Monthly Archives: March 2011

Geeking Out!

It’s time you all got to know me. The REAL me. Prepare yourselves.
This is Mount Picacho. Don’t know it? Neither did I.
Until I read this book – The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Yes, that is the same woman who wrote the Twilight series.

This book is infinitely better. It’s possibly my favorite book of all time as of now. It’s definitely my favorite (and only) science fiction book I’ve ever read. I’m not ashamed.

There’s a part in The Host where the main character goes to Mount Picacho, where her old family ranch is. I found Mount Picacho. The only ranch I found was an ostrich ranch. I don’t believe they are the same…
I was excited. I’m random like that. After a few rants about how amazing the book is, I convinced my artist to read it too. She’s halfway through and absolutely adoring it. She’s the one who insisted we pull over and take pictures.
A woman after my own heart.

I’m a geek. I love Stephenie Meyer’s book The Host. I also enjoy creepy ghost towns and small puppies. Nice to meet you.


Filed under Uncategorized

Breaking the Chain: Rúla Búla

This post is part of a new series I’m doing called “Breaking the Chain”. Check out previous broken chains like White Elephant.

After Friday’s show had wrapped up in Tempe, we closed up the booth and ventured out looking for a local restaurant to try. I’ve walked by this place a few times whilst looking for take-out lunches and wanted to check it out, so into Rúla Búla we went!
This adorable little Irish pub really has the authentic feel of Ireland – or I like to think it does. It’s hard to say, never having been there, but you can take it on my educated guess that this is very similar!
I absolutely LOVE the small tavern feel. Everything is very quaint and wooden and roughed up. It felt authentic and very cozy.
I ordered a Guinness Crown – a tall glass of Magner’s cider (Enjoyed this many a time last summer!) with a crown of Guinness on top. I’ve tried so very hard to enjoy Guinness, but it really is just not for me. I like my beer to have flavor, not taste like ashy water. My apologies to all you Guinness-lovers.
Since I didn’t get a chance to have corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, I ordered a big ole plate here. It was tasty, but nothing compared to what my mumsie used to make in the slow cooker. The meat was a little tough and stringy and the cabbage was slightly crunchy. I prefer it when everything is so tender that it just melts in your mouth – just the way mom makes it!

I was far too stuffed for dessert, so we toddled over to the parking lot and headed back to the hotel. Things changed when I saw that the lobby restaurant was still in full swing…
BREAD PUDDING!!!! If you’re just now finding my blog, you need to know that I have an obsession with bread pudding. Up until Sunday, I had bread pudding eight days in a row. It was a beautiful time in my life.

On a side note – I’d like to let you know that those tastings from the beer garden were 2 ounces only! The pictures make them look like a full stein, but it was a small 2 ounce glass – I got some worried queries from my mother after reading my blog, teehee!

I get one more day of relaxation (and laundry), then off to Tucson for another show!!! LOVING IT!


Filed under Uncategorized

Microbreweries of Tempe

I’ve been working really hard to bring you guys some good beer stuff! We got to Tempe early on Thursday and had to wait for our room to be ready, so we headed to the hotel restaurant for some foods.
BEER IS FOOD. Oh yeah, and we had tortilla soup. No, seriously, the tortilla soup was absolutely amazing: spicy, rich, chock full of soft veggies and  crispy tortilla strips, but the beer rounded out the meal. Four Peaks Raj IPA – VERY bitter, wonderful aroma, but almost no flavor. It was basically like sipping a bear trap that clamped on your tongue. You want to be macho and brave through it, but it’s really not enjoyable at all.

Today was better. There happens to be a GARDEN of BEER at the Tempe Art Festival. My boss ordered me to go to the beer garden for lunch to taste the local brews and decide on our future drinks. She’s so tough on me!
First up was Dave’s Electric Brewpub (because you couldn’t tell from the picture of the banner I just posted)…
I tried the original Dave’s Electric Beer. Honestly, it was overcarbonated and tasted like a lame Budweiser. Sorry, Dave, I really wanted to like you!
Next up was something new from Four Peaks. Wasn’t a huge fan of their Raj, but I’m always ready to give second chances!

First up was their Hop Knot IPA. SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE RAJ! This is possibly the hoppiest beer I’ve ever had. I don’t know the specific IBU, but it was like a beautiful facepunch! It was hoppy, but had TASTE unlike Raj. The bitter pain was absolutely endearing.
FOUR separate hops additions. I may be in love.
Next up was the Kilt Lifter. Hilarious name, delicious beer. Very malty with a hint of smokiness and some kind of fruit essence – Paul, whom I was sharing a table with, told me it was raspberry. I’m not in-the-know enough to detect something that specific… yet…
Finally, Sleepy Dog. The lovely gentleman working the taps gave me a few tasters before my “official” taster. I tried their Dunkel Weizen which is their seasonal beer (the dark version of their Leg Humper Hef – heehee!). It was very similar to Franziskaner Dunkel, in the best ways possible – dark and rich with banana and clove notes. Then I tried their Scootcher – a Scottish amber ale. This one tasted almost exactly like Spaten Optimator! Except better. It’s from a microbrewery, of COURSE it’s better! This and Four Peaks are in a tie for the best beer names – Kilt Lifter vs. Leg Humper!
Oops. This is where the pictures of Scootcher was supposed to go. It may or may not be the previous picture. After four tasters of beer, I was apparently losing my mind. I’M SUCH A LIGHTWEIGHT! I still have two tickets left for tasting that I’ll have to use tomorrow or Sunday. Durn!

That sums up my microbrewery tour of Tempe, Arizona! More updates coming up – with beer AND food this time! For now, I’m going to put down the fork and plate of bread pudding that I just polished off and waddle off to bed. I have a gigantic workout awaiting me in the morning. Oooooh, yes!
On an unrelated note – the Angels are staying in the exact same hotel I am! I’ve seen a ton of them – or I may have seen a ton of them… I really don’t know anyone from the team, but I’m guessing they’re the ones wearing Angels jerseys? Just a guess….


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Breaking the Chain: White Elephant

I’m starting a new blog series called Breaking the Chain. There are so many chain restaurants out there in the world that you can eat at anytime, and anywhere. I’m breaking the chain and focusing on local eateries and how they stand apart.

Local doesn’t mean only around my area – it means small establishments that are giving it a go on their own, and producing quality food that rivals, and more than often, beats the taste of large chains that manufacture their foods without giving it a second thought. This will include mom and pop places in Arizona, California, Washington and other places I travel to.

My first break: White Elephant.
I discovered this lovely little Thai restaurant about two years ago when I was taking classes down the street. The owner, Nok, is a sweet woman who goes above and beyond to ensure that her guests are served the best tasting, freshest food possible.
Case in point: I ordered a Thai iced tea and asked if they had any soymilk to substitute for the evaporated milk (dairy-free Lent!). They were out of soy, but our waiter ended up running over to the local Whole Foods and bringing back soymilk so I could enjoy Thai tea! I was in shock! Seriously, AMAZING customer service!
My roommate and I ordered the Tom Kha Gai – a coconut milk-based soup with chicken, mushrooms, lemongrass and galangal root. They lit the hot pot as it got to our table which kept the tangy, savory soup warm while we slowly sipped it.
We also split the pineapple fried rice. We requested that it be made with brown rice, and cooked with as little oil as possible. Instead of grumbling over our substitutions and requests, they brought out the most beautifully presented dish I’ve ever seen. The nutty brown rice was encased in half of a pineapple shell, and studded with tender peas and carrots, juicy raisins and chunks of pineapple, succulent shrimp that were perfectly cooked, and crunchy cashews.

After our meal, we were STUFFED!
Or we thought we were… Then Nok sent out a complimentary dessert of sweet rice and mango! Over the years, she’s learned that this is our absolute favorite dessert, and was kind enough to top off our amazing meal with tender, ripe mango and sweet coconut-scented rice sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

Okay, NOW were were stuffed!

White Elephant is located at 668 N. Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks, California. If you want a delicious meal that you know is made on site and not pulled from a freezer and reheated, check this place out – and tell Nok that Becki says hi! This is my absolute favorite Thai restaurant in the Pacific Coast time zone, and believe me, I’ve tried them all!

Is there a local eatery that you absolutely swear by? Please feel free to Break the Chain and write about your favorite one! Let’s support these mom and pop establishments!


Filed under local cafe, pineapple fried rice, thai food, thai food makes me happy

My Pompous Lunch

Yesterday I was stuck working my lovely retail job all day. Turns out, this wasn’t a bad thing. The weather in Southern California was absolutely insane! I spent the drive to work dodging falling branches and hydroplaning through lakes in the middle of the roads. Apparently, right after I left, THIS happened:
Since that tree just happened to block off my way home, I decided to take a long, leisurely lunch at work.
Jane Eyre, a glass of red wine, freshly baked bread and olive oil. How uppity am I?

There were also some braised short ribs on wilted spinach later, but that de-snobs my premise. Plus, the picture came out blurry.

By the time I headed home, a huge firetruck had shoved the big tree out of the road and, after rerouting me through two different neighborhoods, I finally pulled into my driveway in one piece.

I received another package from Foodbuzz and decided that baking would be a perfect way to spend a chilly evening.
Although I received this bread free from Nature’s Pride, my opinions are my own. WOW, having to say that all the time is going to get annoying! I like that this bread actually expires  in six days and isn’t stuffed with preservatives like other store-bought breads so they’ll stay mold-free for two months.
Not sure why they felt the need to add raisin juice concentrate, vinegar, cultured corn solids or soy lecithin. Or whey for that matter. GREAT bread can easily be made with whole wheat flour and grains, water, honey, salt and yeast.

One thing I know, it makes a DANG GOOD bread pudding!
I may have a little bread pudding problem… Once I have it, I have to keep having it until all the bread is gone from my house. Uh-oh…

This bread pudding is a miniature of my Magical Bread Pudding. I basically split the recipe in half and filled a really teeny ramekin. I also subbed coconut milk for soy milk. The result? A souffle of warm cinnamon, sweet chocolate and moist (sorry) bread with crunchy flax seeds throughout. I haven’t tried the bread on its own, but for this recipe, it’s a winner!

Today looks like it’s going to be sunny, but after my pompous lunch and bread pudding, I don’t know if I’m okay with that…

Curling up and watching an indie-film marathon sounds much, much better to me!


Filed under bread, Bread pudding, bread pudding makes me happy, Crazy storm, fallen trees, FOOD, Foodbuzz, Jane Eyre, Magical Bread Pudding, Nature's Pride, red wine

Bernard’s Wine Gallery

My friend and cousin Allie came over for a day of wine tasting and food eating yesterday. I had a Groupon for wine tasting that I bought way back in December, and it was expiring in three days. We jumped in the car and headed over to Calabasas to Bernard’s Wine Gallery. Tip: Pull into the free parking lot to the left of the store and try to get parking there if you can. When we got there, no spots were left. We ended up driving down the street and valeting with some snobby, uppity guys who scoffed at us and begrudgingly agreed to valet after hearing where we were going.
As you can tell, I got really dressed up for the occasion…
We “splurged” and got the Petit Sirah tasting. The Groupon got us a wine tasting for two people for only $15, but the Sirah tasting was $3 extra per person. We figured we could spare the extra cash, even though we’d gone all fancy with valet.
Our favorite was the third one – Hunt Cellars Irresistable Paso Robles Petite Sirah from 2002. We jokingly asked for a refill and the wonderful gentleman who was serving us generously poured us another taste!
Allie is well-versed when it comes to wine. Seeing that this was my first wine tasting, I did a lot of nodding and agreeing with whatever she said. It all tasted good to me!

After our four tastings, we roamed the adorable little shop for a bit, talked with some of the staff and finally went to retrieve my car from the snobby valets, who we tipped because I’m so very, very nice. It was around dinnertime, so we headed over to… LADYFACE!!!
Ahhh, this is MY kind of place!
I tried their oaked blueberry Trois Filles Tripel that had real wild blueberries in the glass. This beer was very mild, slightly sweet and very tasty, however I just cannot get used to drinking room temperature beer. I went with my current Ladyface favorite – Chesebro IPA.
We split the sweet potato fries with red ale ketchup – another one of my “regular” orders, along with the sausage plate.
BREAD PUDDING!!! We specifically requested a center piece of the bread pudding (I’ve found the corner pieces are dry and hard) and it was AMAZING! Notes of sweet cinnamon, rich caramel and nutmeg made for the best bread pudding I’ve ever tasted in my entire life – including mine! Okay, maybe not QUITE better than mine, but pretty close!

Ladyface Fridays.
It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?


Filed under beer tasting, Bread pudding, bread pudding makes me happy, Ladyface, Ladyface Ale Companie, Ladyface Alehouse and Brasserie, sweet potato fries, wine

Bites ‘n Beaches

This is how I spend my weekdays.
It was a very, very difficult day. The sun was almost TOO warm!
Nothing like a good hike up a cliff to look out over the sea.

Like I said, it was a really, really difficult day.

I got home after running a few errands today and found another lovely box from Foodbuzz on my doorstep. Free stuff = happy! And spoiled!
Although I received these two bags of chips free from Tostitos, my opinions are my own, yada yada yada. You know the drill.
Lots of whole ingredients and mixes of grains – I do like that!
The roasted garlic and black bean was sadly pretty bland. There was absolutely no garlic flavor at all.
Let me first say that I’m not a huge fan of chipotle. These chips, however may have converted me! They taste very similar to Doritos, but given the option between the two, of course I’d take the chips with the whole grains and all natural ingredients!

The bag says “no dip needed”, but I’d still dunk these babies in a big vat of lovely green avocado, just because I can!

Bites ‘n Beaches. A really, REALLY difficult day.
Blessed beyond belief!


Filed under beach, chipotle, ocean, ocean view, Tostitos, Uncategorized

Shop Brew!

On Sunday I ventured to Woodland Hills for a day of beer brewing with the Maltose Falcons. Thanks to daylight savings time, I woke up late and barely had time to shove a piece of toast in my mouth before I had to leave.
Luckily, I arrived on time, we got our recipe and set to work gathering the ingredients. And yes, that DOES indeed say 36LBS of pale malt, 9lbs of Brown Malt and 6lbs of English Caramel. We were brewing 30 gallons of beer that day – serious stuff!
We got to work choosing our malts.
And weighed out the hops.
Then we got to work mashing the grains.
After letting the grains steep at 154 degrees for 60 minutes, we mashed out by running 168 degree water through the grain bed until it drained all the sugars, starches and proteins into another tun.
Once we’d filled the second tun, we brought the wort up to a boil…
And added the bittering hops.Then we had another 45 minutes to wait until the addition of the aroma hops, so we got to work feeding ourselves – the most important part.
Oops, that’s not the food I meant to show you…
There we go! Espresso shortbread cookies…
And of course my Oatmeal Stout Brownies with Caramelized Bacon. Those disappeared within half an hour!
Along with more beer. It’s the rule of brewing – “Relax, don’t worry. Have a homebrew.” And we sure did!
I also brought along a growler of Dos Beckis, which was quickly consumed!
After the final addition of the aroma hops, we quickly brought the temperature of the wort down with an immersion wort chiller that connects to a regular garden hose. The copper coil carries the cold water through the wort, rapidly bringing the temperature down.
We then filled all of the carboys or fermenters and oxygenated them before pitching in the yeast.
The cold break – the proteins have been chilled so quickly that they coagulate and then drop to the bottom of the carboy, resulting in  clearer beer.

My beer had a very active day yesterday, screaming away through the airlock in my closet, but it’s quieted down a lot already. Possibly TOO much. For now, I’m going to…

“Relax, don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”


Filed under beer, beer is good, beer tasting, brewing, Caramelized Bacon, Dos Beckis, home brew beer, home brewing, Maltose Falcons, Oatmeal Stout Brownies, Woodland Hills

Oatmeal Stout Brownies with Caramelized Bacon

Oh my geez. On Saturday, I combined the three best things in the entire universe. I was preparing for the shop brew with the Maltose Falcons and wanted to bring something that would sustain the group for the day, be insanely delicious, and make them all love me. Chocolate + beer + bacon = LOVE!
Oatmeal Stout Brownies with Caramelized Bacon – Printable recipe available HERE.

12 oz. oatmeal stout (I used Stockyard because that’s all Trader Joe’s had. I’d recommend something a little richer, like a double chocolate stout)
1 cup extra dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup melted Earth Balance (I used butter since I was serving to ravenous men, but normally I’d use something dairy-free)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
A crapload of chocolate chips
For the caramelized bacon:
6 strips of THINLY sliced bacon
1 heaping tbsp dark brown sugar, tightly packed

1. Tilt a large bowl and pour the stout slowly in. Mix together the oatmeal stout and the unsweetened cocoa powder.

2. Add the brown sugar, butter or butter substitute, eggs and vanilla extract and whisk, making sure all the yolks are broken.
3. Add the flour, salt and a handful (or four) of chocolate chips and stir just until blended.
4. Pour into a greased 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 inch baking pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out relatively clean.
6. While the brownie is baking, place 6 strips of thin bacon (MUST be thin in order to get crispy!) in a cold skillet, then turn burner on to medium heat.
7. Cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, turning every two minutes and draining off grease as it forms.
8. Lay cooked bacon on a plate covered with paper towels and let drain.
9. Take the slightly cooled bacon and chop into small pieces.
10. Add the bacon back into the pan (wipe the pan with a dry paper towel to remove as much grease as possible) along with a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar.
11. Turn heat to medium-high and stir constantly until the sugar melts and coats all the bacon (about three minutes).
12. Remove immediately and spread on a piece of parchment paper.
13. When the brownie is done cooking, sprinkle the caramelized bacon crumbles all over the top, then cover with foil and let rest for five minutes.


I served this at the shop brew and it was DEMOLISHED by the hungry guys.

Lesson of the day: If you want to be adored, BAKE THIS NOW. It’s also perfect for St. Patrick’s Day – and would be even better topped with a scoop of Paciugo’s Guinness gelato and a scoop of organic maple caramelized bacon gelato. Oooooh myyyyy geeeeeez! I should’ve done that!!!


Filed under Uncategorized

Ladyface with Bloggers!

Last night I met up with eleven other bloggers and one of my very favorite places in the world: Ladyface.
We got seated inside at one of the long tables, but after a few minutes of screaming at each other trying to be heard, we requested a swap for a table on the patio.
I ordered my favorite: Chesebro IPA. 9.8%ABV and soopah hoppy!
It made me soopah happy.
Kaitlin being a super-creeper and getting WAY better, clearer pictures than I got. I’m not jealous of her camera or skills at all…
From left to right: Dan, Monica, Katherine and Amanda.
Left to right: Danielle and Kelley.
We spent the entire night drinking delicious beer, consuming wonderful food, but most importantly, talking incessantly about beer, blogging, food, life in general, and having the most amazing, fun Friday night with new friends. I never would have thought that I would be spending a Friday night with some people that I met on the internet, and ENJOYING myself at that, but I’m hooked!
And then Amanda did the downward dog.
And our night was complete.

We’re all waiting for the group pictures to show up – I think Jessie and Kaitlin have those in their possession. I can’t think of a better way to spend my Friday than at Ladyface with good beer, good bloggers and great friends.



Filed under Becki Kregoski, beer, blogger meet-up, brewery, Chesebro IPA, IPA, Ladyface, Ladyface Ale Companie, Ladyface Alehouse and Brasserie, NEW WEBSITE, sweet potato fries, Uncategorized