Friday’s column starts off with reaction to my column last week about traveling by train to Camarillo. (I’m getting faster — two days ago I was printing comments about a mid-January column.) After that, a clutch of Culture Corner items, plus a plug for this blog.
A La Minute, 532 W. First St. (at Cornell), the Packing House, Claremont
A La Minute, with locations in Redlands and Orange, opened a branch a couple of years in Claremont’s Packing House, sharing a former art studio space with Augie’s Coffee, another Redlands-based business.
It was only recently that I checked it out, walking over with a friend after lunch at Crepes de Paris a few doors down. The interior space is large and airy, with modernist communal tables where people sat with furrowed brows staring at their laptops, and winter decor: faux branches suspended from the high ceiling with snowflake designs and lights hanging down.
One person handles the coffee and espresso orders at one register, while at the other end of the long counter, someone else takes care of ice cream orders. They make nitrogen ice cream from scratch for each order, like at N7 and Sub Zero in Rancho Cucamonga. Flavors offered appear semi-permanent compared to the more seasonal N7.
I got orange honey and my friend got salted caramel, both small ($5); a medium is $6, large is $8 and a pint is $10. You can watch the maker in action, with billows of nitrogen pouring from the metal bowl, occasional pouring and stirring, like your food is being prepared by a chemist.
It’s not merely a show, though, as the results are excellent. The orange honey had drizzled honey and bits of orange. The salted caramel had an intense caramel flavor. We both were happy with our choices. We could have had one size bigger for an extra buck, but that’s why America is in the shape it’s in. The small was delicious, but plenty.
Wednesday’s column begins with reader reactions to my column last month about my colonoscopy and continues with items about two locals who competed on “American Idol” and “Cake Wars” and cultural events in Ontario, Claremont and San Dimas.
Saturday’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Gingerbread Sociable at the Pomona Public Library was the 50th annual party to celebrate the “Little House on the Prairie” author. The big hit was the building of gingerbread houses from kits, thus combining 1) gingerbread, 2) crafts and 3) dessert, all in one activity.
The two-hour event drew about 35 children, said to be an increase from last year, with some parents saying they’d learned about the event from my column. (The library, not in the crowd-counting business, had told me there were 60 at last year’s, likely an over-estimate.) Children also heard fiddle music from the “Little House” period and a reading. Square dancing was offered on the patio, but no child went near it, just adults.
Below, children assemble their gingerbread houses, and at bottom, after yours truly chose the winners, the first-place winner, Gwenie Decker, 3, poses with her house and a standup. I suspect she had help with the house. But she also wore a period dress, and that was cute.
Some houses, which were held together with frosting, fell apart during construction. When I was making my rounds, the roof slid off one as I was examining it, and then a wall fell over. The girl whose house it was laughed. At the end of the contest, some children were already disassembling their houses and eating them.
Will there be a Sociable next year? Well, maybe.
Online, reader Connie Ryle Neumann writes: “Oh, I hope that the Laura Ingalls Wilder Gingerbread Social for her birthday will not come to an end! Particularly because next year, 2017, will be her 150th birthday anniversary — and LOTS of events will be planned. I hope that Pomona can continue this sweet tradition for many more generations of readers who love the Little House books.”
That’s a nice thought, although to be realistic, it’s doubtful that any child at the Sociable loved or even knew about the Little House books. But they did seem to have a good time, and maybe a future fan or two was created. Kudos to the Pomona Public Library and the Friends of the Library for continuing the tradition for a half-century.
Did you know the library’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Children’s Room is the letter L in my book “Pomona A to Z”?
On Friday I got a tour of Seafood City, a Filipino supermarket that opened a couple of years ago at 11098 Foothill Blvd. in Rancho Cucamonga in a portion of a former Best Buy. (They invited me to a media open house, I attended.)
They sell a lot of items any market sells, such as meat and produce, almost all of which is familiar, and many imported products. Then there are Nongshim noodles, made right here in Rancho Cucamonga. The store has a food court area with freshly prepared Filipino barbecue, noodles and other items, two bakeries and a Jollibee.
At top: I was surprised to see Thrifty ice cream in the freezer case. Above: the seafood area, not surprisingly at a place named Seafood City, has fish on ice on display, as well as live crab, a box of which had one or two feebly waving a claw. The store will clean the fish for you at no charge, according to a sign. The fresh fish usually arrives only a day after being caught.
At least one product name may not have translated well into English. It’s for an “herbal lightening soap.”
Claudia Lennear, the Pomona resident who sang behind Ike and Tina Turner and more, knew David Bowie well. She offers memories and insights in my Sunday column.
The 50th Laura Ingalls Wilder Gingerbread Sociable, celebrating the “Little House on the Prairie” books and the unlikely tie between Wilder and the Pomona Public Library, takes place Saturday. That tops Friday’s column. Also: cultural notes from around the valley.
Above, the manuscript of 1932’s “Little House in the Big Woods,” handwritten on a tablet, was donated to the library by Wilder and is on display along with correspondence, foreign editions of the books and more. Click on the photo for a readable view. Same with the letter below, sent by Wilder to be read at the dedication of the library’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Children’s Room.
Day Day’s BBQ and Waffle House, 994 E. Holt Ave. (at Reservoir), Pomona; closed Mondays
In my world Day Day’s for years was more rumor than fact. It was originally known as Day Day and Duke’s and had limited hours, but despite having a rough idea where it was, I never saw a sign in my occasional drives on Holt and was never entirely sure where it might be. I don’t know if it’s been in continuous operation or not, but the name (despite what the old sign says) is now Day Day’s, and its Duke-less incarnation seems to be more of a going concern, open six days a week and with the recent addition of dinner hours, until 8 p.m.
I still couldn’t find the place without looking it up on Google and noting the address, and without that I might never have found its unassuming storefront and small sign, especially after dark. Next door to the east is East End Liquor (despite the corner being Reservoir, not East End); next door to the west is an auto repair shop that was once the bar where the Mothers of Invention formed. So it’s a neighborhood with character.
Entering requires opening a screen door, a nice touch for a soul food restaurant, and inside it’s a small diner, with six booths and a short counter, everything in shades of brown. A friend and I met there for dinner recently, curious how the chicken and waffles would stack up against Ontario’s Maple House.
Confronted with the extensive menu, though, we each opted for other things. I got the Aunt Toe’s pork chops, smothered, with greens and mac ‘n cheese ($15), and he got the Big Pimp omelet with shrimp, chicken, jack and cheddar cheese, and mushrooms, plus a chicken wing a la carte ($14 total). Breakfast is served all day.
The omelet was inexpert, perhaps, but enjoyed despite its lumpiness, and the wing was praised. The pork chops themselves were the weakest part of my plate, with the gravy, rice and two sides the standouts. My friend had a Kool-Aid and, offered a refill, later wished he’d been told he’d be charged a second time. But overall, he liked the experience.
So did I. The place had a friendly, relaxed vibe. A TV in the corner provided the entertainment, “Wheel of Fortune” and a sitcom with a laugh track, rather than music.
There’s barbecue on the menu, but only on weekends. I went back that Sunday about 1 p.m. for lunch, hoping for ribs or brisket. The dining room was busy, but I got a seat and watched as several other tables turned over. Alas, barbecue, which seemed to be prepared at the owner’s whim, would only be available after 2 p.m. So I scanned the menu and got chicken and waffles: the Teasha combo ($12), with two wings, one waffle, an egg and grits.
This was excellent: a fluffy waffle and prime fried chicken.
It came with three pieces, not two, which made up for the fact that other tables within earshot were told they had all-you-can-eat that day, and my server didn’t mention it. And also for the fact that my waffle arrived five minutes after everything else. Day Day’s is a little haphazard, perhaps, but the food and atmosphere more than compensate.
I even liked the grits, a dish I’d had once, in childhood, and didn’t really care for but thought I ought to try again. Since then I’ve had grits at Maple House, and Day Day’s were better; the chicken and waffle battle ended in a draw.
As the dining room slowly cleared out, and nobody needed my booth, I settled back to enjoy my Sunday newspaper in peace.
I would definitely return. If I ever get the barbecue, I’ll update this post. Or maybe I’ll let the barbecue remain as mysterious as the fate of Duke.
What did I do on my week off? The highlight was an extended Metrolink trip: Not merely from home to L.A., but from L.A. to Ventura County. (And back — see photo above.) I tell how it went and how it was scheduled, which was no easy feat, in my Wednesday column.
Books acquired: none.
Books read: “Slogging Toward the Millennium,” Bill McClellan; “The Hour After Westerly,” Robert M. Coates; “Long After Midnight,” Ray Bradbury; “The Day After Tomorrow,” Robert M. Heinlein; “Twelfth Night,” William Shakespeare; “Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement,” Rodney Rothman; “Now Wait for Last Year,” Philip K. Dick.
One month into 2016 and I’ve knocked off seven titles. That sounds good, doesn’t it? Great start to the year and all that. I read much of the first three titles above in December, though, which means seven is inflated and likely to be my high for the year. Uh-oh: That means for the next 11 months, it’s all downhill. From optimism to despair, all in one paragraph. This is why I’m a professional, because I’ve got range.
Anyway, my books for the month are, in the order above, a 1990 book of newspaper columns from St. Louis; a book of literary short stories from the 1940s; a 1978 Bradbury collection; a 1940s sci-fi novel; a Shakespeare comedy circa 1602; a 2006 humorous memoir; and a 1960s sci-fi novel.
The Heinlein was problematical as it was quasi-racist, and weak stories outnumbered strong ones in the Bradbury. The Shakespeare play wasn’t among his best, although even so-so Bard is very good. The first line is famous: “If music be the food of love, play on…”
Coates is out of print and neglected, but this was a very good book, with the title story worthy of “The Twilight Zone.” McClellan tells a good story. Dick’s novel was among his best. Rothman’s memoir may be of the most general interest.
Feeling burned out at 28, the TV writer hit upon a neat idea: Why not move to Florida and test out retirement by living in a senior community, playing shuffleboard and eating early dinners? It’s funny, as you’d expect, but he learns to take the retirees seriously as individuals, and there’s an undercurrent of sadness about the end of life.
Did you notice all the titles dealt in some way with time or the calendar? Yes, that was on purpose, a loose way to bring in a variety of books. Oh, and despite the photo, obviously I didn’t read the entirety of “The Riverside Shakespeare,” only one play within.
Where did my books come from? The Shakespeare is my college textbook, collecting all his works in one massive book. My copies of Bradbury and Dick date to the early 1980s. The others are from the past decade. Can’t remember where my Heinlein came from. Coates and Rothman were bought at Powell’s in Portland in 2013. McClellan was bought in St. Louis last year.
How is your reading year beginning? I hope it went well but is all uphill for you.
Next month: maybe only one book.