I grew up in Southern California. I lived there until I was 25, and inherited most of my food prowess from my mother. She is great at seeking out hole-in-the-wall restaurants with divine food, and we had very few bad meals during my childhood. After moving to San Francisco, my food obsessions became a little more focused, and I often have a list of new places that I'd like to try in Los Angeles. Combine my careful research with mom's, and we spend most of our time tasting our way through my days in Southern California.
Small tangent here, but our family has another...hobby...that you may find strange. We love to check out old cemeteries. We appreciate the history that can be found in cemeteries and, of late, have become quite enamored of a cemetery in Los Angeles where many, many movie stars are buried: Hollywood Forever. The history of this cemetery would take more time than I have right now, but I truly believe it should be on the "must see" list for anyone visiting Los Angeles.
I spent the holiday weekend in Southern California with family, and on Friday we had a couple of out-of-towners who wanted to see Los Angeles. Mom and I put together a fun trip. It was by no means a comprehensive look at Los Angeles, but it provided the guests with an overview of things that we find interesting and tasty.
Stop #1: Westwood Cemetery.
This tiny cemetery in Westwood is one of my favorites. I used to work at the building next door, and we would eat lunch in the cemetery among the graves of Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Dominique Dunne, and others. New tenants include Merv Griffin, Rodney Dangerfield, Jack Lemmon, and Peggy Lee. Though our guests found it initially strange that we would be visiting cemeteries, this first stop chipped through their pre-conceptions and they were ready for the rest of the day.
Stop #2: Milk Restaurant.
After a drive through Beverly Hills and some of the Westside, we stopped at Milk for a sweet treat. I learned about Milk last year through an interview on Good Food. Bret Thompson, the owner, is making handmade sweet treats such as ice cream bon bons, drumsticks, red velvet cake, cookies and sorbets. I have only been here for sweets -- they are delicious and worth a stop. The crew ordered a drumstick, a root beer float, some ice creams and an ice cream bar as our first tastes of the day. It's fun to take out-of-towners here -- the restaurant is right next to CBS studios and has the vibe of the entertainment industry. Even if you don't recognize stars, you will hear lots of conversations about scripts, pilots, shows and other stars.
Stop #3: Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
A quick stop at Grauman's Chinese Theatre was necessary to see the kitschy part of Los Angeles. We stayed a very short time until one guest said, "I get it, this is kind of like taking tourists to Fisherman's Wharf, isn't it." An apt analogy, as locals never tour through Mann's Chinese Theatre, but tourists always want to see it. After watching tourists laying down next to George Clooney's handprints, we quickly left.