Monday, June 30, 2014

Obviously Griffith Observatory is one of the most visited places in Los Angeles.  Certainly that was our experience when, on the spur of the moment, we decided to make  use of a few hours while spending a day in Hollywood.
What we did not know that seemingly everyone else had the same idea on the same day.  The result was lots of cars with too few parking places.  Our eventual parking spot left us with about a quarter mile, all uphill,  from the Observatory.
We might add that we had about a half century more age than anyone else we saw that day.  So on our hike uphill we stopped ostensibly to admire the view, but really to catch our breath and chant "to rest is not to conquer" before moving on.  Not to say that the view was not worthwhile.  Actually on this day much of the City of  Angels was spread out before us.
Yes, the gift that Griffith J. Griffith gave to the people of many generations is truly worth seeing.  And since 1935 when the Observatory opened it has been visited by 75 million people.
We enjoyed  the exhibits and the people who were obviously pleased with the day and experience.
Fortunately for us the route back to our far off car was all downhill.

Friday, June 27, 2014

1919 was an exciting year in America.  The victorious Doughboys were coming home from Europe and the United States was taking its place as a world power for the first time.
Hollywood was already becoming synonymous with cinema and movie making.  And an interesting restaurant had opened on Hollywood Blvd. called The Musso & Frank Grill.  Now its 2014 and this amazing restaurant remains one of the best in the City.
James Woodin and I, representing the Southern California Restaurant Writers, were there to present Sergio Gonzales with his medal for being named Server of the Year in recognition of his 42 years of service with Musso & Frank.  We add that longevity of staff abounds at this restaurant and serving our lunch was a waiter with 30 years at the restaurant.
Musso & Frank Grill is located at 6667 Hollywood Blvd, in  Hollywood and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.  On the web at

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The outdoors are my comfort zone.  Whether seashore, mountains or desert they all offer a special appeal to this Writer.  Yesterday I was once again at one of my favorite mountain retreats.  It is Cerro Noroeste Peak located in the San Emigdio range.
At its plateau summit, elevation 8313 feet, there is a campground which for us has been a perfect place for camping in earlier years and now for one day picnics.
With me were my two sons who have been coming to this mountain since they were pre teens.
The forest here is mostly Jeffrey Pines, many hundreds of years old.  Near the camp is one tree that has a massive cross carved into its trunk.  It could have been carved by Francisco Garces, a Franciscan Padre who was the first European to cross these mountains and discover the San Joaquin Valley in 1776.
I took a photo of the cross and then hiked to an outcropping where a view opens to a huge amount of country including parts of Carrizo Plain National Monument.
The weather was perfect, cool under the shade of the pine trees and warm in the sun.  It was a good picnic lunch too.

Friday, June 20, 2014

While I went to the California Science Center to view the Pompeii Exhibition I also took the opportunity of viewing the Space Shuttle Endeavor while there.  A ticket to the Pompeii exhibit also allows one to visit the Samuel Oschin Space Center  where the Endeavor sits in splendor.
Like almost everyone in Southern California I was glued to the television watching the Endeavor make its arrival in Los Angeles.  And at the Oschin Center I looked at a video program that showed it once again.
Besides the Endeavor one of its rocket engines is on display as well.
Another video program takes one through some of Endeavor's missions in space including the one to repair the optics on the Hubble Telescope. This involved replacing faulty lens with ones that cleared the telescopes images.  This proved to be a great success allowing all the wonderful photographs which we view now from Hubble.
In all Endeavor made 25 missions to space.  It bears a noble name since the original Endeavor was the name of famed English explorer James Cook's ship in the 17th century.
For more information on what are the best times for viewing Endeavor at the California Science Center call 213 744-2019, on the web at

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

On a trip to Italy some years ago I did include a tour of Pompeii where on one day in August 79 A.D. the city and its people disappeared following an eruption on nearby Mount Vesuvius.  I found it a memorable experience.
So when I learned that the California Science Center was holding an exhibition on Pompeii and the aftermath of the disaster seeing it was a must for this Writer.
The Exhibition opened in May and will continue through the rest of the year and is a most worthwhile experience for all ages.
Actually I learned more about Pompeii, its people and their way of life from this exhibition than I did from the tour taken on site years before.
There are exhibits  on foods produced and consumed, cooking utensils of the time,  dining habits, entertainment from Gladiators to Brothels. and public baths.   Fast food is not new, Pompeii had hundreds of street stalls and eateries to serve its 20,000 inhabitants.
There is one exhibit which simulates the events as they occurred on the day of the disaster with earthquakes, explosions and finally the covering of ash and debris
For more information about viewing Pompeii, The Exhibition at the California Science Center call 323 Science, on the web at  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A restaurant must be outstanding to remain in business for a quarter century.  Which explains Yves' Restaurant & Wine Bar located in Anaheim Hills. We had lunch there a few days ago and wished we had discovered the restaurant years sooner.
We met with Proprietor Yves Massquefa and were impressed both with the man and his restaurant which offers a home like decor and ambiance designed for a relaxed, comfortable dining experience. 
To go with this ambiance there is a most interesting menu highlighted with Continental favorites.
We opened with French onion soup, then shared a delicious  Calamari Fritti with my dining partner and  enjoyed Nouille Roulet, a pasta plate that is a signature dish at the restaurant.
Yves' Restaurant & Wine Bar is located at 5753 A E. Santa Ana Canyon Road in Anaheim Hill, just off the 91 Freeway at Imperial Blvd.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, for lunch and dinner Monday thru Saturday, dinner only on Sunday.  There is live music Thursday thru Saturday.  Telephone 714 637-3733, web

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Il Barone Ristorante in Newport Beach is a consistent five star restaurant showing an exquisite Italian cuisine.  Now another generation of the family has opened IL Barone Pizza e Pasta, a much more casual eatery located at 705 E. Balboa Blvd., one block from The Pavilion.
Jonathan Barone shows a carefully crafted variety of Italian favorites with seven pizzas and ten pasta dishes.
There are also house specials like calamari fritti and a Folcaccia \sandwich with tuna.
The desserts follow the family tradition with Cannoli Siciliani and Tartufo di Cioccolato con gelato as well as our favorite Tiramisu.
What impressed us the most with this new enterprise was the most modest prices.  If it were not so far away from where we live Jonathan would have a regular customer with this Writer who always loves a bargain when he sees one.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The past met the present when the Anaheim Packing House opened it doors once again, this time as a new entity for a collection of unusual dining and beverage shops.  The Packing House first opened in 1919 when Anaheim was the the collection point for miles of surrounding orange and lemon groves.  Here the farmers harvest was gathered and then shipped by railroad across the country.
Now restored, the building still maintains the ambiance of its former years but with the facilities that offer a contemporary gathering place for people of all ages
We attending the press opening last evening and were briefed about the restoration of the building and the long list of showplace eating and drinking places it will house.  Explaining how all this came about was Shaheen Sadeghi, President and CEO of  Lab, the firm responsible for the Packing House rebirth.
Some exciting sample plates were offered to show the wide variety of cuisines that will be available at the Packing House.  Adya showed us some interesting Indian street food    Some wonderful sushi was on our plate from Orange Tei which was the work of Shigetoshi Nakamura.
We chatted with Gretchen Shoemaker whose Georgie's will showcase a full menu of southern soul food.
Our bun sandwiches of beef and pork from The Kroft were so good that it hard to say no more.
In all there will be 28 food stalls featuring many different cuisines.
The Packing House is located 440 S. Anaheim Blvd., in historic downtown Anaheim.  Open daily.