Day 135: Asian/Pacific Islander Cultural Arts Night

Josh Chang

Josh Chang

Tonight I’m live-tweeting from the Asian/Pacific Islander Cultural Arts Night in Rancho Cucamonga, California. You can follow me on Twitter from 7-9pm; I’ll use the hashtag #APICANRC for my tweets and photos.

I missed last year’s celebration, but the previous year was awesome, mainly because I met Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, author of the Asian American literature classic Farewell to Manzanar. She did a brief Q&A before meeting fans and signing (free!) copies of her book.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s event, with headliner Josh Chang and other entertainers. I’ll post photos later on my Google+ page, but for now you can check out my photos of the last event I live-tweeted, the Riverside Tamale Festival, here.

Day 51: 20 Feet From Stardom

20 Feet From Stardom: Claudia Lennear

20 Feet From Stardom: Claudia Lennear

My wife and I finally saw 20 Feet From Stardom, the Oscar-winning documentary about the back-up singers for some of popular music’s most famous acts. It was a wonderful film filled with amazing music and it’s easy to see why it is so highly regarded; it’s a real crowdpleaser.

Tonight we went to a Q&A with one of the singers, Claudia Lennear, as part of the Black History Month Celebration in Rancho Cucamonga. She was interviewed by a local DJ and talked about her life in and out of the music business. I got a kick out of hearing her talk about how Keith Richards scared her and how David Bowie was at her daughter’s birthday party.

After the Q&A, we got to meet her and take photos with her. She was a delight to chat with, even for just a moment, and it made me feel good that she’s finally getting the recognition that she deserves.

Day 50: The Quest Continues

$1.25 Scoops at Handel's

$1.25 Scoops at Handel’s

I wrote “yesterday” that I had ended my streak of blogging every day in 2015. Thankfully, in addition to the WordPress re-do, I’ve decided that I get a fresh start for the Lunar New Year. And what better way to celebrate than with ice cream, especially when it’s $1.25 Scoop Night? Tonight’s flavors of choice at Handel’s in Rancho Cucamonga: Coconut Caramel Delight with Girl Scout Samoas and Thin Mint.

Gong Xi Fat Cai!

Day 44: Faux Meat Friday

Inside a Faux Carnitas Burrito

Inside a Faux Carnitas Burrito

While I doubt I’ll ever become a strict vegan or vegetarian, as the years pass I’ve become less of a carnivore. Sometimes it’s a conscious, health-based decision at mealtime, but mostly I crave less meat these days. Have my taste buds evolved? Am I paying more attention to my diet? Or am I feeling guilty about all of the delicious animals I’ve consumed in my lifetime? Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that I’m consuming less meat and not missing it at all.

The excellent vegan grocery Viva La Vegan (locations in Rancho Cucamonga and Santa Monica) has done a lot to change my perception of non-animal food. From the meat alternatives to the vegan versions of long-standing favorites, Viva La Vegan offers something for all tastes. I can’t get enough of their hot-food counter, where they serve a faux carnitas made from jackfruit. Yes, jackfruit! Every time I order it (either in a Chipotle-style burrito or bowl, with vegan beans, rice, veggies, and salsa), I’m amazed at how close the taste is to real carnitas. With food like this, I’m able to enjoy Meatless Monday any day of the week.

(Read my Yelp review of the Rancho Cucamonga location here)

Day 25: Happy Hour


Now this is my idea of a relaxing Sunday evening: a Stone IPA for me and a mojito for the missus. Happy Hour at Paul Martin’s runs every day, including weekends, from 3-8pm. After being cooped up in the house all day, this was a terrific night out.

This is the Fleming’s owner’s other restaurant, so our expectations were high. Thankfully, the experience was top-notch all around. The craft beer choices were solid and the food was tasty. Get the $13 Burger + Fries + Beer special and you’ll be happy any day of the week.

Day 22: Ice Cream on a Cold Night

Handel's $1.25 scoop

Handel’s $1.25 scoop

There’s nothing better than a scoop of ice cream on a cold night. Over at Handel’s they serve scrumptious ice cream every day of the week, but my favorite day to visit is Thursday, when all single scoops are $1.25 each (normally $3.70).

According to their website, Handel’s originated in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1945. Although most of their stores are in Ohio, they’ve slowly added locations in several states and they have three spots in California: Rancho Cucamonga, Redondo Beach, and Upland.

Handel’s was ranked No. 1 ice cream by National Geographic’s 10 Best of Everything guide and it’s easy to see why. Every flavor I’ve had is fresher and creamier than other ice creams. While I’ll always be a fan of Thrifty’s Chocolate Malted Crunch, it doesn’t compare to the heavenly flavors at Handel’s. My two personal favorites: Blueberry Cobbler and Spouse Like a House (pictured above, it is a satisfying vanilla malt ice cream with peanut butter ripple and chocolate covered pretzels filled with peanut butter).

There are over 100 flavors that change daily and for regular readers of this blog: no, I will not be adding a Try Every Flavor at Handel’s to my 2015 goals. There aren’t enough cold nights in Southern California for that.

Day 20: Oink Oink

The Oinkster, Pho Ha

The Oinkster, Pho Ha

Just one of the many reasons why I love living in Southern California: dinner can be a pastrami burger one night and a bowl of pho the next. It’s exactly what my wife and I had yesterday and today, as seen above.

After sitting out traffic last night, we made it to The Oinkster for a late dinner. It’s one of our favorite spots in the area and even after being hyped on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives a few years ago, the restaurant consistently delivers amazing food. Kudos to Chef/Owner Andre Guerrero for maintaining such high standards. Last night I finally tried The Royale, which is a chili cheeseburger with bacon and several slices of The Oinkster’s famous house-cured pastrami. I typically get a pastrami sandwich, but after being in the car for much of the day, I was famished. The Royale was enormous and bursting with flavors and ingredients. Served with crispy Belgian fries, the burger nearly put me in a food coma before we could get back on the road.

Tonight, neither of us felt like cooking and the day turned out to be colder than we thought, so we decided to get a bowl of pho. It’s been great seeing so many pho joints open in the Inland Empire, since most are good and it saves us a trip to the San Gabriel Valley (my personal Mecca of Asian food in Southern California). Tonight we went to Pho Ha in Rancho Cucamonga. It’s always busy here and the service is meh, but the pho is always hot and delicious.

No plans yet for tomorrow’s dinner, but living in Southern California I know we’ll have plenty of options.

Day 16: Good Day


Pupusas y curtido.

As the song goes, today was a good day: I saw the critically acclaimed Selma and ate pupusas for dinner.

Selma lived up to the hype and it’s a shame that it was only nominated for two Academy Awards. David Oyelowo was mesmerizing as Martin Luther King, Jr. I came into the film thinking it would be more of a biographical movie, but as its title suggests, it focused on the Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights. It’s a more expansive look at the event and there were several characters involved, but it was Oyelowo’s King that tied everything together. Regardless of the snub by the Academy, it’s a worthwhile and important film.

Speaking of Oscar-worthy films, I’m falling behind in my quest to watch all 100 AFI Greatest American Films of All Time: only one seen and it’s almost three weeks into January. I wanted to pace myself with two films each week, so it looks like I’ve got some catching up to do before the end of the month.

Finally, pictured above was our dinner after the movie, from the terrific Pupuseria Dona Maria in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. It’s a humble, family-run Salvadoran restaurant that serves delicious pupusas, which are thick corn tortillas that contain various fillings. Our favorite is the pupusa revuelta; it’s filled with a tasty mixture of chicharrones and cheese. Topped with the house-made salsa and curtido (a cabbage relish), the pupusa is the perfect way to end any Friday night.


Day 11: Pictures for Soul Sunday


I’m feeling the effects of watching the NFL playoffs: my brain is mush and my body is antsy. I just can’t do these marathon sessions in front of the TV anymore. Unless it’s watching shows about zombies, of course.

So, today’s post will simply be three photos that make me feel good. I took each one during this past year using the camera on my Nexus 5 (thanks to HDR+ and Auto Awesome for making my photos look halfway decent).

Three pictures to rejuvenate myself; it’s good for my soul on this Sunday.

1. Latte art. Klatch Coffee, Rancho Cucamonga, CA.


2. Atrium in the Georgina Cole Library, Carlsbad, CA.


3. View from Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA.