I’ve been very naughty about updating my blog but I was too busy eating. (Obviously.)
November, when I went back to SGV for Thanksgiving, now feels like ages ago. My brother and his GF were in town for a week. They ate about five meals a day and one night I joined them, where we ate at four places in 2 hours: Don the Beachcomber for cocktails and pu pu platters, banh cuon in Westminster, chicken fried steak at Twoheys and one last place that I’ve now purged from memory.
It wasn’t until Christmas when I was able to have a decent appetite again. To be honest, it put me off food for a while. My stomach seemed to have been suffering a permanent fullness from Thanksgiving up unit about mid-December.
And dim sum. What is Chinese people’s obsession with dim sum? Being away for some time, the first thing relatives and my parents’ friends would want to do with me was take me for ‘yum cha.’ Then the first thing they would say when we’d sit down to dim sum was, “You can’t find this in London” or “You’ve lost weight because the food isn’t any good in London” or some kind of variation of that. Then I’d have to respond politely, yes there is dim sum in London but no it isn’t nearly as good as it is in LA (I think it would upset them to say that dim sum in SGV isn’t the best).
But it wasn’t dim sum that I missed the most about being away. I missed road trips, so I took one in January.
I drove from LA to Sacramento along the 5, hoping to go snowboarding in Tahoe. There was no snow. So I ate lots of ice cream (which I missed) with my nieces (also missed them loads). Vic’s is an old school ice cream parlour in Sacramento that would give Fosselman’s in Alhambra stiff competition were they in the same region. They share lots of similarities: family-owned, seasonal flavours and a high butterfat content in their ice cream.
We spent New Year’s Eve in San Francisco (but just before arriving there was the obligatory visit to Cheeseboard in Berkeley). And of course we ate and ate, including this lemon tart from Tartine. That’s me in the spoon there.
I took the 101 back down, which is the more humane route to take. We stopped in San Jose for massive omelettes at Flames Diner, across the street from the Winchester Mystery House. Have you ever been to the house? The heiress of the Winchester Rifle fortune built it for the spirits she was convinced were haunting her. She was told that if she built 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she would be safe from harm. I visited once as a kid and thought the place — which has staircases that go into ceilings, windows that face walls — was super cool. This last visit was a sad glimpse into the mind of a very disturbed, yet wealthy woman whose eccentricities and compulsions took over her life. I hope she also had a hand in building this diner because there’s nothing worse than a hungry ghost.
Next stop, Pismo Beach. We went bowling in this sleepy little beach town. We also had the best clam chowder ever at Splash Cafe.
The other Pismo Beach institution is the cinnamon roll place. Pismo Beach is really one of my favourite destinations. I appreciate it even more now that I live in foreign country. It’s like a perfect slice of beach life in California.
The road trip meal ended with a burger and fries from the Habit in Goleta. I like my burgers wrapped in paper, a sign of an unpretentious burger.
After more than 600 miles and seven days on the road, we were back in LA.