Merry Belated Christmas!
Ever since we've been married, Bryan and I have spent Christmas with Bryan's family in Southern California. I love getting away from the cold in New England for just a few days to soak up the California sun. Some years we visit Disneyland, other years we go to Knotts Berry Farm. And other years we just chill and spend time with family.
Of course, there is always plenty of good food, whether it be our favorite restaurants or Bryan's mom's great cooking. She always makes an effort to make Bryan's favorite dishes, and we always make a point of visiting our favorite haunts.
Our trip started out with several bumps. Our direct flight from Boston to Los Angeles unexpectedly had to stop in Dallas to get more fuel (too much headwinds, they said). That delayed our arrival time by two hours - to around 1AM PST. After we arrived in LAX, we had to wait on the tarmac for another two hours due to an airport shutdown earlier that day, which delayed everything.
We didn't get to Bryan's parents' house until after 3AM PST, which really felt like 6AM EST.
Needless to say, we were exhausted.
At least we had a reason to get up the next morning. We met a friend at Din Tai Fung at South Coast Plaza around 11:30AM for lunch. At 11AM there was no line. By 11:30AM, we had to wait a bit for a table (but it wasn't too bad yet).
I love the truffle dumplings ($21 for 5, so kinda pricey, but worth it!), and I also love any of their stir fried green vegetables. The baby mustard greens with ginger were great, but any of their greens are excellent.
We don't get to go home for Thanksgiving much anymore, but Bryan's mom always makes a traditional turkey dinner for us. We love her homemade gravy, which includes not only the drippings, but also the chicken gizzards, heart, and all sorts of other flavorful offal-y bits. The stuffing, which she bakes on a cookie sheet until it's very crispy, is also a family-favorite.
On Christmas Eve, we got together with Bryan's extended family for a crazy potluck feast. Bryan's grand-uncle always cooks up a storm (he loves to cook and he's good at it!). Bryan's aunts bring local favorites like awesome Vietnamese food from Brodard's or handmade classics like scallion pancakes (yum!).
It's a family tradition now to visit Peking Restaurant in Westminster for lunch after church. This family-owned restaurant has looked the same and has served the same excellent homemade dumplings and noodle dishes for over 30 years.
The handmade Potstickers are excellent - among the best I've ever had. The Beef Roll (fried scallion pancake wrapped around beef) is also phenomenal. We always get both of those, as well as Da Lu Noodle and Pan Fried Noodles. (Definitely pay the $1 extra for the fresh handmade noodles - it's worth it!)
On Christmas Day, we enjoyed a Chinese Hot Pot, one of our other traditions. We've been using the same 40+ year old electric skillet that Bryan's parents got as a wedding present. It still works great! We spent a wonderful evening hearing Bryan's father and aunt tell wild stories about their memories from life in China and Taiwan.
On our last day in California, we stopped by In N Out right next to airport (it's like a 5-minute drive from LAX). I tried a Double Double for the first time and decided I preferred it to the Single burger. 😉
Thankfully, our flight back was quick (less than 5 hours!) and smooth (strong tail winds this time). We were even upgraded to business class (woo hoo - thanks to Bryan's Executive Platinum status). We spent a lovely 24 hours in Boston before heading onto another plane to London, where we'll celebrate the New Year!