Sunday, January 31, 2010


Have you ever been driving up Coldwater Canyon, saw the sign for TreePeople and wondered what that was all about?

No, people aren’t swinging from trees or living in them. TreePeople is a nonprofit organization geared to teaching sustainability through trees, people and technology. In addition, they have some well-used hiking trails with sweeping views of the San Fernando Valley, plus stretches where you feel removed from civilization.

The learning opportunities begin in the parking lot with a panel explaining the air temperature differences between asphalt and lighter-colored paving surfaces. As with other materials, lighter colors reflect the sunlight, while darker absorbs. Surround the lighter surfaces with some trees, and substantial heat can be blocked. Think about what a shift this could make in our over-heated planet!

Another display shows how a concrete covered surface “cannot breathe,” and how mulch helps retain water in the soil. Hmm, since we haven’t completely escaped our draught situation, having ground cover instead of concrete is worthy of consideration.

Now that you’ve got something to think about, choose among the options for hiking. Although there were trail runners, most folks leaned to more casual walking as the paths were not strenuously steep. Check out their schedule for the Full Moon Hikes, which I can recommend. They are popular so you need to reserve your space.

So get out there, walk around some trees and see how TreePeople are making a difference.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Basket Exhibit at the Autry

When I last visited the Autry in April, I went to see the flashy Nudie suits. This time, I saw sparkle and twang of a whole different nature.

A Living Tradition: The Art of Native American Basketry is a beautiful mix of form and function and showcases about 250 baskets from the sister Southwest Museum collection. The little number shown here is from the early 1900s and is made of birch bark, sweetgrass, porcupine quills and dye. Nudie would be proud!

You will see baskets from 11 North American regions, and I'm sure you'll be surprised by the woven grass socks, the cedar cup and saucer, the baskets for cooking and the baskets for carrying babies.

I especially liked learning about the work of the current generations who are preserving and passing on the traditions of their ancestors. Old and new pieces are displayed together as proof of the continuity. Some of the basket hats were especially difficult to distinguish between the now and then pieces.

The exhibit has been extended to November 7, so you have plenty of time to weave it into your schedule. And, as if you need another reason to venture to the Autry, the chili at the Golden Spur Cafe is the best!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ki's Restaurant

Who out there remembers the Atlas Supper Club on Wilshire, right by the Wiltern Theater in Koreatown? I do, and I can still taste their most delish dish: guava goat cheese quesadilla. I’m salivating just TYPING it!

Why do I bring this up, you ask? Because I’m in Carlsbad for the Half Marathon, and you know I have to eat. I’ve carb loaded and protein loaded, now I just need to get some dinner and get to bed. Some friends recommended Ki’s Restaurant in Cardiff, just south of Carlsbad, for fresh, healthy and quick food.

While perusing their menu with many appealing options, I spotted the Brie, Mango, and Avocado Quesadilla. I was immediately back at Atlas, with those awesome lightning bolt light fixtures and cool jazz, impatiently waiting for my guava goat cheese quesadilla.

Ki’s version did not disappoint. Their perfect balance of warm brie, avocado and mango both made me relish Atlas, while chalking them up to history the same time. I can now move on. Atlas is no more, but Ki’s still exists! While I probably won’t drive to Carlsbad just for the food, it’s good to know it’s there if I need it.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Paradis Scandinavian Ice Cream

Who knew Paradis existed in Montrose? Well, Montrose and Denmark. Those are your options for this kind of Paradis.

Paradis is a new ice cream shop on Honolulu Avenue in Montrose. This is the first and only U.S. location, in addition to 23 shops in Denmark.

Since I also have to protein load for my upcoming Half Marathon, it's great to know that this ice cream is made fresh onsite each day. According to their Web site, they use the minimal amount of air, and that makes the ice cream all fluffy and airy. The flavors are awesome! Here you see the mint/lime sorbet. It is sitting atop the hidden chocolate ice cream. Deeeevine, together and separate! With the benefit of daily mixtures, the options can change from day to day. Hmmm, that means I’ll need to go more frequently if I truly want to recommend the place. Now, that’s paradise!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pasta Pomodoro

Pasta Pomodoro in Burbank is the go-to spot for carb loading. As I've shared in lots of posts, I run with a marathon training group, and - per my coaches - carb loading is an important component to your marathon success. Since I've got the Carlsbad Half Marathon on Sunday, it's time to get my carbs on!

Truth be told, we can get pasta anywhere. What brings this group back is the delicious food! The butternut squash ravioli shown here is a crowd fave. Something about the carmelized sage and the pools of melted butter just make you want to run 26.2 or 13.1 miles! Either you've earned it, or you need to burn it off, maybe both. Whatever it takes to get you 'cross the finish line!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Here was my challenge back in November: describe something totally gross that I ate. Mind you, this was to win a copy of a friend’s new romance novel, paralleling a plot twist. I happily shared my experience eating stir-fried bugs at an Insect Fair, was deemed the winner of my friend’s sizzling hot new book, and I went on with my standard-fare eating life.

Until, that is, I recently heard about Guelaguetza and their roasted grasshopper dishes. I wanted to eat more bugs! I recruited another friend, who shared she’d eaten bamboo slugs that tasted like potato chips, and we were primed for some bug chowing.

The bug special was “Chapulines a la Mexicana,” which is grasshoppers prepared with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, avocado and string cheese. Dang, it was spicy!! The grasshoppers were kind of crunchy, but the spice was the dominant taste sensation. By the way, grasshoppers are filling, so plan to share the dish if you come with companions. Or, let me know how they re-heat if you go with the buggy bag to go!

And, their horchata is phenomenal! It had canteloupe, chopped nuts and cactus fruit, and a reddish cloud floating at the top of the rice water. Delish!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hi-Life Burgers

Every town needs a good mom and pop burger joint; in South Pasadena, that accolade goes to Hi-Life Burgers.

Although I cannot even pretend to be a local, I’ve heard from enough locals to know that Hi-Life is an institution here. It’s located within a couple of blocks of both the junior and senior high schools, so most natives grew up eating here either on the way to school or heading home from school. And, I’ve learned it used to be more of a burger stand than an actual restaurant.

The interior is a mish-mash of styles, so I can’t imagine what the stand looked like. The booths are strictly burger joint, with the yellow and red upholstery, and there’s red and white checkerboard tiles around the counter. But, there’s Olive Garden-like light fixtures, and fake potted plants hanging in baskets from the ceiling. I sat in the pole position by the pick-up counter, which is actually a half booth with a seat on only one side. So, in addition to seeing the trays with the zucchini fries, onion rings and burritos, I saw pink tulips in plexiglass. Totally random!

As for my meal, I got the usual: regular burger and small fries. Delish! I like that the fries come out “naked,” and you get to decide if you want standard salt or the seasoned salt. The little tubes of ketchup are ready for you, so you don’t have to deal with the squirty dispenser. The burger had the shredded lettuce, tomatoes and pickles and Thousand Island dressing. Yum!

What’s your favorite local burger joint?

Hi-Life Burgers does not have a Web site. Street address is 1326 Fair Oaks Avenue in South Pasadena, cross street is Bank. Phone is 626-799-5401.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Quality Food & Beverage

It was time for a food smackdown. I could no longer use the holiday excuses, and I was looking for a non-fried, non-carboloaded, non-sugarladen while still yummy, comfort-oriented meal. I needed something good, and good for me. Quality Food & Beverage definitely lived up to its name!

Although I pondered the benefits of the breakfast burrito, I went with the butternut squash soup special, along with the house salad with good lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers and vinaigrette. The soup was so creamy/dreamy, and the vitamin A boost had me seeing through the walls! Well, at least not squinting at the tiny print on their business card. The good food surge set the stage for my next match with a menu, because I do want to wear that belt again.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Farrell's Ice Cream

Welcome to The Pig's Trough, Farrell's long-standing person (or persons) versus food challenge!

Farrell's is an old-fashioned ice cream parlour out in Santa Clarita, but cheese is a major part of the experience. The servers and staff are dressed barber shop quartet style with the red and white striped vests and black elastic bands worn on the bicep area of white long sleeved shirts. If it is a guest's birthday, they gather around a big bass drum and "roast" the lucky celebrator. They announce and tell juvenile jokes like "what's Beethoven's favorite fruit?" Ba-na-na-na, answered to sound like the intro to the 5th Symphony.

But, before I further digress, I was there for The Pig's Trough. What's a Pig's Trough? A super-sized banana split with six scoops of ice cream, two bananas and three toppings plus whipped cream, nuts and cherries. And, no, I did not attempt it on my own! The best part was the sassy blue ribbon awarded to the finishers by the staff beating the big drum that declares "I made a pig of myself at Farrell's." This will be going up with my marathon medals!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Rose Parade Floats

“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” That’s why I now spend New Year’s Eve with the Tournament of Roses Parade Floats.

I live in South Pasadena, which is a separate city from Pasadena, home of New Year’s big parade and football game. On New Year’s Eve, unless you’re a resident or have connections with a resident with an extra permit, don’t plan on driving through Pasadena. Floats are coming from all over the county to line up on Orange Grove Boulevard, and streets are blocked and closed to through traffic. After seven years of grumbling over the situation (my little city is caught up in the traffic nightmare as one of the few access points to the float lineup), in 2008 I decided to walk over to Orange Grove with three friends and see what all the fuss is about. We had no idea what to expect, and we ended up having a blast!

This year was just as delightful! I went with two friends and planned to meet another friend and his family there. Since I knew what we were in for, this time I talked to participants and learned some cool things. Like the stories of the little hands of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts coming out to decorate their float. And, the drivers who come back year after year, in spite of the cramped conditions inside the float, and the hours-long no bathroom break they must endure. And, how the drivers have 30 seconds to get the float going if it stalls before the tow truck takes them away. And, the grandson of a volunteer proudly showing us on his iPod nano a snowboarding bulldog video. And, the nurse/White Suit volunteer at the organ donor float talking about her involvement. And, watching the Cal Poly students trying to parallel park their float on a street filled with already-parked floats and observers. You also see the workers filling in fresh flowers and making repairs on their creations, sharing experiences and answering what flower is that questions.

Rose Parade float watching is an experience that’s a cut above the rest. See you next New Year’s Eve?!

Click here to go to the Tournament of Roses Web site.