Monday, June 28, 2010

Little India

Need a little get-away, but you can't get away for a real vacation? Try Little India in Artesia. One afternoon and about four blocks will transport you to another continent!

All good trips require some quality food, this time served up from Ashoka. Here you see my absolute favorite Indian dish: peas and cheese, or, more formally, matar paneer. This dish is less common than palek paneer, spinach and cheese, that you can find on most Indian menus and buffets or even in the frozen section at Trader Joe's. With a spicy curry base, my peas and cheese is perfect for ladling over the rice, or for scooping up with the naan. This shows both garlic naan and disco naan, chosen for the sassy name plus the delish ingredients stuffed in the bread: ginger, garlic, onion, chili and cilantro. Dang, I should be dancing afterwards, but it was me who was stuffed!

Next, stroll to the many shops selling beautiful saris, tunics, shoes and jewelry. The beading and embroidery is stunning, and it is typically done by hand. More than one shopkeeper said each sari is unique, which means that no one else will have your outfit! I bought a sassy silky patterned top with blue sparklies from a shop named ISP: India Sari Palace; I'm sure you'll see me wearing it. You can also get your henna tattoo, or some eyebrow threading if you like.

Keep walking until you've visited all the shops, then you can consider some sweets. I went with Standard Sweets & Snacks. As treats are sold by the piece, select several and have an adventure. I'm not really sure what all I had, and some were definitely better than others, but it was all good. I can also recommend a mango lassi chaser to wash down the sweets.

These are highlights for just three of the shops I visited in Little India. Go explore for yourself, and feel like you had a real vacation!

Click here for Ashoka's Web site.
Click here for Standard Sweets & Snacks Web site.
ISP does not have a Web site and is located at 18640 S. Pioneer Boulevard.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Orean, The Health Express

After Drag Queen Bingo at Hamburger Mary's, where do I start with another post? How about Orean, The Health Express for a completely different burger?

Located north of the intersection of Lake and Orange Grove Avenues in Pasadena, on a corner with multiple traditional fast-food choices (McDonald's, KFC, and Carl's Jr./Green Burrito plus the awesome Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles next to the KFC), Orean is the "first vegetarian fast-food take out" in the nation. Their drive-thru option balances out the yoga, green, and alternative health magazines stacked on the counter. But, don't worry, you're not eating cardboard here. Orean delivers a trifecta: good, quick and healthy food that will keep you coming back.

This is the Salad Burger, made of garden veggies, sunflower seeds, and black beans, served with a sloppy sauce and lettuce on a whole wheat bun. It's sooo tasty, you'd never know it was actually good for you! The fries are oven-baked "air fries," so it's not even a splurge to have some.

I've tried a few other things on the menu, but my standard is the Salad Burger. Give these good while still-good-for-you choices a spin. With the drive-thru, you don't even have to get out of the car.

Click here to go to Orean's Web site.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Drag Queen Bingo at Hamburger Mary's

My friend was hostessing a fundraiser for the animal rescue group Amanda Foundation that she volunteers with. At Hamburger Mary's with some Drag Queen Bingo. How can you not support that cause?!

I would say my amusement with drag queens goes back to too-many-to-count midnight viewings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" at the Vogue Theater in Louisville, KY in the '80s. Although I never made it through the whole film (after Meat Loaf's "Hot Patootie" my narcolepsy tended to kick in), the preshow with the transvestites, Brads and Janets was always a hoot!

Wind it forward to 2010, and an opportunity to donate $20 to support a very worthy cause. The crowd at Hamburger Mary's was rearing to go, and many had obviously been many times before. As expected, this wasn't your grandmother's bingo! Ball caller/drag queen extraordinaire Belle Aire kept the had the bingo-ers roaring with lots of catty comments, innuendos, and callbacks (anytime I-29 was called, you shout "yes I am...and holding!" is a clean one!). After each round, the bingo winner - I was one of them!! - got to run around the room while everyone else pelted him/her with their losing wadded-up bingo cards before receiving the goodie bag. I scored on a bottle of Jett vodka, DVDs, a gift certificate to Veggie Grill, plus some other fun surprises.

This goes on every Wednesday at 7P and 9P as a fundraiser for a local organization.

And, while this post is focused on the drag queen bingo, my burger at Hamburger Mary's was delish! My server recommended the Mediterranean - topped with a slab of feta, cucumbers, grilled tomatoes, and an olive spread - and it was fabulous!

So, go support a good cause and have a burger and a blast. Maybe I'll get to hear you shout bingo!

Click here to go to Hamburger Mary's Web site.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pasadena Chalk Festival

At first I was a little bit annoyed when I heard about the Pasadena Chalk Festival today. I wanted to get some serious shopping in at the Colorado Paseo - Macy's, Loehmann's, and DSW for starters - and a chalk festival would certainly impact my mobility.

I am so glad I ventured out! It was amazing to see the chalk artwork, and especially cool to see the artists working. Highlights included a Spider-Man costumed artist working on a super heroes piece, Cat in the Hat, Underdog, The Simpsons, two different koi ponds, a Renoir-esque ballerina, and a WPA-style San Francisco poster. This dragon was my favorite piece. It was one of two three-dimensional pieces. The other had a 90 degree backboard to his space, and the bottom part was his chalk drawing of meat cooking on the grill, with the backboard replicating the inside of the grill hood. He even had dry ice to the side to replicate the sizzle. So clever!

In addition to the artists, Colorado Boulevard was closed for several blocks around the Paseo. Classic cars were displayed on the Boulevard, and a classic-rock band played a stage in the median. In the heart of the Paseo (near the Antique Mall) was a second stage with salsa/jazz band rocking out.

And, if that wasn't enough, one of the vendors was selling street dogs! Those are the hot dogs I've been craving. They are wrapped in bacon and grilled along with onions and peppers. Delish!!

Note that I did get some shopping in, although it was hard to tear myself away from the Chalk Festival energy. Next year, be sure to check it out for yourself!

Click here to go to the Pasadena Chalk Festival's Web site.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tacos Mexico

Another Last Remaining Seats film ("The Graduate" at the Los Angeles Theatre), another quick dinner needed! This time, I went to Tacos Mexico, a miniscule walk-up taco stand catty-cornered to the Orpheum Theatre on Broadway.

Although the stand is small, my veggie burrito was huge! Crammed with beans, rice, cheese, lettuce and tomato, it was a perfectly delicious pre-movie meal. Their horchata was also very tasty, and dinner and drink were served for only $6.

The stand is always hopping, and they're open 24 hours to boot. Give them a try next time you're downtown to see what the fuss is all about!

No Web site at this time. Address is 913 South Broadway, and phone is (213) 627-2399.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fire Island Grill

As Cruise Director Los Angeles, I am responsible for covering ALL of Los Angeles County and its 4,000 or so square miles. That includes Palmdale and the tasty Fire Island Grill.

Located out in the Antelope Valley on the northern edge of our humble county, the Fire Island Grill is a surprising oasis in what I thought would be desert. A friend had been recommending their food for weeks, so I had to give it a try. Who knew Palmdale was one of the fastest growing cities in California? Certainly not me!

Similarly to Pie Boy's pizza options, Fire Island Grill has an awesome build-your-own Fire Island Bowl. Choose your base: white or brown rice, Fire Island rice, or Island noodles; then your protein: chicken, steak, pork or shrimp; then your flavor: pineapple teriyaki, lava flow peanut, spicy orange or Fire Island teriyaki. All dishes come with the sauteed veggies. I went with the Island noodles, luau pulled pork and Fire Island teriyaki sauce. YUMM! And the big red bowl is perfect for stirring all the goodies together so each bite is unique.

There are other menu items, like salads and sandwiches, but the bowls seemed to be the selection of most of the other diners. Now, I'm recommending it to you!

Click here to go to Fire Island Grill's Web site.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pie Boy Pizzeria

While seeking a quick dinner before my Last Remaining Seats film with the Los Angeles Conservancy, I found a new pizza joint near Pershing Square. Pie Boy Pizzeria is a tasty option that I am happy to recommend to all of you.

Options is the operative word at Pie Boy. After selecting the size of your pie, then you choose a red, green or white sauce. Next you add as many of the à la carte toppings as you can rationalize and/or afford, including 15 veggies, 9 meats, and 10 specialty imported treats. Go get 'em!

This pie is a small, with red tomato sauce, then spinach, tomatoes, chicken apple sausage, and a perfect balance of cheese. Tasty!! Serving it on the wooden paddle was unique, and they have a fun selection of gourmet sodas. My Thomas Kemper Ginger Peach Soda was superb. They were having computer problems on my visit day, so there was a bit of a delay with the ordering process. But, I'm glad I waited it out as Pie Boy delivered with this delish dish.

Click here to go to Pie Boy's Web site.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Ice House

Laughter's the best medicine, so they say. Maybe that explains why I'm so inexplicably healthy! Don't pretend you don't know how I eat (just look at some of these food posts!), but I also get at least a daily dose of humor.

Pasadena's historic Ice House is a fantastic place to get your laugh on. You'll definitely recognize the masters who have performed here: Jerry Seinfeld, George Lopez, Steve Martin and Bob Newhart to name just a few. After 50 years, the Ice House is still packing in the stand-up comedians. On my last visit, I experienced substantial crack-ups with Mark Christopher Lawrence from the TV show "Chuck." Here you can see him doing his thing up on the famous stage. You never know who'll show up, but you can guarantee a good time!

In a small-world Pasadena side bar, Bob Stane, who ran the Ice House for many years, was the lucky recipient of the wacky 18-foot fork noted in last month's Arlington Gardens post. Yes, those folks still know how to laugh!

Click here to go to The Ice House's Web site.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Chicken on Fire

Returning to Chicken on Fire is like reconnecting with long-lost friends. After a few seconds to get reacquainted, it's like time never passed.

I was in the SoRo area (South Robertson and Olympic to be specific) after an appointment, and it was food time. The memory of Chicken on Fire was sizzling in my synapses, and I just had to go. I walked into the vaguely familiar place and took a looksie at the menu. My eyes darted for the pineapple fried rice, and I was home!

Many years ago, I worked in Century City and had friends who lived near the SoRo area. The four of us were at Chicken on Fire all the time. Sometimes we'd pick up food there to serve at parties, or we'd try to recreate the yummiest dishes. This pineapple fried rice with chicken was my personal favorite. Delicious! Although it wasn't as much fun devouring the entire plate by my lonesome, I took one for the team then e-mailed the former gang about my lunch "date." Luckily, we stay connected even though we're scattered about the country now. It was great fun to relive old times with them courtesy of Chicken on Fire!

Parking is a little wonky with the 7-11 sharing the lot, but it's well worth the effort.

Click here to go to Chicken on Fire's Web site.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Monsters & Miracles at the Skirball

Last week I posted on the classic animation and stop-motion exhibits at the Grammy Museum. This week, I highly recommend Monsters & Miracles: A Journey Through Jewish Picture Books on display at the Skirball Cultural Center for a few more of my favorite ways to tell a story.

The first gallery showcases a Haggadah (the Exodus story) in a beautiful illuminated manuscript dating back to the 1600s. The pictures were geared to keeping the women and children involved - and anyone else who couldn't read - during the Passover Seder. (I talked about my adoration of illuminated manuscripts in my Getty post from December.)

Jump ahead 400 or so years to modern times and another gallery, where "picture book creators encourage children to stand up for themselves, even (or especially) in seemingly helpless situations. They embolden children to face and overcome their worst fears" per the panel copy. Here you'll recognize Maurice Sendak's images for "Where The Wild Things Are" and William Steig's Shrek character riding on the donkey. I love learning that shrek means fear or terror in Yiddish, and we know how he mellows out in his movies. There are also some jaw-dropping cut paper illustrations, which is the style that most captivated me when I wanted to make children's books.

You can also see artwork for "Curious George" by H.A. and Margaret Rey. Did you know George was originally named Curious Fifi? The American publisher determined that Fifi wouldn't fly here. Would Curious Fifi have the same charming effect on you?!

Plan a full day when you go to the Skirball. The Jews on Vinyl temporary exhibit is wonderfully fun, and the Noah's Ark permanent gallery is a visual stunner. I'll look forward to hearing your stories afterward in my comment section!

Click here to go to the Skirball's Web site.