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Home Chef: A Weekly Meal Delivery Kit Comparison.

December 20th, 2017 No comments

Home Chef is another company that offers the delivery of weekly meal kits.  I’ve previously reported about a few others — Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated.  And now, here is Home Chef.

Our Home Chef meal selection included Coconut Jasmine Rice Bowls with Fried Plantains and Corn Pico De Gallo, Fig and Goat Cheese Flatbread with Walnuts and Caramelized Onions & Brown Sugar Salmon with Ranch Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans.

The recipe cards came with a nice white binder and they were 3-hole punched on good card-stock.

Each meal is grouped in its own sealed, handled bag with a straggler or two in the box, and the meat is under ice, which is convenient and good.  All received with this shipment was fresh.

However, the Naan received for the Fig and Goat Cheese Flatbread was folded into its meal kit bag and thus cracked in a few places.  I had to carefully place them back together before topping and baking them.  They ended up tasting great, but it was mostly due to the Caramelized Onions, Fig Preserves, Goat Cheese and Arugula — An amazing combination.

We liked the Brown Sugar Salmon too, though mine didn’t end up as gorgeous as the one on the recipe card.  Not uncommon, but the sweet, tangy flavor it was anticipated to have was there.

Home Chef’s price is comparable to Blue Apron’s — The Home Chef cost is $59.70 a week for (3) meal kits for (2) people and Blue Apron’s current cost for the same is $59.94.

We like Home Chef, and we like Plated and Hello Fresh too, but Blue Apron is still our favorite weekly meal delivery kit company.  Aside from these meals and the others I’ve tried and reported about, Blue Apron meals have been prepared in our kitchen on a weekly basis for about two years now.  I like Blue Apron’s unique meal options and that all is made from scratch.  It’s extra time and labor in some cases, but worth it in flavor.  I like Naan, but would have preferred fresh Pizza Dough with the winning combination of Caramelized Onions, Fig Preserves, Goat Cheese and Arugula.  Pizza Dough would most likely come with a similar Blue Apron meal.  I have no complaints about any of these companies and I am still willing to try others, if the menu is right.

Chefz Table: Easy To Arrange Cooking Classes In Your Own Home.

June 14th, 2010 No comments

We’ve attended and reported about many Cooking Classes in Orange County, but no matter where you live (including the OC), you can easily arrange to have a Professional Chef teach cooking in your own home.  Chefz Table makes it happen.  To learn about the Professional Chefs near you, just go to their website and enter your zip code.  After that, select the Course you’d like to learn… A Taste of Italy, French Bistro, Indian Feast, Tamales and Sangria, Southern Cookin’, Advanced Knife Skills, Pies and Tarts, a Date Night to Remember, Cheese and Wine Pairing, etc.  All Course details and prices are clearly provided at Chefz Table.  We haven’t tried ’em yet, but it’s nice to know the fun possibility is only a few clicks away — The menus sound good too! 

* Semi-related photo was taken at a Bloomingdales South Coast Plaza Cooking Class.

Western Theme Graduation Party Ideas: Congrats Chef Niece Bailee.

June 19th, 2015 No comments

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Congratulations Chef Niece Bailee of Kids in the Kitchen — She graduated from high school and had the BEST American-Western Themed Party I have ever seen.  It was stylish and delicious.

Grad Party Ideas

Her name was spelled on painted wood in rope, wild flowers were displayed throughout in cowboy boots, burlap was used as tablecloths, and photos of Bailee were perfectly peppered throughout.

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Strawberry Lemonade was served in mason jars.

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Homemade Tamales, Rice and Beans were served with a variety of fresh Fruit and Vegetable Salads, along with Chips & Salsa.  And there was an amazingly set Dessert Bar for all to enjoy.

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The Dessert Bar included Pies, Cakes and Cookies ready for the taking.

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My only contribution to the party was the giant Mother Load Cake from Claim Jumper.

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I took the easy way out while my sister’s friends, especially Wendy, created most of what’s pictured, which doesn’t do all justice.  Wendy also decorated my Wedding Shower a while back and it was equally impressive.  She should start a business and charge for her chic helpfulness.

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And perhaps it should be called Wonderful Wendy?!  Just a thought.

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We’re also very proud of Bailee (below with my mom) for her accomplishment.

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Love them!

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To top it off hand-made streamers with photos of Bailee growing up hung across the windows.

Grad Party Ideas

This had to be shared as great ideas for your next party

Boots with Wild Flowers

2013 Food Trends Collection: Cauliflower, Homemade Snacks & More.

December 26th, 2012 No comments

Cauliflower

I set out to assess and collect information regarding 2013 Food Trends and thankfully found a compilation of several predictions at Nutrition Unplugged and many are linked (below) for convenience.  I’m glad to see that Cauliflower will be taking over for last year’s over-rated Kale trend, since I like to roast it in the oven with Garlic Cloves and Lemon.  Happy eating in 2013!

Andrew Freeman & Co. – How Hotel & Restaurant Trends Will Shape a New Reality in 2013

Baum + Whiteman – 17 Hottest Food and Dining Trends for 2013

Cooking Light – Our Predictions: 2013 Food Trends

Epicurious – Epicurious Predicts the Top 10 Food Trends of 2013

Food Network – 2013 Predictions from Food Network Kitchens

FohBoh – 2013 Food Trends

Innova Market Insights – Top Trends for 2013

Meat Poultry – Top Food Trends for 2013

National Restaurant Association – What’s Hot 2013 Chef Survey

Orange County Register – Food Trends for 2013

Phil Lempert – The Top 10 Food Trend Predictions for 2013

Produce Marketing Association’s Produce Trends – Produce Trends

Sterling-Rice Group – Cutting-Edge Dining Trends of 2013

Technomic – Technomic’s Take: What’s Ahead in 2013?

The Food Channel – Top Ten Food Trends of 2013

Volunteering At Mary’s Kitchen: Feeding The Homeless In Orange.

March 31st, 2012 No comments

Chefs Bailee and Lexi of Kids in the Kitchen, my lovely Nieces volunteering at Mary’s Kitchen.

You can volunteer there too — Mary’s has been feeding Orange County’s homeless since 1984.

The kids really like going and it gives them much appreciation for what they have.

This breakfast they cracked and beat all the Eggs, cooked Pancakes, served food and washed dishes — Wonderful things to do for others.  Nibbles of Tidbits is proud of Kids in the Kitchen.

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.

The Top Chef All-Stars Situation.

December 7th, 2010 1 comment

Top Chef All-Stars started last week and airs again soon (Wednesdays on Bravo TV).  I like Top Chef, but haven’t been riveted by its happenings the past few seasons, though I’ve caught most shows, since they rerun them over and over.  And right now I’m happy to be excited about the show again, because of the All-Stars.  Already knowing the personalities makes it more interesting.  The formula was getting a little boring, although it’s better than most TV programming.  I admit to liking Millionaire Matchmaker and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills too — That Camille, I can’t stand her, but we talk food here.  Let’s get back to Top Chef All-Stars…

I like Carla.

I like Fabio too — Our Guest Blogger Bonnie recently reviewed his restaurant, Café Firenze posted here.  Last week during Top Chef All-Stars, Fabio was reamed by Judge Anthony Bourdain, who repeatedly said he “hated” his dish.  Trying to be funny, AB was pretty much a dick.  It’s unnecessary to be so dramatically negative, which applies to all judges, and cheers to Fabio for speaking up about it.  He handled himself well.  I probably would’ve cried after putting so much effort into it.

The All-Star Chefs were delivered the ingredients they used and had to pack their knives for and go, during his/her respective season.  Each had to make the dish better or at least passing this time — How fitting.  A perfect first challenge.

Wanted to quickly commentate on the photos and generally about the show, not provide a complete recap — Who has time?  Watch the show.  If further compelled, we’ll weigh in.

Just In Time For Top Chef All-Stars: Fantastic Food, Fun & Fabio.

November 29th, 2010 2 comments

Top Chef All-Stars starts this Wednesday, December 1st on BRAVO — Bravo to that!  Here’s the contestant line-up, which includes Fabio Viviani from Season 5.  He has a restaurant in Moorpark, California — Café Firenze, where Bonnie, our traveling Guest Blogger recently dined.  She raved about her experience, thus we’re certainly rooting for him.  Other Top Chef All-Star picks will be selected after first airing.  Until then, Bonnie reports about her meal by Fabio.  I think she’s in love.  I sure wish she’d get a camera, as her Fabio photo and most didn’t turn out.  Nonetheless, I appreciate the report and wish I’d been there.  Go Fabio!

Fantastic Food, Fun & Fabio. Fabulous!  That’s how I would sum up our dinner Saturday night at Café Firenze in Moorpark, California.

BRAVO TV’s Top Chef Runner-Up and upcoming Top Chef “All Star” contender Fabio Viviani was on hand to greet us and, after spending several hours at his restaurant, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. While he is just as charming off the screen as he is on it, it is his food that truly stands out as exceptional.

In fact, the five course tasting menu that Fabio designed especially for us was magnificent, but since we let him use his own discretion rather than ordering from the menu, I can’t remember every detail.  There were three appetizers, including a silky smooth Imported Burrata Mozzarella, a pasta with homemade Duck sausage and a pancetta wrapped Jumbo Shrimp filled with gorgonzola cheese.  I think the latter was the best shrimp I have ever eaten.

The entrée consisted of grilled Colorado Lamb with braised pistachios – a truly unique combination of flavors – and the desert was something so creamy and luscious that all I can remember is how delicious it tasted, rather than its name.

And dinner was a lot of fun too, thanks to bartender Damiano Carrara. What’s with all the charming Italian men at Café Firenze?  I don’t know, but Damiano’s accent and prowess with a bottle — ala Tom Cruise in “Cocktail” – was quite the show.  His signature cocktails, one made with 2 Nite Vodka from Italy and the other with pomegranate were the perfect accompaniments to our tasting menu.

At this point I probably have convinced you about the food, but I have to inspire you with the interior design as well.  Naturally, everything has been imported from Italy (Firenze is the town where Fabio was born) and no detail was spared.  So don’t forget to check out the coffered ceilings and stunning chandeliers.

Moorpark isn’t exactly known as a dining mecca, so Fabio’s restaurant stands out as an exceptional experience.  I can’t wait to go back!  Good luck on Wednesday night, Fabio, I will be rooting for you.

(Note that what we had is very similar to what is called “The Chef’s Table” where you get five courses paired with either wine or martinis to compliment each dish for $75 each or five courses without alcohol for $50 each.  We loved this innovative concept.) 

by Bonnie Flamm, Guest Blogger, Interior Designer, Writer

Which Company Delivers The BEST Meal Kit? Our Review Is Underway.

September 3rd, 2018 No comments

I’ve made hundreds of Blue Apron meals, which we LOVE to eat.  It’s hard to pass up their unique, diverse, ever-changing tasty menus and the price is right too.  Blue Apron’s cost is lower than most Meal Kit Delivery companies.  Though due to curiosity and first-box discount incentives, we previously tried Hello Fresh, Plated and Home Chef and their respective reviews and comparisons to Blue Apron are linked in this sentence.  Now, we are underway trying several others — Sun Basket, Gobble, Purple Carrot, Green Chef, Marley Spoon, Freshly, Dinnerly, Factor 75, Balance/Bistro MD, Munchery, Global Belly, Takeout Kits, Shaker & Spoon (a cocktail club) and Burgabox (if they get back into the game).  Did you know there were so many?  This is far from a list of all of them, but some we plan to try.  After all has been delivered, prepared and consumed, a report of pros, cons, costs and more will be posted here on Nibbles of Tidbits.  We just finished (3) Sun Basket meals and (3) Gobble meals are scheduled to be delivered this week, and (3) Marley Spoon meals the week after that, etc.  Yes, our review is underway and I have a lot to say.  I already miss Blue Apron, but will definitely be fair.  Stay tuned.

Pictured:  Chicken Salad with Kale, Kiwi and Apples (Sun Basket)

The 2017 OC Fair Goes Gourmet And We’re Set To Substantiate That.

July 8th, 2017 No comments

 

It’s my favorite thing at the OC Fair — The FOOD.  And it’s about gourmet food this year.  That’s even better.  It’s reported that ‘The 2017 OC Fair Goes Gourmet’.  See the OC Fair’s official press release below and we at Nibbles of Tidbits will see you at the Fair.  It starts July 14th and we’re ready to taste everything.  I usually enter the Culinary Arts Competitions, but our kitchen is currently being remodeled.  I caught myself thinking up ideas of what to enter this year, but remembered, duh, I don’t have a kitchen right now, and probably won’t for another three to four weeks. You’ll see that here later.  Until then, read what will soon be happening at the OC Fair.

Farm to fork. Artisan crafted. Locally made. Small batch. These words don’t just define a food revolution, they hint at what you’ll find in the culinary exhibits and demonstrations at the 2017 OC Fair. Steal away from the midway for a little while to discover artisans who bring the “Farm Fresh Fun” theme to life. Taste award-winning California olive oil. Sample locally made kombucha. Learn how butchers, bakers and local booze makers are changing the way things are crafted in Orange County and beyond. The culinary team at OC Fair & Event Center has curated a lineup that showcases top local chefs, TV celebrities, cookbook authors and local businesses to help Fairgoers get a taste of what that food revolution is like.

Let’s take a look at what and who you’ll find at the Fair in the OC Promenade Culinary Arts Building:

Pies: Karen Uyeda is a passionate fair attendee and previous OC Fair Blue-Ribbon Winner for her pies. She launched Sweetcie Pie and her business has flourished. Learn her pie-making secrets. July 19, 3 p.m.

Spirits: Brian and Robin Christenson launched the very first craft distillery in Orange County, Blinking Owl. These locavores and grain nerds will teach how they mill, ferment and distill barrel aged whisky and more. They have a great local story to tell. July 22, 3 p.m.

Paella: Junior chef Isabella Vegh is a member of 4-H and a previous triple Best of Class Winner in Preserved Foods and Winner of the Youth Spam Competition. Isabella will demonstrate how to make authentic Paella Valencia. July 20, 5 p.m.

Butchery: Chef Noah Blom of ARC Restaurant, Restaurant Marin and The Guild will give a primal cut butchery demonstration and he’ll share his best tips. Aug. 2, 5 p.m.

Meat:  Executive Chef Melissa Cortina, of Bavette’s Meats and Provisions, attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and learned at the hands of master Italian butchers. She will answer questions about buying, using and preparing meat. Aug. 13, 5 p.m.

Bread: Cortina will be joined by former Blue Man Group performer Don Kohler who will demonstrate how to make unique Icelandic geothermal rye bread in your home kitchen. Kohler is now star of Hallmark Channel’s The Home & Family Show. Aug. 13, 5 p.m.

Beer: The first and only non-GMO, vegan-friendly beer, Dr. Jekyll’s Craft Beer, is produced by Tom Costa, an avid home brewer of more than 25 year. Learn how to bring craft beer into the kitchen and onto the plate. Aug. 6, 3 p.m.

Fermented Food: Fairgoers can learn about the health benefits of lacto-fermentation from Dr. Yasmine Mason of Fermentation Farm, and try a free sample of kombucha. Daily

Seasonal: Chef Ernie Alvarado, pictured above, of Urbana is bringing Farm Fresh Mexican-inspired dishes to the table. Find out how he has mastered the use of seasonal produce in his creations. July 22, 7 p.m.

Sweets: Chef Stéphane Tréand will showcase his incredible talents by creating a highly technical sugar sculptor showpiece. July 30, 5 p.m.

Produce: Robert Schueller of Melissa’s Produce is known as Produce Guru. Become one of his followers and increase your knowledge of fruit and vegetables.  July 20, 2 and 4 p.m.

Here’s their Official List of all the Culinary Events and Demonstrations happening this year.

Plated (Recipe + Ingredients) Delivered: A Comparison to Blue Apron.

April 22nd, 2016 No comments

Plated Fish

It’s official — I’ve prepared 100+ Blue Apron recipes.  My husband counted them.  After two-hundred plus total dishes, I decided it was time to try a few other meal delivery companies.  At least three to start… Plated, Hello Fresh and Chef’d.  It’s not because we don’t like Blue Apron.  We love them.  I’m now curious how others’ dishes compare.  Are they as flavorful and international?

Plated Box

The Plated Report — Plated’s box was huge and all was packed within a thick insulation that looked like it should be recycled in the garden.  Different than Blue Apron, but it kept all cold and fresh.

Plated Dessert

One of the BEST things about Plated is they offer Dessert.  Blue Apron currently does not.

Plated Recipe Cards

Dessert (recipe and ingredients) costs about $8 more, over Plated’s meal plan — Most comparable to our Blue Apron Meal Plan (3 Meals for 2 People = $60), Plated offers (2 Meals for 2 People = $48 + $6 for shipping = $54).  Shipping is free with $50+ purchases.  I thus added one of Plated’s weekly Desserts to try and to qualify for free shipping.  $56 was our total for 2 Meals and 1 Dessert for 2 People from Plated.  Leon thought all looked good upon arrival (below).  I did too.

Leon and Plated

Plated’s recipes were well written and somewhat unique, like those offered by Blue Apron.  The pictured Plated meals were good, but none knocked our socks off, like many Blue Apron meals have. We also missed the third meal offered by Blue Apron.  Apples to Apples, the same Blue Apron Plan (3 Meals for 2 People = $60), costs $72 at Plated.  I wouldn’t mind future meals from Plated, but I prefer to save money.  Plated is good, but they charge more for the same comparison of food.

Plated Soup

I prepared Plated’s Pan-Roasted Redfish with Baby Kale Risotto (top), Cheese Tortellini with Basil and Spinach in Tomato Soup (above) and Caramelized Pear Shortcakes with Whipped Cream (below).  We liked the Pan-Roasted Redfish the best and the other two recipes were just average.  Plated’s recipe cards are nice and large, but not as glossy as Blue Apron’s.

Plated Shortcakes

The Caramelized Pear Shortcakes aka Biscuits were already baked, which made preparation easier, but the Dessert not as homemade.  I may order from Plated again to try a different Dessert if its weekly menu sounds better than Blue Apron’s weekly menu.  I’m currently subscribed to all listed herein, though opt for Blue Apron most of the time.  If interested in trying any meal delivery company, be sure to obtain a coupon or coupon code, as each offers a $20 – $60 discount on your first box.  Don’t miss out on that.  Check back soon to read our Hello Fresh and Chef’d Reports.

Camp Blogaway 2015: Seventh Annual Camp For Food Bloggers.

May 13th, 2015 No comments

 

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In a beautiful mountain setting with food bloggers from around the country, I learned more about FOOD, food photography, sponsors’ ingredients, food-related careers and food blogging in general.  It was my first time at Camp Blogaway.  I’m glad it’s held in California.  One blogger flew from Morocco to attend, and others I met came from Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Oregon, Idaho, etc.  Those I recall now, but all attendees are linked here.  It was interesting to meet people that do the same things around the world and locally, and other accomplished food industry people.  I appreciated all of it.  Camp Blogaway was a 3-day whirlwind of food-related workshops, tastings, nature walks, and mingling with Wine and Coffee.  Snapshots of my experience are posted below.

Lodge

I arrived early with Chef Marie, an awesome lady and carpool buddy who made my trip great.

Name Badges

Do you see me?

Setting up Lodge

I assisted with set-up while enjoying the view from the lodge.

View from Lodge Deck

Enlarge photo below to view the 2015 Itinerary.

Intinerary

Wine from Wente was on the itinerary each evening — A Highlight.

Wente Wine

Cheese from Cabot with Wente Wine on the lodge deck was my favorite combination.

Cabot Cheese

I loved the Cheese Ball Pine Cones by Cabot with the Almond Board of California Almonds.

Pine Cone Cheese Ball

I will someday be making a Cheese Ball Pine Cone with Almonds and Rosemary, as shown.

Session Speakers

Session Panel with Lana of Bibberche and Louise of Geez Louise, moderated by Foodie Goes Healthy.

Phil Lempert

Session Panel with the Average Betty who interviews Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, regarding his experiences, knowledge, opinions and expertise, which was informative.

Photo Class

My favorite session was the Natural Light Photo Workshop with Christina Peters.  She’s a great teacher — I learned a couple things, but need to learn more, as indicated by too many photos.

Chef Marie

Chef Marie (above) made tasty North Carolina Sweet Potato Smoothies with Davidson’s Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs for arriving campers on the first day of camp.  I had several cups.

Chef Marie Books

Chef Marie has written at least 12 books, including the Saint-Tropez Diet, a few are shown above.

Food Line

Though we were a bunch of food bloggers, it was camp and it wasn’t fancy, but everyone was nice.

One Dinner

I tried my first White Sweet Potato (above) from North Carolina Sweet Potatoes and liked it best.

Cabot Cheese

I was in Cabin 5, pictured below.

My Cabin

All preparing to take the annual Camp Blogaway group photo.

Group Photo Prep

Patti Londre, our Fearless Leader, leading the successful way.

Patti Londre

Camp Blogaway happens each May at De Benneville Pines Conference Center in Angelus Oaks.

Camp Info

After Camp Blogaway I asked myself… What is it I want out of food blogging other than opportunities to try food?  I have ideas.  I’d love to sell Shelly Jellies, my award-winning candy someday, or work with a brand I truly believe in, or just keep doing what I’m doing.  All are pretty great.  I cook anything I want and my husband loves it, and we luckily get to try all kinds of FOOD, and only the food-related products we’re interested in.  In other words, I’m content and I’d like more, but to obtain whatever (more) might be requires work and diligence to make it happen.

Blue Apron Review: The Menu Of The Week Never Looked So Good.

April 30th, 2015 No comments

Cod

Blue Apron Box Report No. 2 — We love them even more now.

Blue Apron

It’s Blue Apron’s unique and enticing recipes that I appreciate most — The meals are exciting to eat.

Chicken

We received 3 new recipe cards and the ingredients to prepare them all — Our final dishes are pictured on the right of its respective recipe card and our first Blue Apron report is linked here.

Cod

Each meal was completely different than the one before it and all had exceptional flavor.

Pork

We’re already looking forward to the next box from Blue Apron.  Originally I was just going to try them, but their weekly menus and quality of ingredients are keeping me interested.  I had also planned to try and compare similar companies, but after a little research it looks like Blue Apron may be offering the best deal.  If that continues to be true, I may not want to try nor like another. Each looks similarly impressive, but I must have a good price too.

Similar companies are listed below and prices may change — Check them out yourself.

Plated.com – Eating Well Made Easy ($12/Serving – $72/Week – 6 meals total for 2)

Hello Fresh – Restaurant Quality Meals At Home ($11.50/Serving – $69/Week – 6 meals total for 2)

Green Chef – Deliciously Simple ($14.99/Serving – $89.94/Week – 6 meals total for 2)

Forage – Recipes from Notable Restaurants ($7.50 – $15/Serving – $60/Week – 4 meals total, which may serve 2. It’s unclear)

Chef’d – The Easiest Way to Cook Like a Pro ($19 – $38/Serving for 2 – Each meal has its own cost)

Reflections Of Food On The Celebrity Reflection Cruise Ship.

May 21st, 2014 No comments

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We recently cruised on the Celebrity Reflection by Celebrity Cruises and now reflect on the food we had on the ship.  We didn’t have a bad meal.  The food was delicious and plentiful.

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Thanks to Executive Chef Darran Ridley (above) and his staff for our never-ending meals.

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I took the Heartbeat of the Operation Galley Tour — A behind the scenes look at the Galley.

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In the Galley are photos (above) of every dish prepared for the Main Restaurant (below).

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Guests seated above were waiting to tour the Galley, while Chefs answered their questions.

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Did you know 2,300 Dozen Eggs and 3,800 lbs. of Butter are on the Celebrity Reflection for an average 10-Day Cruise?  And 1,000 Gallons of Ice Cream and 75,000 lbs. of Fresh Fruit.

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2,000 liters of Heavy Cream, 1,900 lbs. of Salmon and 12,300 lbs. of Potatoes get consumed.

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3,000 lbs. of Tenderloin and 2,740 lbs. of Rack of Lamb — I don’t recall how many Lobsters.

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Unlimited Main Restaurant/Dining Room FOOD is available inclusive for all.

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Post cruise reflection… I should’ve had more Oysters Rockefeller.

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I didn’t photograph everything and don’t have any menu descriptions, but know that I would’ve appreciated finding this information after researching Celebrity Reflection.

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All food posted is for the Main Restaurant and included in the cruise price.

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 For an extra cost, Celebrity Reflection has several other restaurants to choose from.

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The ever-changing Main Restaurant MENU was so good each night, we never strayed.

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Celebrity Reflection also offered a Sushi Making Demonstration and Star Chefs Cooking Show.

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And several Wine Tasting Workshops around the ship.

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Our Eastern Caribbean Cruise stopped in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Maarten

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We thoroughly enjoyed each port with Celebrity Reflection’s lovely meals woven in between.

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Baked Alaska on a cruise, of course.

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A Chocolate Soufflé.

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And Cherries Jubilee.

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We were in Concierge Class and received daily snacks and flowers — A sample daily snack (below) included Olives, Hummus, Chips, Cheese and Salsa.  It could’ve been better.

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We became fond of Cellars Masters, a sophisticated, Enomatic Wine Dispensing Bar (below).

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Us (below) on Formal Night, while on our Honeymoon, btw.

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Celebrity Reflection docked in Puerto Rico (below), our favorite port, though we loved them all.

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Info regarding our favorite Bar and Restaurant in San Juan, Puerto Rico is reported here.

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Cheers to us here and always!  I didn’t even mention Celebrity Reflection’s Buffet… tmi.

Taste Of The Nation Laguna Beach: Eat Well & Fight Childhood Hunger.

April 23rd, 2014 No comments

Taste of the Nation

CHEFS COOK TO FIGHT CHILDHOOD HUNGER IN LAGUNA BEACH AND ACROSS AMERICA

Montage Laguna Beach will host 7th annual Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation® Laguna Beach event on June 8, 2014 at the oceanfront resort.  A handful of celebrity chefs are coming together to prepare fresh farm-to-table delicacies to further Share Our Strength’s mission to end childhood hunger in Orange County and across the nation. Attendees will enjoy an afternoon of delectable dishes, wine, signature cocktails, and picturesque panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean at Montage Laguna Beach.  In addition to fabulous food and drinks, the event will feature a silent and live auction and live entertainment by local band The Kalama Brothers.

As contributors to the charity, guests can choose between the following event packages: 

• Celebrity Chef Tasting 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $200 per person or at the door for $225 per person.

• VIP “Meet the Chefs” Reception 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Complete the night with VIP treatment and a sunset toast. Enjoy the Celebrity Chef Tasting followed by an after party to mingle with the chefs. Valet parking and post-event gifts are included. Tickets purchased in advance are $275 per person and $300 at the door.

Executive Chef Craig Strong of Studio, Montage Laguna Beach’s Signature Restaurant, will be joined by the following talented celebrity chefs:

  • Chef Nina Compton – Fontainebleau, Miami Beach, FLA
  • Chef Alan Greeley – The Golden Truffle, Costa Mesa, CA
  • Chef Duff Goldman – Charm City Cakes, Los Angeles, CA
  • Chef Brian Huskey – Picca, Mo-chica, Paiche, Los Angeles, CA
  • Chef Lee Smith – Executive Pastry Chef, Montage Laguna Beach, CA
  • Chef Alan Wong – Alan Wong’s Restaurant’s, Honolulu, HI

One in five children in this country struggles with hunger — The good news is that this is a solvable problem. The No Kid Hungry campaign is ending childhood hunger in this nation by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day by connecting them to nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and by teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals at home.

Since summer 2011, No Kid Hungry efforts to expand access to summer meals and school breakfast have helped connect kids to more than 34 million additional meals. The No Kid Hungry campaign is replicating that success around the country by working collaboratively with its partners to feed millions of American children.  In 2013, Taste of the Nation Laguna Beach raised over $200,000 which helps connect children in need with up to 2 million meals.

One hundred percent of ticket proceeds from Taste of the Nation Laguna Beach benefit the No Kid Hungry campaign, thanks to generous support from National Presenting Sponsor Sysco, National Sponsors American Express and Food Network, and local sponsors Montage Laguna Beach, Mangia Inc., Celebrity Cruises, Southern CA Gas Company, Epstein Becker Green, Orange County Restaurant Association, Congenial Spirits, Aqua Panna, Bread Artisan Bakery Inc. and Orange Coast Magazine. Local beneficiaries include Second Harvest Orange County Food Bank, Community Action Partnership of OC, Father Serra’s Food Pantry (@Mission San Juan Capistrano).

To purchase tickets for Taste of the Nation Laguna Beach visit http://ce.strength.org/events/taste-nation-laguna-beach.

About Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® Campaign

No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in five children struggles with hunger. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals through Cooking Matters. This work is accomplished through the No Kid Hungry network, made up of private citizens, public officials, nonprofits, business leaders and others providing innovative hunger solutions in their communities. Join them at NoKidHungry.org.

* Above re-printed from a Press Release with approval to use photograph.  Previous Taste of the Nation reports on Nibbles of Tidbits are linked here and here.  It’s an important fight!

Come & Get It For 23 Days: See What’s New And What’s Always There.

July 13th, 2013 No comments

OC Fair Opening Day 2013

It’s All About the Food at the 2013 OC Fair (July 12 – August 11, 2013)

Days of Deep-Fried Food, Celebrity Chefs, Decadent Desserts & Culinary Competitions

Just as dinner bells would call hard-working farmers to the table for meals, the OC Fair is ringing the metaphorical dinner bell for Fairgoers to “Come & Get It” July 12 to August 11, 2013. With plenty of food vendors and culinary activities, the OC Fair has something for every palate. Here’s what the Fair is cooking up this year:

• Chicken Charlie: Chicken Charlie is churning out new food with Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joes, Deep-Fried Bacon-Wrapped Pickles and Waffle Dogs (a hot dog wrapped inside a waffle and all on a stick). Plus, don’t miss deep-fried cookie dough!

• Bacon A-Fair: This year’s new additions at Bacon A-Fair include Truffle Gouda Bacon Fries, Bacon Beer (root beer) and Cheesy Bacon Bombs. Plus, wild boar bacon on a stick will be served exclusively at the OC Fair.

• Biggy’s Meat Market: Channel your inner cave man (or woman) and come to Biggy’s Meat Market for the returning 17-inch The Big Rib plus the new Biggy Sausage, a 2-foot-long smoked sausage on a stick, and the Big Chic, 24 ounces of chicken breast on a stick of course.

• Ten Pound Buns: The mad scientists at Ten Pound Buns have added ground bacon, whipped butter and Nutella on top of their famous sourdough “pizza” for the Bacon Nutella Bun.

• Pink’s Hot Dogs: Long known for their innovative hot dogs named after celebrities, the Ghiradelli hot dog takes it to a new level. It is a beef dog topped with cream cheese, honey mustard, crumbled bacon and dark chocolate.

More New Food: There are new tastes to be found throughout the OC Fair this year including deep-fried strawberries, a macaroni and cheese hamburger, fried bacon ice cream, deep-fried lobster, cream cheese on a stick, mango & chamoy popsicle (spicy-sweet lemon chile flavoring), heart-shaped funnel cake, Dirty BBQ Tasti Chips and more.

OC Fair Foodies: New this year the OC Fair is introducing food-themed mascots including Scoop, Carl, Dip and their foodie friends all inspired by iconic Fair and farm foods such as ice cream cones, cotton candy, corn dogs, vegetables, fruit and more. Costumed characters, plushes and signage will be representing the foodie friends throughout the Fair.

• $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 sample. Fun-sized samples include funnel cake, BBQ tri-tip, lemonade, cinnamon rolls, corn dogs, tacos, gelato, cotton candy and more.

• Celebrity Chefs: The 2013 OC Fair presents two shows in The Hangar featuring charismatic celebrity chefs demonstrating their culinary prowess. Scheduled appearances include the owners and chefs of the award-winning La Casita Mexicana Restaurant Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu (July 20, 4 p.m.) and award-winning chef and owner of Bottega in Napa Valley and Coqueto in San Francisco Michael Chiarello (August 1, 4 p.m.) Free with Fair admission.

• Culinary Presentations: In addition to celebrity chefs, the 2013 OC Fair is also featuring local professional chefs from some of the county’s top local restaurants and other culinary artisans in the OC Promenade. Presentation days and times vary.

• Food Truck Fare at the OC Fair: On top of traditional and new Fair foods, Fairgoers can purchase gourmet fare from their favorite food trucks from inside the OC Fair gates every Thursday from Noon-10 p.m. Access is free with Fair admission and prices for food and drinks vary per truck.

• Kitchen Challenge: Watch local culinary professionals show off their chops and go head-to-head in a series of live cooking challenges set to various themes every Thursday in the OC Promenade: Meatheads (July 18), Time to Make The Donuts (July 25), Firehouse Chefs (August 1) and Vegan (August 8). Winners will receive bragging rights and an award to commemorate their culinary victory. Viewing is free with Fair admission.

• Contests and Competitions: Most of the traditional Culinary Arts competitions have closed their registrations but the Culinary Arts department is again hosting live contests that offer late registration with the Special Culinary Contests held the last four Saturdays, including the popular OC Cupcake Classic on August 3. Registration for these contests is the Wednesday before each contest. New this year is the Salad Daze contest, which is judging for the best picnic-ready salads. For a complete list, visit ocfair.com/competitions.

• Food As Art: Chef Ray Duey is an acclaimed food sculptor who was a gold medal winner from the Food Network’s Challenge Team and will be creating works of art out of fruits and vegetables daily in the OC Promenade. Award-winning Shaile Socher creates masterful floral arrangements out of sugar and will be demonstrating her intricate and dazzling talent in the OC Promenade daily. Demonstrations are free with Fair admission.

• Centennial Farm: Experience being home on the range in this year-round, three-acre demonstration farm complete with crops, livestock and the Millennium Barn. Check out educational exhibits, agricultural organizations and the fruit and vegetable competitive entries. Visit ocfair.com/competitions for details on the Garden and Floral competitions offered.

The 2013 OC Fair, themed Come & Get It, is July 12 – August 11 and brings 23 days of food, rides, exhibits, animals, music, action sports and fun, as well as the 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 and single-day general admission are available for purchase online at ticketmaster.com or from the on-site Box Office. The popular Super Pass, which offers the passholder 23 days of admission, is available for purchase online at ocfair.com from the onsite Box Office.

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, follow them at twitter.com/ocfair or call (714) 708-1500. Also, download the free OC Fair iPhone and Android apps featuring a Food Finder and schedules of events.

Source:  Press Release from The OC Fair & Event Center (above).

Unglamorous Chocolate Judging & The Weirdo Gauntlet To The Pier.

September 25th, 2012 No comments

It’s my 2nd year as a Judge at the Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon — Last year is here.

Though it sounds glamorous, it really isn’t — Too much Chocolate is possible.

Its location, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium is best as a venue for an 80’s concert.

For this purpose, booths/tables were set up to hand-out tiny to full size pieces of Chocolate (and other unique Candies) to those who paid to attend the event.  Personally I never love to stand in line after line, but some products and people make it worth it, like Deuvo (above).

All may take a Chocolate making class at The Gourmandise School of Sweet and Savories.

It’s in Santa Monica — At the end of the class, you’re sent home with lots of custom Chocolate.

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts students sculpted Chocolate Flowers and more.

They made this mostly edible Cake (above) to display their talents — I just LOVE it.

More Chocolate and Brittle samples — I’ve already voted and will say this… I most appreciated Mignon Chocolate and might of preferred to buy those pictured at top and head to the beach.

Since the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was a short walk from the booming Santa Monica Pier, that’s where we went — We hadn’t been there in years and luckily arrived intact, once passed the crazy guy yelling every word that shouldn’t be written here, plus all the other clowns along the way.  It’s a bit of a weird world there, Venice like we come to realize.  Interesting.

Cheers to the Chocolate, from the Mexican Restaurant at the end of the Santa Monica Pier.

It was cool kickin’ it there with Sirloin, Chicken and Shrimp Fajitas — All was tender but bland.

Overall, nothing to complain about this day, but all is checked off the list.  Thank you.

Meet Strawberry McGillicuddy: The Latest Addition To Shelly’s Jellies.

September 11th, 2012 No comments

We’d like Strawberry and Watermelon ones Aunt Shelly, my Chef Nieces said.  One down, one to go.  Meet Strawberry McGillicuddy, a Candy with a refreshingly real Strawberry flavor, hardly found in Strawberry flavored Candies.  It’s the latest addition to Shelly’s Jellies and a keeper.  Thus far I’ve made Orange, Lemon-Lime, Grapefruit and Tangerine using the Zest and Juice of each Fruit.  For the pictured, I substituted in puréed Strawberries and they turned out amazing good!  Next stop Watermelon town, definitely not Willoughby.

A Whole Lotta Goin On At Whole Foods Market In Newport Beach.

September 10th, 2012 No comments

Nibbles of Tidbits has partnered with Whole Foods Market to help celebrate the opening of their Newport Beach store and it’s going to be big — It’ll be a one-stop shop to gather ingredients for a perfect dinner party and I’m having a special one soon.  It officially opens September 19th, 2012.  Check back (and below) to see all that it has to offer and find out how our dinner turns out.  Why not enter the I Love Newport Beach Photo Contest while you wait?!

  • The Tea Hive, a brand-new fusion café and tea bar that will offer green, black or oolong tea in almost any imaginable form – whether frozen, sparkling, iced or steamed – paired with natural fusion entrees, such as bowls and wraps using local and organic products
  • Back Bay Tavern ~ a relaxing and casual bar/restaurant with a rotating selection of 24 craft beers on tap, plus wine and spirits, along with an extensive menu of beef, seafood, vegetarian and vegan meal options
  • A smaller “Express” wine and beer bar with 12 beers on tap at the front of the store for quicker service
  • In-house executive chef
  • Meat department with a full line of locally sourced, 100% grass-fed beef, chicken and turkey and high end cuts of meat not easily found in other markets
  • Seafood department featuring sustainably sourced fresh and seasonal specialties
  • In-store bakery with scratch-made breads, muffins, cakes, pies, cookies, gluten-free items.
  • In-store kitchen that features handcrafted pizza, in-house chips and dips, rolled-to-order sushi, organic salad bar, hot soups, meals-on-the-go and Weekday Deals
  • 48 feet of local beers of which 8 ft. is canned beer selections
  • Grass fed and raw milk cheeses
  • A burger program, in-house smoker and ‘Get Crocked’ section that features complete meals that can be taken home and easily prepared in a crockpot
  • Over 1300 gluten free items including dairy and frozen foods
  • Seasonal and locally sourced conventional and organic produce
  • Value-conscious items like 365 Everyday Value, hundreds of products priced on sale daily
  • Expanded bulk and raw foods section
  • Step Cleansing program in the juice bar
  • Whole Body section with a focus on organic products for the body.
  • Upgrade your Bouquet” program in the floral department
  • Indoor/outdoor seating for 150 with free Wi-Fi and plenty of parking

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!

Taste Of The Nation At The Montage Laguna Beach.

June 5th, 2012 No comments

Grilling Scallops with an ocean backdrop — It’s for Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation at the Montage Laguna Beach, dedicated to making sure no kid in America grows up hungry.

There were familiar faces from Top Chef, Top Chef Masters and other popular local restaurants.

The event was staffed and serviced to the hilt — Welcoming and immediately clearing plates.

All was top notch — From the view to the never-ending, high quality food. 

Top Chef Masters Winner, Floyd’s Shrimp with Watermelon, Arugula and Mint was a favorite. 

Do you remember Jennifer from Top Chef Season 6?

She served a Duck Heart Salad — I tried it.  Check.  Thank you.  The end.

And there was a Salmon Roe Panna Cotta type dish — Tried it too and no can do.

Hey what’s that behind you?  Lo siento.

The longest line was for Alan Wong’s Short Ribs with Shrimp, deservingly so.

Tender, sauced-up, slow cooked Short Ribs topped with a sautéed Shrimp.

It was a lot of flavor in a beautiful, generous dish — Impressive.

Remember Michael from Top Chef 6 — He’s one of the two brothers I could never tell apart.

Okay, I really liked his “Cold Cuts” with a liquid nitrogen type of Horseradish Cheese, I think.

Until I learned it’s Tongue, and then slowed down on the Cold Cut party train.

Guests purchased keys to potentially unlock and take home displayed liquor towers.

The day was a bit overcast, but still picturesque.

Perfectly cooked Lamb Loin hand delivered by Montage Laguna Beach servers.

There was a silent and live auction to raise even more money for the important cause.

The Montage Laguna Beach grounds are exquisite.

Set up (below) for the VIP after party to meet the Chefs.

I feel I already met them, as each handed me their delicious dish — Sufficiently satisfied.

My silent auction bid landed me (2) Tickets to the Irvine Improv, $25 at The Cheesecake Factory and more.  I’m happy to contribute and partake.  I appreciate all my blessings.

The Old Vine Café At The Camp: We Are Still Talking About It.

May 24th, 2012 No comments

WOW!  We had one of the best meals ever at the Old Vine Café at The Camp.

It’s a relatively small restaurant with airy, open indoor/outdoor seating.

We thoroughly enjoyed our patio seat and hope for the same one next time.

We like the Tasting Menus so much, we want to try them ALL.

There are 9 Tasting Menus to choose from, which are basically four course meals, with Wine paired with each course — The food portions and Wine pours are extremely generous too.

The Old Vine Café is stylish and its virtuoso menu is presented on painted canvas.

It was hard to decide, but we chose The Premium Tasting Menu and Savory Tasting Menu.  

TOAST between each course and if you fancy a Wine, take a bottle home.  We fell for the 2007 Von Hovel Riesling Spatlese, Mosel Saar Ruver Germany.  It was crisp and not too sweet.

The pictured are generally described — See Dinner Menu for complete (better) descriptions.

At top from first course down, we savored Large Shrimp with a Lemon Grass Curry Sauce.

And Seasonal Greens with Crispy Prosciutto, Fried Onions and Maytag Blue Cheese, a giant Hand Made Raviolo with Smoked Duck, Goat Cheese and Porcini Mushrooms in Brown Butter with Sage, and Prosciutto Wrapped Baby Artichokes with a Citrus Infused Olive Oil.

Char Grilled Lamb Chops with a Blueberry Malbec Demi Glace — The Sauce was magical.

Beef Tenderloin Stroganoff with Shitake Mushrooms served over Hand Made Fettuccini.

Artisan Cheese with Marcona Almonds and Fresh Fruit.

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake — Cheers to that with Port.

All is set near tall pine trees, a CAMP fire, hammock and the largest wind chimes I’ve seen.

Mark McDonald is the Old Vine Café’s Chef and owner, and a true expert on Local Cuisine, where Orange County’s Best Restaurants are highlighted .  I’m also a listed expert and humbled to be named amongst others far more knowledge, especially after this meal.

It’s worth the sometimes parking hassles of The Camp — Once you’re there, it’s a delicious escape.  I love it, I love it, I love it, like a Joyologist, and should have my leg kicked up high.

Already ready for the next OVC Tasting Menu.

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.