Instagram Diaries: The Glossy Guide Girls Do Los Angeles
So for the last of my Los Angeles blog posts (though I am going to post a round up of some of my favourite posts from Los Angeles over the last 10 months on Wednesday) I thought I’d put together a little Instagram Diary with photos of my last two weeks in the city, spent with my best friend, and actually one of my oldest friends Kathryn who flew out to visit (or as she put it, fetch me back to London!) and fly back with me. To explain the title of this post ‘The Glossy Guide Girls Do Los Angeles’, the ‘Glossy Guide Girls’ are us; Kathryn is my co-Editor and partner in crime over at our beauty blog. Thank you LA for giving me one of the best years of my life.
Because Kathryn’s visit was all about doing some of the touristy things that as someone actually living in LA I had not really done, obviously walking (almost) the whole Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard was a must. There were people with stars we had heard of, people we had not. A stop off at the Hard Rock Cafe so I could add a Los Angeles shirt to my collection, and a very accurate Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator, but the one snippet I feel I have to share with you is the yellow bear flying the flag on the Walk of Fame for both Great Britain and the Hundred Acre Wood.
Aside from all of the eating and adventuring I did all year, my main reason for my year spent abroad was to study at the University of California, Los Angeles, so on Kathryn’s second day in the city I took her up to see my campus and so I could take a few photos in some of my favourite spots. We are the UCLA Bruins (baby bears), and practically every student who has ever studied at UCLA has a picture of them with the Bruin Bear statue outside the Student Union. I’m really going to miss North Campus (where all the humanities, arts and social sciences are studied) and its beautiful architecture, and this little seat I found myself to rest on to read or eat lunch between class in Royce Hall, in the third picture with the library in the background.
With the exception of Korea itself, Los Angeles is one of the best places to go in the world for authentic Korean food. (Okay, so the first stone bowl in this picture is a Bibigo!, but their food is pretty awesome too!) I’d never had Korean food before moving to Los Angeles, so my first ever Korean Barbecue experience in Koreatown at Soot Bull Jeep was a revelation. Obviously I had to take Kathryn back for her first ever Korean Barbecue too. I’m obviously going to miss the Korean food in LA, so any good London recommendations will be appreciated!
Basically all our spare days in LA when we did not fancy doing much, or afternoons after morning shopping trips were spend at Santa Monica Beach. Our final day in Los Angeles was spent being a tourist on Santa Monica Pier; Kathryn successfully got me on a roller coaster for the first time in my life, and I took this amazing picture down the beach towards Venice on top of the Ferris Wheel. I’m really going to miss having the ocean and the beach just a bus ride away whenever I fancied, all year round.
Okay, so we might have had three of these; two as take-away and one as an eat in, but because I know I have not written about it yet, I need to tell you about 800 Degrees, a fantastic pizzeria from the people behind Unami Burger in Westwood, with a new branch just opened in Santa Monica. It is a stone baked Italian, choose your own topping before it goes in the pizza oven jet line, and is gloriously good value for money. Yes you can get better pizza in Los Angeles, and these are sometimes a little wet in the middle, but when they have such good, fresh flavours and they are just a block away from my apartment, they became one of my go to spots.
I never really used it much as I was so busy, and because in England I have access to the Pilgrims Nook Holiday Cottages pool when there are not guests in it, but I actually had a rooftop pool in my building. Once properly in holiday mode I actually managed to enjoy it, a few sessions relaxing by the pool (Kathryn was determined to get more tanned than her little sister this Summer), and an afternoon splashing around before pizza with two of our old school friends who we’ve both known for years who happened to be visiting the city.
On one of Kathryn’s first evenings in Los Angeles, after she’d got over her jet lag we headed over to the lovely Rose Avenue area of Venice for a photo shoot with my photographer friend Nicole for profile images of the two of us together for The Glossy Guide (I’ll share them once I receive them), followed by a fantastic dinner. Here are a few behind the scenes shots. After failing to get a table at either Superba Snack Bar or Oscar’s Cerveteca we ended up at an average looking Italian restaurant come sports bar called Hostaria Del Piccolo which ended up being anything but; the food was simply divine.Above you can see my pasta dish of Squid Ink Linguini with Shrimp and Summer Vegetables which had fantastic flavours and was perfectly cooked. Kathryn and Nicole both had pizzas, and Nicole pronounced her choice the best Gluten Free crust she’d ever had. I finished off with slices of red wine poached pears and a scoop of delicious chocolate mousse, finished with a brûlée topping. Kathryn and Nicole both had the flourless chocolate cake served with a simply divine raspberry coulis.
Obviously this is a food blog, and one of my all time favourite things to do is to eat out. As we were living in my apartment with no furniture except a bed and an Ikea chest of drawers (which Kathryn enjoyed smashing up to fit in the recycling bin a little too much!), we had no kitchen which meant living off of meals out and take-away every single day, which is a much happier state of affairs in Los Angeles than it would have been in England. Starting from the top we have Sunday morning brunch at my favourite brunch spot in Los Angeles; The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. We both enjoyed bacon stuffed sweet breakfast waffles and shared a divine piece of banana bread while we waited, and I enjoyed two of their famous breakfast cocktails; this is the Petite Mary made up of celery juice, lime and vodka served in a celery and citrus salt rimmed glass. Next we have a Mediterranean feast I enjoyed at a little place in Los Feliz before we headed up to the Griffith Observatory, and a deliciously juicy burger at Short Order in West Hollywood.
Now onto some of my favourite take-away food in the city we definitely indulged in. Having no breakfast food in the apartment meant that a lot of mornings we substituted with tart servings of Yogurtland topped with fresh fruit. Some days when we had eaten out massive meals and did not fancy much we went for chocolate or sprinkle studded versions. Obviously I had to introduce Kathryn to her first ever Jamba Juice, and one the day we went shopping in Beverly Hills we stopped by at Sprinkles Ice Cream so I could have one last scoop of what has to be one of my all time favourite ice cream flavours; their vanilla and wine soaked morello cherry offering. I’m going to be working on replicating this flavour in my mothers ice cream maker this Summer. Finally, TLT Food in Westwood where I was living. It was only a block away from my apartment, and ever since it first opened last year it became my go to place for dinner whenever I could not be bothered to cook. Here we have my two favourite dishes from their menu; their Asian fusion Steak Fries and their Pork Belly Tacos.
Once all our bags were packed and my apartment was completely cleaned and emptied out, we were both after a late lunch before heading off to the airport on the last day. Obviously there was only one viable option for my last meal in the city; the classic Californian In-N-Out burger. I like mine classic off of the menu with my onions cooked, no pickle and my patty fried in mustard as per the secret menu. I’m really going to miss their fantastic burgers, they were no fast-fast food. Everyone has been asking me if I am excited about the new American burger chains opening in Covent Garden this Summer; Shake Shack and Five Guys. I’ve never had a Shake Shack burger so I am looking forward to that, but there was a Five Guys in Westwood but I only went to it once, favouring In-N-Out. The burgers are good, but nothing to get too excited about so I’m not sure I’ll even bother with the London branch, to be honest.
While I would like a point to note that duty free shopping at LAX Terminal 2 is absolutely dreadful much to our consternation I want to thank you all for the lovely and kind messages we both had from you all to wish us a good journey back to London. From leaving Westwood on the Flyway bus to touching down on the tarmac at London Heathrow we had a smooth trip, only just blipped by the three hours we spend in crawling traffic on the M25; welcome back to Britain. But honestly, it is good to be home.