Archive for February, 2011

Mini Candy Buffet Wannabe Inspired By Custom Candy Buffet Bars.

February 28th, 2011 1 comment

I’ve yet to be invited to a wedding, party or event that has a Candy Buffet.  Will someone please invite me?  Until then, and inspired by the Candy Buffet designs of Jackie Sorkin of Custom Candy Buffet Bars, I created my own.  It’s a Mini Candy Buffet Wannabe created with my favorite flavor, Orange.  A stretch I know (and poorly photographed), but a good time.

Everyone else hoped for Cherry, Strawberry and Watermelon — Too bad, it was Orange, Tangerine, Mango, Grapefruit and Peach.  And it’s a Gummy Egg in the bottom right corner.

Note: All Orange Candy is from Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory at The Irvine Spectrum.

For The Love Of Food: Chef Sevaly Can’t Stop Cooking And Sharing.

February 26th, 2011 No comments

Our traveling Guest Blogger and Newport Beach Interior Designer, Bonnie provides her experience meeting Chef Sevaly and reports about his future after The Cooking Store…

What’s cooking at The Cooking Store? It was billed as a “Pre-Valentine’s Day Romantic Dinner,” but the meal served by uber-talented Executive Chef and Owner, Robert M. Sevaly, was actually enjoyed by us three girls, along with about 20 other cooking enthusiasts, for lunch on Sunday. On the menu was a delightful mixture of ingredients.

Mussel Bisque – According to mythology, the goddess of sensuality Aphrodite was born in the sea so it is no surprise that many kinds of seafood are considered natural aphrodisiacs. Mussels are a popular shellfish that for centuries have been considered an aphrodisiac. Now science can back up those claims as studies show that there are chemical compounds in mussels that release sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.

Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Brie Napoleon – The recipe for this sexy combination is noted below.

Napa Valley Flat Iron Steak

Shoestring Potatoes

Herbs de Provence Mashed Potatoes

Grilled Vegetables

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Molten Lava Cake and Flirtinis

It was quite an experience watching and listening to Chef Sevaly create this extravaganza! Everything was absolutely delicious, and at the end of the three-hour-long demonstration, we came away quite satiated.

If you have never been to The Cooking Store before, now is the time to go as it is closing at the end of April due to the Chef’s aversion to the retail environment. He still plans on in-home demonstrations and catering of private events. And while Chef Sevaly doesn’t know if another school is in his future, he is actively seeking investors, and you can bet that he will attract them, whatever his next adventure is.

Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Brie Napoleon Recipe

1 pack Wonton Skins (cut into 4’s)

1 wedge Brie (cut same size as wontons)

1 package Bacon (cooked in the oven and then cut to the same size as the wonton)

2-3 Onions (minced)

Oil for frying

2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

3 tablespoons Honey

Salt and Pepper

Fist measure out the ingredients and complete the knife prep in the above list of ingredients. Use the bacon fat to caramelize the onions nice and slow then add the sugars and set aside. Cook the wontons in a small amount of oil so they stay flat. Build the napoleons by layering a wonton, cheese, onion, bacon, onions, and wonton. Place into a 200 degree oven just to melt the cheese, then serve.

Thanks to Bonnie for the above report and photographs.  I hope to encounter Chef Sevaly someday.  We’ll later provide a contact for him.

One Orange County Restaurant Week Coming Right Up.

February 24th, 2011 2 comments

Orange County Restaurant Week will be starting again this Sunday, February 27th through Saturday, March 5th.  We always report that it’s the best time to dine out in the OC — The FOOD deals are bigger.  The pictured Cauliflower is from Sage, a participating restaurant.

Sabrage: Zane Lamprey Sabering Champagne To Break A World Record.

February 22nd, 2011 No comments

In less than a minute, Zane Lamprey set a world record opening 31 Champagne bottles with a saber, surpassing the previous record of 27.  What is Sabering?  Watch the video.  He says it took a lot of practice and Champagne, which isn’t cheap — It’s not a Nobel Art for just anyone.  Lamprey will attempt to break his own record soon for an upcoming episode of his HDNet original program, “Drinking Made Easy.”  A new episode airs every Wednesday.  What’s up with the monkey?

Nuts For The Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts In NY: Easy To Make In CA.

February 21st, 2011 1 comment

There’s not much more to say about the Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts that hasn’t been said or written by many.  I first saw them on the Food Network as one of Giada De Laurentiis favorite snacks.  They looked and sounded so good I made ’em the next day.  I love Nuts and everyone is right, the Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts are superb and easy to make at home.

The Nuts are toasted in the oven at 350° for about 10 minutes, then tossed with a little Butter, Sugar, Sea Salt, Cayenne Pepper and Rosemary.  That’s it.  They end up with a sweet, salty, smoky, spicy, herby flavor.  Our new favorite snack — The Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts.


While Nuts are toasting in ovens coast to coast, Kids in the Kitchen are playin’ in the NYC snow and we’re ready to toast on an OC beach.  We’re nuts over these Nuts — This time we used Almonds, Pecans, Cashews and Hazelnuts.  Use any Nut you want, and read what others are saying herehere and here.  We’re happy to have the recipe.

One Bloody Mary Breakdown: True Deconstuction Is In The Bottle & Rind.

February 20th, 2011 No comments

My Big Fat Bloody Mary claims to be Bloody Mary Central — Well, I like the name.  They tell you to stop clicking all over the web for a Bloody Mary recipe, because you look like a fool.  Instead you should bookmark their site.  I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s funny.  Unproven, I had already found a BM recipe before finding them.  The recipe I used is linked here.

Just mix all ingredients together in a glass or pitcher, stir well and pour over Ice — 3 oz Tomato Juice, 1 oz Vodka, 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice, 1 Tsp. Horseradish, 1/4 Tsp. Worcestershire Sauce and 6 Drops of Tabasco.  This post was completely inspired by Sugar Laws Bloody Mary post — The clear-cut photos, simplicity and Horseradish got me.  The Bloody Mary turns out fresh tasting and flavorful in minutes.  I’ll check out MBFBM next time.

Note:  I used V8 in place of Tomato Juice, since I had it on-hand and I’d do it again.

Bad Timer, Bad Bad Timer — Timer Up For Adoption To A Good Home.

February 19th, 2011 No comments

It’s funny how adding eyes to something brings it to life.  Before putting eyes on this timer, I was annoyed by it.  Not because I burned anything, although it happens, but because of these things… It ticks way too loud as it counts down and rings too low (and short) at zero.  It goes TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, ring.  It’s kind of comical, so I attached eyes and like it a little better.  I’ve been through too many timers lately.  With eyes it can stay a bit longer, since I’ll feel guilty tossing it — We made a temporary truce over Bloody Mary’s.

Oh Where Did You Come From Crispy Green Fruitzio Kiwi Snack You?

February 18th, 2011 No comments

Who sent these to me?  I don’t recall being asked to try them?  Let me know if it’s you?  In any event, they are timely.  Just this day I told someone how much I like freeze dried fruit — I usually eat it out of the Cereal before pouring the Milk.  I like ’em crispy.  Thanks Crispy Green.

These Fruitzio Kiwi Snacks are outstanding.  There were a couple tart bites, but I still want more.  I’m not hinting or begging, I’ll be buying.  Most dehydrated fruit I see is fairly expensive.  I hope these aren’t, because I’m eager to try the Pineapple, Peach, Mango and Asian Pear options.  Q’s: If one eats a snack pack and drinks a lot of water, what happens?  Does it grow like capsule dinosaurs, into 10 Kiwis?  Unrelated, have you heard of The Kiwi Game?

Turn A Banana Into A Banana Soufflé In Minutes: It’s Miraculous.

February 17th, 2011 No comments

I had one Banana left, too ripe to eat.  I like them fairly green.  Always on a quest to well utilize everything I buy, I turned a Banana into a Banana Soufflé.  Thank you Lord for blessing my hands and humble kitchen — A delightful Soufflé is minutes away.  Here’s the recipe I used.

Since I only had one Banana, I halved the recipe, mashed the Banana and continued…

Boil Sugar and Water together to make a Simple Syrup, then set aside to cool.

Butter and Sugar small or medium baking ramekins.

Whip Eggs Whites with Sugar and a dash of Salt until soft peaks.

Add the Simple Syrup to the mashed Banana, mix, then fold into whipped Egg Whites.

Ready to bake in the blurry photo above.

Voila — It’s a beautiful thing. 

However, I discovered that I’d prefer Lemon, Orange, Raspberry or Chocolate.

The Banana Soufflé was a bit rich for me, but it’s amazing that it can be whipped up and cooked up quickly.  It only takes 10 – 12 minutes to bake, plus the time to assemble — As shown, it’s simple, but looks impressive.  Here’s the recipe posted by Sugar Laws. 🙂

The Cocoa Lounge Playing At The Island Hotel In Newport Beach.

February 15th, 2011 No comments

Did you know there’s a Cocoa Lounge in the Palm Terrace Restaurant at The Island Hotel in Newport Beach?  Everything is made of Chocolate and you get to eat as much as you can.  It felt like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory — I started to lick the wallpaper until they stopped me.  Good thing there wasn’t a river.  You can have it all too throughout February.

We learned of this fabulous find while having Executive Chef Bill Bracken’s famous Truffle Mac & Cheese in the Palm Terrace Lounge.  I enjoyed it a couple years back and had a good excuse to have it again, as a friend wanted to tour the hotel for a party she’s organizing for her dad’s 90th birthday.  It was funny, the Chef came over to talk to Bonnie about her party and recognized me from Facebook.  After I wrote about his tasty Mac & Cheese, he befriended me.  That was pretty cool, but it’s been a long time.  It was fun to meet him in person.

We thank Chef Bracken for access to the Cocoa Lounge — We had such a great time.

As mentioned, almost everything was made of Chocolate, centerpieces, card holders…

It’s a unique buffet that’s happening Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 6 to 10pm.

The Cocoa Lounge is complementary to guests who order a two or more course dinner.

It’s otherwise $18 per person — Executive Pastry Chef Michael Owens, the tall one above, created them all, with necessary help from other capable professionals.  Thank you two too!

It was awesome, just wish I could’ve taken home a to-go box, as I could only eat so much.

And I now think of all I should’ve had — Why didn’t I eat a rose or a finger?

We had a grand time exploring the Chocolate options and meeting other people.

Mini from scratch Candy Bars, like Almond Joy’s (below).

One of my favorites was the warm Bread Pudding made with Croissants and Chocolate.

Continuing the homage to Candy Bars was the Snicker’s Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.

I don’t recall the exact name of the Berry Tarts below and wish I had one.

The Cocoa Lounge is in the Palm Terrace Restaurant’s private dining room with the Wine.

The now (and temporary) Cocoa Lounge is dimly lit and decorated in Chocolate brown.

Above is one of our plates.

View before heading back for more Chocolate (above).

View from a suite at The Island Hotel near Fashion Island pre-Chocolate.

Pool and Tennis Courts — The Island Hotel in NB used to be The Four Seasons.

View of Fashion Island and the ocean beyond (above).  And to top off the Chocolate, the view, and meeting the Chefs, look who we ran into in the Ladies Room… It’s Sheree Whitfield visiting Newport Beach from The Real Housewives of Atlanta.  Looks like I’m wearing She by Sheree.

Who’s gonna check me boo?  ATL inside. 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day: It’s A Great Day When Love Is In The Air.

February 14th, 2011 No comments

Happy Valentine’s Day — What the world needs now is love sweet love or heart shaped Eggs.

Veracruz Mexican Restaurant & Related Family History In Denmark.

February 13th, 2011 No comments

Before opening up the first Mexican food restaurant in Denmark, my Uncle Bobby learned how to cook in the small kitchen of this restaurant, Veracruz Mexican Restaurant in Downey, California.  He was taught there by a guy named Rafael about 50 years back and now has several franchise Mexican food restaurants throughout Denmark.  They’re named Tortilla Flats, if you get over there.  After so many years there’s obviously a whole new crew and owners at Veracruz Mexican Restaurant, but the place still serves good food.  We’ve visited occasionally over the years and all is generally satisfying — Here’s what we ate this time…

From top to bottom, a Bean & Cheese Burrito, always with Enchilada Sauce, a Chicken Taco with Beans and Rice, a Chili Rellano with Beans and Rice, and a large Bean Tostada.

We also like the prices and portion sizes at Veracruz Mexican Restaurant. 

When my Uncle Bobby is in town, he’ll pop in for old time’s sake, but his recipes are different.

I love a hole in the wall with the aroma of good Mexican food.

The entrance is in the back, off the street, and don’t hit any cars in the tight parking lot.

Historic Strips And Cheese Along The Bike-Walkway In Huntington Beach.

February 12th, 2011 8 comments

It’s practically Summer all year long in So Cal — Although it’s really Winter, today we couldn’t tell.  We all had Strips and Cheese from Zack’s or Jack’s in Huntington Beach, near Lifeguard Station #11.  Fixated on the Strips and Cheese, I forgot to check where I got them.  Similar and/or related food shacks along the HB bike and walk path have sold ’em for years. 

Today some went swimming, some rode bikes, played Frisbee and football, and others dug for sand crabs, but ALL had the HB Strips and Cheese for old time’s sake and a few others for the first time.  I first had them as a kid.  They’re unique in that the Cheese isn’t melted and the Sauce is mild and sweet — A good beach combination.  Hope they’re sold for another 50 years.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Café Du Monde (Original French Market Coffee Stand) Beignets At Home.

February 10th, 2011 2 comments

I had Beignets on the patio at Café Du Monde in New Orleans about seven years ago.  Café Du Monde is the Original French Market Coffee Stand that serves Café Au Lait and Hot Beignets aka French Doughnuts 24 Hours a day, year round.  Love ’em when they’re HOT!

Café Du Monde has been a familiar New Orleans landmark in the French Market since 1862.

You can get Café Du Monde Beignet Mix at Cost Plus World Market just in time for Mardi Gras (on March 8th) or any time of the year — I celebrate with special indulgences on a whim.

Although I don’t love frying things, every now and then it’s necessary to make certain tasty treats, such as Onion Rings, Tortilla Chips, Fried Chicken and these French Doughnuts.  They’re easy to make — Just Mix, Roll, Fry and Enjoy, as the package states.

Roll and cut into 2 1/4 inch squares as the original or into any shape you want.

A few Beignets were oddly shaped, but tasted the same.

Fry until golden brown, then sprinkle generously with Powdered Sugar.  YUM!

And since it’s easy to make and tastes so good, I prepared fresh Whipped Cream too.

All was served as an after dinner dessert with previously prepared Lemon Curd, Coffee & Milk.

It’s as simple as Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre — Check the back of the box.  Au revoir.

Pinkberry Swirly Gram: A Different Idea For Valentine’s Day At The Office.

February 8th, 2011 No comments

I like that Pinkberry is always coming up with something new — Right now they’re making hearts swirl by introducing the Pinkberry Swirly Gram.  It’s a unique Valentine’s Day Treat that’s delivered.  You can send one now through Valentine’s Day.  Learn how to here.

Pre-Valentine’s Day I happily received a Cupid’s Swirl with a Swirly Spree, respectively translated, a Chocolate Frozen Yogurt with Brownie Bites, Raspberries and Shaved Milk Chocolate, and a gift-wrapped Pinkberry Gift Card — All was hand delivered to my office with balloons and a smile. 

Didn’t get a photo of Cupid’s Swirl before melting, but you can tell it’s good.  Senders choose from 3 flavors — Chocolate as described, or Blood Orange Yogurt with Blood Orange Pieces and Waffle Cookies, or PB’s Original Yogurt with Toasted Almonds, Strawberries and Dark Chocolate Crisps.  All combinations sound perfect to me.  I have to try the Blood Orange.

Thank you Pinkberry — I only inhaled the helium from one balloon.

Three who shared in the delivery experience and consumption agreed the Yogurt and toppings were excellent and it was a fun distraction at the office.  Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday.

The day looked brighter as I went back to my office.

I sent the Swirly Spree to a nostalgic friend who reported to like Pinkberry this very day.  Good timing for him — It went to a good home.  Enjoy!  We sure did.  See earlier reports here.

The New Savory Spice Shop In Corona Del Mar Is Hot (And Super Cool).

February 7th, 2011 No comments

Our Guest Blogger, Bonnie recently visited and fell in love with the Savory Spice Shop located in Corona Del Mar Plaza.  She talked to the owners, took photographs and tried unique spices.  It’s all seen and reported about by Bonnie as follows…

The New Savory Spice Shop in Corona Del Mar is Hot!

Make your Next Dish Savory! is the theme of the new Savory Spice Shop located at 928 Avocado Avenue, in Corona Del Mar (in the Bristol Farms Shopping Center). The owners are the husband and wife team of Randy Morton and Laura Shute. Here’s what they offer:

                                400 herbs and spices ground fresh weekly

                                Over 140 unique hand-blended seasonings

                                Specially packaged gift sets, soups, sauces, dips and extracts

                                Available in amounts from ½ ounce to pounds

                                Everything is available for tasting

After a lot of taste testing, I finally settled on two different kinds of dip. The first is a Taco Seasoning which consists of: Masa Harina, salt, chilies, tomato powder, garlic, cumin, California paprika, onion, white sugar, Mexican oregano and allspice.

The other was recommended by Laura. It’s their Gran Paradiso Cheese Sprinkle Dip which contains a truly interesting combination of spices: Green bells (I have no clue what they are!), Parmesan cheese, salt, toasted sesame seeds, shallots, green pepper, parsley, cilantro and chervil.

Both have now been paired with 8 ounces of sour cream and left to marry over night in the refrigerator. Tomorrow they will be brought to the First Annual Nibbles of Tidbits Super Bowl Party for taste testing. We may blog about it later as an update here.

Apart from being bowled over by all the choices, around half way though my tour, Laura pointed out that not all “spices” are (only) for eating. For example, Frankincense can be lit like incense and is meant to smell like the inside of a Church — A different way to enjoy a spice. On a personal note, I was excited to learn that they carry Spearmint Extract. I have been looking for it over a year!

I must also do a shout out on the interior design, which Randy and Laura did all by themselves. I love the wide plank hardwood flooring, tin ceiling and the brick focal wall. They combine to give the store a warm, homey effect.

Most importantly, what I noticed most about the Savory Spice Store was the smell.  On the day I was there the front doors were wide open, so I caught a whiff of it before I even got inside.  It was such a wonderful delight — something you definitely need to experience.

Thanks for the report and photos Bonnie — I’m ready to hit the Savory Spice Shop.

Extra Funny Wine Bags At Cost Plus World Market.

February 6th, 2011 2 comments

We cracked up reading several Wine Bags at Cost Plus World Market today.  They have some of the funniest we’ve seen.  Although I don’t need any, I had to buy this one.  Funny yes, no?

It shall be received by the next party host, unless already seen here. 😉

Pearson’s Port In Newport Beach Under The PCH Bridge Near Bayside.

February 4th, 2011 No comments

Looking for live Crab, Lobster or Fish?  Have you been to Pearson’s Port?  Don’t forget about the tiny shack tucked under the PCH bridge in between Dover and Bayside.  Since they don’t appear to have a website, read what people are saying about it on Yelp.

Delicioso Restaurant And Lost Footage From Endless Food & Fun.

February 3rd, 2011 No comments

Delicioso Restaurant is located inside Endless Food & Fun in Huntington Beach.  Guest Blogger Bonnie previously wrote about it here and as Orange County Food Examiner, I reported about it here.  This post wraps up our report on Delicioso and hosts new unpublished photographs.

The fresh Bread served with dinner at Delicioso was sweet and crunchy. 

And the recommended Rib Eye Steak was smoky and cooked beautifully.

Cheers to Delicioso Restaurant — We wish you many years of success.

Above is the Idol Room where you can sing Karaoke after a meal at Delicioso or while dining on the Buffet.  We haven’t yet tried the Buffet, but provide a glimpse of it below.  Rock on.

Rao’s On Top Chef Tonight: We Love Their Meatballs – Say Hi To Bubbles.

February 2nd, 2011 No comments

Rao’s was on Top Chef tonight — As previously reported, we LOVE their Meatballs and will (most likely) never make another.  The above photo is hanging on the wall at Rao’s Caesars Palace.  When we visited, we met Bubbles who you might see there.  If so, please say hello.

Wish I was at this table — Learn more about Rao’s here.

Orange County Food Examiner Report: Endless Food & Fun In Huntington.

February 1st, 2011 No comments

As Orange County Food Examiner, I just posted a report regarding Endless Food & Fun in Huntington Beach.  It’s also reported about here, and we’ll be adding a slideshow to the review and more photos from Delicioso Restaurant here.

* Photo is of the Chicken Florentine at Delicioso Restaurant.