Thursday, July 22, 2010

Around Town: La Cañada guacamole

July 21, 2010 | 5:09 p.m.

Summer. Lazy days. I was walking down Foothill Boulevard with Miss Audrey Hepburn, our black Lab rescue dog from the Pasadena Humane Society. It was a nice evening and a lot of the regulars were out, walking their dogs.

Suddenly Miss Hepburn stopped. There in front of us was an old, partly shredded copy of Gourmet, the now-defunct, formerly impeccable revista of foodie technique.

Miss Hepburn began to paw and sniff at the soiled magazine. Why was she so interested?

I looked down. There, on the cover of the ancient copy was a photograph of — guacamole.

This got me thinking. What with the spies and Mel Gibson, I've had limited time to cook and shop. I'm very involved in these matters. Take Mel Gibson, for example. Where was Jesse Jackson when Mel hassled the, uh, law enforcement officer of the Hebraic persuasion? Where was the Rainbow Coalition then? By the second tape, however, as George Lopez aptly noted, Mel had finally taken on the Latinos.

Which brings us to the following. You can go to Ralphs and buy a tub of guacamole for $8. You can dine at Los Gringos Locos at 464 Foothill Blvd., ($7.99), or Lupe's Place at 1446 Foothill Blvd. (negotiable) or Doña Maria at 729 Foothill Blvd (varies).

Better still, you can make your own darn guacamole. Right here in La Cañada Flintridge. You can stay in the 91011 and make all the guacamole you want, with or without Mel Gibson, but preferably without. Here's how.

Ingredients: A good guacamole needs the following equipment and ingredients: A bowl. A fork. Jalapeños. Cilantro. Avocados. Garlic. Lemon. Salt. A tomato? Maybe. For the bowl to put it in, I prefer something from the Apple Cart at 1518 Foothill Blvd. For the fork to smoosh it in, I prefer T.J. Maxx at 663 Foothill Blvd.

This brings us to the jalapeños and cilantro. The best in town are at Lotte Market at 2135 Foothill Blvd. They have great garlic too. The Lotte Market is a small, packed-to-the-gills Korean grocery next to Kinko's. Their prices are reasonable and the veggies are fresh.

For avocados, I'd run back to Trader Joe's at 475 Foothill Blvd, near Starbucks. There are lots of avocados in town, but Trader Joe's are high quality, and the manager always, always, always supports local charities. PTA. Sports. Churches. Social groups. Trader Joe's has always come through for this town with merchandise and gift cards.

A little tiny bit of garlic is essential. Lotte Market has minced garlic, and all the markets have fresh, chopped in the jar and powder.

Lemons? Make friends with your neighbor. Next year, plant a tree. In the meantime, try the local farmers markets — Saturday in La Cañada at 1300 Foothill Blvd. or Sunday in Montrose.

You have salt, right? Tomatoes? An onion?

And now for the hard part. Cut up four avocados. Remove the pit. Remove the skin. Mash with a fork. Chop a little onion (optional), chop the cilantro, add lemon juice, salt and a tiny bit of chopped garlic. Dice the jalapeños. Put everything together in your new bowl from the Apple Cart and mash it with your new fork from T.J. Maxx. Chopped tomatoes are optional. Ralphs at 521 Foothill Blvd has kosher tortillas and chips.

There are some things that all of Mel Gibson's money can't buy. Some things are not for sale. Good friends. Good times. And the best is this: the secret recipe for Kosher Foothill Boulevard Guacamole.

And it all happened right here, thanks to Miss Audrey Hepburn, in La Cañada.

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at

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