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Dining Guide for Families in Orange County

Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival… A Few Of My Favorite Things

Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in Events | 0 comments

 We attended as a guest of the venue Imagine spending two days at The Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival wine tasting, sipping cocktails, and sampling the incredible creations of some of our area’s favorite chefs like The Loft’s Casey Overton, Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge’s Marc Johnson, and Stonehill Tavern’s Raj Dixit to name but a few. Add in the opportunity to: Laugh with Top Chef Master, Hubert Keller and local favorite, Chef Pascal Olhats as they banter back and forth while preparing Keller’s Beer Braised Waygu Beef Cheeks enhanced with ginger and lemongrass for a grateful audience… Learn a few secrets on making mole from Top Chef Master, Rick Bayless as he makes his delicious “quick” Red Peanut Mole with Chicken… And go on a journey with Top Chef Master, Rick Moonen as he shares the inspiration...

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SOCIAL Costa Mesa Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

Posted by on Oct 9, 2015 in Dining News, Events, Reviews | 0 comments

 We attended the celebration as a guest of SOCIAL Time flies! SOCIAL in Costa Mesa is celebrating its one-year anniversary and we were able to drop by and share in the festivities with complimentary scratch made cocktails as well as a sampling of several of Executive Chef Jeffrey Boullt’s delicious creations. A few of our favorites included Aranchini… crispy fried rice balls with duck, black eyed pea fritters, beef sliders on buttered bun, smokey Wagyu beef tarter and… The refreshing gin and cucumber Dementa #2 cocktail! Now through the end of October you can join in the celebration too! Each time you order one of Social’s select signature dishes from their brunch or dinner menu, Social will donate $1 to Newport’s Chapter of The National Charity League, “a mother daughter philanthropic organization committed to community service, leadership development, and...

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Embracing Health and Seasonal Ingredients At Napa Rose

Posted by on Sep 21, 2015 in Disney, Events, Recipes | 0 comments

 We attended as a guest of the venue If you’re a Disneyland fan, and let’s face it, for the most part, who isn’t? And you enjoy challenging yourself by running marathons in your spare time… then Disneyland was the place to be September 1st through 4th as Cigna presented four days of running events culminating in a half marathon on Sunday on the grounds of the happiest place on earth. While I am no marathoner, I do love cooking demos. So when I was invited to participate in a four course cooking demo with Chef de Cuisine Chris Faulkner and Executive Pastry Chef Jorge Sotelo at Disney’s esteemed restaurant, Napa Rose, I hightailed it over there. About 40 bloggers and runners, including lucky me, were rotated through four cooking stations where we gained some insight into one of Napa...

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An all-new McCormick & Schmick’s in Anaheim

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Dining News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

 We dined as a guest of the venue Recently McCormick & Schmick’s celebrated the unveiling of its remodel at its Anaheim Garden Walk location. Guests were treated to an evening of music, cocktails and wine, bite sized appetizers, seafood, a dessert bar, sliders, and a fish station by hosts Executive Chef Stephen Rodriguez and General Manager Isbhak Vasquez Garcia. Our evening began with their Perfect Cosmo and a glass of cab. Good start right? Join us as my friend, Keli and I nosh our way through a variety of hors d’ouvres, seafood, and desserts including: Tomato and basil bruschetta Shaved beef and arugula crostini Mushroom and goat cheese crostini  Tuna tartar with microgreens in mini waffle cones Fried oysters Sliders Seafood Assorted desserts including a chocolate cup filled with mouse and berries McCormick & Schmick’s is open daily serving lunch and...

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Urbana: Anaheim Packing District’s Newest Gem

Posted by on Sep 4, 2015 in Mexican, Reviews | 0 comments

 We dined as a guest of Urbana It’s been awhile since I’ve headed up to Anaheim’s Packing District, the trendy food hall that opened in 2014. It’s not that I don’t enjoy many of the unique small restaurants there, but living in San Clemente, it’s a haul to drive for a casual meal. Last week’s opening of Urbana gave me a good excuse to make the trek for lunch though. And boy, am I glad I did. Arriving at noon on the dot, I was just ahead of the lunch crowd and had my pick of seating. I went for a table next to the bar with a full view of the restaurant. The décor is what I will call, “urban dia de los muertas” with artist Samir Evol’s murals figuring prominently in Urbana’s atmosphere. This cozy, colorful, creative...

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Customize Your Bowl At Fins Poke Fusion

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015 in Reviews, Sushi | 0 comments

  We dined as a guest of Fins Poke Fusion I still remember the first poke bowl I ever tried 11 years ago. I had recently moved to California from the East Coast and though I’d eaten sushi pretty much every week since the mid 80’s yet I had never even heard of poke bowls. More recently, this food trend transplanted from Hawaii has been gaining in popularity here in Orange County. With chopped fish, rice, a little onion, soy, sesame oil, and a variety of other ingredient… it’s a trend that makes sense. And it’s a trend that Fins Poke Fusion’s Peter Cho is tapping into with the remodel and rethink of his popular former sushi restaurant, The Sushi Zone. Fins Poke Fusion, located off of Marguerite Parkway in Mission Viejo is now offering build your own poke bowls....

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A World of Whisky and Food Pairing at Macallans

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Reviews | 1 comment

 We dined as a guest of Macallans Typically when out on the town, I skew towards wine when ordering a drink, particularly when it comes to what I’ll pair with my dinner. I do however on occasion enjoy the sippability – as in a little goes a long way – of whisky. But I’ve never really thought of it as something you’d pair with food. Maybe after dinner, or before… but not with. That all changed recently at a food and wine pairing at Macallans Public House & Restaurant in downtown Brea. Macallans Public House, now managed by the popular TAPS Fish House & Brewery, is a relatively new Irish bar and restaurant serving up gastro pub style food and an extensive offering of Scotch whisky and craft beer in its warm, cozy atmosphere. For folks preferring to enjoy...

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Chef Deb’s Seafood Shines At Sol Cocina

Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 in Mexican, Reviews, Seafood | 0 comments

 We dined as a guest of the venue When looking through any menu one of the first things that usually catches my eye is fresh seafood. This is especially so as the weather heats up. Just give me a few oysters and some ceviche and I’m a happy camper. To me it’s guilt free indulgence. So, needless to say when Sol Cocina’s Executive Chef, Deb Schneider introduced her new Baja inspired seafood menu at a recent tasting, I was all in. Chef Deb has built a reputation for serving up traditional Baja dishes with her own modern take emphasizing big bold flavors and the freshest of ingredients. And now for those who appreciate a lighter side of dining her new seafood offerings are an exciting and welcome addition to her menu. Says Chef Deb, “With this menu, we’re pulling...

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Celebrating ADYA’s First Anniversary

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Featured, Reviews | 0 comments

 We dined as a guest of Adya Recently, Chef Shashi invited several of us to celebrate ADYA’s first year anniversary with a Thali dinner featuring specials as well as top sellers from her menu. For a so-called “foodie” my experience with Indian cuisine has been somewhat limited until recently, which as it turns out is my loss. The first time I remember eating it was over 20 years ago with my dad on Cape Cod. I know, that’s hardly a place you associate with Indian food, but we were in the mood for something different and off we went. I can’t recall where we ate or what we ordered. What I do remember is that while flavor packed the food was really heavy and rich. So much so that it was a long time before I could even think...

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Santa Monica Pier to Host The Grand Tasting This Weekend

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in Events | 0 comments

  This weekend promises to be a fun and delicious one at The Santa Monica Pier, which will play host to The Grand Tasting this Saturday and Sunday evening. Heading the event is acclaimed chef, Susan Feniger from Border Grill with over 100 well-known chefs from L.A. and Orange County participating in the kitchen presented by The Santa Monica Wholefoods Market. Santa Monica’s Grand Tasting hosted by Evian, BADOIT, and The St. Regis in Monarch Beach will benefit The Chill Foundation, Los Angeles, whose mission it is to provide opportunities for at-risk and underserved youth to build self-esteem and life skills through board sports. Enjoy an evening under the stars on the pier sampling food pairings by chefs like Raj Dixit from Stonehill Tavern, David Hands from Bouchon, Stephane Treand from St. Patisserie Chocolat, Adrian Giese from Mastro’s Steakhouse and many...

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Miguel’s Jr. Fans Thrilled About New Tustin Location

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Mexican | 0 comments

 We dined as a guest of the venue   Admittedly I am not much of a fast food eater. I’ll crave the occasional In-N-Out Protein Style Cheeseburger with extra pickles, no onion and hold the fries and maybe a grilled fish taco here and there, but that’s pretty much it. So when asked to attend a tasting event at Miguel’s Jr. a quick-serve small chain with roots in the highly regarded and popular Inland Empire restaurant, Miguel’s, founded by Mary Vasquez with her husband Mike in 1975, I was conflicted. While it’s no secret I love to eat, I’m somewhat discriminating on where and how I invest my calorie and even more so carb intake. So when I drove into the parking lot, one of the first things I noticed was a drive-through window. “Bummer.” I thought, “This is...

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Bistro Papillote: A Little Slice of France

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Featured, Reviews | 0 comments

 We attended as a guest of the restaurant Imagine yourself seated at a bistro table in a charming French garden patio, white linens on the table, surrounded by aging ivory painted iron-work, leaded glass, flowers and greenery creeping through wood lattice. After a bowl of La Soupe A L’Oignone Gratinée, you’re enjoying a Croque Monsieur with a refreshing glass of wine. Ahhhhhh…. you are in France. Or…. maybe not. Maybe you are at Chef Laurent Brazier’s latest endeavor, Bistro Papillote, conveniently located in The Mix at SOCO, Costa Mesa’s trendy home decorating and dining destination. Chef Brazier’s resume is steeped in French tradition having worked in France at 2 and 3 Michelin starred restaurants prior to coming to Orange County and opening his Laguna Beach restaurant, Picayo, and more recently La Cuisine Culinary Arts Cooking School and Restaurant in South...

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Enjoying Wine Tasting and Tapas at We Olive in San Juan Capistrano

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in Date Night, Wine Bars and Bistros | 0 comments

 We attended as a guest of We Olive Anyone who has been in my kitchen, knows I am somewhat of a collector of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I always have an assortment of both to cook with and I’ve even been known to do shots of balsamic plain when it’s good. I love the stuff! But it does have to be good and by that I don’t mean purchased in the everyday chain grocery store. No offense Ralphs. I’ve found my favorite olive oils and balsamics in vineyards and small shops who are selective about their sources. One such place is We Olive. Part shop and part wine and tapas bar, We Olive offers an assortment of locally sourced flavored olive oils, balsamic vinegars and other gourmet specialty items that will elevate the dishes you prepare at home....

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Breaking It Down with Chef Noah Blöm at SOCO Uncorked

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Events | 0 comments

 We attended as a guest of SOCO On a recent Thursday evening it was all about food and wine at the first annual SOCO Uncorked event hosted by LCA Wine and SOCO where wine producers from all over the world joined the award-winning restaurants of SOCO in a tasting of small bites and wine. For my sister Shan and I, the evening began with ARC’s Chef Noah Blöm’s three-course food and wine pairing cooking demo at Surfas Culinary District. Considering we pretty much live for the next meal you can only imagine our excitement. So what was on the menu? Great food, great wine, and some food wisdom from our chef. “I’m a big fan of making everything… For us it is always about the process of, if it’s possible to make it, we will make it.” ~ Chef Noah...

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Come Taste SOCO Uncorked With Us

Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Events | 0 comments

 We attended as a guest of SOCO One of my favorite dining destinations in Orange County of late is SOCO in Costa Mesa. If you haven’t yet visited, it’s a food lover’s paradise filled with restaurants and shops specializing in wines, cheeses, coffee, pastry, baked goods, and more. So when I received an invite to the 1st Annual SOCO Uncorked food and wine tasting, I was all in. I grabbed my sister and partner in culinary crime, Shan, and we were off! The evening hosted by LCA Wine and SOCO, began with a wonderfully delicious and educational cooking demo at Surfas Culinary District with ARC’s Executive Chef Noah Blöm (“Breaking It Down With Chef Noah Blöm At SOCO Uncorked”). With three of Blöm’s incredible creations sampled, things were off to a great start! And the deliciousness and fun continued...

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Tasting Huntington Beach This Sunday

Posted by on Apr 24, 2015 in Events, Uncategorized | 0 comments

  Looking for some foodie fun this weekend? Join in the deliciousness this Sunday, April 26th at The Taste of Huntington Beach where you can nosh on foods from local restaurants and partake in tastings from premier wineries and breweries while contributing to The Children’s Department of the Huntington Library. As hosts of the event, The Friends of the Children’s Library and the Huntington Beach Restaurant Association have helped The Taste raise over $435,000 for the cause since 2002. With the purchase of your General Admission ticket you will taste foods from over 50 of Huntington Beach’s favorite restaurants including Solita Tacos & Margaritas, Bondi Grill House, Mahé, Slater’s 50/50, Pizza Lounge, Watertable at the Hyatt HB, The Red Table, Avila’s El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant, Duke’s, Gallagher’s Pub and Grill to name only a few. You’ll taste wines form...

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The Sweet World of Tamarind’s Pastry Chef Mark Medina

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in Dessert, Featured, Reviews | 0 comments

 We dined as a guest of Tamarind I rarely eat dessert. Though I enjoy the idea of dessert, usually by the time I’ve finished dinner I’m too full for it. I always enjoy reading the dessert menu however and every once in awhile I’ll see one that makes me think, “Next time I’ll start there.” I never have actually done this though, at least until I was invited to a dessert tasting at Tamarind of London in Crystal Cove. I enlisted my sweets-loving friend, Kathy McGarry to join me because she knows her stuff and is an incredible baker of sweet treats herself! We arrived relatively early, ahead of the dinner crowd and what looked to be an engagement party that had reserved the beautiful outdoor patio area for the evening. We decided to sit in the more casual...

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El Amerikano Celebrates Classic American Dishes With Latin Flair

Posted by on Apr 1, 2015 in American, Mexican, Reviews | 0 comments

 We dined as a guest of El Amerikano Last Tuesday evening Chef Konstantine Marougas hosted an event sharing several new dishes at El Amerikano with several local food bloggers and writers. Located next to sister restaurant, Kentro Greek Kitchen in the popular dining and bar area of Downtown Fullerton, El Amerikano, celebrates classic American dishes with a rustic Latin flair. Owner Visili Kotsiovos offers, “The menu is influenced by California’s vibrant and diversified Latin landscape – a blending of cultures and flavors, on a plate.” We were invited to sample a cross section of items from the menu, and the common thread running through each is the use of a variety of ingredients, many of them house-made, melded to create texture, interesting flavors and eye-catching dishes. Chef Konstantine, a graduate of L.A.’s Art Institute, shares “I’m passionate about creating...

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Tasting Perfection With Lail Vineyards At Bluewater Grill

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Seafood | 0 comments

  Few pleasures rank higher in my book than enjoying a glass of wine complimented by well-paired appetizers along with it. If this ranks high on your list of things to do, imagine an evening spent tasting and comparing several great wines, one an “absolutely perfect” 100 pointer… a “first” for me. Such was a recent evening spent at Tustin’s Bluewater Grill as Michael Updegraff, the Managing Director of Napa’s Lail Vineyards walked us through two of their Sauvignon Blancs and two of their Cabernets accompanied by several small plates by Chef Jason Mazur. So what was on the tasting menu? We started with Blueprint 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, a new world style “crowd pleaser”. This one is citrusy and bright and gets 92 points from Robert Parker, Jr. The Wine Advocate and retails at $40. “This Blueprint has intense...

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Gjelina Charms With Flavor Packed Creative Dishes

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015 in American, Featured | 0 comments

  Several months ago while winding our way up north to L.A. for a screening, my sister Shan and I, always on a quest for our next good meal, stumbled upon a restaurant that from all appearances looked like the perfect find. A rustic atmosphere with industrial edge inside. A charming outdoor brick garden patio outside. A changing menu with all sorts of creative plates, salads, vegetables, and wood fired pizzas. And a consistent crowd of customers. With the exception of the crowd, it was the perfect find. We stuffed ourselves on an incredibly flavorful, if not a little charred, roasted tomato and burrata wood fired pizza; sunchoke salad; grilled chimichurri steak; roasted pear, prosciutto and burrata salad; and butterscotch pot de creme for dessert. And with only one disappointment… the sunchokes which didn’t have as much flavor as...

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