Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eat this: Chicago hotdog @ Quality Social

The Chicago Dog at Quality Social: A mouthful you don’t wanna miss.
Baseball season is upon us, and whether you’re a true fan or simply enjoy the American tradition of rooting for the home team with peanuts and crackerjacks handy, there’s no denying the hot dog’s emblematic (and delicious) relevance to the sport. Americana on a bun, simply dressed with mustard or loaded with steaming chili and cheddar cheese, tubular meat between bread symbolizes so much more than baseball fan-fare– after all, it’s New York’s quintessential street food, the standard at 4th of July BBQs, and that spongy mystery meat Mom tossed into your mac and cheese as a kid. Bottom line: hot dogs are as American as apple pie, and plain ‘ole good any time of day.
My favorite interpretation is the Chicago Dog (pictured above), and I know just where to get one.Quality Social, whose kitchen is led by Chicagoan Executive Chef Jared Van Camp (aka the ‘Sausage King’), appropriately turns out perhaps the best you can find in San Diego. Hot dogs are crafted in-house using a blend of beef and pork, and can be ordered steamed or charred, with or without all the fixins’. Van Camp sees to it that all condiments are made in-house as well, and no true Chicago dog would be complete without florescent pickle relish, deli mustard, Kosher pickle, diced onions, tomato, hot peppers and a dusting of celery salt. The unmistakable snap of hot dog casing, juicy meat and tangy, spicy vegetables makes for a mouthful you don’t want to miss, so stop in for a sit down, or do it my way and smuggle a couple in your purse to the first home game of the season on April 5th.
This dog is indeed a good one and it measures up great to the real deal in the Windy City.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2nd Annual Mission Valley Craft Beer Festival

The unmoving crowd at the Second Annual Mission Valley Craft Beer festival. Around 1,200 people attended the 6 hour unlimited beer tasting event for charity. Admission was $35 presale/$40 at the door and included everything but water, which was sold under 1 tent for 3 bucks a pop.

This past Sunday, over 1,000 people rallied for a cause by drinking craft beer, eating copious amounts of fair food and partying in the sort of way an all-you-can-eat-drink-festival inspires. The second annual Mission Valley Craft Beer Festival at The Handlery Hotel benefited Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, and exceeded fundraising projections by a long-shot; so much so, that vendors who reportedly prepared for a 600 person crowd were taken aback/backed out because of doubled attendance and poor organization.
Although many food and drink options ran out by 2:30pm (3.5 hours too soon),  there were minimal complaints about the $35 presale/$40 admission price, because after all, this was for charity. In the promising news department, it’s clear that San Diegans are enthusiastic about craft beer and good causes, even if it means partying in a Mission Valley parking lot with no seating and no free water. Hopefully next year is more organized so that people continue spending their money on fun-filled, meaningful events like this one.
There was no shortage of good times despite long beer lines; this resourceful dude asked the festival balloon artist for a beer-belt holster of sorts.
‘Get on your knees and drink it!” someone yelled as I snapped this picture. What a precious memory.
There were murmurings of a bomb-ass pork banh mi served by chef Hanis Cavin of Kensington Grill, so naturally I hot-tailed it over there.
Cavin raised the 160 pound Berkshire pig himself, and served the smoky, succulent meat on a baguette with mayo, carrots, cilantro and sweet and sour pickled daikon radish. Fantastic!
This man singlehandedly drained 3 kegs at the Green Flash booth. Why wait in a long line for just one pour? See Karma, down his nice blue shirt.
Thank you, Stone Brewing Company, for bringing bottles just in case your kegs blew.
The kind folks from Baker Shake (herb and spice blends) served Cajun shrimp, tri-tip steak and vegetables seasoned with their signature concoctions. This was Baker Shake’s first ever event, and they held it down.
The peel and eat shrimp were divine and had a nice heat. Cinnamon was the secret ingredient here, and complimented the sweet shellfish. If you’re looking for an event caterer,  contact Baker Shake; it’s family owned and operated, local, and most of all, they’re great cooks.
Limited seating in full effect: buzzed festival-goers kicked it on the curb.
Not all cupcakes are like the boxed crap your Mom baked when she was feeling lazy. Case in point:PubCakes by Misty Birchall, the beer-loving, confection-baking innovator behind a line of cupcakes made with some of your favorite craft brews. Kudos for the new storefront, Misty!
‘ The worst beer festival outfit’ included a ruffled black dress and camouflage Ugg boots worn by this cute woman, who ended up being Dancing with the Stars judge Mary Murphy. (Someone had to tell me– I don’t watch TV!)
Did Mary drink more beer than she could handle? 91x on-air talent Robin Roth seemed to say ‘yes.’
This is never a good sign.
This is an entertaining picture.
I know dirt washes off… but…
TapHunter shirt Trifecta! Founder Mel Gordon, yours truly, and Stephanie Converse. Download the TapHunter app for iPhone or Droid today and hunt down where your favorite brews are served. What an asset!
  1. Hey! That’s the back of my head in the crowd picture!
    Awesome post! It was nice to meet you on Sunday :)
  2. Awesome wrap. Note: Stone’s kegs “blew” when they went to bottles… they were “tapped” at the beginning.
  3. Yes, there were things to improve on, but the fact you took the time to highlight the great and unique things to this fest that no others have pulled off to date says a lot about the team behind the fest the risks they were willing to take. I also read another post today complaining about the fest and even more lame was how poorly written it was. Can you guess it?
    Thanks for being awesome and actually caring enough to take great pictures and make your story entertaining instead of lame complaining journalism.
  4. Last year’s festival debut only drew about 150. So, when 900 tickets got sold beforehand, it was unexpected to say the least. I think the all-you-can concept is great/better for lines and such and having GOOD food instead of the typical street fair stuff was….AMAZING. Cut ‘em some slack. They’ll catch up soon enough. Who was that first band? Terrible. Age caps next year, seriously.
    • Were you the one taking pictures of everyone’s t-shirt’s? Let me know, i wanna see.
  5. Fun article and very kind to what I experienced as well. Most of these ticket that were sold were weeks before the event due to Taphunter having a special 50% off ticket buy. I don’t see why they could not plan ahead.
    And charging for WATER at a beer festival? Sounds illegal! What are the designated drivers suppose to drink. and its a beer festival… provide some water for people to help sober up.
    Loved the foundation of the festival (unlimited beer & food) but just did not seem to work.
    Better luck next year.
    PS Parking Lots suck!