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 d├ęcor. 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.