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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Four Brix Winery hits the “sweet” spots of great wine in Ventura, CA

It all started back in 2004 when 3 families (The Simonsgaards, Stewarts, and Noonans) were making home and hobby wines with their friends and family. Eventually, they decided to share their winemaking experience with others and formed Four Brix Winery, named for their four favorite “sweet” spots for growing grapes – France, Spain, Italy, and California. Gary and Karen Stewart were on hand during our visit to Four Brix Winery. Gary knows a lot about wine, winemaking, and the history of wine. It’s really amazing how much he knows and you can taste the enthusiasm in the wine he makes. Since our visit was during the fermentation process, we were allowed to “punch down” the grapes in the fermentation vats and smell the fermentation in full swing. The aroma is wonderful!

Let’s take a look at the blends that Four Brix Winery offers:

Smitten 2010 is light gold in color and is a perfect blend of Viognier and Marsanne. Crisp and light in the mouth, the floral aroma has hints of peaches from Viogner. The finish has the essence of green apple and slight mineral taste from Marsanne.

To read more and see photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Les Pop Sweets are decadent delights without the guilt

Elizabeth wanted to get away from all of the processed foods and serve organic, homemade snacks to her children. So she started experimenting by making her own organic ice cream, marshmallows, and fruit gelatins. She wanted something thing sweet to stick in her children’s lunchboxes and the cake pop was born. After her children let their friends see what Elizabeth made for snacks, kids started asking their own moms for these wonderfully delicious treats. But these treats aren’t just for kids! They are decadent delights that will put any adult into a dreamlike state as well.

Let’s take a look at some of these creations:

Noah’s Chocolate Mudslide is her signature chocolate cake baked with all natural, 100% pure cocoa. The cake is delicately blended with chocolate buttercream frosting, hand-dipped in smooth Belgian milk chocolate, and drizzled with dark Belgian chocolate. You’ll definitely have an OMG moment or two! The chocolate has a rich, intense flavor similar to a chocolate liqueur. The cake itself is dense yet soft like the inside of a truffle. The Belgian chocolate is velvety smooth and effortlessly melts in your mouth. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Panfiniti makes paninis with infinite possibilities in Southern California

Friends, Anne Eng and Priscilla Low, came up with this food truck concept after years of cooking for events at their church. With a passion for food and feeding large crowds, they decided to hit the road with their Italian-Asian fusion cuisine. Anne handles their ever-growing food truck crowds on a daily basis as her food truck team grows as well. Anne always takes the time to explain the menu items and helps suggest the best sandwich for whatever a customer is craving. Her team always gives great service and you simply won’t believe the flavor combinations she pumps out of the truck.

The Hawaiian Steak Fries is sweet potato fries topped with skirt steak, caramelized onions, and hoisin aioli. What a combination! This is a “side dish” that could definitely be a main dish. The skirt steak is tender and matched perfectly with the caramelized onions. Thumbs up!

To read more and see photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sky Garden Restaurant is a stellar experience at ‘Imiloa in Hilo, HI

In 2008, Andy Cheng took the reigns of Sky Garden Restaurant bringing Asian and Hawaiian influenced food to locals and visitors of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. ‘Imiloa has plenty to do and will keep you busy the whole day with astronomical exhibits, planetarium shows, and even a native botanical garden outside.

Sky Garden features a nightly dinner buffet option (except Sundays). Let’s take a looks at some of the highlights:

  •  On Thursdays, snow crab legs are on the menu. Snow crab legs are steamed to perfection with drawn butter. It’s not too salty, tender, and super juicy.
  • Caesar salad – The romaine lettuce is fresh and crispy but the dressing needs more garlic and anchovy flavor.
To read more and see photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Sky Garden Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Zeffirino serves an outrageous Thanksgiving buffet in Las Vegas, NV

It all started in 1939, when Zeffirino Belloni opened his family restaurant in Genova, Italy. The Zeffirino family’s epicurean flare has delighted thousands for over four generations. Gian Paolo, Zeffirino’s son and extended family continued the tradition with their 1999 opening of Zeffirino in the Grand Canal Shoppes in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The restaurant is 2-stories tall and has museum quality décor, limestone columns, Venetian-style open windows, antique furniture and one-of-a-kind balcony dining over-looking the Grand Canal. You’ll really feel like you’re in Venice!

Let’s see what their Thanksgiving buffet has in store for you! It’s located on the 2nd story and it’s a huge. Here are some highlights to get your taste buds going:

To read more and see photos, please visit:

Mahalo and Happy Thanksgiving!

OC Food Diva

Zeffirino (Venetian) on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Get a little taste of the Southwest at Chili’s in Orange, CA

With hockey season in full swing for our Anaheim Ducks, Chili’s is a great place to go to watch the game and eat some great grub. Or stop by before you go to the game and eat some great food without the arena prices.

As appetizers go, you might want to give this one a miss. The Skillet Queso is mixed with seasoned beef and served with warm tostada chips and housemade salsa. It is okay, but the color is not at all appetizing. It might be better if it was queso with ground beef mixed inside. It's more like nacho cheese and chili mixed together which produces the weird unappetizing color. The salsa is thin, but flavorful with fresh tomato, garlic, onion, chili pepper with just the right amount of heat without overpowering the flavor.

To read more and see photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Chili's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chronic Tacos is making extreme Mexican food addictive in Orange County, CA

Chronic Tacos is definitely an extreme sports hangout. Wee Man, of Jackass fame, is on their cups and the motif is just right for the skater or surfer in your life. Daniel Biello and Randall Wyner had an idea to make fast, fresh, made-to-order Mexican food with large portions at a great price. With the recipes from the Bonilla family, their dream became a reality in 2002 when their first store opened in Newport Beach, CA. Almost 10 years later, they have expanded to 36 locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Canada.

The concept is different from your usual fast food Mexican restaurant. Everything is made before your very eyes. It’s setup like a sandwich shop so you pick your vehicle (from tacos to burritos to nachos and anything in between), pick the meat (pollo, carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, or shrimp), and all of the fillings from beans, rice, cheese, sauces, and vegetables. It’s always best when you can make it to your liking.

Getting’ hungry? Let’s start with their Burritos which are monster 13” tortillas stuffed with white lime rice or Spanish rice, your choice of black, pinto, or refried beans, cheese, cilantro, onions, and salsa (to your liking, of course). The first combination we tried was a Wet Al Pastor Burrito with cheese, onions, salsa, Spanish rice, black beans, squeeze of lime, cabbage, and cilantro. The wet sauce had an overpowering tomato flavor. Al pastor was good, but not great. The rice, beans, and salsa were ok, nothing special.

The second combination was a Grilled Shrimp Burrito with cheese, refried beans, onions, cilantro, green sauce, and lettuce. The grilled shrimp is amazing - perfectly cooked, crisp and sweet, and seasoned just right. The refried beans are good, nicely flavored, not too salty or greasy. Well combined flavors if I say so myself! You’ll definitely have an OMG moment or two! Thumbs up, way up!

Beef and Chicken Flautas with chopped peppers, cheese and onion inside served with salsa and guacamole for dipping. The Beef Flautas are juicy and have a good beefy flavor. The chicken, on the other hand, was rather flavorless. Fortunately, the guacamole is chunky, flavorful and really saved the day for this dish. The flauta itself was fried to perfection with a great crunchy texture that you’d expect. Thumbs up on the Beef Flautas!

Fatty Tacos are served up street-style on your choice of flour or corn tortilla with veggies and salsa. We tried the carnitas topped with guacamole, green chile sauce, onions, and cilantro. The carnitas are a little on the sweet side and more like pulled pork with a soft texture. I prefer my carnitas on the salty side and with a crispy texture. I must say, the combination of flavors worked really well – sweet, creamy, and tangy. The corn tortillas are wonderfully light with a sweet corn flavor. Definitely a mind-blowing experience! Thumbs up, way up!

Tortas are homemade talera “bread” smothered in refried beans and topped with veggies, guacamole, and salsa. We tried carne asada with refried beans, guacamole, spicy salsa, onions, and cilantro. This is one manly sandwich. It’s HUGE! Just half of it was almost too much for me. The flavor combination was different for a sandwich, sort of like what you would have inside a burrito but on bread instead. It’s a little messy but good. It’s like a Mexican Sloppy Joe. The bread was a little too soft so it got soggy too fast. Grilling the outer crust more might help. Near the end, you’ll need a fork to eat the rest.

I saved the best for last. Chronic Tacos stocks Choco Tacos for dessert. Vanilla light ice cream swirled with chocolate sauce packed in a waffle cone taco shell and covered in chocolate and topped with nuts. These are made by Klondike so “What would you do for a Choco Taco?” It’s the great end to a great meal.

If you’re looking for some ridiculously addictive Mexican food, slide on over to Chronic Tacos. It’s real food for real people.

Savings Tip:
  • 2012 Entertainment Book (Orange County Edition) – 2 coupons: Enjoy one complimentary menu item when a second menu item of equal or greater value is purchased up to $6; Enjoy 10% off any catering order

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars

For more information:
Chronic Tacos
5365 Alton Pkwy Ste D
Irvine, CA 92604-8613
949-653-8226 (TACO)

Chronic Tacos
7520 E Chapman Ave Ste A
Orange, CA 92869-8521
(714) 639-9826

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Buttermilk Truck makes a stop on Eat Street

Gigi Pascual makes her television debut on Eat Street, in the episode entitled “Bacon Mania Baby”. It seems a fitting title since bacon is such a big part of breakfast and Gigi certainly knows breakfast. Also on the episode is the winner of the 2011 OC Foodie Fest, BaconMania. The series is hosted by James Cunningham. He scours North America for the tastiest, messiest, and most irresistible street food. You’ll have to watch the episode and cheer for our local trucks!

Let’s take a look at some of Gigi’s creations! The Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancake Bites are served with butter and syrup. These are to die for! I missed them at the 2010 OC Foodie Fest so when the truck came back down to the OC, I simply had to get them. I waited almost 2 hours in line to get them. Sounds crazy, but when you’ve been fantasizing about a food item for almost a year, you’ll wait as long as necessary to get them. I was actually getting afraid that they were going to run out, but fortunately, they didn’t. They did, however, run out of the Fried Chicken with Housemade Cinnamon Waffles instead which was my second choice. So I had to start thinking quickly about my second choice. But back to the red velvet pancakes; they were all I was dreaming about and more. The pancakes had a good red velvet flavor mixed with the taste of buttermilk pancakes. The chocolate chips gave it a decadent aspect, rich chocolate morsels inside every bite. The butter is whipped fluffy like a whipped cream. I decided to forgo using the syrup so I could enjoy the full effect of the pancakes. It was a good choice. They didn’t need it. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Buttermilk Truck on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Grand Opening of Ahn Joo at The Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA

On Thursday, November 10, 2011, Chef Debbie Lee, debuted Ahn Joo, a Korean snack bar, at The Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA. She took her Ahn Joo food truck concept from the streets and has given it a permanent home in this beautiful center. The Americana at Brand is like a mini-city with shopping, dining, and entertainment. Ahn Joo is in a prime location, in front of the movie theatre with the fountain as the backdrop. With the holiday season rapidly approaching, the center has raised their giant Christmas tree which is about as tall as the one at Disneyland. The grand opening was an intimate one with family, friends, and long time supporters of Chef Debbie. Soju Sangria (recipe is in her cookbook) was poured and samples of Ahn Joo’s pub grub menu were served continuously. Barnes and Nobles was also on hand selling Chef Debbie’s new cookbook, “Seoultown Kitchen”. It’s so great to see how gracious she is to her fans. She treats everyone like family.

Let’s take look at some of her Korean pub grub creations! Korean Nachos is deep fried rice cakes, smoky chile queso, soy braised pork, and kimchee salsa. Yes, I said, kimchee salsa. This is an amazing play on nachos. The pork was marinated to perfection and added a special flavor to the deep fried rice cakes. The kimchee salsa added a spicy, pickley flavor and tied it all together in a neat little bow. The cheese was a very interesting addition. Who knew cheese and kimchee went together (just like the Calbi Truck’s Kimchee Quesadilla). Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Ahn Joo (food truck) on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jerry’s Wood-Fired Dogs serving up gourmet hot dogs, sausages, and more in Irvine, CA

Jerry O’Connell felt that there was a need and demand for fast casual gourmet hot dogs and sausages. In 2003, his dream became a reality when his first restaurant, Jerry’s Wood-Fired Dogs, opened in Santa Ana. Since 2003, they have opened three more locations around Orange County. The Irvine location opened in 2009. They are excited about their newest location opening up in the John Wayne Airport, Terminal C, in December 2011.

The concept is very unique. You order up the menu item of your choice. You are given a coaster beeper to tell you when you’re meal is ready. They fix it up the way you like with over 30 Favorite Fixings. Choose from starters, chunky items, finishing touches and dressings. They even offer Premium Fixings like chili, cheese, avocado, and more for an additional charge. The combinations are seemingly endless!

To read more and see photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

May Cookie Company serves up healthy and convenient cookie mixes to make in your own kitchen

Susan Nolte and her daughter, Marissa Hanley, researched how they could make a homemade cookie better, by using healthier ingredients and make it easier for you in the kitchen. In May 2008, Susan and Marissa’s dream became a reality when they opened May Cookie Company specializing in “healthier homemade” – great-tasting, wholesome, all-natural cookie mixes; including a dairy-free, egg-free option. Baking brings the family together in the kitchen and the May Cookie Company cookie mixes reinforces healthy foods with the simple pleasures of homemade cookies.

I found their cookie mixes really easy to follow. Everything is in pre-measured packets, labeled to correlate with each step of the baking process on the box. Tip: If you decide to order any of the chocolate flavors, order them in the winter months ( Otherwise, the chocolate chips may melt and fuse together into a huge chocolate chunk. My solution was to use a meat mallet and break it up into chip size pieces. They are also available for purchase in natural food markets in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. Check out their website for a store near you -

To read more and see photos, please visit:


OC Food Diva