A Great Way To Spend A Saturday: Road-tripping North

Piggybacking off of 2 blog posts ago (if you recall, we were talking about being open-arms to change in life, and almost seeking it rather than loathing it), one great way to spend a Saturday involves getting yourself out of your normal zone. We often grow accustomed to the same routine, whether it is the weekend nightlife destination or even just the local beach. From coffee to coastline, we tend to stick with what we know. And often this can leave us in a rut. Jumping in the car and heading north or south can help us alleviate the normalities of everyday life. And there are limitless possibilities in the path you can take whether it’s north south east or west (typically I like north and south, staying coastal and avoiding being on a boat in the middle of the ocean [unless it’s in Indonesia or French Polynesia]). So what did I do this past weekend? I got out of the bubble. It is far too easy to stay put over the weekend. Usually by Friday you are cooked by the workweek, or maybe you work weekends and have to stick around. But this go around I decided it was time. I used to flee the OC scene far more often in my early California years, but now more often than not I find myself anchored down in Newport. I hit the 405 and headed north to SB. Here are the tips and tricks (applicable to any location) from a Saturday spent north of helLA. 

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Driving up

One thing that can really hinder the stoke-factor of your trip is traffic. Maybe not as big of a complication outside California, but miss-timing the traffic on a little road trip can add on hours upon hours of time in the car. While half the road trip is the time in the car with your pals, every extra hour or even couple minutes where you can be out of the car already feel like salt in an open wound. The problem especially with going north on any highway coming from Orange County is grinding out the LA portion of the drive. Time it right and cruise through it without going under 40 mph. Hit peak traffic time and prepare to be shifting between park and drive while furiously skipping through songs and checking Instagram. The tactic with avoiding traffic is dodging the prime time work commute hours. This means really early in the AM or after 7PM. If you can take the day off, cruise it between 11-3 and it’s smooth sailing. 

Morning Sip

Every great morning starts with a great cup. A bad cup of coffee can really throw your day off the rails, and dialing in coffee in an unknown area can be tougher than you think. In 2020, it is pretty easy to hop on google or yelp and search “coffee shop” and get pointed in the right direction. Still, the litmus test is the actual first sip. That first drip of joe to travel through your mouth is the real tell tale sign of a good or bad cup. Getting up and starting your morning off on the right foot is essential, so if you are in the SB area (although it is on the southern end) Lucky Llama is the zone. Owned by the son of local surfboard shaper and surf shop owner Matt Moore, this place is always busy and filled with happy customers. With delicious coffee, acai bowls, and baked treats, this is the perfect pit stop for before the sun rises or a mid morning pick me up. 

Beach Day

North of LA is cluttered with a ton of super fun surf spots to take a stab at while you are up there. From beachies to points, there’s a wave for everyone, novice to expert, goofy to regular. Whether it is a long roping point wave or a hollow punchy beach break, you can find it if you look hard enough. There is however, one wave that in particular if you are making your way up to it has a special place in most California surfers hearts. Especially if you are a regular footer. And even for some goofy footers. Rincon point is affectionately referred to as “The Queen of the Coast.” And if that doesn’t speak to the admiration of the wave, then let’s just get to the numbers. You can ride a right for up to 3/4s of a mile (maybe more, most of the time less). That’s comparable to a Jbay stint, minus the men in grey suits. If we are talking numbers, on any given weekend with swell the lineup could be littered with well over one hundred bodies, from bonafide rippers to log jammers going straight. We were talking about switching it up, so unless you regularly surf down at Trestles, there aren’t many comparable waves to Rincon in OC. And they still don’t stand a chance against the Queen on a good hair day. 

Fuel for the Day

This kind of goes off the point above. If you end up posting up on the beach at Rincon point, it’s going to be pretty hard to leave. With endless right handers and the crowd only getting thinker, being hunkered down on the beach for the long haul is a good way to maximize water time in the morning before the wind and wave warriors come in stronger and stronger. Packing light, nutrient dense, and refreshing snacks to munch on the cobbles in between run arounds is the move for an all-day surf bender. Protein bars, fruits, and lot’s of water. Maybe an extra coffee to get the paddle muscles re-awakened for another marathon sprint up the point. This will increase your time before you really need a solid lunch or meal and also help you avoid cramping. Post up with a cooler and tax it occasionally until it runs dry. When it’s empty, you know you only have a couple more laps around the point left. 

Last Bite

When you are venturing outside your usual comfort zone, it usually beckons for eating out and sampling the local flavors. Luckily, Santa Barbara has a TON of awesome eats and even better ambiance in most restaurants. However, I think there is a better way to go about finishing off a hard earned day of fun in the sun. While this can only be done if you have a couple of people you might know in the area, but eating over a friends house or a BBQ with some brews is the best way to cap off a successful day or weekend trip. Whether you grill a classic or try something new, making your own meal adds even more pride and accomplishment to already getting outside your local town and adventuring into the zones unknown. If this seems like too much trouble, finding a good place to eat in SB is easy. Just walk along or adjacent to State street in downtown SB and you’ll more often than not luck into a good bite to eat. 

Nighttime Sip

You’ve done it all today. Sucked down your morning cup of coffee. Took in your new surroundings. Hopefully got a surf in. Absorbed in a lot of vitamin D from the big bright circle in the sky. Ate a delicious dinner to help mend your sore muscles and pallets. And now the only thing left is a celebratory sud. A nice beer or two is the icing on the cake, and it tastes so much sweeter when it was worked for. As far as beers, you gotta stick with local breweries and trying beers you might not have ever had before. Just to make it easy, after you ate dinner around State street, hop in an Uber and head over to the funk zone. Whether it’s Topa Topa or Lama Dog, there are plenty of craft brew creators to pick from. Try one. Try three. Just don’t try none. Happy hunting. 

A Great Way To Spend A Sunday: Feasting

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The end of the weekend was upon us. The impending Monday was looming it’s ugly head over the group of us. It was Sunday, and the sun had set. Some had worked. Some had surfed. Some were feeling great. Most were in rough shape. As we all sat in a semi-circle on a vintage couch, it was only destiny that all of us share one last supper with each other before the first full work week of 2020 slapped us in the face. After this pow wow we would split, and potentially not reconvene until the Friday that was miles away.  I already had an idea as to which meal was coming down the pipeline. All of us in need of something that is truly a treat for our taste buds. It was a meal my roommate and I typically used as a crutch to seal off the weekend in a delicious and flavorful way. It was off the beaten path, and required a short trip in a vehicle to get to. But the fruits of the labor would be worth it. 

As we crowded around the coffee table and mapped our orders, I knew calling it in would be a real treat for the lucky friend that would pick up the phone and dial. With all sorts of unorthodox names coupled with the person on the other line may not hear you clearly, sometimes it could be a challenge. We would dread calling it in. We decided on a trade-off system in which whoever called it in would not have to go pick it up. When push came to shove, someone had finally stepped up. Luckily, he was able to pronounce all the dishes correctly and just like that our order was put in. 20 minutes, said the lady on the other side of the line. It’s on. Looking back, calling it in was an easy task. But couple being tired and hungover and any small task can feel like a Herculean effort. We would play a couple more rounds of COD before we departed for the promised land. I would join my pal as copilot to steer him in the direction of deliciousness. 

I’ve done this pickup route many times. It takes at most 10 minutes to get there, usually is just a 5 minute pickup, and then another 10 to get back. A fraction of time to get to the source of the yums and enjoy a tasty dinner. This time was a little different. Nothing was looking out of the ordinary at first. We would make it to the restaurant in the usual amount of time. No clogging on the freeway and an easy exit lead us there in no time. Upon parking and entering,I noticed there was a family sitting down and eating inside. Typically, I have never seen more than 1 family inside eating in, and this is no different. The food is so damn good, but I can’t say we don’t think it is a little weird that out of the ~10 times we have picked up food here, we have never seen more than 5 humans inside. But I digress. All I cared about was the grab and go of the dishes we ordered. 

What went sideways was the wait for the food. We would enter the restaurant, and only see the family dining. No one greeting us at the door. No one in the kitchen. It was quiet. This isn’t particularly atypical, but usually someone would hear the door and emerge from the kitchen. When no one emerged from the kitchen, we would begin to hear some noise in the kitchen. It just sounded like the chef preparing the takeout meals. Surely someone would come out to check on the table eating in a reasonable time, I assured myself. A couple minutes go by and nothing. At this point the young boy at the table was having a ball watching me take different angles to look into the kitchen and see who was there to help us. I couldn’t see anyone, and wasn’t really feeling like walking back in the kitchen, so we waited. 

By the time someone had finally came out to greet us, we had shuffled through 3 of the bizarre songs accustomed to the restaurant, I became friends with the toddler at the table eating, and the smell of spices was starting to stick to my clothes. We had never had to wait this long, but also never placed such a large order. I joked with my buddies that we should eat in, but after sitting in there I am pretty happy that someone talked us out of sitting down. Something in there just isn’t right, and it only took me sitting in there for longer than 5 minutes to notice that. Finally, the food would arrive wrapped up and plenty hot. We would pay and carefully carry the bag out from the bottom. It was a ton of food, but everyone was pretty hungry. Back onto the freeway we went and in a moments time we were back to the comfort of my home. Before we could eat, I had to retell the story of the delay and the strange intricacies of the restaurant to those who have never been. But it was time to each. 

Chicken Korma. Chicken Vindaloo. Two Tikka Masalas. Two Garlic Naans. Tons of rice. It was time for the boys to feast. A quick 10 minutes of silence would go by as we all fiercely munched down on our meals. Everyone was clearly feeling better after eating, as we all were pretty laggy and unenthusiastic the whole time leading up to this moment. Sometimes all you need is a good meal. And sometimes all you need is good company. I challenge everyone to at least once a week host a slew of your pals in one place and chow down on some good eats. Doing it on the weekend sometimes ensures comical stories from the nights on the town or days sans work. Laughs will be had, stories shared, and bellies filled. A grand end to the first weekend of 2020. 

East Meets West: Weekend Breakfast Fixes

I swear I don’t mean to make this topic strictly based around food, but it just seems like there are so many battles between the two coasts on certain food genres or what you’d get in a certain situation. Here’s the scenario: you find yourself both coast in the same month. It’s a Friday night and all cylinders are firing. For the west coast Friday, the Newport peninsula or Wayfarer for 90s night is calling your name. Back east, you might be hitting seaside or heading north. Either way, you time travel through the night and to the next morning. Things are groggy and you find yourself with a headache and a craving for greasy breakfast foods. Here is where the clash comes into play. Granted, I’ve had the east coast special on the west coast and vice versa, these are the two guaranteed hangover cures, both meant to be accompanied by a cup of joe.

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EAST: The BEC, PEC, & SEC Bacon, Pork Roll, or Sausage Egg and Cheese (EC) tends to be the immediate call for a Saturday or Sunday morning hangover when back on the east side. If I have the liberty and it’s a banger of a hangover, I will hop in my car and drive all the way up to Point Pleasant for a BEC from Barons Bagel. The best BEC in my opinion on a super egg everything or oatmeal wheat bagel and if needed I can add a hash brown. They also have delicious coffee, and would typically be my stop after a pre-high school surf to walk into my first class with. If I’m stranded in Lavallette, there are plenty of ideal spots for one. No matter where I get the breakfast sandwich from, the coffee is always from Lava Java.

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WEST: The Breakfast Burrito The breakfast burrito honestly is one of my burritos of choice for any time. Lunch, a late night snack if served all day long, or the morning after a big one, this can really help ease the pain and get your Saturday or Sunday going. While I attended Chapman and found myself in rough shape a lot more often than recently, the Cali Tacos Breakfast B would surely cure my hangover. It would also couch-lock me shortly after and throw me into a food coma, but it was all worth it in the moment. Down in Newport, there are a handful of good spots for a killer BB. I feel like of recent I haven’t eaten one simply because I run around a lot on the weekend and typically eat some yogurt instead. When in need though, there are at least 5 spots I can count on to give me my fix.

East Meets West: Pizza

After living bicoastal for an extended period of time, I think it’s a good idea to let the people back east know some things about the west and vice versa. It’s funny, because when I am on the east coast, I gas up the west coast. When I’m on the west coast, I gas up the east coast. I grew up back east and wouldn’t trade that, but there is a reason I moved out west. It’s just more my speed. Anyhow, I figured I could do an article like for a lot of things I indulge in on both coasts. So here it is, welcome to East meets West.

 

This one is brought up a lot, and is increasingly more relevant as the Barstool pizza reviews gain more and more of a following (if that is possible). Ask me which coast has better pizza, and you won’t be able to blink before I say the east coast. BUT, I do like to preface the statement with a little bit more detail.

A Classic Slice: East

I’m talking just cheese, a 1-bite-everyone-knows-the-rules slice. As far as keeping it OG, the east coast has the basic cheese slice on lock, and the west coast has no clue where the key is. This is a large reason as to why I will say the east has better pizza, as this plain of a slice makes it easy to tell who gets it and who doesn’t. Also in this category is a Sicilian style slice, one of my all time favorites and is pretty hard to come by out west. And it’s not just plain slices. Pretty much any “regular” pizza I’ve had from back home is superior to the similar pizza out west.

Designer Pizza: West

While home has my pizza pick and nothing is better than a peppers and onion pizza from the local joint in Lavallette, the west coast does do the instagram pizza well. The type of pie (as slices are hard to come by out here) that when posted has people DMing you either asking if its good, where you got it, or calling you a psycho for such a wild pie. Never would I have thought about eating a blue cheese honey pizza, until I would go to 2145 in Costa Mesa. Boyyyyy is that thing tastey. Those are hard to come by back home, unless you are in the city.

And that’s how the tale of two coasts ends in regards to the zah. Check back for more East Meets West posts.