Saturday, June 21, 2014

Visiting The OC Mix - and stopping by my two "Disneylands," Surfas and PIRCH

I totally love Surfas. It’s like a Disneyland for anybody that loves food and cooking. When there is an item you might not be able to find at your local grocery store, Surfas is more than likely to carry it (not everything and not always, but for the most part, it’s the go to spot for specialty items). I remember coming here once just to pick up Taitian vanilla that Trader Joe’s in my area did not carry. They have all kinds of vanilla extract, not to mention a whole bunch of other flavored extracts. My local specialty cake decorating shop doesn’t even have this much variety!

I’ve been frequenting Surfa’s in Culver City for years. But I recently discovered another Surfa’s, in Costa Mesa. I did not even plan on buying anything there that day. But I had stopped by their café because I was hungry and wanted a quick bite. I still had a 20 minute wait before the café was opened for lunch, so I decided to stroll through the store while waiting (which lasted way longer than 20 minutes, of course). I could spend all afternoon here getting myself lost in browsing around.
OMG look what I found!! A crème brulee mix haha.

WTF, right? I mean crème brulee is not even that complicated or time consuming. How lazy do people get that they have to make it into a mix? Well, this mix omits the egg yolk separating and the baking steps. You just heat the cream and milk (though the last I checked, there is no milk in crème brulee. That is more like a pot de crème, but whatever), add the mix, and bring to a boil. That’s pretty much it. Pour it into ramekins and chill. I wonder how they taste.

My friend J, who loves and dreams about crème brulees (he literally dreamt about crème brulee one time….it was too funny. When I told him to pick up some assorted crème brulees some time that week, he told me that he had a dream that night about all these different kinds of crème brulees falling from the sky in different flavors and colors while he was prancing around to catch and eat them all), was even hesitant about this. I’ve never seen anyone LOVE crème brulees as much as he does. But he does not know how to make them. “OMG this is totally for you!” I told him.
He was just as intrigued to see this, but felt iffy about it. “I doubt it would be as good,” he said. Lol well I guess he does have some standards about crème brulees afterall (he said mine are the best and gives him foodgasms btw, so yeah…naturally, he has higher standards now lol). I totally thought he’d be excited about it and get like 50 bags for himself. But I guess I was wrong.

I have to admit that I am a little curious to taste the crème brulee made from a bag. I wouldn’t spend a dime on actually purchasing it, but I’d like to take just a bite (if someone somewhere were giving out free samples of it or something) to see how they taste.
Moving along…I browsed through the pasta aisle. I was actually searching for some chocolate pasta noodles. I’ve been dying to try it ever since I saw that chocolate pasta recipe post on Michael Ruhlman’s (one of my favorite food writers) blog. But I couldn’t find any here. Maybe next time. Another pasta caught my eye, Pasta Cabernet Rotini, made with wine flour.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine it to have deep flavors. I haven’t decided yet on how I am going to prepare it. I can’t wait to test this out.
The chocolate section was also calling my name. Well, it was actually the first to call my name when I walked into the store. But I couldn’t make up my mind what to get because I wanted to buy almost everything. I narrowed it down to debating on one of the chocolates made with chili or the blood orange one (since I love blood orange). I had left the chocolate section earlier to return to it at the end of my shopping.

Oh what to get, oh what to get? Screw it.  I’ll just go with the Guajitlo and Chipotle chili one. Random choice. It’s yummy btw. Happy with my selection.

Well that is all I had purchased during my unplanned shopping run. It was way past 11am, and I was so ready to eat.
I got the lamb burger. It was either this or the Rueben.

It was alright. The patty tasted under-seasoned and a bit on the bland side. Honestly, I am not that crazy about the food at the Surfas café. I have eaten there other times (at the Culver City location) and it’s not THAT great. It’s just a personal preference. I don’t like spending more than $5 on a sandwich or a burger, especially when it can cost so much less (and often tastier) making at home. Yeah, I am totally the type of girl that would say pack a bento of kimbap or something instead of spending $$$ on eating out when I am out and about. I prefer to spend a little more on a good meal than spending it on the normal everyday food you get when you are out on a normal lunch break, running errands, trapped somewhere, eating on the go…whatever. But ideally, that is not always the case. Sometimes I just have no choice, especially when I am busy or in a hurry and need to eat SOMETHING, and don’t always have the time or energy (or sometimes just not in the mood) to pack something. And I can’t always help but be overcome with that feeling each time it happens. But I have come to accept that it is just part of life and I need to deal with it.

Sooo …. I now have the wine flour pasta and a spiced chocolate bar. I was contemplating with the idea of putting those things together (maybe make a chocolate sauce or something IDK yet). I do love chocolate and I do love wine. And I do love chocolate wine. I am curious to experiment. However, I don’t want to run out to the store to buy additional ingredients. Whatever I make is going to be the product of making do with the things I already have. Hmm…unless I come across an idea or recipe that I really want to try that calls for certain crucial ingredients. I’ll keep you posted.
After Surfa’s I just HAD to stroll on over to PIRCH, my OTHER Disneyland. I love this plaza. I could spend the entire day here, even if it’s just at these two places. I still haven’t checked out one of their (FREE) events yet. I’ve been so curious to attend one of their cooking classes so that I can cook with some of their way cool equipment. Faye seems like a regular at the San Diego PIRCH location and probably knows everyone there lol..right, Faye (whom I first heard in detail about PIRCH from)? Chef Brian (whom Faye has made friends with) at the SD location told me that the classes are primarily for home cooks rather than the industry professionals. I figured that, but I’d still like to check it out. It sounds like so much fun.

I had just had some coffee prior to walking in to PIRCH, so I skipped the complimentary coffee this time. I did try some of the beer sample though.

How welcoming is that? Complimentary coffee and beer! Yeah…I want to live here.

There was something yummy cooking over at the kitchen. I guess this was to be one of them free samples that I've heard so much about. But it looked like things weren't ready, as nobody offered me anything. But it sure was smelling good. Lucky Faye got to try all kinds of samples during her first visit.

I didn’t really take many pics at this location, but here are some that I took when I was visiting the Glendale location.

Look at all their way cool kitchen/cooking equipment. I think I have died and gone to heaven. Look no further when building your dream kitchen.


Makes you want to just sit right down, doesn't it?

A row of faucets. Which one to choose?

OMG their Serenity section....I swear to you, I just wanted to jump right in to take a shower while trying out each and every one of their shower heads. badly I just wanted to crawl in here.

And then go sit in the tub (actually filled with water) for some "ME" time. Don't these tubs look so inviting?

Woo la la...I want this toilet. You can even test out the toilets here. I mean....not the ones on display, but their restroom has the actual PIRCH products in there. How cool is that? It makes you want to never leave.

And Faye was right about this place. Even though PIRCH is known for catering to the more affluent clientele, they are anything but snooty (as some places can be). This applies to both of the PIRCH locations that I have been to so far. They don't act like they don't want you there if you appear to be less than AT LEAST middle class.

I understand that their approach is unique, in that they are welcoming to anybody that visits. Some visitors may be rich, some may be average, some may be poor. But they don't treat anybody differently. It's like an inspiring place...making one say, "When I become rich one day (if not already  rich), I am totally going to come buy everything here".


  1. I am going to fantasize about that specially food shop! All those extracts!

    And umm that range. I will have one of those someday. Mark my words. And I don't care what I have to do to get it.

    When I come visit you, that place has to be on our list. I just has to!

    1. Lol OMG you will love Surfas and PIRCH. Like me, I am sure you could just spend the entire day at these two stores alone. I can so imagine you going wild through the aisles, especially through the baking section. It's going to be so much fun when you visit Cali.

  2. Ooo Surfas looks like I place I would HIGHLY enjoy. I'm going to Long Beach next month for a food convention so maybe I'll stop by Costa Mesa to check this place out! I love walking around in food places like that (and heck, I just love going to farmer's markets and grocery stores). I still haven't been to Pirch even though I've been to the mall it's in, it's just that Pirch is on the other side of the mall and I kept forgetting it was there hahah! But you've reminded me of it again so maybe I'll actually go soon. I hope you post about whatever you create with the wine pasta and chocolate! Wine pasta sounds really interesting. I would maybe even eat it with like a pot roast and veggies or a bourguignon.

    1. A food convention around the corner? I should check it out. I love going to the Farmer's Market and grocery stores too. You will totally love PIRCH. If you end up going to this OC location, you could so easily get lost exploring for hours. I tried a little bit of the wine pasta earlier. It sort of has a deep bitter kind of taste. I think it's probably an acquired taste or needs the right ingredients to bring out the full flavors. It's high in iron and antioxidant..not to mention gluten-free.
      I really want to try that chocolate pasta though.

  3. Is Surfa's kinda like Sur La Table? We don't have a surfas here in SD I don't think. Don't you just love PIRCH. SIgh - I could visit there everyday if I could. The PIRCH set up at your location seems so similar to the one here in SD. You must sign up for one of their events. I think the news has gotten out about their free events because ppl keep telling me all these events are sold out once posted online. We need to make more money so we can afford that steam room !

    1. Similar to Sur La Table since they both sell kitchen equipment, gadgets, and such. But Surfas also has a ton of food items, like a grocery store with way more hard to find items. I think more home cooks shop at Sur La Table while there's more professional chefs that are regulars are Surfas....well with the one in Culver City it is anyways because everyone that I know that works in the industry shops at that Surfas, both for work and personal needs.

  4. I want those kitchens and that lamb god! I WANT!!! On the other note everything comes in damn packs now haha...yea! ppl got lazy!!!

    1. You will die and be in cook's heaven at these two stores. Some things from a box are actually not bad. Others really taste like it was from a box/bag. I am a bit skeptical about the crème brulee from the bag, but I'm still curious.


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