Wednesday, October 22, 2014

LA and The World in a Stew Over Renee Zellwegger


People are freaking out EVERYWHERE that Renee Zellweger "doesn't look like herself." Everyone from plumbers to producers are sharing an outcry but the thing is, try watching a movie where a woman over the age of thirty-five-something is hired (that's the first miraculous thing) and doesn't look perfect (miraculous thing #2). Is she the lead? Huh. Wow. The Trifecta.

Then examine the cast of that movie. What do the men look like? Do they have "sexy" crow's feet? A big fat belly? How old are they? Is there an older man sleeping with a younger woman? There is? I'm so shocked.

I'm traveling and just watched "Chef" on the plane. I really like this movie. It has heart and soul. The portrayal of the young boy and the difficulty of dealing with his dad who's divorced from his mom was basically realistic. Basically. But I digress. Jon Favreau was very charming. Funny, smart, imperfect in some of his decisions. Oh, and one more thing: Jon Favreau was maybe 50-60 pounds overweight, was having sex with Scarlett Johannson, and then (*spoiler alert*) gets back together with his ex-wife, played by Sofia Vegara. Now I'm totally fine with it. No problem by me. Write the movie you want to write, cast it as you want to cast it. Entertaining. Really. I like those ladies. Everyone was good in the film. I'm happy as a clam.
Now...what if we reverse these roles, just as an experiment. The lead in a funny, well-done script, well-cast film, is an overweight woman? Not under 40. She's sleeping with Channing Tatum. Oh, and she's going to (*spoiler alert*) get back together with her ex, played by Adam Driver? Or okay, maybe he's slightly too young. We'll cast Ashton Kutcher. How about that movie? Oh, right. It doesn't really exist does it?

Yeah.

I guess I just needed to stick up for Renee. I don't know this woman. I can't say she wasn't beat out for a bunch of roles the past several years based on more than her looks. I know nothing about her career, really. What I do know is very few of us personally know the truth either. Nor do any one of us know what she's been through and reacted to or dealt with leading her to make the choices she's made. To not give her a fair shake, man, just seems cold and mean. Really cold and mean.

Off the top of my head, some actresses 45 and over working are: Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Annette Bening, Angelica Huston, Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon and Frances McDormand.

Most of these women were particularly beautiful as younger women. I mean drop-dead, other-worldly hot. Think about Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer, Jessica Lange in Frances, Annette Bening in Bugsy, Helen Mirren in anything, Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham.
And they had it all in terms of being uber talented, stunningly beautiful, sexy as all get out, and a few even could age without a bunch of breast-ups and needles to the face and veins.

I am not sure, no I'm pretty sure we just can't, we DON'T look at the men the same way.

So you know, if you have better things to do then put down Renee Zellweger, God bless you. If not, and you're on the bandwagon with those putting down Renee Zellweger or dressing it up as feeling sorry for her, then think about the decisions made in not just Hollywood but in society. Think about the pressures on women regarding ageism, the demand women be flawless in beauty, and the insistence they make little to no mistakes with their career. If you're willing to apply these same rules to men, that would be one thing. If not, then maybe, and I say it with love, shut the fuck up.

p.s. I'll get back to writing about cool LA things but I had my panties in a bunch so you know, there you go.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Self-Care in The City of Angels

The other day I had a bit of a blow up, meltdown, implosion. It sucked. Lying in bed crying is a great thing to do when you're miserable... FOR A LITTLE WHILE... but it's nothing to make a habit of, especially when you live in one of the best cities in the world for those in need to recover from feeling rejected.
Peg Entwhistle
Unless I'm wrong, poor Peg Entwhistle was the first actress to take a leap off The Hollywood Sign. I'm not going to say if she went to Whole Foods, meditated at The Vedanta Temple and got a massage from Nikom at The Raven things would have been different...

But really, a little self-care goes a long way in a city that thrives on chewing you up and spitting you out.
Sometimes Hollywood feels downright depressing
Because as a writer, actress, director, musician -- you have to know rejection is a part of it. And you do develop a thick skin but that skin has to be immersed and infused with oils, scrubbed down with salts, moisturized with Nightingale poop, plumped up with fillers and kissed all over by the force of the universe to be fully appreciated no matter what, in order to deal with all that is putting its grubby little hands over it.

Yep, sounds like someone had a bad day. So my first stop in trying to feel better -- oh wait, my first stop was a cheeseburger at The Oaks Gourmet in Hollywood.

My little friend, Nancy, met me there. I didn't take any pictures. You wouldn't want to see what I did to this burger or what I looked like in this moment in time. Oh, the best is I say to the incredibly handsome guy at the checkout register (everyone there is incredibly handsome or super-chick-hot -- I kind of think it's a pre-req to getting a gig there) that I'd like a burger, medium rare, no this or that, etc. etc. And then I go, "You know what? I'm emotionally eating. Can I have the Greek Salad as well?" Their Greek Salad is SO good. It has mint and is light and not too onion-y and tastes fresh - really fresh. Like the tomatoes are tomatoes I'd choose. Anyway, he goes, "So, not the burger, just the salad?" And I go "No, I said, I'm emotionally eating. So both. Thank you!" He was too hot and skinny to have any idea what I meant but smiled like the good young optimistic sport he was.
Kirsten Dunst at The Oaks Gourmet (kind of like me & Nancy)
Nancy's like my trudging bud. She knows my pain. She ALWAYS makes me laugh. And if every day I could meet her at The Oaks and eat a burger, one of the best in Hollywood, that would be heaven. No, come on. That would be disgusting. I'd have a major cholesterol problem. Okay. Moving on.

I went home, cried and lied around and listened to my meditation mp3. It's this woman, Micaela Boehm from Vienna (I decided that. I don't actually know where she's from). She's a hypnotist I saw years ago and I still listen to the recording she made for me.  I put on my eye mask, lie down, and press play. She goes So now to begin with I want you to make yourself very comfortable. And just allow your body to sink down, into the soft service, adjusting your body so that you can rest for a few moments, allowing your body to... rest... your mind to drift aimlessly... effortlessly... drifting from thought to thought... while your body begins to sink down... feeling all the stress and tension of your day... and letting yourself sink down... unwind...slow now...as you... drift...float...flow... I don't know what else she says because I immediately fall asleep every time.

Then two of my closest friends checked in. I was "called to action" and met up with Else & Stephanie who let me cry like a colicky baby and got me to laugh at myself.
My Real Housewives Companions, Else & Stephanie
These are the guys I can say the straight dope to and they're kind enough to remind me I'm not always such a downer. They're pretty awesome and I started to feel like people did like me and my Stuart Smalley self was gonna be okay.
Doggone it, people like me!
But the next morning when I woke up, with swollen eyelids, I was kind of like, Wow, people don't like me.

I knew I could just feel sorry for myself for endless pointless hours or I could get into action. Trust me, feeling sorry for myself can be like a super ugly default and a job unto itself. But I chose to do otherwise. First stop?

Meditation at the Vedanta Temple in The Hollywood Hills.
The Vedanta Society of Southern California
This is SUCH an unassuming place. It's tucked away on this teensy street right above Hollywood, off of Vine. It's located in one of the oldest, smallest, and most charming enclaves of LA, The Hollywood Dell, where all the houses look like craftsman cabins where magical elves live.
I forgot to get good pictures of this area so here's someone's garage across from The Temple
So peaceful, unpopulated, beautiful, mellow. I went into the temple, pulled up a cushion, and started to meditate. It felt good. I was at ease. I felt so peaceful and quiet.

And then this lady walked in. 
Wasn't sure if it would be frowned upon to take pictures but sometimes being subversive makes me feel better.
She kept moving around. I don't know why. I was trying to think of nothing but sometimes would slightly open my left eyelid to peek over and make sure she wasn't doing something weird. She wasn't. She was just fidgety. I was like that on a plane once to Barcelona. I was sharing a bunch of seats with some woman and I couldn't get comfortable and I kept moving around and she goes, Settle down! and I was like paralyzed for the rest of the flight and didn't sleep one wink. I didn't say sharply Settle down! to this fidgety lady in the temple. I like to think of myself as evolved and she left before my meditation time was up. Oh, that was the other thing. I set my timer on my phone to meditate. Then when she came in, I felt completely like I should turn it off and couldn't stop obsessing over that. I was so relieved when she left. If that lady is reading this, Thank you, Lady!
Hug a tree at The Vedanta Center in Hollywood
Afterwards, I had to go to the dentist. Let's not get into that shit, although I will say, I have the best dentist EVER and he's super nice and travels all over the world and takes incredible pictures. If you need a dentist, look up Dr. Kurtz in Glendale. He rocks (and he likes rocks).

Then off to Whole Foods. My friend, Dina, who is an integrative nutritionist and has a company called Well Is Good reminded me that good food makes me feel better. She's ALWAYS right and besides, I wanted to spend money but spend it productively in a safe atmosphere. So I went to adult Disneyland, otherwise known as Whole Foods, The Happiest Place on Earth (including Bed, Bath & Beyond).
Whole Foods on Arroyo Parkway
Either you hate or love Whole Foods. I get it. I've been there. But right now, I wish I lived in this place. And the one on Arroyo Parkway, which is like award winning and everyone knows it's super nice, is filled with magic beans and good vibes. I mean look at this guy...
Pat, The Sandwich King
I am not kidding. This kid is like a freakin genius. He knows sandwiches and I'm a sandwich maven/snob. If you're at Whole Foods and need a sammy, I pray for you that Pat's working. That's all I can say.

And this lady? I live for this lady. She is SO nice to me. Every time. I will wait in line so I can see her. She always has a nice thing to say and anyway, she's like one of those people that reminds me people are good and nice and nothing really matters. And she always has a nice extra touch, like super fantastic earrings. She's like Flor at Von's in Eagle Rock who usually has a flower in her hair and Dorothy at Gelson's in Hollywood who ALWAYS remembers you.






But Whole Foods, there's just something special about really good food.
Just found out the Salmon is on sale this Friday for $8.99 per lb.
I don't drink and I don't smoke.

Food is what I got. So trust me, I am going to make the most of it.
Save a cow, eat a pumpkin!
And as good as all that was, no journey towards feeling better about yourself is complete, in my humble opinion, without a massage. LA has a billion choices from excellent super cheap (like Pho Siam on the edge of downtown) to uber dripping in indulgence shmance (like The Spa in Beverly Hills at The Four Seasons). For me though, when I'm really in need, when I don't want to compromise, but I can't justify spending a car payment (or worse) on a massage, I go visit Nikom at The Raven in Silverlake: My all-time favorite massage maybe on the planet.
This guy is a master.  A true master. The guy who owns the place, Barry, took extra care when he hired his staff. Some people are just healers and Nikom is one of those men. I got The Custom (where you discuss what ails you and the masseuse tailors his/her massage to fit your needs). I scheduled an hour, which is $100.00. Now that's not the most expensive massage you'll get but it's not really cheap either. I was splurging. I was going all out. And I'm SO glad I did. Because I noticed he was going over an hour. I was surprised. Now I had called just an hour before to schedule this and might have miscommunicated how long I wanted my massage. That's what I thought had happened until I went to the receptionist to settle up. She said he went over because he felt I needed it! Can you imagine? They still charged me $100.00 but he was generous because HE IS A HEALER!

But first, let me tell you, you walk in and it's like you're suddenly in Bali or something.
And the whole place reeks of sage, and I love this smell. I know to some people it's pot-adjacent but I love love love...
Native Sage, 10 bucks, at The Raven in Silverlake
It's the whole place that heals you. Every little thing...
Massage Beds at The Raven
The Main Area
Inside my massage room
You know, I can't remember how I first came across Nikom. Was it through my friend, Amanda, or did we both find him around the same time? I can't remember. All I know is when the going gets tough, the tough, battered, bruised, sad and emo -- if they're smart -- go to Nikom.

And that's it! That's what it took to feel okay, ready to take on the world, cease the self-pity party. I should say, that's what it took this time. Trust me, I have a lot in my quiver to nurse a bruised ego. Because I live here. I like it here. I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to keep trying, persevering and I have to know that rolling with the punches requires some extra TLC.

But man, I wish I had chosen some profession in the self-care industry instead of wanting to be a writer.

I would be really rich right now, right?

The Vedanta Society (Hollywood Temple) which also offers classes, lectures, meditations and private meetings with their head swami is located at 1946 Vedanta Place, Hollywood, CA 90068. It's open from 6 AM to 7 PM Every Day.  Park on Vine for free but always check the signs.

My favorite Whole Foods is at 465 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105. Parking underneath the market.

The Raven Spa of Silverlake is located at 2910 Rowena Avenue, Silverlake, CA 90039. 323.644.0240. Street Parking Available. Always feed your meter extra since you want to relax after! They also have a yoga studio you should check out. In addition, they have a Raven in Santa Monica (I don't know it that well) as well as El Leon in WeHo which I haven't visited for a long time but when I did I absolutely LOVED it.

Enjoy!





Friday, October 10, 2014

Highland Park's Elsa's Bakery LOVE

One good thing about moving into a new neighborhood is when you finally find that place that makes you feel at ease, taken care of, maybe even a little bit nurtured.

Elsa's Bakery during the Highland Park Art Walk
That place for me is Elsa's Bakery. Elsa's is beyond cheerful; small, intimate, and they remember you. I'm the Norm, they're the Sam and Woody. But they don't tease me. They treat me (and everyone else) like royalty.



Inside are tons of classic Mexican baked goods. It's their specialty. They're famous for their sweet bread (not organs) both Vanilla and Chocolate...
Pan Dulce
Delicious and fresh breakfast pastries...


And they have a rockin breakfast. My favorite thus far is the Desayuno Chapin described as a Traditional Guatemalan breakfast: scrambled eggs with tomato and onions, black beans, plaintains, cream and cheese.
My favorite breakfast: the Traditional Guatamalen
Everything is fresh, even the tortillas...
Handmade Tortillas at Elsa's
And they have two for one tacos on Wednesday nights. That's two delicious tacos for $2.50.

But my absolute favorite thing in the whole wide world - the thing that turned it all around for me was:
Frida's Mocha with Polborones
To me, Frida's Mocha is one of the best, calmest coffee drinks ever. And yet it's still strong enough to give you the goose. Spicy, cinnamon-y, perfecto. It was adapted, maybe perfectly, from Frida Kahlo's very own Mocha drink which she had most mornings in her Mexico City home, La Casa Azul, located in Coyoacan. The owners brought the recipe back with them. She might have had it to counterbalance the alcohol and cigs from the night before.
That's my girl
I have it because it's delicious. And let's face it, I think of her every time.

This place is the real deal. In fact they found their chef who's from Puebla, Rosario, who will spend 14 hours making mole so that it's right. Those cookies you saw? Simple, satisfying, not too sweet but man, a hockey puck of goodness, those are Mexican Wedding Cookies and they're FIFTY CENTS A POP. Perfect with a Frida's Mocha.

If you're going, give me a call. I'm probably already there. In fact I'm here right now, typing this, and am supposed to be somewhere else.

That's how much I love this place.

Elsa's Bakery (Pan y Cafe) is at 5102 York Blvd., Highland Park, CA 90042. Tel. is: 323.256.9455. They serve breakfast and Lunch Monday thru Saturday from 7:00am to 2:30pm but most nights they're open 'til 10. Street parking. Always check the meters.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hello from the Writer's Chair

Dear Opine Reader,

I'm sorry I've not posted in so long! It's all because of a good thing: I'm working on a special script; something I really love. Always a scary place for a writer to be because it's like the boyfriend who is perfect for you and yes, you're sure he's completely flawed but you don't really know how and you certainly don't want to know how just yet because it's been so long since you've been so in love. Yes he could have bad breath and a barely functional car and yet, every little thing about him is delicious, funny, smart, nice -- every little thing is magic. You think of him constantly. You can't wait to see him again. And yet you still haven't introduced him to your friends. Why? You just want a little bit longer for the perfection to live on. The love feelings. The pink cloud. 

I'm never going to break up with this script, but I have a feeling the honeymoon phase is nearing an end. My script has recently met my friends, they have pointed out his flaws, and now because my script is not a person, it's time to change my script so he's as perfect as he can be. Yes, I can change him.

And I do live in Hollywood, someone has to pay for the dog food, and my script must eventually, perfect or not, roam free and find his fans. I can't clutch onto him forever, right? 

It takes a buttload of security to let your script out into the wild like that. Something about my script tells me, I'll be fine no matter what.

And when that day happens, and it will be soon, I'll be back to the blog; my palette cleanser. The blog allows me to write, be myself, without pay, expectation or the need for approbation. Thus far I've received little to no harsh criticism and while I've never said don't disagree with me or point out an error, it's been kind of nice to write in such an easy, breezy atmosphere. I thought maybe no one's reading it - that's why no criticism. But in fact, close to 22,000 people have visited the blog to date and really, that's very cool. It makes me feel so connected and heard by a large world in a very kind way.

But most of all I love my blog because really, it's just a forum to share all that I love about LA and encourages me to go out into the world when I don't have a script I'm in love with. When that's the case, I'm seriously inclined not to leave the house, I fall into a depression, any cheese laying around has a very short shelf life. It's my understanding that at these times it could be a temptation for my loved ones to call the authorities. There are no selfies taken.

So! I promise to get back to this. Many posts are in the hopper:  I went to the Art Walk with my dear friend, Max, in Highland Park, The Rose Bowl Flea Market with Max and Terry - a great time albeit ridiculously hot, and I have a special date planned with a certain little Italian Cannoli named Alice (read her blog, it's da'bomb) for my next food piece focusing on Guisados. Oh, and Elsa's Bakery in Highland Park is coming up as well. Oh my God, it is AMAZING. One of my favorite places in the world. As is Mush in Silverlake - a great store and one I can't wait to photograph.

As for now, I want to write more but I have to get back to this script stuff because I miss him, he me, and I really need to focus on that relationship. 

But like I said, there will be a bursting forth of posts. I do still exist here. And for all of you who keep coming back to look at my other posts, THANK YOU! Especially the visitors from around the world who have gone to the  piece(s) about how to find The Hollywood Sign. It makes me so happy to think I may have helped people find what they were looking for. To date, those two How To Find The Hollywood Sign Posts are by far my most popular. Please feel free to share the word that these are the best directions (at least I think they are) to The Hollywood Sign ever.

Oops, that might encourage some criticism. Oh well!

xoxo,

The Writer in The Chair


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Two Things Worth Doing This Weekend - Ramen and Tacos

Just a quick how do you do to tell you two fun things going on in case you're looking for a good time. Both having to do with food. Of course.

First of all, if you like tacos, and if you don't, I don't know you, you might want to check out The LA Taco Festival happening today in Boyle Heights.
To benefit homeless youth, there'll be mariachi music, art, community outreach and TACOS. That's from 2-8pm, at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. It's Cash Only at the door. And you can take the Metro to get there.

Another option - this one happening today and tomorrow in Little Tokyo as a part of Nisei Week is a Ramen Festival.

Honestly, the last time I ate Ramen I think I was in high school, but earlier this week my cute friend, Heather, called and I never heard her so excited. She not only found out about this festival but learned there'll be a gluten-free Ramen option. I mean don't panic, there'll be a lot of gluten there for "normal" people, but there will be an option for those who can't eat the gluten and yet crave the ramen.

The idea that if they have so many options they actually have gluten-free Ramen leads me to believe there'll be A LOT of choices. So with an icepack around my neck to keep me cool, I am very willing to eat hot soup on an August day.
Because that's the kind of friend I am to the Gluten-Challenged.

Hope to see you there!

The 4th Annual LA Taco Festival is happening today from 2-8pm. All You Can Eat passes are sold out but you can still buy (as long as supplies last) tix as follows: $4.00 will get you 1 taco, $10.00 will get you 3, and for $20.00 you get your 8 tacos. It's Cash Only at the Door. Click HERE for more information on Metro & Parking.

The Ramen Yokocho Fest is happening today from 11-11 and Sunday from 11 to 9. There'll be 9 Ramen shops, count 'em, 9,  dishing out ramen from all over (Sacramento to Las Vegas to Japan), DJ's, contests, including a gyoza eating contest (yum). It's taking place at 160 North Central Ave., in Downtown LA. If you're driving, try parking at 101 Judge John Aiso Street, LA, CA 90012. If you're going by Metro it's just a 3 minute walk from the Little Tokyo District Arts Station on The Gold Line. The Admission Price is $5 and the price for a bowl of Ramen is $8, flat. Children 6 and under go in free.

Enjoy! (how can you not?)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Weekend Getaway - San Clemente


"People love the beautiful things." This from the founder of San Clemente, Ole Hanson. You heard me, Ole Hanson. I just love that name so much. You can't help but put on an old-timey voice on if you go to the San Clemente Ralphs because Ole Hanson first used it as a stable and then he opened up that same location as The Hotel For Sick People (aka a hospital). Now it's...
The San Clemente Ralphs, once The Hotel For Sick People
Ole Hanson started the town of San Clemente in the 20's. It was to be a Spanish City by the Sea. And it is. It's far enough from both nearby cities (San Diego and Los Angeles) to feel you've gotten away. And dude, I needed to get away.  
Me Feeling the Rut of Home
Of course I love living in LA. I absolutely do. But if you don't go away once in awhile you have NO perspective on where you live. Someone important said that. 

Me.
Me on Vacation is a Happy Me
San Clemente is really known as a surfer town and home to Camp Pendleton Marine Base. My friend Max's, Dad, was based here in the 60's where he learned to surf before being shipped off to Vietnam. He got his board from Hobie who had one of the first surfboard shops in the country right in Dana Point, which is the town just above San Clemente.
Surfing Family waiting to park at San Onofre
My husband likes to surf and I like to sit on the beach and do nothing so this seemed like a good place for us to go. And he already knew San Clemente. It's the town right above San Onofre where all good surfers (he is one) make a pilgrimage.
Surfers at San Onofre
But the waves were rather flat the weekend we were there so we didn't really partake too much.
Terry making a Dribble Castle
We did though swim in the water. It called to us. San Clemente has one of the nicest, most mellow and fun beaches in SoCal. I had no idea of course. And it's not hard to park there. I fear parking at beaches like nobody's business. It just sounds hard ALWAYS. Of course if you go to San Clemente and want to be very close then you should bring tons of quarters: it's 10 minutes per quarter. We on the other hand found a sweet parking place TWO DAYS IN A ROW right on the street. Parked for FREE whu-what? Two days in a row? Yep. Also the beach bathroom is clean (this from a girl who HATES HATES HATES public bathrooms) and the water is niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

Frankly, it really doesn't take much to make me happy. That's another way of saying money's tight. So why then, might you ask, would I choose a beach town at high season? Because I like to research and find the least expensive way to be happy. Presenting...
Happy: The Patriots' Boutique Motel
I did not take that picture. I found it on the internet. But you get the idea. The Patriots' Boutique Motel is a pretty plain place. In fact my husband thought they should go to a Hotel/Motel Art Fair and buy some more pictures. But in reality, neither of us could care less. The most important thing - and I mean like ESSENTIAL - was the bed was comfortable. And I mean it was outrageously comfortable. Like we didn't want to leave this super plain room because we loved the plain bed so damn much. 
Who needs art?
All I need are some tasty waves, a television set and a comfortable bed and I'm fine. (also the room was super clean and $150.00 per night which included tax and whatever other fees there were. The price was right).
As for the town itself, there are two main strips: El Camino Real and Avenida Del Mar. I'm not going to lie, it's okay. It's a mixture of Radio Shacks and Subways with cute boutique stores, restaurants and surf shops. Stand-outs include Reclamation, a lovely and beautiful shop that showcases reclaimed wood and bottles used to make one-of-a-kind furnishings and art, one very delicious olive oil store, a store about mermaids, the famed Ralphs, and a sex shop, ConRev, smack dab in the  middle of El Camino Real. The girls that work there are really friendly and look you straight in the eye; they don't want you to feel shy. So don't go there if you think you can disappear. You can't.

As for the food, hmmm. Listen, this isn't the foodie capital of the world. San Clemente is a pretty straight-foward place. That being said, here are some highlights:

The Original Banzai Bowl located right on El Camino Real is a fruit, smoothie, juice place and also a hang-out for teens. I loved the interior. And concluded it's a good place to drop in if you want something refreshing:
For breakfast: My favorite place was Zebra's at 1001 South El Camino Real - which also was like a five minute walk from the motel. You walk to the left, past The Bagel Shack (which looked good and thatched), the famous Ralphs Hospital, and then you hit Zebra's. 
The guy who owns it has the best beard I've ever seen in my life. The girl who works the counter has one side of her hair in blue WHICH matches her blue vintage car. The muffins are fresh-baked every morning with fresh fruit in them. Delicious! And their coffee hit the spot. You can trust that I know a decent cup of joe. I'm a major coffee snob, there are a million references about this on this blog, so if I say the coffee is good, it's an end-of-discussion moment. Also they play Bread and Three Dog Night and America and you gotta love a place that plays soft hits from the 70's.
The other stand-out for coffee was in Dana Point, just north of San Clemente. I have no pictures or cutesie stories about JC Beans but again, the coffee was tasty, it was a fast drive from our hotel, and I forgot my wallet and the girl told me that it was okay. No Problem. Just pay me next time.

I like beach people.

Lunch? I don't got nothin to say about that but for dinner, if you're smart, you will not listen to the locals and you'll listen to me. Avenida Del Mar is where all the main restaurants are. And nail shops (yep, we got a pedi at one of the two Minghee's)... 
Terry's first pedi
But back to food. Everyone recommended we go to this one place that shall remain nameless. Here is the place that I want you to try:  Village Mediterranean Rim. It's a Moroccan-y, meaty, Mediterranean-y place with so many choices for Tagines it's unbelievable. (Tagines are slow-cooked meat & veggie stews though I think at Village Med in addition to their meat one-pots there is also a straight-up veggie option). The food is fresh and delicious, stew-y and comforting. Though not all of it is tagined - they also offer entrees like Chermoula Encrusted Salmon ($27) and Braised Leg of Elk ($25). It's romantic, open-air, the service is a little slower than you'd like but you're on vacation so who cares? The owner was born in Damascus, trained in Italy and spent time in Morocco. And Brentwood where he had a successful bunch of restaurants. Now he's here, has been for awhile. He likes all of the freshest ingredients, has good taste and a good eye -- in other words, the ambiance is lovely. So for a romantic, delicious dinner, this is a safe bet. And for what it's worth I highly highly highly recommend the Lamb Meatloaf Tagine served with cous cous. Yumtastic. Tender, tasty, filling, original.

That being said, I cannot lie. My favorite meal was a Noosa Raspberry Yogurt mixed with some salty almonds that I got at Ralph's.
Because you don't really come here to eat. At least that's how I now see it. Truthfully, before we went I'm not sure what I expected or wanted out of our weekend away but what I got was one of my favorite visits to a beach in a long-ass time.
This girl was so excited to be buried in sand. I swear, she was the most adorable thing on the planet
Nothing much beats zinc'ing up your body with sun block (might I recommend Sun Bum Zinc Oxide 50 which we picked up at Hobie's on Camino Real and it was perfect) and chilling out on the sand with a fantastic book. 
This book is so good - addictive.
There were families everywhere, couples frolicking in the waves (yep, including us), kids on boogie boards, adults on boogie boards, surfers, sunbathers, joggers - it was like that scene from "Jaws" minus the shark business.

What a grand way to get out of town and less than two hours away (even less if you download Waze). So worth the drive. And so worth downloading Waze! If you haven't done so, chop chop!
Pedi + Beach = Happy
Directions: While it's just over 60 miles south of LA, San Clemente can easily inch into a mega slow drive. Normally you'd take the 5 from LA there and back. That being said, check out Waze. We did so much circuitous stuff I couldn't possibly repeat it but all I know is we loved how fast our route was. On a Friday, when we left at 3pm we got there at 5. That's pretty amazing considering that should've been the worst traffic on the planet. Do though be careful. If you go the weird Waze way you may end up on Tollroads. Those fees have to be paid relatively quickly. To find out how paying for The TollRoads works, click HERE
Ralphs is at 903 South El Camino Real
Hobie's Surf Shop in San Clemente for Men is 100 South El Camino Real and for Women is at 151 Avenida Del Mar.
Info for The Beach at San Onofre
Info for The Beach at San Clemente
The Patriots' Boutique Motel is located within walking distance of the beach (and the owner even offered to drive us there. LOVE beach people!). Right now a Double during weekdays goes for $109, on the weekends it goes for $139 (not including tax and fees). Obviously this is subject to change. Book through their website for the best deal. They welcome dogs! 711 South El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672. 949-218-6348.
Reclamation is at 105 Avenida Del Mar. 949-545-6400. They offer shipping.
The Olive Oil Store is actually called Oliver's Olive Oil. It's at 211 Avenida Del Mar. They offer shipping.
ConRev is at 401 South El Camino Real. It's right next to a Subway. I didn't see this location listed on their website so I included the link to their Yelp page.
Minghee's is at 132 Avenida Del Mar. Walk In's welcome.
The Original Banzai Bowl is at 120 South El Camino Real. 
Zebra House Coffee is at 1001 South El Camino Real.
JC Beans is at 34114 Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point. 
Village Mediterranean Rim is located at 123 Avenida del Mar. They do take reservations. 949-361-8970. Casual but nice attire.

Enjoy!