Saturday, September 25, 2010

Burger Continental

You would think with an inviting name like Burger Continental, I would've taken a trip or two around their global burger options. But no. This was my first burger at Burger Continental.

Yes, I've eaten there many times, but I've always ordered from the Mediterranean section and had delicious lamb and veggie kebabs, or shared a Feast with a group of friends, while being entertained by the belly dancers.

Today was different. This Mushroom Regency Burger was screaming at me from the menu! Can you understand why? Grilled mushrooms and onions, plus cheddar and avocado, completely encapsulate the meat! With the burger specials, you also get to take a run through the salad bar, and their version is stocked with yummies like minted cucumbers, tomato and mushroom salad, hummus and pita, falafel, and tabouleh. This wasn't your Sizzler's salad bar!

Burger Continental is on Lake near California is Pasadena. Try the burger or the kebabs as they're both fantastic! Shall I meet you there and we can split orders?!

Click here to go to Burger Continental's Web site.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Aquarium of the Pacific

Jellies! I'm not talking donuts this time, or those colorful rubbery-plastic '80s shoes. (I had blue fisherman sandals, so it's somewhat relevant to mention them here.) I'm talking Aquarium of the Pacific and their wonderful collection of wacky water creatures. These sea jellies, and their milky-white cousins the moon jellies, are just a few of the features that keep me coming back. My other faves include "petting" the wet-velvety-soft bat rays in the touchpool, and checking out the seahorses and the drag-queen-esque sea dragons.

Here's an insider tip: plan to have your lunch inside Café Scuba during one of the seal and sea lion shows. Since most people are outside, pick one of the booths near the windows to get a view of the show without baking in the sun. My food from the café was tasty, too: grilled cheese panini with bacon, brie, Granny Smith apples and apricot jam with a huge green salad. Yum!!

After a couple hours of aquatic stimulation overload, it was also nice to walk along the path to the little seaport village - I'm usually running this route as part of the Long Beach Half Marathon - watching the little boats and the humungous Queen Mary. And just try to get the Aquarium's theme song out of your head, because it is terrific!

Click here to to the the Aquarium of the Pacific's Web site.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nonna's Pizzeria

My little town of South Pasadena is known for its smalltown charm. However, most small towns I know don't have two by-the-slice pizza joints within a block of each other. Well, South Pas does, and, as a pizza bonus, there's a Papa John's between them!

The pizza wars started with Mamma's Brick Oven (710 S. Fair Oaks) taking over the old Kentucky Fried Chicken building. They had parking as a bonus. Nonna Pizzeria (818 S. Fair Oaks) was the later entry, taking over a Middle Eastern restaurant's space. I tended to go to Mamma's, due to the forementioned parking. However, I was across the street at the Fair Oaks Pharmacy (see post from June 2009) and decided to give Nonna's a try. I had always thought it a copy-cat type of place. Chef Boyardee, was I ever wrong!

Both Nonna's crust and toppings were much better than Mamma's! On the left is the veggie spinach, artichoke, and sun-dried tomato slice, balanced out with Meatlover slice on the right. Let me tell you what was right about this slice: under the cheese, another layer of meat was hiding there! Delish!!

And, since I mention Papa John's (800 S. Fair Oaks), Papa John Schnatter knows smalltown! He's my people: a Hoosier from the next county over. My folks ate Papa John's when it was still a local shop. So rock on, Papa John! You continue to get my pizza dollars, and I always look forward to your garlic dipping sauce!

Click here to go to Nonna's Web site.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cee-dee's Big Adventure: LA County Fair

My final stop on the Big Adventure was the Los Angeles County Fair. Yeehaw! I hadn't been to this fair in at least 10 years, and I was looking for the cheeze. One slice of cheeze was the pig races. I was totally looking forward to them, and the little oinkers did not disappoint! Is it too cheezy to say that racing fans got to "bring home the bacon" with a coupon for free bacon at Ralphs? I thought so!

Speaking of bacon, there were lots of tantalizing fair foods, including chocolate-covered bacon and deep-fried everything. I was majorly tempted by the deep-fried s'more, but I just said no. The Cheese Cave sandwich was definitely doing its job!

Other fair highlights: Heritage Square with quilting demos and a Medicine Man show; "Celebrate Mexico" with beautiful flowers and plants displayed; and the live animals in Mojo's Jungle.

My favorite after the pig racing was Millard Sheets Center for the Arts exhibit. Titled "Three Centuries of Artistic Innovation from the Industrial Age to the Computer Age," it showcased how manufacturing innovations fueled artistic innovations. Artists - including a weaver, wood and marble sculptors, painters, a glass bead designer and jewelry makers - were demonstrating their specialties and explaining how their art has changed over the centuries.

I missed a lot of the displays, and I left before the Rick Springfield concert that night. Now that would've been some cheeze!

The Fair runs through October 3. Let me know what cheeze you find!

Click here to go to the LA County Fair's Web site.

Cee-dee's Big Adventure: Cheese Cave

Day two of the Big Adventure, and I woke up in a teepee in Rialto, CA. Next on the agenda was the LA County Fair, the largest county fair in North America. While driving west on the 10, I had a realization that maybe I should lay a base before indulging in some deep-fried fair food. Claremont was the next city sign I saw, so Claremont it was.

I'd never been to Claremont before, and I saw the signs for the Village. I figured I could get a muffin or ice cream or something snack-y there, and I started strolling their version of an Old Town. The Cheese Cave was one of the first shops I saw. I'll admit upfront, I really wanted it to be cheezy. Instead, it was a awesome fromagerie that also sold grab-and-go sandwiches. I'm kicking myself that I didn't get a photo of the menu board so I could be accurate in my details of this delish sandwich, but here goes: a wonderfully soft sliced cheese with some kind of salami, layered with some sort of crunchy cucumber (Armenian maybe?) with mustard seed spread on a velvety soft baguette. As a side dish, I went with the little cup of dried fruit. Mind you, I was just at Hadley's, king of the Inland Empire dried fruits, so I wasn't expecting much. The Cheese Cave's dried apricots and cherries were fresh and perfect with the sandwich!

P.S. I took the sandwich to go, and found this bench to stage my shot. Is it cave-y enough?!

Tum-tum is now happy so I'm off to the Fair!

Click here for the Cheese Cave's Web site.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cee-dee's Big Adventure: Wigwam Motel

My idea of sleeping in a concrete teepee is more than 10 years old. I spotted my first Wigwam Motel on Route 40 in Holbrook, AZ, heading to the Grand Canyon. I couldn't stop that time, and, on subsequent visits, Holbrook has not quite been far enough away to stay. Heading east, I hadn't accumulated enough miles to stop for the night, and, heading west, I would rather keep on truckin' than stop.

Last summer, my big brother and his kiddies wanted to stay at the second Wigwam near Mammoth Cave, KY. That didn't happen either, as there were no wigwams available during our powwow.

Then I remembered the third (and final) Wigwam was only about 50 miles away, conveniently located between Cabazon and the LA Fairgrounds on the 10 Freeway in Rialto. Voilà! And, I was sleeping in a teepee on my Big Adventure!!

Teepee sleeping is decidely different from motel or hotel sleeping. Furniture doesn't quite fit right, as the walls come to strange teepee-ish angles inside. Even in the shower the walls slanted in, and the tile-layer did a phenomenal job of fitting all the pieces together. I will note that it was the most quiet sleep-away-from-home I think I've ever had. Note to self: sleeping in a concrete bunker with no neighbors can lead to restful ZZZs! Next stop is the Fair!

Click here to go to the Wigwam Motel's (in CA) Web site.

Cee-dee's Big Adventure: Hadley's

So stop number two was the Cabazon Outlets, which I went to right after the Wheel Inn. Stop number three was Hadley's Fruit Orchards. For the uninformed, Hadley's is known for it's date and banana-date shakes. I know, it doesn't sound tasty at all, but it is! My b-d shake was the perfect recovery drink after shopping in the desert, and the perfect fuel for moving on to my next Big Adventure: the Wigwam Motel. Stay tuned...

Click here to go to Hadley's Web site.

Cee-dee's Big Adventure: Wheel Inn

So how did two days off turn into a Big Adventure? Let me tell you! Since I started my new job, I've been working with split days off. (This was my idea to accommodate my training schedule for the upcoming LA Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon.) But this week, I got a bonus day off, meaning I got two days off together. The Big Adventure started out as a trip to the LA County Fair. Then it grew into the Fair and the Wigwam Motel. Then it grew into the Fair, the Wigwam, and Cabazon for the Wheel Inn Restaurant and Hadley's. The outlets and Claremont were bonuses. But, before I get ahead of myself, let's go back to where the adventure began: the Wheel Inn.

Me, Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex go way back. I knew these boys even before I met them, having been introduced through "Pee-wee's Big Adventure." To this day, the dinos stand tall at the Wheel Inn, where Large Marge dropped Pee-wee off in the movie. You can still visit the gift shop inside Dinny's belly, just like old times. Since my last visit, the Wheel Inn has expanded to include the Cabazon Dinosaurs and Museum with animatronic dinos. I was on a Big Adventure and looking for cheeze, so I had to see the "World's Biggest Dinosaurs." Spoiler alert: the Museum has a blatant creationist stance, and, in some dioramas, dinos mix and mingle with tigers and lions. That said, the coolest part of paying the $6.95 admission is that you can climb the stairs inside Mr. Rex "at your own risk," all the way up to his mouth! That's the trade-off for the big slice of propaganda.

As a side bar, the grilled chile cheeseburger at the restaurant was just the cheese I needed to continue the Big Adventure!

Shockingly, the Wheel Inn doesn't seem to have a Web site. Their address is 50900 Seminole Drive in Cabazon, and the phone is (951) 849-7012. You really can't miss 'em off the 10!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bamboo Cuisine

I was going to lunch with my new work BFF. New in the sense that I've just started this job, but he and I worked together years ago at another gig and it has been great fun reconnecting! The "where to eat" conversation went something like this: Me: "What do you have a taste for?" BFF: "There's Italian, the healthy place, or there's Chinese..." and then again "and, there's Chinese..." until I finally got it that we should get Chinese.

What a fine recommendation it was: Bamboo Cuisine on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. Parking in the back was the first score. The second was seeing the Dry Sauteed String Beans on someone else's table and knowing that they would be at my table tout de suite. They were awesome, and, served up with the hot and sour soup and crispy salad with the kick-y vinaigrette as part of the special, lunch was about $10.

My fortune cookie should've said: "Just listen to BFF next time so you'll get to eat sooner!"

Click here to go to Bamboo's Web site.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Great Harvest Bread Co.

It's International Bacon Day, so I felt obligated to celebrate with the rest of the world the wonders of cured and fried pork strips. I've been meaning to try the new Great Harvest Bread Co. in South Pasadena after several pleasing experiences at the Great Harvest in Thousand Oaks. To my antici(say it!)pation and delight, my local shop has a BLT panini on the menu.

Here you see the grill marks toasting the Dakota bread with the pepita seeds and hearty grains. Almost a healthy sandwich, I could tell myself! Especially since there's garlic and herb spread instead of artery-clogging mayo. With six strips of bacon and good tomatoes and lettuce, this was a fab way to celebrate the international holiday.

What food are we celebrating next?!

Click here to go to Great Harvest's Web site.