Archive for June, 2012

Today is the last day to enjoy Foie Gras in California before the CA Foie Gras ban settles in. That being said, there is little time to consume as much of this delicacy as you can before you have to find alternate means of acquiring foie gras. Luckily, there is a place where you can consume a large portion of foie gras in one sitting. When I say large portion, I mean more than what the average person should consume in a day. Of course you could settle with The Playground‘s small foie gras dishes, but you ought to take a look at their 6 oz Grade A Hudson Valley Foie Gras “Burger” before ordering anything else.

There are no words to describe this burger. You are receiving a “burger” made entirely of foie gras… six ounces of it. The average human should not consume more than two ounces daily – any more than that greatly increases cholesterol levels. The intensity of this foie gras will linger in your mouth for days, and you will savor the foie gras’ aftertaste for that long too. You would expect such a fine dish to come with great add-ons. Unfortunately, The Playground never actually describes what is on the burger. In every menu iteration, it simply says Foie Gras “Burger” and nothing more. I can say that there are some kind of caramelized onions (or shallots), a mustard sauce, and lettuce. If there was anything else, it got lost in the madness of the burger. If you want to experience burger madness, this all can be yours for $50 at The Playground in Downtown Santa Ana.

Long Live Foie Gras!

Perhaps you have a favorite restaurant. Perhaps you have a favorite butcher, meat market, or carnicería. Perhaps you have a favorite kosher deli. Perhaps you have a favorite coffee & tea house. Perhaps you have a favorite bar. Perhaps you have a favorite donut shop. You may have all of these already set in your mind, but perhaps you did not know that there is a mecca where you can find ALL of these in one place. That place is the legendary UMAMIcatessen.

The Umami series of restaurants is renowned in Southern California. Umami Burgers are plentiful throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Umami is fine dining at affordable prices, because there is no competition for their offerings. Nothing can compare to what Umami serves. I can honestly say that Umami holds the #1 spot in many of my Top X lists because it is THAT good. However, this post is not about all the Umami restaurants – this post is about what UMAMIcatessen carries, and that is the Foie Gras & Jelly (FG&J) Donut.

The FG&J Donut resembles a filled donut. The donut is filled with Foie Gras mousse & forest berry jame, and topped with powdered sugar & peanuts (yeast). The filling is not mixed together – one side will have the jelly, while the other side will have the foie gras. Many people I know who have ordered this mouthwatering dessert start from the jelly side. I urge you not to start from the jelly side – ALWAYS start from the foie gras side. You want that instant rush of foie to hit your palette like a ton of bricks. Once you savor the foie gras mousse all over your mouth, then you can get to the jame (I really do not know why it is spelled that way on the menu) and other parts of the donut.

If you are reading this while foie gras can still be served, you can splurge on this donut at UMAMIcatessen for just $8. But why stop there? There is a wide expanse of delights to devour at UMAMIcatessen, so even with foie gras gone, your choices will remain abundant.

The Dirty Little Secrets (DLS) Rock Burlesque hails from the Greater Los Angeles Area. Founded in 2010 by Caitlin Litzinger, DLS is Orange County’s longest-running burlesque troupe, performing at various venues from Malibu to West Hollywood to Long Beach to Santa Ana and more. No matter the size or location, DLS custom-tailors their show to the venue. Every DLS member is no stranger to the stage – everyone has a long background in dance and/or performance of different disciplines: cabaret, classical, ballet, contemporary, etc. But in the end, they all love good ol’ fashioned Rock & Roll.

DLS @ The Pike, Long Beach

The dancers of The Dirty Little Secrets love to engage their audiences, and thrive on their reactions. In fact, there are opportunities for viewers like you to become part of the show! All you have to do is show enthusiasm during their act, and you may be selected to come onto the stage. What you will actually do on-stage is to the discretion of the dancer that selected you, but I guarantee that you will have a blast. In fact, I just discovered a photo on their website of me on-stage during one of their shows!

Rumor LaRouge @ The Pike, Long Beach

All the dancers enjoy what they do, but remember that they are human too. True to their DLS personas, every DLS member has their own real-life personality that is easily distinguishable. To see what I mean, go to one of their shows, see how they behave on-stage, then stick around after the show to mingle with the performers. You may find that some of them are just like their DLS character.

Oh and remember: this is Burlesque after all. Be prepared to see some A LOT of skin.

DLS @ The Pike, Long Beach

Alright, enough of me talking for now… I know what you want. You want to see some more pictures, do you! Here is an abridged set of photos from a recent show at Malone’s in Santa Ana:

Check them out, they are The Dirty Little Secrets Rock Burlesque! To find out where they will be performing next, check any of the links below:
Like DLS on Facebook!
Follow DLS on Twitter!

You should not judge a book by its cover. If you do, you may miss these treasures right in the middle of our neighborhoods. Without prior knowledge of what to look for, you may drive right by it. One of Orange County’s most famous restaurants is situated in what appears as an office building from the outside. Once you step inside, a new world unfolds before you… a world known as The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon.

The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon features cuisine from all regions of America. A glance at the menu would give the impression of a steakhouse. Further inspection of the menu reveals that Foie Gras is available as well. Knowing that foie gras will be banned in California soon, I did not hesitate to send the order in.

The Ranch’s Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras comes with Honeycrisp Apple Bread Pudding, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, and a Port Compote. For the full flavor rush, get a little of every layer – combine the compote, bread pudding, mushrooms, and foie gras. You can experience this explosion of all the senses working together to create a soothing symphony for $20 at The Ranch Restaurant in Anaheim. Get on over here quick – you only have a few days until it goes away!

Alternate photo

My Twitter followers know how much I have been talking about this ever since it was announced about a month ago. I had been meaning to track this down for the longest time, but every week I always had plans that kept me away. This time, I knew I could not wait any longer for it to come closer to me – I had to go to get it. I am referring to Vizzi Truck‘s “Hot & Cold” Foie Gras Torchon Slider.

Vizzi Truck is no stranger to foie gras (Spring 2011 menu). With the CA Foie Gras ban starting in a few days, this “Hot & Cold” Foie Gras Torchon Slider is their final saluting farewell to foie gras. This slider comes with Cherry 8 Brix (Verjus) Marmalade, Truckmade Almond Butter, Bacon Bits, and Greens (tasted like Arugula). Let that settle in for a moment. Once you recall the flavor of each ingredient, you will quickly realize that all of your taste buds are working hard to absorb everything going on this little slider. The marmalade brings the sweet & sour, the almond butter brings the smooth nutty taste, the bacon bits add that strong salty kick, and the greens add the bitter veggie taste. In the middle of it all is a THICK slider of pure foie gras. That is not a patty – that mound of foie gras is coated with bacon bits. The foie gras itself is cold and velvety, containing all the foie gras-ness in its purest form fit for this slider.

You only have a few days left to find this! Track down Vizzi Truck before this weekend, and nab yourself a Foie Gras Slider for $15. Believe me, this is time & money well spent.

It appears that ever since the CA Foie Gras ban was passed, chefs all over California have been trying to devise new ways to dole out Foie Gras. I have seen foie gras in PB&J sandwiches, donuts, cheesecake, chocolate truffles, snow cones, martinis, etc. After tasting all these newfangled creations, sometimes you just want to go back to basics and have the original thing. French 75 Bistro & Bar in Laguna Beach does exactly that – foie gras served as itself.

The Sautéed Foie Gras from French 75 rolls with a posse of Macerated Brandy Fig, Homemade Brioche, and Verjus Balsamic Pan Sauce. There is no trick to this dish – simply combine the foie gras with the accompaniment of your choice. You will want to savor every bite for as long as you can, so take small pieces at a time. I cut off a sliver of the foie gras, a tiny slice of the brioche, and a dollop of the fig, and I create a mini crostini. Here you are truly savoring umami, the fifth taste. The fig brings on the sweet and sour, the foie gras carries the fattiness we all love, and the brioche blends it all together with its smooth & buttery texture.

At just $18, French 75‘s Foie Gras is a perfect start, feature, and end to an elegant dinner. Laguna Beach may be far from the urban sprawl of LA & OC, but if you must try something before you kick the bucket, this foie gras is one thing you do not want to miss.

With just days left to enjoy Foie Gras before the CA Foie Gras ban sets in, I had to scramble to discover my next Foie Fixin’ before it is gone. Craving a succulent dessert following a healthy home-cooked dinner, my heart jumped at the thought that a Foie Gras Cheesecake could exist. I quickly realized that a Foie Gras Cheesecake was within reach, so I set off towards Haven Gastropub to try this amazing creation.

This is not any old cheesecake – nothing “any old” about this at all. The cheesecake itself does not come with crust – instead, vanilla crumbles and hibiscus gels are added to accent the savory cheesecake. A savory cheesecake… wicked thoughts rush through my mind thinking about a savory cheesecake. Albeit the foie gras is not visible, one bite of this cheesecake will leave you breathless. Imagine a really juicy slab of foie gras, then add cream cheese and a little sugar to it. What you end up with is a cheesecake bar that will blow your mind away. Toss in some vanilla crumbles for crunch and a slice of hibiscus gel for a fruity kick. 1) You will not want to share this with anyone, and 2) you will want to order another one soon.

So what are you waiting for? You only have a few days left to enjoy this, so get your butt over to Haven Gastropub today and order the Foie Gras Cheesecake!

Pirate Invasion of Belmont Pier
10:00 am – 9:00 pm, June 30
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, July 1
Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Long Beach

Come see and act like pirates at the beach! Visitors may choose to dress as a pirate or arrive in normal clothes. Many others will be fully dressed up to play their parts. There will be pirate shows, vendors, music, a (mock) ship fight, and cannons being fired at the pier. This event is FREE To attend and runs on Saturday & Sunday starting at 10 am both days. If you plan to stay for a while, note that this is entirely outdoors, so have sunscreen available.

Battle of the Tribute Bands
1:00 pm – 6:00 pm, June 30
Rainbow Harbor, Long Beach

Come cheer on the Iron Maidens (Iron Maiden tribute), Debaser (Pixies tribute), the Petty Breakers (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers tribute), the Joshua Tree (U2 tribute) and Hard Day’s Night (Beatles tribute) as they duke it out for the crown of best tribute band.
This is event is FREE and ALL-AGES, so bring the family for a good time. There is plenty of shade and seating available.

Agent Orange w/ The Hitchhikers, Memphis Murder Men, Thee Indigents, and The Hellers
9:00 pm – 1:00 am, June 30
The Juke Joint, Anaheim

Punk Rock legends Agent Orange headline this show at The Juke Joint in Anaheim. $12 cover, ages 21+ only.

Umami Burger Anaheim Grand Opening
11:00 am, July 1
Umami Burger, Anaheim (same location as Anaheim Brewery)

My favorite burger restaurant is completing its trilogy of Orange County locations with the grand opening of its third Umami Burger right where Anaheim Brewery is. The doors are planned to open at 11 am, but if this grand opening will be anything like the last two (Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach), you will want to start lining up before the sun rises. Believe me, there literally were people camping overnight for the Costa Mesa grand opening. There is a reason this is my favorite burger – if you want to know what that reason is, then head to Umami Burger Anaheim this Sunday (or sometime soon after).

The 6th Annual Calabasas Malibu Wine & Food Festival occurred this past weekend on the rooftops of Mercedes-Benz of Calabasas. This gala of food, wine, beer, desserts, celebrity chefs, cars, music, burlesque, and more brought together people from all over to sample the best of Calabasas, Malibu, and select vendors from the Greater Los Angeles Area. Booths and tables were set up all around the rooftops, with many more in the middle aisles.

There was a silent auction set up near the main stage:A red carpet was rolled out at the entrance:

VIP ticketholders could enter at 2pm, while general admission began at 3pm. The fest ended at 6pm on both days. The parking lot for attendees was far and required a shuttle to go to & from the parking lot and the venue. Once you are in, you land in a buffet and could eat & drink all you could. Take a look at some of the food offered at the fest:

I actually was working at this fest – I poured beers for Beverly Hills Beer for most of Saturday, then networked with Long Beach Meet ‘N Eat on Sunday. For as many tiresome drunks we had to put up with, the entire team had lots of fun at this fest.

The Calabasas Malibu Wine & Food Festival is one of the grander events I have attended within the past year. I cannot wait until it returns next year, and I hope you acquire tickets to attend next year as well.

You know it is good if people are willing to wait in a line outside for half an hour in a highly urban neighborhood. You know it is good if other restaurant owners & staff say it is the best they have ever had. You know it is good if people walk up, see the line, walk away, and then a server tells them that they would not enjoy it anyways.

This is all for Griddle Cafe, a breakfast restaurant on Sunset & Fairfax in Hollywood. The folks here at Griddle Cafe take traditional breakfast foods and make them more advanced. From the Red Velvet PanCAKE to the Blueberry Pancakes to the French Toast to the Egg dishes, everything here has a unique spin to it. As I say, to make something successful, you have to do one of two things: Invent, or Reinvent. In the case of Griddle Cafe, I believe they have effectively done both. I cannot quite describe it, but perhaps these pictures will do the explaining for me.

“Peanut Bubba” Crunchy French Toast – Egg-dipped bread griddle dipped in a peanut butter crunch, topped with powdered sugar and whipped butter

“Poached y Papas” Benedict – A thick slice of tender baked ham and two poached eggs served atop seasoned potato skins, covered in Hollandaise sauce

Who would think of this? First off, the Benedict is served not over English muffins, but potato skins! This actually is quite genius because the skins perfectly catch the Hollandaise sauce and the drippings from the ham and eggs. In addition to already being seasoned, once you get to eating the potato skins, they will be loaded with the flavors of everything else, creating the guiltiest bites of the dish. Speaking of guilty, just look at that French Toast. Not only was the bread coated in an egg batter, but it gets further dipped in a peanut butter coating before frying and adding sugar and cream. I fail to see much nutritional value in it, but boy did I savor every bite. After all, I do have a weakness for peanut butter 🙂

If you plan to visit Griddle Cafe, try to come with one other person – with Griddle Cafe’s demand, waiting for a table for two is quicker than waiting for a table for more. If you do not mind walking, the neighborhoods east of Fairfax have 2-hour parking for free. Griddle Cafe has been recommended by many locals & tourists for a reason – if not for their Red Velvet PanCAKE, then… well who am I kidding, you want the Red Velvet PanCAKE. Go to Griddle Cafe and start off your day RIGHT.

Griddle Cafe
7916 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 874-0377
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