Thursday, February 27, 2014

Winter Cocktails at 1886 Bar (Pasadena, CA)

Granted this winter in Los Angeles has been strange, but that doesn't mean I can't get my winter cocktails fix! After all, I love my hot cocktails and spices, and luckily 1886 Bar in Pasadena is providing all of them this winter. Spiced and spicy cocktails, chai lattes, hot toddies, and more ...

Interesting spices are making their way into the cocktails like in the Moroccan Exchange (by Gillian Georges): Dos Maderas PX rum, Nicaraguan 5-year rum, lime, harissa spices on a rock of ice, finished with Smith and Cross rum.

I tend to always order a dish with harissa (just like I probably will order any drink with saffron or kaffir lime) and Gillian did an excellent job using the aromatic spices with a blend of rums from three different countries, which, of course, has to include one from Morocco's neighboring country, Spain.

The beer cocktail of the season is the complex Rico Suave (by Jesus Gomez and Saul Soto).
The drink takes on a traditional Aztec recipe for beer using fermented corn, pineapple, and secret blend of spices. The secret mix is then served with a Bavarian Hefeweizen, resulting in a unique flavor.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Firehouse Subs, Now Open in San Diego, CA

By: guest blogger Narin Johns

Gourmet Pigs was invited to attend Firehouse Subs in Point Loma, San Diego to meet with founder Robin Sorensen and taste some of their featured subs. Robin brings a lot of passion to Firehouse Subs when he describes everything from the humble beginnings of the business to the quality ingredients he personally tastes and sources. Named "Firehouse Subs" because both Robin and his brother - co-founder Chris, started their careers as firefighters and have integrated their experience into the decor, sub names, and even the condiments.

We were treated to some of the most popular items on the menu. The first was the Hook & Ladder Sub.
This was my personal fave -  topped with smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, and melted Monterey Jack served "fully involved" (another firehouse term) meaning loaded with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and a dill pickle on the side. In the first bite, I noticed the bread was fresh baked, slightly crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. I was really impressed by the smokiness in the turkey and sweetness of the honey ham - sliced fresh in the store every day, and the melding of flavors with their delicious deli mustard and mayo. Firehouse prides itself in preparing subs using unique steaming method that really brings out the taste - unlike other "hot" subs I've tasted.

Monday, February 24, 2014

La Brea Bakery Celebrates 25 Years, Reopens Full Service Cafe

Yes, it has been 25 years since Nancy Silverton first opened La Brea Bakery. Amazing! They recently reopened their flagship cafe in a large, beautiful space on La Brea (of course), coinciding with their 25 year anniversary.

Of course, there will be plenty of bread and pastries to satisfy you, being La Brea Bakery, and all, but the cafe serves more than that.
Don't miss the pastries, though, from the French toast rosette (which I highly recommend), almond croissant, to flower shaped macarons.

The cafe is poised to be a great place to grab lunch. serving salads, sandwiches, and pizzas.
I couldn't get enough of the Ham and Cheese Panini with rosemary ham, gruyere, balsamic onions, dijon aioli, sage, country white sourdough ($10.50)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tom's Urban Opens at L.A. Live

by: guest blogger @iam_robot

The newest lineup on the bright lights of LA Live is quite distinct from any of its neighbors. Far from the glitz of Fleming’s or Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill, Tom’s Urban seeks to whip up multi-ethnic and contemporary cuisines utilizing the freshest ingredients. With its expansive space and state of the art décor, Tom’s Urban is definitely a cozy hangout spot offering a fully stocked bar of liquor, beer and wine, gourmet bar food and comfort food.
Opening its door from 6:30 am – 2:00 am (no, that's not a type, they open at 6:30 in the morning), founder Tom Ryan is pushing the concept of small plates where guests can eat and drink before or after a game at the Staples Center. Now if you’re not familiar with Tom Ryan, his resume is quite impressive. He’s the brain behind the Smashburger, Mcdonald’s Value Menu, Mcgriddle and many other innovative fast food favorites. Though many of the dishes at Tom’s Urban can’t be categorized as fast food, Tom makes a promise that all the food ordered will be served within 6 to 8 minutes span.
Tom Ryan &
Overall, the menu is customized to cater many different personalities. For those who prefer to eat light, they have small plates along with fancy omelets and benedicts. And those who prefer heartier meals could opt for Macaroni and cheese, pizza, soft tacos, salads, burgers and many other diner favorites. Craft beers and fun cocktails are served all day.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Giveaway! Tickets to PPLA Food Fare on March 6

The annual Food Fare raises fund for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. 97% of PPLA's services include screenings for cancer, STDs, and the like. I personally support it and am therefore happy to tell you that this year's PPLA Food Fare is coming up on Thursday, March 6!
This year's events will take place at The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica and as usual there will be a day session (starting at 10:30 am) which costs $150 and an evening session (starting at 6:30 pm) which costs $250. Of course, all the proceeds benefit PPLA. You can purchase the tickets here and might want to hurry, looks like tickets are running low!

This year's notable participating restaurants include Chi Spacca, Star King Korean BBQ, Mexikosher, Lucques, Superba, Salt's Cure, Hamasaku, and many more. On the liquid side, there will be Kreation Juicery, Caffe Luxxe, Golden Road Brewery, and many wineries. There will be vendors so you can go shopping, along with fun silent auction items.

Let me get to the best part: PPLA is generously giving away a pair of tickets to the Food Fare!

The tickets will be for the evening session ($500 value) although if you prefer to attend the day session, you just have to say the word.

You can enter using the form below by midnight on Thursday, Feb 27th.
Just a note: some people click that they've tweeted but actually did not. I will randomly check entries and if you actually did not perform the action, I will remove that entry.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Giveaway! World of Wine Passports to 35 Temecula Wineries

World of Wine is Temecula Valley's annual barrel tasting event, where attendees can go to the cellars of 35 different wineries to get barrel samples, along with partaking in food and wine pairings that each winery has set up. It's a self guided tour: each winery will stamp your passport as you go through them, and you can hit as many of the 35 as you want (or can)! This year, WoW is taking place on Saturday-Sunday, March 1-2, 2014.
You can get a 2-day ticket for $99, allowing you more time to visit the wineries (some will have live music so you may want to linger and enjoy), or a Sunday-only ticket for $79. You can purchase the tickets here (and might want to consider their shuttle service as well)

The food and wine pairings look pretty enticing, check out some of them:
    •    Baily Vineyard is serving 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon with Beef Bourguignon; plus Parisian Apple Cake with warm caramel sauce and late harvest Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon whipped cream.
    •    Bel Vino is serving 2005 Prima Port - a limited-production Zinfandel dessert wine - paired with chocolate mousse tart topped with raspberries
    •    Callaway is serving 2012 Winemaker's Reserve Roussanne (pre-release) with Sage Mountain Farms organic beef meatloaf topped with bacon & apple chutney; plus rock shrimp and leek-mousse stuffed mushrooms.
    •    Danza Del Sol is serving 2011 Tempranillo with roasted chicken, topped with a seared lemon glaze over sun-dried tomato orzo.
    •    Falkner Winery is serving 2009 Meritage with a surf & turf burger slider (Black Angus beef, sauteed lobster, Boursin cheese) and a grilled octopus greek salad
    •    Miramonte is serving 2012 Bin 380 signature red blend with Moroccan-spiced braised chicken over saffron rice pilaf 

I did say this was a giveaway post ...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

5 Best Cocktail Bars in Las Vegas

1. Vesper Bar
Cosmopolitan, 3708 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 698-7000

IMG_1742 Vesper is probably my favorite bar in Las Vegas. The swanky bar inside Cosmopolitan Hotel draws cocktail enthusiasts all over with expertly concocted cocktails that change seasonally.

The menu offers two sides of a coin: classic cocktails on one and their own interpretations of those same cocktails on the other, where unusual ingredients like chai and kaffir lime make their way. Even though their menus rotate, many customers still request their favorites from the previous menus.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fred 62: Beyond a 24 Hour Diner

The list you always need to remember is the list of late night eateries. Better yet, 24 hour ones! If you're in Los Feliz and looking for a late night diner, look no further than Fred 62, which is open 24 hours and serves much better and much more interesting food than your typical diners.

You can even get something healthier and lighter like this Asian inspired noodle soup dubbed "Noo Deli" ($9): vermicelli noodles, "Thai town vegetables", spicy lemongrass broth, sriracha, peanuts, hoisin sauce, cilantro, green onion

Although I'm usually skeptical about ordering something like this at a diner, the manager told us this is what he eats all the time, so we tried it. Indeed, it was a very comforting, if a little spicy, bowl of noodle soup with fresh vegetables and tons of great flavors.

Not all of Fred 62's menu is available 24 hours but lucky for you, the Noo Deli is. Fred 62's version of Farm to Table is a play of TV dinners, with menu items called The Partridge Family, The Lisa Simpson, etc. The TV dinners are available from 5-10pm daily.

I got the Lisa Simpson ($13), which is naturally vegetarian: tajine tofu scramble, Moroccan tomato sauce, chickpea fritters, green olive tapenade, couscous
This is another healthy alternative and we couldn't get enough of the chickpea fritters!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Grainivore: A Tiny Singaporean Join in Koreatown

The name Grainivore certainly doesn't sound like a Singaporean restaurant and who knows why they decided to open up in Koreatown, but there it was. Grainivore is a tiny joint (there is extra seating in a back room, which is connected by an alleyway) serving up combo Singaporean meals on paper plates.

You first choose between steamed rice, chicken rice, or coconut rice. Then, there are four protein choices: Hainan chicken, barbecue pork, shrimp paste chicken, and beef rendang. All the combos are $6.99 except beef rendang costs $2 extra.

The place closes at 8pm and when I came around 7pm they were out of the pork and Hainan chicken, so I ordered the beef rendang on coconut rice. All the combos come with a salad with peanut dressing.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Beer Dinner at Kings Row Gastropub With Smog City Brewing Co

King Row Gastropub in Old Town Pasadena has launched a monthly beer dinner series, starting with local Smog City Brewing Co earlier this month. The five course dinner, paired with five beers, was quite a deal at $30 per person! The dinners are limited to 30 people and will take place in a communal setting. We had the owners of Smog City coming out to talk to us about the beers as well.

The theme for the Smog City dinner is Smoke and Beers, in which all the dishes have something smoked in them.

There was an amuse bouche of taro chip topped with salsa crudo of melon, mint, cantalope, and beans - all of which were smoked.

The first course was a Smoked Gouda with Porter honey, fresh beer bread, cornichons.

I really liked the beer bread but thought they too thick in proportion to the cheese. I loved the porter honey, though. This course was paired with Lil Bo Pils.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Three Jerks Filet Mignon Jerky and Launch Party

by: @gourmetpigs and guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda @bstunoda

Three Jerks Jerky, made with 100% filet mignon, was some of the best beef jerky I've had. "Jerky" brings to mind the tough, chewy stuff you get at the grocery store, but Three Jerks' is very tender. At the moment they come in three flavors: Original, which is a tad sweet, Memphis BBQ which is surprisingly spicy, and Chipotle Adobo (I originally expected this to be the spicy one, but don't be fooled by the BBQ).

Photo courtesy of Three Jerks Jerky
Three Jerks Jerky held a launch party and I sent guest blogger Bryan to cover it for the blog. Here's his post:

Three Jerks recently held their launch party at SHOREBar in Santa Monica and I had the great opportunity to experience the event. SHOREBar is located on Channel Road just east of Pacific Coast Hwy in Santa Monica. It has a cool atmosphere, is dimly lit, and has a modern design. A DJ kept the music lively that evening.
Three Jerks, which is located in Venice, was started by three friends: Daniel Fogelson and Jordan Barrocas (the third is no longer with the company). After meeting them, I can attest that they are definitely not jerks. In finding the best possible taste experience, they finally decided to use filet mignon due to it having the least amount of fat. In addition, Three Jerks uses no nitrates or preservatives, making their jerky a much healthier alternative (be sure to refrigerate after opening, though).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chianina Steakhouse: A Rare Breed in Long Beach

Before, if you had asked me where to eat in Long Beach, I would have no answer. But now, Chianina Steakhouse has moved in and will soon be bringing the rare cattle breed to their menu. Chianina is an Italian breed that is the largest and one of the oldest breed of cattle in the world.


Lobster Broth
Since they are raising and breeding the cattle, the Chianina steak won't be available at the restaurant until March or April, but lucky for me they had butchered one for a preview dinner so we could try it!

More on that later, as there are plenty of other things to eat here. Our dinner started with a cup of buttery lobster broth.

Next is a Beet and winter root vegetable salad with mâché, almonds, raisin ($14)
I'm used to having my beets sweet and with creamy cheese like burrata or goat cheese instead of the slightly tart dressing here, but everything was fresh.

I loved the Dungeness crab with jicama, avocado, micro cilntro, Meyer lemon, Fresno chili
The dungeness crab is hidden inside the rolled avocado. Sweet crab, creamy avocado, and a light heat from the chili.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

PizzaRev Brings DIY Pizzas to Van Nuys

By: guest blogger @iam_robot

If you spend much time in the busy intersection of Van Nuys/ Burbank Blvd, you have probably run out of lunch options. For me, once a week trip to Chipotle or Jersey Sub is probably more than enough & after a while, everything on the menu tastes the same.
Tucked in a busy strip mall with mom and pop businesses & other fast food joints, PizzaRev officially opened their Van Nuys location last Friday.

With its hip & modern décor, PizzaRev is offering artisanal pizza where you get to pick your own ingredients for an all-inclusive $7.99 (there are some premium ingredients that come with an extra charge)!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Two Upcoming Food Events Not to Miss!

It's been a while since I've announced upcoming events. Apologies, I'm trying to keep up! 
But, there are two coming up in February and March that you should definitely keep in mind. 

The first is on Sunday, February 23 (4-8pm): Cochon 555
This is the sixth year for Cochon 555 and this year there will be 7 chefs from Los Angeles and Las Vegas competing, each using a different breed of pig from a different ranch. The full lineup and info is available here, and it includes Ray Garcia from Fig, Lindy & Grundy, Jet Tila from The Charleson, Christian Page from Short Order and more.
Besides the pork, there will be a bourbon punch competition, a bourbon bar, dessert from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, a cheese bar from Rogue Creamery and La Brea Bakery, and more booze.

Tickets are $125 for general admission or $200 for VIP early admission (plus fees) and can be purchased here.

Where: Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
When: Sunday Feb 23rd, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
The second is LA Weekly's sixth annual food event, now dubbed The Essentials, on Sunday March 9th

The event coincides with the publication of their 99 Essential Restaurants special issue and you'll be able to find some of their restaurants during the event!

New participating restaurants this year include Sqirl, Chi Spacca, HomeState, Bucato, Horse Thief BBQ, Star King BBQ, Bestia, while there are old favorites like Starry Kitchen, Animal, and Jitlada. Get the full lineup here.

Coffee and booze sponsors include Handsome Coffee Roaster, Clover Juice, Pinnacle Vodka, and more.

Ticket for The Essentials is one of the cheaper ones for food festivals in Los Angeles, going at $45 for general admission (1pm admission) and $65 for VIP admission (12pm admission - sold out now, sorry!). Tickets can be purchased here.

Where: LA Mart in Downtown LA, 2nd Floor
1933 Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90007
When: Sunday March 9th, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wine and Cheese Pairing at Miramonte Winery in Temecula Valley

Miramonte was one of the beautiful wineries I visited in Temecula, with an outdoor seating area overlooking the valley and vineyards.

Miramonte opened in 2001, but they hired a new winemaker in 2008. The new winemaker is a UC Davis alum who used to work at Argyle in Oregon (great sparkling wines). His experience has brought gentler nuance to the wines. Miramonte has 9 acres which are all planted with Rhone varietals (Temecula Valley is said to be very similar to Rhone) and they have started planting some varietals from Argentina and Portugal.
We had a nice little pairing outside, with the fine breeze and beautiful view. The pairing showcases some items from their food boards, from cheese to tapenades.

The 2012 Grenache rose was paired with Spanish manchego and strawberries. The cheese made the wine less astringent.

Their 2012 Rousanne was paired with Apricot Stilton, poached peach, habanero infused olive oil. The wine had notes of apple and under-ripe pineapple. I didn't like the Rousanne at first because it was buttery, but it became much better with the pairing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Recipes + Chatting with Food Stylist Susan Spungen

Did you see all the cute food characters in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2?? Like the slider spiders and hippopotatomus? Well, if you want to recreate those to impress people (or kids), here are some recipes from food stylist Susan Spungen:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

New Head Bartender Ben Scott, American Single Malts at Messhall Kitchen

Ben Scott used to bartend part time before going corporate, but he soon hated the corporate life and returned behind the bar. He's been working at Messhall Kitchen since they opened. Now that Erik Lund has moved on to Republique, Ben heads the bar program at Messhall Kitchen.

Ben Scott
Ben has a thing for American single malts and he's built quite the collection at Messhall. Japanese whiskies are huge right now but they're hard to get, so he thinks American single malts will be the next big thing. Having tasted a lot of them, Ben says that California single malts tend be chocolatey, and I found this was certainly the case with Ouroboros from Lost Spirits.
Compared to the Montana or Texas whiskies, St. George's (also from California) was the mildest. He's also got his hands of some Exclusive Malts bottle. A 30 year old scotch? Don't mind if I do.
Other than the single malts, don't miss the cocktails as Ben has made some interesting additions! The Paris, Texas is a riff on a Champs Elysees made with Balcones Rumble, chartreuse, lemon ($12)
What is Balcones Rumble?
It's a liquor made with honey, turbinado sugar, and dates. Balcones wanted to make a peaty whisky but peat was too expensive to make an affordable bottle. Well, what is there plenty of in Texas? Texas shrub!
Not only did that give it the smokiness they wanted, now they have something that is exclusively Texan.

For a surprise, try Vinny the Chin. The recipe of 2 oz Cynar, 1 oz rye, and a half spoon Amaro Nonino sounds like it would be a bitter drink, but Ben had learnt a trick. He stirs a lemon peel in the drink and the oil from the lemon brings it out from a tight drink to one that is sweet, while still tasting of celery, without using any sweetener.

I got a little taste of the Rich Man's Old Fashioned (125th anniversary Four Roses bourbon, sugar, bitters - $30).

If you need a little something to soak up the alcohol, you can't go wrong with the Pig & Pickles (crispy pork belly and house pickles, remoulade, $8) which is certainly one of the best fried pickles I've tried (granted I haven't tried that many).

Don't miss their barrel aged cocktails, as well. I recommend Death Benefits ($15), made with Kilchoman scotch, gin, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, bitters, and lemon (aged over "many moons")

I ended on a creamy note with the Tiger Milk (aged cachaca, ginger, coconut cream, whole egg, kaffir lime, $12)
Tastes like a vacation
You can come to Messhall Kitchen for many reasons, like $15 burger and bourbon (or beer) on Mondays or $1 oysters on Tuesdays or all night happy hour on Throwback Thursdays, but next time, also stay to try the great cocktails and the impressive collection of single malts!

4500 Los Feliz Blvd
 Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 660-6377

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