What’s Bubbling and Brewin’ Around Verdugo Road

Our social lives were once again made possible by our bff, Twitter. Speaking of which, do you think in 2010 twitter talk will become the new baby talk? Twello twits, what’s tweetin’? Anyway, the owner of Rosso Wine Shop found our post on Montrose and wrote this:

@uncouthgourmand If the UG Headquarters is in Montrose how come you have not visited us in Sparr Heights @rossowineshop?!

It was a good question and actually I was talking about visiting some local wine shops for an upcoming budget wine post. Rosso is blocks away from our office and Josie and I arrived just in time to try some champagne. The special occasion of the night was their open house which featured neighborhood businesses. Bashan restaurant is neighbors with Rosso and they offered some complimentary small bites for the occasion including tuna tartare, cauliflower soup, and a braised pork sandwich. All were delicious and that will definitely be a restaurant to check out when the UG are back in the money.

The star of the night was the wine shop that was everything you imagine a neighborhood wine shop should be. If you read our Montrose post you know that this area has earned a place in our heart and it was reaffirmed at the wine shop when I ran in to the couple that I sat next to at Fork only days before. I am now a member of the community. Rosso owner, Jeff, was charming as he poured us some bubbly and it is clear that he is living his dream of bringing reasonably priced wine to this foothill neighborhood. It says on their site that they are a “neighborhood wine shop for the disenchanted Trader Joe wine-buyer, social nomad and local wine enthusiast.” I think that is exactly what LA needs more of and it was a fantastic neighborhood find. I hope they didn’t mind meeting us because I am pretty sure we will return often to grill them on all of our wine questions.

As I previously stated this night was made possible entirely by Twitter. I read early on in the day that Verdugo Bar was going to be serving the first pours of Eagle Rock Brewery brew. This was huge news because for the last year I have been following the progress of Eagle Rock Brewery on their blog and Twitter and find myself fully invested in this story and their success. Josie and I arrived at around 7:30 and despite being at Verdugo Bar before this was my first time driving there and arriving sober. I saw Josie’s car already parked and so I parked next to it, knowing that she beat me and was already inside. I saw a group of people of standing by a lit building with christmas lights and started walking towards the crowd. I heard yelling in Spanish and beer bottles being thrown. Clearly I was not at the right place, and these lights were from a house. I called Josie who walked outside from across the street and laughed at how I missed the enormous cocktail sign. She already ordered us are Eagle Rock brew, which was a black mild ale called Solidarity. I felt honored to be served the first batch and since we were one of the first 20 people to try it we got this awesome commemorative glass with the logo.

Leave it up to Josie to sit next to someone important and she was seated right next to Chris Spradley, the LA Craft Beer Examiner. Josie showed off her beer knowledge with IPA definitions that he already knew and I showcased my beer girly-ness in saying that my favorite beer was the lavender one from The Bruery and La Fin Du Monde from Unibroue. It was great fun to talk beer. I was telling the Beer Examiner that my main problem with beer is that I drink it too slowly and then it gets warm and I no longer want it and he said that most beers, like Solidarity, should be served a little more at room temperature. Who would have known? This was the first batch of Solidarity and while I am not the biggest fan of dark beers, Josie is, I still drank the whole thing. Chris introduced us to the Eagle Rock Brewers who were busy tasting and making sure that their baby was perfect. As I have known from the blog this is a family operation headed by father and son. The son, Jeremy Raub, was sure that he already met us at the LA Craft Beer Fest but honestly we remember very little of that day. The father, Steve Raub, was quick to point out that he was Vice President and that it was his son that was President. It was such a sweet family dynamic and it was so nice to hear their story. Steve started brewing at home as soon as Jimmy Carter lifted the ban and once Jeremy was married and moved in to his house he asked his dad to make a celebratory brew and the rest is history. That is the greatest birth of an enterprise since our baby, Uncouth Gourmands, was born on the trains of Europe. Relax, I kid. Anyway, as far as first batches go, this brew was pretty tasty and this is coming from a girl that likes her beer as she likes her men: light and fruity. There was a strong roasted coffee and chocolate aroma and definitely was something I’d drink again. In the next few weeks they will be launching 2 more brews. The next one will be a crisp Belgian-style beer and the final in the trio will be hoppy, floral, extra pale ale. With all of their beer bases covered we are excited to sample the trio and may even get a tour of the brewery soon.

When it comes to wine shops, brews, and bars on Verdugo Road we are in completely solidarity and wish them all the best of luck. We will be back and we are hoping that you all have plenty more to serve us!

Beer and Dessert…Yes Please

Girls at Dessert Decadence

When I woke up on Friday, I really had no clue what I was going to do for the weekend. I knew I was going to see Josie sousin’ it up in Chef Ludo’s kitchen on Friday but that is where my plans ended. Josie and I are actually fairly booked up on weekends but this one was full of possibilities. We were thrilled when we got an email from Dan of Drink:Eat:Play offering us two great events on two weekend days. The first event was a charity event that involved beer and lots of it for a good cause. It was the Brew Haw Haw that benefited the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on Saturday at the Autry. The second event was Dessert Decadence on Sunday hosted by Drink: Eat: Play.

Josie works at the Kitchen for Exploring Foods on Saturdays so I knew she wouldn’t be able to attend the beer event and invited my new Pasadena blogging friend, Christina, of Hot Pink Manolos. I had to promise her I wasn’t trying to make her my new bff after spending all of the night before with her. What can I say? She is a fun girl that likes to eat and drink, that is like everything I look for in a friend. She agreed to come but we were both hungover from all the wine the night before from Noir Food and Wine, Third Stop, LudoBites, and then I continued on to Tony’s for some whiskey. When she called I recommended we get some food first and took her to Huarache Azteca where I went with Josie earlier this month. It was delicious and she was stuffed but now we had a problem. We had 30 minutes to kill and didn’t want to be early for the Brew Haw Haw. I have a couple membership for the LA Zoo from an old relationship and recommended that we go there. It was excruciatingly hot but the Zoo is one of my favorite place you must read my review. The key to having fun at the zoo is embracing all of the complaining that you will hear/partake in. This kangaroo says it all:

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When we arrived at the Brew Haw Haw, nothing felt better than a nice cold one. There was a great announcer, a silent auction, a band, some snacks and food, and plenty of beer. Just sitting under an umbrella on a sunny summer day was perfection. My only complaint was having to get up to fill my glass. I am a cider lover so was a big fan of the Strongbow and raspberry cider booth, as a Chosen One I am a big fan of the Chosen Beer-He’Brew which had a booth, and as a girl with a great sense of smell (possibly part of being Jewish) I loved the lavender White Orchard beer from The Bruery. It was a great day and I was so happy to go and support a cause that is so serious. On a funny note I did find a guy there that was wearing a shirt that read: Sun’s Out, Guns Out!

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After beer and sunshine I was in need of a nap. I went home and rested and Josie made up for my beer fun by hitting up Lucky Baldwins in Pasadena for the dark artisan beers. She was a big fan of the x-mas strong ales. Don’t forget beer enthusiasts, Lucky Baldwins has their annual Belgian Beer Fest August 15th-30th. Anyway, I stayed home and purchased an airline ticket to Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, and Tokyo in October for a graduation/birthday trip. FYI, I am totally ready and awaiting restaurant/food tips. The next day, Sunday, Josie went shopping in downtown and I had a school study group. We met at Hollywood & Highland about a half an hour before the Dessert Decadence event. I felt the need for real food and grabbed a hot dog before indulging in desserts. Dan thought it was hilarious that I thought hot dogs were “real food”. I found it hilarious that when I told Josie she said she just grabbed a bacon wrapped one in downtown and ate in on the way there. Josie found it hilarious that I brought my hot dog into the Louis Vuitton store and snuck bites when the guard wasn’t looking. We walked into the Renaissance Hotel and were so impressed by the giant room of sweets.

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Alright, on to the sweets! One of our favorites and the first thing we tried was the peanut butter and jelly rice krispy treat from Milk & Krunchies. Upon eating this I said, “Forget the bread, this is how all PB &J’s should be served!”

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Another favorite was the giant and shockingly moist red velvet cupcakes from Swirls Cupcakes. Double-points to the owner for friending me on Facebook before even meeting me.

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Our favorite display and flavor creativity came from Layers Cupcakes and their grapefruit and hibiscus cupcake. The thing that kept me hydrated throughout the event was the Naja iced tea. Imagine my happiness when I learned that Layers and Naja joined forces to create tea-infused cupcakes or CuppaTeacakes.

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We were also really into ice cream, gelato, and sorbet that day. The Strawberry Port Wine gelato from Paciugo and the cucumber sorbet from Carmela Ice Cream were delish! Another favorite of ours was the popcorn panacotta and the mango and coconut tapioca with a meringue on top from Cafe Del Rey.

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Josie is not that big of a dessert person and was sad with how much she was unable to finish. She kept saying,” If this was meat or cheese, I could do so much better!” I also managed to spill my favorite dessert at the exact time Josie took a picture of me. We do not make up our uncouthness.

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I also commented on how my hair was pulling a Josie, falling directly in front of my face. But one of our favorite parts of the event was meeting a magician named Derek Hughes. He did a lighter trick that made me scream and a card trick that made Josie yell, “Are you the Anti-Christ?” After he left with his girlfriend, I looked at Josie and said, “I want to have sex with a magician!” She nodded and without skippimg a beat replied, “Me too”

Anyway, it was a fantastic weekend brought to us by our new friend Dan-who is solely responsible for my social calendar. Get ready for his LA Sake Fest on August 15!

Also, if you were able to get tickets to Food GPS’s LA Beer Float Showdown you, too, were also able to enjoy a beer and dessert filled weekend.

A Wonderland of Beer: Craft Beer Fest LA

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Yesterday, the hearts of so many beer aficionados were at the Echoplex. The event was sold out online but the Uncouth Gourmands were not deterred. The low down was that there were going to be 100 or so unsold tickets at the door. Apparently, all of LA heard the same rumor and the line was around the corner. Luckily, the UG’s were at the front of the line.

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Despite the intense afternoon heat, Carina and I got there about an hour early. We had already grabbed some cheap lunch at Sharkey’s Woodfire Grill to pad our bellies. We were a bit turned off by our neighbors in line but decided to brave through it. The beer was supposed to be worth it and, after all, it was charity. At about 40 after 2P, we finally reached the gates of heaven. As we entered we were greeted by a lot of vivacious and friendly volunteers who all bustled and hustled through the heat for a good cause. Every patron was given a 4 oz beer glass, 15 drink tickets, and a beer list. Nervous about 15 drink tickets, I quickly rushed to the food section in order to fill my belly once more before the booze. Kind vendors like: Nicole’s Cheese Shop, Scoops, and others kindly donated so many of their people and resources so that we could all leave in a state of verticality after 15 small but potent drinks. After a few pinches of food, I quickly gravitated towards the long but fairly quick flowing beer line.

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Beer Highlights: I started off with the #26 (Telegraph Rhinoceros), or as I like to boast, the only 10% baby. The Telegraph was bold, resonant and delicious! The minute I took the last swig, I immediately craved a refill. Another notable favorite was The Bruery-Young Lambic. Oh man, that was awesome! No other adjectives could describe that one. It was a light, crisp, vinegary heaven! If God made butter that’s what it would taste like. I can’t wait to install a keg of the Lambic at my place. I’m kidding about the last part but it was oh soooo fulfilling. I know Carina loved the Telegraph White Ale but that is because she is a Bay Area girl and sort of grew up on it, oh and it is delicious. It is like how we are Pasadena girls and Crafstman, a Pasadena brewery, always tops our favorite brewer list because of city pride and delicious taste. I am kind of bummed we didn’t have any Craftsman brews yesterday, we were just trying to sample new beers that we had never tasted.

Here’s a list and review of the ones we tried. Beer Report Card:

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The People: A mix of uber hip young hipsters and old fat dudes. Despite the beauty of the respectfully produced beer, the patrons were the best part. All spectrums of people were represented. Anyone who loved beer was there! Not too much drunk tomfoolery either. We pimped out our site for a bit and made a good amount of unexpected connections. We met, ate, and drank like champions! The first picture is with the other local food bloggers: on the left is Yo Soy and next to me is Kirby Von Scrumptious. The boys below are the ones that checked the time and had us rush to the Firestone Walker booth for the rotating tap that only came once around 6p. They are sort of our heroes as they introduced us to our favorite drink of the day. It was dark, refreshing, and yummy and so were the fellows!

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Organization of the Event: So I know these kind of events get a lot of shit for being haphazard and mis-managed (i.e. the yelp bloggers), but we left the place with no such negative sentiment. In fact, we commented on how much we enjoyed ourselves. I think the event’s orchestrators are due a certain amount of credit for that. Sure, the MC was a little uncertain about when the panel was going up but someone else’s tardiness was responsible for that. And I suppose there was a degree of uncertainty about what was going on at all times but I think that was the motive of the host. I think moments like that are inherently unpredictable anyway. As we UG’s know, good times are often an accident. Plus, everyone was having a good time so nobody cared; order came secondary to beer and people.

Funny/Uncouth Moments: I was telling someone what uncouth meant while passing out our website on guest check cards and in that moment I managed to knock over a table. The other funny moment of the day was when I asked that guy Joe, in the picture below, for a beer. He responded by saying, “Bossy, aren’t you?”. I quickly pointed to Carina and said, “She’s the bossy one!” Without skipping a beat he said, “She’s a reform Jew and a woman, what do you expect?” I am sure that there were a ton of other funny and uncouth moments but I was too drunk to remember them.

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Final Swig: So for $30, you not only got an ample amount of food and beer but, most importantly, good company. Worth it? Abso-f@cking-lutely! Yesterday’s Beer Fest changed LA food events in a very positive way. “Success!” on behalf of the Uncouth Gourmands.