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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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.

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