Copper Top BBQ Big Pine, CA‏



On our way home from our winter trip to Mammoth Lakes, CA we decided to stop at Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine for lunch. My dad had been there before when he goes to Mammoth to fish with the guys for Opening Day. I feel so grateful for my family to have these amazing traditions that we continue to share together and with my nieces. We have been going to Mammoth in the summer my whole life, but going in the winter is a relatively new endeavor. My nieces love to play in the snow and experience the fun of winter and it’s always so gorgeous and just like home when we return to the mountains. I am so glad I got a few days to enjoy the snowy winter wonderland that Mammoth Mountain has to offer. Our trip went by quickly, but we are not used to the snow, so it was a sweet trip. We went sledding and played in the snow and I got some yoga in as well. The snowfall was tremendous and it was really beautiful to see such a blizzard, make a fire, enjoy great company, food and family, look at the icicles and wander around in the snow a little for a change of scenery.

We packed up and were on our way home with our usual stops in Bishop at Schat’s Bakery and Mahogany Smoked Meats, both of which, I would recommend you stop at if you like amazing bread or really delicious beef jerky. On Sunday it is pretty much a zoo at both places, so just a forewarning, but I still think it’s worth it.


Copper Top BBQ is a small shack of a BBQ place that’s about two hours away from Mammoth. The little shack has all outdoor seating with a small tent for a covered space, which we were able to snag a seat in. The menu is straightforward and the BBQ and smokers are outside in front right next to where you eat. You are pretty much watching all the food being cooked as you eat, which is pretty cool. There were a lot of travelers passing through eating here and the food did not disappoint. We ordered a Santa Maria Tri-Tip Sandwich, Adam’s Favorite Pulled Pork Sandwich (with coleslaw), a Half Rack of Saint Louis Style Pork Ribs along with potato salad, Fire Roasted Green Chili with beans, coleslaw and chips. It was definitely a feast. The tri-tip was delicious and tender on a pretzel bun and the pulled pork was juicy and flavorful with the added creaminess of coleslaw accompanied by the tangy bbq. The ribs were tender and very sweet with a spicy bbq sauce to balance it out. I really liked the roasted green chili with beans because it had a lot of flavor, garlic, and the beans were perfectly cooked. All the food was really well made, flavorful and seemed as if there was a lot of love and care put into this family-style place. It’s not easy having a restaurant and the Coppertop is doing it right, so stop by the next time you are in the area.


Delicious food and beautiful scenery looking over the snow capped mountains! I’m sure we’ll go back again. Thanks for the food and the amazing trip. I can’t wait to go back during the summer for our Fujitaki fishing extravaganza. Both seasons have their own majestic, magical and mystical moments in Mammoth — my home away from home.




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Summer Time Birthday Celebrations and Mammoth


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It’s September. I can hardly believe it. August was so amazingly wonderful, full of gratitude, celebration, family and friends—I miss it already. I was able to go on eight weeks of outdoor hikes with my dad, a family vacation to Mammoth Lakes and to really jumpstart my kids’ yoga business, Little Heroes Yoga, as well as participate in an amazing business course about kids’ yoga called TBoKY The Biz of Kids Yoga by Jodi Komitor. I’m so grateful to have had a wonderful summer, probably one of the best ones of my life. And I’m equally grateful to have a really fantastic fall full of kids’ yoga fun lined up.

But I wanted to highlight some of the amazing food adventures that I had in August. First of the series will be Amaya and Grandma’s birthday celebration dinner in Mammoth. I spent a total of seven beautiful days in the Eastern Sierras this year. I could have stayed for an entire month, but that’s another story. I truly am home when I go to Mammoth; the fresh air, beautiful scenery and just slowed-down pace of everything, makes it the perfect vacation for me. I’ve been going to Mammoth for my whole life and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
It’s so great to see the next generation of little fisherwomen come up to the Sierras with us. We really caught a ton of fish this year. I caught two pretty good sized ones and a bunch of little ones the whole time we were there. We went to a couple of new lakes: Little Virginia and Big Virginia and Upper and Lower Twin in Bridgeport, and even saw a quick hail storm.
Now, back to Amaya and Grandma’s birthday dinner. Well, the two of them have back to back birthdays and kick off our month of celebration. My sister said she’ll never have to get my mom another birthday present, mom’s present just came a day late. My mom’s birthday is August 14th and Amaya, my youngest niece, was born August 15th. My sister, brother-in-law, Maleeya and Amaya came up to Mammoth to celebrate my mom’s birthday and Amaya’s first birthday, which made it extra special for my mom and dad.


We had an amazing time celebrating. I barbequed for Amaya’s birthday and we all enjoyed this fun home-cooked meal.




BBQ Tri Tip

Boiled Fingerling Potatoes

Chopped Salad

Grilled Nectarines

Baked Beans

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Birthday cake and big smiles all around. Thank you for sharing with us.



Andy’s Going Away Party

Taco Bar Spread

A couple of weeks ago, Brandon and I cooked for his dad’s going away party. He’ll be out of state for work for some time so we decided it would be nice to get his friends together and enjoy company while he was still in town. Being in the military is a difficult profession and I can’t imagine what our country would be without the help of so many men and women all over the world who sacrifice so much for our safety.

So for this event we had two chefs and one kitchen. Brandon and I have worked together in some kitchen during various times for the last 7 years professionally, at home, or at someone else’s home/event. You can currently visit Brandon at Blush Restaurant and/or Blind Tiger in Santa Barbara, where he is the Executive Chef.

Though most of my time is spent cooking for my family and teaching yoga, it’s nice to prepare a large meal for wonderful people. We decided to have a massive taco fiesta. Our first go with the barbeque ended up not too successful because the grill wasn’t in working order, so we went for the simple charcoal grill that I’m used to and I grilled the food while Brandon cooked inside. I think overall it was a great team effort. Safe travels, Andy!


Carne Asada

Grilled Chicken

Chopped Seasoned Pork

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms and Zucchini

Spanish Bay Shrimp

Mixed Vegetable Sofritas

Chorizo Bean Dip


Salsa with Green Chiles and Garlic

Tortillas and Toppings


Coconut Cream Pie with Bananas and Fresh Peaches

Coconut Cream Pie with Bananas and Fresh Peaches

Grilled Cinnamon Peaches and Pineapple

Grilled Cinnamon Peaches and Pineapple

Rocky Road Pudding Pie

Rocky Road Pudding Pie

Rocky Road Pudding Pie Recipe

Layered dark chocolate and white chocolate pudding in Oreo crust with marshmallows and chocolate dusted roasted almonds

1 Oreo Crust

½ cup cocoa dusted roasted almonds

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place cold heavy whipping cream in a small bowl. Whip with a hand mixer till thick whipped cream forms, no powdered sugar necessary. About 3-5 minutes on medium speed.

1 small box Hersheys white chocolate pudding

1 ¾ cup whole milk

Make pudding according to the box directions for pie.

1 small box Hersheys dark chocolate pudding

1 ¾ cup whole milk

Make pudding according to the box directions for pie.

Pour 1/2 of the white chocolate pudding into the bottom of the Oreo crust. Top with ½ cup of marshmallows and pour ½ the dark chocolate pudding on top. Mix the remaining pudding together and fold in the whipped cream till smooth. Top pie with the mixture and smooth into a mound. Top with the remaining marshmallows and cocoa dusted almonds. Refrigerate for one hour or more.




Veggies, salsa and Guacamole Mexican Inspired Catering Taco Bar Ingredients Chicken, Sofritas and Shrimp for Tacos Carne Asada and Grilled Chopped Pork

Oshogatsu and Osechi–Ryori 2013

I’ve been writing now for three years 2011 and 2012 about Oshogatsu, which is traditional Japanese New Year celebrations. Of course my family is American so we do things probably very different than in Japan, but I love these customs and I hope to keep them for a very long time. Osechi–Ryori are traditional Japanese foods cooked in soy sauce and sugar or vinegars to be prepared for future consumption. It’s taboo to cook for the 1st three days of the New Year, so the food is placed in beautiful Japanese boxes called Jūbako to preserve its freshness for the days to come. This year we had a large New Year’s celebration filled with lots of love and tons of food. I hope you started the New Year just the way you wanted.

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2013 Osechi-Ryori


Kagami Mochi

Manju (Japanese sticky rice confection)

Ozoni (Konbu, Carrot, Kamaboko, Shiitake Mushroom, Imo (taro root), Renkon (lotus root), and Mochi in Seasoned Homemade Dashi)



5-Sided Carrot, 5-Sided Daikon, Kombu (rolled seaweed), Shiitake Mushrooms, Satoimo(taro root), Renkon (lotus root), Takenoko (bamboo shoots)


Kinpira (sato shoyu gobo and carrots)

Tazukri (candied, dried sardines)


Kamaboko (pink and white Japanese pressed fish cake)

Dashi Steamed Shrimp

Tsukemono (salted cucumber)

Namasu (pickled carrots and daikon)

Umeboshi (Japanese picked plums)


Blistered Sesame and Soy Shisito Peppers


Sake and Mirin Grilled Shrimp


Salmon Sashimi

Maguro (Tuna) Sashimi


Spicy Crab and Japanese Vegetable Sushi



California Roll

Vegetable Roll



Japanese-Style Short Ribs


Sweet Asian Fried Chicken Wings (mom’s contribution)

Pork Wontons (mom & dad’s contribution)

DSC03796Char Siu-Style Sliced Pork

There you have it!

Happy 2013! May it be filled with health, love, peace and happiness.

From the Fujitaki Family to you all! Thanks for sharing in our families tradition.

To see my sister in law Linh’s beautiful photos of our New Year please visit her blog here.



Japanese-Style Short Ribs

While in Mammoth, I always like to cook dinner for my family at least a couple of nights. Though we’re used to the food up there, it’s not the most amazing cuisine, but it’s pleasant because some of the places we go to, including Giovanni’s, Roberto’s, and Shogun, are places we’ve been going to for years and years.  This year I marinated Japanese-style short ribs and grilled them for the family, made a simple salad of shaved cabbage with a sesame, ketchup and mayo based dressing, along with vegetable rice and roasted zucchini and carrot hash; a hearty and delicious meal for anyone to enjoy. Think about using this marinade for your Labor Day BBQ it can be used for meat, chicken or even tofu if you like.

Japanese-Style Short Ribs

2 ½ lbs thin cut cross section short ribs with bone

1 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons grated ginger

½ cup mirin

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup pineapple juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sesame oil



Take short ribs out of the package and place on paper towel to take off excess blood, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper on both sides.

In a large zipper storage bag, place all ingredients (except short ribs) into the bag, seal the bag, and shake till all ingredients are incorporated.

Place meat into zipper storage bag and shake till the marinade is well dispersed.  Place the bag in a large glass tray to prevent spilling.

Refrigerate at least over night for the best flavor.

On a preheated charcoal grill, place the short ribs down and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your short ribs are.

Be careful of flare-ups if your grill is very hot because of the sugar content in the meat and do not overcrowd the short ribs. Depending on your grill size, you may have to cook them in batches.

Serve with your favorite sides.

Food, Friends and Robins BBQ…Now That’s a Celebration

One afternoon this month, a bunch of friends gathered together to share some food and fun for Jabari’s birthday. Jabari is the author of and has been a family friend for ages. I’m so happy and honored to know someone with as much passion for what they do as Jabari. Thanks for contributing to the family in more ways then you know.

So we all gathered in Pasadena at Robins BBQ for some large plates of deliciousness.

My sister and I decided to take on a couple of pretty intense sandwiches. We shared the Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich with baked beans and the Bodacious “que” Stacker with macaroni and cheese.  The Carolina pulled pork was succulent and smokey with the flavors of mustard and the combination of sweet vinegar coleslaw, which made this an over-the-top BBQ favorite. The bodacious “que” stacker is a combination of tri tip, pulled pork, and a smoked hot link all combined into one massive sandwich.  It’s topped with pepper jack cheese, spicy bbq sauce and spicy pickle chips. The whole sandwich was just out of control–one of those fun things you eat and think, “wow did I really eat that”, but it was so good that it doesn’t matter. All the flavors melded well together, the smoky flavors with the gooey pepper jack and all that richness was cut by the intensely spicy sweet pickles.  I really loved the bbq sauces and the prominent flavors of smoke in the meats.


Everyone ordered an array of ribs and tri tip and everything else on the menu and no one had any complaints. We were attended to a little haphazardly because of the section we were sitting in, which was probably our only complaint. Valinda, Jabari’s girlfriend, said that you really do have to try the blueberry corn bread. Overall, we had an amazing time together with lots of laughs and good food. I’d recommend stopping in if you’re ever in the area.



Eastern Sierra Eats: Bar B-Q Bill’s

When it’s time to head home, we have our rituals as well: we pack up the condo, have a breakfast of whatever is left in the fridge that can’t travel back with us, and make our way into Bishop for a couple of shopping bits and pieces. We always stop at Schat’s Bakkery to get delicious bread and pastries, which I’ve written about here, as well as Mahogany Smoked Meats for some of the best beef jerky I’ve ever had, also written about here. But a place we don’t always get to stop at is Bar-B-Q Bill’s. Bill’s is a wonderfully strange place, with crazy decor and barbecue sandwiches that are mouth-watering. We don’t normally get eat here because Bill’s is closed on Sundays and when we take a trip to Mammoth, that’s normally the day we leave, before everyone has to get back to work on Monday. But since this time we took a mid week trip, we were able to stop in and have lunch, after our busy morning of sledding in the snow.

Bill’s is set up in a cafeteria style setting. You start at one end, where you look up at the menu to see what you’d like. I decided on a barbecue beef sandwich on a french roll, with meat that is shaved to order and placed on your sandwich bun as you make your way down the line. Then it’s topped with house-made barbecue sauce and you are able to choose a couple of sides as you make your way towards the end of the line. My brother always has the prime rib sandwich with au jus for his choice tasty treat. The meat is served about medium to medium rare and juice is pouring on to the bun by the time the sandwich is devoured. We had side salads and I ordered delightful slow-cooked baked beans. As we talked about our trip and made new plans for the next time we’d be able to come up to the mountains, lunch seemed to go by too quickly. Soon after, we were back home in Los Angeles looking at smog smudged skies and I immediately went to a yoga class to stretch my body after the long drive.

I’m so grateful for these amazing adventures with family and friends. The snow was breathtaking and a wonderful new experience for me. To take in the glory of the mountains, sledding in the fresh powder, cooking for everyone and just relaxing five hours away from home, in a place that’s like my second home, was and is always a wonderful way to make me realize just how lucky I am.
haha I love this picture… Love you little bro!
Awesome group shot courtesy of my sister in law Viet Linh :)

Homemade Sauce and Wheat pita Balsamic BBQ Chicken Pizza

For holiday presents this year, I decided to take on some jarring adventures. I made homemade tapenade with rosemary, tomatoes and black olives; marinara with mirepoix, fresh basil and parsley; spicy marinara with roasted garlic and red pepper flakes (Arrabbiata sauce); and balsamic barbecue sauce with brown sugar, molasses and aged balsamic vinegar. With everything that I’ve tried and translated into other things, jarring is one of the techniques that I haven’t implemented that often, so this was a great new experience. These sauces are some of my favorite things to have on hand and to make, but they are intended to be slow-simmered and aren’t suitable to make on a whim, which is why I decided to take the work out of it for my family and friends and jar them up and give them as gifts. Nothing is like giving a gift from the heart, especially at Christmas, and as a chef, there is no more personal gift I can give than something I have made.

The flavors meld well together after they have been jarred and served with your favorite things such as toasted foccacia and goat cheese with tapenade or simply crackers and tapenade, spaghetti with marinara, penne with arrabiata, or lasagna made with homemade sauce. The sauces give these dishes the slow-cooked feel, but can be made in half the time since the sauce is pre-made. Balsamic BBQ pizzas made with roasted chicken on a wheat pita topped with cilantro, red onions and mozzarella cheese, BBQ glazed chicken breast, or balsamic BBQ ribs are other great ways to enjoy the homemade BBQ sauce. I love the many uses of such versatile sauces for the holidays, when we’re so busy doing too much that we could use a little home cooking ready in the fridge.
Quick Recipe
Wheat pita Balsamic BBQ Chicken Pizza
1 wheat pita
2 sprigs cilantro, off the stem
1/4 cup roasted chicken, shredded
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
3 tablespoons Balsamic BBQ or 2 tablespoons regular BBQ sauce with 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar mixed in.
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place pita in the center of a large baking sheet and spread 2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce or more if desired.
Then add shredded chicken and cilantro, sprinkling over pizza evenly.
Add mozzarella and place cilantro and red onions on top.
Drizzle with last tablespoon of BBQ sauce.
Bake in preheated oven about 8-10 minutes until pita is crispy and cheese has melted.
Cut and serve warm.
I jarred the sauces and my sister made baskets with the bells and whistles, some dry spaghetti, bottle of wine and a box of crackers. Sometimes giving is as simple as a sauce.
Here are a couple of links I found useful about jarring if you’re interested:
Lots of Love

The simple pleasures of the eastern sierras; Mammoth Lakes, CA.

As a young girl, and even now in my twenties, I looked forward to our family vacations in the summer all year long. Three pretty rough, very close in age, small kids: my sister, brother, and I, crammed in the back of a car together with enough belongings to last us on our one to two week trip, was always a tight fit. But even with the five and a half hour ride ahead of us, we were able to survive killing each other every year. I love Mammoth. A lot of people do, but it’s most famous for its ski resorts and snow; during the summer time its beauty is astounding. You don’t ski in the summer, so when people ask me if I went skiing up there and I go in the middle of August, please pardon my backward glance–it happens all the time.

Lake George


Lake Mamie


Twin Lakes


Lake Mary


Horseshoe Lake




Mammoth Lakes is home to some of the most pristine clear blue lakes and creeks, thousands and thousands of tall pine trees and other green beautiful vegetation, and nights of pitch black skies with stars all a flutter, like nowhere else I’ve been. The basin of Mammoth Lakes is home to many smaller and some larger bodies of water. The main lakes accessible by road are Lake Mary, Lake Mamie, Horseshoe Lake, Twin Lakes, and Lake George. These lakes are all beautiful with their own mystery and stories to be told. The lakes are stocked with Rainbow Trout and have some of their own native varities at the depths of the clear waters from the winter’s melted snow. We always go fishing and this year, as with most years, we were very sucessful. We catch usually catch over 40 trout, not to mention the ones we let go, but keep and cook, as well as freeze, fish to bring back to family and friends. Catching fish is not all fun and games; I love fishing, but cleaning fish is another thing. I can clean them and I do clean them, but it’s not my favorite part. My dad so wonderfully decided to let me photograph the steps for cleaning trout. I hope you enjoy the labor that goes into the fish you eat.


Here’s a photo log of how to clean a trout. (please click on the pictures for enlarged photos)




Now that’s fresh fish!

Also, in Mammoth we pay homage to the local eateries that we’ve been frequenting for years on end. Places like Angels, Roberto’s, Giovanni’s, and Shogun are likely stops in town for lunch or dinner.





This American style BBQ house is doing well and very crowded on most days of the week. For a nice BBQ sandwich or a very icy cold beer, this is a good place to go. They serve warm scones with your meal and their shoe string onion rings and house made BBQ sauce are delicious. I had a brisket sandwich that was tender and flavorful. They also have a pretty mean rack of ribs here, but I opted to go with the sandwich.





Mammoth’s answer to Mexican. We always go here. My dad loves Mexican food and I think everyone knows, so do I. We stopped in with the whole gang to have chips and salsa, some margaritas, and a little lunch. I had a chili con carne burrito and my family had a very affordable lunch special consisting of one cheese enchilada and one taco, choice of chicken or beef, with rice and beans for six dollars. My dad always gets the chimichanga here, a fried burrito with all the fixings. Delicious.


This pizza parlor is always packed with kids and families, all getting in a slice of pie. Though rather expensive–most things are in Mammoth–the pizza is hot, scrumptious, and huge. Giovanni’s is home to the Mammoth-size pizza which is an impressive 19-inch pizza that feeds 6 or more. It’s not on the menu anymore but ask for the Meatzza pizza with all the types of meat they have. Order it to go and relax at the cabin with a slice of pizza and a nice movie.


As the mountain has become vastly more popular with tourists many new establishments are up and coming in the area. Supporting local eateries in such rough economic times definitely helps. While we were visiting town didn’t seem to be hurting but we were in mammoth for their music and wine festival.

So between the eating out, fishing, hiking and enjoying the beautiful sunshine and weather, we went swimming and soaked in the hot tub, and of course, I cooked for my family.

Everyone that came up was very excited we brought my little niece on her first vacation and trip to Mammoth. She was so awesome up there; I think she loved it. The altitude and the car ride are rough on kids, but she was great. So my sister, brother-in-law, mom, dad, and grandma all came up and we enjoyed our week together. My sister only stayed with the baby for 3 days because they had to get back and didn’t want to overdo it, but it was still really nice. My uncle, aunt, and cousin joined us for a day on the lake, which was a nice surprise as well. Unfortunately, my brother and sister-in-law couldn’t make it, but we hope the entire family can go up next year.

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While in Mammoth, I made scallops with sautéed spinach and bacon, mashed potatoes, tomato and goat cheese salad, roasted artichokes and spinach with flank steak. We enjoyed this on my mom’s birthday, August 14. The next night we enjoyed rosemary and mushroom pork chops with scalloped potatoes and green beans. On another night we had BBQ chicken quarters with mixed green salad. It was very nice to make food for everyone to enjoy all together. High altitude cooking is very interesting because there is less oxygen and atmospheric pressure in the air. The boiling point is only 208 degrees instead of 212 degrees and evaporation of water is therefore faster, so liquids have to be increased for even cooking.



Times flies whenever I’m in Mammoth and before I knew it, we woke up and it was time to go home.


On the way back home we stopped at the famous Erick Schat’s Bakkerÿ  for some cheese bread and raisin bread. They have loads of amazing things, from the most extravagant breads to the simple sheepherders. Sandwiches, sweets, drinks, and so many different eats are piled high into this tourist attraction. It’s like a bread Disneyland–you will

definitely wait in line.


We also always stop to buy beef jerky at Mahogany Smoked Meats. This place has some of the best beef jerky I’ve ever tasted. It’s so flavorful and it’s tender, not like those leathery pieces of meat you get at the supermarket in the check out. We always get Sweet and Spicy and my brother and dad like Habanero, which is very spicy. They also sell sausages and smoked bacon and have other meats made into jerky, so ask for a try and stop in to get some. It’s really very tasty.




And just like that, we were back in Los Angeles. I love Mammoth and I love condo life in the Sierras, so skip the snow one time and see for yourself, all the beautiful sites that this area has to offer in the summer sunshine.

Also pictured Convict Lake just outside of Mammoth and Grant Lake in the June Loop.

Convict Lake


Grant Lake