Morsels: Here’s the Beef

When Brian Smith and Robert Hagopian opened The Butchery in Costa Mesa, they knew the spot would fill a special niche. The Laguna Beach residents met through their children, who were classmates. After several weekends at the beach and family dinners hosted at each other’s homes, Hagopian and Smith got down to the gristle. The two dads enjoyed cooking and agreed that finding top-tier meats in Orange County was nearly impossible. In a county flooded with tony restaurants, the grocery store cooler case was the only option for home cooks searching for steaks. At the time, Orange County’s culinary landscape was bone dry of artisan butcher shops. That’s why Hagopian and Smith opened The Butchery in 2009. After a couple successful years in Costa Mesa, the duo opened a third location at Crystal Cove Shopping Center. Just in time for the Fourth of July, Coast got their best tips to keep calm and grill on.

What are the biggest mistakes people make when barbecuing or grilling?  

Well, let’s address the meat first because it all starts there. The biggest mistake we see, or more accurately that we hear about, is thinking that you can save a few dollars on lesser quality cuts of meat and then season, marinate, tenderize or do anything to it that will turn it into something it never was. It’s critical, numero uno, that you start with quality food.

On the technical side, either not getting the grill hot enough, or cooking over coals that aren’t ready both cause big problems. You need high heat to get the Maillard reaction going, which is the browning of the meat. There’s a ton of flavor created there and if the grill isn’t hot enough you’ll overcook the meat chasing that brown crust. With coals, they should be gray in color and red-hot. If they’re black they’re not ready. Just be patient or you’ll have uneven cooking and flavor issues.

How do you ensure everything is cooked properly? Raw chicken with a side of norovirus is not something we’d like to serve at our cookouts. 

Build two temperature zones on your grill, a hot and a cool side. Once your meat is seared you can move it to the indirect heat to finish cooking, and also use the edge of that area to keep finished foods warm while others are still cooking. If your entire grill is hot you won’t have room to do this, and this goes for any meat, even burgers.

Lastly, flames look really cool for that Instagram shot, but you don’t want your steak cooking in them. We’ve seen people reaching through a bonfire to flip a steak. Those flames will leave a sooty color and flavor on your meat. Don’t sweat small flames and minor flare-ups, those are OK (snap the photo then). But you definitely don’t want flames engulfing the meat for long … another reason to have two heat zones on your grill.

What are the best cuts to work with? 

We get this question a lot but like so many foods it comes to personal preference. Taking our top three steaks, a ribeye is the most flavorful cut because it has a lot of fat. For that same reason, you won’t want to walk away from your grill while it’s cooking or a flare up could turn into a flaming steak. New York strip is slightly less tender and flavorful, but also less fatty, and easier to grill. A tenderloin filet, the leanest and least flavorful of the three, is also the most tender and easiest to prepare.

What are the most overlooked cuts?

We like the petit tender (teres major). It’s economical, easy to cook and has a great combination of flavor and tenderness.

For those of us hosting Barbeques on July 4th, how can we impress a group? 

Cooking for large groups can be challenging, and assuming these are people you want to spend time around, we suggest simplifying things. Our marinated steak tips: you can grill everything at once, the different sizes will give some variety in doneness, and they’ll still taste great even if they’ve cooled off. A roast, like a tri-tip, is also great for groups because it’s one or two items for you to focus on and not 15 steaks, four burgers, six hot dogs … Roasts are not as time sensitive as steaks. It can rest until you’re ready to slice. Your guests can help themselves from the ends or the center depending on how they like their meat cooked.

Charcoal or wood? 

We’d suggest you stay away from traditional charcoal, and opt for lump charcoal. This is made from whole pieces of hardwood and burns much cleaner. Stay away from lighter fluid and use a chimney instead. Lighter fluid seems to hang around and can hurt the flavor of your meat. Hardwood is great as well. It just requires a little more effort.

Where does your meat come from?

We source from specific ranches in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. We look for breed first, and insist on Black Angus. Then we look for consistency in flavor and texture, much of that comes from good farming practices. Meat tastes better when it is pasture raised. Many of the ranches we source from also grow their own feed as well, another practice that translates to quality. Whether you’re a novice visiting for the first time or you’re a regular, we encourage questions. We’re proud to tell the stories of where our meats are sourced.

 

The Butchery, 8058 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Newport Coast, 949.715.3383
:: butcherymeats.com

 

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Placentia woman suspected of car theft arrested after short pursuit in Costa Mesa

COSTA MESA — A Placentia woman was arrested Sunday, July 2, after police chased a vehicle reported stolen from a Fiat dealership, a police official said.

The Costa Mesa Police Department received a call at 6:07 p.m. from Orange Coast Fiat in the 2500 block of Harbor Boulevard reporting a stolen vehicle, Sgt. Matt Selinske said.

About an hour later, a Costa Mesa police officer found the vehicle, a Fiat 500, near 17th Street and Monrovia Avenue, Selinske said. The driver sped off in the car and a chase began.

The vehicle was stopped after about two minutes at 7:05 p.m. in the 1400 block of Superior Avenue in Newport Beach, Selinske said. Iliana Villasenor, 38, of Placentia was arrested and booked on suspicion of grand theft auto and evading an officer, Selinske said.

No details were available as to how the vehicle was stolen. The case is still under investigation, Selinske said.

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Bomb squad detonates explosive device found on Costa Mesa lawn

COSTA MESA  An explosive device was detonated by the Orange County Sheriff Department’s bomb squad Sunday, June 18, after it was found on the front lawn of a Costa Mesa home, police said.

Costa Mesa police officers were called to the 900 block of Darrell Street at around 6 p.m. after the homeowner discovered what appeared to be a firework-looking device wrapped in plastic with an exposed fuse, said Costa Mesa police Sgt. Matt Selinske.

The bomb squad arrived and blew the device up inside a bomb-proof container, Selinske said.

The incident and the device remain under investigation by the bomb squad and detectives from the Costa Mesa  Police Department.

Selinske said it was unknown how the device got on to the homeowner’s front yard and what it’s impact could have been.

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‘The Monster Builder’ play explores the good versus evil of monstrosity architecture

  • Danny Sheie as Gregor, on floor, feigns death from a heart attack in a scene from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Susannah Schulman Rogers, as Rita, Gareth Williams as Andy Colette Kilroy as Pamela and Aubrey Deeker as Dieter, from left, move in to see if Gregor has really died. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Danny Sheie as Gregor, on floor, feigns death from a heart attack in a scene from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Susannah Schulman Rogers, as Rita, Gareth Williams as Andy Colette Kilroy as Pamela and Aubrey Deeker as Dieter, from left, move in to see if Gregor has really died. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Director Art Manke watches a scene from The Monster Builder during a rehearsal session at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Director Art Manke watches a scene from The Monster Builder during a rehearsal session at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Danny Sheie as Gregor proposes a toast during a scene from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Danny Sheie as Gregor proposes a toast during a scene from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Danny Sheie as Gregor, on floor, feigns a heart attack in a scene with Susannah Schulman Rogers as Rita, Gareth Williams as Andy, Colette Kilroy as Pamela and Aubrey Deeker as Deiter, from left, from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Danny Sheie as Gregor, on floor, feigns a heart attack in a scene with Susannah Schulman Rogers as Rita, Gareth Williams as Andy, Colette Kilroy as Pamela and Aubrey Deeker as Deiter, from left, from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Annie Abrams as Tamsin, left, Susannah Schulman Rogers as RIta, center, and Aubrey Deeker as Dieter, right, in a scene from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Annie Abrams as Tamsin, left, Susannah Schulman Rogers as RIta, center, and Aubrey Deeker as Dieter, right, in a scene from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Aubrey Deeker as Dieter, center, and Susannah Schulman Rogers as Rita listen to Danny Sheie as Gregor in a scene from South Coast Repertory’s production of The Monster Builder in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Aubrey Deeker as Dieter, center, and Susannah Schulman Rogers as Rita listen to Danny Sheie as Gregor in a scene from South Coast Repertory’s production of The Monster Builder in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Danny Sheie as Gregor, Susannah Schulman Rogers as Rita, Gareth Williams as Andy, Colette Kilroy as Pamela, and Aubrey Deeker as Dieter, from left, make a toast during a scene from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Danny Sheie as Gregor, Susannah Schulman Rogers as Rita, Gareth Williams as Andy, Colette Kilroy as Pamela, and Aubrey Deeker as Dieter, from left, make a toast during a scene from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Danny Sheie as celebrated architect Gregor Zubrowski in a scene from South Coast Repertory’s production of The Monster Builder in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Danny Sheie as celebrated architect Gregor Zubrowski in a scene from South Coast Repertory’s production of The Monster Builder in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Aubrey Deeker as Dieter, Colette Kilroy as Pamela, Annie Abrams as Tamsin and Gareth Williams as Andy, from left, in a scene from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Aubrey Deeker as Dieter, Colette Kilroy as Pamela, Annie Abrams as Tamsin and Gareth Williams as Andy, from left, in a scene from The Monster Builder at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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As grandiose skyscrapers and architectural monstrosities have become the norm in urban landscapes, a great debate of whether these towers are eyefuls or eyesores has also emerged. This good versus evil notion in the world of architecture is explored in “The Monster Builder,” South Coast Repertory’s season finale production.

Written by Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Amy Freed, who has writtem several SCR plays including “The Beard of Avon” and “Safe in Hell,” the play received its first reading at the Pacific Playwrights Festival in 2010. World premiering at the Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland in 2014, the play will return to SCR on the Segerstrom Stage with previews on Friday, May 5-11, and regular performances running Friday, May 12, through Sunday, June 4.

Freed’s father, a modernist architect, was constantly transforming their small Victorian house in New York with “crazy modern features.” She says Henrik Ibsen’s 1892 play “The Master Builder” inspired her to examine deeper into the mind of designers, which eventually led to her writing the dark comedy play.

The story follows young architects Rita and Dieter, who are thrilled to meet the world’s most celebrated post-modern architect Gregor, who is famous for his power-hungry demeanor and monster-sized buildings. When the amateur architects discover that Gregor stole their project of a remodel of a decaying boathouse – very different from his usual projects – they prepare to confront and defend historic preservation and human-scale buildings, but see a dark side to the star architect.

Freed said her original draft was a murder mystery about an evil architect, but after several rewrites over the course of four years, she found that her natural satirical humor played well with the story line. However, she also wanted to present modern-day issues that will make the audience think and discuss.

“I wanted to create this violent character who was this designer who built a house where you could see everything. So it was about human nature and scrutiny … like social media where everything is transparent, and we see this horrible side of human nature live streaming,” said Freed, “It was kind of this gothic exploration that begged the question, ‘How much transparency do we really want?’ That was my original idea.”

As the playwriting evolved, Freed said she immersed herself into studying things that she found most upsetting and disturbing in the way architecture impacts life. She said she started to find a “call to arms” to bring these issues forward, and she believes comedy is a great vehicle for this.

“I think we have this instinctive desire in the comfort and serenity of our surroundings, and I think urban design is at an all time low… there are mega trends toward monolithic buildings that are pushing against economic and social issues,” said Freed.

“By and large, normal people are afraid of taking stands because the language is so controlled by a profession that doesn’t invite discourse of the users in the city.”

Director Art Menke said he was drawn to the play when he heard its first SCR reading, which led him to direct its Portland world premiere and its second run at Aurora Theatre Company in Berkeley in 2015, and now helms the Costa Mesa run. Menke, who met Freed in graduate school at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, said he always enjoyed her writing style of “brilliant comedies with strong messages.”

For a play based on architecture, Freed and Menke said the set design is an important element to the story and is beautifully captured by set designer Thomas Buderwitz. The set features Gregor’s glass house stationed on a rise to appear like it is on its own island, a space that looks like an office in downtown Manhattan, a living-work space for the two young architects, an 1890s restored boathouse and a street that appears to look like one in New York City.

“I think Tom did a spectacular job in suggesting the locations and emotions of the places… it’s grown physically and has been refined from its past two shows, so South Coast Rep will look its best,” said Freed.

The six-person cast includes SCR veterans Danny Scheie (“One Man, Two Guvnors”) as “Gregor,” Colette Kilroy (“The Homecoming”) as “Pamela,” Susannah Schulman Rogers (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) as “Rita” and Gareth Williams (“Hurrah at Last”) as “Andy.” Making their SCR debuts will be Annie Abrams as “Tamsin” and Aubrey Deeker as “Dieter.”

“Across the board this cast is extraordinary. When you do comedy, you have to have trust. One launches the joke and the other has to follow through. It’s like a tennis match and this group works together so well,” Menke said.

Although she wants the audience to laugh and have fun with the play, Freed said she also hopes it will encourage people to open up conversation in their own neighborhoods, towns and cities, and realize that their opinions matter.

“I want people to feel emboldened, interested and confirmed in their intuitions about where we’re headed and not feel like they are not qualified to discuss them,” said Freed, “I hope they will see that they are not the only one who feels this way; they are not stupid or overreacting. They hate the way their neighborhood is starting to look. Things are changing and not in a good way, and hopefully they will be inspired to speak up.”

‘The Monster Builder’

When: Previews Friday, May 5 through Thursday, May 11; regular performances Friday, May 12, through Sunday, June 4; 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 2:30 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. There is no evening performance on Sunday, June 4.

Where: South Coast Repertory, Segerstrom Stage, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

How much: General admission $22-$55 for previews, $30-$71 for regular performances; discounts for seniors, students and educators

Call: 714-708-5555

Online: scr.org

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Newport Mesa Unified holds senior art show at Gray Matter Museum

  • People view student work on display at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    People view student work on display at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Works of art from Newport-Mesa USD seniors hangs on the wall at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Works of art from Newport-Mesa USD seniors hangs on the wall at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Work by Kaitlin Evans on display at the Newport-Mesa Unified School District show at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Work by Kaitlin Evans on display at the Newport-Mesa Unified School District show at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Work by Chelsea Pero on display at the Newport-Mesa Unified School District show at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Work by Chelsea Pero on display at the Newport-Mesa Unified School District show at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Ceramic artwork by Fatima Santiago at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Ceramic artwork by Fatima Santiago at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Senior student artwork on display as a part of Newport-Mesa USD’s show at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Senior student artwork on display as a part of Newport-Mesa USD’s show at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • People take photos of artwork made by Newport-Mesa Unified School District seniors during a district art show at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    People take photos of artwork made by Newport-Mesa Unified School District seniors during a district art show at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Michael Farris’ contribution to the Newport-Mesa USD Senior art show at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Michael Farris’ contribution to the Newport-Mesa USD Senior art show at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Works of art from Newport-Mesa USD seniors hangs on the wall at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. Each year the school district showcases senior artwork at the gallery, giving student artists a chance to see their work in a gallery setting. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Works of art from Newport-Mesa USD seniors hangs on the wall at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. Each year the school district showcases senior artwork at the gallery, giving student artists a chance to see their work in a gallery setting. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

  • Works of art from Newport-Mesa USD seniors hangs on the wall at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. Each year the school district showcases senior artwork at the gallery, giving student artists a chance to see their work in a gallery setting. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

    Works of art from Newport-Mesa USD seniors hangs on the wall at Gray Matter Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 28, 2017. Each year the school district showcases senior artwork at the gallery, giving student artists a chance to see their work in a gallery setting. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

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There was a time when Juan Islas figured he might never be able to take an art class in high school, let alone have his work displayed in a professional setting. Scheduling had conflicts delayed any opportunities to enroll in art during his first two years at Costa Mesa High School. So Islas made sure to soak in the moment April 28 during the first Newport-Mesa All-District Senior Art Show at Gray Matter Museum of Art in Costa Mesa.

“I started with coloring books as a kid,” Islas said. “Now I can say my work has been showcased in a professional art gallery, which is pretty awesome.”

Spearheaded by Costa Mesa High art teacher Keli Marchbank, the student showcase featured a wide range of work, including acrylic, charcoal, oil painting, watercolor and digital photography. The art remained on display for a week after the event.

Though the original plan was for the gallery to include only pieces from Costa Mesa High students, Marchbank recognized early on the value of inviting the other high schools in the district to join.

“I thought it would be better for the kids to have that real gallery experience instead of an anti-climactic show at the gym or in a hallway at the school,” Marchbank said. “This is a chance for them to interact with other artists and support one another. It’s important to instill in their minds this idea that they can pursue art once they graduate.”

Fiona Gray, a senior at Newport Harbor High, mingled with curious onlookers as they viewed one of her three oil paintings on display.

“When I initially heard about this event, I wasn’t sure how it was going to be or if anyone would show up,” Gray said. “But I’m very happy with the way it all turned out. It’s a great opportunity for exposure, networking and a taste of the professional world.”

In addition to having a DJ, the event featured a silent auction on items such as Beats by Dre and Oakley sunglasses donated by local vendors. A portion of the money raised will be given to Costa Mesa High School’s art program.

Though she wasn’t enrolled as an art student this semester, Ziyah Jordan submitted an acrylic piece at the suggestion of Marchbank, who was her teacher the year before.

“It’s a little intimidating because I tend to keep my work to myself, but it’s cool to have people see another side of me,” Jordan said. “I enjoy storytelling and letting people interpret the work for themselves.”

 Ryley Ronnow, who just a few years ago picked up a camera for the first time, called seeing his double-exposure portrait displayed in the gallery “a surreal experience.”

“I feel like I’ve been making all this art but no one has been able to see it until now,” Ronnow said. “In a way, this is a reward for all the hard work we’ve been doing behind the scenes.”

As she sat quietly in the back of the gallery, observing the expanding crowd filling the room, Jennifer Lucas admitted to feeling a sense of comfort in seeing her acrylic painting on display for the public to enjoy.

“I often have a hard time expressing myself and explaining what I’m going through, so this is helpful for me on a personal level,” Lucas said. “Ultimately, I think art is meant to be shared with others.”

714-796-2258 or varsityarts@ocregister.com

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