VLOG: The Rusty Monk – Uptown Whittier

The Rusty Monk

Since the mid-1950′s, my family has resided in Whittier, a city straddling Orange and L.A. Counties, making it a member of both San Gabriel Valley and Gateway Cities. I’ve always felt Whittier has struggled with an identity crisis, earning some of the best and worst food has to offer in the process. One of the newest attempts at securing Whittier in the good graces of appreciative stomachs everywhere is The Rusty Monk, a Belgium gastropub housed in an address with a rather poor track record of eateries (a shitty kebab place and an even shittier Italian joint, though in my day a clothing store).

Ever since The Rusty Monk opened its doors, my mom and I have been conniving to partake on hearty European pub favorites. We’re hardly ever in Whittier for dinner, though, unless it’s family/holiday related, so when opportunity to patronize Whittier’s first gastropub finally presented itself, we snatched it:

Don’t be fooled by those deep char marks atop my bockwurst; the veal and pork combo sausage was juicy and and dripping with flavor. Other favorites include the fried fish and homemade tartar sauce and the chocolate bread pudding with rum sauce. The fries could do with a touch of work, but they’re not altogether bad.

Mom and I are looking forward to returning in May (possibly for a belated Mother’s Day dinner) to experience “The Rusty Monk’s Grand Excursion Around the World”, featuring specials influenced by India. Stayed tuned!

The Rusty Monk
6749 Greenleaf Avenue
Whittier, CA 90601

Spring Brunch Check List


Ashley from ProFlowers asked me what makes the perfect brunch? Oh ho ho ho, Ashley, little did you know that brunch is the secret word around here; I adore brunch like no other meal. With Easter this weekend, and Mother’s Day right around the corner, many observers take a break from the traditional big holiday dinner and opt for a leisure, easy going brunch. So, what’s on my quintessential brunch check list? I’m ever so pleased you asked…

Champagne Cocktail - Cast & Plow - Marina del Rey Ritz Carlton

First and foremost, I’d have to kick off my perfect brunch with the best mixer in the world, champagne. Whether you raise your glass with a mimosa, kir royal, bellini, St.Germain Cocktail (above, Cast & Plow), or drink it straight, champagne is the transcendental beverage to set the perfect brunch tone.

Deviled Egg
Deviled Eggs

For homemade brunches and holiday gatherings, I’m often the go-to girl for deviled eggs. Unsure what my friends and family love about mine in particular (homemade mayo? smoked paprika?) but it’s hardly a brunch gathering if these aren’t on the table.

Bloody Mary

While champagne based cocktails are par for the course, I’m do love me a solid Bloody Mary. My ideal bloody is mild on the pepper, pure vodka baed (none of this pepper infused vodka, thanks), hearty but low-sodium tomato base, and a cocktail bar of accompaniments which ideally include a fresh, crisp celery stalk and a skewed green olive. So far, the $5 bloodies at Gus’s BBQ have been my favorite.

Hornblower Champagne Brunch Cruise - Newport Beach
Fresh Cut Fruit

Enjoying the literal fruits of “brunch season” spring and summer with a platter of fresh cut seasonal fruit is always a delicious way of cleansing one’s palate (and taste buds) between heavier courses. The above platter from Hornblower Cruises Champagne Brunch featured a proverbial rainbow of fruits.

Patatas Bravas
Patatas Bravas

Do you call them home fries? Fried potatoes? Potato wedges? Or, like The Bodega at St. Peter’s Market in Cork, do you harken to Spanish flavors at kick it up a notch with patatas bravas? Whatever you call them, potatoes are a brunch staple in my book.

Strata for Brunch

When I want to really make an impression at a homestyle brunch gathering, I make strata. The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink brunch dish boasts bread, eggs, cheese, vegetables, and meat. The strata was adapted from a recipe in Gale Gand’s Brunch! cookbook, with courgettes, Italian cheeses, mushrooms, green onion and Italian salami.

Ricotta Pancake with Lemon Curd and Berries - Maximiliano, Highland Park
Sweet Dish for Sharing

Be it pancakes, waffles, French toast, brioche, pain perdu, what-have-you, I need a prominent dish to take a vacation away from savories and indulge my sweet-tooth. This ricotta pancake with lemon curd and berries as the perfect treat split among myself and two friends at Maximiliano in Highland Park.

Farewell Brunch at Electric - Cork, Ireland
Eggs Benedict

I don’t care who you are or what your eating habits are, Eggs Benedict is the quintessential brunch centerpiece. My favorite meats include thick-cut ham, crab, lobster, speck, prosciutto or Irish bacon, as featured above from my brunch at Electric Cork in Ireland. So long as the Hollandaise is pure and the meat is quality, Eggs Benedict will always be the star of any brunch menu.

LET’S NOSH: Share your ideal brunch menu & link up favorite brunch recipes!

How to be Superb with Eddy Lu

If one were to look at my iPhone, one would notice a small handful of very deliberately curated apps. First and foremost, no Facebook and no games. As Twitter is my go-to platform for chit-chatting with the world wide web, I sprung the $3 for Tweetbot because there are certain features worth paying for (points and winks at mute feature). My apps tend to stick close to the traditional blogger arsenal: Tastemade, Instagram, Vine (even the occasional trend can suck the immovable force that typically is my iron will), Snapseed, my photo editing guardian angel, and now Superb.

Superb in a Nutshell: From Eddy Lu and the team that brought you Grubwithus, Superb is an internet-based social networking app that showcases the best places around you and reveals where your friends want to go, so you experience them together. From restaurants to street art, live music venues to hiking trails, Superb elevates user-generated content based on overall community popularity.

screenshots courtesy of Superb team

How Superb works: From the moment you tap on the app, Superb reveals places in full photo view for you to scroll through and read about from the perspective of someone excited to either check out the place or go back again. Swipe right to mark places to do, swipe left to mark places you are not interested in and tap the center button to mark that you’ve already been to a place. If you are interested in a place, Superb unveils others who are also interested, highlighting your friends at the top for quick access to message them through the Superb Conversation feature. If you are looking for a specific place or want to browse by an interest, simply search or tap on a category to do so.

Co-founder and CEO of Superb Eddy Lu took the time to answer some questions I shot off to him, giving users a more comprehensive understanding of Superb, and more importantly, why it should be in your app arsenal.

Q: What is the inspiration behind creating Superb, and what do you hope to achieve with it?

Eddy: We’re passionate about using online to facilitate offline interactions, so we created Superb to help you discover exciting new places and make it easier to experience them with friends.

Eddy Lu
Q: How do you expect Superb to grow and stand out?

Eddy: With current apps like Foursquare or Facebook, it’s about telling people what you are currently doing, or what you did in the past. We’re all about future intent – things you want to do in the future. The app is truly better with friends. If your friends are using Superb, you can see their favorite places they’ve been to, where they want to go and the places you have in common, making it easier to plan outings. We expect users will see the potential the app has to bring their friends closer together and thus, more inclined to invite their friends to use the app with them.

Q: What are the new features and improvements of the recent update?

Eddy: We’ve improved the overall design of the app, making it simpler and more intuitive. In addition, we added an option for marking places “not for me,” so you won’t see them anymore, as well as added Conversations, which allows you to message your friends about a place through the app.

Q: What is in Superb’s future, as well as yours?

Eddy: Our goal is to get more people offline and experiencing their cities. Our new Conversations feature makes this possible, but there is still much to be improved upon. So, we’ll be reaching out to users for feedback and making those improvements over the next couple of months. A couple things we’ve already heard from users are the ability to add time based events/activities to the stream, and the ability to select multiple people to see what places everyone has in common to do. As the co-founder of the company, most of my life revolves around Superb, so my future mainly consist of making the app super useful and something people truly love.

Glass on Win on Superb
My Thoughts: After getting to play with the app in the time leading up to the big launch, I can securely commit to the opinion that Superb is on my iPhone to stay. I wouldn’t bother writing this post if I thought it wasn’t worth my time (or yours).

What I Love:

  • The “To Do” feature; I have a list of carefully curated places I can reference on the go.
  • The “Not for Me” feature: Superb recommends places, and it’s nice to have a firm but polite way of saying thanks, but no thanks.
  • My Qualm:

  • The employment of photographs pulled from Instagram without filtering or accreditation, especially images feature peopling (if it be unbeknown to them). I’m unaware of how this technology works, but if the images that are pulled from Instagram are done so without the authorization of the user whom initially posted it, this feature does not sit well with me. Photos featuring people, especially children, ought to be filtered out for privacy protection and a feature that credits each image to its original Instagram user (complete with link), would leave me without any qualms with Superb.

    A labor of love and dedication, with a keen ear tuned to feedback is surely a recipe for success. For myself, a forever foodist, I’m constantly shuffling away bookmark after bookmark in my browser of places to eat. There isn’t a single restaurant I do not cross-reference online (especially at Gastronomy, where I’ve left a carpet bombing of “I’M GOING THERE!” comments in my wake). Now I have a carefully constructed list of restaurants and regional adventure destinations; all on the go, so I can utilize my Superb list when I find myself in a new neighborhood and a rumble in my stomach.

  • Discover more about Superb

  • Let’s Nosh: What’s in your BLT?

    photo by Sheri Wetherell

    Hello, April my old friend. It’s nice to see you once again. Sunny skies give me such warm feelings. No more chilly winter air creeping. And the dresses and shorts can come out and play. Jackets go away. We’re in the feels of summer.

    OK, I’m sure you’re taking away three important facts about me away from the above:
    1) I will most likely not enjoy a fruitful career as a parody song writer.
    2) Simon & Garfunkle is my jam.
    3) I am ecstatic about warm weather arriving.

    I was honestly struttin’ down the sidewalk in my summer dress this week. Struttin’. Saturday Night Fever/Disco Stu style. I love the sun on my carefully sun-blocked skin!

    Would spring be considered “sandwich season”? I normally associate sandwiches with school kids, but since April is apparently “National BLT Month” we’re going to shrug and go with it. Side dish: does anyone else sort of snark at these National Food days/weeks/months? Perhaps it’s the jaded food blogger in me, but I really only see them as marketing ploys. I mean, any time is a good time for a sandwich, right? So let’s talk about my favorite sandwich of the moment, the BLT.

    Easily the most simplest of all sandwiches: Bacon. Lettuce. Tomato. That’s it. Or is it?

    With such a simple ingredient list, sandwich aficionados can use this basic trio as the foundation which to build upon their BLT or keep it pure. Myself? Well, I like the blueprints, but a little embellishment is a must.

    My Perfect BLT:

  • White bread. Slightly toasted.
  • Crispy bacon, low-sodium if available with all fat trimmed. The last thing I want is to take a bite of a salt lick.
  • Butter lettuce only, please. Get that romaine away from me.
  • A thin layer of mayo – preferably homemade.
  • A speck of mustard. Smooth dijon if you have it, but basic yellow will do in a pinch.
  • Avocado – a must. No exceptions. I crave avocados the way pregnant women crave pickles. Even if there is no mayo, I’ll mash up an avocado and use it as a spread as an alternative.
  • I asked other bloggers to share their favorite spin on a BLT:

    “Doing my BLT vegan tonight with smoky tempeh Fakin Bacon, Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, avocado, and baby spinach!” – Anja, The Lady Applesauce

    “While I love a good old fashioned BLT on white, overly processed, enriched bread- I have grown to love it on sprouted wheat. I toast the side that holds the mayo a little longer, keeping the outer sides lightly toasted. Instead of lettuce, I opt for spinach and I also add Avocado. When I feel like getting really fancy, I’ll add alfalfa sprouts & cream cheese.”
    - Moe, Chasing Moe

    “It’s got to have crispy streaky bacon, a good roll – multigrain seeded or focaccia with red onions & a touch of Brie is mmm!” – Kaylina, Cheery Little Thing

    “I’m a purist for lack of ambition as a cook. But I wanna try the @BiRiteSF recipe with egg n harissa!” – Shannon, This Girl Friday.

    “Tempeh, avocado, sprouts, tomato, baby greens, and vegainaise!” – Merricat

    The dudes at Three Jerks Jerky get super fancy pants with their spin, appropriately called the “JLT”, featuring Milo & Olive Country Loaf, heirloom tomato, mayo, truffle oil, butter lettuce, and “however much jerky you want – minimum: 3 pieces, maximum: the boundaries of your dreams.”

    LET’S NOSH: How does your perfect BLT stack up?

    Speed Tasting at FIGat7th – Downtown Los Angeles

    TASTE at FIGat7th

    When I was a little girl living in southeastern Pennsylvania, the mall was the place for suburbanite kids like me to blow my allowance at. Check out the latest My Little Pony’s, smell all of the scented candles at the funky fantasy and New Age store, try to score a free ball on the Elvira pinball machine, and bum around the food court, enjoying my 10 year old metabolism as I gorge out on Boardwalk Fries, a slice of cheese pizza and an Orange Julius. However, ever since my childhood mall took consumerism to a whole new level of grotesque, I’ve put considerable distance between myself and my old mallrat ways. I prefer simpler, toned down shopping areas to the mass corralling of consumers.

    In the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, the newly minted FIGat7th stands as a shopping and dining destination with a decidedly Southern California flavor. Enhanced with Brookfield’s $40 million makeover, this open-air destination offers a contemporary urban retail experience for Downtown’s professional, visitor and growing residential populace. Anchored by one of the nation’s first City Target stores, FIGat7th boasts more than 330,000 square feet of retail and public space, including the TASTE FIGat7th culinary collection.

    A couple of weeks ago, I attended a big “Speed Tasting” event hosted by FIGat7th to introduce the new fast-casual options patrons can select from while on-the go in Downtown, taking a break from shopping or grabbing a quick bite on their lunch break. I guess the term “food court” is passé, harkening back to those Fast Times at Ridgemont High days of greasy junk food nobody wants to associate with anymore?

    Before I dive into my run down, I’d like to offer major kudos to the management of FIGat7th and especially the delightful servers, who busted their butts to deliver hundreds of dishes to a substantially sized crowd.

    Below are the highlights from the “best, worst, and middle of the road” samplings.

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    Cast & Plow – Marina del Rey Ritz Carlton

    Cast & Plow

    I can count on one hand how many times I’ve stepped inside a Ritz-Carlton hotel, most notably in 1997 when my friend Amy absconded me for a quick road trip up to San Francisco to see Phantom of the Opera. Like most of my memories from Junior High, my brain protects me from remembering too much, so I only recall fuzzy edged remnants of my mini vacation. For me, Jr. High was the apex of social drama: lots of flannel and fishnets, an emotionally taut atmosphere, train wreck friends, and other trite cliches of teenage-hood. Now imagine that backdrop with the soundtrack of Marilyn Manson, Stone Temple Pilots Smashing Pumpkins, and No Doubt. Yeah, I was in serious need of a glam injection, thank you, Amy, wherever you are.

    That impromptu getaway up north was magical. I was able to take a three day Time Out from my so-called life and spend time in two of the most majestic hotels I’ve ever stayed at to this day: The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, and The Ritz-Carlton of San Francisco. I still have my blue goblet and my bathrobe from the latter, two treasures from my whirlwind adventure that I’ll cherish forever.

    Suffice to say, when Ritz-Carlton knocks on my inbox, I answer!

    Cast & Plow, a farm-to-table restaurant situated inside the Ritz Carlton of Marina del Rey, specializes in community-made, locally sustainable cuisine. Inspired by Southern California’s small plate communal dining experience, Cast & Plow’s menu offers familiar and international dishes set apart by an approachable style of artisan cooking, and by a special array of signature dishes, most of which I was lucky enough to sample!

    Let’s boogie.

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    Hornblower Cruises Champagne Brunch

    Hornblower Champagne Brunch Cruise - Newport Beach

    Hornblower Cruises

    This post was a year in the making and for the good people of Hornblower Cruises, I apologize. Shortly after I completed this assignment for my former place of employment, I wound up in the hospital. Directly after my discharge, the company was sold, making most of us lowly writers redundant. As this was one of my last assignments with the company, I had to get beyond the point of feeling a touch bitter before I could blog about it. You know what I mean, unless you don’t. It’s that one job you just can’t help but wrinkle your nose in dismay whenever you think about it because things went so horribly wrong. OK, I know, take it to the therapist not my blog. Anyway. Time drags on, yadda yadda, here we are eleven months later.

    Hornblower Cruises and Events offers up several kinds of waterfront activities: The Dinner Cruise, Champagne Brunch Cruise and holiday cruises like their upcoming Easter and Mother’s Day Cruises. Their fleet is offered for corporate and other private events for Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, San Diego and plethora of other ports around the U.S.A.

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