I like it that fast food restaurants keep trying to come up with something new. Some should stick with what they know best and others occasionally come up with something that works. Thanks to Carl’s Jr. for giving us the opportunity to try their hits and misses. This time we tried the new Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger and unanimously deemed it one of Carl’s hits. As pictured, our Burgers were nicely gooey and perfectly toasted. If all are made as good as this one, it should remain on the menu. Read more Carl’s Jr. food reviews here – We’re equal opportunity tasters.
Orange County Restaurant Week starts this Sunday, February 28th and runs through March 6th, 2010. This link will provide ALL the details — Prices, participating restaurants, lunch and dinner menus and more. It’s the best time to dine out in Orange County.
Update 03/07/10: This event has been extended an additional week.
Indeed, this Baked Onion tastes like Candy. Growing up I would have gaged over the thought of it, but an Onion baked with Bacon Grease in the oven or on a BBQ is so sweet and delicious. It just melts in your mouth. And it’s super easy to make and impressive to serve as an appetizer or side dish. It’s optimum for a fall or winter dinner party or all year long with meals. My family has prepared countless bushels of Baked Onions over the years. They’ve mostly cooked them on the BBQ, but when it’s cold it’s convenient to cook ‘em inside.
They take about an hour to cook without much effort — As pictured above (l-r), trim the ends and skin of an Onion then make a few shallow cuts. Place it on two layers of foil, then top the Onion with reserved Bacon Grease, Salt and Pepper. Tent and seal the Onion in the foil and bake at 450° for 1 Hour. It should then just fall apart in sweetness. Many times we’ll unwrap and broil the Onion over top for an additional 5+ minutes before serving. It’s so darn good!
Next month is March Mania at Chick-Fil-A. What that means is… Visit a participating Southern California Chick-Fil-A on any Friday in March, keep your original receipt, then return with your receipt to receive the exact order FREE any day within the month. For example, buy the pictured Nuggets and Sandwich on Friday, March 5th, then return any day after that in March for the same. Pay nothing extra – Just save your receipt!
Why would you grab lunch elsewhere on a Friday in March? One meal becomes two, thus four Friday meals become eight during March Mania. It’s a super deal.
* I’ve been a long-time fan of Chick-Fil-A’s Chicken Sandwich with extra Pickles, Nuggets with all Sauces, Chicken Biscuit Sandwich and Cole Slaw. They run a remarkable corporation, provide superior service and are closed every Sunday. God bless Chick-Fil-A.
The pictured meal is from the Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurant in Newport Beach. We love their menu. It’s always hard to narrow down a selection. This evening we decided on the Blackened Swordfish (above) and Pacific Sand Dabs with Beurre Blanc Sauce (below). Both were excellent, although a larger cut of Swordfish would have been nice and perhaps some greenery on the plate would have looked better. Other than that all was fresh and flavorful.
Bluewater Grill is also gearing up for Orange County Restaurant Week, which starts February 28th and runs through March 6th, 2010. During that period, they’ll be offering this prix fixe menu. It’s the best time to dine out, because you get more for your money at participating Orange County restaurants. View the details here.
And we thoroughly enjoyed our bottle of Pinot Gris from King Estate. We polished it off with our last bite of Sourdough and Butter, then went home and popped open a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the rain.
It’s true — 50 Forks Restaurant at The Art Institute of California, Orange County serves lunch to the public when school is in session. To learn more, view details posted at Orange County Food Examiner. It’s a small place, so it’s recommended that you make reservations to secure a table. Here’s the telephone number to get right on it - (714) 429-0918.
Continuing our tour of Casino Buffets, Nibbles of Tidbits recently enjoyed the Lunch Buffet at Choices inside Pala Casino Spa Resort. We’re not major Buffet fans, but find many of the Indian Reservation Casino Buffets quite impressive and an amazing deal, especially if you join a Player’s Club. You’ll need to check the details for each Casino, but a free or discounted Lunch or Dinner Buffet is often a perk of joining a Player’s Club. At Pala Casino, it’s called a Privileges Card – It affords a 20 – 100% discount relative to one’s gambling practices.
Unfortunately our photos don’t capture the full grandeur of Choices Buffet, thus it’s recommended that you try it yourself. They offer almost everything you can think of… Seafood, Mexican food, Chinese food, Japanese food, an extensive Salad Bar, fresh Fruit, American favorites, Italian food, every Dessert you can imagine, plus more. And it’s the first Buffet we’ve seen serve Leg of Lamb during lunch – All you can eat Lamb, shucked Oysters and peel and eat ‘em Shrimp is a deal in itself, without mentioning the Ribs, Ham, Turkey, Chicken, Salmon Fajitas, Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, etc.
Pala Casino takes a lot of pride in Choices Buffet and wants its customers to truly enjoy their experience. It’s well kept, clean, fully stocked and ready to be served. We found the service and attention to detail remarkable. They’re excited to present their remodeled Buffet (reopened Memorial Day 2009) and interested in customer feedback. They want to make Choices the best Buffet in town.
We’ve learned that Indian Reservation Casino Buffets are relatively progressive (I wish I’d win it) and sophisticated. Gone are the days of cheap Buffet food — There’s a lot of competition. Casino Buffets are quite the production, prepared and maintained by a team of attentive chefs and staff. Food is often presented as art, as shown by the flower carved out of a Watermelon and a dove carved from I’m not sure what.
As of this date, we think Choices may have the best Desserts seen thus far. We haven’t found any Buffets lacking Desserts, but we’re extra impressed with the Dessert case pictured directly below. In addition to offering almost every imaginable Dessert outside the case, those presented below are extra special. To me, it was like visiting an expensive bakery after the Buffet, whereas you get to pick and eat whatever you want for free. Elsewhere, each gourmet item may cost $5. You always want more than you can afford — Here you can just go for it.
It was hard to narrow down our selection of Choice’s Desserts, but we ultimately decided on the Mango Mousse Tower, Tiramisu Mug and Raspberry Mousse Tower (clockwise below). We’re not sure of their actual names and describe them by taste and design. All looked like a work of art.
Pala Casino is situated in a valley among beautiful hills — Below is just one view from the deck near the Food Court, close to more dining offered at Pala Casino. After this visit, we deem Choices to be one of our favorite Lunch Buffets.
Although not captured in this post, Choices’ design is worth mentioning. Our Interior Designer (Guest Blogger Bonnie) would have approved. We particularly liked the giant monitors displayed throughout. Each had incredible rotating food images to help get you in the mood. Make sure you bring your appetite to this Buffet.
Note: We’ll be visiting Casino Pauma’s Buffet in March — Check back for a report on it.
I recently came across this Rhubarb Dry Soda at Bristol Farms — And first must mention that the Bristol Farms in Corona Del Mar Plaza is an amazing store. It’s a bit cramped when crowded, but I usually want to buy almost everything I pass by. This visit the Rhubarb Soda caught my eye. Have you ever seen it before? I hadn’t and rarely eat Rhubarb, but had to try it out of curiosity. And the verdict is… Next flavor please. I like the carbonation and flavor options of the Dry Soda Co. Sodas, but this flavor not so much. It’s described as refreshingly tart and complex, which is true, but it also tastes a bit like Grass and Dried Cherries. The initial taste isn’t good, but the after taste isn’t bad, if that makes sense. We’d like to try their Kumquat, Lavender, Vanilla Bean, and maybe Cucumber flavors next time. They also make a Juniper Berry and Lemongrass Soda. Overall, we’re excited to see such unique flavors. Bravo to the fun of that!
While working/writing all weekend, I rarely left the house but for this Yogurtland Frozen Yogurt. I didn’t want to do it, but was drawn over-and-over by the tart flavors, fresh toppings, make it yourself ease and good prices. It’s a new favorite snack and dessert that briefly transports me to la la land – It’ll be four days in a row if I get it again tomorrow. It’s too easy and they’re open late.
Yogurtland offers several flavors and toppings, but right now I’m hooked on the perfect combination of Plain Tart, Toasted Coconut and Taro Yogurts with Mango, Strawberry, Granola, Sliced Almonds and Coconut toppings. It’s nice to be able to make exactly what you want and not have it cost too much. I’ve been impressed each visit.
* Although you can’t make your own, I also like Pinkberry’s Frozen Yogurt. The cost is slightly higher.
There’s a lot of people searching for — cookie decorating ideas, valentines day cookies, valentines treats and related. We’ve posted about them before, but couldn’t fit ‘em in this year. Instead we provide a quick link to our best Valentine’s Day Cookie posts thus far. Have a great one!
* Instead of decorating Valentine’s Day Cookies this year, we’ll be decorating St. Patrick’s Day Cookies, so come back to see them around March 17th.
Hip hip hooray, we’re on our way to the Pala Casino Buffet to spend the winnings of Super Bowl Sunday. It’ll be explained later, but now I’m happy to report a $100 win in a Super Bowl pool, as I luckily did last year. Is it legal? I don’t know — Oh well. In celebration of ALL and because my Dad loves Budweiser, I’ve posted the quotes below.
“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
- Benjamin Franklin
“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”
- Dave Barry
“Beer: Helping ugly people have sex since 3000 B.C.”
- W. C. Fields
“Remember I before E, except in Budweiser.”
- Professor Irwin Corey
We like having lunch at Cafe Nordstrom and have previously reported about many of them. Here we report about a two new (to us) Salads at Cafe Nordstrom at the Brea Mall. Above is the Nicoise Salad With Salmon – At first we didn’t recognize it, since it truly is covered in herbs, as described “herbed roasted” Salmon, literally. It looked a little weird at first, but was a good Salad overall.
We also had the Margherita Pizza, as some in the group must always have it, and an Artichoke & Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Basil and more. Lunch is always good and peaceful at Cafe Nordstrom if you beat the crowd. On our way out there was a line of (10) or more, thus we always make a note to arrive early at certain locations.
* Photos are a little off focus and will be replaced following our next visit.
Damn this Lycheetini is good! It’s at 8 Steers Fish & Steakhouse Restaurant in Costa Mesa. It’s a Martini made with Lychee Fruit. Before walking over to The Art Institute of California (Orange County) for a fundraising event, we had the best Martinis and $2 Kobe Sliders during Happy Hour. What a deal. The Kobe Sliders are fabulous with Horseradish Mayo and Dill Pickles. I already want to go back for the same – Both are too tasty to switch up. 8 Steers serves terrific food and drinks, so get in there. They need more business and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have it.
It’s been reported that one can truly judge a Chef by his/her Short Ribs. If that’s true, let it be known that 50 Forks Restaurant at The Art Institute of California (Orange County) delivered on the above. We thoroughly enjoyed all this terrific food at a fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation – 100% of the proceeds from this dinner go towards cancer research. Their motto is… When life hands you lemons, eat!
Our 10-course meal started with the above Amuse Bouche, Pumpkin Porridge served with Crispy Rice. The fundraiser was reported to be a 6-course meal, but we happily received much more — Hover over each photo to learn what’s on the menu. To raise additional funds, all is being served again at 50 Forks tonight. For cost information, times and telephone number, click here. There still might be room.
We were seated and served family style, which can be fun or awkward, but luckily we ended up sharing our meal with some cool peeps who love food too. The Art Institute staff and students were friendly and focused. Thank you 50 Forks – We’ll be back for lunch. And God bless Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
On certain days, 50 Forks Restaurant is open for lunch. It’s a great place to get a gourmet meal for a good price. And for a limited time, they will soon be open for dinner – The specifics are here.
* Click on the above MENU to enlarge it for better viewing.
A few of us recently gathered to sample goodies from a couple local bakeries. We were compelled to do it in honor of Valentine’s Day of course, and for extra enjoyment while watching The Bachelor (btw, I know who Jake is going to pick — If you want to know too, read here). Back to the sweets. To prepare for this tasting event we picked up a variety of goodies from two different bakeries we often pass by, but have yet to stop in until now. Both bakeries are on 17th Street in Costa Mesa near Newport.
The large box of yummies was transferred to the red plate above — They’re from Champagne French Bakery Cafe. And the smaller box of varied Cookies spread out below are from French’s Cupcake Bakery. The main similarity between the two is the word “French” and they’re both offering beautiful heart shaped Sugar Cookies for Valentine’s Day.
There are other differences between the two, thus we can’t pick one over the other. We’ll just mention that we liked French’s Cupcake Bakery more than we expected to. Champagne French Bakery Cafe had always looked aesthetically better to us. We preferred the Sugar Cookie from French’s Cupcake Bakery, who appears to sell hundreds of baked goods. CFBC serves “quality French cuisine.” They prepare sweet and savory items.
* Unfortunately we don’t know the official names of all, but our favorites included the Lemon Tart — We just loved the look of the charred Lemon on top. And honorable mentions go to the square Coconut Cookie directly above and the mound Nut Cookie two over on the left. Sorry, that’s the best we can currently do with description.
** For more Valentine’s Day Cookie photos and how to decorate them, click here. We made ‘em last year and will soon be decorating again.
Update 04/28/10: Champagne French Bakery Cafe has closed its 17th Street/Irvine (Newport Beach) location.
For breakfast I recently enjoyed a simple Egg Salad (Eggs, Apple Cider Vinegar, Mayo, Mustard, Salt and Pepper) with a few strips of nutritious Bacon — Instead of making a Sandwich, I ate ‘em together like Chips & Salsa. Why not?
We still haven’t had a bad Burger at Islands Restaurant and we’re working our way through all of them. This time we tried their Rincon Burger that includes Guacamole, Lettuce, Tomato, Swiss, Onion, Bacon & Mayo. We subtracted the Onion, added a side of BBQ Sauce and Ranch Dressing for the French Fries and loved every bite of it all. Our consensus is that Islands Restaurant consistently does Burgers right and we’re also happy about the refillable Fries. Writing this makes me want a refillable Burger too.