I'm finally back from spending a week in LA with family and partying it up with my husband in Vegas. I truly believe that we all need a good, solid vacation once in a while to recharge our batteries and let loose. These past 10 days provided great family time, tons of eating (mainly kebab) and some alcohol-induced (mild) debauchery.
Things got off to a great start in LA. My dad hosted a lovely barbecue with all the trimmings. I spent hours catching up with cousins and impatiently waiting for someone to kick-start the grill. I LOVE barbecues and I especially love charcoal ones which give food that great smoky flavor. One the menu: tomatoes and peppers on skewers, along with chicken, steak and ground beef kebabs.
Culturally speaking, the way it's done in my family (and other Armenian families, I'm sure) is you gotta stick close to the barbecue. The grill master frequently checks the doneness of the meat by picking off a piece, wrapping it in some flat bread and garnishing it with chopped onions, parsley and sumac. If you happen to be standing around, you get to be the first to taste the meat. There's usually a shot of something, say vodka, that can be taken with this little wrapped piece of deliciousness. I had a sip of red wine. Yum!
There was tons of fluffy rice to accompany the meat, as well as yogurt with chopped cucumbers and fresh herbs. My dad also made the most amazing eggplant, bell pepper and tomato puree. This puree is eaten with bread or with the kebab and rice. I asked him for the recipe and will soon attempt to make it as good as he did.
A few days later, my husband and I headed over to Venice Beach to hang out with my cousin and her fiancé. They live right on the beach, literally steps away from the surf and the always lively boardwalk. We started our day with cold beers at a nearby beer garden. My cousin suggested we try the pretzel and, boy, were we glad we did. This pretzel was not like the hard, chewy ones I'm accustomed to in New York. This little beer garden serves up a soft, warm and huge pretzel. It's accompanied with a delicious fruity mustard (probably a mix of apple sauce and grainy dijon).
Our night in Venice Beach started with small plates and drinks at Chaya. It was Friday night and the place was packed. Chaya's happy hour menu has tons of great options. My favorites were the mac and cheese and the dijon chicken and fries. After having drinks at pretty much every bar in Venice Beach, we stopped for a few slices of pizza and hot dogs before heading home. Let's just say our morning after was excruciating.
The second part of our trip was Vegas, baby! A short flight from LA and we arrived in Sin City. We spent an awesome day at the pool lounge at the Aria hotel in Vegas. There are way too many restaurants to choose from and I didn't take pictures because my beautiful Nikon stopped working.
All in all, we had a great time. I got in last night and it was work as usual this morning. Back to reality, I guess.
Please forgive me for sounding like your third grade teacher, but what did you do on your summer vacation? Any trips to Europe, weekend getaways or road trips? I'd love to read about them.