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Orange County ITINERARY

Cool Time

Stylish library has super air-conditioning. And a rink is nearby.

March 19, 1998|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Aliso Viejo Ice Palace may be cool, but the brand-new Aliso Viejo Library is cooler still. And the library's air-conditioning system is super-cool--literally! Nearby, you can find everything from A to Z Pizza.

MORNING 1

Look for the 40-foot granite clock tower. Industrial-strength Postmodern stylings of the Aliso Viejo Library, which opened in January, inspire confidence, while open spaces and graceful Art Deco touches make it inviting. (Logicians alert: Now that modernism is a thing of the past, can a building be anything but postmodern?)

Aliso Library Cafe is planned for the garden atrium. Rotating displays recently included Chinese items such as mud figurines (actually unglazed clay), brush paintings and expressive fur animals; near the reference desk is "Art of African Ritual and Regalia."

Also inside are a cozy lounge area complete with fireplace, "literacy rooms" for tutoring and a "quiet room" for serious studying. Computer terminals offer Internet access. The 82,000-plus collection includes magazines, books-on-tape, videos and compact discs. If you have a library card from any of the 27 county libraries, you won't need a new one to check out materials.

At the library's Friends Bookstore, paperback fiction is 25 cents, most hardcover volumes $1 ($2 tops). A section called Books Into Movies, Movies Into Books is sure to be popular.

Now about that air-conditioning: The Thermo (Ice) Storage System's chiller makes ice during the night; during the day, when energy costs three times as much, pumps circulate an ethyl-glycol solution between tubes embedded in the ice, which super-cools the solution.

Super-cool!

LUNCH 2

Z Pizza may be a chain--there are six, all in Southern California--but that doesn't take away from the fact that Z Pizza serves some of the tastiest pizza around. Whole pizzas are $5.25-$11.25; "international" or "gourmet" pizzas $8.50-$17.50. Among the latter are Provence (artichokes, sausage or anchovies with capers, garlic, tomatoes and basil) and Bombay (marinated chicken, Yukon gold potatoes, cauliflower, cilantro and vindaloo sauce). Pizza by the slice is $1.50 for cheese, $2.05 for pepperoni, $2.55 for rotating international choices.

AFTERNOON 3

Even on weekday afternoons, the Ice Palace skating rink is a twirl-wind of activity. Public admission is $7.50, $1.50 for skate rentals.

Eight-week instructional courses--including learn-to-skate and beginning ice-hockey classes and an adults-only Coffee Club--are usually $96. Another is Baby Blades, a play group for ages 2 to 3 that includes instruction, skate rentals and public-session passes for $65. Lessons and clinics are offered at all ability levels; there are ice-hockey leagues from 4 years old through adult.

Books in the Ultimate Skate & Hockey pro shop include "Born to Skate: The Michelle Kwan Story," by Edward Z. Epstein (no relation to this writer). Current promotions include a figure dress special--skating dress, fancy gloves, jewelry and tights for $69.95--and a seven-item introductory skating package for $129.95 that includes figure skates, skate guards, skate bag, skating gloves, sweatshirt, "soakers" or tights, and first-time sharpening.

DESSERT 4

Kelly's Coffee & Fudge Factory opened Friday the 13th (of February) and celebrated its one-month anniversary last Friday the 13th.

"It's been good luck for us," said Marcos Diaz, self-described barrista, which means he serves the drinks. Pies include chocolate peanut butter pie and Oreo cookie bash pie ($2.95 per slice, $35 per 14-piece pie). Cappuccino fudge is $2.50 per quarter-pound. Other chocolate delights include "melt-aways" (layered chocolate, walnut and coconut, $1.50) and chocolate-covered marshmallow sticks ($2.50 per quarter-pound, about 40 cents each). Not all delights are chocolate: Consider the oatmeal cookies ($1), soft, chewy, not too sweet--just the way they should be.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

1) Aliso Viejo Library

1 Journey, (714) 360-1730.

10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday. (Bookstore open 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday.)

2) Z Pizza

26921 Aliso Creek Road, Suite D, (714) 425-0102.

11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

3) Ice Palace

9 Journey, (714) 643-9648.

Public skating 9 a.m.-noon and 2-4:45 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 9 a.m.-noon and 2-4:45 p.m. and 6:15-8:30 p.m. Wednesday; 9 a.m.-noon, 2-4:45 p.m. and 7:30-9:30 p.m. Friday; 12:30-3 p.m. and 7:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday; and 12:30-3 p.m. Sunday.

4) Kelly's Coffee & Fudge Factory

26921 Aliso Creek Road, Suite J, (714) 360-0525.

5:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.

*

Parking: There is ample free parking in lots at each location.

Buses: OCTA Bus No. 377 (Laguna Hills-Dana Point) runs along Aliso Creek Road with a stop at Pacific Park Drive.

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