Holiday Gift Guide 2011

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Posted December 8, 2011 in Feature Story

If my true love gave me just five golden rings I’d be a happy camper, let alone that partridge in a pear tree and those lords-a-leaping. But alas not all of us are going to be blessed with three French hens and seven swans-a-swimming this holiday. So, for you sensible shoppers, we’ve compiled our list of 12 places to shop. From tea cups to racing packages, you’ll find a gift for that special someone this year in our HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE.

THE BAMBOO TEA HOUSE

It’s the first day of Christmas, and this year a partridge in a pear tree is impractical because that special someone lives in an apartment the size of a shoe box. If plants and poultry aren’t their cup of tea, how about . . . a really awesome cup of tea? The Bamboo Tea House in downtown Claremont is the perfect place to purchase that bag of Oolong they’ve always longed for. If they are too damn jolly, I suggest a copy of Yoel Hoffman’s Japanese Death Poems. The lovely lady who runs the place wraps the present you pick with a precision your big sausage fingers could never muster, so purchase with impunity. My favorite is a tiny iron pot and serving dish along with a bag of one of the 100 types of tea this local village treasure serves up with style all year long. (Jasen T. Davis)

The Bamboo Tea House, 221 Yale Ave., Claremont, (909) 626-7668; www.bambooteas.com.

THE CHEESE CAVE

Does your loved one love food? If you want to stuff your connoisseur’s stocking with something special, look no further than The Cheese Cave tucked away in cozy downtown Claremont. Sisters Marnie and Lydia Clarke opened their little shop in 2010 and filled it to the brim with cheeses, chocolates, wines, beers and even little cheese picks shaped like mice! Need something to go with your cheese? There is a wide assortment of jams. Marnie recommends locally canned Lemonbird jams, especially the tomato vanilla bean with big hunk of French bucheron goat cheese. Or you can buy your loved one a space in one of the Cave’s cheese-related classes; they recently held a class about coupling cheeses with beers. They also offer custom gift baskets and food platters full of tasty little goodies. Although we wouldn’t recommend sticking that in a stocking! (Janet Martin)

The Cheese Cave, 325 N. Yale Ave., Claremont, (909) 625-7560; www.claremontcheese.com.

STATE STREET WINERY & THE WINERY AT CANYON CREST

Rarely can one gift card bring so much holiday spirit. Give a gift card to your typical retailer and it’s often forgotten—no one remembers who got them the card from Office Depot . . . but people will remember who got them a gift from some of the coolest and best wineries in the area. A gift card at the State Street Winery, for example, offers up a world of vino. A wine club membership gives steep discounts throughout the year and lets you start your own vintage or host I Love Lucy-style bottling parties, minus the grape-throwing of course. Also, stop by The Winery at Canyon Crest where you can create a custom wine label (using your picture, logo—whatever your little heart desires) that will make your grape-derived gift wholly memorable and personal. You can even bottle your own vintage. In Vino Giftitas or something like that. (Bill Gerdes)

State Street Winery, 404 E. State St., Redlands, (909) 798-4300; www.statestreetwineryredlands.com.

The Winery at Canyon Crest at Canyon Crest Town Centre, 5225 Canyon Crest Dr. Ste. 7A, Riverside; (951) 369-9463; canyoncrestwinery.com.

NOISEBUG

Noisebug is a small but elegantly laid out purveyor of musical instruments with a focus on boutique guitar pedals and gear for electronic music. Customers are likely to find, as store manager Antonio Rodriquez tells the Weekly, “Something not usually found elsewhere.” In a market dominated by an endless and boring string of Guitar Centers, Noisebug focuses on boutique, often handmade items which are, as Rodriquez puts it, “better than assembly line [items].” The store has a massive selection of new and used equipment that would please the greenest novice or the most discerning gearhead equally. Located in downtown Pomona’s Arts Colony, Noisebug rests on the fault line of independent creativity in the Inland Empire. Noisebug, with its hard wood floors and carefully spaced equipment, is itself a converted art gallery, and its loyal patrons treat it with similar reverence. (Kevin Longrie)

Noisebug, 252a S. Main St., Pomona, (909) 622-4556; www.noisebug.net.

VIDEO PARADISO, RHINO RECORDS, MAD PLATTER and DR. STRANGE RECORDS

Every shopping season unruly mobs wade through pepper spray, stomping every living thing in their path to unconsciousness to pile into giant retail outlets to get that gift that’s as predictable as it is ubiquitous. This Christmas go independent by searching through the used DVDs over at Video Paradiso so that loved one thinks you loved them more than you really did. Or how about a copy of Female Trouble by John Waters? Good luck finding two turtle doves, but you can find 14-hole Doc Marten boots, spiked belts and the gratification of knowing the guy behind the register is a real punk musician at Dr. Strange Records. The new and used-CD section of Rhino Records and Mad Platter is where you’ll find The Blasters, AC/DC and Obituary for those who like to rock-a-billy, rock and roll or just plain death rock. (Jasen T. Davis)

Video Paradiso, 330 W. Bonita Ave., Claremont, (909) 626-1171; www.videoparadiso.net

Rhino Records, 235 Yale Ave., Claremont, (909) 626-7774; www.rhinorecords.com. Dr. Strange Records, 7136 Amethyst Ave., Alto Loma, (909) 944-1778; www.drstrange.com.

Mad Platter, 1223 University Ave., Ste. 160, Riverside, (951) 328-1600; www.rhinorecords.com.

TOYBOX and ROMANTIX 

It is universally recognized that no matter how old you get, you always want toys for Christmas. When you are young, you rush downstairs hoping to find lovingly wrapped packages filled with toys. But as you get older, the definition of both “toy” and “package” changes dramatically. Lucky for us, there are places like Toybox and Romantix. Both businesses provide customers with top of the line adult entertainment such as DVDs (i.e. This Ain’t Avatar XXX—with 3D glasses included!), costumes and (you guessed it) toys. Dive into the world of the Liberator Wedge, invest in a door sex sling for the wifey or learn the ins and outs of the Kinky Kim Love Doll. Both Romantix and Toybox are nice places to purchase naughty things. (Kevin Longrie)

Toybox, 1999 W. Arrow Route, Upland, (909) 920 1135; www.toyboxupland.com. Romantix Riverside, 3945 Market St., Riverside, (951) 788-5194; Romantix Fontana, 145689 Valley Blvd., Fontana, (909) 350-4717; Romantix Rialto, 835 E. Foothill Blvd., Rialto, (909) 820-6315; romantixonline.com.

AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY

For some, NASCAR racing is best enjoyed from the convenience of their La-Z Boy. But others prefer their let’s-burn-rubber action up close and personal—they won’t stop until they can see the road grime on Kevin Harvick’s cheek. For those that take their racing action seriously, try Auto Club Speedway’s holiday packages to put the vroom-vroom under your loved one’s chassis. The Holiday NASCAR Hot Lap Package ($74) gets you one Auto Club 200 Ticket—for the uninitiated, that’s a seat in rows 1 through 14—for March 25, 2012. You also get (and this is the dealmaker) a Richard Petty Driving Experience Ride-Along. The Ride-Along will have you riding shotgun with a professional instructor for a three-lap qualifying run. Not your cup of checkered-flag tea? Try the Indycar Holiday Package ($55) that gets you one general admission Indycar ticket for Sept. 15, 2012, a Weekend Pit/Paddock Pass and more. (Matt Tapia)

Auto Club Speedway, 9300 Cherry Ave., Fontana, (800) 944-7223; www.autoclubspeedway.com

LA BELLE MAISON 

Warning—this place is not über-hip, snarky, groovy, hipster or any of that. News flash, Grandma, this ain’t cool. Aunt Agnes, forget about it. And your cousin from Iowa? The one who collects ceremonial presidential plates? No, this is the place for a beautiful little fake Christmas tree for your shut-in nephew. Bric-a-brac and kitchen filler for the lady from the office who adores ceramic turtles, and candles, really nice candles of all aromas and colors, for the kind of people you get candles for—hint, you’re not that tight with them. And it being the season there’s a ton of ornaments to decorate the tree or casa. Or if you’re shopping for someone who putters around the garden there’s that too. Finally, if you can’t decide what to get Earl from accounting—they’ve got gift cards as well. (Bill Gerdes)

La Belle Maison, 3639 Riverside Plaza Dr., Ste. 506, Riverside, (951) 784-5130; facebook.com/labelle.maison.

ACTION SEGWAY TOURS

Leave your hiking boots at home, sweetheart. Action Segway Tours ($85) has another way for you to enjoy the Great Outdoors: on two wheels. Yes, This Big Bear Lake-based outfit (which also offers zipline tours) recently busted out two-hour guided tours through the San Bernardino Mountains—all from the comfort of a two-wheeled motorized Segway Personal Transporter. The tour spans about two hours and features plenty of local lore, the history of the lake and other community tidbits courtesy of your tour guide. For those who are skittish, never fear, a complete training course will be provided before you start the tour that will feature a hands-on session and safety video. And they’ll even provide a helmet for you. Give your tootsies a rest and enjoy Big Bear Lake like you never have before. That’s how these guys roll. (Matt Tapia)

Action Segway Tours, 652 Pine Knot Dr., Big Bear Lake, (909) 366-0890; actionsegwaytours.com

CYCLERY USA 

Since 1968, Cyclery USA has been buying, selling, fixing and promoting the use of bicycles in the IE. The Redlands branch manager Jon Ankenman says that the shop is first and foremost “a family store.” He also attributes the success of the franchise to Owner Craig Kundig, who was the director of the Redlands Classic for a stretch of about 15 years. Cyclery USA’s bikes, which hang from the walls and line the floor, all range in price, from starter bikes to the lightest, most elite frames available. “The newest thing on the market is electronic shifting,” Ankenman says, speculating on what will be big this holiday season. But even with new gadgets, it’s the inclusive feel of Cyclery USA that keeps customers coming back. “You buy your first bike here and buy your lifelong bikes here,” Ankenman says. (Kevin Longrie)

Cyclery USA, 415 A Tennessee St., Redlands, (909) 792-2444; cycleryusa.com.

RHYTHM ADDICT DANCE STUDIO

It’s a painful occasion for anyone to realize they can’t dance, but at least you don’t have to keep watching them flap across da club  like a chicken stuck in a mouse trap. The best balm after the tears are gone is the Rhythm Addict Dance Studio, where they can make it all better with some salsa, zumba or regular bachata. Considering a career in something other than American politics? Pole dancing classes are available, along with lessons in stripping. A day job is no excuse because they offer evening classes. Why would you get anyone three French hens? Haven’t they already had enough baked bird? That gravy isn’t going to make itself go away, but semi-private group classes (I don’t know how it works, it just does) in burlesque dancing will take it all off for you. (Jasen T. Davis)

Rhythm Addict Dance Studio, 10373 Trademark St., Ste. E, Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 240-7615; www.ra-dance.com.

MISSION INN 

Somewhere there’s a Parisian who has never been to the Eifel Tower; just as possibly there’s an IE local in your life that’s never eaten or stayed at the Mission Inn. Which is a shame, as the place is part messy architectural marvel (don’t trip on the Spanish patio on your way to the Japanese garden), part mélange of elegant to interesting restaurants (Duane’s to Bella Trattoria) and one huge chair made for our fattest president (William Howard Taft). A stay now opens up a slew of holiday happenings, from the beautiful Festival of Lights going on until Jan. 8, to a Christmas stay. And at 1,000 square feet, the Alhambra Suite has plenty of space to put up stockings. A New Year’s visit puts the bars, restaurants and clubs of downtown Riverside within walking distance—no taxis, designated drivers, just a nightcap with Taft and the rest at the Presidential Lounge. (Bill Gerdes)

Mission Inn, 3694 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, (951) 784-0300; www.missioninn.com


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