I love vacations. All through June and July I’ve been longing to get away, and felt frustrated by the responsibilities preventing me from traveling afar.
Okay, so I did attend a long weekend family reunion in Lake Tahoe, and it was fabulous! Gondola’s up to Olympic Villiage, zip-lining for the braver family members, picnics at my cousin’s stunning home in Squaw valley, dinner cruises, and full moon lit night walks by the lake.
However, that wasn’t a long enough break to satiate my wondering gypsy spirit. Then I realized just how much I take my own little corner of the world for granted…
… so I decided to throw traffic to the wind, and try to see Los Angeles through the eyes of a tourist again, or at least get out of my usual routine, and experience a staycation with the few hours I could steal away.
It all started with a 4th of July celebration with my friend Yvonne. We opted for the gourmet food trucks and picnics in Pacific Palisades complete with concert from the local all-stars cover band (they reside in the Palisades) featuring singer Johnny Kaplan, Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krusen, Foo Fighters and Wallfowers keyboardist Rami Jaffe, Rick Rosas on bass, guitarist Christopher Thorn, and Jesse Greene on violin, plus some spectacular fireworks.
Followed by invitations for beach volleyball, lazing by the pool, and just plain being silly with friends over al fresco dinners. Then when I learned my honeymooning cousins from London would be staying at my favorite hotel in Santa Monica ….
… I quickly invited myself to brunch at Casa del Sol. Nothing like eating lobster club sandwiches overlooking the ocean with the lovebirds.
I found all that relaxation can work up a major appetite for inspiration and culture, so it was off to LACMA with artist Millie Brown for a day of Alexander Calder and James Terrell followed by sipping fresh coconut milk at Vegan Glory.
Furthermore, it just wouldn’t be summer without enjoying some music at the Hollywood Bowl! Or having a lazy lie-in snuggled with Daisy before walking up to Larchmont Village for breakfast at Sam’s Bagels and a poke around the Farmers Market….
… to find the ingredients to replicate a fabulous summer salad the caterers made for the lunch by the beautiful little pond framed by mountains at my cousin’s place in Squaw Valley. You know me, whenever I try something new, I have to break down the flavors in my mouth, so I can come home to write my own rendition of the recipe. Will you be taking a staycation or vacation this year? It really can be a joy to rediscover parts of your own town that you take for granted – tell me what you’d rediscover about your hometown in the comment section below.
Summer Zucchini Salad
This is a delicious, fresh summer salad to accompany just about any grilled fish or meat you desire. Or, you can serve this salad on it’s own as a yummy yet very healthy lunch.
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon chives, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste
3 large zucchini, very thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons preserved lemon, chopped (you could substitute lemon zest)
1). In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, chives, and a good quality extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2). Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to coat well in dressing.
Serving Suggestions: Serve cold with any grilled fish or meat on the side.
Variations: Try using finely crumbled Feta instead of the Parmesan, and chopped pistachios in place of the pine nuts.
Note: You will need a mandolin to slice the zucchini this thin and uniformly, but some very careful knife work will do the trick too.