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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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 :)

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.

Food Nostalgia

When you become a foodie or when you go to culinary school or you’ve kinda just decided to widen your horizons in food sometimes certain things you used to eat get ruined but I still believe there are some places or thing that we eat no matter how turned up your nose gets from culinary knowledge, you’d still eat things you ate as a kid because its what you’re used to. This last couple of ventures out have proved that to me and I’d like to share them with you.

I’ve had a very busy last couple days with lots of family and friends.

Saturday night we had Mexican food out in Eagle rock at Ernie Jr’s  with my mom, dad, sister, brother in law and Bachan.

My Bachan, a little Japanese lady who’s my dad’s mom, loves Mexican food but it can’t be anything too spicy because spice is not widely used in Japanese cuisine so she’s not used to it. My dads been going to Ernie Jr’s for my whole life and probably since he was in his 20’s. his buddies would go with him there after tennis and my mom and dad would go there on dates. I always get # 22 Rice with Chile Verde, my dad used to always eat it too; it’s made with a tender Spanish rice topped with braised beef in a light green chili sauce with melted cheese over the top for 7 dollars. We always get an order of guacamole which is okay but we splash it with their house salsa and scoop it up with crispy chips,that I always have too many of, its something I’ve been eating for so long it’s still good. We just sit, talk, and eat all together. It’s always been that way, I’m glad we enjoy each others company in a place so familiar.

Later that Saturday night I had girl’s night out and about with the ladies in Westlake and west hills with a couple of cocktails and some dancing before the babies got home on Sunday  The music was playing the vodka was flowing it was a lot of fun. Times have changed quite a bit but I’m glad we can get out and do a little dancing \ and wake up the next day, spending time on the couch watching cheesy movies. That evening we had Brawts and caramelized onions with baked beans, some real comfort foods with the girls families return.

I got home Sunday night and packed a lunch because I was headed to Mountain High Monday morning with my friends Joanna and Jack for Joanna’s Birthday. They went snowboarding which I opted out on because I’m notoriously clumsy and I didn’t want an unexpected hospital bill. So I woke up at 5am my normal bed time and was so tired from the rest of my weekend, but I’m glad I went. The snow was so fresh and beautiful. I haven’t seen ice sickles like that since I was a kid. The snow was so thick; you sunk in. I know a lot of you live in snow like that. I can’t even imagine. We made it up there and I read harry potter and listened to music, drinking in all the beautiful scenery and taking pictures.

After they got off the mountain, Joanna wanted to go to Johnny Carino’s Now the story behind this is that Jo and Jack both worked at Carino’s in Simi Valley about two years ago. It was one of those sad stories where one day they were open and in this economy one day they were closed. So they really had no closure on the whole event. I was with her though it and I understood she really loved her coworkers and had a lot of fun at her job. We were about 25 miles away from a Carino’s in Victorville when we went to Mountain High, otherwise there are none where we live. Carino’s is at best mediocre chain food, so I drank more than I ate but I understand the nostalgia and I was glad to be a part of their little going away party.

We enjoyed Hand-Breaded Calamari Served with spicy marinara sauce as well as Baked Stuffed Mushrooms Spinach, Parmesan cheese, red onions and garlic topped with lemon basil cream sauce, roma tomatoes and basil.

Then main course Spicy Shrimp and Chicken Penne pasta, cayenne pepper romano cream sauce, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and green onions.

So now that I’ve had these things I can easily make them and improve on them for her whenever she’d like. I’m glad I got to share in one of my best friend’s birthdays with Peach Bellini’s swirled with sangria and beer, snow, and a little closure. I’m glad I have my friends and even when you don’t have a 5 star meal, 5 star company makes up for it all.

Happy Birthday Jo I love you!

So where are some of your favorite meaningful places you go?

thanks for tagging along on my nostalgic food journey


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