(See also: Parts one and two)
Matt and I actually got up at a decent hour on Saturday; we had a lunch date with my friend Steve! Integrated into my 35-day tour of Europe were several smaller tours, so we had people hopping on and off at various times. Steve joined the tour in Spain and was with us for Barcelona, Nice, Florence, and Rome. Though originally from Philadelphia, Steve has lived in LA for quite some time, so he graciously offered to be our tour guide for the day, beginning with lunch. This was not just any lunch—we dined at a well-known, ritzy, paparazzi-plagued restaurant in the heart of Beverly Hills called the Ivy.
According to Steve, this is the place to see and be seen in Los Angeles. A quick Google search yields innumerable pictures of celebrity sightings at the Ivy, and the cars sitting out front (a Rolls Royce and an Aston Martin among them) belied its status as a hotspot of the local bourgeoisie. And we got to eat there! How cool is that?! It's a good thing Steve thought ahead and made reservations, because the line outside was quite long.
Surrounded by a white picket fence and filled with flowers, antiques, and other rustic, folksy touches, the Ivy is homey and country-cottage-like to an almost ironic degree. The menu is described as American with a Louisiana/Cajun flair, and though the prices somewhat shocked and appalled our Midwestern eyes, Steve too-kindly insisted it was his treat. To start, I sipped on a mixed berry frappé jazzed up with a splash of lime juice.
Steve ate light—a house salad with garlic toast.
Matt had the blackened cod with mushroom gravy and broccoli.
Yep, that’s fish. Go ahead, be outraged. But I know there are plenty of semi-vegetarians out there who are ok with fish on occasion. Even I, the Almost Vegan, am known to eat fish a couple times a year, either in the absence of other options or, once in a great, great while, because I have the opportunity to taste seafood at its absolute finest. The catfish I ate in Vienna is one example of that, and here I give you another—the Ivy’s swordfish tacos with guacamole, pico de gallo, fresh tortillas, pinto beans, and Mexican rice. And I am not the least bit sorry I got this, because WOWOWOW! I was blown away! The lime-cumin marinade/sauce that coated the generous chunks of swordfish was indescribable. There’s certainly no reason to eat swordfish when you live in the dead center of the country, but I was in California, damnit! I could not stop talking about this dish for days. Absolutely amazing!
For dessert, the three of us split the light and lovely tiramisu, a satisfying end to a stellar meal.
As far as I’m concerned, we could have flown back to KC at that point, and I would have considered the trip a smashing success. But we still had the whole afternoon ahead of us, and Steve took us on a whirlwind tour of some of the nicest areas of the city. We walked up and down Rodeo Drive, browsing stores like Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry and marveling at the clean, pretty streets and storefronts.
I even saw Dr. Rey’s office (did anyone else watch Dr. 90210?!). We followed that up with a drive down Melrose, which is a shopper’s paradise. We only stopped at a few stores, but it was enough to make Matt and I resolve to return there the next day. Steve was a veritable encyclopedia of what’s what in Los Angeles, and along the way pointed out to us lots of restaurants, clubs, and sites that are, as he called them, "very scene." It was so great to get to hang out with Steve, and for him to take hours out of his Saturday afternoon show us around like that. When he returned us to our hotel as dusk fell, we could not thank him enough. We still can’t, in fact—THANK YOU, Steve! I hope we get to hang out again in the future!
It was dinnertime, and Matt let me pick a place from my long list of LA veg eateries I wished to try. We were a tad pressed for time, so I chose one nearby, the all-vegan Café Flourish.
According to their website, they just closed their doors! That’s sad, but it makes me even more glad that I got to eat there. We shared the M-Moo Cacao smoothie to start, a blend of raw cacao powder, black Mission figs, Medjool dates, fresh almond milk, vanilla bean, and espresso. We both really enjoyed it.
Both of us were enticed by their cornmeal-crusted pizzas. I chose the Mediterranean Gratitude, with arugula pesto, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, olive tapenade, and pine nut parmesan.
Matt ate the That’s Amore, with tomato sauce, herb-ground "sausage," caramelized onions, mushrooms, and Daiya cheese.
Somehow, we still had room left to indulge our now-omnipresent frozen yogurt craving. It had been recommended to us that we try Yogurtland.
I had a fresh-fruit-topped blackberry yogurt to balance out my candy-topped one from Friday night. It was very good, but I found that Yogurtland’s selection seemed sparse compared to that of Cherry On Top.
We ended up taking our time getting ready, and hung out with Bobby and Mary that night at a private club near the airport.
There’s still one more day left in LA...stay tuned!
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(See also: Parts one and two)