Monday, August 30, 2010

"Caveman" at the Tar Pits

Last summer, I went to several screenings of the "B-Movies and Bad Science" films at the Natural History Museum. This year, they showed all the flicks outdoors. I blew them all off until last night's "Caveman," shown on the lawn at the La Brea Tar Pits, for my flashback drive-in experience.

In my youth, I lucked out. My Dad was a theater projectionist, which meant I got to go to the movie palaces (across the river in Louisville), as well as the drive-ins, on a regular basis. If I wanted to, I could sit inside the booth, away from the crowds in my personal screening room, or I could hang with the masses. I would have definitely watched "Caveman" multiple times during the summer of 1981, as it starred Dennis Quaid. Dennis was one of the stars of "Breaking Away," the 1979 film about four high school graduates trying to figure out what they were going to do with their lives. It was set in Bloomington, Indiana, a college town about 100 miles north of my smaller town. I still regularly watch "Breaking Away," just to keep it real. Hopefully, one of these days I'll figure out what I want to do when I grow up!

It was great fun to watch a cheezy movie with lots of other folks, while surrounded by gurgles of tar seeps. What movie would you like to see in a unique setting? Do tell!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Taco Station

From the train station to the Taco Station! I spotted this taco stand with the gas pumps while taking care of business at the Employment Development Department on Green Street in Pasadena.

Serving taco truck-style tacos at a permanent spot, this place is quite a hoot! Although it looks like an old-time service station - the kitchen would've been the garage - it is actually a fabricated site used as a film location. Who cares?! This is Los Angeles, afterall, and it's still fun!

I ordered two basics and one whim: carne asada, pollo (you know these as steak and chicken if you've ever been to a Taco Bell) and nopales. That's cactus, and it's the one in the lower right. All were very tasty, and I didn't have to chase after a truck!

Taco Station does not currently have a Web site. The street address is 1265 E. Green Street in Pasadena. Phone is (626) 795-1224.

Monday, August 23, 2010

La Grande Orange Café

La Grande Orange (LGO) Café in Old Town Pasadena has their own spin on the "plus one" perk of being on a guest list. On Mondays and Tuesdays, they have a fantastic dinner offer of buy one entree, get the second for $5. Sweet!

As person number two of the deal, here you see my $5 meal: Dixie Pan-Fried Chicken. The description said "crispy chicken with mashed potatoes served warm - picnic style." It was delicious! I've done a lot of picnics in my day, and none were as fancy as this. No gingham napkins here, but the surprise cinnamon roll resting atop the potatoes and green beans definitely made my day.

LGO is located in the 1935 Del Mar train station, now the Gold Line metro stop, and you can imagine the long wooden benches, valises, and passengers filling what is now the dining room. Snap back to reality, and you'll see folks in padded booths with laptops and cell phones, and others patiently waiting for the next available table. It's a fun mental juxtaposition.

Check out their menu, and let me know when you want to be my plus one!

Click here to go to La Grande Orange Café's Web site.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Billy's Deli & Cafe

I was heading east on the 134, passing through Glendale, and it was supper time. Hmm, I knew there had to be something tasty nearby, and I thought of Billy's Deli & Cafe over by the Galleria. That was the start of my can't-go-wrong dinner decision.

Mind you, it was supper time, and I was torn between the liver and onions versus the pigs in a blanket. The unflappable waitress even said "good luck deciding between those two" and give me a few minutes to ponder.

Obviously from my picture, I went with the piggies and blankies. Their version - buttermilk pancakes wrapping sausage links - was delish! The scrambled eggs served as a nice way to cut the syrup, and the pickle slices and lemonade provided just the right tang to balance the sweetness.

I wisely ignored the black and white cookies placed near the cash register, knowing I'd pass through this way again. Note that the cookies are about the size of a 45 RPM record so they're hard to ignore. And, if you don't know what a 45 is, ask someone around 45 years old! Maybe next time, I'll just come for the black and white and save my decision-making skills for more pressing matters, like can I recall all of the words to "the ink is black, the page is white," one of my early Three Dog Night 45s? Maybe, after the cookie, I can!

Click here to go to Billy's Web site.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Market Grill

So, I continue with the monster theme. Today, it's The Angry Beast at The Market Grill, a tiny surprise east of Old Town Monrovia. Here's the setup: you have to go through the liquor store, cash only, then there are just 14 seats in the place. Yes, it's kind of sketchy but totally worth the seek and find!

This monster sandwich is made of roast beef, swiss cheese, grilled onions, roasted green chiles, fresh spinach and horseradish mayo on grilled rye. And, that's not your typical scary potato salad sidled up to the Beast; it's a minted lemon potato salad and is a delight all its own! (See, I can manage my it's and its!)

Take a look at their menu. I saw most of the dishes that day (remember, there are only 14 seats so you'll get to know your neighbors), and everything looked and smelled amazing! I can't decide if it's a good or bad thing, but they didn't have their specialty chocolate chip and bacon cookies that day. You know I'll be roarin' back to The Market Grill very soon!

Click here for The Market Grill's Web site.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Monster Thai

I drive by their sign each day going to work, sometimes zipping along at top speed, but usually poking along, giving me time to ponder. On the 101 heading west, just past the Coldwater Canyon exit, the sign screams Monster Thai. I was intrigued and had to step into the mash!

The scariest thing about Monster Thai is deciding how spicy you want to go. Here you see my Beef Salad, with the yummy spicy lime dressing. I went with medium heat, and it was totally manageable. I picked up more of the minty/cilantroy flavors dancing around the grilled beef, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. Fiendishly good!! Next time, I'm cranking that Monster up a few notches. Who's up for the frightfest?!

Click here to go to Monster Thai's Web site.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Home Lands at The Autry

I've been meaning to see this exhibit at The Autry since the spring. Now that it's about to close, I finally made it to Home Lands: How Women Made the West. It's an interesting exhibit focused on three areas: northern New Mexico, near the Rocky Mountains, and Puget Sound, and how women turned "western spaces into home spaces by adapting it."

What I really liked about this exhibit was the wonderfully creative staging and backgrounds for the story and the artifacts. Here you can see the corn husk covered wall behind the grinding stone and storage vessels. The display base reminded me of geological strata that you see there. Also in this section, there was a message written in yellow and blue corn kernels (who else has been to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota?), and a burlap wall pinched and tweaked to replicate mountains or fault lines.

In the Puget Sound area, salmon was a main focus. One wall was covered with circular mirrors representing salmon skin, behind a fishing photo and framed marketing ephemera.

For the Rocky Mountains, a station wagon was sliced in half, with a flyer under the windshield wiper that explained how cars aimed at women allowed families to spread out to the suburbs.

You only have until August 22 to see for yourself!

Click here to go to The Autry's Web site.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wizard of Bras

OK, ladies, maybe you're able to buy your bras off the rack. Lucky you! I need a little more - how to I say it? - heft to my bras. The Wizard of Bras in Monrovia more than accommodates my challenges.

I've been a curvy girl my whole life; even at lower weights, I've always had hips and boobs. The Wizard of Bras totally changed how I select bras. The ladies at the Wiz measure and fit you to the right size, as opposed to my attempts to wedge into what size I thought I was. Many times, my cups truly spilleth over! And, once I figured out my true size, it is simple to get the right one. Some studies say that 80% or more of women wear the wrong size bra. That's crazy! Join the 20% true-fitters with one trip to the Wiz.

Now, who's off to see the Wizard?!

Click here to go to the Wizard of Bra's Web site.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Umami Burger

Remember my reference to fancy-schmancy burgers in my Bob's Big Boy post? Here's a perfect example of a burger you won't find on a diner menu.

This burger from Umami was fabulous! It is the Spanish Burger: fresh ground lamb, saffron aioli, roasted red pepper hash, rioja sauce and baby wild arugula. Behind, spot the sweet potato fries and the triple-cooked (!) hand cut fries. Last September, I posted about the Belgian frites at Oinkster, which are double cooked. Triple cooked fries = extra fancy-schmancy!

Umami is a Japanese term for the fifth taste, another taste in addition to sweet, salty, sour and bitter. I'm not even sure what that means. I do know that this burger tasted good, and that's good enough for me.

Click here to go to Umami's Web site.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I am filing this Carmine's post under Making Lemonade. See, I had more laundry than could possibly be accomplished in a timely manner with my limited washer/dryer setup. What's a girl to do but go to the laundromat? This is where the lemonade comes in.

There are two laundromats within a mile or so of my South Pasadena apartment; both happen to be near tasty restaurants. The plan was to throw in some wash, grab my food, and be back in time for the dryer. One laundromat is by Señor Fish, home of the incredible potato tacos that I wrote about in March. The other is by Carmine's, an awesomely decadent Italian restaurant that I walk or run by several times each week. It even smells good from the outside! I hadn't eaten at Carmine's since I was carb-loading for the March, 2009 Pasadena Marathon. Based on this photo, I think it's clear my lemonade this time was made by Carmine's.

This dish is their Gumbi House Special. That's the wait staff's writing on the bag, not mine. What is Gumbi, you ask? It's rigatoni sauteed with marinara, romano, light butter, melted mozzarella, diced homemade meatballs and mushrooms. Yummm!! Now you know why it's so special!

As you've probably guessed if you're a regular here at Cruise Director Los Angeles, I can pack away a lot of food, but this ended up being dinner for four nights. And, the minestrone soup that came with the Gumbi was practically a meal by itself.

So, laundry mission was accomplished with happy taste buds to boot. Now here's my challenge to you: tell me about the last time you made lemonade!

Click here to go to Carmine's Web site.