Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Orange Country Roadtrip

I know, I usually don't consider a run to the OC as a roadtrip - especially after the gazillion miles of roadtrip I just experienced - but this run covered lots of miles in two days and I experienced a wide variety of fun things.

Why OC, you ask?! A friend from 7th grade was coming to Anaheim from Ohio for a conference, and she had planned some time to just hang. I coordinated with a local friend also from 7th grade - the three of us met in the lunch line the first day of junior high - and we planned a trip. Let the fun begin!

First stop was Pee Wee's Famous Hot Dogs and Hamburgers in Huntington Beach. Who remembers my Cee-dee's Big Adventure, inspired by Pee-wee Herman? Yep, this meal was triggered by their name. However, once I saw the menu and selections, the name outfront was secondary.

Here you see my Chupacabra (what a name!) double bacon wrapped Polish hotdog buried under avocado, crema, queso fresco and pico de gallo, with sweet potato tater tots, and lavender limeade. Do I really need to explain the explosion of flavors?! DELISH!!

Fully powered-up, we head next to the Fullerton Arboretum for some walking in nature while the blood returned to our extremities. In addition to some ducks, a variety of cacti and succulents, and lots of botanicals, this is the coolest tree I've seen in ages: a Banyan (from India and Pakistan) that "forms aerial roots from branches to the ground" per the little placard. Can you say trippy upside-down tree?!

Next we head to Laguna Beach, hoping to score on some last-minute tickets to the Pageant of the Masters. It was sadly sold-out, so we decided to find a place for some beachfront dining. Yes, more food! At the Dana Point Harbor, we chowed on Jolly Roger's appetizer sampler with stuffed potato skins, hot wings, calamari, zucchini, onion rings, cheese quesadilla and garlic bread while further catching up on lots of years and lots of stories. After licking the platter, we head back to the hotel.

After a slumber party with more yacking and laughing way into the wee hours - just like when we were teens - we need some more food. Since Slater's 50/50 is close by (see post from last April), we knew our out-of-towner had to experience the build-your-own-burger trend taking over southern California. This time, I went with their predesigned Peanut Butter and Jellousy burger with bacon, peanut butter and strawberry jelly. (See Mo's Foggybottom Burger post from October, 2010 for some background.) YUM! What really caught my eye was the Bacon Brownie on the dessert menu, which you see pictured above. I'd been craving a REALLY GOOD brownie for several weeks, and this one totally met the challenge. With that, our conference attendee headed back to her hotel, and the LA-ers headed back to the other side of the Orange Curtain. But, the OC left its mark on all of us, and I think we'll be back!

Click here for Pee Wee's Web site.

Click here for the Arboretum's Web site.

Click here for Jolly Roger's Web site.

Click here for Slater's 50/50's Web site.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gus's Barbecue

If you've driven up or down Fair Oaks in South Pasadena at night, you can't miss Gus's Barbecue's neon sign with the chickens and pigs racing around the edge, lighting up as they go, enticing you in. They are a South Pas institution with more than 60 years of serving comfort food under their belts. I've been visiting for most of my 11 years here.

Expanding my belt, I went with the chicken and pig options for dinner tonight. This is the Chicken & Two Meat Combo, with BBQ chicken, smoked sausage and pulled pork. YUM! Notice that I selected the greens - instead of the sweet potato fries I really wanted - in an attempt to be "healthy." There is no pretense about the health benefits of the mac and cheese!

Gus's went from red-checked oilcloth tablecloths and paper napkins to nice booths and real linens in the last couple of years. I am pleased to report that their service has caught up to their new look and feel since my prior visit. I preferred the vibe when it was a dive, but I'm looking forward to going back!

Click here to go to Gus's Barbecue's Web site.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Waffle

I was meeting a friend at the Arclight in Hollywood for a movie, and we needed some chow beforehand. I noticed The Waffle's inviting sign outfront, so off we went. One-stop parking on Sunset Boulevard is always a bonus!

The Waffle's menu is definitely diner-based, with some ramped-up selections. Biscuits and gravy, of course, but how about their red velvet waffle for some variety? If I was really feeling the trailer park side of me, I would have strayed to the Double Wide menu with meatloaf, grilled cheese or fried chicken served on waffles. Wow!

I went with the Waffle Breakfast Sandwich: two sunny-side up eggs, bacon and cheddar cheese between the waffles, with - of course - waffle fries. Next time, I'm going with some fruit to prevent my full-on carb load. But, there will be a next time. Who's in the mood for waffles, regular or premium?!

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

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Escape

I wanted to keep My Escape in South Pasadena as my little secret, but I also think you should experience Tina Yee's fantastic facials and treatments for yourself. I always get the "you look so relaxed" comments afterward, no matter how exhausted I really am. Need I say more?!

I heartily recommend her facials and waxing treatments. Her space is so relaxing and technique so gentle that I hardly even feel the stray eyebrow hairs being "tamed." The same goes for the difficult clogged pores, but I won't elaborate. As a matter of fact, I should probably call her now for an appointment - before I see all of you there!

Click here to go to My Escape's Web site.

Monday, July 9, 2012


It was time to finally try out redwhite+bluezz in Old Town Pasadena. When a friend offered to meet in my 'hood for dinner, I jumped at the opportunity to give them a shot.

Wow, I thought they were just music and burgers, but there's so much more! Here is my the first attempt from the cheese and charcuterie flight choices. Think Garanimals with cheese and sausage, mixing and matching all the options. The cheeses are sorted by the milk source: cow, pig, or goat, then the charcuterie offers both meat source of cow or pig, then either Spain or Italy as the location. What you're seeing (from left to right) is sopressata salami (pig from Italy), then pamplona chorizo (cow and pig from Spain) and sage derby cheese (sheep from England). Note that there are more than 20 cheeses to choose from and four charcuterie. There are also pre-planned tasting flights if you are decision challenged. Intermixed is crunchy breads, plus nuts and dried cranberries to further tempt the taste buds.

Now, while all this is going on, there's also live jazz. Plan on having all your senses engaged when you visit.

I'm ready to go back. Who's with me?!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen

One of my besties now living near San Diego was in town for work. She was staying in Century City, so we met up at the Mall for some shopping, gabbing and eating. Our choice was RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen. What a delish decision!

First off, the setting is fabulous! There is a fun patio area with comfy seating around enclosed fire pits. Bamboo and Buddhas fill the space, and there was no problem awaiting the table while getting the chatting started.

The menu was impressive, and we quickly decided to go with the Chef's Tasting Menu with its five courses and 10 flavors for $38 each. We got to select three appetizers, a salad, two main dishes, two sides and two desserts. Wow!

Now, to be clear, we thought "tasting" was more tapas-sized portion, and the appetizers were reasonably sized. After we loaded up there, everything else was full-on servings. Note to self: pace yourself next time around!

Here you see our appetizer choices: Crispy Vegetable Spring Rolls, Lacquered BBQ Ribs, and Crunchy Calamari. Next up was Grapefruit Jicama Salad, Princess Chicken (my fave: tempura-dipped chicken breasts with Thai chillies, peanuts and palm sugar glaze) and Malaysian Salmon for our main dishes, then Asparagus with Green Beans and Ginger Fried Rice (with a sunny-side up egg on top!) for sides. Finally, Caramelized Banana Custard Cake and Warm Coconut Doughnuts for dessert. As you can guess, we each took home a full box for lunch the next day.

Have I inspired you to give RockSugar a try?! I'm on my way!

Click here to go to RockSugar's Web site.