Favorite Foods, Family and Football: A weekend in LA.

UCLA

UCLA

Staring out my office window last Thursday, I was faced with gray and rain.  That night, a spectacular thunder and lightning show that was still going on when we drove into the airport Friday morning.  Hail – yes hail – slowed our departure down by almost an hour, but no matter because we only arrived 10 minutes late.  When we stepped off the plane in Long Beach – sunny paradise.  Ok, not quite paradise, there is traffic and smog, but to our sun starved eyes, 70+ degrees and no chance of rain was pure bliss. 

We spent the weekend in LA to visit my lil sis at UCLA and, for my husband, to watch the Huskies take on the Bruins.  For me, in addition to seeing Kate, I got sun, Yang Chow and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (more on those last 2 later). 

Game day we woke up bright and early to more sun – hurray!  After picking up Kate and some Fat Tire for the tailgate we headed out to the Rose Bowl to hook up with friends (and serious Bruin fans).  Tailgate fare was just as it should be, old standards with a few healthy twists.  Hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, chips and salsa, pasta salad, fruit and, of course, beer.  At 10 minutes to game time we headed in.  My husband was excited to be at the Rose Bowl, his first time.  Our seats (courtesy of our friends) were awesome – 20 rows up on the 20!  The Rose Bowl seems like quite an intimate setting despite the fact that it can seat 95,000 people or more. 

The game was exciting because it was tight throughout.  But that was because, as my husband put it “I’ve never seen two teams trying so hard to find new ways to lose.”  The Huskies finally found the most ways and lost to the Bruins 24-23, thanks to a disastrous pass by Jake Locker that resulted in an interception with less than one minute on the clock.  It was a heartbreak for the Huskies, who had also missed a routine field goal and continue to have the inability to score a touchdown within 5 yards of the goal.  Needless to say, my husband was deflated and our friends and my sister were elated. 

We evened out our moods by heading to Old Town Pasadena for dinner and window shopping (and some actual shopping as it turned out).  After surveying the offerings on the main drag (Colorado) of the historic downtown area, we settled on Mi Piace and tucked into some serious focacchia, gnocchi, rigatoni and Parma Pizza (the Parma Pizza was comparable to similar pizza we had in Rome, seriously).  Accompanied, of course, by wine – a decent, but not spectacular, Sangiovese.  After stuffing ourselves, we wandered up and down the street looking at shops and eventually being lured into 21 Choices – a true frozen yogurt shop – with a nonstop line out the door.  After sampling several flavors, my husband settled on Rootbeer float and I settled on Circus Animal Cookie.  Wow!  My frozen yogurt actually tasted like Circus Animal cookies, with the sprinkles and everything! 

As Kate is not a frozen yogurt or ice cream fan, after some more strolling and shopping we went back to Mi Piace for take-out – coconut cake with lemon filling and Almond Roca cake.  I’m not ashamed to say I sampled both and while both were incredible, the Almond Roca cake was bar none one of the best dessert offerings I have ever tasted.  We ended the night, with a favorite of mine – The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf – and an apple tea latte.  Bliss.

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