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Menu Change Update: Get The Caramelized Brussels Sprouts I’m Told.

June 8th, 2016 No comments

Brussels Sprouts

It’s happened again, a favorite dish is taken off the menu.  For some reason I tend to favor dishes that don’t sell as well as others.  This time it’s not much longer after reporting about it that it’s gone.  It was Simmzy’s Cauliflower with Cilantro Pesto, linked here.  After sitting down with a Beer Flight at Simmzy’s Long Beach location, we learned it’s no longer on their menu.  What? Maybe they will bring it back.  Until that fine day, we tried Simmzy’s Caramelized Brussels Sprouts (pictured), a suggested popular dish.  It’s good, but it’s not their super-tasty Cauliflower with Cilantro Pesto that is now on my copycat list.  I must try to recreate what I can no longer point to and have.  Aside from these dishes, Simmzy’s menu offers much I’d like to try.

Best Brussels Sprouts In Town Unexpectedly Found At The Egg Cracker.

November 7th, 2014 No comments

Egg Cracker Brussels Sprouts

I’ve had a lot of great Brussels Sprouts lately, but DANG — The Brussels Sprouts glazed with Honey and Sriracha at the Egg Cracker Restaurant in Fullerton are the BEST.  They’re perfectly crispy on the outside, sweet and hot, and each is tender enough to eat, which is very important.  If any are still too hard to eat, it’s often bitter and inedible though served.  Twice we’ve had the Brussels Sprouts at the Egg Cracker and each little Sprout was cooked to perfection, which is specifically important we learned from one of the owners.

Egg Cracker Restaurant

Not only do they have the Best Brussels Sprouts, but the Egg Cracker Restaurant has one of the best-priced, high-quality, convenient-time Happy Hours — It’s from 3:00 pm – 9:00 pm, so you don’t need to speed after work to get there.  You order off a menu too and the price for the quality is fantastic.  The Brussels Sprouts are $3 during Happy Hour and $5 regularly.

Egg Cracker Happy Hour Menu

Current Happy Hour Food Menu (above) and Chilaquiles (below).

Egg Cracker Happy Hour Dish

We also tried the Portobello Fries (below), which are sliced Portobello Mushrooms with a Panko Breading to form Fries — They’re meaty and crunchy and good with the Sauce.

Egg Cracker Portobello Fries

Zucchini Bread (below) is served to all, with all, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner — I think.

Egg Cracker HH

We had breakfast at the Egg Cracker twice before and received it then also.

Egg Cracker Campfire Pancakes

For Dessert we had one of the Egg Cracker’s most popular Breakfast items, the Campfire Pancakes with Chocolate, Graham Cracker Crumbles and Homemade Marshmallow Cream.  I just love the Egg Cracker’s MENU.  There are many things I want to try — Breakfast is served all day too.  And it should be mentioned that Beer & Wine is only $3 during Happy Hour.

Egg Cracker Receipt

We’re going back for more of everything (and much we have yet to try).

To Sir With Love: Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts.

January 24th, 2012 No comments

A friend recently wrote…”Shelly, I just made this recipe and (if you like Brussels Sprouts) it’s SO DELICIOUS!  Just wanted to share it with you.” Thanks D, I do and you made me make them.

Mustard Braised Brussels Sprouts with Dijon and Shallots sounded good to me too.

I thought the cooking process was interesting, especially the beginning.  I like how the Brussels Sprouts are placed cut side down in Olive Oil undisturbed for 5 minutes — Most were golden brown.  Shallots and Broth are then added and all is cooked covered for 20 minutes.

The exact RECIPE is here.

Remove Brussels Sprouts, stir in Dijon Mustard until well blended, and cook 2 minutes more.

Pour the Mustard Sauce over the reserved Brussels Sprouts (add optional Parsley) and serve.

Okay, it was good, but surprisingly rich — I didn’t love ’em like these, but all is well amiga.

Brussels Sprouts Roasted In The Oven With White Balsamic & Olive Oil.

November 19th, 2009 No comments

Brussel Sprouts 020

Inspired by the coverage of the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, I made Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  At the Outstanding in the Field style dinner held at the Greenleaf Warehouse in San Francisco, it seems like everyone loved the Brussels Sprouts.  They looked terrific on the various event recap posts, which made me want to make ’em. 

Brussel Sprouts 013

The recipe of the actual dish served at the festival is here, but I made something else.  These Brussels Sprouts have a nice roasted char, but different ingredients.  I tossed this bunch of hot water washed, halved Brussels Sprouts with Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar and Salt & Pepper — That’s it.  Just roast all in a 425° oven for about 25 minutes.  Stir occasionally and add more Olive Oil and Vinegar as necessary or to taste.  They turn out sweet and caramelized.

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I can’t say these Brussels Sprouts are as good as those served at the Foodbuzz dinner, since I sadly wasn’t there, but they’re darn good and easy to make with what’s on hand.  I’ll surely make them again — Super easy and tasty is my favorite combination.

Meal Kit Comparison: Which Is Best?

April 13th, 2019 No comments

It’s ABOUT TIME… my long promised Meal Kit Comparison post. We tried Sun Basket, Gobble, Marley Spoon, Green Chef, Purple Carrot, Dinnerly and Freshly. We rate and review each of these meal kit companies, recipes and respective ingredients below. I learned A LOT and report about it after making and trying the aforementioned and 100+ Blue Apron meal kits.

Meal Kit Comparison – Starts with Sun Basket

Sun Basket Packaging

Sun Basket — Fast Chicken Salad with Kale, Kiwi and Apples (Recipe 1). Top photo. The Kale arrived pre-cut. I found myself picking out the inferior, dry pieces. I would rather chop it myself. I usually remove the stem/center, but it was included in the chopped Kale. The provided dressing was just okay. And the Coconut Flakes would’ve been better toasted, seemed like an after-thought garnish. We (Matt & I) rate each recipe starting with this one.

Sun Basket Recipe 1: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 6 (Out of 10).

Greek Salmon over Zucchini Noodles and Wilted Greens

Sun Basket — Greek Salmon over Zucchini Noodles and Wilted Greens (Recipe 2). I tossed out the pre-chopped Greens due to a bad smell. The Salmon was dry, though not overcooked. I liked the Tomato and Olive Relish. We liked the Zucchini Noodles, but they’re hard to stir and preserve as ‘Noodles’ when cooking. That’s fine, but good to know.

Sun Basket Recipe 2: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 5 1/2.

Mediterranean-style Cod with Artichoke Hearts and Kalamata Olives

Sun Basket – Mediterranean-style Cod with Artichoke Hearts and Kalamata Olives (Recipe 3). Cod quality wasn’t that great. Potatoes didn’t have much flavor though Salt and Peppered. I liked steaming the Fish over the Vegetables. Learned how well this cooking method works. Dish was easy to make and clean-up.

Sun Basket Recipe 3: Matt 6, Shelly 6.

Sun Basket Recipe Booklet

Sun Basket Overall — Menus are just okay, not as exciting as others, seemed somewhat repetitive with ingredients. Though Menu is international, which is good. Website is friendly and easy to use. Choose (3) out of (18) different recipes/meal kits. Recipes arrive in booklet form. Also within it are all the recipes you didn’t choose, which is nice. Best recipe score was 6 1/2.

Gobble Review Notes

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Gobble

Gobble – Nice packaging, similar to Blue Apron. Received one incorrect recipe card, but was easily able to print the correct one from Gobble’s website. They provide smaller recipe cards than other companies.

Gobble – Pan-Roasted Chicken in Three Peppercorn Sauce with Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes (Recipe 1). Potatoes were not good. Gravy made up for it. Chicken was tough, though not overcooked. Odd cuts of chicken were provided. Not as pretty as the online photos.

Pan Roasted Chicken

This is how the Mashed Potatoes and Gravy arrived (below). No bueno.

Gobble Recipe 1: Matt 7, Shelly 6.

Louisiana Shrimp with White Cheddar Grits

Gobble – Louisiana Shrimp with White Cheddar Grits (Recipe 2). Had to further devein the ‘deveined’ Shrimp. Like the Mashed Potatoes in Recipe 1, I don’t like unloading grits from a plastic bag to heat them in the microwave. Also, I didn’t like the pre-cut trinity. It looked a bit degraded in freshness, translucent Onions.

Pre-cut Trinity and bagged Grits, etc.

Gobble Recipe 2: Matt 7 1/2, Shelly 7.

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

Gobble – Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Roasted Squash and Swiss Chard (Recipe 3). I had to toss-out the provided Swiss Chard. It was too dried out. It’s scary not knowing what’s inside a compact bag of pre-cut Greens. Good thing we’re growing our own Swiss Chard. I love the idea and components of this recipe, but the pre-made beans and rice were just okay. I plan to re-create this recipe sometime. Our score for this recipe is below. Best overall recipe score was 8.

Gobble Recipe 3: Matt 8, Shelly 7 1/2.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Marley Spoon

Marley Spoon – Box was delayed a day, because company didn’t have enough ice to ship. Recipe card photos are dull in color and paper is un-glossed. Nice packaging. Largest, tallest box received.

Marley Spoon Packaging

Marley Spoon – Cheesy Roasted Pepper Panini with Goat Cheese & Spinach and Side Salad (Recipe 1). Too much filling for the Panini, it overflowed. A Bun for the Panini Bread is not the best option. No photo.

Marley Spoon Recipe 1: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Cilantro Chicken and Rice

Marley Spoon – Cilantro Chicken and Rice with Bell Pepper and Lime (Recipe 2). Flavorful, but wouldn’t garnish it with raw onions again. It’s unnecessary and over takes the dish. Having to use a blender or food processor is a first for a boxed Meal Kit. Good thing I have one.

Marley Spoon Recipe 2: Matt 7 1/2, Shelly 8.

Four Cheese Ravioli Alla Norma

Marley Spoon – Four Cheese Ravioli Alla Norma with Crispy Garlic Breadcrumbs (Recipe 3). It was super easy to make and very good.

Marley Spoon Recipe 3: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Overall… good quality, nice packaging, tasty meals and good recipe selections. Marley Spoon costs about the same as Blue Apron, my long-time favorite Meal Kit company (so-far). Best recipe score for Marley Spoon was 8.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Green Chef

Green Chef also offers Paleo, Vegan, Keto and Gluten-free meal kit options. Very nice packaging. All looked good, though much was pre-prepared.

Green Chef Meal Kit Ingredients

A pre-cut Red Pepper was provided for a recipe. I want a whole one. There are small Red Bell Peppers. Pre-cut Onions too. I don’t like that either. They degrade, but I used them, and it didn’t ruin the meal.

Harissa Spiced Tuna Steaks

Green Chef – Harissa Spiced Tuna Steaks and Apricot Tomato Sauce, Kale Pistachios and Couscous (Recipe 1). The Tuna was nice looking. Recipe said to cook the Yellowfin Tuna 3 to 5 minutes per side, but was too long for the thin Fish provided. I cooked ours 2 1/2 minutes per side and it was still overcooked, as expected, but all was flavorful.

Green Chef Recipe 1: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Green Chef – Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps with Quinoa, Toasted Nuts and Seeds, with Lemon Pesto Aioli (Recipe 2). I liked the Couscous with the Vinegar, Agave and mixed Toasted Nuts. The Dressing was just okay, pre-made. Homemade would have been better.

Green Chef Recipe 2: Matt 8, Shelly 8.

Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

Green Chef – Cheese Steak Stuffed Pepper with Provolone Cheese, Spiced Potato Hash with Red Peppers (Recipe 3). Uneven, pre-cut Onions and Grated Cheese were provided. The small Onion pieces burned a little while cooking. Not a good thing. However, not a bad flavor overall. Our score for this recipe is below. Best recipe score was 8.

Green Chef Recipe 3: Matt 7, Shelly 7.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot Packaging

Purple Carrot – All was fresh and impressive. Some stuff was pre-cut, but mostly whole ingredients. Only the hardest thing to cut, the Squash was pre-cut, which was helpful. A booklet of all recipes was provided, as like Sun Basket. Only six recipes to choose from online at this time.

Black Bean & Polenta Casserole

Purple Carrot – Black Bean and Polenta Casserole with Chile Butter (Recipe 1). The large bag of Spinach was very fresh. I was a little nervous about the Vegan Cream Cheese and Vegan Butter provided for this recipe, but didn’t notice a difference. That was nice to discover.

Slice of the Black Bean and Polenta Casserole

Purple Carrot Recipe 1: Matt 7, Shelly 7.

Autumn Bibimbap

Purple Carrot – Autumn Bibimbap with Gochujang Brussels Sprouts and Sesame Aioli (Recipe 2). I didn’t use the Kimchi or Vegenaise (Mayo instead). I didn’t like the color of the Vegenaise, yellow-ish. I liked the Brussels Sprouts with Gochujang. The Fried Rice ended up too hard. Seems 5 to 7 minutes is too long not to stir the Rice. I don’t know. Kind of a weird recipe, which I like, but it didn’t work properly.

Purple Carrot Recipe 2: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 6.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Purple Carrot – Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Cranberries and Hazelnuts (Recipe 3). A beautiful photo of this recipe is on Purple Carrot’s booklet cover. Had to toss out the Broccoli Rabe for this recipe, since it didn’t last a week. Used Swiss Chard from our garden instead. Added leftover sauteed Onions before the Squash. All was tasty with the Dried Cranberries, and had good texture with the Toasted Hazelnuts.

Purple Carrot Recipe 3: Matt 8 1/2, Shelly 8.

Black Bean and Polenta Casserole Ingredients

Recipes were grouped in plastic bags. I prefer no bags, loose ingredients or in paper bags, because all seems to stay fresher longer.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi Ingredients

Vegan Butter and Cream Cheese work okay. You won’t notice the difference. Though I’m still sketchy on Vegenaise (Mayo’s substitute). Someday perhaps, or not. Best recipe score was 8 1/2.

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Dinnerly

Spinach and Ricotta Calzones

Dinnerly – Spinach and Ricotta Calzones with Tomato Garlic Dipping Sauce (Recipe 1). Crust was large and could have used more filling. I added Peppers to the filling too, and could have added more. It had a good flavor and texture.

Dinnerly Recipe 1: Matt 7, Shelly 7.

Dinnerly is one of the least expensive Meal Kits available. You download the recipe cards from the internet, instead of them being provided. The menus make me think that I might as well make the dish myself and save even more money. Easy ideas. Dinnerly’s website functions just like Marley Spoon’s. The companies are related. Dinnerly is budget Marley.

Sausage and Kale Soup Ingredients

Dinnerly – Sausage and Kale Soup with Pasta and Parmesan (Recipe 2). It was just okay. A little bland. It made a lot of Soup. I added Beans for extra credit. I like the ‘extra credit’ options listed on the recipe cards. Helps company keep costs down, while suggesting something you might already have in your pantry.

Dinnerly Recipe 2: Matt 6 1/2, Shelly 6 1/2.

Banh Mi Burger

Dinnerly – Banh Mi Burger with Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers (Recipe 3). I didn’t like the provided Chipotle Mayo, weird taste. Would rather make my own combination.

Dinnerly Recipe 3: Matt 7, Shelly 6.

Overall… everything was just okay. With the right recipe choice, it could be a good dinner option, due to its price. And now I want to try Every Plate, Dinnerly’s budget meal kit rival I just discovered. I will amend this post after we try it. Best recipe score was 7.

Freshly = Pre-Made Meals

Meal Kit Comparison – Trying Freshly (Not a Meal Kit, a Pre-Made Meal)

Freshly – Choose between 30 meals. Just heat in the microwave and eat. They arrived nicely packaged between three layers of ice packs. They are best heated in their respective packs, and then plated, to keep moist.

Freshly Meal Samples

Freshly – We, mostly I, tried 6 different meals. Balsamic Turkey (Meal 1). The Vegetables were dry, cut too small and bland. The Turkey was tough. The Balsamic Mushrooms were good. Matt 6, Shelly 5. Pork Al Pastor (Meal 2). It was flavorful, could use a tortilla or chips for varied texture. Matt 6, Shelly 7. Moroccan Style Tagine (Meal 3). It was just okay. Had to pick out a few tough Vegetable Skins, and the small Onions in it were hard and not satisfying to eat. Seemed like a heated, frozen meal I’ve had before. And not any better. Shelly 5.

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Freshly – Moroccan Style Tagine

Freshly – Buffalo Chicken and Cauliflower (Meal 4). Chicken was tender and good. Cauliflower was just okay, a little bland. Shelly 6. Southwest Chicken Bowl (Meal 5). It should have been tasty, but it was bland and dry. Needed Salt and Pepper and more sauce. The Corn in Freshly’s dishes seems once frozen or canned, not fresh. The Vegetables, Beans and Quinoa were dry too. The Chicken was tender and well cooked. Shelly 6. Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash (Meal 6). The Meatballs where okay. Sauce was very good. On a side note, I finally decided I don’t like the texture of Spaghetti Squash. Shelly 5.

Freshly Packaging

What I learned from all…

I want to prepare everything on my own. I don’t want to receive anything pre-cut. I never purchased pre-cut items in the grocery store. Also, few ingredients can be combined to make something great. And, I can save money not buying a Meal Kit every week. I can make simple, fancy meals on my own from what I’ve learned from Blue Apron, elsewhere, and from this Meal Kit Comparison. I also saved money taking advantage of the introductory offers from each of these companies. You should too. See their pricing below.*

Meal Kit Comparison Pricing:

Sun Basket – Introductory offer is 50% off = $25.

Gobble – Introductory offer is 30% off = $42. Generally $79/week.

Marley Spoon – Introductory offer = $30.75. Generally $61.50/week.

Green Chef – Introductory offer is 40% off = $38. Generally $79/week.

Purple Carrot – Introductory offer $25 off. Generally $72/week.

Dinnerly – Introductory offer is $30. Generally $40/week.

Freshly – Introductory offer $45 for 6 Meals. Generally $60/week.

*PRICES are estimated and subject to change. See respective websites for up-to-date pricing and other information.

Bottle Logic Brewing: India Pale Ales Are My New Favorite Brew.

June 20th, 2017 No comments

Bottle Logic Brewing — United in the thirst of knowledge and BEER.  It’s a hip brewery in Anaheim.  We stumbled upon it, after kitchen remodel shopping directly across the street.  We asked our phones where to get a Beer and lucked out learning about Bottle Logic.  Their Beer makes me love Beer, especially IPA’s.  And Bottle Logic loves dogs.  We brought Leon on our second visit.

The Constants is Bottle Logic’s Tasting Flight — It offers (5) tastes for $8.  Two IPA’s, a Brew, Ale and a Stout.  It’s how I fell for IPA’s.  Particularly the Recursion and Double Actuator.

Grab a stool at the bar, near the containers or outside, if available — With or without your dog.

A different Food Truck is parked outside Bottle Logic Brewing each day.

This day it was Falasophy — We had their Brussels Sprouts (above) with a Sweet and Spicy Tahini Sauce and Hummus & Zaatar Pita Chips (below) with Olive Oil and Cumin, both I’ve hoped to have again each subsequent visit, but haven’t timed it yet.  We absolutely loved both.  All was perfectly prepared and very flavorful.  The Food Truck schedule is posted on Bottle Logic’s website.

Water bowls for dogs are provided inside and out.  Thanks Bottle Logic.  Very nice!

Leon likes you too.  He’s with Matt above and below.  We’ll be back.

It’s such good brew, Matt gets a growler to-go.  And last time I was envious of him having it at home, so I’m getting one to-go next time.  Various brews are sold to-go in various sizes.

The line for brews can be long at times, but it moves along and it’s worth the wait.  We think.

Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern: Love At First Sight & Bite.

January 16th, 2017 No comments

It was really love at first sight and bite at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern (JFAT).

First, I love Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern’s MENU and pretty much want to try everything listed.  I reviewed their menu online before visiting this JFAT in Brea — It’s one of five JFAT locations. The others are in Dana Point, San Diego, Woodland Hills and Santa Monica.

Before tasting anything, we appreciated JFAT’s exterior entrance lights, outdoor patio and courtyard view, and its dimly lit, stylish America-inspired interior.  God Bless America indeed.

My first bite came from the Pimento Cheese Dip in JFAT’s Dueling Southern Dips.  It’s served with a Roasted Corn & Poblano Guacamole and Tortilla Chips — And wow.  We were happy with the amount of flavor in both Dips.  Every dish we shared had an amazing amount of flavor.

It was love at first bite in conjunction with its appealing sight — Pictured from top down is JFAT’s Signature Grilled Santa Fe Caesar Salad with Fried Chicken, the Dueling Southern Dips, the Whisky Shrimp, and BBQ Spice Crusted Salmon with Creamed Corn, Green Beans, Bacon and Crispy Onions.  Each dish was seasoned, grilled and prepared well.  Nothing is bland at JFAT.

I’m pictured below with Chef Kim.  He is so nice and worked hard to make our plates great.  Good people work at JFAT.  We also thank Manager Todd Cords for his superior hospitality.  When we have time, there is much more to go back for — The FOOD, cocktails, atmosphere and friendliness.

I’ve highlighted, at least, ten dishes I want to try — They include JFAT’s Boneless Short Rib Stroganoff, White Truffle Mac and Five Cheese, Charred Brussels Sprouts, Santa Fe Honey-Poblano Pesto Grilled Flatbread, etc.  Enlarge menu below or see link here to view food and drink options.

My favorite JFAT Cocktail was the Cucumber Cooler.  It’s made with Finlandia Vodka, St. Germain, Fresh Cucumber and Lemon Juice.  See Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern’s full list of “Liquid” items here.  JFAT says get in here and we want to get back there.  ASAP.

We’re Thankful For Jennie-O’s Turkey And Thanksgiving Menu Ideas.

November 4th, 2015 No comments

Jennie-O Turkey

Wow, it was a perfect Turkey that went from the freezer directly into the oven without effort — It’s the Oven Ready Whole Turkey from the Jennie-O Turkey Store.  It’s ready to be cooked in a bag.

Oven Ready Turkey

It’s true what the package says — The Turkey browned in the bag, was tender and tasted great.

Menu

I didn’t know Jennie-O sold such a Turkey.  I didn’t have to remove the giblets, yay!

Turkey and Corn Dish

Since the Turkey was so easy to prepare, I made a complete, early Thanksgiving Dinner.

Brussels Sprouts Side Dish

I got several ideas and inspiration from the Jennie-O website, especially the Holiday Sides page.

Turkey Bacon

And surprisingly I discovered that I like Turkey Bacon, though I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try it. It looks quite different than Bacon in its raw state. It feels like Bologna, kind of looks like a surfboard and fake Bacon with a line running down the middle, but it tastes pretty good, like Bacon.

Raw Turkey Bacon

Turkey Bacon cooks up nice and crisp, but it’s a little harder to tell when it’s done.  I accidentally burnt the first batch, but the second batch (below) turned out well.  There is a fine line between burnt and nicely crisp.  Turkey Bacon is in a few of the Jennie-O Thanksgiving Side Dishes.

Cooked Turkey Bacon

I will definitely buy Jennie-O’s Oven Ready Whole Turkey and Turkey Bacon again.  I appreciate the coupons they sent us.  I gave away a couple of them.  When purchasing Jennie-O’s Oven Ready whole Turkey, a lady in line in front of me, expressed her love for Jennie-O products and had never seen their Oven Ready Whole Turkey, so I gave her one of the Jennie-O coupons to try it too.

Thanksgiving Dinner with Jennie-O

Thank you Jennie-O!  I tried a couple products I never thought to try before and actually really like ’em.  I have a better appreciation of Jennie-O’s products.  They offer much more than we thought.

El Amerikano: New American Cuisine With A Latin Influence.

February 27th, 2015 No comments

Al Pastor Chop

It’s food from El Amerikano American & Latin Kitchen in downtown Fullerton and I already have a favorite — Everything I’ve had so far, especially the Warm Mushroom Salad and Mole Eggplant.

El Amerikano

El Amerikano is part of the Kentro Hospitality Group, a group offering tasteful restaurants (including Kentro Greek Kitchen, steps away from El Amerikano), event planning and catering options.

Cucumber Ceviche

We were recently invited to a media tasting at El Amerikano and tried all pictured dishes.

Brussels Sprouts Dish

From top down — Al Pastor Chop, Cucumber Ceviche Salad, Brussels Sprouts, Mole Eggplant, Asada Bravo and Warm Mushroom Salad, I think.  See El Amerikano’s MENU for the enticing descriptions.

Media Tasting

I was happy to learn they also have an outdoor patio, something I look for in a restaurant.

El Amerikano

Each dish seems to have a double-digit list of ingredients and an abundance of flavor.

Rib Eye

I like El Amerikano’s ‘To Share’ dishes and prices, which range from $3 – $9.

Food Photography

As I write this and read their MENU, I’m planning my next meal there asap.

El Amerikano Tasting

This taste of El Amerikano American & Latin Kitchen left me needing to have more.

Small Plate Sampling

I have sights on the Chorizo Sliders, Mac ‘n Queso, Michoacan Caesar and more.

El Amerikano Restaurant

El Amerikano’s Michoacan Caesar Salad has Char-Grilled Romaine, which I love when done right.

Food Demonstration

A cooking demonstration showed the care and time put into preparing their dishes.

Food Blogging

Food is ordered at the counter, then delivered to you — They offer Beer and Wine too.

Inside El Amerikano

Entrance to El Amerikano (below) with Kentro Greek Kitchen nearby — Great food in Fullerton.

Outside El Amerikano

Enlarge MENU (below) for a better view or access their menu link here.

El Amerikano Menu

Me with Vasili Kotsiovos, El Amerikano and Kentro Greek Kitchen’s should be proud Owner.

Me with Vasili Kotsiovos, founder of Kentro Hospitality Group

Thank you — We’ll be back.

Bacchus Bar & Bistro: The Roman God Of Wine Is In Irvine.

November 18th, 2014 No comments

Bacchus 002

Bacchus Bar & Bistro — Classy is a word that comes to mind.  It may look small on the outside tucked in a corner, but there’s a lot of stylish space inside.  Their menu is impressive too.

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I’m happy to discover Bacchus Bar & Bistro (formerly Bacchus Secret Cellar) — It’s down the street from my Irvine office, in the Quail Hill Shopping Center, amongst other businesses.

Bacchus 007

It’s a perfect place to gather with friends after work — A plan is in the works.

Bacchus 009

There is comfortable seating throughout — Tall and short tables, couches and a bar.

Bacchus 010

We tried a few menu items this visit — The Warm Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Chinese Sausage, Shishito Peppers, Fried Garlic and Sesame Ponzu (above).  There’s more to be tried.

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Lobster & Spanish Chorizo Fondue with Manchego Cheese, Smoked Peppers and Cream Cheese, served with a French Baguette (above) — It’s creamy, unique and pretty good.

Bacchus Food

We also had the Prosciutto Flatbread with Fontina, Gorgonzola, Fig Jam & Red Onion (above) and the Butterscotch Pot De Creme (below).  The Fig Jam was terrific on the Flatbread and the consistency and flavor of the Pot De Creme was ideal, though rich, but not overly so.

Bacchus Dessert

It’s a seamless Wine Store along its parameters and the prices are surprisingly good for such an expensive looking place. Their food prices are reasonable too, another reason to go back. And there’s live entertainment… A guy played the guitar in front of the Wine Case behind me.

At Bacchus with Wine

The Roman God of Wine’s Wine was delicious as well — Thanks Bacchus!

Note: Camera issues beset this visit. Subsequent dishes shall be posted as clear updates.

Calivino Wine Pub In Anaheim: More Spinach Wontons Please.

October 14th, 2014 No comments

Calivino House Burger

Have you been to Calivino Wine Pub?  It’s in Anaheim, near the Honda Center, Angel Stadium of Anaheim and other happenings, off Katella Avenue. We just learned about it and gladly so, since the food is terrific. We’ve been to other Wine Bar/Pubs that serve great food, like Sealegs and The Twisted Wine, so the test-bar is high, but Calivino unexpectedly stood out.

Calivino Wine Pub

Calivino Wine Pub is a bit hard to see off Katella.  Its cross-street is Howell — Just turn into the business park area, keep heading left and you’ll see it slivered-in, amongst other businesses and eateries.  Hooters is across the parking lot to drop off the boys on a Girl’s Wine Night out.

Toast to Calivino Wine Pub

Seating includes a long bar and a good combination of couches and tall and short tables.

Calivino, Anaheim

It’s rare when everything on a menu sounds appealing, well not that rare, but I do want all on Calivino’s Menu.  Since we weren’t sure where to begin, we tried a few house favorites.

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FOOD pictured from top down:  The House Burger with Fried Onions, Onion Jam and Havarti, which is sweet, spicy and juicy – Bacon Dates with Goat Cheese and Honey – Spinach Wontons with Parmesan and Garlic – Brussels Sprouts roasted with Crispy Pork.

Calivino Spinach Wontons

I’d have all again and the Spinach Wontons (above) every day — You certainly can’t tell how great they are from the dark photo, but WOW, they’re a perfectly seasoned combo of Baby Leaf Spinach and crunch.  Each Wonton tastes like the best Spinach Dip already on a chip.

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Oh yeah, Wine.  It’s a Wine Pub after all — I like Wine too.

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The Reds, Whites, Sweets & Sparkling — Calivino’s owner, Daniel hand selects them all.

At Calivino Wine Pub

And there’s Beer too — A rotating selection of fine, local brews are noted on a chalkboard.

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Calivino — Cali for California and Vino for Wine.  We like it and the CA Flag Bear on the logo.

CWP (Wine & Beer)

It’s a nice mix of old world and new world and it feels that way.

Matt at Calivino

We tried REDS from California and Spain — Leaping Horse Cabernet (2013), Beso De Vino Garnacha (2011), Reserva Eguia Tempranillo (2009) and Artezin Red Zinfandel (2012).

Calivino - Semi-Changing Wine Menu

We liked sipping Wine on the couch and the rustic tables with bottled water and succulents.

Chillaxing at Calivino Wine Pub in Anaheim

I’m heading back soon with a group of girls for more bites and Tempranillo.

Calivino Sign

Calivino Wine Pub — A great stop before or after an event, for Happy Hour (3-7pm, Sun – Fri), 1/2 Price Bottles of Wine on Wednesdays, and 1/2 off Glasses of Wine on Thursdays.  See their website for more info and/or changes.  New food dishes will be added below.

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Updated 10/21/14: Next visit we had more of the same, which was equally as good, and Alison’s Baked Brie in a Puff Pastry with Candied Nuts and Honey (above).

What’s Cooking At The Orange County Fair This Year? What’s Not?!

June 29th, 2012 No comments

It’s almost time for the Orange County Fair again and there will be much NEW to report — Until then, you may learn about the food related happenings here from the OC Fair & Event Center Press Release (below), combined with snapshots of past OC Fair visits.  What’s cooking…

Hungry? Get a Taste of “Home Sweet Home” at the 2012 OC Fair — Enjoy Deep-Fried Classics, New Creations and Food Exhibits, Cooking Demonstrations and Contests

The theme of the 2012 OC Fair (July 13-August 12) is “Home Sweet Home” and this year the Fair is not skimping on the “sweet.” Whether Fairgoers want to learn about food, watch the pros prepare it or just want to enjoy some tasty treats, the OC Fair delivers something for everyone. Here is a mouthwatering preview of what the 2012 OC Fair is cooking up this year:

  • Chicken Charlie: If you like your food deep-fried, battered and on a stick, the 2012 Fair is the place for you. This year, Fair-favorite Chicken Charlie is taking fried food to the next level by deep frying cereal, peanut butter and jelly, spam, pineapple and more.
  • Need a Bacon Fix?: At the new Bacon A-Fair, choose from bacon-wrapped turkey legs, deep-fried beer-battered bacon-wrapped hot dogs or the Smokey Porkabello, a bacon-wrapped mushroom with smoked Gouda.
  • Take a Ride on the Pineapple Express: Not into the deep-fried thing? Then float on over to the new Pineapple Express (courtesy of Chicken Charlie) which features cored out pineapples filled with shrimp cocktail, fruit and grilled shrimp or chicken and more.
  • The Big Rib: Calling all carnivores! Looking to feed your wild side? Come to Biggy’s Meat Market for The Big Rib, a two-pound beef rib on a 17-inch bone, with your choice of homemade sauce. Can’t finish it all? Not to worry! Biggy’s provides an 18-inch Big Rib Doggy Bone bag—once the meat is devoured, take the bone home to your pooch.
  • $2 Taste of Fair Food: Every Friday from Noon-4 p.m., Fairgoers can sample the best the Fair has to offer for only $2 each. Fun-sized samples include funnel cake, BBQ tri-tip, lemonade, cinnamon rolls, corn dogs, tacos, gelato, cotton candy and more.
  • Celebrity Chefs: The 2012 OC Fair presents two shows in The Hangar featuring dynamic celebrity chefs demonstrating their culinary talents. Scheduled appearances include the Food Network’s Robert Irvine (July 26, 1 p.m.) and Bravo’s “Top Chef” fan-favorite Fabio Viviani (August 2, 1 p.m.). Free with Fair admission.
  • Food Truck Fare at the OC Fair: Find gourmet fare within the Fair as the popular Food Truck Fare continues inside Fair gates, offering food truck cuisine every Thursday from Noon-10 p.m. Access is free with Fair admission and prices vary per truck.
  • OC Fair Chowdown: Watch the best of the best face-off for culinary glory in a series of live cooking challenges. On July 19 and 28, see food truck chefs go head-to-head in competition as they put their delicacies to the test. On August 2 and 9, see Orange County amateur home cooks test their skills against professional chefs. Winners will receive bragging rights and an award to commemorate their culinary victory. Viewing is free with Fair admission.
  • Contests and Competitions: Whether you’re good at cooking or eating, the OC Fair is just the place to bring out your competitive side. Daily, free eating contests are held for children in the Fun Zone Tent at 6:30 p.m. (Registration is 30 minutes before each contest) and Knott’s Berry Farm hosts a pie-eating contest for all-ages at 7 p.m. in the Exhibit Promenade (Registration starts at 6:30 p.m.) Each Saturday, Fairgoers have the chance to compete in the Culinary Arts Special Contests, which are judged live at the Fair for the best cookies, cupcakes, chili and hometown dish (Online entry registration is the Wednesday before each contest. Visit ocfair.com/competitions for information and to register).
  • Chocolate Unwrapped: This new exhibit in the Exhibit Promenade puts the “sweet” in “Home Sweet Home.” Come learn how chocolate is made, from the bean to the bar. Complete with demonstrations by Xan Confections.
  • Centennial Farm: Come learn where food comes from on this year-round, four-acre demonstration farm featuring educational exhibits, agricultural organizations, growing crops, livestock and the fruit & vegetable competitive entries with the biggest lemons, most unusually shaped vegetables and best home-grown pumpkins Orange County has to offer.

The 2012 OC Fair, themed Home Sweet Home, is July 13 – August 12 and will bring 23 days of food, rides, exhibits, animals, music, action sports and fun, as well as the Super Pass, Toyota Summer Concert Series at the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar and Action Sports Arena. The Fair is open Wednesday-Sunday. Concert tickets, action sports reserved seats, single-day general admission and the popular Super Pass are available for purchase online at ticketmaster.com or from the on-site Box Office. [Photo: Replica of Table Setting Competition]

The OC Fair & Event Center is located off the 405 and 55 freeways at 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. For more information, please visit ocfair.com, become a fan at Facebook.com/OCFair or follow us at twitter.com/ocfair. Also, look for the free OC Fair iPhone and Android apps this summer. Get excited for the 2012 Fair! Watch our new commercial on YouTube.

See you there — Nibbles of Tidbits and Kids in the Kitchen love the OC Fair!

The Playground: You Had Me At Your Name, Now It’s The Passion.

January 23rd, 2012 2 comments

The Playground, what a find.  I knew I’d like a restaurant named The Playground.  It’s in Santa Ana off 4th and Spurgeon, near the Plaza Fiesta.  A group of us recently met there for an amazing Champagne Brunch, and spent time with its passionate Owner and Executive Chef Jason Quinn, who loves what he does and only offers the best — Impressive food and team.

Fresh, sophisticated, quality ingredients combined simply for superb flavor seems to be the focus.  And they don’t skimp on the aesthetics, as you see, the food is beautiful too.

Unfortunately I didn’t capture all well enough, but the posted photos start with Wagyu Beef.

On to an artistic Soft Shell Crab Roll and Wild Boar Belly (both shown above).

Benton’s Ham is added to many tasty dishes and is out of this world alone.

The Playground’s MENU will vary, as creativity and enthusiasm overflow.

Breakfast Hash with Brussels Sprouts above and a special Short Stack below.

A bowl of the freshest Shellfish with Whole Shrimp hangin’ out — Nice Broth.

Thanks for the Oysters too — Tasted freshness over and over again.

Unique offerings of Beer and Wine are available at the Bar or anywhere inside.

We met at The Playground as a fortunate group of Local Experts for Local Cuisine.

I’ll soon spotlight Local Cuisine to note the cool things about it, after the Cinnamon Roll.

Welcome Two Thousand Twelve: We’re Ready To Delve.

January 2nd, 2012 No comments

The OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party is almost like being at the Orange County Fair.

Dry Turkey Legs (sorry) best underscore my first sentence — You’ve seen them before.

Snapshots of the NYE event, Part (2) of (2) are posted here — Untimely camera issues caused spots on most photos planned for use.  Gourmet Food Trucks were parked throughout.

Cocktails & Desserts were available in each and every hanger.

The LA based Border Grill Truck was in the OC too, amongst many local darlings.

We were keen on the Casino games and won OC Fair tickets, as reported in Part (1) of (2).

I still don’t know how to play Craps — I like Poker best, but it wasn’t played this night.

In addition to the Gourmet Food Trucks and Baja Blues, a few OC Fair fixtures were grillin’.

As like 2010, a nice, respectable, friendly bunch of people attended this year’s Block Party.

Dueling Pianos were playing at Baja Blues, replacing last year’s Karaoke.

Unicycling and chainsaw juggling was happening in the streets, near the Ferris Wheel.

Piaggio On Wheels Chicken Milanesa Sandwich — I like their Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog best.

Do you remember what I reported about the Brussels Sprouts?  I’m still thinking about ’em.

To its right is the Truffled Fried Mac N’ Cheese, I think — Don’t recall its exact name.

It’s from Home Skillet, like the Brussels Sprouts — Most impressed with them this evening.

The Media Lounge was in a different spot this year, closer to the action they say — We stopped in for a few and most enjoyed the Cheese Platter, pictured in Part (1) of (2).

Thank you!  I already can’t wait until next year.

Happy New Year From Nibbles Of Tidbits: Pleasant Surprises To Be Had.

January 1st, 2012 2 comments

Snapshots of a colorful evening with FOOD, music, games and prizes — Happy New Year.

The surprise Best Dish of the 2011/2012 OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party (in our humble opinions) was the Crispy Brussels Sprouts from the Home Skillet Truck — With Capers, a smoky flavor and Herb Dressing, it’s quite phenomenal tasting.  We’ll try more from ’em next time.

Met a cool dynamic of people and won (3) Tickets to the OC Fair at the Black Jack Table.

Didn’t have a Takoyaki Ball, but they look interesting with added Octopus.

It’s The Cured (above), a tribute to The Cure, one of my all-time favorite bands.

 

Pleasant surprises continue to happen — Unexpected good wishes to all in 2012.

Happy Moo Year — It’s good I love Milk and a Cheese Platter in the VIP Lounge.

Note:  Part (1) of (2) re the happenings at the 2011/2012 OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party.

Zinc Cafe & Market In Corona Del Mar And The Ocean Nearby.

August 21st, 2010 No comments

We recently wandered into Zinc Cafe & Market in Corona Del Mar a half hour before closing time and happily learned that their Market Salads are 1/2 price during that time, the last half hour before closing.  It was great timing for us, thus we went crazy and got eight of them, five are pictured here and all are always good.  They offer a shady outdoor patio too, but we enjoyed our Salads on the beach (away from the seagulls) and for lunch the next day.  What a deal — It’s the best time to go there.

We didn’t capture the official name of each Salad, since we ate them so fast — Many are seasonal anyway, so you’ll just have to see what’s available and check out their website to see what’s possible.  They offer a lot and will tell you more than we can.

The beach is walking distance from Zinc Cafe & Market in Corona Del Mar.  If I could own a home anywhere around here, it would be in Corona Del Mar, near many restaurants and the amazing beauty pictured below.

Tavern In Brentwood For Amazing Hamburgers & Holiday Meals.

December 15th, 2009 No comments

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One of our Guest Bloggers, Bonnie recently visited and reviewed Tavern Restaurant in Brentwood (Los Angeles).  She came back raving about their décor, since she’s an Interior Designer, she’s keen to that angle in her reports.

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Bonnie’s Review starts HERE:

My parents recommended we spend our Thanksgiving Day at Tavern, a new place in Brentwood (Los Angeles) they had been to twice before in the last 6 months, which served as a good enough recommendation for me. They raved about the hamburger they shared on both occasions, and I was curious after looking at their website and reading the reviews on City Search and Trip Advisor.

Upon arriving for our meal at the slightly unusual time of 1:00 p.m., I was immediately struck by the impressive décor.  Designed by fellow interior designer Jeffrey Alan Marks, the former home of Hamburger Hamlet has been completely transformed into an elegant tri-part restaurant. The linear design of the building’s interior consists of a quaint, casual bakery/deli/cafe to the left of the main entrance, a dark yet comfortable bar area on the other side of the entry and once through there, a starkly bright formal dining room.

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After being seated at one of the exquisite dining tables that ring the room, our meal began with a persimmon and pomegranate salad with arugula, local walnuts and brie (seal bay triple cream). What a perfect start – especially because I have never tasted persimmons before – and they were quite a treat! The main course was (naturally) herb roasted organic turkey breast and stuffed leg with mashed potatoes and gravy.

While the turkey was good, it was the presentation of the fixings which got my attention as they were all served “family style” in the middle of the table: “Moms” traditional and Suzanne’s chestnut prune and cavolo stuffing; sweet potatoes with sherry and roasted shallots; Brussels sprouts with pancetta and thyme; Italian broccoli with garlic and chili and traditional cranberry sauce. For the finale, the desserts tasted as good as they looked — pumpkin pie and candied pecan with vanilla ice cream and a dollop of whipped sweet cream.

In fact, this was one of the more memorable holiday meals that I have had in a long time, as much as for the personal and attentive service as for the presentation and quality of their food. Suzanne Goin is the Executive Chef and I can’t wait to go back there and try her hamburger, which is why my parents recommended her newest L.A. area restaurant, Tavern, in the first place.

Thanks for the informative report Bonnie — Now I can’t wait to try the Hamburger too.  Since Tavern’s Thanksgiving meal was so good, I’ve attached their New Years Eve Menu as an option for the festivities.

Update (04/05/10):  Tavern was named one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in L.A., by Los Angeles Magazine (March 2010).

Trying More Food At 8 Steers Restaurant.

May 22nd, 2009 No comments

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8 Steers Fish & Steakhouse Restaurant is located in Costa Mesa off busy Harbor Boulevard.  Since I’m within walking distance from it a couple days a week, I’ve been trying a few Sides and Sandwiches for lunch.  So far we’ve tried the Cajun Fish Sandwich, which comes with a choice of Coleslaw, Chips and something else (tba).  The Fish on this Sandwich is Basa Fish.  It’s a type of Catfish I’ve never tried before.  It was a nice piece and the texture is similar, but I can tell I like Catfish better.  And I didn’t care for the Bread it’s served on — It got soggy, but the Remoulade Sauce made it all okay.

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The Brussels Sprouts Side is a generous serving and pretty good.  It’s different and seems to have Bacon and Horseradish or Wasabi in it.  And I like their Coleslaw — It’s more Vinegary than Mayonnaisey.

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Pictured above middle is Ginger and Scallion Mashed Potatoes, another uniquely flavored Side — They’re good too.  I really like 8 Steers’ menu and look forward to trying and reporting about more.

8 Steers DIRECT: http://www.8steers.com/

What is Basa Fish?: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basa_fish

8 Steers’ Kobe Sliders:
http://www.ineedtext.com/FoodBlog/2009/05/09/many-steer-by-8-steers-on-harbor-stop-in/

UPDATE 08/01/09:  It appears they are no longer open for Lunch, just Dinner and Happy Hour starting at 4PM.

What’s Growing at the Orange County Fair?

July 12th, 2008 No comments

Centennial Farm grows stuff there all year round — It varies with the seasons.  Right now, during the Fair they’re growing Lettuce, Pumpkins, Brussels Sprouts, and more respectfully listed downward.

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Corn, Carrots, Turnips, Tomatillos and Grapefruit.

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Gourds, Peanuts and Apples.

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Plums, Peppers and Sunflowers.

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Lettuce, Zucchini and Walnuts.

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Artichokes, Kohlrabi, Onion and Eggplant.

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Plus a lot more — It’s a dream backyard.

Orange County Fair Info – http://www.ocfair.com/ocf/