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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Blaze Pizza is now open in the Orange Circle

On June 18, 2015, Blaze Pizza opened a new location in the southeast quadrant of the quaint Orange Circle in Orange, CA. The Orange Circle is a Hollywood star on its own. It was featured in the movie, Forrest Gump. The scenes where Forrest is sitting on a bench waiting for the bus and talking to people about his life was filmed right here. The Circle is also home to many antique shops and other wonderful restaurants.

This also one of the biggest Blaze Pizza’s in Orange County with a long pizza assembly line and huge dining room. If you are a first timer, here are the parts of your pizza that you need to decide on:

  • Choose your sauce: Classic red sauce, spicy red sauce, white cream sauce, pesto drizzle, BBQ drizzle, or olive oil drizzle
  • Choose your cheese: Goat, gorgonzola, mozzarella, ovalini mozzarella, parmesan, and/or ricotta (Vegan cheese is available at an additional charge)
  • Choose your meat: Applewood bacon, crumbled meatballs, grilled chicken, Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, and/or smoked ham
  • Choose your veggies: Artichoke, arugula, bell peppers, black olives, cherry tomatoes, chopped garlic, fresh basil, jalapenos, Kalamata olives, mushrooms, pepperocini, pineapple, red onions, red peppers, and/or sautéed onion
  • 180 seconds in the oven and your pizza is ready!

Here’s a creative option for you: Start with white cream sauce topped with all of the cheeses, salami, Applewood bacon, chopped garlic, roasted garlic, oregano, salt, and arugula. The creamy cheeses work well with the salty bacon and cured salami. The roasted and chopped garlic adds a slight sweetness and the arugula adds a bitter greenness for a perfectly balanced pizza. Rating: 5/5

Blaze Pizza also has a selection of freshly made, pre-packed salads. Antipasto Salad with House Vinaigrette is topped with mozzarella, bacon, chicken, red onion, roasted red bell peppers, and artichoke hearts. The vinaigrette has the perfect balance of oil and vinegar pairing well with the meats and vegetables. Rating: 5/5

Whether you are attending classes at Chapman University and antiquing, make Blaze Pizza Glassell a stop on your itinerary for a quick bite!

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 4 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
Blaze Pizza Glassell (Orange Circle)
101 S Glassell St
Orange, CA 92866
Order online
  • Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 11am to 11pm, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 1am
  • Parking: Free lot parking behind Blaze Pizza off of South Orange Street

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Surf’s up at Beachy Cream in Santa Monica, California

Ann Ryan always reminisced about her time in Cape Cod selling hot dogs and ice cream from a cart. After years of a demanding career in Los Angeles, Ann wanted to slow down and make her dreams of opening her own “ice cream cart” a reality. Ann, and her daughter, Beth Stockwell, began selling her organic ice cream sandwiches in 2009 at local farmers markets. In 2012, she opened a full-service ice cream shop in Santa Monica and a “store within a store” at Vintage Grocers in Malibu. They have also expanded their distribution to 50 stores (and counting) including Whole Foods. With such a demand, a 13,000 square foot factory is almost complete in Long Beach so they can go nationwide.

Stop in for lunch! Hot dogs are made from 100% organic grass-fed beef, but you can also choose from turkey or vegan Tofurky dogs too. Toppings include ketchup, mustard, mayo, onions, relish, sauerkraut, jalapenos, cheese, and chili. Choose your bun: hot dog bun, pretzel bun, or gluten-free bun. I went balls to the wall with an all-beef hot dog on a pretzel bun topped with chili and cheese. The pretzel bun is fantastic with shiny, dark brown exterior with chewy interior. The hearty, chunky chili is flavorful and sticks to the dog. The hot dog is meaty and juicy with a nice snap to it. Rating: 4.5/5

Ginger Wipeout is an ice cream sandwich made with candied ginger ice cream and molasses spice cookies. The ginger ice cream is intense with spicy, sweet ginger flavor with a creamy texture. The molasses spice cookies are the perfect pairing with a sweet caramelized flavor. Rating: 4/5

Key Lime Cowabunga is an ice cream sandwich made with key lime ice cream and coconut oatmeal cookies. If you love key lime pie, you’ll absolutely love this ice cream sandwich. The key lime ice cream is spot on with the flavor. The coconut oatmeal cookies are paired perfectly with a tropical flavor twist on an oatmeal cookie. Rating: 5/5

Bitchin Chocolate Chocolate is an ice cream sandwich made with “hot” chocolate ice cream and chocolate brownie cookies. This is a chocoholics’ delight! The “hot” chocolate ice cream tastes like hot chocolate that you would get in South America. It’s chocolatey but has a spicy chile kick to it. The chocolate brownie cookies are decadent and rich. Rating: 5/5

Strawberry Surfer Girl is an ice cream sandwich made with strawberry balsamic swirl ice cream and sugar cookies. The strawberry and balsamic flavors work really well together. The aged balsamic is like molasses with a slight tart flavor. The sugar cookies are the perfect canvas to make the strawberry balsamic flavors stand out. Rating: 5/5

Surfin’ Safari Chocolate Chip is an ice cream sandwich with vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. If the other flavors are a little too adventurous, this is the one for you. The vanilla bean ice cream is super creamy with in-your-face vanilla flavor. The chocolate chip cookies tastes just like homemade with a good amount of chocolate chips. Rating: 5/5

Da Kine is a gluten-free and vegan ice cream sandwich made with vanilla ice “creme” and chocolate chip cookies. The vegan vanilla ice “creme” is pretty good with an in-your-face vanilla with creamy nutty flavor. The texture is a little different as the “creme” freezes a little differently than dairy cream. The gluten-free chocolate chip cookie is also pretty good and doesn’t have that gluten-free clunky texture that you would normally expect. Rating: 5/5

You can also make your own ice cream sandwich creations with the different cookies baked daily and choose from a bunch of different ice cream flavors. Pre-packed ice cream sandwiches and pints are conveniently ready if you are headed directly home.

I love Salted Caramel ice cream and Beachy Cream has a really great one. It is luscious on the palate with a slightly salty finish. Get a couple of scoops in a pretzel cone (yes, I said, pretzel cone) and you’ll be good to go! Rating: 5/5

Beachy Cream is just “peachy keen” when you have a sweet tooth or trying to find a way to cool off on a summer day.

  • Beachy Cream also is available for catering and events from organic comfort food like Stack Your Own Hot Dog Bar, Ice Cream Cart with Beachy Cream Ice Cream Sandwiches or Create Your Own Sundae Bar to Beachy Cream After Dark where B.A.D. Girls serve up Beachy Cream’s Famous Booze Infused Ice Creams.

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
Beachy Cream
1209 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Albright ties together family and the love of seafood in Santa Monica, California

After 35 years as Santa Monica Pier Seafood, Hae Ju Kim, let her daughter, Yunnie Kim Morena, take the helm of this seafood legacy on the Santa Monica Pier. In winter of 2014, Santa Monica Pier Seafood transitioned into The Albright, named after the nautical Albright Knot symbolizing the merge of two generations of the Kim family. The menu reflects a commitment to fresh, locally-sourced ingredients from the day’s catch, farmers’ market produce, and extensive craft beer and California wine selection.

New England Clam Chowder (served in a cup or sourdough bread bowl) is creamy, thick, and rich. The clam pieces are big and meaty. It’s served piping hot and oh so good. Even on a hot day, you won’t be able to stop eating it. Rating: 5/5

Oysters on the Half Shell are clean and fresh tasting. Fanny Bay oysters are slightly briny. If you want to bring out the sweetness, add the champagne mignonette. Kumamoto oysters are naturally sweet and creamy. They are best on their own or with the spicy relish for a refreshing flavor. Rating: 5/5

Poke is fresh diced raw ahi tuna with green onion, red onion, garlic, chile sauce, shoyu (soy sauce), sesame oil, and sesame seeds. The poke flavor is pretty authentic with shoyu, garlic, sesame oil and seeds. I would trade out the avocado and red onion for some ogo (seaweed) to add a bit of brininess and crunch-texture. The tuna is cut to the perfect size, not too small and not too big so the flavors penetrate the fish. Rating: 4/5

Fish & Chips are hand-battered Icelandic cod served with French fries and coleslaw. The batter is light and turns a perfect crispy golden brown. The fish inside is succulent and juicy. French fries are crispy and taste like kettle chips. The coleslaw is creamy, but needs something to kick up the flavor – maybe turn up the sweetness with pineapple or make more savory with salt and celery seed. Rating: 4.5/5

Shrimp & Chips are hand-battered black tiger shrimp served with French fries and coleslaw. The batter is light and turns a perfect crispy golden brown. The shrimp inside is perfectly cooked with a snap to it. It is sweet and delectable. Rating: 4.8/5

Whole Dungeness Crab (from saltwater tanks inside the restaurant) served with potato salad, corn on the cob, and drawn butter. This is one of the only places in California where the crab is served whole with the “miso” intact. The top shell of the Dungeness crab has a natural soup that contains the head fat (miso or tamale) and other goodies that you can spoon out or mix your crab meat in for a more intensified crab flavor. When it was served, I almost screamed in delight. The crab meat is so fresh that it just falls out of the shell without extensive picking. It is also really sweet and the drawn butter accentuates it. The corn on the cob is sweet and juicy. The potato salad is creamy but could use a little more herbs like dill or oregano to pair better with the seafood. Rating: 5/5

Whole Maine Lobster (from saltwater tanks inside the restaurant) served with potato salad, corn on the cob, and drawn butter. It is served whole preserving the “miso” inside. It is so fresh that the meat easily falls from the shell. The flavor is sweet and the drawn butter makes it even sweeter with each bite. We were lucky to get a female with a line of beautiful red roe. There is more meat than just the tail and claws. The body has meat too, at the base where the legs come out and inside the legs as well. If you split the legs at each joint, you can use your teeth and squeeze the meat out like tube of toothpaste. Growing up on seafood, I never leave any shells unpicked. Rating: 5/5

If you need something sweet to end your meal, don’t forget to pick up a homemade chocolate chip cookie. It’s a hefty cookie being slightly larger than you would make at home and about an inch thick. Since they leave them in a jar on the counter, the chocolate chips stay slightly gooey. When you bite into them, each morsel melts and coats the each bite of cookie. Rating: 5/5

With hot summer days upon us, why not visit The Albright for some summer sea breeze, beautiful views from the patio, and excellent seafood to behold.

Photo credit: John Konkal
Two outdoor options to enjoy (email for complete details):

  • The Albright Picnic Baskets are perfect for everything from 4th of July and Concerts on the Pier to a hassle-free dinner in the sand or day out with the family. Choose from two delicious menus, Summer Harvest and Pier Provisions Basket, featuring classic favorites like BLTs and corn on the cob, to brown rice bowls and a citrus kale salad. Both options come complete with dessert and a special add-on menu for the kids. Pricing starts at $90 for two people and include a festive Mexican blanket, Govino stemware, and bamboo cutlery.
  • Fisherman’s Raw Bar is housed in a custom wooden dory and a charming addition to any summer gathering like a barefoot beach party, rehearsal dinner, or backyard BBQ with friends. The Albright’s all-inclusive mobile raw bar provides everything needed for a seamless event including delivery, setup, shucking, serving, and breakdown. Pricing starts at $700 for 40 people.

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
The Albright
258 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401

  • Hours: Monday through Friday from 12pm to close, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to close
  • Parking: Available from entrance on PCH on the southbound side (North Parking Lot) or off of Colorado and Ocean (Pier Deck parking). Check website for parking rates.

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