Early posts can be viewed at the J. Paul Getty and elsewhere — Fruit and Fish were popular.
Our United States Veterans allow the rest of us to BBQ today — Never take that for granted. Our sometimes Washington, DC Correspondent (dubbed by me), Steven Woo sent a report of a well spent day. An excerpt is posted below with related photographs. Thank you.
Attached are pix from the Wall. The National Park Service routinely collects the artifacts but lets them accumulate on special occasions such as Memorial Day. IMHO, the written words are the most-moving of the objects. President Obama spoke at the Wall this afternoon; all the artifacts were cleared in advance of his visit. Also included are pix of a Crab Feast at a friend’s house. We spent the Sunday afternoon and evening hanging out, and didn’t make it to the National Memorial Day Concert — good thing because severe weather canceled the show half-way through.
Happy Memorial Day to all and God Bless America.
Once the site of a speakeasy during prohibition, The Blue Beet plays on. And do you remember Sid? More history about the place can be found here. It’s a cool joint with good food and music. One of our Guest Bloggers, Bonnie recently enjoyed their historic prices (currently offered on Thursdays) with her son and wrote the following:
We went to the Blue Beet tonight for the “Throwback Thursday” specials that they are doing for their 100th Anniversary. Both Jay and I (and it seems like everyone around us) ordered the Beef Stroganoff, plus their “Gourmet” Mac ‘N Cheese. I think it’s the most incredible deal I have ever gotten for a dinner. It was a full plate of Stroganoff on top of Mashed Potatoes and comes with a very generous side of Green Beans.
Although I didn’t particularly care for the Mac ‘N Cheese, it was a full bowl, along with two slices of Garlic Bread. With two Cokes, the meal for both of us came to $24.00 and I have enough left over for a full lunch tomorrow!! Too bad I didn’t have my camera.
Menu offerings on Throwback Thursday:
Garlic Bread $1.95
Clam Chowder $2.95
Dinner Salad $2.95
BBQ Chicken Salad $4.95
Top Sirloin steak $5.25
Beef Stroganoff $5.25
Pork Chops $5.75
Steak Sandwich $5.75
Mac ‘N Cheese $3.95
Jay never had Stroganoff before, but he loved it! He ate every single bite of it, along with the Mac ‘N Cheese and his Garlic Bread. I highly recommend the place. That’s my report for now.
In the 2nd Show, I happily accept another First Place Ribbon for my Snickerdoodle Scones and a Third Place Ribbon for my Blackberry Mascarpone Cheesecake. And still delighted about the First Place Ribbon received for Blondies prepared for the 1st Show — I feel lucky.
Didn’t win anything in the Blog Post Competition on display above, but maybe next year.
Our Guest Blogger, Bonnie won a Second Place Ribbon for her professional table design.
And thought the above was adorable — Entered in the Crafts & Hobbies Competition is a mini replica of the Table Design Competition. It’s rightly a First Place and Division winner. Congratulations Donna! The OC Fair is happening now through August 14, 2011.
I contemplated posting this report, since our handy dandy Guest Blogger, Bonnie focuses more on getting lost than the food, but I don’t blame her — I’m sure I would’ve been frustrated too, thus do post her account below, mostly so not to stymie the amazing food and professional photographs provided by The Capital Grille in Beverly Hills. Although pissed about the drive, she loved the food. I’ve yet to dine at The Capital Grille and will most likely opt to do so at the South Coast Plaza location. A photo of the Bar is posted first, because Bonnie needs a drink after telling her story…
The Capital Grille in Beverly Hills — Having had such a wonderful meal at the Capital Grille in Costa Mesa only a week before, I decided to start my night in Beverly Hills at their brand new, sister restaurant in the Beverly Center.
It wasn’t their fault that I got totally and completely lost. I should have known better than to make the drive from Newport Beach to Beverly Hills at 5:00 p.m. on a Thursday night without anydirections on me at all. But heck, I’ve been to the Beverly Center before. Indeed, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so I know it quite well. And geewhiz — I have GPS — so why would I need directions?
Because — truth be told, I haven’t lived in LA for thirty years, so I completely forgot how to get to the Beverly Center. And the directions my girlfriend’s daughter gave me over the cell phone were quite detailed, but…
Plus, nobody at the restaurant could figure out where I was when I told them what cross streets I was passing.
Adding final insult to injury, my GPS would not “accept” an address on Beverly Boulevard beginning with the number “8”.
Once I finally arrived though, we were treated to the same fine service and attention from the Capital Grille’s staff, along with some delicious food and drink. Our server, Charles, graciously apologized (even though he didn’t have to!) for my hour and a half of misfortune, and then served us a beautiful Steak with Béarnaise Sauce and Crab, Macaroni and Cheese with Lobster, and Sautéed Spinach on the side.
We didn’t have time to take a tour of the restaurant that was offered to us by Managing Partner Gina Doyle, but we sure appreciated the fact that they treated us to another Exceptionally Distinctive Guest Experience.
Thank you — Charles and Gina — and next time I come to LA, I promise to bring directions.
Thanks Bonnie — I’m glad I wasn’t with you, though I am ready for their SCP location.
Guest Blogger, Bonnie wrote that she had “the most fabulous lunch” at The Capital Grille at South Coast Plaza — Too bad she didn’t have her camera on-hand to do her glowing report justice. I told her to keep it on her person. From a camera phone one photo barely survived. We’ll hopefully supplement it by going again. Until then, her review can be read below…
“Like a good book, a good menu is hard to put down, making it tricky to eat your Porterhouse.” Quote from The Capital Grille’s Menu
On a whim, we decided to try The Capital Grille at South Coast Plaza. Here is how they describe each guest’s desired experience:
“Each and every contact with a guest is an opportunity to provide food and service that exceeds their expectations, thereby creating an Exceptionally Distinctive Guest Experience. At The Capital Grille, EDGE is how we work together every day, thereby creating an extraordinary atmosphere for our guests and our team members.”
And true to their word, we had an EDGE! Our exceptional lunch was made so by our outstanding server, Laura Kirchner and Manager Shannon Jones, who graciously welcomed us at our table.
Although it was still technically lunch time, we opted to order our steaks from the dinner menu. Thus, we ended up with a bone-in, 18 ounce Dry Aged Sirloin and a 14 ounce Dry Aged Sirloin which is also known as a New York Strip Steak. Both were absolutely delicious and perfectly prepared.
From the lunch menu, my nephew – who was celebrating his 13th birthday – ordered the very sophisticated Crab and Lobster Stuffed Shrimp and pronounced it suburb. As for the Parmesan Truffle Fries he had this to say: “The truffles bring out the taste in the French Fries and with every bite, the flavor counterbalances and contrasts each other for taste perfection.” Well put, Bryan!
We were also treated to the finest Sautéed Spinach with Garlic that I have ever had. I would go back for that side dish alone. (In fact, I am going to go to their newest restaurant in the Beverly Center this upcoming week and I will order it again). Other delicious sides were the Creamed Spinach and Sam’s Mashed Potatoes.
Our server, Laura, made sure to treat Bryan with a special birthday dessert consisting of Coconut Cream Pie with Caramel Rum Sauce and Macaroon-style Crust. And she also treated us to a Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake which was wonderful.
Lunch lived up to their motto and was truly an Exceptional, Distinctive, Guest Experience (EDGE) thanks to Laura, Shannon and the Chefs in The Capital Grille kitchen. I look forward to an equally distinctive dining experience at their newest restaurant in Beverly Hills later on this week!
Thanks Bonnie – I hope to SEE it sometime! Semi-related, but not really, and partly because I’m a patriot (and The Capital Grille made me think of it), I post this photo of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial taken by my friend and DC Correspondent Steven Woo. It’s so beautiful.
Our Guest Blogger, Bonnie sure knows how to pick the cool places. She recently stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, where she dined at Hampton’s Restaurant with two long-time friends. When she returned, she said she had one of the best nights of her life. Wow! It was a magical explosion of great food, excellent service, beautiful surroundings, good friends, special tours, lots of drinks, laughs and a million dollar wedding to crash, that made her visit so amazing. I love nights like that. She reports about it as follows…
As it turns out, you don’t have to go back east to experience the headiness of the Hampton’s Restaurant. All you have to do is visit its namesake restaurant at the stunning Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California. You won’t be disappointed.
Hampton’s recently introduced two new extravaganzas – on Friday evenings, you can enjoy their “Seafood Sensation” buffet, featuring fresh lobster, chilled crab claws, shrimp and sushi. On Saturday nights, they offer the “Prime Time” buffet, which is what we opted for.
Prior to the food, let me share the setting… The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the hotel, right in front of their fantastic waterfalls. It’s the waterfalls that make this hotel a stand out and luckily for us, we got a “prime” seat with the best view of this delightful, romantic feature.
Once seated, we were immediately introduced to the Hotel’s “Ambassador,” Manager Thomas Humphrey, who graciously treated us to a private tour of the restaurant.
First, we visited the salad buffet. Mind you, this is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill salad buffet – it’s all locally grown by long time farmers in the nearby community of Camarillo. Moving on to the manned carving station, this is where they showcase a rotating selection of organic and sustainable meats such as chicken, pork and prime rib, which are roasted, grilled, barbecued and slow cooked to perfection.
Then we moved into the kitchen “arena,” where the centerpiece attraction is a mind-blowing 2 ½ ton Bonnet Maestro range, custom made in France for the sum of $250,000 – a quarter of a million dollars! And this hotel is home to not just one, but four of them. Do the math, and you will come up with a pretty heavy-duty investment in “ovens.”
Next we toured the pastry station, which is manned by Chef Laufer, and the interactive Chef’s stations for their made-to-order macaroni and cheese and baked potatoes. Incredible! And as if that’s not enough, when we went back and sat down at our table, they brought out three sizzling skillets with our very own filets in them. Dessert followed, and it all amounted to one of the most amazing, interactive meals we have ever had.
P.S. After closing down Hampton’s, we crashed a wedding at the Hotel that must have cost as much as they invested in their ovens! Check out the cake.
Thanks Bonnie — I wish I’d been there!
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
Herbs de Provence Mashed Potatoes
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.
Our Guest Blogger, Bonnie recently visited and fell in love with the Savory Spice Shop located in Corona Del Mar Plaza. She talked to the owners, took photographs and tried unique spices. It’s all seen and reported about by Bonnie as follows…
The New Savory Spice Shop in Corona Del Mar is Hot!
Make your Next Dish Savory! is the theme of the new Savory Spice Shop located at 928 Avocado Avenue, in Corona Del Mar (in the Bristol Farms Shopping Center). The owners are the husband and wife team of Randy Morton and Laura Shute. Here’s what they offer:
400 herbs and spices ground fresh weekly
Over 140 unique hand-blended seasonings
Specially packaged gift sets, soups, sauces, dips and extracts
Available in amounts from ½ ounce to pounds
Everything is available for tasting
After a lot of taste testing, I finally settled on two different kinds of dip. The first is a Taco Seasoning which consists of: Masa Harina, salt, chilies, tomato powder, garlic, cumin, California paprika, onion, white sugar, Mexican oregano and allspice.
The other was recommended by Laura. It’s their Gran Paradiso Cheese Sprinkle Dip which contains a truly interesting combination of spices: Green bells (I have no clue what they are!), Parmesan cheese, salt, toasted sesame seeds, shallots, green pepper, parsley, cilantro and chervil.
Both have now been paired with 8 ounces of sour cream and left to marry over night in the refrigerator. Tomorrow they will be brought to the First Annual Nibbles of Tidbits Super Bowl Party for taste testing. We may blog about it later as an update here.
Apart from being bowled over by all the choices, around half way though my tour, Laura pointed out that not all “spices” are (only) for eating. For example, Frankincense can be lit like incense and is meant to smell like the inside of a Church — A different way to enjoy a spice. On a personal note, I was excited to learn that they carry Spearmint Extract. I have been looking for it over a year!
I must also do a shout out on the interior design, which Randy and Laura did all by themselves. I love the wide plank hardwood flooring, tin ceiling and the brick focal wall. They combine to give the store a warm, homey effect.
Most importantly, what I noticed most about the Savory Spice Store was the smell. On the day I was there the front doors were wide open, so I caught a whiff of it before I even got inside. It was such a wonderful delight — something you definitely need to experience.
Delicioso Restaurant is located inside Endless Food & Fun in Huntington Beach. Guest Blogger Bonnie previously wrote about it here and as Orange County Food Examiner, I reported about it here. This post wraps up our report on Delicioso and hosts new unpublished photographs.
The fresh Bread served with dinner at Delicioso was sweet and crunchy.
And the recommended Rib Eye Steak was smoky and cooked beautifully.
Cheers to Delicioso Restaurant — We wish you many years of success.
Above is the Idol Room where you can sing Karaoke after a meal at Delicioso or while dining on the Buffet. We haven’t yet tried the Buffet, but provide a glimpse of it below. Rock on.
Due to scheduling, I unfortunately missed this event at Endless Food & Fun in Huntington Beach. It seems like my kind of place too — A giant one-stop destination for endless FOOD, fun and entertainment that includes a Buffet, Restaurant, Bars, an Arcade, Lazer Tag, and so much more. The possibilities are seriously endless. Our Guest Blogger, Bonnie was recently invited there and reports about it below. I can’t wait to go.
Endless Food and Fun lives up to its name! There’s a brand new entertainment complex in Huntington Beach, Endless Food and Fun, and on Wednesday night they sponsored a private, complimentary event specifically for the local hospitality industry. Due to my connection with the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum, which donated numerous items to one of EFF’s themed dining rooms, I scored an invitation.
In fact, I was personally treated to a VIP tour of all 47,000 square feet of this awesome complex. Our first stop was their upscale restaurant, Delicioso! where parents can dine in comfort and style while the kids play nearby. The attention to detail was very much appreciated by the interior designer in me – they even thought to soundproof the room.
The next stop was the 200 foot long Las Vegas–style buffet, which serves fresh food that changes every night. They even have a manned pasta “station” where you can personalize the dish any way you want. This night I opted to do just that — I asked the Chef to combine two different sauces, two kinds of cheese, asparagus, garlic and linguine, and my custom creation turned out quite tasty.
I dined with friends from the Museum in the Surf’s Up themed dining room, which is loaded with vintage surfboards and other memorabilia that was donated by the Museum. It even includes an exhibit board that I personally put together for the Museum’s Surfin’ Exhibit back in 2006. Plus, I got to meet two Surf legends, “Local Hero” inductee David Nuuhiwa and first ASP World Pro Champion Peter “PT” Townend.
After dinner, I continued on my personal tour with owner and operator Andrew, who showed me the other three themed dining rooms, the arcade, and the 7 private party rooms, which are used not only for parties, but for tutoring children after school as well. It’s a true multi-purpose facility.
Finally, we came to the pride and joy of EFF, which is their laser tag arena. The room is chilled to 64 degrees on a constant basis and it may be the most innovative laser tag arena in the nation. Though I did not partake in the laser challenge this night, it looks like a lot of fun.
Endless Food & Fun has two bars that serve an excellent selection of beer and wine. One bar is in Delicioso! which is only open on Friday and Saturday nights. I plan to take up their offer of dinner there in the near future, as I really had a great time and can’t wait to go back – Thanks Keeli!
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
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.
Nibbles of Tidbits was recently invited by the California Avocado Commission to attend a gourmet, interactive lunch and cooking demonstration with chef partners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of the Too Hot Tamales. Since I was unable to attend, but didn’t want to miss it, Nibbles of T sent its resident Guest Blogger, Bonnie of Bonnie Joy Designs. She always provides an interesting angle to a story and was excited to receive a personally signed copy of Cooking With Too Hot Tamales (below).
Ahhhh – Those Avocados were Awesome!
Avocado advocates Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (a.k.a. The Too Hot Tamales) along with the California Avocado Commission hosted a rousing, festive Food Blogger-only event ahead of Cinco de Mayo at their downtown L.A. restaurant, Ciudad, last Saturday. The afternoon began with a surprise. Actually, it was the “interactive” portion of the show, which turned out to be a “Top Chef” style competition featuring the Food Bloggers themselves as the chefs along with California Avocados, and a very long table full of potential accoutrements.
The Food Bloggers were given only seconds to pair up (I assume none of the Bloggers had ever met one another before, which made what came next even more amazing), then they were given just 3 minutes to flesh out (pardon the pun) their best recipe for guacamole. Then they got a mere 5 minutes (yes, there was a timer!) to execute their dish and 2 more minutes to give it a definitive name. I can report that the Food Bloggers took this competition very seriously, even if it was all in fun.
And I don’t think I need to tell you who the judges were… But what I can tell you is that even they were impressed at how well all 10 recipes turned out. Bravo! (Sorry Susan, that’s actually not a plug for the network you are on as one of the final “Top Chef Masters” on May 5th…or… maybe it is). I think I got to sample all ten dishes, and they really were all tasty and creative, so everyone was a winner.
The next hour featured the Too Hot Tamales doing what they do best – whipping up a four course meal with each one featuring avocados as the core ingredient. If you want to see poetry in motion, then you need to experience Susan and her long-time business partner Mary Sue as they whirled and twirled their way through a menu that included a Crispy Avocado Taco, an incredible salad with fried (yes, fried) capers, Chicken and Avocado Chilaquiles and for dessert, Avocado and Mango Slices with a Creamy Yogurt Dressing. They even managed to blend an Avocado and Orange “Liquado” to drink. Needless to say, each dish was a masterpiece.
Ciudad Executive Chef Jeremy Tummel and Jan DeLyser from the California Avocado Commission also joined in the fun that happened at this invitation only event. If you came away from this afternoon hungry, then you did not attend the same event that I did. The attention to detail was impeccable – from the beginning Margarita to the personalized cookbooks at the end – and was well appreciated by the interior designer in me.
I now have a fresh appreciation for a fruit that is locally grown and nutritionally packed. So be sure to add Avocados to your daily diet, and not just on special occasions or on Cinco de Mayo!
Thanks Bonnie. I love Avocados too and my parents eat ’em almost daily. It looks like I missed a pretty cool event, but I’m happy to have the exciting report and photos.
Note: Bonnie bought a new camera for this event — As I write this, it’s in the process of being returned. We like what was captured, but weren’t happy with the graininess of the photos. What’s posted here is the best of the worst. Click on the Blogger links above to view better photos.
Our Washington, DC Food Correspondent, Steven Woo sent us these fabulous photos. He enjoys the Cherry Blossoms each year and bakes a Cherry Pie in appreciation of same. He’s observant, funny and wrote the following:
Tourists galore are in town for the Cherry Blossoms, which are in peak bloom. Attached are some pix from my sunset walk around the Tidal Basin last Thursday. The statue of President Jefferson inside his silhouetted memorial is readily apparent. Peak bloom was on Wednesday, and the warm temperatures this weekend and week (mid-80s!) will cause the fleeting blossoms to disappear by next weekend… hopefully the tourists will too ;). Also attached is a pix of the cherry pie I baked in honor of the season. The crust is from scratch(!); the sugar-free filling from Comstock is rather bland…
Thanks Steven — Can you see what you can do about the politicians up there?!
We finally visited Tapas Restaurant Night Club in Newport Beach near the John Wayne Airport — It’s only been open about 16 years. Under the Hot and Cold Tapas Menu, we tried the Lamb Chops Madrilenas, Cheese Fundido and Artichoke Toasts.
We prefer to emphasize the positive on Nibbles of Tidbits, but we’re also truthful in our reports. I deferred the Tapas review to my dinner guest, who wants to remain anonymous (she’s infamous, ha). She wrote the following:
After wondering for years about Tapas Restaurant Night Club in Newport Beach, we finally got the chance to visit this venerable institution, which has been tucked away in a strip mall for the last 16 years. The dictionary definition of Tapas is “small snacks that are often served as an appetizer along with alcoholic drinks, originally from Spain” — Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, after our visit tonight our conclusion is that this concept is all tapped out.
First, the restaurant itself has lost whatever appeal it used to have on a visceral level — it is now dirty, dusty and damaged. Second, the food sounds good on the menu but it is just plain BLAH. For example, the Artichoke Hearts tasted like they came straight out of a can (they even had that can smell to them). The bread was stale and tasteless and the Cheese “Fundido” — which was baked Manchego and Goat Cheese with Spanish Chorizo – sounded divine but was barely edible (congealed). Ditto with regard to the bland Potato (Bomba). The only good Tapas we tasted was the Lamb Chops.
Equally tasteless was the décor, with broken tiles lining the floors everywhere and Spanish outfits hanging from the walls that were literally covered in dust. Finally, we were served on plates that did not even remotely match! In sum, don’t bother with Tapas as they are all tapped out.
Tapas Restaurant Night Club’s sustainability must be through the night club, bar and entertainment. We wish all restaurants well, thus hope they take more pride in their Tapas (for its namesake and for Pete’s sake), and why not tidy things up a bit?!
One of our Guest Bloggers, Bonnie recently visited and reviewed Tavern Restaurant in Brentwood (Los Angeles). She came back raving about their décor, since she’s an Interior Designer, she’s keen to that angle in her reports.
Bonnie’s Review starts HERE:
My parents recommended we spend our Thanksgiving Day at Tavern, a new place in Brentwood (Los Angeles) they had been to twice before in the last 6 months, which served as a good enough recommendation for me. They raved about the hamburger they shared on both occasions, and I was curious after looking at their website and reading the reviews on City Search and Trip Advisor.
Upon arriving for our meal at the slightly unusual time of 1:00 p.m., I was immediately struck by the impressive décor. Designed by fellow interior designer Jeffrey Alan Marks, the former home of Hamburger Hamlet has been completely transformed into an elegant tri-part restaurant. The linear design of the building’s interior consists of a quaint, casual bakery/deli/cafe to the left of the main entrance, a dark yet comfortable bar area on the other side of the entry and once through there, a starkly bright formal dining room.
After being seated at one of the exquisite dining tables that ring the room, our meal began with a persimmon and pomegranate salad with arugula, local walnuts and brie (seal bay triple cream). What a perfect start – especially because I have never tasted persimmons before – and they were quite a treat! The main course was (naturally) herb roasted organic turkey breast and stuffed leg with mashed potatoes and gravy.
While the turkey was good, it was the presentation of the fixings which got my attention as they were all served “family style” in the middle of the table: “Moms” traditional and Suzanne’s chestnut prune and cavolo stuffing; sweet potatoes with sherry and roasted shallots; Brussels sprouts with pancetta and thyme; Italian broccoli with garlic and chili and traditional cranberry sauce. For the finale, the desserts tasted as good as they looked — pumpkin pie and candied pecan with vanilla ice cream and a dollop of whipped sweet cream.
In fact, this was one of the more memorable holiday meals that I have had in a long time, as much as for the personal and attentive service as for the presentation and quality of their food. Suzanne Goin is the Executive Chef and I can’t wait to go back there and try her hamburger, which is why my parents recommended her newest L.A. area restaurant, Tavern, in the first place.
Thanks for the informative report Bonnie — Now I can’t wait to try the Hamburger too. Since Tavern’s Thanksgiving meal was so good, I’ve attached their New Years Eve Menu as an option for the festivities.
Update (04/05/10): Tavern was named one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in L.A., by Los Angeles Magazine (March 2010).
Although Halloween is officially over, our DC Correspondent, Steven Woo sent us a few photos we just had to post. He reports: “Arghhh — I was in the Port O’ Baltimore for a Halloween Party, hosted by a zombie bride and groom. They had some very creative decorations, including a skull ice sculpture that chilled the punch kettle, chili with and without flesh, mad scientist lab jars (cauliflower = brain, grapes = eyes, fennel = heart) and an inflatable coffin with ice cold beverages. The last shot was some of my intake for the evening. Are Rolaids available in fun size?”
Thanks Steven — It looks like it was a morbidly fun party. They certainly were creative with the use of food. Hopefully that’s not a real finger on the chopping board! And I agree that Rolaids (like candy) should come in fun size packs too.
Rumbi Island Grill is opening with a bang in California. Its first restaurant here is in Mission Viejo and they’re having a Grand Opening Party to celebrate. The first 100 guests in line will receive a free meal card. And a drawing will be held to giveaway a free meal card for a year. The festivities are detailed below and will be followed by music and fire dancers.
WHEN: Monday, September 21, 2009 (11 – 11:30AM).
WHERE: 24000 Alicia Parkway Boulevard, Mission Viejo — The Gateway Center, near Jeronimo and Via Fabricante.
WHAT & WHO:
• Welcoming remarks from Ron Brown, Rumbi Franchise Owner.
• Welcoming remarks from Kat Vermelis, representing State Senator Mimi Walters.
• Welcoming remarks from Mission Viejo Council-member Trish Kelley.
• Welcoming remarks Chamber President Dennis O’Connor.
• Remarks from Margaret Pendleton, President of Saddleback Valley Educational Foundation.
• Ribbon cutting by Mission Viejo Chamber Ambassadors.
Nibbles of Tidbits was invited to attend a pre-grand opening cooking demonstration at Rumbi’s new Mission Viejo location — We sent guest blogger, Bonnie to cover the event. She’s an OC Interior Designer, foodie, International Surfing Museum Board Member and friend, and always provides a unique perspective. Unfortunately her camera didn’t deliver the food photos we were hoping for, but you can read her report below.
GO TRIBAL. EAT TROPIC. That’s the tag line of the brand new Rumbi Island Grill, according to co-founder and Vice President of Operations Deven Moreno, who hosted the hour long event. Deven is passionate about this new restaurant and stated that Mission Viejo is the first of 8 planned “fast casual” Island cuisine restaurants for Orange County. It is the 25th restaurant in the chain which started in Utah in 2000 and has since expanded to Colorado and Arizona.
The Rumbi concept centers on “gourmet” rice bowls. The bowls are combined with salad and then topped with chicken, steak, pork, veggies, tofu or shrimp. A variety of signature sauces and dressings are then added for a unique, customized dining treat. For this special Media event, Moreno cooked two of Rumbi’s most favored dishes – the Aloha Chicken Salad and the Volcano Blackened Mahi. Both are grilled or fried in 7 minutes or less using a small amount of sesame oil, which makes them not only fresh but healthy too.
Moreno emphasized that this is “Island” food rather than Hawaiian, and this theme is carried over and translated very well in the interior design. The interiors vary at each restaurant. At the new Mission Viejo store, there is a bit more emphasis on the surfing theme, with a picture of “Duke” Kahanamoku and other old time surfers in one corner. Other elements such as spears, arrows and palm trees are more universal, but the over-all look is both fun and family-friendly.
Whatever tropical island it invokes, the Rumbi concept is unique to Southern California and will surely catch on quickly. With all entrees priced under $10, their prices and attention to quality cannot be beat. It’s highly recommended that you mosey on over to Rumbi Island Grill to experience this brand new taste sensation!
Thanks Bonnie and welcome to California Rumbi Island Grill.
Nibbles of Tidbits has a Guest Blogger, Bonnie who dines out a lot. This is her first report about Sol Cocina in Newport Beach. She offers a unique perspective on a dining experience — Three Interior Designers walk into a restaurant for a birthday celebration and . . .
Greetings and thanks to Nibbles of Tidbits for allowing me to “Guest Blog” today. By way of introduction, I’m an Interior Designer, but have come on board the foodie train since my good friend Shelly started this blog — I will approach this review from that point of view.
Today I am writing after a memorable visit to the brand new SOL Cocina in Newport Beach. First off, you can’t come here without mentioning something about the beautiful view, as this restaurant sits smack on top of Newport Bay. Here, virtually every seat in the house has a stunning water view to begin the dining experience.
Although we didn’t make it to the bar, we began with the House Specialty Margaritas, which are essentially Cadillac Margaritas but obviously made from truly fresh ingredients, just like our server promised they would be. We also tried the Pineapple Serrano Margarita and my favorite, a Tequila Mojito that was to die for! We then started our feast with Naked Guacamole and Toritos. Again, the freshness of the ingredients was what struck us most, but the flavors were memorable too. And ditto for the Black Bean Dip.
Continuing on to our main course, I opted for the Lamb Taco. I am a firm lover of Lamb, and this dish did not disappoint. We also tried the Chipotle Chicken (pictured), which was awesome and worth going back for. The only thing we were a bit perplexed about was that we were served a leg and thigh, rather than a breast for this entree. Perhaps I will ask about this next time. We also indulged in one of SOL’s Street Tacos, which were not only delicious, but at $6.00 for two, proved to be one great bargain. Indeed, the prices at this decidedly upscale restaurant were surprisingly affordable, with the other stand out being the Lamb Taco at $5.25. It’s definitely worth it!
With our birthday celebration coming to an end, we were delighted with a surprise – a complimentary Nacho Desert, which was anything but ordinary. Here, the Desert Nachos consist of Flour Tortillas that are deep fried, sprinkled with Cinnamon, drizzled with Chocolate and normally topped with Whipped Cream, which we had with ice cream. Ole! It made for a sweet and savory desert.
While the food was a definite stand out at this new restaurant, from an Interior Designer’s point of view SOL Cocina is in need of some basic improvement. We could not help but notice that the décor had been completely redone from when it was Mama Gina’s and is quite impressive, but someone completely dropped the ball when it came to the acoustics. Indeed, the restaurant was not even completely full at 8:30 on a Wednesday night when we noticed that it was awfully loud in there.
How about adding some windows that open up to let out some of the noise? This is just one suggestion from us three Interior Designers, who can appreciate the tasteful decor but cringe when we think about going back to a restaurant where the noise level is annoying. Someone definitely needs to take care of this before SOL can, and should — become Newport’s newest spot for contemporary, Baja-style dining.
Sol Cocina DIRECT (251 PCH, former Mamma Gina’s location): http://www.solcocina.com/
There are way better photos than my Guest Blogger took linked directly below. J.K., but it’s true, although I greatly appreciate the efforts nonetheless. http://ocmexfood.blogspot.com/2009/06/sol-cocina.html
Bonnie Joy Designs: http://www.bonniejoydesigns.com/