Monday, February 19, 2018

Beacon Coffee

Poseidon Brewery, right next door!
A friend once told me that this was the perfect set-up. She’d spend a Saturday Morning coming here to Beacon Coffee , and getting her java fix, then hit the cross-fit gym next door for  a good sweat, and after a couple of hours there, close it all out at Poseidon Brewery, for some recovery carb loading.

I don’t do cross-fit myself, but if there were a run or swim involved, it might work for me.

I’ve talked about Beacon Coffee in other places on this blog. A few of the coffee shops in town brew it, (See my posts on Kays' and Palermo), and I certainly prefer it to Santa Barbara Roast, the other larger local coffee purveyor.

I don’t often get to the place where they actually roast the coffee. It’s located in a storefront of a business park behind the Ventura Auto Center and close to Buenaventura Golf Course. But it is worth the trip. There are five tables in the dining area, and the smell of roasting coffee permeates the premises, even when coffee isn’t being roasted.

If you’re staying, they’ll top off your cup with the coffee of the day. On this visit, it’s some sort of Guatemalan thing that is a bit bright with a hint of citrus-that’s what the young hipster (glasses, longish hair, tan long sleeve shirt, Patagonia puffy jacket) guy said who topped off my cup. Whatever it was, though my preference is generally for dark, it was good. A nice, flavorful cup of coffee.

They usually have some pastries from their Ojai branch, and they’ll do espressos, macchiato, chai teas and mochas. The same person who told me about her Saturday morning dream routine also swears by their “Cold Brew Nitro,” which I’ve tried, but I like my coffee hot, even, strangely, on hot days.

The early 60’s era Rolling Stones playing is a nice touch, too. They also sell bags of coffee, coffee brewing equipment (no drip coffee-makers here!), t-shirts, and bags.

Coffee, two sugars and cream, and I’m very happy. Good coffee here.

On a side note, one of the Poseidon brewers just walked in and said they’re expanding next door, and experimenting with more brews. Poseidon is my favorite of the local breweries, but the seating area is generally full if you don’t get there early, so I'm looking forward to that change.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

VenTiki II

Let's start with this-I like VenTiki. I like the look and feel of the place. I like the vibe from the employees, and the idea of tiki lounge and lanai in the beach city that I live in. The place goes well with my collection of Aloha shirts and ukuleles, and I really, really, want to like the drinks.

And that's the issue. The drinks are not cheap, and I find the drinks to be, well, something to drink. You might make a case that I'm drinking the wrong drinks, and that might be true. But with VenTiki, I've ordered drinks based on a few things. I know that I like rum and whiskey. I'm okay with tequila and vodka, but don't really care for gin. So using that bit of information, I stick with rum, whiskey, tequila and vodka based drinks, and VenTiki has several of those. And then I check the name. A good name-like say "The Alter of Sacrifice", should lead to a good drinking experience.

But it doesn't quite seem to. The drinks are generally a bit too much of something-usually sweet, but interestingly, occasionally too strong.  And you'd think too strong would be a good thing, but this is a cocktail bar, and I'm ordering a cocktail, not a shot.

Yes, the drink is on fire!
The food on my last visit was better than before, and generally seems to be improving, so that's a good thing. It's fun food, but not great food. And your really only ordering food to have something in your hand between cocktails.

There's always a crowd, and I'd be lying if I said my complaints were enough to keep me away. The outside sitting area is comfortable, and they'll light the heaters on cold nights, as well as keep the fire pit going. The inside bar area is tiny, so outside is the place to be. I'd recommend going on Tsunami Tuesday for the all day Happy Hour, and bring friends. I also like their gift shop next door, but I can't quite figure out when they're open-the gift shop hours seem to be a bit random.

And if you get the $25 Mai-Tai, it comes in a custom VenTiki mug!

I really haven't blogged much lately, and I'd forgotten that I wrote about VenTiki back in 2014, when they first opened. My opinion hasn't changed, and like I said, I'd go back again.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tamales Alberto, Echo Park

I've been writing a book about a guy from Echo Park in the '40's, and though nothing may come of it-I've tried to write books before and nothing has come of them-I have an idea and a timeline, and now I just have to get it all done.

So I've walked Echo Park a few times since the summer, and what I'm seeing is a neighborhood in transition, what was a somewhat frightening part of town in the 80's now being filled with both hipsters and homeless. I'm getting good ideas and background for my book, and that's all good. Maybe in a few years, I'll have it finished and my blog will be looked at as my early writings, and isn't it obvious how talented I am. Or not.

I was hungry as I walked the area last week, and I was going to go to a food truck that I'd seen every time I was there. It's always crowded and smelled pretty good, but when I walked up to check it out, I noticed that the health inspector gave it a 'B'. I'm not opposed to eating someplace with a 'B', but something has been bothering my stomach the last few weeks, and I didn't feel like risking it.

I continued on, and noticed Tamales Alberto. They had other items on their menu, and since I'm not a big tamale fan, I figured I'd try something else.

I walked into the small dining area and up to the register, ready to order a burrito, which I saw on the menu. I noticed a tray of tamales, and they smelled good, but I still wasn't planning on buying one.

I should mention why I'm not a tamale fan. My wife buys them, and I'll eat them, but I always find them a bit dry. Sometimes they're too spicy, sometimes they're nothing but masa, and sometimes they just aren't good. There's a tamale man who comes through my neighborhood from time to time, and we usually buy, but mostly because he seems very nice. I'm never sure what he's going to have, and there's nothing that I feel I really want. For Christmas this year, we bought some tamales from somewhere in Oxnard, and they just weren't good at all.

Tamales, I could take 'em or leave 'em.

I was hungry, though, and they had a place to sit down, so I picked out two, pork with red sauce and pineapple.

The pork with red sauce was excellent! The masa was moist, with a strong corn flavor. There was a good amount of pork, and the red sauce had a hint of heat.

Then the pineapple...I had a flash back to being an 8 year old boy. My grandparents on my Father's side had a place that they liked going to, but I don't know where it was. They would bring back tamales for my family once in a while-I think my father liked them, but I don't remember now. I was a little, fat kid who didn't like anything spicy, so they would bring me sweet tamales. I seem to remember those have cinnamon and raisins, and weren't spicy at all.

This pineapple reminded me of that. The corn tasted almost like a cornbread, and with the pineapple, it started to take on the qualities of a pineapple upside down cake. It was great!

So after devouring both (with a can of Coke), I decided to have one more. I went for the chicken mole. The mole had a bit of heat and a bit of sweet, and it soaked into the masa, spreading the heat/sweet combination into every bite. The chicken also picked up some of the mole flavor. Another excellent tamale.

And I was out under $10.