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.

We Tried It: New Mixlogy Classes At Hard Rock Hollywood

Our group of budding mixologists!

Our group of budding mixologists!

Ever thought it would be fun to learn the art of mixology with your friends? A few days ago, the Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood at Universal CityWalk invited us to try just that, as they’re launching a new interactive bartending class called “Shake It Up” led by the Hard Rock’s very own skilled– and charismatic– mixologists.

We got to play bartender for the night, learning how to make martinis (gin and vodka), margaritas, and even the secret to the Hard Rock’s #1 seller, their world famous Hurricane. It’s been years since I took bartending classes (yup, took ’em back in college), so it was fun to see what I remembered (four-counts, layering, certain drinks) yet how new it felt all over again to be behind that bar and to try and pour perfectly (harder than it looks, I swear).

Our mixology leaders Justin and Will (who have worked at the Hard Rock for over three decades, combined) taught us fun facts about cocktails, liqueurs and the quirky history behind some of the featured drinks. Then came the extra-fun part, where we got to build our own drinks just like the pros. Well, besides the amateurish spills we (I?) had along the way! Check out the one-minute video below for some real, unedited footage of some serious cocktail making… with plenty of laughs along the way:

Take in all the mixology action right here, spills and all!

Take in all the mixology action right here, spills and all! (Here I am, making a gin martini)

We participated with a sizeable bunch of other fellow LA-based food writers, but the classes accommodate any group size between 7 to 40 people so you can either bring your close friends or your extended family if you wanted. 😉

You can make reservations for classes at Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood at Hollywood & Highland, and Universal City Walk (where I took my class). The classes run from $42 per person for just the bartending class (drinks included!), or as part of a three-course meal from Hard Rock Cafe’s newly revamped menu for $65 per person. Considering Hard Rock International has venues across 58 countries, it’s great to know that the “Shake It Up” classes are offered right here so we can take advantage!

Off the top of my head, I’ve been to the Hard Rock in Hong Kong, Las Vegas and Bali… all are in prime locations within each city and I have great memories at each of them. One that truly stands out is when a couple years ago, my American friends were working abroad in Hong Kong for a summer.

We chose to start that Fourth of July off at the Hard Rock Hong Kong, and that classic clip of Whitney Houston singing the national anthem started playing on TV. Everyone quieted down and it felt like a great moment of American solidarity, right in the middle of Lan Kwai Fong (Hong Kong’s nightlife hub). I usually don’t go to American establishments when abroad (I’d rather be soaking up local culture!), but that Fourth of July was definitely a special patriotic moment abroad that I’ll cherish.

I’ve had some great memories at Hard Rock Cafes around the world, but the latest has been the most interactive and informative one, thanks to our very own local Hard Rock Hollywood’s mixology class.

Whether celebrating a birthday with friends, or taking your team members or colleagues out for a night of team building, the new “Shake It Up” classes are a unique and memorable activity to try. Not only do they offer a great experience during the couple of hours of hands-on fun, but they also give you lots of great tidbits of interesting knowledge to pepper into your conversations at future social gatherings. For example, did you know that gin is essentially vodka infused with juniper berries??

Bottom line, the class was a lot of fun and fits perfectly with my life philosophy to get out there and try new things, learn as much as you can, and have a good time while you’re at it. So dive in and get mixing, I think you’ll like it!

You can make a reservation by calling the Hard Rock on Universal City Walk at 818.622.7660 or the Hard Rock on Hollywood Blvd. at 323.606.7150. Cheers!

Weekend Fun: Taste of Italy Coming to L.A.

Taste of Italy Los Angeles

Looking for something fun to do with family or friends this Saturday? The 6th annual Taste of Italy is coming to downtown L.A. and it looks like it’s going to be another fantastic night.

I covered the event back in 2012 for Neon Tommy, and it was a wonderful time! It almost felt like I was back in the streets of Florence at night, under the lights.

This year, participating restaurants will include Valentino, Drago Centro, Locanda Del Lago, Il Fornaio, GROM and Celestino. I’ve tried a few of these restaurants, such as Celestino, located in Pasadena. It had the most authentic Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy, and the service made me feel like I was dining at a warm and inviting Italian home.

In fact, I tried Chef Calogero Drago’s food at the L.A. Zoo’s Beastly Ball media preview first, then again at a special dinner with my good friend and fellow blogger Rachael. They had the most sumptuous, delicate pappardelle pasta (with pheasant and morels) I’ve ever had! I’ve also been to the other talented Drago brother’s restaurant, Drago Centro, for DineLA Week and even did a Tastemade video there:

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Here’s a video throwback to Drago Centro’s DineLA week menu!

Bottom line: these are some quality Italian places serving up some of their best bites. Wineries that will be pouring include Casa Torelli, Le Vigne, Mazzocco, Ventura Limoncello and more. Proceeds from the event will support the Italian American Museum’s exhibitions and the preservation of the Italian Hall (the building in which the Museum is located).

The event, filled with authentic Italian food, drink and entertainment will be held at the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (424 N Main St. Los Angeles, CA 90012) this Saturday, October 11 from 5 to 10 p.m.

Tickets start at $55 and include tastings from more than 50 of L.A.’s top Italian restaurants, over 100 wines, plus live entertainment and cooking demos in the heart of downtown L.A. If I can’t make it back to Italy anytime soon, I can at least get my Italian staycation fix at this great event right here in the City of Angels! (More on my trip to Italy and other travel adventures to come soon, by the way…)

For event information and tickets, check out the Taste of Italy website. See you there… because after all, as the Italian saying goes, ‘Chi mangia bene, vive bene‘ (one who eats well, lives well)!

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

VIDEO: How Chicken And Waffle Cones Are Made – Behind The Scenes Of A Food Truck Pop-Up

So here it is, the insider coverage + video exclusive on this highly anticipated chicken & waffle cone pop-up event!

Update to the previous post alerting you to the amazing chicken & waffle cones pop-up from Carb & Nation: Due to such high demand and continuous long lines, Carb & Nation will be serving both versions of their savory chicken & waffle cones for one more night– next Saturday night (10/4/14) to be exact, on the second night of their Tested LA Saturday night residency!

A common question that may come to mind is, how does one eat a savory waffle cone full of chicken and layers of other good stuff? Well, the guys offer forks with the cones, but from our experience we could just bite into the cone without it breaking apart.

The cone is sturdier and less sweet than your traditional waffle cone, as a result of the chefs’ unique recipe to cut the sugar in half without losing the crispiness of the cone. It’s amazing, actually!

So nope, no problems eating it straight out of the cone, and it’s actually quite delicious as you bite it and get layer by layer of complementary flavor. You can see the layers detailed in the photos below.

Check out the one-minute pre-opening video of their first (and epic) chicken and waffles pop-up yesterday. We even got to get a sneak peek of how they make their chicken & waffle cones (both American & Indonesian versions!) thanks to Chefs Fata Wijaya and Kevin Micheli.

Reporting straight from inside the food truck as they prepped to serve the gigantic line outside, Tanaya’s Table brings you the scoop on a new kind of food in a cone!

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

Tanaya’s Table brings you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how these innovative chefs make their savory cones… right from inside the food truck!

Here’s a photo of the American Cone, which has figs three ways. Fresh, dried… and in a Guinness beer reduction. Oh yes:

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

The American Cone, right before we devoured it.

And as promised, here is a breakdown of each cone and its layers of flavor and textures that all work so well together:

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

The Chicken and Waffle Cone Pop-Up Menu: The American Cone and Indonesian Cone

I highly recommend checking them out at Tested LA next weekend, as Oct. 4 will be your last chance to get your hands on these special cones! You can go anytime between 5-11 p.m. but I would suggest going early, as they ran out due to such large crowds on their first (and only, as originally planned) day of cone service.

One cone is definitely a meal in itself, costs $9 each and is totally worth the wait in line, judging from the reaction of the people I spoke with. We were fortunate to get the first cones of the day, as a result of filming them being built (woo hoo!), and I felt just a wee bit guilty walking by, biting into my cone while people in line fawned over it.

I assured them the wait was worth it, though… and it definitely was.

More photos and location details can be found in the preview post. Go get ’em while you can!

Food Protip: Chicken And Waffles. In A Cone. One Night Only!

Fried chicken cone indonesian

UPDATE 9/27: Due to such high demand and continuous long lines, Carb & Nation will be serving both versions of their savory chicken & waffle cones next Saturday night (10/4/14) on the second night of their Tested LA residency!

Fried chicken nestled in a waffle cone, in two globally inspired flavors. Who could possibly be the mastermind behind this fascinating food creation coming to Los Angeles this weekend?

That would be chef innovators Fata Wijaya and Kevin Micheli of the Carb & Nation food truck. The event will mark the kickoff to their Saturday night residency at Tested LA, and therefore although the chicken & waffle cones will be a pop-up event, Carb & Nation will actually be back with new goodies every Saturday night.

Here are all the details you need to get your hands on this extremely limited time– and extremely delicious– fusion fare:

Who: Carb & Nation

Where: Tested LA – 3329 Division St. Los Angeles 90065

When: Saturday, Sept. 27 ~ 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.

I had the pleasure of meeting Carb & Nation chef Kevin Micheli at the ROAM Food Truck Academy seminar as part of the Western Foodservice Expo last month, and I’m excited to say that if you are unable to make it to the Glassell Park location, you can still partake in the hype via exclusive coverage right here, as I will be doing a pre-event collaboration with the chefs prior to their opening!

Stay tuned for the post, along with behind-the-scenes video coverage. I will also be posting live updates along with other foodie news as usual, on the Tanaya’s Table Twitter (@TanayaG) & Instagram accounts (@MsTanayaG). Connect with me on those social media handles to get the scoop firsthand, as always. On each platform I share exclusive food tips and content, and love having foodie conversations with all of you!

In the meantime, I present you with a visual sneak peek to get your tastebuds primed and ready for this Saturday night:

The American Waffle Cone

fried chicken cone modern american

Fried chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, goat cheese fondue, fig syrup and an apple slaw with lemon-coriander dressing. Tip: ask to add the housemade buttery habanero hot sauce if you like heat! (source: Carb & Nation)

 

The Indonesian Style Waffle Cone

Fried chicken cone indonesian

Indonesian fried chicken, coconut rice, pickled vegetables, coconut-kaffir lime syrup and sambal chili sauce. (source: Carb & Nation)

Other cities, be jealous. Or, just stay tuned for the Tanaya’s Table exclusive inside Carb & Nation’s chicken & waffle cone pop-up! 😉