The House That Tile Built

After Baja I went to LA to visit friends. (California seduces me with the weather but I don’t think I could cope with the traffic.) One day we drove to Malibu to tour the historic Adamson House—a wow especially as it’s not always open. At one point, the Rindge family owned pretty much all of present day Malibu, buying the property in 1892 for roughly $10 an acre. (Thirty years later, it became the most valuable single real estate holding in the United States—think 20 miles of coastland.) When she was widowed, May Rindge, a woman with more than her share of moxie, found herself land-rich and cash-poor so she looked for oil on the property. Instead she found buff and red clay and voila:  the creation of Malibu Potteries, a short-lived but  influential tile company that produced authentic versions of Mayan, Moorish, Moroccan, Saracen, and Persian- design tile.

From Malibu Potteries

In 1929, May’s daughter, Rhoda, and her husband, Merritt Adamson, used thirteen acres of the property to build a beach house. Now, set in gorgeous grounds, it’s a National Historic Monument and a California State Park. You need a docent to tour the Spanish Colonial style house. After passing through the front door which is surrounded by tile, you visit most of the rooms including an entryway with a Persian carpet made of tile right down to the rug fringes

Note fringe

and a bathroom tiled on all sides including the ceiling. Outdoors are several terrific fountains (tiled, of course); a magnificent tiled pool overlooking the ocean and a huge (tiled) bathtub where the Adamson family bathed their dogs. There is also a pool house that was commandeered by the military during WWII to house officers (enlisted men got tents.)

Dog bath–when only tile will do for Fido

The whole thing is “how the other half lived with tile’ – it’s very unusual and makes a great half-day visit. For the full Monte, here is the link to the property: http://www.adamsonhouse.org/main.php

This recipe showcases lemons, one of the quintessential Californian fruits. It’s easy, makes 4 dozen pieces AND you cut it into bars which are sort of like tiles, right?

Lemon Angel Cake Bars

For the bars:

1 package (16 ounces) angel food cake mix (see, a mix!)

1 can (15-3/4 ounces) lemon pie filling (and a can!)

1 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut

For the frosting:

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix cake mix, pie filling and coconut until blended; spread into a greased 15 x 10 x1-in. baking pan.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. Spread over cooled bars; sprinkle with lemon zest. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Cut into bars (or triangles.)

You could drink a good California wine with whatever preceded the lemon bars or slosh lemon juice into your iced tea. Whistle California Here I Come as you pass the bars. Enjoy not being stuck in traffic.

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