The Gem of All Blogs

Posted on 4 min read

 My husband has been giving me endless amounts of grief about saying, “So and so is the gem of ….”  I use this phrase to describe the little finds in my life that make me happy—a great book, a wonderful new beauty product, or a swank and sexy new downtown hotel bar.

So, this is last time I will be proclaiming something to be the gem of something.

But…before I put to death this wonderful phrase, I must share with you the gems of my recent three day L.A. getaway.

We stayed at  the Hotel Shangri-La, a newly renovated 1930’s hotel on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.  The hotel is a gem because if you love art-deco furniture and perfect beach proximity then this is the place for you.  We had a one-bedroom suite with a king bed (Mateo sheets, 300 count Egyptian cotton) and a large sofa, perfect for the 14-year-old  sharing the suite with us (how romantic, right?).  The suite also had a full kitchen (with chic stainless steel counter surfaces), two flat screen TVs, free Wifi, a Jacuzzi bathtub (with jets), and a walk-in shower. Newly rennovated, everything brand spanking new. Best of all, the hotel is two blocks from the 3rd Street Promenade with a view of the ocean. 

We ate at Gladstone’s of Malibu.  It’s a seafood restaurant on the Pacific Coast Highway with the funky quirk of peanut shell covered floors to give it the casual dining feel. It has great food and of course an amazing view, being as it is on the beach. If you’re lucky, you’ll have our waiter, Emilio, who was nothing less than the archetypal charming-yet-not-pretty-enough waiter/actor that populates the city. 

The next day we visited Hollywood  Boulevard, something I’d never done in all of the years I lived in L.A.  On route to our destination, the Hollywood Wax Museum, we walked along the Hollywood Walk of Stars and read the names, giddy with kitch-driven excitement when we saw names we loved, laughing hysterically seeing stars we’d never heard of. The museum was somewhat disappointing.  The wax stars didn’t even look like themselves– the faces too skinny or the hair really strange. The older figures seemed more real. The exception was Samuel L. Jackson.  My husband stood staring at Samuel, convinced he would unfreeze at some point and say some line from Pulp Fiction like, This is some fucked up repugnant shit.”  

Next, we hit the Guinness Book of World Records Museum, not that interesting.  At the exhibit marking the fattest and thinnest people in the world, I decided, stupidly, to stand on the electronic scale and weigh myself.  Note to travelers:  Never weight yourself on vacation.  We ate lunch at Mel’s Diner, a celebration of the diner in American Graffiti.  After the scale moment, I decided not to order the chocolate shake and had a salad instead. I wouldn’t recommend the salad, but, the French fries at Mel’s are surely a gem.  

The true gem of our day was the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.  We were amazed by the representations of  the  One Ton Man, and also by the the stuffed Two-Headed Calf.  My son’s favorite were the photos of people who’d been impaled by various pieces of machinery or steel and lived to tell about it.  I myself was entranced by the “authentic” shrunken head, a product of  the Jivaro Indian tribe on the Amazon River in South America.

The next day, we rented bikes under the Santa Monica Pier and rode to Venice Beach.  The gem of Venice Beach is people watching,  not the stores, though Abbot Kinney Boulevard has some of the best boutiques around.  We enjoyed watching the action on the famous Venice basketball courts.  There were Japanese tourists who played in brand new over-sized shorts that  looked like skirts, huge Black, trash-talkin’ guys, and muttering schizophrenics.  That night, we had dinner at the 8 oz Burger Bar  on Melrose Avenue. The burgers are all made from  grass fed beef, hence the photos on the exposed brick walls of grazing  cows.  The waiter advised us to order the short rib and cheese Panini sandwich.  He assured us that, in the words of Oprah herself, the sandwich was “life changing.” The bread was good, but we all expected something more barbeque tasting; a little sweeter would have been better.  However, the side dishes were the true “gems.” Fried pickles, fried olives, and fried potato skins topped with truffle oil and parmesan cheese.  I really love fried food. For me, it was the potato skins that were “life changing.”  Sorry Opie. You know I still love you. Later that night, along the 3rd Street Promenade, we had a divine dessert at a little ice-cream/gelato place called Bellagio’s.  I ordered a low-fat cappuccino gelato covered with Nutello—amazing.  Definitely a “gem”. Thankfully, we were nowhere near a scale on that evening!

On our  last day  I took a quick detour to boutique on Montana Avenue,  Aura and Margaret O’Leary.  I bought a dress by Tea and Honey,  a clothing line by designer Rachel Koo, who is Korean born and  So-Cal raised.  Koo’s clothes are silk and cotton with great tailoring, making them comfortable and chic.  I love the ethnic patterns and affordable prices.

Now  I put to rest forever the word gem,  except to say, that the gems of my life are my husband and son.

  • Michelle
    April 7, 2009

    I love it! Jon and I often quote Samuel L. from Pulp Fiction: “May I have a sip of your tasty beverage?” Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

    My favorite LA gem is pastrami at Canter’s, but then again, I’ve yet to explore much of LA…

    Stop in to say hi soon!


  • Hi, nice post. I have been thinking about this issue,so thanks for sharing. I’ll probably be coming back to your site. Keep up the good work