With a verdant variety of shrubs, trees, roses, and vines, the friendly plantologists will help you wade through the veritable ocean of foliage. Beginning green-thumbers can take advantage of a jumbo planting kit, including ample plant food, vitamin B1, and planting compost—everything a person needs to lure an unsuspecting plant into captivity ($15.97 for the regular kit; $29.97 for the jumbo kit). Advanced yard-enhancements abound in the form of trees and shrubs, such as a selection of 5-gallon citrus trees, good for accenting a living space and forming a focal point for the worship of the Lemon Pledge gods ($34.99). Armstrong can also help organic gardeners reach full-flavored nirvana with a bevy of 3-inch container plant varieties ($2.99; selections vary by season and location).
At Embassy Cigars, knowledgeable stogie scholars pair visitors with selections from the more than 200 high-quality cigar brands. Sink into a plush chair in the lounge, eye a flat-screen TV, and sip complimentary coffee as you puff a Cohiba Red Dot Crystal Tubos Corona ($18.95) or breathe in the powerful aromas of an Ashton Classic Magnum ($11). The roster of sophisticated smokables continues with Montecristo #2 ($16.95) and Macanudo Hyde Park Café ($9.95), which both provide excellent means for practicing smoke rings or showing off by blowing smoke Möbius strips. Embassy Cigars also stocks humidors, cigar cutters, lighters, and other accessories that aid in making plumes.
At the Brea Improv, comics lure laughs from deep within bellies as they follow in the footsteps of standup legends such as Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle, all of whom have performed at the Improv’s chain of comedy clubs. The club's calendar schedules comedians as often as seven nights a week, alternating between big-name headliners and up-and-coming funsters who tickle funny bones with fresh material, abundant energy, and feathered reflex hammers. Comedy fans can also savor Brea Improv's recurring resident shows, such as Richard Villa's Refried Tuesdays, or Saturday night’s Slanted Comedy, one of the longest-running Asian-comedy shows in the family of Improv clubs. Audience members munch on savory appetizers, such as spinach-and-artichoke dip or fried calamari, while sipping cocktails to avoid eye contact with the giant rubber chicken sitting at the next table.
Edible Arrangements fresh, artful fruit baskets combine the aesthetic elements and emotive properties of floral arrangements with the juicy deliciousness and socially acceptable edibility of fruit. The sweetener-free, preservative-free baskets are all handcrafted for each order, ensuring that deliveries arrive at the apex of freshness. Delve into the depths of fruity expression with Edible Arrangement's selection of singular gifts, such as the Little Special Expression ($24), the faux-floral vase of Simply Daisies ($52), or the boxed 30-some of decadent Fruit Truffles ($39). On a holiday or any day, an Edible Arrangement can turn a frown into an upright orange wedge, a tear into a three-tiered citrus structure, and a friend into still just a friend, but one with a sweet, balanced diet.
During the years he spent in Switzerland, Timothy Heide befriended an American chef who worked in the same area, and together they traveled to oil and vinegar shops in the region. Over time, Heide cultivated a plan to open his own oil and vinegar boutique upon returning to the United States.
Now, Heide strolls across the terra-cotta-hued floors of Taste It!, his own shop, encouraging patrons to sample the olive oils and vinegars he cares so much about on cubes of bread. On the shelves, glass bottles and jars form sleek ranks that include Mediterranean-region olive oils steeped with the flavors of tangerine or slow-roasted chili. More neutral oils, such as the mild, fruity Morroccan arbequina, add to meals without overpowering them. Balsamic vinegars, aged for 18 years and infused with vanilla or bordeaux cherry, can be drizzled over ice cream or used to make memorable salad dressings.
As he slips among the shelves, Heide also sometimes brews complimentary cups of coffee or cappuccino for patrons. He hasn’t stopped dreaming of new outlets for his energy, and plans to open a wine cellar in the summer of 2012 and a cotton-candy attic when the technology is available.