Archive for September, 2015

When the seasons change, many more things change than just the weather. Looking at the weather alone, Southern California currently experiences a massive heat wave that may make you believe that the seasons had not turned yet. The pharmaceutical industry has come under heavy scrutiny. Scientists have discovered flowing water on Mars. A drought threatens the inhabitation of California. As a society, we cannot accurately predict what radical event will change the world next, but we can brace ourselves for anything, as we always have in the past as an enduring society. We can also fall back on what we typically associate with this time of the year. Fall, as we know it, indicates pumpkins, red wine, NFL, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the fall harvest, especially the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, giving us a reason to gorge on Mooncakes. Looking at all these opportunities to feast on favorable foods, we should not overlook outdoor grilling, nor the foods prepared that way. Though the winds will chill the air more so than in the summer, many folks will still utilize the grill up through Thanksgiving. In homage of the veritable fall feast, take a look at these five burgers in the Greater Los Angeles Area that I highly recommend seeking out this season.

5. Pie ‘n Burger‘s Cheeseburger

Two major archetypes of people exist: the adventurous and the safe. By human nature, people prefer the familiar – after all, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This explains why corporate products can survive for so long because they continue to serve the exact same product that people grew up with. Because something has never changed over time, that must mean that people love it, right? For something traditional that the people always go back to, look no further than Pie ‘n Burger. This little diner in Pasadena has withstood the test of time with their simplistic approach to traditional diner foods in burgers, milkshakes, and pies. Pie ‘n Burger not only makes food that all customers recognize, but they make them delicious as well that rivals corporate equivalents. Pie ‘n Burger’s basic Cheeseburger may remind some people of other famous fast food burgers because of its cheddar, thousand island sauce, pickles, and lettuce. However, something about Pie ‘n Burger’s old-fashioned cheeseburger just makes it so much better than fast food. Pair this cheeseburger with a milkshake or a fresh slice of pie, and you have a terrific meal that may remind you of your childhood.

4. The Blind Pig‘s Bison Burger

Fancy hip gastropubs have surfaced greatly over the past handful of years. The new wave of millennials crave something new and unique, unlike the previous generations that prefer to stick with the familiar. The days of family restaurants have passed, and smaller intimate restaurants have grown in popularity with the customers getting closer to their servers and mixologists. The dining experience should encompass more than just the food – it should involve atmosphere, community, and interactivity, and you can experience all of that at The Blind Pig Kitchen & Bar. Nestled away in a shopping center in Rancho Santa Margarita, The Blind Pig’s smaller dining area seats groups of two to four and allows customers to feel closer to their servers and mixologists. While they boast an extensive offering of cocktails, The Blind Pig also serves some mighty fine cuisine, including their Bison Burger. This burger with a 100% ground bison patty comes with arugula, caramelized onions, cheddar, and spicy aioli, served with fries. Bison typically has less fat than beef and has a gamier taste, giving a different approach to the typical burger. You can savor this burger at The Blind Pig for $15.

3. True Food Kitchen‘s Bison Burger

With the widespread use of the internet came all the exposures of bad food industry practices. From the inhumane treatment of animals to all the fillers in food, people started to demand better food quality, and most food companies had to oblige or risk losing business. While the corporate businesses struggled to change their ways, local businesses started fresh and adopted a wholesome and healthy approach to their menus, something that True Food Kitchen accomplished right off the bat. Best known for their anti-inflammatory ingredients, True Food Kitchen truly delivers good good-for-you food. Their menu covers all types of diets, from vegan to gluten-free and more. For those without dietary restrictions, True Food Kitchen still has an expansive menu that includes savory dishes such as their Bison Burger. Using a 100% ground bison patty, this delicious yet healthy burger gets topped with mushrooms, onions, mayonnaise, watercress, and parmesan cheese on a flax seed bun. For your side, you can choose Sweet Potato Hash, Kale Salad, or half of each. I typically do not enjoy mushrooms, but I made the exception just so I could savor this burger’s true essence, and I have no regrets. Every ingredient plays an important role towards the full picture of this burger. Experience health and flavor all in one bite with the Bison Burger at True Food Kitchen for $16.

2. Village Idiot‘s Griddle Burger

With all these newfangled restaurants popping up everywhere, sometimes it helps to exhibit a little modesty. Young adults want to visit the trendiest, hippest restaurants and/or bars because of interaction and mingling with others of similar age and personality. With so many of these new places around, some restaurants or bars just want to resemble the go-to place away from all the hustle of noisy places. Enter the Village Idiot in West Hollywood as your go-to place to relax. The Village Idiot looks like your typical neighborhood restaurant with no frills or anything fancy inside. They have an old-fashioned bar with plenty of seating in the dining area, perfect for parties of all sizes. With a wide array of food and drink options, Village Idiot will have something for everyone. For something familiar yet scrumptious, go with their Griddle Burger. This simple yet effective $15 burger carries two patties along with dijon spread and a heaping serving of caramelized onions, with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and fries on the side. Accessorize your burger with cheese or a fried egg at an additional cost. Available throughout the day, this burger will help you get away from the bustle of daily life momentarily while you savor this local flavor.

1. Wagyu Chuck‘s BBQ Bacon Burger

A corporate fast food business recently released a commercial where they pushed the phrase “Go big or go home” constantly throughout the ad. The notion of “all or nothing” greatly applies to all aspects of life. Why half-ass something when you can go full-ass into something? If you do not go all-in, that shows lack of commitment. When you go out to eat, you can either eat healthy or you can eat something full of flavor that can ruin your health. State fairs have things like deep-fried twinkie bars because YOLO. But if you intend to think YOLO with your food, you might as well seek the best foods that fit that archetype, so trek on over to Wagyu Chuck for your fill. One of many food stands in Downtown Santa Ana’s 4th Street Market, Wagyu Chuck makes burgers and only burgers. They specialize in burgers, and will not offer you anything else… except maybe a side of fried potatoes. The standard menu contains a single, double, or triple burger, but occasionally they will have burger specials, such as the BBQ Bacon Burger. While the name itself sounds amazing, I hope that you do not have a diet plan if you intend to conquer this. Greasy, oily, and salty, the combination of bacon, fried onions, cheese, and barbecue sauce all on top of a wagyu beef patty leaves a profound effect on your tastebuds and your stomach. Savor this burger with small bites, as you will not ever want this burger to end. As a burger special, Wagyu Chuck may not carry this on their menu forever, so travel to Wagyu Chuck as soon as possible and see what a true burger should taste like.

This past Saturday, Long Beach’s 4th Street Retro Row hosted their first annual Four on 4th event, an opportunity for visitors to stroll up and down Retro Row while sampling local food and drinks. Visitors paid for a wristband and glass ($25 presale or $30 on the day of the event), which allowed the visitors to receive beer and wine samples at participating businesses along Retro Row. Visitors started at one of two check-in spots (Art Du Vin and Restauration), and from there could walk to all the different participants’ locations, or ride in a complimentary trolley to get from one end to the other. While all the retail and services businesses served free drinks to visitors, the participating restaurants merely had specials, so visitors had to pay additional money to sample anything from the restaurants, albeit at a discounted rate. For example, Long Beach United Boxing Club poured Stone Brewing‘s beers, but Lola’s Mexican Cuisine only had specials. A few breweries sent actual reps to this event for representation: Ballast Point, Uinta Brewing, and Firestone Walker each sent a rep to man a beer-pouring station inside a different business each. I spotted Bell’s Brewery and Knee Deep Brewing without a rep, but I never found Drake’s Brewing.

Just like Los Angeles, within the city of Long Beach lies numerous different neighborhoods each uniquely defined by its constituents. From the bustling Belmont Shore to the luxurious Naples Island to the family-friendly Bixby Knolls to Little Cambodia (the largest Cambodian population outside of Cambodia), Long Beach has a neighborhood fitting for everyone. Many of these neighborhoods occasionally host “Taste Of ____” events that allow visitors to sample food and drinks from the local businesses, including neighborhoods such as Belmont Shore’s Stroll & Savor, Taste of Downtown Long Beach, and Bixby Knolls First Fridays. 4th Street’s Retro Row used to have Last Saturdays where the local shops would have specials, but that monthly event stopped occurring years ago. Perhaps they can bring back some extra visitors to Retro Row with an annual event in Four on 4th. Coincidentally, Four on 4th took place on a Last Saturday!

For an event running for the first time, this did not run completely smooth without hiccups. Less than a few hundred people attended this event, perhaps due to poor marketing of this event. Any advertising of this event did not disclose enough information, but luckily I arrived early enough to find out the mechanics of this event. While I originally arrived in the middle of Retro Row, I did not know that I had to check in at the far ends of Art Du Vin or Restauration. I also did not know that admission provided NO food at all – I expected to receive some food samples, but discovered that we had to pay for any food at all. I do anticipate that, despite a few beginner’s mistakes, Retro Row will bring back Four on 4th next year. See what else goes on at Retro Row by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

2015 Taste of Arcadia
5:30 pm – 9:00 pm, September 28
Los Angeles County Arboretum, Arcadia
http://arcadiacachamber.org/events/taste-of-arcadia/

The annual Taste of Arcadia returns TONIGHT, so for those planning to go, buy the $65 presale tickets now, or pay $80 at the door. More than 40 food vendors will serve samples, while over 30 other vendors will keep guests occupied between eats.

42nd Los Angeles Korean Festival
3:00 pm – 11:00 pm, October 1
10:00 am – 11:00 pm, October 2-4
Seoul International Park, Koreatown
http://www.lakoreanfestival.org/en/index.php

Immerse yourself in Korean culture at this four-day Korean festival in Koreatown this weekend. Free to attend for all ages, this festival will have food, drinks, treats, music, entertainment, rides, games, arts & crafts, merchandise, vendors, and much more.

Pumpkin Beers Release
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, October 1
Valiant Brewing, Orange
http://www.valiantbrewing.com/two-pumpkin-beers-one-day/

Valiant Brewing will release two new pumpkin beers this Thursday evening. No admission required – simply show up and enjoy a cold one.

San Gabriel Dumpling & Beer Fest
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, October 1
San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, San Gabriel
http://sangabrielcity.com/dumplingbeerfest

The San Gabriel Valley puts their spin on Oktoberfest with this dumpling & beer fest this Thursday night in San Gabriel. Free to attend for all ages, this festival will feature numerous dumpling vendors, other food vendors, live entertainment, a craft beer garden, and more. A wristband for unlimited beer sampling costs $20 presale or $25 at the gate. All food comes at cost, so bring plenty of cash for that.

42nd La Mesa Oktoberfest
12:00 pm – 10:00 pm, October 2-3
La Mesa Village, La Mesa
http://www.lmvma.com/SeasonalEvents/Oktoberfest.aspx

Enjoy a family-fun Oktoberfest celebration this weekend in La Mesa. Free to attend for all ages, this Oktoberfest celebration will have all the usual Oktoberfest festivities such as dance, music, sausages, pretzels, beer, and more. In addition, visitors will find hundreds of vendors, arts & crafts, games, and more activities for all ages.

58th Annual Tustin Tiller Days
4:00 pm – 11:00 pm, October 2
11:00 am – 11:00 pm, October 3
11:00 am – 7:00 pm, October 4
Columbus Tustin Park, Tustin
http://www.tustintillerdays.org/

Bring the family out to this all-ages city fair this weekend. Free to attend, this fair has everything that a family can enjoy, from the rides and games for kids, to the entertainment and vendors for adults. Remember to check out all the fair food, drinks, and dessert too, since buying food here supports local organizations and businesses. Guests can find free street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods.

First Fridays
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, October 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).

2nd Annual Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival
6:30 pm – 11:00 pm, October 2
11:00 am – 5:00 pm, October 3-4
Newport Beach Civic Center, Newport Beach
http://newportwineandfood.com/

Lots of activity will take place in the culinary world this weekend in Newport Beach. On Friday night, a VIP party will take place with a cocktail reception and a three-course food & wine pairing dinner. On Saturday and Sunday, attendees of the festival gain access to unlimited food tastings, cooking demos, cocktail mixing demos, live music, a silent auction, and more. Admission prices significantly vary based on the mode of attendance, with single-day admission costing $195 and a weekend pass costing $350.

Duane Peters Gunfight @ Karman Bar
8:00 pm – 12:30 am, October 2
Karman Bar, Laguna Niguel
http://www.facebook.com/events/1471391639851968/

Local punk bands will perform at the Karman Bar in Laguna Niguel this Friday night. The cover for this show costs $10. No one under 21 may enter.

Agent Orange: Live in Southern California
8:30 pm – 1:00 am, October 2, Soda Bar, Normal Heights, San Diego http://www.sodabarmusic.com/calendar.php?event_id=2582
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, October 3, Discovery, Ventura http://nightout.com/events/agent-orange-discovery/

Legendary surf punk band Agent Orange will headline two shows in Southern California this weekend. Each show has a different ticket price and age restriction, so click on a show’s link for more information.

1st Annual Los Angeles Moon Festival Cocktail Feast
9:00 pm – 12:00 am, October 2
Vibiana, Downtown Los Angeles
http://luckyrice.com/event/los-angeles-moon-festival-cocktail-feast/

Sip on cocktails and other libations all night in Downtown Los Angeles. General admission costs $50 and starts at 10pm, while VIP admission costs $88 and starts at 9pm. No one under 21 may attend.

Cadillac Tramps @ Alex’s Bar
9:00 pm – 1:30 am, October 2
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach
http://www.alexsbar.com/event/960169-cadillac-tramps-long-beach/

Enjoy some local music at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach this Friday night. Tickets to this show cost $13 presale or $15 at the door. No one under 21 may enter.

Long Beach Heart Walk
8:00 am – 12:00 pm, October 3
Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach
http://www.heartwalkla.org/

Raise money to walk around Long Beach during this charity walk this Saturday morning.

18th Annual Pacific Beachfest
8:00 am – 7:00 pm, October 3
Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach, San Diego
http://pacificbeachfest.org/

Enjoy a full day of outdoor activities at this free and all-ages beach festival in Pacific Beach. Visitors will find sports, tournaments, activities, live entertainment, arts & crafts, games, food, drinks, and more.

OrangeCon 2015
9:00 am – 5:00 pm, October 3
Pavilion at the University Conference Center, Cal State Fullerton, Fullerton
http://www.ipmsoc.org/

The name of this event does not describe it at all. This all-ages exhibit showcases miniature models of airplanes and other types of vehicles, mostly military in theme. Admission to this viewing costs $5.

2015 Dana Point State BBQ Championships
10:00 am – 5:00 pm, October 3
Sea Terrace Park, Dana Point
http://www.danapointbbqchampionships.com/

Over 100 teams of grill masters will gather from around the country to serve up their finest BBQ and compete for cash, prizes, and titles. Free to attend for all ages, visitors can purchase sample tickets for $2, and use those tickets to exchange for samples from any of the participants. For the adults, catch the craft beer & wine garden, featuring some of the country’s favorite breweries and wineries. Small 4oz beer pours will cost $2 each, while large 12oz beer pours will cost $6, and visitors can walk freely around the festival with drinks in hand. Visitors may park for free at the Salt Creek Beach parking lot located within PCH and Ritz Carlton Dr, despite signs saying that parking requires a fee. Otherwise, park at Dana Hills High School, and take the free shuttle service to the park.

1st Annual Maker Faire San Diego
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, October 3-4
Balboa Park, San Diego
http://sdmakerfaire.org/

Celebrate local makers, artists, designers, and more at this two-day fair taking place in Balboa Park this weekend in San Diego. Attendees will experience handmade goods such as gadgets, sculptures, art, food, apparel, accessories, merchandise, and more. Admission varies depending on age and date of attendance, starting at $12.50 and going up to $30.

43rd Annual Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, October 3-4
Live Oak Park South Field, Manhattan Beach
http://www.mbfair.org/

This free fair for all ages makes its annual return this weekend, featuring games, arts & crafts, food, beer & wine gardens, live entertainment, and more. The city will provide free parking and shuttle transportation at the Northrop Grumman Building at 15092 Aviation Blvd near the intersection of Aviation Blvd and Marine Street in Manhattan Beach.

Los Angeles Donut Festival
11:00 am – 2:00 pm, October 3
Mad Ave LA, East Hollywood
http://ladonutfestival.com/

Spend three hours of your Saturday afternoon standing in long lines munching on donut samples at this donut festival in East Hollywood.

Fall 2015 Brewery Art Walk
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, October 3-4
Brewery Art Association, Los Angeles
http://breweryartwalk.com/

This FREE semiannual art walk features hundreds of residents artists showcasing their finest work. Guests may even purchase art they like from the artists. Free to park and enter for all ages, the facility even includes an in-house restaurant, so bring your friends and family to look at some great art.

2nd Annual Artesia International Street Fair & Diversity Festival
11:00 am – 11:00 pm, October 3
Pioneer & 183rd, Artesia
http://www.cityofartesia.us/index.aspx?NID=282

At this free and all-ages street fair this Saturday, visitors will find food, music, dance, live entertainment, arts & crafts, games, rides, vendors, and more.

2nd Annual Vegan Oktoberfest
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, October 3-4
LA Center Studios, Los Angeles
http://www.veganoktoberfest.com/

If you love Oktoberfest but follow the vegan plan, then you will fit right in at this one-of-a-kind Oktoberfest. All the typical Oktoberfest festivities will keep everyone occupied, while everyone gets full on vegan food and vegan beer. General admission costs $45, starts at 1pm, and includes one stein glass with unlimited beer pours. VIP admission costs $55, starts at 12pm, and also provides access to a VIP area with food samples.

3rd Annual Brewer’s Chili Cookoff
12:00 pm – 10:00 pm, October 3
Select Beer Store, Redondo Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/1681526008746826/

A handful of Southern Californian breweries will collide at Select Beer Store this Saturday for an all-day chili cookoff featuring chili made by the brewers as well as beers from the breweries on tap. Chili tasting starts at 4pm, while the beers will flow all day.

San Diego Japan Fair
12:00 pm – 10:00 pm, October 3
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, October 4
NTC Liberty Station, San Diego
http://sd-japanfair.com/

Immerse yourself in Japanese culture this weekend at NTC Liberty Statio in San Diego. Visitors will find lots of ramen, sake tastings, live entertainment, arts & crafts, activities, other food & drinks, vendors, and more. Admission costs $5 for one day.

1st Annual Los Angeles Paella & Wine Festival
2:00 pm – 8:00 pm, October 3
La Plaza de Culturas y Artes, Los Angeles
http://www.lapaellafest.com/

Enjoy paella and lots of wine and spirits this Saturday near Downtown Los Angeles. General admission costs $65 presale or $75 at the gate, and includes unlimited food and drink samples. VIP admission costs $120, and also includes access to a VIP area with some exclusive food and drinks.

Roxanne’s Lounge’s 2nd Annual Oktoberfest
2:00 pm – 10:00 pm, October 3
Roxanne’s Lounge, Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/834701753242473/

Roxanne’s Lounge in Long Beach will celebrate their own Oktoberfest this Saturday. $15 admission gets you five beer tasters plus access to all the usual Oktoberfest activities, games, contests, music, entertainment, and more. No one under 21 may attend.

Anaheim Brewery’s Oktoberfest
4:00 pm – 10:00 pm, October 3
Anaheim Brewery, Anaheim
http://www.anaheimbrew.com/

Anaheim Brewery will celebrate Oktoberfest with two Saturdays full of Oktoberfest activities, such as live music, freshly-prepared sausages on-site, German-style beers, and more. No admission required – simply show up, paid for beers as you go, and have fun.

Caturday
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, October 3
Community, Anaheim
http://www.facebook.com/events/623936704375767/

Cat lovers will want to check out this free and all-ages event this Saturday night in Anaheim. Visitors will find various cat-themed artists and arts & crafts here, as well as a resident food truck to serve hungry guests.

Zombie Fashion Show & Creature Art Exhibit
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, October 3
Lot 613, Los Angeles
http://www.zombiefashionshow.com/

Dozens of Hollywood makeup artists will transform models into the undead at this Saturday night fashion & art show. While the models strut their deathly stuff, attendees can check out zombie-themed artwork from dozens artists from all over the country. The $10 admission grants access to all these exhibits, plus all-you-can-eat pancakes courtesy of the Pancakes & Booze Art Show. No one under 21 may enter.

12th Annual Orange County Children’s Book Festival
9:30 am – 4:30 pm, October 4
Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa
http://kidsbookfestival.com/

This FREE all-ages fair caters to families as it presents thousands of children’s book available to read or buy. The fair will also host multiple stages complete with family-friendly entertainment.

The Generators @ Alex’s Bar
2:00 pm – 6:30 pm, October 4
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach
http://www.alexsbar.com/event/956805-generators-long-beach/

Rock out this Sunday afternoon at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach. Tickets to this local rock show cost $5 presale or $7 at the door. No one under 21 may enter.

Dirty Little Secrets Rock Burlesque – First Sundays @ Harvelle’s
3:00 pm – 7:00 pm, October 4
Harvelle’s, Downtown Long Beach
http://www.dirtylittlesecretsburlesque.com/

Get your fill of burlesque every first Sunday of the month at Harvelle’s in Downtown Long Beach. No one under 21 may enter.

41st Annual Gourmet Festival of Fall
4:00 pm – 7:00 pm, October 4
AbilityFirst, Pasadena
http://abilityfirstfestival.org/

Enjoy food, wine, craft beer, live music, a silent auction, and more this Sunday evening in Pasadena. General admission costs $150, while VIP admission costs $300 and includes VIP seating.

With the 2015 International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) having already ended, I had one final day on my Seattle vacation before I had to return to Southern California. While many of the conference’s attendees returned home on Sunday, I opted to remain in town for an additional day to give myself extra time to explore the city. When I last visited Seattle two years ago, I barely had any time to explore the city because I planned my trip solely around the conference. This year, I made sure to give myself some extra days around the conference to visit all the places I had originally wanted to check out on my last journey to the north. It all paid off, as you can see from all the posts from the past week and a half. It also led up to one last day in Seattle that solidified a vacation that I will never forget.

I woke up early in Monday to start packing, when suddenly I received a text message from an old friend saying that she had woken up early and had free time to meet up with me. We decided to enjoy breakfast at Oddfellows Cafe & Bar, a neighborhood eatery noteworthy for a small brick courtyard in the back. The small back area certainly lacked space, but provided an intimate area for a few groups to enjoy a quiet meal and drinks. I got to reconnect with my friend who I had seen in years, as I did not get to meet with her the last time I visited Seattle. We reminisced for a while, divulging personal matters that got us both a little emotional.

Following breakfast, we took a walk up to Volunteer Park to check out all the touristy attractions they have there. Volunteer Park has a manmade reservoir plus a water tower that visitors can climb up for a view of the city. Next to the reservoir sits a round structure called the Black Sun, and people can see the Space Needle through it. The park also has an art museum and green house, but had an admission to enter, and at least the green house did not open on Mondays. We then walked into the adjacent cemetery and discovered the gravestones of Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee.

Following that little excursion, we rode down to check out more of Capitol Hill, starting with Elysian Brewing. I know a lot of beer fans give Elysian crap for what happened earlier this year, but I still like Elysian’s beers, and I can now obtain the beers in Southern California as a result. I enjoyed their GABF brew while my friend enjoyed a non-alcoholic beverage, then we set off. A place called Trove caught our eyes, a place with four different businesses rolled into one: noodles, parfaits, barbecue, and a bar. While the savory food looked tempting to order, I listened to my sweet tooth and ordered a parfait. Finally, we walked a block down and landed at Melrose Market, a series of shops like a food court or mall. After this visit, we parted ways as I had to get ready to travel to the airport while she had to go meet with another friend.

Alas, my Seattle vacation had come to an end. While I cherish every moment of this vacation, it did bring about some realizations in my life. The conference reminded me of why I started my blog: my passion to promote the local scene to dissuade people from frequenting chain or corporate businesses. Though I originally intended to make some profit from this blog, it remained a hobby the entire time, something fun that I like to do on the side. Lately though, I have stressed out over obtaining content for blogging, which goes against my mission of having a blog to have fun with it. Since it has gotten to a point where I stress over writing blog posts, perhaps the time has come to throw in the towel and retire from blogging. With the conference moving to Sacramento starting next year, my reasons for returning to Seattle in the future have greatly diminished, as have any reasons to return to the conference in the future. I still highly recommend any food bloggers to attend the conference at least once ever, but for me, I believe I have gotten as much as I could out of it. On the plus side, I made tons of new and awesome friends that I will stay in touch with for a long time. I view this trip more as visiting friends than attending a conference, so perhaps one day I will return to Seattle. Until then, I strive to deliver quality content without forgetting about the important people in my life.

Tagging onto yesterday’s post, the 2015 International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) returned to Downtown Seattle this past weekend starting on Friday night with an opening reception and lasting until Sunday morning with additional content and activities. This conference contained a wealth of things to see and do for people in the food blogging community, from all the seminars to the interactive demos and all the yummy food and drinks that we could have the entire time. A handful of attendees had already left town by Sunday morning to fly back home, or otherwise could not stay the entire time in order to fly back later in the day. Because I would return home Monday night, I still had all of Sunday and most of Monday to explore the city and its bounty.

Sunday marked the last day of the conference, providing attendees with another breakfast and a set of educational sessions. Following breakfast, I attended the Food Trends session since I have written about food trends in the past. Throughout the seminar, the speakers mentioned food trends that I had accurately predicted earlier this year, so they basically covered what I already knew. They did provide insight on upcoming and emerging food trends, some of which I mentioned would emerge this year. Still, this will prove a great resource for predicting next year’s 2016 as well as my own individual research. As for the session afterwards, I had to attend Cooking with Cannabis just for the heck of it. I did not pick up much from the seminar since I do not cook, but I still learned a great deal about its medicinal use and witnessed some creative uses of cannabis in food, such as in butters, oils, and chocolates. Following one last session with all attendees, the conference came to a close with the announcement that the conference would move to Sacramento next year on the last weekend of July. While this excites many with the concept of farm-to-table and wine country so close, I feel that I may not return because I already have a standard writing style, as opposed to bloggers trying to establish themselves.

With the 2015 IFBC officially over, I said my goodbyes to many of the attendees and reminisced about the fun weekend. With the rest of my day open, I joined some old friends for a brief tour of Capitol Hill to check out some of the sights. Since the conference did not provide lunch, we first visited the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, which also contained a Serious Pie. The roastery had the feeling of a microbrewery, as they roasted & brewed coffee, sold merchandise, and had lots of see there. As a bonus, I got to dine at Serious Pie, a restaurant that I wanted to visit the last time I traveled to Seattle two years ago. I can still taste the garlic and bacon from the pizza, a delightful combination that I do not encounter enough in Southern California.

Walking though Capitol Hill, we land at Chophouse Row, an alley with small shops and eateries including a meat shop, cheese shop, cupcakes, ice cream, and Italian food. The centerpiece shop, Chop Shop, offered a succulent Braised Pork Sandwich as a Happy Hour special. Afterwards, we visited Kurt Farm Shop for ice cream samples of some unique flavors, such as Bay Leaf, Rose, and their signature cheese. Cheese in an ice cream? Of course I had to try it, and it reminded me of a cake batter ice cream, but more creamy and not as sweet. At the far end, we discovered a neat little balcony with restaurant tables set up that looked like a movie set.

Feeling nice and full, we walked up Broadway for a bit before saying our goodbyes and parting ways.

I took a bus up to Ballard to explore more of the neighborhood since I ran out of time on Wednesday. The evening started with dinner at Bitterroot BBQ, a barbecue restaurant suggested to me earlier in the day. There, I got to enjoy some brisket and a fatty piece of pork belly, paired with cheddar grits and garlic green beans. #SmokedMeatEveryday

With solid food out of the way for the rest of the evening, I could finally embark on my self-guided brewery tour. I first stopped at Reuben’s Brews, a brewery recommended by many to me, including Southern Californians. With over 20 brews on tap, I can see why many recommended this brewery to me. With a food truck out front and a big screen showing the game, I felt right at home in Reuben’s Brews.

After downing my brews at Reuben’s, I turned the corner to discover Stoup Brewing. Many had also recommended this brewery to me, so I greatly looked forward to visiting them. Like the previous brewery, Stoup has a solid interior with plenty of outdoor seating, and can easily house a food truck outside. Stoup offered a significantly smaller selection of brews though, but since their brews pack bold taste, I took my time downing their beers.

Just around another corner, I discovered Lucky Envelope Brewing. Lucky Envelope feels more like the typical neighborhood bar – very quiet, and looks like someone’s living room. Their brew lineup looks like that of a standard brewery, plus a few unique brews such as their Peanut Butter Stout. Their staff exhibited solid beer knowledge, especially about breweries in Southern California.

It started raining by the time I finished at Lucky Envelope, so I made a dash to the next brewery, Populuxe Brewing. Unfortunately they had already closed for the day by the time I arrived, so I ran over to the next closest brewery, Maritime Pacific Brewing. Sadly they too had just closed their doors for the day. Not wanting to stay out in the rain for much longer, I decided to simply call it a night and return for the night to stay dry and not damage my camera.

With less than 24 hours left of my trip, I wanted to make sure that I made the most of it. I will go on record to say that I have the fondest memories of my final day for this vacation. Stay tuned tomorrow to see the adventures of my final day in Seattle.

The 2015 International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) returned to Downtown Seattle this past weekend, inviting food bloggers from around the world to travel to Seattle to meet fellow food fans, discover new foods & food knowledge, and take home lots of neat food products. This conference contained a good variety of things to see, do, and eat, from the complimentary eats to the informational seminars to the hands-on demonstrations and the diversity of everyone indulging in the vibrant setting. Compared to when I last attended the conference two years ago, this year’s conference felt substantially shorter because 2013’s conference started on Friday morning while this year’s conference started on Friday night. It also costed $100 more to attend this year. Regardless, I treated this as a vacation to explore the city and meet new people, not as a business trip of sorts.

Following some liquid escapades from the previous night, my body did not feel prepared to wake up early for a long day of a conference. Determined, I rolled myself out of bed to hike it up to the conference, not wanting to miss a second, as well as the complimentary breakfast. After breakfast and the introductory speaker, the conference sessions started. Out of the first set of three sessions, I chose to go with Anolon because I had heard that they would give out free kitchen gear to whoever attended that session. While I could have chosen to go with Teavana or Krusteaz, they eventually brought some of their goods out to the foyer for everyone else to enjoy. After the Anolon session, I sipped on some Teavana cider and snagged a big bag of Krusteaz cookies that I ended up enjoying daily until the last day. After the Anolon session, I ended up at a Stop Motion Photography session. I got nothing out of that because they kept talking about pinning iPhones to a rack to take photos, while I had hoped to accomplish something like this instead.

Lunchtime soon arrived, and I connected with my group from the previous night to take a trip down to SoDo neighborhood. After passing by the Old Rainier Brewery facility, which has since converted to artist studios and lofts similar to Brewery Art Walk, we touched down at Jack’s BBQ. Perhaps the closest thing to authentic Texas BBQ in Seattle, we got a chance to tour the back area of the restaurant where they stored their giant smokers. In addition to smoking meats, Jack’s BBQ also uses their smokers to smoke oranges for their drinks, and smoke sugar to make a smoked simple syrup that they use to sweeten their cocktails and sweet tea. Following the tour, we walked back to our table to discover a mountain of smoked meat waiting for us to devour and conquer it all. To top it off, despite still feeling hungover, a courteous server brought out a small beer flight for me to sip on as I stuffed my face with smoky meaty goodness. We spent more time here than expected, so we ended up returning late to the Sheraton; however, this lunch more than made up for it. #SmokedMeatEveryday

Deciding between a wine, sparkling wine, or lamb session, I found myself at a crossroads trying to figure out which session I wanted to attend. I first visited the sparkling wine session, but ended up leaving halfway through because I do not have a palate for wine. I moved over to the lamb session, and while I did not get any useful information out of it, I did end up receiving a leg of lamb that they would ship to me later.

Following a short break, we reached the main event of the night, basically a Taste of Seattle. Numerous food vendors set up around the ballroom all serving delicious food samples, such as short ribs, chicken & waffles, catfish & kale, pork sisig, molten chocolate, and much more. I underestimated the richness of the foods here, as I should have expected for a food fair such as this. I got full within half an hour simply by returning to the short rib, chicken & waffles, and molten chocolate over and over. I also got to indulge in s’mores ice cream sandwiches and the SOLE beer vendor.

For a Saturday night, I had plenty of opportunities to go out and experience the nightlife of Seattle. However, since I had a hangover for most of the day, would have to return the next morning again, and that it started to rain, I decided to call it a night early on. I had to make sure I could preserve my energy for the next few days!

Waking up on the morning of the first day of the 2015 International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) provided me with a huge surge of energy and excitement to look forward to a great day of meeting so many awesome people and seeing a bunch of amazing food products. From the start of Friday, I already had full plans going into the next three days with virtually no free time other than sleep. Though I had a few drinks the previous night, nothing would stop me from tackling the day headstrong.

Starting in the morning, a handful of conference attendees had met for breakfast at Loulay, the resident restaurant inside the Sheraton Hotel where the IFBC would take place. This gave me a headstart to meet some of the conference attendees while planning out the rest of the day.

Following breakfast, I followed a few of the conference attendees down to Seattle Coffee Works to indulge in a Vacuum Pot experience.

Once back at the Sheraton, the IFBC attendees split up into their respective excursions. These optional excursions allowed attendees to visit a particular company, view products, experience demos, and take home some products from the company. I chose to attend the Chef’n Corporation excursion, a company that specializes in kitchen gadgets. They make mainly small trinkets or tools for the kitchen, such as a palm peeler, ergonomic salt & pepper shakers, and other specialized tools. Located very close to CenturyLink Field, Chef’n has access to the penthouse suite, providing an astounding view of the surrounding area. At the end of it all, we got to view live demos of multiple kitchen gadgets, enjoy some eats, and take home a handful of kitchen gadgets ourselves.

Once returned to the Sheraton, everyone congregated outside of the main ballroom that hosted the start of the 2015 IFBC. Kicking off this year’s conference, the reception featured the infamous gift suite plus a handful of food vendors serving small bites to whet our appetites. The gift suite basically represents a plethora of food-related items that attendees can take home, ranging from snacks to ingredients to tools to books and more. This year’s gift suite appeared significantly smaller than the one from two years ago when I last attended the IFBC – I managed to grab every item (besides the items that ran out fast) with plenty of room left in my bag.

With the gift suite ending early, that signaled the end of the first night of the 2015 IFBC, allowing attendees free time to go out to dinner on their own. I joined a group that traveled up to Capitol Hill to dine at Poppy. First off, I have to say that I have never experienced anything like Poppy. Imagine tapas meeting family-style dinner, where you can order a tray of various items for $20 to $30 each that you share with your table. After stuffing ourselves full, I remained in the area with a few of the others to go bar-hopping. Inevitably, I ended up drinking more than I intended to, which led to my massive hangover the following day.