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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Amaya’s First Birthday Party at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym For All Kids

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A first birthday in my family is nothing to be trifled with. For Amaya’s big day, we had to do something that would keep everyone relatively cool, since August in the San Fernando Valley can get up to 100 degrees or higher. My family has taken Maleeya and Amaya to this amazing play space for a little while now, it’s called We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym and they have so many fun things to play with that allow children of all abilities to come together and be in a very safe and loving super fun space. So my sister decided that we would have Amaya’s Snow White inspired First Birthday at We Rock the Spectrum.
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The decorations were beautiful and the atmosphere was so fun. Between food, jumping on trampolines, zip lining and swinging, the kids enjoyed cake and sang happy birthday to my sweet little leo for her big party. I took some time to make a few apple inspired desserts: little Rice Krispies red apples with graham cracker stems and little green leaves and of course, red candied apples as well as a few caramel ones too. The food was inspired by kids’ favorites so it naturally lent way to finger foods.
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Everyone enjoyed themselves on this beautiful day celebrating this lovely little lady who I can’t believe is already one-year-old! Happy Birthday Amaya, Auntie loves you! I’m so glad I could be with you on your special day.
Hot Dog Cornbread Muffins with
Turkey Dog Croissants
7 Dwarf Layered Bean Dip
Fruit Platter and Veggie Platter with Purple Basil
Spinach Pinwheels with Hummus and Mortadella
Turkey Pinwheels with Cheese
Ham Pinwheels with Hummus
Mac n Cheese Bites
Mac n Cheese with Peas and Carrots  
Rice Krispies Treats Red Apples with Graham Cracker Stems
Red Candied Apples
Caramel Apples

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Sweetsalt Toluca Lake, CA

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I like a great lunch. I think lunch can be overlooked and underwhelming a lot of the time because we don’t put much effort into it. I can understand that because I do it myself.  My normal lunch is probably some leftover something that I made for dinner the night before, so on this particular occasion I felt like having a nice lunch on a beautiful summer afternoon with my boyfriend, Brandon. Normally we debate where we should go and if we’re out by me, I usually have to pick because he’s not too familiar with the area (though I must admit that he’s getting much better).  I remembered my brother mentioning that Sweetsalt was good so we decided to check it out. We went in around 11:30 for lunch, which is early to beat the crowds, because that place seems to pack them in.

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The décor is antique and rustic with larger communal tables at the back to seat larger parties and smaller seats in the very small café-style restaurant. Sweetsalt is an order-at-the-counter style restaurant and they bring the food out to your corresponding number. We looked over the very fresh and trendy salad and sandwich choices, which all looked interesting and delicious. We picked the pear and pomegranate salad with chicken and the short rib brioche sandwich with a side of truffle potatoes and an iced soy latte. The pear and pomegranate salad was really refreshing and lite. The chicken was chopped and tossed into the salad and nicely complimented the sweet dressing that allowed the bitterness of the arugula to disappear a bit. Our sandwich was delectable; the short rib was tender and juicy. The meat had a very pronounced bourbon or whiskey flavor and was a little heavy on the black pepper, but the buttery brioche bun helped to mellow those flavors. They put a little side salad of mixed greens lightly dressed, which added freshness to the sandwich. Our truffle potatoes were again a bit on the heavy black pepper side, but cooked well. The café is really a very sweet and dainty place to have a bite to eat, enjoy coffee or pastries, and friendly company.



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.



Maleeya’s First Birthday Celebration and Catering

My niece, Maleeya, just recently turned one on Easter, which was April 8th, so we decided that it would be a good idea to celebrate Easter with our family, including a small birthday celebration for her and then, the following Sunday, have her huge birthday celebration at the park. First birthdays, and birthdays in general, are a huge deal for the Fujitaki family, so we knew it was going to be a big production to get everything together; naturally, I was in charge of the food. As the number of guests grew and grew as we approached the party date, I knew that I was in for a good weekend full of catering and cooking, which felt nice because I haven’t done a large event in a while, but boy did my body feel it after cooking for 14 hours, not to mention the countless hours in preparation, shopping, organizing and sourcing. Needless to say, I slept a lot the next day and took a completely necessary yoga class to get my aching back and feet back to normal. 
I didn’t have time to make the cakes but these are pretty darn cute!
The final count for Sunday was about 65 people and I think there seemed to be even more people than that. I have no problem making a lot of food for a lot of people, but with space limitations, refrigeration limitations and my new time limitations (aka Yoga Teacher Training), I found myself planning a different sort of menu.  One person cooking for 65 people in a residential kitchen can be a tricky thing, but with a little patience, a lot of intuition, and a calm demeanor, anything can happen.  I want to thank my sister, my parents and our friend Valinda for helping me put the last minute touches on everything and hauling it over to the park. The whole party was such a success with everyone’s help and I’m so grateful to be a part of such an amazing family and extended family and friends. It’s such a beautiful feeling to see how much love is surrounding this amazing little girl and how it shapes and molds her lovely little soul. Happy Birthday Maleeya! Auntie loves you so much.

Roasted Chicken, Sundried Tomato, Mozzarella and Spinach Basil Pesto Sandwich on Rosemary Garlic Bread
Chinese Spiced Pork Tenderloin (Char Siu) Sandwich on Toasted French Roll with Spicy Asian Mayo, Cucumbers, Pea Shoots and Carrots
Roasted Salmon Lettuce Wraps with Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Quinoa
Sliced Turkey Pinwheels with Hearts of Romaine and CheeseScallion, Black olive and Celery Potato Salad
Rainbow Pasta Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes, Red Onion and Colby Jack Tossed in Red Wine Vinaigrette
Orzo Salad with Stripped Beets, Broccoli, Cranberries and Fresh Spinach Tossed in Sherry Vinegar Dressing
Purple Cabbage Coleslaw with Honey, Peanuts, Carrots and Granny Smith Apples
Vegetable Platter And Fruit Platter



Sunday Brunch at Hugo’s

Sunday afternoon…It calls to you, forcing you to get out of bed, even with the knowledge that you don’t really have anything to do. But you do have something to do: afternoon brunch. I love brunch, especially if it involves friends, food and chatter. This afternoon the ladies (Dina, Bryn and Stephanie) all decided to gather up for a good gossip session and some delicious food. I thought there would be no better place than Hugo’s. Hugo’s is a trendy, partially vegan and vegetarian restaurant, specializing in teas and all sorts of deliciousness, located off of Riverside and Coldwater.  A bustling service was taking place when I was greeted and told the wait to be seated was about 20 minutes at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon.  Families, friends and people gathering just to say hello lined the tables and waiting areas in search of tasty morsels for an afternoon get away on a perfect brisk Fall day.

I love this place and have dined here on many occasions; it’s still as busy as it was eight years ago, when I was first introduced to this place. The wait staff is accommodating and well-trained. Our waitress was sweet and helped us make decisions when perusing the menu full of numerous options. Here, you may make your own vegetarian or vegan options, choose from Hispanic influenced dishes, Asian, American and everything in between; it truly has something for everyone. I ordered a soy eggnog latte, which was richly warm and perfectly foamed; often a difficult thing to find in California. After some chat and finally figuring out what to eat, we picked from a plethora of dishes. I decided on a Cuban chicken sandwich, which had sweet, grilled, caramelized red onions, honey chipotle sauce, mixed greens, tomatoes, and goat cheese. It also had fried plantains, but I’m not much of a banana or plantain person. The sweetness and tang of goat cheese was really wonderful, with a moist chicken breast and plenty of extra mixed greens, which I asked for to make my sandwich perfect for my appetite. The girls had their own delicious breakfast fair and we enjoyed each other’s company while finishing each bite. I’m so lucky to be able to enjoy food and have fun with these beautiful people in my life.


My sweet friend Stephanie has featured me as Miss December at her blog Please check it out!  You may read some things you didn’t know about me! Thank You :)





Chateau Night Club, Max Brenner, and Il Fornaio Las Vegas, NV

As our evening progressed and I departed from my CARNEVINO experience I walked the rest of the way back to my hotel where I was to meet the ladies for our evening out amongst adults. I got back to an empty hotel room and  was met by my friends, we drank mixed cocktails with more vodka than mix and got out on our way. We stopped and said hello to my friend Michelle who was also in Vegas with some of her friends and then went off to the Cosmopolitan Hotel to the Chandelier Bar  We decided that it wasn’t probably the best suited for our dire need to dance, so we went back to our hotel and up to Chateau nightclub and garden . We danced the night away. After that Katie and I ventured out for early morning junk food and slots. People watching and hiking the Vegas strip finally around 530 in the morning we were back and in bed for the sun rise.

Michelle and I

Me, Katie, and Hollee

Dance Party!

Still full and probably a little tipsy, we woke up and checked out of the Paris Hotel. Slipped on some bathing suits and headed to the pool for a while. During which time Katie’s cousin went to visit with her uncle and grandfather after we took in enough sun and popped in the pool a couple of times, we decided to walk over to Ceasers Palace for lunch.

We walked around for a while trying to decide where a good place to eat would be and finally we came to Max Brenner a cute little crazy candy shop which also serves food from brunch to dinner. The menu covered a wide range of things from salads to pizzas burgers and sandwiches which were perfect for lunch. The menu is pretty extensive with lush desserts and any kind of coffee/sweet drink you could imagine.  But most of all the restaurant itself was adorable. Beautiful crazy decor everywhere with accents of fresh chili pods, cocoa beans, coffee, and chocolate everywhere. Think Modern day stylish Willy Wonka.

Look at this salt and pepper! adorable

We decided on

Greek Style Cucumber Salad which included
Feta, red onions, tomatoes, olives, hummus crustini and red-wine vinaigrette
This salad was simple and presented well. The dressing was tangy and delicious and the pile of cucumbers on top was seeded and crunchy in a spinach based salad, basic and done well.

We also had Sliced & Diced Steak “Pillow” Panini certified angus beef
char gilled & thin sliced skirt steak tossed with diced caramelized onions on a bed of asiago cheese crisps. baby spinach, roasted tomatoes, red pepper aioli

This steak sandwich was very good. The meat was chopped very fine but still tender and as it melted in your mouth. The aioli as well as the tomatoes left a very sharp spicy roasted flavor that the meat played well with and the asiago cheese crisp gave a crunch to the sandwich that just made it better than I thought. I also really enjoyed the bread homemade pickles on the side and waffle fries. Presentation on the plate was really cute served on a cutting board with the fries in a glass.

The service was sweet and to the point.

I wanted dessert badly but too much of a good thing is always the case; I’ll definitely have to go back for a latte and dessert sometime.

Katie and I then played some slots in Ceasers and waited for her cousin. We roamed around Vegas for an hour or so visiting the Bellagio which is gorgeous and then the girls were off back to the valley by that evening.

I met up with some other friends who were visiting in Vegas as well, Jeff, Jabari and Valinda, and spent the rest of the evening with them.

After relaxing in the condo with friends having a couple of beers and hanging out we finally got out to the strip. Valinda was in search for french onion soup so we went back to Paris Hotel only to be disappointed because it was so late that no one was really open. So we decided to give up the search and head down to Excalibur and then walk over to New York New York to see what they had to eat. So after circling the casinos a couple of times and the angst of hungry people we finally found a restaurant that was open.

Il Fornaio

The restaurant was large and we sat on a type of patio. Wouldn’t you know it the only place open is Italian. I knew off the bat pretty much what I wanted from a place like this. Il fornaio is a chain of restaurants open in a lot of different parts of California and other states. The atmosphere was nice with linen on the tables and balsamic and oil with our bread. I ordered a Calzone. I love Calzone’s this one was very nicely done with ricotta cheese, mozzarella, ham and mushroom and tomato sauce. For what we were up against in our late night battle for dinner this was perfectly fine by me.


A last my final meal in Vegas. What an amazing trip. I’m so glad I got to be with such awesome people and that we were all together at some point in time. I can’t wait till my next visit. I hope this inspires you to go out and try something else.

Twitter and Foodbuzz

One more before I fly away

I’m getting in a couple of entries because I’m sure I’m not going to have computer access much when I’m in North Carolina which is fine by me but i cooked a lot today and i would like to share a bit more of it before i leave for about 5 days. My bags are packed I’m about to leave for the airport in three hours.

Well now seeing as I cook for my sister and brother in law most of the time, I hate when i leave because i know they go out to eat or eat some weird bagel or just pot stickers and i just don’t like a lot of the choices out there. I’d rather just cook something so i know whats going into it and even more so now my sister doesn’t really set a toe it the kitchen anymore which is fine when I’m here but when I’m not it produces a bit of a problem. So to adjust to that problem i decided to spend about 3 or 4 hours in the kitchen today making food for them for when I’m gone pack up the fridge and leave it to beaver .

Plus for my own sake i had to get in a good amount of cooking or while I’m gone I’ll go crazy…


Homemade Marinara for pasta (picture taken before blending)

Chicken Parmesan and ricotta

Chicken celery and rice casserole

Meatballs with parsley and red onion

Chopped Chicken tacos

Turkey potato and white corn soup

Colby chicken ranch sandwich

(this is a Japanese style savory pancake that I love my bachan used to make them for me after the holiday. It is one of my favorite things to eat. most serve it with a lot of sauce on top but i like mine with the natural flavors inside. AWESOME)

Sir fried bean sprouts

Hoping everyone has a beautiful weekend ahead of themselves!


Cyrus’s 1st Birthday Party Finished Catering

My life turns this…


Into this Fruit, Cheese, and Vegetable platter assorted melon some strawberries,and grapes the vegetables carrots, broccoli, celery, and cucumbers jack cheese, cheddar squares Deviled eggs trio of salad a Purple and Green Coleslaw with Salted almonds and honey granny smith apple vinaigrette, Tomato Bell Pepper Balsamic Feta Pasta salad, and Olive, scallion, and egg Potato Salad pigs in a blanket melted cheese and hot dogs wrapped in croissant dough, turkey pin wheels with assorted cheese and red onions, Romain lettuce and tomatoes , honey paprika chicken sliders, and Braised apple cider beef sliders Pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese clove filling and candied pineapple