Monthly Archives: March 2013

Tuning Fork

Nineteen days ago, something astronomically amazing and delicious opened up in Studio City.
AM2Tuning Fork is a brand new gastropub located off of Laurel Canyon Blvd and Ventura Place. I was blessed with the opportunity to get in there about a month ago to give a beer education and pairing class to the staff, and was able to make it in to try even more off the menu.
AM3Everything I was able to sample last time was mind-blowing…
AM4Unfortunately Fortunately, I wasn’t allowed to order off the menu. Chef Marc, who is absolutely insane and a complete genius, saw me come in, ran over to me and said, “Don’t touch that menu. I’m making your meal.”
AMYou never argue with Chef Marc.
AM5First out came the Water – flatbread with salmon, housemade horseradish creme fraiche, spiraled cucumber and red onion. I’m not a fan of raw salmon, lox or any other name you can give it, but I could not stop eating this. I can actually say that I am now a fan of raw salmon…on this flatbread…
AM6Duck and goose Foie Gras served with crispy fried onions, cranberry bread, candied almonds, dried grapes, pickled red onion and sour cream and bacon ice cream. Seriously. Combine a piece of everything and prepare to be sent off to another world. Again, I’m not a fan of liver at all, but this dish was mind-boggling and so beautifully presented. At this point, I was getting quite overstuffed… Luckily, I had a friend join me to help finish of the rest that was yet to come.
AM9Our producer from Summer Campbell, Jenny! Luckily, like me, she’s willing to try anything and be told what to eat by a mad/genius chef.
AM7After the Foie Gras came our palate cleanser – pickled melon and cucumber. So simple, yet so unique and utterly delectable.
AM8This was followed by the Lost Sailor – beer battered whitefish, fresh tartar sauce, pickles and pepperoncini all wrapped up in a soft brioche roll. Crisp, light and flaky with nice acidity from the pickles cutting through the creamy tartar sauce. All of this was balanced by a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid thanks to a wonderful pairing suggestion by our waitress.

At this point, I couldn’t fit anymore in.
AM10So Chef Marc brought out the big guns – Death by Chocolate. Rich pieces of fudge studded with raisins and splattered with housemade raspberry sauce, artistically served with a huge steak knife piercing through. This dish is rich and filling without being overly sweet, but the presentation alone makes it worth the order.
ammOur meal was capped with a blend of raspberry syrup and The Bruery’s Mischief Belgian strong pale ale. High carbonation and a dry finish scrubs the palate clean while the light sweetness of the raspberry syrup helps you reminisce the last breath of the Death by Chocolate.

I’ll be back for another forced order by Chef Marc as soon as I possibly can! As for now, Happy Easter to you all! I’m headed to Boston on Monday for training at the Samuel Adams Brewery! Plenty of pictures to come!

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Filed under Restaurant Review

Getting Up to Speed

A few of the things that have transpired lately…
amPLINY THE YOUNGER! Didn’t even have to wait in line! I was taking a different route home, got a call from a lovely lady from Ladies at Ladyface and was receiving a pour two minutes later. I’m glad that I tried it, but I’m very glad I didn’t wait in line for it. It’s a perfectly balanced beer. Someone at Tony’s Darts Away explained it the best way – “So perfect it’s forgettable.” I’ll remember it just because of the hype. And the jalapeno and bacon mac ‘n cheese I paired with it.
am3Enegren Brewing and El Segundo Brewing beer pairing night at Short Order!
am1am4Tom from El Segundo Brewing, Matt and Joe from Enegren Brewing.
am2Valkyrie California Alt in front of the fire on a warm evening.
am5Bad news for you guys – the food was so delicious that it was devoured before I remembered I should be taking pictures. My apologies.
am7Custom Melt visited the brewery for our St. Patrick’s Day event!
am9Green Mac ‘n Cheese with Bangers. Spinach blended into the cheese made it green. And healthy. That’s how that works.
am8Heavenly corned beef and cabbage melts. It was jam packed again, similar to Superbowl Saturday, so I was only able to snag a few bites of everything.
am6Irish Car Bomb bread pudding! Thomas of Custom Melt made Valkyrie beer bread to use in this recipe. Have I mentioned how Custom Melt is my hero/haven/love/dream?
am10We had the 21st meeting of Ladies at Ladyface! Irish brews were the theme.
am11Plenty of donations from the ladies.
am12Traditional examples of nitro Irish stouts.
am13And and “Irish Car Bomb” beer by Ladyface owner Cyrena. She used Ladyface’s Barleywine and threw in whiskey-soaked oak chips. Dangerously delicious, plus each glass had an oak chip or two gracefully floating atop the sweet nectar.
am15Corned beef and cabbage sliders to top off the evening!
am17I also designed and hosted a beer pairing at Cafe Fiore in Woodland Hills!
am16The things my job requires me to do… It’s rough, I’m tellin’  ya.
am18Chef masterpieces commence….NOW.
am20Ahi Tuna Tartar with fresh avocado,  house-pickled cucumbers and crispy focaccia. I could’ve eaten just this all night and been content.
am21Citrus-glazed shrimp skewers with citrus wedges and spring greens.
am22House-made chicken and sun-dried tomato sausages atop sweet polenta, drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Again, heavenly.
am23Corned beef sliders – twas the season.
am26Awful picture, but possibly my favorite dessert EVER – caramel sauce, freshly sliced Fuji apples and asiago cheese atop freshly baked pizza crust. My boss, my boss’s boss and myself each ordered an additional one to take home and share with those who were truly deserving of such an abundance of deliciousness – that means I ate the majority of it. It’s THAT good.
am27I had a lovely girls’ night with Janelle and her little Avery last night as well! She made an amazing spread of stuffed peppers, roasted sweet potatoes and fresh salad to pair with the beers I brought.
amamaFarmer’s Reserve No. 2 by Almanac Beer Company. Wonderfully tart and not overpowering with spices at all. This will be a repeat.
am28Avery was a little jealous of us I think. Only 20.3 years and then you can join us in appreciation of fermented liquids! She shall be trained well when the time comes, but for now I’m enjoying capturing her beautiful innocence.

Coming up this week – a new restaurant review. I did a beer education at this amazing place with an eccentric/genius chef and have been dying to sit down and have a full meal there. Tomorrey is that day.

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Filed under beer, beer pairing

Desert Center

After we’d perused the abandoned school, Commander Matt and I were prepared to continue right back to the highway. The one thing that was nagging my mind were those random decapitated palm trees that brought me here in the first place. Just down the road from the school, through the dead and silent town, we found the cabins.
amAbout six or seven small cabins rest in the desert dust. One has already been burned to the ground, no doubt thanks to vandals.
am1The insides are completely destroyed with paint falling off the walls and furniture thrown everywhere.
am3am2am4Old yellowing newspapers and calendars were strewn all across the back bedroom floor.
am6This was the home of Carl Moser: born September 28, 1892 and died November 1, 1976.
abcAll of his final payments still hang on the wall.
am9An old pop top Bud can.
am10The next house was in the same condition.
am11AM12That might be a little expired…
AM17These cans expired in 2009. I never thought I’d see an expired canned food.
AM13AM14Different trash and toys from all different decades. Some of these houses look like they’ve become a dumpster for the few remaining locals.
AM15am24Almost mint condition. It hurt to leave this behind.
AM16Slightly creepy and ominous. It fit the feel of the entire town.
am18Jeff Ragsdale, the son of “Desert Steve” Ragsdale, had trophies and certificates all across the floors in what I assume was the Ragsdale home.
am19am20This seemed to be the trophy house. Old memoirs that you’d think would want to be saved have been left here to rot.
am23am21You can see the decapitated palm trees that originally pulled me in.
am25After exploring and documenting every crevice, we returned to the highway and sped back to California and to population.


Filed under Abandoned buildings, Adventures, Travel

Desert Center School

Stephen “Desert Steve” Ragsdale founded the town of Desert Center in 1921 after having been  Out in the middle of nowhere, this town was a watering hole for those traveling between Phoenix and California, giving the weary travelers some much-needed respite and shade. In the 1940s when Ragsdale’s children needed schooling, he built up Desert Center School which fell into complete disrepair after it shut down in 1983. Today, the few children who remain are bused 120 miles round trip to the closest school in Blythe, California.
AM Desert Center School.AM1Nothing more thrilling than trespassing in a state where a high percentage of landowners are armed with shotguns.AM2The auditorium.AM3A view of the stage.AM4AM5The remains of one of the two pianos that used to stand tall – due to the elements or vandals, who knows.AM6Formerly known as piano keys.AM7AM8The day the music died.AM9AM10The remains of ceiling paint, thoroughly consumed by mold.AM11Walls melting in the desert heat.am12You can hear the rats scurrying through the air ducts, even from across the parking lot.am13Random awesome farming equipment rusted into the ground outside.am14am15A man, a toothpick and his tractor.am16am17Hauntingly, beautifully forgotten.

Coming up soon – the abandoned homes of Desert Center.


Filed under Abandoned buildings

A Visit from the Chive


It’s been a while, I know. I was kidnapped and taken to a ridiculously beautiful (not abandoned) hotel on the beach for my birthday, forced to consume lots of delicious foods and try new beers, then kidnapped again and taken to Arizona where I was forced to drive golf carts, eat more delicious foods and drink more beer. It was traumatizing and rough, but I escaped and now I’m back to reality. Sigh.
beachesSunset at Mandalay Bay.
am2A complimentary bottle of Barrel-Aged Kriek from Island Brewing Company on my birthday.
am4Just heard that one of my Island Brewing favorites, Little Island, is back! Who wants to bring me a bottle? Beer trade, anyone?
am5My happy place. Craft beers and the beach – could it get any better?
am6Grilled filet mignon, lemony risotto and garlic-lemon sauteed broccolini with Tempranillo for Hallmark Day.
am7John, Joe and Patty from The Chive came to Enegren Brewing Company to learn more about the brewing process and everything beer. KCCO beer – coming soon! Looking forward to it, guys!
am8Joe and Patty checking out the digs.AM10A little pouring training for John.
AM11Success! Much better than his first attempt…
Screen shot 2013-03-02 at 8.51.22 AMYeah, about that…
Screen shot 2013-03-02 at 8.54.51 AMAfter a rowdy two or three hours, John bought beers for 40 Chivers to Pay It Forward and they departed.
am9As of now only ten glasses are left on John’s tab and Brother Joseph “Bro-Joe” Belgian Strong Ale is on tap! Why aren’t you here yet?
AM12After all that craziness, another kidnapping took place. We went to Arizona, played golf (well, I hit two drives and then drove the golf cart. Same difference…) drank more delicious local beer and enjoyed the warm summeresque evenings.
ArizonaOn the drive back to California, we stumbled across this abandoned beauty:
schoolBut that’ll have to wait until tomorrey…


Filed under beer