After a brief dalliance with Los Angeles on the first step of our California road trip, the three of us bundled ourselves up in the Toyota Yaris (RIP, dreams of winding around California’s snake-like coastline in a stretch Hummer) and started to make the long, slow journey up to San Francisco. Except it wasn’t long and slow; we didn’t stay anywhere longer than 36 hours and by Californian standards*, that’s lightning speed. So to amend, off we hurried to Malibu, after hearing tales of its tasty, tasty seafood.
*man, those guys know how to relax. Or at least seem like they’re relaxing while they’re casually RUNNING THE WHOLE WORLD with their super-hip tech companies
As I would later discover, my European taste buds demand my seafood to be prepared a little more – shall we say – al dente than the average American chef might cook it. But if there’s one thing the Yank chefs know how to do, it’s deep fry. Us Brits may be known for our fish and chips, but the best I’ve had in the UK (Mariners, Penryn, Cornwall) still didn’t compare with this beauty. Bask in its succulence:
Malibu is only an hour or so from Los Angeles and could easily be a day trip. Make sure you stop by Malibu Seafood but be prepared to queue (the picture below shows about half of the line). And if you have an average appetite, two pieces of fish will more than suffice (I had one piece and chips and was quite replete). Parking is a bitch, so try and park on the same side of the highway rather than take your life into your hands as you run across it.
Well, if this isn’t a middle-class delight, I don’t know what is. Everything in this polished little town has been spruced up to portray the picture-perfect Californian-visitor lifestyle. From The Painted Cabernet, a ladylike, liquored-up painting class, to the skin boutique where I tested a face cream, asked for the price and was told $4,000, I get the feeling that if you’re not slightly spun out by it, you’d be living in a blinkered dream.
Of course, my pals and I hold too much of a smirk not to explore the underbelly of a place like this. We pre-drank at a grimy Irish bar, where I thought the shavings of the floor were an amusing attempt at being ‘traditionally Irish’. I was wrong, the shavings were years’ worth of monkey nuts having been spat on the floor. We escaped pronto after that realisation. A quick swipe on Grindr from one of my pals and we were invited to Wildcats, where the Sunday night party was at. There, I met a transgender woman named Skye Blu who taught me how to flirt (“it’s all in the eyes,” but apparently I’m just not that good at it). Needless to say, I was up rather late the following day, so had a quick prance around the town centre before we headed to our next stop…
I can’t tell you a whole lot about Cambria as our experience of it was pretty much: buying cheap champagne, drinking said cheap champagne on a rug watching the sunset. But stopping off here did mean we got to do an afternoon’s hiking at Pfeiffer State Park (complete with ropey drive). As stunning a walk as it was, I’d hasten to say that almost any Californian hike is a damn beaut. Make sure you schedule in at least one, if you’re planning a visit.
This over-sized country club, as it came to be known in our group of three, creeped me out a little bit. Once a haven for artists in California, it’s a small Stepford-esque town with gallery after gallery but as far as I could see, no taste. Lots of giant chrome sculptures. Super-shiny, super-big. Go figure. The beach is obviously beautiful, but so is the rest of the Californian coast so unless you’re a middle-aged, super rich type with more cash than taste, I think you could happily pass this place by.
Then again, it was the last stop before San Francisco and, having visited previously and deciding it was the only place other than the UK I could genuinely see myself settling in, I was hella excited for that one. But that’s another post for another day.