Archive for the ‘Appetizers (Tapas)’ Category

All Proceeds Help Others: Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails.

April 19th, 2012 No comments

Responsibility never tasted so good they say — 100% of the profits from Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails go to aid people affected by vision impairment and blindness.  How often does that happen?  It’s a wonderful thing, as is the waterfall wall seen as you walk in.

It’s touching to see how loved Andrei was by his family — The restaurant was created in his honor and now helps others.  Read more about that here and you’ll want to dine there

The restaurant is upstairs and special events are hosted downstairs and up.

It’s an open, airy space with lots of big windows.

More about Andrei’s is told on the menu and more about the menu is here.

They have a Happy Hour, Free Corkage on Tuesdays and a Flamenco Guitarist some days.

It’s called Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails, as they “care deeply” about all aspects of food sourcing, serving, and creating an environment where sharing a meal enhances relationships.

During a Happy Hour pop in, we shared a few Small Plates.

Andrei’s Crab Cakes.

Vegetable Arancini.

And Grilled Tomato & Cheese — Our favorite of the bunch was Andrei’s Crab Cakes.

Bar and lounge area with cozy couches and pillows.

Everyone was so nice, without the mention of Nibbles of Tidbits, our regular M.O.

The valet parking area reminds me of Palm Springs — I like the feel and thought of it all.

No Sour Grapes Over Warm Grapes: Just A Copycat Fix-er Up-er.

April 16th, 2012 No comments

We like Plums Café, but weren’t thrilled with their Oregonzola and Roasted Muscat Grapes (below).  We like the concept of it, but the warm Grapes just didn’t taste right to us and the Oregonzola (Gorgonzola from Oregon, where the café owners are from) was a bit too hard.  Since we left cheerless about it, I made a copycat to get its potential out of our system.

For our copycat (top), I used Cal-Gorgonzola, if you will, with chilled Grapes and Cashews instead of Hazelnuts.  Both are drizzled with Wild Flower Honey.  Plum’s Bread was better than ours, but we preferred this copycat/version and have much respect for its ($11) source.

Dinner & Dancing At Plums And Astoria Ballroom: Cha Cha To That.

April 4th, 2012 No comments

I’ve had Plums catered, but had yet to dine in the Café until now — It always seems so busy.

This day we sat on the patio with a few Starters and Wine.

We shared the Wild Herb Risotto Cakes with Bistro Greens and Dilled Tomato Salsa.

And the Dungeness Crab Puppies and Oregonzola and Roasted Muscat Grapes.

Two out of three ain’t bad, as the song goes — The taste and temperature of the Roasted Muscat Grapes just didn’t work for us, and the Cheese with too few Hazelnuts and very little Honey wasn’t the greatest, but we always appreciate unique food combinations.

Next door to Plums Café is the Astoria Ballroom to dance, a runner up to eating, for me.

Plums Café and the Astoria Ballroom offer a generous Dinner & Dance SPECIAL each month.

We stopped in for a visit and couldn’t resist a couple dance moves — See me in the mirror?

Look for this coupon (or it’s only $40 without it) and prepare to learn the Cha Cha, Tango, Waltz, Rumba, Foxtrot or Swing, after dinner next door at Plums Café.  Did you know they serve dinner now too?  They used to be open for breakfast and lunch (only), but today there is much going on in its obscure corner in Costa Mesa off 17th Street.

Best Not Ask Me To Bring Deviled Eggs To Your Party.

March 21st, 2012 3 comments

What’s the trick for consistent easy shell removal from a hard boiled Egg?  I’ve read and tried many different processes, but (obviously) haven’t found one that consistently works.

Sometimes it’s really bad and sadly not exaggerated above, but…

They still taste good with the perfect blend of Mayo, Mustard, Vinegar and S & P.  I’ll have to research all again and officially test and document the processes — Only venting about it now.  Who is the authority on this?  I want easy shell removal every time.  Is it too much to ask?

Great Maple Libations And Seasonal Plates At Fashion Island.

January 21st, 2012 1 comment

Its spot in Fashion Island (near Nordstrom) has gone through a few changes to become the Great Maple it is today.  I liked the Italian restaurants that preceded it and now appreciate the “Libations and Seasonal Plates” we had in the Bar this day — $5 Small Plates on Fridays.

It was Happy Hour time (4:00 – 6:30PM) and the start of Newport Beach Restaurant Week.

All deals were contemplated over a couple Black Lemonades, a seasonal drink special.

Bread in a bag with soft Butter, with a dash of Olive Oil, Parsley, Salt & Pepper, a nice touch.

Here for a quick bite on the way to elsewhere and do want to try the Moroccan Lamb Burger next time.  Today it was the Market Asparagus with Shaved Pecorino and Lemon Olive Oil.

Chorizo Picante Board and Aioli Mayo.

Creamy Polenta with Pancetta and Shaved Pecorino.

Great Maple:  Nice people, creative libations, a cool atmosphere and tasty seasonal plates.

Sun Dried Tomato Dip: Flip This Dip Into The Onion It’s Meant To Be.

January 15th, 2012 No comments

Searching for a Dip to utilize a jar of Sun Dried Tomatoes, I came across Ina Garten’s Sun-Dried Tomato Dip or a variation of it, over and over again.  It didn’t sound all that terrific to me, but thought it had to be good if people keep making it — Well, that’s not necessarily so.  I didn’t like it.  Similar ingredients make more sense in Ina’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip, which is phenomenal.

Spotlight On The Most Searched Recipes: Spinach Artichoke Dip.

January 4th, 2012 No comments

One of the most searched recipes on Nibbles of Tidbits is a copycat of Houston’s Chicago-Style Spinach Dip — To me (and confirmed by others), it captures the flavor and texture of Houston’s tasty Dip.  It’s a respectable recipe (linked above) that holds up well to this simplified variation.

The pictured Spinach Artichoke Dip was prepared using the same recipe, without the Heavy Cream and alternatively increasing the Sour Cream from 1/2 to 3/4 Cup — This may be the better recipe (below), if too much Water is in the Spinach.  Mix and bake pictured ingredients.

Bake in one to four dishes for an appetizer or individual side, depending on the crowd.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Recipe (a variation of this copycat)

Mix all ingredients together well, then transfer mixture to an oven proof dish and bake at 350° for 30 – 35 minutes.  Let cool slightly and serve with Tortilla Chips, Bread or Vegetables.

1 (16 oz.) Bag of Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and squeezed, drained of water

1 (12 oz.) Jar of Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained and chopped (Unmarinated is fine)

1 Large Garlic Clove, minced or pressed

1 Cup of Mozzarella Cheese, grated (Jack Cheese may be substituted)

2/3 Cup of Parmesan Cheese, grated or shaved

3/4 Cup Sour Cream

One dish to freeze for another time is good too.

Note:  The spotlight should also be cast on the following for being amongst the Top Five Most Searched Recipes in 2011:  Houston’s Braised Red Cabbage with Goat Cheese, Chipotle Barbacoa Beef, Amish Friendship Bread and Oven Baked Ribs.  Enjoy — Happy 2012!

Chilled Tomato And Cucumber Gazpacho, Not Mexican Shrimp Cocktail.

December 27th, 2011 1 comment

The posted RECIPE is an Award WINNER and officially named Chilled Tomato and Cucumber Gazpacho.  It’s not a Mexican Shrimp Cocktail silly — Duly advised, but it reminds me of one.  Either way, it may be the best I’ve had.  It’s fresh tasting, flavorful and super easy to make.

Chilled Tomato and Cucumber Gazpacho

3 ripe Tomatoes, cored and cut into large cubes [I seeded them]

1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into large cubes [I didn’t seed it; used an English Cucumber]

1/2 Green, Yellow or Orange Pepper (or tricolor combo), diced [I used half a Green, half an Orange]

1/2 Shallot, or 1 Tablespoon Red Onion, diced [Shallot]

1/2 cup Scallions, chopped

Juice of 1 Lime

1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 T. Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 t. Tabasco [or other hot pepper sauce, like Red Rooster, which I now like better–use 1 T.]

1/2 cup V-8 Juice [buy one small bottle at a liquor store; grocery stores only sell it by the case!]

Lemon Pepper to taste

Seasoned Salt to taste


Combine all Soup ingredients in blender until well blended (ingredients will retain some pulp, which is great).  Pour into chilled bowls and garnish as desired.  Makes 1/2 gallon–6 appetizer servings or 3 main dish servings.  Tastes better if you make it the night before.

Garnish (with one or more)

1/2 lb. chilled, cooked Shrimp [buy the fresh $10 Shrimp tray from Costco; scarf the leftovers with the Cocktail Sauce]

1 chilled, sliced Avocado

1 T. fresh Cilantro, chopped

Follow and vary the RECIPE to your taste — Above [brackets] indicate specifics by Arlene T., 2011 Best Appetizer Winner.  She agreed to share all on Nibbles of Tidbits and we thank her.

I recently made the same for a Holiday Party and everyone loved it well chilled in a cup.

Seasons 52: They Promise Nothing On Menu Is Over 475 Calories.

December 21st, 2011 1 comment

Seasons 52 food sure looks and tastes like it’s over 475 calories, but they promise it’s not.

First, a big thank you goes to our super awesome Server, Julianne and management for the Wine — Though there by default, at one point there was nowhere else I wanted to be.  I walked in feeling down about recent events and left well-fed, optimistic and confident.

Just sayin’ the service and food hit the spot this night, on the patio at Seasons 52 Fresh Grill.

We had Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms, a Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli, Chipotle Shrimp, and Steak and Cremini Mushroom Flatbread — Their menu changes with the weeks and seasons.

Next time I’m saving room and time for the Mini Indulgences — They’re so cute and look tasty.

The Mandarin Orange Cosmopolitan is superb and practically two with a second icy pour.

Outdoor patio view at Seasons 52, with heat lamps and a fireplace in December.

Seasons 52 occupies the space below The Capital Grille at South Coast Plaza.

This day I realized one’s perception is equal to nothing on earth and all continues to be possible for the naive.  There’s a Seasons 52, turn, turn, turn, and a time to every purpose under Heaven — A time to eat, a time to sleep, a time to leap, a time to bleeeeep, a time to get deep, a time to keep, a time to say more than a peep and a time to drive a Jeep. 😉

Cost Plus World Market Contributions To A Christmas Party.

December 19th, 2011 No comments

A formal THANK YOU to Cost Plus World Market for the lovely prizes and party supplies.

All were pleased by the smart kitchen tools, house decorations and gourmet Chocolates.

Thanks also go to my friends who contributed the appetizing FOOD, even the Jack in the Box Tacos cut in half, disguised as an Appetizer — That’s funny Michelle.  What do you call ’em?  Ironically several were happy to eat them, and it was fast, easy and cheap for her.  So be it.

Always look forward to the Chocolate Dipped Oreos from Loretta — Wish I had some now.

Merci, Gracie, Danke Shoen, Mahalo, Arigato, Gracias y mas Cost Plus World Market.

A wave to you for making this 17th Annual Christmas Par-Tay a success.

I tour the world at CPWM.

Feliz Navidad With A Mexican Shrimp Cocktail: The Winner.

December 3rd, 2011 2 comments

Voted the Best Appetizer at our Christmas Par-Tay was this Mexican Shrimp Cocktail.  Recipe coming soon to this blog you see now — We be kickin’ it at this moment on a sunny Saturday.

Congrats Arlene (second from right) and thanks to Cost Plus for making it extra special.

Grateful For Turkey Skin, The First To Go On Thanksgiving.

November 23rd, 2011 No comments

Turkey Skin, it’s not the healthiest of Thanksgiving Day appetizers, but oh-so-good when extra crispy, with a little Salt — It’s become a family tradition to graze a comely Turkey homely.  Happy Thanksgiving to all.  Count your blessings today and every day.  We sure do.

McCormick & Schmick’s Supplemental Happy Hour Report: Go Monday.

October 20th, 2011 No comments

One of the Best Happy Hours in town is at McCormick & Schmick’s Pilsner Room in Irvine.  We’ve now tried almost everything on McCormick’s Happy Hour Menu and the $2.95 full size Cheeseburger and French Fries will always be a must.  It’s filling, cheap and tasty. 

We highlight it and supplement our previous post with Ceviche.  It’s good too, though not as delicious as Mary Sue Milliken’s Ceviche had a couple days prior, but enjoyable in its edible bowl for $4.95.  Their Happy Hour is generally between 4 – 7 PM.  This day we practically killed ourselves trying to make the 7PM cut-off, then learned that HH is all night during Monday Night Football.  Cool, we didn’t need to order everything at 6:55PM.  It seems that Monday is a good day for some things.

The Pilsner Room: A Long Time Great Place For Happy Hour.

September 18th, 2011 No comments

McCormick & Schmick’s Pilsner Room still serves above average Happy Hour Food — They’ve offered an ever changing menu of high quality appetizers at great prices for many years.

This day we had the King Crab Legs with a Tomato Chili Gastrique.

Current MENU and prices above.

1/2 lb. Cheeseburger with French Fries – A long time staple there that’s always good.

Risotto Balls — Enlarge menu for more description on all.

Carrot Chipotle Wings.

Dynamite Mussels, a favorite — Photo doesn’t do ’em justice.

Legume Empanadas.

Marinated Olives — Since prices are so good you can’t pack anything to go, so eat up.

California Roll.


Its interior is hipper looking these days, mixed in with appreciated old school.

View of Pilsner Room from above.

There’s an outdoor patio too. 

Entrance to McCormick & Schmick’s.

A peek inside M & S’s.

Flight of Beer — We took a couple flights.

Can’t we skip this part? 😉

Peace out — Thanks for the GC Sarnoff from my other life.

What Happens When You Eat Grilled Asparagus?

September 11th, 2011 No comments

What happens when you eat Grilled Asparagus?  The same thing that happens when you eat any Asparagus.  The answer is here.  Grilled Asparagus is so simple yet dang good!  The pictured were tossed with Italian Dressing and grilled about 5 minutes — Toss and turn ’em until nicely charred, then plate and eat.  Or how about Bacon Wrapped Asparagus?

The Original Fish Company: Fine Dining And Fresh Fish Market.

September 7th, 2011 No comments

Happy 30th The Original Fish Company — It’s been one of my favorite restaurants for the majority of the thirty, though it’s been too many years since I’ve dined there.  Once upon a time I lived in Los Alamitos and went there all the time.  Now it’s just an occasional luxury and it was awesome to get back.  We shared an amazing meal of classic appetizers starting with the Crab Trio with chilled Dungeness, Jumbo Lump and King Crab.  I want all of the same.

Steamers with 1/2 Clams and 1/2 Mussels — The “Original” Broth is the best.

Finally satisfied a craving for Oysters Rockefeller, not often seen on menus.

The Smoked King Salmon was moist and flavorful — I used to get the Smoked Albacore a lot.

And must get their Award Winning Clam Chowder every visit.

We built a Tower of Shell — The Fish Company is still remarkable.  For fun we used the Clam Shells as mini cups to drink the Steamer Broth.  Cheers!  This night we had the nicest Server, Curtis (pictured below).  Ask for him.  I’m already standing by to go back.  Got that Jack?

Newport Landing: Knew I Should’ve Had The Oysters Rockefeller.

August 28th, 2011 No comments

This day it was all about the view and Bloody Marys at Newport Landing.

We were underwhelmed by our food choices — The Sliders, Fish Tacos and Crab Cakes were just okay.  Can’t say we’d get any of them again, but will go back for the view, drinks and Oysters Rockefeller, because I like them and don’t see ’em on a menu often.

The best spot for two at Newport Landing Restaurant is the upstairs patio.

Enlarge MENU for closer examination.

Nearby Seals claim a boat.

Across the street from Newport Landing on the Balboa Peninsula is the Pacific Ocean.

And fishing off the Balboa Pier for free food.

Hasta manana.

Seven Days Of Zimzala Happy Hour With A View (And Late Night Too).

June 22nd, 2011 1 comment

Zimzala Restaurant & Bar located in the Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach serves Happy Hour seven days a week.  Between 3 – 7 pm daily and 10 – 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, select Appetizers and Drinks are offered at a discount, and not many HH spots have this ocean view.  It’s always a good time there with high quality food and a pleasurable landscape.

The pictured Cheeseburger Sliders are some of the best we’ve had.

The Zimzala Hummus comes with a few Fried Chick Peas (also on the HH menu), thus you may not need to order them separately, unless you want a lot of them.  We were satisfied having those that came with the Hummus (shown above).

Also available during Happy Hour at a price cut is the Sweet Potato Tater Tots with Lime Salt.

Parmesan Herb Fries with Garlic Aioli.

Plus everything listed on the Happy Hour Menu (above), along with other daily specials.

Will The Real Oak Grilled Artichoke Please Step Forward.

June 4th, 2011 No comments

The previously reported about Oak Grilled Artichoke at Walt’s Wharf is pictured here.  It’s the real deal.  We love it and its Lea & Perrins Sauce sidekick, but do think my recent variation tasted better.  How did that happen?  Can’t touch their Artichoke though — It’s a tasty plate.

06/06/11 Update:  I now know why my Lea & Perrins Sauce tasted better than Walt’s recent Sauce — They changed the recipe.  The ingredients are the same, but the measurements are different for some reason.  I prefer the original recipe, linked above.

Artichokes With Walt’s Wharf Lea & Perrins Sauce At Home.

June 2nd, 2011 2 comments

Have you ever tried an Oak Grilled Artichoke at Walt’s Wharf in Seal Beach?  They serve one of the best Artichokes around.  The flavor of the grill combined with Walt’s Wharf Lea & Perrins Sauce is superb.  Since I don’t live as close as I used to, I make it at home.

Ingredients for Walt’s Wharf Lea & Perrins Sauce — Mayonnaise, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, Lemon, Sesame Oil, Olive Oil, Seasoning Salt and Honey.  Recipe is below.

Walt’s Wharf Restaurant first steams their Artichokes and then grills them over Oak Wood for extra flavor.  For ease, most of the time I just steam them, but do grill ’em on occasion too. 

I’ve had the recipe for about 20 years, as you can tell by its stained condition.

The Walt’s Wharf Lea & Perrins Sauce recipe is kept in one of four recipe binders created before Nibbles of Tidbits and a variation is linked here.  And semi-related, just because it’s in the same binder, is a photo from a recipe contest I won several years ago.  Lucky me.

On the subject of Artichokes, Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que serves an amazing one too.

Note:  A link will be provided to Walt’s Wharf Restaurant when it’s operable again — They say it was recently hacked and are working on it now.  Check back.

06/03/11 Update:  The Walt’s Wharf website is still bogus, but a few of us are heading there (Walt’s and Seal Beach) this Saturday for the real deal and more.  We’ll see what’s goin’ down and update again.

Bite These Crab Claw Appetizers Gently Cuz They’ll Bite You Back.

May 4th, 2011 No comments

At some point the real Crab Claw Shell begins hidden under the breaded, pressed fake and real Crab combination.  Be careful when nearing the end of the Claw, as Crab Shells are hard.  Don’t get too happy — And there really isn’t need, since they’re not that remarkable, other than the fact they are different.  Although flawed, I appreciate the creativity of ’em and other unique offerings at Fresh & Easy, newly opened within walking distance.  Bite at your own risk.

Lazing On A Sunny Afternoon: On The Patio At The Gulfstream.

May 1st, 2011 No comments

We’re here ’cause I love to live so pleasantly, live this life of luxury, lazing on a Sunny Afternoon‘ at the Gulfstream in Newport Beach, corner of PCH and MacArthur/Avocado.

The Gulfstream in the Corona Del Mar Plaza has a huge outdoor patio — On one side you seat yourself for Starters, Desserts and/or Drinks only, and the other side serves the full menu at seated tables.  This sunny day we thoroughly enjoyed the Grilled Artichokes with Remoulade.

And the Dip Trio with Guacamole, Hummus and Smoked Trout Dip.

All with a Hot Fudge Sundae at the end is a great time.

It’s comfortable, casual and upscale.

At the Gulfstream in the springtime…

Pascal Patchwork At Happy Hour: It’s All That & A Bag Of Thyme Fries.

April 27th, 2011 No comments

Finally reported about Brasserie Pascal as Orange County Food Examiner, as I said I would.  It’s a worthy restaurant indeed, but still contemplating continued involvement with, and value of, the Examiner gig.  It seems that most find us here or through I Need Text, not E.  And then there’s the pop-up and photo size issues.  No bueno E!  Is it appropriate to be jeering ’em here?  Well, it is my party.  Maybe I’ll get kicked off the big paper. 😉