Huntington Japanese tea house
High on Adventure


Story and photos by Yvette Cardozo

Call this a day (or maybe two) in Pasadena, a charming subset chunk of Los Angeles, CA, and its neighboring environs. For me, it was a chance to visit my son and for the two of us to ... explore.
Not the expected tourist spots ... Universal Studios, the Hollywood sign, not even the La Brea tar pits. Nope ... this was a deli, a beach pier, “Old Town,” a great garden, and a comedy club.
Starting with Captain Kidds Fish Market next to the beach in Redondo Beach. Ok, not Pasadena but this place warrants mention. I go there EVERY visit.

  Captain Kidds Fish Market   Captain Kidds Fish Market  
Captain Kidds Fish Market

You walk in, look at the goodies on ice at the counter, decide and order. We went for lobster tail, scallops and their yummy hush puppies. With lots of lemon slices and tartar sauce. Then it was off to the porch, where we sat at picnic tables, waited for our order to be ready and when it was ... dived in.
Sheesh, there’s simply no place in the Seattle area like this.
Yes, I live in a place known for killer fish. But mostly, it’s salmon, steelhead and the like. This was different fish. Yum.
The next day, it was off to Pasadena. First to Old Town ... with a main street that truly reminds me of Ft. Lauderdale’s Las Olas Blvd, circa early 1970s. It’s lined with shops that aren’t part of some conglomerate ... casual clothing, tea, chocolate, delis.

  Redondo Beach-Captain Kidds Fish Market   Redondo Beach-Captain Kidds Fish Market  
Agnes Restaurant and Cheesery

There, we went to Agnes Restaurant and Cheesery, a deli with a lemon tree out back in their garden. I couldn’t resist the ‘braised bacon benny’ which the menu describes as "braised pork belly, poached eggs, cheddar biscuit, old bay hollandaise.” Diet food, this decidedly is NOT.

  Agnes Restaurant and Cheesery braised bacon benny   Agnes Restaurant and Cheesery Cuban melt  
Braised bacon benny
Cuban Melt

My son got the Cuban Melt which, to be honest, is not close to the Cuban dishes I grew up with in Miami but was mouth-watering, just the same. And no, we couldn’t begin to finish it. So it also served as dinner that night. Which we shared.
Later, we wandered to Hermosa Beach with its long pier over the water and a great view of kids playing in the surf. Definitely, you should walk to the end of this pier for a great perspective of the beach and water.

Hermosa Berach
Hermosa Beach

And we walked Hermosa Beach’s main street with its line of surf shops, great snacks and killer smoothies. Do NOT miss the fruit smoothies, made with real fruit, not some weird, processed powder.
The vibe reminded me of Oregon’s Canon Beach. Yes, I came home with a great fridge magnet that has surfers and, inexplicably, a tiny stoppered vial of salt.
That night, it was off to Pasadena’s Ice House comedy club. It’s been going for 60+ years, making it the oldest comedy club in the country. It’s where young comics hone their talents ... the place that feeds our late night TV shows.

  Pasadena’s Ice House comedy club sign   Pasadena’s Ice House comedy club polar bear  
Comedy club sign
Comedy club mascot
  Its roster has included Bob Newhart, George Carlin, Robin Williams, David Letterman, Jim Carrey and so many more. Name a comic you know and he or she most likely started at the Ice House.
There’s a wall (of course there is) with photos of all the now-famous comics who cut their teeth here. That night, there were half a dozen comics, working their way from the newbies to the star headliner.
  Pasadena’s Ice House comedy club wall of fame  
Ice House wall of famous comics

But honestly, my fav was the kid who was next to last. Young, short and slight with the kind of vibe that you know made him a target in high school. So his defense was, yes, comedy. His description of playing basketball, attempting to block the far larger rivals and, when jumping, coming up to their abs was golden. I look forward to the day this kid shows up on the late-night talk show circuit.
The next day, it was off to The Huntington.
Established by railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington and his second wife, Arabella, what was once thier private estate expanded into a collection of buildings and displays that today, gets 700,000 visitors annually. The Huntingtons were part of the Gilded Age wealthy crowd in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Henry was a botanical garden developer and art and rare book collector. The result at The Huntington is a dozen-plus galleries and gardens.
It’s the kind of place where if you live in the area, you become a member and then go for a full day every month or so.

  The Huntington Tea House   The Huntington Japanese garden bonsai  
The Huntington's Tea House
The Huntington's Japanese garden bonsai

You really have to pick a gallery to concentrate on. For us, it was the Chinese and Japanese galleries. We wandered the Japanese garden with its tea house that took four years to take apart in Japan, ship and reassemble. The Huntington brought craftsmen over from Japan to do this; it opened for visitors just this last October. There was also an exquisite collection of bonsai plants. Of course, we stopped for tea at the tea house.

  At the end of a very long day, we spent time at the gallery that houses a famous 1701 painting called Blue Boy, by Thomas Gainsborough. In its travels, the Blue Boy has hopped the Atlantic back and forth for display at the National Gallery in London, then back to The Huntington gallery.   Gainsborough's Blue Boy  
Blue Boy
  Huntington's Gutenberg bible   A nearby building called The Library houses one of the surviving 48 copies of the Gutenberg Bible. These bibles were created around 1455 by Johann Gutenberg and were the first substantial books printed with movable type in the West.

Until then, books were produced laboriously by hand. This made it possible for the first time in Europe to manufacture large numbers of books for relatively little cost.
The Huntington's Gutenberg Bible

And that led eventually to widespread literacy. It basically changed the world.
At the end of my visit, I realized we really did try to cram way too much into way too short a period. Next time ... it will be more days and fewer activities. But definitely Captain Kidds and The Huntington are on the to-visit list.
Ice House Comedy Club -
Agnes Restaurant & Cheesery -
The Huntington -

  Yvette Cardozo is a writer/photographer who loves adventure and the outdoors, specifically skiing, scuba diving and cycling. If it involves interesting food (ethnic delicacies, high arctic "country food," molecular gastronomy and whatever else is interesting or weird), so much the better. She has skied in Kashmir, India, scuba dived both the Arctic and Antarctic, run a dogsled team above the arctic circle and more. She is a member of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers) and NASJA (North American Snowsports Journalists Association). Her stories appear in the Chicago Tribune, NY Post, Miami Herald, Dallas Morning News, among other newspapers, along with Just For Canadian Doctors, Sport Diver and several international magazines.   Yvette Cardozo