I believe I found Heaven, or at least a close measure of it, amidst the rocky cliffs of the Southern California peninsula Rancho Palos Verdes. The motive of our three-day trip was the wedding of Ashley and Jeremy Dowdy, who hired my mother (of Shindigs By Sheril) to plan and coordinate. She executed flawlessly. Though aside from the In-n-Out food truck rehearsal dinner and jaw-dropping wedding (captured by Brandon and Kristen Kidd, both of whom I have a total crush on), my family was free to explore the massive grounds of pools, patios and impressive restaurants at Terranea Resort.
Kevin, the hotel's acclaimed concierge, learned and remembered every guest's name. You could expect to hear his voice call, "Hey, Sheril!" upon walking out of the lobby elevator.
Happy hour(s) next to the fire pits and succulent bushes became the ritual, especially when cucumber, lime and gin coolers were on the menu. And in the morning, Sea Beans (the resort's cafe) handed over iced coffees and plump blueberry muffins like clockwork. I treated myself to a classic California acai bowl by the Spa pool yesterday morning before leaving.
Our Thursday and Friday dinners, Bashi Japanese and Marsél, respectively, stood out most. Bashi's staff warned us of the large portions; but of course that did not stop the Greensteins. I could have ordered two helpings of the crispy tofu and wild mushrooms with snap peas! The "sizzling steak" had a more impressive presentation than taste, though we didn't regret the order. And the sweet short ribs were sensational. We fell into an eleven-hour food coma (unheard of for my family) following the late dinner.
Marsél, the fanciest of all, was saved for Friday evening. The pricier menu was well worthwhile, as most of the dishes offered local offerings such as Santa Barbara rock prawns (unreal), California jumbo asparagus and bay scallops. The arugula leaves in my burrata and prosciutto salad were from the restaurant's garden, which we passed on our way to the entrance. A crisp glass of Napa Chardonnay carried us from salads to seafood entrées and sides -- my favorite being the skillet-baked Japanese eggplant with ricotta and Thai basil. We couldn't manage to even wrap our head around a dessert menu, but our perky waitress insisted upon bringing dark chocolate truffles on a clam shell for our final bite.
Terranea truly outdid itself. I didn't even mind the morning "June gloom" of smog and marine layers that prevented ocean views; for the views of the surrounding resort landscaping blew us away on their own. Until next time, California.