Chasing Down the Rhino: Catching Up With REV Brewing’s Alex “Rhino” Rebollo

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I really like jazz.  I bring up jazz because I’ve always loved one thing in particular about it…the way groups shout out their “personnel.” If you are part of a good jazz band (even a bad one)…odds are you’ll be called out by name during a show to acknowledge your contribution to the ensemble. When they do, it’s time for your solo. Everyone gets their shine. But with that comes responsibility…you have to show and prove–you  know, be able to keep your seat. You can’t f— it up. One bad note and it’s a wrap. Craft beer is a bit like jazz. It takes a solid squad to produce great beer. No slouches. Everyone has to play a position…and play it well. You have to do your part; otherwise, things can go to sh-t very quickly. Improvisation is encouraged, but you better nail it. Everyone’s watching and waiting to see what you’ve got.

So for this post, I wanted to give some shine to Alex “Rhino” Rebollo…a guy who has contributed his everything in helping build a true LA beer culture—one we can be proud of. I credit him for being an integral part of sparking this whole pedo. Like in jazz, you gotta give props where props are due. Have you heard of this guy called Rhino? If not, then you’re probably not deep in this beer game. Let me explain.

About 4 years ago, I was trying to bring a craft beer from Tijuana called Insurgente into the LA market. You may be familiar with these guys now after their collaboration with Stone and Chris Banker for “Xocoveza.” But back then, they were one of the few Mexican craft beers really killing it at beer competitions around Mexico…and even getting some attention in San Diego. Man, I was so eager to get them into LA. Only issue, I kept hitting bumps in the road. I was so ready top throw in the towel.

But  I kept hearing the name “Rhino.” Everyone I spoke  to told me I had to meet this guy. I heard he was from East Los (like me), knew his stuff, and had been cool with Greg from Stone from Day 1. He was even around when Greg was trying to slang a brew that would later be known as “Arrogant Bastard” back when LA was not really ready for it. Dude also wrote for the Beers In Paradise guys, was a fixture in brew circles, and would most likely be someone who’d be able to help me–or at least point me in the right direction. Funny, he started to sound like a “Godfather” figure or something. I was told you were not legit unless this guy said you were. Long story short, the Insurgente thing fell through, which sucks, but I gained a good friend nonetheless. Word on the street is he is now part of REV Brewing out of Covina…a new brewery that has been gaining a gang of buzz. I’m really looking forward to checking them out when they open to the public on Friday, December 5– AKA Today. Hope to see you there.

Without further ado…let me introduce you to my friend, Rhino. Salud!
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Master of Fermentation: An Interview with David Ehreth of Sonoma Brinery

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Sonoma Brinery makes the best pickles we’ve ever bought from a supermarket. We’ve wanted to interview founder and master fermenter Dave Ehreth, a former engineer, for a long time just based on his kosher pickles, but were surprised and thrilled to find out he’s also interested in Mexican and Central American foods. Here we discuss the art of pickling, and his new products which include a curtido and Jalapeños en Escabeche…

Do you remember the first great pickle you ever had?
Yes. My father took me to a restaurant in San Francisco when I was young, Tommy’s Joint. He wanted to show me what a true kosher pickle was like; fermented, no vinegar, completely fresh. He was from New York and knew what a great kosher should be like. From that moment, when I was about 10 years old, I have been in love with real kosher pickles. I mean, really in love with these pickles. I used to drive 40 miles to San Francisco just to get a few of these pickles. Later in life, when I traveled on business to New York, I would round up kosher pickles and bring them home on the plane.

What got you into the pickling business?
After 30 years in the tech business, I decided to launch a second career; I was going to bring this great pickle to the West Coast. I saw the food revolution change our bread from white bread to baguette, iceberg lettuce to arugula. But our pickles were still vinegar and chemical soaked imitations of the real kosher. The true kosher is a harder pickle to make and manage, but just like the white-bread-to-baguett transition, worth every bit of the effort.

What, in your mind, makes a truly great pickle?
Great pickles begin as great cucumbers. A truly great pickle should be fresh, crisp, lightly acidic, mildly salty and have all the character of the cucumber it was made from. When you eat a great pickle, it should feel light on the pallet and should not leave you feeling like you just drank a cup of battery acid.

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DJ Yella And Lil Eazy ~ Live at Amor Y Tacos ~ Cerritos

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Photos by Andrew Bangs and Carl Larsen

 Amor Y Tacos ~ 13333 South Street Cerritos, CA 90703 ~ 562-860-2667

We love tacos and we love N.W.A. So when we learned that the group’s OG producer DJ Yella and Eazy E’s son, Lil Eazy, were coming together to play at Amor y Tacos in Cerritos, we had to come for what might be the closest thing to an N.W.A. reunion as the world may see. Amor y Tacos comes from Tommy Ortega, a Cerritos-bred chef with a fine dining background and the owner of Ortega 120 in Redondo Beach. We knew good things were afoot when we laid our eyes on a woman making tortillas in the restaurant’s front and a painting of El Chapulin Colorado on the back wall.

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Amor y Tacos’ chef and owner Tommy Ortega (center), with Eazy E 3, Yella and Lil Eazy

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Quality Control: Burrito Box ~ West Hollywood

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[Editor’s Note: Last Monday we got an email from a reliable tipster who saw a burrito vending machine being tested inside a gas station in West Hollywood. A quick scan of other food blogs showed that no one had the story yet, so we dispatched the intrepid Ali Kahn, who will eat anything, to get the scoop of the century in the field of automated Mexican-American food. Alas, his toddler-aged son had just gone down for a nap and Ali was stuck at home. Meanwhile, by Tuesday afternoon everyone had the story and in the end the whole thing is ridiculous anyway as there are decent, fast burritos available on pretty much any block in this city. Nevertheless, Ali did end up getting and consuming a burrito from the burrito box, and here is his somewhat surprising review]

Everybody and your Grandma in Toledo by now has heard about the greatest culinary launch in the history of West Hollywood Mobil stations. But are the burritos from the Burrito Box any good? Well, before I launch myself onto planet hypocrite after posting a favorable video review of this Burrito makin’ Robot , Let’s get a run down of the obvious and the obviously awesome:

It’s in a gas station.
It’s orange.
It plays music videos.

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Taco of the Day: Ono Tacos at Irori ~ Marina Del Rey

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Irori ~ 4731 Glencoe Ave. ~ Marina Del Rey

A Japanese taco isn’t such a strange sight. Even Nobu’s into tacos. Neither is the tempura fish taco an anomaly, given all that we know about the influence of Japanese fishermen on Baja’s favorite battered export (and the crowd that forms for Ricky’s). Nor is it totally bizarre to catch a tempura fish taco at a sushi restaurant. Frying is precise in preserving the integrity, taste and moisture of its contents, much like a dedicated itamae does by not cooking your food, while still offering all the flavor and textural benefits of an evenly browned skin. And none of these things should surprise us because, above all else, this is Los Angeles, where few tacos go unfused.

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Juan’s Restaurante’s Taco de Armadillo ~ At The Taste

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At the Friday night opening of The L.A. Times food event, The Taste, Juan’s Restaurante offered armadillo tacos in a red guajillo chile sauce. The Baldwin Park restaurant, known for its pre-Columbian recipes, paired the taco with corn tortillas, prickly pear cactus, and combas, or pre-Hispanic beans. The armadillo meat, which was consumed along with meats from deer, tapirs, iguanas, and monkeys back in the early Americas, reminded us a little of pork, with a slight funk to the flavor and the chefs had the critter’s shell on display.

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How To Make Mole Coloradito Curry Chicken (Recipe + Video) with Bricia Lopez

Shot and edited by Fernando Lopez, the video above features Bricia Lopez of the world-famous Guelaguetza Restaurant in Los Angeles. Combined with the recipe below, you’ll learn how to make delicious mole coloradito curry chicken at home. Enjoy it for dinner and then the leftovers will make great tacos the next day… You can get more recipes and jars of authentic mole at ILoveMole.com.

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The Jolly Oyster Kitchen Has A Fried Oyster Taco That Will Haunt Your Dreams (In the Good Way) ~ Ventura State Beach

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The Jolly Oyster Kitchen serves Thursday through Sunday, 12:00 to 7:00 P.M., at San Buenaventura State Beach Park.

Despite the South Coast’s surfeit of shoreline, ocean-adjacent dining hardly has  any sea-legs in Southern California. Private playgrounds clog the cliff-sides of the Pacific Coast Highway, which comes dotted with the occasional high-priced or low-quality surf-and-turf chain, their high rents leaving little space for organic expressions of the Pacific palate, nor the sterling sea life sourced from the Santa Barbara Channel and surrounding depths.

Visitors and locals alike will be stumped to find signature seafood recipes akin to Maine’s lobster rolls or Maryland’s crab houses that truly reflect our relationship with Southern California’s native shores. Our favorite fried fish tacos were ferried in from points south; our cioppino arrived from the north. The Central Coast’s prized urchins and spot prawns are considerably more likely to be shipped to Japan or relished in an Encino strip mall sushi spot than in the region’s seaside restaurants. And even though places like the Redondo Pier’s Quality Seafood makes crustaceans, whole fish, and molluscs approachable, eating by the beach in L.A. typically means someone is going to Gladstone’s or Neptune’s Nets, more famous for their ocean vistas than their seafood selections.

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Boris Karloff’s Guacamole Recipe

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The great Boris Karloff was born in England, found fame as Frankenstein’s monster (and also played Frankenstein, thank you, readers, for the correction) in Hollywood, and finished his career in Mexico (awesome example at the end of this post). Somewhere along the way he developed a strong affinity for Mexican food, as the article above, found on BadassDigest, explains, along with telling its readers that guac is an “avocado-based sauce”. His recipe for guacamole has an English twist, with a dash of sherry thrown in along with more common ingredients:

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Bang for your Burger Buck ~ Yuca’s Los Feliz Hillhurst

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Because somedays you just say “Fuck it. Give me a double chili cheeseburger.”

For the record I am not a chili cheeseburger kinda guy. I like chili on occasion. I like cheeseburgers very often. But I don’t need them at the same time. Much like the argument with bacon, good beef patties don’t need friends from the meat department. But we are at the original Yuca’s on Hillhurst; a venerable, James Beard award winning taco stand, where Cochinita Pibil is simmering away in a corner burner, skirt steaks are getting a serious char on the griddle and the cashier is practically giving away double chili cheeseburgers at a price of $5 with tax – I think you realize why I had to go for it.
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A Look Back At The First Annual Tacolandia ~ Hollywood

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“Yo-ho, yo-ho, a taco life for me.” The benefits of the taco lifestyle were on naked display to everyone at Tacolandia, Saturday’s celebration of the city’s favorite staple. These convictions were doubly confirmed spying the event’s culinary curator, Bill Esparza, strutting through the massive with Miss Los Angeles on one arm and Dita Von Teese on the other. Direct benefits of the man’s dedication to this here taco life. In fact, everyone at Hollywood’s Palladium that afternoon reaped the rewards of Esparza’s epicurean experience and deep connections to gifted chefs as various and voracious members of L.A.’s many taco tribes joined up under the sun in the parking lot of the Palladium to sip drinks and shoot the breeze, all while eating very well. (Continued)