It was one of those perfect Southern California afternoons that made wintering here the most delicious thing in the world. With cool days and even colder nights, I braced for a blustery experience and wondered if I would choose to eat outside. But with the sun shining at its brightest and the wind at bay, it felt delightfully warm and invigorating. I had been meaning to go to Santa Monica Place since its complete renovation many months ago. The rooftop dining terrace beckoned with supposed views of Santa Monica Bay. I love beautiful views and being outdoors in the afternoon, especially as I’m usually inside at my desk, hard at work or writing away.
Today, I was treated with a glorious afternoon, and the modern elegance of the mall made way for the most memorable part of the redesign. As I rode the outdoor escalator up to the top floor, the softly curving walls of the restaurants spread out like wings and drew me westward towards the unbelievable sight. There, beyond the inspired mix of low and high tables and booths for six beneath wood-framed canopies, was the azure blue swath of sea and sky. Horizontal hues punctuated by palms, the colors stretched as far as they could until they disappeared behind the buildings that jutted up from the street below. I wished I could have helped them in their quest, the azure and the blue, help push away the rooftops that encroached on their nearly natural space. But such was progress, and had it not been for the mall’s renovation, I would not have had the opportunity to savor such a view.
And savor, I did. I found reasonably tasty comfort food that I brought outside to one of the booths overlooking the rooftops and the double blue. Adding to the composition were two rare sites often hidden by fog: Palos Verdes Peninsula and Catalina Island. Here in full view, Catalina seemed to rise up from the sea like a great, winged bird. No matter how many times I have looked out across Santa Monica Bay and the broad stretch of the Pacific Ocean, I have always looked for these mountainous sentinels and always delight when I do. For less than ten bucks I enjoyed a good slab of meatloaf, corn, and mac ‘n cheese with a million dollar view. It was my own California Camelot, paradise at the end of November, and the perfect starting point for one of my favorite ocean walks on the cliffs overlooking the sea.
Even with soda instead of champagne, both food and fauna were succulent. It was a perfect afternoon getaway, and a healthy dose of je ne sais quoi.
Juliann Budimir, 2010. All rights reserved.