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Monday, November 14, 2005

First Weekend (w/ the parentals)

Our first weekend with the parentals was awesome. We kicked it off with a shopping spree at Kohl’s on Friday afternoon (believe me when I say, shopping with my parents = A SUPER GOOD TIME) and an outdoor dinner of burritos and margaritas at Chipotle Grill. Chipotle has got to be my favorite Mexican fastfood place. Their carnitas (shredded pork) and barbacoa (shredded beef) are both extremely tender and flavorful as a result of being braised for hours with a variety of Mexican spices. My only gripe is the place does not come with a salsa bar. I love freshly made salsa and the tiny cup-sized servings they provide are never enough.

We spent the rest of the evening sitting outdoors and talking about everything and nothing. It was probably in the low 50’s but we didn’t mind the cold air. In fact, my parents relish the cold weather (we are folks that come from the Philippine tropics after all!). Actually we chose to eat in Chipotle because there was outdoor seating. My poor hubby on the other hand (who hates the cold) was bundled up in his corduroy pants, bulky jacket, and bonnet the whole time.

On Saturday we headed for brunch at a West Hollywood place called The Griddle Café (right next door to the Director’s Guild of America building). The café itself was basically a hole-in-the-wall joint, which we would have driven right by, if not for the long line of people crowding its front door. We waited about 20 minutes before we got in and another twenty minutes before our food came. But it was worth it. The Griddle Café is known for its breakfast selection and we were not disappointed. We ordered coffee and mimosas and a selection of pancakes and omelets. Mom had the blueberry pancakes, my brother tried the Sow Your Oats pancakes (cinnamon and oats), my hubby went with the banana-rama pancakes, dad had the Hoagie omelet with hash browns, while I tried the Chicago omelet with turkey sausage.

I have to point out two things here. First, we were not disappointed, the food was GREAT. Second, the food portions were GINORMOUS! The pancakes were about the size of dinner plates and thicker than most pancakes I’ve had before. There were three huge pancakes per order (so our table of 5 people had 9 GINORMOUS pancakes) - all served with butter and a side of maple syrup. Not to mention two HUGE omelets and a side order of turkey sausages. We were sitting there surrounded by plates of food and refillable coffee. Finishing that meal was a lost cause. My mom, brother and hubby gamely tried to eat their pancakes using different techniques (mom - one layer at a time starting at the top, my brother – doing triple layers all at once, and my hubby – just hacking away at the center) but even after 20 minutes of eating, those pancake stacks did not seem to be shrinking. We had to call it a meal and carted off the leftovers in 4 Styrofoam boxes.

Our next stop was The Getty Center off the 405 freeway. Now I am by no means an art connoisseur and don’t do very well in museums and art galleries, so the first few pavilions we went to were for the most part quite boring for me. There were a few Greek/Roman bronze sculptures that caught my eye and I did like the European glass art display. Although I walked very quickly through the paintings by Titian and the Painted Prayers display. However there were two things that I really appreciated at The Getty. The first was the European paintings by the masters (Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, etc). It was a bit awe-inspiring to sit back in one of the settees and be in the same room as these timeless and priceless works of art. The second thing I enjoyed was the architecture and the gardens of the center. The simplicity of the building design truly added to the grandeur of the place. Also, the gardens and water maze was really serenely picturesque. Being the “touristy bunch” that we are, we could not resist doing the prerequisite photo shoots by the trams, gardens and fountains. (Pics to be posted soon, I hope!). I also particularly loved learning Getty Center and J. Paul Getty trivia from the brochures and the audio-visual presentation in computer kiosks around the center. For example, did you know there are 3,200 doors at The Getty Center?

After The Getty, we took a long and scenic drive to Naples Island in Long Beach. (The operative words are “long and scenic”, which can be loosely translated as “we got lost”). It was dark when we finally arrived and so we cruised by the Belmont Shore shops and boutiques but missed on seeing the gondolas and gondoliers. Our point of destination was the Naples Rib Company, which is in fact the premier place for barbecued ribs! We had a super wonderful dinner of sparkling white wine, ribs (baby back ribs, beef ribs, St. Louis style ribs), corn bread and Caesar salad – we also tried the roasted artichokes with three dipping sauces (hollandaise was my favorite). This time we did things right and ordered three dinner combos and shared the food. There was plenty to go around but we didn’t feel like complete gluttons from overeating afterwards. A quick trip to the supermarket rounded out our day.

Sunday was more relaxing, we woke up late and had a wonderful breakfast my mom made. Freshly brewed coffee, Bruschetta (fresh tomatoes and basil, slightly sweet balsamic vinegar, and fresh mozzarella cheese on toasted French bread), mushrooms sautéed in garlic and light cream, and smoked salmon with a mayo/mustard/dill/caper dressing. Yes, believe it or not, that was our “home-made” breakfast that my mom just managed to whip up, spur of the moment. (Is she a culinary goddess or what!!!).

After breakfast we got ready to go to mass and then over to my BIL/SIL’s place to meet the rest of my in-laws for a late lunch. This time we had Chinese take out food (roast chicken, stir-fried beef and vegetables, sweet and sour pork, and birthday style noodles). We spent a good part of the afternoon there just talking and enjoying the company. We left since my brother had to hit the books (for an exam on Tuesday) and my folks wanted to take a walk around our neighborhood. My hubby and I took that as a sign to do laundry and catch up on our reading. About 2 hours later, my dad calls and asks me to pick them up. Not surprisingly, they ended up shopping and had too many bags to carry home.

Dinner was just another of my mom’s random creations. How she managed to make this dinner after being out all day I still can’t figure out! We had a tender and juicy roast porkloin (marinated with garlic, olive oil, and lots of thyme), a cheesy baked cauliflower casserole, and my mom’s Caesar salad made with her secret (to die for!) dressing. And for dessert, we had some of the leftover pancakes from The Griddle Café (something tells me we will be having those pancakes for a very long time!).


jol said...

All the three days so far spent with you have been equally great for your mom and I. I am glad that you wrote in careful detail so that your blog entry will serve as our journal for this visit. I am looking forward to more happy bonding with you, your brother and your hubby and also to very entertaining and comprehensive blog entries.

consay said...

I do I feel hungry all of a sudden! I am seriously thinking of going to a nice restaurant tonight after reading your blog today.

Joanne said...

Hi Consay, it's funny how my blog is starting to sound like a food and restaurant review :)

jml said...

with good company and good food, what more can anyone ask for. How lucky we were to have had an abundance of both during our L.A. visit.