Saturday, February 27, 2010

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

I spent a rainy El Niño day at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and found this wonderful statue of "Tlaloc, the supernatural being associated with rain and lightning" in Latin American cultures per the label copy. So that's what he looks like because we know what he sounds like! This fearsome fellow dates back to A.D. 1200-1400 and is a centerpiece in the new Walt Disney Gallery in the Art of the Americas building.

As you can see, the pedestal displays are quite unique and seemingly represent geological layers. To my eye, it favors the wood inside the Disney Concert Hall and has that same warm feel. There were festive chandelier lights and bright colors throughout the gallery, so it has a different feel from the other nearby exhibit spaces.

Be sure to say ¡hola! to Tlaloc next time you visit LACMA, and remember, we really do need the rain!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dogwoods Marketplace

Sometimes I need inspiration on my grocery runs. Dogwoods in Monrovia is just the place to get out of my food rut.

Dogwoods has great fruits and veggies, a hot foods counter, plants and flowers, dried fruits and nuts sold by the pound, candy and chocolates, a refrigerated section offering both jars of hard boiled eggs and quart jugs of lassi yogurt drinks, plus cheeses and frozen prepared meals.

I first visited Dogwoods at the suggestion of my Weight Watchers leader in Arcadia. She said Dogwoods had the best produce at the lowest prices. She was right, and while I was going to the WW meetings, I loaded up at Dogwoods. (In case you haven't guessed by the food and restaurants I regularly post, I'm currently not "on the WW program.") Now, I go for the interesting foods and great prices. That sounds pretty inspiring to me!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mercado la Paloma

Do you ever need to run errands on your lunch break, like getting some clothes altered, or buying car insurance, or picking up some Dodgers jerseys? At Mercado la Paloma, you can do all those things and have a delish meal.

Located across from the DMV, on the 110 ramp from Exposition Boulevard by USC, Mercado la Paloma is a great warehouse space with Thai, Yucatan, Oaxacan and Peruvian food vendors plus burgers and tacos. There’s also the bakery and juice stand options for your growling belly.

Everything looked and smelled great. The tables were filled with guests enjoying the varieties of food. I was on the hunt for some veggies. I went with the broccoli beef dish from Thai Corner, and it was very tasty. According to the “Eat This, Not That” books, broccoli beef is a good way to go because you’re guaranteed a heaping serving of veggies.

Food and services vendors intermingle, and cool paintings hang on the walls. I like the stall near the entrance with the Day of the Dead-feel jewelry, art and handbags.

When you go, park in the lot off Grand, as opposed to the DMV lot like I did, just to keep everyone all lovey-dovey. This photo is actually the backside mural. Hours are 8 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. weekdays only.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Back in September I posted about the Farmers Market, then in November I wrote about stalking Peter Sagal. This post combines those two themes, with sides of Craig Ferguson and the Dalai Lama thrown in!

I received an e-mail invite to attend a taping of the Craig Ferguson show, filmed at the CBS Studios by the Farmers Market. He is hysterical, and when I checked the upcoming guests, much to my surprise, Peter Sagal (host of NPR’s Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me!) was on the schedule. I had to go! I rounded up two WW/CF friends and we each did about 1,000 crunches worth of laughter. One of Craig’s jokes connected Dolly Parton to the Dalai Lama. Little did we know that they were giving away passes to see the Dalai Lama on Sunday at Universal Studios. I won two tickets, so I’m seeing the Dalai Lama, thanks to Craig Ferguson via Peter Sagal!

Which brings me back to Du-par's and the Farmers Market. I’d been looking forward to their pancakes all day, strategizing the benefits of eating before the show versus after, while I was in the 'hood. In addition to being open 24 hours, Du-par’s serves breakfast all the time, so that wasn’t even a factor. As my friends were on-board and hungry for Du-par’s, we went after. Over pancakes for me, and sandwiches for them, we had another 1,000 or so laughs recounting the show, then getting serious and planning for the Dalai Lama. Nice!

Although we didn’t qualify due to our later visit, Du-par’s offers a cool “beat the clock” special between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.: the time you arrive is the price you pay for the selected meals. If you get there at 4:15, your tab for the special meal is $4.15, up until 5:59.

I can’t guarantee you’ll get to plan for the Dalai Lama when you visit, but I definitely recommend Du-par’s for some classic diner-esque chow in a cool location, available 24/7.

Click here to go to Du-par's Web site.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bluebird Café

The Bluebird Café has the fans of the Facebook group Hidden Los Angeles all abuzz. And hidden is the operative word for this scrumptious little joint, but it is sooo worth the effort!

Located on National Boulevard in Culver City, between Washington and Jefferson, you are seemingly entering a construction zone or a movie set after the big explosion, but continue on. The Metro Expo line is coming through this area, and the heavy equipment is laying the path. I parked on Hayden, just past the Bluebird. As a side note, there are several architecturally interesting buildings on that block, but I won’t digress. I’ll give them a closer look next time I visit the Café.

The Bluebird had a torta special during my visit. I selected the roasted pork version, with bountiful swipes of guacamole and refried beans on the insides of the toasted bread, then the pork, lettuce, tomatoes and grated cheese, with a side salad of baby greens and balsamic dressing (which I ate while strategizing the sandwich!). Oh yeah, it came with a free cupcake even without the Hidden LA mention. All for $8.50 plus tax.

They have a nice patio with picnic tables, citrus trees and jazz playing, also hidden from the street. You hardly notice the construction noises once inside. The torta, wider than a CD for scale, was delish! I had to cut it in quarters, as you see in the picture, to even pick it up. I was so full, the red velvet cupcake came home with me. That says something for those of you who know me and my appetite! I'm thrilled to report it surpassed expectations, as I've been letdown by the plethora of red velvet offerings lately that don't meet the standards of my youth. This one, with the cream cheese/buttercream icing, is the best I've had in a very long time, and it didn't involve a cake walk or church raffle.

They are currently open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fly on over there soon, as I assume they won’t be a secret for long.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Auto Club of Southern California

This is a nod to the Auto Club for their efforts in making LA the city it is today, and I don’t mean just rescuing the stalled cars impeding your driving progress.

Since I was due for a smog check anyway, I decided to visit the Auto Club headquarters at the corner of Figueroa and Adams and utilize their Test Only facilities. The complex dates back to 1921. I love this building, so I could just hang out there as opposed to some grimy garage for the test.

For distraction purposes while waiting for the smog check, the courtyard is full of surprises. There’s a display of the 12 flags that have flown over California, and a huge slice of a sequoia tree (loaned by Sequoia National Park and the National Park Service) with the California historical date markers. Multiple old-school road signs that were installed by the Auto Club are scattered around. Shown here is one of the signs for the National Old Trails Road, part of which became the better-known Route 66 in 1927. You can also see El Camino Real signs with the bells providing mileage and directions between the missions.

Since it’s founding in 1900, the Auto Club installed road signs in Los Angeles then across California and America, with the intention of directing folks to LA. I learned all about this from Tom Zimmerman’s fantastic book “Paradise Promoted: The Booster Campaign That Created Los Angeles 1870-1930.” I was blown away by all that the Auto Club did, in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce, the railroads, and the citrus industry, to market Los Angeles.

So I got my smog check, was inspired by the intertwined LA and Auto Club history, and paid my registration fees inside the offices, all in about 30 minutes. Convenient and captivating at the same time; not a bad way to take care of an errand.

Click here to go to their Web site.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lawry’s Carvery

I was at a career fair at the downtown Convention Center, and the lunch hour came and went while I was waiting in line for a resume review. I needed something to eat other than the giveaway mints and candy bar miniatures, and the food court at the Convention Center was closed. I wandered out to Figueroa, and the closest cluster of options was at the LA Live complex. I assumed there would only be bad, overpriced food there, but Lawry’s Carvery proved me wrong.

You walk in and see the carving station straight ahead, and order and pay at stations to the right. I went with the Roast Beef Bleu sandwich: bleu cheese spread, tomatoes, arugula and crispy onions, with medium-rare roast beef on a baguette, sided with homemade potato chips with a sprinkling of pepper. YUMM and quick to boot!

Keep them in mind next time you’re at the Staples Center. Why pay $5 for a warmed-over hot dog when you can have a freshly-carved sandwich and chips for $9?

And, if you’re wondering about my employment status, I’m still looking. However, I did get a great lead at the career fair. I’ll keep you posted!

Click here to go to their Web site.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pasadena City College Flea Market

I woke up this morning – not to the sound of pouring rain – but to the sun peaking in through the windows. And, it was the first Sunday of the month. That confirmed it. I was heading to the PCC Flea Market!

The PCC Flea Market has many things going for it that you don’t get with the bigger ones like the Rose Bowl or Long Beach. First off, there’s no admission fee, and although there is a $2 campus parking charge, there’s plenty of street parking nearby. Next, there are vendors inside the parking structure (think shade!) in addition to the outside lots. The others offer no meaningful shade. But mostly, PCC is just more manageable; you don’t have to pack an overnight bag or plan a full day to shop all the booths.

Plus, PCC has the Cake Lady. She may also go to the others, but I haven’t seen her. My favorite is the Ginger Cake, as shown in the picture. Think gingerbread powered by a few Rock Stars, as the flavor is super intense. YUM! This year, Ginger Cake is my birthday cake, as I’ve been holding off other cake options in case I went to PCC's flea market.

Otherwise, I scored nicely on six new Lustreware pieces, a line of Fire King dishes that I collect. Think melted creamsicle-colored cookware and tableware, and that’s Lustreware. It's a fun collectible that I actually use. Now, don’t you start collecting it, too!

Click here to go to PCC Flea Market’s Web site.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

So, it’s my birthday, and I spent the whole day thinking about which decadent, delish dish was going to ring in my new milestone year. Once I locked in the decision, I was salivating over Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles all day!!

Chicken, waffles and I go way back. Before I moved to LA back in the early 90s, I lived for many months in Amishland, Pennsylvania. Actually, Ephrata was the town in Lancaster County, and there were enough Amish folks that my sister often had to peel out to get around the buggies that were holding up traffic. I worked at JCPenney in the little town, and we had to get special training on how to interact with the Amish folks. Mind you, I relocated from New York City to Amishland, so it’s still TBD who was the real freak in that show. Before I digress further, there was a diner there called Zinn’s, and they served awesome waffles with hearty chicken stew ladled on top. That was what I was expecting at Roscoe’s.

Imagine my surprise when I ordered the Carol C. Special of “1 succulent breast, 1 delicious waffle,” and a golden-fried chicken breast was served on a plate with the waffle, pools of butter and the little pitcher of syrup. Hmmm, what do I do with this, I asked myself? I did the same thing I’m still doing today: a little waffle and a little chicken on the fork, plunge it in the syrup, pop into smiling mouth while eyes are rolling back in their sockets, chew, more smiling, swallow and repeat. In almost 20 years, I’ve never ordered anything else at Roscoe’s, and I’ve never been disappointed! I like that they don't waste my time with any parsley sprigs, lettuce leaves or twisted orange slices. It's all business with the Carol C.!

So, here’s to Zinn’s, Roscoe’s and many more birthdays!

Click here to go to Roscoe's Web site.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Color Explosion at The Huntington

I ventured to The Huntington to see their soon-to-close exhibit The Color Explosion: Nineteenth-Century American Lithography from the Jay T. Last Collection. It’s about how the newly created printing process impacted communications and popular culture, which happen to be two of my favorite things to think about. As I learned, earlier printing methods required cutting of metal or carving into wood, where lithography utilizes a chemical process to create the image. Add the relative ease of printing with color – as opposed to black on white and hand painting each image – and now the explosion part really makes sense.

Note that “modern” advertising and branding techniques dovetail nicely with the rise of lithography, and you’ll look at the examples in a whole new light. It was cool to view the sheet music, maps, children’s books and games, advertising posters, cigar box labels, promotional calendars and seed catalog art through that lens. Knowing that the lithographic process made it possible to produce these objects and get them out to the masses, the advertising philosophy is really kicking in. Go see for yourself!

Afterwards while walking to the café, I saw this burst of vibrant poppies, and that became my second color explosion! Oh, and the freesia was wafting its intoxicating scent, and the camellias were blooming with their varying hues. Awesome visit, as brain, eyes, and nose were all engaged!

The Color Explosion exhibit closes February 22; I can’t vouch for how long the poppies, freesia or camellias will last!

Click here to go to their Web site.