del Rey, a concept inspired by the Mediterranean Coast, because he took mental notes of my daily complaints of the heat Atlanta was suffering. But, I have to admit that it was really just a matter of nearby incumbent options and an unintended impressive break. Nothing more.
The chic restaurant, set along the boardwalk in del Rey is like any other spot where one would dine in the middle of the afternoon. The only difference is that it’s on the Marina. And that changes everything.
I have no basis for comparison for dining in L.A. as this was the 3rd place I had the pleasure of eating at. Yes, I ate everyday, but it was more or less the standard takeout, etc… so my take is based purely on my gut and emotional feelings… If you’ve eaten here, you may think apart from my interpretation. And, that’s okay! 😉
We were gently greeted and quickly seated alongside the open bay of windows. I realized it wasn’t so laid back after all. White linen, server graciously maintaining his hand behind his back as he took our drink orders…
I asked for a very specific variety of a lemon basil martini. It was 1:00 and was in total need of a swish. I’ve had many failed attempts at getting most restaurants to get the recipe right, so I ordered hoping for the best but expecting mediocracy.
So, the view. Do you see it above? That’s exactly what I stared at while I waited for my libation. And though my host is pure eye candy, I can lay my eyes on his type any day. I don’t have the chance to eat and be surrounded by yachts, sails and clear blue water whenever I want. He on the other hand, can.
My martini came and by the looks of it alone, I knew it was a winner. A partition of basil leaves with flower buds still in tact. Now, that’s a first for me in my dining out trysts. It was perfect. Just perfect. And so I continued to look out the window, taking in everything I had just started to get myself into while in L.A.
While the menu at Café was not gourmet or even 5 star, the options were definitely to par with what I understand is good eating in Cali. I was recommended the lamb burger. Yeah, nothing major, but I looked out the window (again) and was okay with decision! The burger, the cocktail and our conversation were everything I needed to end my trip on a good note.
But the burger wasn’t just any ol’ lamb burger. It was delicately seasoned with sheep’s milk cheese, tzatziki, harissa and served with spiced fries — a typical pairing, but decent nonetheless. I would have preferred truffle fries or something of the liking. Sometimes I wonder why the fries have to go with a burger. There are so many other wonderful sides that will compliment a sandwich. A chickpea fry, perhaps?
Oh, as an Atlantan for the time being, I have to mention that the polenta caught my eye in an instant. A grit variety in L.A.? Huh? What? Typo? I had to order and wouldn’t again. Some things should just be left to where they are mastered.
Lunch, no matter where you are can’t ever end without espresso. At least if you’re Latin. We both opted for the default doble. I loved it, but it took away from the nice buzz I had from the martini. The ambiance effect was dwindling as I was losing the blasé state of mind. But, I still pondered our conversation, our propositions and the purpose of my visit.
The finishing touch was a semi-freddo, more like a deconstructed “Adult” strawberries and cream, almost as orgasmic as the thoughts festering in my mind. Composed with syrupy strawberries, a fresh lychee and rosewater and lychee parfait en croûte, laced with fresh rose petals (which are edible by the way), almost sealed the deal. I stared out the window one more time just in case I saw a sign. But, I didn’t. And, that’s totally okay.
The entirety of two hours was so simple. Nothing too fancy, yet right on point. The food was really good and the scenery was provocative. My company was a gentle man. And, that was the purpose of lunch. 100% unpretentious (though I didn’t escape compliments on my new blond hair color from several chicas) and overall laid-back.
We hopped back in the Benz and took a stroll through the rest of Marina, a few bridges that make up Venice (a far cry from the Venice, Italy, but undoubtedly a several notches above my current landscape).
It was a perfect lunch. A wonderful opportunity offered. A stunning day. The kind of day that caused my return home to be still for a few days and put things into perspective.
It’s about the simple things, friends. Really.
* I don’t know know how much the bill was so I could be talking out my ass! Thanks, Marcos! 😉 xo
* thanks to my iPhone Instgram & Hipstamtic shots (@BrenHerrera) for helping me capture lunch. Oh, which Marcos put me onto… the simple things!
CAFÉ DEL REY MARINA
4451 Admiralty Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
W: www.CafeDelReyMarina.com | P: 301.823.6395
Appetizers: $8 – $24 ; Entrees $18 – $30 ; Dessert: $9
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.