Valley Department Store opened in downtown Ontario in 1929. It’s holding a liquidation sale before moving to smaller quarters in Upland. Read all about the big and tall store and its history in my Friday column.
N7 Creamery, 7880 Kew Ave., Victoria Gardens, Rancho Cucamonga
One of the few one-of-a-kind shops in the Victoria Gardens mall, locally owned N7 sells ice cream, baked goods and coffee. Open until 10 p.m. most nights and 11 p.m. on weekends, it’s a personality-plus environment: a high ceiling that looks like pressed tin, faux brick walls, distressed wood and local art on the walls.
N7 is on the east side of the mall, north of TGI Friday’s and across from the Macy’s women’s store. (The mall is finishing up a millennial-friendly area on the west side, but N7 shows there’s life on the east side too.)
The menu shows the type of offerings: Stumptown coffee, nitrogen ice cream, baked treats, even if some, such as the flavors of ice creams, change frequently. I’ve been to N7 a few times and have always been impressed.
Not a coffee drinker, I’m afraid, but if you are, you’ll find them suitably serious about the whole thing. What I’ve tried is a scone ($3.75, above), cinnamon roll ($4.50) and a hazelnut hand pie ($5), in visits earlier this year, all three delicious and clearly made with care.
I’ve also had the ice cream, which comes in such flavors as madagascar vanilla, guilford chocolate and salted caramel. The one I’ve had is winter citrus with blood orange sauce (above); it’s just as good as it sounds. (If you’re strictly a rocky road person, this may not be the shop for you.)
They make it in front of you, although the setup isn’t designed to show it off the way it is at some nitrogen specialty shops. Prices are $6 for 4 oz., $7 for 6 oz. and $9 for 8 oz. When I had the ice cream, months ago, it was $1.75 cheaper all around; I didn’t blanch at $4.25 for a scoop, but I might at $6.
In everything they do, they emphasize quality ingredients from local, organic and/or sustainable sources, and a ban on preservatives, a stance that boosts the prices, perhaps, but shows they care.
In the back, there’s a lounge with more seating, plus a bookcase with a scattering of reading material. It’s a cozy place to hang out or study.
Basically, this is one of Rancho Cucamonga’s most unique, hand-crafted places, and it’s tucked away in a mall. That’s about as quintessentially Cucamonga as you can get. Give ’em a try. They deserve your support.
For Wednesday I’m writing my column on the 50th anniversary of a national monument, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, with which I’m fairly familiar. Here are a few extra photos.
Above, the Arch is framed in an entranceway to the Old Courthouse. (I was exiting on my June visit, saw someone taking a photo and quickly took one myself.)
Below, a view from under the Arch, which is 630 feet high and the same span wide.
And, below, a family snapshot from 1968 of your young columnist on his first visit. My legs, like the Arch’s, are bare.
Have you ever been to the Arch? If so, leave a comment and tell us about it.
Reader Doug Evans, who recently read a Bob Hope biography, emails the following:
“In googling YouTube clips of Bob and Bing clowning around in their movies, I found this verse in a song called ‘Apalachicola F-L-A’ from ‘The Road to Rio’ : ‘Magnolia trees in blossom and a pretty southern gal / It’s better than the orange groves in Cucamonga, Cal.’ So I can contribute that to the vast lore of Inland Empire references you’ve been accumulating over the years.”
The reference comes early in the song and is easy to miss — so, extra thanks to Doug for not missing it. This is the first time anyone has brought up this song to me. Nice to know old-time local references are still out there to be found!
Jack Smith, the LA Times columnist who died in 1997, is still spoken of with reverence among those who recall his insightful observations, gentle humor and lively prose. I missed him in his prime but am catching up on his books. I own them all and have read half so far, spacing them out to one per year. (I also wrote his Wikipedia entry a few years back.)
All 10 were purchased at used bookstores, and as signed copies are relatively easy to find — the man must have done a lot of bookstore events — I’ve bought only signed copies, except for his last, posthumous book, of course. Many have a short inscription to the buyer as well. The one above is so simple and witty.
At the late, lamented Acres of Books in Long Beach, perhaps six or eight years back, I had my choice of two copies of “The Big Orange” — one that was signed traditionally, and one that had something better.
“Jack Smith’s letters to me” reads an envelope taped inside, “and some Jack Smith columns.”
Evidently the book belonged to one Constance Gramlich. Inside the envelope is a postcard and a letter, each addressed to her.
The letter came first, postmarked Sept. 7, 1966. Evidently Smith had recently written about student letters for the column that Gramlich was commenting on. It’s a great little letter, and Smith, in print an inveterate flirt, does not disappoint here, either. Click on the letter for a larger view.
Four years later, Gramlich received a handwritten, but more terse, reply from Smith, who it seems had been laid low by illness. The date is Nov. 9, 1971.
Alas, the columns Gramlich had saved — perhaps the ones that inspired the letters? — were not in the envelope. But I treasure my very own Jack Smith correspondence.
Sunday’s column presents a clutch of items from Chino Hills, starting with the amusing fate of its former Civic Center. There’s also three Valley Vignettes, from La Verne, Upland and Claremont.
Friday’s column starts off with a juxtaposition of news from Ontario: one piece about high-speed Internet, the other about a quest for another post office. City Hall would also like the emerging Ontario Ranch neighborhood to have its own postal designation, i.e., Ontario Ranch, CA rather than Ontario.
There’s also three cultural notes and a follow-up on my extended reading of a YA novel that supposedly can be read in one sitting.
The Rim, 400 Auto Center Drive (at Indian Hill Boulevard), Claremont
The Rim recently filled an empty space next to Rounds Burgers in the Super King center off the 10 Freeway in Claremont. The restaurant has been figuring out what it wants to be, but the emphasis seems to be on natural, sustainably sourced ingredients in a fast-casual setting.
It’s appealing inside, with comfortable and attractive tables and chairs, decor and lighting, and clean. You order at the counter from a printed menu that has changed at least a couple of times as dishes, and entire categories of dishes, are added or subtracted. Salads, sandwiches, pastas and bowls are on the menu, as are smoothies and other juice drinks. (I found a menu online, but I think it’s a previous one, with paella but not pasta.)
There’s little more one needs to say about the Rim’s essential weirdness other than 1) you can get fettucine alfredo and a boba drink and 2) it appears at this moment to have locations in only two places: Claremont and Kansas City.
On my first visit, I got an item they were pushing, a bourbon chicken bowl (a mere $3 at dinnertime as a promotion). It was a bowl of chicken all right, plus rice, and that was it. But the price was right.
They’ve been putting specials on a chalkboard outside the restaurant, dinner-only it appears, and usually they’re two-for-one, which may be good for you but doesn’t assist the solo diner like myself.
I’ve been back two more times, once for a seared tuna sandwich on ciabatta bread ($8), which was very good. It came with a side of (why not?) mashed potatoes. I don’t know what that’s about. To drink I had a taro smoothie ($3.25), also good.
Most recently, I got a tuna bowl ($8), with seared tuna, quinoa, sliced carrots and a hardboiled egg. It was a little dry, and maybe an egg over easy would have been better, but I ate every bite. Twice I’ve got a watermelon mint drink ($2.50), cold and refreshing.
Three visits and I still don’t quite have a handle on what they’re trying to do, and maybe neither do they. I don’t know how to describe the Rim, but it’s certainly different, and you might want to give them a try, if a little uncertainty doesn’t dissuade you.
Our move meant that a roomful of paper-hoarding journalists had to sift through their belongings and keep only what was necessary, or deemed necessary. It was painful. We also had to pack it up while also producing a daily newspaper. An inside look at our curious ways is in Wednesday’s column.
Update: The website LA Observed picked up on my column, saying it “speaks to a lot of the truths about the print journalist genus.”
In Sunday’s column on the latest from the Chino Valley Unified School District, I wrote this about board member Andrew Cruz:
“To refresh your memory, Cruz had gone off on a monologue in July in which he gave his opinions on vaccinations, race relations, adoptions, gay marriage and black families and espoused an anti-government conspiracy about chemical trails in the sky.
“Was he speaking as a school board member or auditioning as a Fox News commentator?”
Perhaps predictably, someone objected. Here’s an email in full from an anonymous reader, female I think because of the email address. The all-caps signoff is hers.
“I cannot be the only one who is offended by your comment about Fox News and Cruz auditioning as a Fox news commentator because of his opinions which are deemed offensive. Fox is the top rated news channel –apparently a lot of people like it as somewhat of an alternative to the mainstream media which are democratic news organizations. They are not off the wall as you seem to suggest. Now I know why many people have stopped subscribing to the Inland Bulletin – their editorials now are in line with and copy the NY Times. Look for more layoffs. Some parts of the Inland Empire are becoming more demo because of huge illegal immigration but the new immigrants cannot afford your paper, therefore, you may be going down the tubes bit by bit. It will become digital at a reduced rate and your column will become a little sidebar with shots at Fox news. Keep up the good work. A RIGHT WING CRAZY PERSON.”
Whew! That’s a lot of ire and gloomy predictions over an offhand joke, but that’s how it goes sometimes. My comment wasn’t aimed at Fox News but was made as a way of pointing out how out of context Cruz’s hot-button commentary seemed for a school board meeting. Was there a better comparison than Fox? I don’t see anything wrong with it, and of course as a columnist I’m entitled to my point of view, but I wonder if others saw this as offensive or needlessly provocative.
Anyway, I love how the writer can’t bring herself to capitalize the name of the Democratic Party, as well as her claimed familiarity with the nuances of the New York Times editorial page. And who would have guessed that my little joke would, at a future date, lead to layoffs at my newspaper? Ulp.
Previous “Your Two Cents” posts can be seen here.