Friday, April 28, 2006

Perfect day for a hike

If you head up College Ave about .6 of a mile, you'll reach Jones Road. Take that to the end and you reach a nice open space preserve. I think it's called St. Joseph's after the Lake that's up there. As a kid, I used to run around here a lot. I try not to think about all of the Mountain Lion sightings up there.
But now that the weather is nice, it's a perfect hike to go to the top of the trail and look down about Lexington especially now that it's full.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


If you ever have a taste for yummy Chinese food, I highly recommend Jasmine. They're in Lyndon Plaza which is the "mall" on the corner of North Santa Cruz and W. Main Street.
They make a wicked tangerine chicken. They opened sometime in the early 80s, and we used to go there when Dad was on a business trip. It was run by a husband & wife and this one other cool dude. When I go in now, it's just the husband and cool dude, so I'm afraid that I fear the worst.
When one parent dies, you lose a bit of innocense that you can never, ever regain, and you look at those situations with a hollow viewpoint. I've been in a lot, and she's never there. Not for lunch, nor dinner. She was cool and would always bring me extra hot mustard for my egg rolls.

Well, I actually went to the site and found the History page . They opened in '82, so my memory isn't quite so bad. He doesn't mention much about his wife. Hopefully she's home making new recipes. Maybe my innocence isn't lost after all.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What's your Habitat

Domus is a wonderful home goods store. When they first opened, they were called Habitat. They expanded with a store in Old Town called The Dutch Fox. These were the best places to get a present for your mother. Domus is also a great place to go to get unusual drink glasses. We get most of our Scotch tumblers there. What I like is that you can buy one at a time or sets.
Domus used to be the only place where you could get unusual kitchen gadgets like a shrimp de-veiner.

Eventually, Sur La Table moved in down the street, and it appears that there's room for everyone here. Domus still has a lot of gadgets but has expanded more into really unique dinnerware. I think Domus has become more what the Dutch Fox used to be.

One other cool thing of note...where the cards are located in Domus? That used to be the original Steamers restaurant and you could get a huge bowl of steamed clams in a nice broth. They opened up a new location in Old Town called Steamers Too. Now they're located across the street near Sur La Table and they go by the name Steamers Grillhouse.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It's like Magic

Once upon a time, at the end of the "block" on N. Santa Cruz Avenue (down past The Chart House but not quite so far as Forbes Mill Steak House) there was a marvelous magic shop where you could buy the coolest tricks for the cheapest amount. I loved getting "smoke" that would appear from my fingers. My father would buy card tricks, and my brother loved the silly tricks like whoopie cushions.

I was really sad when he retired. The owner didn't even sell off the business...he just shut it down. It was the coolest way to spent my allowance after school or on a weekend.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Gilley's and the Bakery

Further down N. Santa Cruz, there was a wonderful bakery. I used to buy shepherd's rolls, and then walk down to Vasona and share them with the ducks.

A little further down was Gilley's Coffee Shoppe. I never actually went there, but my friends did and loved it. Then there was the Loma Prieta quake of 1989. I walked downtown a few weeks later (when they finally opened it back up) and looked in the window and thought "there is no way that will ever open up again."

I'm proud to say that they did. And they're still open. I wonder if they're the longest opened store there.

I was shocked when Bears in the Woods closed.
I'll have to poke around down there and see if Round Table Pizza is still open. They were one of the last ones to use corn meal on the bottom of the crust.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Red, White and Bleu

I was just thinking about another good place to go for real deli sandwiches...the Red, White, and Bleu. It used to be on N. Santa Cruz Avenue on the ground floor a few doors down from Mountain Charleys.
I remember getting a wonderful sliced turkey sandwich on white bread. The pickle spear was my favorite. Perhaps the memory is better then the reality.

Next to it was a stationery store...I think it started with a "C." I used to buy a box of chocolate toffee there. There are no stationery stores any more. I think the last one was McWhorters which was where Trader Joe's now is.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bonfante Gardens

What a fun day at Bonfante Gardens. I have been taking my daughter there since the second year it opened which I think is 2001 (so I've been going since 2002, I think...). It's a perfect haven from stress with all of the gardens. The rides are simple and fun. I think it's good for kids about 10-12. And it's the perfect place to drag the Grandfolk to as well. I hear you going "Gilroy???" Yes, they have lots of benches, bathrooms and shade. Ok this year the costs seemed to go way up for water and snacks and stuff. I'm willing to suck it up, though, to see the park survive.
So, Los Gatos Girl, what the bleep does this have to do with Los Gatos? Glad you asked! The creator of Bonfante Gardens is Mr. Bonfante who created Nob Hill Foods. Of which there is one in Los Gatos. We used to call it Snob Hill and it was patronized by the Kennedy crowd. We common folk went to Food Villa.
At least, until Lundardi's moved in.
And at this point, I'd like to wax poetic about Italian grocery stores. Lunardi's, Food Villa, Nob Hill, Cosentinos. They had "it" whatever "it" is. You'd walk in, feel at home and find the freshest foods.
Anyway, Michael Bonfante sold Nob Hill to Raleys and Bonfante Garden's is run by a Board of Directors through Paramount. So if you're like me, you buy the VIP pass from Great America, and truck on down to Bonfante Gardens for fun in the sun.
Mr. Bonfante, if you ever read this, you succeeded. You rock. I now go to Nob Hill all the time because it has exactly what I want...which is a reasonable variety staffed by extremely helpful and professional people. Oh, and the same with Bonfante Gardens.
I was talking with the father of a classmate of my daughters and we both said that we just feel safe at Bonfante Gardens.
So break your arm patting yourself on the back. You absolutely deserve it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How long does it take to get to Santa Cruz from the High School

For those who went to Los Gatos High School, there came a time in the Spring where it was just too nice to sit through class. And you'd race to the beach, dip your feet in, laugh & then drive back before anyone missed you.

Back then, there wasn't the amount of traffic all the live long day that there is now.

So, we'd get from the lower parking lot to the "free" parking along the side street in 23 minutes. At night, we'd get there faster.

The free parking is along 3rd Avenue almost all the way to Riverside. It was a sandy area that we all piled our cars into. Now they've paved it over and put in parking meters.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


There's a nice store called Affordable Treasures on Los Gatos Boulevard. Once upon a time, there used to be an aquarium store that had a reasonable selection of the basic fishes.

Next door was a fish & chips place. I was always a bit worried about going there wondering where they got their fish from!

It all burned down in the early 90s, and they built nice, new buildings there. Affordable Treasures used to be in Kings Court. I was really happy when they expanded the store. Where else can you take $10 and come out with a whole bag of toys?

Monday, April 17, 2006

To Auto or not to Auto

There's an interesting article in today's San Jose Mercury News about the disappearing car dealerships in the Heart of Beautiful Downtown Los Gatos.

Once upon a time, the area across the street from South Bay Honda used to be a Dodge dealership where they sold swanky van conversions.

The Rotunda strip mall used to be a Chevy dealership.

McHugh Lincoln Mercury moved to Capitol Expressway.

The Flames became an Auto Mall high end car dealership. But it blew up.

And now Swanson Ford is closed because they could get a better deal if they sold the land that they'd owned for generations. Oh, and Los Gatos Hummer wants to move as well.

So what's the controversy? The Town of Los Gatos is trying to prohibit Swanson from selling the land to be anything BUT another car dealership. Swanson maintains that they should be free to honor their deal with Sand Hill Properties.

They're trying to claim that buying a car in a little town is a much better experience.

I'm sorry, guys, but balogne. It's harder to test drive because you have to go far out of your way to find a spot to get the car REALLY up to speed. Steven's Creek Auto Mall is far better because you can pop onto 280, floor it, and then take the Wolfe Road exit which is a reverse camber and allows for really excellent testing of "roll" on a car.

I've bought a few cars, and one was from a Los Gatos dealership. I didn't feel my experience was any better or higher quality.

The Town worries that they'll try to put a Fry's in. Hah. As if. The Town is quite hostile to businesses, and I can't imagine a Fry's wanting to put themselves into a no-win situation like that.

Currently, Yarndogs and the Bead Store are embroiled in a problem with what constitutes teaching a class. The Town wants them to pay a huge amount of money each month because they're teaching classes. The amount is far more then the in store tutoring sessions.

No, Town of Los Gatos, you are not business friendly, and you're going to keep losing businesses until you wake up and learn to appreciate them.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Rotund Rotunda

My goodness, that structure really does stand out, doesn't it?
It used to be a Chevy dealership. When I had an internship at Apple one summer, I priced the "speck" cars since I desperately wanted a car ( I ended up buying my best friend's Honda Accord hatchback and learned to drive a stickshift). Hoo boy, never give a salesman your phone number if you're single. He called & asked for a date almost every week that entire summer. Cute guy, though. I had a boyfriend, now my husband. I can't remember the name of the dealership though.

So Crown books used to be on the N. Santa Cruz strip, and they were one of the first people to move into the new strip mall, and were on the end under the rotunda. It was nice to buy a book and then go sit out in the front in the shade.

The woman who was the buyer for the children's book section was a buyer or worked at Chanticleer Books which was located at the bottom of College Avenue where it popped out on E. Main Street. They were one of the best children's book stores. Ever.

I think I'll go curl up now and finish The Silver Chair...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Here comes the sun...

Wow, finally, we get some more sun!

So more musings on the corner of Los Gatos Blvd and Blossom Hill Road.

Food Villa had the best bakery where I could get iced gingerbread cookies where the black icing would make your tongue purple. I loved it.

Before Viva, it was Viva Primavera, and before that it was Fresh Choice. That was after the remodel.

Across the street, the Peets and Wooden Horse used to be a large B. Dalton bookstore. It was a funky little strip mall that they revamped. The Togo's was always there that I remember. And the Lundardi's used to be a very run down Safeway. Then they built the new Safeway over off of N. Santa Cruz. Now it's kind of the run down Safeway, and the one off of Union and Los Gatos Almaden is the "new" Safeway. I think it's a shell game.

B. Dalton couldn't compete, and shut down. Peets and The Wooden Horse moved in. I'm not exactly sure why The Wooden Horse had to move from Old Town, but I suspect it didn't fit in with their upscale model. All of the artists were run out of Old Town as well.

I'll save the Giant Rotunda for tomorrow's musings.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Scarlette La Rue's

Just so you don't think I'm a downtown snob, I remember when the strip mall at the corner of Blossom Hill and Los Gatos Blvd had a Thrifty Drug anchored on one end and a Food Villa on the other. In between was Los Gatos Cyclery (or was it Los Gatos Schwinn...they sold Schwinn bicycles), and a cleaners, and a Photo Drive-Up which is where I brought all my 110 film.

And, there was also Scarlette La Rue's. It was where all the guys wanted to go when they were 21. It had more mystique then Black Watch (now The Watch) which everyone *knew* was a biker bar. Scarlette's had popcorn on the bar. Scarlette's had dixieland jazz playing. Scarlette's was a *party* A dear family friend used to hang out there, and they would have him play his banjo.

When they remodeled that strip mall, Scarlette's moved to somewhere in San Jose. Princeton Plaza maybe? I don't think it's been in business for a long time.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Elegant Buns

Sorry I missed yesterday. I have a headcold. I forget that I usually get one around this time of year. Is it the plants and it's really just allergies or do I just get a cold? Who knows.

We were talking about the best burger ever, and I don't think that there is the best burger ever forever and a day. BUT, Elegant Buns used to be at the restaurant area of Mountain Charley's and they had a killer burger with blue cheese in the center. They also had blue potato fries. It was heaven.

But, and this is a bit typical for Los Gatos, they were shut down because people didn't like the name. It was too suggestive, I guess. True? You be the judge.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Thanks! I think it was called The Nutt Shoppe or Nutt House or something like that. It was the coolest place. I wanted to work there thinking "What could be better then working in a candy store?"

But there was another candy/pastry shop...Hansel & Gretel's Honey Haus, I think, across the street. I loved being able to buy jelly bellys for $4/lb. I'd get 1/4 lb at a time. What I loved also were the exotic European chocolates. This was long before you could walk into Safeway or Whole Foods and buy these off of the shelf. Chocolate was Hersheys or Mars, and milk chocolate was in everything. Let's face it, the Hershey bar I preferred was called "special."

Just an aside, I was looking for an image of Hershey Special Dark that I could put in here to make this blog more colorful. I was playing around Hershey's site, and they don't list Special Dark in their products! It's called Extra Dark.

I guess it's not special any more.

Aned in about 1983 or 1984, Lunardi's moved in. It used to be a really run down Safeway and they cleaned it up and added an incredible meat counter. No one else except the Los Gatos Market had such a great selection of meats and butchers. More on that later. For now, I'll just say that they brought in good European chocolates, and then I had a choice. But since Hansel & Gretel's was walking distance, I still headed there.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Cross Over The Bridge

I was trying like crazy to remember the name fo the candy shop from yesterday's blog. If anyone remembers, please post a comment. They had the coolest selection.

When I went to high school, I'd walk with friends across the bridge to Old Town. It was fun looking at the traffic, and upstairs at Old Town was a pasty shop. B. J. Bull's? I think? My favorite was the mushroom and beef.

They moved and opened up a shop in Palo Alto, and I occasionally found them at farmer's markets. I wonder if he's still in business?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Old Town Memories

Once upon a time, Old Town was the original elementary school. Then Old Town became a fun artist "commune" in the 70s. I remember Mud in Your Eye, and the Leathermakers or Leathermasters were anchors. You could go there on any given weekend, and small artists would have booths set up along the back. There were some booths "built in" that would close like wardrobes and lock during the week.

Along the side was a wonderful candy shop. I would always buy my mom marzipan figurines there for her birthday. And across the walkway was the original home of The Wooden Horse. This place is the best for fun and creative toys that last longer then the afternoon. I saved up my allowance to buy a marionette of a snake charmer. And I still have it.

Upstairs was Mimi's Cafe. It was always packed for breakfast and brunch on weekends. Sometimes, my mom would keep me home sick and we'd sneak over there for breakfast during the week. The blintzes were divine. It was always fun to sit out by the windows.

And then downstairs on the other side was Walden Pond, an independent bookstore. They had a nice layout of their shelves and wooden floors that were very inviting. They were forced out, and reopened in downtown San Jose as the Phoenix Bookstore, but it wasn't the same...and they shut down within a few years of moving.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A good cup of coffee

Before Starbucks and Peet's took over the world, there was the Los Gatos Roasting Company. Growing up near there, it was pure heaven to walk out in the morning and smell the roasting beans as I walked to school. They were true craftsmen in how they handled the beans. It's not this over-roasted dreck that you get these days.
Really, I mean, rant mode on, how hard is it to get a reasonable cup of coffee these days? Just a simple cup of coffee for less then a buck? Even McD's has gone upscale. Of course, they were charging over a dollar for overroasted dreck before.
I like the full bodied. I like the medium bodied. I just like a mellow cup of coffee that doesn't grab me by the lapels before I'm ready to be fully coherent.
Ah well. Back to dreaming of good coffee.