Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Chi Dynasty

It's Christmas Day. After a morning in Griffith Park for pipes practice, hiking and riding the Merry-Go-Round, it was time for some chow.

Like many Christmas orphans, Chinese food was on the menu. In the Chinese culture, Chinese New Year is the primary winter celebration, not Christmas, which means Chinese restaurants are usually open on Christmas. I learned this from "A Christmas Story" back in my youth and experienced it many times as an adult.

This Christmas, Chi Dynasty on Hillhurst was packed. I can understand why, because the food was delish! Here you see my Szechwan Garlic Sting Beans and Orange Beef over brown rice. So festive with the bright red plates! They also have a classy finger bowl of warm water with lemon for rinsing between courses at each setting. I look forward to more meals at Chi Dynasty, Christmas Day or otherwise!

Click here for Chi Dynasty's Web site.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gindi Thai

It's Christmas Eve, and I'm gathering with friends to watch a screener of "Saving Mister Banks" while waiting out Santa. We decided to grab some takeout dinner from Gindi Thai on Riverside in Burbank for our movie-time chow.

Here you see my veggie Garden Rolls with peanut sweet and sour sauce and spicy, basil-y Drunken Noodles with chicken. Delish!

Gindi Thai is hidden on that Alameda/Moorpark intersection near Moe's and Bob's Big Boy. If Santa can travel around the world in one night, we can veer a block or two for some fantastic food.

Click here for Gindi Thai's Web site.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tea Rose Garden

What better way to shake off some Grincheyness than Christmas tea with a chum? I've strolled and drove past Tea Rose Garden on Raymond in Old Town Pasadena probably a gazillion time. Today I walked in, and I'll definitely return.

As you can see, we got to sit next to the huge tree, all gussied up for the holidays. We went with the English Tea service, where you get to select your tea, finger sandwich and scone, in addition to the green salad with edible flowers and little cookie for tea dipping. I choose English Breakfast tea, salmon and dill sammies, and candied ginger spice scone. Sweet and savory!

I liked that they used mix-and-match china cups and plates, so it was a totally unstuffy approach to this little indulgence. Tea Rose Garden is also a floral shoppe, so beautiful arrangements were being picked up, and it smelled wonderful.

So, maybe my Grinch heart didn't grow three times its size, but I think my tummy came close. Give it a try!

Click here for Tea Rose Garden's Web site.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Beach Getaway and Reel Inn

It's a beach getaway day. For me, going to the beach means buying some trash mags and plunking down under a sun umbrella for a couple of hours. It's a full-on mindless escape while toes are wiggling in the sand. Ahh!!

And, while I'm in the hood, I have to swing by Reel Inn for my fish and chips fix. Reel Inn  is one of the two funky beachside fish joints along PCH in Malibu; Neptune's Net (revisit the July, 2009 post below) on the north side is the other. While you're waiting for your meal, be sure to take a look at the ceiling so you don't miss the bicycle, surf boards and oars resting in the rafters. There's also a potbelly wood stove near the long community tables for the chilly beachside nights. Delicious, friendly and fun!

Click here for Reel Inn's Web site.

Click here for Neptune's Net post.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gobble Tov at Billy's Deli & Cafe

Gobble Tov! Happy Thanksgivukkah or Hanukkagiving! Whatever you want to call it, today's the rare convergence of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah, and an awesome excuse/opportunity to really load up at the dinner table.

I last posted on Billy's Deli & Cafe in August, 2010. Although I've returned since then, today seemed like a great time to do a follow-up entry. Here you see Billy's traditional Thanksgiving dinner, with my bonus side of potato pancakes. Yes, that would be potato pancakes, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes for the full-on starch trifecta! Note that there was also green salad, chicken noodle soup and pumpkin pie bookending this spread. Wow, good thing I took a stroll around Griffith Park beforehand, because it was food coma and Twilight Zone afterward.

How did you celebrate either or both holiday?!

Click here to go to Billy's 2010 post.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

I'm not a huge fan of ballet, or dance in general, as a way to tell a story, but mention Matthew Bourne and I'm there! Matthew very creatively reinterprets classic dance pieces, and he's worked wonders with Sleeping Beauty, at the Ahmanson Theater now through December 2. Spoiler alert: this version includes vampires!

Sleeping Beauty completes the Tchaikovsky ballet trifecta, joining Swan Lake and The Nutcracker in the fun. I've seen all three plus his adaptations of Cinderella, The Car Man (based on the opera Carmen), and Edward Scissorhands. All were terrific! Sleeping Beauty added a new production feature to the mix - a puppet. And this puppet had the audience cracking up and cheering.

This version has enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes. However, in the end, love saves the day. Isn't that a great takeaway for all of us?

Click here to go to Sleeping Beauty's ticketing site.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mohawk Bend

Does this look like recovery food to you?! Call it what you will, but I just completed a 5K, and I need to get my healing on. See, this length is a challenge for me, as I'm more of a distance and interval kind of runner.

Anyway, I'm here at Mohawk Bend in Echo Park with a chum, and, whatever excuse it takes, we're sharing the Elvis French Toast - words don't exist to properly describe the warm peanut butter syrup - and the Huevos Divoricados chilaquiles with fried eggs, black beans, avocado and queso fresco over the tortilla chips. Delish, and a perfect balance of sweet and savory!

Mohawk Bend is situated in a 100-year-old renovated vaudeville theater, and the crowd was quite animated. While waiting to be seated, a bouncer-type asked "are you here for the beer?" while extending a wristband. Silly guy, I guess he assumed I was legal. Several tables had the little beer taster glasses, and folks were enjoying their brews.

Mohawk Bend could become a new fave. Who's with me?!

Click here to go to Mohawk Bend's Web site.

Friday, November 8, 2013

La Monarca Bakery

I'm running errands, and I need to refuel before dealing with Trader Joe's and my other stops. La Monarca Bakery by the Mission Goldline station is the perfect solution! Here you see my chicken mole cazuela, with smashed pinto bean spread and Cotija cheese, on the crusty roll baked in-house. And the drink? Mango hibiscus tea. Delish!

La Monarca also has self-serve cases of pan dulce with concha rolls and other breads, plus trays of cookies and sweets at the counter. I tried the pumpkin empanada. Yum! While I was waiting in line, one of the crew members brought out warm-from-the-oven croissants and shared samples with everyone. Apparently, this is a regular activity, as one of the other patrons gave a "thanks, but no thanks, I had a slice earlier" reply to the kind offer.

South Pas is the fourth location, with other spots in Huntington Park, Commerce and Santa Monica. I can't yet speak for the other shops, but this one is comfortable and welcoming, with colorful Day of the Dead and calaca-style artwork on the walls. It's a great addition to our little 'hood!

Click here for La Monarca's Web site.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day of the Dead, 2013

Day of the Dead, 2013. I haven't celebrated since 2010.  (Click here for that post.) Self Help Graphics has now relocated the festivities to Boyle Heights, with easy access from the Pico/Aliso Goldline station. It was great to be back!

This year, instead of just gawking at the other attendees, I got my calaca on and had my face painted. I love the sparkles and the seemingly braces-inspired markings! Also, note my DOD ringer t-shirt. The designer took pictures, as she said she hasn't seen this t-shirt version in years!

I also checked out the altars and artwork, chowed on pupusas and pan de muerto, and heard some great music. I loved it! Who's with me next year?!

Click here for Self Help Graphic's Web site.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lacy Park

I went to Lacy Park in San Marino hoping to see some fall leaves. But, much to my surprise, I saw these bearded irises, my absolute favorite flower!

In addition to the irises, I also saw tai chi fan routine practice, walkers and runners looping the three-quarter and mile paths, and families enjoying time together at the playground.

Lacy is a 30-acre park off Monterey and St. Alban. I like to run there, make a couple of loops, take advantage of the water fountain, and head back. It is open to the public for free on weekdays, with a entry charge on weekends for non-residents.

I did see one tree on the verge of coloring-up, so I'll have to go back. Can anyone recommend any other fall leaves?!

Click here for Lacy Park's Web site.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Remember my Daisy Mint post from December 2011? I noted that a second restaurant was in the works, which today brings me to Abricott and their South Lake location.

This is the delicious Grilled Trout and Green Apple Salad with carrots, crushed peanuts and spicy dressing. YUM!! That sauce reminded me of the dressing on the catfish from Daisy Mint. Dang, it's going to be hard to decide between the two!

Abricott's layout is adorable, too, like you're having a meal in an old bookstore. Mix-and-match art hangs on the wall, and books are stacked and shelved everywhere. I look forward to trying several menu items in comfort at Abricott. Who wants to go?!

Click here for Abricott's Web site.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Little Beast

One of my besties since seventh grade is getting married, and we needed to connect to talk dresses and wedding details. (She's asked me to be maiden of honor.) I've been wanting to try Little Beast - located in the old Larkin's Restaurant space in Eagle Rock - and this seemed like a perfect time and place to do so.

For starters, we shared this phenomenal burrata, persimmon and arugula salad. The flavors intermingled and intermixed from start to finish. We practically licked the plate clean!

The entrees were also off the chart. My friend got the charbroiled flat iron steak with spinach, wild mushrooms and crispy onion strings, and I got the pan-roasted organic chicken with sausage cornbread stuffing, endive and celery salad. Wow, I'm thrilled to vouch for the scrumptiousness of both!!

As if we weren't stuffed to the gills, we went with the special brioche bread pudding dessert with decadent vanilla ice cream.

Little Beast is currently open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner service. I can't wait until they expand to breakfast, too. Hmm, what other details can we discuss at Little Beast?!

Click here for Little Beast's Web site.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ginger Corner Market

It has been a lovely morning so far. It's one of my rare Sundays off, and I've scored on a batch of Lusterware at the Pasadena City College Flea Market. I also have my favorite ginger cake packed to-go, and I'm good for the day.

But, the day gets even better! On my drive home, I spot Ginger Corner Market, on the corner of Michigan and Blanche, just a few blocks from the campus. This is their beet salad with orange wedges, goat cheese, and sunflower seeds. Delish!! Oh, and lavender lemonade and a warm peanut butter cookie baked onsite to boot.

In addition to the terrific menu - BLT with fried egg, anyone? - Ginger also has cards, toys and gifts, and fun jams, candies, ice cream and other treats. It is a totally cute little place, and I hope to visit on a regular basis. Who's with me?! (And, don't worry. The ginger cake will not be wasted!)

Click here to go the Ginger's Web site.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Proud Bird

Proud Bird is closing in November! Argh, this means one of LA's iconic aviation-themed restaurants will be no more. (See my Encounter post from last February for another example.)

Located off one of the two landing runways at LAX since 1967, the Proud Bird is been home to a dozen or so vintage/historic planes. For instance, the orange plane to the left is a Bell X-1, which was the first to break the sound barrier. How cool is that?! That means you can see classic planes and modern-day planes simultaneously.

Proud Bird also serves up some tasty chow, although you don't have to eat to watch the planes. This is the Ahi Tuna Tower appetizer: fresh ahi with chili, soy, radish, avocado, mango, ginger. tobiko caviar and wasabi creme fraiche. WOW!!

Definitely go before they close! I can't explain it, but I could've watched those planes land for hours. If it wasn't for Randy's Donuts calling me, I'd probably still be there.

Click here for Proud Bird's Web site.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

McCabe's Guitar Shop

Do you know about McCabe's Guitar Shop on Pico in Santa Monica? McCabe's is a super cool Mom and Pop music store and performance space, dating back to 1958. When I lived in Venice, I went to concerts there frequently. I bought my first metronome from them. It was cool to return as a plus-1 to see the Del-Lords tonight in that little back room that may seat 150.

The Del-Lords are a rootsy rock band that just released an album after a 23-year hiatus. They are from the New York/New Jersey area, and I think I heard them while living there. That, or I'm really good at predicting their lyrics! So, you're rocking out to the band, and the walls are covered with all sorts of stringed instruments. I've always thought that was fantastic!

Check out McCabe's show schedule, and go see a show. Trust me, you can't go wrong!

Click here for McCabe's Web site. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Never Built: Los Angeles at A+D Museum

This Frank Lloyd Wright model from 1947 reminds me of the Encounter building at LAX (see February, 2012 post). Sadly, the cool complex designed for Runyon Canyon wasn't completed. It is one of many shelved LA projects featured in Never Built: Los Angeles at A+D (Architecture and Design) Museum, near the Petersen Museum on Wilshire Boulevard.

You'll also see monorail and freeway plans that never materialized, the original layout for Disneyland - in Burbank!, and the Bible Storyland theme park proposal. These, as well as Frank Lloyd Wright's building, are all chalked up to the could've beens because they couldn't get the public's backing and/or funding dried up. For example, Wright's design, with a lounge, dining room, dance floor, cinema, and cabaret above a swimming pool and tennis court, was squashed by nearby residents. Burbank City Council feared a "carny atmosphere" if Disneyland was built there, and Bible Storyland was considered "blasphemous" by local clergy. In total, there are about 20 or so concepts that never happened.

Be sure to see the exhibition by October 27, or you'll miss out on Never Built: Los Angeles, again!

Click here to go to A+D's Web site.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers

September is coming to an end, and I'm due a burger. This Voodoo Burger from Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers changed that.

The Voodoo worked its magic on me! My beef burger (you could also have any of their burgers with turkey, chicken breast, salmon or veggie patty) with provolone and bleu cheese, bacon, topped with mushrooms sautéed in spicy voodoo sauce. WOW, my mouth is still on fire!

My friends went with a Hickory and a Western. Both were devoured! Our shared spicy curly fries were quite tasty. Note that the fries come out before the burgers, so pace yourself accordingly.

Barney's has been in the Bay area since 1978, and they have many local fans from those early days. They now have locations in Sherman Oaks (at the Westfield Mall on Riverside and Woodman, which is where I went), Brentwood and Santa Monica.

I look forward to further burger explorations with Barney's. Who's with me next month?!

Click here for Barney's Web site.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Monastery of the Angels Pumpkin Bread

You may know I get my religion a spoonful at a time: pipe organ here and there, stained glass, "Amazing Grace" in various musical forms, and bagpipe band class offered in a church. Now I'm adding this Monastery Pumpkin Bread to that list, for a mouthful at a time.

Monastery of the Angels is off Franklin Avenue and Gower in Hollywood, located near Cafe 101 Coffee Shop (you may remember them from my December, 2009 post with Cake in a Jar). This bread is fabulous! The Dominican Nuns bake it onsite, and it's made from ingredients you can actually pronounce. There are no preservatives, so you either need to freeze it, or in my case eat it!, before it goes bad. I guarantee the eating will not be a problem.

Go get your slice of religion today!

Click here for their Web site.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Porta Via revisited

For all it's worth, summer is now over. However, it's still hot, and BLTs are still on my mind! Especially, this one from Porta Via.

This is their last fling Summer iItalian BLT: crispy pancetta, arugula, tomatoes and basil aioli on brioche, with a side of roasted beets with arugula and sherry vinaigrette. FABULOUS!!

I last posted on Porta Via in December, 2010 when their salads were marathon training fuel. I expect this BLT will fuel me through other challenges!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Exposition Park

Now that all the kiddies are all back to school, I am determined to make the most of a day at Exposition Park. Yes, finally see the Nature Lab and Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum, and the Endeavour Shuttle at the Science Center.

You know spiders are my favorite! If you visited the old Discovery Center at NHM, you remember the tanks with the snakes, frogs, spiders and other crawly things. Inside the new Nature Lab, the animals are more front-and-center with jumbo tanks for the bullfrogs and ant colonies. I love this cool collection of preserved spider specimens, and there are multiple live ones nearby. Woohoo!!

Outdoor is the Nature Garden, where everything was planted or placed to attract wildlife. I liked the way they indicated with these big arrows the important things going on. There's also a flowing creek to simulate the LA River, bird watching platforms and an edible garden that truly smells wonderful.

Next door, there's the Endeavour at the Science Center. I can't believe it has been almost a year since I saw the shuttle strapped to a 747 flying over LA (see September 21, 2012 post). Now CSC has a temporary bunker with big plans for the permanent gallery. While I was there, the space went from a nice crowd to a packed crowd as another busload of tourists came in to gawk. I look forward to their ambitious plans!

I also hadn't seen the Kelp Forest with the touch tanks up top, or the Rot Room. Both were fun surprises and reminders that I need to make a habit of returning.

Get out there and see all that LA has to offer!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

California Pita

I busted out for lunch with some friends, this time to California Pita's location on Ventura Boulevard. This is the yuumalicious lamb shish kabob plate. Super tender lamb with the grilled onions over rice to start, with hummus, pita and crisp lettuce/cucumber/salad.

Check out one of their five LA locations when you need a tasty Mediterranean treat. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of their $1.99 Falafel Friday promotion. Who wants to go?!

Click here for California Pita's Web site.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monte Carlo Deli and Pinocchio Restaurant

It's blazing hot in the SGV, and I'm looking for some relief. Some friends invited me to Monte Carlo Deli and Pinocchio Restaurant in Burbank for some cool gelato. Here you see my salted caramel as the base and chocolate hazelnut, AKA Nutella, on top. Deeeeelicious!!

Gelato generally has less fat than ice cream, so I say scoop up!

Now that I know about this place. I'm looking forward to picking up some delicacies from the Monte Carlo side, or a meatball sub from Pinocchio. They are side-by-side with delicious options on both sides.

Click here for Monte Carlo/Pinocchio's Web site.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Charles Phoenix and LA Architecture

Chalk up another hilarious Charles Phoenix slide show! Themed to the Natural History Museum's new Becoming Los Angeles exhibition (which I haven't yet seen), this time Charles took on LA Architecture in his typical wacky way.

We learned about, and laughed about, LA's perfection of buildings shaped like what they were selling; drive-through dairies and donut shops (see November, 2009's Donut Hole post); mid-century design that still looks cool today (see February, 2012's Encounter post); and general over-the-topness (see February, 2011's Madonna Inn) in our built surroundings. Car washes, bowling alleys, houses shaped like potatoes - treasures are everywhere! And, all were described in Charles' 1,000-situp wacky way.

I definitely added new Cruise Director LA adventures to the list! Who wants to join me for an eye-opening outing?!

Click here for Charles' Web site.

Click here for NHM's Web site.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Peter Frampton's Guitar Circus

Did you know that B.B. King is 87 years old? When I saw that he was on the lineup with Peter Frampton's Guitar Circus at the Greek Theater, I knew I had to see him one more time.

B.B. is still the maestro! His playing was awesome, and he was sharp and funny in his chatter. Dang, I hope I still know what music is when I get to be 87, let alone play it! Peter Frampton joined him onstage for "The Thrill Is Gone," and that interplay was incredible.

When it was Peter's turn, he also wowed the crowd! The Guitar Circus features different guitarists at each stop, and we got to see and hear Dean DeLeo from Stone Temple Pilots, and Andy Summers from the Police. Woohoo!! Peter did the mouth tube-whawha-words played through the guitar-thingy (actually called a TalkBox) for "Show Me The Way" plus Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" (no Chris Cornell, though) for some good fun. Dean and Andy joined Peter for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" for the grand finale. Rock on, guys! I hope the Guitar Circus makes another stop soon.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sena on Myrtle

Short ribs are my chosen protein this month. This time, it's short ribs tacos from Sena on Myrtle in Monrovia.

Presented in a round cake pan with wax paper, two hearty braised beef tacos with caramelized onions, fontina cheese, avocado, cilantro and pepper crema sauce with crescent-shaped chips and saucy salsa hit all the taste buds. YUM!!

Sena is across from the Krikorian Theater in the Old Town strip which seems to be changing all the time. I hope they stick around awhile, because I want to choose their Crabcake Sliders and Grilled Salmon & Arugula Salad, too.

Click here for Sena's Web site.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Central Park Restaurant

I know! Everywhere I go now, it seems like my food has - no, is - a happy face!

Here you see my Braised Short Rib Hash Benedict with bernaise sauce and fruit from Central Park Restaurant in Pasadena, unintentionally shaped into eyes and a smile. Or was it?! Maybe my reputation proceeds me.

Either way, it was delish, and I had a big smile on my face. The short ribs hash was a super surprise! Central Park Restaurant is across Fair Oaks from the actual park. I hope you depart happy, too!

Click here for Central Park's Web site.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Viva Las Vegas!

Remember my Carmagettaway posts from July, 2011? I took advantage of the 405 freeway closure to meet up with midwest chums in Vegas, then we headed off to Zion and Bryce National Parks. In the last two years, my Chicago friend got married and moved to Hong Kong. I know!! She was back in the states with her new husband for a tournament has was repping. It was a perfect opportunity for the three amigas to ride again!

After driving across the desert and picking up my Milwaukee friend at the airport, the first stop was the Golden Nugget on Fremont where we were staying. We had several hours to fill before connecting with our other friend, and we were both starving. The Chart House inside the GN served up the first fabulous meal of the adventure, next to its 75,000 gallon tropical fish aquarium. Wow! This is the East Meets West Tuna (zesty tuna tartare drizzled with wasabi cream paired with seared peppered tuna and avocado, with kim chee slaw and plantain chips) and some fishies seemingly joining us. A great base for the decadence on the horizon! (Note that the GN also has a shark tank at the pool if you're needing to see more fishies.) After some Judge Judy slots, strolling Fremont and chilling inside the AC to beat the 100 degrees outside, it was time to hit the Strip and meet our newly international friend.

She did her research and found the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan and its decadent buffet. What makes the Wicked Spoon so unique is that lots of their food is served pre-portioned. Here you see some of my selections: figs, watermelon salad, roasted beet salad, caprese salad and gnocchi in little serving dishes, then lamb panini, ribs, udon noodles and bok choy. YUM! I'm not embarrassing myself by showing or detailing my dessert choices, but let me tell you it was all delicious!

Saturday morning, and it's a pancake face! This edition is courtesy of Du-par's at the Golden Gate, and so different from my February, 2010 Du-Par's standard pancake post. Can't forget this is Vegas, baby! My server was especially proud of this amped-up breakfast special with artfully arranged fruit.

After the smiley-face breakfast, it was time to meet the driver to be rock-star transported to our spa treatments. We headed to the Green Valley Ranch outside the city for further decadence. I had the Orange Oasis scrub and massage. Ahhhhh!!

Back at the Golden Nugget, we had to celebrate National S'mores Day, and we certainly enjoyed these torched versions from the Chocolate Box inside the hotel.

After more laughing, remembering the times, and trading stories, it's dinner time. We're off to the Peppermill for some classic Las Vegas chow. There, we got to meet the lucky man who whisked our friend to the other side of the world. The Peppermill has been serving up overflowing platters of food for more than 40 years. The interior is a trip! Mirrored tile ceiling, pink and purple tubed lighting, random silk plants and flowers, flamingo-decorated light covers over the tables. This is the Peppermill Burger, the flagship burger featuring a half-pound all-beef patty broiled to order, served on grilled Parmesan sourdough with diner fries. You know that was a good meal!

For our entertainment that night, we saw the Lost 80's Live show at the Beach at Mandalay Bay. Bow Wow Wow, Animotion, When in Rome, Naked Eyes, Wang Chung and Flock of Seagulls played their one or two hits, and the next band hit the stage. Everybody was Wang Chunging and singing the lyrics and having a great time!

Sunday morning, and Milwaukee friend has already headed to the airport for her return to reality. Hong Kong friend was staying at the Paris Hotel and recommended the Sugar Factory for breakfast. This is a Fat Elvis Waffle - with bacon-infused batter, more bacon, whipped peanut butter and caramelized bananas. YUMMY!! I styled the waffle face myself, as the parts were begging to be connected. We then did some more shopping before she went to the pool and I left to get my mobster on.

The Mob Museum was designed by the same folks who did the Spy Museum (see October, 2011post) that I loved so much! The Mob version's home is a 1933 courthouse and the location of some of the Kefauver hearings investigating organized crime. In 1950, these trials were broadcast live, and America got it's first taste of the mob's operations. The Museum exhibits are situated on three themed floors: Birth of the Mob (including St. Valentine's Day Massacre brick wall as a highlight, plus insights into the Mob's role in prohibition, prostitution, sports and betting, and Hollywood), Las Vegas Mob (connection to casinos and gambling), and Fighting Back (interaction of the FBI, Interpol, and other agencies). I hope I'm not spoiling this for anyone, but it's pretty grisly with lots of photos of dead guys in pools of blood.

Finally, I accept that it's time to head home. I encountered the usual creep-along drive and stopped in Baker for some sustenance. I enjoyed a gyro at The Mad Greek Cafe before downing this delicious fresh strawberry milkshake. Yes, my kind of fruity drink with an umbrella! I understand the tournament my friend's husband is repping is in Italy next year. Sounds like a great opportunity for tre amiche to gather again!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pageant of the Masters

Have you been to a Pageant of the Masters performance? If you have, this season is unlike any other! Disco balls, confetti and Ferris Bueller are just a few of the differences.

If you haven't been to a POM, let me try to set the stage. Using make-up, costumes, props, scenery, film clips and lighting, plus live orchestra and voice overs, they create and freeze-frame famous works of art, and this time they included movies. It's only when the characters move that you realize what's going on! One of my favorite parts is the dissecting of a piece - this time a Remington painting - to see how the magic is accomplished.

The Big Picture featured a number of movies, including the silent "Safety Last!" with Harold Lloyd. You probably know the iconic image of Lloyd hanging off the arms of a skyscraper's clock. Now imagine that scene recreated on a stage, where Lloyd's character holds completely still in position until, on cue, his hat tumbles off! They also utilized a number of silhouette treatments to tell a story, including some Charlie Chaplin and a steam train, and Norman Bates' "mother" wielding a knife. The disco ball and confetti accompanied a starlet's entrance in a classic sedan and her walk on stage to accept an Oscar.

If you remember "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," Ferris and chums skip school, and one of their adventures is checking out the galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago. We get to see them strolling the galleries, with the artwork coming to life before our eyes. Super fun to relive the 1986 flick this way! I won't ruin it for you with the complete rundown, but there are lots of surprises. Just trust me and make the drive to Laguna Beach before August 31st!

Click here for POM's Web site.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hollywood Bowl Revisited

Earlier this month, I posted about bowling at PINZ. This time, how about surprise tickets to the Hollywood Bowl to hear some Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky? How about sitting in the President's Box for some bonus fun? Just another day in paradise!

Who you can't see behind my feet propped on the box's ledge is Steve Lopez, along with Nathaniel Ayers to his left. As you may recall, Lopez wrote columns in the LA Times about Ayers, who is a cello prodigy struggling with schizophrenia. Lopez then wrote a book, "The Soloist," which was made into a movie starring Robert Downey, Jr., and Jamie Foxx. It was very sweet to watch Ayers follow every note of tonight's performances on his music sheets. It definitely added another dimension to the riveting music.

It's always a great show at the Bowl, and Tchaikovsky's "The Rite of Spring" and Stravinsky's "Violin Concerto" were spectacular! Just go to the Bowl when you get the chance. I've never regretted it!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Poway Getaway

I'm taking a short roadtrip to Poway in San Diego County to visit friends. My chum from Santa Monica relocated there to live with her boyfriend, and she's found quite a comfy life there. Keep reading for artichoke fritters, tilapia spring rolls and the mecca of thrift stores!

After a tour of their adorable house, the first stop for some chow was The Brigantine, or The Brig to locals. Here you see their artichoke fritters. Delish! We also had fish tacos and spinach salad for a good taste variety. And Poway starts to surpass expectations...

Later that night, we went to Cordiano Winery in Escondido. It was the one night in July with rain. From what I hear, this patio spot is THE place to watch the sunset over the vineyards. I'll just have to go back to see it for myself.

Luckily, Cordiano's was not a wash. They also serve up some delicious thin crust pizzas. This Margarita was fantastic!

To really top it off, it's National Ice Cream Day! Woohoo! Courtesy of Thrifty's via CVS, here you see my selections: Circus Animal and Happy Birthday. Poway rocked day one!!

On Monday, my hostess invited me to the mecca of thrift stores. We counted eight organizations, and a few with multiple storefronts, in a strip mall right in the heart of Poway. Here you see my take compiled from several stores: three Better Homes and Gardens old school cook books, a Clark and Lewis trail guidebook, a 45 record with the wee plastic insert and two batches of fondue forks. All for around $8.00. SCORE!!

After all that shopping, we needed some lunch. How about tilapia spring rolls and rice vermicelli with grilled chicken and lemongrass from Pho Joy? Both had amazing flavors!

Finally, before hitting the 15 back to South Pas...

salted caramel and chocolate yogurts with berries and mini M&Ms from In the Mix. Tasty!!

Poway was a great getaway, and I'll look forward to returning soon!

Click here for the Brig's Web site.

Click here for Cordiano's Web site.

Click here for In the Mix's Web site.

The thrift stores are located at 12845 Poway Road, between Carriage Road and Carriage Heights Way. You can't miss it!

Pho Joy does not have a Web site. Their address is 12316 Poway Road. Phone is (858) 513-7562.