The Sunday Drive by Colleen Bennett: Swap Meets, Open Houses, French Food, Gardens and Margaritas

March 14, 2010
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We hadn't been to the world famous flea market in years. Once we got over the $8 admission price and the $5 cokes, we had a blast. We also saw Eric Norman of La Verne selling his family's world famous kettlecorn there.

We hadn't been to the world famous flea market in years. Once we got over the $8 admission fee and pricey cokes, we had a blast. We also saw Eric Norman of La Verne selling his family's world famous kettlecorn there.

You’ve worked hard all week and need a quick getaway.  The Sunday Drive will help you unwind and prepare  for the  new week ahead energized and refreshed.

In this week’s drive, we traveled¬†to the Pasadena Rose Bowl flea market, a Pasadena institution for more than 40 years and held the¬†second Sunday of every month.¬† Aside from all the retro collections of furniture, jewelry, Euro old world linens, French garden d√©cor, decorator sunglasses, copper meditation bowls and $6.50 cokes, they have a staff of reputable appraisers who will tell you for free what all your treasures are worth. Within seconds of handing over your items, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of an Antiques Roadshow episode!

Samurai Road Warriors

I wanted to know the estimated value of two weathered, four-foot long WWII vintage Japanese swords that have been in our family for years. By better understanding their value, I thought I would have a better idea on whether to keep them or perhaps sell them at La Verne’s community-wide yard sale next Saturday at Bonita High School. More amazing to me was how I could walk around with these swords, blissfully passing police officers and other security with these weapons in plain view, and not raise even an eyebrow. So much for homeland security!

The nursey next to Nicole's has an exquisite variety of flowering shrubs.

The nursey next to Nicole's has an exquisite variety of flowering shrubs.

After receiving¬†your free appraisal(s), and learning whether that piece of yellowed parchment you own is an original copy of the Declaration of Independence¬†worth millions or¬†just a ¬†cheap imitation,¬†mine the rows upons rows¬†of familiar, flashback merchandise that you sold for pennies¬†20 years ago. When your legs will carry you no farther, climb back in your car and start meandering¬†south along scenic Arroyo Drive, which is lined with fabulous character homes that overlook the Arroyo Seco. Catch¬†an open house or two, pretending that the $2 million and up estates aren’t quite up to your exacting standards,¬†until¬†you find your way¬†to Nicole‚Äôs Gourmet Foods on El Centro Avenue in South Pasadena. Lunch¬†outside and enjoy the French-inspired fare of¬†sandwiches, soups, omelettes and gorgeous desserts. Nicole’s also offers a Sunday brunch menu. If there’s room left, try one of Nicole’s¬†exceptional artisan cheeses.

Next door and tucked away off the street is Barrister’s Nursery and Garden, which winds in and around Nicole’s and has the most beautiful and vibrant array of select flowers, shrubs, and fountains for your garden.

Tequila Sundays

From there, travel west to Highland Park to El Sombrero Mexican restaurant on York Blvd., just west of Figueroa, and order the amazing guacamole, which is made tableside. El Sombrero also claims to make the best margaritas, a point I won’t argue, but beware, they are¬† are intoxicatingly delicious, so make sure you pick the designated driver in your¬†party before anyone takes the first¬†sip.¬†For great Mexican food, however, head back to Pasadena and Mijares Mexican Restaurant, one of my all-time favorites.

My husband Pete has a great time, drinking on the job, doing anything for a story.

My husband Pete has a great time, drinking on the job, doing anything for a story.

On our Sunday drive, we turned north on Eagle Rock Blvd, before cutting back on Westside to Occidental College, a private college tucked away in the rolling hills of Highland Park. If it’s sunny, pull over, read the Sunday paper or just lean back on the grass and pretend you’re 20 and in college again without a care in the world.

After enjoying your college experience, rejoin Eagle Rock Blvd. to Colorado Blvd. Turn right, where again, you have a choice of superb restaurants. The local legend in town is Casa Bianca. However, this Eagle Rock icon, which often seated President Obama when he was an Oxy student, is closed on Sunday’s and Mondays. No worries, that just means you have an excuse to come back again to this artsy, urban district.

We finally jumped back on the 210 headed for La Verne, disappointed our Samurai swords weren’t worth hundreds, but happy we took the extra diversions, excursions and serendipitous side streets on our fun Sunday Drive.

Nicole’s Gourmet Foods
www.nicolesgourmetfoods.com
(Enter on El Centro St.)
921 Meridian Ave # B, South Pasadena, CA 91030-3135
(626) 403-5751

We were shut out at Casa Bianca, but we'll return again for our Pizza Pie.

We were shut out at Casa Bianca, but we'll return again for our Pizza Pie.

Barristers Nursery and Garden Center
www.barristersnursery.com
915 Meridian Avenue
South Pasadena, CA, CA 91030
(626) 441-1323

El Sombrero Restaurant
6101 York Blvd. (Highland Park)
Los Angeles, CA 90042
(323) 256-9784

Casa Bianca
casabiancapizza.com
1650 Colorado Blvd (Eagle Rock)
Los Angeles, CA 90041
(323) 256-9617

Mijares
www.mijaresrestaurant.com
145 Palmetto Dr., Pasadena
(626) 792-2763

The Rose Bowl

1001 Rose Bowl Dr
Pasadena, CA 91103
(323) 560-7469

 
If you have any suggestions for a Sunday Drive, I’d love to hear all about them.  Email me at: editor@laverneonline.com.

One Response to “The Sunday Drive by Colleen Bennett: Swap Meets, Open Houses, French Food, Gardens and Margaritas”

  1. A Fan of the Bennett's
    March 15th, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Can you post a photo of your Samurai Road Warriors swords?

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