Monday, July 15, 2013

Ivy's Bridge in Tustin

My cousin Kurt Kirkey passed away last week. he was mountain bike riding with a friend, his bike malfunctioned and he went head first into a rock wall. Although the ambulance was there within the hour and rushed him to the hospital, he passed away shortly after. He was a cousin I did not know well. I basically saw him once a year at the family Christmas party. I actually learned a lot about him today at the service which took place at his church, Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. It was a very lively ceremony with at least five hundred people. It was standing room only in that huge building. He was 47. On my way back to work I got hungry so I pulled over and took the first exit. It was Tustin. I drove around and found the Old Tustin Downtown and decided to go to a place called Ivy's Bridge. The outside looked like an old fountain but when I walked in, I was shocked to find a small counter, odd mis-match of tables and chairs and the back half was a kind of new-age medicine health shop. The average age seemed to by 70. I felt out of place, like I'd walked into a retirement home by mistake. The servers were young and greeted me with a smile. i read over the menu which had some history of Mr. Ivy. looks like he was part of the red Cross during WWII and in the 60's opened up a juice place on the premises. This led to the restaurant/health clinic. There was an odd juxtaposition between the funeral of my 47 year old cousin ten minutes earlier and this neighborhood health center I found myself in. I ordered the soup of the day, "Skinny Soup", which was amazing; cabbage-based, full of flavor and well, healthy. I ordered the Nature's Mix Sandwich, the house special. This consisted of grated jack cheese, olives, sunflower seeds, mayo, alfalfa sprouts, cucumbers, tomato and lettuce on toasted rye. A very good and...healthy sandwich.

Americano in the Arts District

Americano is located in the Arts District at 923 E 3rd Street, LA CA 90013. This used to be Cafe Metropol. The food is simple, sandwiches and soups and salads. The quality of food is very good. For instance my sandwich was quite fancy for a lunch sandwich; great baguette with that outer crunch i love. The soup was amazing. it was squash but had this sweet-honey tangy thing going on that was a pleasant surprise and perfect for the summer afternoon. I was there with artist Kim Abeles who lives a block away. She had never been since the ownership change and both really enjoyed our lunch.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

TRAXX at Union Station

TRAXX has been the long standing restaurant at Union Station. It's up scale and very delicious. The owner, I believe, once owned the old WallNBoyd off of San Pedro just South of 3rd Street. I really enjoyed that place too. It was more affordable than TRAXX and had these really cool miniature John Chamberlain sculptures. The owner of TRAXX is the daughter of the legendary public art consultant, the late Tamara Thomas, who I knew and highly respected. We weren't tight but I did meet her several times and she was always supportive and encouraging because back then I was flying by the seat of my pants. TRAXX hosted a meeting we had today of several public arts administrators from around SoCAl. I ordered the mussels which came in an olive oil butter sauce and were deliciously rich with a spicy red sauce. A long time ago, the aerosol artist Skept used to work here. When I passed by, we would always say hello to each other. Skept is the son of the great painter the late Mike Kanemitsu. OK, that's enough name dropping for tonight. TRAXX also has a bar across the way.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

PHOever Yum in K-Town

What a cute name for a Pho place. This one is located at 425 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020. My daughter picked me up at the Wilshire Western Station, so I treated her to dinner. It's hard not to have a bad meal with her. Father pride just makes everything taste better. We talked about her classes at PCC and the rigors of registering. It sounded a lot like the bureaucracy at my work, Metro. She's navigating through it and learning. She also gave me a summary of the new Monsters U movie, which she recently saw with her crew. Anyway, I ordered the house special. The pho was good, the beef delicious, the ingredients crispy fresh but the soup was a little salty for me. I think it would be perfect with beer, which I've been drinking less of lately. A little plug, I had just come from KCHUNG Radio in Chinatown. I was a guest on Kristy Baltezore's show, "Myrtle". We spun LP's, talked about music and food. It was quick one hour which I enjoyed immensely. The show should be in their archives at It was a great day yesterday.

Tom N Toms Coffee at Wilshire and Western

Tom N Toms is all over K-Town. I know of at least five in and around the mid-Wilshire area but it wasn't until yesterday that I walked into one. I got an ice coffee to combat the ultra-hot afternoon and a Corn Pretzel. The coffee was decent to good but that pretzel was a trip. It had that typical mayo filling that is prevalent in Asia, with the corn, etc. The server asked if I wanted dipping sauce but I said know. That was my bad. The pretzel clearly needs dipping sauce. So for that reason, I think it's unfair for me to comment at this point. I'll have to go again. it took 8 minutes for them to make me the pretzel, which they warned me. the good news is that it comes hot and freshly baked but the bad news is that it takes just enough time for you to drink all of your coffee. I suspect the refills are not free. Address: 3785 Wilshire Blvd, LA CA 90010

Crushcakes and Cafe in Carpenteria

I was in need of caffeine before I drove back to LA. I wasn't familiar with Carpinteria but it is the place my late Father wanted to retire. So, I took the off ramp and headed to "Downtown". The community looks very sweet and tourist oriented. However, the abundance of local flare was very welcoming. I went to Crushcakes, which is one of several in the region. They carry Intelligensia Coffee. I also ordered a peanut butter cupcake, which was phenomenal. The frosting was so fluffy and the cake was a surprise, a kind of hostess style which i found nostalgic. They are located at 4945 Carpinteria Ave, Carpenteria CA 93013.

L's Kitchen in Santa Barbara

L's Kitchen is located off State near the beach or pier. The address is 121 W Yanonal, Santa Barbara CA 93101. it caught my eye because, 1) it was a cafe in sea of wine shops and 2) There was fine culinary flare about the signage above. Once you walk in, it's all KITCHEN. You order at the counter and there's a outdoor patio you can bring your food to. I ordered the daily special, the Salmon Taco Lunch Combo. I wasn't hungry enough to order dessert but it looked like they had some wonderful cakes in the display. The taco was dense and more like a wrap than a taco. It was good but probably would have been better if I was a fan of wraps. The service was awesome. I had the sense that I ordered the wrong thing. I probably should have ordered a sandwich for lunch. The meal was wonderful, spite my wrap prejudice.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cafe Demitasse in Little Tokyo

Touring Little Tokyo with artist Celia Ko Friday, we paid a visit to Q Pop and it was Doug Day so Doug Ito's Fan Club was gathered in the shop. Afterwards, we came across a coffee shop that looked enticing. Cafe Demitasse is located at 135 S San Pedro St, LA CA 90012, 213-613-9300. This is the San Pedro/ 2nd Street corner that leads you to the Space Shuttle sculpture commemorating Astronaut Onizuka and the 1986 Challenger disaster. We ordered the (siphon)Guatemala CHIXOT. Celia also ordered the mousse cake. CHIXOT, filled with the essence of pear, grapefruit peel and cocoa powder, this tea-like coffee was at first repellant but as we kept sipping it and eating small forkfuls of the mousse, it became addictive and delicious. it was one of the oddest eating experiences I have ever had. So as the evening was winding down, the barrista asked if we would want a sip of their hot chocolate. It was nearing closing time. This was also unique and exciting but in a very different direction. The sweet and bitter cocoa dancing in your mouth in its thick, soupy saturation was intense. Like pure evil, re-teaches why hell might be more fun than heaven because maybe heaven is boring and in hell they can roast the chilies.

Alchemy Arts in Santa Barbara CA

I drove up to SB to interview artist George LeGrady for Metro. The drive was relatively easy. The morning traffic, not too shabby, in fact, I got there early so I thought it would be nice to get a cup of coffee or tea. I vaguely remember seeing something on Haley over a year ago before a gig with Richard Wood. It was fairly easy to find but it was closed but next door was a very nice sort of Spanish Revival style building with the signage "Alchemy Arts". 35 W. Haley Street, Santa Barbara CA 93101, 805-899-8811. What's this? So, of course, I walked in. it's a health/spiritual center as in spa and massage but there's this little cafe in front. This place is LOVELY, I mean, beautiful exotic wood furniture, fab lighting, new age like music and a video loop of microscopic spiral like animation. I ordered off the tea menu, "Ayurvedic Elixir" (fresh lemon, ginger, raw honey and cayenne). I also order a light breakfast, "Poached egg w/ vegetable". Everything about this meal was incredible, trans-formative and completely put me in the "correct" mindset for the interview with George.