California Food Odyssey

Today hubbie and I had yummy naughty American food! Most of this trip we have been having two meals a day – lunch and dinner. We just haven’t been getting up early enough, or had to rush to get to where we were going, like Legoland or Seasworld! But today I set my alarm so we could have breakfast!

Hubbie has been in Berkeley for 6 weeks now, setting up an administration office for his business. So he had scoped out lots of good eating places. About a month ago he sent through a picture of his breakfast – bacon and pancakes! That is one American Food Oddity (e.g. peanut butter and jelly or potato crisps with every lunch order (even cafes)) that we like! So off we went to ‘La Note’ in Berkeley – and we even had to wait 15 minutes for a table!

I had scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and crème fraîche pancakes! Hubbie had the same but with raspberry pancakes. They were amazing!

Michelle's Labyrinth Michelle's Labyrinth

As you know I am a little obsessed with pie! So I googled the best pie places in San Francisco and dragged hubbie along for lunch. The pie place was not exactly close to our hotel, so after a downhill walk, a trolley ride and the a horrendous uphill walk we made it to ‘Mission Pie’. I’d already scanned the menu and knew I was going to order Banana Cream Pie if it was available. Hubbie had Chicken Pot Pie… All I can say is YUM!!!

Michelle's Labyrinth

Michelle's Labyrinth

Michelle's LabyrinthThen tonight we went to the baseball! Our first game – San Francisco Giants vs Oakland Athletics. We had awesome seats and the Giants won! YAY! I was going to get a hot dog, but when it came to order I decided to brave a Spicy Chili Dog – OMG it was amazing! The sausage was to die for, the chili [American English] was okay, not as good as my chilli [British English] con carne, but still good. But it was terribly messy! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Michelle's Labyrinth

Michelle's LabyrinthTrying to control the mess –>

 

 

 

 

 

Hubbie got a AnguMichelle's Labyrinths Beef Burger, which was okay… Messy too from the look of his shorts – that yellow mustard went everywhere!!  :-)

 

So that was our naughty food day – thankfully San Francisco is hilly to help burn it off! More pie tomorrow I think :)

 

 

Los Angeles 2012 – Part 2: The Lost Boys

So to recap our LA trip that was organised for us… We all arrived Friday morning and we were chauffeured to the hotel in Beverly Hills. After much welcomed showers we then hopped on the tourist bus, where hubbie and I dozed a bit, but we got to see most of the sites and some famous houses as well! Then we had an afternoon nap, to then join the world for drinks by the pool.

Drinks by the pool consisted of buffet hanger steak and lamb; paella; deserts such as red velvet cupcakes, mango jubes and all sorts of other goodies; and of course all you can drink alcohol. I don’t think I have ever had hanger steak before, but it was absolutely mouthwatering. It was served with some sort of brown sauce and a pinch of salt. After a taste of the paella (Spanish rice dish) and lamb (not as tasty as Australian!) we went back for more hanger steak! I must ask my butcher friend about it… it is sometimes called ‘butchers steak’, ‘skirt steak’ or ‘bistro steak’. I hope we can get it over here!

Saturday morning consisted of three hours work for hubbie, and I went shopping at Macy’s. I love Macy’s – especially when it is 25% off all day if you buy a charity voucher for $5. We had free time Saturday afternoon, so I took hubbie back to Macy’s and he bought 2 suits, 2 shirts, 3 ties for $500! We walked down the street to get his suits hemmed and had another afternoon nap before the Playboy Mansion.

Sunday was Universal Studios and thenMichelle's Labyrinth we were taken out to dinner. Everyone wanted to go out drinking after dinner, but thankfully hubbie listened to my voice of reason and we headed back to the room after dinner. We had another 3 weeks worth of travel, and after all the alcohol consumed at the Playboy Mansion I didn’t want another big night. We were also supposed to go on a bike ride at Santa Monica the next morning after breakfast on the beachfront!

Michelle's LabyrinthI had asked hubbie if we could skip the bike ride if I wasn’t feeling 100%. I would hate to be half way on a bike ride and feel like being sick, or worse – fall off! I  hadn’t looked at where we were going for breakfast, or where the bike ride was going, I was just following the crowd; but as the bus came into view of the ocean and I saw the pier, I thought of The Lost Boys and knew we weren’t going on the bike ride.

The Lost Boys is one of my top 10 favourite movies and The Lost Boys soundtrack is my number one! I just need to hear the words “People are strange, when you’re a stranger”, or “Mary Mary you’re on my mind”, or “Through the storms, Through the cries, And through the wars, Oh, I still believe” and I am transported to Santa Carla and a world of vampires and cute boys. My sisters and I would have chosen this video in the video store because of Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. We were huge Corey fans. My love started for Corey Feldman in Stand By Me and of course The Goonies. We also knew the evil Keifer Sutherland (also in Stand By Me), but Jason Patric was new to us!

So as we drove down towards the pierMichelle's Labyrinth and I saw the Ferris wheel and the roller coaster  I just wanted to explore the pier and re-live The Lost Boys as much as possible. Santa Carla (“Murder Capital of the World”) is a fictional town in California based on Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is further up the coast closer to San Francisco, so Santa Monica would just have to do for me.

I love American piers and I just hope that the Perth foreshore incorporates the tourist appeal that American piers have. We walked the pier after breakfast and I was praying that the roller coaster and Ferris wheel would open (hubbie and I are not morning people, so to be somewhere where things weren’t open yet was a bit foreign!). We then went for a walk along the beach and walked under the pier. One of my old time favourite songs is “Under the Boardwalk”, so I was excited to be under the boardwalk :P. It was also a little spooky under there, since so many murders in TV shows and novels occur on the beach and/or near boardwalks.

Michelle's Labyrinth   Michelle's Labyrinth

We then went on the roller coaster and theMichelle's Labyrinth Ferris wheel. The roller coaster was completely tame after being at Universal Studios the day before. But we got to go around twice and there was a spot where I lost my stomach twice! The Ferris wheel was quite tame too, except the fact the sides of the car seemed quite low and hubbie has a habit of moving seats and rocking the car. I had a plan to quickly sit on the floor and hug the pole, which I think scared hubbie a little bit that I had a plan! The view from the Ferris wheel was great though.

Michelle's Labyrinth

We explored the pier some more and found Zoltar – from Tom Hanks’ Big. And no I did not ask for a wish, don’t you remember what happened last time! We also saw Bubba Gump Shrimp Co (inspired by the 1994 film Forrest Gump) and Soda Jerks (just a random name!! hehe).

Michelle's Labyrinth  Michelle's Labyrinth  Michelle's Labyrinth

I wanted a little more of The Lost Boys at this stage and was looking in every store for comics. I just loved the movie so much. The scene where Star (Jami Gertz) and Michael (Jason Patric) make eyes at each other during “I Still Believe” was so seductive, even for a young teenager! Some of my favourite quotes also come from this movie:

  • Grandpa: “No. I just like to read the T.V. Guide. Read the T.V. Guide, you don’t need a T.V”;
  • David: “What, you don’t like rice? Tell me Michael, how could a billion Chinese people be wrong?”;
  • Sam: “Are you freebasing, Michael? Inquiring minds want to know”;
  • Sam: “Death by stereo!”;
  • Grandpa: “One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach, all the damn vampires”.

The movie is just the perfect mix of comic, suspense and horror and even some love. Sam’s line “Look at your reflection in the mirror. You’re a creature of the night Michael, just like out of a comic book! You’re a vampire Michael! My own brother, a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire. You wait ’till mom finds out, buddy!” pretty much says it all. The movie was probably my first introduction to vampires as well. The Lost Boys was in 1987, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were 1992, Interview with a Vampire was 1994, From Dusk Til Dawn was 1996 (all movies from our video teenage era!).

The last stop on the pier, which should have been the first stop if we has actually done it in order, was the carousel. I love the first scene of the movie where Keifer Sutherland (David) and his boys are walking through a carousel as it is going around. Keifer’s long black coat is flapping, his colour turned up like Dracula’s would, and he is smirking and just looking menacing. It is the perfect start to a movie so I was glad to see the carousel. A comic book store would have sealed the whole experience, but I walked away with a big smile on my face.

Michelle's Labyrinth

People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted
Streets are uneven when you’re down 

When you’re strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you’re strange
No one remembers your name
When you’re strange
When you’re strange
When you’re strange

 

Yes I am strange :)

 

 

 

Los Angeles 2012 – Part 1: Concrete Jungle

My wonderful hubbie won a trip to L.A.! I am unsure if won is the right word, maybe earned is a better fit considering he was awarded the trip for doing a certain value of loans in the last financial year. Since plane tickets are the biggest cost of a holiday, we thought we would take advantage of this situation and do a USA trip!

Our trip started in L.A. and it sure is the concrete jungle its known for. Flying over L.A. all you can see, for as far as you can see, are freeways winding, twisting, overlapping and circling each other. And the roads are not as nice as Perth’s roads. The roads are covered with cracks, pot holes, 4-way stop signs, trucks (RVs), trucks (SUVs) and lots of trucks (same meaning in North American and Australian English)! We also got to experience the roads first hand this time as we drove from L.A. to Las Vegas!

The first thing we saw driving from the airport was a humming bird. One of the guys travelling in the escalade (they don’t seem to make anything small over there) with us pointed out a hummingbird Michelle's Labyrinthfluttering around a flowering tree, on the other side of the road, at the height of the power lines. I have no idea how he saw it, but it was amazing seeing this bird fluttering vertically. You could almost hear it humming because of the speed his wings were going at. I was so excited and I knew it was a sign this trip was going to be amazing.

Source: http://getahead.rediff.com/report/2009/jun/15/a-hummingbird-in-love-flies-faster-than-a-fighter-jet.htm

After checking in the hotel we went on the famous bus tour around Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Mulholland Drive. I had recently finished about 7 Michael Connelly books where the main character, Harry Bosch, lives in a house with stilts on Woodrow Wilson Drive in the Hollywood Hills. It was lovely driving along Mulholland Drive and actually seeing what Mr Connelly had made so vivid in my mind. A winding road, with sheer drops and natural parks on either side. I definitely didn’t want to get off the bus since some of the murders had happened in those parks!

You know when you do something that you only dreamed of doing and you just cannot believe it is actually happening? Well we went to a party at the Playboy Mansion and it was something I had never even thought of, so I didn’t know what to think. So we went with no expectations and to have a few drinks and just see how it goes.

You see the crazy Playboy Mansion parties in movies, hear stories about the parties, but you never think you will be at one. Some people were a bit shocked we were going to the Playboy Mansion, but at the end of the night it was just an awesome massive party. Yes the girls were somewhat under-dressed, but its no different from a pool party, or even some of the outfits young girls wear to nightclubs.

They definitely weren’t shy at pouring drinks, apparently when you order a bourbon & coke, the coke is added just for colouring! But it definitely ensured the party ‘went off’. There were many rumors going around about how often parties were held at the mansion and how much the tickets cost. Charlie Sheen was rumored to be in the mansion. One of the playboy models said she saw Pauly Shore (very sad I didn’t get to see him if he was there :( ). And of course Hugh Hefner was supposedly in the mansion with his three girlfriends.

We arrived by limousine. First thing we see is the Playboy Bunnies, who were giving everyone photo opportunities with them. Then we walked onto the artificial lawn, grabbed some champagne, or beer as the case may be, and starting looking around and checked out the silent auction.

Michelle's Labyrinth

Now I have listed some rumored celebrities, but we actually did see some. First off the ranks was Richard Reid, the gossip guru on the Channel 9 Today Show. He was lovely and chatted to everyone. I got a wink from him at one point.

Michelle's Labyrinth

Do you like how I used the ‘smudge’ tool in GIMP? The blonde lady looks like she inspired a creature from Pan’s Labyrinth.

We then checked out who was being interviewed on the red carpet. We recognised Sarah McLeod (pictured below), and then that’s when I spied the Stafford Brothers, who are a house music DJ and Production duo (Chris on the left and Matt on the right).

Michelle's Labyrinth  Michelle's Labyrinth

And as I said there were lots of girls with sparse clothing. So here are a couple of pictures for you!

   

We then checked out the catwalk. It wasMichelle's Labyrinth starting to get difficult for me to focus on things, so I just got my iPhone out and starting taking heaps of photos. The boys recognised Ron Jeremy, who is an American adult film actor. I said who, so I could take a photo, and also asked how they all knew him. They reckon all males would know who he is! Raises a few questions….

After the catwalk and a silent auction we moved to the other side of the mansion (near the grotto) and the party really started! Massive stage at the front. VIP section in the middle. A massive bar near the back. Cabanas all around the perimeter.

As I said they weren’t shy pouring the drinks. My bourbon & cokes were so strong that I had to breathe out after each drink (and I was drunk at this stage!). I swear my breath was flammable. We had access to a section of cabanas, but we stayed out to take in the atmosphere. We had various entertainment on the stage, such as Sarah McLeod – shown below; MiniKiss (a picture below that); the Stafford Brothers and even hubbie and I got on the stage and danced towards the end of the evening!

Michelle's Labyrinth

Michelle's Labyrinth

Source: https://twitter.com/i/#!/minikiss/media/slideshow?url=pic.twitter.com%2FycVWrZ9v

They stopped pouring drinks at 1:30am, and yes as we left I fell on Matt Stafford – the ground was uneven I say! 10 of us piled in a limo and we were all in agreement to stop and get a burger or something. There was food at the mansion, but its pretty hard to eat when you’re already smashed! The limo driver passed one place but it was already shut. Yes a lot of places shut at 2am in L.A.! He refused to try another place, but we saw Fatburgers was open, and it was only a couple of blocks from the hotel. So off we went!

Hubbie had a small cheeseburger and I had a Maui Banana Shake. I say ‘small’ burger, because check out below! They had photos on their wall of people who had 7XLs and higher! CRAZY!

Michelle's Labyrinth

Source: http://www.fatburger.com/

So we ended up getting to bed at 4am. Good effort? It gets better! We had to be up at 7:30am to catch the bus to Universal Studios! Now I only have a big drinking session once a year (sometimes only every second year) because I just do not pull up well. We were all very quiet on the bus on the way to the studios. When hubbie and I got there we headed to the lower section straight away because we had been before and knew that is where all the cool rides are. I visited the ladies – just in case. All good. First up was the Jurassic Park – The Ride. We survived, so we then tried Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride. As a reward we decided to eat brunch. Then after that we went onto the Transformers: The Ride-3D – which is brilliant. You feel like you are in the head of one of the transformers while they fight some bad guys. Awesome! We totally recommend you go to this ride first if you ever go to Universal Studios, so you can go on it more than once. I’ll end this blog post here, we survived our day at Universal Studios, we were so pleased with ourselves. The honest truth – I think we scared our bodies into just enjoying the day, no hangovers!!!

Michelle's Labyrinth

Source: http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/attractions/transformers-the-ride-3d/

And one last thing, how many people do you know who got a mobile number from one playboy model and an e-mail address from another one? Well you know me and my hubbie!

 

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