Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cindy's Restaurant

All these years, I thought Cindy's Restaurant was merely a filming location as they never seemed to be open. Today I discovered they really did serve food, and how tasty it truly is.

Cindy's dates back to 1946 on Colorado Boulevard, between Eagle Rock and Pasadena. Inside, time has stood still. The menu is mostly coffee shop/diner fare with some interesting taco and tofu options. You can't overlook their fantastic orange/burnt orange vinyl booths and stools at the counter when you enter for some old-school details.

Here you see my delicious pulled pork sandwich, with cole slaw to pile atop for a wonderful melding of flavors. Yum! I'll definitely be back for more.

Click here to go to Cindy's Web site.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mighty Pipes at First Congregational Church

Wow, if this is what it looked like, just imagine what it sounded like!

The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles has produced another musical spectacular, this time combining their vocal Mighty Pipes with the world's largest church pipe organ at the First Congregational Church.

I've already shared the goosebumpy-experience just from the organ, now add 200 or so voices harmonizing with that sound. Holy cow!! And the serious - and cheeky - songs that GMCLA is know for: "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," two toccatas and a George Michael medley. Fantastic!

Here you see John West pulling out all the stops on one end of the sanctuary with the chorus at the other end. Literally, every inch of the space was filled with beautiful music!

GMCLA does a couple of shows throughout the year, and First Congregational has regular organ performances. Go hear both sets of Mighty Pipes when you can!

Click here to go to the Gay Men's Chorus of  LA's Web site.

Click here to go to First Congregational's Web site.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Escondite

I can't keep March's burger a secret. It came from The Escondite, located at Boyd and San Pedro at the edge of Little Tokyo, and it's my new favorite place.

Escondite means hideaway, and let me set the scene: no markings on the building except for the street number "410," then there's the heavy wooden door with the speak-easy style slidey window. Inside, exposed brick walls with Outlaws of the West posters, antler chandeliers, burlap covering the window openings, a cigar store wooden Indian, and an saloon-style massive wooden bar. The '80s music blasting away and flat screen TVs remind us that we haven't time traveled to the old west.

Well, then there's the food. They have sandwiches and salads, but you know what I was here for! The burgers have '70s themes, like the Captain Kangaroo and the Boss Hogg. Being the Cruise Director, I had to go with the Gavin MacLeod, my beloved Captain Stubing from "The Love Boat." His burger is topped with crumbled bleu cheese, sautéed mushrooms and A-1 sauce. WOW!!

One other unexpected detail is the "spa water" infused with cucumber. There's no "just water" served at The Escondite!

My recommendation is to go now - right now! - before the downtown hipsters claim it for themselves.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Joy Feast

I pass by Joy Feast on Alameda in Burbank most days on my commute, either going to and coming from work, sometimes both. I smile at the name each time, thinking one of these days I need to stop in for a little joy.

Today I had a big ol' craving for some orange spicy beef, a dish I haven't had for years, and Joy Feast was my chosen spot. Here you see that it was a successful mission. Let the feast begin!

Joy Feast has a fun appetizer option, where you can have a sampler of starters - egg rolls, paper wrapped chicken and a barbecued rib - to get your taste buds going. Then the orange beef appeared. Delish! It was exactly what I had been craving, and ample enough to have lunch the next day.

Let me know if you need a little joy in your life and want to enjoy some dinner to boot.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Santa Paula Daytrip

It's a beautiful March day, and I've been invited to ride shotgun on a daytrip to Santa Paula. Located on Highway 126 between Ventura on the 101 side and Santa Clarita on the 5, Santa Paula is a modern Mayberry with lemon, orange and avocado orchards and lots of surprises to boot.

First stop is Rabalais' for beignets, fancy schmancy powdered donuts. I washed mine down with citrus julep, which is their fancy schmancy lemon-limeade. Yum on both counts! On my next visit, I'm looking forward to a catfish po'boy, fried green tomatoes, or red beans and rice to really get my New Orleans fix. Properly powered-up, we can start exploring Main Street.

First stop after cruising the shops is the California Oil Museum, chalk-full of exhibits on the history of "black gold" in California. Here you see some of the vintage gas pumps, flashing back to a time when gas was 17 9/10 cents, with no dollar amount in front. There's also a Rig Room with an operating 1900s oil rig, plus bonus galleries of Girl Scout ephemera celebrating the centennial, and photographs and artwork from Cuba. It's quite a blend of interesting things! If you visit, definitely stick around for the docent tour of the upstairs offices dating from the 1890s. The space is filled with period furniture and accessories, and you can even walk into a vintage vault.

Adjacent to the Oil Museum is the Santa Paula Art Museum, currently showing the Douglas Shively retrospective. Shively founded the Santa Paula Art Show in 1937, and continued painting even after a stroke in 1989 until his death is 1991. He painted mostly landscapes using oils, with a few watercolors like this bridge scene from Brugges. Since photography without flash was allowed, I captured this delightful shot.

Finally, we stopped at Chickyweedy's for these corn burritos. You may call them modified taquitos, because they are corn tortillas rolled around beans and fried, then topped with hot sauce and cheese. Delish!! I don't care what they are called, as long as I hear when my order is ready. I polished off 10 of these babies and could have kept packing them away.

And so ends the Santa Paula daytrip, well except for the dreaded Friday late afternoon traffic on the drive back to LA. But, I would definitely do it again. Who's game?!

Chickyweedy's does not have a Web site. Their street address is 915 E. Harvard Street, and phone is 805-525-0341.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Le Pain Quotidien

I know I said the birthday celebrating was over, but, hey, my company is still in demand!

A friend was running errands in Old Town Pasadena, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up. We decided to meet up at Le Pain Quotidien for some yummy brunch.

If you haven't been (there are 14 locations in southern CA), one fantastic detail is the long communal table that fills the space. Take the opportunity to chum with your dining neighbors, or choose a smaller table if you don't want to share conversation or the jam and Nutella-esque condiments.

I ordered the frittata special: butternut squash and goat cheese today, with green salad and crusty bread perfect for the apricot and raspberry jams. Delish! They also have some mouth-watering open-faced sandwiches - they are called tartines - plus soups and quiches. I could have taken a run at the pastry case, too, if I wasn't already stuffed! Keep in mind that they're more of a breakfast/brunch place as opposed to a dinner spot, so plan your arrival time accordingly.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Demitasse Cafe

I'm not a coffee fan (well, coffee cake is always good), but I'm loving Demitasse Cafe in Little Tokyo! Filed under Odds and Ends on the intriguing menu, this is their Lavender Liquid Hot Chocolate with a flame-kissed giant marshmallow. Wow!!

In addition to the three layers of flavors in my drink, Demitasse is a science lab of activity! I missed the flaming of my marshmallow when I stepped into the restroom, but I definitely saw beakers and spiral tubing and special drip mechanisms filling the bar area. (I took Project Management courses with an actual coffee scientist. Now I'm getting what he was talking about!) Everything is precise and expertised, if that's even a word. Connoisseurs, give it a try next time you're in the area and let me know if I'm on to something.