The Chinese New Year 2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster celebrated on Saturday, January 28. If a person was born under this most auspicious sign, they could be characterized as charismatic, but also attention seeking, boastful about personal accomplishments and seeking the attention and approval of others. I wonder if this is an omen of the upcoming year in US politics. You can draw a connection if you want, but for now, let’s stay on the “sweet” topic of Chinese parades and bakeries. 


The New Year’s festivities continue into this weekend with the Golden Dragon Parade at the Central Plaza in Chinatown on Saturday, February 4 along Broadway Street. It is the 118th annual Chinatown tradition bringing many activities to the stage including marching bands, traditional music, kung fu demos, ping pong action, face-painting, story-telling, paper-folding, with the main attraction, a giant golden dragon float. An Angeleno must-do, despite the large crowds. A recommendation is to take the Metro train to the Chinatown station as parking will be challenging. 


While in Chinatown and on the parade route, check out the Phoenix Bakery. It has been a staple on Broadway and Bamboo Streets for the past 8o years founded in 1938 by Fung Chow Chan and his wife Wai Hing. They bake many traditional Chinese pastries, but known for their extremely popular strawberry shortcake. The recipe is very simple using fresh ingredients like red ripe strawberries, fluffy whipped cream, yellow sponge cake with toasted almond shavings sprinkled on the sides. An “East meets West” thing, that appeals to everyone, not too sweet and very delicious. 

The cake only comes double-layered, in 16 different sizes. Here is an idea of their round cakes sizes, prices and portions:

4” round for $9.99 (serving 2-4)

6” round for $16.95 (serving 4-6)

7” round for $22.95 (serving 6-9)

8” round for $29.95 (serving 8-10)

9” round for $35.95 (serving 10-15)

10” round for $41.95 (serving 18-20) 

When ordered in advance, the classic can be made with variations in the whipped cream layer by adding peaches, pineapples, bananas, vanilla custard, and chocolate. The cakes can be ordered in other sizes, as a 12” square, and sheet cakes: 1/8, 1/6, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and as a full sheet (18” x 24”). The full sheet sells for $172 and serves 100 people. It is even possible to get as a multi-tiered wedding cake on columns and decorated with sugar flowers. 

Since the early years, the strawberry shortcake has become the Phoenix’s signature product. There was a time in the seventies when they would sell over 1,000 cakes on a given Saturday with long lines of people winding around the block. Today they continue to sell several hundred cakes on any weekend. 

In addition to the strawberry shortcake, the Phoenix also has tasty almond cookies, baked daily, flakey, light and yummy, selling a dozen for $3.25. I very much recommend trying them. There are other sweet delights such as sugar butterflies, which are fried wontons dipped in honey, sesame balls, moon pies stuffed with winter melon, red bean and Chinese lotus, selling for $1.75 each, and fruit blossoms in pineapple, apple, guava cheese, blueberry and cherry selling for $1.50. 

There are a few savory items on the menu, in case you need to grab lunch or a snack. The bbq pork buns and hot dog buns are a great deal for $1.35 each, served warm, soft, doughy, and delicious. 

The service is great too. The extremely patient lady who helped me was accustomed to having first-time visitors asking a million questions which I did. 

Hopefully, you make it to the parade this Saturday, celebrating the New Year with the excitement of the spectacular golden dragon float and tasting the specialties at the Phoenix Bakery. You will save yourself some “dough” and make your tummy very happy.

Confucius says: Be careful of fiery roosters wanting the spotlight. They may be very charming, but not to be trusted. 





Golden Dragon New Year’s Parade

Chinatown, February 4, 2017, 1-3 pm

Starting at Hill and Ord Streets – Ending at Broadway and Cesar Chavez Streets

Phoenix Bakery

969N. Broadway Street

Los Angeles, CA   90012

(213) 628-4642

Hours: 9 am - 8:00 pm, 7 days

DEALS AND POLITICS--Hey hey ho and a bottle of rum … Jeff Sessions is a comin’ and beatin’ his drum. Ho ho hee and a jigger of gin … Looks like nepotism ain’t no sin. 

If you’re lookin’ for a great deal on a cool spot to drown your sorrows and push back tears of fury or fear, look no further than the original Farmers’ Market at Third and Fairfax. 

Ye olde Farmers Market first came into being back in the Fall of 1934 just as Jeff Sessions’ ole pop was probably working OT to make sure no black folks dared enter his general store in Hybart Alabama. 

The market is a fantastic people-watching locale where you can sit outside under the sun or stars – well, maybe not stars, but night sky – and enjoy your choice of cuisine and libation. There are two bars with 36 different types of beers on tap between them. 

Eats range from a quick burger and fries to a fancy French restaurant, and you might even see a few stars during your visit. At the very least, you’ll have a good shot at taking your mind off the devil’s casting call unfolding in our country’s capital – if only for a few shining hours.

The other night, I met Melissa Kelly, a cicerone candidate at Bar 326 in the middle of the market. She serves up 24 different kinds of brews and that’s not all. 

Turns out a cicerone is the beer world’s equivalent of a sommelier; and, Melissa is not short on knowledge of the various brews, how they’re made, the nature and history of the ingredients used, proper storage, and all manner of cold hard facts about the wide range of concoctions. 

Here, one can puzzle out how it is that a man with a racist past like Jeff Sessions got named as Attorney General of the United States of America over a “Session Gruit Ale,” appropriately fermented with gruit herbs such as wormwood rather than hops. Apparently, these herbs were used in the Middle Ages – much like the values of many if not all new cabinet members. 

Here, a person can sip a delicately fragrant “Parable Saison” as you plumb the depths of the question of how our country’s public school children will fare under the leadership of such a woman as Betsy DeVos who has worked hard for years to undermine the public sector. 

A “Two 5 Left” is about how we might be after new Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin gets his “largest tax change since Reagan.” 

The list goes on – destroyers of institutions being put in charge of them. As Senator Sherrod Brown said, “This isn’t draining the swamp. It is filling it with alligators.” 

Perhaps one can find comfort in a pint of Better Days English style pale ale or a Hunky Dory IPA – dreaming of the day when the whole thing will all be over. 

In the alternative, if you’re just not going to take it lying down, there are counter-inaugural demonstrations taking place around the country. Here in LA, you can join the #UnitedAgainstHate march that meets on #J20 at 11:00 am at Olympic and Figueroa (LA Live). 

Womens’ rights are under fierce attack here with Tom Price as the pick for Department of Health and Human Services. He’s been trying to get rid of Planned Parenthood for decades. You can join a Womens’ March on January 21 at 9:00 am. Meet at Pershing Square and march to City Hall. 

As Frederick Douglass once said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Now is not really the time to cry in our beer. But we can have a drink after the march.  


TRY to forget impending doom at the Original Farmers Market on the northwest corner of Third St. and Fairfax! Here’s all the info  



Info on The Trump Cabinet  

Nepotism Rules!  



March on #J20 #United AgainstHate.

Inauguration Day demonstration

January 20 11:00 am

Gathering at Olympic and Figueroa (LA Live)


Womens’ March LA

January 21 9:00 am

Gathering at Pershing Square



(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at  Facebook: - Twitter: @checkingthegate ... And her website:  

DEALS & DISCOUNTS--Inspired by my recent visit to Manila, I was on the quest to indulge in my favorite Filipino dish again in Los Angeles. Leelin Bakery’s authentic halo-halo was worth breaking my New Years Resolution of eating healthy. 

Halo-halo, "mix-mix" in Tagalog, is a concoction of various sweets, crushed ice and evaporated milk. Some basic sweet ingredients include palm fruit, kidney beans, chickpeas, jellies, coconut, jackfruit, purple yams (ube), and any other ingredient the chef is inspired to put in. Layered between the sweets is freshly fine shaven ice engorged with condensed milk or coconut milk. You do the honors yourself of blending all the ingredients together with your spoon. 

Leelin Bakery in Koreatown has a delicious version of halo-halo for $5.49 for an 18 oz. serving which was more than enough to fill up both my son, “anak,” John (pictured above) and me. I don’t think we could have handled a larger portion at other local restaurants, such as B Bakery for $8 and LA Rose Café for $10. 

Also, a visit to the Leelin Bakery gave me a great opportunity to pick up other Filipino favorites, anything made with ube. There are so many ube items to choose from like ube sponge cake, brioche with ube and coconut, ube bread loaf, ube hopia, ube ice cream and rice crispies. Not only did I come home with delicious halo-halo, a bag load of ube pastries, I also ordered a mango cake for an upcoming celebration. Also, I really appreciate how they have all their products conveniently pre-packaged for freshness “to-go”. 

With Southern California a major hub of Filipino immigrants and Filipino-Americans, there are six family-owned Leelin Bakery and Café locations for the past 40 years taking over the once popular Goldilocks’. The headquarters and factory is in Santa Fe Springs, with retail bakery/cafes in Cerritos, Eagle Rock, Panorama City, North Hills, Koreatown, and West Covina. 

Celebrate 2017 with the Filipino favorite of halo-halo, and may it bring sweetness to your new year! 





209 S. Vermont Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90004 

Eagle Rock

2700 Colorado Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90041 

Panorama City

8340 Van Nuys Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 91402 

North Hills

16130 Nordhoff Street

Los Angeles, CA 91343 


11489 S Street

Cerritos, CA 90703 

West Covina

2429 S. Azusa Avenue

Covina, CA 91792


(Sue Helmy has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She is currently providing superb administrative services at a financial management firm in Century City. She is active in countless church and civic organizations and spends every minute she can spare dancing to the Zumba beat.)


SUCH A DEAL--Are you looking for ways to make the holidays special this year? How about a visit from Santa’s favorite elf. You can have one of Santa’s elves visit your hotel room at the Mission Inn in Riverside to tuck them in at bedtime. 

As a hotel guest from Friday, November 26 after Thanksgiving until December 26, “Buddy” himself can come to your hotel room for a bedtime tuck-in between 7:00-10 pm. Bearing the picture book of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, the elf will read the poem, wish your youngster sweet dreams and leave behind great memories and the sweetest of all, a cupcake from the infamous Casey’s bakery. 

The tuck-in costs $50. Plan in advance: the hotel fills up for the holidays & the tuck-in service has been sold-out. Think of the great “elfie” “selfie” you can post on Facebook for years to come. 

In addition to the tuck-in service, the Mission Inn has other holiday services to feel merry. There is a beautifully decorated 20 foot tall Christmas noble fir and loads of lights lit up everywhere for the eyes to behold. You can sing along to your favorite Christmas tunes and plenty of opportunities to hang out with Santa such as the Saturday breakfast, Sunday champagne brunch, and at the afternoon tea. There is also a Santa letter drop box delivering your child’s note directly to the North Pole. These hotel activities are certain to have you feeling the holiday magic. 

In addition to the historic Mission Inn, the downtown district of Riverside is as magical as can be with the fantastic and ever-so-popular holiday celebration, The Festival Lights. At the opening ceremonies, it drew 70,000 people to see the decorations and firework display. Over the next 6 weeks, staring on the Friday after Thanksgiving, over 1 million people come out drawing a close on January 7. 

Warning to all, the weekends of the festival get really crowded with difficulty parking, long lines to see the displays, buying food, playing amusement park games and rides, especially as it become dusk and the holiday lights switch on at around 5 pm. 

If you plan in advance, get there early and be patient. It is a great way to enjoy the holidays, especially if you are lucky enough to stay at the Mission Inn and have Santa’s elf bedtime tuck-in. It is sure to make your little one’s spirits bright and leave your family with a lasting memory. 



THE MISSION INN, Hotel and Spa 

Festival of Lights, November 25, 2016-January 7, 2017

3649 Mission Inn Avenue

Riverside, CA 92501

(951) 784-0300 


(Sue Helmy has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She is currently providing superb administrative services at a financial management firm in Century City. She is active in countless church and civic organizations and spends every minute she can spare dancing to the Zumba beat.)


More Articles ...