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The Anaheim Packing House: Black Sheep Grill Cheese Bar


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If you live in the Southern  California area and are looking for a fun thing to check out this summer I highly recommend visiting the Anaheim Packing House. I think it’s my new favorite place to drop in for a quick bite to eat since there are so many delicious places to try. They have places serving up everything from hot pots, waffle sandwiches, beer, cocktails, grilled cheese, fish and chips, gourmet Japanese food, Indian food, comfort food, popsicles, homemade ice cream, crepes and so much more. There are more places yet to open (Ecco, Georgias, Dark 180, Sawleaf Vietnamese Cafe, and a Fish Market) so this will continue to be a growing hub for food lovers.

I’ve been watching them work on this place over the past year or so since a good friend of mine lives right across the street. She’s been the best at keeping us up on the news of the events and details of how things were coming along. They have been renovating this old Sunkist Orange Packing House into what has become the popular new hang out in Anaheim, for quite awhile. The delays in opening have caused much anticipation for what they have to offer and so far they have not disappointed.

The Anaheim Packing House is  located in downtown Anaheim which has been under renovation for many years now as new shops, restaurants and nostalgic style housing is bringing some hope to a part of Anaheim that needed a little TLC and, honestly, people with the Benjamins who could do something about the area. It’s fun to see this part of the city spruced up a bit and treasure a part of its history in a fun way.

20140614_131237I was excited to visit them on opening day a few weeks ago with the hopes of trying out the new eateries. During that opening weekend I visited the PopBar which was good, but because of WW I didn’t try what I should have to really give it a good review. So, I will hold my comments back until me, or someone I go with, tries again and I have pictures to show! You might already be familiar with PopBar since I know this is not their first and only location.

This past weekend I had the privilege of being a first timer at Black Sheep Grill Cheese Bar. I believe it was the grand opening for them so it was fun to support their opening day.

I have been to a few grilled cheese places so I was expecting it to be similar to one of those…The Grilled Cheese Truck (Los Angeles/Orange County area), Melt It (Pasadena, CA), and Valley Shepherd Creamery & Meltkraft Grill Cheese Shop (Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, PA).

This place ended up being mostly like the Valley Shepherd Meltkraft in Philly because it was more gourmet in it’s cheese, bread, and ingredient selection then the other two locations. Those “other two” location specialties are more about adding bbq, mac and cheese, pulled pork, etc. to a grilled cheese sandwich. Also good, but this is a different, more unique kind of grilled cheese that you just know is made with a consideration of the best way to pair ingredients with the finer cheeses available.

I decided to try the first one listed on the menu (let’s work our way down the menu each visit, right?) and was not at all disappointed. I think in eating this sandwich I discovered a new cheese love that I had no idea existed…formage blanc. 20140614_122440Guys…it’s awesome. Awesome mostly if you like goat cheese since the taste had a similar tang to it that goat cheese does. And like goat cheese, it is a cheese loving dieters friend being very low in  fat, calories, etc. The tangy bite in the cheese paired so well with the sweet onions, roasted tomatoes and peppery arugula pesto. It was well balanced as a sandwich…really incredible. As rich as it sounds, it ended up being a very clean sandwich and you were not overwhelmed with a grease ball in your stomach when you were done. Hard to explain but you can’t help but feel it was a sandwich worth all $7 when you were done with it. Since I’m counting points, I think (if I calculated correctly), this sandwich is about 10-13 points (depending on how much butter they use). I would say that’s not bad at all and so so worth the points you would spend on it WW friends. So. Worth. It.

Another treat I have to brag on a bit, because I think they are genius for incorporating them into their merchandise, is the Brown Butter Cookies from The Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos, California.

They had samples out by the register when I was ordering and the kid at the register suggested I try one because they were “soooo good.” I thought…yes, yes. I’m sure you’re trying to upsell me on something that is average. I’m sure they told you to say that.”

Oh was I wrong. He wasn’t kidding. You take one bite into these cookies and stop, look around for someone to share this moment with, and say…”Oh. Oh my gosh. These are so good.” Literally that is what happens. I’m not kidding dear readers….I did that. My boyfriend did that. My friend Michele did that. It’s just what happens. These cookies evoke the same response from everyone. PhotoGrid_1402783501791You know you’re biting into excellence with these cookies. So if you’re not a grilled cheese fan, then just go for the cookies. You’ll get a bag of 6 for way too much but shut your mouth and don’t complain because you will not regret it. I promise you. (WW friends they are about 3pts per cookie but you can enjoy 3 cookies for 8 points…if you want to…I might have maybe done this on Saturday…maybe).

There is so much more to say about the Anaheim Packing House, but I hate to fit it all into one post. I hope to try a few more of their restaurants and be able to say a few words about them on here when it works out. I love this new place and all the work they’ve put into it. I would love to do a small part in helping them generate traffic and keep people coming back. I’m thrilled to see so many people swarming the place each time I go. I  keep telling everyone about it and you guys are the next ones on my list to excite about it. If you’re an out of towner and are heading to the Southern California area sometime soon, try to stop by the APH and have a quick bite to eat.

More to come later on my adventures in the APH!

 

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Ode to the Egg: Benedict Style


Southern Eggs Benedict

Southern Eggs Benedict

I have always loved eggs benedict. I think it’s the hollandaise sauce that really brings the whole thing together and is the “something different” needed to make it more special than a typical egg dish…ah…love it. My family use to make it on Sundays for brunch when we were in the mood to work on poaching eggs. I remember watching my parents work as a team to try and drop the eggs in boiling water and do their very best to remove them without doing damage to their precious cargo. I remember hearing a lot of frustrated sighs and maybe even a few expletives in the process I think my mom has finally gotten it down to a science using ramekins and the microwave to help with the process. I’ve yet to attempt it on my own and since I like scrambled eggs better, I take the easy way out.

I got excited by eggs benedict again recently when I went to a local restaurant in Fullerton, CA that has a very inventive and tasty breakfast menu. Early Bird is the new go-to place for breakfast or brunch on our area. I went there with my co-workers for a fun team building day and got to know the owner a little bit as he interacted with our group. He’s serious about good food and took a showy offense to one persons comment about his chicken for the chicken-n-waffles dish being “like KFC but better”. (P.S…never tell a chef his chicken is even remotely like KFC. You will get a run down for all the reasons it is NOT like KFC and a dirty look to boot.  Insult at your own risk my friends). Needless to say, his passion and creativity in his menu was obvious and made you want to pick his brain and try a little of everything he raved about.

The menu contains a few interesting versions of eggs benedict on his menu which were all very unique and inviting. However, the one I chose for the day was a special. It was a pork belly benedict! The bennie had the expected English muffin on the bottom topped with crispy pork belly and an over easy egg. It was drizzled lightly with a spicy chipotle sauce and garnished with chives. I really enjoyed it and found it to be a deliciously, creative and tasty version of Eggs Benedict. The components of the traditional were there but the outcome looked and tasted like no benedict I’ve had before.

Pork Belly - Percy Street BBQ

Pork Belly – Percy Street BBQ

The egg and pork belly parts of the dish reminded me of something I had in Philadelphia at Percy Street BBQ. Percy’s  pork belly appetizer (photo cred goes to Foobooz)  What you see pictured is a salt cured egg placed on top of a toasted round of potato bread which is laid next to some crispy, salty pork belly, while sitting in a puddle of maple syrup.  OMG. It’s a somewhat atypical thing to have on a dinner menu at a BBQ restaurant but it was so incredibly decadent and delicious and something you did not want to stop eating. (And just for context, I’ve never used the word “decadent” to describe anything I’ve eaten before. Ever. It was THAT amazing.)

At our initial visit we asked them what “salt cured egg yolk” meant since it was a foreign concept to us.  The waitress explained that they basically take an egg yolk and let it sit in salt (not sure what kind) over night. It creates a thicker outside of the egg and makes it easier to handle and very tasty. I’ve never been one for runny yolks, but this just pulled it all together.

As a whole, we tried a lot of their meat and side dishes and we were not disappointed by any of them. The group I was with in Philadelphia went back two other times during our stay just so they could order that appetizer again.  It’s a really fun restaurant with a lively atmosphere and a lot of fun things to try. So, next time you’re in Philadelphia, please give Percy Street BBQ your business. It’s worth it and you won’t be disappointed.

Sorry back to eggs…So Benedict. What’s that all about? My recent inspiration to get creative with the traditional recipe got me researching a bit about the name and origin of the dish. I’m remembering an introduction to this history from some Food Network show (probably Alton Brown) but decided to freshen up on my knowledge of it for this post. (You’re welcome). I found a quick history of Egg’s Benedict on What’s Cooking America which tells the story of an unsatisfied customer desiring something a little more special then what the menu offered at the famous Delmonico’s Restaurant. Chef Charles Ranhofer took on the challenge and was the creative brain child behind said dish and thus was born…Eggs Benedict. Ta-da!

What I love about this story is the unsatisfied customer, because I am just such a customer when it comes to eggs in general. They are such a bland food when I think about them in breakfast food. But that also makes them an exciting ingredient to work with because they are obviously versatile and a sponge for flavor. I’m always wanting to try something new with eggs (trying to earn a crease in my chef’s hat) and my most recent creations with eggs have been a very encouraging improvement to my previous attempts. So, I am coming out of a some what long hiatus from writing to share my inspiration and hopefully get myself back into blogging and cooking.

I give you…Southern Eggs Benedict! My own creation, mind you, so don’t get offended if you see this and don’t believe it’s actually Southern. It’s the name I’ve giving it and along with that name is room for improvement and hopefully the building blocks for your own version of Southern Eggs Benedict. I wasn’t inspired to write until after I took the first bite so there are no, work-in-progress type pictures I usually try to include. But hopefully the instructions below will be helpful! Enjoy :) Tell me if you try this recipe and what changes you end up making!

20130804_120609SOUTHERN EGGS BENEDICT

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs(we’re doing scrambled eggs folks)
  • 3 Tbs milk or water (for eggs)
  • 3 slices of bacon chopped (pre-cooked is easier)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup onions chopped
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 pkg refrigerator biscuits
  • chives
  • 1/2 cup smoked cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1 pkg Hollandaise sauce  (I use Knorrs and don’t even try to make my own…true confessions)

Directions

  1. Prepare biscuits according to directions on packaging. Set aside to use for base of benedict when done.
  2. While biscuits are in the oven, begin working on your onions. Over low to medium heat melt your butter in a small saute pan. Once done melting, add your onions and stir to cover in butter. Put heat on low to allow them to soften and caramelize to your liking. When done, remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Prepare your Hollandaise sauce according to package. Keep an eye on it because it can burn easily if you’re not careful. (I would prepare it before the eggs so it can be babied with all your attention and then sit on the stove to stay warm as you’re doing your eggs).
  4. For your scrambled eggs, combine your milk/water and eggs and salt and pepper as desired (I even added a little cumin which complemented the bacon and smoked cheddar really well). Using the same pan, add your egg mixture. I would keep in on lower heat so you can control how fast the eggs cook. As they begin to scramble and firm up, you can begin adding your bacon, onions and cheese to the eggs. Before removing from the heat, mix in your chives for flavor or use them as a garnish for color.
  5. Assemble your bennie by splitting your biscuits and spooning the eggs over top. Pour that yummy Hollandaise over the whole thing and dig in!

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A Day at the Food Truck Fest


Hey all…been awhile since I posted. Life has been busy and I haven’t been cooking so much so I’ve had less to post about. BUUUUTTTT I have been eating out a lot and have a few posts planned to share some of those dining experiences.

One of those fun eating adventures was at the Food Truck Fest out in the Inland Empire . I’ve honestly only eaten at one food truck, I won’t name names, and wasn’t impressed at all. But with all the FT hype I figured it was type to round things up and try again. This round up had about 50+ trucks there to choose from so I did a little research and checked out the menus before we went since I’m a novice at this whole thing. It was kind of a lot of work but well worth it because I found some really great sites too for all you LA foodies out there… http://www.foodtruckmaps.com/la/

So, our favorite dish of the day was from  George’s Greek Truck for some Gyro Feta Fries….oh. my. word. These are de-lic-ious! I don’t even know how many calories we consumed from that scary plate but it was amazing and WELL worth it. If you enjoy lamb and feta cheese then this is worth a try! I’m a sucker for lamb so this was not hard to persuade me on. I can’t wait to track down this truck again in the future and get these again. Definitely a great plate to share since they are generous with their portions. I think I can speak for Hannah in saying that she liked these as well :)

One of the more interesting dishes we tried was from the Bacon Mania truck. It was also one of the longest lines we had to stand in! I couldn’t decide what to choose and don’t necessarily feel like we ordered the gem on their menu, but Bacon Balls sound to interesting now to try, right? They normally offer three varieties, but that day they only had peanut butter and jelly and mac and cheese wrapped in bacon. They were really delicious but  I felt like we may have missed out on a few yummy sandwiches/sides the truck had to offer. I looked at the menu before hand and saw that they have flash fried spinach. I guess they were not serving it that day, but one of these days I have to try that! I might start eating more spinach if it’s as good as it sounds!

Other tasty trucks we tried included Don Chow’s and the Lime Truck. Both of these truck featured street tacos. Don Chow had a pretty tasty pork taco…meat was a little try but the flavor was pretty good. Hannah bought herself the ultimate taco from the Lime Truck (one of many truck featured on the Food Network) which had chicken with a semi spicy sauce on it. She got the strawberry lime aid that was a welcome relief to the spice of the taco. I don’t know if I would go jumping to eat at either one of these places again, but I appreciate the freshness of the food and I think maybe the quality would go up if it wasn’t so busy of an event. 

One truck we really wanted to stop at was the Grill Cheese Truck. It is quite the rave around here and it had a line to prove it. Had we been smart, we would have started at that line. But we were pretty stinking hungry by the time we go there so waiting in an hour long line was not what we were in the mood for. We would have been sassy to each other by the time we go to the front…haha. irritable hunger is nothing to play around with :) The thing that discourages me the most is that it was literally a few blocks away from my house the day before. I decided not to go since I thought I would have enough time to go on Sunday. Fail…One of these days I will try it :)

Let’s see, we also tried the Munchee5 truck and got the little wontons filled with mac and cheese and tri tip. Awesome! I wish they had put a few more in there for the price, but pretty tasty little suckers. To wrap up or day of over eating we decided to sweeten things up…or maybe just I did. I stopped at a truck to get a caramel pecan cream puff which was pretty good.

And then the last thing I bought was to go and it was the peach cobbler in a jar from Suite 106 Cupcakery Food  Truck. The ladies from that truck just won Cupcake Wars on the Food Network and that little jar was something else! Oh man the frosting and peaches and everything was so amazing! I would love to try and make those at home, but I know I would not do it justice in the least.


Hoping to hit up a few more events like this one this summer. I’ll be adding a post very soon about some fun sites for foodies out there that I’ve stumbled upon and I’ll include a good site for finding food trucks and finding the round ups in your area.

Happy food trucking friends!


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Slaters 50/50 Review


One of my intentions for this little blog was to also post some reviews on restaurant dishes. I haven’t really done much of that, but I’m hoping to change that up a bit and post a few reviews in the weeks ahead.

I decided that Slaters 50/50 Burgers by Design would be my first place to review. I went with an old room mate, Sarah, since both her and I had heard great things about Slaters. They have three locations, Anaheim Hills, Huntington Beach and San Diego. We ventured over to the Anaheim Hills location which is tucked back into a shopping plaza off of Santa Ana Canyon Road. Easy to get to from the 91 freeway but know that the sign is small and easy to miss. Look for the Curves which is to the left of Slaters.

The atmosphere is fun walking in and though we arrived at 5:00 on a Sunday, there was a fair amount of people waiting to be seated. Sarah and I headed to the bar since there were a few high top tables available. They have a full bar, with a decent amount of beers on tap (28). They make a few fun dinner and dessert cocktails and a lot of people seemed to be there for the bar atmosphere. It is very separate from the restaurant with a pool table and sports on their dozen or so TV screens. Fun place to hang out and since they are open till 2AM every night, I can see it being the local go-to place for a late dinner.

Sarah and I were a bit overwhelmed by the menu because not only do they have some unique burgers listed, they also dropped off a few of their Make Your Own burger sheets and pencils which took their menu to a whole new level. I think of my poor indecisive older sister and wince thinking of how long it would take her to choose her burger…haha.

It’s definitely worth noting that bacon is a big feature of their restaurant. 50/50 in their title and signature burger patty means 50% ground beef and 50% bacon. Are you drooling yet? They also have a bacon infused Ketchup, bacon seasoning for the fries (on tables in restaurant side), a baconnaise spread for their burger, a bacon mary (instead of a bloody mary), bacon brownie, bacon milkshake, turkey bacon and thick cut bacon that can go on your burger. Bacon lovers unite!

A few other unique menu items include a Peanut Butter and Jelly burger (our waitress said it was her favorite, but as delicious as that does not sound, we graciously passed on that!), Thanksgiving Burger complete with cranberry sauce and sage mayonnaise, Burger Carbonara or what I like to call heart attack on a bun, Irish Quesadilla with mashed potatoes inside, Fried Chicken and pancakes which forgoes the bun and subs in pancakes, and a Vampire Dip that sounds worse then it looks.

They do not serve fries with their burgers, however, they do offer a combination plate of picking 2-6 ‘appetizer’ items that are great for sharing. their appetizers include french fries with bacon infused ketchup, sweet potato fries with pumpkin sauce, friend dill pickle chips with their mustard sauce, beer-battered onion strings with house made BBQ, fried artichoke hearts with sage mayo, and panko fried mac n’cheese with Tapatio ranch.

Can you believe with all those crazy options on the menu, that I was goofy enough to get their California Chicken Sandwich? Haha…I couldn’t decide on making my own or trying one of theirs and I had seen a picture on their website for the chicken sandwich and it looked great.  However, as I began to see other people’s burgers come out I quickly regretted it my order. Sarah ordered the Big Daddy Melt which includes cheddar and swiss cheese, grilled onions, horseradish aioli on grilled rye bread. She subbed out the rye for one of their whole wheat buns. My chicken sandwich had avocado mash, thick cut bacon and blue cheese dressing on the ciabatta roll. We also ordered a pick 2 of the appetizers and chose the regular and sweet potato fries. I was very interested in trying that bacon infused ketchup.

So, how was it you ask…? I’m sad to say that we were not as impressed as as we both hoped it would be. Maybe it was all the hype, but we both walked away saying that it was just okay, but we had enjoyed better burgers at other places. Sara had a bunch of work friends that raved about the place so we both want to find out what everyone is ordering that they love so much and then go back and try again.
Another bummer was that our fries came out cold like they had been sitting out for a long while. Not yummy at all, but the bacon infused ketchup was amazing! Bacon infused is an understatement because it tastes like bacon but also has pieces of bacon in it! That little pot they gave me was NOT enough to enjoy for one, let alone share. Slather that stuff on anything and I would eat it! The pumpkin sauce they place with the sweet potato fries was great too. Very sweet and they felt more dessert like with that dip then the friend of a burger, but not terrible either.

Another surprisingly delicious thing was their pickles. They tasted homemade which is my favorite kind of dill pickle. Great garnish for the plate and made me want to try their fried dill pickle chips….something to order next time. Just looking at the menu you can see they have major potential for great tasting burgers. I asked Sarah if I could try a bit of the meat from her burger and I admit it was pretty awesome! One thing I loved about my chicken sandwich was that thick cut bacon. I pulled out some of my chicken toward the end and the last few bites of my sandwich were actually the best with just the bacon and avocado mash on the ciabatta roll. Awesome! I could have just had that on my sandwich and been a happy girl.

As bummed as we were I still have hope for liking Slaters. I want to hear from others who have gone and find out what it good so that I can do a better job ordering next time. Maybe our waitress is right and the PB and J burger is the way to go! I can see it being balanced with the salty and sweet, but I’m not so sure. If you want to go with me and order it I’ll try a bite of yours and be convinced! Post your reviews of Slaters 50/50 burgers when you get a chance to visit. I want to know what they do well!!

Happy dining everyone!

Most picture courtesy of Website: http://www.slaters5050.com

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Buffalo Wings Exploration


Preparation of these saucy wings traditionally includes melted butter and cayenne pepper hot sauce…which means as much heat as you can handle. The wings are first deep fried before coated in the sauce and everyone says the crispier the better. They are of course served with celery and blue cheese dressing, definitely to cut the kick that they are sure to provide.

Tasty looking, yes! However, I am sad to say that I’m not a fan. You’ll find that I say that a lot to the foods that everyone is “suppose” to like …spaghetti, lasagna, bananas. Hold your gasps and harsh words…my palate frustrates me too! I’m a sweet BBQ girl all the way so I’ve always sought out the sweeter version of these little guys!

Buffalo Wild Wings has been Hannah and my new favorite restaurant. Go on Tuesday and Thursdays and you’ll be there on deal days! (55 cent wings Tuesdays and 65 cent boneless Thursdays)!!  They have way more sauces then you can possibly try but my favorite with them has been their Honey BBQ.

I went with an old roommate Sarah to Chili’s last night (our usual dive) and I got some of their Honey Chipotle Chicken Crispers…(starting to get my idea of a yummy sauce for wings?!) To echo RR, yummo! Pretty sure that will always be my favorite item on their menu. If anyone has tips or tricks on how to make that honey chipotle sauce, I’ll happily take it!

I just went to Buffalo in September while visiting NY for my friend Rachel’s wedding and thought it very important that I embrace their native cuisine…the Buffalo Wing! I did a little research before I left and found that The Anchor Bar was the place to visit if I wanted the home of Buffalo Wings. Sadly, I missed visiting them but was able to grab some wings at Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill (pictured on the left) at the Walden Galleria. Jack Astor's Buffalo Fingers 3a I was super impressed with their menu and decided to try their chicken finger equivalent with their sweet chipotle sauce as well as a cup of beer cheddar soup. Holy cow, that meal was absolutely the best way to end my trip there! Calories galore and worth every bite. I wish Jack Astor’s B and G moved out of Canada and the NE and over our way! Anyways, they served the chicken with blue cheese dressing. I love the dressing on a wedge salad any day, but I have never been a fan of it with chicken. I am so glad that I decided to comply with their generosity because I have found my new dipping love for bbq chicken fingers/wings/nuggets…This is an amazing combination of flavors…sweet, spicy, creamy, cheesy, savory. Super Delightful! If you’ve never tried this, PLEASE DO, and then tell me what you think! I do believe you will join this blue cheese train and never go back to ranch ever again!

So here is a recipe I found that gives me the best of what I love in a buffalo wing and my love affair with BBQ flavored chicken.Best of both worlds! I am going to try these this weekend and report back on how they turn out. …THANKS to allrecipes.com:

SWEET AND SPICY BUFFALO WINGS

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds chicken wings, separated at joints, tips discarded
  • 1 1/2 cups Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 pinch garlic salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.
  2. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill the chicken 8 to 12 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear. (You can deep fry or bake the chicken instead if you want to, but it is best when grilled.) Remove chicken to a large roasting pan.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the hot sauce, butter, honey, garlic salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Simmer about 10 minutes, until blended and heated through. Pour the sauce over the grilled chicken wings and stir to coat.