After two days of cruising the coast, we arrived in Los Angeles- LA, Tinseltown, Hollywood, the City of Angels… call it what you will but at the end of the day, the city, like many of its famed residents is all show and no substance. Once I got over the awe of just being there, any romantic notions I had disappeared and I soon saw the cracks- the manic traffic and pace, the lack of character, and just the general dirtiness of the city. It probably didn’t help that we got lost, a lot, that day…
My opinion improved the next day when we cruised down to Long Beach and then headed up the Venice Beach. Both beaches are stunning, even on a cold day, but with very different vibes. Long Beach was practically deserted on this cloudy weekday which gave us a welcomed break from the hustle of LA. Venice Beach was equally beautiful, as long as you were looking out to the sea… otherwise you were greeted with the mish mash of homeless people, seedy stores, buskers, and medicinal marijuana clinics, but that’s part of the charm? We had lunch at a (surprisingly for the area?) swish local bar called Larry’s– just a simple margherita pizza and pork belly sliders, washed down with a couple of local beers and ciders.
While in LA we finally got round to investigating the fuss around In N Out Burger– I’ve seen all the rave reviews, celebrity endorsements and just general good buzz so needless to say, as a documented burger lover, I was excited! But… then I was perplexed when I walked in and saw the tiny menu- the only choices seemingly how many patties you want and with cheese or not… even after I found out there was a ‘secret’ menu… the options didn’t really increase- add a special sauce to make it ‘animal style’ or remove the buns or add extra sauce. We were pretty underwhelmed; I thought the burger was actually pretty good for a fast food chain and only costing around $2.50, but am still struggling to understand the cult following it has.
The highlight of LA was hands down the meal we had at Animal– we found out about it on an episode of Top Chef, but after a quick google to find its location, were bombarded with gushing reviews, so naturally we were expecting big things. It delivered. There’s no sign so we tentatively walked into a modern, dimly lit restaurant, hoping that we were in the right place… we managed to get some seats the bar then settled in for the ride… The food was creative but still pretty substantial, and despite its elite status, the place managed to just escape that unwelcoming pretentious vibe. Our dish of the night? The smoked turkey leg- it was Thanksgiving come early- taste buds were in a happy place. If I had to endure LA again, I would need another visit to Animal to make it all worth it.
Even if I had been discovered, offered my own Anthony Bourdain-esque show, and were the next big thing… I still couldn’t and wouldn’t want to spend much time in LA. Those few days were enough for me. But, to any agents or producers out there… remember, the whole point of a food/travel show is that it is filmed elsewhere… so please, call me- I’m free for the foreseeable future!