Posts Tagged ‘Duck’

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. The Apple Pan‘s Steakburger

With all this newfangled technology and modernism going on these days, sometimes it helps to go back to the basics. We turn to the originals to inspired us to prepare for the future. For the originals, we head over to The Apple Pan in Century City. The name should speak for itself, but for those who have not heard of the name, The Apple Pan represents one of the oldest Los Angeles restaurants still in operation to this day. The Apple Pan even inspired the Johnny Rockets chain we see everywhere. The Apple Pan’s old-time charm holds dear to our hearts, but their classic food represents comfort food at its finest. The Apple Pan serves two signature burgers with different cuts of beef: a hickory burger, and the Steakburger. Where the hickory burger carries more smoke flavor, the Steakburger remains closer to a medium beef patty. Each one costs $7.65 and comes with The Apple Pan’s signature sauce (resembles salsa), mayonnaise, pickles, and lettuce. For a small upcharge, you can add Tillamook cheddar to the burger, which I highly recommend since they let the cheese melt onto the grill, providing some crispness to the cheese. At The Apple Pan, the classics never go out of style!

4. Beer Belly‘s The Duck! Cheeseburger

We move from the classics to the modern era, where crafty chefs like to get fancy and creative with their foods. We deviate away from the norm with the type of ingredients used in classic dishes, but deviate too far and you may end up putting off willing customers. Thankfully, Koreatown’s Beer Belly walks the line between classic and inventive with their modernized take on classic foods. Beer Belly’s menu contains classic foods as you may recognize, but they use slightly different ingredients than you may recall. Take, for example, The Duck! Cheeseburger. Sure it may cost $15.50 for just a burger, but looking at what they put in this burger may justify the cost. Beer Belly uses a patty of duck and bacon for this burger, which can already kill the savory senses for those not accustomed to this barrage of meaty goodness. In addition, they even put foie gras on this burger! The hits do not stop there – you also get provolone cheese, mustard, peach ketchup, arugula, and pickled red onions on this burger in an onion brioche bun. Just for kicks, you can add a fried egg to this burger for $1.50 more. If you want to blitz your taste buds, Beer Belly has the ticket for that.

3. Urbana‘s Urbana Burger

Now we move from the modern era to the fusion path, where we start to cross cuisines of different cultures. As its name may suggest, the hamburger originated in Germany, yet today it somehow has a lot more popularity in the United States than Germany. One thing led to another, and we have foods mixing and matching all over the world. Most prominently, Latin cuisine mixes very well with other cuisines, something that Urbana in Anaheim does very well. Urbana takes Mexican flavors and applies them to many types of dishes besides Mexican food. While Urbana has the classics such as tacos, Urbana puts a Latin spin on other foods not typically thought of as Mexican, just like in their Urbana Burger. While it eats like a burger, the grass-fed beef patty comes filled with Queso Oaxaca for a stuffed burger experience. This stuffed patty sits on a layer of chorizo and gets topped with arugula, caramelized onions, and cilantro aioli. For $18, this monstrous burger comes with fries to feed you for the night.

2. Pig Pen Delicacy‘s Maple Bacon Jam Burger

Americans have a strange fascination with bacon. Something about this small strip of pork drives people to spend obscene amounts of money to add it on to something. Fast food restaurants routinely charge a dollar more to add a piece of bacon, while some restaurants charge up to $4 more to add some bacon. I will never understand why people do this, but I do know that if I crave the flavor of bacon, it had better taste good, so I go to Pig Pen Delicacy in Santa Ana. As the name of this food stand suggests, Pig Pen Delicacy sells pork and pork accessories products in whatever manner they can fashion. Look at their Maple Bacon Jam Burger to see how much they love pork here. An all-beef patty comes coated with maple bacon jam, havarti cheese, chive aioli, and friend onion strings. At just $8.50, you can have a mess on your hands and eat it too. Between all the bacon, pulled pork, and pork belly, if you want pork, you got it here at Pig Pen Delicacy.

1. Cafe Cola‘s Smoov Burger

We live in a time where every single human being desires absolute control over his or her life. As a universal human truth, people need to have complete control over their lives and do things only their way, even if it obstructs another person’s path to freedom. Sad as that might sound, history has shown exactly this. When you have control, you feel authoritative and confident. When you lack control, you may start to feel scared or angry. By allowing people to have control, they feel more comfortable with the current situation. They have ditched the old motto of “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” for a more direct approach that gives them control. Instead of getting mad, go somewhere that allows you to enjoy your control by allowing you the pleasure of customization, such as at Cafe Cola in Covina. Now officially reopened (albeit only on weekends), Cafe Cola has introduced a brand new model of allowing customers to build their own burger from the plate up for one flat price. Customers pay $9.95 for the Smoov Burger, and can choose as many toppings as they want to go on it. Personally, I think too many toppings kills the flavor, but with so much to choose from, you can afford to carefully select toppings. Despite this gimmick, the burger comes out amazing, as Cafe Cola does not muck around with the beef patty. Very few places can boast about unlimited toppings at one low price, and Cafe Cola has sealed the deal as the best customizable burger in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Have you ever taken the time to fully comprehend your palate? I refer to more than just your taste buds and what you prefer to eat – your palate encompasses anything and everything you have or plan to consume. The human palate involves more than just taste – it involves the entire experience of sight, smell, temperature, texture, consistency, ingredients, and more. When you consider the possible ingredients, a plethora comes to mind. Having a variety of ingredients makes for a more pleasant experience, and the master crafters at Beachwood BBQ have capitalized on that notion.

Last week, Beachwood BBQ brought back their Meatloaf Night, following the success of their past food events that featured dishes like ribs, mac & cheese, and poutine. Unlike the mac and poutine nights, guests could not actually construct their own meatloaf. Instead, Beachwood offered a menu containing five different types of meatloaf: Beef, Duck, Venison, Wild Boar, and Elk. Torn between all the meats, Beachwood knew their customers would struggle to select one meatloaf, so they offered a “flight” of four types of meatloaf PLUS all the sides. Unlike the last time Beachwood BBQ held this event, they did not curate a specific beer-pairing menu that paired certain beers with each type of meatloaf, thus this menu did not mention any beer flights. Regardless, Beachwood BBQ still had a full lineup of beers available to choose from, including their Greenshift DIPA that had just released in draft and bottles the previous day.

How beautiful does that look? Beachwood took an ordinary white plate and turned it into a centerpiece. Every meatloaf paired with one of the sides and a craft beer creates a blissful serene experience for your palate. You may not witness culinary synergy like this again in a while. Human palates have to expand beyond everyday “comfort foods” that we all grow up to eat. With a world of foods you may have never even heard of, why settle for routine? Break out of routines that lead to nowhere, and find something new and interesting to eat, like these different types of meatloaf from Beachwood BBQ. Your palate will thank me later.

Over time, human tastes change due to exposure to new things, new experiences, and new knowledge. Starting off as a child, we consumed basic foods mainly for nutrition, not for enjoyment. Once we left our toddler stage, we start to eat common foods like hot dogs, pizza, and hamburgers, as well as crave sweets. From that point on, we would slowly start to like new and different foods and different tastes. For example, most kids and teenagers love ketchup, but cannot stand mustard. Conversely, adults tend to prefer mustard over ketchup due to its flavor complementing meat products, as well as having no sugar. Once we get older, we tend to stick with what we have come to eat on a regular basis. Sometimes, we start to crave what we once had as children. This concept of eating what we did as children, known as comfort food, has recently gained popularity with today’s society, but with gourmet twists to satiate our adult needs. Sure we may want basic macaroni & cheese sometimes, but order it while dining out, and you may receive it with bread crumbs, truffle oil, and/or some kind of meat in it, like bacon. Sometimes, you just want the original thing, and you want it to taste good. Whether you want the original or a rebooted original, comfort food will always have a part in our lives. If you desire comfort food, check out these five comfort foods that you can find in the greater Los Angeles area.

5. La Palma Chicken Pie Shop‘s Chicken Pot Pie

Longevity of a business typically indicates that any business does their job well at staying in business. If a business can remain open for years in a highly competitive industry, that business deserve to remain there. La Palma Chicken Pie Shop has existed in Anaheim for so many decades that nobody can truly claim local status without having heard of this place. Since their inception in the 1950’s or whenever they opened, they have done their thing and have not changed a bit. Find all your typical comfort foods here, from the turkey sandwiches to the chicken noodle soup to all the delightful pastries and baked goods here. Of course, anyone visiting this quaint shop must try their namesake, the Chicken Pot Pie. For less than $5, you can order a smothered chicken pot pie a la carte. This pot pie contains nothing extraordinary – just your typical chicken meat, peas, carrots, and gravy. When you order it a la carte, they smother it with more gravy. Sure it may not contain anything unique, but it tastes exactly as how you would imagine it. No reason exists to fix something not broken.

4. The Crooked Duck‘s Duck Chili

Do you occasionally drive down a busy street and see businesses to the side that makes you wonder what they have? Some major roads have plenty of great local businesses along the path, but the majority of everyone driving on that road simply zooms past these businesses and never take time to discover what awaits if they stop to visit. Slowing down may lead you to discover interesting places, such as The Crooked Duck in Long Beach. I feel that its location hinders its popularity, as the speed limit in front of The Crooked Duck clocks in at over 50 MPH, so most people zoom past this place and never know what lies here. I can tell you now that if you stop to visit this place, you will discover amazing comfort food prepared with local ingredients. But since they have duck in their name, you can expect some of the greatest duck dishes here, such as their Duck Chili. This black bean chili has 5-spice duck in it, with wonton chips and a hoisin sauce drizzle on top. Despite the presence of a strong sauce, the duck boldly stands out. For just $5.25, you can get this duck on and satisfy your hunger with a right portion.

3. The Viking Truck‘s Nemesis Corn Dog

In recent years, Disneyland has stepped up the quality of their food in regards to ingredients. Unfortunately, the price increases of everything including the entrance ticket does not justify visiting this theme park for a mere bite. For years, I have sworn by the corn dog from the Little Red Wagon in Disneyland, but could not afford to visit the park whenever I craved it. Fortunately, the discovery of The Viking Truck in Orange County has nullified any reason I have to go into Disneyland for a corn dog. The Viking Truck, which roams Orange County in their food truck, specializes in gourmet sausages, and utilizes them not only in sandwiches, but in corn dogs. Using a homemade batter, The Viking Truck uses their gourmet sausages for unique corn dogs not easy to replicate. Their signature corn dog, the Nemesis Corn Dog, contains their smoked bratwurst. This combination works so well because of the batter’s sweetness matched with the bratwurst’s smokiness and meatiness. The flavors contrast so well, but the addition of spicy brown mustard adds an additional sour flavor, completing the full taste bud spectrum. This brilliant corn dog costs just $6.50 (when not at special locations such as a convention center), slightly more than a Disneyland corn dog. But when you consider the freshness of this corn dog, and the fact that you do not have to pay to visit this food truck, who cares about which one costs less?

2. Beer Belly‘s Beer Belly Grilled Cheese

If something does not fit in with the others, do you call it a black sheep or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? You probably answered black sheep… but what if the black sheep holds power over the herd? Enter Beer Belly, Koreatown’s wolf in sheep’s clothing. A random gastropub tucked away in the urban sprawl of Korean businesses… no one would believe a hidden gem like this exists in such a town. Once you discover it and venture inside, you will discover that you may fall in love with Beer Belly. For a place so small, Beer Belly offers a vast variety of not only food, but beer as well. Their reinvention of classic comfort food into a fine dining experience will leave you craving more, especially their Beer Belly Grilled Cheese. At $12, this one-of-a-kind grilled cheese basically takes two grilled cheese sandwiches and utilizes each of them as a bun, resulting in a sandwich containing four slices of bread. Playing along with the power of Four, four cheeses play into this sandwich: cheddar, asiago, gruyère, and goat cheese. As if four cheeses did not appear enough, the center layer contains applewood-smoked bacon, and the entire sandwich receives a drizzle of maple syrup. I sincerely hope that if you plan to tackle this beast of a sandwich that you do not follow any diets. As they say about comfort food: good for heart, but bad for your heart.

1. Tavern On 2‘s Rosa’s Chilaquiles

I love to watch the evolution of local establishments. New businesses mostly start out small, and with the growing fan base, the business must grow too. When Tavern On 2 finally unveiled the doubling of their dining area, business boomed for them, as expected. One of two gastropubs in Belmont Shore (the other one counts as a chain), Tavern On 2 understands their loyal customers, and constantly adapts to the changing times of not only the local community, but to the frequent visitors from out of town. Those who have not visited Tavern On 2 within the past few months ought to return to gaze upon the new menu curated by Tavern On 2’s new chef. Many of the old favorites remain on the menu, such as their Oxtail Poutine, but the brunch menu has received a complete overhaul, which now lists some interesting dishes, such as Rosa’s Chilaquiles. This modern reinvention of a classic starts with a traditional chilaquiles base of egg-washed tortilla pieces smothered with chile verde. This dish receives a generous helping of avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro, queso fresco, crema, and roasted pork belly. Wait, what? Looks like the chef decided to place a spin on this traditional dish. Although the pork belly represents a small portion out of the entire dish, it brings enough porky undertones to make its presence felt during the course of devouring. Score this rad dish during brunch on the weekends for just $12. Do not forget to pair this with some great craft beer that Tavern On 2 changes weekly!

After a night of partying hard, what should people expect to feel like the following morning? Depending on the actions taken during the previous night, a person can feel anywhere from refreshed to exhausted to downright hungover in the morning. For those on the lower end, people can take up multiple types of remedies to relieve the fatigue and pain caused from excessive drinking the previous night. Some may take a cold shower, while some may drink black coffee. On the more aggressive end, the “hair of the dog” approach sees them drinking again that morning, but in lesser quantities to act as “downward stairs” to slowly descend from a boozy night to a manageable morning. Drinking lots of water always helps, but so far, the best remedy involves eating a greasy breakfast. Although terrible for your health (and drinking ruins your health too), greasy foods act as alcohol sponges, since the oil will help to nullify the effects of alcohol in your system. Sunday brunch typically involves this approach, plus the “hair of the dog” approach, to generate a fatty breakfast plus a mimosa or two, a drink light enough on alcohol that serves as the perfect vessel to bring down a previous night’s high. Sure you can have your omelet bars or pancakes and such, but if you want to truly indulge, take a trip to Beer Belly for the guiltiest pleasures in Sunday brunches.

Nestled deep inside Koreatown largely hidden from street view, Beer Belly lives up to its name as a food and beer institution. Imagine your typical gastropub looking all fancy and such, then along comes Beer Belly to tear it all down and deliver taste directly to your face. Beer Belly does not utilize standard restaurant service procedures – guests order food at the bar/counter, receive a number, then sit down and wait for a server to deliver the goods. These goods include conventional bar snacks elevated to a new level. For example, I can rave all day about their grilled cheese, but I shall save that for another day. Their Sunday brunch includes some items exclusive to that menu, such as their Chicken “IN” Waffle – again, saving that for another day. During brunch hours, the regular menu remains available, allowing access to Sunday morning goodies such as their Death By Duck. This duck three-way item comes with Duck Fat Fries (with Smoked Salt and Sweet Onion Sugar), Duck Skin Cracklins, Duck Confit, and Raspberry Mustard sauce. Sauce? Who needs sauce? Once you bite into a fry, you may quack in ecstasy as the duck fat oozes out from the fry to vehemently massage your taste buds. Set that sauce aside for now and savor the ducky flavor, because a duck sacrificed itself so that you may relish this moment. Just for fun, because they serve it here, pair this duck three-way with a nice cold light beer, such as a cream ale, pilsner, or lager.

Duck got your tongue? You can nab a Death By Duck from Beer Belly for just $8. You can find Beer Belly in Koreatown west of Downtown Los Angeles on S Western Avenue between 5th and 6th Street. Once you can locate Iota and I Love Boba, look at the back of the parking lot between the two, and you will find Beer Belly. Guests can park in the parking lot on the other side of I Love Boba, though I suggest parking in the neighborhood via 5th Street. If you find yourself believing in the powers of the almighty Beer Belly, check out the rest of their menu when you arrive there. Bring friends too, as you will all want to come back sooner than later.

Time to jump out of the pig pun and back into reality. Following a successful turnout at last year’s PigOut, the organizers have returned once again with PigOut 2.0 – bigger, better, and with pignificant vengeance. This celebration of everyone’s favorite pink-snout animal delivers the goods with 15 of Orange County’s top chefs all preparing a feast for the ages, and ten of Orange County’s top mixologists all shaking up wicked concoctions. The general admission of $75 allowed all attendees four full hours of all-you-can-eat pork goodies, and all-you-can-drink craft cocktails, plus beer courtesy of Noble Ale Works. Although this pigout took place outdoors on a hot Summer day, an adjacent tall building provided shade over the entire area within an hour of the feast.

All of the participating vendors did not follow any particular order or placement – they all just set up where available. This generated some crowding, especially near the front, around some of the more popular restaurant tables. However, every participating restaurant brought more than enough pork to satiate everyone’s piggy desires, so nobody had to worry about any particular food item running out. In between snacks, attendees could check out a silent auction table in the center of the area, full of prizes donated by the vendors. Prizes all allowed the winner to return to the restaurant for something special, such as a dinner or wine tasting.

Here we see HopScotch Tavern‘s Pork Belly Rillettes:

Fried Pig Ears, Pig’s Blood Cavatelli w/ Spicy Pork Ragout, and Crispy Pork Belly w/ Banana Ketchup & Soy Glaze from Broadway by Amar Santana:

The Detroiter from 320 Main: Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, Cynar, Fresh Lemon Juice, Honey Syrup, and Stone IPA.

Pork Cheek Sliders from Juliette Kitchen & Bar, with Dried Tomatillo, Pickled Peppers, and Smoked Paprika-Yuzu Aioli. Juliette had a consistently long line for the entire event, thanks to their incredibly tender pork cheek meat.

Pig Pig Duck Sammies from Arc Restaurant – another restaurant with a consistent line, albeit not as long as Juliette’s.

One of the hard (as in alcoholic) snow cones:

From The Cannery. Note that they used pig’s blood for the mousse .

Mini Mortadella Corn Dogs from Pizzeria Mozza:

The Haven Collective wielded the main attraction: the Triple Porkarazzi, which they served as tacos, lechon-style. They also served Pâté de Cochon Trop Manger and BLT Wraps.

From The Cellar Cheese Shop. At the bottom, you have a French cookie topped with aged smoked gouda and bacon caramel. Ask no questions, and seek this out whenever you find yourself in Costa Mesa.

Cheers to Melissa’s Produce for bringing the only non-alcoholic drink to the pigout.

From The Attic, the only non-Orange County restaurant to participate.

From A Restaurant. Yes, this restaurant wins for the best existing pun ever. Can you imagine? “Let’s do to A Restaurant!”

With such a turnout, what more can we expect? Pay attention to August next year, as we may all see a PigOut 3.0 around that time, should all go according to plan. If you love the pork so much, you will want to check out the San Diego Bacon Fest, taking place this Saturday afternoon. PigOut may appear expensive to some, but bear in mind that admission needs to cover the cost to book all these high-profile chefs and bartenders. If you want to play with the best, you have to put in like the rest.

Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go, and then I got sedated. Even if the music selection does not fit, one cannot deny the charm of a themed restaurant. Sure, sometimes the theme feels too cheesy, but depending on the location or theme, if it works, then it sells hard. Why do you think many restaurants in Disneyland prosper very well? Aside from their locations inside a theme park, their concept of going all-or-nothing allows them to prosper with the theme. Outside of theme parks, this same concept of all-or-nothing holds more significance, as anyone playing in the middle ground will find themselves at a point of no return, and tend to close down quickly. Few restaurants roll with a music theme, especially if the food does not match the music’s stereotype. For example, a bluegrass restaurant would typically serve Cajun or Creole food. But what about heavy metal? When you think about heavy metal, what types of food cross the mind? Does any food walk hand-in-hand with heavy metal at all? I mean, you cannot spell metal without ‘meat’ or ‘meal’ in it. Thankfully, some bright young gentlemen took their love for heavy metal and turned it into a successful hamburger restaurant. Drawing inspiration from Metallica’s first album, those young gentlemen opened up Grill ’em All.

Having just opened a week and a half ago, Grill ’em All seeks to destroy false burgers. They take the norm, smash its head in, and punt it far away. Do not expect to find many traditional food items here – throw out any expectations you have of a burger joint. Grill ’em All slings burgers with attitude, as they lay on toppings that very few would even conceive. From a peanut butter & jelly burger to a burger sandwiched between two grilled cheeses (FOUR slices of bread), Grill ’em All takes the art of slinging burgers to levels beyond the next. Take their Exciter for example, a burger that contains duck confit, frisée (curly endive), truffle-herb goat cheese, and cranberry gastrique (caramelized sauce). Any random chump can toss random things on a burger and call it a meal. However, it takes careful precision to craft a burger with such balance to bring out the flavor of every ingredient. Duck in itself holds a very strong unique taste, so other ingredients should never overpower it. The inclusion of the goat cheese and cranberry gastrique greatly draws out the duck, especially the cranberry because sweet flavors help highlight anything savory going on. After each bite, feel the pause as you take time to savor each bite and reach every ingredient on this burger as it coats your taste buds. At $15 for this burger, the Exciter sits as the most expensive burger Grill ’em All offers, along with the Jump In The Fryer. Ask yourself this first: would they price a burger like this if it did not deliver? Explaining this burger’s pleasuring allure can only go so far – you have to head over to Grill ’em All and, as they describe it, experience Valhalla for yourself.

Have you ever taken the time to fully comprehend your palate? I refer to more than just your taste buds and what you prefer to eat – your palate encompasses anything and everything you have or plan to consume. The human palate involves more than just taste – it involves the entire experience of sight, smell, temperature, texture, consistency, ingredients, and more. When you consider the possible ingredients, a plethora comes to mind. Having a variety of ingredients makes for a more pleasant experience, and the master crafters at Beachwood BBQ have capitalized on that notion.

Two weeks ago, Beachwood BBQ hosted their first-ever Meatloaf Night, following the success of their ribs, mac & cheese, and poutine special event nights. Unlike the mac and poutine nights, guests could not actually construct their own meatloaf. Instead, Beachwood offered a menu containing six different types of meatloaf: Duck, Veggie, Ham, Buffalo, Venison, and Seafood. Each meatloaf paired with a craft beer also mentioned on the menu. Torn between all the meats, Beachwood knew their customers would struggle to select one meatloaf, so they offered a “flight” of four types of meatloaf PLUS all the sides for just a dollar more. In addition, guests could add beer pairings to that flight for just $6 more. With this kind of deal, who could pass up the chance to eat meatloaf without questionable meats?

Clockwise from top left: Duck, Ham, Buffalo, Venison

How beautiful does that look? Beachwood took an ordinary white plate and turned it into a centerpiece. Every meatloaf paired with one of the sides and a craft beer creates a blissful serene experience for your palate. You may not witness culinary synergy like this again in a while. Human palates have to expand beyond everyday “comfort foods” that we all grow up to eat. With a world of foods you may have never even heard of, why settle for routine? Break out of routines that lead to nowhere, and find something new and interesting to eat, like these different types of meatloaf from Beachwood BBQ. Your palate will thank me later.

To standard consumers, the classic hamburger equates a ground beef patty, usually sandwiched between two bun halves. For many decades, chefs and cooks tried not to deviate far from this standard, opting to improve on an existing product. A recipe unchanged throughout that time lingers well among people of all ages. This standard of comfort food still holds well with adult palates, appearing in many eateries and restaurants. Today, modern chefs and cooks accept progress and experimentation in the kitchen in any regards: ingredients, preparation, supplies, methods, etc. Most operate by trial & error, as I have discovered time and time again, to create a masterpiece worthy of an official spot on the menu. One of my recent trial & success discoveries come from Urge Gastropub in San Diego.

Located in a small area called Rancho Bernardo, Urge Gastropub reinvents traditional English pub grub by introducing it in an American setting serving the finest craft beers. The beer selection changes daily based on availability and beer popularity, much like how most other gastropubs operate. As for the food menu, while the menu features typical appetizers and soups/salads, Urge specializes in gourmet burgers, as over half of the main plates contain a burger of some sort. Aside from standard beef burgers, Urge also features veal, boar, rabbit, vegan, and 50/50 beef/bacon patties. A column on the menu called Market Menu contains items available for a limited time. My eyes immediately diverted to this column, where I spotted a Duck L’Orange Burger. On this burger, an 8oz ground duck patty get topped with a house-made cranberry-orange chutney, tomatoes, market baby greens, and Ur-Bock smoky aioli. Get this – they cook the duck patty how you like it. Unlike turkey burgers that only come well done, Urge can cook your duck patty any way you want it, even rare! I questioned my server regarding this, but he assured me that I should not have to worry; thus, I ordered my burger mid-well as I do all burgers I consume.

I have no idea what they put in the duck patty or how they cook it, but boy can you taste the duck in the patty! It has a salty and juicy feel to it that resonates throughout your taste buds, alerting you to the intensity of this duck patty. The patty comes lightly seared, giving a slight crispiness that only further enhances the flavor profile of this burger. Each main course also comes with a choice of side (Hawaiian Style Mac Salad pictured). You can order the Duck L’Orange Burger at Urge Gastropub for $13. Act quickly, as food on the Market Menu will not remain on the menu permanently!

The San Diego Beer Week ran from November 2-11 this year. Much like Los Angeles Beer Week, San Diego Beer Week celebrates all things craft beer in San Diego. Home to many fine breweries, San Diego serves a vast assortment of craft beer all over the county, from bars to restaurants to gastropubs and more. With plenty of beer events occurring each day, San Diego Beer Week ensured that anyone interested in beer would get a piece of the ale. The festivities kicked off with a beer fest on Saturday, November 3rd, which I did not have a chance to attend. Instead, I spent a day in San Diego this past weekend to catch the tail end of the week.

My first stop of the day brought me to AleSmith Brewing. Notoriously known for brewing one of the world’s best stouts, AleSmith held a release party for their Barrel Aged Speedway Stout. This limited release stout went for $27 per bottle and sold out in minutes. Luckily, I managed to purchase some bottles, so I not only came here to pick up my bottles, but to also enjoy the varieties of Speedway that the brewery poured that day.

My picks: Vietnamese (coffee) Speedway, Nitro Speedway, Evil Dead Red on cask, Speedway on cask.

The staff also allowed guests to roam the brewery towards the back. They even turned on the machines so guests could watch the bottling process.

At the very back, foodtrucks served food, while the brewery staff served flights of Speedway variations, which I had to purchase no questions asked.

During my time at AleSmith, I spoke with some locals and asked about good food in the area. One guest had mentioned Urge Gastropub. Now I had already heard of Urge prior because of an event there with The Bruery and Societe Brewing, so naturally this suggestion only helped to push me more towards Urge. My dish of choice? The Duck L’Orange Burger:

Om nom nom indeed!

After my late lunch, I headed to the closest brewery: Green Flash Brewing.

As a fan of malty beers, I felt out of place at a brewery that specializes in hoppy beers. Still, I could not resist the chance to take a tour of this brewery.

And of course, what better way to wrap up San Diego Beer Week than with an anniversary ale?

Next, I traveled to Ballast Point, the next nearest brewery from Green Flash. Their main event for the week took place at their Home Brew Mart elsewhere, so heading to the brewery yielded less than stellar results, despite a large crowd at the brewery. Regardless, I never regret any visit to a brewery, no matter how brief.

As the sun set, I used my final minutes of daylight to locate Societe Brewing.

Infamously known as the child prodigy of The Bruery, Societe thrives on only top quality beers. They do not muck around with their beers – they get straight to the point with the flavor and strength. All week, guests could find Societe beers all over San Diego, as the brewery hit up many places to spread their good name and their good cheers.

Night fell, and I decided to seek a haven to snag another beer or two, along with some good eating. Based on a recommendation from a friend, my journey brought me to The Linkery in North Park. For the life of me, I could not decipher this place: a craft beer bar that specializes in sausages, lights dim to set the mood, and a live DJ. I sensed too many mixed messages as I entered and made a bee line for the bar. Coincidentally, I spotted two gentlemen from Societe at the bar as well. After a quick introduction and chat, I sat down to order a beer and food. I ended up ordering something called El Salchichero:

After such a long day of eating and drinking, I could not hold anymore in me, so I had to take half of this eye candy of a plate to go.

I still cannot believe that all these activities consumed my entire day. I had so much more to do, more places to visit, and much more food & beer to eat & drink. Right now I ask myself- do I want to wait until next year’s San Diego Beer Week to travel down here again and explore? Obviously no – having opened my eyes and my world to brand new places, I do not need a special occasion to go visiting all these places. If I want to try new and amazing things, then I shall do so. I want you to also keep an open mind and try new things. Get out there and explore. You should not need a special event or week to persuade you into delving into something new. You never know what you may find by opening your senses.

Since the ban of Foie Gras, eager eaters have searched for alternative ways to sate their lust for the quack. Finding out how tough a quack-less life would turn into, eaters compiled an unwritten compilation of places serving the best duck-based dishes. Not one to pass this opportunity, I joined in on this hunt, searching for the best hidden gem nestled in a duck. One recommendation led to another, which finally landed me at the front patio of 320 Main in Seal Beach.

One of the underrated gems of the 714, 320 Main serves modern renditions of American comfort food. With a variety of classics like Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup to adult favorites like Blackened Chicken or BBQ Ribs, 320 Main covers a wide scope of tastes. Besides their regular menu, 320 Main’s Happy Hour menu contains a few items not on the regular menu, one of which you can see above. For $5 during Happy Hour, you can order their Duck Fat Fries, which contain fries fried in duck fat, duck confit, and a duck fat egg. The fries hold the duck fat flavor very well – each bite releases the inner juices of the fry, which absorbed all the duck fat during frying. For added protein, just to make it more like a meal, these fries come with not only an egg, but pieces of duck confit as well. If you have never tried duck confit, think of it as an advanced version of bacon, though down a different path than pork belly. Whereas pork belly allows you to savor a thicker piece of the pig, duck confit holds much more savory flavor and feels more comforting, texture-wise, like a natural texture that man should bite into. But anyways, I digress – you should head down to 320 Main very soon and try their Duck Fat Fries! Do note that you can only order this during Happy Hour. If you arrive at a different time, you can instead order the Smothered Duck Fries off their regular menu! (will get covered sooner than later)