Monday, December 10, 2018

Los Angeles Coffee Festival Recap

Last month I recently attended the first Los Angeles Coffee Festival in downtown LA. The festival combines coffee, tea, cocktails, coffee wares, and art. There were coffee and cappuccino samples from various companies like Bluestone Lane Coffee, Verve, Klatch, Intelligentsia, Counter Culture, and more.
LA Coffee Festival
In addition to coffee, I tried a couple of chai brands and tea. There was also a session for making espresso martinis with Grey Goose vodka and Mr. Black coffee liqueur.
LA Coffee Festival

Saturday, November 24, 2018

An LAX Layover at Hyatt Regency LAX and Unity LA

On my last trip to Maui I had about a 4-hour layover at LAX, and I figured it would be the perfect chance to check out the Hyatt Regency LAX and their restaurant, Unity LA. Hyatt Regency LAX runs a complimentary shuttle to/from the airport and hotel (it's also the shuttle that services QuikPark, which is right next door).

There are separate parts to Unity LA. The main restaurant is only open for dinner (and breakfast buffet), but the bar area is open all day and serves a full food menu, although different than the main restaurant menu. The Unity LA menu showcases the different cultures and neighborhoods of Los Angeles. One of the main cultures, of course, is Mexican.

We started with some tortilla soup, because it's been a while since I've had one.
Unity LA
Their quesadilla ($14) comes with a salsa that the manager said was made with a secret family recipe handed down by one of the cook's abuelita, so of course I had to try it! We loved this smoky chile de arbol and tomatillo salsa.
Unity LA

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Miracle Bar Pop-Up: Holiday Cheer Around the Country

When I first heard about the Miracle Bar pop-up a few years ago, created by Greg Boehm from New York's Mace, I wished I had been in NYC to experience it. The year after it also popped up in LA but I missed it again. Luckily, Miracle became so successful the pop-up keeps returning each holiday season and has expanded around the country.

Last year, they had the first Miracle Bar pop-up in the Boston area, and I gathered fellow cocktail lovers to try out the holiday drinks at the Kimpton Marlowe in Cambridge. The holiday themed bar is coming back on November 23rd to even more locations around the country this year, so I thought I'd do a recap of my experience last year.

Here are some of the drinks we had last year and an idea of what's to come this year:
Yippie Ki Yay Mother F**r (Barbados rum, cachaca, Trinidad overproof rum, purple yam coconut orgeat, pineapple)
Miracle Bar
This one's for the tiki lovers, and you have to get it just for the Santa mug, of course.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Bokksu: a Japanese Omiyage Subscription Box for the Food Lovers

We all know that when it comes to snacks, both in packaging and flavors, Japan has got it down. Well, now we can all try all these famous Japanese snacks with a new subscription box, Bokksu!

Bokksu is a subscription box of Japanese omiyage (snacks). Each month's box is themed and filled with a nice selection of goodies and they also have an online market so you can buy more of the ones you like. I tried one month's box for free back in July, which was citrus-themed.
Bokksu
The citrus box has a couple of orange pound cakes, yuzu green tea from Satsumarche, lemon-flavored Tokyo Rusk biscuits, jelly, a Meiji chocolate orange biscuits, handmade yuzu candy, and more. Here's the full list.
Bokksu
The subscription box pricing ranges from $33-39 per month depending on how much you pay in advance (paying for 12 boxes all at once gives you the cheapest price). Each box contains 20-25 snacks.
There's also a cheaper box with 10-14 snacks for $22-25 per box.

You can check out what's inside the December's "Snow Festival" box here, I'm quite excited about it!

I love Japanese snacks and I think this subscription box would make a nice gift for all the food and snack lovers in your life! (Or me, you can always gift it to me).

Friday, November 2, 2018

Rebel's Guild in Revere Hotel (Boston, MA)

Earlier this spring, Rebel's Guild opened in the Revere Hotel with an American revolution theme to the decor. There's the cannon in the center of the dining room and Paul Revere and history-themed murals.
Rebels Guild

If you only get one drink here, make sure to get the Maple Old Fashioned (Whistlepig 10 year rye, Whistlepig maple syrup, orange bitters - $21)
Rebels Guild
It's a bit pricy but it's easily the best drink on the menu. We tried other drinks, as well, which tended to be lighter and fruitier like the Midnight Ride (Ghost tequila, lemonade, blueberry syrup, $14)
Rebels Guild

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Urban Hearth: A Charming Gem Near Davis Square (North Cambridge, MA)

Urban Hearth is a small and charming supper club in North Cambridge, a short walk from Davis Square station. They're open for dinner and also for weekend brunch.
Urban Hearth
I tried Urban Hearth recently and got a cozy corner table by the window. Urban Hearth offers a seasonal prix fixe menu for supper, with a three-course option for $70 or five courses for $85. We picked the three course option but ended up with a lot more food thanks to the extra appetizer, palate cleansers, etc.
Urban Hearth
Even though the above pricing doesn't include wine pairing, they started us off with a cocktail made with blackberry syrup, pineapple and chamomile infused vodka, and lime.
Urban Hearth
The appetizer before the first course: bread with za'atar and red pepper feta
Urban Hearth
For the first course my friend got the Lamb dumplings, flowering mustard, pickled cherries, leek soubise, spring onion
Urban Hearth
I admit, I had food envy, the lamb dumplings were great, especially paired with the cherries!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Forbes Under 30 Food Festival Returns to Boston on Oct 2

The Forbes 30 Under 30 Festival will be held again in Boston this year on September 30-Oct 3. It's a forum for young leaders and entrepeneurs and cover many different fields. I've had the opportunity to attend their U30 Food Festival the past couple of years, where they showcase some of the Under 30 awardees from around the world.

This year, the Under 30 Food Festival will be on October 2, and ticket holders to the Summit can attend. You can check out this year's 30 Under 30 food and drink list here, which include Mei Mei's Irene Li, Peter Yang who cofounded Pokeworks, and Aaron Caddel from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.

Last year's food event was held at the JFK Library, and here were some of my favorite bites:
Foie gras torchon on crispy Yemeni flatbread and rose tahini from Shaya Restaurant in New Orleans. This ended up winning the Judges' Choice winner for best dish of the night.
Forbes Under 30

Monday, September 17, 2018

Luna Grill Brings Fresh Med to Santa Monica

by Bryan Tsunoda @discovering_LA

While Mediterranean food is extremely popular in LA, it isn’t well entrenched in Santa Monica. Leveraging their successful expansion in the LA area, Luna Grill recently opened up their fresh Mediterranean concept on Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica and I attended their recent grand opening event.

Luna Grill differentiates themselves from many other Mediterranean restaurants by sourcing their produce locally and obtaining meat that is preservative free with no added growth hormones. One of their principles is to serve food that avoids additives and preservatives and that is real, pure food. You can feel good about eating Mediterranean cuisine. According to the Mayo Clinic, a traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease, a reduced incidence of cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases and has shown reduced incidents of cancer. Their research has also shown that the diet results in a lower level of LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Now on to the food.
Hummus is available in regular or in a spicy version and I selected the latter.  
The spicy hummus is house made with a blend of chickpeas, tahini, cilantro, lemon and cayenne pepper and served with a generous amount of fresh pita slices. The addition of cilantro and cayenne pepper nicely elevates traditional hummus.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Save the Date for Taste of WGBH (Oct 11-14, 2018)

It's almost that time of year again, time for The Taste of WGBH Food & Wine Festival. The proceeds from the festival go to support the public radio program. There are multiple events over the course of the four days - last year I wrote about the Food Fight event.

One of the best events to attend is the Chefs' Gala, which will take place on Thursday, October 11 inside the WGBH studios. The gala event showcases 21 of the top chefs around the city along with beer, wine, and cocktails.
Taste of WGBH
Here are some of my favorite bites from last year's event:
Savory egg flan with sherry, maple, and ham from Puritan & Co. This was so good we got seconds.
Taste of WGBH

Monday, August 27, 2018

Osteria Nino: A Taste of Rome in Burlington, MA

I don't know much about the restaurants in Burlington (although I know you should definitely go to Sichuan Garden / Baldwin Bar in nearby Woburn) but now I can recommend at least one place to eat. Osteria Nino near the Wegman's in Burlington is a solid osteria serving popular items from Rome and beyond.

The breading on the fried calamari is nice and light, they're served with a tangy fra diavolo sauce.
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Since it's a Roman osteria, the signature dish is the cacio e pepe - a simple and traditional dish of spaghetti, cracked black pepper, and pecorino romano.
Osteria Nino

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Paninis at Pirolo's Panino (Fairfax, Los Angeles)

by @discovering_LA

August is National Panini Month. Because I like to take time to find a unique way to celebrate food holidays, I recently visited Pirolo’s Panino. They are located on Melrose Ave in the Fairfax region of LA. Pirolo’s Panino has only been open for 3 months. Michael Pirolo is behind the line of Italian panini sandwiches. Pirolo was born in Queens, but was raised in Italy. He is a Torino culinary school grad and has worked in New York, Philadelphia and most recently at Macchialina in Miami’s South Beach.

Restaurant Hospitality recently named Pirolo’s Italian Dip the “Best Beef Sandwich” in America. After eating it, I can see why.

The toasted ciabatta is from artisan baker Clark Street Bread. The beef is tender, not fatty, and sliced super thin. The salsa verde and caramelized onions nicely compliment the beef. An au jus dipping sauce is included. This sandwich alone is worth a return trip.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Guinness Storehouse Tour and Lunch at 1837 Bar & Brasseries (Dublin, Ireland)

A visit to the Guinness Storehouse is one of the most popular things to do in Dublin, whether or not you're Guinness lovers. Growing up in Indonesia, I only remember two imported beers that were sold nationwide: Heineken and Guinness.
The Guinness Storehouse at St. James Gate is originally the fermentation plant of the brewery, built in 1902. It was closed in 1988 and they decided to reopen it as a visitor center. It opened in 2000.

First, though, I had lunch at 1837 Bar & Brasserie, one of the dining options in side the Guinness Storehouse.
DSC04419
I had local oysters with Guinness. If you think this is an unusual pairing, it isn't in Ireland! Oysters and stout was a popular pairing in the 19th century, the maltiness and creaminess of the stout complements the brininess. In fact, the restaurant's name 1837 is taken from the year that the pairing first made headlines.
Guinness Storehouse

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Winery Tour and Tasting at Clos du Val (Napa Valley, CA)

Napa Valley is famous for their Cabernet Sauvignon wines, and in large part that is due to the grapes grown in the Stags Leap District. This area gets the heat that comes down from Calistoga and he breeze from San Pablo Bay, creating a micro climate that is apparently perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Clos du Val is one of the early wineries to open in Stags Leap District. Stags Leap District is the first (and smallest) appellation in Napa Valley and it is best known for the Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, there are now 107 appellations (known as American Viticultural Area, or AVA).
Clos du Val
Initially after opening the winery, Clos du Val was making 90,000 cases of wines that are easy on the wallet, but about 40 years ago, the winery decided to return to their roots and make the best Cabernet Sauvignon they can make. They cut down production to 30,000 cases to focus on making high quality estate wines.

For our tour and tasting, we started in the old tasting room with a taste of the 2017 Estate Pinot Noir Rosé from Carneros.

Clos du Val rose
Photo: @foodiesnapstagram

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Heritage Distilling's Brown Sugar Bourbon (Review + Cocktail Recipes!)

Bourbon is always a good intro to whiskey drinking, thanks to its sweeter flavor profile. I recently tasted Brown Sugar Bourbon from Heritage Distilling, a distillery in Gig-Harbor, Washington.

The Brown Sugar Bourbon, or BSB, is an award-winning spirit in the Flavored Whiskey category, having received the gold medal from American Distilling Institute and World Whiskies Awards.
The whiskey is a corn, rye, and malted barley mash aged for less than 2 years in new American oak barrels. After aging, natural brown sugar and cinnamon flavors are added.

It's rich and sweet on the palate, naturally with plenty of cinnamon flavors. I imagine drinking this neat by the fireplace in the winter. Or on the rocks by a campfire, either way. This flavored whiskey had enough going for itself that you really don't need to mix this with anything, but just enjoy it on the rocks. It's easy enough drinking on its own!

I got this around July 4, though, and I had a BBQ with friends in my "backyard" (it's basically a parking lot but whatever). I decided to make a cocktail for my friends using a grilled ingredient!
Untitled

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Rhode Tripping: A Food and Drink-filled Day in Providence, RI

At the end of last year, I took a day press trip down to Providence, Rhode Island to explore some of the eating and drinking scene down there.

Our first stop was The Guild, which is actually in Pawtucket, RI. The Guild is a partner brewery comprised of a few New England member breweries that brew their beers there. The members include a big one that we were there to visit: Narragansett.

Gansett, as it's lovingly known, has a long history. It was founded in 1890 and Jacob Wirth was one of the six founders. It was once the best selling beer in New England but after changing hands the brewery was closed in 1981. In 2005 the brand was brought back by a team in Rhode Island who also hired former Gansett brewer Bill Anderson to recreate the original recipes.

We tried the Bancroft ale, Three Red Fez, It's About Time IPA, and the Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout.
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The Bancroft had notes of pines. The Fez was a lager with noble German hops and had floral notes and a little touch of caramel. The IPA is a traditional style IPA with new school hops and it is malt forward.

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The Guild

The most interesting thing we tried that day for me was the Lovecraft Whiskey. The whiskey is the result of distilling the I Am Providence Imperial Red Ale and it was distilled by the Sons of Liberty distillery in South Kingstown, RI.
DSC09884

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Foie Gras Burger and Craft Cocktails at Best Burger Bar in Brookline (Boston, MA)

There's a burger and bar joint in Brookline that went under my radar because of the rather generic name, Best Burger Bar. However, I was invited to try the place not too long ago and was quite pleasantly surprised! The restaurant opened last summer in 2017.

Best Burger Bar specializes in dry aged burgers, which gives it that extra umami flavor, and they only use certified Angus beef. They also have an outdoor dining area / porch that's open throughout the summer. Get some burgers paired with a Margarita Fishbowl for two ($29.50). The fish bowl has tequila, lime, blue curacao, orange curacao, and sesame syrup.
Best Burger Bar
Their burgers start with a classic for $5.99 and go up from there depending on the ingredients. For the quality of meat they use, this is a good bang for your buck in Boston.

For the ultimate decadent burger, get the Bully Boy Royale ($13.99). It has a black truffle foie gras mousse, Bully Boy whiskey bacon cranberry jam
Best Burger Bar

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Michael Schlow's New L'Ancora Pop-Up at Eataly Boston

Chef Michael Schlow just started a new pop-up restaurant inside Eataly Boston. The latest pop-up is called L'Ancora and will feature cuisines from Italy's coastal cities. I recently attended a media preview tasting for the new pop-up. We started our lunch with some arancini.
L'Ancora

Bruschetta con 'Nduja (La Quercia, 'nduja, provolone, parsley). 'nduja came from the village of Spilinga in Calabria.
L'Ancora
If you've never had 'nduja, it is a spicy pork salumi spread. The combo on the toasted bread helps temper the spiciness and enhanced the flavors.

Insalata di Zucchine (raw farm zucchini, capers, lemon, arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano)
L'Ancora
This was a simple, yet extremely fresh salad. Isn't that what Italian food is all about?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Holbox: LA's Best Yucatan-style Mexican Seafood

Holbox is not that new anymore in LA, but just in case some of you are still not familiar with it, I'm letting you know that it's the place to get the best Yucatan-style seafood in LA. Holbox is a stall inside Mercado La Paloma in Downtown LA (which also houses Chichen Itza). Despite the casual environment, Holbox puts out the highest quality seafood at reasonable prices.

Among the many great things to try there is the pulpo (octopus) taco. The Spanish octopus is braised then fried and served on a handmade corn tortilla and squid ink sofrito ($12)
Holbox LA
The texture of the octopus is perfect and the flavors are spot on. Definitely order this.

Kumiai oysters from Guerrero Negro Lago in Baja California.
Holbox LA

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Discovering the History and Intricacies of Madeira Wines

Now that it's just after U.S. Independence Day, I thought it's the perfect time to talk about madeira wines! Did you know Madeira was the wines used to toast the Declaration of Independence? Madeira was very popular with the founding fathers and others during that time. New York received half of the total exports of Madeira out of Portugal during 1785-1787. George Washington himself ordered 15 barrels of Madeira from 1759-1783.

Madeira wine comes from the island of Madeira in Portugal. The island sits on top of a shield volcano. Back in the old days, winemakers would add neutral spirits to their wines so they not spoil during the long sailing time to the New World. Some of the unsold wines are returned, and they found that the heat and movement had changed the flavors of the wines. They recreated this effect using the Canteira system, the traditional system of making Madeira wines. Instead of keeping the wines cool in a cellar, to make Madeira the wines are slowly heated.
Madeira

Monday, July 2, 2018

Luau on Spectacle Island (Boston Harbor Islands)

Boston Harbor Cruises and Boston Harbor Now have added some fun events to their summer lineup. They've partnered with Barbara Lynch Gruppo for the food portion, making a trip to the harbor and islands even better this summer. There's now a sunset cocktail cruise, a brunch cruise, clambake on Spectacle Island, and also a luau on Spectacle Island. I recently got invited to experience one of the events and I went with the luau.
Luau on Spectacle
The ferry to the luau boards at 5:30pm each Sunday in the summer from Boston's Long Wharf.
DSC05545

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Ocean's Table Delivers Fresh Seafood Direct from the Fishermen to Your Door

If you're the type to enjoy cooking your own recipes and want to get sustainable, local products but don't have the time to go shop, try Ocean's Table. This service brings fresh seafood directly from the fishermen shipped to your door. They work with fishermen and vessel captains from Gloucester in Massachusetts. Their facility is located right on Gloucester Harbor, where they will meet the captains to get the seafood, fillet and prepare the seafood and ship them.

I recently got a box to review, and it was filled with scallops, red fish, halibut, and more. There are different packages you can choose from on their website.
Oceans Table
Each package was labeled with the port they're harvested at, the vessel name and the name of the captain.
Oceans Table

Sunday, June 24, 2018

75 on Courthouse Square Brings Upscale American Fare to Boston Seaport

Seaport has gotten a lot of new restaurants lately, including 75 On Courthouse Square by Thomas Kershaw, the restaurateur behind Cheers!

There are a few restaurants in the 75 franchise. The latest Seaport is quite spacious, with plenty of space for private events. There's a good wine menu and a solid drink list. The restaurant sits in the same building as King's and the ShowPlace ICON movie theatre and overlooks the Courthouse Square (it was unfortunately raining when I was there).
75 on Courthouse
I started with crab cake, served with marinated cucumbers. It was filled with quite a bit of crab and little filling, just the way I liked it.
75 on Courthouse
If you want a New England seafood dish, get the Nantucket Seafood Stew with scallops, shrimp, and fish.
75 on Courthouse

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Comfort Food and Classic Drinks at Seaport's OG Lucky's Lounge (Boston, MA)

Before Fort Point was the hot spot that it is now, there was Lucky's Lounge. I have to admit since it wasn't hot and new, it wasn't really on my list to check out after moving to Boston - but I'm glad I finally did.
Known for its live music and Sinatra brunches for many years, Lucky's Lounge also has a great beer list and serves surprisingly good comfort food and variations on classic cocktails.

I was pleasantly surprised at the cocktails I had here. There were seasonal Pimms cup, classic cocktails and in general a more interesting menu than what I expected. The drink was smooth and well balanced - I can recommend this place for cocktails in the Fort Point area!
Lucky's Lounge
The food here is comfort food with a twist, like this fried buffalo brussels sprouts with blue cheese and bacon. I'd recommend this to share with a few people, it was pretty rich with all the bacon and blue cheese!
Lucky's Lounge

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Preview: Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week, June 1-17, 2018

by @discovering_LA

The annual Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is currently taking place through June 17 with over 100 participating restaurants throughout Coachella Valley offering prix-fixe lunches from $15-25 and dinners from $29-49.

Executive Chef Jason Moffitt of Chi Chi at the Avalon Hotel Palm Springs recently collaborated with Executive Chef Michael Reed of Viviane at the Avalon Beverly Hills for a pre-event tasting that I was fortunate to attend. We were seated outside near the hotel’s famous hourglass pool. It was rather chilly and we benefited from the non-obtrusive heaters. This hotel is historically preserved from Beverly Hills in the 1990’s and was renovated to make this property retro-chic to restore the glamour of Beverly Hills. I thought the exterior pastel colors really set the tone for the evening.

We began with Spanish Octopus.

The octopus was perfectly grilled with a pleasant wood-smoked flavor. The combination of smoked eggplant labneh, bulgur, pickled fresno chile, mint and zaatar gave it nice flavors with a bit of spiciness. It was served on top of grilled lavash.

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