2.27.2010

Dishy Goodness Moo Minicards!

YAY! Cheerful greetings from Moo
Well, here they are! My first set of  Moo minicards. I ordered them last Saturday, and they arrived today, several days earlier than expected.

I love Moo's sense of whimsy and warmth in their packaging. It's very friendly and welcoming, showing that Moo doesn't take itself too seriously. I also ordered a pink card holder, which is what is wrapped in the foil bag.

Yes, I am excited! The Moo MiniCards are here!
The cards are presented in a sturdy white box that can be kept to display or store your cards stylishly. Moo is a London-based firm, but they recently opened a US location in Providence, Rhode Island, thereby making many US customers thrilled to have their cards that much sooner.

As described on the back, the "cards are printed on paper sourced from sustainable forests and the box is 100% recyclable." The minicards were the first and only product launched by Moo when it started, and it made quite an impact with its diminutive size, silky-smooth surface and quirky marketing. Minicards are about half the size of a business card, but the awesomeness of the minicard resides in the fact that the cards are crated with "variable print technology." This means that each card can have a different image on it -- finally, a way to make your creativity really shine!

The text side of the card w/my contact info; the cute pink Moo MiniCard holder
I lifted the lid and saw my 100 minicards neatly residing in the orange-lined box. Here's the back of my card, showing my blog, email and Twitter info. You can upload your own image for the text side or use Moo's built-in text editor.  I guess my font is a *wee bit* mini. Next time, I'll increase the size of the cursive font a little bit.

The pink minicard holder includes a few "first order" discount cards that you can hand out to your friends who might be interested in making their own Moo product. The Moo product line has expanded to include stickers, note cards, postcards, business cards, and greeting cards. People have gotten so creative in how they use their Moo stationery! I've seen Moo cards  used as hang tags for clothing and hand-crafted items; wedding place cards or save-the-dates; or assembled into a photo collage. You're only limited by your own imagination.

Ten different dishy pix to choose from; thoughtful card dividers: mine and theirs
I used three photos of a variety of  manju (a lovely and unexpected gift from my friend Tawni); four photos of carb-alicious dumplings and bread products from Michelle's Pancakes in San Gabriel; and three photos from Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace. I'll probably switch up the photos on my next batch. (BTW, full posts on the manju and Michelle's Pancakes are planned for the future. So stay tuned!)

I like the tiny card dividers that say, "Mine," and "Theirs." So thoughtful! BTW, if you don't have your own photos or designs to upload, there are plenty that can be chosen from various designers and artists on the Moo website.

I can't wait to start handing these out! The size makes them eye-catching and memorable, and the smooth feel makes them pleasant to hold. The plastic card holder is curved so that you can gently push the cards out with your thumb for slick and easy distribution. Moo has thought of just about everything!

MOO USA

All photos by Ms. DG

2.22.2010

Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace

Snow outside Pappy and Harriet's
Photos by Mr. DG

There have been some major rainstorms in Southern California this winter, and one of the biggest storms dumped almost 4.5 inches of rain in the Coachella Valley in three days last month. Keep in mind that the Coachella Valley gets a usual total of 5.23 inches in one year. The rains and cold temperatures dropped a large amount of snow on the surrounding mountains here in the desert, and the vistas were breathtaking! On the first day of good weather, Mr. DG went to Pioneertown, a small village of 350 people within Yucca Valley, to enjoy the snow and take some photos.

Quirky and colorful details

Photos by Mr. DG

While he was in Pioneertown, Mr. DG had lunch at Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace. This is a legendary honkytonk that hosts a wide variety of musical acts. Performers such as Lucinda Williams, Donovan, Wynona Judd, Gene Autry and Mick Fleetwood are reported to have been fans of the bar and/or the music scene according to the reliable information source that is Wikipedia. The decor is, naturally, woodsy and Western, with walls filled by colorful license plates from all across the nation; photos of musical acts who are fans or who've performed there; and a few random stuffed moose and other fauna. There is a bar with a couple pool tables for those not looking to have a full meal.

On this first visit, Mr. DG enjoyed a hearty Cuban sandwich at Pappy and Harriet's. Roasted pork loin, ham, pickles and Swiss cheese on pressed French bread. Homemade pinto beans and thick steak fries accompanied the sandwich. He thought the food was better than expected, and so, knowing I have a slight predilection for trying new eateries, he wanted to get my opinion.

A kaleidoscope of license plates on the walls; crispy Cuban sandwich with homemade pinto beans and steak fries
Photos by Mr. DG

A week later, we made the approximately one-hour drive from Indio to Pioneertown. As a born-and-bred Angeleno, I've seen snow maybe a handful of times in my life....I've never actually had the experience of feeling snow fall on me. While it was too warm to get that first snowfall experience in Pioneertown, at least we got to see some snow and enjoy some good food.

A generous portion of guacamole with salsa and chips
Photo by moi

We started with freshly-made guacamole. I have to say that the quantity of guacamole that is given to you, along with an ample basket of chips and salsa (if you like), is a great deal. All of that was $3.75! And the guacamole tasted of fresh avocado with little flecks of something spicy, perhaps minced jalapeno or serrano chile. Big, beautiful chunks of avocado would surface every so often. Gorgeous! SUCH a bargain and tasty to boot. To think I spent $7 for a fraction of the amount of guacamole and chips at the Tamale Festival. Grrr.

A close-up of the juicy frank; the chili dog in all its glory
Photos by moi

A chili dog is something I often crave but rarely ever have; I figure if I'm going to indulge myself, I want it to be a good quality dog with great chili -- not some cheap substitute. Pappy and Harriet's has many tempting items on their menu, especially because the meats are grilled over mesquite for smoky goodness. Ultimately, I couldn't resist trying their chili dog since it had Pappy's homemade chili adorning an all-beef hot dog. The chili is filled with chunks of mesquite grilled tri-tip and carne asada. There were no beans incorporated into the chili on the dog - just tender, falling apart chunks of beef in a rich sauce flavored with tomatoes, onions and peppers and spices. The hot dog frank itself was surprisingly juicy and flavorful. I tried to capture its juiciness in the photo above, but you may just have to go try it for yourself to get the full effect. The frank tasted of real beef - not synthetic. Each bite I took seemed to result in an explosion of juice. I'm making myself hungry just writing about it. The hot dog bun itself was fresh, soft and lightly toasted for a touch of crispness.

I chose a green salad as my side with a refreshing cilantro-lime vinaigrette that hinted of Middle Eastern flavors. The salad was made of romaine lettuce, slices of cucumber, red onion and cherry tomatoes. I really liked the salad dressing. If I were to guess, the ingredients included cumin, mint, dried herbs, olive oil and lemon juice. It was acidic but not overly so. The accompanying homemade pinto beans were savory, not sweet, which is a plus with me, and they were a little spicy yet nicely seasoned. They were not overwhelming, just a great side to the delicious chili dog and salad.

All of this was only $6.95! What a bargain. It's a very healthy amount of food for that price, but more importantly, the quality of the food is wonderful.

Pesto chicken sandwich w/roasted red peppers on pressed French bread; a close-up look at the cheese fries
Photos by moi

Mr. DG ordered the pesto chicken sandwich with a side of pinto beans and CHEESE FRIES! Yum. The cheese fries were thick-cut fries covered in melted, shredded cheese, green onions and chewy bits of real bacon. What is not to like here?! I so could go for these right now. The chicken breast in the sandwich was not too thick or thin and it was moist and flavorful. Roasted red pepper topped the chicken breast, and sundried tomato pesto added a smoky flavor -- or perhaps this was from the mesquite grilling of the chicken? Mr. DG enjoyed the fact that the pressed French bread was not too bready. He said it was crunchy, yet easy to bite through. I am not a fan of struggling to gnaw off  a bite from super-bready or super-chewy bread and neither is Mr. DG. The sandwich with cheese fries and pinto beans cost $9.95.

The Donnas - just one of the bands that have performed at Pappy and Harriet's
Photo by Mr. DG

If the food I've described doesn't interest you, then maybe the musical acts will. Pappy and Harriet's attracts lesser-known names to famous names, so there is bound to be something that will entertain. One wall is covered with photos of various performers with scribbled messages and autographs. Last year, the Eagles of Death Metal performed at Pappy's. Trivia note: Mr. DG went to Palm Desert High with Josh Homme and Jesse Hughes from EofDM.

Pioneertown was built in 1946 as a "living movie set" by Hollywood investors that included Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the original Sons of the Pioneers. It was a place where actors could make movies using the fa├žades, while the interiors were actually attractions the public could enjoy. Bowling alleys, ice cream parlors and motels were built for the public to patronize what appeared to be a Western saloon, stable or jail on the exterior. Over fifty films and TV shows were filmed in Pioneertown. Pappy and Harriet's opened in 1982 and has become a legendary stop for music lovers -- and this food lover, in particular. I can't wait to go back!

Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace
53688 Pioneertown Road
Pioneertown, CA 92268
(760) 365-5956

Thurs-Sun 11am-1am
Monday 5pm-12am
Closed Tues. and Wed.


Check out the movies that were made in Pioneertown
Photos by Mr. DG

2.06.2010

The Slaw Dogs: Pasadena, CA

The Slaw Dogs is now open!

On a rainy Friday night in LA (visiting my parents), Mr. DG and I were wondering where we should dine while my parents were out to dinner with their friends (my parents have a more active social life than I do, not joking.). Wishing to avoid a long drive on slick streets, I remembered that the Tasting Table LA e-newsletter posted about a new upscale hot dog joint in Pasadena, The Slaw Dogs, opening officially the next day, on Saturday, February 6. While we had plans already on Saturday evening, we decided to try The Slaw Dogs and see what it was offering.

The specials board

The Slaw Dogs is located on North Lake Avenue in Pasadena, north of the 210 freeway, near Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles and Orean, the Health Express. The Slaw Dogs is owned by Ray Byrne, a longtime veteran of the restaurant industry. He has created a menu featuring a variety of high-quality domestic and international links, including Vienna, jumbo 10" and kosher all-beef dogs; natural casing "snap dogs;" turkey and veggie dogs; spicy chicken and chicken apple sausages; Bavarian bratwurst, spicy Polish sausage and spicy Calabrese sausage.

You can pick your own toppings (first three standard toppings are free; rest are $.39/each; custom toppings are $.99/each) or go for one of ten "Slaw Dogs" or the special market dog of the week. The market dog is what Ray conjures up after seeing what's freshest and in season. The current "market dog" sounded very intriguing: kumquat chutney, curry ketchup, mint grilled onions with pickled habanero. Ray described it as "pilates in your mouth"! Salad bowls with your choice of meat offer a nice option for those who want a lighter meal. On our visit, there was a special wedge salad available with -- you guessed it -- your choice of meat. No lack of options here! I had a very hard time deciding.

Four of the gourmet sauces offered at The Slaw Dogs; The Slaw Dogs Basket (1/2 fries - Belgian or Sweet Potato - and 1/2 onion rings)
Sauce Legend - Top left: spicy sesame mayo (kicky and creamy sesame goodness); bottom left: chipotle mayo (smoky and spicy); top right: roast garlic mayo (can't go wrong with garlic); bottom right: curry ketchup (looks like ketchup, but it's so much more).

While we were trying to make a decision, Mr. DG and I started off with the Slaw Dogs Basket. You can choose from two of the following: 1/2 Belgian fries or 1/2 sweet potato fries or 1/2 beer battered onion rings. Ray told us that he double-fries each item to get them nicely crispy. The beer battered onion rings had a light, nice crunch, surrounding tender onion. They weren't too oily or too heavily battered. Lovely.

We tried the Belgian and the sweet potato fries, too. (As you'll recall from my Cacao post, I have a hard time resisting carbs.) Ray was kind enough to give us a sample of four of the sauces, besides the usual ketchup and mayo, to try with the fries and rings. Mr. DG liked all of the dipping options, but, much to my and his own surprise, his favorite was the curry ketchup! He's not usually a big fan of curry. I thought all were great, but my favorite was the spicy sesame mayo. I would never have thought to make an Asian-inspired dipping sauce to go with fried carbs, but I really liked the flavor combo with the sweet potato fries, in particular.

By the way, the fries were also lightly crisp on the outside but tender and fluffy on the inside. Usually, when I've had sweet potato fries at other establishments, they end up being kind of soft and floppy....and sometimes oily. Not here at The Slaw Dogs! None of the fried items were oily at all. Big plus in my book.

Double-fried beautiful sweet potato fries; another view of the Thai Sausage Salad - yum!

I must say that Mr. DG has a real knack for picking the tastiest items whenever we go to a restaurant. And I'm not saying that the Rueben Dog was a lesser dish -- definitely not - it was very delicious! But the Thai Sausage Salad that he ordered was so fresh and aromatic. When Ray was bringing the dish to the table, the scent of the beautifully dressed salad wafted to our noses. I don't think that has ever happened to me -- where the smell of a salad arrives before it even reaches you. Usually, that happens with hot dishes, but not so much with cold. It was a lovely harbinger of what was to come.

The Slaw Dogs menu; Thai Sausage Salad w/Spicy Calabrese Sausage

The Thai Sausage Salad comes with your choice of meat. Mr. DG asked for Ray's opinion, and he thought the spicy Calabrese would be a good combination with the salad. Obviously, Ray knows his flavor combinations as the spicy Italian sausage was wonderful with the Thai flavors. The salad contained shredded cabbage, diced green onion, peanuts, cilantro, slivered green papaya, sliced carrots and cucumber, in a light, creamy peanut and sesame dressing. Topping it all off was the grilled sausage and crunchy wonton strips. I love dishes that combine cold/hot temperatures and contrasting textures in one bite. The dressing was not too heavy, and all was well-seasoned. Mr. DG really enjoyed the salad, and so did I (luckily for me, Mr. DG is very generous with sharing:) ).

A view from North Lake Avenue; the Rueben Dog

I love sausage. I happen to love spicy Polish sausage, in particular. I remember the Farmer John polish sausages that my dad used to cook for breakfast on weekends when I was a kid, and I fondly recall the snappy bite and spicy kick. They were also plump little links, about an inch or more in diameter. My ignorance about Polish sausage is that I didn't realize they came in regular hot dog size, as well. That's the size of the sausage in the Rueben Dog I ordered. Not to worry, the size did not diminish the flavor. The Polish sausage was butterflied, grilled and piled on perfectly-sour (for me, which means, not too sour) sauerkraut, sliced pastrami, swiss cheese, and topped with Russian dressing on grilled rye bread. It wasn't too salty, which can easily happen when you're combining so many savory items together. The sandwich was seasoned just right.

The action happens here

Ray's hot dog pub is a family venture. His mom and wife also contribute in their own ways (front of house and dessert skills, respectively). Jennifer, Ray's mom, is warm and welcoming, as is Ray. The space is decorated in warm earth tones with wood tables, slate floors and brick red walls. Artwork will finish the walls, Ray told us, but Mr. DG and I did not feel that the space felt unfinished, and, in fact, we did not notice that the walls were bare until he mentioned it. We thought it looked great!

A warm and cozy environment w/slate flooring and butcher-block style tables

Go get your dog at The Slaw Dogs now. As I type this, Ray is hosting his grand opening bash with free samples of The Slaw Dogs paired with wines from Uncorqed and additional complimentary beverages. Vegetarians and gluten-free eaters, don't worry, Ray hasn't forgotten about you. He has a Soy Bomb dog available (veggie dog w/tofu and shiso ginger-ponzu sesame slaw), and you can make just about any dog gluten-free by wrapping it in lettuce instead of bread. The standard and custom toppings available are quite extensive (truffle oil! kimchi! beer chili!), so go check out the menu at The Slaw Dogs website. Menu items are subject to change.

We enjoyed meeting Ray and Jennifer, and we hope The Slaw Dogs pub finds great success. The food is high quality and the flavors are new and fresh. The prices are reasonable....what more could one want?

The Slaw Dogs
720 N. Lake, #8
Pasadena, CA 91104
(626) 808-9777
11:00am - 9:00pm Sunday to Thursday
11:00am - 10:00pm Friday and Saturday
Full-service, onsite catering available

web: www.theslawdogs.com
twitter: www.twitter.com/theslawdogs
facebook: www.facebook.com

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