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Food Trends Hit-Or-Miss Pop-Ups

Breakfast Salad and Souffle Pancakes Are A Thing At This OC Pop-Up

Photo: Greg Nagel

I’m not sure what I did in life to deserve this, but I somehow got coerced to order a secret menu item: breakfast salad at brunch. But here I am, camera in one hand, fork in the other, cracking runny yolk with a plastic fork over various arugula, thick smoky-bacon chunks and potato crunchy bits like it’s some sort of health-nut food porn. “Bro, want me to hold your light so you can get that shot?” Nah homie, I don’t photograph salad.

It’s a salad, with an egg, with other breakfast stuff tossed in. It’s really good, but hey man, no salad ever asked to be photographed, unless it was made by the man who brought us the spaghetti grilled cheese.

Photo: Greg Nagel

The solid line of hungry Instagrammers out the door is at least thirty-people deep and is here for something else: the amazing Japanese-style souffle pancakes. “When we talked about doing a brunch pop-up, I knew I wanted pancakes… but not just any old pancakes,” says chef-owner Paul Cao of Burnt Crumbs in Irvine, California. “I went down this rabbit hole of the souffle pancake and tested these for a couple of months, and here they are, perfected,” he continued with a grin.

Photo: Greg Nagel

The souffle pancake is unique for a few reasons. First is the time it takes to prep. Each one has to be crafted from scratch per order, otherwise, they’ll deflate faster than a football in New England. Total time from order to plate? Roughly twenty-five to thirty minutes.

Once the batter is whipped and folded into an egg yolk mixture, it’s then ice-cream scooped on a griddle, then covered until flipped. Each pancake maintains a poofiness up to one inch thick and is stacked two high, then garnished for service. I went with fresh strawberry cream, a couple of dustings of powdered sugar, and some fresh fruit on top. Digging in,  the consistency is sort of like a sponge cake that’s light and fluffy, making the plate super satisfying to jiggle. They’re best hot, so be sure to get a couple orders, one to eat first, then one to shake until your brunch date feels uncomfortable.

Burnt Crumbs Brunch Popup is at their Irvine location only. Follow them: @burntcrumbs

Categories
Alcohol Hit-Or-Miss

The Holidays Aboard the Queen Mary Isn’t Your Usual Holiday Haunt


Photo: Greg Nagel

Picture this: You’re sitting aboard a historic luxury British ocean liner, drink in hand, yet the spirits outside the glass are just as entertaining as the ones in.

It’s just past midnight and we’re sitting in one of the most haunted places in America — deep in the belly of the historic Queen Mary, as the cool dry winter sea air pours through small cracks and port-hole windows nearby. I’m not much of a ghost hunter per se, but if I was, the old mail room where guests of yesteryear would drop off postcards from around the globe is a flurry of paranormal activity. I have a craft cocktail in one hand, and a ghost-hunting multimeter in the other… and it’s lighting up like a carnival ride after asking some questions out loud, “What’s your favorite food…do you like pizza?” The ghosts are so cool.


Photo: Greg Nagel

The Queen Mary during the holidays keeps its regular haunted ghost tours, but the real spook is with Aiden Sinclair’s Ghosts of Christmas Passed show that runs in a small theater called the Reverent Room on the B deck. Pre-show, you’re treated to a cocktail hour filled with museum of curiosities and a handful of classic-themed cocktails, such as a Smoke & Mirrors that’s a take on a classic Manhattan, complete with smoked maple bourbon, black walnut bitters, sweet vermouth, and hickory smoke on service. Make sure to grab a drink for the show, you’ll need it.


Photo: Greg Nagel

If you’re into ghost-free dining, Sir Winstons aboard the ship offers fine dining with some of the best views of Long Beach overlooking the bay. At sunset, light pours through the dining room, making for some epic selfies while ordering off of their hidden gem sunset menu (3-course prix fixe for $50). I went off the regular dining menu with the classic British Sir Winston’s beef wellington that’s a perfectly cooked hunk of beef encased in crispy puff pastry, a bit of pork belly, and a schmear of pâté Campagna. It’s seriously umami heaven.


Photo: Greg Nagel

The Queen Mary’s Royal Brunch is also a perfect place to spend a Sunday in their grand ballroom, complete with all the mimosas you can handle. The spread is deep with fresh hand rolls of sushi made to order, a raw bar, more crab legs than you can sword-fight with, and every other cuisine and carving stations than you can handle. When I’m a ghost someday, I’ll gladly haunt the Queen Mary.

The Queen Mary, Sir Winston’s, Aiden Sinclair’s Ghosts of Christmas Passed, and more is all found at QueenMary.com

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Gold-Winning ‘Lagerithm’ Is The Perfect Beer For National Lager Day


In 1857, German vintners, actors, and poets left San Francisco after the gold rush to pursue a better life, landing in Anaheim. A rich viticulture grew Orange County’s first city, which by 1880 had a downtown area full of saloons, breweries, and picnic-friendly parks surrounded by vineyards.

A hundred and thirty years later, the city would be part of a different gold rush, this time at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.

“The gold for American Dark-Style Lager goes to Bottle Logic Brewing, Anaheim, California for Lagerithm.”

The crew shot out of their chairs, fist-bumped the godfather of craft beer Charlie Papazian, then celebrated into the wee hours of a chilly Denver night.

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2015 GABF was even better. Not only did the brewery repeat gold for Lagerithm, they added another gold for Cobaltic Porter. Then came the 2016 World Beer Cup, Where the sophomore brewery would take home two more medals for Darkstar November and Cobaltic Porter.

Bottle Logic is more than just medal-winning beer brewed to style; they hope to innovate new flavors and techniques based on a calculated experimentation. Beers like Recursion IPA get tweaked from batch to batch, upping the revision code on each release with new hops, yeast, or water profile. Berlinier Equation, their tart wheat ale gets a hefty load of farm-fresh fruit in different configurations such as strawberry-rhubarb or jammy blueberries. New stouts are made, adding Madagascar vanilla beans and bourbon-barrel aging, making a highly sought after beer called Fundamental Observation, which smells like a pool of brownie batter and bourbon.

The tasting room bar has a distinct science vibe; if a brewery tasting room existed on a spaceship, Bottle Logic would be it. Wavelengths of light beam the draft list to your eyeballs, delivering coded messages to your brain. Neurons get excited, hyperphysics cause your salivary glands to swell and your mouth to speak, sending audible sound waves to the smiling tasting room staff.

“I would like a pint of Lagerithm,” is what they would interpret, then pour a fresh pint into a beaker-marked glass.

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Your nose might detect a hints of freshly toasted bread and a kiss of coffee. You take a sip, and discover what all the fuss is about. “Lagerithm is extremely drinkable; it’s dark but not overwhelming,” you think to yourself. You order a second, then a growler fill to go. At 4.8%, it’s refreshing and sessionable.

Each visit Bottle Logic has something new to discover. Whether it’s a new take on a hoppy IPA, barrel-aged sour or stout, Bottle Logic has a keen vision of delivering high-quality interesting beers to the city of Anaheim…and beyond!

Created in partnership with Visit Anaheim

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

City Of Anaheim Has Quietly Became The Hottest Craft Brew City In The Nation

When you say the word “Anaheim” a few things come to mind: theme parks, professional sports, or perhaps the biggest convention center on the west coast. However, behind all this hustle and bustle lies another industry that predates them all: beer.

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Orange County’s oldest city was founded by a group of German poets, artists, and vintners back in 1857. Their thirst to create a thriving booze-village stopped at the Santa Ana river which would provide waterways for acres of grape vines they would soon cultivate. By 1870, saloons lined the downtown area, and Anaheim beer was born, signalling the start of what was to come, brew city, until prohibition closed all taps in 1920.

Ninety years later in 2011, two breweries would open in the city, Anaheim Brewery and Noble Ale Works, sparking Mayor Tom Tait’s interest in the city’s newly tapped artisanal trade. A committee of local beer industry and city planners met and discussed the hardships of opening a production brewery, and then we waited.

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It didn’t take long for the mayor to get results. Two major issues breweries faced, fighting strict OC Health codes and conditional use permit hearings were scrapped. As of 2014, small breweries could set up a brewing operation and tasting room in the city by right, and use easier state health codes that didn’t treat breweries like a restaurant.

Since then, ten breweries have opened within the last two years, with four more in planning. With Bottle Logic, Karl Strauss, and Noble Ale Works winning awards on the national and world level, Anaheim is a legitimate craft beer destination.

Created in partnership with Visit Anaheim

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

This Super Hero Brewery Creates Craft Beer Inspired By Comic Characters

Fresh from saving the universe from certain doom, a stop into Anaheim’s superhero-worthy beer tasting room to unwind is a must. With the beer signal still shining high in the sky, sharing some suds with my fellow warriors after a hard day of fighting evil is also, a must.

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Bellied up at the bar, I’m greeted with Unsung Brewing founder’s world of beer heroes; Buzzman, Troglodyte, Anthia, Naturia, and Propellerhead, each beer full of as much character as the story behind each one.

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Unsung Brewing founder Mike Crea created this comic-themed universe, where his beer Troglodyte, a French-style Grisette, gave birth to a character complete with a full backstory. “Troglodyte means “cave dweller” in French,” says Mike. “Historically, the grisette beer style is what French women would serve their husbands outside of the caves they were mining for ore.”

The story: The hero Troglodyte came about when one man was lost in a mine in France, fell through a sinkhole and was stuck in a cave for months. His body slowly fused with the surrounding rock, somehow finding a way to survive by extracting the minerals from the rocks for nourishment. He became very large (HULK-scale, perhaps 12+ feet tall) during this ordeal, and his body is peppered with rock shards that concentrate at his joints.

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In the glass, Troglodyte is a rough and tumbly Belgian-style ale, where notes of bubblegum and banana shine through a wheat and oat-cloudy base. Done in the grisette style, the beer is quenching in nature, enough so that if I were working in a mine, this beer could shake the coal off my rock hard bones.

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Naturia, Anthia, and Citrique make up Unsung’s hoppy-heroes, which are done quite perfectly for a new brewery. Each bursting with fresh hop aromas, these beers set the tone early on for what kind of brewery Unsung was going to be. Bright, aromatic, clean, and approachable is the name of the game.

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As the first tenant in the MAKE building at the Anaheim Packing District, Unsung Brewing is full of originality. Featuring a comic book wall, owner Mike Crea’s personal collectibles, and of course life-size murals of the characters that make up the super-strong brewery, Unsung is a must-stop for any fan of comics and superheroes.

Created in partnership with Visit Anaheim.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

This Brewery Turned A Bad Day Into One INSANELY Incredible Beer


Ten feet from The Bruery’s Black Tuesday barrel rack house doors, one can smell the angel’s share seeping through the cracks as it heads out to the heavens above. Once inside, the dimly lit room is like a boozy still-life art installation. Barrels sit on racks stacked high, slowly seeping black barrel candy stalactites from small wood cracks. Micro-evaporation takes place through swollen staves of charred white oak pores. The massive Imperial Stout inside marinates on the barrel’s previous tenant, bourbon, America’s indigenous spirit.

Among the barrels, inhaling deep enough might just be as euphoric as drinking the finished product. Booze marinated oak is quite possibly one of the ten best smells in the world. It’s indescribably woody without smelling like a forest, or even a lumber yard after a fresh rain. It seriously causes goosebumps, and never gets old.

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Quietly aging inside the several hundred bourbon barrels lies this year’s vintage of Black Tuesday, a beer named after the biggest stock market crash in United States history. With a beer that tastes this great, why such a horrible name?

July 1, 2008: What started as a ‘kitchen sink’ Imperial Stout where brewers use up specialty ingredients laying around turned into calamity, where a leaky pump and a stuck piece of equipment sent hot liquid spewing all over the place, burning the skin of brewers who were working well past twelve hours on the stubborn beer. A two-inch moat of hot wort and sticky grains filled the two-month old Bruery, and everything that could have gone wrong did.

What liquid survived, The Bruery condemned to bourbon barrels for fifteen months, no doubt keeping the cursed beer from causing any more harm. After all that time sitting in bourbon-soaked solitary confinement, one would expect the beer to come out squinty-eyed and well behaved. But on release day, October 3, 2009, it would have its last laugh, as the number of people in line exceeded the bottles for sale. At $30 a bottle and a three bottle limit, those lucky enough to get some were incredibly lucky.

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The beer that came out was incredible. Rave reviews on Beer Advocate topped 99 out of 100. Beer geeks all over the U.S. traded bottles like stock market commodities. Some even sold upwards of ten times the value on the black market. I recall my first taste as a game changer, having never tasted anything so delightful, yet strong at the same time.

Every year differs slightly, some being boozier than others. Although Black Tuesday is incredibly easy to drink for being around 20% alcohol by volume, it’s sort of like beer dessert, where you only want a taste, but end up downing the whole thing. As a Russian Imperial Stout, It’s decadent and rich, pouring coffee black with a surprising amount of tan head for a beer that strength. On the nose, a parfait of caramel, toffee, vanilla, American oak, and bourbon rush from the glass, this time not burning anyone. The flavor continues that indulgent sweetness, adding a bit of chocolate and a kiss of anise and bourbon. The beer is surprisingly dry for its big stature, where most of the perceived sweetness is derived from alcohol, which is inherently sweet on its own.

Find The Bruery’s Black Tuesday online on its eighth release after the last Tuesday of October, Black Tuesday.

Created in partnership with Visit Anaheim

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

See How This Brewery Turns Coffee Into Delicious Beer


When it comes to a new brewery, making a world class aromatic IPA is difficult, as all the great hops are usually spoken for years in advance. Noble Ale Works, a young brewery in Anaheim, used this challenge to come up with their own world class aromatic beer, one which defies age-old style guidelines.

Noble created Naughty Sauce; a blonde milk stout with coffee, served on nitro.

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Let’s break that down: Blonde—it’s not a black beer. Milk stout—lactose (milk sugar) is added which creates a sweeter-fuller beer. Coffee—a custom blend by local roaster Portola Coffee Lab. Nitro—ultra-fine nitrogen gas that provides a gorgeous cascading head and a silky-smooth beer known to give you a beer-stache on the first sip.

“I was inspired to make the beer version of a cappuccino,” says head brewer of Noble, Evan Price. One whiff of the creamy white head and you’ll say he nailed it. Despite being a blonde stout, with your eyes shut, it smells and tastes like a roasty stout.

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Throughout 2013 and 2014, the beer was released quarterly as it’s a difficult and expensive beer to brew. Release parties with food trucks, bands, and a view of the Angel Stadium fireworks made for many memorable nights in the packed tasting room. The popularity of the beer paved the way for the young brewery to expand quickly, and afford high quality IPA hops, which helped them win recently at the World Beer Cup.

What makes it blonde? Traditional stouts use roasted and kilned barley malt to achieve their dark hue. Contrary to popular belief, a dark beer isn’t higher alcohol, “thicker” or worthy of being poured on pancakes. The more roasted malt used in a beer, the darker it is, and the darkness has nothing to do with alcohol. Naughty Sauce uses no roasted malt, thus it is not dark, or is it lighter in alcohol than dark beers.

What makes Naughty Sauce special is its approachability. If you like coffee, you’ll love the beer. Simple as that! Naughty Sauce sadly isn’t served with decorative latte foam art, but it’s about what’s in the glass that matters. Big coffee aroma is what you’ll get right away on the nose, followed by notes of fresh pecan pie. It’s kind of like a roadside diner in a glass.

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Milk stouts, also commonly called sweet or cream stout, are still fairly common and were hugely popular in the U.K. in the early 20th century. Local craft brewers tend to brew the style as it doesn’t require a lot of hops, and Americans have an inherent lust for all things sweet.

The name Naughty Sauce was coined by Noble’s brewer Brad Kominek, who comes up with the vast majority of Noble’s kitschy beer names. “I thought it was a sexy beer and needed a sexy beer name,” says Brad. Naughty Sauce is now a year-round offering with variants appearing seasonally. A personal favorite is the fall version, Yoga Pantz, which is the beer version of a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Ugg boots are not required to order a pint.

As the beer is only served on nitro, it hasn’t been packaged in bottles, kegs, and can’t be taken home in a growler. The only place to get this unique beer is at Noble Ale Works’ tasting room in Anaheim, or select draft accounts that can serve beer on nitrogen.

Created in partnership with Visit Anaheim

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Celebrate IPA Day By Getting To Know The Best IPA In The World

When it comes to IPA Day, sometimes the best option is to drink the one that is made closest to your house. But there’s always the fun of hunting down some killer ones, right? In Southern California, home of the west coast IPA, it’s no secret we are surrounded by fresh local beer with IPA at the forefront of popularity. With a brewery within ten miles of the average American, there’s never been a better day to explore the local beer culture. 

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IPA Day is an opportunity for all breweries, bloggers, businesses and beer lovers to connect and share their love of craft beer. It is an opportunity for the entire craft beer culture to combine forces and advocate craft beer through increased education and global awareness,” says Craftbeer.com, a nonprofit beer advocacy group. Personally, I think the day is a perfect opportunity to share a beer with a friend, or perhaps your favorite wino.

What is an IPA? India Pale Ale has the same ingredients as any other beer: water, barley malt, yeast and hops. IPA goes easy on the malt, which ends up putting the hops on a pedestal. A glass of IPA is brimming with hop aromas, which can lean towards herbal, fruity, tropical, floral, or even dank like a dime bag. The P in IPA stands for pale, meaning the beer will be on the gold side, sometimes clear, sometimes like a hoppy milkshake if you’re in New England.

In Anaheim, aka Brew City USA, locals are blessed with the recent gold medal winning World Beer Cup beer, I Love it! IPA from Noble Ale Works, whose hoppy beers are far from a flash in the pan. The brewery also won bronze at the Great American Beer Festival for Nose Candy Session IPA in 2015 and World Beer Cup Bronze for Nobility Double IPA. Head brewer Evan Price and his merry band of giants (Matt and Brad) spent years honing the recipe.

I got a chance to grab some beers with Evan and chat about his recent competition medal streak in a new series called FOODBEAST Approved, which spotlights the best eats and drinks of different neighborhoods.

When it comes time to make I Love It! IPA, “we brew our double IPA “showers series”, which uses a single hop with the same base beer recipe. This enables us to see exactly how a hop behaves with our brewhouse.” Noble uses the knowledge gained by the shower series to select the perfect array of hops, and also makes minute tweaks here and there to best balance the beer.

I Love It! IPA is brewed when the hops are available, so if you can’t find it, by all means try one of the other seven “hoppy-ish” beers on their tasting room wall.

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4 Good Things To Know About IPA:

Drink fresh? 

Yes! IPA is a perishable style of beer, meaning you should always keep it cold, and drink it sooner rather than later. Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA, for example, suggests a ninety day best-by date on the label. Will it get you sick if you wait too long? No, but the highly volatile hop compounds suffer quickly from oxidation, meaning all those hops you paid for will fade quickly if not consumed fresh.

Should I drink it out of the can or bottle?

Heck no. Since smell makes up 80% of taste, drinking from a can or bottle bypasses your nose.

What is the best glassware to enjoy my IPA on IPA day?

If you lack beer glassware, try a side-by-side comparison with a standard shaker pint glass and a wine glass. Smell one, then smell the other. Notice a difference? The tapered lip of a wine glass does a great job encapsulating all of those juicy hop aromatics. The stem also keeps your sweaty mitts off of the glass, keeping your drink just a tad cooler.

Should I frost my glass?

Never! Frosty or frozen mugs can crystalize hop aromatics, making them too cold to taste and too dull to smell. It’s always good to rinse your glass with cold water prior to pouring, however.

Cheers!

Created in partnership with Visit Anaheim