Category Archives: eat & drink

Where to Find Good Iced Coffee in Los Angeles

Iced Coffee: a Haiku

summer heat swelter
coffee iced sweetened cream splash
total refreshment

I’m just going to come right out and say it…I love iced coffee!

I mean the good stuff.

coffeegeek's iced coffeeNot just hot coffee poured over ice. The mild, cold brewed stuff.  Now that’s my jam.

These days, I find if I’m not drinking a hot latte, then I’m drinking an iced coffee. I’ve even taking to perfecting the home-brew recipe so I can have coffee-on-tap – so to speak – all year long.*

And now that school is out for the summer, I can indulge in the even stronger – yet still mild – cà phê đá or Vietnamese iced coffee. Now that’s some heaven in a glass right there.

The other day, I was reading an Eater post about the best coffee shops in LA. Which of course got me thinking that most of those shops are known for their fancy drinks, their speciality roasting or beans, or even their accouterments and snacks.

But none were even mentioning their cold brew options or their gluten free options. And well, since I’m on summer break, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

So over the next few weeks and months, I’m going to visiting some of my favorite local coffee shops and/or gluten free bakery shops and share my thoughts.  Most will primarily be focused on the Valley (well, it is local, right?) since that’s where I spend most of my time. But in the end, I’ll be sure to share my not-so-local places as well as I travel around.

And if there’s a place you think I should check out, feel free to drop me a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out.

 

* PS: Don’t waste your money trying the International Delight pre-packed iced coffee from the dairy section. That stuff is horrible (I actually returned it for a refund and I’ve never done that before).  Though both Illy and Starbucks bottles are quite good.

Photo: Flickr

 

 

First Ever Gluten Summit!

And of course, that should really read something more like “first ever summit about the gluten free lifestyle.”  But I’m sure you get the point.

gluten-summitHow many times have you eaten something and felt horrible?  In one way or another.  How many times have you felt horrible for days and couldn’t even make a connection to something you might have eaten since you didn’t eat anything different than usual?

Have you been hearing so much talk about everyone going gluten free (might even think it’s a fad – big mistake there!) and started to wonder if maybe your aches, your pains, your migraines, your bloating could be related to gluten after all?

That’s how I got started in my gluten free journey.  I never would have put together all my symptoms – migraines, acne, chronic sinus infections, bloating, IBS-like bouts, gurgling digestion, achy back, aching joints, etc – as to having anything to do with having a gluten sensitivity.  And sadly, neither did my doctors.

Well, thankfully, there are more and more good resources out there for some solid information (I’ll be sharing some of my favorites to come).

This week in particular, Dr. Tom O’Bryan (Facebook) is running the first even online summit for all things gluten, gluten free and yes, gluten sensitivity and Celiacs.  And it’s all completely free.  You’ll definitely want to check it out.

I first heard about Dr Tom from Sean Croxtin’s Real Food Summit (and podcast).  And I have to say, I’ve learned a LOT from hearing him speak.  And the reason I’ve been pushing him so much to my friends lately is that he’s actually easy to listen to and to understand.  He makes it all make sense.

So definitely check out The Gluten Summit.  It’s totally free and all online.  And while you might not be able to catch all the experts (nor would I suggest you even try to do), I know you’ll find something useful.

Check out the video below for more info.

 

This is an affiliate linked post: Disclosure Policy

Free Carl’s Jr Sausage Biscuit Day across Los Angeles!

Hey L.A., Why Not Make Friday the 13th Your Lucky Day?

SausageBiscuit_051412What: Friday the 13th is going to be a lucky day in L.A., for anyone who wants a free breakfast. That’s because Friday, Sept. 13, is Free Sausage Biscuit Day at Carl’s Jr. restaurants across the greater Los Angeles area. From 6 to 10:30 a.m. that day, everyone is invited to visit any participating Carl’s Jr. and get a free Sausage Biscuit.

Here’s how it works: Walk in or drive thru, ask for your free biscuit and get a Sausage Biscuit, free. Boom! That easy.

The Free Sausage Biscuit Day offer is good during breakfast hours only. No purchase is necessary; one per guest, who must be present, while supplies last.

When: 6 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13, 2013.

Where: All participating Carl’s Jr. restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

Sadly, these made from scratch biscuits came out AFTER I discovered that I have a pretty severe sensitivity to gluten, so I’ve never tasted them (but boy howdy do I miss biscuits – especially since I’ve left Georgia).  Far be it from me to hold anyone else back from enjoying a free sausage biscuit though.  Enjoy!

How To Cook Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs Every Time

Not too long ago, I was sitting with a couple of my teacher friends and we were talking about Pinterest.  Those of us that are on it (you can find me here) were explaining how we use it and why or why not others might want to get on board.

Somehow, the conversation turned to talk of making perfect hard boiled eggs.  Now I will admit, for years and I do mean YEARS, I had no idea how to hard boil my eggs. I’d over cook them.  I’d under cook them.  Nothing worked.

Then one day, I was watching Rachel Ray and she shared her secret.  Since then, I’ve never had a bad batch of boiled eggs.  Which means, we’ve also been enjoying egg salad (with lots of dill…yum!).

So here’s what I learned from Rachel.  It’s so simple you’re going to wonder how everyone doesn’t know about this.

  1. Put your eggs in the smallest pot they can all comfortably fit into, cover them with water (no lid) and turn the heat on high (meaning, the flame heats the bottom of the pot, not the bottom and half-way up the sides).
  2. Let the water get to a rolling boil.  It should look something like this *
  3. Turn off the heat and cover the pot (I use a silicone lid, but you can use whatever works).
  4. Leave them for about 15 minutes, covered, without heat (you can even remove them from the stove – I usually don’t).  I’ve actually left them on the stovetop for hours and they were still fine.
  5. Now you can do whatever you want with them: paint them for Easter baskets, peel them to eat or to cut, make deviled eggs, make egg salad, the choice is yours.

In the time it took me to write this, my eggs are now ready for me to turn into egg salad…yum!

* photos to come

Recipe: Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

With all the rich foods of the holidays – ham, cookies, rum cake…oh the rum cake! – we needed to lighten things up tonight.  So I thought I’d try making a black bean soup.

I found this Black Bean and Vegetable Soup recipe on All Recipes (it had great reviews), and tweaked it a bit. I cut down on the veggie broth (reviews said it was way too much), added an extra can of beans (pinto as it was all I had on hand), used roasted diced tomatoes with garlic and I didn’t have chili powder so I used red pepper.  And if it matters, one can of black beans was a Trader Joe’s cuban black beans (already seasoned so I didn’t rinse them much).

Even cutting down the broth it was still a little too runny.  I’m thinking that next time I’d add some rice to thicken it up.  And yes, it was a little too spicy for me, but it was so yummy.  And let’s face it, with enough sour cream, nothing is too spicy!

And no photos as I’m not a food blogger here 😉

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 (8.75 ounce) can whole kernel corn
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • a sprinkling of pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, and carrots, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock, the beans, corn, and pepper; bring to boil.
  2. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30  minutes or until carrots are tender.
  3. Puree with an immersion blender or save one can of beans to blend/puree with the tomatoes
  4. Serve over rice, with sour cream & a sprinkling of jack cheese

Cooks Menu Pop-Up: Breast Cancer Connections Benefit Dinner

Here in LA we’ve got everything from fine dining, to amazing food trucks to pop-up and underground dinners.  If you like a good meal, LA’s got you covered.

Late one night, two cooks were hanging out at a local bar after their hard night working the dinner shift.  They got to thinking that if they could bring together many of the rising young cooks and showcase their talents, that they’d not only give the people a memorable dining experience, but they could also give back to the community.

…and Cooks Menu was born.

According to one of the coordinators and participating chefs, Howard Ko, “it’s about creating a collaborative effort not by head chefs, but by sous chefs, meat cooks, fish cooks, entremets, garde manger, pastry cooks and the front of the house.”

Chefs, mixologists and staff from renowned LA hotspots such as Mélisse Restaurant, Church and State, Il Grano, Joe’s Restaurant, Katsuya and Bottega Louie will be cooking things up in the kitchen to benefit Breast Cancer Connections.  The featured wines will be sponsored by Palimina and Brewer-Clifton Wines.

If you want to be part of this talk of the town event, be sure to act quickly as they only have 60 seats open.  And as would be expected, they’re going quickly.

Here’s everything you need to know about this sure to be fantastic dinner*:

When: Sunday, November 6th – 7:00PM – 11:00PM
Where: Il Grano — 11363 Santa Monica Blvd
Price: $75 per person, all inclusive, 6 course family style meal including featured wine and cocktails
Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/204531
Menu:
http://cooksmenu.org/bccnov6dinnermenu.html

Dinner Brought To You By:

Howard Ko, Fish Cook – Mélisse Restaurant
Brian Maynard, Meat Cook – Mélisse Restaurant
Charlie Skidmore, Sous Chef – Church and State
Sal Marino, Chef/Owner – Il Grano
en Gell, Meat Cook – Joe’s Restaurant
Dawn McElhare, Mixologist – Katsuya
Eulogio Rios and Ethan Stiffelman, Pastry Cooks – Melisse Restaurant

* sadly, I won’t be able to attend as I have a previous engagement that night.

It’s Time For Tea

Tea

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I love tea.

I’ll take a good Irish Breakfast tea any day.  The sweeter, the blacker and the creamier it is, the more I like it. I think half the fun of my trip to Ireland was drinking entire pots of tea throughout the day.  Yes, I love it that much.

Unfortunately it’s really only something I drink at home (unless I’m going “to tea”) and usually only when the weather is cooler…which is any day now here in LA.

A few years ago, when I was involved with Constant Chatter (check out the new magazine that we’ve got going!) I participated in a couple of our tea swaps.  And I loved having the chance to try out some new teas.  Many of which were very new to me (really, I’m pretty traditional with my black or assam teas).

So when one of my online friends (and fellow Tranquilista classmate) Melita over at Gussying Up the Tuttle posted that she was organizing a tea swap, I had to sign up to participate.  And I’m so glad I did.

Not only did I get some fun new teas to try (like a super yummy citrus camomile – dealing with a cold, so I’m avoiding the milk and hence, the black teas), but thanks to Melita’s fun survey she sent each of us, I also got some fun gifties.  My new tea swap friend,  Julie from Savvy Eats sent along some freshly baked pumpkin scones (which the hubs proceeded to eat – these could be them) and some interesting season salts from Garlic Gold Nugget along with my teas (which I haven’t yet tried).

Out of all teas she sent, I think I’m most excited to try the Chocolate Orange Rooibos from and the Green Tea Chai, both from The Whistling Kettle (in NY).  She also included some other interesting greens to check out. While I enjoy green tea, it’s never something I really search out.  So I’m looking forward to trying something new.

Of course, I sent my own package out a little late (oopsie).  I sent along a fun (if not spiritual) read which I don’t recall the name of at this moment and bunches and bunches of tea.  No really…I mean bunches!

A friend ordered me a bag of assam tea from her co-op last year and I didn’t realize quite how LARGE a one pound bag would be.  So I shared the wealth and filled an entire zippied sandwich bag…along with a few other fun selections.  I hope she’ll be happy with what she gets.

And now, all this writing about tea has me craving a cuppa 😉

Free Ticket to OC Fair This Friday

This Friday, August 12th, they’ll be free admission and free parking from noon-1:00 at the OC Fair.  They’re also throwing in free, one-way skyrides (my favorite thing to do at the fair), from noon – 4:00.  AND they’re offering up $2 rides, food and games – again, until 4:00!

If money is tight, this is a great way to still have some fair fun!  And if you plan on making a full day of it, you can also get free lawn seating for the Three Dog Night-America show later that night.

Not a half bad way to spend the day.  And as we all know, the OC fair grounds are a good 10 degrees cooler than things here in the Valley.




Artisinal LA: A Fun Way to Shop

Artisanal LA Spring Show 2011 at Santa Monica Place

This past weekend was the Artisinal LA show in Santa Monica.  I wasn’t lucky enough to attend their previous events (sometimes I feel like I live under a rock).  This year the event was held at the Santa Monica Place.

This was my first time at the recently remodeled Santa Monica Place and I have to say, I was impressed.  I loved the open air, beach breezes quality (completely different feel and vibe than the Century City mall).  And of course, the views were amazing.  Now if we could just do something about that traffic and the parking situation all would be good.

The event itself was awesome.  I went late on Saturday so the place was pretty empty (and crazy hot).  It was easy to move around and taste all the great foods and drinks.  Looking over the photos in the Artisinal LA Flickr pool, I obviously missed out on quite a few vendors.  That might have explained some of the empty booth spaces or I could have just made a wrong turn and missed out on something awesome.  It happens.

Some of my favorite products were (in no particular order):

  • Cookie Good – Wow, these were some amazing handmade cookies.  My favorite was the Peanut Butter Candy Bar cookie (it didn’t make it out of the parking lot before my husband and I devoured it!).  And I must say, I loved chatting with them (and am considering contacting them for an interview on my podcast series…when I get that up and running – LOL).
  • Gotta Have S’more – I’ll admit, I’ve known of Carmen for a while now as we’re both in the Crave LA book.  If you haven’t yet tasted her version of s’mores (and I typically don’t like s’mores at all), you will be in head-over-heels, can’t put it down, love!  They’re that good.
  • Sugar Bird Teas – I love tea.  A lot.  So I was thrilled to be able to sample some new tea blends.  Their Earl Grey with Vanilla sounds divine.  But I was impressed with their English Breakfast, a long time favorite of mine.
  • Brandt Beef – You hear about how much better corn-fed, hormone-free, sustainably farmed meat could be, but I wasn’t ready for just how amazingly good it was.  With how infrequently we eat beef in our home I just might be able to convince my husband that this is the way to go.
  • VeeV Açai Spirit – Vodka is my alcohol of choice, but to be honest, depending on my mood, I’ll pretty much drink any spirit (as long as it’s not beer, I’m good).  This was my first time trying VeeV and it had a very smooth, vodka-like taste to it – so I would basically use it in any sort of cocktail that called for vodka.  The Spa Cooler they were sampling was so very, very good.
  • Global Gardens – These guys had some great olive oils and vinegars on hand.  Their olive oil was nice and fruity, but it was their walnut oil that wowed me.  Made me wish I was a bit more confident in my cooking to play around with quality oils.  Both their fig and their pomegranate vinegars were beyond good.
  • Imaculate Confections’ Liquor Cakes – I mentioned that I’m a fan of liquor, right?  Well, it goes without saying that this gal also loves cake.  So combine the two and I am ALL OVER IT!  No really, I make a mean rum cake!  While I was tempted by all their awesomely, boozy cakes, I figured the hubs needed a treat, so I picked up the Dark Chocolate Stout (Guinness) Cake with Vanilla Tinted Glaze.  Um…I don’t like beer, but I loved this cake. Yes, I could taste the Guinness, but I could also taste the chocolatey goodness.  Plus I served it with sliced strawberries so that helped mellow the stout-ness.

I’ll say that I bought a gift for a friend at one of these booths mentioned above, but since she follows along I don’t want to ruin the surprise.  There were many other yummies to partake of, but these guys were by far my favorites.

The cool thing about all of this…in late May (5/21), many of these artisinal food purveyors will be setting up shop in a more permanent way at the Santa Monica Place’s new Market Place.  And my favorite cooking school, The Gourmandise School will also be setting up shop there.  I can’t wait (bet you can’t guess what’s on my birthday wish list?).

I didn’t think to bring my own camera (and my lemon of an iPhone takes horrible photos and has even more horrible connection capabilities) so I borrowed a few photos to share below.  But I do encourage you to check out the pool of photos on Flickr to see everyone that was there.

The KleanSpa table

I do love my Klean Spa products!!

p.o.p. candy

P.O.P. makes some awesome toffee!

Pork nuts aren't what u think @CastIronGourmet heh @ArtisanalLA

Pork Nuts...not quite what you might be thinking ;-)

Photo Credits via Flickr: greenlagirl, marco1019 & Caroline on Crack