Baywatch has an awful lot to answer for.
“The Hoff” is not cool.
Those red swim suits wouldn’t hold up ten metres in waves, let alone saving another human’s life in a rip.
And California does not have an endless summer. Nor is its ocean anywhere near warm.
Like everyone, I have my 90’s secret shame: a love of Baywatch.
I was ten, give me a break!
But it really fixed some strong notions in my head about what California was. Going there for the first time as an adult, I was a little disappointed to find that the water is bloody freezing all year ‘round compared to ocean water off the coast in Australia.
But those are minor infractions when you take into account the beauty of Californian beaches, the warmth of the sun, and the delicious and healthy food you can get there.
On an LA stopover between Canada and Australia, the Nomads’ friends Leysa and Jay take me to Crystal Cove Beach via Whole Foods.
Crystal Cove is one of those sprawling, lengthy bits of ocean and sand that stretch as far as the eye can see. The sand is yellow-white, that perfect level of not too soft and not too coarse. The ocean is clean and peppered with rocks that jut out of the water, half their mass exposed. The rocks are considerately scattered around a corner away from the main part of the beach – perfect for rock walking and crab inspecting. Small crabs scurry away from us as we inspect their day time habitats.
The waves are small enough to keep the parents happy, and the kids entertained – the beach being sprinkled with umbrellas and families. And while this place is family friendly, it also caters for the adults, with Beachcomber Cafe sitting a leisurely stroll away from the beach.
We’ve prepared for lunch already, bringing a picnic lunch from that grocery store that Americans and Canadians love to hate: Whole Foods. I can’t hate on this place. How could I hate somewhere that has such a variety of delicious and healthy food? It sums up everything about Californian food in one store: taste, variety, health, and freshness.
I usually have a strong aversion to fake meat. If I don’t like eating meat, why on earth would I want to try something that tastes like meat? This is a discussion I’ve had with many friends in this hemisphere. The faux meat thing is not such a popular option for vegans and vegetarians in Australia. But recently, a veggie friend in Kentucky, U.S., explained to me that he’d been vegetarian for years, but loved and missed the taste of meat, so that’s why he indulges in the faux stuff. Given seitan makes me feel sick on the stomach, I can’t see myself taking to this, but I decided to try some “Fakinn Bacon” from Whole Foods. Leysa assures me it’s quite tasty and won’t actually be like having bacon as it’s made from tempeh, not seitan.
Jay has a healthy avocado dragon roll and fizzy blackberry lemonade. Leysa and I both have the tempeh, lettuce and tomato ciabatta sandichs, hers with avaocado, mine without (I’m the sole veggie/vegan in the world who doesn’t like avocado!). Ours are made with Tempeh Fakin Bacon, spring mix lettuce, beefsteak tomatoes, and non-GMO Vegannaise.
I’m a fakin bacon convert. It’s delicious! And it doesn’t taste like bacon at all. I haven’t had bacon since 2007, but I remember the salty taste). I imagine it’s more like a salty, vegan jerky taste. Not that I’ve ever tried vegan jerky, but it’s the closest approximation I can think of. And it’s also the first time I’ve tried Vegannaise without wanting to lose my stomach. The fake bacon, fake mayo, the lettuce and the chunky slices of tomato are a great combo.
The “cheesy” (inactive yeast) kale chips I buy for an after snack are not so crash hot. Don’t bother – make kale chips at home yourself and enjoy while still hot. They’re always much better than the store bought packaged stuff.
After our meal, we had back to Balboa Island for the night. It was a satisfying day in the sun at Crystal Cove.
What’s your favourite thing about California? Is it the beach? The food? The weather?
Location: Crystal Cove Beach: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, United States and Whole Foods: 415 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, California
Cost: Crystal Cove Beach $15 vehicle day pass. Whole foods $7.00 for my sandwich.
You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica over at Google.