In search of celebrities

Los Angeles, California

Since both my and Charlotte’s brothers are now at USC, we had a great excuse to visit the West Coast this long weekend. Given the incomprehensible game that is Airfare Pricing, it was somehow cheaper for me to fly here from Raleigh than it typically is for me to fly an hour north to Boston. My round-trip ticket, easily connecting through Charlotte, was only $219.

Granted, U.S. Airways is a terrible airline. “Could I have a blanket?” the man across from me asked a flight attendant on our 5-hour haul. “Sir, they’re $7 dollars,” she replied. Still, for just $200 to fly across the country, you couldn’t really complain.

We had just a little over a day in the City of Angels and met Peter early at our hotel, the Palomar. It was a Kimpton property so had all the requisite perks: trendy rooms with weird leopard print robes, a lobby with a roaring gas fireplace and funky bright orange trees and a Wine Hour.

Most important for us was the location on Wilshire, minutes from Westwood, Hollywood and the parking lot that is the 405. In typical fashion, parking at the hotel — of course, not included — was about 25% of our room rate. Welcome to L.A.

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Today, we decided in the car, was about celebrity spotting. There was perhaps no better place to start then Runyon Canyon. This is where Justin and Jessica walk their dogs. Along with just about every other celeb. The canyon has some pretty rigorous trails which we tackled while taking in the views of the sprawling city below us. And with yesterday’s rain fall, the skies felt surprisingly smog-free.

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On our way out, Peter claimed he saw some dude from 90210. Having never seen the show, it was difficult for me to confirm. Still, a close call! Someone alert Perez.

Famished, we made the short drove for brunch at Doughboys. This is where, gasp, Blake Lewis — you know, the American Idol runner-up from Season 6 — had brunch two years ago. Given that the restaurant had just re-opened, we were psyched for a gut-busting meal. The massive menu, with breakfast, lunch and dinner options, had us thinking all over the place though.

But ultimately, the scrapple with dirty eggs — pan-fried grits mixed with shredded braised pork, served with spicy eggs scrambled with caramelized onion and potato — with a gigantic hunk of freshly-baked cornbread, had me singing for Randy.

Alas, he was not there.

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Wanting to escape the L.A. traffic, we made our way out to Santa Monica, where we walked the board walk and the Third Street Promenade. We didn’t spot Ben Affleck at the playground but some homeless man did tell Charlotte that she had nice toes.

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Hopes were high for dinner at Koi, where Miley Cyrus chows down, and for Chef Katsuya’s signature crispy rice. This amazing concoction is pan seared rice topped with ahi tuna and a slice of jalapeno. We’ve all ate a lot of sushi but agreed — this is just some of the best.

When our waiter brought out an equally amazing Baked Crab Roll, we washed down a glass of sake and nodded. With our without Miley, this place rocked.

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We wrapped the night at XIV, a Philippe Starck-designed dining club that takes trendiness up to the next level. This minimalist space exudes coolness — we couldn’t even figure out where the door was. Once inside, we realized we had stumbled upon a movie premier party for a slasher flick called Dahmer v. Gacy. There were lots of guys wearing make-up and some midgets, but no one we could recognize.

Finished with our Amstels, we headed outside and found ourselves on the red carpet. With a few parking valets milling around, we had our own impromptu photo shoot.

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Celebrities or not, we could at least pretend.

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