Sunday, November 24, 2019

California Dreamin' - The Final Chapter: Jitlada Thai, Michelle Obama, Amazing views, and Farewell Dessert Party

What a great trip!  This is the last post of our great LA Vacation of November 2018, includes our last full day and final morning before we traveled back home.  You can check out the rest of our trip at the links at the end of this post.  On our last day, we landed Jimmy Kimmel tickets (free, just sign up on their website and it's a lottery system), so planned our day around that.  Just a few days before they announced surprise guest former First Lady Michelle Obama!!  Believe it or not, this was going to be our 2nd time seeing her on a late night show, and we've only been to 3 total!   In 2015 we were lucky to get tickets (free but a lottery system with some trivia involved) during David Letterman's final weeks of The Late Show.   Then current First Lady Michelle Obama made a surprise visit.  Lucky us!! 

I actually started the day with a salon visit to the Beverly Hills Waldorf Astoria Spa and Salon, we were staying at the Waldorf (check out my earlier posts for more on that total awesomeness).  I wear my hair in a pony tail 99.99% of the time.  However that day, decided if I'm going to share air with Michelle Obama, maybe I need to put forth little more effort.  Five stars to the salon!  I wish I could replicate what they did.  It was fun getting pampered. 

We had to be in Hollywood at the El Capitan for the taping in the early afternoon (extra early for this taping for security). For lunch we went to Jitlada, a Thai restaurant in Thai Town / Little Armenia. All the credit goes to Zac for discovering it.  Jitlada has been called the best Thai in LA, and one of the best in the US by some critics.  If you Google it you'll see it's a celebrity hot spot as well, for those celebrities that know good food!  

At Jitlada Thai Cuisine

It's a fave of Matt Groening, of Simpsons fame
We got three dishes to share, although I'll go ahead and admit I didn't share much of mine....We got Pad Thai, Thai Wings, and a classic Thai dish of Dungeness crab in garlic sauce.  That crab was gigantic!  (I ordered the Crab.  I am naturally drawn to dishes that are incredibly messy and involve eating with ones hands for some reason).

Pad Thai

Thai Wings

Dungeness Crab with garlic sauce
Thai town isn't too far from the main drag in Hollywood.  Off we went to the El Capitan theater, an iconic theater built in the 1920s, built about the same time as the Chinese theater that sits right across the street.

Getting ready for the show! 

Our wrist bands
The show was a lot of fun.  The room where the show is taped felt quite small. It is definitely smaller than the Ed Sullivan Theater where we saw Letterman.  Probably more normal for a TV show set, but then what do I know really.  We ended up on the back row, but dead center.  Since it was so small, the back row still felt like a great seat.  We couldn't take any pictures inside unfortunately, but I did find this picture below off the official show site, and found us immediately!  My red shirt helped. 

Another official pic from the show

Lin-Manual Miranda was the 2nd guest, and was fun to see.  After the show it was time for a snack!  Ghirardelli had an ice cream shop attached to the theater, so we stopped in and shared a sundae.  

Next stop, the Griffith Observatory!!  This was one thing I was looking forward to the most on the entire trip.  The Griffith Observatory is free admission, and has great views of the city and the Hollywood sign.  It opened in 1935, and is the most visited public observatory in the world.  

All that gazing worked up an appetite for dinner.  A trip to California is not complete without an In-and-Out Burger fix, so off we went! On the route from the Griffith Observatory back to Beverly Hills is the In-and-Out by Hollywoood High, our destination.  

In Part 3 of our trip I talked about our ride in the hotel's brand new Rolls Royce Phantom.  Here's a good shot of both of them parked outside our hotel on that last night.  Tried to play it cool, but I'm sure our driver could tell how excited we were to be chauffeured to dinner in the ultimate of luxury.   

Going out with a bang on our last night, we stopped in at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills, the upscale restaurant at the ground level of the hotel.  We had not yet spent out $50 hotel credit for the day, so why not spend it in one sitting on all the desserts.  

Our final morning we enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast at Jean-Georges, and then ventured up to the rooftop pool area one last time to take in the views and perfect weather.  

Looking towards Rodeo Drive

Downtown in the distance

One of the Cabana's near the pool

View from the room as we packed up

So long California!! 
We had an amazing trip, and lived in ultimate luxury at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills for 6 nights.  No complaints whatsoever about LA, even the traffic was manageable.  It helped that we slept in every day so missed morning traffic, and planned our day to avoid being on the road during evening rush hour.  Great food, great sites, great views, and perfect weather.  Until our next adventure..... 

LA Trip Links:

Saturday, November 16, 2019

California Dreamin' - Part 4: Eggslut, Buko Pie, and Lebron James

Today is actually a year to the day of our return from our Great LA Vacation that was that was the week of November 11-16th of last year. What a trip! It was truly a vacation, not quick long weekend, or vacation/work trip.  REAL vacation. We were gone a week.  We relaxed, ignored emails, explored and had adventures, ate excellent food to our hearts content, and just enjoyed being together.  Nothing like Facebook memories popping up to kick me in to gear to finally finish writing about our trip!  This is Day 4 of our trip.  Check out Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 here.  

For our entire trip we stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.  I talked a lot about that in the previous posts for Days 1-3.  I've never stayed in anything like it.  I've stayed in some nice places, don't get me wrong, but the Waldorf lived up to and exceeded all my expectations!  

We started out with room service for breakfast.  We had $50 credit each day to use or lose it, some days we used for breakfast, some days for dessert, never let it got to waste!  

breakfast power smoothie and yogurt smoothie bowl

After breakfast, off we went to downtown for the day!   First stop Grand Central Market, it's a food hall that has been in continuous operation since 1917.    

Eggslut is the hottest place at the market, and downtown in general for good breakfast/brunch food.  We arrived to quite the long line! It was worth the wait.  Time for 2nd Breakfast! It was already after 11am, so perhaps this is 1st Lunch instead....

Gotta have some coffee! Cold Brew it is. 

The Fairfax sandwich.  cage free soft scrambled eggs, chives, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and sriracha mayo on a brioche bun.  Yum! 

The Slut: cage free coddled egg on top of smooth potato puree , cooked in a glass jar, topped with gray salt and chives, baguette on the side. 

having fun in Grand Central Market

Next stop is the Sari Sari Store, a Filipino joint with lots of hype.  We ordered the Pinoy BBQ Ribs and Buko pie (coconut pie).  This pie, my gosh, it's hard to describe.  It has layers of coconut pastry cream and coconut meat, with the most flaky perfect crust.  It's perfectly sweet but not too sweet.  I would pay a lot of money to have this pie shipped to me from Los Angeles.  Or maybe just another reason to go back! 

Pinoy BBQ Ribs rice bowl

Buko Pie

Sari Sari's Buko Pie = May be the best pie I've ever had in my life. 

Can't you tell how happy I was to just eat that pie?? 
I'm now going to deviate from blogging in chronological order of our trip.  We went to the Japanese American Museum next, which is located very near the Grand Central Market in Little Tokyo.  I am planning to do a separate post about that. I'm 1/4 Japanese, my Japanese family emigrated to the US after the turn of the last century, and settled in Los Angeles in the 1920s.  I have family history there, and part of this trip was my traveling to see places with family ties; to learn and appreciate more about my family heritage.  Mission accomplished, I feel very lucky to have done this.  Our country's history with Japanese Americans is rough.  I wasn't prepared at all for what I saw at the Japanese-American museum, but am glad I went. More on that later.

After spending a couple hours at the museum, we explored around downtown, Chinatown, and ended up back near the Staples Center to watch the LA Lakers play that evening.  This was Lebron James first season with the Lakers, and the atmosphere was electric! 

Los Angeles City Hall



View of City Hall again from across Grand Park

The IMPRESSIVE Walt Disney Concert Hall

Me and the Walt Disney Concert Hall (I was impressed)

Random cool tall building

Another cool random tall building

LA Live entertainment area adjacent to the Staples Center
It was VERY crowded around the Staples center ahead of the Lakers game. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicano, had not heard of it and not pre-planned, but a good meal!   We both go an assortment of street tacos.  The side dish of corn something was quite good.  It was the white cheese that made it.

Shrimp Ceviche'

We got there early so we had time to explore

We had box seats! 

Let the game begin!  The crowd was so into it, and tons of fun. Looked for Jack Nicholson sitting next to the court but wasn't never certain we spotted him. It was extra fun since the Lakers won, and Lebron totally dominated.  King James ended up with 44 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists.  Apparently, if he were to get 10 rebounds and 10 assists in one game, that is a big deal. So towards the end all the suspense was if he'd get that last assist or not. He didn't, but I don't think anyone should be disappointed by that! 

And that's the end of Day 4 my friends.  One more fun filled day and a half to go!!! Stay tuned for tales of crabs the size of my head, Jimmy Kimmel live, In-and-Out burger, and impressive city views! 

LA Trip Links: