Big Bite Bacon Fest

I have never been to a bacon fest before and I have to say I was pretty excited. I went with the VIP option and I am glad that I went that route. The Vip ticket allowed you to enter at 11am which gave you one hour with other Vip’ers before the General Admission folks came in at 12pm.

I buzzed through and tried a bunch of different stuff and when the flood gates where opened at 12pm the place got really busy. With a belly full of bacon, I started to roam around and take a bunch of pictures and enjoy some craft beer. They split this event into two events and both of them were sold out. They had a lunch session from 12pm to 2:30pm and a dinner session from 4pm-7:30pm.

Here are some of the dishes that stood out for me:

B’B’B’ Bacon Burgers from Slaters 50-50: I have been to Slaters a few times and I have been impressed both times. This was no exception. They made huge 50/50 burgers and cut them into quarters. They were very filling vs some of the other things that I sampled. Eggs and Bacon on a burger, it doesn’t get any better than that!

Pork Chicharon In Bacon Fat: This was an amazing dish and this booth was slammed from the get go. They cooked their dishes along the side of the booth so you could check it out as you were standing in line which was a nice touch. A lot of vendors chose to cook behind their booths.

BLT Cup from Beachwood Brewing: This one was pretty interesting. They took regular salad and put that on top of tomatoe jello and bacon jello. When you mixed it all up it was the perfect BLT blend.

Chocolate Covered Bacon from Meat Inc: Meat Inc had 3 different dishes but I think I might of liked this one the best. The chocolate was cooked into the bacon grease which saturated it nicely. I did not expect to like it as much as I did.

Maple Bacon Dirty Ice: This was served at the Whole Food booth and was kind of like a dessert. This was one of the last things I tried and it was good way to end a day of bacon sampling.

Vermont Bacon Maple Bars: These were maple bars topped with bacon. It was a nice mixture and also fell into the dessert section.

After I was done with my bacon sampling I roamed around the Queen Mary a bit and actually took the World War 2 history tour and then I watched the girls from the Las Vegas Sin have a scrimmage against the Los Angeles Temptation and that was pretty fun to watch. It was out on the grass area right in the middle of it and a lot of people including myself have never seen them play and that was pretty fun.


Written by Louie Baur

L'Opera Ristorante

L’Opera Ristorante is not your average italian restaurant! This is the place you want to go when you want to leave a killer, long-lasting impression on somebody. Tonight I brought Abigail here and I hit it out of the park. We went with the full experience which included some craft cocktails, appetizers, salad, main course, secondary course, dessert and dessert wine. It was fabulous!

So first lets talk about the supporting cast because they were amazing. Tina was the manager tonight and she checked up on us and made sure everything was A-OK. Andrew was our server and when we got ourselves into a pinch he came through with a ton of amazing suggestions and he nailed it on all of them and finally we had Alex behind the bar making some delicious Long Beach cocktails.
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Speaking of cocktails, we each had two vodka based drinks. I had the Vespasian and Abigail had the Augustus.

Augustus: Hanger 1 Fraser River Rasberry, (Organic Rasberry Infused Vodka), Splash of Triple Sec, Fresh Lemonade, a Dash of Bitters and Club Soda. This was a very refreshing drink and Abigail sucked down a few of them and said it was the best drink she had in a long time.

Vespasian Maritini: Belvedere Pink Grapefruit, Campari, St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, Orange Juice and a squeeze of fresh lime. This was the perfect drink. Whenever I order grapefruit drinks I always run the risk of having it taste a little to tart. That was not the case here. Great mix, went down smooth and was strong.

After we got the cocktails going, Andrew brought us out a round of bread and an Italian herb dipping oil. We went ahead and got the Crudo for an appetizer.

Crudo: Pan Seared Sterling Silver Filet Mignon Topped with Cannellini Beans, Red Onion, Black Truffle Peelings, Arugala, Parmigiano Cheese & a Balsamic Reduction. There where 4 servings, and the meat was perfectly done. They were a little tough to grab, so you have to transfer them to your plate with a spoon. It was like eating awesome little meat and bean sandwiches. We each had two of these.

We were now ready for another round of cocktails and about this time, Andrew asked if I wanted a salad. I went ahead and got a half Caesar Salad. It had fresh parmigiano cheese and a very creamy Caesar dressing that is made in-house by the chef. It was topped off with an anchovy which I ate first. Yummy! A nice and salty first bite.

Ok now it was time to get down to the main course portion of the day. I went with the Cappelli Lombardi and Abigail had the Ravioli Al Tartufo. When the dishes were brough tout, Andrew suggested that we stay away from the Parmigian cheese and give the dishes a shot by themselves. Of course Parmigian was an option and I usually put it on everything but this time around we went with the suggestion and we did not touch the dishes which ended up being a great choice.
LOpera Ristorante 15 LOpera Ristorante
Cappelli Lombardi: Homemade Ravioli Stuffed with Red Wine Braised Short Rib of Beef, Ricotta & Parmigiano, Sautéed in a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce. This dish was recommended to me by Andrew and when he said short rib stuffed into ravioli I knew that it was going to be a winner. It was very tasty and I probably could have eaten two plates but I stuck with one. The short ribbed tucked inside the ravioli was amazing. The gorgonzola cream sauce topped it off for me. I would highly recommend you taking a look at this dish as it is amazing!

Ravioli Al Tartufo: Homemade Red Chile Ravioli Stuffed with Black Truffles, Wild Mushrooms & Robiola Cheese, Finished with a Brown Butter Sage Sauce. The truffles were not overwhelming at all on this dish and it worked well. One of the things that stuck out for me was the use of sage. It was crispy and melted in your mouth when you took a bite of it. We were worried it might have been too much and could have overpowered the dish but that wasn’t the case at all! It was an excellent combination.

After we finished our main courses, Andrew brought out 4 pieces of Cappellacci Di Zucca which is Homemade Pasta Filled with Butternut Squash & Ricotta, Served Over Spicy Marinara Sauce, Finished with Shaved Parmigiano Cheese & a Brown Butter Sage Sauce (this dish contains small traces of pine nuts & walnuts). This was a nice way to transfer between the dinner meal and the desert menu. The butternut squash was sweet and the marinara sauce was spicy and the combination of the two was perfect. Again on this menu the sage really came into play because it was served on top much like the Ravioli Al Tartufo.

Now it was time for desert. I went for the Tiramisu and Abigail had the Sacchetto Di Cioccolata. Both desserts had a nice fresh custard that was really light and rich but not overwhelmingly sweet. The custard and whipped cream are both made in-house by the chef and you can definitely tell the difference in quality.

Tiramisu: Mascarpone Cheese Whipped with Rum, Sandwiched Between Layers of Ladyfingers Soaked in Espresso, Served with Mocha Sauce & Crème Anglaise. The Tiramisu is an excellent Italian dessert. It had a nice expresso flavor to it and the sponge cake was spongy as opposed to the soggy mess you’re used to getting. It was served with a generous amount of custard, homemade whipped cream and blackberries.

Sacchetto Di Cioccolata: A Dark Chocolate Sack Bagged with a Grocery of Chilled Zabaione & Fresh Fruit. The idea with this dish is to break up the chocholate and mix it in with the fresh fruit. The chocolate was dark and rich, and it came with the same custard as the tiramisu as well as fresh fruit. Andrew gave us instructions on how to eat it so that we could get the full experience. Abigail and I almost felt bad eating this dessert because it was so beautifully made.

Now that we have covered the bases of the most important aspect of any restaurant, THE FOOD, we can go into some other neat things we noticed around the restaurant. When you go into the restroom, there is a recording playing that gives you italian lessons. The bar is fully stocked and they have over 500 wines on the wine list in addition to a ton of different cocktails. The Chef makes her own dessert sauces and whipped cream fresh everyday. In order to keep it nice and fresh she will make new batches of it throughout the night so that every dessert you encounter is top notch. The restaurant itself used to be the Bank of Italy. To sum it all up, come here if you want to impress!


Written by Louie Baur

Gaucho Grill

The Gaucho Grill is an Argentine restaurant located in Downtown Long Beach. This was my first visit here and I had a great time, enjoyed some great craft cocktails and ate some amazing food.

I came to the Gaucho Grill on Pine Avenue on a Saturday at 5pm with my wife. We had a reservation for 5pm and we were promptly seated. To start things off, we went with the Champagne Mojito and the Peach Martini. Later I followed the Pear Martini with the Old Rhubarb. I have been focusing on Long Beach Cocktails a lot as of late and this is one area that I like to explore when I am going to a new restaurant or bar for the first time. Abigail seems to pretty much always dive into the Mojito department and she loved her drink. Here are the three craft cocktails that we tried.

Champagne Mojito: Bacardi, Chandon Brut, Mint Leaves, Lime, Club Soda and house triple syrup. This variation of the mojito was nice. I have not mixed champagne and rum before and I could easily drink these things all day long

Peach Martini: Grey Goose, Peach and a splash of orange juice. This was served in a martini glass and had a slice of pear in it that was soaked with booze and very tasty. This was a very smooth drink and a great way to get things started.

Old Rhubarb: Angels Envy, Simple Syrup and Rhubarb Bitters. This drink obviously had a bit more kick to it than the mojito or the martini. It had a very smooth aftertaste though. Kind of like that of coconut or vanilla. This must have been the rhubarb because I am new to it. Old Rhubarb is an Angels Envy based drink. I had just met Erik from Angel’s Envy at the Exhibition Room a few weeks earlier so I have been making an effort to support his brand and I also like the taste of the bourbon. Both my cocktails where delicious!
Gaucho Grill 14 Gaucho Grill

After the cocktails where ordered we got some tasty bread and an appetizer. The bread and the dipping sauce for the bread was amazing and if you are not careful you could easily go through a few baskets of this stuff. The dipping sauce had Oil, Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Garlic and Crushed Pepper.

We settled on the Morcilla Argentine which is a grilled argentine black sausage that comes in a black skillet with some chopped tomatoes and cilantro. I have never had a sausage like this before. It literally melted in my mouth. It was good to mix it in with the tomatoes and I wolfed that down in about a minute. The

For dinner I went with the Mahi Mahi on Grill. It comes with two pieces of Mahi Mahi topped with Arrabiata sauce and it was served with mashed potatoes and 3 pieces of grilled zucchini. I have not had fish in awhile and this was a nice change for me. I liked how the Arrabiata sauce complimented the fish and for me it was a good mix. Abigail got the Steak Salad and that came in a cool bowl that had kind of a 45 degree tilt to it and inside was delicious pieces of skirt steak, zucchini, olives, tomatoes, greens and feta cheese. I had a few pieces of the salad and it was tasty. I think the next time around I will probably try one of their steak dishes.

Here are a few notes about the parking situation for the Gaucho Grill. There is a parking garage between 4th Street and 3rd Street that is free for 2 hours. That is a great place to park if you are looking to come downtown for a few hours and not pay to park. If you do not mind paying $5, you can pull into the lot off of Broadway and that is connected directly to the Gaucho Grill. It would be awesome if they had some kind of validation thing for this lot lol.

The restaurant itself is located right on Pine Avenue in downtown Long Beach. It has a pretty good sized patio outside that sits around 30 people or so. As you walk inside, there is a bar to the left and towards the back and then there are booths to the right. If you keep walking all the way through, you hit the restrooms and the parking garage that I mentioned earlier. I loved the decorations inside. The wall we sat at had a big mirror on it and there were squares of cowhide on the mirror in like a checkerboard pattern. To top it off there were purple lights running along the top of the booth which was a nice touch. Speaking of booths, ours was black but right next to us there was an all white booth that sat three people. It was cool how they slotted that into the design. There were about 5 chandeliers in the inside that looked nice and the bar was probably my favorite. It had brick up at the top and 7 half barrels coming out of the wall. There is a wine rack that goes floor to ceiling over by where the managers area is which was also a nice touch. I could actually go on and on with the different details about the layout because I really liked it.

At the end of the meal I grabbed a card from the manager Gonzalo Miorin and I told him that I thoroughly enjoyed his restaurant and the experience that I had there. I’ll be back!


Written by Louie Baur

Reno Room

I came over to check out the Reno room for the first time today and I took my own advice and ride the Harley down here. Good thing I did because there was a ton of construction going on out front and there was no place to park. Speaking of construction, when I went inside there were about 4 guys at the bar talking about construction and speculating as to what the job was, who was doing it and how long it was going to take. After listening to them for about 10 minutes and piping in from time to time, we decided that they were private contractors that probably love working close to the beach in the cool weather and they are probably going to be working here all summer long digging up Redondo Avenue and putting in new corners.

Reno Room 03 Reno Room

Now let me back up a bit and talk about my approach. I had my phone out and this place has been here a long time so there was plenty of cool signage on the outside to take pictures of. As you enter the Reno Room, the bar is off to the left and there are 4 booths to the left as well which can probably seat about 4 people each. The bathrooms are to the right and as you move to the back of the bar you will find two pool tables which I am sure get a lot of action. There is a cool neon sign that reads The World Famous Reno Room.

There is also a taco joint called Cocorenos connected to the bar adjacent to the pool tables which worked out perfectly because I was starving. For lunch I grabbed two beef tacos and they were of good size and more importantly the came out in like 3 minutes. It was kind of cool how they cook the food right in front of you buffet style and that place is a different review for a different day.

For my cocktail selection I went with a vodka soda. I know not a very impressive cocktail but a cocktail nonetheless. I downed my tacos and my drink in short order and headed out to the next spot. As I was leaving I noticed that they had a chalkboard with drink specials and they way they had the bloody mary on there looked pretty good. I think that is what I will have when I am down in the area the next time around.


Written by Louie Baur

Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que just opened up on the corner of PCH and 2nd street a few weeks ago so I grabbed Abigail and took her down there for date night. The parking lot was full be we were able to score a spot up front. When we walked in, there were a few people in line but we were greated and seated very quickly. My guess is that Lucille’s has been going full throttle since the day they opened and good for them!

After I sat Abigail down, I busted out my Dji Phantom and made the following video below. I have been flying this thing around for a few months now and it just occured to me that this was the first time I took it over PCH. I got some decent footage outside and now I really had an appetite so it was time for me to go inside.

We started things off with a couple of cocktails. I went with the Cucumber Lemonade which is a vodka based drink that has lemonade, mint and cucumber slices. It is one of those perfect for a hot day kind of drinks. Abigail went with the Spiced Berry Rita which is one of their tasty Margaritas. Lucille’s has a full bar and a cocktail menu so I am sure you will find something you like if you are in the mood for a cocktail.

Lucilles Smokehouse Bar B Que 14 e1405520767296 Lucilles Smokehouse Bar B Que
For starters we ordered the Southern Fried Dill Pickles and the Southern Fried Okra. We went with a half order on both of them because we had full meals right behind the starters. The pickles came in a creole mustard dipping sauce and ranch dressing. I was partial to the mustard dipping sauce my self. The appetizer that I really liked was the Fried Okra. This is not a dish I have very often and it was the bomb. They are little round fried morsels and they cooled down quicker than the pickles did. (I am all about efficiency:) They also came with a Creole mustard sauce and ranch dressing and again the mustard sauce was my sauce of preference for these little guys. They were very tasty and we finished all of them. I am going to need to find more place that serve okra cause it is not a normal California thing or if it is, I always seem to miss it.

For the main course, I had the Lucille’s Marinated Sirloin Steak. I ordered it medium rare and it melted in my mouth. Abigail took a break from the ribs on her plate and came over and grabbed a bit of mine. Boy do they know how to cook a good steak! It also came with vegetables and mashed potatoes but I hit the appetizers a little hard and I had some left over.

Abigail went with the Baby Back Ribs. She also went with the garlic mashed potatoes as her selection for a side dish and I did not hear a whole lot out of her except the sounds of good eating. I grabbed a few of the ribs and they were delicious. I have to admit that I am not much of a rib kind of a guy which is why I ordered the steak. I don’t know a whole lot about the ribs so all I can tell you is that the sauce was the bomb and they tasted great.

Justin was our server and he kept things moving for us. There was never a gap in time where I was sitting there thinking about the whereabouts of my server. The manager Doug Dickson came over and checked on us as well. Customer service is clearly a priority here especially when it is busy. Justin told me that the servers work as a team and different people will be coming out and bringing food and checking on drink refills and that is exactly what happened. What a great experience!


Written by Louie Baur

The Attic on Broadway

Today I headed down to The Attic on Broadway to check it out. My friend told me about it a week or so ago and said it was worth a look. I headed down at about 1pm or so and I had just eaten lunch so this trip was only to check out a few drinks. I now know that I have to head back for breakfast and for one of their awesome bloody mary’s but we will talk about that later.

I was on my Harley and I use that more and more when I am traveling around in Long Beach. Parking is usually rough but they are lenient on two wheeled vehicles and provide random free spots there and there. I don’t think they had Electra Glides in mind but its still a motorcycle. I pulled up in front of the Attic on Broadway and scored a spot right in front which was awesome.

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Pear Martini

What makes the Attic on Broadway different is that it is an old house that was converted into a restaurant. I think it is an old 1920′s craftsman home. Anyway, there are two larger rooms inside which I think were like the living room and dining room and it has a good sized space out in front that was converted to tables with umbrellas which makes it a great outdoor spot. You can just tell that this place gets swamped on the weekends. Good restaurants that make good food usually do.

I was greated by the hostess and I told her that I wanted to head to the bar and try a cocktails. She told me that there is a bar but not one that I could sit at but she would be more than happy to seat me on the big patio outside or at a table inside which was two good size rooms. I scoped it out a bit and it was kind of a warm day so I opted for the indoor option.

I was sat and shortly after, Karen came up and told me that she would be taking care of me. I explained that I already had lunch and that I was just there to try out a few drinks. I asked what the special where, and she said they had $3 Mimosas and some of the Martini’s on the menu where only $5. Perfect! I started with a mimosa and that was perfect. I love to drink those on a hot day.

Next on the agenda was to try the Pear Martini. It has pear vodka, simple syrup, champagne and mint and it was delicous. I have never had pear vodka before so that was a treat and I always like drinks that have mint in them. Again perfect for a hot summer day.

While I was finishing up my Martini, I overheard Steve Massis who is the founder talking to another blogger sitting at the table right next to me. I figured I would take the opportunity to introduce myself and to get his email addy so I could show him the write up and pics when I was done. Steve was a very cool guy and he, like me, is also bald and I get along with all bald dudes. It must be a lack of hair thing lol.

Anyway the drinks where awesome and I look forward to coming back and trying one of their bloody marys and their mac n cheese.


Written by Louie Baur

Chianina Steakhouse

Went to the Chianina Steakhouse for a cocktail. I have never been here before and my friend Erik told me that I should check it out. I met him earlier on in the week at another bar in Long Beach called The exhibition room. So parking was a bit of an issue if you don’t want to go the valet route but once I got in there and chatted with a few people, I found out that across the street is your best bet. That would be if you are coming from say PCH and 2nd street into Belmont Shores.

Chianina Steakhouse 03 Chianina Steakhouse

I was greeted by Alejandro and he was really cool. As I was walking up to the bar to grab a seat, I ran into Erik. Small world. I just met him three days earlier. He introduced me to Brad who was mixing up the cocktails and I settled on the Celery Gimlet which was the perfect speed for me at the time. There was a lot of pepper on the glass which mixed well with the Celery taste inside. It was nice and strong just the way I like it.

So I grabbed my drink and started talking to Erik and Brad about cocktails in general and Angels Envy which is the company that Erik works for. They made a new Angels Envy based drink and passed it around for a few people to try and that wasn’t to shabby either.

Unfortunately I was not able to grab any food this time around so I did the one and run thing with this drink. I hope to go back soon because the food menu looked killer!


Written by Louie Baur

The Stache Bar

I decided to finally come down and try out the Stache on a Sunday night at about 7:30. I snagged a spot out front and I was kind of in the red a little bit but I pulled it off no problem. Parking is a bit of an issue here because it is right in the middle of 4th street so if you have a motorcycle (like I do) its probably best to drive that as parking wont be so much of an issue.

The Stache doesn’t look like a very fancy craft cocktail kind of a place as you approach it from the outside. Actually when you go inside it doesn’t really seem like that either but this is the way I like my bars. When I came in the jukebox was playing “A Horse with No Name” by America and people were loud and kind of rowdy. Loving it!

There is a pool table in the back which is kind of where I sat when I bellied up to the bar and there were about 6 people back there playing doubles and having a good time. There was room to shoot pool without jabbing the people sitting at the bar so that is a bit of a bonus.

I ordered the Nose Neighbor which has try organic vanilla vodka, lime juice, simple syrup and fresh mint. I am pretty much a noob when it comes to craft cocktails so I always like to get things started with a Vodka based drink. I liked the vodka and the bits of fresh mint. I think the mint pretty much made the drink for me.

This was my first stop out of three and The Stache Bar has been on my list of places to check out so I did the One and Run thing. Thanks for the great cocktail and see you next time!

 

Written by Louie Baur

Big Red Bus Craft Beer Tour

I have not been on an organized beer tour before and I found an online deal to booze and cruise in the Big Red Bus and I snatched it up. The meeting point is the Auld Dubliner in Long Beach. We took off at noon but they want you to show up around 11:40 so we can just move on out of there.
I arrived about an hour early and I caught the tail end of the Netherlands / Costa Rica game so that was kind of cool. I had a few beers, busted out the drone and got some aerial shots and then James Dulac from the Big Red Bus showed up and started getting things ready.
It went very smoothly and we were on the bus and driving at noon. I would say there was probably 20 people with us. We were in an old school bus that had cool bench seating that looked like it came out of church or something. Very comfortable!

 

James gave us a breakdown of what we can expect as we go into the two breweries on the tour and then he offered us a beer that he had in the cool. We all grabbed a beer and we took the 710 freeway to the 405 Freeway because we were headed to the Monkish Brewery in Torrance.

Monkish was a trip and it did not look like a brewery at all from the outside. It was in an office park so it felt like I was making a trip to the doctors office lol. We filed off the bus and into the front area where we exchanged our blue tickets for tokens and we proceeded to taste 4 different beers. Personally I liked 3 out of the 4 that I tired but that is what it is all about right? We were at the brewery for about an hour and everybody had a good buzz. This is what the bus part is all about!
We hopped on the bus and then headed for the San Pedro Brewing Company. We were greated by a guy name James Brown who was very cool and animated and they hooked us up with a chicken taco buffet deal which everybody got into pretty heavily. This brewery did not have a tasting for us so we purchased the flight of beers at a discounted price which I belive was $8.50. After about a half hour or so, James took us downstairs and gave us a tour around of the basement and basically explained how beer is made. After the tour, I took out my Dji Phantom and got some footage of both the front of the brewery and the bus.

After about an hour here, we headed on back to the Auld Dubliner. A few of us stayed there and played Jenga and had another couple of beers before we parted ways. Overall this is a very fun trip and a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I am excited to see what other kinds of deals the Big Red Bus has to offer!

 

 

Written by Louie Baur