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Gotta Go: Saturday Morning in Old Pasadena

Jan 19, 2011
variegated pride of madeira Gotta Go: Saturday Morning in Old Pasadena plants Pasadena Old Town Equator coffee  photo

A variegated Pride of Madeira on Lake Avenue

It’s sunny in Pasadena, but an 8 a.m. car drop-off for new tires inspires doubt. I think I was oversold. I don’t really need Pirellis for the Prius. So I walk the Lake Avenue neighborhood, opting to raise my heart rate through exercise instead of anxiety. I need to live long enough to pay for those tires.

Turns out to be a good opportunity to take photos of my plant friends along Lake Avenue.

Here’s what I saw.

A stunning variegated Pride of Madeira, actually Star of Madeira, Echium candicans, with velvety leaves. She is composed like a poinsettia, or a snow-tipped scene that my forebears escaped so that I could be here today, on a 70-degree Pasadena morning. It’s a nice planting with this variegated flax next to it, but let’s introduce some red with the brick backdrop. If you want to try this at home, consider interplanting with Echeveria “Afterglow”or Pennisetum advena “Eaton Canyon,” a compact mound of purple fountain grass with purple tips on green grassy blades.

In the median on Lake I see your tax dollars at work. Agaves overplanted. Note to self: Check public servants’ roster. Did these planners go to school with the folks who just took out the Arcadia oak woodland? Oy, can’t we do better in our developed society?

asparagus lake 300x339 Gotta Go: Saturday Morning in Old Pasadena plants Pasadena Old Town Equator coffee  photo

Is that an asparagus in your pocket or are you just glad to see spring?

Mother Nature calms me with new spring growth on the Gypsum Century plant, Agave gypsophila. The asparagus flower spikes are glorious rocket pops of purple and green. Both feminine and feisty, the serrated margins on these leaves resemble a serged hem.

I bump into my friend Sally, who is power walking from her house in Madison Heights, up Lake, through Old Pasadena and back again. This woman is a marvel of cheer, intellect and keen conversation. I observe aloud that she’s like a speedboat and wonder if anyone ever says no to her. She thinks for a moment before replying happily, “I don’t think so.” So I join her, although I can’t talk and keep her pace.

In front of the Paseo post office, two ladies with conventioneer badges (Food Service Convention today—hey, Jamie Oliver!) call out to us, “Do you live here?”

“We do,” I gasp, but Sally’s not slowing down to chat

“Which way should we go?” asks Lady #1, pointing east and west. Here’s my chance to slow for a minute. Go West, middle-aged woman! I borrow Colleen Dunn Bates’s tip: Do yourself a favor and walk one block north and south of Colorado, as well as the main drag. Lots of shops, architecture and coffee are just off the big path.

As we near Mills Place, I realize it’s time for my morning coffee. Landlubber that I am, I jump off the ketch Sally and head for Equator, an Asian-fusion restaurant that also doubles as a coffee bar. A stiff latte and a lagniappe if you bring your own cup. My barista, Jason, who in reality is a starving artist, checks on me once I’m settled outside. I was here on Tuesday and discovered Equator’s early-bird special: any coffee drink is $2 before noon. I triple latted on Tuesday, and it was delicious because it was so inexpensive. Today, this new one is delicious, too, even at $3.75. Maybe because this Equator and Mills Alley makes me feel like I’m on a city vacation.

jason yu equator 300x336 Gotta Go: Saturday Morning in Old Pasadena plants Pasadena Old Town Equator coffee  photo

Jason Yu, barista/photographer

Pit stop in the luxe bathroom at Equator. If they had Frette towels, I’d swear this is the Langham. Clean, funky-decadent wall treatment, beautiful sink, good water pressure, no swampy smell. Try the Altadena Country Club if that’s your preferred fragrance. Something about the elevation up there just funks up the poolside bathrooms.

But I digress. Time to collect my new wheels, not as expensive as the quote, and spin away, refreshed from my Saturday morning in Old Pasadena.

Equator Restaurant & Bar
22 Mills Place, Old Pasadena
626.564.8656, equatorcafe.com
Sun.-Thurs. 8 a.m. – 1 a.m., Fri.-Sat. 8 a.m. –  2 a.m.




3 Responses for “Gotta Go: Saturday Morning in Old Pasadena”

  1. Did I hear you write, “Any coffee drink is $2″ before high noon????
    Btw, was any body there when u attended that cafe?

  2. Sandy Gillis says:

    Hola, Cafe Pasadena! You can hear me write? I’m pretty sure that qualifies you as a Superhero. To go with your cafe theme may I suggest a cape made of a tablecloth? And for a shield, how about a skillet lid or a Marie Calendar pie tin, and your belt could be your food service employee laminated name tag? Shucks, you don’t need me to outfit you! You’ve got superpowers!

    But, yes, indeed, $2 coffee drinks, any coffee drink, Monday – Friday before noon. Has the world gone mad? And keen question about customers. There was only one other patron there on a Tuesday morning. There were two others there on Saturday AM. Get over there while there’s no line!

  3. [...] Equator: Funky flava in a classic old-town location. HPT correspondent Sandy Gillis does the place justice in this post. [...]

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