Monday, July 17, 2017

Grapevine Arbor

Getting lost is one of the best ways to discover places and since I almost never use GPS, I get lost quite regularly since I don't know the Eastside of Los Angeles very well, having lived on the Westside for decades; the only times I crossed town was to visit friends or to have a daycation in Pasadena. I had printed out a map (yes one of those paper things) but somehow I still made a wrong turn due to construction detour signs, and I ended up in San Gabriel. 

Once I drove past this structure, I immediately pulled over and parked. Turns out it is the Grapevine Arbor, and since there was no event going on, it was open to the public!

Beyond the little courtyard at the entrance (with toilets), lies this gate into the garden.
 There is a vine covered gazebo
 and facilities with water and grills.

 An antique wine barrel stands to one side,
 while palm trees,
 a covered shuffleboard space,
 and covered walkways stand on the other side.
 Part of the San Gabriel Playhouse can be seen from the arbor park,
 but walk around for a full frontal view
 with the cooling fountain just next door, to the Grapevine Arbor.
 Tiles in the sidewalk commemorate the history,
but a walk around the street gives you a taste of the present charm of the city.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pasadena Union

The team at Union showcase their talents in a small, discreet location, but their skills have brought people and press in from states and nations far removed from the town once renowned for little old ladies (for younger readers, this clip will explain). The dishes here are definitely old classics, but the flavors are fresh and robust, like Betty White :) 

One of their signature pastas is the Spaghetti alla Chitarra with san marzano tomatoes, garlic, and fresno chili; simply great ingredients combined with skill and presented in a time honored cylindrical shape.

The fusilli with pork fennel sausage, spigarello, and pecorino-romano, hit all the accented notes of a savory mouthwatering ode to pasta.
There was a vegan in our group who ordered the special of roasted cauliflower that was so well executed that even the non vegans at the table wanted another bite.
As soon as I saw braised octopus, with chickpea  conserva, dukkah, and Meyer lemon yogurt, I knew that it would be my order. It was a tender, aromatic, and a generous portion, so it became my main instead of a starter.
Just as I was drawn to the octopus, another friend wanted the pork meatballs as soon as she saw them on the menu. Made with san marzano tomatoes, caper berries, lardo, and chile, they were juicy flavor bombs.
With stellar reviews from Jonathan Gold at the LA Times, The LA Weekly, and Zagat, I am just adding another voice in the chorus of voices singing the praises for this local gem.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

626 Night Market Part 2

There were many parts to the 626 Night Market, ranging from anime, art, plush toys, and live music.

After all the savory food, it was time for something sweet and cool to end the day:)

 I chose Hawaiian shaved ice, half pineapple, half lilikoi :)
After all the food and crowds, I wandered over to the Santa Anita Racetrack directly behind the festival. 

Time to say goodbye :)

Monday, July 3, 2017

626 Night Market Part 1

Although I have traveled to about 18 countries, I've never been to Asia. 626 Night Market brings a bit of the flavor of the bustling open air food stalls to the US, and like a tourist, I explored for the first time this past week-end. (There will be 3 more week-ends this Summer if you want to go). I took so many pictures, I will be posting a Part 2 tomorrow, but in the meantime, enjoy today's photo journey :)

I went as they opened, so it wasn't quite a "night" market, but the crowds grew so big by the time I left 2 hours later that I was glad to have missed the long lines I saw later in the evening.

 The only downside to going early is that many of the vendors were not set up yet.
 I don't know if they had not yet put up any signage in English or if this it....
A few had displays of their food.

Some places gave out samples.

It was fun to watch some of the preparations:)

 I decided on grilled squid for my first bite and just as in Asia, none of the cooks spoke English.
 The squid  on a skewer for $6 was HUGE and delicious with a spicy BBQ sauce!
 After walking around all the food stalls twice, I settled on a steamed bun for my next bite.
 This was the biggest bun I've ever eaten, at least 6" in diameter and very very hot.
I chose seafood with a side of garlic sauce for $5.50 and it was a very savory filling choice in a pillowy fresh bun with a medium sized shrimp in the center.

Time to get some more cash before continuing my adventure....