Posts Tagged ‘Elysian Brewing’

The age of the domestic beer monopoly in the United States shrinks with each passing day. The beer industry around the world dominates the alcoholic beverage industry, as consumers drink 3,500 bottles of beer for every one glass of wine – that makes 8,000 times more beer consumed by the liter. Annually, consumers worldwide drink 189 billion liters of beer, but only 24 million liters of wine. While drinking habits may peak during certain times of the year such as holidays, the consumption of beverages remains fairly consistent and rarely makes huge changes in consumption from one day to the next. The changing seasons do have a great effect on the types and styles of beers consumed, as more people start to prefer full-bodied beers. While fall should tune the weather down a bit, Southern California remains hot as ever. Tons of pumpkin beers start to surface around this time, and perhaps the people have gotten tired of seeing pumpkin beers everywhere. However, some breweries continue to brew new pumpkin beers, reimagining how we will perceive these fall-style beers. If you still have room for pumpkin beer in your system, read on for five fall beers that I recommend trying this season, all of which you can find at your local bottle shop throughout Southern California.

5. Elysian Brewing‘s Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale

This past year, a series of “sellouts” have rocked America’s craft beer industry, as the big companies start to fear the rising power of microbreweries. Craft beer has reached an all-time high as far as popularity and sales go, and the big companies view craft beer as a threat, and has started to buy out (or partially buy) some of the more popular microbreweries. Though these sellouts routinely occur year to year, perhaps the role of the catalyst for this year’s tumble belongs to Elysian Brewing. I remember visiting one of Elysian’s locations in Seattle two years ago, and I instantly fell in love with their tasting room and brew selection. Now just because they now belong to a large corporation does not mean I like their beers any less. Elysian still produces some amazing beers, such as their Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale. At only 5.0% abv, this brew carries aromas of coffee, light pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spices with notes of toasty malts that join the flavor chorus of Stumptown coffee and pumpkin. Seattle breweries love their pumpkin beer, and Seattleites love their coffee, so why not combine the two?

4. Anderson Valley‘s Pinchy Jeek Barl

As much as I love craft beer, I do not possess a wealth of knowledge about the history of it. While I cannot explain the origins of aging beer in barrels, I along with countless others appreciate whomever discovered the process of barrel-aging beers. With this process, the majority of breweries around the world now have at least one barrel in their brewery holding a brew that will turn out mature, tasty, and stronger. If you intend to try a barrel-aged beer this season, look towards Anderson Valley. I always underestimate Anderson Valley because, like another known brewery, they tend to stay in the middle of the fray instead of trying to stand out. Perhaps they do this on purpose to avoid controversy by making good beers without getting the attention of the big companies. This means that Anderson Valley can continue to churn out beers such as Pinchy Jeek Barl. Barrel-aged for six months in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels, this 8.5% pumpkin ale delivers a silky body and sweet caramel flavors with additions of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice complementing hints of coconut, bourbon, and vanilla imparted by oak aging. Following a wallop of a body, this brew finishes smooth and creamy. I strongly suggest sharing this bottle with a friend or two – finishing an entire bottle in one sitting will give you an early night.

3. Epic Brewing‘s Fermentation Without Representation

Ever since I discovered Epic Brewing‘s Exponential Series, I have yet to experience disappointment with any of their beers. Epic Brewing truly lives up to their name with the beers that they continually push out, and other breweries recognize the quality behind Epic. For this year’s batch of Fermentation Without Representation, Epic Brewing collaborated with DC Brau to brew this bold 8.0% abv beer with loads of seasonal spices & flavors with a delicate balance of malts, hops, and pumpkin. This beer explodes with aromas of sweet spices giving way to chocolate, roasted malt, fresh-cut pumpkin, clove, fresh Madagascar vanilla beans, nutmeg, and allspice. Not for the faint of heart, Fermentation Without Representation goes all-in with its flavor, leaving nothing to the imagination. If you seek something bold to close your night, look no further than Epic Brewing’s Fermentation Without Representation.

2. Stone Brewing Co.‘s Vertical Epic 08.08.08

Approaching two decades in the industry, Stone Brewing shows no signs of waning, despite co-founder Greg Koch stepping down from the CEO position. To commemorate 20 years in the craft beer industry, Stone Brewing will launch their 20th Anniversary Encore Series, a lineup of beers that celebrate Stone Brewing’s amazing history and their incredible lineup of memorable beers that have since retired. To kick off this series, Stone Brewing has brought Vertical Epic 08.08.08 out of retirement to once again tackle our taste buds. This 8.9% Belgian-style IPA uses a Belgian yeast strain during fermentation to provide a complex aroma of clove, pepper, and tropical fruits to generate a flavor profile composed of banana, spice, and citrus. Just like many did in 2008, you can enjoy this brew fresh or cellar it to enjoy a smoother and more mature flavor – I suggest not exceeding three years with this one. Keep an eye on Stone Brewing during this next year as they release other anniversary ales and collaboration ales on the road to the 20th anniversary celebration in August next year.

1. Howe Sound Brewing‘s Pumpkineater

Just because the United States has just exceeded 4,000 breweries does not mean that other countries cannot enjoy the fun as well. A handful of European countries thrive with their precious beers, and even Canada loves their beer. Up in British Columbia not too far past the Washington state border lies the Howe Sound, and at the far end in the area known as Squamish lies a local brewery & inn called Howe Sound Brewing. Basically a bed & breakfast (BnB), this brewery and inn in one allows visitors to come enjoy all the brews offered by Howe Sound Brewing, and stay the night to avoid any drunken mishaps at the end of the day. Howe Sound Brewing delivers a solid lineup of brews typical of any microbrewery, plus some unique seasonal brews, such as their fall seasonal imperial pumpkin ale, the Pumpkineater. Howe Sound Brewing brews this high-gravity pumpkin ale with barley, fresh-roasted pumpkin, hops, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise, resulting in an 8.0% abv beer low in IBUs. Sold in 33.8oz bottles, each bottle can serve two to four people. If you need a craft beer to serve to a party this season, make sure you grab some Pumpkineater from your local bottle shop.

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.

The age of the domestic beer monopoly in the United States shrinks with each passing day. The beer industry around the world dominates the alcoholic beverage industry, as consumers drink 3,500 bottles of beer for every one glass of wine – that makes 8,000 times more beer consumed by the liter. Annually, consumers worldwide drink 189 billion liters of beer, but only 24 million liters of wine. This veiled obscurity of wine slightly explains the phenomenon that more people drink, care about, and talk about wine, as the underdogs wanted to make a statement about the wonders of wine. We can thank the media for the different portrayals of each drink. The media portrays wine as a fine drink for educated folks, while the media portrays beer as a lazy or fat man’s drink. This old stereotype has shifted the portion of the population that drink each type. In the course of ten years in America, beer drinkers decreased 11% while wine drinkers increased 8%. The typical domestic beer brands (Budweiser, Coors, Miller, PBR, etc) dominate the market, and control distribution of beer in the United States. As much, this made it extremely difficult for small breweries to get their beers out very far from their origin, and in fact, 95% of all micro breweries in the United States cannot distribute beer outside of their home state. So when a brewery can finally venture beyond their state, beer lovers can rejoice over the presence of “new kids” in town. If you thirst for a great brew from outside of California, check out these breweries that have, in one way or another, landed their beers into Californian restaurants, pubs, and bars.

5. Elysian Brewing

Having officially lived through the Fall season for two weeks, we can already enjoy the perks of Fall. For example, the weather has changed from excessively hot to the kind of weather where you wear a jacket in the morning and a tank top in the afternoon. Also in the Fall, coffee lovers rejoice over the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattés from Starbucks. Fall in general reminds us all of pumpkins, yams, sweet potatoes, and other similar produce. At this time, I would like to thank Beer Advocate for their integral role in this year’s popularization of pumpkin beers with a simple innocent retweet that managed to infuriate their followers to the level of a headless horseman. When craft beer enthusiasts think of pumpkin beers, they immediately envision Elysian Brewing. Elysian has always had a penchant for pumpkin beers, as evident in their annual Great Pumpkin Beer Fest, which returns TONIGHT as its 9th year running in a row. As one of Washington’s micro breweries from their first wave, Elysian has solidified a legacy for themselves, especially in the Seattle area. Here in Southern California, Elysian does not yet actively distribute kegs for tap purposes. However, Elysian has collaborated with New Belgium to make a beer called The Trip XVI, a farmhouse rye ale, that you can find in select bars. If you can still find it, look up La Citrueille Celeste De Citracado, a collaboration beer between Elysian, Stone Brewing, and The Bruery, that you can currently find in bottles only. Check out the rest of Elysian’s lineup too, as they make more great beers than just pumpkin beers.

4. Uinta Brewing

Mainstream media has done quite a job over the past few decades of giving beer a negative connotation. Television shows like Married With Children or King Of The Hill show men lazily drinking beer and doing other manly activities, like gambling or standing around doing nothing. However, the media fails to show the artistic side of beer. The art of brewing requires intense studying and inherent knowledge of the industry or ingredients necessary to brew beer. In addition to the brewing, micro brewery owners need artists to give life and a face to their brand. Consumers will either see a bottle or tap handle first before trying the beer, so a good first impression can influence opinions of the beer. If you seek fancy beer art, take a look at some of the beers from Uinta Brewing. This Salt Lake City brewpub has had a foot in Southern California for at least a few years by now, but most people tend to overlook them for other prominent breweries like Deschutes, Great Divide, or Avery. Although Uinta’s distribution reaches California, they have yet to cement an image of their company in the minds of Californians. This all changed with the improvisation of their themed lines of beers. Their standard beers belong to their Classic Line, while their Organic Line, which contains tasty brews like Baba Black Lager, features a simplistic cover art for the beer that looks like a t-shirt design. Californians may best recognize beers from Uinta’s Crooked Line, home of the popular Tilted Smile bottle. The Crooked Line consists of Uinta’s odd or strong brews that do not fit in the other categories. Uinta strongly supports the local art community, and looks to them for inspiration for naming beers in the Crooked Line. The artwork for Tilted Smile in particular came from a local artist named Lea Bell. Explore all of Uinta’s beers, and see for yourself how they give back to the community more than just refreshing beers.

3. Ninkasi Brewing

Not one to shy away from keeping up with the rapid craft beer movement in California, the Pacific Northwest has rallied up some of the finest minds in the craft beer industry to open up shop in either Washington or Oregon. Breweries like Deschutes and Rogue have helped to put Oregon on the map, and Washington has the nationally-known Pyramid near Seattle. A recent magazine article claims that Washington has over 190 breweries; however, San Diego County alone has over 200! Any craft beer enthusiast should feel ecstatic over the growth of craft beer in other states, especially neighboring ones. It appears that Southern California has already felt that away about out-of-state breweries, especially Ninkasi Brewing. From Eugene, Oregon comes this powerhouse of a micro brewery with an amazing team of people dedicated to the company and its products. Anyone familiar with Golden Road in Los Angeles will definitely see a resemblance here. Although unrelated, they both share the same vision and path, and the customer fan bases prove it. Ninkasi brews a variety of beers, and releases many beers in different series based on its style or strength. For example, customers can only find the Radiant Northwest Pale Ale during the summer. Other series have to do with the ingredients or style of the beer, such as lagers or the single-hop series. Ninkasi has even gone far enough to devise food recipes utilizing their beers as ingredients. Of course, one could swap out their beers for something similar, but then you cannot call that an official creation of Ninkasi ingenuity. Check with your favorite local craft beer bar to see if they carry Ninkasi on tap, and grab a taste of the Pacific Northwest.

2. Tenaya Creek Brewery

Have you ever truly gotten stranded in the middle of a desert? What would you do if you could not locate any water or plants nearby? In the middle of the desert, life cannot exist without generations of adaptation to adjust for the climate. Somewhere in history, a genius decided to open a resort in the middle of the desert. Many decades later, we now have Las Vegas, proof that even in the middle of nowhere, one can still make something of it. Poor Las Vegas – fully a tourist destination, but never a place one would want to live in. To anyone it matters to, farm-to-table dinners cannot exist there, and neither can restaurants that use local sustainable ingredients due to no farms or naturally-occurring bodies of water. Today, we no longer have to worry about local craft beer in Vegas, thanks to Tenaya Creek Brewery. Located in northwest Las Vegas, Tenaya Creek makes the best of its location to crank out beers fitting for a Las Vegas audience. Sure Las Vegas has the Yard House with over a hundred craft beers on tap, but sometimes you just want something local, not flown in. Tenaya Creek’s beers fit the Las Vegas crowd – not too strong, but stands out from the crowd with some of the beer names or something on the cover art. For example, their Monsoon IPA depicts a white tiger-riding Vegas-style dancer on The Strip. Other beers, such as Old Jackalope, captures an audience based on taste and strength. You can now find Tenaya Creek beers at a handful of restaurants, bars, and pubs in Southern California, so reach out to your favorite local spot, and tell the bartender or server how much you love it so they can continue to order more.

1. Epic Brewing Company

A brewery’s name means everything. One cannot lead a successful brewery with a bad name, but with enough time, renaming the brewery can change the minds of those early birds. Breweries do not always need a fancy name – a simple name that evokes emotion will come in handy more often than big names. Remember the Three Caballeros from Disney? The red bird had seven names: Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero González III, just for the heck of it, in case the third did not count. Simply Panchito would have worked in his case, as fans would still remember him no matter what. A simple name should still symbolize a characteristic of the object, so logically, Epic Brewing should make epic beer. Thankfully, here in Southern California, we no longer have to guess if they earned that name or not. Hailing from Salt Lake City, Epic Brewing did not select that name for no reason. Their beers get more and more epic the higher in level you go in their beers. They keep a standard line of beers in their Classic Series, but from there, escalate it higher to an Elevated Series, then finally an Exponential Series. In this Exponential Series, you will find the top shelf beers, as this line caters to the adventurous and bold explorers out there. Of particular note, the Brainless Raspberries does not resemble a framboise, as it does not come off as a sour beer. This Belgian-style ale gets infused with raspberries, so as you drink this beer, the perfect balance of raspberries comes through – not too much, and not too little. The Exponential Series also bravely features a gluten-free beer, brewed with sweet potato and molasses instead of the traditional malts and barley. I like the way this series operates, and have not found any disappointments with any of Epic’s beers. Found both in bottles and on tap in Southern California, you can also find Epic at most beer festivals in Southern California, so you have multiple avenues for satisfying your epic thirst.

On a weekend where I traveled to Seattle, Washington for the 5th Annual International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC), I felt vastly overwhelmed by traveling to another city for the first time. Prior to this trip, I had done extensive research on Seattle, looking up various towns & cities in the area, sights to see, locations to visit, restaurants to dine at, breweries to drink at, etc. I arrived in Seattle with an already-full list of places to go to, and I would continue to add to that list as the weekend progressed, meaning that I could not visit every place I wanted to in this short weekend. In order to cover all of the places to go and things to do, I would very well have to return again sometime in the future. With minimal free time available this weekend due to the conference, I knew that I had to settle in right away in order to make the most out of this weekend getaway.

As mentioned during my recap of the 2013 IFBC, my plane got delayed three hours, so I arrived in Downtown in the early evening, meaning I could not attend any of the optional conference sessions taking place that day. As I rode to downtown on the Link Light Rail, I passed by the Old Rainier Brewery Complex and Safeco Field, pictured above. Once I reached my hotel, I had plans to meet with Meagan Davenport and Gary House to share a drink locally before venturing off to explore the nightlife of Seattle. Following that Happy Hour break, I returned to my hotel room to decide which restaurant to have dinner at.

My decision landed me at Local 360, a gastropub in Belltown that fully utilizes locally grown ingredients in their food and drinks. I fully support restaurants using sustainable ingredients, and Local 360 lives up to its name with their mission statement. For dinner, I ordered the unoriginally named Fried Chicken. Where its name lacks creativity, this dish more than makes up for it with bursts of flavor in every ingredient. Unlike normal fried chicken, this one gets stuffed with a bacon mousse chicken roulade, so you have the sauce inside the chicken, which then gets deep fried. Add on top of that a sunny-side up egg, then place it all on a bed of cheesy grits and collard greens. This dish not only satisfies your savory taste bud, but it hits every single taste bud in your mouth. Surprisingly, the collard greens tasted tangy and slightly sweet, so I ate that up like a salad soaked in chicken and cheese drippings. For dessert, I went with their S’More Sundae – vanilla ice cream with graham cracker brownie (more a blondie than brownie), salted chocolate sauce, and bourbon marshmallows. On its own, the bourbon marshmallows tasted strongly of bourbon, but together with the rest of the bowl, it adds a nice hint at the finish. If I did not get full so fast, I would have stayed here longer for more food and drinks.

In order to walk off all this food, I took a bus down to the Seattle Space Needle in an attempt to visit the top for a bird’s eye view of Seattle. Unfortunately, the Space Needle had closed earlier that day at 3:30 pm for a private party, so I could only just walk around the immediate area.

Friday morning started with a visit to the historic Pike Place Market. An open market unlike any other, Pike Place Market combines the concepts of a farmer’s market with a swap meet, then escalates it to a brand new level. For breakfast, I visited The Crumpet Shop, an old shop making fresh crumpets daily for over 36 years. Craving something more savory than sweet, I ordered a ricotta, pesto, and ham crumpet.

The open market contains dozens of diversified shops and stands, selling many different products from prepared hot food to fresh seafood to fresh flowers to fresh produce and more. Technically, a person can find every item necessary for living all in this market, due to the great variety of goods & services offered here.

Across the street from the open market, plenty of historic shops called this busy street their home. A local Seattle staple, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, caught my attention with not just the giant cheese-making contraption visible through the window, but with the scent of fresh cheese wafting from their storefront. Beecher’s sampled a variety of their cheeses, but nothing compares to their Flagship cheese. A cheese unlike any other, this unique blend tastes much better cold than cooked, and if you try it with their cheese crackers, you have an irresistible snacks that you cannot simply put down. Wanting something to munch on in my hotel room, I bought a small wedge of their Flagship cheese, as well as a bag of their cheese crackers.

On the next block, I visited the Le Panier Boulangerie Française French Bakery, which had a huge crowd of people inside already on a Friday morning. I strolled inside to behold a wide arrangement of pastries and treats, a lot of which I would normally have to hold myself back on. However, as a vacation, I opted to order a few items to try out, so I obtained a Normandie Feuilleté, a puff pastry with chicken and cream sauce, and a mille-feuille bar.

Continuing down this road, I stumbled upon the first Starbucks ever opened. With a line this long for a Friday morning, I opted not to attempt to enter the store. Just a few spaces down from Starbucks, I discovered Pear Delicatessen & Shoppe, a quaint deli & market that sold mainly products of higher quality. I saw that they sold Beecher’s Cheese here for about the same price – not surprising, as any customer could visit the actual Beecher’s just down the road. Pear Deli not only sold, prepped, and cooked food of substantial quality, but they sold craft beer as well, carrying a handful of California beers in their cooler. I appreciate seeing California beers make their way to other states, as that shows the prowess and impact of craft beer in today’s market.

Fast-forwarding to Friday evening, I met up with Meagan again, and together with Jonathan Piercy, we took a bus to Elysian Brewing in Capitol Hill for a beer prior to our dinner event. Each of us got to try one beer before the rain starting to just dump it all out on us. We originally had plans to visit Bluebird next door, but decided to push that to another time, due to the rain influencing us to return to the conference.

Moving on to Saturday evening, prior to the Urbanspoon Dine-Around Dinner, I met up with locals Madeline Moy and Bee Tangsurat, and we drove over to Bluebird Microcreamery & Brewery in Capitol Hill. This funky ice cream shop serves ice cream, craft beer, and craft beer ice cream. You do not see this often in Southern California, and if you do, it does not last year-round like this! With craft beer on tap, and some ice cream flavors made with local craft beer, any beer fan would love this place. In fact, I wonder if they will ever open a shop in Southern California, home to hundreds of micro breweries, and home to warmer weather throughout the year? Anyways, I loved coming here, and I loved my Theo Chocolate Milk Stout & Elysian Stout Float even more. Thanks to both the gals for bringing me here to try a Seattle treat.

On Sunday morning, I returned to Pike Place Market in order to meet up with other conference attendees to walk through the market with them. Unable to locate any of them initially, I strolled through the market on my own, observing all the goods available, and watching the workers set up shop for the day.

I eventually discover Storyville Coffee, a hip coffee shop with a steampunk look to the interior. Although still operating under a soft opening, the staff allowed me to enter after I recognized some of the conference attendees here in Storyville. I met up with Dr. Jean M. Layton, Erica Dermer, Kate Neschke, Michael Wangbickler, and more as they discussed the modern culture of food. Storyville allowed each person here to receive a complimentary pastry and drink – I selected their Ham & Cheese Croissant and Café Mocha. I have no idea how they made the croissant, or who made it, because the ham resembled kurobuta pork. They also brewed the mocha to the most perfect temperature I could ask for – not too hot, but still hot enough to enjoy leisurely.

On my way back to the hotel, I stopped by Cupcake Royale, whom I had sampled ice cream from on the first day of the conference. Those who know me personally know how picky I get in regards to cupcakes, as few bakers can get the cake moisture and/or buttercream flavor right. I swear by Suite 106 Cupcakery in Southern California, as they get the moisture right and the cream right. Ordering two cupcakes, I sampled a piece of each to get a feel for the cake and the cream. I shall cut to the chase – you will get your money’s worth or more, since these cupcakes measure wider in girth than other cupcake places. If you seek a quality cupcake, I would still recommend Suite 106 over Cupcake Royale.

Once I conference had ended, I still had the rest of my day to venture out and seek some of the spots that I wanted to visit. I received a reply from Suki that they planned to head to Fremont, where I had five places in mind to visit. Together with Ryan Valentin and Mary Cowx, we drove up to Fremont, unknowing that we would all travel into an afternoon of exploration and excitement. The three planned to have lunch at Paseo; however, they do not open on Sundays. They decided to join me instead as we made our way to Uneeda Burger. As one of the restaurants on my list of places to visit for over a year, I had greatly anticipated this visit ever since I decided to travel to Seattle half a year ago, and boy did they exceed my expectations. Appearing as a shack on the side of the road, Uneeda Burger crafts some of the funkiest tastiest burgers this side of Oregon. In addition, Uneeda Burger pours a great selection of local craft beer, and serves refreshing craft sodas.

The burgers in order: Crispy Emmer Veggie Burger, BBQ Smash, Crimini Mushroom Burger.

Now that we had visited the main place I wanted to seek out, I joined them as they visited a nifty shop called Book Larder. This cookbook store sells a variety of cookbooks, and frequently hosts classes on cooking and food knowledge, similar to Hipcooks. If I had more room in my luggage, I would have bought a grilling cookbook or two. For now, I will have to wait until I can potentially return here again.

The three had the rest of their day open, while I still had a few spots to check here in Fremont, so they decided to stick with me for the meantime. Driving down south through Fremont, we end up in a small neighborhood of local businesses, with the streets full of parked cars, which strongly reminded me of Belmont Shore in Long Beach, CA. Once we parked, we visited a Bluebird Microcreamery location here in Fremont. Unlike the Capitol Hill location, this smaller shop did not serve any beer. They also appeared to carry less items overall than the Capitol Hill branch. The staff mentioned plans to renovate and expand, which relieved me of the no-beer thing.

As we finished our ice cream, we could not help but notice a strangely strategically-placed sign on the sidewalk. Curious as ever, we followed the sign down through an alley, and discovered this Russian Dumpling shop in the bottom of the building we just exited. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant serves dumplings and only dumplings. Customers can order beef, potato, or both in their dumplings. After boiling them for a good five minutes or so, the staff coats it in spicy oil, sprinkles curry powder, dollops a type of cream that resembles either sour cream or yogurt, dashes it with cilantro, and serves it with rye bread. I would not rate the quality that high, but what makes this concept work appears on their sign. They open until super late night, sometimes closing at 4am, so they cater well to late-night crowds. Also, everyone knows this food, so they will not question it, much like how Southern Californians know about tacos.

Across the street, we finally found 9 Million in Unmarked Bills, a whisky bar I had wanted to check out with my prior research. Having just had lunch, we sat at a table here just for drinks. Many people wonder how this place got that name. If I remember the story correctly… Sometime during the prohibition era, a robber made off with a large sum of money during a heist. He attempted to escape via a plane, but the authorities pursued him ruthlessly. Knowing he could knot evade capture, he tossed all the money out of his plane to the world below. These 9 million in unmarked bills would all land near what would turn into the current location of the whisky bar with the namesake here in Fremont. Anyways, Ryan and I had a local beer, while the gals each ordered a Southern Baptist cocktail.

After this stop, we drove back to downtown where I got dropped off back at my hotel, and we all went our own ways. Thanks so much to the three for allowing me to join them on this exciting adventure through Fremont. I appreciate meeting such awesome people whenever I travel, and hope to see them again soon, possibly in Seattle again next year.

I had less than 24 hours left in Seattle, and I still had not gotten the chance to eat foie gras, since we can no longer legally buy it in California. Determined, my research brought me to Capitol Hill to check out two restaurants that served foie gras. First, I visited Tavern Law, a speakeasy-themed pub, from the same chefs over at Spur Gastropub, where I had dinner the night previously. Two items on their menu stood out to me, so I ordered the Foie Gras Terrine and the Natural Beef Burger w/ Pork Belly. The word terrine jumped out at me, as I recognized it and knew immediately how I would receive the foie gras: raw. Much like rillettes, you eat this by spreading the terrine onto the crostini, and taking small bites. The foie gras comes off as so intense that you truly cannot handle eating too much of this delicacy at once. As for the burger, the burger tasted best after removing the top bun and eating it open-faced. The top bun drowned out the flavor of the rest of the burger, so removing the top bun allowed full absorption of the meat.

Recall that I mentioned a speakeasy theme above – this restaurant pays homage to the old times of speakeasies. Visitors may notice an oddly-placed giant door on the wall. This door serves a greater purpose than just decoration! By picking up the phone on the wall by the door, a visitor can ask to come upstairs to a hidden upstairs lounge, as long as a staff member can answer the call from upstairs to buzz the visitor in.

Having just had foie gras in terrine form, I craved something more, as I can have terrine whenever I want. I craved cooked foie gras. I wanted that seared fat tasted to resonate all over my taste buds. Luckily, right around the corner, I would find Quinn’s Pub, a location I had wanted to check out thanks to my research. Without hesitation, I immediately ordered the Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, an emulsion of foie gras that sits on a plum cake, coated with an Italian plum compote. Finally a foie gras I can feel proud of, this reminds me of what a lot of Southern California chefs used to make prior to the ban of foie gras sales. Every ingredient on this dish works out so well for each other. Nothing else provides a meaty or savory flavor, allowing the foie gras to take center stage. The plum cake adds a smooth texture to each bite, while the plum compote balances the flavor with its sweet and sour flavor.

On Monday morning, before taking the train back to the airport, I made one final trip to Queen Anne to Toulouse Petit, a French restaurant best known for their breakfast Happy Hour. I recently discovered this location this past weekend after receiving a suggestion from another conference attendee, and I could only visit this place for breakfast on the last day here. I got to try both the Duck Confit Hash and the Snake River Farms Kurobuta Ham Benedict, both with unique tastes, and both oh so good.

That concludes my intense weekend in Seattle! I hope you enjoyed my photos, notes, and memories all this past week, and I hope this motivates you to make a difference in either your own life or other people’s lives. Remember that you have the power to make change, and never feel smaller than normal. Want to attend the conference next year? I highly suggest starting a blog, even if you only plan to post pictures. With 50% of Generation Y referring to themselves as “foodies,” the trends in food will shift drastically only a short period of time. For example, remember Cronuts? Everyone raged about them in the early summer, but now everyone has gotten over those in favor of Ramen Burgers. With food trends constantly shifting, having a solid online foundation to keep track of information will not only benefit all of your readers, but yourself as well. The new food movement shifts from bad foods like high fructose corn syrup and GMO’s to safer, healthier alternatives, namely the local and sustainable foods. Look into everything going on in the world of food, and decide for yourself if you will continue to drink the Kool-Aid, or if you will stand up and support local growers.

The nation’s top conference for food bloggers moves from Portland to Seattle this year, as the 5th Annual International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) returns this weekend, starting Friday afternoon. This highly-acclaimed conference focuses on prime aspects to any writer that creates content related to food, beverages, cooking, and anything else in the culinary field. Covering a broad diversity of educational topics to choose from, each attendee may devise their own program of sessions to attend. Sessions/workshops will cover anything from food & cooking to writing skills to technology. I still have yet to formulate my full itinerary, but I get to pick one from each of these groups:

Friday, 4:30pm:

  • Making your blog work for you – how to design your blog to cater to your audience
  • Building Your Food Blog Media Business – how to turn your blog into a successful media business
  • The Elements in Building Traffic – how to utilize SEO and social media to increase site traffic

Saturday, 2:15pm:

  • Artisan Olive Oil Tasting – learn about different types of olive oils
  • Live Blogging: An Exercise in Writing with Bordeaux Wines – taste wines and write about them on the spot
  • Food Photography Workflow From A-Z – how to take your photography to the next level

Saturday, 4:00pm:

  • Food & Wine: Unexpected Pairings – how to rethink food & wine pairings
  • Story Telling: The 7-Part Structure of Stories – how to keep your audience wanting more
  • Sous Vide Cooking Demystified with Seattle Food Geek – everything you want to know about sous vide

Sunday, 9:45am:

  • Low Salt Living – how to maximize flavor without the need for more sodium
  • Snap Out of It – how to escape writer’s block
  • Google Plus, AuthorRank, and Where Search Is Going – the importance of SEO and key words

All weekend, attendees will get treated to many other exciting tastings and activities, such as the Taste of Seattle, a photography demo, an expo to discovery new products & ingredients, a Taste of Alaska Seafood, a dinner crawl (pub crawl for restaurants), and more! Want me to cover/write about a particular session? Post a comment here or on my Facebook page, or tweet me. I will post something Saturday morning detailing my first day at the IFBC.

During any downtime this weekend, I can freely roam the city, so if you have any suggestions of places to visit, please do send me your suggestions! I appreciate all of the suggestions so far, and the following places have caught my eye.

For the longest time, I have wanted to visit Uneeda Burger, just north of downtown. This burger shack proves that you cannot judge a book by its cover. For a small place, they pack punches in their burgers. I definitely have to try their BBQ Smash burger.

As a craft beer enthusiast, wherever I travel, I always check out the local craft beer scene. Up in Seattle, no other micro brewery stands out more than Elysian Brewing. Elysian has crafted quite a name for themselves since opening 18 years ago. With the increasing popularity of craft beer in the nation, Elysian’s reach into other states would only take a matter of time to manifest. I first tried one of their beers as a collaboration between Elysian, Stone Brewing, and The Bruery – a 5.0% pumpkin ale know as La Citrueille Cèleste de Citracado. Elysian loves their pumpkins, and they even throw a Pumpkin Beer Fest every year. Unfortunately I will have already returned to California by the time that fest rolls around. In the meantime, I will gladly enjoy a nice pint of any Elysian beer.

Moving on to more recent discoveries, Quinn’s Pub appears similar to Haven Gastropub here in Southern California. Unlike in California, restaurants can serve foie gras here in Washington, so I will likely chow down on this calorific delicacy.

Another gastropub-like restaurant caught my eye because of its name. The restaurant named 9 Million in Unmarked Bills operates similarly to URBN in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, with the craft beer, craft cocktails, and the gorgeous presentations of their cuisine, such as this Caprese.

Seattle also contains a handful of “firsts” businesses, such as the first Starbucks, the first Crossfit, and the first bikini coffee shop. Coincidentally, Seattle will see its first ever International Food Blogger Conference this weekend. I will also set foot in Seattle for the first time later today. How many more “firsts” will occur this weekend in Seattle? Only time will tell, and we will find out in a few days.