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Sunday, June 23, 2013

The 8th Annual LAWineFest was “an exploration of taste” in Los Angeles, CA

On June 8-9, 2013, Hollywood’s Historic Raleigh Studios hosted the LAWineFest. It showcased award-winning wines from 13 countries, craft brews, artisan cocktails, interactive cooking demos, wine tasting seminars, and GFT’s (Gourmet Food Trucks). There is no way to try everything, but here are highlights of our exploration of the festival. The VIPs received a schwag bag full of goodies – from dark chocolate bars to cookbooks. All attendees received a souvenir wine glass to use for the tastings.

The Venetian and Palazzo Hotels of Las Vegas were promoting their Carnevale which runs from May 27 through September 8. The hotels will come alive with the fantasy, food, fun, and romance of Italy during Carnevale, a three-month celebration of summer. Carnevale will feature 300 unique experiences through the summer and it’s the perfect place to unmask your inner foodie, artist, adventurer, or romantic. Visit their website for more information:

Mahalo and hope to see you next year at the LAWineFest!

OC Food Diva

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Press Release: Apollonia's Pizzeria Celebrates CicLaVia

Los Angeles, CA (Thursday July 20, 2013) – Apollonia’s Pizzeria is getting ready to celebrate this Sunday’s CicLaVia Iconic Wilshire Blvd event. In support of the block party for bikers, walkers and non-drivers that will take place on the iconic corridor from downtown Los Angeles to the Miracle Mile, the artisan pizza destination will offer special deals on its one-of-a-kind gluten-free pizza.

The special pies include Apollonia’s gluten-free pizza crust which is dairy free, soy free and egg free and includes a variety of selections such as The Wilshire Margherita which is layered with a splash of pesto, chicken tequila sausage, garlic and organic roma tomato as well as The Mayors Mistress which comes loaded with pepperoni, Italian sausage, organic roma tomato, garlic and organic basil. Those looking for a south-of-the-border spicy twist can select the El Guapo pie which is topped with local Mexican chorizo, onion, organic roma tomato and jalapeño.

Special deals during Sunday’s CicLaVia event include all 10-inch gluten-free cheese pies starting at $6.25 each with the option for additional traditional toppings for $1.00 each. Exotic sausages and vegan cheese prices vary. Specials are available for dine-in and pick-up only.

Apollonia’s Pizzeria is owned by acclaimed photographer and experienced pizzamaker, Justin De Leon. In addition to its artisan pizza menu, the pizzeria offers traditional pies and an exotic sausage menu all within a visually and sense-awakening atmosphere.

The CicLaVia Iconic Wilshire Boulevard Route takes place this Sunday, June 23 and runs alongside Wilshire Blvd beginning at One Wilshire in Downtown Los Angeles and continuing to Fairfax along the Miracle Mile. Apollonia’s Pizzeria will be open from 11am to 10pm on the day of the event.

Apollonia’s Pizzeria
5176 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

For more information about Apollonia’s Pizza visit: or call 323-93-SAUCE
Media Contact: Linda Crespo De Leon

Apollonia's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Claim Jumper in Costa Mesa, CA has lost some of its flavor

Claim Jumper in South Coast Plaza is still a full-house as usual. “Service with a smile” is still great but our latest visits have been rather inconsistent in the food department since my last article review of Claim Jumper. After being acquired by Landry’s in 2010, quite a few changes have taken place: especially the removal of their awesome salad bar and reconstruction of their menu.

Here are some critiques of their current menu items:

Potato Cheddar soup is a flavorful soup with fresh baked potatoes and simmered with aged cheddar. The first spoonful was wonderful. It was creamy with strong cheddar and potato flavors. Upon closer examination, I noticed that it used carrots for color. Since I’m allergic to carrots, I had to send it back. This should be noted on the menu as I otherwise would not have ordered it. If it didn’t have carrots in it, I would have feverishly devoured it. In its place, I got the New England Clam Chowder which has premium clams, potatoes, onions and celery. It wasn’t nearly as creamy as the Potato Cheddar soup and it was a mediocre chowder at best.


OC Food Diva

Claim Jumper on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Toscana Café & Wine Bar is the perfect convention dining spot in San Diego, CA

Sean Shoja, proprietor of ASAN Restaurant Concepts, is a great restaurateur of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. In 2007, he purchased a coffee shop on the corner of 5th and K Streets and renovated it into Toscana Café & Wine Bar. Within very short walking distance from the San Diego Convention Center, it’s the perfect setting to have lunch or dinner meetings with prospective clients having a great ambiance and one of the largest wine selections to choose from in the Gaslamp Quarter. It’s also relaxed enough to have a casual dining experience with California-Italian fare using local ingredients with flavors of the old country. The service is very friendly and the servers are highly knowledgeable about the food and wine.

Taste of Tuscany Sampler Plate is an assortment of their most popular items and perfect for sharing: fresh, house-made Bruschetta, assorted imported cheeses, Toscana Mediterranean Dip, Kalamata olives, assorted Italian Delicatessen Meats and grilled Garlic Crostini. The prosciutto wrapped mozzarella & basil drizzled with a balsamic reduction was fabulous! The reduction was really the star and made everything taste better. The white cheese, when dipped into the reduction, turned it into a dessert, just like the old country where premium aged balsamic vinegar is drizzled on thin slices of parmesano reggiano as a dessert. The charcuterie of mortadella and salami were perfectly sliced and glistening with their gorgeous natural fat. The port, sage, and cranberry cheeses worked well when combined with the meats for different flavor experiences. The Mediterranean Dip was hummus like, but not lemony at all. It was silky and matched perfectly with the sliced focaccia. You could tell it was homemade as little pools of olive oil would pop out as scooped it was out of the ramekin forming little pools of epicurean delight. Thumbs up, way up! Paired with Saxon Brown Semillon 2008; tasting notes: fruity nose, green apple flavor on the palate, well-balanced, low acidity.


OC Food Diva

Toscana Cafe & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

PRESS RELEASE: Popular Food Truck Gathering at Westfield Mission Valley Moving to Wednesdays

San Diego, CA – June 3rd, 2013 – The weekly food truck gathering at Mission Valley Mall will be moving to Wednesday nights starting June 5th (previously held on Friday nights). A rotation of six to seven different food trucks will be serving on Wednesdays from 5:30pm to 9pm at the corner of Camino Del Rio N & Mission Center Rd (in the Target parking lot).

Food truck patrons will also be treated to entertainment as they enjoy their gourmet fare. Curbside Bites has partnered with 100.7 JACK FM to provide a DJ to play music one week per month. Local San Diego musicians, such as Gus Mezza, are also scheduled to perform live at the weekly event.

This event is organized by Curbside Bites, a food truck booking service. Curbside Bites currently manages over 14 other weekly gourmet food truck gatherings in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties. The weekly truck schedule for this event, and all of Curbside Bites’ other food truck gatherings, can be found at or by following Curbside Bites on Facebook and Twitter.

Christian Murcia
P: (714) 718-1330

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Uptown Tavern rivals its North Park sibling in San Diego, CA

Bobby Jones and David Cohen took off when they opened West Coast Tavern in North Park 5 years ago. Known for their American, small plate menu, it was destined to have an off shoot to offer more dishes to the patrons of the Hillcrest area. In July 2012, Uptown Tavern was born and debuted during PRIDE, one of the most popular events in Hillcrest and a great event to show the area what they are cooking up. Executive Chef Dana Francisco created a menu infused with world flavors. They also have an awesome music selection. You’ll dance in your seat while between plates. It’s a little loud, but if you sit on the patio, it’s just right and you can people/car watch. The service is attentive and if you come here often, they know you by name, like Cheers. The Hillcrest area is a lot like Belmont Shores with trendy shops and restaurants – a real beach town feel with people just strolling along and walking their pups.

Watermelon Salad is topped with candied nuts, basil-honey vinaigrette, goat cheese, and sesame seed atop a bed of spinach. This is a nice salad for summer using ingredients of the season. The watermelon was a bit too subtle and might be better with a more acidic fruit like fresh strawberries, orange/grapefruit segments, or even blackberries to play off of the goat cheese and spinach. The salad itself tasted fresh-picked from the garden. The salty, creaminess of the goat cheese played well with the sweet candied walnuts.


OC Food Diva

Uptown Tavern on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lucky J’s is fiery phoenix rising to the forefront in Austin, TX

I’m a fried chicken fanatic and always on the search for the perfect breast of chicken. Fried chicken is the quintessential comfort food. You crave it when you feel good and crave it even more when you’re not feeling good. Yes, we have a lot of chain fried chicken restaurants in SoCal, but authentic Southern Fried Chicken is the best. My brother is the biggest fan of Chicken and Waffles. I had my first chicken and waffles experience at Bruxie in Brea. Ever since then, I’ve been a fan of this unlikely combination as well. It’s not a new idea. Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffleshas been serving SoCal since 1975. Wikipedia has a couple of historical stories about when this delight was invented. It could be as early as the 1790s.

Featured on Eat St Season 1, Lucky J’s has been on my mind for years. After years of searching, I think I have found the best fried chicken I have ever had. Jason Todd Umlas started Lucky J’s in 2009 as the Gourmet Food Truck scene started or as trailers (as they call them in Austin) after months of perfecting his secret give or take 17-spice recipe of golden brown fried chicken. Jason has worked in kitchens from New York to Los Angeles. Being in trailer mode, they can cater events like Austin music festivals. But also convenient is their brick and mortar restaurant. With a short drive from downtown, the screaming “phoenix” of chicken-themed artwork shows that you have arrived. The brick and mortar has more than just chicken and waffles. It has a Southern soul food spin and shows off Chef Jason’s talents.

Fried Green Beans with Jerk Jam Aioli uses the same coating as the fried chicken and fried to a golden brown. The coating gave the beans a great flavor and you just can’t stop at having one. The Jerk Jam Aioli was cool, creamy and slightly sweet, but the green beans held their own in the flavor department. But if you need a dip, this was perfect. Thumbs up, way up!

To read more and see slideshow, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Lucky J's Chicken and Waffles on Urbanspoon