DTLB’s own Great Society was honored (appropriately) with the Best Cider and Mead Selection. The honor read:
Craft beer might be getting all the attention right now, but it’s all cider all the time at Great Society Cider & Mead, the first bar in Southern California dedicated to sourcing and serving America’s historic boozy beverage in all its modern-day glory. The long-awaited bar and eatery opened in Long Beach over the summer with a 20-deep tap list that reads more like a craft beer lineup from a beautiful, alternate gluten-free universe than like those liquid Jolly Ranchers we’ve become accustomed to: Hard apple ciders dry-hopped with Centennial, Cascade and Columbus hops; wine barrel–aged and wild-fermented varietals; dry, crisp, unfiltered ciders; and fermented apples and pears infused with adjuncts such as charcoal, ginger, basil and agave nectar, among others. Then there are the meads, the other slice of Great Cider’s uncommon focus, made from fermented honey and available on tap or as ultra-rare bottle pours — meads made from sage and wildflower honey, blended with apricots and hops; and fermented with Brettanomyces and Belgian ale yeast like your favorite Trappist beer. It’s a selection you can’t find anywhere else right now, making Great Society the only place in L.A. to get a taste of America’s growing craft cider revolution.
Our patron saints of kombucha, Fine Feathers, was honored with the Best Kombucha to Curb Your Ambivalence. The kombucha, served across the city and especially in DTLB joints like Berlin and Kress Market. This is how Long Beach kombucha is being preached to Angelenos:
Kombucha is not brewed for the fermentationally timid. Fizzy, often tart, sometimes too pungent, the tea can prove a barrier point for even the most health food–forward — unless you start with the jasmine peony or the lemongrass oolong from Fine Feathers Kombucha. Husband-and-wife Jay Penev and Jodine Penev West have been crafting a better ‘bucha impression one bottle and keg at a time since 2012. Unlike other versions on the market that use black tea as a base, theirs begins with a white or green varietal, which lends a more refined, almost delicate tone as a result. Available mostly in Long Beach cafes, restaurants and bars, with a handful of shops in cities like South Pasadena, the couple’s recipe for great kombucha informs their business approach. To cultivate quality, they moderate quantity, each batch unique to certain cultures. They transformed a former flower shop into their first store, opening the doors in August 2014 to workshops, regular keg refills, and conversations about, what else, kombucha.
The mastermind who garnered a following at Coni’Seafood decided to make a trip into Long Beach with Cheko El Rey del Sarandeado in North Long Beach, making North LB officially the home to not only the best Peruvian food a la El Pollo Imperial but the best Sinaloa-style seafood—and the best fish tacos in the region. Here’s how they described the joint:
Chef Sergio Peñuelas is justly famous for his pescado zarandeado, the Sinaloan specialty of whole grilled snook. But equally worth driving for are his marlin tacos, beautifully salty, cheesy and almost austere, topped with one perfect slice of avocado. Peñuelas’ marlin tacos here seem a little more substantial than I remember from Coni’Seafood, the marlin meatier and the cheese less overwhelming. I’ve heard these tacos compared to a tuna melt, and while it’s true that the two preparations share some spiritual DNA, to me the current version is much more elemental — it has more brawn and less smoosh. If you’re a marlin taco newbie, these will make you rethink the whole concept of a fish taco, in the best possible way.
The Caffeinated Kitchen earned quite arguably the best titled award: Best Vegan Doughnut that Can Quell any Carnivore. Indeedy: we annihilate their offerings at Recreational Coffee on the daily. The award read:
If you eat eggs or dairy, a doughnut missing those things often tastes like a pastry don’t. Until you’ve bitten into one of the Caffeinated Kitchen’s 35 baked renditions, found in more than half a dozen Long Beach (and several Orange County) cafes. Not leaden, and certainly not gummy or mealy, the doughnuts blur common perceptions of vegan pastries — perhaps not following a plant-based diet herself has helped owner Jen Hackler pinpoint what can be missing in many of them. With her standards set to a wider customer palate, she tweaked her recipe, which calls for ingredients such as coconut oil and applesauce, to make a lighter cake. Since turning her blog into a business in 2013, her clientele has grown so much that she’s been considering a brick-and-mortar spot to keep up with the demand. When you try the popular churro or chocolate ganache with sea salt, you know why. The most telling validation comes in the lack of awareness that these treats are even vegan.