Have you heard of Lay’s Do Us A Flavor Chip Contest? Lays may someday pay YOU for coming up with a great Chip idea. This time the finalists’ flavors are… West Coast Truffle Fries, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, and Greektown Gyro and New York Reuben Sandwich flavors. Different. I like that and was excited to try each, but… hhmmm… some aren’t executed that well. Bummer. The Reuben and Gyro Chips just taste weird. Some of the respective Sandwich components can be tasted in each, but neither come together in a positive tasty manner. And the Truffle Fries Chips don’t have enough Truffle flavor. They taste more like Sour Cream and Onion Chips. The best of the (4) in a collective opinion of five are the Southern Biscuits and Gravy Chips. They have a good, peppery Biscuits and Gravy flavor and might be purchased by us post review. Lays should pick my Chip idea next time — TBA if it happens. In any event, it’s a fun contest that I hope continues.
It’s food from El Amerikano American & Latin Kitchen in downtown Fullerton and I already have a favorite — Everything I’ve had so far, especially the Warm Mushroom Salad and Mole Eggplant.
We were recently invited to a media tasting at El Amerikano and tried all pictured dishes.
From top down — Al Pastor Chop, Cucumber Ceviche Salad, Brussels Sprouts, Mole Eggplant, Asada Bravo and Warm Mushroom Salad, I think. See El Amerikano’s MENU for the enticing descriptions.
I was happy to learn they also have an outdoor patio, something I look for in a restaurant.
Each dish seems to have a double-digit list of ingredients and an abundance of flavor.
I like El Amerikano’s ‘To Share’ dishes and prices, which range from $3 – $9.
As I write this and read their MENU, I’m planning my next meal there asap.
This taste of El Amerikano American & Latin Kitchen left me needing to have more.
I have sights on the Chorizo Sliders, Mac ‘n Queso, Michoacan Caesar and more.
El Amerikano’s Michoacan Caesar Salad has Char-Grilled Romaine, which I love when done right.
A cooking demonstration showed the care and time put into preparing their dishes.
Food is ordered at the counter, then delivered to you — They offer Beer and Wine too.
Entrance to El Amerikano (below) with Kentro Greek Kitchen nearby — Great food in Fullerton.
Enlarge MENU (below) for a better view or access their menu link here.
Me with Vasili Kotsiovos, El Amerikano and Kentro Greek Kitchen’s should be proud Owner.
Thank you — We’ll be back.
Did you know that you can make a Pizza Dough using only two ingredients? You can.
Two Ingredient Pizza Dough is made with Self Rising Flour and Plain Greek Yogurt. I heard about it and had to try it. And it’s true, it works with (1 ½ Cups of Self Rising Flour & 1 Cup of Plain Greek Yogurt). I simply combined the two, then kneaded both into Dough.
It didn’t take much time or effort to convert into a blank Pizza canvas.
I made a basic Pepperoni & Pineapple Pizza, with a Pineapple homegrown by my husband, I might add. I also added Pizza Sauce, Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheese — Other Recipes.
The Pizza was baked in a preheated 450° oven for 12 minutes and all turned out well, though the flavor of the Pizza Crust is a little bland and would taste better as a Three Ingredient Pizza Dough with the addition of a little Salt — That’s what I’ll make next time.
It’s “A Little Something” called Almonds & Olives at Blackbird Tavern in Temecula (below).
I liked it so much, I recreated a better version of it at home (top photo) — It’s made with a medley of Greek Olives, Marcona Almonds, Orange Slices, Fennel Seeds, Red Pepper Flakes and Olive Oil. The Olives were baked in a foil pouch with the Orange Slices, Fennel Seeds, Red Pepper Flakes and a little Olive Oil at 425° for about 15 minutes, then all was tossed with Marcona Almonds, the improvement (I think) to Blackbird’s starter. I’ll make it forever.
And there’s a sweet back-story soon to be told about this trip to Temecula.
What we tried at the Taste of Greece Festival — Saganaki with Gyro was our favorite.
Our experience started with a ride on the 11-Special Shuttle, with a bubble blowing driver.
Grilled Lamb Chops — We appreciate having many.
Keftethes, Souvlaki and Greek Seasoned Fries — The Fries were surprisingly excellent.
Making more Saganaki, fried Cheese flamed with Brandy.
A close call during the flaming of the Brandy.
The Gyro Meat was lean and flavorful.
Chicago Brand — I may need to buy a package of the pictured Cooked Gyros Slices.
Rising Dough for Loukoumathes.
Greek Doughnuts covered with Honey and Cinnamon.
Greek Pastries to go — Sure wish I had some Theples now.
St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church Sanctuary is grand and beautiful.
Peaceful pieces of Greece were much appreciated this day.
Take me away — If no one does, the above photo will. Since we all can’t travel to Greece on a whim, we’re going to Orange County’s 34th Annual Taste of Greece Festival for the 1st time.
We’re set to discover all that’s described below — Wrap us up in a Pita, we’ll take it. Opa!
Orange County’s 34th annual “A Taste of Greece” festival will be held on June 22-24 at St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church (4949 Alton Parkway, between Culver Drive and Jeffrey Road, Irvine, CA 92604). More than 11,000 guests are expected to attend the three-day festival, which will feature traditional Greek cuisine, wine tasting, live music, authentic Greek dancing with lessons and boutique booths reminiscent of the Plaka, a well-known picturesque historical neighborhood of Athens.
Festival hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, June 22; noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 23; and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 24. Festival admission is just $3 per person with free admission on Saturday, June 23 from noon – 5 p.m. for seniors older than 65 years. Children under the age of 10 are admitted free throughout the three-day festival. Free festival parking will also be available, with complimentary shuttle buses transporting guests from public parking sites in Irvine.
Greek cuisine and hospitality will be the focal points as the festival will feature authentic recipes for traditional Greek dishes, delicious pastries and a variety of beverages, highlighted with a wine “Taverna,” offering Greek wine and beer. The traditional Greek menu will include Chicken, Lamb Chops, Greek French Fries, Gyros, Pastichio (Greek lasagna), Loucanico (Greek sausage), Spanakopita (spinach and feta pie), Dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), Saganaki (Greek brandy-flamed cheese), Loukoumathes (Greek doughnut holes), Greek Salad, Calamari and more. There will also be a Greek coffeehouse set up to serve Greek and American coffee drinks in a traditional Plaka setting with Greek dance lessons offered free to all. The Philoptochos, the church’s philanthropic group, will bake around the clock during the weeks leading up to the festival to prepare traditional Baklava and other exquisite pastries.
“As Orange County’s largest Greek Orthodox congregation, we are delighted to host a festival that offers an opportunity for the community to experience authentic Greek dining, wine, music, dancing and entertainment,” said Father Steven Tsichlis, St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Priest. “This year’s festival, our 34th annual, will offer something for everyone with a variety of Greek-themed activities.”
A family-friendly affair, the festival will be lined with boutique shops, a variety of games and a full-scale carnival. Event attendees can also enter an opportunity drawing for the chance to win cash prizes.
For more information on the “A Taste of Greece” festival, please visit www.IrvineGreekFest.com
The Chicken Shish Kabob Mediterranean Entree is A MUST, as noted on Panini Cafe’s Menu and verbalized by friends. Four of us recently had lunch on their patio in Irvine to celebrate a couple birthdays. My original sights were set on Lamb, Mousaka or a Panini, but had to try the Chicken Shish Kabob due to the hoopla. We all ordered the same plate, not a food bloggers dream, but WOW is the word — It’s beautiful, extremely flavorful, tender and juicy baby.
It’s the Best Chicken Kabob we’ve ever had — My friends go to Panini Cafe for it as often as possible. Their office is within walking distance and now I wish mine was too. It’s superb.
Thanks go to LUCCA Cafe for recognizing our valuable Veterans this Veteran’s Day.
On November 11th at LUCCA Cafe in Irvine, active duty military personnel and Veterans may enjoy a FREE LUNCH. It’s being offered in honor of Chef Cathy Pavlov’s father, late Corporal Robert L. Shellrecht, pictured above. We would like to thank him and ALL those who came before and after for their service to our great country — No one is more deserving.
If you’re one of those special people, mark your calendar and claim your justified meal.
Note: Photos courtesy of LUCCA Cafe, Mediterranean dining (and more) in Orange County.
Cost Plus World Market is a terrific place to find unique food items. We’ve previously reported about a few of them. What would you buy with a $2,000 Gift Card? YOU could win it and a trip to the Greek Theatre to see the Go-Go’s with (10) of your best friends. Please choose ME or YOU. I’d pick up several bottles of Champagne at Cost Plus and we’d be Beauty and the Beat on the way to the Greek. Enter before July 23, 2011. Good luck!
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.
It was an unexpected treat to receive all this Yogurt in the mail. They were still well chilled when transferred to the fridge. Thank you Voskos — I apologize for not thanking YOU sooner for the chance to run wild with your Greek Yogurt. Already a Yogurt and Granola fan, I agreed to try it, but didn’t expect all this and cannot complain. I like the flavors and variety.
I was a little skeptical about the Granola remaining crunchy after being in the fridge, but DAMN, it’s the crunchiest Granola I’ve ever had and its packaging works well. I now buy it.
After much experimentation, I found the best combination/ratio of ingredients to make Hummus using (1) Can of Garbanzo Beans aka Chickpeas. I always have at least one can on hand, plus all necessary components to prepare a flavorful Hummus — Garlic (1 Clove), Tahini (2 Tablespoons), Lemon Juice (3-4 Tablespoons), Olive Oil (2 Tablespoons), Salt (1 Teaspoon) and Pepper (to taste). And the best part is… All is simply blended together to produce instant homemade Hummus in minutes. With warm Pita Bread, it’s my current snack preference. Recipe doubles well, if you want more. Opa!
The 2010 inaugural OC Foodie Fest officially happened at the Honda Center last Saturday and although I personally was unable to attend, Nibbles of Tidbits sent its favorite Guest Blogger, Bonnie and her trusty photographer, Andrea to enjoy and report about the event. Somebody had to do it and wish it was me after hearing about it. Bonnie writes the rest…
The food, the sun and the fun were all perfectly aligned at the Honda Center Saturday afternoon for the inaugural OC Foodie Fest, with over 8,500 people attending the sold out event and 49 gourmet food trucks. No doubt this will be the first of many more Orange County Foodie Fests to come.
Although there were officially declared favorites, the three of us unofficially agreed that the top banana — while bananas are served as an option on top of loukas, which are Greek donuts – should have gone to Louks Greek Gourmet To Go food truck. We think their lamb chops might be the best we have ever had. In fact, they were so good that we decided to take some home with us.
Apparently many others agreed, because while we ran back there at the end of our day, stood in line and paid for the perfectly seasoned and prepared chops, they ran out just one person shy of us. To their credit, Louks refunded our money and served up an equally tasty Gyro sandwich as a substitute free of charge. Thanks for being so gracious, Louks!
Our next stop was the World Fare Bustaurant, a double-decker with room the top to eat and enjoy the people watching. Our truffle infused macaroni and cheese balls were mouth watering. And we washed them down with a strawberry-basil-lemonade that was to-die-for. It had just the perfect amount of the basil flavor added to the tasty drink.
The last truck we ate from, Piaggio on Wheels, offered a truly a diverse cuisine. We could not resist trying the water served in a real coconut, empanadas and a bacon wrapped hot dog topped with both chipotle and chimichurri sauce. It was all delicious and truly gourmet food.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that all of the shopping provided by the Patchwork vendors was top notch and high quality. There was also an art show with live painting from eVocal, plus live local music and an area devoted just to kids. The O C Foodie Fest also gave back to the community, with a percentage of the proceeds going to three local charities, Child SHARE, St. Vincent’s Meals on Wheels and Pretend City.
The OC Foodie Fest was meant to bring exposure to the growing market in Orange County for food trucks, as well as to give the opportunity for LA trucks to branch out into a new area. It succeeded on so many levels that we can’t wait for the next one!
THANKS to our Guest Blogger, Bonnie Flamm and event photographer, Andrea Stein for the excellent report and photos — I hope to attend next time. Learn here where the trucks might be going next or follow them on Twitter.
The Vegetable Moussaka Recipe in The Olive and The Caper had such promise — I’m not quite sure why it wasn’t as good as it should have been. An assembly line of baked Eggplant, blanched Potatoes and sliced Tomatoes was prepared, as well as homemade Bechamel Sauce. All was layered as instructed with Bechamel and Cheese poured over top. It looked terrific going in and coming out of the oven, but unfortunately didn’t become the fluffy cloud of Bechamel with goods underneath that I’ve previously enjoyed at a few Greek restaurants. Instead it was dry throughout and curdled in places, not a desirable combination.
I like the cookbook, but will be moving past the Vegetable Moussaka. Until choosing the next tasty Greek recipe to make, I’m sticking with the Greek Fried Egg and heading to Papadakis Taverna for a luscious Moussaka fix. Opa!
Belmont Shore, one of the best areas in Long Beach hosts a lot of great restaurants. I spent many fun years living within walking distance from “The Shore” and ate at every restaurant on Second Street. Too bad Nibbles of Tidbits didn’t exist then — It would’ve had quite the material. Open Sesame featured HERE wasn’t there during that time, but it now occupies two spots, 5201/5215.
Open Sesame has a corner location (a Cheese Steak Sandwich joint during my days) and another restaurant a few doors down. If you plan on meeting someone there, be sure to specify which one.
Before visiting, we heard nothing but good things about the place. We started our meal with artsy Hummus, Pita Bread and Fried Cauliflower, which turned out to be my favorite menu item of the meal. We also had the Kafta Pita that’s made with ground charbroiled Sirloin and Lamb, and the Chicken Shawarma Pita, made with marinated Chicken breast and thigh meat. Unfortunately, the Kafta Pita meat was dry and tough, thus we’d opt for a substitute next time.
The service was good and they offer outdoor patio dining at both Second Street locations. Love that! Pictured directly above is the Green Hot Tea — And we also tried the Jalab, a combination of Rose Water and Grape Syrup infused with Incense and topped with Pinenuts. It’s different and refreshingly crunchy. I’d get it again, especially since I know I’ll be back to visit Belmont Shore (and the Heights), the best part of the LBC.
Did you know that many in Greece start the day with an Egg fried in Olive Oil? It’s true according to The Olive and The Caper. The recipe for one Greek Fried Egg in this books calls for 1/4 Cup of Olive Oil. I’ve always used a pat of Butter, but gave the Olive Oil a try. I was unsure about using the entire 1/4 Cup, but did it anyway. And the cooking instructions require the Olive Oil to be HOT to brown the Egg to a crisp around the edges. I was a little afraid of that too, but complied. And just before turning out to a bowl, you’re to spoon the hot oil over the top of the Egg. All is then transferred to a bowl to eat. The Greeks enjoy the Egg while sopping up the Olive Oil with a crusty loaf of Bread. The book says that you’ll love it — I liked it a lot. The author reports that her hair and skin never looked as clear and shiny as it did when she was living in Greece and eating hundreds of Greek Fried Eggs — That can be a good incentive to eat ’em.
Nibbles of Tidbits was invited to the Grand Opening Party at the New Shorebreak Hotel in the heart of Huntington Beach (aka Surf City). It was a pretty hip and happening par-tay, but here we emphasize the fashions of the food. And must mention the spectacular view of the Huntington Beach Pier and Pacific Ocean — The above photo was taken from one of the hotel rooms. Surf City accommodations don’t get more ideally located than this.
Our invitation included an amazing Family Style Dinner at Zimzala, the Shorebreak Hotel’s Restaurant. Their unique and high quality dishes offer your taste buds a flavorful trip through the Mediterranean Sea and beyond.
As a starter before dinner, we shared a Zimzala Mezze Plate. Our multi-level serving plates included a Moroccan Carrot Salad, White Bean Salad, Hummus, Cheese Filled Moroccan Cigars and more. Each item had its own intense flavor. I’m craving the Carrot Salad as I write this.
Prior to dinner we were greeted at the door with a Glass of Cava and a cute guy holding a plate of appetizers, and then several more which included “real” Crab Meat on Cucumbers (that’s refreshing all around) and Mini Salmon Cakes. During dinner we were served some of the best Salmon I’ve ever had — I believe it’s Zimzala’s Pan Roasted Wild Salmon. And I didn’t get a piece, but my friend raved about the Moroccan Chicken Tagine.
For dessert we had the Warm Strawberry Galettes with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, and the Chocolate Ganache, which is uniquely served with Grilled Sourdough Bread, Olive Oil and Sea Salt. The combination works and it’s fun to try.
Shorebreak Hotel hosted a fabulous Grand Opening Party. After the appetizers and before the dinner, we enjoyed the BBQ Grilled Shrimp, Lamb and Chicken Skewers in the courtyard.
And one of the Ballrooms was filled with Oven-Roasted Bacon Wrapped Dates (We LOVE ’em), Fingerling Potatoes, Fried Artichoke Hearts and the various Mediterranean Salads we enjoyed at dinner.
In addition to the after dinner desserts we shared, Zimzala set up a dessert room that included Fresh Coffee and my favorite Cookies, Madeleines — These were Lemon and I’m kicking myself for not taking one (or 5) to go. I was stuffed at the time, but wish I had them now. And above right are the room goodies offered with the view in the first photo.
As if the above isn’t enough for a successful Grand Opening Party, the Shorebreak Hotel hosted a Fashion Show, Live Band, Acoustic Performances, Simulated Surfing, Wine Tasting and Sand Castle Building. It was a fun time and the service was excellent. We like the airy and sophisticated feel of the hotel and would love to go back for more of everything.
Bolded food items are known to be on Zimzala’s everyday menu.
Coach’s Mediterranean Grill & Bar in Huntington Beach always seems to provide good service and food. This day we only had time for a quick bite, thus had the Hummus and Falafel with Pita Bread — The Falafel is served with Tahini, but we recommend it with Tzatziki. The Hummus looked like a work of art within a wave.
Coach’s Mediterranean Grill & Bar is on Main Street in “Surf City” and a short walk inland from the Pier. It’s an airy indoor/outdoor restaurant with good Mediterranean food and people watching from the patio. And just down the street a New Exhibit at The International Surfing Museum just opened — It’s Part One: The Wooden Years, an Exhibit on Board Shapers. My friend Bonnie, an Interior Designer put the entire Exhibit together. On opening day I popped in right when she had time for a bite, so we walked to Coach’s with our Opening Party Mai Tai’s — Shhh. All was fab! If local or visiting, be sure to check out the Surf Museum. Live Bands occasionally play in the parking lot too. And P.S. There are a lot of good restaurants on HB’s Main Street.
This Greek Spiced Baked Shrimp Recipe is lots of places on the Internet. To me the combination sounded intriguing and possibly gross, but several food sites sing its praise. The recipe includes Shrimp, Feta, Dill and Cinnamon among other things. The way some raved about it made me want to try it. So I finally made it and wasn’t impressed. It’s not bad, but it’s not really good either. With all due respect, I won’t be making it “again and again” like too many exclaim.
Below are just two of the posts/links [The RECIPE] I found regarding the same Greek Spiced Baked Shrimp pictured HERE.
And here’s a link to a “Spicy” Baked Shrimp Recipe I WILL make again:
WOW. I finally made my own Gyro Meat and it turned out terrific. I captured the flavor and consistency without a rotisserie. I researched several Gyro Meat recipes online to arrive at this perfect combination of a few. And the preparation is relatively easy for the authentic tasting results. The short RECIPE goes like this — Mix all ingredients together, puree, form into loaf, bake on a rack, let rest and slice thinly — EAT with Tzatziki. If that doesn’t tell you everything, the step by step photos and ingredients are shown below.
1/2 pound of Ground Lamb
1/2 pound of Ground Beef
1/4 cup of minced Onion
1/2 teaspoon of minced Garlic
1/2 teaspoon of dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon of dried Rosemary
1/2 teaspoon of dried Marjoram
1/2 teaspoon of ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon of ground Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon of Salt
1.) Combine and mix ALL ingredients together, then place in a food processor and puree until a paste consistency (1 – 2 Minutes).
2.) Scoop mixture out of the food processor and into a plastic wrap lined loaf pan. Press firmly into the pan to close all air pockets in the meat. Tightly wrap the plastic around the meat and let chill overnight (or several hours) in the fridge.
3.) Remove formed Gyro Meat from the loaf pan and plastic wrap and place on a rack on a foil lined cookie sheet — This allows all sides of the meat to cook and the fat to run off. Bake in the oven at 325° for 1 Hour.
4.) After baking, remove from the oven, cover and let rest for about 10 minutes, then thinly slice for a Gyro Sandwich or alone with Tzatziki Sauce.
The photographs note the progression from (L – R) downward.
Tzatziki Sauce Recipe:
1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1/3 cup of grated English Cucumber
1 – 2 minced Garlic Cloves
1 teaspoon of Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of Lemon Juice (I’m heavy-handed)
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped Dill (Optional)
Mix all ingredient together and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight while the Gyro Meat mixture is doing the same.
For LEFTOVERS, when the Gyro Meat is cold and easier to slice thin, I cut a few slices, lay them on a Pita or Flat Bread, drizzle a little Olive Oil around the edges, then cook it in the toaster oven. All you have to do is fold and eat. It turns out great.
Or I’ll cook the sliced Gyro Meat in a skillet with/without a little Olive Oil. It’s fun to have the meat on hand for quick lunches and dinners throughout the week.
NOTE: This Gyro Meat Recipe makes a fair amount for two, but the ingredients can easily be doubled to serve more.
I was busy working on many things today, but near one of my favorite Greek Restaurants and had to eat something. I hadn’t tasted the Moussaka from the Greek Town Grill yet, since I always get the Dolmades. I wrote about them in a previous post — They’re the best.
The Moussaka (aka Mousaka) was good, but I have to admit that it didn’t top the one served at Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro. It’s amazing there. Both restaurants have tasty Greek dishes — It’ll just depend on where you find yourself. Greek Town Grill is more casual and both are very welcoming. The waiters often dance at Papadakis. It’s a fun atmosphere.
The usual is their Dolmades. For a while there I was eating them every day. They’re filled with tender ground Sirloin, Rice and Herbs, then topped with a Lemony Hollandaise Sauce. An order of Dolmades, 1/2 a Greek Salad, and an occasional Gyro from Greek Town Grill is an amazing meal. Today’s photos don’t do the food justice, but I’m still craving it all. GTG is a nice, casual place with great food.