Posts Tagged ‘Vanilla’

Normally I refrain from talking about corporate businesses since I strive to support local businesses. However, sometimes something new comes up that merits timely discussion. For example, with Veteran’s Day coming up, now marks the right time to talk about something that Baskin-Robbins has done. They typically introduce a new ice cream flavor each month that represents their 31st flavor, as part of their “31 flavors” slogan for a flavor for each day of the month. For November 2014, Baskin-Robbins has stepped it up a notch by introducing a military-themed color combination in their flavor of the month. The colors may throw many customers off, but this First Class Camouflage actually sounds and tastes like a first-class combination. The combination contains three colors, brown, tan, and green, that represent chocolate, salted caramel, and vanilla cake, respectively. In addition to the ice cream scoops, Baskin-Robbins will also offer other items with the camouflage coloring, such as waffle cones/bowls, and a camouflage sundae. To top it all off, Baskin-Robbins will donate ten cents to the USO for each scoop of this ice cream sold all month.

Try out some First Class Camouflage at your local Baskin-Robbins. I normally do not give free press to corporate businesses, but for this occasion, it has captured my interest so much that I believe you ought to check it out for yourself.

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Despite the turn of the season, Southern California’s heat wave rages on. Temperatures had hit record highs in the past few weeks, causing many people to desire something cold to cool down. Of course, some people may not have a sweet tooth like I do, but you have to treat yourself occasionally. Sometimes, your body just craves it – when you feel hot, your body tells you to go find something cold to eat or drink. If you plan on powering through this heat wave, I now bring to you five cold treats in the Los Angeles area to get you through this hot fall season.

5. Top Round Roast Beef‘s Frozen Custard Milkshakes

Everyone loves ice cream, whether they will admit it or not. The creamy texture plus the sweet sensation brings comfort and joy to anyone munching through it. But have you heard of ice cream’s cousin that walks in ice cream’s shadow? Some places may have already heard of it, but frozen custard has risen as a popular choice for cold treats, a feat that Top Round Roast Beef has capitalized on. Ice cream contains a lot of air in it, which lends to its preservation of sitting in a freezer for a long time. On the other hand, frozen custard contains a greater ratio of eggs and milk compared to ice cream, giving the frozen custard a denser feel with less air. Since the folks at Top Round churn their frozen custard daily without ever freezing it for storage, it will never have ice crystals in it, lending to its smooth, velvety texture. This small diner in Mid-Wilshire near La Brea may have claimed fame with their signature roast beef, but actually their Frozen Custard Milkshakes keep the locals returning back. Every cold treat has a certain coldness factor to it, and boy can this milkshake really cool you down on a hot day. These milkshakes come in four flavors: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and pistachio. For the adventurous, I highly suggest the pistachio for a one-of-a-kind treat rarely found elsewhere. But honestly, you cannot go wrong with any flavor, even plain vanilla (pictured above). At just $5 a cup, you get more than your money’s worth here.

4. Shave It‘s Hawaii 5-Oh

Have you ever heard of the classic song (These Are A Few Of) My Favorite Things? This song lists a handful of things, tangible or not, that fill a person with joy despite bad times. Though the singer lists individual things in the song, why not skip the hassle and combine some of those things? Whenever I can have one of my favorite things, I eagerly look forward to it. Whenever I can have more than one of my favorite things at the same time, my heart fills with glee. Enter Shave It, the brilliant business capturing the hearts of many with their approach to combining two individual items together to form something even better. As their name suggests, Shave It does the shave ice thing, and yes – pronunciation makes a huge difference. Shaved ice with a D typically refers to ground ice, like that of a snow cone. Shave ice without the D refers to how native Hawaiians see it – finely sliced ice so smooth that it feels like ice cream. Upon hearing that comparison, the folks behind Shave It decided to mash the two up by serving up cups of shave ice WITH ice cream – a match made in heaven I tell you! The list of combinations stretches all the way around their store, since any customer can mix and match ice cream and shave ice flavors, such as with the Hawaii 5-Oh. This homage to the television show of the same name contains what the name would suggest – coconut ice cream with Hawaiian Punch shave ice. The fruitiness of the shave ice combined with the creaminess of the ice cream almost gives it a strawberry milk effect, something that any kid can enjoy. For less than $5, you too can experience the childhood joys of combining two of your favorite things into one cup.

3. Fluff Ice‘s Coffee Cake

Recently, a new study discovered that a person’s genes strongly determine how that person’s body reacts to coffee. Common perceptions make us believe that drinking coffee nearly daily helps to build a tolerance to coffee. While this may hold validity in those with the genes to build such a tolerance, those without this set of genes may approach coffee differently. A few individuals may forever fully absorb all coffee for life, while others may never react to coffee at all. The abundance of coffee shops today all gauge the strength of coffee based on what the customer desires. More often than not, customers simply seek the flavor of coffee, not the energy boost that it provides, which Fluff Ice satisfies quite well. One of Los Angeles’ original shaved snow shops, Fluff Ice has generated quite a Southern California empire as of this upcoming weekend. From storefronts to food trucks, Fluff Ice has a mission to deliver authentic shaved snow to the people of Southern California and, sometime in the near future, the rest of the world. The truck’s menu generally carries a condensed version of what the stores offer; after all, they primarily use the truck as means to promote the stores rather than make pure profit from mobile sales. If you visit one of their stores, you may discover their Coffee Cake combination of coffee shaved snow, crushed graham crackers, crushed Oreos (pictured without it above), and choice of condensed milk or chocolate syrup. If you know you cannot consume caffeine, worry not, as a $4 medium serving of this contains less than five grams of caffeine, indicating that Fluff Ice utilizes decaf coffee for the flavor base. After all, the sugar already gives kids their sugar rush, so why add fuel to the fire?

2. Tierra Mia Coffee‘s Mexican Chocolate Frappe

People all over the world love their coffee. Many people consume coffee for its caffeine content. Many others consume coffee for its flavor. Some drink coffee as means of socializing. Some drink coffee just to keep occupied. Regardless of why any sole individual would consume coffee, we can now find a coffee shop in almost any given square mile in any urban area. Many joke that you can cross the street from a Starbucks only to find another Starbucks, but honestly this only happens in Seattle, home of the first Starbucks. Here in Los Angeles, many other brands exist that occupy many street corners, such as Tierra Mia Coffee. Imagine a Southern California version of Starbucks with Southwestern influences, and you have Tierra Mia. Anyone walking into a Tierra Mia shop for the first time with no prior knowledge of the business would assume a Mexican version of Starbucks, which holds absolutely no truth to the matter. Tierra Mia gains their unique advantage by giving back to local communities and providing a space for starving artists to display their work. That aside, their menu contains many foods & beverage flavors unique to them. While you may have familiarity with a Frappuccino, Tierra Mia also serves their own lineup of Frappes, such as their Mexican Chocolate Frappe. If you love chocolate milkshakes, then you will love this blended beverage that tastes like a dark chocolate smoothie with hints of coffee. You gain more of a chocolate taste from this than the coffee in it, and the use of Mexican chocolate gives this beverage a bolder, richer chocolate flavor. The Mexican chocolate also lends to the antioxidant content in this blended beverage, so not only can you satisfy your sweet tooth and cool yourself down for under $5, but you can slightly improve your health by consuming some polyphenols.

1. The Iron Press‘ Cap’n Crunch Berries & Milk Waffle

How many cereal mascots can you name? As a child, television and supermarkets exposed us to countless cartoon characters that represented cereal brands. From Toucan Sam to Count Chocula to Flintstones to Snap/Crackle/Pop to Tony the Tiger to the Trix Rabbit, big companies used whatever cute characters they could muster in order to entice kids into eating their cereal. On a side note, no female cereal mascots exist – you only have male mascots for cereal. Anyways, no other mascot resonates within the memory more than Cap’n Crunch. Oh yes, this creepy midget sailor appears on everyone’s minds when they think about cereal because of the way he stares into your soul through your eyes. Those hollow eyes can capture any soul with a gesture as simple as eye contact, a fact that the people at The Iron Press can testify to. The Cap’n loves more than just cereal – he loves waffles, he loves beer, and swiggity swooty, he loves pirate booty. Nothing grabs tail better than waffles with the open seas and a pint of Windansea Wheat in hand, and the Cap’n sure loves to dip his hands wherever he can fit them, such as in the Cap’n Crunch Berries & Milk Waffle. The waffle contains actual Crunch Berries cereal in it, which gets further dusted with crushed Crunch Berries, then drizzled with a milk glaze, followed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Have you followed a diet? The Cap’n cares not about said diets. Bring forth your empty gut and devour this mound of sugar and carbs for $7, lest you fear the inevitable belly swell. So grab yourself a nice pint of wheat ale and raise it in the air. Knock them up, slap them down, and never want to care. After that, order another one for me. Down it quick, and allow your inhibitions to roam free!

People simply love bacon for unexplainable reasons, and will go to crazy distances just for that crispy salty crunchy satisfying feel of biting into bacon. You know bacon has something going for it when people wrap things in bacon to make it taste better, even things most people may not have heard of, such as water chestnuts or peppadews. When you cannot wrap something in bacon, what logically comes next other that chop up the bacon and throw it all onto food? In some instances, you can then directly add the bacon into whatever you make. Like bacon and waffles? Add bacon pieces to the batter prior to grilling. Like bacon and pasta? Roll your own bacon & cheese tortelloni. As one of the most versatile foods in the world, bacon adds that je ne sais quoi to anything one can eat or drink. Today’s culinary culture has taught us that bacon does not always have to apply in a savory preparation. In fact, bacon desserts have risen in popularity over the past few years, so much so that today’s society generally accepts bacon desserts like the norm. If you want to see the norm broken, look no further than Slater’s 50/50.

As their empire expands to a sixth location in Rancho Cucamonga, Slater’s 50/50 continues to push culinary limits with their wicked and unheard-of creations. Known for their signature 50/50 burger consisting of half beef and half bacon, Slater’s 50/50 carries a penchant for the peculiar and unknown, emphasizing fortitude over commonality. In their quest for a multi-stage evolving menu, Slater’s 50/50 continually introduces new menu items over time. This past summer, Slater’s 50/50 introduced a few new menu items, such as their Twice Grilled Cheese w/ Tomato Basil Soup and Kale Quinoa Salad. However, nothing measures up quite like their new dessert, the Bacon Blondie. Unlike normal sized blondies, Slater’s 50/50 serves a spin on their famous Bacon Brownie by taking a layer of brown sugar/vanilla blondies, coating it with peanut butter frosting, topping it with candied bacon, then adding another layer to it, essentially creating a double-layered blondie. When the layering completes, they add vanilla ice cream and drizzle the entire dish with chocolate syrup. Upon receiving this heavy dish, you may wonder how to dive into this thing. As a layered blondie, you have a few options on where to start. First though, I must advise against consuming this entire dish in one sitting, as your stomach’s size fits inside this massive blondie tower. You may opt to share this with someone, or take some of it home to finish later. Most diners will plunge a fork straight down, which can prove effective, especially when trying to scoop up some of the ice cream too. However, recall the second layer of blondie, and that the two layers can detach from one another. Some people like to eat this one layer at a time, scooping up the ice cream to place on top. Others will intentionally split the blondie and place the ice cream in the middle, creating an ice cream blondie sandwich. However you prefer to eat this, embrace everything going on in this dish, as you may not have had anything like this ever.

Intrigued by this massive dessert? You can obtain this from any of the six current Slater’s 50/50 locations: Anaheim Hills, Huntington Beach, San Diego (Liberty Station), Pasadena, Lake Forest, and now Rancho Cucamonga. Come hungry and with an open yet stretched stomach, as you will need all the space you can generate in your stomach for this monstrous dessert.

As we enter April, we enter the start of Q2 2013. The start of Q2 indicates the turn of a new season, and with the turn of a new season comes renovation and innovation. When people quote the phrase “reinventing the wheel,” the wheel in this case can represent practically anything. What approach can one use to identify an existing item or concept, and reconfigure it with typically improved performance? Sometimes, in order to progress and move forward, one has to regress back to the ground level, and decipher a new path to climb the tree. At the very core, what constitutes the foundation? Any tree starts with a seed. On that same train of thought, any good burger starts with the right patty. If you arrive at a restaurant that serves a well done burger by default, you should question the quality of the meat. The best chefs intend to cook burgers medium rare, as that cooks the outside of the patty while sealing the juices and flavor inside to create a full pink color that should run all the way to the ends of the patty. Very rarely do restaurants cook medium rare burgers as they should, but a small handful understand the craft of cooking a hamburger. For the upcoming season, seek out the following five burgers to understand the depth and quality that a medium rare burgers brings to the table. Also keep in mind for the locations that allow customization – judge them on their actual burger, not the additions you selected.

5. Hole In The Wall Burger Joint‘s Pretzel Bun Burger

More often than not, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant serves better food than large corporate restaurants. Local mom & pop hole-in-the-wall places focus more on authenticity and preserving their culture first over capitalizing on the popularity of food. Once in a while, a chef will play the sly card and open a place with a tricky name that forces unforced double takes. If you ever find yourself at the DMV in Santa Monica, you may have noticed a small strip mall of food places across the street, of which one of the spaces bears the name Hole In The Wall Burger Joint. Fans already know that the place existed elsewhere prior to moving to this new location. The charm of a basic design allows this business to fit in virtually anywhere, and serve a small variety that could satisfy anyone’s hunger. At Hole In The Wall, customers can fully customize their meal using their menu notepad that you can strip off and fill out to hand to the cashier. Customers select the patty, bread, spread, cheese, veggies, and extra additions. Also take a look at their specials that rotate weekly, as that features the burger-of-the-week and salad-of-the-week. First-time visitors should immediately go for the beef burger (medium rare, of course) paired with the pretzel bun. Out of all the breads, the pretzel bun does the best job at retaining the burger’s juices; however, this says much, as Hole In The Wall unapologetically cooks the burgers in such a way that they ooze with juices. Avoid piling on too many extras, as you want to savor the burger for the first time. Once you understand the flavors and juices behind this burger, you can then start throwing on your precious extras.

4. Silver Trumpet‘s Burger

Although hole-in-the-wall places tend to carry more authentic food, this does not mean that fancier places do not cook their food well. Even for a place that touts themselves as a bar & lounge, Silver Trumpet dishes out some amazing bar-like food. Located within the Wyndham Costa Mesa complex, Silver Trumpet serves your typical American cuisine – steaks, seafood, chicken, pasta, etc. However, slide on over to the bar & lounge area for an entirely new hip vibe not present in the main dining area. Here at the bar, you can order goodies like Lobster Corn Dogs, Crab Cakes, or Surf & Turf (Scallops & Pulled Pork, Carnitas style), while still ordering from the full bar and gazing at the TV if they show any games at the time. For the ultimate bar snack, you can order The Burger and slightly customize it with extras. This burger comes with cheddar, fried onions, lettuce, tomato, and a caper aioli. The aioli alone tastes wonderful and pairs well with any meat, not just the burger. Customers may choose to add bacon, avocado, a fried egg, caramelized onions, and/or sautéed mushrooms to their burger. Take care when selecting extras, as this burger already has a lot going on, especially with their aioli. However, nothing shall stop you from going extras crazy and adding them all, so… more power to you.

3. Slater’s 50/50‘s Peanut Butter & Jellousy A La Mode

We move from the hole-in-the-wall to the fancy, and now we venture into the eccentric. If you ask a random person on the street what they like on a burger, any item they mention not a vegetable will relate to some sort of salty or savory taste. People love their cheeses, bacon, sauces, and anything else as long as they can fulfill their sodium cravings. What about those bearing a sweet tooth? Sweet burgers do exist, but so few and far in-between that anyone seeking such a rare treat likely requires a guide. Luckily, I can say right now that Slater’s 50/50, with their dashingly sharp minds, has concocted strange creations involving flavors not typically associated with burgers, and their creations have landed a permanent spot on their menus. By now, most people have heard of a burger with peanut butter, jelly, and bacon, thanks to a few strong burger places in Southern California. Slater’s 50/50 would like to take that concept a step beyond by throwing in a scoop of ice cream to generate the Peanut Butter & Jellousy A La Mode. A spin on an existing menu item, customers can choose between a beef patty or the 50/50 patty, and that receives bacon, peanut butter, strawberry jam, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Every time I mentioned this burger, people always ask “Why though?” Truthfully, like their Donut Burger in the past, the vanilla ice cream does a great job at synchronizing the salty and the sweet, and brings it all together quite nicely. Whereas the original burger pitted salt versus sweet, the vanilla ice cream calms the two sides down so that they can embrace in the middle of the burger. This burger hides no tricks – as soon as you receive it, consume it immediately before the ice cream melts. While you chew your way through this burger, you can ask yourself what will Slater’s think of next.

2. Hopscotch Tavern‘s The Duke

Throughout all the restaurants in the world, few dedicate themselves to the art of grilling burgers. In today’s society where restaurants strive to serve the tastiest and most unique entrées, often times food items deemed as kids’ food get left behind, especially the burger. Thanks to the gastropub movement, the popularity of burgers has revitalized, so patrons understand that gastropubs will carry amazing burgers. Even if a gastropub follows a specialty, such as how Hopscotch Tavern specializes in slow-cooked foods, they will incorporate a burger on the menu somehow. Hopscotch carries burgers in a small section of their menu, but one particular burger deserves a space of its own rather than sharing a small room on the menu. Dubbed The Duke, this behemoth burger consists of a custom grind stuffed with cheddar cheese. This patty gets topped with pulled pork, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, and American cheese. Consider this burger a modified double bacon cheeseburger, as it contains twice the amount of normal cheese, bacon strips, and a custom patty that contains more beef than their other burgers. Oh, and they threw in some pulled pork… just to call it something else besides a bacon cheeseburger. Bite through to the middle to get to the best part, where the cheese and juices of the burger slowly ooze out. Remember to get a little of everything on this burger in every bite, including the pulled pork. You must get messy while eating this burger to absorb the full experience of this burger.

1. Kings Row Gastropub‘s King’s Burger

Ever since an unmentioned chef developed his legendary burger, many others have crafted their own version of that hit burger. Some quote about imitation and flattery applies here, but sometimes the imitation bears the necessary means to surpass the original. Of all the burgers in this same category of burgers, Kings Row Gastropub has secured a bullseye in crafting a burger so scrumptious that customers return over and over just for it. If you ever find yourself in Pasadena, stroll into Kings Row and order their King’s Burger, cooked medium rare as always. This patty of 21-day dry-aged beef receives a generous helping of St. Agur Bleu Cheese, duck fat onions, and arugula, while aioli and white cheddar finish off the burger. The clashing flavors of the onions and cheese opens the palate, allowing customers to take in all the glory of the beef patty. Praise whoever discovered that combination – although the flavors clash, they still taste amazing together, likely due to their properties of opening the palate. I say they clash thanks to the massive up-front flavor rush from the duck fat and the overwhelming scent of the bleu cheese. Some customers cannot handle this burger due to both the duck fat and bleu cheese – to them I say hold your nose and just bite through it. If you want a great burger, you have to find them at a gastropub, and Kings Row has the burger you need in your life and in your belly.

With just days left to enjoy Foie Gras before the CA Foie Gras ban sets in, I had to scramble to discover my next Foie Fixin’ before it is gone. Craving a succulent dessert following a healthy home-cooked dinner, my heart jumped at the thought that a Foie Gras Cheesecake could exist. I quickly realized that a Foie Gras Cheesecake was within reach, so I set off towards Haven Gastropub to try this amazing creation.

This is not any old cheesecake – nothing “any old” about this at all. The cheesecake itself does not come with crust – instead, vanilla crumbles and hibiscus gels are added to accent the savory cheesecake. A savory cheesecake… wicked thoughts rush through my mind thinking about a savory cheesecake. Albeit the foie gras is not visible, one bite of this cheesecake will leave you breathless. Imagine a really juicy slab of foie gras, then add cream cheese and a little sugar to it. What you end up with is a cheesecake bar that will blow your mind away. Toss in some vanilla crumbles for crunch and a slice of hibiscus gel for a fruity kick. 1) You will not want to share this with anyone, and 2) you will want to order another one soon.

So what are you waiting for? You only have a few days left to enjoy this, so get your butt over to Haven Gastropub today and order the Foie Gras Cheesecake!