OC Food Diva Orange County restaurants

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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Burnt Truck delivers comfort food with a twist in Orange County, CA

Chef Paul Cao, Chef Phi Nguyen, and partner Minh Pham dream about all things comfort food. The concept came about after a long night of cooking in the kitchen at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern. The chefs just wanted something to eat and relax. Sliders hit the spot perfectly, which gave them an idea - infusing comfort food as they know it into sliders. Not necessarily just American comfort food, they put splashes of Asian influence from their families too. Opening in October 2010, they became the first slider truck in Orange County with 15 years of culinary experience to back them up. They even named their truck Padma (homage to Top Chef’s Padma Parvati Lakshmi). To date, they have 60 different sliders that they rotate through each week.

Cheeseburger Slider is an Angus beef patty topped with American cheese, grilled onions, and avocado spread (optional fried quail egg on top). An American classic, the flavorful, juicy beef patty was nicely portioned to the bun. The quail egg is da bomb, transforming this cheeseburger slider into a gourmet slider by adding a luxurious creaminess from the yolk. There is just something about quail egg yolks that just make everything taste better (like a quail egg yolk on top of uni sushi, YUM!) Grab lots of napkins because it’s MESSY, but so worth it! Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see slideshow of photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/the-burnt-truck-delivers-comfort-food-with-a-twist-orange-county-ca

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

The Burnt Truck (Mobile Truck) on Urbanspoon

The 1st Annual Artisan Food & Arts Festival inspired sustainability in Irvine, CA

On Saturday, April 28, 2012, people from all parts of Orange County gathered at the OC Great Park to experience the 1st Annual Artisan Food & Arts Festival. There were three different stages: chef demonstrations, artisan food demonstrations, and sustainability practice demonstrations. Did I mention the scrumptious aromas wafting through the air from food trucks and restaurant/caterers? Live music entertained the queues of hungry food truck enthusiasts. As the morning haze dissipated, the day warmed up nicely, sending some guests scurrying to find plots of shade and cool beverages.

The Hangar 244 Stage showcased the chef demonstrations from noon to 4pm: Salad Making with Chef Cathy Thomas (award-winning columnist from the Orange County Register), Charred Yellowtail with Chef Matt Perez (Executive Chef of Duke’s, Huntington Beach), Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with Chef Haley Nguyen (Owner of Xahn Bistro), Plant-Based Sauces to Spice Up the Summer with Chef Jenny Ross (Owner of 118 Degree Restaurant), Refrigerator Pickling with Chef Linda Lewis Elbert (Co-Owner of The Basement Table). The hangar was set up theatre style so you could view each chef working from overhead mirror reflection to TV monitors. While the demonstrations were held inside, the lack of air circulation made it a bit uncomfortable. This did not deter many of the attendees since each session was a full house. It’s great to see that our Orange County community is eager to learn more about the culinary arts and increasing the use of local foods and produce. It’s all about lessening our carbon footprint, strengthening our local economy, and sustainable food choices.

To read more and see slideshow of photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-1st-annual-artisan-food-arts-festival-inspired-sustainability-irvine-c

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

The 1st Annual OC Tastefest is coming to Costa Mesa, CA

On May 4 and 5, 2012, the inaugural OC Tastefest will celebrate food, wine and entertainment at the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa. The two-day event will showcase the global diversity of cuisine and culture in Orange County.

Over 25 restaurants will be offering light bites and samples of new and seasonal items mixed with classic menu favorites. Participating restaurants include House of Big Fish (also seen at the California Wine Festival), Salt Creek Grille, Wingstop, Wahoo’s, Villa Nova, Marrakesh, and many more popular Orange County restaurants. Specialty vendors will be onsite including Dippin Dots, Izze, and more.  For a complete list of restaurants and vendors, please visit: http://octastefest.com/restaurants.html

To read more, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-1st-annual-oc-tastefest-is-coming-to-costa-mesa-ca

Hope you can make it this weekend!

OC Food Diva

Monday, April 23, 2012

The 3rd Annual California Wine Festival welcomed wine and food lovers to Dana Point, CA

On Saturday, April 21st, the 2012 California Wine Festival opened to the rhythmic beat of a Caribbean steel drum band. It was just the right tempo to get the party started on a perfect balmy day. The slightly overcast sky did nothing to dampen the festive atmosphere. I couldn’t believe how many wineries participated in this event. It would have been a monumental feat for anyone to have tasted everything and enjoyed the wonderful notes of each wine represented. What a wonderful excuse to be back next year! To complement your wine tasting adventure, artisanal foods from breads to cheeses to desserts were abundantly available for sampling and in many instances, purchasing for a treat later at home. 

Follow me as I take you along my adventure at the 2012 California Wine Festival:

Upon entering the gate, everyone was presented with an 18 ounce keepsake wine glass embellished with the festival logo. It was an oversized glass designed to capture the subtle colors, aromas, and flavors of the wines sampled.

To read more and see slideshow of photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-3rd-annual-california-wine-festival-welcomed-wine-food-lovers-to-oc-ca

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Clear your calendar: The 3rd Annual California Wine Festival is returning to Dana Point, CA

On April 20-21, 2012, the California Wine Festival (CWF) will be held once again in the picturesque, coastal town of Dana Point. After two years of sell-outs, the CWF is filling up with even more wineries, microbreweries, and food purveyors than ever. In fact, you might even start seeing some national sponsorship this year.

Friday April 20, 6:30-9:00 pm
Sunset Rare & Reserve Wine Tasting, Dana Point Yacht Club, Dana Point Harbor

To read more, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/clear-your-calendar-the-3rd-annual-california-wine-festival-is-returning-to-dan

Mahalo and hope to see you there on Saturday!

OC Food Diva

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kenyan Café and Cuisine serves up authentic home-style Kenyan food in Anaheim, CA

Kenyan Café and Cuisine opened in 2009 in an older part of Anaheim, away from Disneyland and the newly renovated areas of the city. This part of the city also has one of the largest populations of Kenyan people outside of Africa. With this large number of immigrants came a need for food that reminded them of home. Charles Njuguna took over the reins of this café a year ago making recipes that he remembers his family cooking back home. Charles is very humble. We were newbies to Kenyan cuisine so Charles described and showed us how to eat it. It wasn’t just us. He did this with other families that came in the same night. He was such a gracious host, and we felt as if we were eating in his home. Karibu (welcome) to Kenyan cuisine!

Samosas are usually stuffed with meat and spices and deep-fried. They are very popular in areas that were part of the Spice Route - India, Southeast Asia, Arabian Peninsula, Mediterranean, and Africa. It generally consists of a fried or baked triangular, semilunar or tetrahedral pastry shell with a savory filling, which may include spiced potatoes, onions, peas, coriander, and lentils, or ground lamb or chicken. Kenyan Café offers beef or lentils and cheese. The beef samosas are to die for! Think of an empanada or wonton but better. The spices that are used to flavor the beef definitely taste of Indian and Asian influence. The outer crust reminds me of crispy wonton or gyoza. The ground beef reminds me of an Asian meat filling with green onions and spices. I could eat these all night long because they are addictive. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see slideshow of photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/kenyan-caf-and-cuisine-serves-up-authentic-home-style-kenyan-food-anaheim-c-review

15% discount off your bill when you mention "OC Food Diva". If you try Kenyan Cuisine, let me know what you think.

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Kenyan Cafe and Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blake’s Place has Texas pit-smoked BBQ with California flavor in Anaheim, CA

In 1987, Gene Hobel graduated from the Culinary Institute of San Francisco and started working in numerous restaurants. But his dream to open his own restaurant was not too far away. In 1996, Gene Hobel was looking to buy a sandwich shop. Long story short, he decided to go with something completely different. After careful thought, he bought an in-house smoker and Blake’s Place (named after his son) became a BBQ haven. Within 6 months, he got a call to cook on KTLA. After that, folks were driving in from as far as Los Angeles to try his BBQ. Since then, Blake’s Place has expanded their dining room and now has smokers running 24/7 to feed their hungry customers and cater large events.

Smoked Meat Rib Plate is served with sides of BBQ beans, cole slaw, and garlic bread. The beef ribs were tender, yet you feel your carnivorous side come out while you’re ripping the meat from the bone. You can just hear Tim Allen making his manly sounds on Home Improvement! Makes you feel alive! The BBQ beans are pretty good, not too sweet with chunks of pork. The cole slaw was pretty good as well – creamy yet light. The garlic bread was okay, it could definitely use more garlic. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see photo slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/blake-s-place-has-texas-pit-smoked-bbq-with-california-flavor-anaheim-ca-review

Mahalo and let me know what you think of this place!

OC Food Diva

Blake's Place on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 9, 2012

Zimzala serves up unpretentious, relaxed cuisine in Huntington Beach, CA

Defined by http://riptionary.com/, Zimzala means a free-spirited person who finds peace with the sand between their toes. Zimzala opened in April 2009 and is located inside the Shorebreak Hotel right across the street from the beach and wonderful place to unwind. Chef Roy Hendrickson is the perfect chef to the job, with 12 years’ experience in restaurants along Orange County’s beautiful coast. He’s lives in the community and knows the HB palette well. Using local and seasonal ingredients, he has created a masterful set of offerings combining the relaxed comfort food of Huntington Beach, yet mixing different flavors from Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Soft House Made Pretzels topped with sea salt and served with Stone IPA Beer cheese. These amazing pretzels are definitely made in-house. You can smell them baking when someone orders them. You might think you flew to Germany. Yes, these pretzels are that authentic and served hot, right out of the oven! The glaze on the outside was perfect with just the right amount of salt. The crust was chewy with a slightly sweet, fluffy interior and strong pretzel aroma (like fresh-baked sourdough bread). The cheese was a like a fondue with a slight caramelized beer flavor, not too strong and didn’t overpower the pretzel. The consistency was perfect for dipping. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see slideshow of photos, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/zimzala-serves-up-unpretentious-relaxed-cuisine-huntington-beach-ca-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Zimzala on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Oahu Shave Ice and Ice Cream is serving authentic Hawaiian shave ice in Orange County, CA

Ryan Dickens fell in love with Hawaii on his first trip. He loved every aspect, especially the food. The first time, he saw people eating shave ice, he thought, like every haole (non-local), that shave ice was a snow cone – crunchy, granular ice with a slight sweetness. Shave ice is totally different. It’s a heavenly, finely shaved ice that absorbs the syrups that you add to it. You can see the difference when they make it. It comes off of a huge ice block with sharp blades shaving off thin layers of ice. The ice is packed into a round globe-like shape (with or without ice cream inside) and syrup is layered on top. You can also add toppings like azuki beans or sweetened condensed milk.

During Ryan’s wife pregnancy, she had a really bad craving for shave ice. The closest shave ice place to Orange County is in Gardena. It’s almost an hour long drive to get there. This gave Ryan the idea of bringing shave ice closer for the OC with two locations in Fullerton (July 2011) and Yorba Linda (September 2011). The stores are not your typical shave ice place. In Hawaii, shave ice “shacks” are usually on the side of the road, and while some might have a few benches, usually there is nowhere to sit. The locals either stand around ‘talking story’ as they eat or sit in the car with the doors open or lean against the car so the shave ice doesn’t accidentally fall on the seat. In pidgin: “Eh, no worry. Da bruddah can find one way to eat any ting!” It’s all about the food in Hawaii. We always find a way to eat it. But, in California, it’s different. Oahu Shave Ice has tables and chairs inside and out. They have multiple shave ice machines so they can crank out tons of shave ice. They also mix their own flavors with lots of research to back it up.

To read more and see slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/oahu-shave-ice-is-serving-authentic-hawaiian-shave-ice-orange-county-ca-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Oahu Shave Ice & Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

The Hungry Bear Restaurant is serving family home-style American cuisine in Fullerton, CA

Hidden away on the corner of North Harbor Boulevard and West Bastanchury Road is The Hungry Bear Restaurant. This is definitely not to be confused with the Hungry Bear Restaurant inside Disneyland. Being a former Disney cast member, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to venture in. The restaurant originally opened as the Steer n’ Stein in 1968. They served quality food at affordable prices, with meat and potatoes emphasis. In 1985, it was renamed The Hungry Bear Restaurant with a change in the décor, while maintaining the familiar menu that keeps their regulars coming back year after year. Upon entering, it’s like being transported into a land of teddy bears. You’re welcomed by friendly staff and an honest, down-home feeling.

Our dining experience started off with clam chowder, the soup of the day. It was reminiscent of the chowder at another familiar all-you-can-eat salad bar restaurant. Unfortunately, it was a bit undercooked. The celery was still crunchy and the sandy clams were a bit off-putting as well. The cream base was fair. It could have used more herbs, like basil, thyme, and bay leaf, to punch it up a bit and perhaps some bacon for a little salty, smoky flavor. However, this is a plus for those who are watching their sodium intake.

To read more and see slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/restaurant-in-anaheim/the-hungry-bear-restaurant-is-serving-family-home-style-american-cuisine-review

Mahalo!

OC Food Diva

Hungry Bear on Urbanspoon