State Fairs are often an afterthought. A relic of times past when most of us lived in rural areas and guessing the weight of a pumpkin was the best entertainment of the month. They offer variations on the same rides, foods and entertainment that you find at your local Memorial Day Carnival or County Fair and, I mean, how many people even go to those? But the Minnesota State Fair is so far from an afterthought that it seems to be on the minds of Minnesotans for the 50 weeks of the year in which it is not in operation. Plans are made, new foods are devised and longed after; then, just like that, it’s over again. This year, however, the Unvegan paid a visit to see how it would all stack up.
There is a saying attributed to Jonathan Gold that goes something like “‘A’ is for ‘American’ Chinese food, ‘B’ is for ‘Better’ Chinese food and ‘C’ is for ‘Chinese’ Chinese food.” The letters, of course, are in reference to the health code and if you’ve ever been to China, you would know this to be true. Thus, when I heard great things about the dumplings at Emperor Noodles in San Gabriel and then found out it had a “B” rating, I got pretty excited to try it out.
The Palm Springs area isn’t exactly known for its culinary prowess. You see, septuagenarians don’t really care how their food tastes as long as they can be done with dinner by 6:00. Nonetheless, there are a few places willing to take some risks and offer unique eats (even if they do sport an early bird special to boot). One of these is Catalan in Rancho Mirage, a Mediterranean restaurant in the sense of the European parts of the Mediterranean at least.
Pittsburgh has surprised me in its delicious offerings, ranging simple to upscale. Nonetheless, there is no denying that regular American food reigns supreme in this city even when it is all dolled up. Cure, though, is a bit of a different story. Located in Lawrenceville, it is helmed by 2014 James Beard nominee Justin Severino and is an unvegan paradise. Just be aware that when you come to this paradise, there is a price tag, but it is certainly worth it.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Big Burrito restaurant mafia in Pittsburgh is kind of a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that I recently visited a third member of their family: Casbah. Featuring a menu with dubious claims of Mediterranean origin, there could be no doubt that the ever-changing menu looked nothing short of delicious. It also looked nothing short of beyond a student’s budget, which is why I found myself there with the in-laws.
One of the perks of staying at the St. Regis in Dana Point (or knowing people staying there) is to be able to eat at the Monarch Bay Club. This restaurant was once only available to people who live in the adjoining neighborhood of $10 million dollar homes and those willing to shell out $17,000 a year for membership. Now, though, this exclusive joint is available to anyone willing to stay at the St. Regis and their guests. Upon arrival, I expected high prices and subpar food that is typically endemic of hotel restaurants, but what I found was something a bit different.
For my first outing to LA Live, my lady and I headed to WP24, a restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton created by that famous chef with a name like a prodigious hockey item, Wolfgang Puck. We were out celebrating, but didn’t call ahead to make plans. This meant we couldn’t get a table, because apparently WP24 has no room for walk-ins, but it also meant we weren’t locked into an $80 or $110 fixed price dinner. Instead, we were offered the lounge, which served sushi and appetizers.
First off, no, there is no such thing as unlimited libation at Golden Road Brewing. But I just couldn’t resist making the painfully obvious Grateful Dead reference. Especially because there was nothing at all Grateful Dead about the brewery. As one of the few microbreweries in LA, Golden Road resides in a sketchy part of Glendale and is kind of personifies a blend of collar and hipster, at least in decor and architecture. The food menu tries to bridge that gap as well, but leans heavier on the latter than the former, with a frightening number of vegan menu items and a couple of sandwiches to scare any blue collar visitors back to the smelting plant.
EDIT: Cooks County is now running around town going by the name of Market Provisions. No idea what that means for the food.
You may think that as a meat blogger I am constantly defining which restaurants my girlfriend and I eat at. Often that is the case, and for no other reason than that people are constantly giving me suggestions, but this weekend we reversed the trend and she took me out to dinner at a place from her own to-eat list. The place was Cooks County in Mid-City and although a quick Google search will reveal no county named Cooks, there is certainly at least one Cook County (in Illinois), which may be some sort of basis for the naming of this restaurant.
Two of the things I love most in this world are beer and my belly. No, I don’t have a beer belly…much, but when a gastropub in Koreatown called Beer Belly opened up, I figured I had to try it out. I was meeting a group of people, and arrived to find the place packed. And this was not a big place. Like about 8 tables and a few bar stools big, and all of them were loaded. Plus, it was first come, first served, so we got to hang around the tables like vultures surrounding a wounded gazelle. It was the tail end of happy hour, though, so I ordered a beer and hoped a table would clear out soon. Fast forward thirty minutes and we’re still waiting when a woman working the place asks if we’re waiting for a table. Uh, no, lady, we’re just standing here awkwardly for the hell of it. She then proceeded to ask us if we wanted to be on the list. This “list” was new to us, and apparently also new to her, as she told us she had just started it. Well, at least we wouldn’t have to stand awkwardly any longer.