Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 27, 2014

Around Town

MAY THE BEST ICE CREAM WIN ... For years, huge, hungry crowds have spent July 4 gathered in Palo Alto's Mitchell Park to eat chili at the city's annual Summer Festival and Chili Cook-Off. More often that not, it's a sweltering day — almost inappropriate for downing warm bowls of meat and beans, not that that's ever stopped anyone. But this year, there will be a cooler, sweeter option, with the launch of the first annual Ice Cream Taste-Off. Much like the chili competition, attendees can purchase a tasting kit for $5 and get to sample and judge five flavors from local ice creameries. Scoop Microcreamery (small-batch liquid-nitrogen-made ice cream on University Avenue), Tin Pot Creamery (year-old Town & Country dessert spot from former Facebook pastry chef Becky Sunseri) and Green Girl Bake Shop (gluten-free and vegan ice cream sandwiches peddled throughout the Bay Area, often at the California Avenue Farmers Market) are all participating. Event organizer Ali Williams said she's waiting for word from Smitten Ice Cream on whether or not they will join in. The event, as always, is from noon to 5 p.m., with the chili taste-off starting at 1:30 p.m. Williams said they have yet to nail it down, but the ice cream tasting might start earlier. The ice cream portion is sponsored by the Stanford Federal Credit Union. And it's not confirmed yet, but Williams said she is also looking into getting a big screen to live stream the World Cup quarter-finals game.

GETTIN' THE AXE ... The City of Palo Alto Tuesday posted 14-day notices on five trees along California Avenue that will be removed as part of the area's massive streetscape project. The five trees, one of which is dead, are in "direct conflict with the new construction work," a statement from the city reads. Some trees are located in areas where the sidewalk will be widened; others would create a safety hazard to a reconfigured right-hand turn lane, according to the city. Two trees (including the dead one) are located in front of Technology Credit Union on the north side of California Avenue. Another is on the south side in front of Lotus Thai Bistro. Two others are at the north and south corners of Ash Street, one in front of Avalon Yoga Center and the other next to the "Go Mama" art sculpture. "We really did try, as part of the design, to try to save as many trees as we could," city Transportation Engineer Shahla Yazdy said. Though nowhere near the same scale, the tree loss might remind residents of the Great California Avenue Tree Massacre of 2009, when the city faced uproar over the sudden removal of 50 mature holly oak trees along California Avenue as part of a beautification project. For the current streetscape project, which broke ground in March, the city plans to plant 49 new trees, bringing California Avenue's total number of trees to more than 100, according to the city. Yazdy said she doesn't have an exact date for the five trees' removal, but it will be after the week of July 8.

WEIGHING IN ... Last week's protest against the massive Restoration Hardware catalogs mailed to local homes ("Drowning in Restoration Hardware catalogs," Weekly, June 20) triggered swift reactions online from residents. "My 93-year-old mother got these and couldn't get them in the door," said "Chris" of Barron Park of the delivery that weighed as much as 17 pounds. "Nora Charles" of Stanford called the mailings "absurd. ... Until I have the energy to open it for recycling the cat is using it as a perch." But several people were amused, with one person calling it "the most successful bit of publicity in a long time. ... They are being talked about everywhere and even on all the news channels." One South of Midtown resident reported offering the dozen catalogs for free on the website Freecycle.com, and "Poof, they were gone from my driveway in a couple of hours." Then there were others who thought the protest itself was overblown. Queried "So Silly" from the Downtown North neighborhood: "I would love to know if the same people who are returning this stack of catalogs do the same for the likely hundreds they receive from the various Williams-Sonoma companies ... each month? I frankly was delighted at the idea that I would only receive the catalogs once a year, as opposed to being bombarded all year long." And at least one person took recycling in a creative direction. As noted by poster "Pam," a Mill Valley artist is creating a "tree" sculpture out of the retail tomes.

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