I knew we were getting closer when I saw this…
Yes, welcome to Los Angeles, my home for so many years. I love and loathe it as so many others do. The weather is next to perfect, the people are a creative and engaged bunch, and yet, there are those superficial ones who always have an agenda, calling when they think you may be their entrée into an exclusive circle. There are those earthquakes that I have never become so accustom to as to be blasé about them, and the traffic…that blasted traffic.
Southern California used to feel like home to me, but ever since my mother died and my father moved out of state, it rarely does. It is true, home is where the heart is and as many wonderful friends that I still have in LA, my heart resides in a location that is a moving target as my husband and I have grown children, pets and family in various locations, so wherever they and we are is where we are at home.
Having said this, there was one of those rare moments on this trip in LA when I was “home” in a very meaningful way. Over a lovely al fresco lunch, I was reminded of the weight that some relationships carry my life.
I spent a few hours with the magical friend of my mother’s who often cared for me when my mother was unable to and who means more to me than there are words to describe. She introduced me to her English countryside and London, making Seville orange marmalade in her kitchen on Anita Drive and a love that only those who know her could truly understand. When I left her home I had tears in my eyes. It was important to see her and to know that she is well, to share with her the love that I had found and to show her that indeed, life has given me a long-awaited moment to breathe.
We drove through LA to get to Newport Beach where we spent a few days. Sunny, beautiful, perpetually seventy degrees, palm trees swaying in the breeze and tanned toned bodies cruising the boardwalks and beaches, it’s not the beach town of my childhood, but I still love it there.
We met this little girl, the newest member of the family. A sweet rescue pup who was just adopted. And yes, we did find her reclining on the kitchen table…a little training is in order but who could get mad at a face like hers?
Bike rides across the ferry from Balboa Island to the beaches of Balboa and Newport where we caught the setting sun while watching the surfers ride the waves at the infamous Wedge.
Eventually we needed to think about getting home to our kids (the furry ones). We turned the car towards Arizona for an overnight visit with my father and step-mother (who made us a killer lasagna) and then onto Santa Fe.
Santa Fe speaks to me. The art, food and history are right up the alley that I find so fascinating.
We arrived as a band was playing to the dancing crowds in the town square. Santa Fe has a special feel to it. There is a sense of the collective – tribal, spiritual and creative, as these are the people who have been gathering and living here for ages.
This deeply grounded vibe extends to the cuisine. While the names of some of the dishes are the same as Mexican food, the flavors are different. I find Mexican food more balanced than what I have tasted in traditional dishes of Santa Fe, however, the southwest flavors here hit you straight on…there is no messing around with the chilies. Santa Fe goes go for big hits of heat, but as Ric said, “my mouth is on fire but it is so good, I have to keep eating it”. Exactly.
We moseyed our way to dinner taking the longest route possible, actually, we were lost, but it gave us a chance to explore Santa Fe in the perfect light, at sunset.
We ended up at Pasquale’s, a true culinary gem of Santa Fe. We opted for a meal at the community table with two Mexican women who had just returned from a spiritual retreat in Taos, two other women on a girl’s trip and an awkward college professor and his ex student assistant who he was professing his clearly unrequited attraction to. Seriously, Dude, not the conversation to have at a community table! She squirmed uncomfortably and the rest of us were just creeped out.
After a breakfast of the hottest huevos I’ve ever had, we began our trek up I-25 towards Colorado.
One of the wonderful finds on this leg of our trip I credit to our serious coffee addiction. Needing another hit of caffeine, we pulled off into the little town of Las Vegas, NM. On the main drag, this giant cream puff appeared before us and we had to stop. I was just excited by the sight of this place – I’m not really sure why, but it just made me happy.
Once inside Charlie’s Spic & Span, my exuberance amused some, especially the guy sitting at a table who upon seeing me with my face and camera smashed up against the dessert case told me that I should actually try eating one of the cream puffs, not just look at them.
But today, the feast was for the eyes and not my mouth that was still burning from the muy caliente huevos. We did pick up some fresh tortillas hot off the press to take home with us.
Soon we were back in the hood, greeted by the majestic mountains and a dog that did barrel rolls when we walked through the front door.
So there goes Eva & Ric’s excellent west coast adventure.
Next week, the east coast!
Here is a mango and lemon soup from Pasquale’s cookbook.
4 ripe mangos
1 cup heavy cream (you could also use 1/2 & 1/2 or yogurt)
1 pint raspberries for garnish
Fresh mint sprigs for garnish
Halve and peel the mangos and chop coarsely. Zest the lemons on a grater, seed and then juice them. Put the mangos and lemon juice in a food processor with a metal blade or a blender and puree until completely smooth. Pour off one cup of puree and set aside in the fridge for garnish.
Still using the food processor or blender, add the cream to the remaining puree and pulse just until it is incorporated into the puree (if you over blend it will become too thick). Transfer soup to a bowl and add in the lemon zest. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.
To serve, ladle the chilled soup into individual bowls. Garnish each with a swirl of the reserved puree, raspberries and a sprig of mint.