Super gourmet coffee

The gourmet coffee scene is getting a little crowded: Starbucks, McDonald’s, Peet’s, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Dunkin’ Donuts.

How about some super gourmet coffee? Would you pay $22 for a personalized latte? Or $5 for a perfect cup of drip coffee?

LAMILL Coffee. Your $5 cafe au lait is made at your table.

Intelligencia. Super expensive coffee and long lines. Also mentioned on NPR.

Literati Cafe – Reviews say it is hit or miss.

Country Chicken and Ribs Bar-B-Q in Azusa

Dining on a budget:

Diners looking to find a little more of the South in Southern California can look to Azusa’s own Country Chicken & Ribs Bar-B-Q. 
 
Few foods inspire such vigorous debate as barbecue – is Kansas City, Memphis or Texas-style tops? – and this little eatery holds its own in a hyper-divisive culinary field. 
 
Of course, some barbecue purists may have a bone to pick, since the restaurant doesn’t serve pork, just chicken and beef ribs. But what it does, it does well and at a very affordable price. 
 
The best time to visit is between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the lunch special is served.

For $4.65, you get to sample a little bit of everything – a chicken wing and breast, two beef ribs, coleslaw, rice and gravy and a dinner roll. After 4 p.m., the price of the special goes up to $7.55, so the lunchtime discounts are pretty steep.

 

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The barbecue ribs here have plenty of meat on their bones, but they are a little tough, especially compared to traditional pork ribs, which are smaller and more tender. The provided steak knife comes in handy when dismantling these ribs for consumption. 
 
Consider asking for a side of the house barbecue sauce to give them a flavor boost. 
 
The real star of this blue-plate special is the delicious barbecue chicken. The meat falls right off the bone, and you’ll find yourself picking away at the last scraps. The chicken is perfectly juicy with just the right amount of seasonings and sauce. 
 
For $10.40, you can forgo the beef ribs altogether and order the Country Cluck, which includes all-you-can-eat soup or salad bar, three pieces of barbecue chicken, fries or house rice and a roll. 
 
The side dishes, which come included with all specials and dinner plates, are a treat in themselves. Savor the rice smothered in gravy, Southern comfort food at its finest. 
 
Only the side of coleslaw misses the mark. It lacks that sweet, tangy creaminess that’s a hallmark of all the best coleslaw recipes. 
 
The ambiance at Country Chicken & Ribs Bar-B-Q is a bit unusual, but comfortable and cozy nonetheless.

The wood accents and old-timey decor harken back a general store from the gold rush era, but with a few amusing anachronistic touches – the Mortal Kombat arcade game in the corner and Day-Glo plastic toys in the display cases. 
 
Still, it’s hard not to feel connected to the Canyon City’s rich gold-rush history. Though you may wonder if the restaurant’s designer got carried away with the old-fashioned theme and left out crucial modern facilities, the restrooms are actually located just outside. 
 
And while this carnivore’s delight accepts only cash, an ATM is available inside, if you’re willing to pay the rather inconvenient convenience fees.

Even with that extra cost tacked on, Country Chicken & Ribs Bar-B-Q offers some great lunchtime bargains and value-priced family dinners, which are available dine-in or carry-out from the drive-through. 
 
In Southern California, barbecue-starved beggars can’t be choosers – or picky eaters. 
 
So next time you have the urge to hop aboard the soonest flight to a Southern destination of choice, try getting that fix at Country Chicken & Ribs Bar-B-Q instead. At the very least, it will take the heat off your wallet and put it back where it belongs – on your meal. 
 
Country Chicken & Ribs Bar-B-Q is located at 994 E. Alosta Ave. in Azusa. For more information, call (626) 334-8220.

Written by Evelyn Barge.

Breakfast at Jamba Juice

For awhile now I have been waiting for the Jamba Juice (www.jambajuice.com) in West Covina to feature the chain’s new breakfast menu, and now it’s here! Yay!

I first tried the new breakfast blends at the Jamba Juice in Eagle Rock and fell in love.

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I’m not that crazy about yogurt, especially alone, but when it’s blended with fruit and juices, and I can’t tell there is yogurt inside, it’s yummy and adds a nice consistency to the blend.

The new breakfast menu features three granola toppers – blends featuring yogurt, juice, fruit and any other extra add-ins (peanut butter for those pb lovers) – topped with fresh granola, eaten with a spoon, of course.

I have tried the mango-peach topper and the berry topper, but the mango is my favorite. The granola is not too hard and tastes fresh and crunchy.

The yogurt-fruit blend is thick enough to hold the granola on top until the blend begans to melt, but I like to mix it into the blend to get a good amount of granola with every scoop.

And because it’s made thicker than the usual drink blends at Jamba Juice, you might find bits of what I like to call little treasures – chunks of fruit.

Of course, even though these are listed under the breakfast meals, they make a great healthy snack anytime.

A 12 oz. serving is 390 calories with 7 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein, and a healthy dose of vitamins A, C and calcium.

I already had some for breakfast this morning at the West Covina Jamba Juice but I may just have to go back to the Eagle Rock location tonight after work!

Canadian Cafe in Monrovia

Dining on a budget:

I walked into the Canadian Cafe in Monrovia ready to take all of Canada they were willing to throw at me.

The amount of time I’ve spent in Canada doesn’t even add up to 20 minutes – the time it took to walk back and forth over The Falls. So I decided to do a bit of culinary research on America’s neighbors to the north.

In addition to the many varieties of fish, shellfish, and other seafood to be found, Quebec is known for its cheese; Ontario, its maple syrup; and in Newfoundland, seal flippers, cod tongues, moose, caribou and venison are among the delicacies.

I didn’t find any of these on the Canadian Cafe’s menu – unless they have an In-N-Out -styled secret menu – so I decided to piece together the most Canadian meal I could.

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McDonald’s Coffee

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All this news about McDonald’s vs. Starbucks coffee …

The second time I tried McDonald’s coffee was when they gave away McSkillet Burritos with the purchase of a large drink. (The first time was a early morning stop in Barstow. It was so early, my taste buds hadn’t kicked in yet.)

I was pleasantly surprised. The coffee wasn’t bad at all! It had good flavor and body. Unlike Starbucks, I didn’t detect a bitter, burnt taste.

I won’t be making McDonald’s a morning habit. I’m more of a toast-for-breakfast type of person. If I want to treat myself to coffee and breakfast, I’d go to Starbucks. I love croissants and their banana walnut loaf. Comparing calories and fat, Starbucks will be kinder to my figure.

Croissant: 370 calories, 21g of fat
Banana Walnut Loaf: 410 calories, 17g of fat
McSkillet Burrito: 610 calories, 36g of fat