Tom’s Famous Black Russian Bundt Cake

Simply Irresistible Tom’s Famous Black Russian Bundt Cake Category: Dessert From MaiTaiTom’s Kitchen baby!  Every great chef has his or her Signature Dish. I’m not a great chef nor do I play one on TV, but this is my Signature Dessert, and the reason is because it is so damned easy to make. I’m nothing if not lazy.  Yet with so little effort, this dessert is so incredibly delicious. I was given this recipe in 1981 from Cynthia Salcido (Cynthia, wherever you are…thanks). In looking online I see many Black Russian Cake recipes that only include 1/4 cup of Kahlua and 1/4 quarter cup of vodka.  They also include 3/4 cups of water.  Well, my thought is if you have … Read more…

Apple Of My Eye Soup

Soup With A Peel Apple Of My Eye Soup Category: Main Dish or First Course I love apples, but I must admit that when Tracy said she had a recipe for Apple Soup, I was a tad skeptical. However, once I took the first spoonful, I knew she had concocted a winner.  It’s a perfect dinner for a chilly night.  Heck, it’s a perfect dinner any night.  We happen to use a variety of apple called Envy, and it is the best tasting apple I’ve ever tasted (yes, even better than Honeycrisp).  If they’re in season (and it’s a nearly year-round season now with apples out of the Pacific Northwest and New Zealand) try one, and if you love them … Read more…

Castle Green – Pasadena

Early 20th Century Elegance Castle Green – Pasadena Last Visit – Mother’s Day Tour • May 8, 2016 (the self-guided tour I took is below this original report) When I have friends visit from out of town, one place always grabs their attention as we drive around town. In the early 20th century, Pasadena was home to one of the most luxurious hotels around. It was called The Hotel Green (now called Castle Green). This is from Castle Green’s website: “One of Pasadena’s most unique buildings, the Castle Green was built in 1898 as the annex for the famous Hotel Green. The Castle Green is an imposing seven story Moorish Colonial and Spanish style building sitting next to Central Park … Read more…

Jackie and Mack Robinson Memorial – Pasadena

Hometown Heroes Jackie & Mack Robinson Memorial – Pasadena Last Visited:  April 3, 2016 Located across the street from the Pasadena City Hall is the memorial dedicated to two of the city’s famous sons, brothers Jackie and Mack Robinson. The bronze sculptures were dedicated in 1997 and the memorial was completed in June 2002.  They are located on Garfield Avenue, just north of Union Street and across the street from Pasadena City Hall. There is also a ring of granite tiles etched with donor’s names, benches and landscaping, which includes peach trees. Mack, the older brother of Jackie, won the silver medal in the men’s 200 meters at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, finishing just 0.4 seconds behind Jesse … Read more…

The Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens – San Marino

The Indoor/Outdoor Museum Experience The Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens – San Marino Last visit…November 29, 2015…Three updates below since I first wrote this initial report in 2012 focus on other aspects of the Huntington and a famous stinky flower… There are a lot of things I appreciate more as an adult than I did as a kid. They include naps, Mozart, a good bottle of bourbon and a great museum located virtually in my own backyard. As a youngster, the gorgeous gardens at the Huntington Library were just a pretty cool place to play an extended version of hide and seek from my parents (who I think were happy not to find me at times). As an … Read more…

Bob’s Big Boy – Burbank

Little Big Man Bob’s Big Boy – Burbank Back in 1936, after selling his DeSoto roadster, Bob Wian founded a restaurant chain originally named Bob’s Pantry, but anyone growing up in Southern California knows it as Bob’s Big Boy.  In 1937, supposedly at the request of one of his customers, the Bob’s Big Boy Double-Decker hamburger was born. According to the Bob’s website, “Customers couldn’t get enough of Bob’s new creation. One fan in particular was a chubby six-year-old boy in droopy overalls. He would often help Bob sweep up in exchange for a free burger. In honor of his young friend, Wian decided to name the better burger the Big Boy. Another regular customer, a movie studio animator, sketched … Read more…

Gruyère Mac & Cheese

Swiss Cheesy Gruyère Mac & Cheese Category: Main Dish When Tracy and I visited Switzerland (Gruyères to be exact), it started pouring down rain in the late morning after visiting the chateau, so we ducked inside a little restaurant for lunch. On the menu was an incredible Gruyère Macaroni and Cheese dish I have tried to replicate for the past 12 years (constantly evolving). This one is pretty close, and on a cold evening, it is the perfect dinner. Be careful, however, after two helpings you might have the urge to yodel! Ingredients : 12 – 14 ounces of Grated Gruyère Cheese 5 large Shallots, diced 12 – 16 ounces of Pancetta, chopped 12 ounces Small Elbow Macaroni 1 cup Milk … Read more…

The Rose Parade – Pasadena

Everything’s Coming Up Roses The Rose Parade – Pasadena When you grow up and live in the Pasadena area for most of your 60 years, there is no way to escape going to the Rose Parade. Believe me, I know! I’m not sure exactly how many Rose Parades I’ve been to in my life, but I am certain the number now exceeds 25. I am not a “parade guy,” but I must admit the Rose Parade “wows” me just about every year I have attended it. I also figure our property values don’t drop as much as the national average since millions of viewers who are hunkered down in snowstorms across the nation witness our New Year’s weather out here … Read more…

The Farmers Market – Los Angeles

Keeping It Fresh The Farmers Market – Los Angeles It was always a special Sunday morning as a kid when my parents would say, “Let’s go to the Farmers Market.” We would hop in the car and take the 40-minute drive to Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles, where an array of walkways with little shops selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to touristy trinkets awaited us. My first job after finishing college was at an advertising agency that was located two blocks from the Farmers Market. I would eat at one of their restaurants (including the famed, yet overrated Du-Pars…more on them later) two or three times a week back in 1975 and 1976. It had been quite … Read more…

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden – Arcadia

Peacocks, Plants, Ponds & Pops Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden – Arcadia Another slice of local heaven is located within 15 minutes of our house, a spot that not only contains beautiful plants and flowers, but, during the summer, becomes an incredible venue that provides music (along with accompanying peafowl) in a magical setting (more on that later). The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden is basically a 127-acre museum located across the street from the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, a city just east of Pasadena. It’s home to plant collections from all over the world, including many rare and endangered species, while also serving as an animal sanctuary, including a bunch of loud and beautiful … Read more…