A Week of Friends & Refreshment in Los Angeles

Sunset, ocean, Redondo Beach
The sunset in Redondo Beach.

I spent last week enjoying the sunshine and beauty of spring in Los Angeles.  I was in dire need of escaping the stressful rut that had become my life so my only objective was to relax.  And relax I did!  I stayed with my cousin Julie like my December trip, who did a wonderful job showing me around the city and introducing me to a bunch of new people.

Overlooking The Music Center and the Mark Taper Forum
Overlooking The Music Center and the Mark Taper Forum.
Pre-opera dinner and cocktails at Kendall's Brasserie.
Pre-opera dinner and cocktails at Kendall’s Brasserie.

We started the trip with the Los Angeles Opera’s performance of Cinderella.  The abstract, modern costumes combined with the witty production was a lot of fun, not to mention the singers did a beautiful job.  It was a great comparison to the ballet version of Cinderella I saw last month.

Santa Barbara was beautiful.
Santa Barbara was beautiful.
Santa Barbara House
An intimate look at life in Santa Barbara.

We took a side-trip for the weekend to Santa Barbara, where my cousin’s fiance lives.  It was my first time in the small(ish) city and I enjoyed every minute of it, especially the drive up the coast.  Julie’s friend gave me a personal tour of the city, then we got to visit a mansion designed by Julie’s fiance, who is an architect.  More details of Santa Barbara are coming up!

Los Angeles friends and family.
Los Angeles friends and family :: Aunt Shauna, Jodee and Cousin Julie.

Back in L.A., we spent the morning shopping along Montana street.  I can’t believe how many different places there are to shop in L.A.; no wonder everyone dresses so well!  Then I met my old friend, Jodee, for lunch at Kreation Kafe, an organic (and tasty) cafe in Santa Monica.  The menu is full of Mediterranean favorites like hummus and grilled meats.  Afterward, my aunt was in town from Salt Lake City so we spent the afternoon drinking wine together.

The best meal of my trip was at Picca Peru.
The best meal of my trip was at Picca Peru.

Later I toured bit of L.A. with a friend I met at the Sundance Film Festival back in January.  We started the evening with an amazing dinner at the Peruvian Japanese restaurant, Picca Peru.  The extensive menu is packed with seafood dishes with a Peruvian kick.  Think scallops with wasabi peas, sashimi halibut in a chili garlic sauce and miso-roasted vegetables with quinoa.  Delicious!  I can’t wait to go back.

Culver City
Inside the historic Culver Hotel and the Culver Studios.

The next day my cousin and I met her friend for lunch at Public School 310 in Culver City.  (More on our delicious lunch to come!)  Afterward, we spent the day with Julie’s mom (my great aunt) and ended the evening watching the sunset in Redondo Beach.

The sunset in Redondo Beach.
The sunset in Redondo Beach.
Being from Utah, I'm mesmerized by the ocean.
Being from Utah, I’m mesmerized by the ocean.

For my last, bittersweet day in Los Angles, Julie and I visited the Annenberg Space for Photography’s exhibit on War Photography.  As a big history buff and a lover of photography, I found the exhibit incredibly powerful and moving.  If you happen to be in the L.A. area, I highly recommend it (plus, it’s free!).

Pistachio shortbread with pistachio gelato, strawberry sorbet and cream at Craft.
Pistachio shortbread with pistachio gelato, strawberry sorbet and cream at Craft.

We finished my trip with lunch at Craft, near the Annenberg, before heading to the airport.  Los Angeles really won me over during this trip.  I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was (there were flowers everywhere!), how lovely the weather is every single day and how much there is to see and do.  Plus, it was so wonderful to catch up with old friends and meet so many new ones.  I’m already hoping to return in the summer, but in the meantime, I’ll be dreaming of L.A.

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