A kid-friendly cultural attraction that aspires to move to the Orange County Great Park will have to wait. The Irvine City Council failed to approve a memorandum of understanding with Pretend City Children’s Museum to build up to a 65,000-square-foot facility with a 1-acre outdoor space. The vote was 2-2, with Mayor Wagner and Mayor Pro Tem Schott voting no, while Councilmembers Christina Shea and Melissa Fox were in favor. Councilman Jeff Lalloway was absent. Wagner made the point that, whether he’s for or against a particular project, piecemeal approval of amenities that may become part of the Cultural Terrace is not the way to plan for the important aspect of the Great Park. Pretend City has $5.5 million in county funding toward its much-needed move from its current location in a tilt-up commercial building near Los Olivos in the Irvine Spectrum, with funding contingent on a lease for city land.
Fine dining in Irvine suffered a blow when Prego Ristorante closed its doors this year after 30 years serving as a culinary power center in the Irvine Business Complex. Davio’s, an East Coast Italian steakhouse, will take Prego’s space. But good news for Prego fans: the restaurant has found a new home at the District in Tustin. Prego will be replacing another OC-owned favorite: Bluewater Grill. There are other Bluewaters to enjoy, including a new spot coming to Carlsbad, and the owners are also developing a new restaurant at the end of the Newport Pier. Count us among those who endure long waits to enjoy Din Tai Fung’s delicious dumplings, especially Shanghai specialty xiaolong bao. Irvine will have an alternative when Paper Lantern opens this month at Diamond Jamboree. It will be a fast-casual concept featuring five types of dumplings and cool takes on Chinese comfort food. Paper Lantern is another project for Allan Tea, who has the Hello Kitty Café at the Spectrum and who with his family runs Irvine-based Capital Seafood Group with two seafood restaurants and one noodle bar already in Irvine. At Paper Lantern, Tea is partnering with Kenny Lim, whose family runs Mama Lu’s Dumpling House in the San Gabriel Valley, and the team includes former Din Tai Fung chef Ken Cao. We can’t wait to try the dumplings at Paper Lantern. In fact, put us down for a dozen.
UCI study says ‘eat less, live longer’
On second thought, perhaps we’ll only have three or four dumplings: One of UCI’s leading research scientists says that a low-calorie diet may keep our bodies younger. “Caloric restriction works by rejuvenating the biological clock in a most powerful way,” says Paolo Sassone-Corsi, director of UCI’s Center for Epigenetics and Metabolism. The study published in the journal Cell is the first to show that calorie restriction influences the body’s circadian rhythms’ involvement with the aging process in cells… in mice, at least. Young and old mice were studied. Older cells processed energy inefficiently in the older mice compared to the younger. But in a second group of aged mice that were fed a diet with 30 percent fewer calories for six months, energy processing within cells was more than unchanged. “Keeping the rhythm of stem cells ‘young’ is important, because these cells serve to renew and preserve very pronounced day-night cycles in tissue. Eating less appears to prevent tissue aging and, therefore, prevent stem cells from reprogramming their circadian activities,” according to Salvador Aznar Benitah, a scientist with Barcelona Institute for Research in Biomedicine who collaborated with the UCI researchers. A good biological clock means good aging, explains Sassone-Corsi, one of the world’s leading researchers on circadian rhythms, epigenetics and metabolism. While further study is needed, the scientists say. The implications for human aging could be far-reaching.