Showing posts from March, 2012

Panera Bread in Irvine, CA has good selection of breakfast and lunch options

Located near the corner of Irvine Boulevard and Sand Canyon Road is Panera Bread. Once you enter the doors, the scent of fresh baked bread fills the air. As you peruse the menu, make sure to sample some of their breads so you can make the right choice. All of their bakery items are on display whether you are in the mood for a pastry and coffee for breakfast or picking a dessert for after lunch. The service is friendly and attentive most days.

Jalapeño & Cheddar Bagel Breakfast Sandwich is an all-natural egg, a thick slice of Vermont white cheddar and smoked, lean ham all grilled on a Jalapeño & Cheddar bagel. The flavors were awesome! Gooey, melted cheddar with smoky ham and a spicy kick from the jalapenos in the bagel made this sandwich a winner. Thumbs up, way up!

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OC Food Diva

Taco Maria is crafting upscale Chicano cuisine in Southern California

Chef Carlos Salgado started cooking at a young age helping out in his family’s restaurant, La Siesta in Orange, CA. After finishing culinary school, he stayed up in the Bay Area working in some of the finest kitchens in the area – Vernon Morales’ Winterland, Daniel Patterson’s Coi, and James Syhabout’s Commis. Classically trained as a pastry chef, Chef Carlos brings his culinary talents and his culture to bear in all his offerings to SoCal foodies. Chef Carlos is definitely a farm to plate chef – always using local, seasonal ingredients. If you visit him in a farmers’ market environment, during downtimes, you’ll see him talking with the farmers. Frida, the Taco Maria truck, is setup like an exposition kitchen - big pane glass windows, sparkling stainless steel kitchen appliances, and all of the staff dressed in perfectly pressed white chef coats. You can watch them prepare items before your very eyes, whether it’s prepping ingredients or assembling your order.
Chilaquiles from Taco Mar…

Pasta Prima Spinach and Mozzarella Ravioli

Pata Prima makes a Spinach and Mozzarella Ravioli (frozen and sold at Costco stores) that is awesome! I tried it during a sampling while we were shopping and fell in love with them.

Since of boiling them, I've been sauteeing them in a skillet with olive oil. The raviolis turn golden brown like a wonton. Last winter, our friend bought a electronic turkey fryer and use it as a deep-fryer in the kitchen when we don't have a turkey to deep-fry. I thought to myself, what if we deep-fried the raviolis like they serve as appetizers in restaurants? They turn out perfect, just like wontons filled with spinach and mozzarella. Sprinkle on the parmesan oregano packet on top and you're good to go.


OC Food Diva

St. Patrick's Day Dinner

Corned Beef and Cabbage (used Better Homes and Gardens recipe as base then expanded)

Added red potatoes (halved), made a bouquet garni with seasoning packet from inside corned beef package with coffee filter and butcher twine), added 2 pint glasess of water,  and cooked in crock pot for 7 hours on high.

For dessert, I made The Naughty Leprechaun from BetterRecipes.
Better than McDonald's Shamrock Shake with an alcohol kick. Made 3 at one time in blender and split into 3 wine glasses.

Hope you're St. Paddy's Day was great!


OC Food Diva

Garlicscapes is serving up redefined comfort food with garlic in Southern California

Mike Dimmit, who used to work on the BaconMANia truck, now runs the sister truck, Garlicscapes. He takes his training from BaconMANia to a new and surprisingly ungimmicky high. Don’t get me wrong, I love the folks at BaconMANia, but there is no way you can eat their food on a daily or weekly basis--maybe monthly. On the other hand, Garlicscapes actually has items that you can eat at lunch or dinner. The portions are normal and not very greasy. Being a newbie on the food truck scene, making its debut in October 2011, Garlicscapes strive to make the garlic lover happy. Mike has over 10 years experience cooking and entering numerous chili cook-off competitions.

Fried Artichokes with Feta are fantastic. Crispy artichoke leaves and a tender artichoke heart with that wonderful artichoke flavor that you know and love. The “scape” sauce was drizzled on top and delivered a refreshing flavor that just knocks your socks off. Just imagine an onion blossom but not as greasy. Thumbs up, way up!


The Summit House is serving up hearty fare with English flare in Fullerton, CA

With beautiful views of North Orange County, The Summit House sits above it all. The exterior looks like an old English Inn with beautifully landscaped trees and shrubbery on the grounds. The interior is dark with a tavern off to the side and a huge main dining room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows so all guests can partake in the view. The tables are perfectly manicured with white linen table cloths and decorative folded napkins. The servers are dressed in period attire making the experience more memorable. All they need is the English accent and you would be transported to Ole England. My husband and I spend a Valentine’s Day dinner here back in the 1990s so we were interested to see if it had changed. Your evening starts with basket of bread (sourdough and walnut bread). I just love the scent of fresh aromatic breads!
Escargots Bourguignonne are served in a Brandy Pernod Garlic Butter. OMG, this is just like I remembered it. The Summit House was my first experience with escargot.…

Pampas Brazilian Grille is Brazilian dining with a seafood flare in Las Vegas, NV

Nestled within the Miracle Mile Shops inside the Planet Hollywood Casino Resort, Pampas Brazilian Grille lures you in with the scent of freshly grilled meats. The exterior looks like any other restaurant in the mall so let your nose guide you through the glass doors to the interior with the dining room directly ahead of you, the enormous salad and hot food bar beyond it and the cocktail bar with al fresco dining to your right. I love to people-watch so the al fresco dining is always my choice!
If you haven’t been to a Churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse) before, you’re in for a treat. Passadores (the servers) dash around the dining room with huge skewers of sizzling meat and carving knives. Think of it as a Brazilian Dim Sum, but instead of carts, you have grilled meats carved fresh right at your table. This is my favorite cuisine! The Surf and Turf Rodizio is unlimited servings of fresh seafood of the day, grilled meats like Picanha (beef tenderloin with the fat cap), BBQ Pork, Grille…

Snack, Sip & Surf Event benefitting Mauli Ola at the Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach, CA

On Sunday, March 11, 2012, an afternoon of friendly competition ensued at the Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach, CA. Proceeds from this event went to Mauli Ola, benefitting children with Cystic Fibrosis. Since 2007, the Mauli Ola Foundation (MOF) introduced surfing as a natural treatment to people with genetic disorders with a focus on Cystic Fibrosis. MOF promotes education, awareness of genetic diseases, and research for genetic disorders. The funds support programs for keiki (children) and adults with life-threatening illnesses and disabilities through events such as the Snack, Sip & Surf Event. Visit their website for more information: Mahalo!
At 2pm, the aromatic scent of warm tortillas signaled the start of the first competition: Tacos. Three restaurants in Laguna Beach - La Sirena Grill, Olamendi’s, and The Basement Table - set their sights on the championship. La Sirena Grill was serving Braised Short Rib Tacos. Jeff Elias, their General Manager, ha…

Prix Fixe Brunch at SoCo Farmers’ Market was a culinary masterpiece

On Saturday, March 10, 2012, the first Orange County gourmet food truck brunch took place the SoCo Farmers’ Market in Costa Mesa, CA. Two of the finest chefs on the OC gourmet food truck scene, Chef Joe Youkhan and Chef Carlos Salgado, put on their chef coats to engineer a culinary masterpiece before our very eyes. The day was perfect – sun was shining with absolutely clear skies as far as you could see, just a few mild gusts of wind. The brunch patrons had their own reserved seating under canopies. Even though the plateware and flatware were disposable in nature, the event was treated as if it were taking place at a white linen restaurant. The plates were shaped just like you would have in a 5-star restaurant, white with beveled edges. The flatware even had a metallic appearance. Bottled water and a variety of “Rob’s Really Good” drinks were served – Cucumber Drink, Half & Half (tea and lemonade), Mango Mon (my personal favorite), and Blueberry Iced Tea.
We watched as the Taco Mar…

Burgerland is serving Korean-infused American fast food in Anaheim, CA

Sitting in a strip mall on the bustling intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue is Burgerland. Kyung Kim wanted to open a restaurant that was a little different so tourists and residents alike would have something to eat besides your run-of-the-mill hamburger or hot dog. Kyung’s family has been running restaurants in Korea and in the US for over 25 years so they must be doing something right. In 2010, Kyung’s idea became a reality when a restaurant spot opened up right up across from Disneyland. She has the location and the audience. Now let’s see what she’s got cooking.

Bulkogiburger is a cheeseburger topped with bulgogi (thinly sliced prime beef, marinated in shoyu, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and pepper) with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Bulgogi is Korea’s version of teriyaki beef, but with subtle differences. The beef is thin like you would get on a beef bowl. But it’s not as sweet as teriyaki, which I like. The cheeseburger itself fades into the background. If you didn’t…

Inka Mama’s brings Peruvian cuisine to Foothill Ranch, CA

Tucked away in a shopping center on the corner of Portola Parkway and Market Place is Inka Mama’s. Sitting in the shadow of the Staples store, Inka Mama’s is a culinary treasure trove of the vivid, exciting flavors of Peru. You’ll experience a sensory jolt as you walk through their door –grilled vegetables, meats and spices all working to fire up your taste buds. It’s not easy to decide on a menu selection while the other diners’ selections are being served around you. You’ll probably find yourself saying, “Ooh, now that looks good,” or “Wonder what that is?” The intimate dining room has a rustic ambiance with outdoor seating available. To avoid long waits for seating, I would suggest going an hour before or after peak dining hours. Even if there is already a waiting list, it is still well worth the wait.

Feeling a little adventurous? Try a glass of Maracuya, a beverage made from a Peruvian passion fruit. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, having a slightly tangy citrus flavor. Maracuya i…

Beard Papa’s serving up “eatertainment” cream puffs in Irvine, CA

In 1999, Yuji Hirota launched Beard Papa’s and was an instant success with its proprietary multi-layered pie crust and French choux dough (for making cream puffs). In 2012, Beard Papa’s is now 300 stores strong in 13 countries worldwide. The cream puffs are filled fresh to order, providing an “eatertainment” atmosphere. It’s a treat to your five senses from the moment you choose your cream puff shells and then watch as they’re prepared with the fillings of your choice.
Our first encounter with Papa Beard’s happened in May 2010 in the lovely city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We spent a weekend there before embarking on a 2-week Alaskan cruise. We took the Vancouver Trolley around for a weekend of sightseeing and exploring the area around our hotel. We discovered a block of Japanese stores and restaurants nearby and were drawn to the whimsical Beard Papa’s logo on one of the shops. Having an affinity for all things cute, happy and Japanese we had to investigate further.The swe…