July 14, 2024

A Foodie's Farewell Tour

I have this little ritual of going for a "last supper" before having some kind of medical procedure done that might restrict my eating in some way. 

I think it goes back to when I used to go on a "detox" back in my NYC days, which was basically my way of trying to lose weight by quitting alcohol and fast food for short spurts of time. I'd always binge right before it, like an addict on one last bender before being hauled off to rehab.

Before my oral surgery last November, which would put me on a diet of soft foods for weeks on end, I ordered all the crunchy things during my final meal—chips and guac, Caesar salad with croutons, taquitos, and the like. 

I had similar "last hurrahs" the nights before my colonoscopy in February, another oral surgery in March, and my upper endoscopy in June (both the one that didn't happen, and the one that did). 

But now, it's the results of that endoscopy that's got me on my latest eating spree. 

Because they found what they were looking for: signs of celiac disease. It's not definite, but I already scored practically off the charts on the blood test. Both of these test results strongly indicate the presence of the disease, but they don't prove it.

To do that, I'll need to eliminate gluten.

If I feel different—or, hopefully, better—after that, it'll confirm the diagnosis. And it'll change the course of how I eat for the rest of my life.

Smoked salmon sandwich at Gjusta in Venice, CA

July 11, 2024

Photo Essay: Touring Halter Ranch Vineyard Estate on a Railroad of Replica Swiss Rolling Stock

Since I was already heading up to California's Central Coast on Memorial Day weekend to ride the original Disneyland passenger cars at Santa Margarita Ranch..
...I decided to make it a full-blown traincation by booking a train tour of the vineyard at Halter Ranch in Paso Robles. 

July 08, 2024

Photo Essay: The Huntington, Where Billiards and Bowling Gave Way to the Rose Garden Tea Room

The Huntington is one of those places where I just keep discovering new things, every time I visit. 

Towards the end of last year, I'd wanted to go back because I knew I'd missed some historic faux bois (fake wood made of steel-reinforced concrete)... my quest to see that in person led us to the rose garden on Black Friday. 

July 07, 2024

Photo Essay: The California Mission Ruins Hiding Inside a Humble Hay Barn

If you know where to look, you can find remnants of California's Mission Period throughout the state—whether it's old dams and aqueducts, or even a former winery for communion wine.

And sometimes, you find an actual mission in the most unexpected of places—like the former Santa Margarita de Cortona Asistencia (founded 1787-90), which is hiding in plain sight in the now-privately-owned Santa Margarita Ranch in California's Central Coast. 

July 05, 2024

Photo Essay: Immanuel Presbyterian, the French Gothic Cathedral in L.A.'s Koreatown

On a busy stretch of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, right in the middle of the diverse community of Koreatown...

...stands a church whose design was inspired by 15th-century gothic cathedrals in France. 

July 03, 2024

Photo Essay: Celebrating a Diamond Jubilee Year Backstage at Bob Baker Marionette Theater

The renowned Bob Baker Marionette Theater is celebrating its 60th anniversary...

...and upon this momentous occasion, it's currently putting together its first brand-new show in 40 years, Choo Choo Revue.