Archive for May, 2011

The Beachcomber In Crystal Cove State Park Historic District.

May 31st, 2011 No comments

Some moments seem so long, but life is really quite short.  Cherish it.  The Crystal Cove Beach Cottages first appeared in black and white, and today The Beachcomber plays in color.

I’d been wanting to explore the Crystal Cove State Park Historic District, the Beach Cottages, and The Beachcomber for some time now, but hadn’t been sure how to get there.

I happily know how to get there now and you will too — It’s easier than you might think.

Park at Los Trancos (cliff side) and PCH to catch the shuttle down Crystal Cove (beach side).

The Beach Shuttle is $1.00 each way — It’s seamless and you’re suddenly there.

After drop off, you pass The Park Store and Visitor Center on the way to The Beachcomber.

The Beachcomber is on the sand, overlooking the Pacific — It was remodeled as a restaurant from an existing Beach Cottage and used to be called the Whistle Stop.

The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove also offers Beach Rentals.

Pictured above is a North Beach Cottage, part of the Phase II Restoration Project.

The Dinner Menu — Starters/Appetizers are the same on the Lunch and Dinner Menu, but the Entries change, as does the menu from season to season.  Blankets are always provided.

The Beachcomber Bar serves Appetizers and Drinks only.

We tried several specialty drinks including the Cucumber Mist Martini (pictured above), the El Morro Margarita, The Real Deal Margarita and the Black & Cran Martini.  All were freshly stiff and thoroughly enjoyed on the patio over a leisurely period.

We all recommend the Tunisian Pizza on Grilled Flatbread with Bleu Cheese, Smoked Bacon, Dates, Roasted Tomatoes and Basil.  It’s sweet, savory and delicious, as described.

On the Dinner Menu is Spinach Truffle Mac and other notable options.

And Center Cut Filet Mignon topped with a Bleu Cheese Gratin.

After consuming all, we played on the beach.

And thought about all that’s transpired here in days gone by.

Some Beach Cottages were constructed in the 1920’s with wood that drifted ashore, after a lumber ship capsized.  And many silent films were shot here, due to the area’s Tahitian, Hawaiian appearance.  It’s most apparent in B & W and appreciated in all colors.

View from the Rotating Exhibit Facility in sepia and color — Do you feel a difference?

Back in black (and white) and wanting to step back in time.

I talked to a young Lifeguard and so badly wanted to ask if he’s making $100K a year + extra for sunscreen, as recently reported, but didn’t inquire — Can’t blame him if it’s true.

Worked off the food with silliness and laughter.

Note:  Be sure to ask for parking validation before leaving The Beachcomber, so your parking is FREE.

Kids In The Kitchen: Taking A Break To Play Hedbanz.

May 29th, 2011 No comments

Kids in the Kitchen playing Hedbanz — I am a Cake — I am Bacon.  Am I edible?

It’s National Burger Weekend, Deemed By Groupon: That’s American.

May 28th, 2011 No comments

Why not have a National Burger Weekend, especially if it saves people money?!  It’s 50% off through Groupon.  And Memorial Day Weekend is a good time for it.  Burgers are American and I’d love to buy one for a Veteran — Thank you and God bless you past and present soldiers.

Note:  The pictured Burgers are from Jimmy’s Burger Joint.

Is It Albino, Icelandic, Lacking Melanin Or Just A Frightened OREO?

May 27th, 2011 No comments

Albino Oreo Cookies modeled by a burglar — But for the name Golden Oreo, he probably wouldn’t have stole ’em and I wouldn’t have bought them.  For $1 a box, I had to try at least one.  And it’s a good quality Sandwich Cookie, but plain.  I prefer its dark, older cousin, Oreo.

Official Commencement Of Tostada Thursday: You Think It’ll Catch On?

May 26th, 2011 1 comment

Another excuse for Mexican — Why not celebrate Tostada Thursday?  Is Taco Tuesday played?  Is there room for both in one week?  The pictured Tostada is from Café Rose Express.

What’s In The Box Wednesday? Still Kickin’ Day Titles Down The Week.

May 25th, 2011 No comments

I just love surprises, large or small.  They don’t have to be grand and can even be expected, like The Treasure Box (TTB) — My secretary told me about it.  TTB is described as a week of (family) food at a world of savings.  Almost anything food related for the blog.  Order one, I said.  We decided to split a Treasure Box.  This month’s box, titled Simply Enough was $24.  She picked it up nearby on a specific date and brought it to the office.  Here it is.  Surprise!

Hhhmm.  All was frozen and most items were easy to share, but we negotiated a couple others.  She doesn’t like Peas and I do, and I don’t care for Brown Rice, but she does.  The rest, I wasn’t that enthused about, but will give it a try and update this post if notable.

The whole office wanted a piece of this — Do you want a piece of this?  The menus are here.

Take It Easy On Me Tuesday: Can I Build A Fort With Tea Forté Bags?

May 24th, 2011 No comments

Ahhhh, Raspberry Nectar — Tea Forté please take me away.  Be anxious for nothing.

Move Over Monday: It’s Time For Bad BBQ And Putt Measuring.

May 23rd, 2011 No comments

It was for an annual fundraiser that I stood out on the 8th hole all day measuring for the longest putt, plus I got paid.  And mustn’t mention the pre-tee BBQ to be polite.  The Cole Slaw was good.  A man said his worst day of golf is better than his best day at work.  I’d heard that before.  The course, Black Gold has spectacular views and it’s always great to be outside.  By the way, the longest putt was 34 feet exactly.  It was impressive.

How To Cook A Roast Fork Tender Every Time: Long, Low & Slow Baby.

May 22nd, 2011 No comments

Long, low and slow baby was my answer to a friend who asked how to make a Beef Roast turn out fork tender cooking it in the oven.  She wanted a recipe, but I didn’t have one.  I just know the framework.  I experiment too much, a big reason for Nibbles of Tidbits… to document successes and failures, to remake successful dishes and learn from the misses.  And luckily most Beef Roasts in my past have turned out tender, but you need to have the time (and patience) — It can easily be achieved in a Crock-Pot in 8 – 12 hours, or in the oven with a little more maintenance in 3 – 4 hours, depending on Beef size.  The provided recipe uses the oven.

It’s not an original recipe, but one made by my Mom throughout my childhood — It’s not uniquely her recipe either and perhaps you’ve seen or made it before, HOWEVER it can be relied on to yield a consistently fork tender and tasty Beef Roast every time.  It’s easy too.

I made it a lot when I first moved out, though still had to call Mom to verify its simple ingredients (Beef, Beef Broth, Wine, Lipton Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix, Oil and S & P), as detailed in step-by-step photos and instructions.  Both Red and White Wine work well.

Trim the fat — You know, the area hidden at the grocery store, inevitably on the bottom.

Over the years, I’ve found almost any cut of Beef works with this recipe.  I usually buy what looks good, what’s priced well and what expires last.  The one used here is 2 1/2 lbs.

RECIPE:  1 Beef cut (2+ lb. Top or Bottom Round, Eye, Chuck, Sirloin, Tri-tip, etc.), 2 Cups Beef Broth/Stock, 2 Cups Wine, 1 Packet of Lipton Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix, Oil and Salt & Pepper.  Combine all as shown and noted below to make a perfectly tender Beef Roast.

Preheat oven to 325° — S & P Beef and sear on all sides in a little Oil.

Turn off burner and add Lipton Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix to the pot.

Add the Beef Stock/Broth.

Add the Red or White Wine — Note that Red Wine will darken the Beef a bit, which is sometimes a good reason to use White Wine.  It could make final presentation prettier.

All is combined and ready for a 3 – 4 hour oven tour — At this point, I need to point out a major faux pas… The pot I used to make the pictured Roast is way too large/tall, which allows excess air around the Beef, thus drying it out.  It was still flavorful and flaky, but drier than preferred.  For best results, prepare the Beef Roast in your smallest Dutch oven.

Cover and bake in the oven.

Turn Beef every 45 minutes or so.

Turn again.

After 3 1/2 hours, remove Roast from pot, wrap in foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Make a quick Gravy by boiling the remaining liquid with a little Flour and Water.

RECIPE Alternate:  Mom prepares her Roast in a smaller pot, as recommended, and simply combines (1) Can of Beef Broth, (1) Can of Wine (using the Broth can) and Lipton Onion Recipe Soup & Dip Mix — Cooked at 325° for 3 – 4 hours depending on Beef size.  Need more info?

It pulls apart easily, ideal for Sandwiches, Tacos, Burritos and more.

Or just shred and top with favorite Gravy — It’s how I like it best.

This post was prepared in response to a friend’s question and for submission in the Orange County Fair’s Culinary Arts Food Blog Post Competition.  And the next Beef Roast will be tender (a happy given) and less dry with a smaller pot to fix it — An educational reminder that sometimes size does matter.  And now it’s documented to further success.

Bonus:  Another Beef Roast recipe, a Chipotle Baracoa Beef copycat I developed is linked.  It’s pretty darn good, if I do say so myself, and others think so too.  Always good, bad and funny.

HB Farmers’ Market And Art Fair: Was It Yesterday Or Yes-Ter-Day?

May 21st, 2011 No comments

Testing out photo editing at the Huntington Beach Farmers’ Market and Art Fair happening every Friday at Pier Plaza from noon to dusk — On skates this day, thus didn’t buy anything to have hands ready for a potential fall.  Was this yesterday or 1975?  And have you ever seen Heirloom Artichokes with purple flowers?  I hadn’t, but the background looks best below.

Cafe Rose Express: Oasis At The Turnip Rose Promenade & Gardens.

May 19th, 2011 2 comments

One day each week I work within walking distance from Cafe Rose Express at The Promenade Event Centre & Gardens by Turnip Rose, and the funny thing is that I just discovered it.  It’s been tucked back behind my office of more than two years, but I rarely take a lunch that day, until I recently saw someone come back to the office with the most amazing looking Sandwich.

Where did you get that Sandwich?

At Cafe Rose Express, I was told — Walking distance from my office.  What a treat.

It’s firstly a catering facility and event location that offers high quality breakfast and lunch weekly to the public through Cafe Rose Express and I’m happy to now know they do.

There are plenty of nice places to dine inside and especially out.

It’s genuinely an Oasis within walking distance.

The surroundings are beautiful and the food is exceptional.

It’s a pleasurable getaway for a half-hour or more.  Your time there seems longer.

People get married here and enjoy lunch on the lawn with a book when free.

The Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad with Zucchini Bread is pictured above and the Cafe Rose Classic Salad is below.  All Salads have been fresh and generous in size and ingredients.

We also tried the Chef’s Special, Caramelized Garlic Chicken with Pesto Mashed Potatoes and Spring Vegetable Medley.  Everything I’ve tried at Cafe Rose thus far has been superior.

I’m also converted to Zucchini Bread, as theirs is so moist and delicious.

A portion of available inside dining is pictured below.

Ballroom or event room, an option for weddings and parties.  See what others are saying.

Share a Sandwich on the grass for lunch — It’s humorous, the Sandwich that brought me here for the first time is a Sandwich I’d order last.  It was Egg Salad.  I still haven’t tried it, but it looked so fresh and grand, with loose chopped Eggs and all.  I may get around to it someday.

I just love the grounds and food and look forward to going back.

I ate today’s lunch for dinner too, as the portions are extremely generous.

And The Winner Is… Sunday Night Chef Fights & Chef Nicola Bellazzi.

May 18th, 2011 No comments

Congratulations to Chef Nicola Bellazzi who is the new Champion Chef of Orange County in the Sunday Night Chef Fights circuit, de-throwning Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales — It was a fun experience and the food was much better than expected.  I was a little unsure, since the drawn and mystery ingredients were Ham, Cauliflower, Sweet Potato and Coconut.

To learn more about Sunday Night Chef Fights see here.

Chef Bellazzi cooked first — Each Chef had 30 minutes to finalize their meal for the audience.

Starting with Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Soup with Prosciutto Bits and Shaved Coconut.

The above Soup was thought to be a favorite overall by many around us.

Also prepared by Chef Bellazzi was the Penne Pasta with Prosciutto, Arugula, Coconut Cream and Truffle Oil — It and the dish below it were those I liked best and tasted amazing.

Chicken Tenders with Italian Ham, cooked in Coconut Milk, topped with Cauliflower and served over Sweet Mashed Potatoes aromatized with Gorgonzola and Coconut Bits.

And a Sweet Potato & Coconut Creme Brulee (not pictured) was served for dessert.

Chef Bellazzi prepared a menu and since one wasn’t provided by Chef Smith-Rosales, handwritten notes were made by our Chef Fight neighbors.  Both are shown above.  There’s better description for the first meal.  I prefer a menu and don’t want to take notes.

Chef Smith-Rosales in one of the display kitchens at the Standards of Excellence showroom.

Preparing and serving our second Soup, Cream of Cauliflower with Pancetta Crisps.

The second meal to be cooked in 30 minutes and compared to the first.

Continuing with a Spiced Chicken Thigh with Curry, Coconut Rice, Cilantro and Spinach.

All was finished with a Sweet Potato Custard with Coconut Caramel.

In between all was a blind Wine tasting — A taste of A, B and C to pick what we liked best.

As announced, Chef Bellazzi is the new champion and the guests won too, because everything was terrific — The food was notable, the service was diligent and swift, we ate from real plates with silverware rolled in cloth napkins, and all seemed well orchestrated.  Sunday Night Chef Fights value is better than initially thought.  We left full and satisfied.  Cheers!

We had a good time tasting and participating in the voting process.

The next Sunday Night Chef Fights event is Sunday, August 7th, 2011.

Prime Rib And A Tribute To Frank Sinatra At La Cave On Monday Nights.

May 16th, 2011 1 comment

Fly me to the moon and give me a flashlight — Prime Rib and David Kinwald’s Tribute to Frank Sinatra is at La Cave on Monday Nights.  With Soup or Salad, Potato or Rice, and a basket of the best Garlic Cheese Bread in town, it’s a steal at $19.95.  Make a reservation or go early to be guaranteed a slab and keep tabs on the tab.  Otherwise choose from the above.

Outside La Cave off Irvine Avenue and 17th in Costa Mesa.

Entry looks like 1970’s VIP.

Menu, hours and entertainment schedule (above).

La Cave festivities are underground — Take the elevator (left) or stairs (right) down.

David Kinwald is a good singer and Cool Cat — Enjoyed the show and meal.

As reported, La Cave consistently serves some of the finest Prime Rib in the OC.

We ordered an add-on King Crab Legs, but for $24 it seemed sparse — I want fat legs!

You’re looking at the menu (above), shown with a flashlight and explained by the server in the very dark lounge.  I was happy not to trip walking in and it’s amazing the photos turned out, but do LOVE the old school aspects about the place.  There are no prices to look at, which I don’t love, because I like to know and don’t want to ask — We’re not cheap, but know La Cave isn’t either, but strategically it can be.  Closed Sunday, go Monday or Always, Frank.

The Vic Report: Microphones Aren’t Nutritious, But Good For The Soul.

May 15th, 2011 No comments

The Vic Report makes it to Nibbles of Tidbits, because it feeds the soul with laughter.  In the linked video, Vic pretends to have a depth perception problem when asking stupid questions on the street.  Previously seen on “HOWIE DO IT” – The Vic Report… “Mic in Face” – Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

The Unsophisticated Palate: Don’t Let A Dog Decide What’s For Dinner.

May 14th, 2011 No comments

Always contemplating what’s for dinner (on the ground) — Unsophisticated indeed.

Scarily this dog, Maggie eats everything, books, toys, clothes, bugs, etc. — Won’t gross you out with the details on how all was discovered.  Let’s just say that all is now kept out of reach.

Unexpectedly Discovered One Of The Best Burgers At The Daily Grill.

May 13th, 2011 1 comment

Didn’t plan to write about our leisurely lunch at the Daily Grill, but may have stumbled upon one of the Best Burgers in Town.  It put out like a hunky beefcake — Lip smackin’ taste-TEE!

And the Sourdough Bread was served warm — Love that too.

Apologies the above photo does not do the Burger justice — It was the Burger Special of the day that had Roasted Green Chilies and Jalapeno Mayo.  Two shared it and couldn’t stop raving.  We’ll be going back sometime to see if their everyday Cheeseburger is as fabulous!?

Entrance to the Daily Grill in Fashion Island, Newport Beach.

Reminiscent photo on their outside patio wall — Recognize anyone?

Hof’s Hut 60th Anniversary Burger Contest: What Would Be On Your Best?

May 12th, 2011 No comments

I haven’t been to Hof’s Hut in years, but once upon a time lived a block away from its former Second Street location in Belmont Shore (now Lucille’s) — It and I were there a few years while in college, and I had many-a satisfying meals on its upstair’s patio.  Awe nostalgia.

Hof’s Hut first opened its doors in 1951 and to celebrate their 60th Anniversary, they’re hosting a Burger Contest.  What would you put on your best Burger?  Tell Hof’s Hut and name it to potentially see it on their menu.  I’ve already mailed in 5 — It’s easy to fill out the one-page form pictured above and here.  The deadline for submission is May 31st, 2011.

It’s Crrrrrrunchy Alright: Once You Go Greek You’ll Never Go Back. What?

May 11th, 2011 1 comment

It was an unexpected treat to receive all this Yogurt in the mail.  They were still well chilled when transferred to the fridge.  Thank you Voskos — I apologize for not thanking YOU sooner for the chance to run wild with your Greek Yogurt.  Already a Yogurt and Granola fan, I agreed to try it, but didn’t expect all this and cannot complain.  I like the flavors and variety.

I was a little skeptical about the Granola remaining crunchy after being in the fridge, but DAMN, it’s the crunchiest Granola I’ve ever had and its packaging works well.  I now buy it.

Sunday Night Chef Fights At The Standard Of Excellence Showroom.

May 10th, 2011 No comments

After watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship for the first time, I feel better trained to experience Sunday Night Chef Fights, although not like UFC at all, but more like Chopped, though you never know what will happen.  It could get out of control.  I hope so.  Food fight.  This Sunday I’ll be watching, tasting and judging a Chef Fight, another first — And you can too.  For more information, see the official press release posted below.


After claiming the coveted title of Champion Chef of Orange County at the February Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight, Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales is ready for her first title defense against Chef Nicola Bellazzi at the next Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight cooking competition, live Sunday, May 15th at 6:00 p.m. at the Standards of Excellence showroom in Huntington Beach.

Chef Smith-Rosales, chef/owner of the Nirvana Grille with locations in Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo, will have to bring her A-game if she wants to defeat her confident challenger Chef Bellazzi, chef/owner of Enne Cucina Italiana in San Clemente, in this high-stakes live cooking competition where the local audience gets to serve as judge, jury, and taste-cutioner. 

Each Sunday Night Chef Fight is a fast-paced, no-holds-barred culinary showdown similar to popular cooking competition shows on TV, but with a few extra twists thrown in. Before each event, both chefs are given three base ingredients, a protein, vegetable, and grain/starch/dairy item that must be included in their creations, a shopping allowance, and a week to plan and prep their dishes for the sixty members of the audience jury. Then, during the Sunday Night Chef Fight itself, each chef and his or her sous-chef will have only 30 minutes to cook and finish samples of each dish for the entire audience as well as incorporate a mystery ingredient into the mix while host Chris Kern peppers him or her with questions.

The audience then gets to sample each dish, rate each chefs creations in three categories, and determine who will receive the Sunday Night Chef Fight trophy, the title of Champion Chef of Orange County, and the opportunity to defend his or her title against a new local chef challenger at the next Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fight at the Standards of Excellence showroom on Sunday, August 7th.

Each Sunday Night Chef Fight also includes on the undercard Vino Vidi Vici, a blind wine tasting competition in which all audience members taste three themed but unlabeled wines, select a favorite, and then have the opportunity to purchase either the winner or the wines they liked best. The name and varietal of each bottle will be revealed over the course of the Chef Fight.

Tickets are currently on sale at for the Orange County Sunday Night Chef Fights, which starts promptly at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 15th at the Standards of Excellence showroom in Huntington Beach. The Standards of Excellence showroom is located at 16001 Gothard Street in Huntington Beach. General Seating tickets are $50 per person, which includes the two-hour cooking competition, samples of both chef’s creations, and one pour of each of the three Vino Vidi Vici wines.

A limited number of VIP Front Row seating tickets are also available for $75 per person, which includes priority service, larger portions of each chef’s creations, two pours of each Vino Vidi Vici wine, and the best seats in the house. For more information on Sunday Night Chef Fights, visit or e-mail

Homemade Box Of Chocolates: Not As Pretty But Grandma Loves Them.

May 9th, 2011 No comments

It’s easy to make your own Box of Chocolates — It doesn’t take much time either, especially with a microwave and a good selection of Chocolate, Nuts, Fruit and decorative boxes/bags.

They turn out great if you don’t overcook the Chocolate — Always heat it in short (30 – 50 second) intervals at 50% power, stirring in between.  Melted it becomes a velvety canvas.

Almonds and Peanuts from a leftover party platter were used to make Nut Clusters.

Molds were filled with Milk and/or White Chocolate and stuffed with an Almond, Dried Apricot or Cherry, then topped off with more melted Chocolate and settled until firm, then foil wrapped.

Dried Apricots and Cherries were used to make this batch — Choose what you like best.

Toasted Coconut was used to make Milk and White Chocolate Haystacks.

Pecans and Toffee were used to make Turtles and Marshmallows and Almonds were used to make Rocky Road.  Milk, Dark and White Chocolate was utilized for markings and assortment.

Each Chocolate piece was marked, molded and/or prepared uniquely to be identifiable.

Giant Box of Chocolates (above).

Overall, they’re not as pretty as those you buy, but clean up well when placed in a cute box or cellophane bag — And could mean even more to a loved one.  They taste great too.

I also experimented with broken Graham Cracker pieces — I topped them with Marshmallows, broiled the tops in the oven and dipped ’em in melted Chocolate (pictured above), before covering them with Chocolate.  The S’more Bites ended up being a favorite.

Happy Mother’s Day To The Wonderful Moms In This Crazy World.

May 8th, 2011 No comments

And a very special Happy Mother’s Day to my incredible Mom in particular — She’s the bestest!  The Cupcakes are from Sprinkles, custom made and adorned for sweet Marie’s (friend’s daughter) First Holy Communion, with leftovers as a M’s D treat with a Mimosa.

Sought After Saturday: The Day Voted Most Likely To Succeed.

May 7th, 2011 No comments

In many cases, Saturday is the only day one gets to do what one wants to do.  Today I choose to write two lines, then get out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it just so happens.

Grateful for the opportunities and my abilities, and the nibbles in between.

This Onion Is No Longer A Cover Girl: The Longest Marathon Is Over.

May 6th, 2011 1 comment

Although not technically food related, a tie-in was created for expression.  This Cryin’ Onion wants the story told.  I should be embarrassed, but here it goes… I’ve been using the same mascara since high school, long enough.  It’s Marathon Waterproof Mascara by Cover Girl.  Nothing fancy, but it works.  I never had reason to switch, until now.  It’s been discontinued.  And if that’s not bummer enough, I’ve been buying it for up to 5-times its original price on Amazon and Ebay.  I told myself not to do it, but still thrown off without a replacement to love, I did.  And it’s now getting worse, because it’s no longer available on Amazon and prices are rising on Ebay.  Its latest, someday expiring seller thanked me, yeah I’d thank me too.

Cover Girl suggests a specific replacement, but I wasn’t impressed and now truly forced to find another — And guess what?  It won’t be by Cover Girl.  They may have discontinued it in hopes its users would purchase one of their higher priced mascaras, unsure.  I’m told the decision wasn’t made due to lack of sales.  Was it uncool?  Maybe you are CG, because Onions aren’t supposed to cry.  That’s not how it goes.  Now bring it back.