Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cafe 101 Coffee Shop

Here’s how the eavesdropping played out: “blah, blah, blah cake in a jar” and with that I was pulled into the conversation. I politely asked for the details in order to experience this for myself. Cake in a Jar is a fun dessert from Cafe 101, the hip homage to ‘60s and ‘70s coffee shops. It’s in the lobby of the Best Western on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. I had to sit in a booth by the stone wall, as it reminded me of the long-gone Ships Coffee Shop with their stone wall and toasters on every table.

Knowing I was on the verge of having Cake in a Jar, I started with the Grilled Tandoori Salmon Sandwich with regular fries and sweet potato fries. The salmon was delish, with lettuce, tomato and a cucumber yogurt, served on toasted pumpernickel. I didn’t get to toast the bread myself, but I bravely dealt with it. They also serve breakfast all day, so you know I was eyeing the breakfast burrito for my dinner!

The Cake in a Jar is chocolate cake with caramel icing and walnuts, served in a pint-sized Ball canning jar. I recommend it warmed up with the vanilla ice cream. Yum! I quickly understood the exuberance of the initial conversation where I was introduced to the treat. It was definitely worth the four miles I had to run as rationalization.

Oh yeah, and the music at Cafe 101 was a hoot! Talk about pulling one from my songbook, their mixes could have been my mixes. Billy Squier, Kraftwerk and Supertramp, along with the Eagles and Rolling Stones and other random bands I’ve already forgotten, all musically mish-mashed throughout the meal. Good times and good tunes!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Old LA Zoo

It was Christmas Day, and part of my orphan Christmas tradition is to meet up with a couple of friends, go for a hike in Griffith Park then take a spin on the Merry-Go-Round. This time, the friend who’s the trail aficionado decided to not join in, so I suggested a short route from the MGR parking lot around the Old Zoo. Huh?! Old Zoo you say?! Yes, there is an Old Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park, and the remnants of it are surprisingly accessible and family friendly. There are even picnic tables in one of the old bear grottos, and lots of welcoming green grassy areas nearby.

Very near Shane’s Inspiration playground, on the drive up to the golf club house, there is a sign marked Old Zoo. Park in the lot and follow the service road. After a short walk, you’ll spot cages and pens abandoned when the new Zoo opened in 1965.

Here you see a sign on the fencing around what was once an animal’s home. It reads “Site of the Old Los Angeles Zoo: This Griffith Park canyon area served as the City’s Zoo from its founding in 1912 to 1965, when the Los Angeles Zoo moved to its current location about two miles north of where you are currently standing. Many of the walls, grottos, and other enclosures you see today were built in the 1930s by County Relief workers and Works Progress Administration (WPA) crews. Once, bears, lions, monkeys, macaws, goats, elephants, reptiles, and turtles, among others, lived here and the sounds of their growls, roars, calls, and clamor filled this canyon. Although these historic enclosures are no longer appropriate for housing animals, they can be home to memories of family visits to the Griffith Park Zoo, as well as an opportunity to better understand developments in the zoological sciences. Please enjoy and respect the buildings, walls, and habitats that you will discover today.”

I’m not sure which animal resided here, but it seems shockingly small. And, I’m still trying to figure out where the elephants and lions lived, as they would need a larger space. I'm hoping the grassy area belonged to one of them. I think you’ll be startled at the standards of the time, and hopefully appreciate the expansion and renovations going on at the new Zoo. I saw the work on the new elephant habitat when I was there earlier this month. As the sign suggests, take the opportunity to see how far we’ve come in understanding the needs of our animal friends.

Click here to go to Griffith Park's Web site.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nyala Ethiopian Cuisine

I was heading west via Wilshire from downtown for a meeting. As usual, I was ravenous. What to eat, what to eat?! As sort of a knee-jerk reaction, I made the turn on Fairfax toward Little Ethiopia.

If you are unfamiliar with the area, there are maybe 10 Ethiopian restaurants and markets, mixed in with thrift stores and adult day care/assisted living facilities, on Fairfax between Whitworth and the crossing of San Vincente and Olympic. I’ve eaten at several Ethiopian places on this strip, and Nyala is my go-to due to their yummy vegetarian buffet.

In this picture, you see my favorite dishes: the cooked cabbage/carrots/potatoes, the yellow pea stew, and the red lentil stew. I call the red lentil “sloppy joe” for no other reason than that’s what it reminds me of. The rolled up spongy thing over the sloppy joe and veggies is injera, and sponge is the operative word. You tear off pieces and use it to pick up the food, and it sops up all the luscious juices. Injera alone is the reason to try Ethiopian food! I also had collard greens, couscous and some veggie soup from the buffet, but the trifecta above remains my faves.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

El Coyote Mexican Cafe

So, I could show you another huge, yummy burrito, but you've seen that before. You've surely seen one here on this very blog!

No, for El Coyote Mexican Cafe, I'm showing the wonderful, wacky interior before I talk about that burrito! I love the multi-colored pepper lights and the mirror artwork throughout. It looks like this even when it's not Christmas! I also smile at the fancy-dressed vaquero mannequin in what was once a phone booth by the bathroom. The waitresses wear the traditional dresses with the rickrack trim, which only adds to the experience!

El Coyote dates back to 1931 and has probably been a hopping happy hour spot for its 75+ years. Although my group took the sodas and water route, our whistles were definitely wetted for the hot and fresh chips and salsa to start. I barely had stomach room for my jumbo veggie burrito with the works (sour cream, guacamole and ranchero sauce) after inhaling the chips. Two surprising options on the menu were the ostrich meat, and spaghetti as a side dish. Is this a new - or an old - tradition?

Sorry, I have to say it. El Coyote is a howling good time!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Getty

My Santa Monica appointment ended early, and I was heading back to the SGV via the 405. Once I saw the little white tram coming down the hill, I decided that a visit to The Getty was on the horizon.

As it was way past lunch time, my first stop was the Café. One of the specials was a grilled gouda ciabatta with garlic frites, inspired by the Rembrandt exhibit per the sign on the counter. I took the bait, and it was delish! After devouring the wheel of warm gouda, CD-sized fluffy bread and double-dutch order of fries, it was time to see the galleries that inspired my meal.

Drawings by Rembrandt & His Pupils: Telling the Difference was fascinating. Rembrandt's illustrations were paired with his students' work of the same subject. Until recently, scholars thought the student work was actually Rembrandt's, and this show points out the differences in the styles and techniques. I was inspired by his use of the "Wite-Out" option of his day, and the reworking and redrawing of some of his pieces. It was as if he corrected his errors and kept going, not quitting or scrapping his accomplishments, and it all turned out just fine.

My next stop was to see The Medieval Scriptorium exhibit. To summarize, it was the Complete Idiot's guide to illuminated manuscripts. I learned that illuminated meant painted in the Middle Ages. Some illuminated manuscripts were how-to books, so the pictures had to make the instructions easy to follow. Other manuscripts told a story, and artists had to come up with new ways to illustrate. Some artists had to create images of things that they had never seen. Imagine painting an picture of an alligator if you'd only heard it described! In another example, we see where an artist had only a small space to tell a story, and how the main character appeared twice in the image to show the progressing events. Excellent use of what was available.

Finally, I had to see van Gogh's Irises while I was in the 'hood. Irises is one of my faves. He was in an asylum when this was painted. Even while deeply depressed, he created this beautiful image.

While taking the tram back down the hill, I realized my visit was all about making the most of what you have. Rembrandt and his redone drawings, illuminated manuscript artists optimizing what little space they had to tell their stories, and Vincent thinking that painting could keep him sane. Wow! And it all started just by seeing the little tram that could.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Walt Disney Concert Hall














The Walt Disney Concert Hall is the jewel in the crown of LA's Music Center. Opening in 2003, it seems to have reinvigorated the classy music performance scene downtown. At least in my humble opinion, it's now cool to see and hear classical tunes.

I was the lucky +1 for a Master Chorale concert at Disney Hall last night. I dolled up to enjoy a wonderful night of music. Christmas music was slated, the bulk of it non-traditional by today's standards.
I was looking forward to hearing my favorite instrument, the pipe organ. All the stops were pulled out for this concert, and the audience even got to sing-along with the professionals! As the guest of a Master Chorale Board family member, I chose to not take a photo inside the auditorium of the awesome presentation. This external shot will have to do for now.

Although the organ isn't always part of the schedule, go to Disney - and the Ahmanson, Chandler and Taper venues - when you have the chance. As the Music Center, these four facilities offer musicals, plays and opera, plus the Philharmonic and the Master Chorale. I may not "get" it, but I always enjoy it!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

LA Zoo

You know Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen...yes, these are Santa's famous reindeer from the Reindeer Romp at the LA Zoo!

I often overlook the Zoo when I'm needing a getaway from the hustle and bustle. So when a friend invited me to go for a stroll at the Zoo, and I knew it was Reindeer Romp time, I got away in a flash!

It was one of those rare LA days, sandwiched in a pocket between raining the day before, and more rain predicted for the next few days. There was a noticeable crisp in the air, the kind where a jacket is not optional. Like me, the animals were appreciating the sun and soaking up the warm rays.

As for that getaway, seeing such diverse creatures from different continents is almost like taking a trip. No need for a passport to enjoy the lions, tigers, bears (oh, my!), kangaroos, elephants, chimps, zebras, giraffes, hippos and all the other animals working on their tans. There are 80 or so exhibits at any time, so there's always something fantastic to see.

Just in the nick of time for Christmas, the reindeer were front and center for this visit. The North Pole is another continent, right?! Families were enthralled with Santa's support crew, appearing right before their wondering eyes. It was fun to hear parents explain why these reindeer weren't with Santa. The reindeer will romp through January 3. And, yes, Virginia, they get Christmas Day off.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chill - Coffee, Crepes and Frozen Yogurt


Chill
is a super-cool hybrid of seemingly unconnected themes: fro yo, coffee and crepes.

I went for the red velvet frozen yogurt - sold by the ounce - with some fruit and candy toppings. Very tasty! I also sampled the tart green apple yogurt. Yum. They had at least eight different fro yo flavors to choose from, and a large selection of toppings. I was content for the moment.

But, a friend ordered a dinner crepe with chicken, cheese and spinach. Here you see the Chill staffer making it. I was shocked to see a crepe made to order inside this supposed yogurt shop. It smelled so good on the griddle, that I was considering reconsidering my yogurt!

They're open from 7A to 11P, which means they're good for the morning coffee, afternoon snack or dinner. Give them a try when you're in the area to satiate the blood sugar whatever hour - or whatever craving - it may be.

They do not have a Web site at this time. Street address is 11706 Moorpark near Coldwater Canyon in Studio City. Phone is 818-762-0041.

Friday, December 4, 2009

DWP Light Festival

Are you feeling like a humbug about the holidays? The DWP Light Festival in Griffith Park is a sure way to snap into the spirit of the season!


This is the fourteenth year of lights and music along Crystal Springs Drive, right by the Zoo. The lights outline models of icons such as City Hall, the Observatory, LAX, Venice Beach and other LA attractions. Everyone is snapping pictures for their Christmas cards, and cheery music is pumped over speakers. I can count on at least one Elvis song each time. Blue Christmas is definitely my favorite, and his White Christmas works in a pinch. Great fun, and it's all free!

I've been going to the Light Festival for at least six years. Last year the DWP folks trialed a few vehicle-free nights, meaning you got to walk down the middle of Crystal Springs, as opposed to the horse path to the side inhaling exhaust fumes from the cars driving by. This year, after listening to feedback and deciding on a greener Christmas, they made more than half of the nights geared to pedestrians and bicyclists. Now until December 17, park at the Zoo and walk one mile each way under and around the lights. Much better photo ops! Then, from December 18 to 30, cars will be allowed to drive through the route, starting from the Los Feliz side of the Park. Walkers are back on the dirt path. Trust me, it's not as much fun on those nights, but it is still worth it if you miss the pedestrian nights. I'd definitely have a Blue Christmas without this event!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Los Tacos

Los Tacos is my go-to place for nachos, and my SGV equivalent of Tito's Tacos (see June 17th post), with horchata replacing the root beer and ice balls. Many of my "in the know" friends are fans, and one visit is enough to convert anyone.

I walked or drove by their neon signs many times heading south on Fair Oaks. I finally stopped in and ordered the large carnitas nachos to go. Dang! It was huge!! (The picture is the small order for reference.) And I was hooked.

Now that I'm in the club, friends proudly share that they cater their parties with Los Tacos. I sometimes run into people who test the waters with "you may know this little taco place over by the Huntington Hospital..." before admitting to being a fan. I proudly proclaim my fan-dom! Although Los Tacos bills itself as "the world's greatest tacos," I'll let you decide that for yourself. "The world's greatest nachos" -- now I'll definitely agree to that!

No Web site at this time. Located at the intersection of Fair Oaks and California in Pasadena, behind the dry cleaner. Phone is 626-795-9291.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Donut Hole

The westside may have Randy's Donuts; I wrote about them back in June. But, the San Gabriel Valley has The Donut Hole, another iconic stop on my search for LA's donut hole-y grail.

The Donut Hole kicks the giant donut theme up a notch, as you get to drive through this one! Really, you drive in and on the right hand side the baking is going on, and on the left hand side you coast past racks of fresh donuts on the way to the decision window to place your order.

This big donut says "It's the Quality," but we all know it's the quality of kitsch in this pursuit. Do you know of other enormous donuts? I'd love to hear about them!

They do not have a Web site. Street address is 15300 Amar Road in La Puente, CA 91744, and phone is (626) 968-2912.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fish King

Fish King in Glendale is more than a fresh fish and poultry store. It is more than a quick lunch or dinner spot. It is more than an outlet for your prepared Thanksgiving turkey or Honeybaked Ham. It is all of these things!

It's the day before Thanksgiving and I met a friend at Fish King for some chow with a side of catch-up. Upon approaching their store on Glendale Avenue just north of the 134, I immediately saw multiple folks loading their cars with the paper crate sized boxes of food, sure to grace a festive table the next day. Once inside, I saw a massive fresh seafood and poultry counter, packed with last minute shoppers selecting the big day’s protein. Preordered cooked turkeys were available to those folks who planned ahead.

But, I was there for lunch. Just inside the doors is the charming Galley Deli. They call it a deli, but you won’t find a meat slicer or dill pickles here. There’s no pretense, either; you’ll see a big orange water jug on the counter, plastic utensils and nautical décor. Everything in the cases looked fresh and fantastic, and I had a hard time narrowing down my meal selection. I went with the charbroiled salmon with teriyaki sauce, coleslaw (with zesty pineapple and red peppers), and grilled zucchini. YUM!! I saw several diners with white styrofoam cups of clam chowder or lobster bisque. Non-fishy things like mac and cheese and cheesecake were also available. All seemed very happy with their choices, including me. Fish King rules!!

Here's an insider's tip: they also own the Honeybaked Ham store on Glendale on the other side of the 134. Pick your holiday order up here and avoid the crowds at the Vons/IHOP shopping center.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Flight Path Museum

You'll probably have to go to LAX for a pick up at some point over the holidays. The Flight Path Museum and Learning Center is a great place to hang out while waiting for your arrival.

Located on the south side of the airport, at the end of the 105 on Imperial Highway, the Flight Path is a collection of flying-
related memorabilia. From the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903 to Boeing's new Dreamliner, you can see and learn about it here.

There's a great timeline about both the history of flight, as well as our local growth. LAX got off the ground in 1928 in former bean and barley fields. Mines Field became Los Angeles Municipal Airport, and the aviation manufacturing companies starting moving in. LA was "the Detroit of aviation" during that time. I was surprised to read that during World War II, the airport (as it existed then) was camouflaged to look like a farm from the air to protect the fighter plane production.

They have a DC-3 from the '40s in the back and invite you to go inside with a guide and take a looksie. The plane was owned by the Union 76 Corporation, so it is arranged for inflight boardroom meetings. I chuckled at the couches with the seat belts. I sat in the cockpit and started immediately with the Airplane! lines in my head; Roger, Roger. What's the clearance, Clarence? and others brought a huge smile to my face.

My favorite exhibit inside the Museum is the various flight attendant uniforms. I selected the "white glove" version, as a reminder of a time when flying was civilized and a lot more fun. Some of the versions were quite sassy, while others were themed to a location, like the Hawaiian muumuu, the Japanese kimono, and the wacky coonskin cap as the topper for the Americana look.

I would definitely recommend going there and waiting out the dreaded LAX pick up. Yes, you picked the wrong day to complain about going to the airport!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

LA Arboretum

The Los Angeles Arboretum is often thought of as the red-headed stepchild to the Huntington Gardens, located about four miles away. However, the Arboretum can be a delightful escape!

Yes, the Arboretum is a bit more coarse and rugged, not as preened and primped as the Huntington. But, on the side of the Arboretum, it is half the admission price and about half as crowded. The Arboretum just edges out the Huntington on size: 127 for the Arboretum to the Huntington's 120 acres. The Arboretum has some fascinating components to offer, including this Queen Anne Cottage. You may recognize it as Mr. Roarke and Tattoo's landing pad on Fantasy Island. Plus, there's the 1890 Santa Ana Depot with the time-machine equipment such as a telegraph and hand-crank phone, and the Coach House with the old-school horse tack and farming machinery. And, there are wild peacocks roaming around, adding to the "we're not in LA anymore" vibe to the grounds.

Oh, and the gardens. The main gardens are Prehistoric Forest, The Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia. My two favorite smaller gardens are the Garden For All Seasons, a teaching garden near the greenhouse and my carnivorous plants (remember those from my Huntington post back in May?), and the new Celebration Garden, a very Zen-like space with lovely bougainvillea, pergolas and outdoor fireplace enclosures. There was even a guy doing tai chi on one of the decks.

Red-headed stepchild? Maybe. Fantastical getaway? Definitely.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Magic Castle

I'll sum up The Magic Castle in six words: if you get the chance, go! Because The Magic Castle is a private club, you can't just roll up and waltz in. That's why if you get invited you have to go!

I went with a group of friends, some who had already visited and some newbies. I had been, and I was looking forward to a repeat. The returners knew what to expect: the piano that plays all by itself, the wonderful/
wacky artwork all over the walls, the skeletons that appear in the phone booth when you shut the door, plus lots of tricks, illusions, and how'd they do that questions.

For the first show, I was lucky enough to get to sit at the table with the magician in the Close-Up Gallery, even assisting him with his tricks. Yes, I got to tap his hand with the wand, plus hold the rope, the foam balls and the coins. Although I knew something fishy was going on, I still can't explain how he did all his magic, including how he made a coconut appear under a small basket right on the table!

For the next show, in the Parlour of Prestidigitation, the performer was Richard Hatch. To my dismay, it was not the Richard Hatch from Battlestar Galactica, although they announced he wasn't the Richard Hatch from Survivor. So much for my cultural references! Tonight's Richard Hatch did ring tricks and the cup in ball tricks and definitely did not disappoint.

Next was dinner. I went with a tasty Vegetarian Wellington - yes, the veggies were rolled and baked inside the puffed pastry! As I was feeling all entitled after the healthy choice, for dessert I selected White Chocolate Toffee Bread Pudding. I'm just going to say my taste buds were all trying to figure out how they pulled that one off, too, because it was delish!

The final show, in the Palace of Mystery, was the most fun. This magician, with his showgirl assistant, did the cut the lady in half and put her back together, tie her hands around a post and have her put on a jacket, man crawls in a box and the lady comes out. Crazy stuff!!

So, if I've enticed you, I do have a guest pass to return. If you'd like to "open sesame" your wallet sometime and go to The Magic Castle, let me know!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gamble House













Back in June, when writing about South Pasadena architecture, I name dropped the Greene and Greene boys and the Gamble House in neighboring Pasadena. I decided it was time to give the Gamble House its 15 minutes.

The Gamble House was the retirement home for David and Mary Gamble (he came from the Proctor and Gamble Company), their two youngest children and Mary's sister, known as Aunt Julia. The family relocated from Cincinnati after spending winters in Pasadena and liking what they saw.

The house is awesome! The Greene brothers wove so many details into this home that it takes a couple of tours to catch them all. From the massive staircase just inside these gorgeous doors (note that the staircase handrail is the only thing they allow you to touch!), to engraved flowers on bed frames that match the light switches, and the rounded corners in the butler's pantry so you don't knock your hip when passing through, each piece was designed to go right where it "lives." And with all the trees, flowers and nature imagery woven into the home, this home does feel alive.

The Gamble House celebrated its 100th birthday last year, and it went through a major restoration in 2003 and 2004.

Since photos are not allowed inside, I show the doors with the stained glass Tree of Life from the outside. I highly encourage you to step inside those doors and be blown away by the beauty!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mashti Malone's

The words "exotic" and "Hollywood" don't naturally lead me to an ice cream shop on North La Brea. But once you've tasted Mashti Malone's exotic ice creams and sorbets, you'll find yourself there on a regular basis!

Shown here is lavender ice cream. I know it sounds strange, maybe like you're eating a dryer sheet, but it was fabulous! This is the first ice cream I may have ever had that I didn't scarf down. I had to savor each bite. It was very refreshing, and I felt very relaxed afterward.

I also sampled the ginger rosewater flavor, and saw intriguing options like orange blossom and herbal snow (ingredients: purified water, evaporated cane juice, rosewater, lime, herbal seeds and mixed herbs). My friend got the Turkish coffee and was very pleased. And, with the natural ingredients, Mashti Malone's is a great choice for a treat when in Hollywood.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rattler's BBQ











When I get a chance to eat at a place called Rattler's, I have to jump at it!

Rattler's BBQ is a long-standing favorite out in Santa Clarita from what I hear. Some of my running friends invited me to tag along for the Santa Clarita Marathon expo, and I knew food would be involved. They suggested Rattler's, and I buckled in for the ride.

From the first waft of the garlicy rolls, I knew this joint was going to be good. I went with the tasty Southwestern burger, with poblano chilis, grilled onions and jack cheese, sided with fire fries, their version of spicy fries. And, as you can see in the picture, it came out on a silver platter!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

I've found that most people are either full-on fans of the show, or they haven't heard of it. There's really no in-between. Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! is a wonderfully witty NPR news quiz show. I've been a fan for several years. Yes, a fan of a radio program. I even planned a visit to Chicago around the Thursday night live show taping.

I'm not quite a stalker (due to geographical complications) but when I heard they were coming to the Pasadena Auditorium for a show, I was so there. I coordinated with my fellow NPR groupie geek friends for the Friday night show, and we had a blast!

Peter Sagal and Carl Kasell are ringleaders for games like "Who's Carl This Time" and "Bluff the Listener," focusing on current events and topics. They have a rotating panel of journalists, comedians, broadcasters and writers, bringing hysterical insights and commentary to whatever newsworthy item is discussed. This time it was Adam Felber, Roxanne Roberts and Mo Rocca.

Another segment is "Not My Job," where someone famous answers questions totally out of the scope of what they do. Here, George Takei (now you've got the Star Trek AND NPR geeks all freakin' out!) answered questions about birthing and maternity leave. Hilarious!!

If you're a novice and not convinced, listen to a broadcast (11A Saturday and Sunday on KPCC), or check out a podcast. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. And, I'll think you'll be surprised by the quantity of NPR geeks already in your circle of chums.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Veggie Grill

I was in West Hollywood to see a show on the Strip, and I needed something quick and cheap to eat. The Veggie Grill came through, and it was healthy to boot!

The Veggie Grill just opened in late September in the Sunset Plaza. It felt new, as the staff approached visitors and asked if they had any questions about the menu board posted on the wall. Their offerings are all plant-based and geared to vegans and vegetarians. I selected the portobello mushroom on a wheat bun, with a dollop of guacamole, carmelized onions and a roasted garlic clove. I couldn't put it down! Literally, it was a slippery-slidey sandwich, but it didn't matter since I practically inhaled it. The side of crispy slaw was quite nice, with other options available for an upcharge.

I'll be back to try the "chickin" and the chili, and the sweet potato fries are reportedly scrumptious. And, they validate. Seems like the perfect solution to the growling tummy when in WeHo!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zombiethon!!

Zombiethon was a fantastic Halloween event that accomplished something amazing: awareness about brain cancer.

LA's best running store A Runner's Circle (hey, I live in South Pasadena and there are two stores within five miles, yet I drive to Silver Lake for ARC!) posted that they were participating in Zombiethon, a fundraiser for brain cancer research, on Halloween afternoon. Zombies contributing to brain cancer research on the scariest and/or cheesiest of all days? How cool was that!

Participants paid $10 to register, and the idea was everyone in Zombie attire did a lap around the Silver Lake Reservoir. Along the route were devilish signs like "We ❤ Brains" and "Caution Zombies Ahead" for inspiration. You didn't have Zombie make-up skills? No problem. For a $5 donation, professional make-up artists made you Zombielicious on the spot. Some of my faves: the Zombie bride, the Zombie family and the Zombie runner with the shredded track suit. Good times were had by all, and it seems like a nice collection of funds were raised for the cause. George Romero would be proud!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Sing-A-Long at the Music Center

This was a new one for me: a Halloween Sing-
A-Long
on the plaza at the Music Center. Here you can see we were in the shadow of City Hall and the Peace on Earth sculpture, rocking out to some familiar tunes.

Seated in a circle with the costumed band in the center, and with lyric sheets provide by Music Center staff, we sang the classics like "Purple People Eater" and "Monster Mash," to Broadway tunes like "The Phantom of the Opera" theme (note the Phantom mask and she's dressed as Christine!) and "Defying Gravity" from "Wicked" (my favorite!), to "Witchcraft," "Devil Inside" and "Bad Moon Rising." The variation seemed to hit all generations. There was audience participation, too. One lucky lady got to play the cow bell for "Don't Fear the Reaper." We were all jealous!

They are doing a Christmas Sing-A-Long on December 18th. See you there?!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Peach Cafe

Peach Cafe in Monrovia is another one of those places I get a hankering for, as I can't get one of their specialties anywhere else.

At Peach Cafe, it is their hickory-maple waffle, with the bacon crumbles and syrup sealed inside during cooking, then sprinkled with powdered sugar and strawberries. Each mouthful is a surprise: will this bite have a bacon chunk or will the syrupy goodness dominate? Either way, it is a winning forkful! This is the half order with a side of fruit. Fruit = pretending I'm going to eat healthy.

Peach Cafe has a full lunch menu in addition to the breakfast options. Today, they offered a "peasant lunch" with soup, cheddar cheese wedges and cornbread. YUM!! One of these day's I'll venture to the other dishes, but for now, I'm sticking with my hickory-maple waffle!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fosselman's Ice Cream - Revisited!

Back in July, I did a post on Fosselman's Ice Cream and talked about my fave flavor combination: black licorice and pumpkin. Now is the time to give your taste buds a chance to experience the sensation! The black licorice is only made at Halloween, so that clock is ticking already. The pumpkin has a longer season, but you won't want to miss out on stirring the two together and savoring that taste!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Corn Maze in Mission Hills

When was the last time you played in a cornfield? For me, it was childhood, at Granny and Grampa's farm in the Hoosierland. My siblings, cousins and whoever else was around would play hide-and-seek in the cornfield. We did lots of seeking, as you literally couldn't see the next row over.

Flash forward to 2009, to Forneris Farms in Mission Hills, and I'm home again in the cornfield with their fabulous maze. The gist is simple: follow the map to make your way through the pattern in the corn. Note in the picture, you start in the brim of the farmer's hat and wander through until you exit at the words Forneris Farms. Landmarks, such as the smile and the blades of the windmill, confirm you're on the right track. I was pretty much lost until I realized I was looping the zeros in 2009, then I jammed! Along the way, there are CORNundrums, which are "corny" riddles you answer for prizes such as jumbo pumpkins or cash. I am pleased to say I completed the maze in about 30 minutes, although I came up short on my CORNundrums. I even went back through to look for them. Dang, they were hidden well!

By the way, this cornfield is four acres, about the size of four football fields. During my visit, it was me, a boyfriend/girlfriend couple, and a mother and son traipsing through the acreage. I could occasionally hear them, especially when the couple "whipperwilled" to locate each other, and only saw them when we ran into each other. But not to worry, on the map is a help phone line just in case you can't find your way out.

So take your sense of adventure, your sense of humor, and your sense of direction to the corn maze! It closes November 1st.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pasadena Museum of California Art

Block printing is one of my most appreciated art techniques. The Pasadena Museum of California Art has an awesome exhibit through the end of January. Behold the Day: The Color Block Prints of Frances Gearhart is a beautiful display of this artform.

There are two segments to the show, first Gearhart's children's book and then her landscapes. For the children's book "Let's Play," there are 19 prints of kids - you guessed it - playing plus a progressive set where you see the seven layers of color used to build an image.

Before I could really grasp that whole process, the landscape portion starts, and I was further blown away. The landscapes are stunning! I counted more than 70 prints of California coastlines, mountain scenes, trees, and rock formations in watercolors. Then I began thinking about the layers of colors to create these images, and my head was spinning. In this picture (taken of the lobby signage as photography isn't allowed in the gallery) the blue, green, orange, purple, and black had to be planned in reverse and cut out individually to make this image.

My former Cubicle Neighbor, who is a scientific illustrator and artist extraordinaire, patiently explained to me the painstaking process of making the individual layers and assuring they fit together. Now when I see shows like this, I am even more astonished by the output. Thanks, CN, for adding immensely to my appreciation of this artwork!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Long Beach Cafe



Long Beach Cafe
is a once-a-year treat. For the last three years, LBC and its Longshoreman Special has been my recovery meal following the Long Beach Marathon. The last two years, I ran the half, got my medal, and rushed off to meet friends for a Longshoreman. This year I cheered on my teammates. I'm going on record to say it is easier to do the race than stand around cheering on others, but that's another story. In any event, I was exhausted and needed food.

The Longshoreman Special is all about bulk: three eggs, four sausage links and four bacon strips, and either pancakes or potatoes. I'm not even showing the rye toast that also came with the meal to add to the starchfest. I'm not sure if the longshoremen eat this before, during or after their shift, because I know I would not have been at my prime if I was going to work after this meal.

For the inquiring minds holding the Cruise Director versus Food scorecard, I polished off the pancakes and sausage, since those are both so tasty plunged into syrup. I took home half the eggs, most of the bacon and the toast. I'm feeling a BLT on the horizon. Eggs will probably end up tossed out, but that's OK. I crossed the LBC finish line happy and content!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dave's Chillin'-N-Grillin'









Dave's Chillin'-N-Grillin'
is a funky sandwich shop in Eagle Rock. Funky because it is a sandwich shop/smoothie joint with a coffee house/your cool best friend's basement feel. I'll break it down.

A new friend from a training program had Dave's meatball sub one day at lunch, and she was just ooohing and aaahing over the sandwiches. She was a regular. I knew I had to give it a try. I had the delish French Dip, which you can see in the picture. The perfect combination of crusty bread that's soft on the inside was an ideal foundation for the au jus sauce. The filling was tender grilled beef with provolone and horseradish mayo. Yes, I'm becoming all about the flavored mayo these days.

They also serve a variety of smoothies and shakes. Next time I'll give one of those a spin as they sounded very tasty. And, I could probably pretend the smoothies are low cal with all the fruit options.

But, the inside is a hoot all on it's own. I counted six tables, along with an upright piano against the back wall and several easy chairs facing a TV with some old school video game components nearby. Various kids' toys are scattered about, and random art is on the walls. I felt comfortable and welcome. Too bad I had to get back to those training sessions, or I could've hung out for the rest of the afternoon.

Closing hours are not set; they are "open 'til the bread runs out." Apparently, the specials go quickly, too, so get there as close to 11A as possible. And, don't be surprised if you find yourself there on a regular basis.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Heritage Square

You've driven by it if you've taken the 110. There on the side of the road. You've probably noticed the colorful Victorian house and the big white church. It is Heritage Square, a living history museum with eight Victorian-era structures saved from wrecking balls. Of the eight, there's a train depot, the church, a carriage house, and five homes representing the different economic levels of their residents.

These buildings were all moved here as part of a preservation plan. Think about those logistics as you exit Avenue 43 and drive down the narrow Homer Street toward Heritage Square.

Shown here is the Hale House, built in 1887. You definitely spot this one from the freeway due to it's flashy colors. Inside, the house is styled with appropriate furnishings. This one even has some of the furniture that belonged to the Hale family.

The rarest is the Octagon House, being one of only a few surviving homes of this layout in Southern California. I was surprised to find that the rooms are all squares! That means some jumbo sized closets and storage areas to fill the home's eight sides.

The volunteer tour guides are both knowledgeable and entertaining. My guide shared that the grassy space between the church and the carriage house may one day accommodate a vintage pharmacy. And, just in time for Halloween, she suggested cool-sounding mourning tours with a look at how Victorian folks handled death.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Versailles Cuban Restaurant

I had a meeting this morning in the LAX area, then an afternoon birthday party for a 4-year-old in Culver City. Between the two, I knew I would need to power up. And by power up, today I meant Versailles for some liver and onions.

I'm a long-time fan of liver and onions, since the first time my Mom gave me a "you won't like it" response to my youthful question about what was sizzling in the cast iron skillet. Ever since that "I'll show you" bite followed by the iron-induced power surge throughout my body, I've been hooked.

Versailles has a magical way of preparing the liver - marinaded in a lemony-garlic sauce called "Mojo." Their sauce is sooo good that I even sop my plantains in it. The beans and rice serve as a pacer in the meal, even though the beans are quite delish on their own. And for all my years of eating there, I've barely cracked the menu. It's always been liver and onions, unless - egads! - they've already run out. Then I'll go for the pork in the Mojo sauce and schedule a return visit. Or, buy a bottle of Mojo and drink it in the car. Decide for yourself if I'm joking or not!

There are five Versailles locations: Venice/Motor, Pico/Robertson, Ventura Boulevard in Encino, Universal City Walk and Sepulveda Boulevard in Manhattan Beach. I've been to them all, and all are equally fabulous for the pursuit - or excuse - of powering up.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Watts Towers

Having a rough day at work? Needing some artistic inspiration? Go to the Watts Towers to see what a little man with a huge dream can accomplish. Simon Rodia was a tiny man, less than 5 feet tall, who worked by day as a tile man and/or a construction worker. But what he built at night is amazing! His 17 structures, two almost 100 feet high, were all built with found objects. The green 7-Up bottles and blue Milk of Magnesia bottles are easy to identify throughout his artwork. They would have been readily available, tossed from the trains that passed by his lot. He also used those train tracks and his slight bodyweight to bend the rebar forms into shape. I can't even imagine!

I love that his stove - used to cook food and melt glass - is also beautifully decorated with tiles and sparkly rocks, as are the wedding cake and cupcake towers added as he started performing marriages in his chapel. You could almost have a scavenger hunt looking for his boot, corn cobs, hammers, horse shoes, faucet imprints, and the brilliant ladder he built into a tower to aid his work.

Apparently, the neighbors were not thrilled with his 30+ years of singing Italian opera in the wee hours of the morning, and the strange things he was building. His family left him, knowing he had a laser-focus on his artwork. The city thought his work was unstable and a hazard. Simon himself eventually walked away, having had enough. Luckily, his Nuestro Pueblo remains in spite of these obstacles.

Simon wanted to do something big, and he did it. He built "our town" for us. What do you want to do?!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oinkster

It's fun to say Oinkster. It's more fun to go for a "slow fast food" meal such as this pulled pork sandwich and Belgian fries with the accompanying garlic-mayo sauce. Slow meaning lots of love goes into the food before it whisks out to your table, and fast because their fries with that dipping sauce disappear lickedy-split!

I've been to Belgium and had fries. I'm assuming Oinkster doesn't fry theirs up in horse fat like they did in Brussels and Brugge, and I remember liking the mayo dip option right way. It's good to respark that tastebud memory in nearby Eagle Rock sans passport.

And here, for the whole world to read, I'll admit to losing the battle with the sandwich in my own Woman v. Food challenge. But the fries, and the garlic-mayo sauce, didn't stand a chance.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Norton Simon Museum

The Norton Simon Museum is one of those frequently overlooked museums here in LA. Yes, people think of it when they see the Rose Parade broadcast, when the floats and the bands really pull out all the stops while turning the corner at Orange Grove and Colorado, right in front of their location.

It is truly an amazing place, as the art seems so approachable. I certainly don't get this vibe at LACMA or MOCA. Here you can walk right up to Rembrandt, Monet, van Gogh, Picasso, and Diego Rivera (why doesn't he have one-name recognition?) paintings. And you can take a picture, without flash of course. I love that you can see the Degas paintings and bronzes displayed together, as usually they are presented separately. There's also a sculpture garden and the whole lower floor of Asian and Indian artwork.

Then there's the fact that this artwork came primarily from Mr. Simon's private collection. When I get to be a gazillionaire, I want to have my collections on display, too. My snowglobes and grease containers would draw in the crowds, I'm sure!
Link
Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Saladang and Saladang Song

I like to think about Saladang and Saladang Song as a big sister/
little sister relationship, with the sisters living next door to each other. Both have distinct characteristics, but they come from the same gene pool.

My favorite dish at each is made from the same basic ingredients: green apples and peanuts. Shown here is the apple salad from Saladang, with the green apples and peanut butter dressing with chicken. The Song version has chopped peanuts with gingery/limey dressing without chicken. Both are delicious variations of the other.

I have many friends who have a favorite between the two and won't go to the other. But don't ask me to make the call when it comes to favorites. Just like my Mom won't pick between her kids, I don't want to pick one over the other. Since they are next door to each other, I'll go to the one with the shortest line.

No Web site at this time. Saladang's street address is 363 South Fair Oaks, Pasadena 91105. Cross street is Del Mar. Phone is 626-793-8123. Saladang Song's street address is 383 South Fair Oaks, Pasadena 91105. Phone is 626-793-5200.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Original Farmers Market

Sometimes it is important to go back to the source. The Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax is one of those places. In 1934, farmers sold fruit, veggies and flowers from their trucks, and customers bought 'em up. Next came restaurants to serve the hungry farmers and customers, and shops to take care of their errands. Voilà! A huge enterprise was born, with most local cities now offering their version of the original idea.

Although the outdoor Grove Mall replaced the old antique mall, most of my faves continue on, such as the green shopping carts (FYI, the color is Farmers Market Green, and the carts are made on site), and the classic Du-pars with their pancakes. Once, I went to the Gumbo Pot for lunch, and the jambalaya was so good, I went back and had another order for dinner. I love seeing the grandmas and the kiddies eating dipped ice cream cones, and tables filled with groups eating different meals from different vendors. Meet me at Third and Fairfax to continue the tradition!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Self-Realization Shrine



















Windmill?! Are we in Switzerland? No. Solvang? No, but that's closer. How about Pacific Palisades?!

This is the serene and surreal setting of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. What was once a silent movie set in the '20s, then a home to a studio construction supervisor (he lived in a houseboat while he built a mill house, and later this windmill, and all three features are still there) in the '40s, became a sanctuary for all religions, as well as for non-followers.

You will probably be surprised to hear that a portion of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes are enshrined on the site. Not behind gates or walls but in a Peace Memorial area near the Golden Lotus Archway. And, there's a Court of Religions recognizing the five principal religions of the world. The windmill is now a chapel. It was open for meditation while I was there. The mill house is the gift shop and museum.

Whatever your beliefs, this is a wonderful escape from our busy lives. Walk along the peaceful path around the lake, and it is hard to believe that busy Sunset Boulevard is yards - not miles - away.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Green Street Restaurant













Green Street Restaurant
is a 30-year Pasadena tradition. And, in this home of the Dianne salad with zucchini bread (my typical go-to meal), I dined with four other rebels who ordered anything but standard fare.

Shown here are three of our meals. My caprese sandwich with sweet potato fries was divine. Sorry, Dianne!! The veggie kabobs atop jerk seasoned rice and the pasta with spinach and artichokes were very tempting, too. Other selections at our table included the portobello mushroom sandwich and the charbroiled chicken sandwich, both served with the yummy fries.

Lesson learned? Go with the traditional, or go a little wild. Either way, it's all good at Green Street.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Los Angeles City Hall

Talk about a landmark. Los Angeles City Hall is a true icon, and, by going up to the 27th floor balcony, you can see the rest of the downtown attractions like the Disney Hall and Union Station.

Completed in 1928, the City Hall tower suffered major damage from the Northridge earthquake and from earlier quakes. While the retrofitting was taking place, an amazing restoration brought the nearly 70-year-old building back to life. City Hall reopened in 2001.

The artistry throughout the building is stunning. Be sure to look up and down, as your eyes literally dance off the surfaces. Fabulous light sconces adorn walls and ceilings. Even the elevators are a delight; look for the beacon on the floor.

Then there's the cool stories and sights. For example, sand from the 58 CA counties and water from the 21 missions were used to make the concrete in the tower. The torch from the 1984 Olympics. The beacon at the top being turned on via a switch in the White House. Yes! Even today, that sounds like it would be a technological nightmare.

This is a public building, and I encourage a visit when you're downtown. Entrance is on the Main Street side, through the Security entrance. You do have to show picture ID and go through a metal detector.

No direct Web site available. Street address is 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles. Cross streets are Main, Temple and First. Phone is (213) 485-2121.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mäni’s Bakery

So it's LA's 228th birthday, and I want to celebrate! Since I've lived here for over 19 years now, it's time to acknowledge and embrace the pueblo's founding. Mäni’s Bakery on Fairfax goes back to my early days in LA (1989 for them, 1990 for me), so it was a perfect fit.

If you haven't had the pleasure, Mäni’s uses organic flour and no-sugar sweeteners in all the treats. Good food that's good for you, per their tagline! Chocolate Raspberry Fortress Cakes accompanied me to many birthdays and other celebrations when I lived Beverly Hills adjacent. I was thrilled to hear that Faux-Nuts are back for a limited time. Faux-Nuts are decadent chocolate baked donuts, (created for Danny DeVito during his macrobiotic days filming "Other People's Money") and you will never miss the sugar. Here you see the chocolate-dipped bundt-shaped wonder with a mint lemonade chaser. YUMMM!

There have been other locations, such as Laurel Canyon/Ventura Boulevard, and Main Street in Santa Monica, but they're just working the home base on Fairfax now. Back in the day, you could hang out there with chef Mäni and sample the newest creations. He has now moved to San Francisco, but the bakery still has his name. At some point, a full menu was added, and I hear the soups are fantastic. They do have an awesome sounding breakfast burrito on the menu, and you know how I seek those out. But for now, I'm totally satiated with my Faux-Nut and mint lemonade. Happy Birthday Los Angeles, and here's to another 20 years of Mäni’s Bakery!!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Merengue Cuban Restaurant

Usually when I have a craving for Cuban food, I'm off to Versailles for the liver and onions, oozing with the lemon and garlic flavors. Now, there's another contender in the Cuban taste test: Merengue Bakery & Cafe.

Located in the old town part of Monrovia, Merengue claims to have "food that'll make you dance!" I'll tell you, those plaintain chips definitely had my mouth dancing!! The Cuban sandwich was yummy on the toasty bread. In addition to Cuban specialties and hot plate meals like Arroz con Pollo, they also offer tuna melts and chicken wraps for the less adventurous.

The bakery options could lead to me relocating to Monrovia. Merengue, known as the home of the world's largest cupcake at almost seven feet tall, offers all sorts of desserts to tempt those taste buds. And, relax, you don't have to eat seven feet of cupcake, you can order a single serving if that's your inclination for the day.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Academy Cinemas

LinkSo, LA is on fire, and the SGV is filled with smoke in addition to being 100 or so stifling degrees. Escapism at the movies has a whole new meaning! And, with the Academy Cinemas in Pasadena close by, it can also be a bargain. The Academy is a second-run theatre, so you won't see this week's blockbuster. And, you won't be nurtured in plush stadium seating. What you will get is movies for $2 or $3, depending on the starting times, and hot dogs for $1. True, the sight lines are off, the seating configurations are a bit weird and the screens aren't always centered, but who cares for $2? I saw Up and Public Enemies, had two hotdogs and a jumbo refillable root beer -- all for less than $10. The air conditioning and non-particulate filled air was worth that alone!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Picanha Brazilian BBQ

Picanha Churrasciaria in downtown Burbank is a carnivore's dream come true! Based on the Brazilian tradition of gaucho BBQs, grilled skewered meats are brought right to your table where you select what and how much you want, and it is served on the spot. You even get tongs with the flatware service to grab your slice. Although there is an attempt to humor the herbivores with salads and other sides, this is all about the meat. I actually felt sorry for the guy at the next table who said he was vegetarian. Yes, the mashed potatoes and black bean options were very good, but he was soooo at the wrong place.

I can verify that I sampled seven different meats: Polish and Brazilian sausages, Parmesan and Spicy chicken, lamb, and both medium and rare steak. Perhaps my dining chums will remind me of others that I've overlooked in my current digestive coma state.

Each table has a wooden cylinder with a green end and a red end to identify if you want the servers to continue bringing the meats. Green means oh yeah! and red you need a breather. Flip it back and forth as your waistband allows.

My only suggestion is that there should be a way of serving desserts this way -- bring out various cakes and other treats on big platters and you decide what kind and how much you want right then and there.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum

Sorry for the short notice, but the Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum is way cool, especially since we don't normally get to experience this quantity and variety in our normal day-to-day. Open from Easter to Labor Day - which means it will be closing in two weeks - the BP is home to 40 or so species of butterflies and moths, all flying about and living their brief lives in the enclosed structure on the south side of the Museum. How many and what kinds can you spot?

And take note: when the BP closes for the season, it transitions to the Spider Pavilion with the huge web-weaving spiders just in time for Halloween!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Spamalot

Monty Python's Spamalot is a hoot! It's witty, crude, offensive and hilarious all blended together, kind of like, well, the ingredients in a can of Spam.

I didn't want to Wicked it (loved the book, couldn't get into the play - she's not supposed to have arms! is a good example, then didn't enjoy rereading the book) so I specifically stayed away from brushing up on the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and other Monty Python DVDs and videos. Obviously, from the howls of recognition in the crowd, many folks spoke Pythonese. But even if you don't, the crazy dance performances, wonderful costumes and props, and amazingly clever staging will have you doing the 100 sit-up laughter.

It was practically a full house at the Ahmanson, and this was on a Thursday night, so you know it's gotta be good! Go see it before it leaves on September 6th, so that you, too, can always look on the bright side of life.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Baskin Robbins Drive-Thru















Yes, I know Baskin-Robbins are a dime a dozen, but this is the only Baskin-Robbins Drive-Thru in Los Angeles! Located in Burbank "where it all started," this B-R is actually the training center where the newbies learn all about the yummy treats. Mind you, don't use the drive-thru if you're looking for samples because they're really not set up for that, and the people waiting behind you will get cranky. Park and go inside for tastes. I've tried flavors there I haven't seen elsewhere, like Makin' Cookies with the delish brown sugary ice cream base. Then, just try to get the "ice cream and cake, do the ice cream and cake" song out of your head.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grand Central Market

I love popping into downtown's Grand Central Market. I'm like a kid in a candy store, eyes all aglow at the neon signs and options inside. Dating back to 1917, the GCM vendors do sell candy, plus produce, legumes of every sort, spices, fresh meat and fish. My visual favorites are the raw chicken feet and the whole deep-fried fish. Prepared meals include Chinese, Salvadorean, Mexican, and Vietnamese, plus sandwiches, kabobs, juice, ice cream and pastries. It's always a fun stop, and you'll end up being hungry. So, pick an old favorite or try something new. You really can't go wrong.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

After the delightful ride on the Ferris wheel last week, I was due for spin on the Griffith Park Merry-
Go-
Round
. I ride the M-G-R several times a year, and I have a few friends who also refuse to grow up and join in the fun. (My profile picture was taken on one of these steady steeds.) I was cutting through the park to avoid traffic on the 5 and heard the enchanting band organ piping out the music. That was all I needed to plunk down $2 for a ticket.

This M-G-R dates back to 1926 and has been in the park since 1937. The band organ is a treat all to itself, with the boxes and boxes of paper music rolls ready to be played. Stop by, have a listen, and climb aboard. Adulthood can wait!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dolores Restaurant and Bakery

Dolores and I go way back. I've planted my tush in these booths many, many times over the last 15 or so years. I've had uncountable big Dolores salads, Jumbo Jim burgers with Suzy Q fries, and liver and onion dinners. Lots of meals that were all anchored by their otherworldly cinnamon roll.

And anchor is the appropriate word for the massive treat! This baby is like six inches across, gushing with cinnamon and dripping with glaze. It is even served with a steak knife to cut through the heft. Wow!!

Dolores, in the Century City-Santa Monica adjacent area of LA, went through a change last year. On the back wall where the Toulouse-Lautrec Moulin Rouge-esque prints are hanging used to be the home of the dessert rotating display case. The menu prices went up with the addition of the Wi-Fi service. And just the back portion of the seats were updated from the brown vinyl. But, I'm thrilled to share that the cinnamon roll hasn't changed one tasty bit!!

Click here to go to their Web site.