We’re Exploring: Santa Monica

We had a little overnight adventure last week.  I am about a hop, skip and jump away from achieving Platinum status on American.  I had it last year and unfortunately have been in the land of Gold all of this year trying to get my Platinum status back.  Yes, it may sound silly, but Gary is Platinum for life….25 years of movie junkets will help you achieve that, so when we travel, which we do a lot, and try to get upgraded together inevitably he will be at the top of the list and I am never called.  Though I do appreciate the Priority Access Gold delivers, and the additional mileage gained when you fly…there is just something about that Platinum status that makes flying so much better, especially when traveling together.

Santa Monica Beach and Pier

So, with that, we decided to overnight it to LA on one of the $59 each way promos American was holding a few weeks ago.  It worked out well as Gary could take care of a few meetings and I could get a little needed downtime post the Dallas Uncorked Harvest Dinner event, and mainly we could see our friends Curtis, the Latitude half of the Words and Pictures Production, and his wonderful wife Kristin.

We opted to stay in Santa Monica this trip.  A quick drive from LAX with a beautiful ocean front and easy access to be with our friends.  LA is certainly the city of film makers, but I had no idea so much of that business was actually done in Santa Monica.  As we walked into Shutters on the Beach we were surrounded by deals being made, actors walking through the lobby and producers frantically talking on cell phones while punching their ipads.  In the midst of this we were surrounded by beauty.

Shutters on the Beach

Perhaps one of our favorite hotels we have stayed in, Shutters incorporates both casual and comfortable beach style with elegance and welcoming charm.  Huge fireplaces decorate the lobby, Which opens up to an outdoor veranda with cozy chairs begging you to sit, have a glass and stay a while.  We saved those chairs for day two and instead went up to the 3rd floor pool looking out on the ocean for a glass of Far Niente Chardonnay and watched the sun go down.

After Gary took care of his meeting we were off to dinner at Stefan’s LA Farm.  I admit, I had seen the chef/owner on Top Chef several seasons ago and was interested in seeing what this guy could do.  His menu was interesting and seasonal, unfortunately our service was horrible, putting a bit of a damper on the setting, but the company more than made up for what the restaurant lacked, as did the wine selections – a tribute as it would be to Bill Foley as we enjoyed a Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc and a Foley Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir.  The Chalk Hill especially was delicious, crisp and aromatic with balanced fruit and acidity with a hint of minerality that I love in Sauvignon Blanc.  A delicious night with incredible conversation, laughter and friendship.

Buffalo Mozzarella and Heirloom Tomato at Stefan's LA Farm
Stefan's LA Farm kitchen

The next morning we decided to take a stroll down the beach.  We had walked up to the Santa Monica Pier the day before so we took off the other way, down the Santa Monica strand into the heart of Venice Beach.  WOW!  As we strolled the sights just kept getting more and more eclectic, with California street hippies setting up tables to sell their sage bundles, feather jewelry, Mexican masks and their art…everything from sculptures and painting made out of materials that were probably found in the trash the day before.  I kept thinking that 30 years ago my mom wandered the same strand….and it was probably pretty much the same them.  Except now there were doorways after doorways with signs noting that this was the evaluation center for medical marijuana.  I don’t think they were actually designating medical marijuana usage back then.

Venice beach

We wandered back to Shutters and slipped into those cozy chairs on the veranda for a quick lunch prior to our departure – a lobster BLT for Gary, Ahi and avocado with wasabi for me.  Quick and easy….2500 miles gained, good work done and a great escape to Santa Monica.

Ahi with avocado and wasabi