I went back, back to Cali, Cali to celebrate my sister’s 25th birthday! With it being August, we had the benefit of perfect no humidity weather.  *Looks at Houston forecast, take me back!* For this trip, my sister had her crew which I like to call “the turn up crew” while I had my two friends, “the old lady gang!”  Check out the food highlights and the all the details below in Cali Dreamin’!

Cali Dreamin'-1

2/3 or the Old Lady Gang and the turn up crew!

Cali Dreamin'-2

Ahhh Rodeo. I felt home here hahaha

Duff’s Cake Mix

Raise your hand if you were obsessed with Ace of Cakes in the early 2000s like me????   For those who missed that cultural phenomenon, Ace of Cakes featured Duff Goldman’s bakery Charm City Cakes based in Baltimore, Maryland.   Goldman and his staff were extremely innovative with fondant and made things out of cake that the world had never seen.  When I think back to the popularity of fondant, I point to shows like Ace of Cakes as the source.  You can also find Duff’s line of cakes and fondant in your local grocery store.

Cali Dreamin'-3

With that background, you should not be surprised that I jumped at the chance to visit Duff’s Cake Mix in LA.  Similar to the pottery classes that were popular in my childhood, Duff’s Cake Mix allows customers to decorate their own cake with all of their supplies plus the guidance of their staff.   Like I said earlier, I went to Cali for my sister’s birthday so it was a good excuse to create a cake!

Cali Dreamin'-3

All of the cakes are pre-made and covered with a layer of fondant in variety of colors.  You pick your cake and then pick your toppings.  Paying to decorate the cake there gives you access to their vast supply of cookie cutters and decorating supplies.  I decided that I would go for a beach theme and add other items that my sister likes around the cake.  With the help of my friend Morgan, we spent about an hour decorating.  I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out! The cake, of course was a hit and even tasted pretty good too!

Cali Dreamin'-4

Pink’s Hot Dogs

Later that day we stopped over at Pink’s, an LA institution that we somehow missed on our last visit!  Pink’s is a casual atmosphere with reasonably priced eats making it attractive for those traveling on a budget. One of my friend’s opted for the healthier turkey dog while the rest went for some variation of their signature chili dog.  Is Pink’s the best food I ever had? Nope, but for fast casual I really liked it and would not mind going back on another LA visit.

Reel Inn- Malibu

We spent most of Saturday at the beach in Santa Monica/Venice.  This is the area that makes me feel like I am really in Los Angeles!  After lounging in the sun for the most of the day, we hit Malibu in search of food.   A quick Yelp search led us to the Reel Inn for some seafood.  This is a casual spot that serves up fresh seafood.   Each of us picked which fish we wanted and selected how we wanted it cooked.  I ordered the red snapper cooked cajun style and an appetizer portion of the crab cakes.  The food was pretty good and noticeably fresh seafood.  Considering that we could see the ocean from our booth, I expected nothing less!  After eating, we left Malibu to head back to the city and in typical LA fashion got stuck in traffic.  My GPS suggested a route through the Topanga Valley.  Please note this is actually driving UP a mountain and then coming down on the other side.   One of the scariest drives I have ever made in a minivan no less! After that “adventure” we landed ourselves right back in LA traffic.  So note to self, there are no shortcuts!

The Waffle

Finally, as you know no trip with me is complete without a brunch.  I went to a couple of brunch/breakfast spots and this is the only one I feel is worth noting.   We happened upon the Waffle during a walk to our Airbnb on Sunset.  This casual spot is incredibly bright and inviting.  The menu and setup reminded me of Snooze AM Eatery.   We were still reeling from the night’s activities, so we passed on the mimosas.  They came in cute little mason jars too so I was sad to miss out! For breakfast I went with toast, loaded cheesy hashbrowns and bacon.  Honestly, the hashbrowns were better than the photo makes them out to be.  For me, your really cannot go with when you add cheese!

Los Angeles was a great time! We are already making plans for our next trip.  Ohh and before I let you go, here is a shameless plug for my cousin Kevin.  He moved to LA this year and is the reason we have been visiting so much.  Well on August 23rd, his season of Ink Master starts! He’s super talented and I’m SO proud of him so make sure you watch!