Podcast 2: Electric Boogaloo

Thank you to every single one of you that took the time to listen to The Lazy Hunter Podcast’s debut episode. Greg Nagel and I are happily overwhelmed with the positive feedback we’ve received over the last few days. Just as important: Nobody’s come out and told us that we suck outright. I suppose I should be thanking those people for holding in such an opinion.

We know we had a blast putting it together. That’s what The Lazy Hunter Podcast is all about, really. While we’re writers/journalists, we’re not experts – at our core, we’re just a couple of dudes that enjoy talking about food and drink in a manner that occasionally smashes its way against geeky boundaries. We’re thrilled that you not only went along for the ride, but also enjoyed the chatter.

If you’re ready for more, we got you covered. In case you missed the blast on Monday, Episode 2 is live. You can catch it here, or on iTunes, Spotify, Google, and Stitcher if you want to listen on the go. This time around, we talk about Epic beer, how to pronounce Malbec, dig on some rum, and break down a food trend or two. One of us also tries to sing the Trololo guy song. I swear we spit out most of the booze we sample to stay sober.


It’s Come to This: The Lazy Hunter Podcast

First show sipping.

Late last year, I was hanging out with Greg Nagel, OC Weekly‘s resident beer, food, and cocktail writer. This is a normal occurrence. We’re professional colleagues now, but we’re also old college friends that have known each other for nearly 30 years. I’m sure our teenage selves would have laughed at the sheer implausibility of us being professional colleagues as adults, but here we are. In the midst of our get-together, Greg mentioned that he had recently picked up a bunch of podcasting equipment. “We should do a podcast together!” I blurted out. I was having a beer at the time. I’m sure it was research beer.

“I’m down!” Greg replied. He probably said something wittier and less banal than this. He’s a clever bloke. I don’t know for sure, though. I didn’t have anything on me to write down exact quotes. Also, research beer. The point is, we both thought it was a pretty swell idea, and we’d revisit it after the holidays.

Well, the holidays have come and gone, and it turns out we weren’t kidding. I went over to his house a few days ago, and we laid down a genuine, bona fide podcast. We’re calling it The Lazy Hunter Podcast because, well, it’s the name of this site and the logo is cool. It really looks groovy when you pull it up on iTunes.

Yep – you can indeed find The Lazy Hunter Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google and Stitcher. Episode 1 is live now, and we have it uploaded on this very site for your enjoyment. (These announcement posts will eventually have platform links for your convenience, probably as early as the next one). Greg and I talk a little about beer, shoot the breeze about wine, geek out about spirits, and get a bit nerdy with food. This is pretty much what you can expect from us. It will be fun, I promise – Greg knows his stuff, and I can fake things rather well. Possibly.

Check it out, tell your friends, share with strangers, smite your enemies…okay, skip that last part. But you can do the other three actions, right?

The Lazy Hunter Podcast

Episode one // January 2019

Rich and Greg dive into an indie craft beer, a California Syrah, and super small batch spirit given out at a party, then chat about the foie gras ban and food favorites from 2018.

  • Beer: Green Cheek Beer Company Radiant Beauty West Coast IPA
  • Wine: Andrew Murray Tous Les Jours Syrah 2016, Santa Ynez, California
  • Spirit: Re:Find Distillery Writer’s Blanc White Whiskey (sample)
  • Food: Foie gras ban, 2018 favorites

Robe and Wizard Hat Time: 2019 Food and Drink Predictions

The other day, a question that usually arrives around this time of year met my ears.

“So, do you have any predictions for 2019?”

What I’m supposed to predict doesn’t need verbalization. I know it’s about food and drink. It’s a fair question to ask. After all, it’s what I do, so I should have an opinion. But I must confess that every year, it always catches me off guard. Instead of replying with prepared answers, I tend to hem and haw for a spell before coming up with one or two off-the-cuff responses stemmed from meager seconds of forethought. You may want to bear this in mind if you run into me in early January.

However, I’ve had a few days to ponder the future state of eating and drinking since the question was initially proposed, and I have a few thoughts about what to expect in 2019. Some of these will be rendered worthless by June, of course, and that’s fine. That’s the way these things work. When I did this last year, the predictions ended up ranging from “Nailed it” (the Twin Cities did indeed emerge as a hip alternative travel destination) to “Did I really write that?” (Georgian wines haven’t exactly flown off the shelves). As you read this, expect to encounter at least one part of my Nostradamus act that will soon make me look like a Nostra-dumbass. Which one will it be? Only time will tell.

Let’s start with a layup. California’s foie gras ban will last throughout the year. The fattened goose liver delicacy is verboten in California yet again, and we should know what’s coming in the next few months based on what happened the last time it was 86ed in 2012. Passionate voices from both sides will grow louder. Animal rights activists will sue restaurants that dare violate the ban. Chefs will come up with clever ways to circumvent the law. Hardcore foodies will complain. Eventually, a motion to suspend the ban will get in front of the right judge and we’ll be allowed to eat foie like we were a few weeks ago. However, these things take time. It took two-and-a-half years to lift the last kibosh. If anything, any similar overturn will take longer. It sucks if you’re a foie fan, but look on the bright side: You can still enjoy pate.

Another trend that looks relatively easy to call is a backlash over the keto diet. You may not know what keto is, but you probably know at least one person giving it a try. It’s essentially a low-carb, high-fat diet that mixes in a modest amount of protein, a formula that apparently forces the body to burn through its fat with greater efficiency. It has the makings of the weight-loss trend that gets shoved down people’s throat at every turn, much like the Atkins diet many moons ago. You will get sick of hearing about it, if you haven’t already. If so, don’t fret – relief may be on the way. Keto already has some high-profile detractors, so its welcome may be worn out sooner than later.

2019 looks like the year cannabis will be fully embraced in the food and drink arena…sort of. As the stigma of marijuana lessens state by state, expect to see a similar level of acceptance take hold in restaurants and bars. The seeds of this trend were planted last year, as the cannabis extract CBD started to emerge as a legit ingredient in the kitchen and behind the stick. CBD will likely be hippest ingredient around this year due to the legislative process, but its usage also represents an early step in the concept of culinary cannabis. We are coming closer the day where cannabis dinners gain acceptance. However, that day will not be this year, despite the growing buzz surrounding the concept. (Disclaimer: the weed puns in this paragraph were completely unintentional. Honest).

Looking at travel, I have a hunch that Canada’s maritime provinces will end up being a trendy destination. The reason? Come From Away, the musical about the small Newfoundland town that hosted thousands of stranded post-9/11 travelers for a week, is currently touring the country. Theatergoers may leave the show wanting to pay a visit to the regional source of so much hospitality and kindness, a desire which would lead them to places like Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the play’s featured province if acted upon. I may be off by a year here, but that’s close enough. I scored victory points on last year’s travel prediction. I’m good if my aim is wonky.

Finally, look for a greater proliferation of unloved produce on the scene. I’m not talking about the kind of weirdo alien fruits and veggies you can find through a specialty producer like Frieda’s. I’m referring to mainstream produce suffering from imperfect aesthetics. Tons of delicious fruit and veggies get tossed every year because they’re not pretty for a grocery store’s display, and there’s been a groundswell of public awareness regarding this practice. It’s led to more people realizing that such behavior is stupid and wasteful, and rightly so – it is stupid and wasteful. Fortunately, a few grocery store chains are starting to reach the same conclusion.  More chains will – and should – follow.

So, there you have it – a proper answer to an annual question I’m always ill-prepared to receive. Will these predictions make me look like a moron by August? Probably. But there’s only one way to find out for sure.

New Year, New Post, New Publication

The first post of the new year is always tough. Do you look back at the previous twelve months? Do you don your robe and wizard hat and make a bunch of predictions for 2019? Do you scour the web to look for something to complain about?

Those are all worthy options, particularly since the latest news in the California foie gras saga provides sufficient reasons for foodies to grouse. However, I’m kicking off the year with yet another round of self-promotion. I’ve pleased to say I’ve started contributing to Artisan Spirit Magazine, a killer publication devoted to taking deep dives into the craft booze industry.  My first article for them is a profile of Orange County’s own Blinking Owl Distillery, which is a story that I’ve been dying to put together for the last couple of years. I’m excited that it landed in a great magazine, and I’m just as excited to share it with you now.

If you’ve seen these types of posts from this site before, you probably what’s next. Click here to access Artisan Spirit’s Winter 2018 issue (it’s featured in a box on the page), scroll to page 104, and start reading. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I dug putting it together.

I’m still writing for the other publications I’ve linked to on this site, and I’ll be sharing content from them later this month. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and find a slice of foie before the ban-hammer drops yet again.

Let’s Talk About Purple Gnocchi

We all know what gnocchi looks like. At least, we think we do. It exists in our mind as it typically manifests on the plate: plump with potato filling, tightly packed, and semi-translucent white in hue. Yet this isn’t always the case. Sometimes it can be purple.

Trust me on that last bit. I made this discovery when the fine people of Sauté Magazine asked me to write an article about how Haven Gastropub in Old Town Orange utilizes the products grown by Frieda’s, the pioneering OC-based purveyor of weird produce. Their collaboration resulted in delicious purple gnocchi, but it also laid the foundation of a cool discussion about esoteric produce’s place in the kitchen. You can read about this conversation by clicking this link to Sauté‘s Winter 2018 issue and flipping on over to Page 42. Just don’t read my article, though – take some time and read through the rest of the magazine. As usual, there’s a ton of great content to enjoy, from recipes and secret bar menus to a special wine section. You’ll dig it the most.

Happy reading!

I Finally Hopped Over to The Blind Rabbit

Yep. I’ve been super busy again, hence the lack of activity on the website. I assure you, I’ve been working on some cool stuff. I’m coming up for air to share a slice of that coolness with you today.

Before we get to that, please indulge me in a mini-rant. I hate writing headlines for online articles. They’re not clever, because they can’t be clever. Clever doesn’t translate to page rankings, SEO, and all of that other stuff that makes the online media world go ’round. Need proof? Look at this article’s headline. It’s horrible. It’s the opposite of burying the lede – it digs up the lede, puts it on a mountain peak, and leaves it to rot in the sun. But it’s effective because of metrics or something, so it stays put despite its awfulness. Sorry to sound like a curmudgeon, but I felt inspired to complain. Frankly, it felt cathartic.

Anyway, as you can guess from the dull, dumb headline, I did indeed pay a visit to The Blind Rabbit, the well-hidden speakeasy tucked inside the Anaheim Packing House. I went there on assignment for Tasting Panel, who kindly asked me to put a story together for their November issue. You can read that very piece by clicking this link and virtually flipping the magazine to page 40. I’m hoping you like it, and I’m hoping you peruse the rest of the publication. There are some excellent articles inside, including an interview with arguably San Diego’s coolest bartender.

As always, please enjoy.

Time for Another Shameless Plug

You may have noticed I’ve been conspicuously absent on this site recently. I’ve been feverishly busy putting together articles and stories for other publications and sites recently. Most of them will be published soon, and they’ll be shared here, as usual. However, one of them is ready today, and it’s one I’m pretty excited to post.

As some of you know, I’m part of a website called Fork & Glass. It’s a new site featuring shared content from a collection of Orange County food and drink journalists. Normally, the stuff I write here gets uploaded to Fork & Glass’ website. However, I’m pleased to say that today, this act of synergy is working in reverse. I wrote a post designed to be initially published on F&G’s page. This will be the first of many, I’d reckon, so you may want to bookmark that site now, if you haven’t already.

As the photo implies, the article talks about the lima beans from Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom ranch. It can be found here. It’s not the first time I’ve written about the legume from this property, but it’s a great story worthy of a new, albeit similar, piece. So check it out! When you’re done, peruse rest of the site. There is some stellar work on there that’s not to be missed.

An Evening of Tiki Drinks with a Tiki Legend

Tiki culture is a state of mind, an exotic one replete with hip-shaking women in grass skirts, twanging guitars, and crashing blue surf that kisses the horizon you’re gazing out from underneath a palm tree. This state improves with a tiki drink in your hand. With a little luck, a mug with an ornate, slightly grotesque Polynesian-inspired carving holds the liquid. A flower or an umbrella sticking out the top may also be happening, which is encouraged even if you’re the kind that prefers burly drinks that kick your throat before giving your insides a warm embrace.

Without the passionate work of Sven Kirsten, the mental state that stems from tiki culture might have developed dementia. Everything about tiki – the drinks, the fashion, the paraphernalia, was headed to the island of forgotten trends before the German-born author and tiki historian literally wrote the book on the subject. His 2000 tome The Book of Tiki became the blueprint to the aesthetic’s resurrection. Eighteen years later, the movement’s exploded from niche subculture to a widely recognized expression of cool that’s easy to celebrate anyplace, anywhere – even in an office warehouse in some nondescript industrial complex.

The Orange County chapter of the U.S. Bartender’s Guild demonstrated this at their October meeting October 22; a celebration of Kirsten’s work, the tiki culture he curated, and the joys of tiki drinks – specifically, potent potables made with Plantation Rum. When it came time to host their fete on October 22, they chose a San Clemente, CA warehouse with a boxy white exterior, surrounded by other warehouses with boxy white exteriors. If I’m being honest, I didn’t realize the shindig was going to be at a corporate park when I got the invite. Not that this mattered when I found out. By that time, I knew the host property was a place called Tiki Farm. I was in regardless of setting because of the name, which is a thoroughly justified moniker. It turns out the business specializes in creating all kinds of tiki memorabilia. A walk through the place’s compact showrooms prior to the event showcases their prowess.  I’m surrounded in each room by floor-to-ceiling displays of colorful, funky tiki mugs that would look groovy in my admittedly meager tiki collection.  The name of the business may set the relaxed tone of the evening – there is that much power in the word “tiki” – but these mugs reinforce the feeling of chill.

The evening progresses and the notion of being in a warehouse gradually disappears. The Plantation rum-based cocktails expertly made by the team from The Blind Rabbit in Anaheim help to erase the setting, but such growing ignorance of physical envelopment isn’t because the drinks are strong. All are easy-drinking and delightful. More importantly, they capture a proper sense of place. It just so happens that place is somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, right around the area where the old-time cartographers would draw lurking sea creatures. It’s the state of mind needed after a long, busy day, and it’s one made possible by the event’s main draw.

More than half of the slides Sven shares in his presentation evoke a personal response, mostly gasps of air where phrases like “That’s so damn awesome!” would normally be. Other slides evoke oohs and aahs, and a few leave pause for sighs of lament (RIP Don the Beachcomber). There’s also plenty of tiki cocktail history to be seen, and Sven covers the scene’s drinkable lore from its early Hollywood roots to its Mid-Century Modern heyday. More cocktails get distributed as he talks. They were good before, but somehow, they taste better with Sven dropping knowledge.

Sven, ever the purist, shares concerns about tiki culture’s growing resurgence eventually turning into market oversaturation after the presentation wraps. Yet this isn’t something dwelled upon too much, and rightfully so. The future is seldom contemplated while clutching a tiki drink. Relaxing in the here and now, immersed in the tiki state of mind, is all that matters. We may have been in a basic office complex, but Sven’s wisdom and Plantation’s rum beverages set our minds to island time.