Fall is always a difficult season for me. Dragon boat season ends, work becomes busy and then there’s the nasty thing about the weather turning cold and wet accompanied by darker days. Living in Vancouver can mean that I  go weeks without ever seeing the sky behind the low grey clouds.

Knowing this, the start of fall weighs heavily on me. My mood swings with the seasons, and I feel like “fall” is aptly termed. But the seasons are what they are and most of the time I love where I live. I am fortunate to be able to have a lot of vacation time to get away from the gloominess, and this is why I plan the bulk of my travel during the dreary damp days of fall.

The beginning of fall this year was especially difficult because as I saw the leaves start to turn, I knew that a friend of mine who had been battling cancer for a year would finally succumb to it. And a few weeks into fall, he did. I had mentally prepared myself, since my friend’s diagnosis less than 10 months ago, with the thought that he’d be lucky to make it a year. But when it happened, it came as a shock nonetheless.

To cope with the feeling of loss during the shortening days, I started taking extreme comfort looking towards my “normal” which for me includes travel to warm sunny places. So it was it extreme relief when I boarded the plane to spend my annual extended long weekend in LAX.

Landing in LA, and feeling my first blast of Vitamin D in what felt like too long, I’m always amazed how a 2 1/2 hour flight can make me feel so far away from home. I started peeling off layers, allowing my skin to feel the warmth from the sun. The furrow in my brow relaxed and I could feel the happiness fill my head at the knowledge of the amazing meals I’d have on my trip.

Lunch at Gjusta: First stop was lunch. I love that Abbot Kinney in Venice is convenient to LAX, which means it’s been a stop either to or from the airport in the past few years. I’ve been reading a lot about Gjusta Bakery for the past while, and seeing as how much I loved Gjelina, it was first up on my list of LA indulgences.

The menu at Gjusta had me excited. I wanted to try everything and had a moment of FOMO knowing I couldn’t. I had FOMO amplified, as I watched other orders come out as I waited for mine. Everything looked delicious, and the food I ordered tasted was as good as it looked. Gjusta was on-point and it will stay on my list of places to return to.

"Gjusta Abbot Kinney Venice porchetta"
Luscious porchetta sandwich nestled within a delicious baguette.
"Gjusta Abbot Kinney smoked fish"
Smoked fish plate, chef’s choice. I probably would have chosen one cold smoked for the 3, (I secretly wished 1 of the 3 options was the cold smoked salmon or gravlax) but the octopus, salmon belly and mackerel were all amazing.

A quick pit stop after lunch to Santa Monica where I had a bit of time to kill. While I’ve been to Santa Monica many times, I’ve always walked the beach. This time, I thought I’d stroll the board walk down the pier. But as I weaved my way in and out of tourists, I realized why I’ve never been down before. I dislike touristy boardwalks…



After checking into the hotel, I sat quietly going through my food list for my 5 days/4 nights in LA. I put together a loose plan of attack, knowing many of my meals would be done solo, so I would be able to push the amount and types I’ve eating I’d be doing while in LA, while allowing myself ample time to soak up the golden rays in between.

Happy Hour at Goldies: I’ve been to Goldies a few years ago for dinner and while I remember liking a lot of what I’d eaten, I remembered the cocktails were very good and the brussels sprouts were amazing. I walked by Goldies just as Happy Hour started and had to pull in to try both.

"Goldies LAX Cocktail"
Golden Girl cocktail
"Goldies LAX brussels sprouts"
I’ve thought about Goldie’s brussels sprouts since having them 2 years ago. I got to the point where I wondered if they were as good as my food memory of them. Happy to report, yes!

Dinner at Republique: I had wanted to try Republique when I was in LA last year, but it never worked out. This year, I had it on my “try for breakfast, lunch or dinner” lists. With an amazing dinner in a cool space under my belt, I’m now curious to go back to try breakfast and lunch next time.

Green cocktail
Green cocktail
"Republique LA Manzke octopus"
Charcoal-grilled Mediterranean octopus with Asian pear, pomegranate, cabbage, pistachio, chili and lime.
"Republique LA kale Manzke"
Wood oven brussels sprouts with frisee, applewood smoked bacon and a soft egg.
Sonoma duck breast with braised cabbage, apples and baby turnips.
Sonoma duck breast with braised cabbage, apples and baby turnips.

Lunch at Sugarfish Beverly Hills: After my amazing meal at Bar Nozawa in the back of Sugarfish Beverly Hills, I was curious about how the Sugarfish experience would be.

The menu was simple, and most people ordered one of 3 lunch options. I ordered the “Trust Me Lite” sushi option, and the food started flowing.

Lunch was quick, easy and clean. Perfect for LA.

Edamame with a small Sapporo beer and a big cup
Edamame with a small Sapporo beer and a big cup
"Sugarfish Beverly Hills tuna sashimi "
Tuna sashimi, using small “leftover” pieces of tuna, marinated in ponzu was good.
"Sugarfish Beverly Hills sushi trust me Nozawa"
Albacore, salmon and Nozawa shrimp nigiri sushi
"Sugarfish Beverly Hills tuna hand roll"
Toro hand roll
"Sugarfish Beverly Hills Nozawa crab roll"
I added the Blue Crab hand roll because it didn’t seem right to be in LA and not have one.

Dinner at Giorgio Baldi: Delicious food in a cramped, always full room and a guaranteed star sighting (Pierce Brosnan this time) makes for a fun evening. I’ve been a few times and always remember having a great time so I was happy to get invited to return. The room is dark, so I could only include the best of my horrible photos, but all the dishes were as delicious as I remembered.

Plate of meatballs
Plate of meatballs
"Giorgio Baldi Santa corn agnolotti"
Homemade ravioli filled with sweet white corn in a white truffle sauce
"Giorgio Baldi lobster ravioli"
Off-menu, but always seemingly available lobster ravioli.
Simply grilled branzino is another off-menu but always on item.
Simply grilled branzino is another off-menu but always on item.
Pan fried Dover sole sautéed in a lemon and butter sauce
Pan fried Dover sole sautéed in a lemon and butter sauce
Fried bits of dough sprinkled with powdered sugar didn't look like anything special but were addictive none the less.
Fried bits of dough sprinkled with powdered sugar didn’t look like anything special but were addictive none the less.
Profiteroles on chocolate sauce
Profiteroles on chocolate sauce

Lunch at AOC Wine Bar: This has always been a favorite and even more so since it moved a very convenient walk from my hotel. The whole restaurant is charming, but the patio space is wonderful. There’s nothing like lunching solo while sitting outside on a warm afternoon in November sipping a glass of something bubbly to make this Vancouver girl feel happy to be on vacation.

Saying all of that, I do have to mention that my server for the meal was a bit pushy, up-selling me on my meal and trying to push more wine on me. It was off-putting, but not enough to ruin the fabulous afternoon I was treating myself to.


"AOC Wine LA Bacon fig"
I had no intention of ordering these bacon wrapped dates, but they are a delightful so I didn’t say no.
"AOC WIne WeHo salad"
Arugula salad with persimmons and pomegranate

Dinner at Terrine: I’d read a lot about Terrine and then saw it had won LA Weekly’s Best New restaurant. I really wanted to try Terrine but knew it was unlikely, because of its rustic (heavy) French menu, that I’d be able to convince others to include this as part of the LA itinerary. Solo dining means I get to do what I want and when   I saw Terrine had a great bar and is known for their cocktail program, I was happy to dine alone (and order way too much) at Terrine.

"Terrine LA cocktail"
French 89 cocktail
"Terrine Morningstar LA pigs ears"
Crispy pig’s ears with sauce gribiche
"Terrine Morningstar LA foie gras"
Terrine de foie gras with sweet and sour prunes
"Terrine LA Morningstar octopus"
Octopus with squid ink rice cakes and saffron aioli

Lunch at Mainland Poke: I had a craving for fresh, delicious and easy and found just that at Mainland Poke. I will say it again and again until someone does something about it, “why don’t we have a poke shop like this in Vancouver”?

"Mainland poke LA"
I subbed a bed of kale instead of rice and added tuna and salmon with spicy shoyu dressing and topped with mango, avocado, sweet onion, jalepenos, pickled ginger, seaweed salad, green onion, tobiko and a good shake of furikake on top.

Dinner at smoke.oil.salt: The big group dinner for this trip was at smoke.oil.salt, Mel’s choice. Tapas and great Spanish wine shared amongst friends is always the best kind of eating and this was no exception. Unfortunately, bad lighting and too much conversation meant I didn’t get one usable photo but you can get the idea with this…


And with that, another year of LA was done. I had a bit of a lift in my step, (and the need to be on the straight and narrow) as I head back towards the cold wet north of Vancouver happy in the knowledge that I was only 3 weeks away from another trip south to Oaxaca.

Gjusta: 320 Sunset Ave, Venice

Goldies: 8422 West 3rd Street, LA

Rebublique: 624 South La Brea Ave, LA

Sugarfish: 212 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills

Giorgio Baldi: 114 West Channel Road, Santa Monica Canyon

AOC Wine Bar: 8700 West 3rd Street, LA

Terrine: 8265 Belverly Blvd, LA

Mainland Poke: 8313 1/2 3rd Streeet, LA

smoke.oil.salt: 7274 Melrose Ave, LA















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