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L.A.’s most endearing lunch spot: I ate tortilla soup and sipped fresh-squeezed watermelon juice, while my husband opted for tacos, from Loteria Grill, a restaurant that specializes in Oaxacan fare. My daughter went for an egg- and cheese-filled treat from the French Crepe Company. Food in hand, we grabbed a Formica-topped table in the sun and dug into our lunch, with a side of Los Angeles history.
Los Angeles’ Original Farmers Market, in the heart of the city at Fairfax Av. and 3rd St., has been serving up good food since 1934. That’s when a collection of farmers converged on land that had been a dairy farm to sell produce to residents of the burgeoning city.
The farmers market was a hit, and soon permanent stalls were being built. Today, shoppers still pull classic green wooden carts — which are built by hand on site — as they fill up on California’s fresh produce, English toffee made from a family recipe, roasted nuts and other food stuff from more than 80 vendors.
We headed there after a visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a fascinating network of museum buildings and open air spaces. We saw a Calder exhibit and another devoted to art inspired by soccer, “Futbol: the Beautiful Game.” That show included an Andy Warhol portrait of soccer great Pelé and a mock-up of a soccer match featuring Hulks vs. Transformers surrounded by a stadium filled with Virgin Marys, gnomes, Roman soldiers and other surprising fans.
We skipped the museum’s own open-air restaurant, because I knew the market would offer other reasons to gawk.
There is the baker decorating a cake in the window of his stall; two dapper gentlemen discussing growing old in an image-conscious town; children licking ice cream cones. And then there was the tall, bearded guy.
“Jeff Daniels,” I whispered to my husband. Not quite. Far cry, really. But it never hurts to keep an eye out, whether for actors or the hungry residents of L.A. The market always puts on a good show.
At one end of the block, scores of hipsters chat in a loosely aligned queue outside Tartine Bakery.
At the other end, a shorter line (in both length and the height of patrons) smack their lips outside the Bi-Rite Creamery.
In between, people of all ages bask at sun-splashed tables and gulp down insanely fresh salads and deftly charred pies at Delfina Pizzeria, while foodies pour into the treasure-filled Bi-Rite Grocery.
San Francisco is packed with not only a gazillion great food purveyors but also countless compact areas (North Beach, South of Market) with plentiful stops for the gastronome. But this single block of 18th Street, running between Guerrero and Dolores streets (and leading to the splendiferous Dolores Park), takes the quality cake in one of the world’s foremost food cities.
Few would argue that the city has a better bakery than Tartine; Bi-Rite’s shelves are laden with most everything a serious cook would want or need (along with a truly stellar wine selection), and at night the “regular” Delfina serves up some of the finest Italian food anywhere.
Sorry, Nicollet, but it’s hard to call anything but this “Eat Street.”
Union Depot in downtown St. Paul is about to get a bit more traffic. Megabus, which famoulsy offers fares beginning at $1 to Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee, will relocate its St. Paul arrival and departures to the depot, at 214 4th St. E., effective Jan. 29. The buses had been using the parking lot of the Midway Shopping Center.
The 1920s Union Depot has been restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Soon, it will also host Amtrak train passengers.
“We are pleased to offer a more convenient, sheltered location in St. Paul for customers departing/arriving to the area,” said Mike Alvich, megabus.com’s Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations. “Union Depot is a beautiful facility where customers can safely relax prior to boarding.”
The terminal building offers free Wi-fi, power outlets, comfortable seating, a Greek restaunt and 24-hour security.
The wonderful, colorful National Cowboy Poetry Gathering convenes for its 30th year Jan. 27-Feb.1 in Elko, Nev., and this time around will focus on the future of rural agricultural communities and the next generation of cowboys and ranchers. Jessie Veeder, a 29-year-old who writes and sings about life on the family ranch in North Dakota, will be among the artists there to celebrate traditions of ranching and cowboy culture in the American West. A gallery exhibition will also bring together more than 50 leather carvers, rawhide braiders, metal workers and the like, all under the age of 40. In addition to poetry, music, handcrafted gear, hands-on workshops and films, the poetry gathering, put on by the Western Folklife Center, will offer discussions about how to keep young people working on the ranch and how those who have stayed are making ends meet.
Tickets to the 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased at www.westernfolklife.org, by calling 775-738-7508, toll-free 888-880-5885, or by stopping in to the Western Folklife Center’s ticket office, 501 Railroad Street, Elko.
The Twins lost their season opener last night, but during the next few months things may look up for them. One thing will certainly be on the rise: temperatures at ballparks and the number of fans at them. When summer gets into full swing, so do baseball ballpark tours.
Bob's Baseball Tours, based in Redwood Falls, Minn., offers two tours. One begins in Phoenix. The second begins in Redwood Falls with a pickup in Bloomington, Minn. It heads west to games in Cleveland (with the Twins), Boston, New York and other Major League parks as well as a stop at the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Sorry, folks, but this one is full, though you can get on the waiting list).
Jack Buckley Baseball Tours, out of LaCrosse, Wis., offers a huge variety of trips, including one that heads west from Phoenix, travels to 7 ballparks and takes in 9 games, including the Twins vs. the Los Angeles Angels at L.A.'s Angels Stadium game on July 23.
Sports Travel and Tours, a New England-based sports tours operator, has announced their trips for the summer, and they cover most of the major league parks and several minor league parks in all parts of the country. “The Wheelhouse” six-day tour includes ball games in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit, with stadium tours, museum visits, and the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Just have a weekend? The “Beantown Blast” includes three games—all in Boston—coupled with tours of both the city and of Fenway Park.
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