Archive for December, 2014

2014 has proved quite an eventful year. The world has gone through some significant changes that allow us to say that we have lived through history. 2014 has proved itself a rocky year for me personally – uncertainty of occupations, a better camera, event opportunities, and new foods all arrived at my doorstep this year. Although I have lost count of all the amazing new foods I have tried this year, the following five foods have truly cemented their legacy into my mind and heart.

5. Pop’s Cafe‘s Deep-Fried French Toast

Most people recognize French toast as thick bread soaked in an egg wash and then grilled. Pop’s Cafe in Santa Ana reinvents French toast by deep-frying it instead. I would not recommend this to anyone on a diet – basically, each bite feels like biting into a warm stick of butter. As if that does not sound fattening enough, the Deep-Fried French Toast comes with a dollop of butter and syrup. Perhaps if you had a long night out drinking, this may sound delicious. As disgusting as this made me feel after eating it, I will never forget that this exists.

4. Pizzanista!‘s Macaroni & Cheese Pizza

What do you get when you combine two very popular comfort foods? You get a Macaroni & Cheese Pizza of course! The artsy folks at Pizzanista! in the arts district of Downtown Los Angeles come up with strange yet unique combinations of toppings, which lends well to the name of the business. On Sundays only, visitors can snag this carb mountain known as the Macaroni & Cheese Pizza, which has tomato sauce, elbow macaroni, and four cheeses: asiago, fontina, cheddar, and grana padano. Order a slice for $4, or take home a whole pie for $28. Either way, after eating this, you will probably feel like running a marathon to burn off all those carbs.

3. Pellicola Pizzeria‘s Nutella Pie

Since a young age, I often favored sweet toppings over the desserts themselves. Examples include condensed milk (Lechera), peanut butter, and hazelnut spread (Nutella). Although the public sees Nutella as children’s food, many adults still appreciate the chocolatey spread, albeit it contains no real nutritional value. The creators at Pellicola Pizzeria in Downtown Los Angeles love Nutella so much that they adapted in into their menu with a Nutella Pie. Resembling a quesadilla more so than a pie, this slice of heaven contains sliced almonds and a generous amount of Nutella, and gets topped with powdered sugar and more Nutella. Munch into a slice for $3.50, or take home a whole pie to save for later or to share – a medium pie costs $13, while a large pie costs $17.

2. The Compass‘ Cast Iron Baked Macaroni & Cheese w/ Braised Beef Short Rib

Despite the excessive carb count, macaroni and cheese holds a dear spot in the hearts of many. Even my sister, a fitness fanatic who abstains from carbs, cannot resist a succulent mac & cheese. So when I discovered what The Compass in Carlsbad had on their menu, I knew right away I had to broadcast the fact. Their menu contains standard gastropub faire, but something else about their Cast Iron Baked Macaroni & Cheese jumped out to my eyes: the option to add Braised Beef Short Rib. This one addition alone turned this dish up to one past ten. Sadly, this costs so much for a small serving, but when you focus on quality over quantity, you can splurge yourself once in a while.

1. Sarita’s Pupuseria‘s Pupusas

Until I discovered Vchos Truck, I had never heard of a Pupusa in my entire life. Once I tried a pupusa from that truck, I retained that taste in the back of my mind until the day I could find the best authentic pupusa ever. My search landed me at Sarita’s Pupuseria in the heart of Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles. I have tried many pupusas all over Southern California, but none other compares to these ones. The customer favorite, revueltas, contains pork, beans, and cheese. As a purist, I go for just pork in my pupusas, as the beans and cheese can interfere with the savoriness of the pork. You do not even need any sauce – the fillings contain so much flavor that you will want to get right back in line and order more to eat right there and take home the rest.

Who can say No to tender meat? Meat eaters vastly agree that tender meat always hits the spot. Whether it comes in the form of a medium rare filet mignon to fall-off-the-bone ribs to juicy brisket to flaky short rib, a tender cut of meat always leaves us satisfied. Sometimes this comes to us as an entrée, while other times it comes in something else, such as a sandwich. For example, take a look at the 38 Degrees Ale House menu, and you will discover a section reserved for Exotic burgers/sandwiches. Of particular note, the Pork Cheek Sandwich stands out the most with its braised pork cheek, grilled onions, poached quince, mesclun, and herbed aioli. The combination of the onions and quince give this a sweet and slightly tart topping to go with this amazing tender pork cheek. One bite, and you can just imagine sinking your teeth into a perfectly braised short rib sandwich, except this contains pork cheek.

As this sandwich resides in the Exotic section, the Pork Cheek Sandwich does not have permanent residency on 38 Degrees Ale House’s menu. Head on over to 38 Degrees soon and savor this sandwich for $15, which comes with house fries that you can upgrade to sweet potato fries for $2. While dining, check out their extensive craft beer selection!

Ska Luau V
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, December 30
House of Blues, Anaheim
http://www.houseofblues.com/anaheim/events/eventdetail/?viewNav=/event-detail&eventId=09004D55038165C8&oid=0

Time to skank! Get all ska’d out with Suburban Legends, Failed To Victory, the Magnolia Polynesian Dance Troupe, and more at this all-ages show at the House of Blues at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. Tickets cost $12.50 presale or $15 at the door. Guests may park for free for up to five hours with the venue’s wristband as validation, so time arrival accordingly.

Various New Year’s Eve Dinners/Parties
Nighttime, December 31

Anywhere you go on New Year’s Eve, you will find a dinner or party of some sort. See below for a VERY brief list of what to expect. Please party responsibly and commute safely. Minimize your time on the road if possible.

Dinner @ Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach
Dinner @ The Factory, Long Beach
Party @ Grand Park, Los Angeles
Party @ Angel City Brewery, Los Angeles
Party @ Good Beer Company, Santa Ana
Party @ Downtown Long Beach

The Aggrolites @ Alex’s Bar
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, December 31
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach
http://www.alexsbar.com/event/185431

Ring in the new year with The Aggrolites at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach. Admission costs $20 presale and $25 at the door. No one under 21 may enter. Guests should park in the neighborhood across the street from Alex’s Bar or on Orizaba Avenue.

2015 New Year’s Race + Health & Fitness Expo
12:00 pm – 7:00 pm, January 2
9:00 am – 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 12:00 am, January 3
Downtown Los Angeles
http://www.newyearsrace.com/

Kick off the new year with this fun run lasting your choice of 5k, 10k, or a half marathon. Registration varies depending on age and the course, but all participants receive with registration a medal, a shirt or sweater, admission to the expo & fair, a goodie bag, post-race recovery foods, and more. A health & fitness expo will take place at the Biltmore Hotel on Friday and Saturday afternoon, and all race participants can attend that expo. The race starts on 7th Street and goes up to around Grand Park and Chinatown, while half marathon runners will run through Dodger Stadium. This event WILL close off multiple streets in Downtown Los Angeles, something that rarely occurs, so you definitely will not want to miss this sight.

First Fridays
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, January 2
Various locations
Long Beach: http://firstfridayslongbeach.com/
Venice: http://www.abbotkinney1stfridays.com/

This monthly artwalk occurs on the first Friday of every month. Each location offers different activities, but most will contain food & drink specials, art exhibits & displays, street performers, and more. Venice and Long Beach have the two largest gatherings of all First Fridays. Other locations include Westchester, Fullerton, and City of Industry. Most First Fridays locations cost nothing to attend, while the local businesses uphold their standard rules (e.g. bars 21+ only).

La Pobreska @ White Oak Music & Arts
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, January 2
White Oak Music & Arts, Van Nuys
http://www.facebook.com/events/808244075907073/

Check out this skacore show this Friday night in Van Nuys. The show listing does not specify a cover charge or age limit, so arrive with caution.

Doll Hut Reopening Anniversary Weekend
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, January 2
2:00 pm – 11:00 pm, January 3-4
The World Famous Doll Hut, Anaheim
http://www.facebook.com/events/557979274336912/

A year ago, the Doll Hut reopened their doors to the public. This weekend, they celebrate a year back in business with a couple of shows, starting with a free punk show on Friday night. No one under 21 may enter.

The Secret Affair – 60’s Night
9:00 pm – 1:00 am, January 2
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach
http://www.alexsbar.com/event/190704

Occurring on every month’s first Friday, this 60’s night at Alex’s Bar will play all vinyl music of motown, northern soul, boogaloo, 60’s pop, and more. Feel free to dress up too, as the bar staff will hold costume contests and dance contests.

Ska Punk Fest 2015
12:00 pm – 12:00 am, January 3
13th Frame Lounge, La Habra
http://www.facebook.com/events/291734004358137/

Skank all day and all night at Ska Punk Fest this Saturday in La Habra. The cover for this show costs $7 for those under 21, and $5 for those of legal drinking age.

The Casualties & The Bad Engrish
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, January 3, Jewel’s Catch One, Arlington Heights, Los Angeles http://www.facebook.com/events/678291622287992/
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, January 4, The Observatory, Santa Ana, http://www.observatoryoc.com/event/%20The-Casualties

Famous punk band The Casualties will headline two shows in Southern California this weekend. Tickets to these all-ages shows cost $10 for the Saturday show in LA, or $5 presale or $10 on the day of the show for OC.

Skate Punk Fest 2015
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, January 4
The Roxy Theatre, West Hollywood
http://www.theroxy.com/event/691765-jfa-pulley-west-hollywood/

Skate Punk Fest returns! Rock out with JFA, Pulley, and more at this intense all-ages show at The Roxy in West Hollywood. Tickets to this show cost $15.

Indulge LA, a chocolate, wine, and champagne festival, returns for its annual run this Sunday at the Olympic Collection in West LA. As LA’s greatest fest of its kind, Indulge brings the best of chefs, bakers, pâtissiers, wineries, distilleries, and more to display to attendees of all ages. General admission costs $45, starts at 2pm, and provides access to UNLIMITED tastings of all food, dessert, and drinks, alcohol included. VIP admission costs $95 and starts at 1pm. Last call happens around 3:45pm, and the events end promptly at 4pm. The venue sets the parking fee, which ranges from $5 to $10. Avoid parking in the neighborhoods, as all streets have one or two hour parking only before getting a parking ticket.

Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine performing California Über Alles at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, CA. Filmed on April 17, 2013.

For the longest time ever, humans have this unexplainable fascination with bacon. Vegans and vegetarians love to get mad at people for consuming it, while those that do consume it praise it as the almighty food among foods. Even now, those who do not eat meat can have their bacon with Coconut Bacon. We all must remember that times change, so while bacon continues to reign in its popularity, other foods have risen to compete with bacon. Short rib has garnered some attention in the past few years, as have pork belly. Pork belly basically represents unsliced whole bacon, and everyone who loves bacon would definitely love pork belly. Pork belly has started to appear in many more restaurants, such as at PUBlic 74 in San Juan Capistrano.

Having just opened their doors to the public earlier this year, PUBlic 74 has come to Orange County to deliver their take on the modern gastropub. With roots in Temecula, the folks over at PUBlic 74 boast industry experience, and hope to translate that over to this new spot in San Juan Capistrano. PUBlic 74 has all the fixin’s of a typical gastropub: craft beer, spirits, and fancy food. Their menu changes quite often, so their current menu may not appear on their website. For example, their current menu features a sandwich called The Fallin BL No T “Spanglish” that represents a modified version of the BLT that appears on their website. This sandwich contains hand-cut wood-smoked pork belly, cheesy sautéed spinach, a fried egg, and whole-grain mustard vin. Anyone ordering this will certainly get their hands messy while devouring this melty sandwich. I rarely advise this, but cutting this sandwich may help to contain the ingredients in this sandwich. The pork belly by itself tastes amazing, but some bites may contain more spinach that will overpower the pork belly. I suggest trying to spread out the spinach to prevent clumps of it, in order to maintain a consistent flavor throughout the sandwich. Oh, and this sandwich comes with fries that they season with what I can best describe as a barbecue rub. The fries alone also make this a worthy dish to order.

Feeling hungry while driving through San Juan Capistrano? Stop by PUBlic 74 and savor this meat for $14.50. Enjoy one of their signature drinks, or pair this nicely with an IPA to balance the flavor.

For a few years already, the craft beer scene has grown rapidly in Orange County, but moreso in the northern half of Orange County than the southern half. With big hits like The Bruery, Bootlegger’s Brewery, and Noble Ale Works all within a few miles from each other, travelers from all over can appreciate the local beer availability in this area. Most of the craft beer places in North Orange County form a geographical cluster that allows for craft beer enthusiasts to easily connect the dots and visit multiple locations in a short period of time. Down in South Orange County, craft beer places exists so few and far between that nobody has a centralized location or region to enjoy craft beer. Breweries such as Cismontane or Left Coast lie so far from each other that people rarely complete a brewery tour in South Orange County. Citizens of South Orange County usually had to travel to North Orange County or North San Diego County to enjoy their craft beer; however, the time has come for South Orange County to no longer need to travel far to enjoy a cold one. Enter The Brew House, the first original tap house of South Orange County.

Tucked away in the back of a lengthy strip mall in San Juan Capistrano, The Brew House has delivered the ultimate craft beer destination to South Orange County. With 30 beers on draft and over 100 bottled beers for your drinking pleasure, The Brew House will surely please anyone’s palate. Imagine the “hang out” atmosphere of a coffee shop, then mix that with a beer tasting room, and you essentially have what The Brew House behaves as. First-time visitors may enter the place and believe that the folks here brew their own beer. While they have devised their own brews in the past, they have yet to introduce it to this tap room. For now, they feel content to serve up beers from dozens of breweries from around the world. They strive to make this a place that people will want to not just visit and go, but stay to enjoy some drinks and relax. They have accomplished that with free wi-fi, outlets for electronic devices, furniture, and food in the form of bar snacks or the occasional mobile food vendor (customers may bring their own food in). As far as non-beer beverages go, they have a few wine varieties available for those who want it. In the future, I would love to see them brew craft sodas.

With its location right off a major freeway, craft beer enthusiasts now have a true destination in South Orange County rather than seeing it only as a passage from San Diego to North Orange County. Now that they have officially opened their doors to the public, stop on in soon and see what amazing beers you may discover here. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter for news and updates from behind the tap room.