I’m sorry. I disappeared for a week – off to California to visit my beloved sons, Mitchell and Daniel, and my sweet grand-puppy, Lyla. I thought I would have time to post while I was there but I got caught up in the whirl of my sons’ busy lives, swept away by the ocean breeze and ensconced in doing nurturing things I love to do when I am with them … like tidying the kitchen, sweeping floors, doing laundry, rubbing Lyla’s tummy and … eating.
Eating! When one is a foodie it is such joy to be amongst others of like mind, and my sons are well trained in the art of joyful eating. Everything we do, everywhere we go is relative to what and where we eat … for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And did we have some terrific food! Lamb belly and homemade pasta at Red Hill in Echo Park, Scotch eggs and smoked salmon at The Morrison in LA, steak tartar and escargot at Café Stella on Sunset Boulevard. Magnificent!
Even the smoothies and donuts at a little shop in Pomona, where Dan is attending school, were super delicious … but maybe that experience was particularly delighful because the smoothie girl swooned over Dan’s blue eyes and curly locks, and nigh on to professed her love (or lust) for him amidst the long johns and jelly donuts.
But the most amazing food experience of the trip was a surprise find on the way home from an afternoon on the beach in Malibu. Dan and I went through the Topanga Canyon to the beach– a gorgeous drive of winding roads, palatial homes and cute roadside shops and restaurants. On the way home we decided to explore another route, taking Kanan Dume Road inland and hoping to find the same charm, along with a restaurant or two to choose from for a late lunch.
Kanan Dume turned out to be a four-lane highway that runs through large groves and wine properties. No quaint shops or restaurants to be found. We were disappointed because our tummies were growling – Dan had burned off about a thousand calories surfing and I had burned calories just watching him – so when we saw a single sign saying “Café, next left” we took it. Five minutes down the road we came upon the Calamigos Ranch and its Malibu Café.
We were a tiny bit put off by the $6 parking fee but too hungry to grumble much. We walked a forested gravel path to an outdoor hostess station made of wood planks, then lead further into a magical, grassy opening amongst the trees. The hostess offered us the option to sit in the white table-clothed, wood-decked area by the bar … or at one of the red-cushioned café tables on the grass, as long as we didn’t mind the resident ducks visiting us. Animal lovers that we are (and having raised a duck of our own), of course Dan and I chose the grassed area.
There, under a red umbrella, me with a chilled glass of delicious rosé wine, Dan with an ice-cold bottle of beer, we took in the delightful surroundings – wooden Adirondack chairs for snoozing in the sun, a shuffleboard table, a waterfall and pond, all on an acre or so of mint green grass. Within minutes three ducks quacked and waddled their way to us for inspection … and maybe the promise of a scrap or two of our food …
Oh yes, our food! We shared a grilled artichoke with herb and lemon aioli and brisket tacos topped with achiote, pickled red onions, cilantro and pico de gallo.
The artichoke was meaty and deeply flavorful. I am sure I tasted tarragon … and lavender … on those leaves. I asked the server if the chef marinated the artichokes before grilling. She coyly said, “yes” but no more. My food instincts tell me there was Herbs de Provence involved. I’m going to try it. So I’ll let you know.
Four large brisket tacos arrived on the plate. The meat was tasty and tender; the condiments piled high – a really delicious combination of flavors. One taco plus a bite of another was plenty for me. Dan was well satisfied with the rest.
I couldn’t have been happier. One of my favorite people on the planet was next to me sharing this quiet, natural environment, the sound of the waterfall making its music, ducks by my feet chorusing their soft, gravelly quacks, the sun warming our faces, good food filling our tummies.
I said to my son, “Dan, these are the moments I live for.”
And I meant it. That place, that food, that time with my son was a delightful surprise. All of my senses engaged. All of my life’s joys converged for a moment. And the best part of all of it is that I had the wherewithal to be “aware” of it, take it in and be fully present to it.
Food and experience are a powerful combination for making amazing memories. I have many of them – treasures of experiences that are close to my heart. I am certain you do, too. If you have one you are willing to share, I’m listening.
Eat well. Be happy.