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Orange County’s Best Ube Treats

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Ube latte and waffles from Basilur Tea & Cafe; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Move over, matcha. Ube is the latest flavor taking hold in O.C. The sweet purple yam from the Philippines has made its way into many of our favorite desserts and drinks.

Ube Latte and Waffles
Basilur Tea & Coffee, Buena Park

Ube Bingsoo (Korean shaved ice)
Cafe Bora, Buena Park

Ube Cookies and Dalgona Cream Latte
Dough & Arrow, Costa Mesa

Ube Japanese Cheesecake
Fluffie Japanese Cheesecake, Westminster

Ube “Cakies” (Twinkie-inspired dessert)
Jae NYC Eats, food truck

Ube Butter, Cookies, Cake, and More
Kitchen 1726, delivery only

Ube Horchata
MFK by Aysee, Anaheim

Ube Malasadas
Paderia Bakehouse, Fountain Valley

Ube Milkshakes
Polar Playground, Huntington Beach

Ube Taiyaki (fish-shaped cake) soft serve
Somisomi, Irvine

Ube Danish
Sunmerry Bakery, Irvine


Head to orangecoast.com/readersrave to vote for your favorites from this year’s Reader Picks!

Visit orangecoast.com/bestof2020 for the rest of our Best Of picks.

Santa Ana’s Small Batch Doughnuts Delivers Decadent Treats in O.C.

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

The Find Petite doughnuts handcrafted in small batches and delivered throughout the county
The Place Small Batch Doughnuts, an online shop in Santa Ana
The Details Symbolizing O.C., the signature Citrus Dreams flavor has a zesty citrus glaze and is dusted with gold and waterleaf. Other flavors include Blueberry London Fog and Strawberry Bliss.
The Price One dozen ($25) or two dozen ($38) at smallbatchdoughnuts.com


Head to orangecoast.com/readersrave to vote for your favorites from this year’s Reader Picks!

Visit orangecoast.com/bestof2020 for the rest of our Best Of picks.

O.C.’s Best 2020! | Food & Drink

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Charcuterie Boxes
Curb your craving for salty meats and cheeses with Grazing Kitchen. Choose from a variety of made-to-order charcuterie boards and boxes that can feed from two to nine people or opt for the larger Grazing Table for 40 to 200 people. Then customize your options and select the date and time you wish to graze. San Clemente, grazingkitchen.com

Coffee That Breaks Barriers
With years of experience in special education, the founders of Able Coffee Roasters launched the brand to empower those with autism and other disabilities through jobs. The coffee beans are organic, sourced from small farms worldwide, and roasted in small batches weekly ($12 for an eight-ounce bag). Choose from a variety of blends such as the signature Bali Blue sourced from the islands of Indonesia. Look for a storefront cafe coming to Santa Ana. Mission Viejo, theableworkers.com

Ahi Poke
Always fresh as heck, the ahi poke from Bear Flag Fish Co. is sold by the pound and made their way, with soy, sesame seeds, and seaweed. It was one of the first and is still the best, at $18.19 per pound. Grab a bowl and imagine you’re on the islands. Crystal Cove, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, bearflagfishco.com

Finger-Licking Ribs
The pork ribs listed as starters at Lido Bottle Works are a relatively new addition. Thank heavens chef Amy Lebrun decided to include these lovely morsels on the regular menu. Prepared with a caramel sauce and chicharrones, the ribs will make even the most generous dining partner seem greedy as she demands a whole order to herself. Newport Beach, 949-529-2784

Small Batch Doughnuts photograph by Emily J. Davis

Doughnut Delivery
Small Batch Doughnuts drops off variety boxes of fun-size pastries featuring local ingredients. Try the Citrus Dreams flavor with a glass of Champagne. Santa Ana, smallbatchdoughnuts.com

Entree Masquerading as a Side
Sure, Eddie V’s is adored for whole lobsters and mega Prime steaks, but our frequent cheat is a humble side of terrific fried rice starring lump crab and shiitake mushrooms. The giant portion feeds two, or one twice. Newport Beach, 949-720-9925

Plant-Based Asian Fare
When Naughty Boy Sushi and My Vegan Panda joined forces to open Naughty Panda at 4th Street Market, the founders created a vegan pan-Asian powerhouse the likes of which the county had never seen. Try extravagant rolls and flavorful faux chicken, beef, and shrimp bowls. Santa Ana, myveganpanda.com

Indian Sloppy Joe
Sloppy Khan is chef Imran Ali Mookhi’s indulgent take on a sloppy Joe at Khan Saab Craft Kitchen. The sandwich is a twist on keema pav, a popular Indian street food made with minced meat (chopped wagyu beef here) and peppery spices on a fluffy pav bun toasted with butter. Fullerton, 714-853-1081

Mark Twain cocktail; Photograph courtesy of the Guild Club

Luxurious Cocktail
If you’re looking for an upscale, relaxing drink to upgrade any outing to a special occasion, try the Twain at Guild Club. Using Pappy Van Winkle bourbon for the base, the cocktail also has Angostura bitters. It’s so smooth and delicious, you’ll be mighty tempted to have more than one and linger in the decadent surroundings for the evening. Costa Mesa, 949-500-5561

Soy-Based Sweets
Get dairy-free drinks, snacks, and desserts at the all-vegan Soy Good. The family-owned business was borne out of a passion for tofu and soy milk, the latter made in-house with a higher protein content. Expect unique drink toppings such as black sesame paste and coconut sago. Try the silky sweet soy pudding and savory fried tofu. Garden Grove, 714-591-5653

Fried Chicken Sandwich
Newcomer Porch & Swing’s mighty fine sandwich stands out in a crowded field, thanks to perfect parts: crispy fried chicken, crunchy apple-fennel slaw, house pickles, and a toasty brioche bun. The restaurant promotes itself as a tribute to the cuisine of Charleston, South Carolina, and the kitchen is helmed by chef Justin Werner of Playground and Playground 2.0. Irvine, 949-400-4795

Cacio e Pepe
The classic cheese and pepper pasta is deceptively simple and so hard to find executed with finesse. Enter Oliver’s Osteria, where the comfort peasant dish is a wow meal that we now weigh all others against. Laguna Beach, 949-715-0261

Carrot-ginger soup at Selanne Steak Tavern; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Soup at a Steakhouse
Ordering soup at a restaurant that specializes in steak isn’t the obvious choice. But be sure to indulge in the carrot-ginger soup at Selanne Steak Tavern whenever chef Vincent Terusa makes it available. The exquisite dish adds toasted coconut flakes, crème fraiche, and cilantro for a scrumptious result that will keep you sated no matter the season. Laguna Beach, 949-715-9881

Spicy Cold Noodles
The hotter the day, the bigger the joy of spicy cold beef noodles (liang pi) at Qin West Noodle. Wide and bouncy, the chilled noodles take on hyper-hot chile oil for that pain-and-pleasure flavor dance. Irvine, 949-932-0465

Must-Have Bag
Prove your devotion to dumplings. Din Tai Fung has designed a cool canvas bag, perfect for your xiao long bao and noodle takeout fix. It’s free when you spend $100 or more. No, you can’t buy it separately. Costa Mesa, 714-549-3388

Soufflé pancakes at Burnt Crumbs; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Brunch Dessert with a Japanese Twist
Discover a fresh take on the traditional pancake stack at Burnt Crumbs. The light, fluffy, and delightfully jiggly Japanese-style soufflé pancakes are the must-have dish on the brunch menu with three flavor options including original with house-made syrup, berry compote with house-made whipped cream, and strawberries and cream. Observe chef-owner Paul Cao’s seemingly effortless mastery of a challenging recipe from the exhibition kitchen. Irvine, 949-502-5998

Peruvian Steak
There’s nothing humble about Costa’s signature lomo saltado. Peru’s classic steak-and-starch dish is boosted here with tender chunks of filet mignon, sizzled to yield juicy bites with caramelized edges. The fluffy planks of fried potato are next-level fries. Costa Mesa, 714-852-3299

Tofu-Skin Salad
Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Ja Jiaozi’s tofu-skin salad is perfectly timed for the hot summer months. Tofu here is made in-house, so the springy ribbons have notes of buttery sweetness and a tender chew. Cilantro stems supply a cool, crunchy counterpunch. Irvine, 714-786-8999

Puesto tacos photograph by Anne Watson

Tacos of the Month
For inventive tacos that include walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds or fried octopus with chipotle crema, you’ll want to swing by one of the Puesto locations in Irvine. The restaurant lures with its regular lineup, but to expand your horizons and be delighted, try the taco of the month. Park Place, 949-608-7272; Los Olivos, 949-608-9990

Roast Chicken Mainstay
Takeout is second nature to Rosine’s Café, which served its first to-go roast chicken in 1995. Today it’s a landmark for that habit-forming chicken plus an alluring menu of consistently satisfying Lebanese cuisine. Anaheim Hills, 714-283-5141

Pear and Burrata Salad
The Vox Kitchen takes Asian fusion to the next level, incorporating diverse flavors from Vietnam, China, and Taiwan. A unique twist on a classic appetizer, the Vox Pear Salad marries crispy pear, honey-roasted nuts, creamy burrata cheese, tangy fig balsamic, and Champagne vinaigrette. It makes for a great starter before house garlic noodles or crab congee. Fountain Valley, 657-231-6493


Head to orangecoast.com/readersrave to vote for your favorites from this year’s Reader Picks!

Visit orangecoast.com/bestof2020 for the rest of our Best Of picks.

Orange County’s Best New Restaurants of 2020

Cocktails #togetherwetoast, left, and Beets by Drew; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Our picks reveal wildly different inspirations—from Irish folk tales to Manhattan nostalgia to magnified French luxury—but share a confident, indie spirit. And for 2020, we peek back 10 years at these locations for clues to what we loved back then.


 

Restaurant of the Year: Fable & Spirit

Fable & Spirit Is Our 2020 Restaurant Of The Year


Bello by Sandro Nardone

Bello By Sandro Nardone Showcases Progressive Italian Cusine


Benchmark

Benchmark Is A Santa Ana Hot Spot With Alfresco Dining


CdM Restaurant

CdM Restaurant Is A Lavish Coastal Venue With a Subterranean Speakeasy


Crudo at The Hall Global Eatery

Crudo at The Hall Global Eatery Has An Upscale, Yet Low-Key Vibe


Knife Pleat

Knife Pleat Arrives With Glow of Michelin Starlight


Old Brea Chop House

Old Brea Chop House Sizzles With Steakhouse Classics


Tavern House

Tavern House Pairs Fun Favorites With Fresh Creations


The Drake

The Drake Pairs Distinctive Cuisine With Primo Live Music


The Yellow Chilli

Yellow Chilli Serves Faithful Indian Fare in a Nifty Setting


Head to orangecoast.com/readersrave to vote for your favorites from this year’s Reader Picks!

Visit orangecoast.com/bestof2020 for the rest of our Best Of picks.

O.C. Restaurants Get Creative with Outdoor Dining Areas

Restaurants in the county are quickly adapting to new safety protocols being put in place while still staying true to the dining experience. Options like delivery and curbside pickup are still consistently available; but for those looking to grab a bite outdoors, eateries throughout our community are revamping patios, parking lots, sidewalks, and even rooftops to accommodate those needs. Personal protective equipment, sanitation, and social distancing are being enforced on local and state levels, but these O.C. restaurants are some of the spots following regulations with their own flair.

Old Vine Kitchen & Bar
With the debut of their new rooftop and stairway dining areas, Old Vine’s bar menu will be available every day, and their dinner menu from Tuesdays to Sundays. Brunch is expected to be arriving soon as well. In accordance to city, county, and state guidelines, employees are required to wear face masks at all times and guests are expected to wear one as well when arriving, exiting, communicating with staff, and any time they are away from their assigned table. 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-545-1411, oldvinekitchenbar.com

Coastal Kitchen
Coastal Kitchen was quick to adjust to new safety protocols and has created an outdoor patio that upholds the indoor experience. The health and safety of guest and employees are ensured with the addition of sanitizing stations and touch-free sinks. Daily cleaning and sanitizing has increased and employees are provided with masks, face shields, and daily screening processes. 34091 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, 949-449-2822, coastalkitchendanapoint.com

Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen
Khan Saab opened their doors for the first time only weeks before the shutdown, but has been quick to adapt to safe practices. Their outdoor space has transformed into a street bistro setting, with string lights and candles setting the perfect mood for enjoying halal steaks and Desi dishes. Reservations are recommended to secure a spot in their limited seating. 229 East Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, 714-853-1081, khansaaboc.com

4th Street Market
4th Street Market is no stranger to change with their constant cycle of new and budding food talents entering the O.C. food scene. A new 800-square-foot parklet featuring furniture, shade coverings, decking and more, has been added to offer additional outdoor seating. Some of the safety measures being implemented are extra cleaning, separating tables, requiring face coverings from employees and customers, and hand sanitizing stations. The food festivities are set to continue with the grand reopening and Taste of 4SM event on July 11. 201 E 4th St., Santa Ana, 714-486-0700, 4thstreetmarket.com

Terra Wood-Fired Kitchen
A new rooftop deck with socially distanced tables adds to the patio and street-side seating options available at Terra Wood-Fired Kitchen. The Mediterranean-inspired dishes and wood-fired artisan pizzas are created and served by a staff well-prepped in ensuring safety and comfort. 4884 Main St., Yorba Linda, 714-463-4424, terrawoodfiredkitchen.com

Marché Moderne
The café experience has been brought outdoors in Marché Moderne’s patio dining space, and there are plans to continue expanding. The summer seaside breeze compliments elegant table settings that are shaded by umbrellas during the day, and made warm with extra heaters at night. Safety measures, such as team members wearing masks, gloves, and face shields, are being taken to further ensure that memorable dining experiences can carry on. 7862 E Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 714-434-7900, marchemoderne.net

Helmsman Ale House
Complete with a beer garden and corn hole, summer is in full swing at Helmsman Ale House’s extended, socially distanced parklet patio. This local brewery is open to all ages for some family-friendly fun. No reservations are needed as seating is on a first come, first served basis. 2920 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, 949-220-9977, helmsmanalehouse.com

Craft House
Craft House was quick to put together an impromptu outdoor space decorated with string lights, turf, planters and more. The area was built with social distancing and the safety of visitors and staff in mind, so locally sourced, sustainable seafood under summer skies can be indulged. 34094 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, 949-481-7734, eatatcrafthouse.com

Las Brisas
Diners are brought closer to the Laguna Beach coastline views with Las Brisas’ new outdoor “Margarita Garden,” which includes a bar lounge area and patio. Some of the health guidelines in place include enhanced team member screening, personal protective equipment, frequent hand washing, and medical grade disinfectant. Safety is not compromised when bringing fresh seafood dishes infused with traditional Mexican flavors to the table. 361 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, 949-497-5434, lasbrisaslagunabeach.com

Sol Mexican Cocina
Sol Mexican Cocina is offering front row seats to savoring both Newport marina views and their take on healthy, coastal Mexican food crafted from scratch. This waterfront eatery’s patio is open for lunch and dinner, and is offering $3 mimosas during weekend brunch. Weekday happy hours are given a Taco & Tequila Tuesday twist with taco specials, $5 house margaritas, and live music. 251 Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 949-675-9800, solcocina.com

Urban Plates
Summer is here and so is the spacious and airy patio dining at Urban Plates. Back for a limited time, slow-cooked Heritage Pork barbecue ribs can be enjoyed on an individual plate or as a family meal that serves four. Urban Plates is also thanking local healthcare workers by matching sponsored healthy meal donations. Locations in Aliso Viejo, Brea, Irvine, and Tustin, urbanplates.com

Acapulco
Acapulco’s alfresco dining now extends out to the parking lot, where comfortable, shaded seating has been made readily available. Their team provides reassurance that extra precautions are being taken by performing social distancing and enhanced sanitizing procedures. Guests who dine in can kick their week off with $2 margaritas on Margarita Mondays. 1262 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-754-6528, acapulcorestaurants.com

MORE RESTAURANTS WITH OUTDOOR DINING:

Anaheim Packing House
440 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, 714-533-7225, anaheimpackingdistrict.com

Promenade on Forest
Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, lagunabeachcity.net/business/the_promenade_on_forest.htm

Fable and Spirit
3441 Via Lido, Newport Beach, 949-409-9913, fableandspirit.com

Bello by Sandro Nardone
1200 Bison Ave., Newport Beach, 949-520-7191, bellobysandronardone.com

Benchmark
601 E Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, 714-480-0225, benchmarkoc.com

Crudo at The Hall Global Eatery
3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 714-515-5544, thehallge.com

Broadway by Amar Santana
328 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, broadwaybyamarsantana.com

Knife Pleat
South Coast Plaza, 714-266-3388, knifepleat.com

Tavern House
333 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, 949-673-8464, tavernhousekb.com

The Drake
2894 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-376-1000, thedrakelaguna.com

The Yellow Chilli
2463 Park Ave., Tustin, 714-389-5280, theyellowchillitustin.com

CdM Restaurant
2325 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, 949-287-6600, cdmrestaurant.com

El Mercado Modern Cuisine
301 N Spurgeon St., Santa Ana, 714-338-2446, mercadomodern.com

Lido Bottle Works
3408 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, 949-529-2784, lidobottleworks.com

The Winery Restaurant in Newport Beach
3131 W Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 949-999-6622, thewinerynewport.com

Farmhouse
2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Corona del Mar, 949-640-1415, farmhouserg.com

Toast Kitchen & Bakery
1767 Newport Blvd., 949-873-5057, toastkitchenbakery.com 

Scarlet Kitchen & Lounge
30865 Gateway Place, Ladera Ranch, 949-503-3086, scarletkl.com/menu-new

Whitestone Restaurant
34212 CA-1, Dana Point, 949-489-8911, whitestonerestaurant.com

Habana
Locations in Irvine and Costa Mesa, restauranthabana.com

Selanne Steak Tavern
1464 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-715-9881, selannesteaktavern.com

Bistango
19100 Von Karman Ave., 949-752-5222, bistango.com

Bayside
900 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, 949-721-1222, baysiderestaurant.com

Cruisers Pizza Bar Grill
801 E Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, 949-220-9414, cruiserspizzabargrill.com

Bosscat Kitchen
4647 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach, 949-333-0917, bosscatkitchen.com

Lumberyard
384 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, 949-715-3900, lblumberyard.com

Pitfire Pizza
353 East 17th St., Costa Mesa, 949-313-6333, pitfirepizza.com

Eat Chow
211 62nd St., Newport Beach, 949-423-7080, eatchow.com

El Torito
Locations in Tustin, Orange, Cypress, Laguna Hills, and Yorba Lina, eltorito.com

Solita
7631 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, 714-894-2792, solitatacos.com

Chihuahua Cerveza Taproom
3107 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, 949-771-8226, chihuahuacerveza.com

Social Huntington Beach
21214 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, 714-374-7715, socialrg.com

Nova Kitchen & Bar
12361 Chapman Ave., Garden Grove, 714-696-0888, novaoc.com

Gabbi’s Kitchen
141 S Glassell St., Orange, gabbismexicankitchen.com/gabbi

Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar
190 S Glassell St., Orange, 714-221-0680, havencraftkitchen.com

Angelina’s Pizzeria
8573 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, 949-536-5200, angelinaspizzeria.com

The Family Captain: An Essay Reflecting on Fatherhood

Illustration by Hannah Agosta

So, Dad, how do you like being a father?”

My youngest daughter asked that with a sly grin as I glided our Duffy boat across the calm water past yachts and multimillion-dollar homes.

She probably suspected that I was in no mood to answer. Though cruising around Balboa Island with our three grown children and their significant others was my idea of a fruitful Father’s Day, the fact that their last-second packing of lunch supplies caused us to be 30 minutes late for our assigned reservation still irritated me.

“It’s great,” I mumbled, and my kids recognized this was all they would get for now.

My daughter had channeled the DNA of my departed mother, who would sit at our family table of seven in Los Alamitos every Sunday dinner, enduring the usual silence for only so long. Then she’d break in with “So what’s new with you?” causing the meekest of the five siblings to turn red, then dare to share something with the group. We’d go around the table until my father had had enough, getting up to do chores or something in the garage.

I never questioned my mother’s good intentions—not even when she announced, after a marriage encounter weekend with my father, that our entire Irish Catholic family needed to start hugging. To punctuate this shift, she added that Dad would now kiss her the minute he walked in the door from work. Thereafter, he constantly and mockingly obliged. But it wasn’t in his nature. 

Though I spent a good deal of my adolescence and young adulthood attempting to avoid imitating his petulant and peevish behavior, especially toward my mother, his stoic blood still ran through me.

Few men have perfect role models for fathers, those once found on 1950s and ’60s sitcoms, who came home from work to sit in a recliner with slippers and a pipe, dispensing wisdom to sons and sometimes daughters. My implied fatherhood message from a veteran of the Depression and WWII was “work, provide, and save.” Mow the lawn; change the oil.

But he also spent hours in the garage—away from the family—washing, drying, and folding laundry. He rolled into the driveway every Thursday afternoon, his trunk bursting with bags of groceries for the coming week. He spent late Friday nights, while my mother and younger siblings were asleep, mopping the kitchen floor, cigarette dangling from his mouth.

It took life away from home, college, and at least five years at work to believe I was someone substantial enough not just to sustain a relationship, but to commit to a partnership in which love, respect, and toil might produce a life of meaning and purpose beyond myself. I married when I not only found a woman I loved, but someone who would shower our children with a radiant smile and warm hugs day after day. If I couldn’t step beyond the stresses and demands of life, hoping my devotion and duty would express love to my children, I had secured someone who would touch their hearts directly.

It would be simplistic but also correct to say this was all it took. There were struggles and successes, mortgages and credit card debt, accidents and illnesses, but never doubt. When my wife worked the swing shift, I warmed bottles and baby food, drove infants in car seats until they fell asleep, pushed swings and merry-go-rounds in local parks, and made up bedtime stories. Tired or not, it’s just what you do. Each child brought a unique joy. Love never needed to be parceled out. It just expanded, even in the deepest challenges.

One by one, the kids arrived at their senior years in high school. I sat in the stands of the gym before a game as our firstborn barely made it through a solo of the national anthem. But she did. I wiped tears from my eyes before congratulating her. I smiled in the back of a rented team banquet room while our son, chosen to speak about the varsity basketball coaches, entertained the parents and players like a seasoned emcee. From the second row, I held my breath as our youngest, captain of the dance team, twirled on the stage during her Senior Solo. Then I sighed in relief.

What’s it like to be a father? In high school, I couldn’t have done any of those things my kids did. I’m not sure my wife could have either. But somehow, between us, they could. They did. Through all their challenges and accomplishments, I am confident they always will.

We were not far out into the harbor when my youngest, working her first year in Child Protective Services, asked to take the wheel. My son, who counsels addicts in a recovery program, took the helm next, with his girlfriend. My oldest daughter, seven months pregnant and a high school teacher of English language learners, then shared steering the boat with my wife, smiling and giggling together as the two-hour cruise wound down. We listened to music, ate sandwiches and fruit, laughed, and reminisced. I sat up front, quiet most of the time, watching the boats and fancy houses drift by.

The wheel was returned to me as we approached the dock. I began guiding the boat back into the slip.

I remember when we told my parents in August 26 years ago that my wife was pregnant with our third child, due the following May. My mother smiled; her eyes lit up. But I watched my dad, who paused, then turned and walked out back around the side of our house. I knew he had done the math, that his prognosis with lung cancer did not stretch beyond December. He wouldn’t see this grandchild born. But I couldn’t let him go as I had countless times before, so I walked out after him, to where he stood facing the street through the wrought-iron fence.

I stuttered out, “Dad, are you OK?”

He turned and offered a brief smile beneath his moist eyes. He waved me away with a gentle hand, appreciating my concern, but wanting to be alone. I let him be.

When my oldest’s baby arrives, she might ask, “So, Dad, what’s it feel like to be a grandpa?”

“Thankful,” I might say. For my wife, for my kids, for my mother, and for my dad.

An Update on the Beer Landscape in O.C.

We have just passed the halfway point of 2020, and last week saw a return to some restrictions. Don’t fear, beer lovers—it’s not all bad. We have seen the beer industry’s greatest strength in play these past few months; the community!

You have stepped up to offer support when there was a near shutdown. And breweries have adapted—line ordering, outside patios and beer gardens, and facilitating to-go orders with makeshift drive-throughs! Bootlegger’s in Fullerton has a food concept truck cooking up some tasty treats. Brewery X is offering Pizza X, New York style pies.

Sadly, we are losing one member of the Orange County Brewers Guild. Network Brewing in Santa Ana has shut down. Good Beer Company, also in Santa Ana, is officially gone, but this was already in the works as the owners were relocating to another county. Considering the bleak outlook at the beginning of the pandemic and supported by some research by The Brewers Association, we might have seen a little more than 12 percent, or about six breweries, shut down in the county. Support from the community kept the numbers much lower.

Our brewers kept up their skills, too. The lager-game we have is incredible! Tustin Brewing Company has two amazing lagers: Tailgater, a pale Mexican Lager, and Dos Sexies, a Vienna Lager, are some of the best lagers Jerrod Larsen has produced. GameCraft has continued to impress. Brewery X recently released Dost Thou Even Hoist, a Czech Pale Lager with some amazing aromatics. Unsung has Enzo available, an Italian Pilsner, which was my favorite offering from the Loggerfest earlier this year.

On top of this, many breweries never took their foot of the pedal with new releases. Bottle Logic continued to provide us with Stasis Project offerings. The Bruery sustained the Hazy and West Coast IPA releases under Off-Shoot. RIIP has taken its already stellar IPA’s and turned them up to 11. Asylum started a brand for variants, Hyper Beer Co.

Our brewing industry will continue to acclimate and move forward. Keep doing what ‘you doin! It’s working.

Support Local. Stay Safe. Wear your Face Covering. Thank you, and Cheers!

Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.

These O.C. Brands Are Giving Back to the Community

The Find Masks from Goldsheep, $12; custom shoes from Vans, $90; toffee and candle care package from Backhouse Fragrances, valued at $40; and T-shirt from Tankfarm & Co., $20
Cool Factor All four companies created these products to give back to local businesses or frontline workers.
Learn More goldsheepclothing.com, vans.com, backhousefragrances.com, and tankfarm.co