Looks like another perfect day: California Cobb Macaroni Salad

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In 1981, The Sweetie and I were living on Vashon Island in the Cove Motel (known locally in the 60s and 70s as the best place to score weed). I was the kitchen manager at Sound Food, Sweetie worked as a consultant for the Swinomish tribe on Lummi Island—life was grand. Sure, there were the bikers partying below us (we called them the “dark ones”) and the late-night thrum of fishing boats idling off our deck, but we had Puget Sound breezes, a rainbow windsock, and our own private beach.

Tramp Harbor

Exercise bikers at the Portage Store

KVI Beach in the late 1970s


One late night after hours of brain-numbing music coming from below, I marched downstairs, approached the dark ones’ front door and tapped, hoping to get some peace and quiet. A very large, very hairy, very inked up, dark one slowly opened the door and said, “What.” Mean dogs barked from a futon, next to the mean dogs sat a mean girl, on each side of the mean dogs/mean girl sat two more large, hairy dark ones. “Nice dogs”, I said and scurried back upstairs.

But life can spin on a dime and a few weeks later our friend Bob called from LA with a job offer—took Sweetie about a minute to accept. “What’s not to love”, he said: new software company, new words like floppy disc, Macintosh, bits, bytes, reboot, new streets like Sunset Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue. We will skip over my reluctance to leave Sound Food, my home, my family, my friends and go directly to the drive from Puget Sound, down the I-5, the Pacific Coast Highway, and into Los Angeles: no green, no trees, nightmare traffic, high rent, and what appeared to be an inhospitable, not-so-charming city of 3,000,000 waiters who were writing screenplays.



La Brea Avenue thrift store

Laguna Beach

It took me a few years to love LA, but when we left in 1989, I moaned about leaving as vehemently as I complained about arriving. Since then we’ve lived in San Diego, Santa Cruz, Emeryville, Walnut Creek, Sacramento, Modesto, Fresno (in descending order of affection) and now Santa Barbara. I have loved California and the concept of California since I was a kid. In 1950s small, Midwestern towns, California promised sun (and not the sweat-drenching, humid kind), beaches (unheard of in Pender, Nebraska), avocados, boys with tans, convertibles, and good vibrations. Anyone who escaped to California was my hero.

Our apartment in Westwood


The Self Realization Center in Pacific Palisades

California is where the Westward Ho movement stops, where Norma Jean Baker becomes Marilyn Monroe, where a garage band from Tennessee becomes the Kings of Leon, where garage software becomes Apple—where anything can happen. There are pockets of resistance in California to Los Angeles’ laissez faire/anything goes attitude, but for the most part, it takes a lot for someone here to disapprove. For heaven sakes there are chainsaw jugglers, in line skaters wearing Speedos, costumed hustlers on Hollywood Boulevard, the Watts TowersJumbo’s Clown Room—everything a girl from Nebraska could want.

California Cobb Macaroni Salad

  • 1/2 pound macaroni
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or 1 whole tomato, diced
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese vinaigrette
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Boil macaroni in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a bowl.

Add macaroni to rest of ingredients. Toss with the blue cheese vinaigrette to coat, and cool. Tastes better if served at room temperature.

Blue cheese vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and sugar.

Slowly add extra-virgin olive oil, whisking until emulsified. Or shake the ingredients in a jar, or whirl them in a blender. Add crumbled blue cheese.



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1 Response to Looks like another perfect day: California Cobb Macaroni Salad

  1. Ginny says:

    A Buick! How perfect.

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