Friday, February 27, 2015

Airplane! and Kareem Abdul-Jabber

I love a good one-two punch when I can get it. And LA is cool that way! See, our Mayor Eric Garcetti was invited to share his favorite LA-based movie, and he selected "Airplane!" for a screening at the Million Dollar Theater on Broadway. What a hoot to watch it on the big screen with a full-house of like-minded fans! Writers Jim Abrams, and David and Jerry Zucker were even scheduled afterward to talk with Mayor Garcetti and KCRW's Madeleine Brand about their crazy ideas and influences. We learned some cool things like the co-pilot (Roger Murdoch/Kareem Abdul-Jabber) was initially written for Pete Rose, but he was busy playing baseball during filming. And casting leading men in wacky deadpan roles was their way of not ruining the film. Good stuff!!

The very next night and totally unrelated, Kareem was scheduled at Vroman's in Pasadena (yes, where I met Marky Ramone in January!) to sign his new book "Stealing the Game." I waited in a long line with a mix of UCLA and Lakers fans, all of us joking about when he would cut off the line. We found out, when Kareem decided to take a bathroom break right before the two guys who were in front of me. And he stood up - like it was in slow motion - all 7 feet 2 inches of him! We were afraid he wouldn't come back!

But he did, and he signed this for me! When I mentioned the movie the night before, he said "Great, I hope enjoy the book!" Good times in the big city!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Racine, Wisconsin Adventures

My Milwaukee-area bestie had some incapacitating surgery done - meaning she couldn't lift anything or drive her car - and I offered to come for a visit and help out. Luckily, she could still eat, and these are some of our adventures!

February 17: Mardi Gras came and went during my stay. What better way to celebrate than these festive cupcakes from O and H Bakery?! Some of you may recognize the logo, as Trader Joe's sold their wreath-like kringle pastry during the Christmas season. Let me tell you, fresh is even better!

Click here for O and H's website.

February 18: Did I mention it was WINTER in Wisconsin?! Not "oh, let me grab a sweater" winter but hovering near 0 for most of my visit. We went to a follow-up doctor's appointment in 3 degrees weather. BRR!! Having a tasty meal at Melrose Diner certainly warmed us up! This, my friends, is the Godfather's Burger: a half-pound charbroiled burger topped with homemade Italian meat sauce, mozzarella cheese, sautéed mushrooms and grilled onions. Wow!! Since most meals come with a dessert, there are 20 or more decadent-looking cakes and pies in bakery cases as you walk in the door. My Boston Cream Cake was the winner tonight!

Click here to go to Melrose Diner's website.

February 19: The box says it all! I had to have a few and some onion rings as we powered up for errands and our "real" meal.

Which was this sausage and bratwurst sampler plate from Brat Stop, complete with red cabbage, sauerkraut, and bread-and-butter pickles. I really tried to remember all the varieties on the plate, but once I started chomping, memories were shot. Well, except for the memories of how delicious it all was!

Click here for Brat Stop's website.

And, you can't ignore the cheese! (Notice I spelled it cheese, not cheeze!!) Mars Cheese Castle is just that: a castle-shaped building with all kinds of cheese. We got some cheese curds to go.

Click here for Mars Cheese Castle's website.

And, we're not finished yet. It is Chinese New Year, so we HAVE to have some orange spicy beef to celebrate! This was delivered thanks to Main Moon Chinese Food. Let's hope the year of the goat/sheep is good to us all!

February 20: OK, so now we're to Friday - the first Friday of Lent - and even I know what to do for that. You have fish fry for dinner! This order came from Oh Dennis! Saloon and Charcoal House. In case you are not familiar with the Midwest concept, fish fry is battered haddock, french fries, cole slaw, tartar sauce and rye bread. We passed by at least one church doing a fish fry as a fundraiser.

February 21: Today is a balmy 28 degrees, and I decide to bust out. My chum stayed inside and rested. I toured the SC Johnson Administration Building, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, for Herbert Fisk Johnson, Junior, in 1936. It is still their worldwide headquarters, which is why I have no photos to share. Guards were stationed all along the hallways during the tour. 

However, on the drive back, I passed by Caesar's Frozen Custard. Since I want to sample all the local food customs, I ordered this delectable peanut butter cup custard. It was fantabulous!!

Caesar's does not have a website. They are at 2721 Douglas Avenue in Racine.

After that custard, I was good to go for another round of sightseeing. This time, it was the Wind Point Lighthouse on the icy shore of Lake Michigan. This lighthouse dates back to 1880, and it was electrified in 1924, and automated in 1964. One of the out-buildings is now police headquarters for the area. At least I wasn't arrested for inaccuracies attached to singing "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" which took place on Lake Superior.

February 22: I'm off to Frank Lloyd Wright building #2. This one is Wingspread, originally Herbert Fisk Johnson, Junior's family home. It was built in 1939 following the completion of the SC Johnson Administration Building. It's now a conference center and totally open for photography and lookie-looing. Since it was below freezing outside, and the Academy Awards were that evening, I got a personal tour of the home since I was the only guest there. Now that was COOL!!

This are the famous "pearl necklace" lights from the gazillion skylight windows. You also see the spiral staircase to the crow's nest.

Another view of the skylights, the spiral staircase, and a beautiful form-over-function fireplace.

So, if I go down the punch list, I had cheese curds, bratwurst, kringle, and custard, plus saw some Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and Lake Michigan. I think I did the Milwaukee area right!! Note that on February 23 when I flew out, it is -4 degrees in Milwaukee, and 64 degrees when I landed in LA for our "winter."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Los Angeles has a number of delicious delis, and several of them have been posted here, such as Canter's, Brent's, Jerry's, and Art's. Now I can add Langer's to the terrific-tasting list.

This is their Original #19: hot pastrami, cole slaw, Russian dressing, and swiss cheese on double-baked rye bread. Have I mentioned how awesome double-baked rye bread is?! I was disappointed, yet impressed, when the server told me that the double-baked rye does not travel well and should be eaten within an hour of baking. I'll have to plan ahead if I'm going to eat a whole loaf of that bread within an hour!! Who wants to take the challenge with me?!

Click here for Langer's website.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tomato Pie

It's National Pizza Day, so there's no better excuse to finally try Tomato Pie, the latest pizza contender in South Pasadena. Click here for a South Pas pizza-wars post from 2010.

Like the other local pizza joints, Tomato Pie is by-the-slice or you can have something custom made. These are two of the standards. On the left, it is the Miss Green with spinach, artichoke, brocollini, zucchini. Yes, virtually a salad pizza! On the right, I went with the Joe P., with sausage, bell peppers, onions and basil. Wow, the delicious thin crust sends Tomato Pie over the moon!

I think there's still a lot of menu to cover at Tomato Pie. Who's with me for a slice, or two, three...

Click here for Tomato Pie's website.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

El Huarache Azteca

One of my coworkers needed some work done on his truck in Highland Park. We coordinated a carpool that took us past El Huarache Azteca on York Avenue, and we got to experience this novel new dish and restaurant.

A huarache (yes, shaped like the sandal) is a masa-base shell topped with roasted chicken, beans, cilantro, crema, cojita cheese and onions. This is the Super Huarache Mojado with both salsa verde and salsa roja for a dual flavor explosion. YUM!! Now I know why Jonathan Gold picked them as one of "LA's 99 essentials!"

There are several other Highland Park spots I'm curious to try. Who wants to explore with me?!

Click here for El Huarache Azteca's website.