Archive for the ‘Food Markets (Grocery)’ Category

Not Just A Restaurant In Newport Beach: It’s “A Restaurant” In NB.

May 30th, 2010 1 comment

Have you been to A Restaurant in Newport Beach?  It occupies The Arches original location.  We’re sorry to report that we don’t care for the name “A Restaurant” at all, but happily the menu, atmosphere and Happy Hour prices make up for it.  The bar lighting is irresistible too, especially during Happy Hour which starts earlier than most in town (3:00 – 7:00pm).  During that time ALL sophisticated appetizers and drinks are half off.  If trying to save, it’s the best time to treat yourself to A Restaurant food, since it’s a little on the pricey side.

Posted from top to bottom — We tried the Steak Tartar, which is rarely seen on menus these days.  We were excited by its offering, given that it’s been years since we had it.  And we shared the Chicken Liver Terrine.  We liked the creamy Pate, but unfortunately didn’t care for the Tartar, which was chopped too chunky and had too much Worcestershire mixed in.

We loved the Burger with Caramelized Onions, Blue Cheese, Bacon and Arugula that comes with French Fries, and the Flatbread with 3 Cheeses and Bacon is quite rich, but good tasting too.  It’s best to share these appetizers amongst as many as possible.

A Restaurant has A Market next door, which sells freshly baked goods, Wines, Cheeses, Sandwiches, Salads, pre-packaged gourmet foods and merchandise and more.  We couldn’t stop staring at the amazing Cinnamon Rolls.  Both A+ locations are worth frequenting.  Our recommendation is A Market for breakfast and A Restaurant for Happy Hour.

Direct to A Restaurant — They have one of the cutest websites we’ve seen.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Is Coming To Costa Mesa.

May 24th, 2010 No comments

It appears that Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market will soon be coming to Costa Mesa.  That’s good news, since it’ll be within walking distance from Nibbles of Tidbits.  It looks as if they’ll occupy the former DSW location off Newport/Harbor, across the street from Triangle Square.  We don’t yet have the ETA, but will report more later.

Nibbles Of Tidbits Loves Cost Plus World Market.

May 17th, 2010 No comments

Cost Plus is so worldly.  It’s been one of my favorite stores for over 20 years.  I recently took a trip to England, Australia, Thailand, India, Italy, Japan, Sweden, China and a few other stops along the way at Cost Plus World Market.  Did you know that it’s a food lover’s paradise?  It truly is!  Many travel far and wide for the Wine deals at Cost Plus, which are impressive alone, but you’ve got to check out the large food section.  It offers hundreds of sought after treats from all around the world.  If you’re looking for something in particular and haven’t found it elsewhere, give Cost Plus a call.  If they don’t have it and there’s a demand, they may consider offering it in the future — They strive to satisfy their customer’s needs.

Since there is so much FOOD to try and report about at Cost Plus, Nibbles of Tidbits will be posting a series of articles highlighting many of them.  We’ll be calling it our Cost Plus World Series.  For starters, we are planning a Chip Taste-Off, whereas we’ll be sampling several of the numerous bags of Chips available.  After that, we’ll be going on a Gourmet Picnic bringing only Cost Plus goodies (it can easily be done), and then we’ll be touring several regions for dinner, etc.  The possibilities are literally endless.

Note:  The first honorable mention goes to Nyakers Gingersnap Cookies from Sweden (above).  They’re Sweden’s Best Cookie and Cost Plus built a facility to have them made especially for you.  They are phenomenally crispy, thin and tasty.  We’re hooked.  Be sure to follow our Cost Plus World Series to learn a lot more.

Cheese & Wine Party 33 1/3: The Final Verdict.

May 6th, 2010 No comments

The post title is inspired by The Naked Gun, since we love Leslie Nielsen, and by our recent numerous Cheese & Wine parties.  Here we finally summarize our favorites and the consensus is unanimous.  For our slew of parties, we purchased (6) different Cheeses from Trader Joe’s.  They have an excellent selection.  Before the first party, we tested the Cheese to spare guests from potential scary flavors, which is highly recommended and turned out to be necessary, since we quickly ruled out the TJ Morbier (France).  It tasted awful, thus we replaced it with another.  It’s a better party when all tastes good.

And the winners are… (1) Toscano Cheese With Black Pepper (Italy), (2) Blue Catello (France), (3) Italian Truffle Cheese (Italy), (4) Gouda Cheese With Olive Oil (USA), (5) Kiwi Swiss Cheese (New Zealand), and (6) Smoked Cheese (Holland).  All are Cow’s Milk Cheeses.  The first three listed are definitely worth buying again — Everyone particularly loved the Toscano Cheese With Black Pepper (back row right).  And the Italian Truffle Cheese deserves a special mention too, as it includes actual Truffle pieces throughout (front row left).

Our final Cheese & Wine Par-tay included a few Mezzetta products that went well with the Cheese and other accompaniments.  We dipped Olive Bread in the Pesto Sauce and the Roasted Red Peppers and Pepperoncinis were a compliment to all.  Thanks Mezzetta — We’ve enjoyed many of your fine products over the years and the arrival of the (3) above surely came at the right time.  We liked the Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio had with all, but have no elaboration on ’em.  They sufficed.

Note: What makes a Party a Par-tay is your own personal Wine opener.  Thanks T.

Beware Of (Hidden) Dwindling Packages.

April 24th, 2010 2 comments

Not sure if you can tell from this photo, but a big chunk is taken out of the bottom of this package.  It inverts about an inch and a half.  We already know that we’re paying more for less these days — But to me, this type of shrinking package is sneaky.  I don’t respect it.  These Licorice Pastels are from BevMo.  And they’re not that great tasting either, since they’re soft not crunchy.

Learn Where To Find All The Farmers’ Markets In Orange County.

April 7th, 2010 No comments

Fava Beans for sale at the Corona Del Mar Farmers' Market

As Orange County Food Examiner, I just posted a collection of links to most (if not all) the Farmers’ Markets happening in Orange County.  It’s a terrific resource — You can learn where they all are here.

Photos From The Farmers’ Market In Corona Del Mar.

March 28th, 2010 No comments

Farmer's Market in Corona Del Mar

We’ll soon be posting about Orange County Farmers’ Markets on  This weekend we started with a visit to the Corona Del Mar Farmers’ Market.  Our visit was also inspired by the new Cookbook we’re trying, Southern Living’s Farmers Market Cookbook.

Farmer's Market Flowers

Right now the Corona Del Mar Certified Farmers’ Market has a lot of beautiful flowers — You can surely tell it’s Spring.  It’s one of the smaller Farmers’ Markets in Orange County, but offers plenty of variety.  We post a sampling here and will later publish a slide show on Examiner.

Farmer's Market Squash

Farmer's Market Flowers


More Farmer's Market Flowers

Fava BeansFarmer's Market HoneyAsparagusClock Tower Near Farmer's Market

The Corona Del Mar Farmers’ Market is at PCH and Marguerite, near the pictured clock tower.

Farmers Market Cookbook: Harvesting A Fresh Look At Local Flavor.

March 24th, 2010 No comments

Farmer's Market Cookbook

We’re already liking this Cookbook and haven’t made a recipe yet.  We’ll be heading to one of our local Framers’ Markets soon — It’s in Corona Del Mar at PCH/Marguerite and will be reported about on

Lime Ice Cubes

We look forward to sampling several recipes from this Southern Living Cookbook and will report about all here.  We’ve got to see what looks best at the local Farmers’ Market and take it from there.  Until then, we think these Lime Ice Cubes (above) are worth mentioning.  They’re so simple to make and memorable at a party, brunch, BBQ or just for fun.  Kids like ’em too.

* Nibbles of Tidbits is happy to be trying this Cookbook — Check back for future reports.

It’s Rhubarb Soda. Would You Try It?

February 17th, 2010 No comments

Rhubarb Dry SodaI recently came across this Rhubarb Dry Soda at Bristol Farms — And first must mention that the Bristol Farms in Corona Del Mar Plaza is an amazing store.  It’s a bit cramped when crowded, but I usually want to buy almost everything I pass by.  This visit the Rhubarb Soda caught my eye.  Have you ever seen it before?  I hadn’t and rarely eat Rhubarb, but had to try it out of curiosity.  And the verdict is… Next flavor please.  I like the carbonation and flavor options of the Dry Soda Co. Sodas, but this flavor not so much.  It’s described as refreshingly tart and complex, which is true, but it also tastes a bit like Grass and Dried Cherries.  The initial taste isn’t good, but the after taste isn’t bad, if that makes sense.  We’d like to try their Kumquat, Lavender, Vanilla Bean, and maybe Cucumber flavors next time.  They also make a Juniper Berry and Lemongrass Soda.  Overall, we’re excited to see such unique flavors.  Bravo to the fun of that!

The Crab Cooker’s Smoked Albacore Enjoyed On Newport’s Beach.

January 11th, 2010 2 comments

The Crab Cooker

The Crab Cooker is an oldie, but goodie in Newport Beach.  It’s been open since 1951 and still draws a crowd each day.  The prices are relatively reasonable for a beach area restaurant and the food is consistently fresh.  Most of my recent trips have been to its Fish Market.  Since the restaurant is within walking distance to the beach, we often get the Smoked Albacore to go.  With a little Cocktail Sauce and Tartar Sauce for dipping, you’re set for a beach picnic if you can successfully avoid the pesty seagulls.

Smoked Fish at The Crab Cooker

The Crab Cooker’s Smoked Salmon and King Crab Legs (pictured above) and their Manhattan Clam Chowder, Scallops on a Skewer and Romano Cheese Potatoes are also favorites of ours.  People travel miles to have the Romano Potatoes, but if you’re looking for New England Clam Chowder you won’t find it here, as they only serve Manhattan, which is different because most seafood restaurants only offer New England.

Surfing in January

On this beautiful day in January, we enjoyed our Smoked Albacore on the beach while watching the brave surfers and boogie boarders — The water is still way too cold for me, even with a wetsuit, but it’s entertaining (and warmer) to watch.

Boogie Boarding in January

Can you tell what’s in the photo below?  It’s our magnified sliced Smoked Albacore with Tartar Sauce and Lemon to go.

Magnified Smoked Albacore, Tartar and Lemon

FYI:  There’s a second Crab Cooker in Tustin, California.  For location information, the menu and more restaurant history, click here.  Eat lots of fish!

Traffic Lights Soon Needed Inside Grocery Stores.

December 4th, 2009 2 comments

Grocery 006

Who has the right of way when trying to navigate around the excess displays in a grocery store?  It’s getting a little ridiculous.  Why does every aisle have to be loaded such that only one cart can pass at a time?  It causes too much congestion and makes me feel like I’m on an obstacle course.  I’m not going to buy an item because I have to trip over it — Stop the madness.  It doesn’t make for a pleasant shopping experience.

Grocery 005

What To Do With White Currants? I Don’t Know.

August 27th, 2009 No comments

I bought these fresh White Currants for less than a dollar at Grower’s Direct.  The price was good, like most of the produce there, and I’d never tried them before.  You’ll find great prices on fruit and vegetables at Grower’s Direct, if you can put up with the narrow aisles, people traffic and (sometimes) parking issues.  I went there for the makings of a Vegetable Platter and tacked on these White Currants for a try.


I quickly learned that White Currants aren’t too edible alone — They’re tart and have a lot of crunchy seeds inside.  So much for simply enjoying a new tasty Berry, HA.  I was hoping to eat ’em like a Blueberry, Raspberry, etc.  The next thought was to make something out of them.  What?  The obvious was Jam/Jelly, which I don’t use.  And I couldn’t see them enhancing the flavor of anything that’s quick and simple to make.

Since I didn’t want to waste all of them, I tossed some in a small batch of Rice Pudding, which isn’t as simple as it sounds.  I had the prepared (leftover) Rice, but it’s necessary to pick off both ends of the White Currants before adding to a recipe.  And by the time you pick off the bottom fur-ish part, you’re left with mostly seeds and skin, HA.  It’s real worth it, not. 

Overall, they weren’t bad in the Rice Pudding, nor good either.  I learned a lot, yet still don’t know the best thing to do with White Currants.  That’s okay, because it’s always fun to try new things — Some are fabulous finds and others just an educational story.  Next.

Food Network’s Down Home With The Neelys, Pat’s Smoked Sausage & Pepper Sandwich.

August 18th, 2009 1 comment


Patrick and Gina of TV Food Network’s Show Down Home with the Neeleys are so cute — They have a lot of fun together centered around food.  Their happy interaction and enjoyment made me want to make Pat’s Sausage and Pepper Sandwich, and I’m generally not a fan of Sausage Sandwiches.  Another appeal is the Beer in the Sauce.  And since I didn’t have Neely’s BBQ Sauce (in the recipe), I used Lucille’s BBQ Sauce. 



I went to Henry’s Farmers Market for the Sausage — They didn’t have a Smoked Sausage, but the Butcher highly recommended the Pork Sausage  over the Turkey, when asked the difference between the two Sweet Hot Italians.  As a substitution, I opted for the Pork and was glad it was $1 less a pound.  And I ended up with Potato Rolls that were toasted inside. 


Confession:  It wasn’t until after the preparation of this recipe did I realize that I misunderstood and used the wrong type of Sausage.  The key word is “smoked” and I used fresh Sausage.  A Kielbasa in a vacuum pack may have been better, especially since casings gross me out.  Good thing I cooked the Sausage well done.  And I cooked all ingredients longer (except the Garlic) than noted on the above linked recipe.  Onions are always best caramelized and the Peppers were added after the Onions cooked a bit.

Overall, it’s a great recipe — The Sauce turns out pretty tasty.  I now wanna make it with a Kielbasa, and might not eat it on a Sandwich.  Luckily all who tried this preparation liked it.

Where to buy Neely’s BBQ Sauce:

Pascal Epicerie & Wine Shop In Newport Beach.

July 9th, 2009 No comments


I’ve only just begun to explore the goods offered by Pascal Epicerie and Wine Shop and I’m already hooked on the Salads.  I’ve stopped in 3 of the last 4 days to choose from the Daily Pasta and Vegetable Salads offered by the pound.


So far we can’t get enough of the Bean Salad(s) and Roasted Vegetables — The Green Beans aren’t pictured, but they’re my favorite so far.  Pictured with the aforementioned is the Ratatouille and Beet Salad.  We look forward to trying ALL their Pasta and Vegetable Salads, to be posted here soon.  Pascal Epicerie and Wine Shop is next door to Tradition by Pascal, one of the best restaurants in Newport Beach.

Bristol Farm’s Strawberry Cupcake Up Close.

January 19th, 2009 3 comments

I read that Bristol Farm’s Cupcakes had been voted a local favorite by some — I don’t recall by whom, but I finally tried one.  I would usually chose a Raspberry over a Strawberry, but in this case the Strawberry was prettier.  The Raspberry Lemon Cupcake looked like it had a mound of Play Dough and Mozzarella on top – HA.


The Strawberry Cupcake was okay — Not fabulous.  I do love Bristol Farms.  They offer many great things, but the jury is still out on the Cupcakes in comparison to others I’ve recently tried.  Sprinkles Cupcakes is in the same parking lot at Corona Del Mar Plaza, and as of today I like theirs better.  It’s all good.

Related Links:

Newport to 17th Street, Costa Mesa Eateries.

January 16th, 2009 No comments

Our walk on this warm afternoon in January started at Borders Books on Newport Boulevard with a Latte and Thumbprint Raspberry Scone — Then it was on to 17th Street “Promenade” and back.  We’ll show a few places to eat along the way.

From left to right, top to bottom, here’s a few edible options along the way — Starting with Border’s Books Pastry Case, The Yard House, BC Broiler Chicken, Dippity Donut, El Matador, Roman Cucina, Kura Sushi Revolving Sushi Bar, Mother’s Market & Kitchen, Panera Bread, Garduro’s Ristorante Italiano, Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Bar, and Pierce Street Annex Music-Dancing-Grill.

Then trekking on with an Iced Raspberry Chai from Starbucks — YUM, btw.  It’s got a good punch of flavor.  I had a coupon to try one for free, and of course we passed a couple Starbucks along the way. 

We’ll try a beverage from Buon Giorno Coffee next time.  It was then on to Ruby’s Diner, Haute Cakes Caffe, Susie Cakes, and Promelis Westcliff Market, a must stop for local grocery shoppers. 

And La Cave, a very cool dark underground restaurant, The Beach Pit BBQ and Marie Calendar’s.  As noted, these are only a few.  There’s a lot more eateries in between that’ll be featured in future posts.

UPDATE 01/07/10:  Borders Books on Newport Boulevard will be closing this month.  Mother’s Market & Kitchen will be opening up there soon.

Ikea’s Swedish Meatballs For Lunch.

January 14th, 2009 1 comment

If you work or live near an Ikea Store, you should consider it a worthy place for lunch.  The prices are reasonable, the food is good and the cafeteria environment is a fun escape.  Why not skip the fast food joint and opt for the Ikea Restaurant & Cafe.  It’s fast and roughly the same cost.  I always get the Swedish Meatballs with extra Gravy and Lingonberry Preserves.  I love the combination.  I also buy the frozen (Meatballs), powdered (Gravy) and jarred (Preserves) from their Food Market and make all at home.  It’s an enjoyable quick meal.

Related Links: