This past Thursday I had the honor of spending a few hours with my friend Marat Shaya, Erin from (No Subject), and Spencer Nikosey of KILLSPENCER. Spencer and his very talented team took us through the process of making a one of their bags, from early design sketches to final packaging details before each bag is shipped to their soon-to-be very happy customers. What sets KILLSPENCER apart from other bag companies I’ve seen is that each of their bags is made to order in their Los Angeles office/workshop, reintroducing American Made quality to the market.
I originally intended on coming to The Academy in Long Beach for the Gourmet and I Heart Pies event. When I got there, I Heart Pies was already set up outside the shop, and so was Taco Nara, but the guys from Gourmet didn’t show up. I heard they got caught up with something and they might make up for their absence with another event later this Summer. I made the best of it and enjoyed the rest of the evening with the great people from The Academy, I Heart Pies, and Taco Nara, who helped me forget why I was even there in the first place.
The Academy is a great shop. The decor, displays, and products they carry set them apart from the wave of boutiques and specialty stores popping up everywhere. Instead of strictly focusing on menswear, they also sell a broad range of clothing, shoes, and accessories for women. This new location hasn’t been around too long, but the three brothers who run The Academy have been in business for the last seven years. Based on what I’ve seen from these guys so far, they’re going to be in business for a very long time!
Visit The Academy next time you’re in Long Beach and tell them I sent you!
The Academy 433 East First Street Long Beach, CA 90802
No comparisons to In-N-Out here. Five Guys Burgers and Fries stands on its own. I’ve eaten here twice so far and enjoyed it both times. The wide range of toppings available for their burgers is definitely a plus. It can get a little pricey for a burger joint, but you can get free peanuts while you wait for your food. C’mon, everyone loves free peanuts! Try it for yourself, but leave the expectations and popular-burger-chain comparisons at the door.
The Common on Valencia Street in the Mission District is one of the most unique stores I’ve ever visited. I stumbled upon it on my way to Benny Gold's new shop and, to say the least, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found there. They carry a nice selection of brands and products, all of which are of the utmost quality and are made in the USA. Some of the brands you'll find at The Common are: Grown & Sewn, Yuketen, Tellason Denim, Red Wing Heritage, and their in-house brand Taylor Stitch. Taylor Stitch offers a thoughtfully crafted ready-to-wear collection and custom tailored shirts for those who enjoy the exclusivity of wearing something that’s one-of-a-kind. If you’re a fan of quality menswear, or quality products and design in general, definitely visit The Common next time you’re in San Francisco. Tell them I sent you!
Our first meal in San Francisco was in the Civic Center at Brenda’s on Polk St. With roots in New Orleans, Brenda’s serves French-style Creole dishes with New Orleans soul! The menu consists of traditional Creole favorites and a few signature items, like their Sweet Watermelon House Tea that I had to try! A local favorite is their stuffed beignets, which I didn’t get to try because, well, we were too full after our meal! I won’t pass them up next time I’m in the city! Anytime you’re in San Francisco, I highly suggest stopping by Brenda’s French Soul Food for a unique and enjoyable dining experience. It gets pretty busy(and now I know why), so if you’re planning to visit Brenda’s, plan ahead!
I started my meal with their Sweet Watermelon House Tea, which was great and pretty surprising. They actually put pieces of watermelon in the tea! The dish I ordered was the Hangtown Fry - crispy oysters, bacon (none for me!), and scallions scramble - served with grits or hash and a fresh cream biscuit or toast. Everything was cooked to perfection. The fried oysters worked really well with the scramble and the spices on the potatoes was a great way to offset the saltiness of the oysters. But the biscuit… I would drive back to San Francisco just to eat more of their biscuits!
Calling this trip “impromptu” would be an understatement, but we made it happen. One week before finals we decided to drive up to San Francisco for a couple days. No big plans, just a quick getaway from the norm. With no sleep, a family pack of assorted granola bars, canned iced coffee, bottled water, and an endless amount of music, we got on the 5 North, 427 miles away from our destination.