Archive for April, 2010

Happy 2nd Year Anniversary To Nibbles Of Tidbits.

April 29th, 2010 No comments


We just passed our Two Year Anniversary with a blur.  It has been a blast and we look forward to all that’s to come.  We’re grateful for our blessings and toast to FOOD from the earth and all the creative hands that prepare it.  There’s so much more to try.  Cheers!

Sesame Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos With Sticky Rice.

April 28th, 2010 No comments

Here’s a simple way to enjoy Lettuce Wrap Tacos — We marinated Chicken Thighs in our favorite bottled Sesame Dressing by Feast from the East for a day, then grilled them on the BBQ.  The flavor turns out delicious and sweet.  Shredded Chicken goes well on an Iceberg Lettuce Leaf, with the addition of a little Soy Sauce, Sriracha and Sticky Rice.  Any Chicken part will do for this recipe, but Thighs (and Drumsticks) are cheaper and marinate quicker than Breasts.  Our Sticky Rice wasn’t that great, thus we have no instructions for it.

Note: This post was one of many drafts with previously uploading photos.  We’re reviving a few while working on technical issues with respect to the upload of new photos.

Rustica To Debut At Fashion Island In June.

April 27th, 2010 No comments

Extraneous PRELUDE of Importance: Still working on technical issues in relation to the upload of new photos associated with our latest reports, thus opt to recite a Press Release we received.  By posting this we hope NOT to encourage the dumping of Press Releases in our inbox.  Although we appreciate that they do relate to food, for the record we’re not fans of receiving ’em like a depository.  We don’t want to collect them and mostly never parrot them, especially if they’re — Not personalized, uninteresting, self-serving, offering of barely worth mentioning consumer deals or incentives, unfamiliar, repetitive, not locally, nationally or universally relevant and/or contrary to Nibbles of Tidbits’ assessment.  It had to be said.  

Without further ado, we look forward to trying Rustica in June.*

Rustica, an exclusive new restaurant by award-winning Chef Grant MacPherson, will debut at Fashion Island in June. MacPherson’s wealth of international culinary experience will bring authentic regional cooking techniques and a blend of seasonal California foods to Fashion Island, one of Southern California’s favorite dining destinations. After being involved in more than 50 acclaimed restaurants and dining concepts worldwide, MacPherson is returning to his first passion – cooking – with the opening of Rustica. A true chef at heart, MacPherson will focus on a menu of creativity, refinement and elegance with fresh, high quality, seasonal foods.

“I believe in providing our guests with the ultimate dining experience,” said MacPherson. “At Rustica, I will be very involved in the cuisine, from executing the farm to table concept, to offering unparalleled service and personal interaction with the customers. I want our guests to feel at home and to feel like family and friends.” The same menu will be featured at lunch and dinner, offering homemade soups, unique salads, wood-fired flatbreads, hand-crafted pastas, seasonal fish, wet-aged beef, and exceptional gelato made daily. Signature items will include Tuna Nicoise, Golden Beet Salad, Peppered Beef Carpaccio, Oven Roasted Pacific Fennel Salmon, and Maine Lobster and Asparagus Risotto.

“Chef MacPherson has long been a major player in the restaurant business on the domestic and international stages, but Rustica is the first restaurant that will carry his name,” said Keith Eyrich, President of Irvine Company Retail Properties. “With Grant’s attention to detail and quality, Rustica will be a wonderful addition to Fashion Island’s collection of fine restaurants. Because of our track record for success, Fashion Island continues to be a top location choice for restaurants,” Eyrich continued. “Rustica is representative of our move to feature independent, chef-driven restaurants that showcase culinary excellence.” Eyrich notes that as part of Fashion Island’s $100 million reinvestment, more restaurants with patio dining will be featured throughout the center.

“Our guests love to dine outdoors and choose Fashion Island over places that can’t offer this amenity,” Eyrich said. Other notable restaurants that debuted at Fashion Island include the first-ever locations of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and R&D Kitchen, and the first California locations of Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine and P.F. Chang’s. At 3,700 square feet, Rustica will have a casual and inviting atmosphere, with patio dining adjacent to Fashion Island’s new Nordstrom Court and elegant Italian-inspired fountain. The restaurant is located next to Nordstrom.

In addition to Rustica opening in June, Fashion Island also previously announced that Fox Restaurant Concepts will open its first California location of True Food Kitchen this summer. An acclaimed Phoenix-based restaurant, True Food Kitchen has a diverse menu created by best-selling healthy-living author Dr. Andrew Weil that focuses on high quality, locally-sourced ingredients that taste great. 

* Our apologies to Rustica for the possible damper on their exciting news with our PRELUDE.

Stay Tuned Daily — There’s Always Something Food Related To Report.

April 26th, 2010 No comments

Nibbles of Tidbits has a lot of exciting posts coming up.  We’re reviewing a couple Cookbooks from Southern Living.  We recently attended an amazing event sponsored by the California Avocado Commission and just hosted a few small parties we need to report about.  Network Solutions, our hosting provider is currently updating its server, thus we’ll be posting photos of all once the maintenance is complete.  At that time, we’ll resume the feast(s) for your eyes.

Beware Of (Hidden) Dwindling Packages.

April 24th, 2010 2 comments

Not sure if you can tell from this photo, but a big chunk is taken out of the bottom of this package.  It inverts about an inch and a half.  We already know that we’re paying more for less these days — But to me, this type of shrinking package is sneaky.  I don’t respect it.  These Licorice Pastels are from BevMo.  And they’re not that great tasting either, since they’re soft not crunchy.

Too Much Cheese For Just One Party — A Little Goes A Long Way.

April 22nd, 2010 2 comments

If you’re planning a small Cheese & Wine Party, you should be set to have more than one gathering, as a little Cheese goes a long way and one shouldn’t eat the balance alone.  As previously reported, our party was inspired by a recent trip to SideDoor in Corona Del Mar.  We’ll report about our favorite Cheeses after our 2nd (or possibly 3rd) Party.  We’re almost done. 🙂 It ain’t easy being Cheesy.

Zinc Cafe We’ll Be Back & CoCo’s We Appreciate The Idea, But…

April 20th, 2010 1 comment

Brie Appetizer at CoCo's

Funny story… A friend and I were walking around Corona Del Mar hungry one day.  First we learned all the restaurants we wanted to eat at didn’t open until 5PM, then remembered Zinc Cafe & Market.  We’d heard a lot of remarkable things about it, but still hadn’t been there.  Finally made it there and enjoyed looking at all the fabulous stuff — Cheese, Sandwiches, Soups, Salads, Pastries and Market Items galore!  We were paralyzed with indecision and also learned one must order food at the register, while staking out a coveted table at the same time.  All will be fine for another visit and the proprietors seemed friendly too, but we wanted to kick it and be served at the time.  Thus the story continues…

Fried Green Beans

After another 5 or 6 block walk, we ended up at CoCo’s for ease, nourishment and familiarity.  And it was interesting to learn that CoCo’s Restaurant & Bakery is currently offering a Wine & Appetizer Selections Menu.  We were impressed with the progressive offerings and opted to try the Brie Appetizer Platter (one small Brie wedge served warm crusted with Macadamia Nuts and another topped with a Jalapeno Raspberry Sauce) and the Crispy Green Bean Sticks.   All sounded fun and good, but yuck — Sorry. 

The Macadamia Nut Brie was okay (mostly tasteless), and the other microscopic sized Brie wedge was stone cold, seemingly direct from the fridge with the flavor to prove it.  The Grapes didn’t look good and the Bread was sparse.  The Green Beans were tolerable, but better re-heated in my toaster oven until extra crispy, with real Ranch Dressing, instead of the lumpy version we were served at CoCo’s.  We laughed thinking about the quality Cheese and Bread we could’ve been enjoying at Zinc Cafe. 🙂

Celebrating Earth Day At The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve.

April 19th, 2010 No comments

Walk on Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

The 40th Anniversary of Earth Day is this Thursday, April 22, 2010.  We thought we’d pick up trash while walking along the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve.  Fortunately there isn’t too much, but why not pick it up on the way?!  Bring a bag.  And since this is a Food Blog, why not bring a picnic and sneak in some wine 😉 .

Kids Are Really In The Kitchen.

April 18th, 2010 2 comments

Chef Nieces (Lexi & Bailee)

My adorable Chef Nieces, Lexi on the left and Bailee on the right, have prepared a fair amount of treats for Nibbles of Tidbits — We’ve posted all in Kids in the Kitchen.  They recently attended a church camp, Forest Home where they learned how to make homemade Pasta Noodles, Parmesan Chicken and Dessert Crepes.  I still haven’t made Pasta Noodles from scratch and now must ask my Chef Nieces to teach me.  What kind of Foodie do I think I am? 🙂

Preliminary Testing For An Upcoming Cheese Tasting Par-tay.

April 17th, 2010 2 comments

Cheese Test

Inspired by the Cheese & Charcuterie we saw at SideDoor in Corona Del Mar, we’re testing Cheese to select the best for a Cheese Tasting Party I’ll be hosting.  The goal is to make our platter as special as theirs.  We learned the importance of preliminary testing by quickly ruling out the TJ Morbier from France, Cheese #1 (Above).  It was awful.  I don’t like having to write this because it’s not appetizing, but it smelled and tasted like stinky feet — Not good!  I definitely wouldn’t want to serve it to guests, as it could be a turn off from the rest.

Just a sampling of the Cheese at Trader Joe's.

I ultimately decided on 5 – 6 Cheeses from Trader Joe’s and can’t wait to plate them with Calabrese Salami and Black & Green Olive Bread, with a complimentary selection of fresh Pears, dried Montmorency Cherries, Pecans, Garlic Stuffed Olives, Red Grapes, Mustard, Club Crackers, Pita Chips, etc.  Check back to see how our Cheese & Charcuterie measures up to the platters at SideDoor.

Lunch At The Yard House & Happy Hour Information Links.

April 15th, 2010 2 comments

Yard House Parmesan Chicken

For years my friend has raved about the Parmesan Crusted Chicken at the Yard House, which I finally tried (above).  It’s served over Garlic Mashed Potatoes and a Sundried Tomato, Three Mushroom Sauce.  She’s right, it’s good, especially the Sauce, but I wanted a lot more of it.

Yard House Penne

Under the House Favorites portion of the menu, we also enjoyed the Penne with Chicken and the Summer Salad with Chicken from the lunch specials menu.  We always enjoy the food at the Yard House and have no complaints about this visit.  And we particularly like to go there during Happy Hour, when most appetizers are half price.

Yard House Salad

Past Happy Hours attended by Nibbles of Tidbits and more Yard House food photos are linked here.

Note:  We’re experimenting with a new-ish camera, thus the photos above are a little bizarre looking and don’t do the food justice.

Don’t Forget To Take Home Your Leftovers.

April 14th, 2010 No comments

Don't Forget Your Leftovers

Next time I’ll have to pin this note to my shirt instead of posting it on my office door. 🙁

How To Use A Pack Of Hebrew National Hot Dogs.

April 12th, 2010 No comments

Octopus Hot Dogs

As far as packaged Hot Dogs go, Hebrew National is our current favorite.  We recently bought a pack and made some funny dogs. 🙂 Above Octopus Hot Dogs dodge a wave of Chili and Mustard — They’re crispy, tasty and cute, and should technically be in the Chili/Mustard water instead of the invisible sand, ha.  And below (l-r) we made a Chili Cheese Dog, a Deluxe Dog (Mustard, Tomatoes, Dill Relish & Onion), a Francheesey (inspired by Katella Deli’s menu), and a Kraut and Mustard Dog.

Chili Cheese DogDeluxe Dog (Tomatoes, Dill Pickle Relish, Onions & Mustard)Francheesy (Katella Deli)Kraut & Mustard Dog

And mustn’t forget the Mummy Dogs below, made from Bread Dough that’s stretched and rolled around each Hot Dog like a Mummy, then baked in the oven.  Hebrew National Hot Dogs are always good well done and kids especially love to eat ’em in the form of an Octopus or Mummy.

Mummy Hot Dogs

Hebrew National reports to have no fillers or by-products, nor artificial colors or flavors, and are made with premium cuts of Kosher Beef.  We’ve enjoyed them for years and provide fun ways of doing so above.

We’ve Fallen In Love With SideDoor In CDM – Look For The Red Key.

April 10th, 2010 2 comments

SideDoor Entrance

Have you been to SideDoor yet?  It’s an English-style Gastropub in Corona Del Mar off Poppy and PCH.  You may not know about SideDoor until now, but if local you’re surely aware of the Five Crowns Restaurant.  It’s been in CDM for over 40 years.  Last year Five Crowns carved out a space to create SideDoor, which officially opened in November 2009.  It’s absolutely brilliant!  Just look for the red key hanging on the outside to find SideDoor.

Five Crowns Restaurant

We loved everything about this place and plan to go back many times.  It’s comfortable and stylish, serves amazing food, fun drink options and the service is well above average.  You’ll certainly have questions about the Cheese and Charcuterie and the servers will be able to answer them — We especially recommend Ben who is quite knowledgeable and cute.

Cheese & Charcuterie at SideDoor

In addition to the Cheese (Cow, Sheep, Goat & Bleu) and Charcuterie (Proscuitto, Salame & Bresaola) options, SideDoor’s Menu is impressive.  Our goal is to try everything.

Flight of Draught BeersCountry Duck PateMac'n CheeseChicken Pot Pie

We started with a Flight of Draught Beer — Favorite of all (this visit) was the Allagash Curieaux.  And we tried the Country Duck Pate, StilCheddar Mac’n Cheese and Fish’n Chips.  Also pictured is our neighbor’s Chicken Pot Pie.  We didn’t have it, but did try their Smokey Blue Cheese Potato Chips (not pictured) and really liked ’em.  Our pub table was a large shared one with nice, fun people, which added to the experience.

Fish'n Chips

The Fish’n Chips are excellent, which is important for an English-style Gastropub.  Having been to England three times and dined in several authentic English Pubs, we think SideDoor holds up in many ways — We appreciate its lighting, colors, ambiance, feel, comfort and decor.

GimmeMores Dessert

Pictured directly above is the GimmeMores, SideDoor’s version of S’Mores.  They’re assembled with homemade Marshmallows, rustic Bread and pressed Chocolate, similar to a Panini.  They’re different and surprisingly good.

SideDoor InsidePreparing the Cheese & CharcuterieSide Door Sampler (5 Choices)Inside Side Door

SideDoor is long and somewhat narrow inside with several cozy dining spots — Tall tables, cubby holes next to fireplaces, couch benches, large chairs, or belly up at the bar.  It’s an extraordinary place I’d like to frequent and look forward to going back soon.  It’s bloody awesome!

Learn Where To Find All The Farmers’ Markets In Orange County.

April 7th, 2010 No comments

Fava Beans for sale at the Corona Del Mar Farmers' Market

As Orange County Food Examiner, I just posted a collection of links to most (if not all) the Farmers’ Markets happening in Orange County.  It’s a terrific resource — You can learn where they all are here.

Cherry Blossoms And Cherry Pie In Washington, DC.

April 6th, 2010 No comments

Cherry Blossoms

Our Washington, DC Food Correspondent, Steven Woo sent us these fabulous photos.  He enjoys the Cherry Blossoms each year and bakes a Cherry Pie in appreciation of same.  He’s observant, funny and wrote the following:

Tourists galore are in town for the Cherry Blossoms, which are in peak bloom. Attached are some pix from my sunset walk around the Tidal Basin last Thursday. The statue of President Jefferson inside his silhouetted memorial is readily apparent. Peak bloom was on Wednesday, and the warm temperatures this weekend and week (mid-80s!) will cause the fleeting blossoms to disappear by next weekend… hopefully the tourists will too ;). Also attached is a pix of the cherry pie I baked in honor of the season. The crust is from scratch(!); the sugar-free filling from Comstock is rather bland…

Happy Spring!

Cherry PieCB's in DCCB'sDC Sunset

Thanks Steven — Can you see what you can do about the politicians up there?!

Practicing For The OC Fair With An Easter Table Setting: Enter Now.

April 5th, 2010 1 comment

Easter Table Setting

You can now enter one or more of the competitions happening at the Orange County Fair this year.  The 2010 OC Fair doesn’t start until July, but competition sign-up has begun.  Last year we luckily won several ribbons in the Culinary Arts Competition and this year we hope to do the same.  And I’ve talked my Mom into entering the Table Setting Competition — She’s always set fun and beautiful tables over the years, including the one above.  Online entry forms are due by May 26, 2010.  Good luck!

Easter Cookie (And Goodie) Decorating Ideas: Happy Easter.

April 4th, 2010 2 comments

Easter Cookies & Champagne

As you may or may not know, the Nibbles of Tidbits’ Cookie Crew decorates Cookies every major holiday.  Happy Easter!  This year our lovely host, Loretta single-handedly made Cupcakes, Chocolate Dipped Oreos, Chocolate Dipped Graham Crackers and White Chocolate Bunny Lollipops.  The rest of us decorated Sugar Cookies, after toasting with a glass of Champagne and Chambord.

Easter Cookies

Decorating Cookies (and other goodies) is a fun way to spend time with friends and family, then you (and related lucky recipients) get to eat ’em.  Prior to preparation, we had Fish Tacos, a Wedge Salad, Hummus, Bruschetta and Pita Chips — Creative expression flows with a full stomach.

Icing for Sugar CookiesMakin' FrostingDecorating ParafernaliaToasting to Cookies

To provide the latest decorating ideas (although somewhat amateur), we post photos after every gathering.  And now all is on Nibbles of Tidbits as a handy reference to be utilized each year.

Easter Cookie Decorating Ideas

Chocolate Dipped Oreos and one Peep

Easter Cupcakes

Happy Easter from the Nibbles of Tibdits’ Cookie Crew (below), two (Nora and Patty aka Tricia) are not shown in the photo — Pictured (l-r) are Loretta, Kim, Michelle and Shelly (me).

Easter CookiesWhite Chocolate Bunny LollipopsNaked Sugar CookiesCookie Crew (minus two)

Jesus is the reason for the season!

What If The Hokie Pokie Is Really What It’s All About?

April 1st, 2010 No comments

Chicken Cordon Bleu ;)

Happy April Fools Day!  This day always creeps up on me without enough planning.  Darn.  And I’m quite the practical joker too.  I suppose future joke ideas will be best reserved for the rest of the year, when people aren’t expecting ’em. 🙂 Until then, enjoy the Chicken Cordon Bleu.