It’s citrus season, and Francisco’s Fruit Stand along SR 126 is worth the 25-30 minute drive from Santa Clarita to pick up oranges, especially in bulk. The Navel oranges are currently 89 cents a pound, with boxes of bulk oranges even available for less. Our favorite varietals — the Cara Cara oranges — were also available for 89 cents a pound. Unfortunately, the pink juicy oranges short season has just ended.
Compare those prices to the grocery store, where a Navel (no matter the size) runs about 75 cents each or higher. At local farmers markets, we’ve seen the citrus run for $1 to $3 per pound. Yes, gas prices are high, but Francisco’s is a great drive toward Ventura, Ojai and the ocean — so make a day of it.
Once at Francisco’s, it’s hard not to buy anything else, so this weekend we also ended up coming home with plantains, cucumbers and this rare fruit called the “Milk chocolate dipped peanut butter pretzel.” (The stand has a great selection of prepacked nuts, candied, dried fruits, trail mix and chocolate dipped snacks, honey and olives, too.)
Francisco’s Fruit Stand 768 East Telegraph Road, Fillmore (805) 524-4616
We had a hanking for BBQ on a beautiful Saturday, so we decided to pile our two dogs in the car and drive up the coast. But this wasn’t going to be a short jaunt to Ventura down the 126. We wanted Santa Maria-style BBQ, a smoky BBQ flavor created by the red oak native to the Santa Maria Valley, located in northern Santa Barbara County.
So we drove up the 101. And drove. Past Ventura, Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Buellton, Los Alamos and even past Santa Maria until we arrived at Rancho Nipomo BBQ in Nipomo some 250 miles later. Located right off the 101 freeway, the casual BBQ joint has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating (so it’s dog friendly).
It took about 2.5 hours, but the traffic was light, the coastal vistas were beautiful and, yes, the food was worth the drive. We had a 1/2-pound tri-tip sandwich and a brisket sandwich with fries/rings and a Central Coast IPA.
The tri-tip was tender and smoky, and the extra BBQ sauce was served on the side, which was good because it was a little too sweet for our taste. The slow-smoked beef brisket was even more tender with just a right ratio of BBQ sauce to not overpower it. Even without the sauce, the brisket with its garlic and seasoning would have stood just fine on its own. Both sandwiches were served on soft Telera rolls which complemented the meats perfectly.
The 50/50 fries and rings were more like a 90/10 ratio, but there was plenty of food, and we didn’t drive 250 miles for French fries. However, one of the locals told us to try the Santa Maria fries (aka carne asada fries) with tri-tip ends, pinto beans, three cheeses, pico de gallo and sour cream.
It’s a good excuse to drive up there again, especially with other items on the menu like the pork ribs, pastrami, chili verde enchiladas and tri-tip burritos.
After Saturday morning chores and errands, SCVFoodie hit the road to Santa Paula. What the heck is in Santa Paula, you ask? Beignets at Rablais Bistro. Hot. Fresh. Doughy. And covered with a ton of powdered sugar.
About a 40-minute drive on the 126 from Valencia, we usually pass the Santa Paula exits en route to the beaches in Ventura and Santa Barbara. But quite a few people were raving about the Cajun-New Orleans-style restaurant on the Santa Clarita Foodies Facebook group.
Since dining indoors these days is a no-go, we picked up our piping hot beignets for takeout and ate them in the car. They might be bigger than the world-famous Cafe du Monde’s in New Orleans (from what we can remember), but they’re topped with the same amount of powdered sugar (a mound on each). Rablais’ beignets should be eaten right away—because any beignet worth its salt doesn’t have a great shelf life.
For those who’ve never had one, the beignet is the French version of a fritter or doughnut. Traditionally made with a few ingredients including flour, water, butter/lard and eggs, the beignet is hollow in the middle with a touch of crispness on the outside.
Rablais’ version is certainly worth the drive on a Saturday morning—especially when there’s nothing else to do. But when it’s safe to dine-in again, we’ll definitely be back. There are a few things we want to try that look better eaten at the restaurant (Croque Madame, Pulled-Pork Benedict, jambalaya, shrimp and grits and their po’ boys).
Of course, we’d have to start or finish that meal with those beignets and a chickory au lait.
Rablais Bistro’s beignets are three for $7, six for $12 or a dozen for $20.
If you live in the L.A. area, you’ve probably driven by Temple City without even knowing it. Located just south of Pasadena and between the 210 and 10 Freeways, the community is predominently residential. But the four-square mile city boasts a number of great restaurants, tucked in the strip malls.
SCVFoodie has written about several restaurants for Temple City’s Connect Magazine. Last year, we wrote about the Michelin and Bib Gourmand restaurants in the area, including Grand Harbour and Dai Ho.
Our latest adventure took us to Blazin Chicks, a fried HOT chicken place that opened just before the pandemic took hold of the country. It specializes in chicken sandwiches, wings, mac and cheese, butter rice, collard greens and other Southern-style comfort foods.
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, Golden Road Brewery in Atwater Village (at the intersection of the 5 and 134 freeways) is obviously closed for in-person dining and and drinking. But it’s opened a drive-thru pickup for necessities, grocery items and beer (naturally). And the bargain on the shopping list? Toilet paper for 50 cents a roll.
Shop without having to leave your vehicle: The drive-thru is open from 12-8 p.m. daily. The pub menu is also available for food to go. Call 818-243-2337 to place a grocery order. The pub menu as well as well as some grocery items are available online via the Toast app, Uber Eats and Grubhub.
View the images below to view the grocery, beer and pub menus.
As you might have noticed, it’s hot in Santa Clarita. Awesometown isn’t so awesome right now with temperatures hovering between 100 and 114 degrees during daylight hours.
We all know there are a number of options to beat the heat: (1) Stay inside, close the drapes, shut the lights and crank up the fans and air; (2) Hit the (indoor) mall like the Valencia Town Center, Northridge or the Beverly Center; (3) See a movie. It doesn’t matter what, really, because watching in an air-conditioned theater surely beats the triple-digits outside.
We thought about all those options, but opted for a fourth: With the day off, SCVFoodie took off for the coast, where it managed to stay under 100 degrees. Of course, we had to take advantage of the food scene during our day trip, so here’s what we ate in between our stop at Santa Barbara’s East Beach.
SCVFoodie needed a coffee…stat…so we stopped in Montecito at Bree’osh Cafe. The bakery specializes in sourdough breads, viennoiseries (such as a croissant) and brioche as well as egg sandwiches, panini and salads. We opted for a chocolate croissant and a cappuccino. (The cafe gets its coffee beans from the Santa Barbara-based HandleBar Coffee Roasters.) The cappuccino was wet, but not too latte-like, and the espresso was smooth; and the croissant was flaky on the outside. The inside could have used a little more chocolate, and we tasted a hint of sourdough, which was a detractor. (But we’re not the biggest fans of sourdough to begin with, but if that’s your jam, then book it to Bree’osh.)
Inside the Foxtail in Santa Barbara | Photo: Christine N. Ziemba
The shawarma rice bowl | Photo: Christine N. Ziemba
Foxtail’s kitchen specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, and we spotted a few specials on the lunch and happy hour board that were tempting (hummus and pitas, wraps, dolmas). Some of the combos come with fries and pints of beer—an adult happy meal. SCVFoodie opted for a chicken shawarma rice bowl with a zesty garlic sauce and ate every morsel. Foxtail also has a great cocktail menu and a varied beer menu. We tasted the Penicillin, which was perfect on a hot summer afternoon (Scotch, lemon, ginger), and a Breaking Bud IPA from Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn, California. The restaurant was a little quiet, so we hope people find this gem just off State Street.
After making more headway in a book and a walk down State Street—which was depressing with all its empty storefronts—we headed back on the 101 southbound. But it was late on a Friday afternoon, and the freeway was at a crawl, so we hopped off in Carpinteria in search of a coffee shop, which led us to:
We ordered a cold brew coffee, and while Lucky Llama’s version didn’t blow us away (it was a little bland), the quaint coffee shop’s outdoor patio was awesome. The cafe gets great ratings, especially for its açaí bowls, so we’ll give it another go the next time we drive up the coast.
And since it’s going to be 110+ again in the SCV tomorrow, that “next time” might be sooner than later.
From 10 am to 5 pm, dozens of food trucks and vendors will descend on the plaza serving up food like your Lola used to make. (I should say “almost” because no one can beat my Owa’s chicken adobo, just saying.)
The vendors confirmed so far are:
Hopia Like It
Johnny Pacific LA
Kindness and Mischief
Rice and Shine
Spoon & Pork
Thai Mexican Cocina
And don’t forget that inside the mall, there are other Filipino food options including Chowking, Grill City, Jollibee, Leelin Bakery & Cafe and Rick’s BBQ.
The organizers of EAT. PLAY. MOVE. know that while Filipino cuisine is really tasty, it’s neither the lightest nor the healthiest fare around so they’ve added “play” and “move” components to counteract the “eat” part. PLAY. features musical performances by a variety of Filipino talent including singer-songwriter Jeremy Passion, YouTuber Megan Delacey and beatboxer EVMB.
MOVE.involves fitness activations for all ages, including Zumba, yoga, fitness tests, competitions. Personal trainers will also be on hand to assist those who need help moving or for those who want to set up training later.
Consider yourself warned: You now have ample time to work out, drop a few pounds and/or find the right stretchy pants to wear to the festival on Oct. 7.
EAT. PLAY. MOVE.: A Filipino Food Festival Eagle Rock Plaza 2700 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles Oct. 7 from 10 am to 5 pm
On Tuesday night, SCVFoodie was fortunate enough to score a seat to Rascal’s first whisky pairing dinner. (Full disclosure, we had an “in”—Rob Gard, the whisky expert and spirits writer guiding diners through the courses is a personal friend.) But he and Rascal’s chef Andy Lee put together a great four-course meal with uncommon whiskies and surprising taste combinations.
We’ll list the pairings by course:
First course: A Linkwood 15 with sheep milk cheese, house-made duck prosciutto, basque chorizo toast, roasted peeled almonds—and a date. We added just a few drops of water to the Linkwood, and it completely mellowed the finish. The difference was amazing.
Second course: A Benromach 10 with shrimp and grits (spiced shrimp with corn polenta grits, chimichurri). A hint of curry on the shrimp was a great touch by Lee and worked well with the peatier Benromach.
Third course: Glenturret 11 with whisky braised pork belly, sautéed picked farmer’s market vegetables and a whisky glaze. To be honest, SCVFoodie isn’t the biggest fan of pork belly dishes (usually way too fatty for our liking), but Lee’s was amazing. It reminded us of lechón—full of flavor and tender. Lee used the Glenturret in the glaze, adding a sharp sweetness to the dish.
Fourth course: A Brenne (French whisky) with a whisky custard bread pudding and creme anglaise. We love love love bread pudding, and pastry chef Danielle Keene’s was top-notch. It was more firm than mushy, which is the way we like it. The Brenne popped with vanilla and caramel flavors, complementing the dessert perfectly.
This week’s special whisky dinner is just the first for Rascal, so follow them on Facebook or Twitter for news about the next one. And just follow Rob Gard because, he knows his whisky. And he’s awesome. (No, he didn’t pay us to say that).
Rascal 801 S. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles
If you happen to be at The Oinkster when you’re asked that question, then the answer should be a resounding “yes!” Trust us on this one.
SCVFoodie was at the soft opening of Andre Guerrero’s second Oinkster restaurant on Vine Street in Hollywood last month, and we were fortunate enough to choose anything on the menu to sample. After long consideration and pouring over choices that included chili burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, pastrami, we chose “the one.” [The Oinkster’s Belgian fries are just a given.]
Since Guerrero’s Filipino, we imagined that his adobo could be almost as good as our own Owa’s (SCVFoodie’s late grandmother), so we went for the Pork Adobo Burger: A Pork Patty served on a Pan De Sal Bun with House Made Pork Adobo, Garlic Aioli, and Pico de Gallo.
[Adobo refers to both the Filipino dish that can be made with chicken, pork, seafood etc., as well as the cooking process. Adobo uses vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic, with the meat simmering in that mixture.]
It was amazing. The pork adobo on top of the patty was tender and slightly acidic, garlicky, but that was all perfectly balanced by the sweetness in the pan de sal bread.
Owa would be totally jealous.
And this just in: The Oinkster’s Eagle Rock location is holding its Burger Week IV from June 2-8. The week-long celebration of the burger features creations available for one day only.
The Oinkster / Hollywood 776 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90038 323.536.9248 Sunday to Thursday: 11 am to 11 pm Friday and Saturday: 11 am to 12 am
The Oinkster/Eagle Rock 2005 Colorado Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90041 323.255.6465 Sunday – Thursday: 11am to 10pm Friday & Saturday: 11am to 11pm
Bea Bea’s in Burbank is located in a Von’s strip mall on Pass Avenue. The lines may be long on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but worth the wait. The menu is a breakfast lovers’ dream: omelets, scrambles, French toast, pancakes and crepes.
Try the breakfast quesadilla and the strawberry-banana French toast.