Archive for December, 2015

The changing of the seasons often dictates what people consume. Besides the change in climate, people have to deal with both economical and environmental change. When these changes occur, certain items or ingredients crop up while others slip into hibernation. For example, autumn normally marks the time of pumpkins, sweet potatoes, yams, and eggplants. Throughout the rest of the year, different items rise up in supply while others drop. This may have an effect on what people crave during different times of the year. During the summer, people want refreshing things not so heavy. During the winter, people want richer things that can keep them warmer to avoid the frigid weather. While cold weather makes people incline towards hot beverages, cold beverages can hit the spot just as well. When it comes to beer, this generally means thicker richer beers like stouts and porters. Plenty of breweries create both of those types, and like snowflakes, each batch has something different than the last. For a great stout to try, look no further than Mad River Brewing Company.

Located off the coast in Northern California, Mad River Brewing Company has a history of brewing quality craft beer for over two decades. What started off as a small brewpub has expanded into a brewery and retail operation where they now distribute their bottles across the nation. While they may not have the same powerhouse effect as some of the larger breweries in the nation, Mad River sticks to their guns by focusing on quality, not mass production. Through rising success, Mad River has come up with the Steelhead series of brews, their signature line of beers. The Steelhead series contains a handful of standard beer types, of which it includes the Steelhead Extra Stout. Sitting at 6.5% abv, this black opaque stout tastes of rich creamy roasted chocolate with a very mild hop characteristic. Up front, it has a resemblance to coffee. Once finished, it tastes like smooth velvety chocolate. This makes Steelhead Extra Stout a great choice for a beer float – with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, you have a great dessert for any time of the year. Some daring souls even consider adding Steelhead Extra Stout to their breakfast – talk about a roaring way to start the day!

To see what else Mad River Brewing has brewing up in Northern California, check out their website linked above, and check them out on Facebook and Twitter!

We all heard this growing up… “Breakfast: the most important meal of the day.” As the first form of food that we put into our bodies on a daily basis, breakfast sets the tone for how we will take on the rest of the day. Not only does breakfast supply the first dose of nutrients our body needs to burn to get through the day, but breakfast determines the rate of that day’s metabolism to handle food for the rest of the day. What do we normally envision as the traditional breakfast? Items such as bread, eggs, and meat supply the necessary carbs and proteins needed to start off the day. Over time, people have grown to appreciate breakfast foods and have started to crave them at other times of the day other than immediately after waking up. This has led some food businesses to offer breakfast items at all times of the day, and vice versa. However, who truly determines what one should have for breakfast? Another saying goes “Life’s short – eat dessert first.” Sweet treats in the morning always feel nice, and at least the sugar has the potential to get burned throughout the day, so why not start with dessert in the morning? If you want the best in sweets in the morning, head over to Carolyn’s Café in Redlands.

A local favorite, Carolyn’s Café has delighted folks for many years with their traditional diner approach to cuisine. Only open for breakfast and lunch, Carolyn’s Café has the answer to get your day started, whether you rise early or after the sun has peaked. You cannot go wrong with what Carolyn’s Café has to offer, as they make everything fresh here with no frozen ingredients. If you must pick just one item, look no further than Carolyn’s Famous Homemade Coffee Cake. Served warm and steaming, this generous slice comes to you with a dollop of whipped butter and tastes absolutely heavenly. Better yet, you can choose the coffee cake as your bread option when ordering breakfast! A Scrambler and a coffee cake for breakfast? You will desire nothing else. You can choose the coffee cake as your side with a breakfast entrée, or you can obtain a slice à la carte for $3.50. Believe me – after one bite, you will want an order for yourself and not want to have to share one.

I heard Carolyn’s Café plans to move to a new location soon. For all the details about the move and to see what else they have concocting inside their kitchen, check out Carolyn’s Café on Facebook!

Today’s youth generally agrees upon a few select cultural cuisines to go crazy over. Other than the local tastes, people love Latin and Asian foods. The popularity of these cuisines have led to the surge of these types of restaurants all over, and that has expanded to food trucks and fusion styles. When thinking about going out to eat, people have to think about more than just what type of food to go look for – they consider convenience, location, ambiance, and a number of other factors. As a result, a typically sit-down restaurant may seem out of the question, especially for those with not as much time for that type of service, or on a limited budget. In these cases, perhaps a more casual approach would suit people looking for good food. When looking for a casual dining experience for Asian food, look no further than Capital Noodle Bar.

The line of Capital Seafood restaurants has a long history in Southern California of their traditional sit-down restaurants that consist of large dining spaces, large plates, and Dim Sum on the weekends. Today’s millennial population often craves something a little less intense, but with the same quality of food. Enter Capital Noodle Bar, a lighter version of their full-fledged restaurants. Capital Noodle Bar takes on a more casual approach with a menu consisting of appetizers, entrées, and various noodle dishes/bowls. Similar to the full restaurants, dishes served at Capital Noodle Bar can serve multiple people, although hungry individuals can still plow through one dish. Capital Noodle Bar also has a full bar just like the restaurants. The ambiance sets them apart because of the smaller, more intimate dining space, and the servers have a more casual approach rather than formal. The original Capital Noodle Bar in Irvine rose in popularity so fast that it paved the way for a second Capital Noodle Bar to open in Costa Mesa. Located across the 405 freeway from South Coast Plaza, this second Capital Noodle Bar resides in the same corner as that of Halal Guys, Anjin, and Creamistry, leading to a hectic parking situation at peak hours. If the parking gods favor you, you will discover perhaps your new favorite Asian food spot with dishes such as (shown below in order):

  • Crispy Shrimp Rolls
  • Canton Style Roast Duck
  • Duo of Beef (double filet mignon)
  • Black Pepper Beef Udon
  • Hong Kong Style Beef Chow Mein

Check out what else they have in store by liking their Facebook page!

Punk Rock Show @ Mission Tobacco Lounge
9:00 pm – 12:00 am, December 28
Mission Tobacco Lounge, Riverside

Start off your week with some punk rock at a free show tonight in Riverside. No one under 21 may enter.

OFF! Live in Southern California
8:30 pm – 12:30 am, December 29, The Casbah, Middletown, San Diego
6:00 pm – 2:00 am, December 31, Shrine Expo Hall, Los Angeles

Cap off your 2015 with some punk rock this week with OFF! and these two shows that they will headline. The age limit and ticket prices vary with each show, so click on a show’s link for details.

Benefit for Gabby Gaborrno
6:00 pm – 2:00 am, December 30
DiPiazzas, Long Beach

End 2015 with a bang with these local punk rock bands this Wednesday night at DiPiazzas in Long Beach. The cover for this all-ages show costs $10. Guests can find plenty of free street parking in the adjacent neighborhood.

Ska Luau VI
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, December 30
House of Blues, Anaheim

Time to skank! Get all ska’d out with Starpool, Suburban Legends, the Magnolia Polynesian Dance Troupe, and more at this all-ages show at the House of Blues at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. Tickets cost $15 presale or $18 at the door. Guests may park for free for up to four hours with the venue’s wristband as validation, so time arrival accordingly.

Nerdy New Year 2016
9:00 am – 9:00 am, December 31 – January 1
California Center for the Arts, Escondido

24 hours of video games, cosplay, table top tournaments, workshops, panels, live music, and more await this New Year’s Eve in Escondido. Tickets cost $14 for a 12-hour session, $24 for all 24 hours, or $35 for VIP which grants access to a VIP area, drink tickets, and VIP parking.

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. Please party responsibly and commute safely. Minimize your time on the road if possible.

New Year’s Eve with Guttermouth
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, December 31
Karman Bar, Laguna Niguel

Ring in the new year with everyone’s favorite local raunchy punk rock band, Guttermouth, in Laguna Niguel this New Year’s Eve. The cover for this show costs $15. No one under 21 may enter.

The Aggrolites’ 5th Annual New Year’s Eve Bash @ Alex’s Bar
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, December 31
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach

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.

First Fridays
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, January 1
Various locations
Long Beach:

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).

Rikk Agnew New Year’s Celebration
7:30 pm – 12:30 am, January 1
Tiki Bar, Costa Mesa

Kick off the new year with some local punk rock this Friday night in Costa Mesa. The cover for this show costs $10. No one under 21 may enter.

2016 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

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.

Doll Hut Reopening 2nd Anniversary Weekend
6:00 pm – 1:00 am, January 2
The World Famous Doll Hut, Anaheim

Two years ago, the Doll Hut reopened their doors to the public. This Saturday night, they celebrate returning to the business with a local punk show with a $5 cover charge. No one under 21 may enter.

D.I. – Live in Corona
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, January 2
Bar 1650, Corona

Check out some great local punk bands this Saturday in Corona. The cover for this show costs $10. No one under 21 may enter.

Oshogatsu Family Festival 2016
11:00 am – 5:00 pm, January 3
Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles

Celebrate the year of the monkey at this free and all-ages celebration. Visitors will find food, arts & crafts, cultural activities, live entertainment, and more.

I & I Brewing’s 4th Anniversary Celebration
11:00 am – 9:00 pm, January 3
I & I Brewing, Chino

I & I Brewing turns four years old this weekend, and to celebrate, they will have a celebration at their tasting room in Chino this Sunday. Admission costs $10 and comes with a pint glass and one beer pour. When purchasing admission, you must select a time that you will show up at, and you cannot enter until after your selected time.

Ill Niño Tour
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, January 3
Mission Tobacco Lounge, Riverside

Enjoy some local punk rock music at this free show this Sunday night in Riverside. No one under 21 may enter.

Narcoleptic Youth performing Busted Condom at Aladdin Jr in Pomona, CA. Filmed on September 6, 2013.

For the longest time, Vietnamese cuisine never truly had its own spotlight. When thinking about Vietnamese cuisine, we typically envision small mom & pop shops serving noodle bowls and cold vegetables. The evolution of cuisine over the past decade has shifted towards fusion, or the combination of two separate types of cuisines. One of the more popular fusion combinations involves Latin with Asian cultures; however, this mostly meant Korean and Mexican with the pork belly tacos or short rib burritos. Eventually, millennials started to spread out and discover other cultures and cuisines out there. Soon enough, people started to give a good look at Vietnamese cuisine. At first, people went crazy for phô and searched for ways to modify this noodle soup. Then, people started getting modern with the Bánh mì sandwich, and turned that into things like Bánh mì tacos or grilled pork belly Bánh mì sandwiches. Soon enough, creative minds began to cover all of the Vietnamese foods, and thus Vietnamese food had once again regained popularity with today’s youth. One such place called Nudo Nudo hopes to bring Vietnamese food back to the spotlight to contend with the popularity of Korean and Japanese food.

Located in the dense Vietnamese area of Little Saigon in Westminster, Nudo Nudo hopes to bring the concept of traditional Vietnamese restaurants forward to the present away from the old days of those restaurants. Traditional Vietnamese restaurants often had servers who did not speak English well, if at all, and those servers did not interact with customers like servers of American restaurants since, in the Asian culture, servers got a flat pay to work and did not rely on tips. Over at Nudo Nudo, the people here hope to have a more inviting atmosphere to potential customers with friendlier staff, popular music, and food that speaks to today’s contemporary soul. At the core, Nudo Nudo still serves traditional phô and other Vietnamese appetizers, but presented in a more approachable way. However, customers definitely rave about Nudo Nudo’s Oxtail Fries. Costing less than $4, this appetizer that eats like a meal starts with shoestring fries, then gets topped with generous oxtail meat, hoisin sauce, spicy mayo, cilantro, green onions, and pickled white onions. Sure this may represent a safe option for those less familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, but it sure tastes amazing!

Look forward to greater things from Nudo Nudo as they get the ball rolling following their grand opening in mid November of 2015. Check out Nudo Nudo on Facebook and Twitter for updates on what they will have in store.

As 2015 comes to a close, craft beer enthusiasts cannot help but think to how hard the community got hit by major corporations this year. Between all the buyouts and mergers, the corporate guys in suits keep chasing us hard workers around. Hard work rewards very well, something evident by the success of many local microbreweries. Sadly, when one brewery gains a lot of traction, the corporate guys take notice, and since corporate beer cannot compete with the small guys, the corporations simply throw money at them. If you cannot beat them, absorb them. Luckily, corporations cannot silence the working class forever – for each microbrewery snuffed, many more rise up from the ashes to breathe life back into the craft beer community. For this post, we focus on a couple of newer breweries in an area that used to lack a craft beer presence: Downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles locals recognize the difficulty of traveling around Downtown LA, but once they get familiar with the layout, they will discover many of the city’s greatest gems. While many restaurants and bars have served up craft beer, a brewing presence never truly existed. A few brewpubs exist, but they only serve their own beer and do not distribute nor make a presence at any local beer festivals. Downtown LA got their first true taste of the microbrewery experience with Angel City Brewery in the Arts District. With a very large tasting room and the capacity to host special events, craft beer fans from all over soon came to recognize Angel City for their eclectic taste and constant happenings. As far as beer quality goes, most enthusiasts would give them a hit-or-miss rating, as they do not release rare or unique beers very often, preferring to stick with approachable beers. With food trucks at the tasting room throughout the week, Angel City represents the bar you go to with your friends to socialize while enjoying a drink. If you have a true passion for craft beers, read on…

Now in 2015, Downtown LA has no shortage of breweries. We turn our attention to one of the major breweries to open their doors to the public this year, starting with Arts District Brewing. From the outside, Arts District Brewing lacks any large signage or landmarks that would indicate the presence of a brewery. However, once you step foot into the tasting room, you discover an awesome hangout spot that closely resembles a speakeasy. The bar in the center of the tasting room serves all of the beer plus some spirits, making this a true bar. At the back left corner, guests may order food from the window counter to the kitchen. At the back of the tasting room, guests will find the entertainment, which includes skee ball, ping pong, and darts. Their beer lineup looks like that of a typical brewery, serving up all the main styles like IPA’s, pale ales, stouts, porters, golden ales, wheats, saisons, and whatnot. Keep an eye out for Arts District Brewing by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter, for they certainly will have special beers coming out within the next year.

For one of the more anticipated breweries to open in 2015, look no further than Mumford Brewing. Located right next to The Escondite, this microbrewery (which has no relation to a famous band of a similar name) exhibits brewing experience with their bold brews. While the tasting room may not have anything as spectacular as the previous brewery above, Mumford Brewing makes up for it with full-bodied beers that will leave you wanting more. Southern California craft beer enthusiasts have looked forward to this brewery opening for good reason, which we will likely discover in 2016 as they start to unravel their aged brews. If you want to know the latest from Mumford Brewing, stay updated with their Facebook page and Twitter feed.

While I have only mentioned three breweries in this post, a handful of other breweries exist in Downtown LA.

  • Bonaventure Brewing claims the title of Downtown LA’s only brewery, but they only serve their own house brews that they do not distribute.
  • Boomtown Brewery has already brewed several batches of beer. However, their tasting room has yet to open.
  • Indie Brewing Company got its start this year, but so far they have only gone into retail without any mention of a tasting room.

Although Downtown LA has only just gotten started with the microbrewery boom, like the rest of Los Angeles County, the amount should steadily climb over the next year or two. Keep an eye on all of the breweries mentioned in this post, for the craft beer community expects great things coming soon to make up for those lost to the corporate shuffle.

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.

Anchorage Brewing Flight Night
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, December 22
Select Beer Store, Redondo Beach

This Tuesday evening, Select Beer Store in Redondo Beach will have three special beers from Anchorage Brewing available for tasting flights. This tasting event has no cover charge – simply show up, and pay as you go.

December 25

Spend the holidays with your friends & family, and remember to have fun and stay safe.

5th Annual Tovarish Release
11:30 am – 10:00 pm, December 26
Beachwood Brewing, Long Beach

Beachwood Brewing will release the fifth edition of their Tovarish stout this Saturday at their restaurant in Long Beach. In addition, they will have all of the previous years’ versions on tap for you to try. This event requires no reservations or admission fee – simply show up, enjoy a tasting on the spot, and/or pay for bottles to go.

Santa Anita Trackside Winter Brewfest
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, December 26
Santa Anita Park, Arcadia

Beer, music, and horse racing collide this Friday afternoon at the Santa Anita Park. Gain admission to the racetrack for $40, which includes two 12oz beers, a souvenir glass, and access to the races and betting. Use promo code FROSTY to take $15 off admission.

Modern Times Tap Takeover
12:00 pm – 10:00 pm, December 26
Select Beer Store, Redondo Beach

Modern Times will take over the taps at Select Beer Store in Redondo Beach all day this Saturday. This event has no cover charge – simply show up and enjoy a cold one or more.

The Day After Christmas Rock-N-Roll Party
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, December 26
The World Famous Doll Hut, Anaheim

Rock out to local punk rock bands after Christmas this Saturday night at the Doll Hut in Anaheim. The cover for this show costs $5. No one under 21 may enter.

Indulge LA – Los Angeles Chocolate Festival & Pastry Show
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm, December 27
The Olympic Collection, West Los Angeles

Come to Indulge LA, an all-ages expo where guests will experience the best of chocolates, wines, and champagnes from around the world. The $45 admission covers unlimited chocolates, pastries, food, wine, champagne, spirits, and other goodies, such as a souvenir glass. VIP admission costs $95 and begins at 1pm, while general admission enters at 2pm. The Olympic Collection charges for its own parking, which ranges from $5 to $10. I advise against parking in the neighborhood, which requires a permit that only locals carry.

Huntington Beach’s Old World Village gets into the holiday spirit with their German Christmas Market that takes place the first three Sundays of December. Free to attend for all ages, this event features dozens of local vendors setting up booths around Old World Village to sell various goods. The goods range from holiday-themed items to accessories to apparel to other gift ideas including books, toys, and trinkets. While browsing all of the vendors that set up, local musicians play under a music tent along one of the aisles, and many of the shops throughout Old World Village offer specials or sales. If visiting, check out the food businesses here, as some of them have food and/or drink specials as well.

The German Christmas Market will take place one more time this Sunday from 11am to 4pm before calling it quits until next year. For more information, visit the website linked above, and check out Old World Village’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Have a preview of what to expect if you plan to attend this Sunday: