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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

OC Food Diva’s “Best Of” Newport Beach Restaurant Week 2017


Newport Beach Restaurant Week is back for its 11th consecutive year, presented by Dine Newport Beach and the Newport Beach Restaurant Association. It officially started Monday, January 16 and runs through Sunday, January 29, 2017. Participating restaurants will offer special, two- or three-course prix fixe menus priced between $10 to $25 for lunch and $20 to $50 for dinner.


Here’s a look at the Newport Beach Restaurant Week preview event at Marina Park. It is a great location for residents of Newport Beach to reserve for events. The floor-to-ceiling windows are actually sliding doors which can be opened for spectacular views of Newport Bay.

Tackle Box presented up Buffalo Cauliflower.

The Ritz presented Spanish Octopus with romesco, fingerlings, and shaved asparagus.

Cucina Enoteca presented Braised Pork Cheek with creamy polenta, pickled trumpet mushrooms, grilled onion, and pig ear crackling.

Star Bar + Kitchen presented Caprese Sliders with mozzarella, habanero-pesto, basil, and tomato…

And Chicken “Gourmet” Balls with white herb sauce…

And Beef Blend “Gourmet” Balls with marinara topped with mozzarella.

Lighthouse Café presented Salmon Burger Sliders with lemon caper mayo, tomato, and mixed greens…

And Banana Bread Pudding with bruléed bananas, whipped cream, and salted caramel…

And Chocolate Ganache Tart with orange and hazelnut.

Sessions West Coast Deli presented Mushroom Chorizo Torta with roasted corn, goat cheese guacamole, and guajillo slaw.

For a complete listing of participating restaurant, please click here.

Here are my must-dine restaurants during Newport Beach Restaurant Week(s):


FIG & OLIVE - $25 Prix Fixe Lunch (My choices: Quinoa Salad, Paella Del Mar, and Chocolate Pot de Crème) and $40 Prix Fixe Dinner (My choices: Salmon Crudo, Fig & Olive Tajine, and Chocolate Pot de Crème)


Five Crowns Restaurant - $50 Prix Fixe Dinner (My choices: Lobster Bisque, Prime Ribs of Beef, and C.C. Brown’s Hot Fudge Sundae)


Hopdoddy Burger Bar - $10 Burger and Beer (My choices: PrimeTime and Left Coast Brewing Co. Trestles IPA) and $20 Burger, Beer, Fries, and Shake (My choices: PrimeTime, Left Coast Brewing Co. Trestles IPA, Parmesan Truffle Fries, and Red Velvet Cake Shake)


Stag Bar + Kitchen - $10-$15 Prix Fixe Lunch (My choices: Meatball Sub with Stag Balls or Abe Forman “The Sausage King of Chicago” Pizza) and $20 Prix Fixe Dinner (My choices: Abe Froman Pizza and Juice Cleanse cocktail)

Take advantage of these great deals in Newport Beach and Corona del Mar while they last! Make your reservations today!

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 World Food Championships Blogger Summit Day 1 + recipe



My 2016 Blogger Summit experience started with a long-haul, 2-stop flight from John Wayne International Airport to Denver International Airport to George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Mobile Regional Airport. A full day of travel was on the itinerary but necessary in order to be on-time for the Blogger Summit which started early the next day. It’s too bad it was late in the evening when I landed in Mobile as the drive was so dark, I missed out on a lot of scenery along the way.


  • Travel Tip 1: When Orange Beach, AL is your destination, the nearest airport is actually in Pensacola, FL. I had not flown to Alabama before and searched for the nearest airport in Alabama. Learn from my mistake as the drive from Mobile to Orange Beach is very long, about 2 hours. Pensacola is about 45 minutes away.
  • Travel Tip 2: Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card is a great way to utilize your miles for fun trips like this. Everyday purchases add up and become free travel. I just love it! I’ve been flying United Airlines since I was little as they were one of the only airlines that had a direct flight to my home town in Hawaii. Other perks are a free checked bag, priority boarding, 2 passes per year for the United Club, and no foreign transaction fees.

I arrived at Spectrum Resorts’ Turquoise Place in Orange Beach very late in the evening. Since the front desk staff had already gone home for the night, the security team helped me check in. The two-tower property is stocked with amenities of a beach-front resort with luxurious and elegant 2,300-square foot suites that are a home away from home including private balconies with personal Jacuzzis, grill, and tables & chairs for outdoor dining.

The common areas include a large gourmet kitchen with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances, a wet bar complete with wine cooler and prep space to make your favorite cocktail, dining room that seats 6 plus marble counter bar to seat more, flat screen TVs, and floor to ceiling windows for a panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico (which I wouldn’t see until morning as it was too dark). The unit I stayed in had a Master Bedroom and 2 secondary bedrooms, each with their own bathrooms. There was also a stand-alone bathroom as well as a laundry room equipped with Whirlpool washer and dryer.

I stayed in one of the secondary bedrooms with a king bed, small window into the hallway with inland view of Orange Beach, flat-screen TV, closet, dresser, and night stands. The bathroom had a single-sink vanity with tiled walk-in shower, and Gilchrist and Soames bath products. After being on a plane and rental car all day, I just wanted to jump into a hot shower and go to bed.

The next morning, I woke-up bright and early to fix some coffee and enjoy the sunrise from the balcony. The winds had kicked up along with some cloudy skies. Otherwise, it was just nice to have the breeze against my face and the scent of the ocean wafting up to the balcony.

The bloggers all met up in the main tower for registration. A lot of new and returning bloggers filled the room. We were a mix of food and travel bloggers and writers along with competitors who would go on to compete at the World Food Championships. You will see a closer look at two of these competitors in future blog posts and YouTube videos – Jodi Taffel (a.k.a. The Bacon Babe) and Lisa Keys (a.k.a. Good Grief Cook).

A continental breakfast of The Happy Egg Co. frittata, breakfast potatoes, fruits, and breads started our lecture day of the summit.

For a coffee break, we enjoyed Cup of Luxury’s Black Label coffee. This 5-star rated, 100-point coffee is handcrafted, roasted on order with a luxurious price tag of $100 per pound. It was an honor to try such an amazing cup of coffee with an amazing view of the Gulf of Mexico and the white sugar sand Orange Beach below. Mahalo Bryan David Scott and Chef Mike Roberts for this rare opportunity!

The main event was the BroTorch Cooking, presented by Hormel Chili

And, yes, some of the bloggers had the opportunity to flame-grill some hot dogs on the windy, sugar sand beach in front of the Turquoise Place.

Our last lecture was with Michael Sewell, commercial photographer extraordinaire, all the way from the United Kingdom. He showed us how utilize light and reflective materials to cast shadows and change the focal point in photos. Our first exercise was to take sexy pictures of Wickles Pickles. Since I don’t have a lot of photographic/lighting equipment, I used my iPhone as my light source on a tabletop tripod and used my Sony a20 DSLR on a standard tripod for the photographs. I made it work and then did some touch-up work in Photoshop. Not bad.

Our second exercise was to make our Tailgate Sandwich recipe, utilizing at least one Saucy Mama sauce, and then use our photography techniques to take more sexy pictures of it. The photo shoot for this one was much easier due to the different colors and the reflective quality of the bread and egg whites. I’d like to give a big shout out to Whole Foods Market Mobile for providing me with great products to use in my sandwich recipe. Everyone thought it was the cutest sandwich! Check out the recipe below.

Hawaiian Roll Slider version during test kitchen
Touchdown Turkey Cobb Slider & Deviled Egg Combo by OC Food Diva

Deviled Eggs Ingredients:

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • ¼ cup 365 Everyday Value Organic Mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Saucy Mama Chipotle Mustard
  • 2 strips bacon, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon 365 Everyday Value Bleu Cheese Crumbles
  • ½ Roma tomato, diced
  • ¼ avocado, diced

Easy assembly line construction
Slider Ingredients:
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon 365 Everyday Value Bleu Cheese Crumbles
  • ¼ cup 365 Everyday Value Organic Mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Saucy Mama Chipotle Mustard
  • 1-2 avocados, sliced
  • 12 strips bacon, halved
  • 1 package EuroClassic brioche rolls or Hawaiian rolls
  • 1-2 packages sliced turkey deli meat
  • 3-4 romaine lettuce leaves, cut into 2” strips
  • Large sandwich toothpicks


  1. Halve eggs lengthwise and spoon out yolks into bowl. Put whites on deviled egg tray.
  2. Mash yolks with fork or pastry cutter. Mix in mayonnaise and chipotle mustard until creamy.
  3. Fold in bacon and bleu cheese crumbles.
  4. With melon baller, fill each egg white half with yolk mixture.
  5. Dice tomatoes and avocado. Garnish deviled eggs with tomatoes and avocado. Cover and refrigerate.
  6. For sliders, mix together mayonnaise, chipotle mustard, and bleu cheese crumbles. Set aside.
  7. Cut rolls in half and place on cutting board or clean, flat surface.
  8. Fold 1-2 slices of turkey deli meat and place on each bottom part of the cut rolls.
  9. Place 2 bacon strip halves in an “X” configuration on top of the turkey.
  10. Place 1 slice of Roma tomato on top of the bacon.
  11. Fold and place romaine lettuce strip on top of tomato.
  12. Spread mayo/mustard mixture on cut side of top part of the cut rolls and place on top of the lettuce.
  13. Use large toothpicks to hold slider together.
  14. Place deviled egg on atop of the slider using the top part of the toothpick to hold in place.
  15. Garnish platter with parsley and serve immediately.

What a great day to kick off the 2016 World Food Championships Blogger Summit! Stayed tuned for Day 2!

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