The Hills, Take Two

On the day after Christmas, my parents returned to Los Angeles for a visit. My dad, an attorney, had to depose a client. And my mom, I’m sure, encouraged him to schedule the meeting near the holidays. I hadn’t expected them to visit us twice in one year, and spending Christmas Day without our families was easier knowing they would soon be here.

I planned the perfect itinerary filled with things we didn’t have time to do when they were here in May, and with new places Kenley and I had discovered since then. (If you missed it, you can read about the first time The Hills headed for The Hills here.)

My dad wanted to go to Marina Del Rey, which is south of Venice Beach and north of LAX. The marina itself is one of the largest man-made small-boat harbors in the U.S. Surrounding the marina are condos, apartments, hotels, restaurants and a few shops, including the LOFT store where I work.

I had recently discovered Shanghai Red’s, the restaurant with by far the best view of the marina. Shanghai Red’s has a large outdoor patio for when it’s warm and a sun room for when it’s cold. We ordered sandwiches and salads, but they have heavier steak and seafood dishes and a buffet.

The food is good.

But the views? They are spectacular.

And on this day, the talk of the restaurant was the large yacht (with a helicopter on its deck) that was docked across the marina. We heard all sorts of theories about who owned the boat — from a Washington dentist to a Canadian businessman to a prince.

Google to the rescue.

The Attessa IV is indeed a large yacht — the largest superyacht to be launched in North America, and one of the world’s top 25 longest private superyachts, according to Charterworld.com.

It is owned by Dennis Washington, a businessman from Montana, and the yacht was rebuilt and launched in Vancouver in 2010. Washington is not a dentist or a prince, though one could argue he lives like the latter. According to Forbes magazine, Washington is the 58th richest man in the U.S.

When asked by the Forbes reporter how much the fixer-upper cost, Washington told her that her question was “crass.”

But if you’re keeping score at home, the value of the boat has been estimated at $300 million.

Read Forbes’ interview with Washington, and be sure to watch the video, here. It takes you behind the scenes of the renovation and inside the yacht.

This article on BoatInternational.com has photos of the interior, including the movie theater and the chandelier designed by Dale Chihuly. (You can also see Chihuly’s work in the Bellagio in Las Vegas and in the Columbia, S.C., Museum of Art in my hometown. Visit the museum’s website to learn more about that installation.)

That evening, we had dinner at Akasha in downtown Culver City. Chef Akasha Richmond was the chef for Michael Jackson before she opened her restaurant in 2008. The restaurant specializes in organic food and embraces environmentally friendly practices. It is one of Pulitzer-winning writer Jonathan Gold’s 99 essential Los Angeles restaurants. You can read his review here. I had been worried the restaurant would be a little too green for my carnivore husband, but decided the rustic atmosphere and menu of American comfort food would be perfect for a belated Christmas dinner.

The restaurant was packed for the last day of Hanukkah. My dad embraced the holiday menu and ordered latkes. I couldn’t resist the Niman Ranch pork chop, served on top of cheddar grits, which is about as close to Southern cooking as I’m going to find here. Kenley ordered barbecue baby back ribs. Surprisingly, he liked Akasha, and I’ve added it to my go-to restaurant list.

For dessert, we took my parents to the first bricks-and-mortar location of Coolhaus ice cream, which finally opened in November on Washington Boulevard in Culver City. You might remember that I wrote about the Coolhaus ice cream truck in July in my Just Keep Truckin On post. (They also have have trucks in Miami, New York and Austin, Texas.)

Having Coolhaus permanently available within a short drive of our apartment has been dangerous, and Kenley and I have become regulars, visiting four times within one month. One of the scoopers there recognizes us now.

You can follow @CoolhausLA on Twitter to find out which flavors of ice cream and cookies the store has each day. Our favorite ice cream flavors include sweet potato and marshmallow, candied bacon, red velvet, nutella almond, and molten chocolate cake. We were there the day they were testing new flavors, including cereal milk, which somehow tastes just like the milk left over in a Froot Loops cereal bowl. I had it on the hotcake cookies, to keep with the breakfast theme.

I recently heard Coolhaus has chicken-and-waffle-flavored ice cream, which you can be sure we’ll try soon. They also have a new carrot cake cookie. As for my parents, they played it safe with dirty mint ice cream.

On Day Two of my parents’ visit, both my dad and Kenley had to work, so Mom and I went shopping at The Grove. Mom wanted to go back there since Dad was with us on our last trip and, shockingly, wasn’t into power shopping.

Mom and I ate lunch at The Farm of Beverly Hills at The Grove. If you go, request to sit outside near the fountain, which is great for people-watching. You might even catch Mario Lopez and his new cohost, Maria Menounos, filming the entertainment television show “Extra.” The boys might have heard that Menounos, a Patriots fan, lost her Super Bowl bet and had to host “Extra” in a tiny-weeny Giants-colored bikini. You can see the video here.

Read about day three of my parents’ December trip to L.A. here.

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