Since last we spoke I took a little time off to explore the coastal area around Santa Cruz. Exploring the coast might be a bit of an exaggeration. I was more “cat like” as I was constantly on the prowl for the most comfortable place to curl up for reading and napping. Upon my return, I noticed a new sign across the street promising a new store opening in October, the Cheese Store of Pasadena. This will be a great addition to the Commons. It also brought back memories from when the complex was originally opened in 1983. The developer’s original concept was to have each store follow the theme of the “baker, the butcher and the candle stick maker”. The early occupants were wonderful and they included the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, Il Fornaio Bakery, Tip Top Meats, and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. There was also a high-end stationary store, soap store and a fantastic chocolatier. The William-Sonoma site originally housed La Couronne, a beautiful, upscale restaurant owned by Lud Renick. Lud also owned another of my all time favorite restaurants, the Chronicle. La Couronne had a large window at the back, which looked into their kitchen. Many took advantage of the view and peered in to see the immaculate chefs with their tall, stiff, toque-blanches on their heads as they sautéed foie gras and other equally delicious items.
It was a great concept. If you were planning a dinner party you could come to the Commons and find each ingredient for a remarkable meal. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. The developer, who certainly had a creative idea for a complex, apparently also had some creative ways to finance the operation. Not all of his methods were ethical or legal and so, facing bankruptcy and a flurry of investor lawsuits, he slipped out of the country. This led to a period of great unrest for the merchants of the Commons and many vacated their stores. Eventually, a group of local people bought the property, developed the office space and brought many fine tenants to the complex. The last few years have been tough for retail businesses and the Commons now has a few empty stores but hopefully that is changing. Earlier this year the Wine Detective opened its doors and now the Cheese Store of Pasadena will be joining us. Let’s hope for other fine merchants to fill the vacancies so that you will have quality options available for an “after Green Street meal shopping spree”.
The Coffee Poll: We run polls on our website (www.GreenStreetRestaurant.com) and come up with all sorts of sometimes interesting and other times useless information. Recently, we asked who had the best coffee and gave choices of Starbucks, Peets, Coffee Bean and Jones Coffee. Jones was the top choice followed by Peets. Our poll-takers may have been a bit biased as Jones is the coffee purveyor for Green Street. We’ve been serving their Madison Blend for a few years now and loving it.
Last Concert at the Huntington: The Southwest Chamber Orchestra conducts its final concert of summer at the Huntington Gardens on Saturday and Sunday night (Aug. 21 & 22) beginning at 7:30. They now allow picnic dinners so give us a call and we’ll prepare you something to take. For ticket information go here: http://www.swmusic.org/summer_festival/calendar.html
- What happens when you pair a renowned wine maker (Gary Farrell) with grapes from areas that are known for great wine production (the Russian River and Cresta Ridge in Green Valley)? The Answer: Alysian Pinot Noir and Alysian Chardonnay. Michael, our wine czar, had the opportunity to taste these wines recently and was impressed with the “depth of flavor, and the subtle nuances of fruit, oak and acid. The wines came at me from all directions, dancing over my tongue, lingering, leaving nothing but flavor. They are really good”.
- Heirloom Tomatoes: There are many definitions of what qualifies a tomato to be classified as an heirloom. Much of it depends on the pollination and where it originated. I can’t give you the whole genealogy of our heirloom tomatoes but I can tell you how good they are.