Restaurant of the Week: Salpicon

salpicon1

Salpicon Salvadoran Cuisine, 2252 S. Euclid (at Philadelphia), Ontario; open daily

There aren’t many places around here to get the food of El Salvador, where pupusas (thick, stuffed tortillas) are the most common export. Pomona’s Guasalmex is probably the best known local spot.

But I was advised to try Salpicon, which is just above the 60 Freeway in a shopping center with a Food 4 Less and not one but two restaurants specializing in food from the Mexican state of Sinaloa. (A Chipotle is also muscling its way in.) I went in for dinner on a recent World Cup soccer night.

Salpicon is clean, well-lighted and pleasant, with high-backed booths, a dozen colorful paintings of Salvadoran scenes, two TVs and sitdown service. I went for the salpicon dinner ($12), a sort of salad of finely chopped beef mixed with onion, mint, lemon and radish, served at room temperature. The dinner came with rice, beans, small lettuce salad and plantains, seven of ‘em, plus handmade tortillas.

This was enough food for two, on a plate like a serving platter. I liked it all. The beans were especially interesting, pureed into a texture like a spread. I took half my dinner home and got a second meal out of it.

To drink, I had an ensalada, an agua fresca described as pineapple water with diced pineapple and apple ($3.75); tasty and healthful.

Salpicon — see the menu here — has breakfast, soups and salads, eight entrees, a variety of pupusas and a few desserts, which looked tempting. I guess I could have eaten one-third of my dinner and had dessert…

salpicon3

salpicon2

salpicon4

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Farewell to a reader’s friend

chairpillow

This pillow chair, useful for reading in bed, was one of those cheap objects that prove incredibly useful and durable. My parents bought it for me for Christmas when I was about 15 and I used it ever since — until earlier this year, when I decided the poor thing had supported me, or at least my back and my reading habits, long enough.

Mine was purchased by mail order (probably Sears), and in the intervening years I never saw another one until relatively recently, when I found them at Target. Wow, they still make these things! They’re known alternately as chair pillows, pillow chairs, bed rests and reading pillows.

I resisted parting with mine, though, even after sending it through a giant washing machine at a laundromat, which got it clean but also worsened splits in the fabric. Bits of orange foam kept popping out. This thing had stuck with me and I was sticking with it. And, on 90-degree summer nights, to it.

After a couple of years of this, I finally decided to buy a new one.

I did, for a mere $10, at the Target in Pomona, and wondered why I hadn’t done this earlier. The old one went into the trash with little regret. I guess I needed to wait until the time felt right. I like the new one too. It’s a comfortable way to sit up in bed without messing with pillows.

Above is the tattered old one with what I think was the last book I read with it: Neil Young’s “Waging Heavy Peace.” Farewell, old friend, and thanks for the support.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

‘Too bready’: Restaurant of the Week descriptions

ROW

Rather than give you a Restaurant of the Week right before a holiday weekend, here’s something Restaurant of the Week-related that I’ve meant to share for weeks now.

My friend Pam Arterburn gave me a silly but thoughtful homemade gift back in March for my birthday: She power-read her way through all my past restaurant blog posts and compiled her favorite descriptions or observations into a poster. Ha ha! (Click on the image for a larger view.)

You can judge for yourselves what the phrases add up to, but she said she was struck by how low-key and middle of the road they were, and so was I. With a couple of bolder exceptions (“excellent,” “amazing”) they stake out very modest territory. What can I say, I don’t feel qualified to write these restaurant posts anyway, so why go out on a limb?

Before you ask, she placed Bieber stickers on the poster because I’m a superstar. Obviously.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Reading Log: June 2014

booksjune1

Books acquired: none.

Books read: “All the President’s Men,” “The Final Days,” Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein; “President Fu Manchu,” Sax Rohmer.

“Doonesbury” repeats this spring reminded me that Nixon resigned 40 years ago this August, and that made me think this would be a good summer to read the two Watergate books on my shelves. So I did.

I really liked “President’s Men,” which was published in early 1974. Told in the second person, it follows the two reporters as they chase leads, hit brick walls, knock on doors, meet a source in a parking garage and occasionally flub a story. These were two intrepid guys, and they were far more dedicated than I am, or any reporter I’ve ever known. Another thing I learned: Woodward was a registered Republican. Rather than trying to bring down a president, he and Bernstein were both shocked and disturbed that the trail of Watergate led as high as it did.

With that finished, did I want to read the 500-page “Final Days,” an inside look at the last months of Nixon’s presidency? I thought I’d read it a while and see. Well, I thought it was fascinating, and there was no question of not finishing it. In this one, private meetings and conversations are quoted as if they’re unfolding in front of us, reconstructed either by interviews with the participants or with people they shared their version of events with. It’s a neat trick that allows for privacy-invading scenes like Nixon forcing Kissinger to pray with him, and if asked Kissinger could plead that he wasn’t one of the direct sources.

Normally I’d say these sort of books aren’t my thing, but the subject was one that has always held an interest for me because Watergate occurred on the edge of my consciousness, being 9 and 10 at the time, and I was glad to finally know more about it. (I’m likely to write a column about it in August.)

Obviously I read “President Fu Manchu” the same month as something of a joke. But it legitimately was the next book in the series; I’d left off with book 7 a couple of years ago and I was overdue for book 8. In this one, the only volume set in America, the evil genius (and here I’m referring to Fu Manchu, not Richard Nixon) is pulling the strings of a populist candidate for president who would institute a dictatorship. Online sources say the 1936 novel pulls from real events involving Huey Long and Father Coughlin. So that’s neat, although the novel is otherwise the least distinguished so far.

One weird side-note: Fu has a lair reachable by a river tunnel under New York’s Chinatown, and the hidden entrance is referred to as his “water-gate.” You can’t make this stuff up.

I don’t recall where I got any of these three books, although I’ve had “Final Days” for maybe 10 years, picked up “President’s” maybe five years ago, and “President Fu” around the same time, all used.

What were you reading in June? Speak a little louder, I’m not sure my secret taping system is picking you up.

booksjune2

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Wussy!

wussy

Above, from left, Joe Klug, Lisa Walker, Chuck Cleaver and Mark Messerly; off-camera, John Erhardt.

This has nothing to do with the Inland Valley, but it’s a chance to put in a plug for my favorite band, Cincinnati’s Wussy. They say they’re “bridging the gap between The Band and Sonic Youth,” and the band X is another point of comparison. Two friends and I saw them at the Silverlake Lounge on Friday night and we stood just feet away. What a thrill.

Also, I ran into co-lead singer Chuck Cleaver on the sidewalk before the show and he signed one of my CDs, took it into the tour van for everyone else to sign, and posed with me for a photo (see below). Try getting U2 to do any of that.

The sound’s not so hot, but I recorded two short videos on my phone: “Maglite” and “Yellow Cotton Dress.”¬†Of course, Maglite flashlights are made in Ontario, so there’s your local connection if you need one.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email