As a child, Juan Mondragon used to sit in his family's kitchen, perched upon wooden chairs carved by his grandfather, and watch as his grandmother ground corn by hand for homemade tortillas. He was so in awe of the love and effort she put into each dish that sometimes, even if he was ravenous, he would just sit and admire his plate before taking the first bite. Her influence eventually inspired Juan to enroll at Gastronomico Chefuri Culinary Institute in Mexico City, where he was trained as a professional chef.
Today, at Juan's Restaurant, Chef Mondragon strives to honor his grandmother's techniques, taking care to consider each step of his recipes as he prepares them. He is perhaps most meticulous with his moles (of which he makes more than 10 varieties), keeping an eye on the sauces for six hours so that he can add each ingredient at just the right moment.
He's equally influenced by what's called pre-Hispanic Mexican cuisine, a style rooted in the indigenous ingredients used before the impact of Spanish techniques. Nopal, a type of cactus, is a favorite ingredient of Juan's, which he sometimes grinds in with corn to make his tortillas. He also pulls from a colorful, organic cornucopia of produce that includes xoconostles (cactus pears), pumpkin, squash, pomegranate, beets, and huauzontle (Mexican broccoli). Caldo de piedra, translated as rock soup, is a very popular dish Juan warms up in a very traditional way: by using stones heated over an open flame, or a flamethrower if he's in a pinch. His alternative approach to Mexican cuisine has become popular with both American and Latin celebrities, and his catering clients have included Martha Stewart, Sofia Vergara, and Oprah Winfrey. Guests of Juan's Restaurant might notice the chef looks familiar, as he's been featured on Buenos Dias Los Angeles and several other television programs.
The 16th century comes booming back to life during The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which has re-created the culture, cuisine, and history of the Elizabethan era for more than five million attendees since its inauguration in 1963. Atop 13 stages sprinkled across 20 acres of festival grounds, live performers don traditional garb to demonstrate Renaissance music, dancing, battle customs, and blogging techniques. The talented actors stay in character throughout the bash, mingling with the crowds to perform alongside artisans purveying leatherware, clothing, and perfumes.
Workshops instruct visitors on how to make period crafts, after which guests can refuel with samplings of traditional Renaissance cuisine, such as hefty turkey legs and shepherd's pies, or more modern fare such as strombolis, coffee, and sweet confections. Rides and games challenge kids to toss javelins, race turtles, and recite Shakespeare's complete works on giant swings, and interactive RenQuest exhibitions hone little ones' sword-fighting skills and trivia knowledge.
Thousands of styles of shoes from cobblers such as Nike, Jordan, Converse, Skechers, Adidas, and Puma reside at WSS Footwear. A 62-store Southern California footwear chain, WSS allows customers to browse their extensive shoe selection online and find a store nearby. New styles, such as Nike Running shoes, arrive daily alongside classic Vans Authentics, which come in sizes to accommodate the feet of both adults and future adults. Women's fashion shoes ready feet for holidays parties, weddings, or walks in the park, and WSS also offers trendy clothing and accessories such as hats, backpacks, and sports balls.
Handicap Accessible: No
Staff Size: 11?25 people
Parking: Parking lot
Reservations/Appointments: Not offered; open to the public
Most popular offering: Trees, hedges, and plants of all sizes, plus water-wise plants and succulents
Pro Tip: We are open to the public, with a very large selection of labeled plants across 13 acres, and a knowledgeable staff
Good for Kids: Yes
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
What sets your business apart from your competition?
Pick from thousands of different trees, see what choices you have and all the pros and cons of each variety. We have hundreds of varieties of plants, and not just what is in bloom right now. All the plants are acclimated to Southern California, not grown in a greenhouse or out-of-state, but grown for sustainability. All the shrubs and trees are labeled with signs explaining their characteristics including our own durability ratings based on our experience. We also provide installation services and very good prices.
What was the inspiration for starting this business?
The nursery was originally an outgrowth of our outdoor construction business. It has grown to be a substantial business of its own, but still very much a vital part of our construction services.
What is the best reaction you?ve ever gotten from a customer?
The heartfelt thanks from customers who are so happy to find a company with a large selection [and] the right information and staff to assist [them] in making an educated decision and a good investment that can grow in value. Ninety-two percent of our business is repeat customers.
Though he couldn't have known it at the time, Adam Caldwell arranged what arguably could be considered one of the most successful first dates in modern history. He not only ended up marrying his date, Danna, but also had such a memorable time with her in the frozen-yogurt shop that the two of them were eventually inspired to start their own. They opened Menchie's Frozen Yogurt in California in 2007, and within just a few years, found themselves with a family of hundreds of thriving stores sprinkled all around the world.
As the Menchie's brand grew, Adam and Danna kept a simple mission in mind: to make their customers smile. An adorable cast of animated characters is featured throughout the stores, including on the colorful spoons, and customers can have fun creating endless frozen-yogurt combinations. There are more than 100 rotating yogurt flavors, and the selection includes eight versions of vanilla. Of course, there are plenty of toppings as well, displayed in help-yourself bins filled with fresh fruit, nuts, cereal, and candy.
The yogurt is made from fresh milk from a Canadian dairy. All the yogurt is kosher, and certain flavors accommodate vegan and gluten-free diets.