Posts Tagged ‘Pork’

Opening weekend of the annual Orange County Fair took place this past weekend. As it does every year, the OC Fair this runs Wednesday through Sunday each week starting July 14 with the final day on August 13. The fairgrounds open 12pm until 12am on weekdays, and 10am to 12am on weekends. Every year, a new food gets introduced, such as deep-fried Kool Aid, donut cheeseburgers, or the Pepsi Dog. This year, the OC Fair has delivered yet again with a slew of new foods. Lots of the new items have piqued the interests of many, but only one truly caught my eye instantly – the Unicorn Leg. They call it that due to the rarity of the pig that it comes from, but this Unicorn Leg basically represents an entire pork leg with meat all around the bone. Basically, you get five pounds of meat on a stick. That weight does not include the bone, so the entire thing weighs more than five pounds. If you order one, you may struggle to hold it with one hand! This massive plate of meat will set you back $29, and with all that meat, I highly advise sharing it with friends or family.

Watch my visit to this year’s OC Fair below, as I walk through the fairgrounds and finally lay claim to the fabled Unicorn Leg. If it does not play, click here to watch the video.

Food has become a cornerstone in today’s society. Everyone around the world can unite over food as a universal language. Technically anyone can call themselves a food expert because they have eaten food their entire lives. But what does it take to truly hold the title of expert? Does an expert need to know how to cook? Does an expert need to know how to identify ingredients? Does an expert need to recognize multiple types of cuisine? For the most part, everyone can agree that a food expert simply loves food and wants others to also enjoys the joys of food. Looking at all the different types of cuisines out there, Asian cuisine transcends far. Everyone enjoys Asian food for its diverse portfolio of flavors and its health benefits. Asian food typically uses fresh ingredients without bad ingredients like grease or oils, so they taste great without the guilt. Asian food exists all over the place too, such as at Abricott in Pasadena.

Nestled in an area drenched in corporate businesses, Abricott (Facebook) represents the local restaurant doing great things in a competitive area. Customers can best describe Abricott as a Euro-Asian place with its eclectic mix of Asian dishes, French pastries, and gourmet coffee & tea. They used to open for breakfast on weekdays, but have since changed to breakfast on weekends only. Regardless, Abricott still carries a wealth of amazing and delicious eats, such as their Sweet Pork Bowl. The Sweet Pork Bowl contains grilled pork belly served with a fried egg, pickled vegetables, scallions, sautéed mushrooms, and choice of brown or jasmine rice, topped with sweet soy sauce. The sweetness of the ingredients gives way to the true savory taste of the pork belly, and perfectly accents the meatiness of the belly meat. The sauce tends to congregate towards the bottom of the bowl, so for health’s sake, avoid the pool of sauce at the bottom of the bowl and focus on the goodies up top. You can munch on this bowl of yummy stuff for $9.95 during lunchtime at Abricott down on South Lake Avenue in Pasadena.

Beachside cities, towns, and communities tend to have an abundance of small businesses to attract business from the thousands of beachgoers throughout the year. Depending on the location, this can consist of mostly corporate businesses in bigger cities, or a bunch of local mom & pop shops in smaller communities. This can sometimes cause obstructions of businesses, creating a “needle in a haystack” situation where some true gems often get overlooked. What looks like a small shack on the side of the road could mask something truly marvelous inside. Down in the coastal city of San Clemente in Orange County, many local mom & pop shops exist that locals and travelers love to visit. One can easily pass by a lot of great places, and some of the local favorites do actually operate out of a small building on the side of the road, such as MRK Public.

Conveniently located immediately off the freeway, MRK Public operates as a gastropub out of what looks like a former dive bar or diner on the side of the road. With a high bar counter, patio seating, and somewhat limited indoor seating, the building clearly looks like someone designed it as a small bar or diner. However, do not allow appearances to deceive you, as MRK Public has brought some modern flair to this spot. MRK Public has multiple taps of craft beer that changes daily as kegs tap out, and they have a handful of artisanal beverages too. However, most people recognize MRK Public for their outstanding cuisine that also changes frequently with the seasons and availability of ingredients. Through all the changes, the pork belly remains a staple on the menu in various forms, such as their Pork Belly Poutine. Enough to feed a family of four, this giant serving of fries gets topped with thick brown gravy made with chorizo, beef, and bacon. Afterwards, they throw on fried pork belly, pickled Fresno chilis, pickled red onions, queso fresco, scallions, and horseradish crema. Each plate has a generous amount of pork belly, so each fork poke should give you some meat. All the other ingredients act as support to bolster the gravy and pork belly, allow you to better savor the meaty goodness in this plate. I do not suggest one person eating this all in one sitting, so either share this plate, or take part of it to-go.

MRK Public routinely changes their food menu and craft beer selection based on availability and seasons. Like their page on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for news and updates from MRK Public.

Thanks to the millennials of today, food trends consistently change every few months. Back in 2008, a daring visionary decided to take his culinary skills to the streets by launching a food truck serving gourmet food. His massive risk started a revolution that steeply increased in popularity for the next few years, as many other hopeful chefs and entrepreneurs hoped to cash in on the gourmet food truck trend. When the trend started to die down, most of the original food truck owners cashed in their profits to settle down and open a brick & mortar restaurant, much to the delight of fans from all over. While the lesser successful food trucks simply faded out from existence, the more popular food trucks eventually converted to a physical restaurant, including the one that started the gourmet food truck revolution.

When a food truck converts to a restaurant, one can expect to find similarities between the food truck and the restaurant. When the founder of Kogi BBQ opened Eat Chego, food truck fans from all over flocked to this permanent Kogi fixture to experience Kogi in a more solid setting. As one of the originals, Kogi had one of the largest fan bases of any gourmet food truck, and continued to prosper in long lines for years to come. This popularity easily carried over to Eat Chego and also attracted countless more food fans to savor the flavor of what started a revolution. Although Eat Chego does not serve exactly what Kogi does, the flavors resemble each other, especially in the fan favorite Chubby Pork Belly Bowl. A massive meal in itself, this bowl of happiness features Kurobuta pork belly lacquered in Gochujang (savory hot sauce) served alongside pickled radishes, water spinach, Chinese broccoli, cotija cheese, and peanuts in a rice bowl. So many ingredients reside in this bowl, making it difficult to get a bit of every ingredient in each bite. I would recommend skipping the rice for now, and savoring a little of everything else: the pork belly, radishes, egg, greens, and anything else in each bite. Imagine a cartoon dust cloud fight occurring in your mouth, with all the ingredients attacking your taste buds all at once. The mixture of flavors going on may actually make you tear up.

Kogi made a huge legacy for themselves, and it transferred well to their restaurant, Eat Chego. Visit Eat Chego in Chinatown and snag this bowl of yumminess for $9. For bonus points, make this a combo with their Ooey Gooey Fries (will review in the future) and a drink for $15. You will not find anything like this anywhere nearby.

Americans have an indescribable lust for bacon. No one can quickly discover the origin of why people love bacon so much. In fact, some people even accuse bacon as the reason why vegans hate carnivores so much. If bacon lovers talked about bacon as often as vegans talk about Veganism, perhaps the world would look at things a different way. Alas, we live in a society where vegans, atheists, and CrossFitters talk nonstop about what they do, and no one blabs about bacon. Truthfully, enough people love bacon that it simply goes without saying, so bacon remains an unspoken love. With an abundance of bacon everywhere, we tend to require the assistance of locals to direct us to places with amazing bacon eats. So when I had planned to commute to Hermosa Beach recently, a kind local directed me to a restaurant that brewed their own beer. Whaaaat?!

Hermosa Beach does not shy away from food businesses, as they have to cater to the thousands of monthly tourists that all have different tastes. As a tourist town, most of the businesses here have “safe” foods, or food that lacks creativity and originality. As a somewhat local person, I filtered through the restaurants with common foods, and my search landed me at Abigaile Restaurant. The building that Abigaile inhabits had gone through multiple business changes in the past couple of decades, but I believe that the folks behind Abigaile have found a winning business formula. Abigaile operates as a gastropub, serving up delicious traditional foods with modern reinventions to step things up a level. In addition to dazzling food, they also brew their own beer on the premises, but I will save that discussion for another day. For now, we focus on the food; specifically, the P.I.G. “Pop Tarts,” a customer favorite. A perfect meal for any time of the day, Abigaile starts with a puff pastry crust, and layers in smoked pork confit (leg), bacon lardons, and gruyère cheese. They then wrap this up, bake it to a golden brown, sprinkle Pecorino cheese on top, and serve it with tomato jam. For something this savory, only the hoppiest of beers can hope to cut through the meat’s intense flavor to bring about balance to the palate. Luckily, Abigaile brews their own double IPA called Beetlejuice DIPA that perfectly pairs with this porky hand pie.

Customers rave about the P.I.G. “Pop Tarts” for good reason, as it stands to solely represent the restaurant’s formidable culinary presence. You can snarf down your own P.I.G. “Pop Tarts” for just $13 at Abigaile in Hermosa Beach. For more updates from Abigaile, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

How many ways can someone prep meat into food? When I ask this, I refer to versatile dishes that can adapt to any meat. For example, a pot pie typically uses poultry, while a burger will use almost any red meat. Here in the 21st century, we have witnessed many different kinds of food utilizing many different types of meat. Burgers nowadays use more than just beef – they can use turkey, salmon, duck, and even foie gras. Poutine can use any type of meat too, as the meat gets added to the top of the dish. By its nature, meatloaf can build with any meat. But what else can you think of that can utilize any meat? Around the world, different cultures prepare meat in different ways: as an entrée, in a sandwich, in a soup, deep fried, and more. In Southeast Asia, the locals love their curry, and thanks to culinary advancements, the world now not only sees curry widespread, but also a plethora of variations of curry. For those that have not tried curry before, some restaurants, such as Beachwood BBQ, allow customers to sample various types of curry.

Clockwise from top left: Chicken, Shrimp, Pork, Goat

Back in action with their continuing series of special monthly dinner nights, Beachwood BBQ hosted an IPA & Curry Night last Thursday night. Just like with the last time they held a Curry night last year, Beachwood BBQ presented a menu with five different choices of curry, along with five different IPA’s that each correspond to a type of curry. Individual curry entrées cost between $15 and $18, while a sampler plate of four of the curry dishes cost $19. To go with the sampler plate, guests could add on the beer pairings for $6. Traditionally, an IPA goes very well with meaty, flavorful dishes, as the bitterness penetrates the flavor of whatever you eat, acting as a pseudo palate cleanser. Thankfully, Beachwood BBQ tapped the perfect pairings for each curry dish. I ordered a sampler of the four dishes with meat, and each had its own unique presentation.

  • Chicken: the spiciest curry, I regret starting with this one. Great texture and consistency with the meat and broth, which ate well with the basmati rice.
  • Shrimp: I only got two pieces of shrimp, so this one went down fast. The watery broth did not go with the rice too well.
  • Pork: the most savory curry, this one had the greatest salt profile, typical of pork. Very tender pork made this one a well-balanced curry that anyone could enjoy.
  • Goat: more for the aroma and presentation. Very gamey texture and mild flavor, making this a great starting curry, not one to follow the chicken or pork.

Beachwood BBQ typically runs these special dinner nights every two months, each time selecting a new type of food. Word has it that a dinner night will return as early as next month during the week following Easter, and will feature Poutine! As for what day that will occur, keep your nights open on Wednesday the 23rd and Thursday the 24th, as Poutine Night will certainly return on one of those two days, should Beachwood BBQ decide to run Poutine Night.

Two months into 2014 have come and gone, meaning that by now, the majority of people who resolved on New Year’s to get fit have already dropped their resolution. Stories about losing weight fast typically derive from get-rich-quick scams, because no known trick exists for rapidly losing weight. For those who have stuck with their resolutions and have lost some weight, kudos to you. For those who have dropped that resolution, or never made a resolution in the first place, you have free will to indulge yourself in the wonders of the world. Of course, over-indulgence can lead to severe health problems or, in the worst-case scenario, death. The word moderation comes into play here, as any human should always do and consume everything in moderation. Unfortunately for that notion, we live in America. We live in a country that boasts about size. Regardless of what the silent majority says, size matters, and Leadbelly’s Barbecue also believes that size matters.

Leading the way for BBQ so close to the Cal State Fullerton campus, Leadbelly’s Barbecue satisfies that BBQ craving that locals tend to not tend to. Now in the space of the former Shortstop BBQ, Leadbelly’s claims to serve up traditional Southern-style BBQ. While many people will picture meat with BBQ sauce, Leadbelly’s differs by emphasizing meat portions rather than sauce. In most of their dishes, the absence of sauce feels unknown to most palates. The absence of sauce allows customers to better taste the meat’s true flavors. For example, their Loaded Pork Garlic Fries comes with the sauce on the side by default. This massive mountain of fries gets smothered with minced garlic, pulled pork, chopped bacon, sliced pork belly, Parmesan & pepper jack cheeses, and chives. White gravy comes on the side, although customers may request the gravy on the fries. However, you should always take some bites at the start without the sauce. This pork attack contains enough meaty goodness that adding the sauce may muddle the flavors of the meat. Bear in mind that Leadbelly’s serves craft beer, so for a beer pairing for this monstrosity, you cannot go wrong with an IPA to cut through all that pork.

This dish can easily serve four and costs just $10. Pull up to Leadbelly’s Barbecue in Fullerton just off the 57 and 91 freeways, and enjoy large portions in a small space.

Man did not climb to the top of the food chain only to refuse eating meat. The laws of nature dictate that only the fit survive, and the fit survive by taking advantage of those less fit. This hierarchy appears in all aspects of life other than wild animals. Take a look at businesses and companies, and you will observe that the owner sits at the top of that food chain, followed by the CEO, and more as the positions trickle down from the top. Everyone wants to sit at the top – this means living in safety knowing that nothing above you can come and take everything away. Rejoice the earth’s bounty of food, and enjoy the simple things in life, such as this simple recipe for an out-of-this-world savory pork sausage.

Do we ever truly know what goes into a sausage? If you want full control over this meat preparation, start with ground pork, pancetta, and cheddar cheese. I like to use lean ground pork so it has some fat to give the meat flavor, but does not overpower everything else. For the pancetta, you will want to chop them up however you like: cubes, strips, etc. For the best cheese, use sharp cheddar cheese and grate it yourself. As far as portion goes, aim for two parts ground pork, one part pancetta, and one part cheese. From there, you control how large of a serving you will prepare. Now comes the fun part – in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together with your hands, using gloves if necessary. Press the meat into patties, and cook in a skillet over medium heat, flipping it over once when the bottom gets brown. Once the meat browns on both sides, you have finished!

This savory pork sausage forms a foundation for many ways to prepare or serve this. Serve this with some vegetables, with breakfast, in a sandwich/wrap/burrito/taco/torta/etc, or just enjoy à la carte. Feel free to mix in some vegetables or other ingredients to modify the flavor, such as chopped onions/shallots, minced garlic, mushrooms, etc. Ultimately, you control the outcome of this dish, so stand tall and own your spot at the top of the food chain! Special thanks to @fitocfoodie for sharing this recipe with me.

Much discussion has arisen over the nutritional value behind white meat and red meat. The general consensus tells us that the lighter the meat, the greater the ratio between nutrition and fat. For example, fish & seafood contain more protein and omega 3’s for its portion, whereas red meat from terrestrial animals may contain more fat. While clear categorization exists for most types, a grey area always exists, where we question how to categorize a particular item. Society accepts that chicken, turkey, duck, and other poultry fall in the white meat category, while beef, lamb, and bison fall in the red meat category. An age-old debate circulates the world regarding pork, however. While science tells us that pork should fall in the red meat category, practicality tells us otherwise. How does pork appear white despite deriving from a terrestrial animal? Despite scientific claims, society generally accepts pork as white meat, a claim sure to please anyone that finds themselves dining at Porko Rico BBQ.

Currently in their second month of operation, Porko Rico BBQ has carved out a solid following in such a little time. Their clever fusion of traditional Southern-style BBQ meats and Caribbean preparation techniques does not narrow their audience – it covers both grounds. Fans of BBQ will enjoy the variations that Porko Rico BBQ places on their dishes, while fans of Caribbean cuisine will enjoy hearty portions of meat in their items. For example, you will get a lot of meat in The Brig, a rather manly sandwich. This sandwich comes with pork three ways: pulled pork, ham, and bacon. These three meats get topped with pepper jack cheese and Porko Rico BBQ’s jerk sauce, which tastes similar to a sweeter, lighter BBQ, but with a light spice kick to it. In the end, you end up with a sandwich sure to please the carnivorous side in you. For maximum flavor enjoyment, place the top bun on the sandwich, flip it over, then remove the bottom bun. Doing so should keep all the meat in place, and you have half as much bread since bread tends to dilute flavors, allowing you to savor the meats’ true taste. Although it appears small, this sandwich will definitely fill you up, even if you remove the bottom bun as previously instructed.

Craving some meat? Once you hunt down Porko Rico BBQ, you can slam your own order of The Brig for $9. White meat or red meat, no one can deny – we all love us some pork, however we can get our hands around it.

2013 came and went, and with it came dozens of new food trends that surfaced around the world. This year, people around the world saw a resurgence of traditional foods resurrected in another form, in one way or another. For example, the cronut fad (croissant doughnut) got everyone talking about this hybrid of a pastry, and soon social media networks like Instagram exploded with tons of posts featuring said pastry. This year, we also saw the revival of ramen, both traditionally and modernized. Ramen places like Shin-Sen-Gumi sees lines of people for hours, while any place daring enough to craft the infamous ramen burger will see lines for days. Some past food trends have managed to persist up until now, such as breakfast any time of the day, juice cleanses, food trucks, locally sourced ingredients, “housemade” foods, and especially kale. In any case, just like time itself, tastes and flavors constantly progress, leading to the progress of menus at many different restaurants. People go out to eat all the time, but sometimes certain foods really stick in their heads. Observe below five eats from Southern California that really stuck in my head this year.

5. The Griddle Café‘s Red Velvet PanCAKE

People truly cannot get enough of their breakfast foods. The world does not tote breakfast as the most important meal of the day for no reason. Breakfast provides the necessary jump-start of nutritional fuel humans need to tackle the day. The nutrients in a person’s breakfast dictate how that person may feel the rest of the day. Eat a protein & vitamin-packed breakfast, and go on with the energy of a race car. Sometimes, one just wants to indulge for breakfast. In that case, look no further than The Griddle Café in Hollywood. This iconic breakfast spot always has lines out their doors for hours, and not merely for breakfast. The Griddle Café looks at traditional breakfast items, and takes them to a brand new level. For example, their Red Velvet PanCAKE combines horizontal progression with vertical progression. Not only do you get the charm, visual appearance, and flavor of red velvet in a pancake, but it comes out thick like a cake. Just for the thrill of it, they top it off with swirls of cream cheese icing and powdered sugar. Not surprisingly, diners may not orders this for take-out. How could anyone attempt to carry this thing out? Freshness should mean something to anyone dining out, and Griddle Café does not skimp out on freshness. For the best breakfast in town, give yourself some time to wait for The Griddle Café.

4. Lazy Ox Canteen‘s Pig Ear Chicharrones

When reading a menu, the product description does more than paint a picture of the item. In some basic cases, the name of the item sufficiently states the nature of the item. For all other times, consumers require an accurate product description to understand the item. In rare cases, the name could potentially turn off some customers. In a classical “do not judge a book by its cover” moment, we take a look at a particular dish from Lazy Ox Canteen in Downtown Los Angeles. Not to knock on Lazy Ox – as one of my favorite restaurants in Downtown Los Angeles, they bring some of the most amazing dishes to the table that I have ever seen. One time, I brought my sister here, and the moment we saw Pig Ear Chicharrones on the menu, I immediately ordered it, while she turned away. No one should feel disgusted by seeing the word “ear” in the name, as the dish tastes like pork, not ears. These fried goodies come with tomatillo salsa and harissa sauce. For as thin as they appear, these chicharrones pack quite a bit of meat in every bite. Better yet, anyone can score these chicharrones for 50% off during Happy Hour. Do not let the name fool you – pork still tastes like pork, but the way Lazy Ox prepares it, your taste buds will thank you for this delicacy.

3. Scott’s Restaurant‘s Calamari

Ever come across something so butchered across America that people immediately draw a picture in their minds when they hear the word? For example, when people hear “burgers,” they usually picture the small dinky burgers from fast food chains, not the gourmet burgers from some restaurants. When people hear “pizza,” they picture large pepperoni pizzas, not the individual-size Neapolitan pizza found at Italian eateries. When people hear “calamari,” they picture small onion rings. We must teach ourselves to shed these preconceived notions and open up our minds to new visions while dropping our expectations. Now in 2013, we should expect to drop all of our expectations, and observe food the way it should taste, not how it appears. When you find yourself in Scott’s Restaurant, expect to receive a fantastic meal unlike what typical restaurants may serve you. The level of quality behind Scott’s exceeds that of conventional “steak & seafood” restaurants with their use of ingredients direct from local farms. As such, their prices match the effort they go to serve you such tasty meals. For a tasting that will not break your bank, check out their appetizer menu, which lists a handful of seafood appetizers like their Calamari. Whereas regular restaurants serve calamari plainly fried, Scott’s gives you a plate of calamari lightly fried, but dressed with lemon, garlic, shallots, and a spicy provencal sauce. This creates a combination of tastes that require no additional dipping sauces, as all the flavor you need comes right there on that plate. Feel free to have a seat on the bar/lounge side to order this and a drink, as you receive the same service there, but at a quicker response rate.

2. Spring Street Smoke House‘s Burnt Ends

Certain regional dishes often get imitated, but never successfully duplicated. For example, the Philly Cheesesteak does not gets its name simply from its origin – only the real thing comes from Philadelphia, and nowhere else in the world can anyone obtain an authentic cheesesteak other than Philadelphia. Many other types of food receive some attention from places far from its origin, but sadly cannot compete with the original. Many people believe they understand true southern-style BBQ, which, in the United States, originated on the east coast. Sadly, tons of “southern BBQ” restaurants exist in California that come nowhere close to the real thing found in the originating regions like Memphis, Carolina, or even the midwest. Once in a while, a true gem shines out of the pack, such as Spring Street Smoke House in Downtown Los Angeles. As one of the few BBQ restaurants in Southern California doing BBQ right, Spring Street Smoke House takes what we love about southern-style BBQ and applies it to a Southern California setting, complete with a fine selection of local craft beers on tap. Among the menu of smoked meats like pulled pork and brisket, Spring Street Smoke House features specials like their Burnt Ends plate. Diners may choose a 1/2 pound or full pound of these crispy trimmings from the ends of their smoked brisket, and these come smothered in BBQ sauce along with a pickle and a choice of two sides. In one dish alone, anyone ordering this will experience crispy, meaty, tangy, smokey, salty, crunchy, and lots of other words that can describe the perfect BBQ plate. Head on in to Spring Street Smoke House soon and order this baby up, along with a nice cold pint of your favorite local craft beer.

1. Crazee Burger‘s Muddy Pig

Places with the craziest ideas often receive labels from the public. Depending on how unconventional things appear to the public, the public may embrace it or question it. As long as a strange concept gets marketed properly, the public generally will keep an open mind to it. When Slater’s 50/50 first described their concept of a burger made of half bacon and half beef, the public initially started skeptical, but soon came to embrace it. Other fads like cronuts and ramen burgers relied on the internet to virally market those concepts. The right marketing can quickly turn the tide for any business, regardless of how much effort the marketing receives. If the locals love it, the locals equate to free marketing, and locals love Crazee Burger. This small burger shack in North Park, San Diego has garnered quite a following of fans that has stretched across the nation with their penchant for exotic, unconventional burgers. They embrace their given name of Crazee with the odd quirks found only here, such as a Happy Hour that runs from 2:23 to 6:19, instead of the traditional “on the hour” start and end times. Even more crazy lies in their menu of over 20 burgers, which features odd combinations and exotic meats. So far, the craziest burger I have tried, the Muddy Pig, comes with Nutella, bacon, and caramelized plantains. Breakfast burgers definitely exist, but none have come close to this sweet deal of a meal. Unfortunately, Crazee Burger currently does not list the Muddy Pig on their menu anymore, so if you seek this burger, I suggest calling them to see if they can still create it. Even if they no longer make this burger, the rest of their menu contains plenty of other great choices, so pop on in soon, especially during Happy Hour, and order up a burger and beer, and experience Crazee for yourself.