Celebrating the Good ‘Taste’ Found in the Foothills

Tracy and Chris Frey of Franks Famous Kitchen serve up samples at the La Crescenta's Taste of the Foothills. Photos by Ed HAMILTON
Tracy and Chris Frey of Franks Famous Kitchen serve up samples at the La Crescenta’s Taste of the Foothills. Photos by Ed HAMILTON

By Natalie MAIER

With dozens of children running around, excellent music provided by the CVHS Jazz Band, and food provided by 25 local restaurants, the 5th Annual Taste of the Foothills was a memorable night for the entire La Crescenta community that attended.

Organized by the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the event was held in the Ralphs Marketplace Shopping Center in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 14.

“[The Taste of the Foothills] helps to promote our local restaurants, is a fundraiser for [the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce] and is a Dine Out Night for the seven GUSD elementary schools in the area. Twenty percent of the proceeds will go towards the GUSD schools,” said CVCOC Office Manager Laurie Myres.

According to the chamber’s executive director Julia Rabago, this year was their most successful, with over 500 tickets sold and 10 more restaurants participating.

“Every year is getting bigger and better,” said Rabago.

House of Joy, Little Caesars, Pepe’s Mexican, Shanto’s Bakery, El Charro, New Moon and Schreiner’s Fine Sausages were just a few of the restaurants that provided samples of their specialties.

For many local restaurants, this was their first year participating in the TOF. Each hoped that their participation in the event would increase traffic to their business.

Casa Cordoba, a new café located in the historic Zwick Plaza in Montrose, will have its grand opening after Thanksgiving. Jeannie Bone, owner of the new Spanish restaurante, was ebullient when talking about her new business.

Bone smiled as she explained that she and her husband and co-owner Chris have spent a considerable amount of time in Spain and were inspired to create their own Spanish getaway in the Crescenta Valley.

“[My husband and I] have a great appreciation for Spain, its history and culture,” Bone said.

Casa Cordoba will offer outdoor patio seating, mainly inspired by Spanish style. A gift shop of imported goods, such as Spanish ceramics, glassware and paella pans, will also be featured.

According to Bone, Casa Cordoba will be serving only breakfast and lunch until they acquire a beer and wine license. Then they will be open for dinner as well.

Bone said that the Taste of the Foothills has been a help to promote their new business. She added that she hoped that locals would come try her restaurant and people will “escape to Spain in Montrose.”

Baked on Oceanview, another new business that opened in December, has had a difficult time attracting customers.

“It’s a new business so it’s hard to get people in,” said owner Sharon Kenneally.

But the long lines of people waiting to try Baked on Oceanview’s assortment of treats indicated a possible boost in the number of regular customers.

“Everything we make is from scratch,” said Kenneally of her products.

The Tickle Tree Café in the 2800 block of Foothill Boulevard specializes in fresh chopped salads. Since opening in August, they have participated in a La Cañada tasting event. As a result, there has been an increase in business from La Cañada residents, according to owner Jane Kwon.

“We hope that it will help here [in La Crescenta], too,” Kwon said.

Similar to the Tickle Tree, Tazza Coffee shop owner Danny Hwang hopes that more people come try his coffee.

“We offer a lot of different flavors of coffee,” Hwang said. “The brand we use is Gavina.”

Although Tazza Coffee has been open for more than 10 years, this was their first time participating in the Taste of the Foothills.

Their milk tea with boba, along with their sweet Thai iced tea, went fast with many people coming back for seconds.

Hwang, who has owned Tazza for three months, said that the majority of his customers are Rosemont and CVHS students. He hopes that more adults start to come, too.

Gordon Pawlowski, owner and head cook of Lenny G’s Taste of Louisiana, said that this was his second year participating in the TOF. He paid tribute to his home state by preparing authentic Louisiana cuisines such as jambalaya, a rice dish with seasoned chicken and sausage.

Lenny G’s is a local catering service. They also take part in local Farmers Markets, such as the Sunday Harvest Market in Montrose.

“We are trying to get the word out there by marketing,” Pawlowski said. “We are trying to something different and unique.” La Crescenta residents were enthusiastic when asked about the food they had tried. Many said that enjoyed the experience and will come back next year.

Marti Marshall, alternate on the Crescenta Valley Town Council, said that her favorite food item of the night was Casa Cordoba’s Spanish churros served with thick hot chocolate.

La Crescenta resident Jackie Bodnar said her favorite dish was Dream Dinner’s Thanksgiving plate. This was her third year attending the Taste of the Foothills and she came to support her daughter Lori’s school. Lori attends Mountain Avenue Elementary School.

“I love that it’s a community and family affair,” Bodnar said. “It’s great to see all your neighbors here and fun to have the music. The kids have been entertained.”

However, for the Wilson family, tasting the food was just an added bonus. Their main purpose for attending was to see their son Kirk, a senior at CVHS, play in the jazz band.

When asked what she gained from the event, Gale Milam, grandmother of Kirk Wilson, chuckled as she admitted, “Too many calories!”