Paradise Tasted. Foie Gras & Oyster

A match made on the Riviera at Café Del Ray

The hackneyed expression "it doesn't get any better than this" is hackneyed because it's sputtered during such occasions as when cracking open a cold one to other equally underwhelming situations. "Freshly laundered socks!" Sniffing socks. "Ahhh, it doesn't get any better than this!"

I know I'm being hypercritical, but, as some people pick up on the verbal tics "um" and "like" or "whatever" and "dude" and react like a garden snail dipped into a margarita salt rimmer, I bristle whenever I hear "it doesn't get any better than this" because, usually, it does get better, much better, and without a lot of effort.

Eventually I mellowed out on my extreme irritation to this pithy phrase since I can understand those freshly laundered socks likely won't smell any better from that moment on. I do get that it's all about context.

Therefore, as I sat in bliss, meditating on the view of the picturesque Marina Del Rey harbor, taking in a sky so blue it cleared the mind and watching the fleet of leisure boats bob placidly on the sheltered sea with the glorious California riviera resting in the background adorned by the dream abodes of Playa Del Rey, I made the quiet observation that it doesn't get any better than this. But, of course... it did.

A handsome, deep purple, blackberry cocktail appeared and smoothly enhanced the pure joy I was already experiencing.

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The Executive Chef at Café Del Rey in Marina Del Rey is Daniel Roberts. At first glance, he looks like the kind of guy who whistles on his way to work and loves what he does. At second and subsequent glances, he still looks that way. And, when you taste his simple, fresh and refined creations that are not only candy to the mouth but also to the eyes, you too will be happy that he's happy to be at work cooking for you.