VIDEO: Sweets, Food Stars + Demos At L.A. Cookie Con

Check out highlights from L.A. Cookie Con!

Highlights from L.A. Cookie Con are right here in this one-minute video, including a shoutout to you guys from MasterChef & Food Network stars!

This past Sunday, I was honored to cover the magnificent first annual L.A. Cookie Con as an official blogger. It was a sold-out convention for sweet lovers, featuring a ton of baked goods and other delectable treats. A dessert fanatic’s heaven!

The event, held at the Pasadena Convention Center, featured special guest Ron Ben-Israel of “Sweet Genius” on Food Network, along with “MasterChef” fan favorites Ahran Cho, Daniel McGuffey and Monti Carlo. The immensely talented child chefs also represented, with “MasterChef Junior” stars Dara Yu (better known as “Dara the Bow Girl”), Troy Glass and Sarah Lane taking part in the panel discussion involving all culinary TV personalities. Stacey Poon-Kinney of “The Next Food Network Star” also joined them, along with other talented stars.

Stacey, Monti, Ahran, Daniel, Sarah and more!

Stacey, Monti, Ahran, Daniel, Sarah and more were in attendance

There were tasty pastries of all kinds, from the good old traditional kind, to organic, raw, gluten-free, sugar-free, local and other types of specialty creations. There was something for everybody… and then some!

Some of my favorites (although really, there were way too many to list!) included the newly opened BakerCakemaker, as they were serving their buttery Filipino ensaymadas (they even looped my video feature on them throughout the entire day!). I also loved the unique and rare Baba Raspberry Jam crafted by Coldwater Canyon Provisions, and the perfectly chewy cookie bars that J & D Catering served.

LA Cookie Con Peacock Table

The peacock-themed entry into the dessert table design competition. My personal favorite!

It was wonderful to not only support my friend and L.A. Cookie Con producer Nancy, but also to see so many of my food blogger friends and a lot of my Tastemade family there at the event! We had fun exploring the demos, VIP lounge and photobooth!

Check out the one-minute video above for highlights, including a beautiful peacock dessert table display, photobooth shenanigans, and a hello to all of you from the talented food celebrities in attendance.

LA Cookie Con Macaron Garden

Stay tuned for Dine L.A. coverage of Prova Pizzeria coming soon. Go check it out while you can, there’s only a week left!

 

VIDEO: Behind The Scenes Of Baker CakeMaker & LA Cookie Con

la-cookie-sweets-show-main-logo

L.A. Cookie Con and Sweets Show is coming this Sunday! This means unlimited tastings of a variety of gourmet sweets, lots of demos and other fun activities going on, plus a guest appearance from Ron Ben-Israel of “Sweet Genius” on Food Network. For anyone with a sweet tooth, this is the must-attend event of the year, and I’m not even sugar coating!

I am so excited to be an official blogger, and it was a pleasure to be invited to the planning meeting last week for a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to successfully pull off such a huge event. There are over 3,000 sweet lovers coming to attend this weekend, and the planning meeting meticulously ensured that everything will go as smoothly as possible, with vendors preparing to offer plenty of delicious samples for all.

L.A. Cookie Con Official Blogger Badge Tanaya's Table

It was great to meet so many of the vendors who were passionate about their creations… I’ve put together a video below to give you a peek into what our day was like.

Also, here’s the most exciting part: Nancy Tei of L.A. Cookie Con was sweet enough (pun intended… ha ha) to set up a code for my followers, so anyone who enters ‘TANAYASTABLE’ will get $3 off their GA or VIP tickets. UPDATE: The event is now sold out, but I will do a giveaway of some items from select vendors of L.A. Cookie Con in the coming week!

Here’s a peek into the planning meeting at AMLI Lex on Orange in Glendale:

Click above for a peek into the L.A. Cookie Con planning meeting with all the wonderful vendors!

Click above for a peek into the L.A. Cookie Con planning meeting with many of the wonderful vendors!

One of my favorite new sweets purveyors, Baker CakeMaker (who also will be at the show) gave us an inside tour of the bakery. The video, choc-full of ensaymadas, Oreo-stuffed cookies and more, is below.

Baker Cakemaker opened not too long ago, but the unique bakery is already setting itself apart from existing bakeries around the Hollywood area. What makes it so unique is that it doesn’t focus on your typical French pastries like many of the bakeries in Los Angeles do. Instead, owner and chef Aris Rodriguez has decided to fuse Filipino and other Asian influences along with European and American baking techniques and flavors.

The results are below. See you at L.A. Cookie Con!

Going behind the bakery with Chef Aris, owner of Baker CakeMaker

Going behind the bakery with Chef Aris, owner of Baker CakeMaker – check out those ensaymadas!

L.A. Cookie Con ~ A baking, pastry and sweets extravaganza ~ Sunday, January 25th 10 a.m. -5 p.m. ~ Pasadena Convention Center

For more information on the sweetest event in SoCal, visit the L.A. Cookie Con official website or follow them on Twitter.

Stay tuned for coverage after the event as well. Hope everyone is having a good start to 2015!

New Opening Sneak Peek: Ice Cream Lab Comes To Pasadena

Come with me behind the counter for a sneak of Ice Cream Lab's newest location. (Had to represent for the Lakers since today was the season opener!)

VIDEO: Come with me behind the counter for a sneak of Ice Cream Lab’s newest location. (Had to represent for the Lakers since today was the season opener!)

What if your ice cream could be made to order, going from the creamy liquid base to the frozen treat you know and love… in mere seconds?

Look no further, because Ice Cream Lab makes its desserts with liquid nitrogen, freezing your ice cream right before your eyes in a mystical cloud of nitrogen smoke (vapor, if you want to get technical).

What’s even better is that more Southern Californians will get to experience this magical ice cream, because Ice Cream Lab Pasadena opens its doors for its grand opening tomorrow at noon.

The mayor will do the ribbon cutting and they’ll be giving away free ice cream all day. Their ice cream comes in traditional flavors and creative combinations like Salt Lick Crunch, Blue Velvet and Banilla.

A breakdown of each of the three year-round specialty flavors (also shown in the video above):

  • Salt Lick Crunch – Organic vanilla bean ice cream blended with crushed salted pretzels and homemade caramel sauce, topped with sea salt
  • Blue Velvet – Organic vanilla bean ice cream blended with homemade blue velvet cupcakes and cream cheese frosting
  • Banilla – Organic vanilla bean ice cream blended with organic locally grown bananas, homemade caramel sauce and crushed Nilla wafers
Flavors: Blue Velvet, Strawberry and Salt Lick Crunch

Flavors: Blue Velvet, Strawberry, Salt Lick Crunch

I’ve been to the Beverly Hills location a few times, and uncharacteristically (since I usually love to try different things) I end up getting my ultimate favorite, the Salt Lick Crunch, almost every time. I’ve sometimes snuck spoonfuls of other flavors from my friends before, but it was nice to be able to get a taste of the entire original menu at this private pre-opening tasting they hosted for me!

The strawberry had real pieces of strawberries in it, and you could taste the freshness of each of the flavors. However, my ultimate favorite still stands, as the Salt Lick Crunch is just exceptional! The creamy ice cream studded with crunchy, salty pretzel bits just hits the spot… and that drizzle of oozing caramel over the top doesn’t hurt, either. 😉

I also had the chance to go behind the counter to see up-close how they make their ice cream, and boy is that liquid nitrogen cold… between -346°F and -320.44°F to be exact! You can check out the crazy amounts of liquid nitrogen smoke in action in the 1-minute video above.

Behind the counter liquid nitrogen action

Behind-the-counter liquid nitrogen action

The staff was friendly and warm, and the decor is similar to the larger Beverly Hills location, with quirky graffiti-style murals in icy blue tones. The interior is otherwise sleek and white, fitting well with the molecular gastronomy theme of their product.

What I love most about Ice Cream Lab is that they use locally sourced fresh ingredients that you can see and taste — none of those suspicious-looking artificially flavored and colored bottles spotted at some other liquid nitrogen ice cream spots. They also use kosher ingredients and don’t use any additives. Can’t complain about that!

Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry and Cookies & Cream are also on the menu, with vegan options like sorbets and more to come, including a seasonal vegan pumpkin flavor. After a few weeks, the Pasadena location will be serving seasonal flavors too, like the Beverly Hills location now does.

Birthday tip: They give you a free waffle cone on your special day, as well as a free Ice Cream Lab tote bag. Check out the other swag they have in the video above!

The glorious Salt Lick Crunch has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy

The glorious Salt Lick Crunch has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy

The second Ice Cream Lab, opening in Old Town, is located at 16 S. Fair Oaks Ave. Pasadena, CA. You can also check out the Ice Cream Lab website for more information.

Ice Cream Lab also plans to open a third location in Little Tokyo in the near future. The Pasadena grand opening is tomorrow, so get yourself some ice cream… because it’s always ice cream season here in L.A.

Celebrating National Hot Dog Month At DogHaus

Were you, by any chance, aware that July is National Hot Dog Month? After doing a little fact-checking, I found that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council even confirms this! It only makes sense, since summer is grilling season, right?

To celebrate, I had the opportunity to try DogHaus for the first time. I’d been meaning to try it for quite some time after hearing all the hype, so talk about perfect timing! DogHaus has even brought on chef and TV personality Adam Gertler as their Würstmacher, and I’d actually interviewed him back in 2012 (interview right here). This would be the first time I’d get to taste these creations… so naturally, all signs pointed to yes, let’s try this place already!

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

DogHaus has multiple locations around Southern California, and just recently opened its first franchised location in Canoga Park. I visited DogHaus Biergarten, located in Old Town Pasadena, and found it to have a unique vibe and a great selection of craft brews and knowledgeable staff to go along with its innovative dogs.

Biergarten Manager Tony Pereyra is a jack of all trades, even lending his bartending and event coordination skills to the Biergarten location’s success. He and most of the staff have worked at the space even before DogHaus came into existence, about 3 years ago. Tony sat down to chat with us, and explained that the uniqueness of the spot lends itself to the location.

Since it’s a bit off the beaten path (you have to enter through a side alley– pretty cool!), and not in your typical nightlife-filled area, I had to ask why they stayed open until midnight or 2 a.m., depending on the night. Turns out, late weeknights become impromptu industry nights, as staff from surrounding restaurants have made DogHaus Biergarten their go-to late night spot to mingle after-hours.

Now that’s a cool story and all, you might say, but how is the actual food? Here’s the lowdown on these uber-cool hot dawgs:

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

The “One Night in Bangkok” Dog

The “One Night in Bangkok” is one for the adventurous flavor-seekers, and for those who like a bit of heat on their dogs. If you’re bored with the traditional hot dog, this baby is for you. The juicy Thai red currywurst packs a nice amount of heat. The cucumber kimchi relish adds acidity to cut through the heartiness of the meat, the richness of the creamy cilantro aioli, and the saltiness of the crunchy peanuts sprinkled atop the dog. There are definitely some amazing Asian flavors packed between those sweet Hawaiian buns!

As an added bonus, the staff can readily suggest drink pairings, as the food and beverage menus influence one another to stay on top of the latest food trends. Tony recommended an IPA with this spicy wurst, as the bitter earthiness and subtle spicy tones would complement the flavors in the food. “The hops in the beer cool down the palate,” he explained with excitement. “At the end of the day, it’s all about product knowledge.”

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

The “Sooo Cali” Dog

The “Sooo Cali” Dog has some classic SoCal flavors lying between those two signature Hawaiian bread buns. On this all-beef skinless dog, you’ll find fresh tomato and buttery avocado slices, along with an aromatic basil aioli and some fried onions for a nice crunch. This hot dog, being one of the originals since the first DogHaus location, has won awards from the likes of L.A. Weekly a couple years ago.

Just a few months ago, chef Michael Brown joined the DogHaus team. Just to give you an idea of his culinary chops: he’s been involved with Red O’s opening, and has also served as executive chef at Google and the Nike World Headquarters before heading to the DogHaus to become culinary director. I can’t wait to see what’s next on their ever-evolving menu the next time I’m in Pasadena!

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

So much good stuff!

At this particular lunchtime feast, there were tater tots, French fries and coleslaw galore. So many sides, plus Tony insisted we try a couple happy hour items as well. So good! Let’s just say that if you came here a few times a week, every week, you still wouldn’t get bored anytime soon.

DogHaus Biergarten has late night happy hour from 10 p.m. to close, and Sundays truly are Sunday Fundays with an all-day, all-night happy hour. Happy hour favorites include the $1 burger sliders with white American cheese, caramelized onions and a dab of mayo (pictured above… and absolutely delicious).

The mini all-beef corndogs with a root beer and cornmeal batter are also a favorite come happy hour, along with great craft beers and more. You can check it all out here, or just stop by when you’re in the area. I definitely plan on going back soon, especially when I don’t feel like grilling in the heat!

Speaking of grilling season, some of my favorite toppings for DIY summer grilling include pickled red onions, sliced avocado with lime, Sriracha aioli, fruity Not Ketchup (so many great flavors!), or some good ol’ whole grain mustard with a zing. I’m always on the lookout for some interesting topping ideas, so if you have any go-to’s, feel free to holler. More summer finds to come!