Monday, March 14, 2016

#ThankYouMiamiGoesToLA - Weekend in L.A. Travel Diary

We all have our priorities. I have made mine—aside from staying happy and healthy—to explore the world. So, for the last few three years, I have leveraged my vacation days, my work opportunities, my personal connections, and my bank account to travel as frequently as possible. (In fact, I’m writing this from the “comfort” of Seat 29E on United Flight 1816 to Denver, Colorado.) One of my most recent displays of jet-set genius was my trip to Los Angeles at the end of last month, when I traded some career feedback to a professional development organization in exchange for a free round-trip flight on American and two-night stay at the L.A. Airport Westin.

Brad and I already have a trip to California scheduled for later this year. We will be traveling to Carmel in the Summer to celebrate the wedding of our friend, Turner. But, considering my sister’s recent move to San Francisco, I jumped at the opportunity of being on the same coast as her and was excited when she accepted my proposal to meet up in L.A. for the weekend portion of my trip.

I left for L.A. on a Thursday at 6 a.m. and spent the whole day confused by the time change, working in my hotel room. At night, motivated by cabin fever and inspired by the realization that this was my first trip alone since college, I decided to poll my Facebook friends and scour Yelp for dinner recommendations. I settled on Manhattan Beach Post because they have rave reviews and a communal seating area perfect for a single diner looking to socialize.

The communal table turned out to be a great move, albeit unnerving at first when I was seated with a couple and their guy friend in what appeared to everyone else as a double date. The potentially awkward situation was salvaged when the minute I sat down a nearby group of real estate types at a work happy hour asked me to join them for a round of tequila shots. Armed with a little liquid courage I spent my dinner chatting animatedly to the three people seated at my table, who I later came to realize were Andre Ljustina of Croatian Style, Nicky Diamonds of Diamond Supply Co., and Nicky's gorgeous model girlfriend. The three were extremely friendly and indulged me in a much-needed life therapy session as I devoured an overindulgent meal of bacon cheddar biscuits, duck prosciutto, brussel sprouts, and vegetable lasagna for one. Surprisingly, not scared away by my oversharing and overeating, they invited me to go out with them for the night, but—in a move I severely regret—I decided to food coma my way back to my hotel and call it a night.

The lesson of Day 1? Conversations with strangers can be the best form of therapy. Also, Manhattan Beach Post is a great go-to for dinner if you're in the L.A. area as exhibited by the photos below. (It was like if Yardbird also offered the Broken Shaker's cocktail hour menu, as well as The Standard's Lido dinner menu.) I promise that my stories of Days 2, 3 and 4 will be equally as interesting (I had amazing juju the entire trip) but will have less food-centric photos. In the interim, bon appetit!

I got some last minute Miami in at Miami International Airport with an iced cafe con leche and some croquetas de jamón at La Carreta.

Hungry and jet lagged, I treated myself to a second breakfast via Westin room service.

The view from my room at the Westin featured a killer sunset and view of the planes taking off from LAX.

I'm partial to spicy tequila cocktails, of which Manhattan Beach Post had several good options. I chose Avila's Heir because of the serrano and yuzu, but also recommend the Prophecy with its prickly pear and cayenne.

The duck prosciutto came beautifully displayed on a cutting board with the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits (shown above) and caper berries, which are my absolute favorite.

The roasted brussel sprouts were recommended to me by the real estate types post-tequila shot so naturally I ordered them.

The homemade Bloomsdale spinach, ricotta, and kale lasagna was too much for me to finish in one sitting but turned out to be excellent leftovers for the following day.

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