The Best Food by the Sea…is Not Always Because of the Food

So, my mother is amazing. Let me just start out by saying that.

She has been my mother, father, best friend, sister, therapist, and confidant for all of these years. She is young at heart, does not think my generation is stupid, goes to rock concerts with me, drinks with me when the time calls for it, laughs with me, cries with me, the list goes on. We have been a gruesome twosome for my entire life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have many good memories with my mother, more than I can even list, actually. But the first of two that stand out for me was when Mom and I went to Los Angeles to see our favorite band–a metal band from Finland–play a special show. It was in January with a storm threatening where we lived, and we had been terrified our flight was going to get canceled, but we made it, got our rental car, and proceeded to drive halfway through La Brea and beyond because of road construction and me not knowing where the *insert word of choice here* I was going.

Because of the day we came into Los Angeles, we were Disneyland bound, because I had not been there since I was five and we had a whole day to kill. Well, after a harrowing journey to find the hotel–where we drove back and forth on the same road like four times, we had to ask directions and then follow a local woman back onto the freeway, we barely made our exit, and I thought I had lost my cell phone–we were promptly told we could not check in yet.

Of course!

This was how we were used to traveling when we were being “groupies.” It literally was what always happened. So, we just bailed and headed to Disneyland.

The rides were fun, but the whole day traffic was bad, the food was even worse, we got lost more times than I ever want to think about, and by the time we got back to our hotel, I was about ready to throw in the towel for good. The last stint on the freeway an hour back to our hotel had seen me having to pee so badly I was practically shaking, and as a person with an anxiety problem…I was SO DONE with LA traffic.

So where did we end up?

At Denny’s of all places.

Because it was the only thing open.

And it was terrible.

Can we say heartburn?


Needless to say, we were disappointed, and we went to bed feeling like we had lead in our stomachs.

The next day, we headed to Venice Beach before the concert. We were feeling good, ready to go.

Even though I was getting a hang of this driving in LA thing, the wind at the beach almost blew us into the next county, and we ate lunch at some seaside shack where the fish was so greasy it stayed in my stomach for the rest of the day. I was seriously wondering if I was ever going to get a good meal while I was on this trip.

However, despite numerous meal setbacks–I honestly don’t even remember what I had for dinner…something Mexican, I think–we met up with some of my good friends, we had a great time, the concert was amazing, and we headed back to the hotel that night on a rock and roll high we had been missing for awhile.

The next day, our flight did not leave until late, so Mom and I decided to head back to Venice Beach for a better experience since the first time had been so rushed.

We went to a place I unfortunately forget the name of now, but it was both a high-class and low-key restaurant (if that makes sense) where we had the only decent meal we had eaten thus far–a real, honest-to-goodness breakfast. We scarfed it like starving people, and were satisfied for the first time all trip. Afterwards, we wandered the beach, checked out shops, watched some local talent, and enjoyed the peace and serenity that can only come from the ocean.

We stayed there for the greater part of the day, and two hours or so before we had to go to the airport, Mom and I headed back to that same restaurant for dinner.

Now, keep in mind, I was pretty broke at the time. I was divorced and living in a studio apartment. My budget was extremely limited. But because I was so used to being a miser, I had saved more money than I had spent and decided to just say screw it. You only live once, I was on vacation, and I was under budget. So Mom and I got an amazing cheese plate, a couple glasses of wine, followed by a half bottle I don’t even want to remember the cost of now–because as much as I love wine, I am still pretty cheap above all things, especially back then.

Honestly? It was one of the best cheese plates I’ve ever had. And even one of the best wines. But I don’t think it had anything to do with the actual food and wine I was consuming.

I have and always will be a sentimental creature, and sitting on the patio of that restaurant, eating cheese and drinking overpriced wine with the one woman who could understand what I was babbling about when it came to the man who would one day be my husband was worth any price.

And as the sun set, we drank, ate, and talked. We even saw the artist P!NK, which was pretty freakin’ cool, but the best part of it wasn’t the wine or the food, as good as it was. It was the fact that I was somewhere I loved–the ocean–at sunset, and I could talk freely and candidly with someone; I could share an experience like this trip had been with someone, and would never even think to regret any part of it. I could be myself, I could “let it all hang out,” to to speak, and I would never be judged.

Let me tell you, that is an awesome feeling.

That night on the beach remains one of my favorite memories of traveling, because it was so raw in its realness. It can never be copied or replaced…

And that’s just how I want it to stay.


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