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Monday, December 31, 2012

Mondo Taco serves up huge international flavors in Los Angeles, CA

The taco, not only a Mexican food culture staple, has now become a vehicle to serve foods and flavors not necessarily associated with Mexican cuisine. Sam Spector saw this possibility to showcase international cuisine that would tempt the taste buds of hungry foodies. No matter what you might be craving, Mondo Taco has you covered which tapas-style dining around the world. Since LA is a melting pot of cultures, food ingredients are accessible to create all of these flavors in one kitchen. With his 30 years of restaurant experience, his baby, Mondo Taco was born on July 23, 2012.

Beefeater is braised short rib topped with horseradish slaw. Wow! This is fantastic. The short rib was tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The horseradish slaw was subtle yet refreshingly creamy and added a crunchy texture. The tortillas were awesome with a rich corn flavor and just the right thickness. Thumbs up, way up!


To read more and see slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/mondo-taco-serves-up-huge-international-flavors-los-angeles-ca

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Brazen BBQ smoking up the best Texas-style BBQ in San Diego, CA

John Bracamonte and Brad Thomas have been on the BBQ competition circuit since 2009, perfecting their Texas BBQ technique while winning some pretty prestigious awards along the way. During their quest for the perfect BBQ, they decided to open a restaurant to share their BBQ with everyone. With over 20 years of restaurant experience between the two of them, starting up and running a restaurant is in their blood. They even had the honor of serving Julia Childs. On August 17, 2011, Brazen BBQ was born with dry rub, hardwood smoked, Texas-style BBQ. I also learned that it is bad luck not to name your smoker. Ms. Regina Ann is the name of the smoker at Brazen BBQ. Brazen isn’t just a name, it means BOLD. At the Santa Anita Win, Place, & BBQ Showdown in October 2012, Brazen BBQ came in 2nd for Pork out of 30 competitors!

The restaurant itself is modeled after a Texas roadside BBQ stop – display cabinets with chicken wire showcase their numerous competition awards, chilled troughs with old style sodas like Big Red greet you upon entry, and a hand-washing sink in the middle of dining room. The ambiance is warm and welcoming. The service is friendly and attentive. Tables are cleared immediately to make ready for the next guests.

Crawfish Corn Fritters are housemade corn fritters stuffed with crawfish and drizzled with a spiced maple glaze. These were down-home Southern-style fritters that are crispy on the outside with a deep dark brown color yet fluffy on the inside with tender, succulent crawfish. The corn kernels were crisp and juicily burst with each bite. Thumbs up, way up!
 

To read more and see slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/brazen-bbq-smoking-up-the-best-texas-style-bbq-san-diego-ca

Mahalo and Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!

OC Food Diva
 


Brazen BBQ on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Apollonia’s Pizzeria serving up exquisite artisan pizzas in Los Angeles, CA

Justin De Leon, acclaimed photographer, wanted to try something different. In addition to his photographic skills, he has 25 years of pizza making experience. Why not combine visual imagery and pizza? On July 28, 2012, the ingredients of experience paid off with the opening of Apollonia’s Pizzeria. The interior is a visual experience along with a show of pizza dough tossing for the perfect pizza crust. This is pizza where you take your time to savor the scents of the yeasty dough and let your taste buds experience flavors of truly artisan pizza. Justin’s wife, Linda, is the perfect hostess and is always talking to the guests and making sure they are enjoying every minute of their pizzeria experience. They use locally grown ingredients from community farmer’s markets, neighborhood bakeries, and resident meat distributors.

Burning Sycamores are hot wings topped with roasted garlic, jalapeno, and pineapple. The wings were tender and just hot enough so you can taste the flavor of the chicken. The mix of jalapenos, pineapple, and roasted garlic was similar to a tropical salsa – sweet heat. It complemented the chicken perfectly. These have to be the best hot wings I have ever had! Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/apollonia-s-pizzeria-serving-up-exquisite-artisan-pizzas-los-angeles-ca

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva


Apollonia's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Don Julio 1942

Tequila Don Julio 1942 is aged for a minimum of 2.5 years in American white-oak barrels. This Añejo is produced in small batches and reflects a sweet and complex aroma and hints of warm oak, pepper, and cinnamon flavors while being ultra smooth. It has a brilliant golden hue, rich, sweet aromas of caramel and toffee, and silky smooth character with a roasted agave, vanilla flavor with tropical fruit and spiced undertones.

Tequila Don Julio 1942 is an ultra-premium sipping tequila that is meant for celebrating the special occasions in life and New Year’s Eve makes the perfect holiday to celebrate the memories of 2012 and toast to good fortune in 2013. 1942 is best appreciated neat or on the rocks as well as mixed up in the ultimate drink to start the New Year, the 1942 Legendario. 
 

To view the recipe, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/article/celebrate-new-year-s-eve-with-don-julio-1942

Mahalo and Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!

OC Food Diva
 

Taco Asylum is where you mind goes wild over non-traditional gourmet tacos in Costa Mesa, CA

Taco Asylum is the spin-off from Haven Gastro Pub’s Chef Greg Daniels. Due to the huge popularity of his Short Rib Taco, it gave him the idea for a taco restaurant. In January 2011, this idea became what is known today as Taco Asylum (coming up on their 2 year anniversary next month). Think of the taco as a vehicle not the cuisine. The shape and form is Mexican, but the food inside is world cuisine. The flavors are authentic using fresh, humanely raised, sustainable meats and seafood, and products from local farmers and vendors wherever possible. The cuisine fits perfectly in The Camp. Also, Taco Asylum’s hot sauces are all made in house as well. With heat comes flavor as well so see which level you can take. Choose from the Red Savina, Honey Habanero, Roasted Jalapeno, Ghost Chili, and Trinidad Scorpion. Mix and match them to get the ultimate flavor rush. Just beware, some of these hot sauces will kick your ass and make you sweat so try a small drop first before drizzling over your tacos. My personal favorites are the Red Savina and Honey Habanero.

Grilled Octopus Taco is served on a flour tortilla with kalamata olives, oregano, feta, and tomatoes. The taco brings out the flavors of the Mediterranean. The octopus was tender, not chewy, and grilled to perfection. The components brought the flavor palate together from the salty, pickley kalamata olives, creamy, salty feta, sweet, tangy tomatoes, and just a touch of oregano. The Red Savina hot sauce paired well with this. Thumbs up, way up!
 
 
 
Mahalo,
 
OC Food Diva


Taco Asylum on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chile Fresco is serving up a fresh, healthy twist on Mexican food in Lake Forest, CA

Francisco Izawa is very creative when it comes to cuisine. With a Japanese/Spanish upbringing and travelling around the world with his family, he was exposed to worldly cuisine as a child. His upbringing trained him for what he is today, a conception restaurateur. On February 28, 2012, Chile Fresco was born serving up authentic, yet healthy Mexican food. The location was formerly a Jalapenos Mexican Food location. Francisco kept some of the menu items, but added a healthy option by using vegetable oil instead of lard - even homemade flour tortillas fresh every day. Your order even comes with fresh tortilla chips to nibble on while you’re waiting for your food.

Combination Plates are always popular and Chile Fresco has 5 to choose from. I ordered #1 Chicken Taco and Beef Enchilada Combination Plate. It is served with rice and beans. The taco shell was a homemade fried corn tortilla. The chicken was juicy and tender with rotisserie flavor. The beef enchilada was perfect. The shredded meat was tender and seasoned to perfection. I’m not a big fan of Mexican rice but Chile Fresco’s is one of the most flavorful that I’ve ever had, seasoned like a great Spanish rice. The enchilada sauce was also very good and I love the added melted cheese on top. Thumbs up!
 

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva
 


Chile Fresco Mexican Food on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Skosh Monahan’s Steakhouse & Irish Pub where political minds feed their hunger in Costa Mesa, CA

Gary Monahan, current Costa Mesa Councilman, wanted to carry out his dad’s dream of owning a restaurant. In 2000, the dream became a reality with Skosh Monahan’s. A gathering place of many Orange County political minds, like Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, after travelling back from their respective offices in Washington, DC or Sacramento, CA, they come for the food! Housed on Newport Boulevard with a view of the 55 freeway, Skosh Monahan’s exterior has the look of an office building, but once you get inside, it’s a very welcoming Irish pub, where everyone knows your name (like Cheers). With 15 plasma HDTVs adorning the bar area, there is plenty of room to spend with friends to root on your favorite team. Did I mention that they have 22 beers on tap! The dining room is modest and comfortable. The surprise is the food! It’s way more than just bar food and appetizers. You’ll see what I mean as you read on.

Irish Nachos are steak fries topped with melted cheese, bacon, and jalapenos. They were perfectly fried, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It was a different flavor with pickled jalapenos, carrots, and onion. They added a little Mexican flavor which is perfect for SoCal. The jalapenos had a kick to them, but added a nice flavor as well. Thumbs up!
 

To read more and see slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/skosh-monahan-s-steakhouse-irish-pub-where-political-minds-feed-their-hunger

Mahalo and Mele Kalikimaka!

OC Food Diva
 


Skosh Monahan's on Urbanspoon

Secret Squirrel Cold Brew Coffee on the loose in Los Angeles, CA


Trevor and Rebecca Smith are coffee connoisseurs. A few years ago, they tried cold brewing coffee at home using a Toddy (http://www.toddycafe.com/) Home Brewing System and never went back to conventional American coffee brewing ways. The cold-water brewing process extracts the natural flavors of coffee and leaves the bitter acids and oils behind, resulting in a bold, super-smooth taste. After years of experimentation with different coffee beans, timing, and filtration, October 2011 marked the birth of Secret Squirrel Cold Brew Coffee, 60% less acid than hot brewed coffee. The dark brown bottle gives it an old-fashioned and apothecary-like look to it, but also aids in keep any unwanted light out, like a good dark beer. The label is marked by their logo and includes a recipe to get you started.


To read more and see recipes, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/secret-squirrel-cold-brew-coffee-on-the-loose-los-angeles-ca

Mahalo and Mele Kalikimaka!

OC Food Diva

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Soleto Trattoria and Pizza Bar offers Southern Italian food to Los Angeles, CA


Innovative Dining Group (IDG) wanted to add another restaurant to their growing portfolio – Sushi Roku and BOA Steakhouse to name a few. During a visit to Southern Italian, IDG fell in love with the food and wanted to share this cuisine. Named after a town in Southern Italy, Soleto Trattoria and Pizza Bar opened to the public in July 2012. The interior was chic-industrial with exposed beams, reclaimed wood floors, white wash brick walls - very warm and welcoming. You already know you in for a relaxing, no fuss good time. The service is very attentive and friendly.

Ricotta Bruschetta mixed with honey and topped with pink peppercorns. These morsels on the happy hour menu are scrumptious! They are almost like mini pre-desserts. The ricotta was super fine and creamy like goat cheese. Yet, the texture was a lot lighter than goat cheese. The peppercorn and honey played very well together. Thumbs up, way up!


To read more and see photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/soleto-trattoria-and-pizza-bar-offers-southern-italian-food-to-los-angeles-ca

Mahalo and Mele Kalikimaka!

OC Food Diva

Soleto on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Entertaining with Baileys & Ketel One


‘Tis the season to be jolly! This season, get your holiday celebration in the spirit with easy entertaining cocktails from Baileys® Original Irish Cream and Ketel One® Vodka.  Whether entertaining a large yuletide party or an intimate gathering of friends, spread the holiday cheer with the “Baileys Peppermint Cream” and the Ketel One “Old Fashioned.”

Baileys Irish Cream is a combination of premium quality Irish dairy cream, fine spirits, Irish whiskey, and a proprietary recipe of chocolate flavors. The cream comes from 38,000 top-bred Irish pasture-fed cows in Ireland producing the more than 220 million liters (58 million gallons) of fresh milk required to manufacture Baileys. The whiskey is supplied by a number of distilleries including The Old Bushmills Distillery and County Antrim. Their proprietary cocoa extract recipe lends the chocolate character and essence.
 

To see the recipes and see more photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/article/holiday-entertaining-with-baileys-ketel-one

Mahalo,
 
OC Food Diva

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Apple Pie

My friend, Chris, made the best apple pie ever! It was perfect - flaky crust, texture of apples were just right - not too crunchy and not too mushy, and not overly sweet so you can relish in the fresh flavor of the apples.


Happy holidays!

Oc Food Diva

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Entertaining with Johnnie Walker

Need some help with your holiday entertaining? Johnnie Walker Whisky Truffles will awe your guests with a luxurious bite of chocolate heaven. With origins from the 1870’s, Johnnie Walker Black Label is regarded by experts as the ultimate Scotch deluxe whisky. Black Label draws upon powerful west coast malts and subtle east coast flavors to create a unique blend with a smooth, deep, and complex character.

Try the recipe below at your next holiday party and awe your guests with these luxurious truffles.


To view the recipe and see photo slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/holiday-entertaining-with-johnnie-walker

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Sunday, December 9, 2012

BevMo! Holiday Beer Fest Los Angeles

If you’ve ever been in a BevMo!, the selections are endless from wines, liqueurs, spirits, mixers, and, of course, beer. How could you possible try them all and know which one you love? The BevMo! Holiday Beer Fest was the beer tasting event of the year showcasing 100+ of the best breweries in the world. Just like a wine tasting, they give you tastes of each of their holiday, seasonal, specialty beers, hard ciders, and craft sodas. If you find one you like, you could go back for more. If you didn’t like it, you could empty it in strategically placed buckets around the tasting areas. Golden Road Brewing was the host this year, located on “the other side of the tracks” in Glendale. Parking was a little sparse but when you found a space, you were on your way. Even with some scattered showers, most fest goers where there for one thing only, the taste of beer! A little rain was not going to dampen their spirits.

Let’s take a look at some of the breweries and their special brews:

Ass Kisser Hand Crafted Ales from San Jose, CA served their Smoked Porter with a smoky, caramel malt backbone with a medium hop bitterness. Tasting notes: dark ale; very smooth, robust flavor; bitter bite; hoppy flavor.

Karl Strauss Brewing Company from San Diego, CA served up their Big Barrel Double IPA made with imported New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops which provides a vibrant tropical aroma, Warrior and Ahtanum hops which produce an assertive bitterness that stands out against a firm malt backbone. Tasting notes: wheat brew flavor; strong fruity nose; light bodied so you almost forget it is beer.



To read more and see photo slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/article/bevmo-holiday-beer-fest-los-angeles

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Warm up your winter wonderland with Zacapa Rum 23

With the change of season and Christmas songs playing where ever you go, winter is officially in full swing. After a long day in the cold weather, even if you are bundled up, sometimes you need something to warm you up from the inside.

Zacapa Rum is different from most rums. Like extra virgin olive oil, they use the concentrated first press of sugar cane, also known as virgin sugar cane honey. The rum slowly develops its flavor 7,544 feet above sea level in the highlands of Quetzaltenango, Guatamala at a place called The House Above the Clouds. The aging process is slowed due to the cool temperature and the flavor infusion is intensified by the lower atmospheric pressure. The rum is aged in Sistema Solera (a Spanish technique developed over 500 years ago to age sherry) where it blends rums of various ages in casks that once held American whiskey, sherry, and Pedro Ximenez wines. This blend of aromas and flavors from the casks are transferred to the maturing rum for a remarkable end result. Each bottle is adorned with a hand-woven petate band which is a royal Mayan symbol for the unity of time and space, earth, and sky.


To read more and see recipe, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/warm-up-your-winter-wonderland-with-zacapa-rum-23

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fred Elm creates classic Canadian fare using local ingredients of SoCal


Fred Elm is the story of a man, who could have very well existed - adventurer, outdoorsman, master cook, and hunter. Read about his adventures on their website. Sharon Kelly, is the woman behind the man behind the food. With culinary training and restaurant experience since 2007, she really missed her home in Canada. She found other transplants, from the land of the maple leaf, missing it as well. She wanted to share some of her food memories of her grandmother’s cooking from Tourtiere (tor-tee-air), Cucumber Relish, and the precious Potted Pork Rillettes. In May 2012, Fred Elm was born.


To read more and see photo slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/fred-elm-creates-classic-canadian-fare-using-local-ingredients-of-socal-1

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Melt your post-Black Friday stress away with Baileys Irish Cream


Baileys Irish Cream is a combination of premium quality Irish dairy cream, fine spirits, Irish whiskey, and a proprietary recipe of chocolate flavors. The cream comes from 38,000 top-bred Irish pasture-fed cows in Ireland producing the more than 220 million liters of fresh milk required to manufacture Baileys. The whiskey is supplied by a number of distilleries including The Old Bushmills Distillery, County Antrim. Their proprietary cocoa extract recipe lends the chocolate character and essence.

Shopping and catching all of those special sales on Black Friday can be an arduous task. One way to celebrate the money you saved is relaxing at home. Bailey’s Irish Cream is to here to warm your spirits with a unique drink.


To get the recipe, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/melt-your-post-black-friday-stress-away-with-baileys-irish-cream

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The 9th Annual San Diego Food & Wine Classic was an epicurean spectacle


The San Diego Food & Wine Festival was a multi-day event of special food & wine dinners at restaurants in San Diego culminating with the Grand Tasting this past Saturday, November 17, 2012. The Grand Tasting Event was like “The Best of San Diego Restaurants” plus wineries and breweries from around the country. Even with 3-4 hours to walk around and just see every booth, you don’t have enough time to see it all. It gives you an excuse to come back the next year! It’s not all just handing out of food and drink. There are also demonstrations and ability to meet your favorite celebrity chef.

Let’s take a tour, shall we:

As the general admission line started up, there was a great band entertaining us. Within in minutes the line stretched past where the eye could see. I wondered, “Can they accommodate all of these people?” At the stroke of high noon, they allowed us in and I was in awe. I said to myself, “There will be more than enough for everyone!”

Our first stop was Sea Rocket Bistro. They had a pork belly appetizer. It was a good portion of braised pork belly with shredded pickled radish mixture, puffy cracker that looked like a pillow, thin slice of jalapeno, and wrapped in a thin slice of cucumber. It had a great mix of flavors and textures – from the crisp cucumber, crunchy cracker, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly, slight heat from the jalapeno, and subtle saltiness from the shoyu marinade. It made me want to check out their restaurant. Their Live Point Loma Sea Urchin sounds awesome! For more information, please visit their website (www.searocketbistro.com)
 

To read more and see photo slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-9th-annual-san-diego-food-wine-classic-was-an-epicurean-spectacle

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva
 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches now open in Chino Hills, CA

On November 14, 2012, Bruxie opened their 4th location in Chino Hills, CA. It all started back in 1999, when Dean Simon traveled in Belgium for business. He became fascinated with the local farmers markets and street vendors, particularly, homemade waffles prepared to order. In 2006, Brux Waffles was born after development of a waffle recipe reminiscent of this Brussels street food. Brux Waffles could be found in hotels around America and even on cruise ships. In 2009, Chef Kelly Mullarney was hired and ideas of making waffles an “all-day offering” combining sweet and savory combinations became the mission. The waffles were made thinner and folded for portability. Bruxie was born! It began Orange and opened three locations in Brea, Rancho Santa Margarita and now, Chino Hills. The location chosen at The Shoppes at Chino Hills is optimal. Facing the main street from the freeway, it’s hard to miss. At night, the Bruxie signage glows and catches your curiosity right away. The restaurant space is very open and colorful. Menu boards are hung high above so you can read them whether you are up close or back a bit in line. The Bruxie team is very friendly, attentive, and very excited to be a part of the Grand Opening.

Let’s take a look at some of their menu items:

Roasted Mushroom & Goat Cheese is Laura Chenel’s Chevre Goat Cheese, fresh basil, arugula, and balsamic reduction. This savory number could be great for breakfast (think of these items inside an omelet). The goat cheese was smooth, creamy and matched perfectly with the fresh basil. The roasted mushrooms played well with the ingredients. The arugula gave it a refreshing crisp green flavor. If you like sun-dried tomatoes, they can be added on for $1 more. Thumbs up!


To read more and see photo slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/bruxie-gourmet-waffle-sandwiches-now-open-chino-hills-ca

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches  on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tis’ the Season for Avocados from Mexico

Avocados are a versatile fruit and used around the world. In the US, we see it made into guacamole, added to sushi, sandwiches, and salads. In other parts of the world, Ethiopia makes a juice out of it. In Suriname, it’s made into a liqueur. In Brazil and Southeast Asia, it’s used in desserts, smoothies, and milkshakes.

Here are some fun facts about Avocados from Mexico:
·         Avocados have been tempting taste buds for over 10,000 years. Archaeological evidence of avocado usage found in the caves of Mexico.
·         Avocados ripen off of the tree, around 7-10 days after being harvested.
·         Idyllic climate, varying elevations, abundant rain, and nutrient-rich volcanic soil make Mexico the only place in the world where Hass avocado trees naturally bloom 4 times a year, selling 2.6 billion pounds of avocados every year.
·         Avocados work as a “nutrient booster” helping your body absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, like lutein, alpha and beta-carotene.
·         American Heart Association says the mono- and polyunsaturated fats in avocados can help lower blood cholesterol levels when eaten in moderation and in place of saturated or trans fats.
·         “Avocado” comes from the ancient Aztec word “ahuácatl” (meaning “testicle”, because avocados hang in pairs).
·         A one-ounce serving of avocado (1/5 of a medium avocado) contains 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (beneficial plant compounds), 50 calories, 4-5 grams of fat 3.5 grams mono- and polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 of a gram of saturated fat), 2 grams of dietary fiber, 0 cholesterol, and 3 grams of carbohydrates.

I was invited to be a host of my own Avocados from Mexico House Party. Let’s look at some recipes where this buttery fruit can dazzle your family and friends:

Pineapple Cucumber Guacamole recipe is from the Truly Mexican cookbook by Roberto Santibañez. The combination of cucumbers, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice, salt, avocados, pineapple, and cilantro was just out of this world! Close your eyes and you can see yourself on the beach under a shaded hut using tortilla chips to scoop of this tropical delight. The pineapple and avocado paired well together – buttery silkiness combined with sweet, tropical flavor. The cucumbers added a refreshing flavor and crunchy texture along with the red onion and jalapeno. If you don’t like it too spicy, make sure you take the seeds out of your chiles. Thumbs up, way up!


To read more and see photo slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/tis-the-season-for-avocados-from-mexico 

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

JT Schmid’s Restaurant & Brewery celebrates their 5th anniversary in Tustin, CA

As JT Schmid’s Restaurant & Brewery celebrates their 5th anniversary in Tustin, CA, it sparked the launch of JT’s Bigger, Bolder, Badder Asser Burger, new handcrafted Imperial Stout, and a handful of new menu items to boast. The restaurant is located on one of the end caps of The District for easy parking and visibility. They have a generous patio area for those who want fresh air, an enormous dining area and bar, and even a private dining room for that special occasion or corporate event.

Let’s take a look at some of their new menu items:

Margherita Flatbread is topped with pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella, roma tomatoes, fresh sliced mozzarella, and basil. A classic never goes out of style. Fresh, crisp crust with great bread flavor, but it was the fresh mozzarella that made it great. The hearty tomatoes and basil rounded it out. Thumbs up!

Prosciutto Ham Flatbread is topped with pesto sauce, prosciutto ham, shredded mozzarella, goat cheese, grilled onions, and fresh basil. This flat bread was really good! Perfectly executed flavors and textures reminded me of Italy and Greece on a pizza. Mangia! Thumbs up, way up!

Roasted Pear & Bleu Cheese Flatbread is topped with balsamic glaze, shredded mozzarella, sliced red pear, bleu cheese crumbles, grilled onions, pecans, and fresh sage. It could almost be a dessert. There was a lot going on here with very complex flavor patterns. The perfect way to describe this was a fruit and cheese plate on toast. Thumbs up!

Meatball Sandwich is five 2 oz. meatballs made with certified Angus beef, garlic, tomatoes, fresh and dry basil, smothered in homemade marinara sauce, garnished with grated Parmesan, and served on brioche bun. These meatballs had an amazing mix of flavors. It tasted just like something my Italian grandma would make. It really tasted homemade! They even serve the meatballs as an appetizer too. Thumbs up, way up!
 
 
 
Mahalo,
 
OC Food Diva
 


JT Schmid's Restaurant & Brewery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pei Wei Asian Diner now open in Laguna Niguel, CA


Pei Wei Asian Diner (fast-casual concept restaurant by P.F. Chang’s China Bistro) opened a new location on September 10, 2012. They use a Mandarin-style wok cooking process (600 degrees) and feature cuisine from five Asian countries: China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, and Thailand. From the exterior, it looks like your typical quick service restaurant, but once you step inside you’re welcomed by LCD rolling menu boards that have beautiful photos of the food and extended descriptions. With the changing graphics, it keeps you entertained while you are in line thinking about what you want to order. The service was very friendly and helpful. I had not been to a Pei Wei in a while and the cashier helped me with ingredient questions on some of the menu items. The interior décor is very Asian, like you are outside dining al fresco in Bangkok near the river. They also have interactive Coca-Cola soda machines where you can mix and match soda flavors or just fill up on your favorite beverage.

Pork Egg Roll is filled with pork, Napa cabbage, black mushrooms, carrots, scallions, and rolled in a crispy egg roll wrapper. It had a lot of ground pork inside. The pork was flavorful, but could still use a little more spice. It also could be a little crispier on the outside. One of the best things about egg rolls is the crispy crunch on the outside. A sweet chili sauce would have been better than Asian mustard for dipping.

 
To read more and see photo slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/pei-wei-asian-diner-now-open-laguna-niguel-ca
 
Mahalo,
 
OC Food Diva


Pei Wei Asian Diner on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Definition of Family from Gallo Family Vineyards

Gallo Family Vineyards recently commissioned a national survey* polling Americans on what their current definition of family is. Gallo Family Vineyards is a family-owned winery, so their heritage is what inspired the idea for the survey.

Here are some interesting results from the survey:
  • 88% of Americans have a “found family,” or at least one person who is not a blood relative that they consider to be family
    • Of these “found families,” friends make up 76% of them
  • More than half of Americans have a famous family recipe, but only half of them are written down.
  • 71 % of Americans have “work family,” or a group of coworkers that they are particularly close with.
  • Half of Americans defined family as "someone who is always there for me."
Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos with Tequila Don Julio Reposado

Known as the Day of the Dead, Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that is now celebrated by numerous cultures throughout Latin America. Honoring deceased ancestors, family and friends celebrate the lives of lost loved ones through parades and festivals that are full of delicious food and drinks.  The Sangrita, meaning little blood, along with Tequila Don Julio Reposado is the perfect accompaniment to this authentic Mexican holiday as it’s a traditional Mexican sipper paired with the most popular luxury tequila in Mexico.


To read more and see recipe, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/celebrate-dia-de-los-muertos-with-tequila-don-julio-reposado

Mahalo and Happy Dia de los Muertos!

OC Food Diva

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bubba Sweets serves up their unique spin on cupcakes in Huntington Beach, CA

Erieka Pimentel (aka Bubba) has been making her family’s 1967 blue ribbon cake recipe for family and friends for years. In September 2011, Erieka and her husband, James, opened up Bubba Sweets to show off her unique spin on cupcakes and other sweets. Her sultry red hair, spunky style, and big smile invite you in. The walls are adorned with a yummy pink color, reminding you of cake frosting. All of their flavors of the day are displayed on silver cake stands and made fresh daily.

PMS Cure is Hershey’s chocolate cake, caramel buttercream, filled and topped with sea salt caramel. The chocolate cake was moist and the scent of chocolate will fill your senses. The caramel buttercream was creamy with a subtle caramel flavor. The star of the cupcake was the homemade caramel. It’s gooey like it just came out of the vat and just before it hits the candy stage. It was velvety and sensual. Don’t forget the middle. Inside you’ll find salted caramel for that sweet and salty balance. Thumbs up, way up!
 
 
 
Mahalo,
 
OC Food Diva

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Celebrate Halloween with Ketel One Oranje Vodka

Picking out the perfect pumpkin can be a challenge. However, mixing up the perfect pumpkin cocktail is easy thanks to this simple recipe from Ketel One. This Halloween, treat your guests to this tasty pumpkin-inspired cocktail that will get them into the spirit of the scary season.

Ketel One Oranje (debuted in 2010) is their Ketel One Vodka infused with the essence of orange for a crisp, refreshing vodka taste. The essence is a result of the careful selection of the best Valencia oranges from around the world. It is refined and blended at a flavor house in Grasse, France. When it is delivered to the Nolet Distillery in Schiedam, Holland, the orange essence is blended with the Ketel One Vodka and allowed to marry for 24 hours. The final result is Ketel One Oranje, a super-premium vodka with a fresh, bright orange zest with hints of warm spice. Each run of Ketel One Oranje is personally approved by a Nolet family member before bottling. It’s the personal dedication to the final product that amazes me about Ketel One, founded in 1691  - over 300 years ago.


To see the recipe, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/celebrate-halloween-with-ketel-one-oranje-vodka

Mahalo and Happy Halloween!

OC Food Diva

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My N.Y. Pizza serves family-style Italian cuisine in Fontana, CA


Betty and Jose Torres had a dream of opening a restaurant they could call their own. In 2010, their dream became a reality with My N.Y. Pizza. Everything is made fresh daily from the pizza dough to the sauces with no preservatives. They have a fabulous pasta selection and I watched as the Alfredo sauce was made before my eyes. The scent of fresh garlic and fresh baked pizzas allures you as you open the door. With an open kitchen, you can watch as your order is made. They have nothing to hide. The Torres family also cares about their communities and schools and will donate 30% of sales back to your non-profit organization when you hold a fundraiser with them. 

Antipasto Salad is turkey, salami, ham, lettuce, tomato, onions, olives, cheese, red onions, pepperocinis and your choice of dressing. The medium size is enough for 4 people to share. The vegetables were fresh, sweet, and crisp. The mozzarella was cool and creamy. The meats were chopped into perfect bite size pieces and contained the perfect mix of deli meats. The salami was hearty, yet just melted in the mouth like any good Italian cured meat should. The flavors were balanced and their ranch dressing matched perfectly. Thumbs up, way up!

Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken is made fresh when you order it from boiling the pasta to making the Alfredo sauce in a sauté pan. The aroma of garlic, cheese, and oregano fill the air. The vibrant scent of oregano make you feel like you’re in an Italian home. The Alfredo sauce had a creamy, velvety base with an oregano punch. The sauce needed a little bit more salt but as Emeril Lagasse says, “You can always add but you can’t take away.” Add a sprinkle of salt, parmesan, and pepper and you’re good to go. Chicken was tender and absorbed the flavor from the Alfredo. The garlic bread was toasted in the pizza oven making it perfectly crusty and browned on the edges. Thumbs up!

White Pizza is olive oil, fresh garlic, parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, whole milk mozzarella cheese, and your choice of fresh basil or cilantro. The crust had a chewy interior and crispy exterior. The cheese combination maintained a wonderful balance from the creamy ricotta to the gooey mozzarella to the slightly salty parmesan. The basil was a refreshing and green flavor and wilted just enough to let the natural oils of the leaves come out. Perfectly executed! Thumbs up, way up!

The Pastrami Pizza is mustard, pickles, and pastrami on a cheese pizza. I’m not a big fan of mustard and pickles, but I love pastrami! The mustard scent is strong but the taste is just right. The pickles were also not too strong and matched well with the pastrami. The pastrami tasted like spiced bacon with gooey melted cheese. This pizza was a total surprise and I would definitely get this again. This would be a great picnic pizza or even as leftovers – a pastrami sandwich in pizza form. This was fabulous! Thumbs up, way up!

Head on over to My N.Y. Pizza and grab yourself a pie! If you have an army to feed, try their Giant 28” pizza! It’s HUGE!

Specials:
  • $1 beer specials, everyday and anytime. Limit 2 per each pizza purchase.
  • Check out their specials page from lunch specials to Football Party Specials to Family Specials: http://www.mynypizza.com/specials/

Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 3 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
My N.Y. Pizza
15034 Foothill Blvd
Fontana, CA 92335
909.427.1869
Hours: Monday-Thursday from 11am-9pm, Friday-Saturday from 11am-10pm, Sunday from 12pm-9pm

My N.Y. Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato