Posts Tagged ‘Chapter One’

Not only does April indicate the first full month of Spring, but typically April means that Lent just ended, or ended early in the month. This allows those who participated in Lent to release any sacrifices and resume habitual life. What practice do most people resume following Lent? Most commonly, Lent observers sacrificed certain foods, alcohol, and even sex. But for those who do not observe Lent, Spring still instills life and energy into everyone. The longer daylight hours coupled with warmer weather energizes us to get out there and perform more tasks than in the Winter. Naturally, a warm sunny Saturday afternoon calls for throwing a backyard brew fest, and Slater’s 50/50 Lake Forest accomplished just that.

Slater’s 50/50 hosted their own Backyard Brew Fest this past Saturday at their youngest location in Lake Forest, where guests could indulge in unlimited samples of craft beer. Taking place on a day filled with many other large events, Slater’s headed in the opposite direction from those large events. Instead of selecting a vast venue and filling it with the most amount of people and vendors possible, Slater’s aimed to keep this fest small and intimate. The fest area literally took place in their backyard, a span of one lane in the parking lot fenced off, keeping the area down to less than the restaurant’s area. Mama always said “It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” and Mama speaks the truth. True craft beer lovers welcome this notion of keeping attendance low, as this places a greater emphasis on selecting quality breweries that will supply their better brews, including Hangar 24’s limited-release Hammerhead. At least 16 local breweries attended – of all the present breweries, I recall seeing Ritual, Bootleggers, Hangar 24, Rough Draft, Ballast Point, El Segundo, Golden Road, Fireman’s Brew, Deschutes, Cismontane, latitude 33, Valiant, Taps, Ohana, Allagash, and Old Orange. The intimacy of this event called for the breweries to not only supply their own plastic sampler cups, but their own staff as well. Whereas most beer fests use volunteers to pour beers for the breweries, all breweries utilized their own staff or brewers for this beer fest, allowing guests to easily interact with people knowledgeable about the brewery and their brews.

As a brew fest hosted by a restaurant, you can bet the restaurant provided most of the food. Unlike some beer fests where guests have to pay additional to eat, Slater’s 50/50 decided to treat their guests to free small bites. Keeping with the unlimited theme, unlimited beer samples necessitate unlimited small plates, so Slater’s 50/50 selected a good variety of their wonderful food to dole out to the guests. For starters, Slater’s offered plates of Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese, and their House Salad with chicken breast. Besides the Bacon Brownie, guests waited longest for the samples of the B’ B’ B’ Bacon Burger. If not for the long line, I would have gone back over and over for the burger; instead I opted to take two servings of the other three items.

As an unexpected treat, Chapter One also made a special guest appearance to serve their own food at this brew fest. They brought samples of their Scotch Egg and Jerked Salmon Nachos appetizer, as well as mini servings of their Red Velvet and The Dude (White Russian) Donuts. As evident by the photographs, all these samples flew off the serving trays as quick as the beers.

Size does not mean everything, and this quaint beer fest proves that. Sometimes, you have to scale things down a bit from the chaos that large events can create. By limiting the attendance and area, fewer social barriers exist, allowing the people to more easily interact with one another. Specific to this brew fest, this also relieves the pressure of beer servers to expedite the lines, as they now can slow down to chat with the guests. Always consider the outcomes of the event based on how many people attend. If you attended a larger beer fest, not only would you have to worry about finding and/or paying for parking, but with more people, you have less room to move around, and will often bump or elbow your way through the crowds. A small fest like this also does not cost as much to attend, enticing guests further to consider that event. If you missed Slater’s 50/50’s Backyard Brew Fest, fret not, as plenty more beer fests will occur in the coming months. If it happens in Southern California, more likely than not you can find me there, and I will bring back all the information you need to know.

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When people think about dessert, they often imagine sweet treats. Where does this conception of sweet dessert derive from? Upon searching for definitions of dessert, the word usually appears quite often. One dictionary defines dessert as a usually sweet dish usually served at the end of a meal. Why do you suppose civilization has come to the acceptance of sweet desserts? Sources say that humans wanted to balance meals that almost always contained salt or savory flavors, so they added something sweet to follow up. Any respectable health and/or fitness person will tell you not to balance salt with sweet, but instead to chug water to balance the pH levels in the body. Basic science experiments in school teach us that salt absorbs water, which dehydrates humans, while sugar inflates water, which bloats humans. Conclusively, if humans consume a savory meal without drinking adequate water, a sweet dessert would attempt to inflate the water in our bodies, but since the salt absorbed the water, the sugar will inflate other fluids, leading to fat gain. Lesson learned: always drink water with every meal. However, I now digress – you probably now crave something sweet after taking all that in. Continue reading to discover five bacon desserts in the Greater Los Angeles Area that you ought to seek out this season.

5. Chunk N Chip‘s The Elvis

Desserts date back to ancient civilizations, when humans consumed raw products like fruit, honey, and nuts. Over time, as foods evolve, taste evolves too. Time gets to a point where we finally get to do and try things we always wanted to as children, but could not due to age restrictions. When Elvis Presley grew up, he finally could eat peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwiches to his heart’s content. Those who have not heard of The Elvis may not immediately find this type of sandwich appetizing, but the folks at Chunk N Chip have discovered a fun way of delivering the legacy. Their version of The Elvis consists of bananas foster ice cream and candied bacon sandwiched between two warm peanut butter cookies. The bacon carries a texture similar to candied pecans, or pralines, but with its trademark salty meaty flavor. In this ice cream sandwich, the bacon adds a crunchy texture to an otherwise soft and gooey treat. Chunk N Chip changes their daily selection, so if you crave The Elvis, contact them on Facebook or Twitter and ask when they plan to carry this. Who says no to bacon for dessert?

4. Suite 106 Cupcakery‘s Pancakes N’ Bacon Cupcake


Shown on right

Some time after the frozen yogurt fad took off around 2004-2005, the cupcake trend emerged thanks to the opening of Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills. After their success, hundreds of pastry chefs across the nation followed that trend and soon opened up their own cupcakery. Many have tried, yet many have failed due to bad cupcakes. However, some cupcake stores have proven that they deserve to remain in the business. While Suite 106 Cupcakery lacks their own independent storefront, they make up for it with their moist and delicious cupcakes. Located inside the Victoria Gardens food court in Rancho Cucamonga, Suite 106 utilizes organic and all-natural ingredients to give their cupcakes the texture, moisture, and sweetness that makes a cupcake worth it. Prominently, their frosting does not taste overwhelmingly of butter, which many other cupcakeries seem to not pay any attention to. This allows their cupcakes to portray more of the true flavors of the cupcakes rather than the richness found in most other frostings elsewhere. On weekends, their cupcake rotation includes the popular Pancakes N’ Bacon Cupcakes, a buttermilk spice cake topped with spiced bacon buttercream, real bacon bits, and maple syrup. The concept of bacon cupcakes started just a few years ago, yet many of those so-called bacon cupcakes fail to accurately balance the saltiness of the bacon with the sweetness of the cupcake, not to mention all the terrible frostings I have attempted to taste. Suite 106 understands the art of baking, as evident in their little packages of goodness. Make a road trip to Suite 106, and you will not regret it.

3. Chapter One: The Modern Local‘s Bourbon Bacon Banana Donut

I blame the saturation of generic donut shops across the nation for the poor conception of donuts. In a similar vein to old food trucks, generic donut shops cause most people to view donuts as cheap sugar foods that police like to eat out of convenience. No one ever took donuts seriously until Krispy Kreme expanded in the late 1990’s. Their significant improvements on donuts paved the way for chefs and restaurant owners to attempt their skills at further improving the donut. If you seek one of these superior donuts, look no further than Chapter One: The Modern Local. This little restaurant in Downtown Santa Ana pushes the limits of quality in food, drinks, and service. With an amazing selection of eats & drinks, they constantly hold a full house on weekends. Perhaps everyone crowds around the bar because of their infamous Bourbon Bacon Banana Donut. Take a banana donut, layer it with bourbon maple frosting, marmalade, and cocoa nibs, then brûlée a banana with candied bacon bits, and sit it on top of the donut. This treat attracts eyes everywhere, which will envy anyone ordering this epic donut. The rich donut carries more density than standard donuts, so I suggest splitting the donut if possible. Once you do finally get to dig in to this donut, remember to scoop a little of every ingredient in each bite. All ingredients contribute to the dish, so you do not want to miss any feature of it.

2. The Factory Gastropub‘s Breakfast For Dessert

The media does an evil job of portraying sweets for breakfast. When kids watch commercials saying “Trix are for kids,” they program into their minds that they should eat that sugary cereal for breakfast. Sadly, many cereals oriented towards kids carry more sugar than a candy bar. I mean, how can anyone consider Lucky Charms an acceptable breakfast? Marshmallows have no place at the breakfast table. Real people eat bacon for breakfast! But what if you want to enjoy your bacon breakfast later in the day? If you so please, you can have your bacon breakfast and eat it later in the day too at The Factory Gastropub in the Bixby Knolls community of Long Beach. In this quaint neighborhood, The Factory attracts gourmet food and craft beer lovers from all over to soak in the smooth atmosphere in a quiet setting. The taps pour local brews, while the kitchen cooks up local organic and sustainable ingredients. They love to experiment with food often, and will host special dinner nights every now and then as test plates for customers to try. When an experiment works, it earns a spot on their menu. In the case of Breakfast For Dessert, this genius idea easily won hearts and a permanent spot on the dessert menu. This plate receives a scoop of peanut butter ice cream, sea salt focaccia French toast, stout-chocolate-covered bacon, and maple syrup. With as much butter as they use in the French toast, you would swear Paula Deen made this dish. The stout they use for the bacon depends on the current stout on tap. Fast food has capitalized on the idea of breakfast any time of the day, so when a local restaurant seizes this idea, one can expect great things to churn out of the kitchen. To get your bacon, breakfast, and dessert all on the same plate, head to The Factory and order the Breakfast For Dessert.

1. Animal Restaurant‘s Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar

If it moos, oinks, baas, clucks, coos, or swims, you can eat it. Only the brave can stomach what the public does not accept as “normal” food. But when has conformity stopped anyone from doing what they want to do? The media explains the acceptance of eating chicken, pork, and beef, but at the same time, the media loves to display groups like PETA, providing a contradictory stance of survival of the fittest. As such, most people find it unacceptable to eat meats like lamb, venison, wild boar, and more. In addition, most people do not consider all parts of an animal as food, and thanks to the media, the general public shuns the notion of eating animal parts like offals, guts, and other appendages. When cooked right, people have nothing to fear, and the lads at Animal Restaurant boldly go where no chef has gone before – into the hearts of the animals. A legendary institution of Fairfax, the folks at Animal treat every party of an animal’s body with utmost care and equality. They do not discriminate against which part of the animal goes into a dish, believing in reducing waste by consuming everything. The main menu changes monthly depending on the market’s offerings, but the dessert menu remains fairly consistent. When you carry something famous like the Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar, you would think twice about modifying that section of the menu. This dense bar of chocolate and bacon gets served with salt & pepper ice cream and vanilla bean powder. Take a moment to understand the constituents of the plate. First off, look at that Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar. They carefully layer the bar to appear like a glorified bacon strip after slicing it. No term can accurately describe the bar, since its high density makes it beyond a cake. Now look at that ball of ice cream… Salt & Pepper ice cream. They took it a step beyond vanilla bean ice cream and made their own unique ice cream flavor, tasting like a cold creamy treat of salt and pepper. I dare you to find salt and pepper ice cream like this anywhere else in the world. Just to bring things back into perspective, the plate gets topped off with vanilla bean powder. Do not underestimate the small stature of this plate – this dense bar will easily fill up one person, so take care of yourself and whoever else you bring here by splitting the bar and ice cream. Everybody wins in this case.

Eat dessert first.

Although 2012 showed much progress with many different types of food, 2013 appears promising as far as pushing the boundaries of delicious food. Chefs constantly work to devise new & creative foods that patrons can fall in love with and tell their friends about. The way I see it, in order to garner success, one needs to invent or reinvent. In other words, one needs to create something brand new, or take an existing idea and improve it, which applies to both the art and the canvas. Many people tend to look only at the art without acknowledging the quality of the canvas. Culinarily, the toppings, which represent the art, may enhance the appearance and flavor of a dish, but you need the base template, which represents the canvas, in order to build the dish. Burgers represent a basic yet open-ended canvas to craft works of art. The majority of the world only sees burgers for what you can top them with; however, the quality of the meat greatly determines the overall quality of the burger – after all, you cannot have a burger without the patty. Read on to discover five burgers in the Greater Los Angeles area that I urge you to try this season.

5. Tavern On 2‘s Black & Blue Burger

Leave it to small-town charm to come up with a burger this succulent. Tavern On 2 enters this list with their Black & Blue Burger. With their recent expansion, they also decided to step up the quality of their burgers. Tavern serves a good variety of burgers, but by far the Black & Blue remains their most popular among locals. This burger gets topped with maytag blue cheese, rosemary-candied woodfired bacon, horseradish mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes. They recently switched the bread to a pretzel bun to keep with the theme of a true gastropub. Tavern serves all burgers and sandwiches with a side salad and house-made chips. The combination of blue cheese and bacon dates back to the 90’s, yet very few restaurants get it right. Tavern On 2 does this concept justice with their Black & Blue. Pair it with one of their fine craft beers, and you have a meal worth feeling proud of.

4. Burger Parlor‘s The Royal w/ Cheese

Sometimes a restaurant serves something so amazing that they may not even list it on their regular menu, and only feature it as a secret item. Bruxie Waffles currently does that with their Prosciutto Hash & Egg, which they only sell on weekends and sell out within hours of opening due to the overwhelming reception of that creation. In Downtown Fullerton, Burger Parlor does that with their most expensive burger, The Royal w/ Cheese. Chef Joseph Mahon cooks this burger medium rare, then tops it with bacon, fried onions, tomato, lettuce, truffle oil, chipotle aioli, and a fried egg. Always keep in mind that flavor tends to scale positively with the mess it generates on your hands! The juices that flow from the burger patty coupled with the oozing egg will leave your hand tasting delicious – just take care not to start sucking on your fingers in public. Pair this burger with one of their craft beers on tap for a terrific meal.

3. Lazy Ox Canteen‘s Lazy Ox Burger

When someone random recommends a place to eat, you typically have to understand that person’s tastes. When a reputable source recommends a place to eat, you can bet that place will have amazing food. Accepting recommendations comes with risk, as you may not know what to expect, since a person may like something that you do not, even if that person speaks for an entity. Biting the bullet and moving on the recommendation, I land at Lazy Ox Canteen in Downtown Los Angeles. This dim little restaurant carries some interesting meals fit for large groups in addition to the standard individual plates. Per my mission, I dove straight for their Lazy Ox Burger, complete with whole grain mustard and white cheddar, served with kennebec fries. The mustard truly gives this burger its unique kick with its tangy texture, as it brings out the full flavor of the beef patty. Although the burger appears small, Lazy Ox packs a lot into each bite. Despite its location in Downtown LA, parking meters right outside only operate until 8pm, and do not operate at all on Sundays. Take advantage of this and go order a Lazy Ox Burger!

2. Chapter One: The Modern Local‘s American Burger

Meat, meat, and more meat. Apologies to the vegetarians and vegans out there, for I know that meatless burgers exist. Sadly, meatless burgers can never measure up to the real thing in taste and quality. If you want to scare off a vegetarian or vegan, find out how much meat you can pile onto a burger, which Chapter One: The Modern Local appears to have done to their burger. In addition to the beef patty, Chapter One also includes pork belly and bacon on their American Burger, as if one type of meat does not deserve to stand alone. Just for safety’s sake, Chapter One throws white cheddar fondue, roasted shallots, pork belly jus, aioli, lettuce, and tomato on the burger, then scoop up some duck fat fries for your snacking enjoyment. I feel sad for vegetarians, as they will never get a chance to savor this meaty burger. But if you eat meat, you have a chance to try what everybody talks about here! With each bite, savor every ingredient on the burger, from the beef to the pork belly to the bacon. Also consider finishing off your meal with one of their donuts, like their Bourbon Bacon Banana Donut, and walk away from Chapter One feeling like a true hero.

1. The Parish‘s Burger

Embrace simplicity. Sometimes you have to take things back to square one to analyze where you stand. In this world of add-ons and multitudes of color, we often lose sight of what lies behind all the bells and whistles. An artist can slap on dozens of layers of colors and paints onto the canvas and call it art. But what could one make of the actual canvas? A painter cannot claim that title without the canvas, as any artist requires a solid foundation before initiating the work of art. At The Parish in Downtown Los Angeles, they fully recognize the importance of the canvas, and build their food around it instead of covering it up. The Parish forgoes the fancy building of additions to their food, and focus on the base of the food, which you can find most apparent in their burger. This simple yet untitled Burger consists of one of the best beef patties you will ever sink your teeth into, Époisse cheese, and highly caramelized onions, all on grilled ciabatta bread. Their menu claims that the burger contains pickled carrots and arugula, but unless I mistook the onions for those, I could not detect any of those in the burger. Almost all burger patties cooked medium rare contain pink in the very middle. At The Parish, their burgers come pink all the way right to just before the edge, yet the patty still retains a crisp texture on the outside. The juices seep into the bottom bun, creating a wet yet meaty handle for the burger. Lastly, the cheese and onions work overtime to bring out the meatiness of the patty. Oh, and you get fries with your burger too. I randomly stumbled upon The Parish while adventuring in Downtown LA one day. I love their location – at the end of a building peninsula located in the center where Main St and Spring St split off like a Y. With a cafe downstairs and the main dining room and bar upstairs, The Parish truly has all grounds covered to operate a successful business. Do yourself a favor and get to The Parish and try their food – I promise you will not stop thinking about the food once you try it.

What does a typical person seek in a dessert? Does dessert have to taste sweet? Can that dessert come in liquid form? Does dessert automatically exclude some ingredients? Depending on the palate, people define a dessert in an endless amount of ways. Many people prefer a traditional sweet and solid dessert, such as cake or pie. Some prefer a liquid dessert, such as a milkshake, coffee, wine, or even beer. Would you ever consider a dessert that contains components found in the main course of the meal? Chefs and cooks have toyed around with this idea for the past few years, often adding meat or other odd ingredients to their desserts – sometimes it works, often times it does not. In the case of the former, I have discovered a restaurant that struck gold playing with this notion – adding bacon and liquor to dessert. One can find this interesting dessert at Chapter One: The Modern Local in Downtown Santa Ana.

Chapter One: The Modern Local cuts no corners when it comes to quality; in fact, they shave it down to a perfect 90° angle. Using the best in local and seasonal ingredients, they craft each plate and drink with remarkable precision. Their food menu can leave anyone overwhelmed at the choices of amazing dishes to select, but the dessert menu can leave anyone bewildered. Dessert at Chapter One consists primarily of donuts with the Chapter One twist. Customers can witness this twist best in their Bourbon Bacon Banana Donut. This banana doughnut gets a heaping coating of bourbon maple frosting, marmalade, and cocoa nibs. A brûléed banana half sits on top of this doughnut, covered with candied bacon bits. It goes without saying that anyone ordering this has to get a little of everything in each bite. Take some of the banana and bacon, and dive into the doughnut, scooping some of the marmalade along the way.

Who said meat only belongs on the entrée? Any willing diners can obtain this Bourbon Bacon Banana Donut at Chapter One in Downtown Santa Ana for just $6. Head on over there and tantalize your taste buds with this superior take on bacon donuts.