After our trip to Casa Romantica we decided to head down into downtown San Juan Capistrano and roam around the shops near The Mission. As we walking down near the railroad tracks we pass by the Tea House on Los Rios.
What better way to cap off my birthday than with tea in an idyllic, rustic, yet Victorian setting. I was so happy they were open and had space for the three of us without reservations. The great thing is that it was all dressed for Christmas - full of white lights and greenery.
However, my most favorite thing was that we all got to choose our own hat. There is an actual hallway full of hats. That's right you get to wear a hat. While Lisa wasn't that into it she complied. Thank you Lisa.
We were seated within 10 minutes. We all had The Mission Tea which included our choice of tea (there are 21 varieties), soup or salad, assorted finger sandwiches, scones, fresh fruit and desert. It was a lot of food. My favorite were the little sandwiches and scones. The soup was a little cold. But all in all delicious.
It was great. I highly recommend it. Happy Birthday to me.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Today I grabbed two friends (Lisa and Debbie) and headed South. I didn't have a plan we were just driving along the magnificent coast, enjoying the sunshine and good conversation.
Then I remembered a really beautiful historic home in San Clemete called, Casa Romantica. It is the former home of San Clemente founder Ole Hanson.
From the front its an unassuming home, with a keyhole-shaped entry way. You are ushered into a beautiful grassy courtyard in classic Spanish hacienda style. However the money shot is the view of the ocean from the backyard. High above San Clemente Pier it has an unfettered view of the ocean. You can hear the waves crash but you're far removed from all the people and street noise.
The house has been restored as a cultural center and offers a glimpse into Southern California history, architecture, ecology and culture. Each room is beautifully restored and also houses a small library. It would be a great place to go read. They are also in the process of building an ampitheatre.
Casa Romantica's street address: 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, CA 92672
HOURS: Tuesday 1-4 p.m., Wednesday thru Sunday 11-4 p.m., Closed Mondays.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Sick of Britneygate Debbie and I were craving a little of the glamorous spirit of Hollywood past so we trekked up to the Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor Building.
There are four floors of Hollywood artifacts and memorabilia. Even walking into the building you can feel the history that lived there - the stars that were made there. It's amazing.
Standing at the door to the museum is a mafioso looking individual who appears to be the doorman. I don't know what his purpose is, perhaps to lure in tourists, make deals on the street, no idea. Inside we were greeted by a woman who I'm sure was alive when Max Factor walked the halls. She took our money and our cameras. That's right, no photos anywhere in the building and to make sure you don't, you're forced to check your camera at the door.
A little shaken at the thought of leaving our precious cameras with a total stranger we pressed on. Once you leave the beautiful art deco lobby, dressed in white and pink marble echoing the building's glory days, there are two floors above you to explore and one beneath you.
The second floor is mainly devoted to costumes by the stars in well-known films. It was so amazing how different the clothing looked in person versus on the screen. It was much smaller and the colors were odd, especially for early technicolor process. For example, a costume from White Christmas is white on screen but in person its actually gold. I guess the lights completely washed it out.
The third floor is an odd assortment of Hollywood memorabilia, ranging from the gold sheath Elizabeth Taylor wore in Cleopatra to an amazing collection of clothing and items belonging to Marilyn Monroe. There is no rhyme or reason to the display of the collection and in many instances there is no description or explation where it comes from. There was no one from the museum around to answer questions either.
A trip to the basement, though scary, is worth the fright. They have the cellblock from Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon. The entire set is on hand including all original props. It was eerie. Next to it is an exhibit on Egypt and memorabilia from Elvira, quite the odd combination.
We spent about 45 to an hour on each floor. There is so much too look at and digest. It really is the glory of Hollywood past with a sprinkling of the present, just to make you feel like you're a part of it.
My favorite part of the tour were the famous Max Factor make-up rooms on the ground floor. Being the first to realize color theory Max painted rooms to flatter the complexion of women of a certain hair color. It's a cool blue for blondes, peach for brownettes, pink for brunettes, and mint green for redheads. It is said that it was Max Factor who made Lucille Ball a redhead and Marilyn Monroe a blonde.
It's amazing but I looked best in the pink and mint green rooms. So Max would have let me be a redhead or a brunette, but never a blonde or brownette (lighter shades of brown). All original props from these famous make-up rooms have been restored from original Max Factor make-up to mirrors, lights and the photos of the famous stars who got made up there.
Also on display on the ground floor is Cary Grant's Rolls Royce, the largest autograph collection in the world and a film about great Hollywood performances and actors.
There are so many artifacts in this museum its hard to digest the fact that you're looking at Bob Hope's golf clubs, next to the first editing machine, next to the body cast from Puffy the dog in There's Something About Mary. It's insane. (For a semi-complete list of artifacts on display click here.
If you're a fan of Hollywood glamour, this museum is a must see. It is extremely uncommercial. They don't even have a gift shop. But maybe that makes it more pure somehow. Who knows. I loved it.
Hours: Open Thursday through Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM. Closed Monday through Wednesday.
Location: The Hollywood Museum: 1660 N. Highland Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028 (323) 464 7776
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Founded by Paul Pink in 1940, on the corner of LaBrea and Melrose when it was home to spacious fields not trendy stores Pink's hot dogs has become a celebrity and local hot spot.
Touted as the only hot dog stand with free valet parking it always has a line, doesn't matter if you're there at 2 p.m. or 2 a.m.
Debbie and I split a chili dog (mustard, chili and onions) and a planet hollywood dog (Polish Sausage, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, bacon & cheese). Can you hear our arteries clogging. Yea. It's good like that.
I don't feel the need to go back, but one trip is required if you're going to be in LA. Come on if Bobby Flay, Celine Dion and Nicole Kidman have eaten one you gotta try it.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
After absorbing the sunset in Corona del Mar we headed down PCH towards Laguna to have dinner at Ruby's Auto Diner.
Ruby's was founded in Newport Beach, by a So-cal native who got a long-term lease from the city for an old, run-down bait shop at the end of the Balboa Pier. What started as nostalgia is a now multi-state chain restaurant appealing to our love of Americana in simplier times. In this quintesential 40s diner you will find red vinyl seats, chrome-lined tables and waitresses in little candy-striper uniforms. The fare is predominantly hamburgers, fries and milkshakes but they have also traditional diner food, ala southwest - salads, meatloaf, soups, tacos, and fish.
I had the kobe beef burger and fries. Tina had a BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado) on toasted parmesan sourdough bread. We shared a birthday milkshake that tasted just like yellow cake batter, oh so sweet and delicious. My favorite is the 50/50 shake or the chocolate malt. They have also adopted the Red Robin approach to fries and your basket is bottomless.
Ruby's also serves breakfast.
30622 S. PCH, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
P: 949.497.7829F: 949.499.0314
Ruby's can be found in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State.
Monday, December 10, 2007
After nearly dying on skates Tina and I headed down towards the water to see the sunset at Corona del Mar.
The light was amazing and the sunset was spectacular. The sky and mountains started out purple and pink. Then as the sun set it started fading to orange and red. It was amazing. I mean look at those colors.
The sad thing is the lens can never capture the true brilliance of the light at sunset.
This is why we pay a ton of money to live in Southern California. Next we headed to Ruby's for dinner.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Today some of my favorite people joined me to celebrate my 33rd birthday on wheels.
We dusted off our skating skillz and took to the Holiday Skate in Orange. Since there were more than 10 of us we qualified for the group rate, only $5.50 for entry and skate rental. Not too shabby.
The rink had all of the glitz and glamour I remember from skating back in the 80s - the disco ball, funky lights mounted to the wall and cheesy paintings abound. It was fantastic.
While we didn't get the chance to do the hokey pokey we did manage to get around the rink a few times with minimal damage. It's amazing how many muscles you use to keep your balance on those four little wheels. Right now I hurt in places I didn't know I had.
It was so much fun. I felt like a kid again. It was a spectacular early birthday.
As we came out of the rink we decided to head south on the 55 towards Corona del Mar.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
One of the downfalls of living in South Orange County is that most of our restaurants are chain. They are owned by conglomerates. There are very few mom-n-pop restaurants to give us a hometown feel.
When I lived in North Orange County there were a few and one of my favorites was an italian place called Lomeli's. It is owned by a husband and wife team who can always be found in the restaurant. The customers are loyal and frequent, meaning there is always a wait.
Upon entering, you forget that you're in a strip mall near a grocery story and fast-food restaurants. The warmth and coziness exude to make you feel like comfortable and welcome. The walls are adorned in murals depicting the Italian countryside and overhead there is a trellis obliterating all memory of the nail salon next door.
Once seated a plate of carrots, peppercinis and ranch are promptly delivered to take the edge of the hunger yet help you save room for the pasta. The homestyle italian cooking is amazing and the generous portions make sure you're full. You can order your favorite pasta dish ala carte or as a complete dinner, which includes soup or salad, a glass of wine and a scoop of ice cream for dessert. Average complete dinner price is $9-12.
My favorite is the baked shells. I also love their pizza. But the chicken cacciatore or meatball casserole is delicious too. Honestly, I really have never had anything there I didn't like. You can tell the sauce is simmered on the stove all day. This is comfort food to the max.
I may have to make a trip up the 5 and indulge my craving.
1000 E Bastanchury Rd # B, Fullerton, CA 92835
Phone: (714) 255-9100