Archive for September, 2008

Sage On The Newport Beach Coast.

September 30th, 2008 No comments

It’s lunch at Sage on the Coast in honor of a dear friend’s twenty years of service at the distinguished law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  I once worked there myself.  The patio and adjacent garden at Sage are very nice.  It has a retractable roof and a fireplace.  We had a wonderful time in a beautiful environment with great food and wine.

To get an idea of what you might want to eat, I’ve posted a few photos.  Above is the Parmesan Crusted Asparagus with Balsamic Syrup, then moving on down to the Tortilla Soup with Cheddar Cheese, Cilantro, Chicken and Crispy Tortilla Strips.

Farmer’s Market Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula, Goat Cheese, Marcona Almonds and Orange Vinaigrette.

And this Roasted Cauliflower with Anchoaide Crust turned out to be one of our favorite dishes.

Sautéed Mexican Prawns with Linguine Pasta, chopped Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Spinach, Pine Nuts and Pesto Cream Sauce.

Coconut Crusted Barramundi with Coconut Rice, Bok Choy, Carrots, Shitake Mushrooms and Sweet & Spicy Sauce.  This is the first time I’ve tried “Barramundi.”   It’s a delicious Fish with beautiful white meat and great texture.  My portion was generous too.  I want it again sometime.

And here’s the Grilled Beef Filet Medallion, Hawaiian Ahi Sashimi, and Crispy Duck Confit Spring Rolls, respectively.

Sweet Potato Fries with Papaya Mustard, Grilled Salmon Salad, and House Made French Fries with Smoked Ketchup.

And of course we had Dessert, starting with a Lemon Chiffon Tart with Blackberry Coulis, Cream Fraiche Ice Cream and Lemon Tuile.

Plus an Old Fashioned Rootbeer Float, Farmer’s Market Poached Pear, and Hawaiian Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding.

Butterscotch Pot de Creme, Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake, and a Cappuccino.

Based on the offerings from the local Farmer’s Markets, Sage prints a new menu almost daily.  And they’ve got a Late Night “Sweet Tooth” Happy Hour for dessert tasting.  That sounds fun.

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Thanks For The Advice Elmer Dills (1926-2008).

September 29th, 2008 2 comments

About three years ago, I sent Elmer Dills an e-mail.  I had a few questions about writing restaurant reviews.  And the very next day I arrived home to hear a message on my answering machine from Elmer Dills.  He responded to my e-mail by calling me.  He left his actual home and KABC studio phone numbers.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was so excited. 

I called him back immediately and we talked on the telephone for 20 minutes.  One thing I remember is — He told me that a reviewer should be careful not to injure the reviewee.  Every entity has its good days and bad days, and good qualities and those that need improvement.  Honesty is important, but be conscious of livelihood.

And he also invited me to provide a restaurant review on his radio program on KRLA — But at that time I didn’t have a specific food angle, nor restaurant to rave about, plus I was kinda nervous.  I did appreciate our conversation. 

I saved his message for about two years — I’m such a dork sometimes.  I’m surprised I never crank called him (HA), or is it prank called?  I’m still not sure about that.  Either way, THANKS for your time and advice Elmer.  I hope your last meal was fantastic!

FYI:  A Memorial Service open to the public will be held at 1:00p.m. on October 3rd at All Saints Church, 132 North Euclid Avenue, Pasadena, California 91101.  RIP.

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Artisan Salumi Santana & More At Charlie Palmer’s OC Location.

September 28th, 2008 2 comments

The Artisan Salumi Santana is described by Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s as Rustic Paté, Dijon and Country Bread, but you can see that it’s a lot more than that.  Can you believe that all these Meats are made and cured in the restaurant?  My favorites are on the entire bottom row and top left corner of the platter pictured here.  I especially liked the Smoked Meat (bottom corner) and both Patés.

The above was served with this Bread — I liked the presentation and stylish Bread Rack.  And more Bread choices are available to all guests and served on arrival.  It’ll be delivered to your table.  The Olive Bread also goes well with this appetizer.  As like the Meat, all Bread is made in-house.

During this lunch, we also had what’s to follow, starting with Crisp Pacific Sea Bass with Miso Orange Vinaigrette and Edamame Shitake Ragout.

Roasted Sonoma Chicken, a Crispy Thigh with Broccoli Puree and Preserved Lemon.  It tasted drizzled with Truffle Oil too and had many great flavors.

Charlie Palmer’s has a great selection of side dishes too.  This visit we had the Wild Mushrooms, with Shallot and Fresh Thyme.  I’ve got my eye on the Crisp Fries with Chipotle Aioli for next time — I bet they’re good here.


These desserts are best described as unique and luxurious.  I don’t have their official descriptions, but they’re similar to Ravioli of Pear with Rootbeer Ice Cream, and some pretty sophisticated techniques thrown in.

And Warm Gianduja, Smoked Marshmallow, and Kumquat with Chocolate Ice Cream.  WOW!  The Gianduja was presented in a warm round Donut oozing the Hazelnut.  Get a look at the Ice Cream color (below), that’s some richness there — I’ve never seen Chocolate Ice Cream so dark.  Have you?

This meal was truly amazing.  Thanks Charlie.  I like saying that, because I feel like one of Charlie’s Angels – HA. 😉

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Tamale Trio From LA (El-Aaaayy).

September 27th, 2008 2 comments

My Uncle picked these up somewhere in Los Angeles.  He’s currently visiting from Denmark.  As previously reported on Nibbles of Tidbits, he opened up the First Mexican Restaurant in Denmark, and just added three more franchises this year.  He’s in California to see family and suppliers.  These Tamales are from one of his suppliers.  Thanks.

They’re Pork, Chicken, and Sweet (De Dulce) Tamales in the photograph above (respectively bottom up).  All were very good, but the Pork was the best, as you may guess from looking at the picture.  I steamed all in a pot for about 8 minutes and carefully turned them once.  It was fun to have the variety, and the sweet went well with the savory — It didn’t need to be eaten as a lone dessert.

Related Links: (In Danish)

Try Charlie Palmer’s Sliders, I’ll Concur With ABC News On This One.

September 26th, 2008 1 comment

KABC, Channel 7 recently revealed where to get the BEST SLIDERS (Mini Burgers) and it recommended we try Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s in South Coast Plaza.  Although they named the “Top 7 Slider Restaurants in Los Angeles,” they noted that Charlie Palmer’s in Orange County has exceptional Sliders too — I just tried two of the three.

I had the Kobe Beef Slider and the PBLT (Pork Belly, Lettuce & Tomato) Slider.  And before I even took a bite of the Kobe Beef Burger, I knew it was the Best Slider I’ve ever had.  Seriously, it’s aroma put me at the best backyard BBQ on a sunny day.  I usually don’t write this flowery, but it was that amazing to me.

And the PBLT was also surprisingly good.  “Surprisingly” because I’m generally a visible fat avoider — I trim all meat.  For that reason I haven’t gravitated towards Pork Belly, but I just went for it.  The texture was tender, not chewy as feared, but more like a thick slab of Bacon, which I love.

Both Sliders are worth traveling for.  Pictured above (L-R) PBLT, Kobe Beef & Kobe Beef — We haven’t yet tried the Crab Cake Slider, but may need to.  There’s more to this meal, but Charlie Palmer’s Sliders deserve a showcase.


Three Dog Bakery in Lake Arrowhead Village.

September 25th, 2008 5 comments

It’s already Octoberfest at Lake Arrowhead Village — Now and every weekend starting at noon through all of October.  And there’s no admission fee.  We were at the family cabin (nearby) last weekend with a couple Dogs, Holly and Maggie, respectively below. 

Since we cooked up a storm for ourselves, we picked up a few treats from the Three Dog Bakery for the pets.  Dogs are always popular in Lake Arrowhead Village, but you can’t bring them inside the roped Octoberfest/Band Area — You should know that if you’re a pet owner who also wants to party, because you can’t bring your Beer outside the ropes.

And we always bring Peanuts for the Blue Jays.  We just put a bunch on the cabin deck and they fly right in to get them.  It’s pretty cool.  They’re so beautiful too.

And here’s the Dogs playing in the cabin.  They were tugging over a stuffed Gorilla until we gave them the treats from the Three Dog Bakery.  I should also mention that there’s a Three Dog Bakery in Newport Beach too, since that’s where I live — Not at the Barkery, near Newport. 🙂



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Please Help Feed The Hungry Children.

September 24th, 2008 No comments

Mazzottis Is Friendly & Pre-Established.

September 23rd, 2008 4 comments

Mazzottis Italian Deli & Catering settled right into the former Dolcissimo Cupcake’s location.  It looks nice inside.  They utilized the space well by raising the counters and adding bar stools.  They even added three umbrellaed tables outside, which is most often my preference. 

Although Mazzottis is new to Costa Mesa, it was pre-established in Huntington Beach for about 30 something years, near Olive and Walnut.  There’s a picture of it on their new walls — I think I remember seeing it as a kid growing up while hanging out on HB Main Street.  And now they just re-opened on 19th Street in Costa Mesa with new family members.

I received a menu and 15% off coupon in the mail, and since it’s minutes away, of course I tried it.  They were so nice and allowed me to order a smaller portion Salad than listed on the menu.  I just wanted a side Salad, instead of the larger House Garden Salad — It was really fresh and the House Italian Dressing is good.  

I also tried Mazzottis Spinach Canneloni, which had a generous amount of Spinach.  I’m told that the Calzones are IT and referred to as “World Famous” — I haven’t truly enjoyed a Calzone in my life, but may need to give theirs a try.  Maybe I’ll be converted?

Garlic Bread came with the Canneloni, which was a nice bonus.  And I tried their Garlic Cheese Fries.  I wanted more garlic on them, but maybe that’s just me.  I’d go back and try some more stuff.  I’ve read the Meatball Sandwiches are good.  It’s great to have them in the neighborhood.

Related Links: – Mazzottis is mentioned in a comment near the bottom of the page.  OCThen is a great blog too. 

UPDATE 07/03/09:  It looks like they’ve closed.  That’s always a bummer to see.

Foodbuzz’s Version of 24 — It’s Impressive.

September 22nd, 2008 No comments

 Foodbuzz just kicked off its 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs promotion.  They picked 24 Blogs from around the world to participate by posting a Meal within the same 24 Hours.  I entered, but you’ll see that the competition was stiff — Hopefully my idea will get picked next time.  Until then, here’s a link to the 24 excellent posts.  All did an amazing job –

As a Featured Publisher, I received this Apron and Spatula in the mail today.  Thanks Foodbuzz!  I’ll take a picture using them someday. 🙂

Our Sleepover Cake Interpretation.

September 21st, 2008 6 comments

We saw this recipe in a cookbook I recent bought for my Niece’s Birthday  — We thought it was so clever and cute that we made it during a sleepover at a family cabin in Lake Arrowhead.  That’s us on the cake from left to right, my sister Ami, Niece Lexi, Mom, Me and Niece Bailee.    

We look a bit like zombies, but it was fun to make.  Our heads are Nilla Wafers, the pillows are Marshmallows, and the bodies are Twinkies.  We used Jawbreakers for the eyes, sweet and sour Candy Rope for the bed skirt and trim, and made a Milk Chocolate Cake instead of a Vanilla one.




Here’s a picture of the book cover and recipe.  The original looks more polished — It was harder to make than we expected.  It’s tricky frosting over the Twinkies, we added toothpicks to hold them in place.  The softer the Frosting and bed trim Candy, the better.  It was a cool experience together.

Our Cake was posted on Culinarty by Lore as one of (10) Original Food Photos.  Take a look at it there and check out her other picks.  They are all pretty amazing.  Thanks Lore.

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Homemade Sausage Patties.

September 20th, 2008 2 comments

I had some leftover Ground Pork from a Soup recipe I made for a contest.  The link to that recipe and contest results is below, and with the remaining Pork I made Sausage Patties.  To prepare the same, simply add a fair amount of each ingredient (relative to the amount of Pork on hand):

Fennel Seeds
Kosher Salt
Granulated Sugar
Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Powder
Ground Basil
Ground Oregano
Dried Rosemary
Ground Paprika
Ground Coriander
Red Wine

Mix all ingredients into the Pork, then form into patties.  Brown the Sausage Patties in a skillet, then finish cooking them in the oven at 450° for another 15 minutes. 

I made a quick Pasta Sauce with Crushed Tomatoes, 4 pressed Garlic Cloves, Olive Oil, a Sprig of Rosemary and Salt.  I then served the Sausage Patties over Penne Pasta and Sauce.  The Sausage had a good flavor, but made me yearn for the lightness of a great Meatball.  I learned that I’d rather put the effort into that, but had to try this.


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Best Meatball Recipe:

Food & Art From Kids In The Kitchen.

September 19th, 2008 No comments

Lexi (9) made this Egg Flower Soup.  It looks terrific.  I’m told she loved making it and will be cooking again tonight.  The Soup tasted a little bland at first, until she learned the importance of Salt in good tasting food.

Bailee (11), another cook featured on Kids in the Kitchen, appears to be a talented Artist too.  This is her first picture on the first day of Art Class.  It has good shading.

Both creations are very impressive.  Great job kids!  Her Soup picture  reminds me of an Egg Flower Soup I once made and photographed.  It was good too.  If you want it now, click on the link below.

Egg Flower Minced Pork Soup Recipe:

Review Of EPL’s Grilled Chicken Tortilla Roll.

September 18th, 2008 1 comment

I do like El Pollo Loco, but most recent experiences have been disappointing.  It’s been reported in a previous post, so now I’ll just focus on their New Grilled Chicken Tortilla Roll — I tried it and mine didn’t look like the one in the commercial, which has perfectly squared pieces of white meat. 

Unfortunately, the one served to me had mostly dark meat.  I do like dark meat, but EPL’s advertisement shows different.  And I’m not sure how it happened, but I even had to pick out a few weird pieces.  I guess I got a dud. 🙁

Aside from that, it should be called a Rolled Quesadilla instead of a Tortilla Roll, since its crispness may be the same.  It’s served with a choice of 3 previously existing Sauces.  I got the Cheese Sauce and it’s not bad.  I don’t think I’ll be having the Tortilla Roll again, but I still love EPL’s Chicken.

One more thing —  Are the ‘Loco Salads’ smaller?  It looks smaller, I think.  Since it’s only $1.00, I’ll let it slide.  I’m curious because too many things are getting smaller.


NOTE:  This post relates to the El Pollo Loco Restaurant in Costa Mesa on Harbor/19th.

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Today’s Lil’ Tasty Breakfast Sandwich.

September 17th, 2008 No comments

For this Breakfast Sandwich I used a small French Roll, shaved Deli Ham, an Egg and a slice of American Cheese.  I cooked the Bread and Egg in a little Butter — The step by step process is pictured below. 

It’s as easy as one, two, three, four and hardly takes any time.  Breakfast Sandwiches can be made with what’s on hand, a Muffin, Toast, Bacon, Sausage, Cheddar, or whatever.  This is what I had and it’s a good combination — A top of the morning meal.


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Mélange – Local Cooking Classes Now Available.

September 16th, 2008 2 comments

A friend of a friend started Mélange, which offers fabulous high quality Cooking Classes.  If you live in Orange County, you should definitely sign up — The menus sound terrific.  Here’s a message from one of its founders:

“I Am So Excited!!! …to announce the launch of Mélange, a new cooking school! Mélange is an engaging and entertaining hands-on cooking school. I am one of the co-founders. We offer group cooking classes and private party events. You can find class descriptions, sign-up for classes and find out more about the Mélange experience at”

Deviled Eggs To Me.

September 15th, 2008 No comments

To me, Deviled Eggs are a perfect combination of Mayonnaise, Yellow Mustard, Apple Cider Vinegar and S & P.  This is the first time I’ve piped in the filling using a pastry bag.  I could use a little more practice.  Some turned out good and others needed to be fixed — Once you lose that swirl you can’t get it back, but they all tasted the same.  Deviled Eggs are a good pre lunch or dinner snack to have on hand.  I’ve even had them for breakfast.  Why not?


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Soy Chorizo, It’s Minus The Salavary Glands.

September 14th, 2008 2 comments

Have you seen Soy Chorizo?  Do you like Chorizo?  I love Chorizo, but made the mistake of reading its ingredients one day.  And one I can’t get out of my head is salivary glands.  After reading that I didn’t eat Chorizo for several years.  I’ve since loosened up and will eat it in a restaurant — I just try not to think about it. 🙂

At home I use Soy Chorizo.  It’s almost as good as the real stuff, but the peace of mind makes it terrific.  I’m not grossed out making it and the Chorizo flavor is there.  I bought this one from Trader Joe’s and Mother’s Market has it too.

Here I made Chorizo and Eggs.  I removed the Soy from the casings (plastic) and fried it in a skillet.  It cooks differently than regular Chorizo, since no fat (oil) comes out.  It’s almost hard to tell when it’s done because it doesn’t get much darker.  I cooked it for about 10 minutes then added the Eggs and cooked until done.  I served all in warmed Flat Bread with Sour Cream.  It’s good stuff.

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Have You Seen That Hilarious Commercial?

September 13th, 2008 4 comments

I usually don’t advertise advertisements, especially for fast food, but the new Jack in the Box commercial makes me laugh.  It’s the one with the two grown men in a twins baby stroller crying — It’s TOO funny!  Since it was on TiVo we played it several times.  Anyway, now I’m brain washed to try their new product – HA.  Good one J in the B. 

It’s usually not my preferred fast food joint — I might get a Taco from there every five years or so.  The commercial is for their Pita Sandwiches with Chipotle Sauce (aka Pita Snacks).  I tried their Fish Pita Sandwich.  Chipotle anything gets me every time. 

Overall, the Sauce flavor was good, but the Sandwich wasn’t.  It’s basically a Fish Stick hosted in a Pita that’s too chewy and thick for its contents, but I did get it out of my system (no mas) and I can still laugh at the commercial.

While requesting the Pita Sandwich, I saw something unique on the menu, Fried Cheesy Macaroni Bites, which reminded me of something at the Fair.  I had to try them too.  And I have to admit that I kind of liked them.  I couldn’t eat more than 3, since they’re greasy, but good.  And they do have Macaroni and Cheese inside.  I was glad I tried them, since they made up for the other.

Sandwich Proposals:  Serve on Flat Bread, use two pieces of Fish or a larger portion, add more fresh Lettuce and Chipotle Sauce.  Good luck.

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The Start Of Kids In The Kitchen.

September 12th, 2008 1 comment

My adorable Chef Nieces Bailee and Alexis “Lexi” have taken an interest in cooking.  They recently made the pictured Brownies for their Dad’s Birthday.  They used Pillsbury’s Funfetti Traditional Fudge Brownie Mix.  I’m starting this section ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ for them and other kids who like to cook with their family. 

My Chef Nieces even started their own cookbook — It’s so cool.  They’ve got 3 recipes so far.  And we (mostly them) made Hot Cocoa with Mini Marshmallows last night.  I just heated and poured the hot Milk.


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Another Bouquet of Herbs From A Friend’s Garden.

September 11th, 2008 No comments

It’s always nice in the Summer to receive Herbs from a Friend’s Garden.  Here’s another creative way to keep them for a short period of time.  It’s fun to open the fridge to see a Cup-O-Herbs, especially if the Herbs have blooms.  This bunch includes Garlic Chives, Rosemary, Basil and Pineapple Sage.  There’s a little water at the bottom of the cup.  It’s like a decoration in your fridge.  I thought about adding a tablecloth. 🙂

But learn something from my unrelated mistake.  You probably wouldn’t notice, but if you do — I should have removed the Tomato Paste from the can before placing it in the refrigerator.  I’ve read that’s what you’re supposed to do.  I was just keeping it for a day, but that’s no excuse.  It’s the bad in the good, the bad and the funny.

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It Appears Tuesday Is The Day In September.

September 10th, 2008 No comments

I hear the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is having its 45th Birthday.  I would have never guessed it.  I thought they were younger, but it appears they’re older and wiser.  Happy Birthday. 🙂

I like the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf because they don’t call their small drinks a “Tall” if you know what I mean — That really bugs me about their main competition.  I’m not going to call an obviously short cup a tall.  It’s blatant trickery I tell you.  And somehow the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf stores seem a little more hometown friendly, although they have 676 stores in 19 countries.  Apparently the first one opened in 1963 in Brentwood, California.

In celebration of their Birthday, they’re offering a SPECIAL EVERY TUESDAY in September through the first Tuesday in October.  The specials include 0.63 cent Coffees and Hot Teas, 20% off Pounds of Coffee and Tea Bag Tins, and a FREE Espresso Shot added to your drink.

The picture above is of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on 19th Street in Costa Mesa, California.

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A Favorite Kitchen Tool.

September 9th, 2008 1 comment

This Microwaveable Pot is one of my favorite kitchen tools.  Here I cooked diced Potatoes to soften them up for Corned Beef Hash.  I blanch and cook vegetables in it all the time.  It’s so convenient.  Just add water, microwave desired amount of time, then easily drain the water and eat, or add its contents to a recipe.  

They’re so handy — I have two, but want more.  I’ve had them for a few years now and they’ve held up very well.  And I just learned GREAT NEWS, the “Microwave Pot” is still available where I got mine.  They’re so inexpensive too.  I like that.  If you’re interested too, see below.  Happy cooking.

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Hey Pei Wei These Are Just Okay.

September 8th, 2008 1 comment

This visit we tried a couple new items off Pei Wei’s menu, the Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls and the Vegetable Fried Rice.  Yawn.  My Mom and I both think that our Fried Rice is better.  That shouldn’t be the case.  And I’ve had better Vietnamese Spring Rolls — It seems like the Rice Paper is too thick or there’s too much of it.  Does Rice Paper vary in thickness?  I don’t know.

Overall, I do like Pei Wei Restaurant.  As previously reported on Nibbles of Tidbits, other items are very good.  I enjoy their atmosphere, the dim lighting, service and comfort.  I’ll go back, but will try something different.