Best Netflix Shows about Food

Unlike Food Network cooking shows, Netflix food shows tend toward travel and story-telling. In these shows we learn not only about new foods, but we learn of the culture behind them and the people that make them. Here’s a list of the best shows on Netflix that center around food (in no particular order).

Somebody Feed Phil

Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal travels the world, meeting so many wonderful people along the way. Phil is delightful to watch, his childlike enthusiasm for food, flavor and life always bring joy when watching this show. Many food shows are hosted by Chefs, who know exactly what food is presented to them. Phil has an extremely relatable quality — he’s just a guy who likes to eat, not a professionally trained Chef. While we can’t get out an explore the world, we can watch Phil navigate different countries, cultures and meet new people with unending joy and optimism.

The heart of a city lies with its people, its community. How they connect, gather, communicate. What they value, what traditions have withstood the test of time, of trial and trauma. Somebody Feed Phil dives headfirst into the community, often sharing the missions of local non-profit organizations, connecting with the city’s future generations and allowing us to discover the heart of each place travelled.

Somehow, this show, that focuses on one man traveling the world, trying different foods, restores faith. Through forging connections with the people of each city, their lives, their stories, Somebody Feed Phil reminds us all that no matter how different our lives may seem, we are all people, who, at the end of the day, care about putting forth the best for ourselves, our families and our communities. In his exceedingly lovable way, Phil connects us to places we may never visit and the people who call those places home.

Chef’s Table

This is high class food, served in restaurants that book a year in advance, with Michelin stars and James Beard awards. This is food reinvented. This is the peak of food as art. And though high class technique and fine dining run through the vein of these restaurants, where the show never compromises is in its soul.

Each episode centers around one chef, picking deep into their life, their backstory, what motivates them, their triumphs and their failures.Here we truly are allowed a window into what drives these chefs to be the best of the best, the arduous hours that reaching that height requires. True, some may say this show borders on idolization of these chefs. And perhaps it does. But that quality is what makes this show so fascinating, so captivating. The depth of exploration into each of these chef’s lives, we find incredible stories of perseverance, innovation and even the elusive, teetering on the edge of insanity quality found in inventors and experimenters of a bygone era. Everything about Chef’s Table, the production quality, music, cinematography make this show spell-bounding and enriching. Chef’s Table is not a show you watch, it’s a show you experience.

Subsequent off-shoots of Chef’s Table focus on chefs that are peak in their industries: pastry and BBQ. Both iterations maintain the integrity of the original series, focusing on the best of the best, providing a rare inside look into the minds of the greatest culinary creators of our day.

The Chef Show

LA chef Roy Choi and producer, writer, director Jon Favreau team up to cook a variety of different dishes. Having worked together on the film, Chef, Choi and Favreau take on friendly teacher and student roles, Choi patiently teaching Favreau not only how to make the dishes, but the processes behind how the dish is made. In this show, we all live vicariously through Favreau, whose so eager to learn everything from casual master chef Roy Choi. Plus, they go hang out with Christina Tosi, Wolfgang Puck, etc. It’s fantastic.

Roy Choi can be called the pioneer of the modern food truck. He started his truck Kogi BBQ Taco Truck in downtown LA. He was one of the first to utilize social media (thank you Twitter) to post the food truck’s location around Los Angeles. Hungry followers could see where the truck was at immediately, and would flock to it. He now owns 6 restaurants and has published a fascinating autobiography/cookbook hybrid LA Son. Roy Choi is a true LA original, combining the delicious power of Mexican street food with his Korean heritage. One of my favorite qualities about Roy Choi though, is how patient and humble he is in the kitchen.

Chef Show possesses an inherently playful nature, lacking the formality of fine dining while holding up the standards of making, quite simply, really good food. From oysters to the pinnacle of grilled cheese, Choi and Favreau present a new kind of cooking show. One thats centered around friendship and culinary discovery.

Street Food: Asia & Street Food: Latin America

While they are two separate shows, Street Food: Asia and Street Food: Latin America center around the same central them (you guessed it): street food. Embracing the region’s cultural backbone, this show hones in on street food vendors, many of whom have never been formally trained as chef, but instead are dedicated to carrying on the traditions of their culture by serving traditional street food every day of the year.

This is the food of the people. And the street vendors who survive are the ones who make the food that people most connect to and love mot deeply, enough to come back day after day for the same delicious dish. For the adventurous traveler, seeking out and trying traditional street food is a quintessential part of any journey. It’s cheap, it’s delicious, and it’s the product of the organic culinary landscape that surrounds it — no imports, no tricks, just decades upon decades of tradition, handed down through generations. The Street Food shows give us unique insight into how these street foods are made and the hard-working, dedicated, passionate hands that make them.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Based on Samin Nosrat’s book of the same title, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is a limited series, only a mere four episodes that explores the building blocks of any good dish. While the show itself is brief, its value is irreplaceable. Nosrat is at once incredibly knowledgable and infinitely teachable, allowing us to learn from her own deep breadth of experience while simultaneously discovering new culinary territory right alongside her.

The premise behind the book, and the theme of the show, is that when you can master these four elements (salt, fat, acid and heat) you can utilize them in a balance to make anything delicious, with or without a recipe. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is the culmination of decades of experience, and provides a philosophy on how to approach any dish in the kitchen. Going above and beyond a typical cooking tutorial show, Nosrat sets out to educate us on the role that certain foods play in your cooking, what happens when they interact in the right environments and how food can transform by your method of preparation. Overall, it’s an incredible inside look on how the mind of a chef works, and how to understand food beyond following a cut-and-dry recipe.

I respect why the show was only four episodes–it’s concise, following the structure of her book–but I am left wanting more. Though another Netflix show isn’t in the cards at this time, Nosrat is currently producing a podcast called Home Cooking, set to teach us everyday folk how to cook at home.

A Year in Blogging With Edible Ink | Lifestyle

Edible Ink is officially one year old!

This post is a celebration of Edible Ink’s first year in the blogosphere, an intent for the year to come and general notes on what I’ve learned about blogging over the past year. Including…

And most of all, I have some special surprises in store for you, too! As a thank you to the readers of Edible Ink, I created a Free Resources page, with two immediately available and ready to download. Read on to find out more.


Me in my natural habitat — in colorful socks, covered in flour.

Why start a blog?

As a food enthusiast, I’d often post photos of my home-cooked meals and restaurant adventures on social media. In particular, my posts about meal prep seemed to pique interest. People were interested in how I meal prepped and what I was cooking.

Interest in meal prep is one of the reasons why I created Edible Ink. That’s why I’m sharing a Weekly Meal Prep Planner on the Free Resources Page!

Go to Free Resources…

But of course, there’s more. I didn’t just want to create a blog chock full of recipes. While they are my go-to when I’m searching for something new, strictly developing recipes was not exactly what I aimed to do.

I’m a writer first and foremost and that’s exactly what I wanted to keep at the forefront of Edible Ink’s mission.

I sought a broad range, including reviews of local restaurants and general creative musings on the topic of food. 

Food is an inevitable joy of life. We all eat it, we all (at some point or another) make it. Sometimes we enjoy it, sometimes it leaves us wanting. Sometimes we have a great relationship with it, and other times, we struggle.

The point is, food — making it, eating it, sharing it with others — is a universal human experience.

I found it an incredible canvas on which to begin writing a blog. 

Here’s the thing. Blogging takes time. It’s not easy. And in a competitive world, sometimes you get sucked in to what other people are doing seeing what works for them and thinking, “Hey, I should do that too.”  

Intention in art is everything. Focusing on that intention, and ensuring each step taken aligns with that intention is not easy.

And so there’s a necessary and natural shift happening here at Edible Ink. The recipes aren’t going away, they’ll just be less frequent. But the shift, primarily, is more about honing down exactly what Edible Ink is meant to be. 

First and foremost, it should be an entertaining, informative experience for you, the reader. 

I aim to entertain, to provoke thought, emotion and appreciation for what’s going on with food around us. That’s why you come to Edible Ink. To read about food in a way you haven’t before, to learn something new and to be entertained. 


Baking is hard work, with high rewards!

How can I improve my blog?

Here are top three areas for improving and building Edible Ink in the next year. These three items can be applied to any website or blog.

1. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Ah, yes SEO. It’s an inescapable technical, unglamorous aspect of having a website of any kind. This year, with an influx of free time, I signed up for an SEO Specialization Certification course through Coursera.

Learn more about SEO in this incredible article courtesy of Moz.

If you’re interested, yes I believe it’s been worth the time and effort! As a result of what I’ve learned, I’ll be going back through the blog and updating posts, including adding recipe PDFs and more value-driven content. Additionally, the content I create moving forward will be crafted with optimization in mind.

2. Engage on social media. 

Personally, I go through push-and-pull struggles with social media. Most of the time, its a valuable tool to share and connect with others. Other times, it’s a black hole of false information and negativity.

But hey, we’re all about finding the bright side here right? That’s why I’ve decided to invest in it as the former — a tool to connect with others, to provide them with valuable content through my blog, and as a means to share content with them directly. 

Additionally, I’ve finally broken down and invested in a social media post scheduler. This helps keep me organized and engaged with social media, without having to spend hours crafting posts every. single. day. More on that to come later.

3. Plan all of the content.

This is KEY. This year, I went through a three-month period where I didn’t post anything. It had to do with current events, yes, but I also felt I didn’t have time to properly craft a post. So I went for an organization and planning method. You can download my post planning spreadsheet template here, on the Free Resources page. This is what I use to organize my posts, and plan ahead. 

Being a valuable asset to your readers is essential to any blog. That’s why I created the Free Resources page! Check out the Post Planning for Bloggers Spreadsheet, available now.

Go to Free Resources...

Past logo designs! Trial and error is a great way to learn.

Is writing a blog worth it?

YES.

It takes time and dedication, but in the end, its worth it.

Like all things, you can experience burnout. When that happens, I’ve learned, it’s a sign to shake things up, take a good look at what I’m doing, the mission behind the blog, it’s content and where find room for improvement.

Striving to be better is an incredible source of motivation. When I feel stagnant or uninspired in my blog, I’ll take a good look at where I can improve, or take a peek at my ongoing idea list and see where I can create something new and exciting. 

I’ve learned so much about crafting content with a purpose, that serves the reader first. As with anything, it’s an ongoing process. Your feedback is extremely valuable!

Most importantly, the blog has provided me an opportunity to connect to my community through writing. Sharing the blog on social media helps to create new community around what I write. 

My main goal with the blog is to use writing to spread joy, knowledge and insight through the love of food. In doing so, I hope to uplift local businesses and create a community around Edible Ink. 

Here’s to another year in the blogosphere!

Thanks for your ongoing support.

A big thank you to you, reader!

Industrial Eats – Buellton, CA | Restaurant Review

A Brief Prologue

I last dined in at Industrial Eats in February of 2020, before the lockdown. Since then, so much has changed for our local restaurants, including a slew of constantly changing Covid-19 health standards. Because of this, I pushed the publication of this review back month after month, waiting for things to “go back to normal” before sharing it. Now, five months later, I’ve decided it’s now or never. Our local restaurants need our support now more than ever, and that’s why I am sharing this review.

While some of the content of the review may not apply at the moment (see: dining indoors), what hasn’t changed is Industrial Eats commitment to serve the community incredible food made from locally sourced ingredients. Currently Industrial Eats is offering limited outdoor dining and take out. Visit their website or their Instagram page for current information.

Lauren and Kori in front of Industrial Eats, posing with a cow sculpture. Graffiti of different foods is painted on the wall beside them.
March 10, 2018 – Outside the entrance of Industrial Eats

Industrial Eats Restaurant Review

If you’ve driven any length of the 101 up from Santa Barbara or down from beyond Paso Robles, you’ve seen them. The great overbearing billboards, advertising, “Everything for the traveler!” Anderson’s Split Pea soup, seemingly the only landmark in Buellton putting the small town on the map. And it may have been, until 2014, when a small restaurant opened just down the road from the famous Anderson’s on Industrial Way.

Where an old warehouse once stood, Industrial Eats made its home. Though it may be in its name, the food here is anything but industrial.

The restaurant is located in a small open space, with high ceilings and two wood-fired pizza ovens in the back. The tables are large, with open seating, community-style. Everything about the welcoming atmosphere seems casual, laid-back and open. That may be why the food, which combines fine dining ingredients and techniques stands out so brightly against the overtly casual come-as-you-are vibe that permeates throughout.

Interior picture of Industrial Eats, showing stacks of plates on the counter entrance and a patina skull.
Casual decor

If this is your first time here, and the seats are available, I recommend sitting at the bar seating facing the ovens. On the counter in front of you, you’ll find a diverse array of cookbooks on topics from bread baking to how to use the whole animal, nose to tail. While I find these books fascinating, and admire the confidence required to put such a book on a restaurant table, the real amazing feats are happening at those wood-fired ovens.

Yes those ovens, and the cooks working in their smoke and flames to produce miraculously tasty pizza, and churning out so much more.

One stand out wood-fired dish is the White Shrimp, cooked in the oven with copious amounts of butter, garlic and herbs, finished with a perfectly toasted hunk of crusty bread. The dish seems simple written on paper but the quality of ingredients and finesse with which its assembled proves anything but. This is the Industrial Eats experience codified: what seems straightforward on the menu arrives on the plate an impossibly complex layering of flavors and techniques. These are the dishes that make you say. “That is so good,” out loud, without a thought, as a simple instinctual reaction to the seemingly impossible tastiness on your tongue.

For so long, I struggled to quantify the exact unique quality that embodies every aspect of dining at Industrial Eats. There’s nothing quite like it that I’ve seen anywhere else, so without a comparable counterpart, I struggled to define it. It left me, for lack of a better term, speechless.

Here you will not find abstract names of any dish. The menu items are described and identified solely by their featured ingredients. That’s all you have to base your order on, and here, that’s all you need.

Interior picture of menu hanging on the wall at Industrial Eats.

It’s common to encounter an ingredient that makes you go “What is that?”. And while you’ll feel wholly uncool asking the person behind the counter to describe Vadovan to you, you should. Because if an unidentified ingredient is what holds you back from ordering an intriguing dish, you are missing out.

Take for example, the Smoked Pheasant Salad. Have I ever ate pheasant before Industrial Eats? No. Could I find it again elsewhere? Maybe. But like this, with the freshest local ingredients, a perfectly balanced dish of rich smokiness, bright citrus and crisp greens? No way.

This is food with attitude. Not a bad attitude — a rebellious one. Where traditional fine dining says, “You can’t do that,” Industrial Eats says, “Watch me.”

This is the indescribable trait of the restaurant and it permeates every corner. From the Mall Rats poster in the restroom to the purposeful absence of structure on the menu. It is this quality that abruptly jolts you from your culinary comfort zone and propels you into a dining experience wherein anything is possible.

There is an acute lack of pretentiousness in Industrial Eats, every aspect of the experience solidifying their philosophy to create a restaurant where they would want to eat, where everyone is welcome, no matter your palate or budget. In its inclusively rebellious way, Industrial Eats pioneers the theory that good food should not require an unlimited budget, or a dress code and should always be accompanied by a sense of humor.

Good food is not defined by the starchiness of the table linens or whether or not your server is wearing a tie. Fine dining here is instead about feeding the community exquisite food, sharing the same values held so near and dear to us all on the Central Coast. That food is about bringing people, all people, together at the same table, enjoying local, organic products, feeding not only our palates (starving for culinary adventure) but satisfying our souls.

Recommended Eats

181 Industrial Way
Buellton, CA 93427

(805) 688-8807 | Website: www.industrialeats.com

Online ordering is currently available. We recommend browsing the Clipboards and Small Plates sections of their menu online — this is where you will find the Smoked Pheasant Salad and White Shrimp mentioned in the review.

However, if you are simply looking for a delicious way to feed your family, Industrial Eats also offers Family Meals. Add a Pizza to your Bolognese or Meatball family meal for an extra Industrial experience!

All opinions shared in this review belong to the author, Lauren Harvey. No compensation was received for this review and is solely based on the author’s previous experiences.

What is Meal Prep and Why Should You Consider It? | Lifestyle

If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while, I’m sure you’ve seen examples of some meal preps we prepare during the weekends. Meal prep is growing in popularity as a method of saving money on going out, maintaining a healthy diet, or just being able to enjoy a home-cooked meal without actually having to cook the entire meal every night.

The intention of this article to shed some light on two things:

1. What is Meal Prep.

2. Why it’s appealing.

It’s Meal Prep 101!

If you aren’t into it, I promise I won’t be upset.

One of the reasons I advocate meal prep is because you can make it be whatever you want/need it to be.

Do what works for you — but don’t be afraid to try something new!

(And if what works for you is to not meal prep at all, skip this post and check out my recipe page or local dining reviews instead!)

So let’s get into it. What is meal prep, really?

THE SHORT VERSION

Meal prep is preparing your meals ahead, storing them safely in the fridge and simply reheating them before consuming. If you prepare your meals ahead of time, or even the majority of your meal, you are meal prepping!

You can prepare a weekday’s worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners ahead of time. It can be the same meal every day for five days, or a variety.

THE LONG VERSION

Here’s an example menu, three meals a day for five days.

M-F BREAKFAST

Bacon and Egg Cups

M-F LUNCH

Orange Chicken and Vegetable Fried Rice

M-F DINNER

Spinach & Kale Salad

These are all items I’ve made and prepped for the week. I chose them because they contain ingredients and flavors that I enjoy, and because they are ~relatively~ easy to make in large batches.

Alternatively, meal prep can look like cooking a batch of chicken breast and ground beef and utilizing the cooked meat to create a variety of meals throughout the week. Meal prepping this way saves cooking time and allows you to throw together delicious, homemade meals in minutes.

An example (using cooked chicken breast and ground beef for two meals a day for three days):

DAY 1

Lunch: Chicken Salad Sandwich

Dinner: Beef Burrito Bowl

DAY 2

Lunch: Beef Street Tacos

Dinner: Grilled Chicken Caesar

DAY 3

Lunch: Hamburger Lettuce Wraps

Dinner: Chicken, Roasted Potatoes and Cheesy Broccoli

You can swap any ingredients out for meal prep. Instead of a big batch of ground beef, maybe you do a big batch of fried tofu! It’s 100% customizable. Start small and see how it goes, or jump in with both feet like we did!

What does meal prep look like in my life?

My husband and I work full-time. We have commitments on the majority of weeknights, and like to get out into the community going to local restaurants and events. Needless to say, our weekdays don’t allow much time for making dinner after work, or prepping lunches for the next day. Generally, we pack as much into our weekends as possible, because we want to enjoy our time off! Saturday mornings, we wake up, have a nice cup of coffee, read the Bible then get right into meal prep. This is what works for us. We like being able to prepare for the week ahead first thing Saturday morning, and have the rest of the weekend to simply enjoy living life!

You DO NOT have to meal prep that way. The most important part of meal prep is finding what works for YOU. Otherwise, you won’t be consistent about it. Whether that means carving out a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, or prepping for only three days at a time, find what works for you and run with it.

CONFESSION: When we first started meal prepping, I hated it. It was frustrating and difficult to plan out a week’s worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner and make it all in our tiny kitchen. Being newlywed, I wanted nothing more than to lay on the couch and Netflix after months of wedding planning!

Despite my discontent, I increasingly appreciated being able to come home from work and have dinner ready, just needing to be reheated before eating. I didn’t have a mound of dishes in the sink, only our meal prep containers and plates to rinse and throw in the dishwasher.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Don’t you get tired of having the same thing every day?

A: The honest answer is… sometimes! When we make something I don’t like that much, or that didn’t turn out as I had expected, it gets tiresome to eat it day after day.

But when we make dishes I truly enjoy eating, that are filling and tasty and cooked to my preference, I do not tire of eating it throughout the week. Make no mistake — I greatly look forward to the weekends, but I’d much prefer eating the same dinner five days a week without the stress of whipping up a healthy meal after a full work day. Chicken Enchiladas and the Lemon Miso Pork with Coconut Curry Vegetables were two meal preps I 100% looked forward to eating every single day. As I said before, it’s imperative to find what works for you and to start with flavors and dishes you already know you love!

Q: Can you ever eat out? Aren’t you committed to eating what you prep?

A: Yes you can eat out and no, you aren’t obligated to eat what you prep for every meal. The flexibility of your meal prep depends on your own personal preference. I’d rather make meals for the week and have that option. When plans change, or the opportunity arises to eat out, or with friends/family, it is simple enough to put the planned, prepped meal into the freezer to eat at a later date. By doing this, you’ll eventually build up enough meals to eat for a week without prepping! Believe me, it happens faster than you’d think.

Q: Does all of your prep really keep for five days?

A: It depends. Some ingredients hold up much better than others. An easy way to think about it: any food that would hold up to a trip to the beach, or a picnic is a great candidate for meal prep. There are also ways to preserve your food, like dressing salads only right before you eat them. Foods that, once cooked, get mushy or undesirable in a day are not recommended for meal prep — my number one example: zucchini! Additionally, if you are concerned about the freshness of your food, you can prep for three days a time only, instead of the full five. Ultimately, start small to learn what you are comfortable with. We’ve prepped this way for over a year and have never had issues with food going bad. There were some things that just weren’t tasty after a day, but those were experimental and things we won’t do again. Okay, so it was the one time I tried making roasted radishes. The internet made it look tasty but I do not recommend. Ever.

That leads to the next main question…

Why Meal Prep?

Have complete control over what ingredients go into the food you are eating.

Whether it is for a weight-loss diet, for overall healthy body function, or for food sensitivities (for me, it’s no diary). Meal prep affords you the opportunity to know exactly what is going into your food, and to modify as you desire. You get meals catered to your tastes and necessities without the labor of preparing the meal from start to finish every time you are hungry!

Meal time convenience.

With your meals already prepared, no thought is required when meal time comes. Heat up your meal (or not, if its a no-reheat meal like salad or a fun bento box) and you are ready to eat. By having a homemade, prepared option, you’re less likely to eat out, grab fast food, or even substitute a granola bar for dinner (no shame intended, but you are worth more than a granola bar!).

Saves money.

Buying groceries in bulk and preparing your own food undoubtedly saves you money, particularly if you shop what’s on sale and in season in the grocery store. Saving money on weekday cooking means more funds for weekend fun! Personally, I’d rather save during the week and go somewhere special on the weekends. Or stash the money we’ve saved for a vacation! (Italy, anyone?)

Less dishes throughout the week/on days with prepped meals.

Need I say more? Typically, I deep clean my kitchen once a week, after we’ve completed prep. All it needs is simple maintenance throughout the week to stay clean and organized!

Improve your cooking skills.

Tackle basics you’ve been wanting to learn or branch out and try something new! Additionally, meal prep will improve your budgeting and planning skills, a completely unanticipated but warmly welcomed side effect of meal prep I discovered a few months into it!

100% customizable.

It’s YOUR meal prep… make what you want to eat! Whether it’s low carb, vegan, high protein, all greens, you name it, you can prep it. There are some incredible resources available to assist with your meal prepping journey. You can choose to have meal plans created for you to follow, use a meal-planning service like Blue Apron, or do it all on your own. It’s up to YOU.

Intrigued by meal prep or have other questions? Please feel free to contact me! I’d love your input on this article series. Next, I’ll be covering the basics for planning meal prep.

Until then, I recommend starting with something simple and versatile, like my Spring Harvest Rice recipe. It’s great to have in the fridge throughout the week as a starting point for a healthy, satisfying lunch or dinner. Good luck with prep, and as always… Enjoy!

La Bodega – Pismo Beach, CA | Restaurant Review

La Bodega, (meaning The Cellar in Spanish) is a tapas restaurant & wine bar located in downtown Pismo Beach.

On a sunny summer Thursday night, the wait at well-known Giuseppe’s is 45 minutes long. Stroll down the block and across the street to La Bodega, an oft overlooked gem, hiding in plain sight.

La Bodega is fairly new to Price Street in Pismo, celebrating their one year anniversary this past April. The vibrant restaurant is frequented by faithful locals and curious tourists alike. Talented live musicians draw a crowd every Wednesday from 6-9 pm and Sunday from 4-7 pm.

Most recently, we visited on a Thursday around 6:30 pm, and it was relatively quiet, a few tables occupied and no more. Throughout the night, the place filled up as couples and friends alike wandered in for some delicious small bites and cocktails.

La Bodega’s menu changes monthly, highlighting local and seasonal produce. As a local foodie, I greatly support this monthly menu change, as it means I can come back time and time again and try something new!

The plates are small, as tapas should be. The lighter portions are intended to be slowly enjoyed between sips of your favorite wine, cocktail, or house special White Sangria. However, the ratio of each component placed on the dish is simply impeccable.

Take for example, the Layers of Dungeness crab cakes. The cakes stand tall, and are packed to the gills (pun intended) with fresh, flaky crab. They sit atop a bed of fire cracker slaw. There is just enough crab and slaw on the plate to eat together in every bite, and the perfect amount of sweet honey ginger sauce on the plate to drizzle on top. Nothing is leftover, and no bite must go without one component of the dish as a whole. This, my friends, is no small feat. Of course, it is up to you to eat with intention the perfect plate set before you.

The empanadas (your choice of beef or vegetarian) are a constant on the menu, and a classic in Spanish cuisine. As a first time visitor, start there.

Next, you’ll find an array of small protein-driven bites. On the July menu, we tried the Pork Tenderloin Bites, wrapped in Bacon served with a Cherry Port Reduction. With the feel of a five-star entree, sweet halved cherries adorn the juicy pork accompanied by fried polenta and the fresh crunch of green beans. Each bite so balanced it borders on the edge of bliss.

Order a signature flatbread, like July’s “Fig and Pig”, featuring Fresh Black Mission Figs, decadent chunks of prosciutto and a creamy, dreamy, goat cheese spotted bechamel base.

La Bodega is a tapas bar, one of high caliber, and to that end they succeed exceptionally well. A playful, unique menu full of quality ingredients, an extensive drink list and live music to entertain. However, dessert typically falls short of the standard the tapas plates set. It is a high standard indeed.

The tapas of La Bodega are playfully executed and wonderfully balanced with a flair for the experimental. Whether its in a drizzle of honey with a swirl of balsamic vinegar or the perfectly fried basil leaf atop a bed of burrata and warm grilled peach. Each plate is executed with utmost quality, crafted with a calculated consideration for each facet of the palate.

La Bodega has undoubtedly found its place in Pismo Beach — casual enough to stroll in from a day at the beach, comfortable enough to frequent with friends, and intimate enough to visit on date night. The atmosphere is as warm and inviting as the owners themselves, who make it a point to visit each table to ask -genuinely- about the food and your evening. They make you feel welcomed, and individually cared for. It is clear that La Bodega is a product of care and passion for quality. In that, they succeed exceptionally well.

La Bodega + 790 Price St + Pismo Beach + 93449 + 805.595.5400 + labodegapismo.com

Ember Restaurant Review | Arroyo Grande, CA

Ember is a wood-fired farm-to-table fine dining establishment, that boasts a monthly seasonal menu change.

I recommend Ember to everyone I meet.

The two things I hear most: the wait is too long; and skepticism of a menu that typically is an equal balance of the familiar (deconstructed, reconsidered and rearranged), the foreign, and the never-been-done.

Now, here, on the Central Coast, a restaurant like Ember, with a California casual cool atmosphere, and dishes so artfully composed, like mini edible symphonies, is seriously worth the effort to experience.

And so I present to you an easy-to-follow guide to enjoy this SLO County gem…

HOW TO EAT AT EMBER (in five easy steps.)

Lobster and fried green tomato salad
Lobster and Fried Green Tomato Salad

1. EARLY BIRD GETS THE SEAT.

No, Ember does not take reservations. They open at 4 pm. Arrive at 5 pm on a Saturday night, and it’s already packed.

You have two options. One, arrive early, at 4:30 pm, take a seat next to the wood fired oven and enjoy the view.

Second, arrive at usual dinner time (5pm – 7pm) and expect to wait. Take a seat at the bar for a drink, or enjoy the beautiful Central Coast weather outside.

Burrata prosciutto and peach salad
Burrata, Prosciutto. and Peach Salad

2. SMALL PLATES = BIG VARIETY.

Ember’s menu, while ever-changing, is broken down into the same categories each month. You have your Salads, Share Plates, Pizza and Entrees. (Check out the full monthly menu on their site, here.)

Try one dish of each category, at least. June’s recommended salad: Grilled Peaches & Baked Goat Cheese (with Prosciutto and Marcona Almonds).

The pizza is always incredible (from the June menu we chose the Six Cheese & Pancetta) and the rib eye is cooked over an open fire by a meat master — but to me, the share plates are where Ember shines. The most delicate combination of flavors, textures, local ingredients and creativity.

Lets take, for example, the Wood-Oven Roasted Sea Scallops with Harissa. A pan is heated into oblivion in the wood fired oven. The scallops are then seared on this pan, and if you watch closely, you can see them dancing in the heat before being cooked in the wood fired oven for mere minutes. They melt like butter.

Wood fired oven scallops
Wood-Fired Oven Scallops

3. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND INTO THE TASTY ZONE.

Ember uses top quality, local ingredients. What does that mean for you? Well, that if there is a dish that includes an ingredient you don’t typically enjoy (let’s say cauliflower or fava beans for example) you should order it anyway.

You may say, “Why are you forcing me to eat those wretched vegetables, Lauren? I trusted you!”

Cauliflower steak with pine nut chili stuffing
Cauliflower Steak with Pine Nut Chili Stuffing

Because, my friend, they will be the best wretched vegetables you’ve ever had. They may even, dare I say, convince you that wretched vegetable actually has potential and encourage you to eat it again. Wow!

Pictured here is the Cauliflower Steak with Pine Nut-chili stuffing. (The picture is blurry because I was too busy drooling over this bounty of food to slow down and take a nice photo…)

Similarly, you may encounter combinations that seem counterintuitive. Do not be afraid! Pink peppercorn in a dessert, on a meringue?

YES. It is so good I once ordered a side of it for dessert and they graciously obliged.

Oink peppercorn meringue, strawberries, shortcake and balsamic pearls
pink peppercorn meringue, strawberries, shortcake, balsamic pearls

4. DESSERT IS MANDATORY.

I’m all about supporting individual choices. You do you. No judgement.

Except when it comes to dessert.

Dessert is mandatory.

It is not uncommon that in a restaurant with a fantastic dinner, the dessert is notably weaker. Or, vice versa.

Not at Ember. The desserts possess the same creativity, attention to detail and quality of ingredients as everything on their dinner menu.

See something that sounds common? It won’t be. I guarantee it.

Best examples: Mascarpone Cheesecake (left) and Strawberry Shortcake (right).

I must mention it here: the Coffee Trifle is a crowd favorite. Served in a coffee cup, it’s a decadent layered mousse dessert of coffee and chocolate.

Coffee. Trifle
Coffee Trifle

5. JUST SIT BACK AND ENJOY IT.

As with any fine dining experience, it’s important to sit back and simply enjoy the experience.

Sit inside with a view of the FOH kitchen, pizzas flying out of the oven, a mouthwatering spread of proteins on the open fire, pans precariously suspended above the flames, and the careful, delicate plating of salads and desserts.

However you eat at Ember, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I spent my 21st birthday dinner here, and recently, my 26th. 5 years later, I am a whole new person, the menu at Ember has changed over a dozen times and yet the things that remain unchanged — the quality of food, ingenuity of the dishes, and inviting atmosphere — are the steady constant that brings us back to Ember time after time.

Kori and I at ember

Wednesday, Thursday, & Sunday 4:00pm-9:00pm

Friday & Saturday 4:00pm-10:00pm

La Locanda Restaurant Review | San Luis Obispo, CA

all images via lalocandaslo.com

Off a quiet side street in downtown San Luis, La Locanda provides a quaint and relaxed dining experience.

The restaurant is small and leaves you feeling you’ve had an incredible meal at a close friend’s house.

We visited on May 12 (Mother’s Day) as a family outing. The pizza oven was in need of repairs and was inoperable for the night. Initially we were disappointed (we love pizza!) but as we browsed the menu and heard the multiplicity of nightly specials, all was soon forgiven.

To start: the burrata caprese, beef carpaccio and escargot. The burrata cheese was extra creamy with a hint of tang. Peppery arugula and sharp Parmesan cheese served as the classic complement to beef carpaccio. On a personal note, I do not eat escargot, however, those in my party who did highly recommend it!

Dinner was a mix of classic Italian pasta (Lasagne, Gnocchi and Cacio e Pepe) and French-influenced entrees (Duck L’Orange, Rack of Lamb with mustard sauce and Baked Salmon).

The pasta at La Locanda is fresh and handmade. You can truly taste the difference! Cacio e Pepe is a simple dish, and when done right like at La Locanda, simply irresistible. Sharp pepper, smooth cheese and fresh al dente tagliatelle. A delight!

The gnocchi is served in your choice of sauce, in this case a Gorgonzola cream. The pillows of gnocchi were impossibly fluffy. Lasagne is served with a whipped bechemel and bolognese sauce adding a layer of depth and richness. I recommend an order to share for the table, just to try it.

The special entrees were well-executed and equally delicious. For a first time visit, I highly recommend the pasta dishes.

Dessert was, like dinner, a mix of Italian and French influence. The chocolate mousse towered above all else, soft and rich.

For something out-of-the-box, try the poached pears for dessert.

We are looking forward to going back to La Locanda to try the rest of the menu — and a pizza or two!

La Locanda + 1137 Garden Street + San Luis Obispo, CA + 93401 + 805.548.1750 + http://www.lalocandaslo.com