Vacation food: St. Louis

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In lieu of a Restaurant of the Week post, here’s a report of eats from an exotic land, St. Louis, where I vacationed recently. Above, frozen custard from local favorite Ted Drewes (since 1929); below, the exterior of Crown Candy Kitchen, famous (since 1913) for its ice cream treats, tin ceiling and, more recently, its BLT made with a dozen slices of bacon. Love the brick building and vintage Coke sign.

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Toasted ravioli (with a cup of marinara for dipping) is a local innovation, as is St. Louis-style pizza, made with a crisp, cracker-like crust and processed cheese, cut into squares. It’s not to everyone’s taste, and it’s reminiscent of cheese and crackers, served hot. But I like it. (Those are anchovies on the half nearest the camera, by the way.) Both examples are from local chain Imo’s.

Below, pork ribs, brisket, slaw and applesauce from Pappy’s Smokehouse, plus a Fitz’s soda, bottled locally.

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Column: His St. Louis vacation was in the cards

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Wednesday’s column recaps highlights of my vacation, the Midwest part, and addresses the question of whether St. Louis is worth a visit. While you may be as unlikely to book a flight there as you would to Des Moines or Enid, the unsung city has more to offer than you might think: free museums, a giant park, a great baseball team and more. Plus water, and plenty of it.

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Daily Bulletin on Vacation, Pt. 2

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While in New York, I made a pilgrimage to — because the Empire State Building is passe — the intersection at which the cover for the Beastie Boys’ “Paul’s Boutique” album cover was shot circa 1989, Rivington and Ludlow on the Lower East Side.

Admittedly, it was a letdown, and I’d have had to have the album itself with me to compare then and now. Even then, the corner was somewhat fictional, as the Paul’s Boutique sign was added for the photo shoot.

Instead of a downscale sportswear shop, the corner now has a wraps place. One nice touch today is a street art mural of the boys on the side of the building, commissioned by a man who lobbied unsuccessfully to have the intersection honored as Beastie Boys Square.

Here’s my 2014 column on the album’s 25th anniversary and its Claremont connection.

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Daily Bulletin on Vacation, Pt. 1

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I brought a newspaper on my travels for the requisite Daily Bulletin on Vacation photo. Here’s the first of two that were taken in meaningful locations. In this case, at the Manhattan restaurant Upland, where I dined with Rancho Cucamonga expatriate Lesley Tellez and met chef Justin Smillie. Column to come.

By the way, the headline across the top of this Dec. 16, 2014 edition reads “Dave Allen picked for president.” Of the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, but who’s counting?

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On vacation

As noted at the top of Sunday’s column, I’m on vacation this week, as I was for part of last week, and there won’t be another column until June 15. See you then. And pay attention to my Twitter feed (a feature on the right-hand side of this home page) if you’d like to see some of what I’m up to.

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Wall of hot dog fame

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On a visit to Windy C’s Chicago Hot Dogs in Upland last year, owner Freddy Johnson insisted on taking my photo and adding it to his wall of celebrities, many of them Chicago-based. He printed out the photo and had me sign it on the spot.

Faced with a photo of myself that would be framed on a wall for all to see for some time to come, I was put in mind of the “Seinfeld” episode in which a coffee shop waitress asked Jerry to sign a photo of himself and he wrote “Nothing could be finer than eating in your diner”; after Elaine mocked him, he tried to grab the photo back. With trepidation, I wrote “Hot dog! This Illinois boy loves the Wrigley,” the name of the menu item I was eating: a dog with sauerkraut and cheese (pictured below).

I returned for lunch recently, the first time since the photo. Eyeballing the inscription, I didn’t feel the urge to grab it back or hide my head. But then, Elaine wasn’t there to shame me.

(My Restaurant of the Week post from 2011 on Windy C’s has particularly entertaining comments, by the way.)

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18 years

On March 10, 1997 I walked in the doors of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin to start my first day of work. Hey, that’s 18 years ago today!

I wasn’t new to journalism — I’d put in a decade at papers in Victorville and Sonoma County — yet Ontario and the Inland Valley seemed vast and mysterious, not to mention smoggy. Now it’s all like a small town to me.

There’s been a lot of changes in 18 years. The landscape is somewhat different, what with Victoria Gardens, the Colonies, the Shoppes and the 210 Freeway. Newspapers, including this one, are very different. At this point I can count my lucky stars to be among the dwindling number of people employed by a newspaper.

Thank you for your support. Onward to 19 years!

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Column: Expectations can be taxing during Washington, D.C., vacation

Anyone making our national pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., has a long list of sites they want to see, or feel pressured to see. I wasn’t immune during my visit there earlier this month, but knowing I couldn’t see the proverbial “everything,” especially in four days, I tried to relax and focus on what I liked most. You can read about that in Wednesday’s column.

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‘All That Jazz’ (and ‘A to Z’)

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Larry Fox had me on his “All That Jazz” program on KSPC-FM on Saturday afternoon, where we played a few jazz songs that I brought in and talked about my columns, this blog, restaurants and my book “Pomona A to Z.” It was a lot of fun and, I’m sure, revealing of my thought processes and style. If you tuned in, how did I do?

* The interview, as well as my 2010 visit, can be heard on the KSPC website.

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