The 2015 World Tea Expo was held in Long Beach, California for the second year in a row. The show itself will be covered in a separate post… but here, I'll provide a simple visual recap of the foods consumed outside the expo based upon my previous post, 2015 World Tea Expo Foodie Tour.
Aji Peruvian Cuisine
Aji was a wonderful initiation into the Long Beach scene. A nice sized local ethnic diner with a nice ambiance, great wine selection and a bunch of local beer on draught. None of that is what I would go for though. I had been curious if they had Horchata, a traditional latin american spiced milk drink… but they did not. Instead the waitress suggested a traditional Peruvian fruit drink which I instantly acquiesced to. Damn if it wasn't so good that I forgot to take a photo!
All the food at Aji was delicious, but it was the company which truly made the night. Nicole, Phil, Jason, Timmy, Rachel and I had a brilliant time chatting and letting loose a bit after the first day of the expo.
Aroma di Roma
Aroma di Roma is how we started day two of the expo. Who can resist such a wonderful breakfast! The service was a bit slow, but I don't believe they expected a sudden troupe of seven invading their space on a Thursday morn. I chose to go with a nice Machiavelli Machiatto, which was much more sweet than I imagine Machiavelli ever truly was. The service was a bit slow, but when the food came to us it was all wonderful!
Great conversation from all in attendance, and a good ribbing here and there made for a lively and relaxing morning.
Adobo Taco Grill
For dinner on the second night the group was split. Many at the expo had arranged to attend the North American Tea Championships award ceremony that evening and so it was just Phil from World Tea House and myself. Not a bad pairing at all if you ask me. We chose to hit a well regarded neighborhood taco place up in Lakewood for dinner and didn't regret one bite!
Friday morning required additional sustenance, but with no other breakfast place on the list this year, I folded back to my best breakfast from last year… at Blackbird Cafe!
Phile, Jason, Timothy and I had a wonderful breakfast, if slow and somewhat imperfect service.
Baja Fish Tacos
At the end of the day Friday the conundrum was whether to hit Los Angeles for some Korean BBQ (tasty noms) or to hit Open Sesame in Long Beach for some Mediterranean. With everyone famished from a long final day of expo, and an hour plus wait at Open Sesame for sufficient table space (for a group of nine), the group chose instead to hit a place across the street… Baja Fish Tacos.
I've been craving California's famous fish tacos for a long time, and this joint had decent, but I imagine not great tacos. The interior was a bit fast-food… is, but the quality was great.
The team from The Finest Brew's booth (one of the best in terms of tea quality this year) met us for dinner and one of the brothers was celebrating a birthday! So, naturally… I bought him a beer. He chose Modelo. I went with a Dos Equis. Everyone enjoyed their meals. Natasha's salad looked freaking fantastic! I enjoyed both of my fish tacos (one blackened, one not), and about half of my burrito (chicken)…
I got so distracted in conversation, I almost forgot to eat. I had a great time running through the basics of American Baseball to the Finest Brew family who are all Cricket fans. They now better understand the complexities and need for strategy in baseball… AND why so few runs are scored in the sport.
It was another completely wonderful year at the expo. With 2016 returning to Las Vegas, I am excited to post next Year's agenda and get everyone hyped for the absolutely fantastic eateries Vegas has, off the strip!
By request of fellow expo attendees and bloggers I am sharing my tour list for the 2015 World Tea Expo from a culinary perspective and not guaranteeing the tea quality. As usual I will try to focus on mom and pop shops instead of chains as that is where my passion lies. While the area is full of Asian eateries with quality… I am going to try and pick from a fair spectrum of culinary interests. After the Expo, you can check this year's list for my reviews of where I went.
The following establishments are in alphabetical order, and this agenda does not have dates set. The list is not extensive, and -not- all places will be visited by me while at World Tea Expo 2015. I welcome all to join me for one or more meals.
- Adobo Taco Grill (Mexican - 5 stars across hundreds of reviews can't be a mistake!)
- Aji Peruvian Cuisine
- Araya's Place (Thai - Vegan)
- Aroma di Roma (Gelato, Cafe - HIT FOR BREAKFAST)
- Bacaro LA (Italian, Tapas, Vegetarian friendly)
- Carreras Cemitas (Mexican)
- Genwa Korean BBQ (KBBQ FTW!)
- Pier 76 Fish Grill (Seafood - Near the expo)
- Pizza Studio (Build your own pizza, unlimited toppings, specialty crusts)
- Open Sesame (Mediterranean)
Each of these places attracted me for different reasons. Some are up in LA, others are in Long Beach, closer to the expo and where most everyone is staying.
Adobo Taco Grill
This place on the eastern side of Long Beach looks killer! I crave authentic Mexican as well as California's famous fish tacos. What's not to love here? To top it off, the place has maintained a 5 star rating across hundreds of reviews. Not a fluke.
Aji Peruvian Cuisine
I always like to discover new cultures through their cuisine. I believe we can learn things about how they are as a people based on how they subsist with food and beverage. I've had Peruvian before, but Aji looks something special and I am very excited to discover the heart of Peru from right in the heart of Long Beach.
This Thai vegan restaurant up in LA caught my eye. I love spicy foods, Thai has that. I love exploring vegetarian and vegan dishes because there's something limiting about always being required to present a meat. And, frankly the reviews of their noodles are fantastic. And who doesn't LOVE good noodles?
Aroma di Roma
This little gelato cafe has one of the highest rated breakfasts in Long Beach. That's really all I needed to know.
I went looking for unique places where I could try a variety of things at a reasonable price. Plating had to be beautiful, reviews needed to be good and the menu had to have things that sounded and looked delicious. Here's Bacaro LA up in Los Angeles.
"A second Mexican place?" you ask! Well, we're in Southern California! Where else but Mexico will we find truly authentic Mexican food? And Carreras Cemitas has a high rating across significant reviews. I'm sold!
Genwa Korean BBQ
The Seoul of Los Angeles is Koreatown. No two bones about it. And Genwa is one of the most respected charcoal BBQ locations in Koreatown… which is truly saying something. Certainly a drive from the World Tea Expo down in Long Beach, but… WELL worth the drive!
Pier 76 Fish Grill
Pier 76 is a fairly rated seafood establishment with decent prices near the expo. Really… that's all I was looking for here, and I think this should turn out well.
"Pizza?" you ask incredulously… "I thought we were going on an adventure here!?!" Calm down friend! Pizza has its staples and its adventures. Just like the tea world does. Pizza Studio lets you build your own pizza pie, with unlimited toppings for a flat price. What could be cooler than building a bunch of different pizzas and sharing slices of each others' creations? Nowhere near the expo though, we'll be headed to LA for this one!
Vegetarian friendly mediterranean deliciousness! I always like to have a go-to place for some tasty hummus, fresh baked pita and a well fired shish! Open Sesame is on the southern side of Long Beach, with high quality reviews and delicious looking food.
Spiced Apple Cider Chicken & Chun Mee Steamed Veggies
- 4 Chicken breasts (I used boneless breasts)
- 4 cups Fresh apple cider
- 1 Tbsp Fresh ground black peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp DamnGoodPepper Special Blend (DamnGoodPepper.com)
- Brussels sprouts (I used 10 total)
- Baby carrots (I used 12 total)
- 1 Tbsp butter/margarine
- 1 cup Freshly brewed chun mee Chinese green tea (loose leaf preferred)
- Freshly ground sea sale (to taste)
- Allow contents of BOWL 1 to marinade for two to three hours in the fridge
- Place contents of BOWL 1 into a deep skillet/sauce-pan on med-low
- Add contents of BOWL 2 into the skillet/saucepan
- Place contents of BOWL 3 into a small or medium sized pot on med-low
HOT Three Meat Lapsang Meatballs
Makes a crap-ton of meatballs.
This recipe is based on several I found online, but with a completely awesome twist or two of my own. I've never made meatballs before, so I figured I'd give it a shot tonight.
These three meats blend together and accentuate each other's flavors very well. It's preferred to use non-lean meats as they have difficulty remaining moist during and after cooking.
- 1lb finely ground chuck
- 1lb finely ground lamb
- 1lb finely ground veal
This selection of spices (and Lapsang Soughing) were ones I selected for both flavor and experience. The Lapsang adds a fire roasted touch to almost any dish and worked perfectly with this recipe. The fresh grated ginger is just a touch smoother and nicer on the palate than using the powdered dried stuff. The citrus peel I thought would add a nice undertone, and I think it worked really well.
I love it SPICY, so the DamGoodPepper blend I used came in very handy. Word to the wise… this pepper blend includes portions of Habanero, Ghost pepper and Scorpion pepper… some of the hottest peppers in the world. With just one tablespoon three pounds of meat was made spicy enough for most people (though I think I'll use more for MY next batch.) Feel free to use another spice blend, or less of the DamnGoodPepper blend to taste.
- Fresh ground de-peeled ginger root
- Fresh, finely grated citrus peel
- ~3 Tbsp Crushed Lapsang Souchong leaves
- 1 Tbsp Damn Good Pepper (Original Blend) (DamnGoodPepper.com)
- Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (to taste)
- 1 Tbsp Crushed black peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
This combination seems a bit odd, but it actually works rather well. The milk and breadcrumbs combine to lock moisture into the meat keeping them moist even if you freeze most of them for later. Adding the garlic here, versus with the other spices in BOWL 2 allows the garlic to work its way into the breadcrumbs as well as the meat. YUM!
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup Finely diced garlic
- 1 cup fine bread crumbs
- Mix ingredients of bowl 1.
- Mix ingredients of bowl 2.
- Mix ingredients of bowl 3.
- Combine contents of bowls 1 & 2 until well blended.
- Combine contents of bowl 3 with blend from 1 & 2.
- Mould meatballs from blended mixture.
- Place meatballs in a large pan on medium heat, tending as needed until thoroughly cooked.