...unless we're speaking strictly in metaphors, thereby confirming that I'm the long distance champ of LA adventuring. I can follow the sun's arch across the sky and still be going strong into the late night hours, just give me a couple of midday Diet Cokes and sneak a brew in there and I could keep right on huffing and puffing till the sun breaks to the east once again. And there's nothing that gets my heart pounding more than discovering yet again (and again, and again, and again...) that the City of Angels has something more to offer than most people give her credit for.
The naysayer in this case was a certain Mike Ruffino; model, muse, musician, man, myth. He's an OC brat born and raised, though he contains almost no trace of OC-ness and only a little brattiness. Despite growing up in the distant backyard of LA, he's chosen a life of sheltered ambivalence to one of more cultured delights and it was my job, being the more culturally seasoned of the two, to give him an education. I think it's fairly clear by my big talking here that I'm certain he doesn't even deign a cursory glance at my blog so herein I have the freedom to trash talk as much as I see fit. Yes, that's a dare, Ruffino. Wherever you are.
Thus began the 26-miler we called our L.A. Day, a gastronomic triathlon heaped upon an Iron Man of adventuring. Be sure to stay hydrated, and read on.
I'd hoped to begin the day at Nickel Diner for a bacon maple doughnut, but our plans were quickly thwarted as they're closed on Mondays. Curses. Ever the planner, I had a list as long as my forearm of alternative destinations, so we hightailed it to ABC Seafood for an order of pork buns. Sweet...savory...fluffy...heaven. Gastro coma. Cloud nine. The whole bit, folks - I clued Mike in to what many of my nearest and dearest are already savvy: Pork steam buns are probably my favorite food of all time. I could (but I won't!) eat them for every meal (but I...won't...maybe...). After snapping out of my BBQ'd reverie we strolled the narrow corridors of Olvera Street, a location I hold close to my heart because it represents my first real taste of L.A. (way back in 2003!), the place that stunned me simply by its existing and me not knowing about it.
Strolling Olvera St.
Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of the Redwoods? Yes.
Only at Clifton's
Following that, we strolled the magical (truly...there is no better word) St. Vincent Court and dined with the crazies and fogies at Clifton's Cafeteria. Feeling that the turkey slop and strawberry pie from Clift's wasn't a suitable main course for lunch, we headed over to the Arts District and Wurstküche for brats, beer, and a bit of vintage shopping. The food we'd consumed exploded like a carb bomb in our bellies, so I opted to head north to Griffith Park for some low-grade non-hiking. We shimmied through the graffiti-festooned cages at the abandoned zoo and I was unsuccessful at bribing Mike to catch a squirrel without killing it first (one beer for a squirrel, two for a coyote, both of which were in abundant supply, neither of which actually feared being kidnapped).
St. Vincent Court
The Abandoned Zoo
Back to downtown, to visit one of my favorite destinations: the LA Cathedral. If you ever find yourself downtown on a Wednesday around 12:45pm, I'd highly recommend hearing the pipe organist rehearse, but the mausoleum makes a fun maze as well. There are usually art installations on display throughout the year and the sanctuary is a sight to behold; one can't help but think about Heavenly things under the milky glow of alabaster windows.
LA Cathedral - that's real alabaster in the upper windows!
Hungry again, we finished our marathon with a trio of indulgences: Happy hour french dip, fries, and beverages at Cole's, ice cream sandwiches and heady conversation at Syrup, and a small army of cocktails in the shadowy, jazzy darkness at Varnish.
All said an done, Mike's not abandoning all traces of his OC pride any time soon, but he did gain a certain reverence for what LA has to offer, and for that, I take full credit.
The bar at Cole's makes the city's best Manhattan
The man, the myth, the tour guide