An L.A. Times editorial last week said Ontario’s airport ought to be renamed, inspiring a blog post here last week. Some of your responses, as well as letters to the editor about the editorial, inspired Sunday’s column. Thanks for the help!
50/Fifty Asian Fusion Cuisine, 201 N. Indian Hill Blvd. (at 2nd), Claremont
The new restaurant by the former owner of Bangkok Blue in La Verne, 50/Fifty opened in Februaryxx in Claremont’s Village West, in a space previously occupied by a wine shop. Relatively small, it’s got floor-to-ceiling windows along its frontage and a menu posted in the window, both inviting touches.
I met a couple of friends there for lunch recently. The atmosphere is quiet and restful. The color-sensitive one described the walls as pumpkin and the cloth napkins as coral. I’ll take her word for it.
“Asian fusion” seems like a misnomer; the dishes strike me as original spins on Thai and other Asian cuisines rather than true fusion. We got wok-fired Asian noodles ($12), Mandalay curry with chicken ($12) and Joyce’s beef and vegetable stew ($15). One or two bites into the latter, the foodie who ordered it said, “This is amazing!” And it was, the beef tender and flavorful. That dish might qualify as fusion since it’s a sort of American beef stew with Asian touches.
The noodles and curry weren’t amazing but were good. My accompanying brown rice was the best I’ve had. One had an Thai iced coffee and really liked it.
We shared some of our dishes, but I returned a week later on my own to get the stew for myself, and it was just as good as the previous week. I look forward to more meals here. The prices here are a couple of bucks too high, but this is Claremont’s high-rent district and thus understandable. The service was polite but too reserved.
My friends, who faced the windows, liked the view; someone had to have their back to the windows and that was me. They kept remarking on what was going on outside, such as a fellow diner who went outside to take a call and spat on the sidewalk. “I feel like I’m missing out,” I lamented.
“Is that orangutan going to slip on that banana peel?” one friend said by way of reply, pretending to look over my shoulder. “He might drop that wedding cake!”
I didn’t even turn around.
Friday’s column is about a comic shop, the cleverly named A Shop Called Quest, that opened recently in Claremont. It’s downtown, a rarity for a (these days) niche product like comic books, meaning that plenty of people who aren’t looking for comics are passing by and, in some cases, walking in.
Saturday, not coincidentally to the timing of today’s column, is Free Comic Book Day, a national promotion in which you can walk into a comic shop and get a free comic book. The FCBD website lists all the free comics and has a store locator. My column also gives the names and addresses of our handful of local comic shops.
Books acquired: ”Gather Yourselves Together,” “Ubik: The Screenplay,” Philip K. Dick; “Beginning to See the Light,” Ellen Willis; “Diners,” John Baeder.
Books read: “The Early Worm,” Robert Benchley; “The Columnist,” Jeffrey Frank; “The Best of Jack Williamson”; “Over the Edge,” Harlan Ellison; “The Planet of the Apes Chronicles,” Paul Woods.
Welcome back, book nerds! Time for another installment of my monthly series of what books I read the previous month. As predicted here last month, April saw me back to my usual five books, as opposed to the 22 super-slim volumes (almost an oxymoron) that I read in March.
My 2013 total is now an even 40. While that would seem to put me on track to read 120, 80 seems more likely, given that I’ve read all the very short books I own and that there are some longer books I want to get to this year (including a complex one for June).
My April books have one thing in common: They were purchased at the same store, Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., in the course of visits in 2007 and 2010. Powell’s is a book-lover’s mecca, four floors and one city block of books, both new and used. I’ve been thinking of another trip to Portland but have felt sheepish because not only don’t I need any more books, I haven’t even read all the ones I’ve bought in that very city. Reading those would make me feel better about buying more.
What I read this time was, in the order listed above, a solid collection of Benchley’s humor essays, a very funny novel about a blowhard Washington columnist, a best-of story collection spanning 50 years (1928-1978) by a SF grand master, a so-so story collection by Ellison and a book about my guilty pleasure, the Planet of the Apes series.
I was embarrassed to buy it, of course. I do have that much self-awareness. As I opened it up, three years later, to read a few pages each night at bedtime, I thought, why am I reading this? Why would I spend a month of my life reading about Planet of the Apes? But I stuck with it, soon loved it and almost wish it were longer.
Best book of the month, though, is “The Columnist,” which pulls off the neat trick of being narrated by someone who’s clueless (the classic unreliable narrator) and yet still imparting all the information we need to judge him by.
I had 10 Portland-purchased books left to read and now I’m down to five. Not sure when I’ll get to those, as I have other things right now I want to read, but at least I’ve read all the ones from my first visit and cut the total in half.
Your turn. What have you been reading? Surely nothing about the Planet of the Apes.
Next month: Three or four random books, one of them from a library.
In Upland, people are reading Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which the library is promoting as its first Upland Reads One Book choice. A panel discussion is slated for Saturday at 1 p.m. That’s the leadoff item in Wednesday’s column, which also has a few vignettes and the news that Rancho Cucamonga’s library won national honors.
In an editorial Sunday advocating the long-discussed new runway be built at LAX, the L.A. Times ended by also advocating a new name for ONT:
“As for the so-called regional solution, it will at best be a supplement to a modern, efficient and safe LAX. And for goodness’ sake, before trying to do anything else with Ontario airport, change the name so unhappy passengers who get rerouted there due to heavy coastal fog will at least know they’re not being flown to a wind-swept wheat field somewhere in central Canada.”
Ha ha! Of course, perhaps the Times is bitter after last month mistakenly reporting that ONT is “30 miles west of downtown.” If they don’t know where Ontario is, then obviously no one else must, either.
The Times may not realize that ONT is officially LA/Ontario International Airport, a change made a few years back to ensure travelers know the airport is in wheat field-less Southern California.
Still, there’s always room for improvement, and I’m not going to say Ontario International Airport couldn’t benefit from a new name. Especially when throwing it open to you readers results in a blog post.
On Twitter I threw out Jack Benny International, under the assumption that if Orange County can honor John Wayne, we could do the same for a local-identified celebrity (“Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga!”). A reader came back with Ovitt Family Community Airport, adapting the Ontario library’s unwieldy moniker. Your turn!
Sunday’s column is in part about last weekend’s CicLAvia event in L.A., which I attended. A lot of fun, and between the Claremont Metrolink station, Union Station and the Metrolink train home, I kept running into people I knew (or, in one case, who knew me). After that is the usual array of cultural and other items of note.
New York Pizzeria, 12431 Central Ave. (at the 60), Chino
You can’t find Chicago pizza in the Inland Valley, so far as I know, but people who like New York pizza have a handful of places to choose from. No spot is more established than New York Pizzeria, which opened in Chino in 1984.
After a recommendation from reader Ron Scott, I met a couple of friends there for lunch. Not much to look at from the outside, as it’s housed in a stucco cube on the outskirts of the Superior Market center just below the 60 Freeway, but New York Pizzeria becomes interesting the moment you step inside. There’s NYC photos, posters and memorabilia in the entryway, as well as a few seats from the original (1923-2006) Yankee Stadium, in which you can wait for takeout and think about Phil Rizzuto.
Closer to home, the arch-shaped windows into the kitchen for ordering remind me of Pizza Royale in Rancho Cucamonga. NYP has grinders, a few pastas and a couple of salads, but clearly the main event is the pizza. They make the dough fresh daily, make their own sauces, grate their own cheese and bake their pizzas in a stone oven.
We got two medium pizzas, one with sausage and mushroom, the other cheeseless with vegetables (accommodating the table’s wannabe vegan). This would have cost us $30, but they have a deal, two medium pizzas, two toppings each, for $19, so we went for it. (I had suggested we get a straight cheese pizza, but if the toppings are free…)
We liked the results. I appreciated the chunks of sausage and fresh mushrooms but thought the crust, which kept collapsing, was too thin to support two toppings. Still, it was a good pizza and my meat-eating friend thought so too. As for the cheeseless pizza, “the veggies were plentiful and fresh,” said the wannabe vegan. The meat-eating friend said agreeably, “It turned out not to be a mockery of what a pizza is supposed to be.” I’ll second that. The crust was thicker on the veggie pizza.
Although we gave the edge to San Biagio’s NY Pizza in Upland for its sauce, we all said we’d be willing to return here. In fact, a couple of weeks later, I did, going there for a solo weekday lunch. You can get an 8-inch pizza with two toppings, a salad and a soda for $6.49. I did that but skipped the toppings because I wanted to try a straight cheese pizza. Pretty good, and the salad beats San Biagio’s.
The dining room at New York Pizzeria is wallpapered in youth sports plaques, and the day of our Saturday lunch several of the picnic-style tables were reserved for young players, who showed up in force, and hungry. Not a place for an intimate evening, but fun. Service was exceedingly friendly at this family-owned restaurant. Probably friendlier than you’d get in New York.