Archive for the ‘French Food’ Category

Staub Enameled Cast Iron: The Best Chicken In The Best Pot.

March 21st, 2014 No comments

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We received this Staub Cast Iron Cookware as a gift for our wedding.

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It’s from one of the attorneys I work for as a paralegal — His family swears by it.

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I’ve given away Cast Iron Pots in the past — I generally thought them to be unattractive, to rust easy, and be too heavy to use.  Well… This one is NOT unattractive.  In fact it’s so gorgeous I can’t stop staring at it.  I want to keep it nice forever.  It’s still pretty heavy, but I greatly appreciate its enameled surface and think it would be less apt to rust.  Thank you!

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The first thing I cooked (several times already) is a Whole Chicken.

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This one is seasoned with Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder and Paprika — Each has been different.

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And was simply placed a-top roughly chopped Onions and Carrots.

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I include Fresh Herbs if I have them.  Dill and Thyme (my favorite) were added to this Chicken.  I add most in its cavity and some to the Carrots and Onions, since I later puree all with a little Chicken Juice and Chicken Stock to make a Sauce to serve with it — A quick alternative to Gravy.  Cook Chicken covered in the oven at 325° for approximately 3 Hours.


Put it in the oven and forget about it until the timer goes off.  It’s a great meal and our house smells good too.  I’ll experiment with a different pot to assess the difference in Chickens using the same cooking method and report back soon, if I can give up this pot for a bit.  Staub is made in France and this one has a self-basting system, you can read more about here.

Fig & Olive Restaurant Opens At Fashion Island In Newport Beach.

January 5th, 2014 No comments

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At the Fig & Olive Restaurant in Newport Beach — I’ve finally arrived.

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I have wanted to eat there for some time and now don’t need to travel far.

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It’s in Newport Beach at Fashion Island — I believe it occupies Coco’s former location.

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Nibbles of Tidbits was fortunately invited to its Grand Opening Party.

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All was grander than expected — Its size, style, crowd and continuous appetizers.

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As shown throughout, we tried a fair sampling of many.

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Indoor/outdoor patio with fireplace (above) before it filled with people.

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I don’t recall all we ate, but pictured above is the Zucchini Carpaccio — See MENU.

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The hallway leading to the restrooms is filled with fresh Herbs, candles, vases and books.

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The Grand Opening Party was complete with models on platforms throughout.

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We were well positioned by the kitchen to receive the first right of refusal on appetizers.

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None were refused, all were well liked and some loved.

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The Truffle Mushroom Croquette (above) was a favorite of the evening.

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Crostinis are popular at the Fig & Olive Restaurant.

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I especially liked the Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Chive Crostini.

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The large space got crowded, which made it harder to jockey for a good food position.

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We ultimately tried all pictured herein — For their complete MENU, see here.

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We’d like to go back for more Crostinis & Crudo to enjoy at our leisure

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Lunch starts in Newport Beach on January 6th and Brunch on January 11th, 2014.

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The Fig & Olive Restaurant is in several spots in New York, in Los Angeles and now nearby.

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Nice cars adorned the entry leading to a red carpet — I was underdressed, but treated well.

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Fig & Olive Ingredients and Design — It’s about passion for the best Olive Oils, flavors and cuisine from the Riviera and Coastal Regions of the South of France, Italy & Spain and their elegant, warm design with limestone stucco walls, terra-cotta ceiling, green Rosemary and Olive trees exude the essence of the Mediterranean (they say).  I like it!

Good Afternoon Little Saigon: Bánh Mì’s, Macarons & Strong Coffee.

November 19th, 2012 No comments

Where can I find the BEST Bánh Mì Sandwich?  Locally all answers lead to Little Saigon.

We collected suggestions, then set out to eat at a few of them in one day.

We started at the Coffee Factory with extra strong Coffees and a Bánh Mì (Thit Nuon).

It’s a BBQ’d Pork Bánh Mì Sandwich that we’d go back for, and the Coffee too.

We were also referred to Paris Patisserie & Boulangerie aka Au Coeur De Paris for Macarons.

It’s formerly known as Le Versailles, I think.

We got a box filled with one of each Macaron flavor to go.

At Tip Top Sandwiches (below) a Chicken Bánh Mì Sandwich on a Croissant was recommended.

There are a couple Tip Top Sandwiches locations off Brookhurst around Little Saigon.

Good, but we liked the Bánh Mì at the Coffee Factory better, though vow to try more.

Also went to Brodard Restaurant for Nem Nuong Cuon and more Macarons (below).

Nem Nuong Cuon are popular Pork Spring Rolls that are wrapped in Rice Paper.

Though a favorite of many, I don’t particularly like Rice Paper over a fried Spring Roll.

And we got another box of Macarons from Brodard to try and compare.

I loved the colors and Macaron flavors at Brodard.

Gorgeous — Never thought to describe a Cookie as gorgeous, but couldn’t stop staring.

We had no complaints about the Macarons — Both boxes were above average.

Without recommendations, it seems impossible for an outsider to know where to go and what to eat in and around Little Saigon.  The above was a good start, but we’re not done searching for the best Bánh Mì and already have other suggestions on a list.  Do you have a favorite?

Another Hamburger At Fashion Island: Café Beau Soleil And Crêperie.

October 9th, 2012 No comments

We’re forever in search of the “this is the best one yet” Hamburger and heard good things about the Burgers at Café Beau Soleil and Crêperie at Fashion Island — So we went.

Its outdoor patio is across from Urban Outfitters.

Café Beau Soleil And Crêperie is so French — Even our waiter was French and looked familiar.  It couldn’t be that I remembered him from France, since it’s been more than ten years since I’ve been there.  No, I later remembered that he waited on me at Pescadou Bistro one time, another French restaurant in Newport Beach where you’ll find him working at night.

Toast with a Glass of Wine, but not with the one circled below — It’s 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Grigio, which probably doesn’t sound all that great in the first place, but since I like Chardonnay and my Mom (and Hamburger sharing partner) likes Pinot Grigio, we gave it a try.

And it might be the worst Wine I’d ever had — Not sure what’s up with it, but be warned.

Other than that, all was pleasant at the French Café on a beautiful day.

And we liked the Hamburger — It ranks high on our informal best Hamburger list.

We had the Le Burger with Caramelized Onions and Gruyere Cheese on a Brioche Bun and would get it again, with sure to be a better French Wine.  Cheers to many other things, including the bitchen bracelet my Mom bought at Uno de 50 shortly before our relaxing lunch.

Where should we go next sweet Mom?  Cheers to you!

There Is A Way To Get Back Homeward: Golden Bread Fills Your Eyes.

June 20th, 2012 No comments

French smiles await you when you rise — Pandor Artisan Boulangerie and Café is open.

Its offerings are French to the Bread bone — Breakfast, Savories, Salads, Paninis and more.

And seemingly endless exquisite Desserts.

Once there was a way to get back home — Its owners want to bring France to the OC.

Food Media relished the taste of Pandor’s long journey to Newport Beach.

It’s where/when I learned how special the food and all that’s behind it actually is.

Our photos don’t do it justice — The Sandwiches and Salads are filled with sophisticated flavor.

I loved the Habano Sandwich, Grilled Vegetable Panini and Baby Spinach Turkey Salad.

Pandor means Golden Bread and each is made with loving French care.

Our hope is to try everything pictured here and more.  It’s an exceptional place.

I left the taste-transport feeling French with Baguettes in hand. 

Then we had our own private Idaho, a Bread Sampling Party.

Life is beautiful — Bonne Chance Amis.

Pandor Artisan Boulangerie & Café De Provence Opening Soon.

June 13th, 2012 No comments

A true French experience will be waiting for you at Pandor Artisan Boulangerie & Café.

It’s about to open at Westcliff Plaza in Newport Beach and we got a spectacular preview.

And this is your foretaste in photos — More will soon follow with an expanded report.

Merci to Pandor Artisan Boulangerie & Café for now.

Opening June 2012 and possibly this week — It’s top to bottom French deliciousness.

French Macarons By Nicole Lee Fine Chocolates: On Our ‘To Make List’.

May 31st, 2012 No comments

Until I attempt the process of making French Macarons, I enjoy testing the local best.

I haven’t found a French Macaron (around here) that I must have again, thus ordered a dozen from Nicole Lee Fine Chocolates, a company I learned about at the Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon I helped judge last year — So far they are the best I’ve had.  Each unique taste combination is pleasantly identifiable within its respective, delicate, creamy, flavorful Cookie.  The preliminary favorites are Blackberry, Lychee Rose, Passion Fruit and Raspberry.

Next time we’ll try the Vanilla Olive Oil, Rum Raisin and Genmai Green Tea flavors, but can’t be ordering them too often, as they’re not cheap, especially combined with shipping.  To save money and experiment, French Macarons are on the ‘To Make List’ and when it happens I’ll start here, where there’s a collection of helpful tips and information about them.

Pescadou Bistro: It’s Where To Get Foie Gras While You Still Can.

February 18th, 2012 No comments

Pescadou Bistro gladly discovered during Newport Beach Restaurant Week.

Must have passed it a hundred times on Newport Boulevard and finally dined in.  It was a Wednesday when there is no corkage fee.  We didn’t know it until we saw patron after patron walk in with a bottle of Wine.  Next time I’m bringin’ a bottle too (most did), and won’t feel stupid — Always thought it awkward, but it’s smart when no corkage.  Who’s stupid now?

Enlightened is the word — We ordered from the restaurant week and regular menu, as many French specialties sounded good, and previously reported about Pescadou Bistro’s Paté.

Don’t have exact names of the pictured here, but confidently state ALL was a pleasure.

A toast with Wine on the tab, to the Paté, Salad with Wild Boar Salami and Gold Potato, Cream of Cauliflower Soup, Grilled Lamb Chops and “Gigot” Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb.  Santé!

And to one of the best desserts I’ve ever had — It doesn’t look all that, especially in the photo below, but DANG, it was taste-TEE and unfortunately not on their regular menu.  It should be.

Described as an Ice Cream Parfait with Candied Fruit and Red Raspberry Sauce, it was extraordinaire.  I hope to have IT again.  And Foie Grasbefore the end of the year (preferably on a Wednesday) — It’s at Pescadou Bistro, until it’s banned from being sold in California next year.  I’m not keen on the politics of it and recommend the Bistro become a speakeasy for it.  There’s a lot more to say and write about it, but on a different blog.

Back to Pescadou — Stop in for dinner (only) ahead of passing it by.  It’s romantic too.

2012 Food Trends By The Official James Beard Foundation Blog.

December 8th, 2011 No comments

I’m most excited about the Canelés, the so-called New Cupcake (left), a favorite in Bordeaux and the Turkish Lokma (right) that would be discovered on a Doughnut World Tour. You should be seeing more of both in 2012 according to The Official James Beard Foundation Blog. Other Food Trends I’m not so thrilled about, especially Diminishing Portion Sizes — I’d prefer to see diminishing prices.  All 2012 Food Trends are published on Delights & Prejudices.

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. 😉

Perfecto Racko Of Lamb: This Recipe Goes In The Public Vault.

April 21st, 2011 No comments

Before cooking this Rack of Lambo, I watched a couple short videos and read a few blogs.  Since Lamb isn’t cheap, I wanted to cook it right.  Although I didn’t trim ’em that skillfully, they could not have tasted better.  I’m now saving this recipe for a special occasion. 

A perfect Rack of Lamb step-by-step (loosely) in photos — S & P and sear the meat for a minute on each side.  Next time I’ll get the pan hotter.  Remove Rack from pan and set aside.  Prepare an Herb Bread Crumb mixture to crust the Lamb.  Preheat oven 375°.

The ingredients… Dijon Mustard, Bread Crumbs, fresh Garlic, Thyme and Rosemary and Olive Oil.  I just so happened to have Homemade Bread Crumbs on hand (as presented), in a makeshift package comically fashioned for a competition a few months ago.

Combine the Bread Crumbs with chopped Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, S & P and a little Olive Oil.


Paint a layer of Dijon Mustard on the seared Rack of Lamb.

Then press on the Herb Bread Crumb Crust.

It’s then ready to be baked in the oven for 20 minutes at 375° — It sounded a bit long and high to me, but worked perfectly, if you prefer Lamb medium rare, as pictured.

Into the oven.

Out of the oven.

Cut Rack into Chops, then onto the plate, after resting 5 – 10 minutes.

This Rack of Lamb was made in attempt to finally have a satisfying amount of Lamb Chops in one sitting.  It’s never happened before, since they’re usually shared as an appetizer and dinner plates generally max out at 5 – 6.  I thought this would be enough to satify the challenge, but it surprisingly wasn’t.  This Mary could’ve had 2 – 3 more little Lambs, sorry.  And it’s good to know that I can easily make more.

On The Quest To Make Everything Once: Perfect Rack Of Lamb On A Whim.

April 20th, 2011 No comments

Perfecto! Rack of Lamb pictured on Few Words Wednesday more for Show & Tell Thursday.

Merci Pascal Times Three, More Still Yet To Be: Examiner, Not So Sure.

April 19th, 2011 No comments

Since our meal was so fabulous at Brasserie Pascal, previous visits to Tradition by Pascal and Pascal Epicerie & Wine Shop are linked in appreciation of consistently great meals.  Merci.

Another reason for this post is that I’m still sidestepping an Examiner report — I’m not a fan of pop-ups and would never put them here.  And I don’t appreciate them there, especially as a writer.  It feels like swatting flies.  Back to Pascal, I’ll soon be writing about the Brasserie Pascal Perfect 10 Menu as Orange County Food Examiner.  And after that will re-examine.

Brasserie Pascal In Newport Beach: See Mom It Isn’t A Whore House.

April 17th, 2011 1 comment

Falling in love doesn’t happen often at a Whore House — What a meal and deal at Brasserie Pascal in Fashion Island.  We loved everything about it.  I tell my Mom it isn’t a WH, because she laughingly called it that when I tried to get her to eat there before.  We peeked in from the outside to a sea of leather and red, part of its appeal to me.  We went elsewhere that day, but I knew I’d be lured back.  This day I finally had a Perfect 10 and more with another.

It started with a Hot Mess, a Dirty Vodka Martini with a Blue Cheese Stuffed Olive and Cajun Spiced Rim, and a Lychee Raspberry Martini times two, since only $5 during Happy Hour.

And the Perfect 10 Menu offers a selection of complete, high quality meals for $10, 7 days a week — The price and convenience make this fine dining experience repetitively tangible.

It’s beautiful and jazzy inside, don’t be afraid.

Before diving into the Perfect 10 we started with the Pascal Patchwork, because it’s only $10 too, and happens to be an exclusive variety of remarkable food, a sampler tray of the ‘Best of Happy Hour’ — Blue Cheese Beef Sirloin Sliders, Homemade Pate, Grilled Cheese with Truffle Oil, Thyme Fries, Buttermilk Onion Rings, Charcuterie and Gourmet Pizza.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Baked Brie Cheese on the Perfect 10 Menu for $5 sounded too good to pass up — When our meal selections arrived, our kind banquette neighbors were compelled to comment on the seemingly endless food that kept coming our way.

We were a bit out of control, but hungry and free to sit back and enjoy the food and live music.

And now the original enticement, the meal deal we heard about — We opted for the “Duo De Crevettes Croustillantes” aka Jumbo Tempura & Grilled Shrimp with Moroccan Style Tabouli and a Tomato Saffron Emulsion (pictured topmost), and the USDA Choice Aged Filet Mignon with Roquefort and Cabernet Sauce, Potato Au Gratin and Vegetables (directly above).

We usually don’t show off a bill, as who wants any, but it’s a genuine deal for all that’s pictured, with 4 magnifique Martinis – A votre sante!  Are you ready now Mom?  Brunch at Brasserie Pascal (11:30am – 3:30pm) includes free flowing Sparkling French Wine.

And leftovers to stretch the deal a mile — LOVED everything about Brasserie Pascal.

Café Du Monde (Original French Market Coffee Stand) Beignets At Home.

February 10th, 2011 2 comments

I had Beignets on the patio at Café Du Monde in New Orleans about seven years ago.  Café Du Monde is the Original French Market Coffee Stand that serves Café Au Lait and Hot Beignets aka French Doughnuts 24 Hours a day, year round.  Love ’em when they’re HOT!

Café Du Monde has been a familiar New Orleans landmark in the French Market since 1862.

You can get Café Du Monde Beignet Mix at Cost Plus World Market just in time for Mardi Gras (on March 8th) or any time of the year — I celebrate with special indulgences on a whim.

Although I don’t love frying things, every now and then it’s necessary to make certain tasty treats, such as Onion Rings, Tortilla Chips, Fried Chicken and these French Doughnuts.  They’re easy to make — Just Mix, Roll, Fry and Enjoy, as the package states.

Roll and cut into 2 1/4 inch squares as the original or into any shape you want.

A few Beignets were oddly shaped, but tasted the same.

Fry until golden brown, then sprinkle generously with Powdered Sugar.  YUM!

And since it’s easy to make and tastes so good, I prepared fresh Whipped Cream too.

All was served as an after dinner dessert with previously prepared Lemon Curd, Coffee & Milk.

It’s as simple as Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre — Check the back of the box.  Au revoir.

Holiday Treats: Bûche de Noël And Gingerbread Houses, Oh My.

December 23rd, 2010 No comments

Bûche de Noël is a traditional French Yule Cake and the pictured is from Gelsons.  We received a lot of tasty deliveries at the office this week and I tried my first Bûche de Noël — YUM!  It’s now on my “To Make” list to be displayed during a future Christmas post.  Perhaps next year.

And with respect to the Gingerbread House from Torrance Bakery (and Sarnoff), we love it and can’t wait to dig in with a swift karate chop to the snow covered roof — We’re admiring it for now, but once Christmas passes, it’s scheduled to be devoured, if not too dry.  The Gingerbread man is already missing.  Who ate it?

Merry Christmas to YOU and your family!

Several Say: This Is The Best Onion Dip In The World.

December 16th, 2010 No comments

My friend was right, Ina Garten’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip is the BEST!  I can’t stop making it and eating it, which probably isn’t the best for you on a daily basis, but it’s crazy good and super easy to make.  My friend told me that someone recently brought this Dip to a party she attended and the guests didn’t stop raving about it. 

Learning this information after hosting a party was good timing, as I had leftover Chips and Crackers begging for Dip.  And now I can’t stop eating ’em all.  I’m almost done, but will be making it again for a party next week — I’m curious if all will have the reactions my friend described.  I did.  How about you?

Ina’s Pan Fried Onion Dip RECIPE.

Parfaits On The Bay: A Free Restaurant For Two That’s Open Any Time.

August 12th, 2010 1 comment

Thanks for the Parfaits on the Bay!  It may have been my first.  I’d enjoyed a Trifle or two, but not yet a Parfait, which I believe is roughly similar minus the Cake, as explained by my personal headless Chef. 🙂 He made these with layerings of Vanilla and Peach Yogurt, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Granola and Whipped Cream.  We forgot to include the Banana, but it wasn’t necessary with all the fresh Berries that were included.

All ingredients were transported by backpack, while scouting out the best location to enjoy ’em.  We ultimately decided on Parfaits on the Bay, a makeshift restaurant that’s open any time — Private outdoor seating for two.  It was a beautiful day and a great idea for anyone.

Look For Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies At Nearby Bakeries.

February 4th, 2010 1 comment

Bakery Goods

A few of us recently gathered to sample goodies from a couple local bakeries.  We were compelled to do it in honor of Valentine’s Day of course, and for extra enjoyment while watching The Bachelor (btw, I know who Jake is going to pick — If you want to know too, read here).  Back to the sweets.  To prepare for this tasting event we picked up a variety of goodies from two different bakeries we often pass by, but have yet to stop in until now.  Both bakeries are on 17th Street in Costa Mesa near Newport.

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The large box of yummies was transferred to the red plate above — They’re from Champagne French Bakery Cafe.  And the smaller box of varied Cookies spread out below are from French’s Cupcake Bakery.  The main similarity between the two is the word “French” and they’re both offering beautiful heart shaped Sugar Cookies for Valentine’s Day.

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There are other differences between the two, thus we can’t pick one over the other.  We’ll just mention that we liked French’s Cupcake Bakery more than we expected to.  Champagne French Bakery Cafe had always looked aesthetically better to us.  We preferred the Sugar Cookie from French’s Cupcake Bakery, who appears to sell hundreds of baked goods.  CFBC serves “quality French cuisine.”  They prepare sweet and savory items.

* Unfortunately we don’t know the official names of all, but our favorites included the Lemon Tart — We just loved the look of the charred Lemon on top.  And honorable mentions go to the square Coconut Cookie directly above and the mound Nut Cookie two over on the left.  Sorry, that’s the best we can currently do with description.

** For more Valentine’s Day Cookie photos and how to decorate them, click here.  We made ’em last year and will soon be decorating again.

Update 04/28/10: Champagne French Bakery Cafe has closed its 17th Street/Irvine (Newport Beach) location.

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.

Taking A Break To Enjoy This Cute Cake.

June 5th, 2009 No comments


It’s a Cake Break and this one is from French’s Pastry in Irvine.  They’ve got 4 locations throughout Orange County and many people LOVE them.

Tradition By Pascal For Lunch Is A French Treat.

March 13th, 2009 No comments


I’ve come to love this restaurant — Tradition by Pascal in Newport Beach serves spectacular food and offers excellent friendly service.


This day we had the Lunch Prix Fixe Menu, which is a great deal.  It includes a choice of four Entrées — Three are pictured here.  Starting from the top on down are Pascal’s Baked Chicken Crêpes with Gruyere, Rainbow Trout with Steamed Organic Fingerling Potatoes and Caper Meuniére, and My Mother Therese Homestyle Cooking, which is Veal, Broccoli Rabe and Fettuccine.


The Lunch Prix Fixe Menu also includes one of three Starters.  We chose the Homemade Pâté and Soupe Du Jour, which was a Puréed Vegetable Soup without Cream.


We were celebrating a Birthday, so they customized one of the Desserts with a candle.  This day it was Flan.  We added a Lemon Tart for a little more sweetness.  A Chef’s Choice Dessert or Glass of House Wine is part of the Lunch Prix Fixe Menu ($22) — I like the Wine/Dessert swap because I don’t always want Dessert, and it’s an extra savings on a sought after beverage.


Here’s a link to Tradition by Pascal and MORE:

Pascal Epicerie Food Photos

Happy Birthday Arlene and Thank You Very Much Shanda.  The food and company are always GREAT!