Monday, August 12, 2013

Bellinis at Brunch

Impressions of Pacific Palisades on a Sunday morning. The farmers' market sets up on Swarthmore Avenue and it's just a short block of stalls, flanked on either side by the sidewalk cafes and little boutiques that make up the central business district of this affluent little village, home to LA's elite.

Jostle among the heirloom tomatoes, the fancy baked goods, the lavender potpourri. Aging maroon-haired dowagers poke greedy toothpicks into the tupperware bins of sample peach and pluot chunks. Doddering old men, their socks drawn up over spindly calves, seamed faces golf-tanned behind dark glasses, steer two-wheeled shopping trollies through the crowds as ably and aggressively as they once, before retirement, steered talent agencies or law offices through complicated deals and schemes to build their fortunes - and you damned well better watch out if you get in their way.

At one stall, still distinguished in tee-shirt and madras shorts, a white-haired man champs his expensively tended incisors on a ripe strawberry, and waves a jaunty hand at his wife, waiting on the sidewalk with a brace of wee West Highland terriers, circling her Tory Birch shod ankles. Former chairman of the board at a museum.

A bespectacled old codger laden down with bags lips up a mouthful of sticky kernels from the brimming top of a tall bag of kettle-corn, held in a two-handed grip before him. A retired law school dean, perhaps?

Trim, Pilates-toned housewives shove massive strollers like cowcatchers through the crowds, while jerseyed and cleated seven-year olds trail behind their driven, rock-star dads who palpate the heirloom tomatoes knowingly.

A local French bistro is a prime gathering spot for these villagers, sitting beneath the sage-colored market umbrellas, dogs tied to parking meters, or inside, beneath the chalkboard advertising today's pastries. The silver-haired chef sidles through the tables holding aloft a tomato box from the market beyond. He stops, smiles and greets a seated couple.

A grandpa guides a tiny toddler to the bakery counter, barefoot in Batman pajamas. When he places the order, I'm surprised to hear the crisp tones of a European accent. He nudges me and cautions me that the zipper on my handbag, slung over my chair, is open. "You can't be too careful," he says. I'm thinking - in this crowd? If there's any place my pocket change is safe, it's here!

At one table, a lithe blonde woman in yoga wear and a panama trilby fiddles with her I-phone, ignoring the croissant before her - is she a song-writer? Lawyer? Event planner? Her face lights up as her date arrives, tee-shirted and shadow-bearded - Television producer? Real estate agent? Internet executive?

At another table, an elegant couple gossips with a botoxed blonde beauty. They're all in white linen, sunglasses concealing their eyes. The gentleman has a cashmere sweater tossed casually over his shoulders, a grey ponytail, silver turquoise rings on his fingers. The lady lifts one elegantly manicured hand, leans in and lowers her voice confidentially - "Well, she was what they called in those days a torch singer."

Sunday brunch in Pacific Palisades.


Unknown said...

Beautiful writing.
I wanted more.

smalltownme said...

"Strollers like cowcatchers..." You are spot on!

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...


Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

"Trim, Pilates-toned housewives shove massive strollers like cowcatchers"

...that is fantastic writing, right there!