It’s true that real New Yorkers — those born and raised — are reared from the womb to loathe all things California. We’re suspicious of sunshine and optimism; we mock the screen-writing, cafe-couching, lithe lot. The concept of sitting in a car for 45 minutes to travel two miles is unthinkable — we’ll get out of the damn car and walk, that you very much. We can’t understand the following words: beach, 110, 405; we scowl at the conspicuously casual. And although we believed that Tupac was an exceptional artist, there was, is, no comparison to Biggie.
As someone who’s been traveling to Los Angeles for the better part of the past decade, this morose New Yorker can’t help but be enraptured by the warmth, can’t help but fall in love with the clean streets, the proliferation of green juices and verdant lawns.
And although I landed in LAX scowling and sporting all black, I definitely frightened my colleague by how my scowl transformed into raucous laughter as we sped down Montana in Santa Monica.
Starved after a turbulent 6.5 flight, which included a Cicely Tyson sighting and a half hour of circling the airport because the President took over LAX, I was damn near close to cannibal when we entered Kreation Kafe. This certified green eatery serves up delicious, fresh local dishes made from the simplest of ingredients. From fluffy market eggs to frothy kale smoothies to grilled chicken and quinoa that’s jaw-dropping, I could feel myself thaw. Ignoring the fact that I was still sporting cashmere, standing out amongst the t-shirts and skinny jeans, my colleague and I indulged in a plate of sugary baklava, gearing up for our slew of evening meetings.
But first a pit-stop at Nothing Bundt Cakes, because who, quite honestly, can resist a store devoted to the BUNDT CAKE? Enough said.
I travel quite a bit for my job, so I’ve made it a point to focus on achieving airline and hotel status. However, The Ambrose — a boutique, eco-conscious hotel in Santa Monica, is the exception to every rule. A nondescript spot surrounded by greenery and serene-inducing water fountains, you’ll want to immerse yourself in this tranquil idyll. The rooms are modest and sustainable; my colleague and I managed to score a patio, which made us delirious. From the Aveda products in the bathroom to the best breakfast going (luscious, scarlet strawberries, flaky almond croissants, piping hot fair-trade coffee), it was difficult to leave my room, and get, you know, WORK, done.
Which brings me to another interesting fact about Los Angeles. People don’t actually take meetings in offices, rather they negotiate and talk business over food, which pleases me immensely. From rapini pesto toasts (who knew that I would actually like anything BROCCOLI? NEXT YOU’LL HAVE ME EATING THE WRETCHED MUSHROOM!!!!) to nutty cheeses and sparkling wines, you will believe you’ve found bliss while watching the sunset dining al fresco at Shutters on the Beach. Or possibly a sense of calm while chowing down at Barney Greengrass in Beverly Hills.
Mind you, it wasn’t all pomp and play. Aside from the constant conference calls, plans and contracts on deadline, and a three-hour time difference to negotiate, which kept me up to all hours on email — I found a small respite in my 36-hour trip to Los Angeles.
And while I’ll never leave New York, my heart, my home, sometimes it’s necessary to sit supine in sunshine. Sometimes it’s imperative to flock to the west coast and relax amidst meetings, deadline and work, work, work.