I write about the highlights of my St. Louis vacation, including my annual stop at the legendary Ted Drewes for frozen custard. Have you had frozen custard, or Ted Drewes’ version? Also: an update about Alejandro Aranda, cultural notes (including a reminder about my Saturday talk) and a belated item about Doris Day. All the above is in Friday’s column, my first since vacation.
I returned Sunday evening after a week in St. Louis, had Monday off for Memorial Day, took Tuesday off so I wouldn’t be immediately confronted by a column deadline and came back to work Wednesday. There wasn’t time to put together a Restaurant of the Week, as I had to start thinking about getting columns done for Friday and Sunday, but that feature will return next week. In the meantime, above is a photo of toasted ravioli, a St. Louis-created appetizer. They can be found here and there in Southern California, I think, but they’re rare — and also delicious.
I don’t know the provenance of this list, which was provided to me earlier this year by the family of Nino Ruggeri, but I’ve confirmed that it’s a listing by Inland Valley city of local men who died in the Vietnam War. In 2016 I presented a similar list of only San Bernardino County names, compiled by the county government, but this one handily has Pomona and Claremont as well.
As today is Memorial Day, that seemed the most appropriate time to share this.
I’m taking a week off to visit my family near St. Louis. This is my first trip since arriving home last Labor Day from Germany and Poland, and obviously a lot less ambitious. But no less fun or rewarding, I’m sure. More trips ahead this summer, likely all on the West Coast. I’ll be back at my desk May 29, with my first expected column May 31. Other than a Memorial Day post that’s all ready to go, don’t expect any posts here.
I write about Pat and Virginia King, who gave up their Ontario home 39 years ago to buy the house next door. After that come a bunch of items from Pomona involving Mexico Lindo, the redwood grove, an art exhibit, two Big Boys and the 1956 Pomona High fire, plus a plug for my next author talk and a note that I’m leaving for vacation, all in Sunday’s column.
Prior to Alejandro Aranda’s Pomona activities, he stopped in Claremont at the Folk Music Center. And (intoning gravely) I was there. This fly on the wall saw the “American Idol” finalist reunite with store owner/musician Ben Harper, tour the store, talk and jam, with the store staff and the TV crew the only witnesses. Get the inside scoop in Sunday’s column. And yes, I know I’ve written three straight columns on Aranda. Don’t worry, Sunday will be something different. After that I’m on vacation so you’ll get a break from both of us.
The Pie Hole, 12466 N. Mainstreet (Victoria Gardens), Rancho Cucamonga; open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday
The Pie Hole, as in “shut your — —-,” specializes in pies by the slice, plus coffee. It began in downtown L.A.’s Arts District in 2011 and has since expanded to Long Beach, Orange, Venice, Glendale and good ol’ Rancho Cucamonga, where a location opened in the Victoria Gardens outdoor mall in 2017. Nice of them to take notice of us fairly early instead of decades from now.
I’ve been to the Arts District shop a few times, where slices are $8, a lot to pay even for an artisanal slice of pie. While I was excited by Pie Hole’s impending arrival in Rancho Cucamonga, I never ended up going. Somehow I was under the impression it was only going to be takeout only, kind of a turnoff, and also I rarely go to the VG.
Earlier this year, after a friend expressed surprise and amusement (as we ate at the Pie Hole in the Arts District) that I hadn’t been to the one in Rancho, I resolved to make a trip soon, and did.
It turns out our Pie Hole is just as full service as DTLA’s. Oops.
It’s got a few tables indoors and out, and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides that let in a lot of light. Very appealing. The menu has pies, pot pies ($7-$7.50) and breakfast pies ($7), as well as coffee, draft beer and ice cream.
The seasonal pies change, but the current ones include Earl Grey, Mexican Chocolate, banana cream and a few more. One crucial note: slices are $4, half the price of L.A.’s. I like the 909 pricing.
On my first visit, I went with Mom’s Apple Crumble, got it heated and splurged on ice cream for $1.50 more. In other words, $5.49 total, still cheaper than $8. The pie was excellent, loaded with apples, and the ice cream was premium.
I was back a month later and couldn’t resist ordering the Cereal Killer pie. On my Arts District meet-up, one friend got that kind (I had ordered a Blood Orange slice) and while his choice hadn’t struck me as appealing, not being prone to getting, say, doughnuts with cereal on them, the slice actually looked pretty good. So at the VG, I got one.
It’s a cheesecake with bits of cereal inside. The clerk asked what cereal I wanted on top. I forget the choices; maybe Froot Loops or Fruity Pebbles? I went with the more prosaic Frosted Flakes. It was a fun slice, but truth to tell, I’m more of a fruit pie person and having indulged this whim, I doubt I’ll order it again.
But I’m sure I’ll be back to the Pie Hole to fill mine. Sorry it took me so long to visit!
I was there Tuesday for Alejandro Aranda’s return to Pomona for his “American Idol” “hometown visit,” which comes with being in the Top 3. And so were thousands of others. “Idol” had said to expect 8,000 to 10,000 and that seemed possible based on what I saw. That segment will air during Sunday’s finale.
It was a fun day, culminating in a free concert. It was also a stressful day for yours truly, as when the concert was over, at 7:30, I had until 8:30 to finish my column, partly written earlier in the day but with lots to add and adjust. I made it. Read about the day in my Wednesday column. And look for a sequel on Friday, as I had an inside view of Aranda’s low-key visit to Claremont earlier Tuesday.
Above, Aranda tunes his guitar while speaking from the stage in front of the Fox.
This old-school 7-Eleven sign at Towne Avenue and Mission Boulevard has delighted me the past year or two that I’ve been eating regularly at a couple of Mexican restaurants nearby. Last November, when I was parked next door at Taqueria Oaxaquena, I thought I’d better document the sign by taking a photo.
Good thing I did, because in March the sign was updated. The new version said “Open 24 Hours.” It does not say “Oh thank heaven!” I shot this one while parked at a red light, so it’s the opposite face of the sign.
I had this post all ready to publish last Tuesday when I happened to be stopped at the intersection Monday evening and saw the sign had been switched out again. Instead of “Open 24 Hours,” it now says “Slurpee,” on both sides. So I stopped, took a fresh photo and put the post on hold until I had a chance to update it. Sheesh.
If the sign has been changed in the past week, I don’t want to know about it.
The “Oh thank heaven!” slogan appears to date to the late 1960s, which doesn’t mean the sign was necessarily that old. It was emblematic enough to be used as the title of a corporate history, 1977’s “Oh Thank Heaven!: The Story of the Southland Corporation” by Allen Liles.
Last I looked, La Verne still had a 1960s 7-Eleven sign, pre-slogan. Thank heaven.
If Alejandro Aranda, now in “American Idol’s” Top 5, makes the cut Sunday for the Top 3, the show will visit his hometown of Pomona on Tuesday, with events including a parade downtown and a free concert outside the Fox. If he doesn’t, then none of that happens. I write about the planning for an event that may not happen, but hopefully will, in Sunday’s column.