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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The Stove; Mammoth Lakes, CA

Mammoth has some quintessential eateries that frequent visitors are sure to know about, one being The Stove. The Stove is known for its country-style old ways and is almost always packed, no matter when or what time it is. They have homemade pies, large waffles, scrambled eggs and every other breakfast thing that you’d normally see, but this time we didn’t eat breakfast there, we opted for dinner.  Sometimes I have qualms about eating at breakfast places for dinner, well most times, but my brother insisted this is where we needed to go, probably because the $14.95 prime rib dinner was definitely calling his name.

Because we knew this place would be crowded, we arrived a little before the restaurant opened for dinner at 5 p.m.  We made the correct assumption because three other cars soon followed us into the lot and as we stood in line, we took a couple of pictures of the beautiful surroundings to pass the time. As five o’clock quickly approached, the line began to grow steadily and we were sat by a nice hostess. Our waiter came over, got drinks and brought us a crumby mess of dry cornbread and muffins to the table; not my preference, but somewhat rustic.  We glanced over our menus and decided on prime rib being the ideal dish for me, my brother, mom and dad. My sister-in-law had chicken fried steak and my grandma had liver and onions. I don’t know who orders liver and onions when they go out, but that was a mess of a dinner if I ever saw one. Lesson learned: don’t order liver and onions again, Granny. Our prime rib came out tender and juicy. I had red potatoes and mixed vegetables with mine and we also got a dinner salad.

As the restaurant continued to fill up, we were glad we came in early. For the most part, our food was pretty good and a hefty portion for anyone to put down. My sister-in-law loves desserts so she ordered an apple bread pudding with whiskey sauce and ice cream, on the recommendation of our waiter. It was really delicious and a very large piping hot portion.  Dinner at The Stove with the family was home-style and comforting, one of those stick-to-your-ribs meals you enjoy every now and again.



Mammoth Lakes 2012

Mammoth Lakes is a place I never tire from visiting. Throughout my life the anticipation of returning to this majestic platform of nature’s daily miracle always carries me through to another year. For as long as I can remember, my dad has visited Mammoth at least once or twice each year. Mammoth Mountain is located in the Eastern Sierras of California, just outside of Bishop and towers at an astounding 11,060 feet above sea level. This mountain is known mostly for its snow sports and winter wonderland activities, but our family has been enjoying the wonders of summer in the wilderness for many years. We don’t camp—we stay in a condo with full amenities including pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, ping pong table, and pool table, so it’s definitely not wilderness all the time.

Lake Mary with View of Mammoth Mountain

 Twin Lakes from above

Twin Lakes from Below

Convict Lake

I’ve always enjoyed fishing. Though I might not be the greatest fisherwoman, I can still show up, cast out and catch some fish, which is what we often do while we are in Mammoth. Aside from this large mountain that most people know about, Mammoth is situated amongst many lakes, ample hiking trails, bike paths and so much scenery that your eyes are sure to find something new each trip.  I never tire of the beauty that unfolds in this stunning place. This year we were caught in a couple of strange thunderstorms, which made for some of the most breath taking and fierce sights I’ve seen in a long time. The claps of thunder and the swells of rain were something we’ve rarely experienced on our trips in the summer and though it may have taken us off the lake and away from the fish, it gave us some much needed relaxation and togetherness.

Lake Mamie

Lake George

I’m so grateful to all my family for being able to show up and be together, even as we grow older and time is scarce. It’s nice to know that we can still come together and remember what it was like to be little kids fishing together and joking around. We are also introducing the next generation of fishing fanatics to the sierras; my niece Maleeya was out around the lakes exploring with fresh eyes and that’s always a beautiful thing to see.  So between fishing with mom and dad, exploring with Granny, Maleeya, my sister, and my brother-in-law, as  well as hiking to unknown waterfall territories with my brother and sister-in-law (check out her blog at for her awesome Mammoth pictures and food photographs), we ate delicious food, enjoyed each other’s company, caught our limit of fish, and had a wonderful time in the mountains.

Sunscreen and set up key to a successful day of fishing

While we were there, I enjoyed packing sandwiches and making dinners and breakfasts for everyone, but we also stopped into our usual places, which are written about in these entries from last year.

On our trip this year we were able to stop by Mammoth Brewing Company: a crowded and vivacious place where people were standing in lines to get a tasting of what they had to offer. The set-up is really quite interesting and I’ve never been to another place quiet like it. The outside looks like a warehouse—you have to keep your eyes out for the place, but most likely there will be people outside.   My sister-in-law, brother, grandma, dad and I all went in for a beer tasting, which was definitely a deal. For $4 you can sample nine beers. They range from all different types of beers (light to dark) and finish with a house-made root beer. If you can make your way up to the bar, you’re greeted by very kind bartenders and can start your tasting. Overall, I really enjoyed the IPA 395, which everyone else thought was pretty rough, but I loved the earthiness of the beer and you could really taste the sage and juniper. So as we sampled we had a lot to choose from, but for the five of us to enjoy an hour of fun for only $20, this was a bargain for Mammoth. You can also purchase growlers and kegs, as well as take home bottles of your favorite beers. I’d definitely recommend stopping by if you’re up there, just don’t be in a hurry and relax.



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 :)

Mammoth Eats: Roberto’s

Hidden amongst eateries of all sorts, though not known for its culinary successes, Mammoth plays host to a few gems along the way; one of these fine places is Roberto’s Cafe. I’ve written about this Mexican food before, but I figured a couple more pictures for good measure wouldn’t hurt. Roberto’s is a staple that we tend to indulge in every trip to Mammoth. There’s nothing like a nice burrito or taco after a long day on the lake, but the margaritas make it even better.
On this trip we decided to get out of the snow and make our away from a very disappointing experience to something we knew was going to be good. My brother, Kyle, and sister-in-law, Viet-Linh, were most inclined to find a good meal and something to quench our thirst. We decided on a pitcher of margaritas, which was called La Bamba, while watching the football game in the cantina. The margaritas were wonderfully potent with just the right mixing to make you feel warm and toasty inside, despite the blizzard outside. A delightful scent and flavor of Grand Marnier finished the pleasantness of the overall drink.
After we indulged in chips and salsa and our margaritas, we found ourselves looking over the menu. Kyle and Viet-Linh shared the El Jefe burrito, consisting of shredded chicken, potatoes, cheese and beans, all rolled in a flour tortilla and topped with more of the burrito stuffing. The burrito was huge, delicious and very juicy from all the tender chicken. I ordered a combination plate consisting of a pork tamale and beef taco. The tamale was perfectly moist and topped with a delicious red colorado sauce and some cheese. The beans and rice were tasty and the taco was fried well. Overall, a very delicious and hearty meal for the long winter afternoon.
There’s nothing like tequila and tortillas to brighten up any blizzard.

Mammoth Eats: Giovanni’s

As we entered town after the long drive from Los Angeles, we decided we needed to kill a little bit of time before we were able to get into the condo and unload all of our things. So we made our way up to Twin Lakes and saw the first snow falling, before the snow storm started to gain momentum. It was such a beautiful and breathtaking moment to see something that I normally see, but in such a different light. With all the cold browns and harshness of the trees’ leaves swept away by the storm’s cold icicles, the lake lay dormant with a layer of hard ice beginning to form at its surface.  As we threw snowballs at each other and took pictures in the windy cold, we definitely built up an appetite. This was the perfect time to head back into town and warm up.

In a shopping center alongside a Vons grocery store and a movie theater, is a small, tucked away pizza place called Giovanni’s. It serves delicious pizza pies and is home to the Mammoth-sized pizza (19-inches across). My family has enjoyed many fond memories here, all while growing up. When we entered Giovanni’s we were cordially greeted as people coming from skiing and snowboarding quickly filled the establishment. We sat down and decided on a pizza topped with Canadian bacon, sausage and roasted red peppers with thick crust and spicy tomato sauce. Delicious. The crust is crispy and chewy and the sauce has just the right amount of heat. After a couple bites of a small dinner salad, which I have to pair with pizza, and some pepperoncinis and parmesan cheese, we devoured most of the pizza with the premise of leaving a couple of slices for a midnight snack.   Our service was cordial and not overbearing, just like most things in Mammoth. Enjoying delicious pizza and an amazing view of Twin Lakes with my brother and sister-in-law, made for the perfect beginning to our Mammoth trip.

Snowy Trip to the Eastern Sierras; Mammoth Mountain and Hawaiian Bread French Toast

I recently took a four day trip to the beautiful Eastern Sierras, wherein lies Mammoth Mountain.  Normally my family and I have a traditional summer vacation to this area around my birthday; we enjoy eachother’s company in the breathtaking surroundings of fresh clean air, high altitude, and fishing in the sunshine. This trip was exceptionally different. I’m not much of a snow person–growing up my whole life in the sunshine makes the snow a very unusual experience for me. As we found ourselves in the biggest storm of the season so far, I found myself taken aback with interesting  incidents such as digging the car out of a couple feet of snow, putting chains on tires, layering clothes until the point of suffocation and also, just being too warm and comfy inside to even want to venture outside.  I enjoyed the beautiful snow escape wonderland for the time that we were there: cooking, laughing, and enjoying company with my brother and sister-in-law.
Hawaiian Bread French Toast
4 large eggs, beaten
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
10-15 Hawaiian Sweet Rolls cut in half
Butter for cooking
Crack eggs in one bowl and beat together well.
Combine water and milk together in separate bowl. Then dissolve brown sugar in mixture until there are no large clumps.
Combine water/milk mixture to eggs and incorporate well.
In a medium-sized non-stick pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat, making sure not to scorch the butter.
Dip bread into mixture, coating on both sides. Do not let the bread sit in the egg wash, otherwise they will be too soggy.
Place bread in one by one and into warmed pan and cook about 3-4 minutes per side until golden.
Repeat with the rest of the rolls.
Keep French toast in the oven at 350 degrees to keep warm until all are ready to serve.
Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top and serve.
Sometimes the simplest things are the ones we remember best. Stay tuned for more Mammoth snow adventures.

My Birthday

This year I turned 26 years old. Still, some things never change and I like it that way. I was in Mammoth Lakes, CA for my birthday, which is where I spend most of my birthdays since I was very little.

My birthday this year was not just one day, but seemed like a whole month of celebration. I’ve honestly had one of the best months of my entire life. With so many beautiful people involved, my family and of course my amazing friends, it’s so easy to appreciate the beauty of life. On my actual birthday I spent the whole afternoon fishing at Lake Mary along with the sandwiches and snacks that we brought. I drove up to the lake a little later than the rest of my family because I didn’t feel like waking up at 5:30 a.m. to go fishing, but I was at the lake around 10:00 a.m. We caught a good amount of fish, like almost 30, and I was able to finish the 4th Harry Potter book The Goblet of Fire.

Unfortunately, it was a Saturday and many tourists like to boat and kayak on the lake, which is fine, but most of them don’t understand that there are people fishing from the shoreline so they go right where our lines are cast. Well one boat in particular was close to shore that they almost beached themselves, but instead managed to rudely catch the line of my mom’s fishing pole and take her whole pole into the water about 15-20 feet out from the shore line—this was a new pole mind you. My mom was very upset and those people didn’t even stop to help. They just sped away. Lucky for us, a kayaker that was nearby saw what happened and she paddled over to help but was unable to get the pole from the bottom of the lake. Now I don’t normally like diving to the bottom of ice cold lakes to get fishing poles, especially because of idiots, but my mom would have been so upset for the rest of the day if I didn’t get it. So being a good daughter, I walked out until only my head was just barely over the water, finding a rock to keep me up, and then at the count of three I dove to the bottom of the lake and got the pole from under the rock. I have to say I’ve never been head-in deep, let alone diving to the bottom of a lake that was freezing cold before. So, moral of the story, if you’re on a boat, stay in the middle of the lake so I don’t have to dive in to get another fishing pole.

Anyway, that’s a crazy story and in all the years we’ve been fishing, this is the first time that someone took the fishing pole out that far. My aunt, uncle and cousin were there and they pretty much jaw dropped. I’m pretty sure no one else would have gone in after it, except maybe my mom, but no way. It was a good thing I had extra clothes, so I changed and we showed our extended family around the lakes. After, we went back to our respective condos and got showered and all that good stuff and went out to dinner at Shogun.


Shogun is a Japanese eatery in Mammoth. They specialize in combination plates of hot food, boats of different varieties and sushi. We’ve been coming here forever. It’s not the greatest place, but we’ve never had a problem. We ordered a couple of rolls of sushi to share amongst everyone and a boat for 3 people to share between my mom, dad, me and my grandma. All the food was delicious and of course I had to have a Sapporo to cheers to my new year. The boat consists of tuna sashimi, mixed tempura, tonkatsu, chicken teriyaki, and beef teriyaki. It comes with hot white rice, cabbage salad, spicy Tsukemono, and miso soup. Then for dessert you get your choice of ice cream. It’s a lot of food but everything is always as I remember it. Shogun is one of those places that you’re so used to eating, you never have to complain, except sometimes the service is a little off, but we got a free beer out of it.

After my food coma settled, my aunt, uncle and cousin brought over a birthday cake in the shape of a lady bug that came from Schat’s Bakery in Mammoth. The cake was tasty but I had so much food at dinner that it was difficult to fully enjoy it. But it was definitely cute and tasted good—vanilla and red velvet.

My day was absolutely beautiful thanks to my amazing family and the text messages, facebook posts and phone calls from all the people I love so much. I guess 26 isn’t so bad after all.

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.

click for enlarged photos

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