Category Archives: California

Superba Food & Bread, walking the Places (Nowita, Marcos, Amorosa), Salt & Straw Ice Cream – Venice (California)

Baby Benji — my cousin’s so sweet four-month-old son- was the highlight of (and reason for) my trip to Venice but I was reminded of how cool and pretty and pricey this seaside community is. I loved strolling along the narrow pedestrian-only lanes of the Places, “walk streets” each lined with usually small (but sometimes large) houses, some old bungalows and cottages (my favorite) or sleek flat-faced modern newcomers, most with gorgeous overgrown foliage and lush colorful flowers. (Nowita, Marco, Amoroso Places)

I had a delicious (but almost $20) Niçoise salad and green apple lemonade ($4 but u was relieved to learn, after-the-fact that the refill was free) at trendy Superba Bar and Grill. I drove around until I found Rose Street, which I decided was the emerging area I visited a few years ago. It appeared to still be emerging.

I also wandered a little along Abbott Kinney, window shopping and people watching and since I happened to park around the block from the superb ice cream shop Salt & Straw, I decided it was a sign from above and had a large (almost $5) scoop of “freckled woodblock chocolate,” which was delicious although I didn’t really understand the name. (I choose it in part because it was the rare chocolate flavor without salt as a touted ingredient.)

After a ridiculously long drive back to Burbank in rush hour traffic (I started my drive at 4 pm, not 3 pm as planned) I went for a burger with my family at a local place, Simmzy’s (3000 W. Olive) …yet another newish and bustling Burbank restaurant.


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Tallyrand Breakfast, Stough Canyon hike, It’s a wrap/Romancing the Bean – Lucy Day in Burbank


Golden Morning in Burbank

My favorite meal at the Tallyrand (a diner opened in 1959 ) here in Burbank is the thanksgiving special – turkey with stuffing and mashed potatoes – but that wouldn’t fly at 10 am so I went with the more traditional poached eggs, sausages, hash browns— good food but even better ambiance and people watching. We walked some of the meal off, I hope, at Stough Canyon in Burbank which looked more like Arizona thanks to the recent devastating wildfires that have scorched green grassy hills into brown dirt hills, and left trees charred black. But hopeful tufts of green grass dot the dirt, reminding me of the regeneration that happens on the Kansas range after the annual spring burn.


sweet pea and her favorite purple bouncy ball

Later we strolled along Magnolia Street in Burbank which had more interesting shops than I remembered. Among the resale and vintage clothing shops is the cavernous “It’s a Wrap,” so named because it sells cloths worn in TV shows by actors. Some of the racks and tags have clothing with codes that refer to the show they were worn on which is fun. The upper floor has the classy designer stuff, most of which was too pricey even with a 40 percent off storewide sale. An amazing Missoni wrap I admired would still be about $200, we calculated — better than the $700 original price but still $200. We stopped at Romancing the Bean, a trendy coffee cafe and passed the surprisingly long line at the Cuban Bakery Porto’s.8097B18B-651B-44F6-90B0-627B158796CA

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Walking in the Rancho and the Old Zoo- Burbank

“Mister Ed” fans take note: you can see Mr. Ed’s descendants up close and personal, in the small backyards of the Rancho area of Burbank, where residents  (and day trippers) on horseback are so common along the wise suburban streets leading to Griffith Park’s more rugged Cowboy-esque terrain that some of the buttons to push at the crosswalks are high enough for riders to reach.


Could it be Mister Ed? The Rancho, Burbank

We did a short loop through the Rancho and behind Disney studios and along what is apparently the Los Angeles River (it looks more like a concrete spillway or wash), conveniently ending up at our new haunt, the High Horse Dinette/Basecamp (this time for a very good breakfast  (a shared skillet with scrambled eggs, cheese, chorizo). It seemed more in context when approaching it this time after walking past the equestrian center stables in the Rancho and next to the cars and bikes in the parking lot were two horses tied to a post.

Our hike to the old zoo (near the new zoo) in Griffith Park was cut short in a very Hollywood way. A nice PA with an occasionally squawking phone (akin to a walkie talkie) stopped us just as we were about to walk past the old cages to suggest we not enter. The TV show 911 was filming an episode featuring a live tiger that presumably escaped. Turning around was an easy decision.


Live tiger alert, old zoo, Griffith Park

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Huntington Garden — giftshop, Restaurant near Pasadena


A break from shopping and strolling at The Huntington

We may have spent as much time indoors as outdoors at The Huntington this visit because it was a little chilly and the indoors includes a great gift shop (where we get a 20 percent discount thanks to my sister-in-law’s membership) and cheerful restaurant with many options including Mexican Street Food (all the rage or maybe near-passé here) and Poke.


Huntington Fare

On a Thursday the gardens were just the right degree of busy (better than the crowds on the Chinese New Year, word has it.) we wandered through the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, with the mountains rising in the distance and long lush green lawns. It was too mice to spend too much time indoors so we didn’t visit the art Exhibits but we did watch a short and interesting film in the visitors center about the Huntington family.


sadly true

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High horse dinette/Basecamp in Burbank, Commerson in Miracle Mile, Trespassing in Pacific Palisades and Mouthful eatery in Thousand Oaks


meal one of three at High Horse Dinette/Basecamp

Unseasonably cold in LA too but not as cold as New Mexico or….Iowa. Plus there is sunshine, green grass and red, purple and yellow flowers and trees with oranges and lemons so not complaining. We have eaten well twice at a great new neighborhood place in Burbank — the High Horse Dinette/basecamp for food and coffee. Excellent rare hamburger, salads, Cafe cortado, southwest chicken wrap and cheerful hip vibe with several outdoor picnic tables set up in the driveway upside small dining area at the end of a quiet residential street. Amazing what one little place can do to change (improve) the feel of a neighborhood.

Later we visited my sister at her cool new apartment on Detroit street in the miracle mile neighborhood, in a pretty 1920s Spanish style building with an entryway courtyard with a bubbling fountain. Dinner was a short stroll away at Commerand where we had another good meal— moist flavorful chicken, chicken liver mousse, a kale and Brussel sprouts chopped salad.


Sisters hike, near Amir’s garden, Griffith Park

The next day we hiked in Griffith Park and then walked around the Pacific Palisades neighborhood, which includes an odd mix of houses perched high above Pacific Highway 1, with stunning views of the O’Connor and LA in the distance.


Pacific Palisades staircase to heaven

We were following a walk suggested in our guidebook that as promised always strenous, with lots of uphill steps through foliage and at one point a walk through a nearly washed out trail and worn out steps that left us on the wrong side of a “Private “ sign (that we then crawled under.)

Next stop: Camarillo, a pleasant LA suburb where dirck’s sister recently over. We had an excellent Peruvian meal at MOuthful Eatery in Thousand Oaks, eating lomo Saltwdo, chicken Aji stew, crispy yuca, cucumber mint lemonade and coconut flan while catching up,and occasionally watching the Olympic figure skaters on a big screen TV.


a mouthful of Peruvian food in Thousand Oaks Eatery

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When next in NYC, LA, SF or London – April Bloomfield’s picks

This from a NYTimes Q and A with chef April Bloomfield, whose restaurants we’ve recently gone to (Coombeshead Farm in Cornwall; the Spotted Pig in NYC).

London recommendations:  in Hackney, Violet (cute tea shop/bakery); in Shoreditch, Lyle’s (“clean simple food”)

In LA: Hearth& Hound (her new place in Hollywood for “wood-fired food.”)

In San Francisco: her place, Tosca Cafe or Marin Brewing Company (in Marin)

In NYC: her places – Breslin Bar & Dining or the John Dory in Flatiron district; White Gold Butchers, Salvation Taco.; recommendations – Kunjip in Koreatown.


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Griffith Park, Amir’s garden, cypress park, four Cafe/Eagle Rock – Los Angeles 

img_0402Back in grey Des Moines but with fresh memories of sun and green and family and friends in Los Angeles. My friend Susan and I hiked up a hillside in Griffith Park, stopping to see the succulents planted in Amir’s Garden, then onto Cypress Park to see the house where Susan’s son lives (surprisingly roomy and airy group house for five 20 somethings in a transitional neighborhood).

img_0399WE had a late  and delicious lunch in the nearby Eagle Rock neighborhood at Four Cafe (I had a salad with chopped and grilled root vegetables, feta and grilled salmon, plus homemade grapefruit soda.). The best meals, of course, were cooked by my sister-in-law in Burbank!img_0398

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