Beach Eats To-Go

Perfect Pit Stops on Way to the Beach

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

With the warm days of summer soon to be replaced by fall’s autumn leaves, there’s no time to waste a single golden moment…especially waiting in crowded beach lines for food.

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When you’re headed out to the beach or driving down PCH, it’s a good idea to grab some food to-go. You’ll have something to eat on the way or when you get there…and be ready to drop your towel on the sand or paddle out to catch the best waves.

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Los Alamitos makes a perfect pit stop for beach eats – en route to both Seal Beach and Huntington Beach with great grab-and-go food that doesn’t need a knife and fork.

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel know just where to go – Pasty Kitchen, Volcano Burgers and Taco Surf.

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SurfWriter Girl Sunny has been going to Pasty Kitchen (3641 Katella Avenue) forever. She’s such a fan of the pasties (meat pies baked without a pan) that when she walks in the door everyone recognizes her.

 

Along with its traditional beef and chicken pasties made with a mix of potatoes and carrots, Pasty Kitchen has vegetarian pasties – Sunny’s favorite – and even apple- and cherry-filled dessert pasties.

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Pasties (pronounced “pass-tees”) originated in Europe in the 1300s and are closely associated with Cornwall, England, where coal miners favored the meat pies because they were easy to carry.

 

With over 50-years of experience making pasties, Pasty Kitchen knows how to create perfect pies that are packed with flavor and are just the right size to fit in your hand.

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DSC02933The baking area in the tiny shop is in plain sight from the order counter. So, you can even watch the pasties being made and pulled out of the oven. “For a little shop they have a lot going on,” says Sunny.

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Pasty Kitchen has a couple of umbrella tables outside, if you want to linger. Or just grab the hot pies and head out! At little more than two dollars each, you can enjoy an authentic taste of Cornwall that people have sought out for centuries.

Another way to jumpstart your taste buds on a SoCal beach day is to cruise through the drive-thru window at Volcano Burgers (3652 Cerritos Avenue), which has been making burgers for over thirty years.

DSC02983You’ll get a hamburger ($2.59) unlike any other you’ve tasted. When you see how big it is, with the ingredients spilling over the bun, you’ll be glad that the take-out orders come in boxes instead of bags.

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The same goes for the chili cheese fries ($3.69), which are hard to consume in a single sitting.

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The melted cheddar cheese covering the fries in lava-like splendor tells you that these fries are fit for a king or, in this case, a goddess – Pele, the Hawaiian Volcano Goddess. So, be sure to ask for extra napkins. Lots of them!

VB’s menu includes hot dogs, chili cheese dogs, gyros, BLTs, chicken strips, zucchini fries, and other hand-held food for the open road along with classic shakes and floats to stick in your cup holders.

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Given the large portion sizes, though, you may need to loosen your seat belt a bit to accommodate the extra calories.

If you’re in a hurry, just be sure to avoid the noon lunch and after-school crush of students from Los Al High across the street. When classes let out everyone makes a dash for VB.

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Taco Surf (10542 Los Alamitos Boulevard and other SoCal locations) lives up to its Mexican and beach-themed name, offering a variety of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and more in a casual, ocean type hangout with surf boards, bright colors and beach decor.

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Whether you drop by to get something to go or stay around to “Party on!” as the signs say, the staff is eager to make you feel welcome.

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The three-taco special ($8.75) is just the thing to take to the beach and you have a choice of beef, chicken or fish. So, you can get one of each.

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Taco Surf has been around for over 25 years providing a taste of Baja California’s surf culture and food, utilizing family recipes enjoyed for generations. The menu includes a wide range of taquitos, tostados and quesadillas and lunch and dinner combos.

DSC02962And, if you’re heading back from the beach early, Happy Hour starts at 2:00 p.m. on Monday – Friday with $1.50 tacos and $2.50 draft beers. So, even if you didn’t get in a full day of surfing or sunbathing, you can still relax and enjoy a beach vibe.

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When you’re in the mood to splurge a little, try the carne asada ($13.75) made with charbroiled flank steak or the pescado fish of the day ($12.95) topped with fresh mango salsa. Both come with Spanish rice, refried beans and tortillas.

With its other locations along the coast in Belmont Shore, Surfside, Seal Beach, Westminster and Dana Point, you can soak up Taco Surf’s friendly atmosphere from practically anywhere in OC.

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So, whenever you get a craving for one of its tacos, there’s a Taco Surf nearby. This works out great for SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti when we’re out covering beach stories and finding new places to share with our readers.

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Whether you’re loading up your car for a day at the beach or on your way home, it’s good to know that there’s no shortage of purrfect pit stops for beach eats to-go.

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Adding up their combined years in business, Pasty Kitchen, Volcano Burgers and Taco Surf have been satisfying the community’s food urges for over 100 years. That translates into a lot of meat pies, burgers and tacos…and definitely napkins!

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On Labor Day “Steak” Your Claim

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Now that the last grilling days of summer are here it’s time to fire up the barbecue and make the most of it!

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Are your steaks as tender and juicy as they can be? Or are they looking and tasting more like an old shoe?

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Don’t worry. SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel – with the help of Patti’s husband Greg Kishel – have done our homework and have the perfect recipe for grilling success.

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For starters, don’t just grab the first package of plastic-wrapped meat that you see in the supermarket. Get to know your butcher! Sunny is in charge of getting the meat for our barbecues and always talks to the butcher.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“This way I can find out what’s available and get the best prices, too! Often there are specials that can save you money,” says Sunny. “Plus the butcher can give me suggestions on which cut of meat to get and how to prepare it.”

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Check the steak for marbling – the lines of fat running throughout the meat. These add moisture and flavor to the steak.

hi-steaks-8colWhether you opt for a rib eye, Porterhouse, top sirloin, or other steak, just as important as the cut of meat you choose, is how you handle it.

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“I’ve eaten steaks in expensive restaurants and steaks grilled on industrial-sized, backyard barbecues,” Greg says. “But, the best steaks of all were the ones my father used to make on a small hibachi on the steps to the basement. Dad had a chair next to the grill and sat there, paying close attention to the coals and the meat, getting it just right.”

 

A key mistake that grillers often make is taking the steak straight from the fridge to the barbecue. To ensure that the steak cooks evenly the meat should be at room temperature.

DSC04068Keep it simple. If you’re not careful, fancy marinades and rubs can overwhelm the natural meat flavors. Lightly coating the steak with oil and then seasoning it with salt and pepper should be just the ticket.

DSC04135Season the meat about the same time you’re getting the coals ready. That way the salt and pepper will have time to be absorbed into the steak, rather than ending up covering the grill.

Then, when you place the steak on the grill, pick a spot that is giving off the desired amount of heat.

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Go easy on the flipping, too. Less is more. Leave the flipping theatrics to the chefs at Benihana’s. The more flipping you do, the harder it is to monitor the amount of heat that each side is getting.

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Once the steak is done (about 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare) and you’ve removed it from the grill, resist the urge to immediately start eating. Here patience is definitely a virtue. If you’ve watched any of the cooking shows on TV, you know that the top chefs always let the meat rest for 5 – 10 minutes. This allows the steak to finish cooking and helps to seal in the flavor.

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After that, your steak is ready to serve – with whatever side dishes you like…and maybe a special wine you’ve been saving for the occasion or a chilled beer.

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Patti picked out this Villa Mt. Eden 1993 Zinfandel from Napa we had on hand. With its spicy fruit flavors and mellow taste, it turned out to be the perfect pairing to Greg’s perfectly grilled steak.

DSC04087Bon Appétit!

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Enjoy Summer’s Cool Delights

Beat the Heat with Ice Cream Treats!

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

“I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.” So, the saying goes, especially in the summertime when everyone is looking for a cool treat.

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel love ice cream, particularly when we’re out at the beach and want to escape the heat. Whether it’s a waffle cone, hot fudge sundae or a date shake, there’s something good to try.

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In ancient times, dating back to the Roman Empire (54-86 A.D.), ice cream was reserved for emperors, who claimed it as their “just desserts.” To make the dish, Nero Claudius Caesar sent the empire’s fastest runners into the mountains to bring back snow, which was flavored with fruits and juices.

Over a thousand years later, when Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Orient bearing amazing treasures, one of the riches he brought was the recipe for sherbet. It still took 400 years, though, before ice cream reached the masses in the mid-17th Century.

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Fortunately, today we have lots of choices of ice cream right here in the OC…and you don’t have to be an emperor or an explorer to enjoy it!

 If you’re looking for new flavors to experience, then Baskin Robbins is the place. With 31 flavors on its menu, there’s a flavor for every day of the month.

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Some of the flavors for summer include: Cotton Candy, Splish Splash Sherbet, Very Berry Strawberry, and Blueberry Cheesecake. They’ve even got a movie-tie-in treat, Amazing Spider-Man 2.

And that summer favorite Baseball Nut is back. The classics are still here, too – Jamoca Almond Fudge, Oreo Cookies and Cream, and Old Fashioned Butter Pecan.

DSC03688And, when you’re feeling creative and want to express yourself, then head to Cold Stone Creamery and supervise your own Signature Creation, made right in front of you on the ice cream shop’s trademark stone mixing surface.

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You can choose your own candy, fruit, nuts, and other mix-ins to make your personal creation that’s uniquely you.

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How many flavors can you make? According to Cold Stone, “We stopped counting after a gazillion.”

For a quick, refreshing ice cream cool-down that won’t break the bank, Rite Aid hits the spot. When Rite Aid acquired Thrifty Drug Stores it wisely kept the chain’s beloved Thrifty Ice Cream.

DSC03381A summer treat that has a special place in many people’s memories, Thrifty Ice Cream is no farther away than a walk to your neighborhood drugstore. Known for its iconic, cylindrical-shape scoops, Thrifty Ice Cream cones have been satisfying generations of fans since 1940.

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Some of the flavors that have been popularized over the years include: Mint Chip, Birthday Cake, Rainbow Sherbet, Pistachio, Coconut Pineapple, and Surfwriter Girl Sunny’s favorite Chocolate Malted Krunch. The cones don’t cost 25-cents anymore, but they’re still a great value.

When you’re in a party mood and feel like sharing, Farrell’s is the place.

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The home of The Pig’s Trough (a “traditional banana split times two!”) and not soon forgotten Farrell’s Zoo (a creation “so huge it takes two Strong servers to deliver it to your table”)…

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Farrell’s is that classic ice cream parlor of old.

 

 

And, when you’re cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway on a California Dreamin’ day, make sure to stop in Ruby’s Shake Shack (7703 E. Coast Highway, Newport Beach), overlooking the historic Crystal Cove beach.

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Along with your ice cream treat, you’ll get a panoramic ocean view unlike any other. You can also get the best date shakes this side of Palm Springs, a unique taste of California that keeps SurfWriter Girl Patti coming back year-after-year.

Everybody likes ice cream. Even SurfWriter Cat Smokey…

DSC03393So, now that summer’s here, let’s all scream for ice cream!

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Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

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Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at surfwriter.girls@gmail.com Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.