Summer Drinks with Award Winning Vodka

An Icy Addition to Summer

The last days of summer are here so celebrate a season well spent with a cocktail. Two great Award Winning options are LEAF Organic Vodka and Khortytsa Platinum Vodka. Both offer a refreshing kick to your dry martini or mixed drink.

LEAF Organic Vodka comes in two varieties, Alaskan Glacial Water and Rocky Mountain Mineral Water. The difference is actually the source of Vodka’s main ingredient, Water! I was amazed that such a subtle difference can have so much impact on flavor. An in home tasting comparison was a fun evening with friends. Both varieties were popular with an even split of favorites for each. Rocky Mountain mineral water lends crisp clean taste while the Alaskan Glacial has a bit of sweet. Another plus is the fact that both products are organic, quality products from quality ingredients.
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Roni Macaroni Food Truck

Comfort food and cheesy goodness.

Their slogan is “For the love of Mac n’ Cheese!” and their food lives up to it. Roni Macaroni serves exactly what you might expect, Mac and Cheese, but they do it in ways you might not expect. Their menu also goes beyond this crowd pleasing favorite. If noodles aren’t calling your name try the fries, or order up one of their stacked high sandwiches, a cheese burger, or a Roni Kosher Beef Chilli Dog.

Roni Macaroni’s menu has options within the Mac and Cheese category as well. The Buffalo Ranch Chicken Mac is one, a mix of their classic mac with shaved carrots and celery, Frank’s Buffalo Sauce, ranch dressing, and diced chicken. Beef more your style? How about the Steak Mac & Cheese with sliced rib eye, mouth watering grilled onions, and toasted bread crumbs. The floor reminded me of a Philly Cheese Steak in a bowl with a extra cheesy finish that had my mouth watering.
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Brew Wings Food Truck

Wings and Waffles will make your mouth water!

Brew Wings has kicked it up to a whole new level with their take on the now classic chicken and waffles. Wings and Waffles adds spice to the sweet salty goodness that has attracted eaters to the original pairing. If you like Buffalo wings at all, you will love this food truck.

Chicken is a major feature, but the Brew Wings menu goes beyond what their name implies. Yes they have wings, great delicious ones that come in your choice of sauce, Stefano’s Original Buffalo or Brew-B-Q, and chicken tenders too. For those that want to keep their fingers clean there are options like the Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich or the vegetarian grilled cheese. You can also go sweet all the way and enjoy some crisp waffles in syrup. Add a few tatter tots and you have a meal that will hit all your tastebuds.

Wings and Waffles was a new experience and as a wing lover this new spicy element adds to my general craving for the lip burning goodness of Buffalo sauce. The wings are lean and large which makes for a healthy bite without dealing with tiny chicken pieces. The Brew Wings sauce is also a perfect blend of flavors that left my tongue and lips tingling in the best way. If you can’t handle a little heat definitely go with the Brew-B-Q sauce.
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Samurai Burrito Food Review

A new sushi adventure!

Exciting things are happening with familiar ingredients again in the world of sushi and Samurai Burrito is leading the charge from their food truck based out of Orange County California. First there was sushi, then the sushi roll, after came deconstructed sushi bowls, and now inspired by the form and concept of our neighbors to the south we have sushi nachos and burritos! You won’t find any flour or corn tortillas, but why not embrace the “easy to eat on the run” burrito wrap?

Food Trucks like Samurai Burrito offer high quality food in unexpected locations. Sometimes it is hard to chose what to try, in which case I usually pick the most unusual and new. I have come across sushi burritos before, but the Samurai Super Nachos… they were a discovery.
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Brouwerij West at San Pedro, Ca

Beer Enthusiasts Stop Here!

Brouwerij West, pronounced Brewery West, is an amazing destination for visitors to Los Angeles and Long Beach in particular. They are more than just a brewery, with their tasting room, daily food trucks, pop-up restaurants, historical building, and proximity to other local attractions, they are a perfect stop. Kids and dogs (leashed of course) are welcome and the parking is free. Add the beer itself, which is excellent, and Brouwerij West is a great lunch break location or evening outing.

Visitors from further away can take advantage of the Brouwerji West special with the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Pedro, Beaches and Brews package. Then schedule a tour and tasting! The two-night travel package starts with two Brouwerij West beers when you arrive at the Hotel, transportation to a hosted tour of Brouwerij West; and a five beer tasting. Learn more about the process and how water, hops, barley, and other ingredients come together in the fine art and science of brewing.

Located in a converted U.S. Navy Port Warehouse that was built during World War II, the brewery gives the area a new life after the building sat abandoned. Visitors can come and get a look at soaring ceiling and brick walls initially intended to house ships, now home to beer barrels and brewing tanks. The tour was a real highlight of the visit for me as I knew very little about beer before.

Another aspect that deserves attention is that Brouwerij West is a green company running entirely off solar energy and 30% more efficient in their water usage than traditional breweries. This is possible with the use of a super fancy mash filter. Obviously when using terms like “super fancy” you can see I’m not an expert, so for true beer enthusiasts and home brewers here is an article from beerandbrewing.com about how the process really works. I did walk away from my tour far more knowledgable about the brewing process and ready to test some beers!
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Food Harmonics in Ojai California

A Dream stop for Foodies!

Food Harmonics is so good they merit a trip to Ojai, not just a stop in if you are already in town. Located in Ojai California, a fun little city overlooking the beautiful mountains of Los Padres National Forest between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Food Harmonics is an absolute must.
Don’t be fooled by the quick order appearance when you first walk in, this place is quality food made fresh and worth sitting down to savor. There is great seating in the back or on the outdoor patio where you can look out and enjoy nature.

Don’t be intimidated by the menu board either. Take your time, ask questions, and know that everything we tasted blew us away. Homemade bread, soups, unexpected drinks both hot and cold are a mix of the familiar and items that might be foreign to you.

The entire menu is organic and gluten free. There are also amazing Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Paleo options. I know, very California Foodie but don’t roll your eyes until you have their Raw Vegan Pizza on your tongue and then it will be completely pleasure induced. Yes the Raw Vegan Pizza is my top pick!

Raw Vegan Pizza – Not the first thing you think to order, but it should be! Not exactly the gooey cheesiness we usually associate with the term, but I would eat this any and every day that it is offered. The crust has a surprising crisp texture, thick and hearty. The toppings are so fresh they make you feel good from the first bite. Pesto, cashew cheese, mushrooms, fresh tomato, and pickled onion give the pizza a unique taste. It couldn’t be better proof that healthy and tasty can go hand in hand especial when added to the long list of dehydrated goodness that make up the crust! Honestly one of the best things I have ever eaten.
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Surveying The Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene

In a city like Pittsburgh, there are endless options on where and what to eat. It’s a diverse city, populated with people of many different ethnic backgrounds. They come to the city with a particular background, find a space, stock a commercial refrigerator with the supplies of their trade, and head to the stove to create masterpieces. As you might expect, the resulting culinary offerings are almost endless.

In fact, there are so many good restaurants in Pittsburgh that any attempt to saturate the scene and visit all the best would be futile. It’s just more than anyone could bite off–literally and figuratively.

A better way to approach a food tour of a unique city like Pittsburgh is to break it down geographically. Each nationality represented in the city is heavily populated in one or more city neighborhoods, and the restaurants in those areas reflect that influence. So start with a map and finish with a fork as we review Pittsburgh’s culinary scene.

Oakland: Conflict Kitchen

The name may be puzzling at first, but hear us out. Conflict Kitchen seeks to provide a place not just for stimulating food but for stimulating conversation. Speakers and performers provide the context for conversation, and an Iran-influenced menu is served.

The response is overwhelmingly positive, constructive, and enjoyable. Somehow it’s a little easier to see things from another’s perspective when you sit down and break bread together.
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The Flavors of Louisiana in Virginia at Bayou Bakery

New Orleans native Chef David Gaus has won accolades from The Today Show, the Travel Channel, Food and Wine, Southern Living, Saveur and Bon Appetit for his Arlington, Virginia restaurant Bayou Bakery. There you can taste the authentic flavors of the Crescent City while in the suburbs of D.C./Northern Virginia.

When you walk in, you order your food choices at the counter, and then take a seat to wait for your items to be prepared. There are colorful Southern and New Orleans touches to the decor, but it’s not kitchy. Sofas and smaller tables make mingling and socializing easier, and there is wifi should you want to bring your laptop (which many people seemed to want to do).

new orleans

New Orleans was a port destination for coffee for centuries, and  Bayou Bakery has some unique and natural coffee infusion drinks, incorporating unexpected flavors like basil, honey, and ginger root. Or, if you are in the mood for something a little harder, did you know cocktails were invented in New Orleans? Their Bloody Mary takes a fresh twist with pickled veggies as garnish. It won’t sear your tongue, however, but rather, it has a tangy drinkability.
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