Daily Archives: September 15, 2016

California Road Trip : Los Angeles & Vicinity

After a short 2 hour drive from San Diego, we arrived in Rancho Cucamonga, which is about 45 minutes East of Los Angeles.  I have a good friend who lives there whom I’ve known for nearly 30 years.  Interestingly we met on a tour bus in Italy and have stayed in touch ever since, gone on vacations together, attended each other’s weddings, etc.  Despite all of this, she had never met my son.  I was working for the first two days and so we spent most of the day indoors.  It was a blistering 108 degrees in the shade outside so this wasn’t a problem.  It gave us a bit of rest in between adventures too.  In the evenings though we ate well.

On our first night, I asked my friend who is of Mexican descent, to take us to her favorite hole in the wall Mexican restaurant.  I love California Mexican food so I had to introduce my son to it.  We went to Las Cerritas near their home and as expected, the food was delicious.  I had Chicken with Mole which was really good something I haven’t had in a while.  My son loved his Carne Asada, but wasn’t crazy about the refried beans which he’d never eaten before.  Okay, it’s an acquired taste. 

The next night, I promised to cook Indian for my friend and her husband.  Since the rest of the trip would involve many stays in hotels with kitchens, I traveled with many of my important spices and masalas so this was pretty easy to do.  A quick trip to the grocery store and I pulled off a pretty good Chicken Curry, sautéed some Zucchini from their garden, along with a coconut & cilantro rice.  Her husband contributed Tangelo Margaritas made from tangelos in their garden and a self-aged tequila.  The added excitement of being really close to the Blue Cut fire that was raging nearby made the evening even more unforgettable as we ate and also planned our evacuation strategy.

The other two restaurants we visited during these days were Ludo Bird in Universal Studios on our visit there and Bardot in the small town of Claremont.  Ludo Bird is a fast food restaurant that serves only Fried Chicken with a few different options.  Chef Ludo started in a food truck in Los Angeles and now has made a name for himself.  All I can say is that the Fried Chicken sandwich, while likely not the healthiest of meals, was really really good.  It was perfectly crispy and served with a cabbage & fennel slaw that was very tasty.  I added a bit of hot sauce of top for extra flavor.  We ate at Bardot that same evening after walking around   quite some time to burn of the calories from lunch.  Despite that, I was not very hungry and opted to get asparagus soup and a tomato salad.  Others ordered their food and the only two meals that we liked were my tomato salad and my son’s burrata salad.  The rest of the food was unimpressive and I can make better cream of asparagus soup in my sleep. 

Before leaving Rancho Cucamonga, we stopped for an early taco lunch at Tacocino where my friends insisted we must go.  Well, they were indeed right – best tacos I’ve ever had!!  It’s a small place in a mall with a few tables, but the tacos they serve on warm corn tortillas with fresh cilantro and salsa are incredible.  I had the fish tacos because one can never have too many, while my son opted for the carne asada.  Mind you, we were not really hungry but devoured our tacos nonetheless.  A quick stop at BevMo for some wine & tequila and we were off to Riverside to visit more friends.  

It’s always great to visit with people I’ve gotten to know through various aspects of my life, but don’t see very often.  These friends just had a baby and I loved spending time with their 5 month old daughter.  My son got spoiled with hot breakfast every morning from homemade waffles to scrambled eggs along with fresh fruit and all the milk he could handle.  I even got hot oatmeal each morning to start my day.  What more could we ask for and proclaimed this to be the best B&B in California.  Immediately upon our arrival and though we’d eaten our tacos only a few hours earlier, I asked my friend to take us to Asahi for sushi.  Just like the Mexican food, I find sushi in California to be much fresher.  My son has recently discovered sushi & sashimi and I wanted him to experience it in California. He loved all of it and we ordered far too much food including albacore tuna (my personal favorite), salmon, shrimp tempura, spicy tuna and so much more.  Mind you, I don’t eat sashimi very often but here I ate it all. The albacore tuna is my favorite.

Other culinary highlights from the stay included my son’s very first In-N-Out burger following an afternoon/evening at Laguna Beach.  He loved it and had several more Double Doubles before we left the state.  We also ate at a very nice restaurant in Santa Monica in the Casa Del Mar hotel called Terrazza Lounge after our second day at Universal Studios.  One nice thing about the West coast is that most restaurants will let you in even if you’re not exactly in the right attire for their ambiance.  This makes it easier to go from tourist destinations to dinner without trying to negotiate a clothing change.  We sat by a window overlooking the beach and enjoyed some quiet time with good food and wine after a hectic day.  What was originally planned as lunch became dinner due to traffic but we didn’t mind because we were on no schedule.  After our food, we walked on the beach goofing around and finally made our way to Venice Beach to goof around some more before heading back to Riverside to our temporary home.

Though we stayed in the LA area for 5 days, I could have easily spent five more.  We are already planning a return to our friends in Riverside as we didn’t get nearly enough time together because they were hosting us and a couple from Holland also.  What an amazing food and travel adventure this was for my son as he discovered so many foods for the first time.  For me, it was fun and different to enjoy it through his perspective and was so happy that I could make the introduction.  I can’t wait to return again soon…..

#californiafoodadventures #koreanbbq #losangelesfoodie #calmex
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