Sunshine, cocktails and fun

My last days are flying by, but I can’t say that I am not making use of them wisely. I had a great weekend with a lot of sunshine, the beach, cocktails, sunsets and most important with amazing people, who always make it fun.

On Friday, after getting off from work early, we went to Crystal Cove close to Newport Beach to enjoy some amazing food and cocktails combined with a beautiful sunset.

IMG_2823

IMG_2827

IMG_2833

IMG_2835

IMG_2836

IMG_2837

IMG_2838

IMG_2841

IMG_2843

IMG_2846

IMG_2852

On Saturday, we enjoyed some British humor, watching Notting Hill, at the Eat Sea Hear outdoor movie night in Santa Monica.

IMG_2858

IMG_2859

And finally on Sunday we relaxed at the beach and ended the day with some treats from Urth Caffe. I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend 🙂

Untitled-1

 

 

International Dinner Volume 2

This Saturday a couple of friends and me gathered together to have a second round of an international dinner. A lot of my friends come from other countries around the world, so coming together having prepared a typical dish from your country of origin, is a perfect way of trying new and unknown things and to broaden your culinary horizon 🙂

download

We were 6 people in total, 3 from France, 2 from the States and me from Germany. We started with a French salad of baby spinach, bacon and goat cheese, combined with tomatoes and onions. Followed by a delicious mix of mushrooms and other vegetables baked in the oven with scallops (American). Then my first dish was served, being a typical German ‘Flammkuchen’, which is a thin dough spread with sour cream, bacon, onions, potatoes and spring onions and then baked in the oven. The last main dish was a typical dish from Reunion Island, called Civet de Beef. Our dessert round started of with a typical French cake with pears, of which I unfortunately forgot the name. As it was my last international dinner I could attend, I prepared a dessert as well, which was typical German Apple Pancakes with cinnamon-sugar. Before we could be served the last dessert, we took a long walk around the neighborhood to process all the food. I basically could have rolled down the streets 😉 After coming back from the walk we finished with an ice cake topped with blueberries and strawberries. I have to say everything was delicious! Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of the evening, what a shame, I seriously should have. I have leftovers for at least half of the week, which is great. All in all I simply love these get-togethers, because can there be a better way of being surrounded by friends, good food and a couple of bottles of wine?!

If you’re going to San Francisco…

Hope everybody had a great Memorial Day Weekend. I know I am kind of late, but I was really busy this week, and then I did not have my pictures with me when I wanted to upload the post yesterday.

IMG_2655

For my second Memorial Day in the States ever I went to SF to meet up with my host family (back from when I did my High School Year) and to attend the graduation of my host sister who got her Master Degree in Business Administration. I was so excited to meet them after not having seen them for 4 years now, except for my other host sister, with who I could meet up in Brussels when she did an internship there.

IMG_2636

Honestly, I fell in love with the city, and I can’t wait to go back in August when I will do a round trip throughout the West coast of the States with a couple of friends from Germany. What I love about the city?! Almost everything. The architecture, the location at the water and the surrounding bay area, all the food places and options you have, the steep streets, the sea lions at the pier, that everything is basically in walking distance or accessible with public transportation, the diversity of the city without loosing its intimacy, I could go on and on. Not that I do not like LA, and I definitely favor the weather and the beaches here, but what really makes me prefer SF is the fact of not having to rely on a car like one has to in LA. Even though the walking can be so tiresome, I loved doing it, because this in my opinion is the best way of exploring a city, by walking around, being able to stop whenever you want and take a closer look, and eventually getting lost, only to see even more of the city, not only the main tourist attractions.

IMG_2664

IMG_2666

IMG_2679

IMG_2737

After a long drive up, which I had to do by myself as my roommate wasn’t able to drive being under the influence of pain killers for her gallbladder problem, I made it to SF Friday morning, after one night of staying with her at her families place in Fremont. I attended the graduation, which was kind of boring like always, but I was in good company. We had dinner at a place in North Beach, which was really fancy and yummy. We ended the day with some cake at a cute pastries place. I slept in a hostel at Fort Mason, an old military base, which was really nice, as I had a gorgeous view on the Golden Gate Bridge and the sunset from there. I can recommend Hosteling International at Fishermen’s Wharf to everybody, who wants a cheap but good alternative. On Saturday we all together went to Angle Island, doing a tram tour on the island, and from there heading to Alcatraz. I loved the view you had from the boat on Alcatraz, Sausalito and SF. The entire trip took us almost 7 hours, but it was definitely worth it doing the combined tour of Angel island and Alcatraz. We walked around Pier 39, watched the sea lions until my host dad got pooped on, making the decision this was the indicator that it is time to go. We walked back to my hostel, grabbed my suitcase to take it back to my host families hotel where I would stay the second night. We had Ramen for dinner, a special Japanese dish, which I never had before, but was similar to the Vietnamese place I am going to regularly here in LA. As we were all really tired and my host family had to catch an early flight next morning going back to Washington, we ended the day with typical SF ice cream called ‘It’s it’, which is ice cream between two oatmeal cookies, yummy 🙂 Next morning I said goodbye and went to sleep again, as it was only 6:30 in the morning. I loved waking up later having an amazing view over SF out of the rooms window which was located on the 22 floor of the building. As my host family had left I toured SF on my own for a bit, visiting Chinatown, having some clam chowder soup at Fishermen’s Wharf, climbing up the streets to Lombard Street, until finally heading back to Fremont. As my roommate has had surgery for her gallbladder, we could not really do anything expect watching TV until I had a home cooked dinner of chicken, potatoes and salad. On Monday I left early in the morning, driving back alone. I am good with driving for the next couple of days now 😀

IMG_2695

IMG_2696

IMG_2713

IMG_2723

IMG_2725

IMG_2742

I had an awesome Memorial Day weekend, based on a great city and being surrounded by people I love 🙂 Can’t wait to come back to SF and to go to Washington to visit my host family again before going back to Germany.

Untitled-1

Great night with great people

IMG_2614

IMG_2620

IMG_2621

IMG_2623

IMG_2633

IMG_2635

IMG_2625

This Saturday I had a little get-together for my birthday in a restaurant/bar in Santa Monica called Sonoma Wine Garden with a couple of friends. I have never been there before but after looking at pictures of the location and ratings I decided this would be a fun place to go. And it was! The food was good, even though there are definitely better places out there in this price category, but the service was great and every question we had was answered with patience even though it was quite busy. A friend and me got a little wine tasting of 3 different white wines, due to our indecisiveness 😉  I really loved the interior design of the place, all the candles and the wooden parts gave it a cozy feeling, and the redesign of wine bottles as lamps was creative. I had asked for a table outside when making the reservation but they could not assure me to get a table there, and we ended up at a table inside, right in front of a huge window though, which actually was the better outcome, especially for having dinner. The outside looked really cool too, but it is definitely more a place to grab a drink. As it was my birthday, and my friends must have told the waiter when I went to the bathroom, I actually got a full size portion of dessert, with a little candle. The 2nd wish I could make this week 🙂 The best about it, it was a German dish called Kaiserschmarrn, so yummy! So Sonoma Wine Garden is a place I would definitely recommend, especially to grab a drink on a hot summer night, enjoying the outdoor terrace!

After dinner and drinks, we went to walk around for a bit at 3rd street promenade. It was so busy, but I guess this was due to spring break, which makes LA so crowded in general and the hot weather, which makes everybody go outside.

All in all I had a great birthday week, with a relaxing beach and biking day on Thursday (my actual birthday) and a delicious Italian meal with my roommate for dinner, a surprise birthday cake and ice cream on Friday at work, an USC campus tour on early Saturday and the dinner just mentioned, perfectly rounded up with an entire beach day from morning till sunset with friends on Sunday. I simply love being in California, what more is there you can ask for?! 🙂

Untitled-1

Italian Food and Chianti

Yesterday after a bit of indecisiveness about where to go we ended up in an Italien place called C&O Trattoria close to Venice Pier. A really good choice as we would find out later. They have a really nice outdoor patio, with painted walls and a water fountain that made it like as if you are sitting right in the middle of a plaza in Florence or Venice. It is quite noisy but that doesn’t make the experience any worse, it just feels right.  Good memories came back from my last year’s 3 week round trip in Italy starting in Venice, driving through Tuscany and ending in Rome 🙂 We were welcomed by a guy, whose name I didn’t understand, but he explained us all the daily special menu options and asked if we are up for some vino della casa, a Chianti in this case. It was a good choice, even better memories came back 😉 Food wise I went with the “Fettucine Sun Dried tomatoes”. The portion was huge, but really good. I had leftovers for lunch today and some for tomorrow. But this definitely had something to do with the garlic bread knots each table was started with and the free refills every 10 minutes. Bread can be really filling 😉 The only part of the meal which was a bit disappointing was the desert. After having seen many chocolate cakes with a lava filling brought to other tables, my friend decided to get one as well. I was to full, but had a bite and the cake didn’t really taste like anything. The tiramisu a friend had was a bit better, but you could see that it wasn’t homemade, or at least not made with love 😉 What was special about the evening was the singing part. At some point we got some notes and were asked to join in when all the waiters/waitresses started to sing. So the entire patio was filled with people singing…that’s amore. And it truly was a lovely evening 🙂

KGRolls4MenuPg

Bannner-0933-WR_0

The pictures are not taken by me.

 

 

Santa Monica at night

Foto 2

Foto 1

Do you know the feeling when you can’t just sit at home but have the urge to do something?! I felt like this yesterday after work. Unfortunately traffic is crazy around that time, so all the places I had in my mind, where I wanted to go to (Redondo Beach, Rodeo Drive) included about an hour ride based on traffic forecast. Not feeling like sitting for that long in the car, I did a P90X workout, thinking I would get quit of some energy. I did, but the urge to go out was still there. So I spontaneously met with a friend at Urth Caffe in Santa Monica quite late. The ride took me only 9 minutes, this was a true miracle for LA, I wish it would be always like this 😀  After some yummy cappuccino and chocolate tiramisu, I went for a walk to Santa Monica Pier. I haven’t had the chance to take pictures there, as I never had my camera with me when being there.

IMG_2155

IMG_2140

IMG_2175

On my way back I was pulled over by the police for a control concerning alcohol while driving. They pulled over every 10th car or so, but I didn’t realize it first, so this were the scariest 30 seconds for me, wondering what I had done wrong, until it made click. I have to admit I had my mom on speaker, skyping with here, so I believed this was the reason for my pullover, and I was awaiting a huge fine. But the police man was really nice just asking if I have been drinking, which I obviously did not, except for coffee, and asked for my name and where I am from. Everything was over in not even a minute. So being pulled over is another first, which I of course did not have on my list 😉

 

 

Easter Weekend

As I have been to the Grove but never when the Farmers Market was open, my friends and me decided it is about time now on Saturday. I was surprised when I got there because I have imagined something completely different. Not that I was disappointed but in my mind I had pictures markets how they are in Germany. More like being on an open space, with several little stands, offering fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products, flowers and so forth. Here it was more like a labyrinth full off different small restaurants and shops. The variety is great and I am sure there is something for everybody. My French friend wanted to show us the French supermarket, which is there as well. Besides all the extraordinary products you can find there, I was so lucky when I found Lindt chocolate. Of course I had to treat myself with one piece of white chocolate, sooo good. Since I didn’t get any easter baskets this year, this was at least a little compensation 😉 Later we had dinner at a Brazilian barbecue place. They had a buffet from which you could choose, to which you could meat that they freshly grilled. It was yummy 🙂

IMG_2026

IMG_2020

IMG_2024

IMG_2021

IMG_2025

IMG_2029

As the LACMA museum is close by we met with another friend there to walk around for a bit and to end the day with a drink.

IMG_2040

IMG_2041

On Sunday I went to Venice again, but took a walk at the Venice Canals, where I haven’t been before. I loved the surrounding. So many nice houses with beautiful little gardens. Cold Stone ice cream to go, to finish our walk at the Venice pier, before relaxing for a bit at the beach was perfect. How I will miss the combination of grabbing some Cold Stone’s and then relaxing at the beach, while watching the sunset! On Sunday I unfortunately had to leave before sunset but just to be able to enjoy it at the Moonshadows in Malibu. A really nice place, directly at the water, with a really nice view. A little more upscale, especially on this day I would say, as a lot of family’s were apparently celebrating Easter.

IMG_2056

IMG_2065

IMG_2067

IMG_2070

 

l

All in all I had a perfect weekend with many firsts, which is always good as I can mark things off from my must-do list 🙂 The list is getting smaller, but still seems endless as new things are added frequently by me 😉 But this is what I love LA for, endless possibilities 🙂

Dinner time at Larchmont Bungalow

Yesterday I explored the area of Larchmont as a friend had told me it is a nice area with cute restaurants and cafes. A couple of friends and me decided to check out this place cold Larchmont Bungalow as the menu looked really good. It was a really cute place. Really cozy decorated, and the fact that it was an entire old house converted into a Cafe was really charming as well. I had an iced Coffee Latte, as I needed to wake up after work and a Honey Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken Sandwich, which was delicious. After trying a piece of cake from my friend I had to order my own whole piece of Cinnamon-Apple cheesecake as my desert. Definitely something I have to try making at home. 

I have to admit I like places like this 10 times more than all the coffee shop and bakery chains here in the States. I can’t say that I do not love Starbucks but I really prefer more authentic places. I will see what else I can find, while being here 🙂

Sorry for the bad picture quality but my memory card broke right outside of the Cafe when I wanted to take my first picture -.-

IMG_2350

IMG_2353

IMG_2354

IMG_2355

IMG_2356

IMG_2357

Barbecue time

Oh I love barbecues. They are so much fun. It is a perfect way of getting together with friends, enjoying the nice weather, good talks and yummy food. Luckily I not only had my first barbecue of this year on Sunday, but a follow up yesterday for a birthday of a friend.

But let’s start with Sunday. As the weather forecast was really good we decided to do a beach day, and why not combining it with a nice barbecue at the beach?! There are several fire pits at Dockweiler State Beach, which make a barbecue at the beach possible. We had chicken, marinated in a coconut-lime sauce, beef, and my homemade German-potato salad. Really yummy! For desert we had smores, a typical American dish, including Marshmallows you roast over the fire and then make a sandwich out of it with crackers and chocolate. I liked the combination of chocolate and crackers, but Marshmallows are just not my thing. We played ping-pong and other card games. After a lost round of rock-paper-scissors, I took my first dip into the Pacific Ocean while being in California. I didn’t want to get my hair wet, what didn’t quite work out as a huge wave rolled over me from behind, when I was smiling at my friends, feeling victorious, after I finally made it into the water with my entire body. They could have warned me 😉 We enjoyed the sunset and then headed home as it still gets quite cold once the sun is down. We had a nice day, definitely a must-do again, as combining the beach with a barbecue is just perfect!

IMG_1810

IMG_1815_2

IMG_1822

IMG_1824

On Wednesday it was one of our friends birthday. Luckily we could make use of the garden, porch and an electric barbecue of one of my friends landlady, as she was out of town. We decided to make burgers and roast corn. The corn was really sweet and yummy and so was the burger. My roommate brought pastries from the bakery she works in and we had a birthday brownie and cake as well. Afterwards I couldn’t move as so many times before, as I simply ate to much, but what to do if there is so much good stuff around you 😉 The highlight was our self made mojito, finally a good one 🙂

What is so great about California definitely is the weather again because it allows you to have a barbecue whenever you want. In Germany we have to wait a long time until you can really enjoy staying outside until late at night. So here again goes my vow to California and why I love it 🙂

IMG_1840

IMG_1841

IMG_1847

IMG_1857

IMG_1860

Have you had your Ben & Jerry’s?

unnamed

Thanks to a good friend from Virginia, who unintentionally reminded me of Ben & Jerry’s national free cone day 🙂 Without her I would have had no clue, but luckily I found out about it around 6pm, so that I rushed to Main Street in Santa Monica to meet up with a friend, to enjoy a free cone of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. The line was quite long but the store seemed to be well prepared and even 45 minutes before closing there was enough ice-cream for everyone. I guess yesterday was the day with the highest ice cream consumption among Americans throughout the entire year. Wouldn’t this be an interesting study, figuring out what an influence on consumer behavior it can have when we get something for free 😉 No matter if free or not I haven’t had Ben & Jerry’s in so long, so I really enjoyed my coconut seven layer bar ice-cream, while walking along Santa Monica Beach 🙂

Have you had your free cone? If not, oh well, one more year and you get it for free again 😉