Validation is best served unaware. I learned this while visiting the Big Easy over Labor Day weekend. Arriving to the steamy side of global warming we checked into our accommodation and went looking for food. Nothing elaborate, there was plenty of time for that, what we were looking for was some Creole cuisine that did not include mammals of any kind. The first place we ventured into, the Dirty Dog Saloon served cow with a side of coleslaw for the most part. Not good.
Back out into the warm humidity, we ventured along the edge of the Warehouse district for looking for monkey chow. Anything would do, it was getting late, as we had spend the day hopscotching across the United States via Southwest Airlines. Unwilling to forage for food in Houston, I though it best to wait until New Orleans to seek supper. Smart move.
About several blocks from the Dirty Dog, and a few from Emeril's posh southern eatery we happened upon a place called Lucy's Retired Surfer's Bar and Restaurant. Looking at the menu we found familiar food in an exotic setting. Proclaiming to "serve the best Mexican food presented in an atmosphere which captures the flavor of the Southern California coast," Lucy's seemed the natural choice.
While trying to decide between portabella and crawfish fajitas a familiar name appeared overhead. Now before anyone wrongly accuses me of having a religious experience, what I saw was an old surfboard hanging from the ceiling. On the 8 footer was a Hansen sticker, circa 1960's, complete with Cardiff address. Obviously old school, these guys really were retired surfers.
Of course I clued our server in on the kismet of the moment and how I was currently working with the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce on producing the annual Hansen/Machado Surf Classic. She seemed pleased enough to fill me in on a little history, including the owners youthful experiences in a little town known as Cardiff-by-the-Sea. And how they opened their first California restaurant in Mahattan's upper west side. No matter how far removed, the place had the California casual thing down. The guacamole was better than most, and the wait staff as friendly as would be expected from Beach Betties anywhere in the world.
No longer questioning the decision to take a week vacation during final preparations for the upcoming surf classic, I dove into a wicked cocktail known as the Shark Attack. After the second Shark Attack of the evening I was feeling no pain. I was also distinctly aware of how the spirit of California can find you when you least expect it. And a small reminder of home is always welcome.
Did I mention the killer guacamole?