Chocolate heaven

As if living in beautiful Southern California wasn’t heavenly enough, Taste TV brings back its annual Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon to Pasadena this Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pasadena Center, 300 Green St.

Chocolate lovers can dive in to 16,000 square feet to taste and devour goods from the finest chocolatiers and confectioners in So Cal and beyond.

When I had the pleasure of covering this event last year, after just an hour of tastings, I was a walking sugar bomb. The amazing selection of delectable tastings was totally worth the slight rise in my blood pressure.

More than 35 chocolatiers, confectioners and other culinary artisans will be featured such as Divine Chocolate, Amano Artisan Chocolate, The Chocolate Traveler, Chocoveda, The Toffee Box and more. Salon highlights include tastings, demonstrations, chef and author talks and interviews by TasteTV’s Chocolate Television program. 

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, children ages 6 to 12 $10 and children ages 6 and under are free. Two free children under 6 per adult, $10 for additional children under 6. Admission includes tastings, demos, etc.

Purchase tickets and get more information at www.lachocolatesalon.com.

Calling all foodies!!

HERE ARE TWO EVENTS THIS WEEKEND, NO FOODIE WOULD WANT TO MISS:

L.A. STREET FOOD FEST

Of course, I would have to be out of town when one of the largest foodie events in L.A.is set to take place. Good for them because I would actually wait overnight to be the first to hit up each truck and I would be all over seconds and thirds at each truck like Winnie the Pooh to honey.

But if you’ll be in town and looking to splurge on that summer diet and workout routine, make some rounds at the second L.A Street Food Fest taking place this Saturday, July 24, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (1001 Rose Bowl Drive, off North Arroyo Blvd.)

More than 60 mobile food truck vendors from eateries, restaurants, celeb chefs and classic carts will park it outside the bowl while vendor booths sit under tents inside.
What will be offered? The question is really, what won’t be offered.

Everything from breakfast at Monsieur Egg to dessert from Cool Haus and Sweet Lucie’s. There will also be open bars and beer gardens for tequila and mezcal tastings, and specialty juices and cocktails.

Presale tickets are limited and only available online. No at-door sales. Tickets are $45 per person and is all inclusive, as much as you can handle. The last food fest included long lines for some foodie favorites so be sure to get there early if you want to make a couple rounds at your favorite truck or vendor..

For more information and tickets, visit www.lastreetfoodfest.com.

Read about how some vendors are preparing in Staff Writer Brian Charles’ story.

 

YOGA FOR FOODIES

David Romanelli (aka Yeah Dave) is bringing his Yoga for Foodies to Los Angeles. Yoga for Foodies is a national tour  where at each stop, David collaborates with local chefs to create an unforgettable foodie experience.

On July 25, Dave will be pairing up with Akasha Richmond, chef founder of the critically acclaimed Culver City-based Akasha Restaurant, Bar, Bakery.

During the event, the morning will begin with David’s flowing yoga class whose message and music will emphasize a more sustainable pace.

Following yoga while participants are relaxed and in the moment, Akasha will lead a guided tasting inspired by her years of cooking for and studying with Yogi Bhajan, and how his teachings influenced her style of cooking. Akasha began her professional career at Yogi Bhajan’s Golden Temple Conscious Cookery, a now defunct but once popular vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles.

Menu highlights include: giner-mint lemonade and organic mango lassi; local farm egg and goat cheese frittata with spinach and caramelized onions; cumin and coriander spiced lamb sausage; grilled tandoori vegetable salad with coleman farms greens, white corn, zucchini, red peppers, and chutney dressing; punjabi focaccia with holy basil pesto, heirloom tomatoes, grilled eggplant, fresh paneer; fresh baked blackberry coffee cake, peach scones, and housemade preserves.

Yoga for Foodies will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $54. Reservations are required.
Akasha Restaurant, Bar, Bakery is at 9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City. For more information, call (310) 845-1700.

We all scream for ice cream, Sunday

This Sunday will be the perfect day for a cool sundae.

National Ice Cream Day is on Sunday, July 18. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan and his veritable sweet tooth designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.

Tastee-Freez will be taking part in National Ice Cream Day as well as celebrate their 60th anniversary this month. To celebrate Ice Cream Day and their anniversary, visit a Tastee-Freez and enjoy an Old Fashioned Sundae, the new Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Freezee or a traditional vanilla soft-serve cone, which can be dipped in the signature Tastee-Freez chocolate. Tastee-Freez is available in the majority of Wienerschnitzel and Hamburger Stand locations.

If you’re looking for more unique varieties on the cool treat, check out this blog post from our Rose Magazine summer issue, where staff wrtier Emma Gallegos painfully explored some cool treats in west San Gabriel Valley.

You could wait around for your favorite ice cream truck to come by on Sunday and grab yourself a cone, Big Pop popsicle or creamsicle, or you could just head to your local store and pick up a box to share – you never know when you’ll need a favor from your neighbor.

I’m gonna keep a look out for a paleta man. A palet is a Mexican popsicle made of fruit juice and sometimes pieces of real fruit. Yum! I’ll even settle for a vanilla raspado (flavored ice cone).

Of course, there’s also Baskin Robbins (Pralines and Cream or Rocky Road never let me down) and Cold Stone Creamery.

Heck, there’s even Thrifty ice cream found at Rite-Aid stores and even a cool scoop from McDonald’s will hit the spot.

And for the lactose intolerant, go for some sorbet, of which most varieties are dairy-free.

Whether you head out or stay in with your favorite cool treat, don’t be afraid to go all out – it is a national holiday right?

What’s your favorite ice cream? Where do you go for a cool treat?

World Cup feeding frenzy

What better way to really get in the spirit of the World Cup than enjoying some world fare.

Seems more and more restaurants and locales are helping soccer fans get in the spirit of cheering on their favorite team or country by having the games on for viewing. Well others are stepping it up by offering up a variety of dishes representing the many countries taking part in the soccer matchups.

Starting today through Tuesday, June 29, the ESPN Match Truck will be rolling through Los Angeles offering a world menu while you catch a game on their high-def television screens attached to the top of the truck. The menu designed by Kogi and Chego chef Roy Choi features items such as the South African bunny chow, Mexico’s carne asada burrito and American silver-dollar pancakes, to name a few. Follow the truck on Twitter @ESPNWCTRUCKLA or visit espnwctrucks.com for more information and location dates and times.

I know, what’s bunny chow right? Well, we’re not talking a Fatal Attraction dish here. Basically, the chow is a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with a chicken curry – juicy chicken leg meat seasoned with Madras, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and yogurt, with fresh peas, grilled onions, mizuna, Thai basil, pickled red onions. Then the flesh of the bread is slathered with curried goat cheese. ($6)

If you’re feeling a bit more fancy, check out the Langham Huntington’s World Cup Street Food Menu offered at The Bar, now through July 11. The menu features dishes such as semisweet coconut curry puffs (South Africa); brown butter spaetzle with beer cheese (Germany); Faina flat bread with chimichurri (Argentina); and more. There will also be specials on signature cocktails.

For more information, visit http://pasadena.langhamhotels.com or follow on Twitter @langhampasadena. Retweet on Twitter to win two dishes each week. The Langham Huntington is at 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena,  (626) 568-3700.

GOAL!! (That’s me scoring some good food!)

Street Feast at the American at Brand in Glendale

I’ve always enjoyed street food and taco trucks, despite the bad rep they had for many years. Now, thanks to the Kogi BBQ truck, it seems it’s cool to enjoy lunch or dinner from a food truck.

I’ve honestly been very interested to go try some of the new food truck varieties that are popping up everywhere, but obviously not enough to follow them all over Los Angeles County. Then came the “festivals” where armies of food trucks get together.

I hadn’t had a chance to make it to one of these until Tuesday. I finally made a date with my best friend and we headed to the Street Feast at the Americana at Brand.

It was my first time at the Americana, the indoor/outdoor mall adjacent to the Glendale Galleria. I liked the open space in the middle of this retail/residential community. There’s a fountain, grass you can relax on, and plenty of casual and fine dining around.

On this Tuesday night, there was a good crowd that were settled on the grass. I thought they were either taking a retail break or just enjoying some of the food they had picked up at one of the nine food trucks at the feast, and then I spotted a flat screen that drew their full attention – game 6 of the Lakers/Celtics basketball playoffs – Ah! I guess there was no need to decide between the Street Feast and playoffs.

I checked the score early in the game and then went back to business. There was no map, so my feast partner and I walked around the perimeter of the inside of the Americana to scope out what each of the food trucks had to offer and spot the ones we were most interested in – The Grilled Cheese Truck and The Flying Pig.

The other food trucks were Coolhaus, mainly dessert; The Buttermilk Truck, breakfast-time and dessert; Mandoline Grill, curry and noodles; Worldfare; Patty Wagon; Comfort Truck; and Vizzi.

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Almost every truck already had a good long line of people eager for service. The Grilled Cheese Truck seemed to be the winner though. It looked like there was about 15 to 20 people in line, relatively short, but when I tried to step into the back of the line, an Americana “ambassador” politely asked if I was looking for the Grilled Cheese truck line, which I was so he patiently pointed to a line that wrapped around one of the stores to the actual end of the line with about 40 more people waiting. I apparently tried to step in at a traffic break and cut the line. Oops.

Knowing we would not be able to wait in line patiently, and our stomachs already grumbling, we decided to find a smaller line to grab something quicker and smaller while we take our chances waiting at the Flying Pig line, which also looked like it would be a good wait.

Some local restaurants were serving up mac and cheese and salad plates and sliders. We each grabbed a quick slider and headed to the Flying Pig line. Again an ambassador approached us and asked if we had ordered yet, we hadn’t so he directed us to the front to order.

The Flying Pig menu on a small stand outside had a selection of tacos and drinks, we found out later the menu directly on the truck had more of a selection.

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The pork belly taco and spiced pork taco piqued my interest but alas the attendant regrettably informed me they were out of spiced pork, so I went with the tamarind duck taco instead.

There was no line to order but then we had to head back to the end of the 20-something-people-long line, which was not much compared to others.

Fifteen minutes and one slider later, we had barely moved one person up in the line. After almost 30 minutes and only one more move up, we overheard the ambassador was beginning to tell people wishing to get in line or to order, that the Flying Pig had stopped taking orders since they were having problems with one of their “ovens” (maybe he meant grills, I hoped those ordering carne asada tacos were not getting oven-cooked asada – weird.)

Seeing the occasional plate of tacos being served, we remained hopeful we would get the tacos we paid for - eventually.

According to their website, “The Flying Pig truck has hit the streets featuring the perfect blend of Asian & Pacific Rim flavors with French technique.” The tamarind duck was a great example of that combination. It featured duck confit with pickled red beets, toasted almonds, radish sprouts, mandarin orange, and tamarind gravy.

The pork belly taco features braised pork belly with red onion escabeche, pickled sesame cucumber, and death sauce.

After learning of the “oven” trouble, I decided to take a chance on the Mandoline Grill which seemed to have many people coming away with food pretty quickly, and some tasty smells were coming from that direction. I went ahead and waited in the grill line to order while my friend stayed in line at the pig truck.

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In 15 minutes, I had one 12″ grilled pork and one 12″ grilled beef banh mi, a Vietnamese baguette sandwich ($6 each). I headed back to the taco line and had a few nibbles of the sandwich as we were quickly approaching the end of the line.

After over an hour wait, we finally got our tacos - priced between $2.75 and $3.25 each – and although I wasn’t as hungry as before, these definitely were worth the wait. I was only sorry I hadn’t ordered the limit of five items to begin with.

The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth awesome, soft but not greasy. The sesame cucumber and sauce complemented it well without overwhelming the natural taste of this little piggy. The sauce was a kind of chili sauce with a bit of a kick but I still have no clue why it’s called the “death” sauce. It wasn’t that hot. There was Sriracha, or rooster, sauce available to add. I passed.

This would be my first time tasting duck, in any way, but my friend was excited about it so I imagined it wasn’t as odd as it sounded to me. The beets and small orange slices were a nice start. When I finally bit into the duck, it was moist and tender. Surprisingly, it reminded me of shredded beef and not like its cousin, the chicken, but not as fatty either.

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Yes, these tacos were worth the wait but I don’t know if I’ll do it again. I will be more prepared next time, arriving a lot earlier, getting a large group together and planning out a strategy of who to send out to wait at different trucks, all mission-impossible style.

A mission I could definitely practice at the next L.A. Street Food Fest to be featured at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on July 24. But sadly, I will be out on other adventures that weekend and will have to hold off on that rescue plan. Next time Gadget, next time.

Check out details for the L.A. Street Food Fest at their website or here on our Rose magazine blog.

Starbucks happy hour

To promote their new “however-you-want-it” Frappuccino options, Starbucks is holding a happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. through Sunday, May 16, at participating locations.

Get your favorite Frappuccino for half-off and get options like decaf, no whip, soy, lowfat milk and more.

I don’t drink coffee but I do love ice-blended cappucino beverages so I took advantage of happy hour yesterday.

But it made me wonder if this was more of a counter attack towards McDonald’s for recently releasing their McCafe Frappe’s, their own ice-blended sugar and caffeine loaded drinks.

I got to try the McCafe Caramel Frappe a few weeks ago and my first thought was it was way cheaper than Starbucks. The small was $2.29 and it was bigger than the “small” at Starbucks. 

40926-McD_frappe-thumb-200x266-40925.jpgFor me, it was nicely blended with not a lot of caffeine, and it tasted creamy, more like a smoothie.

I’m caffeine sensitive and don’t need much to get me going so it was perfect for me.

Those who need a bigger shot of caffeine may not be satisfied with the small or even the entire drink altogether.

Might as well take advantage of Starbuck’s Happy Hour while it lasts. 

Culinary events at Williams-Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma is offering free technique classes and demonstrations throughout the month of May at select stores. The hour-long technique classes are dedicated to a specific topic led by culinary experts. Class size is limited and early reservations are strongly recommended. Demonstrations are regularly scheduled focusing on seasonal foods and entertaining, also led by culinary experts.

Visit the store’s website for a full calendar and to locate your nearest store.

Upcoming demonstrations include:

Friday, May 14, 11 a.m. – Panini Perfection

Saturday, May 15, 11 a.m. – Backyard Suppers

Upcoming technique classes include:

Sunday, May 16: Backyard Braising

Sunday, May 23: Better Burgers

Sunday, May 30: Memorial Day with Michael Symon, a James Beard Foundation Award-winning American chef, an Iron Chef on Food Network, a restaurateur and author

Baskin-Robbins ice cream for 31 cents

Scoop Night is back! Head to any participating Baskin-Robbins to get ice cream for 31 cents from 5 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, April 28.

 

Each scoop of ice cream is 31 cents. The limit is three 2.5 ounce scoops per person while supplies last.

The event is held annually to raise funds for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Find a location near you.

Happy 20th birthday Jamba!

To kick off their 20th birthday celebration, Jamba Juice is offering a buy one, get one free deal. Through April 25, smoothie fans can visit their www.jambajuice.com, print out an anniversary coupon and take it in their nearest JJ store to biy any drink on the menu for themselves and get another drink, of equal or lesser value, for a friend for free. Or keep it for themselves for double the juicy fun.

To continue their anniversary celebration, the juice company will launch their weekday “Feel Good Specials”, a limited time offer menu.

Here’s the breakdown, for those who love fruit and granola, Ideal Meal Monday will offer the protein and fiber rich Ideal Meals for just $3; To get two of your favorite or try something new, there’s Buy Two Tuesday which features a special pairing offer of the week. On Wake Up Wednesday, get a dose of slow cooked, steel cut oats for just  $2. Get $1 off all baked goods with a drink purchase on Tasty Thursday. To finish off the healthy week, Jamba gets back to their wholesome, delicious, healthy smoothie roots with All Fruit Friday - buy any 16 ounce All Fruit Smoothie for just $3.  The Feel Good Specials are available from April 25-May 31.

Adding to their All Fruit Smoothie line, Jamba launches their new Five Fruit Frenzy, a blend of blueberries, strawberries, banana, peaches, and mango – a great way to get your recommended fruit per day in one fresh beverage.

Jamba Juice plans to have a celebration for its 20th anniversary in San Luis Obispo, where the company was founded, on April 19th.

Burger King’s McD’s knock-off muffin sandwich

I’m not a huge fan of McDonald’s food except for their breakfast. So when I saw the commercials featuring “The King” from Burger King, breaking into what is supposed to be McD’s headquarters and stealing what looks like the recipe for their English muffin breakfast sandwiches. Of course, it’s just a diagram-type picture pointing to the simple ingredients – muffin, cheese, sausage and egg.

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The price of Burger King’s English muffin is great – $1 each, plus tax – but I had to compare the taste.

The first thing I noticed that earned the BK breakfast sandwich points over McD’s, is the egg. Usually, McD’s egg is a poached-style egg. You can special order a “boiled” or “folded egg”, which is a folded rectangle scrambled egg, which is usually what I do. At BK, it is already a scrambled egg, no dry yolk amongs the egg white – great.

The sausage had the right spices and texture, although I can’t say if it would stand against McD’s sausage on its own, since McD’s has more of a pepper-kick that I like.

And surprisingly, the greasiness didn’t come from the melted American cheese or the sausage, it came from the muffin. Yeah, pretty odd if I say so myself.

It was as if it was grilled in butter. Tasty, but I made sure to eat healthy the rest of the day, to try to stave off the heart attack it may have caused eating that sandwich.

The BK muffin is also available with egg, cheese and bacon, instead of sausage.

Which do you prefer – McDonald’s or Burger King?