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Showing posts from 2012

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

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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-ta…

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

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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 ol…

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

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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 chick…

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Don Julio 1942

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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

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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 t…

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

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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 OrangeCounty 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…

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

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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

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

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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-tra…

Holiday Entertaining with Baileys & Ketel One

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‘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 CountyAntrim. 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…

Apple Pie

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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

Holiday Entertaining with Johnnie Walker

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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

BevMo! Holiday Beer Fest Los Angeles

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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 H…

Warm up your winter wonderland with Zacapa Rum 23

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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 re…

Fred Elm creates classic Canadian fare using local ingredients of SoCal

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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

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

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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, CountyAntrim. 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

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

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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 Bis…

Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches now open in Chino Hills, CA

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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 s…

Tis’ the Season for Avocados from Mexico

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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 polyunsaturate…

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

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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 f…

Pei Wei Asian Diner now open in Laguna Niguel, CA

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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 Eg…