Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Hour at Melrose Umbrella Co Spans the Classic Cocktail Families

Who does't love happy hour? Cheap drinks, sometimes cheap food. But most of the time happy hour menu consists of only a handful of cocktails, which means limited options. Not so much at Melrose Umbrella Co.

Melrose Umbrella Co
I've heard a lot of Melrose Umbrella Co before, for having good cocktails, so I was excited to come in for happy hour. The decor is fun, and the name of the bar is actually related to an old photo of the great great great grandfather of one of the three bartenders who started Melrose Umbrella Co. You'll see vintage umbrellas along with vintage photos of the family around the bar.

OK, back to happy hour. At first glance the happy hour menu looks small, with a punch that serves 4 and 4 sections of cocktails. But the last section actually covers the four classic cocktail families with your choice of garnish and base spirit. Virtually unlimited choices!

First off, they served us a mini cup of the white sangria to start off the night (and "amuse booze"). This is the same sangria that comes as a 4-person punch and it is a crowd pleaser.
Melrose Umbrella Co
Let's start off with some of the happy our choices. There's the Nip Julep made with bourbon, mint, and peach, and only $5! The last section lets you choose between the four cocktail families: smash, fix, daisy, or maid. The "Fix" is your choice of base spirit with citrus, sugar, and your choice of garnish (I did bourbon and grapes). The Smash would be like a mojito with any spirit, and the Maid is made with cucumber, mint, and and citrus. Each is $9.
Melrose Umbrella Co

Friday, December 26, 2014

Most Memorable Meals in 2014

It's almost the end of 2014 and it's been a good year! There had been many great meals, and these are just some of the most memorable bites I had.

Lobster Roll at Bite Into Maine (Portland, ME)
I went up to Maine a few times this year, trying out lobster rolls all over the place. My favorite is still the one from Bite Into Maine!

Pork Knee at Krčma Šatlava in Cesky Krumlov (Czech Republic)
First off, you're dining at a medieval tavern inside a cave in Cesky Krumlov, a small town in Czech Republic. Add to that: a whole kilogram of roasted pork knee for less than $10, perfectly done.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Syrian Cuisine at Kareem's (Boston, MA)

When Wandering Chopsticks was visiting me in Boston, she heard about this Syrian restaurant that was only open on weekends that you need to have reservations to go to. The only time we could go was right after a full day of eating lobsters in Maine, so I wasn't really up for a full dinner but she really wanted to go, and I had just read about this Syrian dessert called kanafeh (or kanafa, kunafe, however you want to spell it) in a novel, The Golem and The Jinni.

The restaurant is tiny, and located in a residential neighborhood in Watertown. Other than the weekend-only dinners, it's only open for cooking classes. 

As with all Middle Eastern meals, we started with a hummus. We tried the Royal Hummus (with beets, $9)

Homemade pita

Monday, December 22, 2014

Modern Lebanese Dining at Bowery Bungalow

by: guest blogger @iam_robot

You’ve heard it time and time again that Los Angeles is a melting pot of different cultures, where we have various cultures and ethnic groups intermingling in one big community. And that’s what’s great about eating in LA; we get to eat the kind of food other people grow up with or our plate will comprise of newfound eclectic mix of culture from every corner of the world. Just for good measure, look at the dining options in Silverlake. Whether you want the most authentic Chaat from Samosa House, Taiwanese Beef Roll from Pine and Crane, or excellent Northern Thai Curry Khao Soi from Night Market – seriously whatever you want, it’s here in this trendy community and chances are, it’s affordable.
Today, I wanted to share one of the most exciting additions in Silverlake – not too far from the Sunset Junction came George Abou-Daoud’s latest enterprise called as Bowery Bungalow. Unlike his other restaurants (Bowery, Rosewood Tavern, or Mercantile), Bowery Bungalow features cuisines close to Abou-Daoud’s Lebanese upbringing rather than the typical gastropub fares. Yes, he found much success in the gastropub movement since 2005 but being born to a Lebanese mother and Egyptian father, Abou-Daoud felt a natural inclination to showcase his take on modern Lebanese cuisine as middle-eastern inspired cuisines are few and far between in this neighborhood. He thinks herbs we hardly know of (or could pronounce) like marjoram, sorrell, sumac, jute mallow, and purslane could be the next big hit in Los Angeles dining scene. 10_2014_BOWERY_BUNGALOW-25
As far as menu, Bowery Bungalow is a cut above the usual. Focusing on Middle-Eastern cuisines, the place is swank but the price is right. I thought vegetables dishes like Za’atar Bruschetta, Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes, Chickpea Falafel and Fried Cauliflower with toasted Dukkah are some of the things I could never get anywhere else even in this multi-cultural city.

Za’atar Bruschetta

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Preview: New Year's Eve Menu at Bow and Truss

For New Year's Eve, Bow and Truss in North Hollywood is offering up a 4-course menu for $50. With 2-4 choices for each course and plenty of vegan options, there's something for everyone.

Start with a choice of pastel de choclo (corn and meat pie), patatas bravas (salt-cured potatoes, that's your vegan option) or Tuna Tartare (olives, garlic, shallots, served on house made cracker)

Bow and Truss

The next course is a soup or salad. There's s lentil salad with serrano ham and chorizo, or two vegan options:
Tomatican Soup (corn and tomato soup)
Bow and Truss

Thursday, December 18, 2014

iCoffee Opus, Getting More Out of Your Single Serving Capsules

While I love my Nespresso Pixie, I haven't had a lot of good experiences with other single serving coffee offerings before. My old office at Caltech had a Keurig machine, so I tried the K-cups there before. Was. Not. Good.

Still, the idea of a convenient coffee machine is enticing to have at work. My current office had no coffee machine whatsoever, so when iCoffee asked if I wanted to try out their single serving machine, Opus, I said why not? iCoffee promises a smooth tasting coffee using what they call a SpinBrew technology. It's said to mimic what happens in a french press - so you get a french press style coffee from the machine. Basically, though, this technology sprays water 360' so the water gets distributed around the ground coffee more evenly, so you don't over extract any particular part of the capsule (which tends to lead to bitterness).

Looking dapper on top of the office fridge
The machine comes with a sampler of capsules including Tim Hortons coffee. Yep, that popular chain from Canada.
Tim Hortons

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Where to Eat and Drink Near Heavenly Ski Resort (Lake Tahoe, CA)

The Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe is slowly opening. While only six lifts are running now, the whole terrain is bound to open soon. Might as well plan your trip and where you'll eat and drink now!
If you're hungry after skiing or snowboarding all day, I'd head down to Base Camp Pizza Co. It's a fun and lively place with a great draft beer selection. In particular, the timing right after skiing is perfect. Usually they charge $13 for a personal size pizza but during happy hour (2-6pm) you can get a personal sized pizza AND a draft beer for $12!

I had the Base Camp Pizza (pepperoni, Italian sausage, roasted peppers and onions, portobello mushroom)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hey 19: Fun Food and Cheap Drinks in Torrance

There are tons of great Japanese restaurants in Torrance, from oden and yakitori to soba to wonderful pastries, but I wouldn't know where to drink in Torrance. Until now, when Demi Stevens of Ortega 120 opened up Hey 19, a pub with affordable drinks and comfort food - serving until late at night.

Hey 19
The drinks range from $7-8.25. You can hardly get those prices even at happy hour in LA! Yay for low rent in Torrance. I tried the South Bay Storm (Cruzan rum, Campari, lemon, pineapple, Roy Rogers - that's coke and grenadine, $7) and the Classic Cup (housemade Pimm's #1, lemonade, ginger ale, cucumber, mint, orange - also $7).
Just like the popular margaritas at Ortega 120, the drinks tends to be strong and sweet, easy to drink. It turns out Demi prefers her own drinks less sweet so she made me another one that's coming on the menu soon. She said people tend to Uber down from LA in groups to drink because of her much cheaper prices!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ticket Giveaway! Slow Wine US Tour on January 27

It's almost Christmas and I know you all like wine ... so it's time for another wine event giveaway!
This time, it's for Slow Wine. Slow Wine basically embraces the Slow Food philosophy, showcasing small winemakers who use traditional techniques and respecting the environment. The Slow Wine event showcases 50 wine producers from 15 different Italian wine regions.
Early bird ticket is $45 each (until December 25) and $60 after that. You will also get a copy of the Slow Wine book ($25 value) with the ticket. The Guide has a list of over 300 wine producers. To purchase tickets and for more information, check here.

Event details:
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Location: The Taglyan Complex
1201 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Parking is available, with mandatory valet, at the Taglyan Complex for a fee of $8.00.

Now, to the good stuff. Enter below to win 2 tickets to this event!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Postmates, Now Delivering Anything in Your City

Postmates promises to deliver anything and everything to your home. I initially got some credit to try it out when I was living in LA, but they weren't delivering to Pasadena so I didn't get a chance to use it there. After moving to Boston and with my first real winter impending, this was starting to sound enticing. 
You access Postmates via a phone app. You can choose from the restaurants listed and select from the drop down menu, or you can also type a custom order. They'll go to the store or restaurant and place whatever you want to order. The final bill will be calculated when the order is picked up at the store or restaurant.

Postmates' crew picks up your order on their bikes and delivers it to your door. I've received my order well within 30 minutes for the most part, like for these tortas from Tenoch which was across the Charles River.

Monday, December 8, 2014

$1 Oysters, Great Cocktails, and More at Russell House Tavern (Cambridge, MA)

One of the recommendations I received before moving to Boston was to have cocktails at Russell House Tavern. They do have great drinks, but now most of the time, I come here for the $1 oyster special, which starts at 11pm til closing.

Russell House Tavern
I previously had made a list of $1 oyster places in Los Angeles, but there are even more in Boston! Still, there's a big range on quality, and Russell House Tavern is on the top end where that's concerned.
IMG_3258A lot of places don't serve the freshest oysters when they do $1 oysters, but I've had great experiences with Russell House Tavern, and I've come 3-4 times. The first time they had Island Creek oysters. I also had Moon Shoal oysters once. Not only the types, but these are also fresh and cleaned properly (unlike the $0.50 I had at Red House which were not that fresh and weren't even really cleaned well).

The cocktails I've enjoyed included the Howling Winds ($12): Ansac cognac, yellow chartreuse, cinnamon syrup, lemon, butterfly absinthe, bitters, and Battle of Trafalgar (pictured below, $10): Pimm's no 1, elderflower liqueur, Batavia arrack, honey, lime.
Russell House Tavern
There was also Burma Nights ($13): Bombay East Gin, P.F. Dry Curacao, Orange Flower & Jasmine Waters, Lemongrass, Regans No. 6.

I've tried the other dishes which tend to be good and reasonably priced like the Steamed Moosabec mussels, Spanish chorizo, fried garbanzo, white wine, grilled Fondi bread ($10)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Warm Up to Tiki Happy Hour at The Church Key (West Hollywood)

It may be winter (as if there's a real winter in LA), but you can pretend it's warm with The Church Key's new happy hour. Yep, they're going all tiki for happy hour, taking place Monday-Friday, 5:30-7PM. There's no bad season for tiki.

Tiki cocktails are $9 each and there are plenty of fun options, complete with tiki mugs and excess garnishes. We started with The Professor (Selvarey Cacao, coconut, pineapple, orgeat) and Polynesian Pearl (Bacardi Superior, Bekrovka, lime, OJ, allspice, cinnamon, vanilla)
As is always the case with proper tiki drinks, they are strong but dangerously easy to drink.

Blue Hawaii (Malibu, blue curacao, creme de coconut, pineapple)
I haven't had one of these in forever, but we let go of our cocktail snobbery for the moment because, well, frankly it tasted delicious. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia this drink should've been the Blue Hawaiian, whereas the Blue Hawaii uses a sweet and sour mix instead of creme de coconut. Either way, I know I would prefer the one with coconut.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hall of Famer Pizza at Santarpio's (East Boston, MA)

Established in 1903 (over 111 years ago!). Inducted to the Boston Hall of Fame. Voted Best of Boston at least 9 times. Who else can claim all of those but Santarpio's Pizza? While East Boston remains relatively undeveloped, this is one of the reasons people travel to Eastie.

The pizza at Santarpio's is not like other styles you've had. You can call it more "rustic" with a thicker crust and the Italian cheese baked on top of the toppings.


The housemade sausage and garlic are popular toppings, but I also like the anchovies that come with The Works. If you like spicy, though, you have to try the pickled hot cherry peppers! The peppers that come with The Works are just green peppers, so remember to ask for the HOT peppers. If you don't want those on your pizza, you can get them with the bbq'd meats also.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Calivino Wine Pub (Anaheim, CA)

by: guest blogger @btsunoda

Sporting events and concert venues don’t typically serve cutting edge food and so I’m always on the lookout for restaurants that are situated near these types of establishments. Calivino Wine Pub opened its doors in May 2014; located on Katella Ave in Anaheim, they are ideally situated between the Honda Center and Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
The interior of Calivino Wine Pub resembled a modern cafe: stylish chairs and tables, spot lights from ceiling and single seating by the bar. Colorful wine bottles adorned the wall of the bar area.

 I began with their bacon wrapped dates and a glass of Clayhouse Adobe White Blend.
The saltiness of the goat cheese combined with the natural sweetness of the dates and honey paired quite nicely. The white blend was a good beginner’s wine.
 The honey roasted brussel sprouts with pork belly had a crisp exterior and I thought that the sweetness of the honey combined with the salty and smoky nature of the pork belly was an effective way to serve an otherwise bland vegetable. I paired this with an Argentine Malbec: Elsa Bianchi. This soft wine is ideal for the person that isn’t fond of bold complex red wines and is well suited for appetizers.

Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital