Posts Tagged ‘lunch’

A Peaceful Day in Santa Monica

Evan and I have been back in LA for about two weeks now, and we’re working on getting back into the swing of things. I’m working on some freelance projects, Evan is looking for editing work, and we’ll start figuring out where we’ll live soon. Evan also just bought a car — a used Audi A4 he found on Craigslist. He’s only had it since the weekend, so we were surprised to see that it was leaking oil yesterday, after it had already been checked out. We took it to his mechanic in Santa Monica today and it needed some work done — nothing major, but enough to leave us without a car (mine was at my parents house) for the day.

We started by walking down to the Lazy Daisy, one of our regular breakfast spots before we left. We grabbed a small, blue mosaic table in its closed-in patio, which does a decent job of making the restaurant feel removed from busy Pico, and perused the breakfast selections. I settled on an omelet and Evan chose a breakfast sandwich. We got our waters in big, thick plastic cups (the only thing that really bugs me about this restaurant — I don’t really like using plastic dinnerware — thankfully it’s only the cups, not the plates, too), then relaxed in the cool LA morning while enjoying our leisurely breakfast.

When we were done at the Lazy Daisy, we needed to brainstorm what to do next. It was still early — not even 9 a.m., so we had some pretty limited options. We thought we could find a matinee for 10ish, or maybe go down to the beach or the public library. We thought about getting a cab or a ride from the mechanics (they’d offered earlier), but then we realized something pretty revolutionary for us car-centric LA folk — we could take the bus.

We started walking down Pico, which has plenty of bus stops, and realized that though there were stops, there weren’t any route maps. Finally, after passing a few stops and making it to Santa Monica College, we found a route map, made sure we were headed to the right place, and hopped on the Big Blue Bus. It cost 75 cents for each of us, and we were at the 3rd Street Promenade in about 10 minutes. We also found out that SMC students can ride the bus for free — and plenty seemed to be taking advantage of the deal.

We walked to the library, but we were a bit early for its 10 a.m. opening time, so we checked out the movies — not much we wanted to see and nothing that started before 11:20 — and wandered around until we could head back to the big public library, a bright, airy, two-story building built around a courtyard with an arid garden, shallow and sparky fake stream, and a cafe.

At the library, we started by getting new cards, then went to use the free internet. There was a rather creepy guy sitting next to Evan who was staring at a picture of a girl in a low-cut shirt for at least 30 minutes. We mostly just read the news and checked our email.

Then we went down to the sunny downstairs reading room (the sun finally burned off the haze by 11), where we read and relaxed on a comfy bench. What a nice and peaceful way to spend the morning! And a lot of other people had the same idea — the library was full of people working, reading, researching and eating.

We headed back to the mechanic’s because we were told the car would be ready, but alas, it wasn’t, so we decided our next excursion would be a walk to a cafe by Evan’s old apartment called Bolivar. We walked down the tree-lined streets, past a corner where a small accident took place — everyone was calm and just waiting for the police — and a high school field getting covered with astroturf.

At the cafe, we ordered arepas — little Venezuelan sandwiches in hot cornmeal pouches. Yum! We each had one with mango and cheese, called the Pacifico, and one with black beans. They were delicious, especially when we added the extra cilantro-flavored sauce they added on the side. I’d only had salads and sandwichs here before, so this was quite a treat.

We walked back to the mechanic’s and still had a bit of a wait for the car, but being without the car for the day actually ended up being a lot of fun. We didn’t spend much money, we weren’t stressed by traffic and we had a good time rediscovering Evan’s old neighborhood.

An Amazing Lunch at Amaya

Daffodils in KensingtonOn my Waitrose excursion, I also wanted to get some lunch. Especially since I haven’t been out much at all for a bit because I’ve had a cold, which made me not want to do anything. Today, though, I was feeling better. And I wanted to have a decent lunch. Well, I had much more than a decent lunch.

I wandered around the area surrounding the Waitrose for a while — it was beautiful, with lots of parks and daffodils in bloom and white buildings with columns out front. I wasn’t too far from my place, but the neighborhood felt very different. I believe I was in Belgravia or Kensington.

Across the street from the Waitrose were a few coffeeshops and a deli, but the prepared food just didn’t look that great to me. There was also a nice-looking Indian place called Amaya. I was a bit underdressed, but I decided to check it out.

The restaurant was pretty large, with a nice warm bar by the door, lots of natural light and some cooking happening on the far walls, with luscious displays of vegetables. There was an extensive specialty drink list, both alcoholic and non — I’ll have to go back to try some out — and everything on the menu looked so good, I ended up getting a veritable veggie feast.

Amaya vegetablesThe meal started with a slightly spicy green mango and papaya salad, which I really enjoyed. The pansies on the plate were a great touch, too. Once I was done with the salad, though, it seemed like the dishes just kept coming out! There was some paneer tikka, which is always one of my favorites, and a great fig and vegetable patty and some sweet potatoes with sauce. There was also some broccoli with a yogurt sauce, which was my least favorite dish — the broccoli was a bit overcooked and it was a much larger quantity than any of the other dishes, which was just incongruous and unappetizing to look at. There were some stuffed little chilies that I really liked, which were surprisingly sweet, no hot, and there was a veggie roll of some sort.

The dishes were all served with a side of chutneys — one rhubarb and one tomato, which were both really delicious, and a peanutty spice powder and a rose and lavender powder, which was wonderful. All the dishes were presented really beautifully as well, on plates of various shapes in white ceramic and glass.

Amaya saladThere was also some grilled mango and a sort of passionfruit smoothie for dessert, which were nice and refreshing. Overall, a very extravagant lunch, but a fantastic, relaxing experience.

Definitely not the packaged sandwich I thought I’d be getting and well worth it. I can’t wait to go back and bring Evan. I hear someone at the table next to me saying it was like a totally different place at night. And I can see that without the sunshine pouring in and with all the candles and mod lighting around, it would be a great romantic dinner spot.

Lunch With Tim Berry

Today, I finally got to meet Tim Berry. We worked together during my time at — I edited his column and helped him launch his Up and Running blog. He’s someone who I always enjoyed working with, but never met since we were based in Irvine, California, and he lived in Eugene, Oregon. How were we able to meet up in the UK then?

This lunch was months in coming — we both knew we’d be here about this time, so we decided to meet up. I also met with Alan Gleeson, the managing director of Tim’s company, Palo Alto Software here in the UK.

We chatted about travel, business and writing at Busaba Eathai, which was a fun place with big, square communal tables, though it had a disappointing pad thai.

Now to meet some more Londoners …