Posts Tagged ‘Poutine’

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.

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Much of the United States has this fixation about their local fair, whether the city or the state fair. From a narrow perspective, nothing changes year after year at the fair – if you attended previously, you would receive the same experience again the next time. This largely remains true persistently, but the experience generally changes based on who you attend the fair with, not which fair you attend. If you visit various fairs within the same region, you would see most of the same things: fair food, carnival rides, animals, and tons of vendors. For example, the San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles fairs all have the same basic outline of the aforementioned features. Once you have gone to one fair, you have basically experienced it all. So what can you do to continue to enjoy fair life without wading through the hoards of people in the hot sun? If you enjoy fair food, you would have wanted to go to Beachwood BBQ last week for their rendition of fair foods with a twist.

Nestled in a small space in historic old-town Seal Beach, Beachwood BBQ has garnered an outstanding reputation not only among the locals, but across the nation for their influence on the craft beer industry. Sure they revolutionized the idea of rotating taps, but Beachwood BBQ churns out some stellar eats above and beyond standard bar food quality. For the most part, one can see Beachwood BBQ’s menu as mostly bar food, since most, if not all, of the menu pairs really well with whatever beer they have on tap. Folks in the area last Thursday evening could truly immerse themselves in the bar food experience when Beachwood BBQ hosted a dinner night aptly entitled Beachwood On A Stick. On this night, Beachwood BBQ took a good look at common fair foods, and re-envisioned a more gourmet version of each of their ideas. In addition, each food item received its own beer pairing to go with it. Some of the pairings matched well, while a few lost me in the mix. You can peek at the menu above, or scroll down to read the descriptions plus my review.

  • Lamb Kofta, $5: smoked lamb, mint BBQ sauce | Pairs w/ Duvel Single Belgian Pale Ale

I will call this my favorite out of all of the menu. This looks small, but the sheer meatiness of it plus the unique minty BBQ sauce makes for a divine bite.

  • Poutine, $4: mashed potato, mozzarella, sage gravy | Pairs w/ Avery Samael’s Oak Aged Ale, an English Barleywine
  • Chicken Gumbo, $4: diced chicken, onions, bell peppers, okra, sassafras cream, fried rice | Pairs w/ Brouwerij Malheur 12° Belgian Strong Dark Ale

The Poutine basically represents a mozzarella stick, but with mashed potatoes in it as well. The gravy made it soggy, so it crumbled right off the stick. This did not contain meat, which made me sad 😦 Also this beer pairing sorely did not work out for me. On its own, this barleywine would taste great as a sipper. However, due to its strength, it badly damaged my palate.
The Chicken Gumbo basically represents a shish kabob, with no fancy tricks other than the fried (literally) rice.

  • Funnel Cake Dog, $4: smoked andouille sausage, powdered sugar | Pairs w/ Firestone Walker Easy Jack IPA

Take a really spicy sausage, batter it with funnel cake batter, dust some powdered sugar on it, and you have this… Emphasis on really spicy. The beer pairing, for as much IBU’s as it contains, could not douse the fire raging in my mouth.

  • Liver & Onions, $4: grilled chicken livers, roasted pearl onions, red wine demi glace | Pairs w/ Tahoe Mountain Bright Moments Pale Ale

Once you get over the fact that you have liver on a plate in front of you, the flavor comes up remarkably well. The texture of the liver may make some people queasy, so turn off your mind when you eat liver.

  • Chocolate Dipped Frozen Banana, $3: rolled in pork rinds | Pairs w/ Almanac Biere de Chocolat Porter

My favorite dessert, since it does not taste that sweet, and it also has pork rinds to give it a salty taste. Imagine a frozen chocolate banana with sea salt, and you have this amazing dessert seemingly easy to make at home.

  • Twinkie, $4: sorrel marshmallow filling, funnel cake fried | Pairs w/ New Belgium Wild² Dubbel

If they could tone down the sweetness, this would have turned out as the most demanded item. The funnel cake batter and the filling’s overbearing sweetness makes this large enough to split with another person.

Miss out on Beachwood On A Stick? Pay attention to their Facebook page, as they always announce events like this in advance there. Even if you cannot make it to a special dinner night, head on over to check out their ever-changing beer selection, plus their menu of great eats.

Hawaiian-Themed Beer Dinner
6:30 pm – 10:30 pm, April 23
The Grill at Torrey Pines, San Diego
http://lodgetorreypines.com/beer/

Saint Archer Brewing Company will pair their beers with various Hawaiian dishes from The Grill at Torrey Pines this Wednesday night. The $80 admission includes food, beer pairings, valet parking, tax, and gratuity. No one under 21 may attend.

Build Your Own Poutine Night
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, April 24
Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/519045501538785/

Beachwood BBQ throws a special food night every month or two, each with a different type of food, such as chili or ribs. This time, they feature the ever-popular Build Your Own Poutine Night. Pick the base, cheese, gravy, meat, and more, and pair it with a nice craft beer or two. No reservations required – simply show up, and order!

Dirty Little Secrets Rock Burlesque – Last Thursdays @ One Eyed Gypsy
9:00 pm – 12:00 am, April 24
One Eyed Gypsy, Downtown Los Angeles
http://www.facebook.com/events/1386938648252407/

Get your fill of burlesque every last Thursday of the month at One Eyed Gypsy in Downtown Los Angeles, for free! Guests can park on the street for free after 8pm. No one under 21 may enter.

The Aggrolites – Live in Southern California
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, April 24, The Observatory, Santa Ana http://www.observatoryoc.com/events/the-aggrolites
8:00 pm – 12:00 am, April 25, Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach http://www.bellyup.com/event/the-aggrolites-2/

Catch The Aggrolites as they headline two shows in Southern California this weekend. Tickets to the all-ages show at The Observatory in Santa Ana this Thursday night cost $5. Tickets to the 21 & up show at Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach this Friday night cost $18 presale or $20 at the door.

25th Annual America’s Family Pet Expo
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, April 25-27
OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa
http://petexpooc.org/

Pet lovers will want to check out this pet expo at the OC Fair & Event Center this weekend. Open to all ages, attendees will find lots of pet resources, including food, merchandise, demos, exhibits, shows, pet adoptions, and more. General admission costs $13, but guests may NOT bring pets.

San Diego Magazine’s Best of North County Party
6:30 pm – 9:30 pm, April 25
Park Hyatt Aviara, Carlsbad
http://www.sandiegomagazine.com/San-Diego-Magazine/February-2014/Best-of-North-County-Party/

Samples food from North San Diego County’s top restaurants and chefs, and sip on wines and beers from the area’s breweries and wineries at this tasting gala this Friday night. Admission to this event costs $75 per person, or $65 each when purchasing five or more in a single transaction.

Luicidal @ Blacklight District Lounge
7:00 pm – 2:00 am, April 25
Blacklight District Lounge, Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/1376213179331242/

Catch Luicidal as they headline a local punk show this Friday night in Long Beach. The cover for this show costs $8. No one under 21 may enter.

Johnny Madcap & The Distractions – 7″ Record Release Party
8:00 pm – 12:00 am, April 25
Cafe NELA, Los Angeles
http://www.facebook.com/events/289511227880471/

Enjoy a local rock show this Friday night at Cafe NELA northeast of Downtown Los Angeles. The cover for this show costs $7. No one under 21 may enter. Guests can find plenty of free parking on the street.

The Return of The Dips
9:00 pm – 2:00 am, April 25
The Vu Bar & Lounge, Newhall
http://www.facebook.com/events/1421426601443917/

Punk rock hits Newhall this Friday night, with The Dips returning to the stage after a long wait. The cover for this show costs $5. No one under 21 may enter.

19th Annual Uptown Whittier Spring Antique Street Faire
9:00 am – 4:00 pm, April 26
Greenleaf Avenue, Uptown Whittier
http://whittieruptown.org/2014-spring-fair-arts-artisans-antiques-family-fair/

Check out over 90 vendors selling collectibles, jewelry, art, furniture, glassware, and more at this street fair this Saturday. Free to attend for all ages, guests will find many rare merchandise from local businesses and home vendors. Guests can dine at any of the local establishments, which will remain open under their normal business hours. Guests can park for free on the street in adjacent neighborhoods.

31st Annual Encinitas Street Fair
9:00 am – 5:00 pm, April 26-27
South Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
http://www.encinitas101.com/events/annual-aprilstreetfair/

This FREE street fair takes place this weekend in Encinitas. Featuring 450 unique food, arts & crafts vendors, five music stages, rides & games, and a beer garden hosted by Stone Brewing and Port Brewing, people of all ages will enjoy this street fair. Due to the compact nature of this area, parking can get extremely difficult to locate. Arrive early, or take public transportation to arrive safely.

Green Prize Festival
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, April 26
Bixby Park, Long Beach
http://www.greenprizefestival.com/

Celebrate Earth Day this Saturday in Long Beach. At this free all-ages community festival down by the beach, visitors will find demos by local farms & chefs, live entertainment, local artists, green & eco-friendly services, speakers, arts & crafts, food from local restaurants, delis, food trucks, and more.

Spring 2014 Brewery Art Walk
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, April 26-27
Brewery Art Association, Los Angeles
http://breweryartwalk.com/

This FREE semiannual art walk features hundreds of residents artists showcasing their finest work. Guests may even purchase art they like from the artists. Free to park and enter for all ages, the facility even includes an in-house restaurant, so bring your friends and family to look at some great art.

30th Annual Mission Federal ArtWalk
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, April 26-27
Little Italy, San Diego
http://www.missionfederalartwalk.org/

Free to the public, this art walk takes up 17 blocks of Little Italy filled with over 350 artists. All throughout the fest, guests can discover music and dance performances, and plenty of kids’ activities.

Spring 2014 Artisanal LA
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, April 26-27
LA Mart, Los Angeles
http://artisanalla.com/

Find the latest trends in food, drinks, fashion, accessories, and more at this designer fair this weekend. See dozens of artists, chefs, bakers, designers, and more from across the world showcasing their goods and selling their wonderful products. Admission to this all-ages event costs $12 presale and $15 at the door. If buying presale, use promo code ebfan to save 30% off the presale price! Parking at the venue costs $15 per vehicle, but visitors can either search for other parking lots or street meters, or take public transportation to save on commute costs.

Bootlegger’s Brewery 6th Anniversary Music & Beer Fest
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, April 26
Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Fullerton
http://bootleggersbrewery.eventbrite.com/

Celebrate Bootlegger’s Brewery’s 6th anniversary at their music & beer fest this Saturday in Fullerton. The $40 admission includes unlimited beer tasters, a souvenir glass, over 30 brews including rares and limited brews, food trucks, live music, access to the venue’s art gallery, a bull ride, bocce ball, dunk tank, and more. No one under 21 may attend.

Adams Avenue Unplugged 2014
12:00 pm – 10:00 pm, April 26
12:00 pm – 7:00 pm, April 27
Adams Avenue, San Diego
http://www.adamsavenuebusiness.com/Adams-Avenue-Unplugged.html

Completely free to the public, guests will spectate 180 live music acts throughout the day all in the various local businesses and multiple stages. The city will also offer free trolley service to transport guests from one end to the other.

4th Annual San Clemente Micro-Brew Fest
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, April 26
Left Coast Brewing Company, San Clemente
http://business.scchamber.com/events/details/san-clemente-mixologist-competition-35

Enjoy an afternoon of beer and food in San Clemente this Saturday afternoon. This beer festival will contain 17 local breweries all serving their wonderful brews, and food from local non-profit groups. Admission costs $30 presale or $35 at the door, and comes with 12 4oz beer pours.

5th Annual AutoCon Los Angeles
1:00 pm – 7:00 pm, April 26
Fairplex, Pomona
http://www.autoconevents.com/event/details/autocon-los-angeles-2014/

See all things cars at AutoCon this Saturday at the Fairplex in Pomona. Attendees will find hundreds of classic & customs cars, a huge vendor village, demos, food trucks, import models, and more. General admission to this all-ages convention cost $15. Bring cash for parking as well, which will cost between $5 and $15 per vehicle.

St. Georgie Venereal’s B-Day Bash
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, April 26
13th Frame Lounge, La Habra
http://www.facebook.com/events/205353709675698/

Enjoy a FREE all-ages punk rock show this Saturday night with Broken Patron Saints, High Gain Fury, Carpit, and more.

The Dickies, The Queers, and More @ The Observatory
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, April 26
The Observatory, Santa Ana
http://www.observatoryoc.com/events/dickies-queers

Big names in punk rock invade The Observatory this Saturday night, as The Dickies and The Queers headline this all-ages show. Tickets to this show cost $10. The venue has limited free parking, so arrive early to secure a parking spot. Arrive too late, and end up parking in a lot down the street for $10.

Hollywood Hate @ Cafe NELA
9:00 pm – 1:00 am, April 26
Cafe NELA, Los Angeles
http://www.facebook.com/events/629952480414198/

Get all punk rock out with Hollywood Hate this Saturday night in Los Angeles. The cover for this show costs only $5. No one under 21 may enter. Guests can find plenty of free street parking around the area.

Punk Show @ Jack’s Bar & Grill
9:00 pm – 2:00 am, April 26
Jack’s Bar & Grill, Riverside
http://www.facebook.com/events/483601818433837/

Catch some great local punk rock bands this Saturday night in Riverside. The cover for this show costs $5. No one under 21 may enter.

Pasadena Restaurant Week
Business hours, April 27 – May 2
Various restaurants, Pasadena
http://www.pasadenarestaurantweek.com/

Between April 27 and May 2, 45 different restaurants in Pasadena will offer prix-fixe lunches and/or dinners. In addition, some locations will offer other discounts, prizes, and more. See the full list of participating restaurants by clicking the link to the website above.

25th Annual San Diego Earth Fair
10:00 am – 5:00 pm, April 27
Balboa Park, San Diego
http://www.earthdayweb.org/EarthFair.html

This FREE and all-ages Earth Day celebration takes place this Sunday at Balboa Park in San Diego. Bring the family out to enjoy this fair with art galleries, “green” food, arts & crafts, vendors, a parade, and more.

2014 Taste of Huntington Beach
11:00 am – 4:00 pm, April 27
Huntington Beach Sports Complex, Huntington Beach
http://www.tastehb.com/

Sample the flavors of Huntington Beach’s local restaurants this Sunday at their food fest. Admission includes unlimited food samples and wine & beer tasters. General admission costs $65 and starts at 12pm, while VIP costs $85 and starts at 11am. VIP comes with complimentary champagne, extra hors d-oeuvres, free raffle entries, and free goodies. For both admissions, designated drivers will save $5, which only means they cannot receive any wine or beer.

2nd Annual Atwater Village Beer, Wine, & Food Festival
1:00 pm – 6:00 pm, April 27
55 Degree Wine, Atwater Village
http://www.atwatervillagefestival.com/

Check out local breweries, local vendors, food & drinks, live music, and more this Sunday at Atwater Village. VIP tickets cost $50 presale or $60 at the door, starts at 12pm, receives unlimited beer tasters and a free goodie bag. General admission costs $40 presale or $50 at the door, and comes with 15 tasters. Designated driver tickets cost $20 presale or $25 at the door.

Punk Rock & Tacos IV
1:00 pm – 11:00 pm, April 27
The World Famous Doll Hut, Anaheim
http://www.facebook.com/events/1412652488993448/

Local punk bands will play for FREE this Sunday all day at the Doll Hut in Anaheim. No one under 21 may enter.

Los Angeles Mac And Cheeze Takedown
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, April 27
The Bootleg Theater, Los Angeles
http://thetakedowns.com/los-angeles-mac-and-cheeze/

Enter your Mac & Cheese to compete to win prizes, or just attend and stuff yourself full of mac & cheese! If you have a mac & cheese dish worthy of recognition, enter it into this mac & cheese contest this Sunday afternoon. If you would rather eat other people’s mac, buy tickets for $15 per person, then show up and chow down!

Reminiscing back to our childhoods, we recall all the good times and bad times that significantly impacted us as children. Everyone remembers certain moments during their childhoods that has permanently affected our personalities today. Even without anything to capture those moments, we can still reminisce about the good old days through photos taken way back then. In fact, today’s society has accepted Throwback Thursdays as an homage to the good old days, when life did not bear so much worry, and we could live out our days without fear or oppression. These days, society has to deal with corruption on many levels, from governments to the internet to bullies in school and more. Like the human immune system, society reacts to these corruptions by implementing methods to combat those problems by either minimizing problems or eliminating them altogether. This may not restore the good old days, but as a society, we still like to look back to what paved the way for us to stand here today. Significantly, we remember the foods we once ate as children, even recalling the low prices. Those old signs advertising $0.10 French Fries did not lie – food stands actually sold items that now cost ten times more, or even more than that! Though we can still buy the same fast food items as back then, we have much better options today as far as finer dining without the inflated price tags. If you miss those $0.10 fries, wait until you see some of the fries that you can eat as entrées. I have discovered five different fries entrées that you can find in the Greater Los Angeles Area, and I highly suggest seeking them out this season, as some of these may not linger around once the season ends.

5. Dos Chinos‘ Garden Grove BBQ Papas Fritas

Throughout this Top 5 list, you may notice a common trend among the entries – the word poutine. For those unfamiliar with poutine, this Canadian dish, at its very base, consists of fries, gravy, and cheese curds. From there, the person preparing it may add whatever to this canvas of a dish, typically some sort of meat. While this certainly sounds like a meal already, not every fries entrée must contain gravy and/or cheese. In the case of Dos Chinos, they do not even think about gravy, in favor of their Asian heritage. This fusion food truck from Orange County takes traditional Asian flavors, such as Vietnamese-style pork belly or garlic butter shrimp, and cooks them into Latin/Mexican preparations, such as tacos, burritos, or quesadillas. Over the past few years, they have greatly expanded their menu offerings in both directions, and utilize a chart system in ordering. In other words, customers simply choose the meat, then choose the preparation. For example, their Garden Grove BBQ Papas Fritas combines their Korean Mexican BBQ Beef with red cabbage and crema sauce over a bed of shoestring fries, jack-cheddar cheese, chopped onions, and cilantro. The beef will remind you of traditional Chinese takeout, but prepared much more flavorful, with an emphasis on high-quality grass-fed angus beef and the right balance of marinade on the beef. Where traditional Chinese restaurants serve this with white rice, Dos Chinos serves this to you with fries – for America! The fries provide a different texture than the soft nature of rice, so you have more going on in each bite as you crunch your way through this bowl of meat and potatoes big enough to share. But why would you want to share? At $8 per bowl, you can own this steal of a deal at the Dos Chinos truck, constantly roaming around Orange County. Pay attention to their Twitter to discover their future locations!

4. Haven Gastropub – Orange‘s Lamb Neck Poutine

As mentioned above, the most basic poutine consists of fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Increasingly popular in Canada, poutine has made landfall here in America due to its unique combination of ingredients that appeals to many appetites as not only a snack food, but as a fulfilling meal. Among conscious eaters, poutine has increased in popularity because of the freshness of cheese curds. Ideally, people should consume cheese curds within hours of its creation, so unless a restaurant produces its own cheese curds, poutine would use other types of cheese besides cheese curds. Regardless of the method of acquisition, Haven Gastropub understands the importance of quality cheese curds, as well as the importance of all of the restaurant’s other locally-sourced ingredients. Formulating the standard structure for any respectable sustainable restaurant, Haven Gastropub has pioneered the art of pub faire and introduced it to the modern American fine dining setting. By reinventing these dishes, Haven aims to take foods with a reputation as bar food and transform them into beautiful entrées that customers will want to brag about having eaten. While corporations have created a greasy image for poutine in Canada, Haven turns that all around with their Lamb Neck Poutine. Using braised lamb neck as the spotlight ingredient, Haven constructs this poutine with their pommes frites, dijon lamb gravy, and fresh cheddar cheese curds. Some people would turn an eye away from hearing “lamb neck” mentioned in food, either at the though of eating neck or of the texture of the meat. If the latter, the braising of the meat gives it an utmost tender texture, as it falls apart like braised short ribs do. Traditional poutine may look like this, but in terms of flavor, it can come nowhere close. Keep in mind that Haven Gastropub in Orange County serves this dish, as the Pasadena location does not list it on their menu.

3. The Federal Bar‘s Short Rib Poutine

When a brand grows large in popularity and demand, one should expect that brand to expand the reach to a larger scope or audience. For example, Southern California’s own Slater’s 50/50 has opened six overall locations, while Eureka Burger has FINALLY concocted plans to expand into Los Angeles and Orange County. Not too long ago, when The Federal Bar in North Hollywood grew beyond their walls, they first opened up another restaurant right around the corner under the name Bow & Truss. Eventually the demand for The Federal Bar grew so much that they had to expand past their little bubble in North Hollywood. As a result, they opened their second location in Downtown Long Beach this past April. Boasting nearly the same menu, The Federal Bar maintains the theme of a prohibition-era federal reserve bank while operating as a full-fledged gastropub. With a penchant for terrific craft beers, fine wines, and artisanal spirits, The Federal Bar serves up classic gastropub faire with a gourmet spin. For example, take a look at their version of poutine, the Short Rib Poutine. First, they take their House Fries, which comes with herbs, parmesan, and garlic, then they top it off with fresh mozzarella cheese curds, shredded beef short rib, and a blue cheese drizzle, which gives it a unique kick that poutine normally would not have. The Federal Bar may list this in the Starters section of their menu, but the resulting dish more than fills up one person. In fact, you may actually have to either share this with someone, or take the rest to-go. Just remember to savor the short ribs well, and get as much of the blue cheese as possible with the short rib. The savoriness of the meat with the sharp flavor of the blue cheese create a potent yet irresistible match-up of short rib and sauce. You can order this off their regular menu for $11, but arrive during Happy Hour from 3pm to 6pm everyday, and you can order this dish for $2 off! Even better during Happy Hour, you can also receive drinks at Happy Hour prices, so pair this fries entrée with a cold, refreshing IPA for the perfect evening meal.

2. 1321 Downtown Taproom Bistro‘s Pork Fries

Who said that Bacon has to reign as the all-time best pork preparation of all time? We can all agree that bacon makes any food and drink taste better, but when you get to a point where you just eat bacon so much that the thought of bacon gets desensitized in your mind, you have to start searching for alternatives. Fortunately there exists visionary chefs who worship pork and the versatility of this wonderful meat. Versatility lives on at 1321 Downtown Taproom Bistro in their Pork Fries. Although 1321 Downtown Taproom Bistro lists their infamous Pork Fries under their Firsts, or appetizers, this large pan can serve a party of 2-3. This skillet consists of thin fries covered with pulled pork confit, stout-braised onions, melted sharp cheddar, and smoked tomato rémoulade. Picture the pork sitting in a marinade of salt, seasonings, and herbs, then cooked in its own drippings. What results from the process tastes like roasted and somewhat crispy shredded pork with a heaping level of smokiness and salty flavors attacking your taste buds. The onions braised in stout contribute to this dish with its tender, sweet, and dark flavors. The cheese comes melted and soft, but hardens quickly. As a result, I highly suggest eating this the moment your server brings it out, and not wait to eat it. Note that you can order this during Happy Hour from 4pm to 7pm for a reduced price, so aim to go during Happy Hour, and pair this with a nice cold pale ale!

1. Umami Burger‘s Truffle Royale Poutine

From Day 1, ever since I started this blog, I vowed never to give a spotlight to corporate businesses, but to focus on the best in the local scene of Southern California. Understandably, something may grow in popularity so much that expansion comes natural. For example, Hof’s Hut has gained enough local popularity that expansion to greater territory only seems natural at this point. Other businesses expand rapidly yet remain in Southern California… for now, such as Slater’s 50/50. One such entity remained solely in Southern California for just two years, and rose in notoriety so much that they expanded to Northern California after two years in business. Now with a location in Florida and plans to expand into New York, Umami Burger has more than cemented its name into the history of food in America. In fact, Saturday Night Live even name-dropped Umami Burger, proving the dominance of this burger chain. Umami did not reach their current status with just marketing and timing – they earned their reputation with quality unlike any other. Although pricey, their burgers will more than satisfy a craving for an amazing burger, as their menu now contains more than just burgers. Most customers will want to stick with burgers like the namesake indicates, but sometimes customers can get a little adventurous by ordering a modified burger. Umami now offers a modified burger in the form of turning any burger into a poutine dish. Have you seen a poutine with a burger patty in it? Go all-in with their Truffle Royale Poutine, their signature Truffle Royale burger served over fries with house gravy. The original burger comes with a beef patty topped with braised short ribs, garlic aioli, truffle glaze, and truffle cheese. Why bother with truffle oil at this point when the dish already contains so much truffle? The truffle levels in this dish exceed nine thousand, as you cut into the medium rare patty and braised short ribs, and scoop up the perfect bite with a little of everything in this dish. The Truffle Royale burger costs $15, while you can “poutine-it” any burger for an extra $2, so the Truffle Royale Poutine will cost $17 altogether. Not every Umami Burger location serves the Truffle Royale, and not every location has the “poutine-it” option, so refer to the Umami Burger website for a menu from each location before you venture out in search of meaty fried goodness. The old saying that you cannot judge a book by its cover typically does not apply to Umami Burger, as they strive for excellent plating and deliciously gorgeous burgers. When it comes to poutine, the gravy will cause a mess, so carefully plating poutine takes extra practice. While the photo looks like a mess, the umami sensory explosion will make you forget what it looked like when the server brought it out to you.

For those who love and swear by bacon, I encourage them to open-mindedly explore and discover new foods. While bacon makes anything better, certainly other meats can hold their own against bacon. I have rambled on and on about Foie Gras, and I have always loved Pork Belly. Although fairly common yet delicious, I have not brought up Duck much. Duck has its own amazing taste (unlike chicken), and now consumers can even purchase duck seasonings and flavorings. But why eat just the flavor when you can savor real duck? If you want to truly experience duck as it should taste, look no further than Haven Gastropub.

Known for reengineering food as we know it, Haven Gastropub transcends many other restaurants that attempt to imitate them. Their standard for food and craft beer has raised the bar substantially high for other gastropubs wanting to match them. For example, take this Duck Confit Poutine that they serve all day everyday. This dish comes with Pommes Frites, Duck Gravy, Port Salut cheese, and of course, Duck Confit. For all the gravy smothering the Frites, the crispiness holds up very well. You can let the Frites sit in the gravy for a while, and you still will feel the crunch in every bite. The duck gravy and cheese combine extremely well together, creating an indescribable unity of comfort food. Finally, you have the Duck Confit, the headliner of this dish. Salty, juicy, crispy, tender… this duck has it all. After one bite, you may never look at bacon the same way again.

Chef Greg Daniels proves time and time again that he does not skimp on quality. You owe it to yourself to head to the nearest Haven Gastropub (Orange or Pasadena) and order the Duck Confit Poutine. Sure this dish can serve two or more, but take warning – anyone you share this with may want to hog it all to themselves!

Whenever a new unique food appears, I usually pursue it until I can devour it. If food involves meat, the less common the meat, the more likely I will find, order, and eat it. Although common, I never turn down pork. Now it seems that people love to eat duck as well. What better way to eat both pork AND duck than by allowing guests to construct their own dish?

Two weeks ago, Beachwood BBQ of Seal Beach followed up on their popular Build-Your-Own-Mac-And-Cheese series with a new Build-Your-Own-Poutine night. Similarly to its predecessors, guests may choose what goes into the dish, from the type of carb to the gravy to the cheese to even the fat to fry it in. I tell everyone that Beachwood BBQ has the best Mac & Cheese I have ever eaten, so seeing poutine offered now delighted my soul. For my particular poutine, I chose the following:

  • Plantain Fries
  • Fried in Duck Fat
  • Traditional Mozzarella Curds with Humboldt Fog cheese
  • Duck & Herbs gravy
  • Basil, Thyme, Tarragon
  • Garlic, Butternut Squash, Fennel, Dried Cherries
  • Venison, Antelope, and a Fried Egg on top

Sadly, Beachwood BBQ did not offer actual duck meat for the poutine.

Keep in mind that Beachwood BBQ rarely hosts nights like this. Expect to see either this again or something similar every 2-3 months. With this level of quality, you do not want to pass up another opportunity to build your own epic creation.

Build Your Own Poutine Night
6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, August 29
Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/281621261942187/

Based on their popular Build Your Own Mac & Cheese Nights, Beachwood BBQ will now allow you to construct your own Poutine this Thursday night. Food fans must attend this night and build something epic for dinner. See below for what transpired during a Build Your Own Mac & Cheese Night:

Beachwood BBQ Live Music Night
8:00 pm – 11:00 pm, August 30
Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach and Long Beach
http://beachwoodbbq.com/events.php

Both Beachwood BBQ locations will have live music on Thursday night. Seal Beach will have acoustic music, while Long Beach will have a DJ spinning beats.

The Aquabats – FREE SHOW @ OC Great Park
8:15 pm, August 30
OC Great Park, Irvine
http://www.facebook.com/events/229555637167508/

The Aquabats will play a FREE (kind of) all-ages show this Thursday at OC Great Park. However, the park charges $10 for parking, so technically you still have to pay to see The Aquabats. Bring friends & family, because if you split the parking cost, that reduces the per-person price!

LA County Fair – Opening Day
10:00 am, August 31
Fairplex, Pomona
http://www.lacountyfair.com/

Your local fair will open this Friday at the Fairplex in Pomona. If you missed the OC Fair, you will not want to miss the LA County Fair. Ticket prices range from free up to $17, but places like Walgreens and Costco sell discounted ticket packages.

E Hula Mau
12:00 pm – 12:00 am, August 31
8:00 am – 12:00 am, September 1-2
Terrace Theater @ the Long Beach Convention Center
http://www.ehulamau.org/

The annual E Hula Mau returns to Long Beach to exhibit various Pacific Islander performances, arts & crafts, food, vendors, and more. The actual fest requires no admission, while spectating the competitions requires a ticket purchase. Nearby parking structures east of Pine Avenue between 3rd & 6th Streets provide free parking for up to two hours.

Orange International Street Fair
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, August 31
10:00 am – 10:00 pm, September 1-2
Streets of Old Town Orange
http://www.orangestreetfair.org/

One of the grandest events to grace Orange County, the annual OISF returns this weekend to the streets of Old Town Orange. Completely free to attend and open to all ages, the OISF brings together regions of the world and their food, drinks, merchandise, dance, music, and so much more. The four roads radiating from the Orange Circle each contain 3-4 themed “Streets” based on a region of the world. For example, the east road usually contains Old American, New American, and Mexican Streets. But we all go to the OISF every year for one reason: Irish Street. Located at the end of the southern road, immediately in front of Haven Gastropub houses the Guinness truck and the Irish music stage, of which bands like The American Wake entertain crowds all evening. You have never seen a street party this huge – trust me.

IMPLANTS, Sederra, Lowbrow, The Highest Account, & Drown The Witness at The Juke Joint
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, August 31
The Juke Joint, Anaheim
http://www.facebook.com/events/256749424438685/

A clash of punk rock bands will take over The Juke Joint this Friday night. $10 cover, ages 21 and up only.

Fiesta Hermosa
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, September 1-3
Downtown Hermosa Beach
http://www.fiestahermosa.com/

Fiesta Hermosa returns to the streets of Downtown Hermosa Beach this weekend. Free to park and attend, this street fair will have food, drinks, music, arts & crafts, games, rides, vendors, and more. You cannot park AT the event – for those driving, you must park at the Northrop Grumman Building at Marine & Aviation in Redondo Beach, and a free shuttle will carry you to and from the fest and parking lot.

Shoreline Jam – Reggae Festival
11:00 am – 11:30 pm, September 1
The Queen Mary, Long Beach
http://www.shorelinejamqm.com/

The annual Shoreline Jam returns this Saturday to the Queen Mary. Last year, Pepper headlined the show. This year, a plethora of reggae bands will highlight the stage all day. General admission tickets cost $35, while VIP tickets (VIP line, parking, lounge, and 4 free drinks) cost $75.

The TASTE
11:00 am – 11:00 pm, September 1-3
Paramount Pictures Studios, Hollywood
http://events.latimes.com/taste/

Los Angeles Times presents The TASTE, a series of food-based events at Paramount Pictures Studios. Each event will feature unlimited food & drink tastings from over 40 of LA’s top restaurants, along with live cooking & mixology demonstrations, wine seminars, and panel discussions. Presale tickets sell for $65, while tickets will cost $75 at the door.

FYF Fest
12:00 pm – 12:00 am, September 1-2
LA State Historic Park, Los Angeles
http://fyffest.com/

FYF Fest really requires no other description. If you have heard of or attended Coachella, FYF Fest will feel similar. This two-day concert will feature the largest names in music, including recently reunited Refused. Surprisingly, you can still purchase tickets! I recommend getting dropped off or taking the Metro, as parking will not exist on these two days.

Long Beach Greek Festival
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm, September 1-3
Greek Orthodox Church, Long Beach
http://www.lbgreekfest.org/

At this Greek Festival, you will find Greek foods & desserts, drinks, dancers, music, games, rides, arts & crafts, vendors, exhibits, and more. CSULB provides free parking and shuttle rides. Print the voucher from the website to waive the admission fee.

SoundWalk 2012
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, September 1
East Village Arts District, Long Beach
http://soundwalk.org/

This free street art exhibit beats the norm of art by hosting art through sound. Participating artists ditch contemporary visual art in favor of art for your ears. For example, the famous slinky ladder may return, where each step represents a different sound that, when struck by the special slinky, plays together for a clash of sound effects.

Drink Good Beer Mash-Up & Homebrew Competition
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, September 2
The Factory Gastropub, Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/DrinkGoodBeerMashUpHomebrewCompetition

The Factory Gastropub will host a beer fest and homebrewers competition in their parking lot this Sunday afternoon. Presale tickets sell for $25, while tickets will sell for $30 at the door. Over 30 local breweries will serve their beers to attendees, while homebrewers will sample their beers as well. Registration to enter you homebrews ended already, so if you want to enter your brew(s), you will have to wait until the next competition.