Saturday, June 18, 2016

Lifehouse Tonics & Elixir: Taking Smoothies Up a Notch

Los Angeles loves their juices and their healthy foods, but at Lifehouse Tonics and Elixir, they take juices and smoothies a step further in terms of their health benefits. They mix smoothies and juices with healthy and medicinal tonics - but don't worry, they still keep the taste sweet and delicious like the treats smoothies should be. Oh, and it's all vegan.
Lifehouse Tonics
Lifehouse opened a cool little shop on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, blending tonic-infused smoothies and elixirs. You may find ingredients you have never heard of or cannot pronounce, but everything is natural, including the sugar substitute that they use, like erythritol and stevia.
Lifehouse Tonics
The menu board describes the drink with its main health benefits and the main flavor component. For example, the Greenhouse Chip is described as "energizing", "alkalizing", with mint as the main flavor component.

Greenhouse Chip (almond milk, cashew milk, mint extract, cacao nibs, barley grass juice, wheat grass juice, oat grass juice, maca, eleuthero, astragalus, cordyceps, tocos, cacao butter, almond butter, coconut oil, erythritol, stevia, $14)
This is perhaps their most popular drink, and it's easy to see why. It tastes like mint chocolate chip shake! I haven't heard of a lot of the ingredients, so I googled some of them. Maca, for example, is a Peruvian plant from the Andes region. People use the root of maca plant for medicinal purposes, including increasing stamina and also for hormonal imbalance in women.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Artisanal Bread, Croissant, and Brunch at Pain D'Avignon in Hyannis (Cape Cod)

Want to know where to get the best croissant in Massachusetts? Hint: It's not in Boston. Pain D'Avignon in Hyannis in Cape Cod has long since made some of the best pastries and breads in New England. These days, they distribute to various stores - all still freshly made with no preservatives - and one of their co-founders even started another storefront in New York.
Pain D'Avignon
The story of Pain D'Avignon is a bit of an unusual one. The bakery was opened back in 1992 by four young friends from Yugoslavia who was committed to making bread the traditional way. While a couple of the co-founders have moved to other places, the bakery that has grown considerably is still maintaining the same standards. I recently came for brunch and enjoyed their flaky, buttery croissant and pain au chocolat.
Pain D'Avignon
Love this pain au chocolat!
Pain D'Avignon

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Global Day of Discovery at The Renaissance Long Beach

by guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda

On Thursday, June 16 from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., The Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach will play host to its 5th annual Global Day of Discovery, a signature event that all Renaissance Hotel locations participate in during the month of June. During Global Day of Discovery, guests and the local community are invited to come together to experience hot spots for food, beverages, nightlife and entertainment. I was recently invited to a pre-event tasting for the Long Beach location.

The event for their Global Day of Discovery is called Taps + Tastes, and The Renaissance Hotel has assembled an impressive collection of craft beers from 6 local breweries. Delicious food to pair with the craft beer will be prepared by Top Chef Janine Falvo. In addition a DJ will be on-site spinning tunes and self-parking that day will be free! Tickets are only $20 each and a portion of the event proceeds will be donated to Washington Middle School in Long Beach.

Before getting on with the beer tastings, we had one of signature drinks that SIP Bar and Lounge offers each night. For the tasting, we were served the Shandy: Sam Adams lager, fresh orange juice, Perrier sparkling water and bitters over ice.

Crispy Pig Ears - These were delightfully crispy and if no one told me what they were, I would not have know that they were pig ears. They were delicious with or without the salsa verde dipping sauce.

Lobster Jalapeno Poppers - Curry tempura was applied to the exterior to give these poppers a unique crunch. The top was drizzled with a cilantro mint chutney.
The Dudes’ Steamed Clams - The Surfrider Pale Ale from The Dudes’ Brewery is used to make these clams. Smoked pieces of garlic significantly enhanced the sauce.

Street Corn - A small section of a corn on the cob is rolled in fresh cilantro and smashed Cool Ranch Doritos. Everyone universally agreed that this item was worth trying to make at home.

“R” Mac and Cheese - Falvo gives her mac & cheese some additional depth by adding diced tomatoes and bits of pecanwood smoked bacon.

Two beer samplers were provided with each offering. Depending on your taste, you could either veer towards the lighter beer or the amber or IPA style. Beers included: Firestone Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Summerfest, Strand Brewing Atticus, Firestone 805, and Peach Berliner Weisse from The Dudes’ Brewery.

Duck Dog - I’ve never seen pretzel rolls this small and that was a great idea to pair with the housemade duck dog.

Duck Confit Steamed Buns - Duck is combined with salt, fresh rosemary and duck fat sous vide style for approximately 8 hours. This results in a crisp duck with intense flavor.

The Dudes’ Blood Orange Ice Cream Float - This arrived to the table steaming away as they had prepared it with liquid nitrogen. 
Falvo likes using liquid nitrogen because the ice cream freezes faster and avoids any crunchiness. This reminded me of an adult creamsicle.

At only $20 this is an incredible value. Don’t hesitate because this event will sell out. You can purchase the ticket using this link.

Renaissance Hotel
Long Beach, CA

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Anaheim's Carolina's Italian Restaurant Boasts 400 Beers

by guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda

When I first learned of Carolina’s Italian Restaurant, I discovered that they have over 400 beers available, arguably the largest beer list in the area. That being said, I set the bar low for food and I wasn’t expecting much.
Carolina’s Italian Restaurant originally opened over 35 years ago and has been a strong foothold in Orange County. They recently opened up another restaurant in Anaheim, just down the street from Disneyland. My wife and I recently dined there for dinner.

My wife ordered the Alley Cat Amber beer from Left Coast Brewery. This beer had a nice color and was medium bodied. My house sangria was cold, fruity and refreshing. This established a nice tone for our evening.
Instead of being served with something like cold sourdough bread, diners are presented with Carolina’s Cheesy Bread. Pizza dough is rolled and topped with a generous amount of fresh mozzarella cheese, pasta sauce and a mix of Italian herbs. This is baked in their pizza oven and delivered to the table while it’s still hot.
I was impressed that they use fresh herbs in their dishes and later discovered that many of the vegetable and herbs are grown in their garden in the rear of the property. In fact, our server helps to take care of the garden.

Polly-O-Caprese is named after the Polly-O brand of mozzarella cheese.
This is made with a thick slice of mozzarella cheese and placed over fresh tomatoes, basil, capers, red onions and served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The addition of capers worked very well with the basil and the red onions.

Their Bruschetta consists of crisp crostini topped with fresh roma tomatoes, basil and romano cheese. 
Other appetizers on the menu include calamari, fried mozzarella sticks, fried zucchini sticks and buffalo wings.

Frutti di Mare is a popular seafood dish comprised of shrimp, mussels, scallops and fresh clams. 
It is served over fettuccine with tomatoes, onions and basil mixed with a small amount of marinara sauce. Because they don’t drown it in sauce, I was able to taste the flavors of each shellfish.

The “Tour of Italy” consists of smaller portions of three of their Spaghetti and Meatballs, Shrimp Alfredo and Penne Pesto
Both my wife and I thought that their Penne Pesto was the best of the three offerings. It was filled with a generous amount of chunks of grilled chicken. Unlike many pesto dishes, this was creamy and not oily.

For dessert, we tried their tiramisu and their chocolate cake.
Both items were moist, full of chocolate and delicious. They also have strawberry or Oreo cheesecake, spumoni, mousse cake and ice cream available.

While we were there, we noticed a nice mix of people dining: young adults, families and senior citizens. Comfort seems to be one of the intents of the owners with quite a number of leather booths available.

Even if you aren’t in the mood for pasta, they have a number of other offerings such as soups, salads, sandwiches and pizza. The next time we visit Disneyland, we will definitely consider eating at Carolina’s Italian Restaurant.

Carolina’s Italian Restaurant
945 S. Harbor Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92805

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Farm to Table Pork Dinner at Post 390 with Dogpatch Farm

Post 390 in Boston is already known for their farm-to-table fare, but every couple of months, they take it a step further by holding a special dinner featuring one local producer, and bring them into the restaurant! I recently attended this Farm-to-Post dinner with hog farmer Sue Frank from Dogpatch Farm in Washington, ME.

The dinner starts out with a cocktail reception on the second floor of the restaurant with delectable hors d'oeuvres like Coppa di testa (olive gardiniera, smoked provolone), Pork fat fried chicken oysters and habanero honey, and Pate en Croute (pistachios, pickled mustard seeds, apricot, pork liver, their own pate herb blend, other meat parts)
Post 390

The cocktail of the evening of course features the beloved pork as well: Lipstick on a Pig (smoked Bulleit bourbon, Pedro Ximenez sherry, bubbly charred rosemary lemonade, candied crackling)
Post 390
It took them 6 days to dry the pig skin to make the crackling!

The Farm to Post dinner was held in their private dining area which was beautifully set.
Post 390

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Easy, Mess-Free Cooking with Ready. Chef. Go! Bags

Truth is, I would be cooking more if I don't have to wash so many pots and pans after preparing a meal. Recently, though, I tried something that helps cut down on dirty dishes. The Ready. Chef. Go! bags are steam cooking bags that make cooking easier. As you can put all the ingredients and cook it in the bag, you eliminate the need to use and clean pots and pans.
Ready Chef Go
Each bag can hold 1 lb of food and the cooking directions for different proteins or vegetables are printed on the bag for easy reference.

White Fish with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Ready Chef Go
Start with 1 lb of white fish filet, split into two Ready. Chef. Go! bags.
Ready Chef Go

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