See Ya There: Brew Ha Ha

OC Brew Ha Ha 2017

I can’t believe it’s the 9th annual OC Brew Ha Ha event tomorrow! I have been going since the 2nd annual event, and it’s crazy to think it’s been that long. It’s no secret it’s one of my favorite events of the year in Orange County, so I’m really excited to attend. Last year was the perfect weather for once, it’s normally sweltering hot. Here’s to hoping for another super fun event!

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This year, the general tickets include:

* Unlimited tastings
* 100+ Craft & Import Beers
* Commemorative Festival Glass
* Live Entertainment
* Craft Beer Seminars by renowned industry experts
* Golden State Cigar Lounge
* Fun and Hilarious Games and Exhibitors

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When: Tomorrow, Sept. 15th 2018

Where:

Lakeview Park

5305 E. Santiago Canyon Rd

Silverado, CA 92676

Time:

GENERAL ADMISSION – 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

$45 – $55

Unlimited Beer Tastes
Commemorative Festival Glass

VIP ADMISSION – 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

$60 – $70

Unlimited Beer Tastes
Commemorative Festival Glass
One Hour Early Entry
Access to all the OC Brew Ha Ha has to offer

Hope to see everyone there!

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An Evening at Angry Horse Brewing

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My good friend Derek Bougie, former brewmaster of Newport Beach Brew Co and Brewcaipa, is now the lead brewer at Angry Horse in Montebello and invited me to attend the first of many dinners at the brewery. I was excited to visit Angry Horse as it was my first time there, and it’s always nice to see my long-time friend.

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We were there for the dinner with Chef Jose Vazquez of East Side Eats LA catering company paired with Angry Horse beers. It was an ambitious menu considering there was no kitchen in the back of the brew house, but they somehow was able to pull things off! Some dishes were plated and others were family style, and everything was executed quickly and with professionalism.

Course 1: Lettuce and Lager

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Market Lettuce, Cherry, “Lager” crema, Golden Beet, Queso Fresco, Crouton. Paired with Red AF – a tart cherry saison, 6% ABV. It was a refreshing salad eventhough beets aren’t my favorite thing in the world. It was fresh and crisp and light, and I noted there was a hint of garlic or something umami-ish in the crutons that was really tasty.

Course 2: Some-Fin to Talk About

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Hamachi Crudo, Tomatillo Vinegar, Chayote Slaw with San G Lager 6.2% ABV. The fish was fresh and light in flavor and the vinegar slaw was crunchy and tasty. It had lots of nice mouthfeel, and I admit I ate it pretty quickly.

Course 3: All The Good Stuff

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Stone Fruit Granita, Lemon & Mint Vinegar paired with Lil’ Peach Kettle Sour 7.4% ABV. This was a nice enough granita, I just wish it was a little bit less vinegar-forward. I think I am sensitive to vinegar as a flavor profile, because my husband said he loved his. I did love the stone fruit flavors in this.

Course 4: Pretty In Pork

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Pork Tender, Piloncillo, Serrano, Charred Market Sugar Snap Peas paired with Hey Z NE Style IPA 7.1% ABV. This was my favorite dish of the night. I’ve never had such tender pork, it melted in your mouth! The snap peas were a great addition, it added the little bit of texture the soft pork needed, and there was a slight garlic undertone that fit in nicely with the theme of the meal. The family-style dish was a nice touch, I made a nice portion for myself  and poured some of the drippings over it.

Course 5:  Peaches n’ Cream

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Market White Peach Tart, Cherry Cream paired with Imperial Cherry Porter 10% ABV. The tart was delicious, rich but not heavy, and the crust was hearty and had some interesting sweetness. I thought it was almond but was later told it was graham cracker. It reminded me a bit of a cake my grandma used to make called a mazariner, which is a Swedish almond tart. It had that mix of nostalgia that makes baking so special. I would also like to note it wasn’t too sweet, it had a balance to it that most people don’t understand how to do well. There’s nothing like a cloyingly sweet dessert from people who just don’t get it to appreciate a deft hand’s skillful dish.

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Overall I had a great time at Angry Horse and loved the beer dinner. It was obvious that it was a labor of love, and all the people involved really cared about what they were doing and were all working toward a common goal of making their community better. It’s cool to see a creative space where people are free to explore their passions and are free to make delicious food, pair it with unique and well-made beer, and celebrate with like-minded people. I highly recommend stopping by Angry Horse for a beer, and checking out their next dinner event. It was really fun!

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Beer Caramel Popcorn

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Phew, it’s been awhile you guys. I’ll admit, I took a break from blogging for a few reasons, namely not balancing my work/life properly. I love my job, and since working there I started doing more and more, especially with photography and social media. It made doing things for my blog feel like work instead of fun, and I desperately needed a break to strip everything away and get back to the reason I started this blog to begin with. I realized baking and making cool stuff with beer had become so minimal on here, so with renewed motivation I am glad to be back!

With that being said, I have a few cool recipes I will be sharing with you, along with a bunch of back-logged posts I just didn’t have the motivation to write. I am like a hoarder of edited photos, so be ready to – I’ve got a bunch of awesome stuff to share!

Without further ado, I present to you – Beer Caramel Corn made with Ninkasi’s Vanilla Oatis! I am a huge fan of Ninkasi, as you may know, so I wanted to do something cool with their vanilla stout that was a bit unexpected. I made this caramel corn recipe for a work event (see what I mean) last year and never got around to blogging about it, but I remember people raved about it being so delicious and addicting. It was a match made in heaven!

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Ingredients:

8 quarts of popped popcorn (I have an air pop because I am obsessed with popcorn, but you can just buy the unflavored bags of microwaved popcorn or use your stove top to make it too… I like the big kernels for this)

2 cups brown sugar (light or dark, don’t matter)

1 cup corn syrup

1 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons of Vanilla Oatis Beer

Directions:

  1. Heat your oven to 250 degrees F. Spray large roasting tray with cooking spray. It needs to be really large, like the one you would use for a turkey, or two of those tin disposable trays would do. Place your popped popcorn in the roasting tray and let it sit in the oven while you prepare your caramel. This helps dry out the popcorn of any leftover moisture, and heat it so the caramel doesn’t seize when you pour it on.
  2. I don’t know if many of you get all your ingredients measured first, then make your recipe, but I typically don’t – with one exemption…. when making candy. You should never turn your back on candy, because it can burn in the blink of an eye. Always prep everything first. Put your brown sugar and corn syrup and salt and butter in a medium to large sauce pan. The butter will splash a bit so have some room to mix it. Pre-measure your baking soda and beer (in separate bowls) and set aside. Cook the sugar mixture over medium heat, whisking continuiously, until it starts to boil. Once it’s boiling, let it boil for 5 minutes without touching it. After five minutes, take your popcorn out of the oven, take the sugar mixture off the heat, and mix in the baking soda and beer with a whisk into the sugar mixture. It should react to the baking soda and foam up a bit. That’s good!
  3. Pour the sugar caramel mixture over the popcorn as quckly and evenly as possible. Mix it around with two spatulas as best as you can to get it evenly distributed. Put it back in the oven.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, take it out every 15 minutes or so to mix around to ensure even coating, and maximum crunchiness.
  5. Prepare a space to spread out the candy on a flat surface (I put a towel down, then a large sheet of tin foil I sprayed with cooking spray and folded the edges up so it wouldn’t go everywhere). Put the finished popcorn on the flat surface and spread it out with a spatula so it’s an even layer. Sprinkle with some extra sea salt as desired. I prefer salty & sweet so I added sea salt when it was right out of the oven so it would stick to the popcorn.
  6. Let cool & enjoy! It should keep for about a week in airtight containers. It made enough for three gallon ziploc bags.

Needless to say, this was a huge hit! I think the beer added a subtle vanilla malty note to the sugar and butter flavors of this popcorn. I thought I was in trouble for having made so much of it. Luckily my co-workers couldn’t keep their hands off of it, and my husband gave a bag away to our friends work and they devoured it as well. I highly recommend making this, it keeps well, and it’s universally loved. It’s a great deviation from the typical baked item!

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It’s Coming: OC Brew Ho Ho 2017

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It’s that time of year! It’s my birthday, it’s the Holidays, it’s time for OC Brew Ho Ho. This event is one of my favorites, where the dark and sticky beers flow, and people get weird. The people watching is like an event within an event, and I highly recommend getting the tasting out of the way early and post-up someone to watch all the hilarious costumes and tipsy attendee’s shenanigans.

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It’s the beer event where local breweries pull out all the stops, and bust out all the dark, high ABV, special beers for one last hurrah before the year ends. I’ve had everything from White Russians, to Egg Nog, to whales at this event, and one thing I’ve never had was disappointment… (see what I did there?)

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If you go to one party this Holiday season, make it a beer party.

When: Saturday, Dec. 9th from 12-4pm

Where: The Phoenix Club,1340 S. Sanderson Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806

Cost: $55 for unlimited 2oz tasters + taster glass

Music: The English Beat (cue fangirl moment –  I am a ska kid at heart)

Get your tickets here!

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OC Brew Ha Ha 2017 Recap

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I had a blast at this year’s OC Brew Ha Ha! It was the first time the weather was super mild, and it made me very happy not to be a sweaty mess. In addition to great weather, the overall vibe was chill – partially due to the event not being over crowded. Most of the booths had little to no lines (minus Bottle Logic, where I couldn’t get a break in those damn lines for a beer) so we were able to bounce around the event and try most of everything relatively quickly.

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Overall it was a great time. The corndog from Viking truck was satisfying as hell. The VIP area had some really interesting beers (rare beers, sours, etc.).  I am really late getting this review out there, so most of the details are already covered. I’ll just leave the pics here for your enjoyment!

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OC Brew Hee Haw 2017 Recap

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This year at the OC Brew Hee Haw event something magical happened: I was blessed with close parking to the event entrance. For those of you who have attended the OC Brew Hee Haw events, you know that because this event is located within the OC Fair you are likely gonna park super far away that will typically require a shuttle to get to and from. Not this year, I attended the 12-4pm event and there was parking really close, it was magic.

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It was a hot summer day but luckily this event had several water stations and shade so I was able to avoid being burned or dehydrated. Most of the outside booths had a nice breeze or shade from trees so I was hot but not too bothered by the weather.

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The DJ was really fun – it always makes for great people watching after the event has been going for a few hours and people loose their inhibitions a bit and start dancing. There was a funny moment when I spotted a man taking a photo that almost looked to be an “up-skirt” photo, so naturally I took pictures of him intending to report him to security. That’s when I noticed he was actually taking pictures of his companion’s injured foot, so that was even more interesting. As I photographed them, my friend and I was approached by a guy who asked what I was doing. I told him, and he was like “oh, I thought you had a thing for feet.” So we ended-up having a whole conversation about how there’s always porn out there for strange fetishes, and maybe this dude runs a “Misery-porn” instagram (ya-know … like the movie Misery? The one where she breaks his ankles?). I’ve met some fun people at beer events, and some of these people have ended-up being close friends who I hang out in real life (outside of beer events), and this dude was hilarious. He ended-up hanging out with us for like an hour after the event, walking around the fair, then walking off into the sunset never to be heard from again. I prefer to think he was a ghost, who walks around Costa Mesa and brightens people’s day with his antidotes.

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I had a lot of fun at this event. It was well organized and I was able to enjoy the fair after the event which is always a good time. My only suggestion for next year is to have a few less IPA’s and more lighter beers like Kolsch’s Pilzners, and Pales. I met a lot of interesting people at this event, and ended-up becoming a group photographer of sorts in the end. Thanks for a great event!

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2nd Annual OC Brewers Guild Invitational Recap

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This year the OC Brewers Guild Invitational event was hosted at the Center Street Promenade in downtown Anaheim, where there has been many events like the Fest of Ales, etc. It’s a unique space where it’s almost like a lowercase t, with a long main strip and two small off-shoots. What’s great about this space is the parking, there are two big parking structures and it’s easy to get in and out of the event. As we walked up we noticed the long line that snaked its way through an entire side of the parking structure and around the corner. Thankfully most of the people who where waiting were in the shade, but nevertheless they looked pretty unhappy to be waiting. I heard claims that it took some people almost an hour to get in. There seemed to be a few issues with this event, so I will break them down into likes and gripes:

Like: Having the event in the early evening, it helped a little because the day was super hot and having it be later in the day helped quell the heat just a little. Plus it’s nice to take photos in the magic hour!

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Gripe: Only 1 water station in the whole place. This is a major gripe of mine, to have an unlimited drinking festival without ample water is dangerous, especially on a hot day. It’s almost reckless in a sense, and the level of drunkenness I saw at  the event was likely caused by the lack of water availability.

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Like: Lots of great beer selections! There was super rare beer poured, especially by The Bruery. I mean, they had Chocolate Rain in bottles, that’s just nuts. But – the problem with that was Chocolate Rain is 18.5%ABV, so serving that when it’s hot and lack of water = really drunk people.

Gripe: There seemed to be a lack of fun music options, and the space in the small part of the t shape of the street seemed to be under-utilized. It was mainly lined with port-a-potties.

Like: The glassware was really nice, the gold leaf option for those who got VIP was a nice touch.

Gripe: In general, there was a lack of organization from what I heard from my friends who worked the event. There was beer that was overly foamy because of the heat levels, people had to move their stations after they were set-up, and I noticed extremely intoxicated people were still being served.

Like: I think the event has really great potential and I am glad to see the OC beer scene being celebrated. I think events like Firkfest is a good example of a well-run beer event in Anaheim, with several water stations, a well-known and well-liked DJ, and several people running the line check-ins. A few small tweaks and next year could be a fantastic event!

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Summer of Beer… Events

It’s hot out. Like sit in your undies in front of the fan on the floor hot. When it’s miserable outside what better to do than go and drink a bunch of beer and forget about how sweaty and sticky you are? Ok – so you might just get sweatier and stickier but at least you had fun.

oc-brew-hee-haw-2016-edited-5oc-brew-hee-haw-2016-edited-4 There are a ton of really fun events in the summer around Orange County for beer, so drag your friends out of the AC for an afternoon of fun in the sun for these upcoming events:

July 15-16th : OC Brew Hee Haw!! At the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, they have the OC Brew Hee Haw (yee-haw!) again and I am looking forward to it. Last year there was a spontaneous dance party, complete with dance battles, it was such a great time! There are three sessions: 12-4pm & 6-10pm on Saturday and 12-4pm on Sunday. It’s really cool that you can do 4 hours of unlimited beer tasting then enjoy the rest of the day at the fair with the price of admission. Check out one of my previous reviews of the event here !

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August 5-6th: High & Mighty Fest! This is the first annual High & Mighty fest and is set to take place at the Village Green Park in downtown Garden Grove. There are major music acts like Sublime with Rome and Dirty Heads and Jurassic 5 set to attend, with different music acts each day. Like other events that also has large music elements, it’s unlimited beer until 4pm, and music until much later with paid beer sales. I think it’s a neat way to mesh beer events with music events, and certainly helps people discover new craft beers they might have never tried before. It sounds like so much fun!

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Sept 23rd: 8th Annual OC Brew Ha Ha!! My favorite OC Beer event every year! I love this event. Despite the inevitable suffocating heat that descends upon Silverado Canyon every year, this is the event I look forward to all year. It’s great to see all the familiar faces and enjoy a beautiful day amongst friends, drinking delicious beer of course.

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Let me know if I missed any can’t miss OC Beer events coming up! Cheers 🙂

Tiny Rick Beer Cookies

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Me and my husband are huge Rick and Morty fans so when I came across a Tiny Rick cookie cutter on etsy, it had to be mine! This time, I made them with Bottle Logic’s Recursion IPA. I know Bottle Logic is huge fans of the show too, so it just felt right. So wubba lubba dub dub, it’s time to get schwifty!

Ingredients:

4 cups of sifted AP Flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 cup or 2 sticks of unsalted butter

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (or beer!)

Frosting:

1 lb. of powdered sugar

1 tablespoon of light corn syrup

2/3 cups of beer

1 tablespoon of lime juice

Gel food coloring

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Directions:

1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugar together on medium speed in an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix until pale and fluffy, for 3 minutes or so. Add in the vanilla (or beer) and eggs and mix until incorporated. Add flour mixture in slowly until incorporated.

3. Put cookie dough in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge about 1 hour or until firm. I wrapped it into three disks and only used two of them and froze the third. This yields a good amount of cookies.

4. Roll-out the dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap until about 1/4 inch thick. Using the plastic wrap will help keep the cookies from getting too dry from adding extra flour during the roll-out process.

5. Cut out the shapes and place on cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Put in the freezer for 15 minutes so the cookies will keep the shape while baking.

6. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cook for 15-18 minutes until the edges are brown. Let cookies cool before icing.

7. Whisk icing ingredients together, make sure that the icing is very thick so it will keep the piping shapes you want. Make sure to add more powdered sugar if necessary. I made three colors of frosting: one black for the eyes and pants, and one light blue for the hair, eyebrows and shirt and white for the lab coat. They will get completely dry overnight and will be pretty hard so they can be put in an airtight container to travel if needed. If it gets too hot the frosting will get melty again.

These turned out great. I got the bitterness and beer flavor, but it wasn’t overpowering. The cookie wasn’t really sweet, it just had a nice crunch to it. The frosting was an interesting balance of sweet, tangy and hoppy. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I wish my frosting was a bit neater but everyone loved them so much I didn’t feel that bad. I got my cookie cutter from this store – but it looks like it’s gone now!

Let’s Taco ‘Bout Sabroso

The 4th Annual Sabroso taco, craft beer and music festival was a huge hit. It sold out two weeks in advance (which is untypical of most beer festivals – especially in Orange County) and I had a bunch of people asking me if I could get them tickets last minute. Besides from always killing it in the taco and beer game, for the music they booked some heavy-hitters footing the bill with the likes of: Offspring, Sum 41, Lit, Unwritten Law, Rival Sons, and Metalachi to name a few. The event changed locations this year and was located at Doheny State Beach, and thus was able to accommodate a swelled crowd of over 8,500 people.

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I was asked to be a judge of all the tacos again this year, this time besides the loveable Frosty from KLOS (yes, that Frosty from Fosty, Heidi and Frank) and FoodBeast. It was really cool to be able to meet Frosty because I’ve listened to their show on and off for years, since they were on the indie station over 10 years ago. He was so nice! We were tasked with judging over 21 tacos (up from the 16 last year) and I think this was the best year yet! There was so many creative and interesting taco choices, it was such a fun time.

Onto the tacos! Let’s jump in. I had documented what was in each taco on my phone and my tasting notes, and would you know it – my phone took a dump so this is all from memory.

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This was the first taco. It was blind judging so I have no idea who made what, but this taco was good. It had decent heat, but was overall a bit soft. Besides the carrots, it needed more crunch!

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This taco was beautiful – just look at all that color! It had good flavor, I just was frustrated by the meat, it was kinda chewy and stringy – and that made it harder to eat. I liked the addition of the bell peppers, the texture overall was really good.

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I wasn’t a big fan of this one – the green apples made it pretty sour. Plus – if you guys read my last year’s post – I am not a fan of the crumbled cheese. Not this taco’s fault. It had way too much cabbage for me, but I liked the meat! It was slow-cooked and juicy.

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This taco was pretty basic – it had nothing too remarkable. It was not terrible and not amazing, it was like someone on top chef who wanted to play it safe.

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WTF taco. It was hard to get past all the stuff on top to the fish buried under there. Also, the tomatoes had no business being on this, was it salsa or just fresh tomatoes? You confuse me, taco.

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I’m pretty sure this was the teriyaki beef taco, and it was interesting. It was a one-degree separation from being a Kogi-inspired masterpiece but it was missing something. Kimchi maybe? The meet was super flavorful with sweet notes, it was tender, and the heat from the sriracha balanced it out.

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Ok – so I know I said the other taco had way too much on it, and this one looks crazy as well – but this worked in a strange way. If you move the lime and sauce and veggies, it’s just a true street taco, and that green sauce was on fire. Where can I get that green sauce?!

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This was not for me, stringy meat and the dreaded cojita cheese, it was destined for failure on my palate. I wasn’t a fan – but that’s just my taste – I am sure my husband would’ve loved this cuz it was a meat bonanza. It could’ve also used a bit more brightness in color with some fresh herbs or something!

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Another taco that could’ve done without the added tomotes, but it was not terrible. I liked the red cabbage addition, and the tortilla was nice and fluffy with a nice chew to it.

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I normally don’t eat octopus, but I’ve had it a few times so I wasn’t terribly afraid to dive into this taco. It was served poke style with marinated octopus. It was successful for my tastes, mainly because it was one-note with everything tasting more like the marinade and the mushy sauce on the bottom was grey and unappetizing. Points for originality and color!

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This taco was my second favorite of the day, despite the addition of the crumbled cheese. The meat was enveloped by this fruity (I think pineapple) sauce that was spicy as hell while also being sweet. It invaded my tongue and I was in love. Well done!

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This was a very strange mash-up with the breaded chicken and taco marriage, but it was oddly satisfying. I wish it had something about it that was spicy, but I’d eat it again.

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Oh man, this might have been my least favorite. It had the makings of a good taco and I normally love lobster either in a po’ boy or on top of a sushi roll covered in sauce, but this was just unsuccessful. It was kinda warm when I had it – which I’m sure the chefs didn’t intend, but it was slimy.  Also the tortilla was greasy and tasted burnt.

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THIS TACO WAS AMAZING! Not only did it give me major nostalgia to when I went to the Squeeze In restaurant in Sacramento and had the cheese skirt burger (that’s cooked with the crunchy melted cheese around the burger) but it was such an original surprise. Under the sauce was delicious chorizo and tater tots. This taco killed it in all the categories: taste, appearance, creativity. I found out later this was from Mess Hall Canteen because they won First Place!

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Another taco that suffered by putting too much on it. I wish they added a bit less salsa on top because it was almost like having soup!

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The meat was marinated and had a lot of flavor but I wish it had a bit more acid. It was tasty enough, I’d try it again.

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I love crispy shrimp, so this was one I liked. The shrimp flavor was there, and the red cabbage was a nice touch.

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The pineapple was a strange addition, it reacted with the onions in a not-so-pleasant mouthfeel. The meat was tasty, and that green salsa was pretty bomb.

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I wasn’t a fan of this one. The duck was pretty fatty and the one lone clementine slice was kinda weird. I liked the daikon slices though!

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I liked this one! It had some really interesting flavors between the slow-cooked and shredded meat and the herbs on top, it had a lot of good stuff in there.

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This taco took a risky move making sweet potato fritters because some of us don’t like sweet potatoes. I am one of those people.

After all the judging was said and done, it turns out there was a tie for second and third place, so we had to taste two more tacos to determine a winner. Here was the second round tacos:

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I love falafel! I could eat falafel every day, and this was damn good falafel. It was crunchy, the peppers added spice, the tzatziki sauce added a tangy cool factor, and the avocados lended a smooth luxurious mouthfeel. It was damn good.

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This was another killer taco. The kimchi was spicy and tangy and crunchy, and the beef was thinly chopped and bursting with flavor. It was really hard to choose between these tacos, but the falafel won it by 1 point for me mainly because it had more overall flavor and texture that lasted on my palate.

Loaded with a veritable cornucopia of tacos in my stomach, I wondered into the crowd in search of beer. There was a bunch of tents set-up on the sand with several different breweries pouring together under the tents, so that’s where I spent most of my time. It was beautiful being by the beach, but the added winds were a new challenge. It was pretty funny to see all the ladies trying to keep their skirts down and hats on all day.

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The lucha libre was as fun as I remember, the ladies round was the best in my opinion. They were vicious! Overall it was a really fun event. It was well organized, on my end, but I did notice a few breweries without jockey boxes so they couldn’t pour… not sure what happened there. Besides that, there was plenty of delicious beer, giant water stations, and it was refreshing to finally have phone service at Sabroso (it’s normally in a dead zone)! They keep topping the previous year, so I can’t wait for next year to see what they come up with!

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