Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hardy's Best BBQ

Here's one time when construction and traffic congestion worked in my favor. It was stuck in the jam on Moorpark near Coldwater Canyon when I smelled smoke from cooking meat. In M & M Market's parking lot, a Texas-style grill was producing those amazing scents, so I peeled out and pulled in.

Hardy's Best BBQ's wood-stoked grill produced this amazing meal. My pulled pork and tri tip were off the chart! So tender and flavorful!! And, I haven't had corn on the cob since BEFORE I got my braces on, and today was the day to break the two-year dry spell. Next time, I'll try the beef and/or baby back ribs, and/or chicken from that wonderful grill. You get to pick two meats and two sides for your $17. Mark your calendars, as the BBQ is only available on the weekends.

M & M Market is a liquor store with Hardy's Meats and a deli case inside. I spotted an elusive bag of Spicy Thai Kettle Chips, but I fought the urge knowing I had several pounds of hot, fresh food to enjoy once I got home.

Neither M & M Market or Hardy's Meats have a website. Street address is 12903 Moorpark Street, Studio City 91604.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


It's National Cheeseburger Day! Did you celebrate?

I drive by Manny's (on the corner of Woodman and Moorpork in Sherman Oaks) usually twice a day, and I had never tried them out. Until today! Their "burgers-tacos-beer" signage drew me right in.

This cheeseburger was tasty! I was especially pleased that it come without onions, since I didn't have time for heartburn. This month's fries were crispy outside/meaty inside. YUM!!

The tacos looked tasty, and I saw breakfast burritos on the menu. I'll probably make a few more stops before AND after work!

Manny's does not have a website. Street address is 4378 Woodman Avenue in Sherman Oaks. Phone is (818) 990-4961.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Clearman's North Woods Inn

The temperatures are starting to drop; L.A. may have chilled down to 99 inside of triple digits. Still needing to eat, it's always cool inside Clearman's North Woods Inn!

The San Gabriel location on Rosemead south of Huntington is classic old-school lodge, and the faux-snow roof is a hoot. Check out the taxidermy mounted on the walls, and you are encouraged to throw your peanut shells on the floor. Don't eat too many, because lots of food is on its way!

Purple cabbage salad and lettuce with blue cheese dressing are mixed at the table, and hot cheesy bread is delivered in baskets.

This is my entree: steak chunks on a skewer with pilaf and whipped cheese butter on the baked potato. Deeeelish!! Who wants to chill out with me?!

Click here for Clearman's website.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Quenelle and North Pole Snow Cream in Burbank

OK, it's 9,000 degrees outside, and ice cream is sounding really good! I've tried two novel Burbank spots in the last few days. Sorry, but I'm going to say it, get it while it's hot!!

Quenelle on Magnolia near Buena Vista was the first stop. Here you see half-scoops of chocolate and blueberry pie - deeeelish!! And, yes, the cup is sitting on my Jeep's console as there is only a kiddie table inside for seating. They had all kinds of great flavors, and I'll look forward to stopping by there again on my way home.

Quenelle does not have a website. Street address is 2214 W. Magnolia, Burbank 91506. Phone is (818) 843-1035.

And, for something completely different, there's North Pole Snow Cream at the Burbank Mall. In some ways, it's like your standard "build your own" ice cream with lots of toppings to select from, except this is snow cream, which is a whippy/shaved blend of ice cream and Hawaiian ice-y. I got seasalt caramel snow cream with mochi and caramel sauce. Just go with me on this; it was taaaaasty! (And, I'll go back again if you need further encouragement!)

You can feel good about your treat as they "donate 2% of their monthly income to Polar animals in need, as well as green and environmentally beneficial causes and organizations," per their website. The cute little blue spoons are even biodegradable!

Click here for North Pole Snow Cream's website.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day Getaway to the Bay

I'm heading to San Francisco for the Labor Day weekend. My biggest bro is there on business, and we decided to do the Bay area big time, from his base in Hayward. Let the games begin!!

Saturday morning, and we're off to Yosemite, celebrating its 150th anniversary (from the Yosemite Grant). I've been to Yosemite several times, and it has changed since my last visit. They have shuttles now to get you around the Valley, which eliminates a good chunk of the road congestion.

It was great to see my old friends Half Dome,

and El Capitan. My bro and I went off-road hiking through the Valley, strategizing where to cross the creek at the lowest point, to see the monolith up close and personal. We later stopped to watch rock climbers scaling the face!

Click here for Yosemite's website.

Back to dinner in Hayward, we went to the fabulous Hayward Ranch. Deeelish!! These are my lambie chops, spaghetti and steamed veggies. Hayward Ranch dates back to 1948; it is decorated barn-style with random farm implements, old photos, and memorabilia, and the wait staff call you "sweetie."

Click here for Hayward Ranch's website.

Sunday morning, and I'm off to the 149th Pleasanton Highland Games. Yes, these games have been held almost as long as Yosemite has been around! I'm there for just a few hours to watch some piping competition as preparation for my first time competing coming up in October.

Pleasanton has a bit of a Ren Faire reputation, due to its living history zone. This Scots Guards re-enactment of protecting the King was cool to watch. Stay tuned for Scots Guards circa 2014 shortly!

Click here for Pleasanton's website.

I could only stay in Pleasanton for a few hours, because we had tickets to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose for the evening. The Winchester House, built by an heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, was under construction for 38 years, starting in 1884. The house is famous for its doors to nowhere, skylights in the floor, Tiffany stained glass windows placed where the sun doesn't hit them, and the number 13 throughout. Apparently, Mrs. Winchester continued building the home to confuse "the spirits" after her husband and young child died.

Click here for Winchester Mystery House's website.

Before leaving San Jose, we had to stop by Psycho Donuts, which is sooooo reminiscent of Voodoo Donuts in Portland. The Canadian Morning Squeal Meal on the left is a buttermilk bar topped with maple icing, bacon bits and chocolate drizzle. On the right is the Headbanger, with gooshy raspberry filling. Fun and tasty!!

Click here for Psycho Donuts' website.

Monday morning, and we're at the front of the boat swinging by Alcatraz before heading first to Angel Island!

We learned that Angel Island was a defensive base during the Civil War to protect the gold found in them thar hills for the Union. This is where some major artillery was placed, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Later, Angel Island served as an Ellis Island west for immigrants coming from Asian countries.

P.S., to stay on this milestone trend, California State Parks are celebrating 150 years. Angel Island is one of those state parks.

Back on the boat, and we're at The Rock. This is a  drill-out to show the thickness of the glass! They offered a really cool audio tour, with sound effects like closing cell doors, foot steps, and fights. Walking into the solitary confinement space was especially chilling!

I was surprised by the "Indians Welcome" graffiti, until I learned about the 1969 occupation by Native Americans to turn the abandoned federal prison and island into a cultural center. I think it's cool that the graffiti was preserved, and the story is still told.

Click here for Alcatraz's website.

Click here for Angel Island's website.

Tuesday morning, and I'm at SFO on the way back to reality. I heard chanters coming from another gate and raced over. It was the Scots Guards performing "Amazing Grace" for the blond lady. What a bittersweet send-off for me!