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Daily Dish
The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles
Sweet and sour, the California magic of Meyer lemons with 12 recipes

Washington has salmon, Maryland has blue crabs, Minnesota has wild rice and California has Meyer lemons. With proper respect to those other states, sorry — but we win.

Though we may think of the Meyer as having been discovered by the Chez Panisse crowd, it's been treasured by California foodies since shortly after its arrival at the turn of the 20th century.

Granted, it was given a rebirth when Alice Waters and her crew adopted it as a signature ingredient back in the 1970s, but the fruit was actually discovered in China — the home of so many fine citrus fruits — and brought back to the United States by a Department of Agriculture plant breeder named Frank Meyer.

It was a wildly popular backyard fruit in the teens and '20s, but it was found to be a carrier of a virulent citrus disease with the operatic name tristeza and so was virtually eradicated. Almost all of the Meyers you'll find today are from an improved, virus-resistant variety developed at UC Riverside in the 1950s.


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Coffee beer gets a new twist with barrel-aged beans

San Diego’s Modern Times Brewery has brewed up a coffee beer that’s unlike anything else you’ve tasted, and the secret is all in the beans.

Finding new ways to imbue craft beers with coffee flavors is a popular area of innovation within the craft brewing community. Brewers have experimented with nearly every style of beer from pale ales, to Belgian amber ales to the typical porters and stouts, using all manner of different coffee preparations — from light-roast beans to spiced Armenian-style coffee. Even the rare kopi luwak coffee (where coffee beans are recovered from the droppings of Indonesian civets) has been featured in a craft brew.

AleSmith brewing in San Diego offers its superlative Speedway coffee stout aged in bourbon barrels, and this bold, inky brew demonstrates that coffee, stout and spirits are three great tastes that taste great together.

But Modern Times has a different take on the bourbon plus coffee in your beer formula: Instead of letting a beer infused with coffee...

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Free Chick-fil-A coffee all February; free Menchie's frozen yogurt

Because you can never have enough free stuff, here are two freebies happening soon:

—Chick-fil-A is giving away free coffee at its restaurants nationwide throughout the entire month of February. There is no purchase necessary, and no catch. Guests can come in during regular business hours and receive one 16-ounce cup of specialty-grade Thrive Farmers hot or iced coffee per visit, while supplies last. The iced coffee is prepared with Thrive Farmers' cold-brewed beans, 2% milk and cane syrup over ice. For locations, visit chick-fil-a.com.

—Menchie's Frozen Yogurt is celebrating National Frozen Yogurt Day on Feb. 6. And yes, apparently it's a real thing. The chain will be giving away free yogurt from 4 to 8 p.m. Each guest can grab a 6-ounce cup, fill it with any flavor of frozen yogurt, and any toppings. Guests will also receive a voucher for 20% off their next visit. For locations, visit menchies.com.

Free stuff really does taste better. Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris_

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Hostess is making red velvet cupcakes and cherry-filled Twinkies. Really.

Hostess cupcake and Twinkie fans may be interested to know the snack company has a few new ways to celebrate Valentine's Day this year. 

Hostess released limited edition red velvet cupcakes and cherry-filled, chocolate-covered Twinkies, also known as Chocodiles, because nothing says "I love you" like red, sugary snack cakes. 

The red velvet cupcakes come filled with the traditional creamy filling and are topped with white icing and the signature squiggle in red. Actually, it's more of a pink squiggle. The red squiggle bleeds into the white frosting, but hey, who's paying attention anyway?  

And for the Chocodile Twinkies, it's a classic Twinkie filled with cherry-flavored cream filling, covered in a thin layer of chocolate. When you take a bite, the chocolate crumbles, and the filling tastes like classic Twinkie filling, with a slight medicinal flavor. 

Both will give you the same sugar rush you've come to know and expect from a Hostess snack cake. 

The two items are available at...

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Weekend project: Homemade pizza... in your own DIY brick oven

Have you ever lusted after those great brick ovens you see in pizzerias and bakeries? Well, for about $40, you too can bake like the pros. I did a story a few years ago on homemade pizza, and did a bit of research (actually, I got a little obsessed) on converting a normal home oven into a brick oven.

As you can see in the video above, a brick oven conversion is not complicated at all. You'll need to get the right bricks (you need firebricks, as regular bricks aren't made to withstand the heat), but the whole thing comes together quickly and easily. Give those bricks a little time to heat up, and you'll be baking like your favorite pizzeria or bakery in no time. And it makes a fun -- and totally entertaining -- weekend project.

Check out these links for how-to tips on converting your oven, as well as some homemade pizza recipes:

A pizza parlor in your kitchen

Convert your range into a pizza oven

Recipe: Basic pizza dough

Recipe: Pizza Margherita

Recipe: Potato pizza

Photos: Making a...

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Verve Coffee Roasters opens today in downtown L.A.

Santa Cruz-based Verve Coffee Roasters’ first Los Angeles cafe is set to open Friday in downtown's Fashion District, not too far from Alma and the Ace Hotel.

The roaster partnered with cold-pressed-juice company Juice Served Here to open the cafe, meaning it's a one-stop shop if you happen to be in the mood for a Gibraltar and fresh green juice -- because you may as well have both for breakfast.

The location is Verve’s first retail space outside of Santa Cruz, and the first of several shops, plus a roastery, scheduled to open in L.A. this year.

“We really fell in love with Los Angeles,” Verve co-founder and green buyer Colby Barr said. “It embodies the California lifestyle that we think is strongly Verve.” 

Collaborating with Juice Served Here to open the cafe is a culmination of a partnership: The two companies have been working together for some time now, as Juice Served Here incorporates Verve’s cold-brew concentrate in its coffee drinks, and Verve stocks Juice Served Here bottles...

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