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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cicciotti’s Kitchen cookbook unfolds easy Italian family recipes in your cucina

Chef Gaetano Cicciotti grew up in Naples, Italy. As a child, he spent hours in the kitchen watching his mother and grandmother cook with simple, fresh local ingredients. Their knowledge and love of food sparked Chef Gaetano’s career as a chef. In 2002, he opened Cicciotti’s Trattoria in Cardiff by the Sea, CA. Cicciotti’s Kitchen cookbook includes recipes served in the restaurant as well as family recipes. Ranging from very easy to somewhat advanced cooking techniques, the recipes take you on a journey of Italian cuisine. The cookbook is broken up into sections: Salse (Sauces), Antipasti (Appetizers), Zuppe (Soup), Paste (Pasta), and Specialit√† (Specialties).

In the Antipasti section, we tried the Gamberi Margherita con Polenta (Shrimp in Cream Sauce with Polenta). The one thing I would change in this recipe is to prepare the polenta first. It took longer to cook based on the package directions. To mold the polenta, it needs to cool a bit to set. We didn’t have time to let it cool so it came out more like cheese grits versus polenta. I also found the polenta a bit bland so I doctored it up with double the gorgonzola and added granulated garlic. The cream sauce and shrimp turned out perfectly and we loved the flame of brandy as a show effect.


OC Food Diva

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Why not, PIE-NOT for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner in Costa Mesa, CA

After seeing Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern eating Aussie meat pies, I have wanted to try it badly. With a trip to Australia far in the future, I thought I would never get to try one until now. PIE-NOT specializes in a range of gourmet Australian meat and vegetarian pies and pastries, bringing this delicious street food to the US. Jai Snowdon, originally from the Gold Coast of Australia, and Ryan Lopiccolo, of Newport Beach, CA, spent two years perfecting the recipes and the concept with the help of Chef Samantha Boxer, who hails from Melbourne, Australia. Doors opened in May 2013 to sell-out days during the soft opening and have been busy ever since. Since then, they have upped their production to keep up with the demand. All leftover food is donated to a local shelter and every morning, they start all over again with fresh ingredients making every pie from scratch. They picked the perfect location on the blossoming 17th Street Promenade which has become Costa Mesa’s restaurant row. The service is super-friendly and if you ever have questions, they are happy to help you. The menu can be daunting at first, but they have an item on the menu to cure your hunger pain.

Sprung a Leek is premium chunky chicken breast in a white wine cream sauce with tender green leeks in a shortcrust pastry shell with a puff pastry lid. The crust was golden brown perfection. The puff pastry lid was like a buttered croissant. The chicken was moist and white wine sauce was packed with flavor unlike the typical American pot pie. The leek added a refreshing flavor component. It’s definitely a meal in itself. Thumbs up, way up!


OC Food Diva

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The 5th Annual Taste of Venice returns on November 3, 2013

The Taste of Venice (formerly known as the Taste of Abbot Kinney) returns November 3, 2013 to the Electric Lodge (a solar-powered and ecologically minded performing arts center in Venice). The event supports the local charity, Inside Out Community Arts. Founded in 1996, Inside Out Community Arthas been providing at-risk and underserved children in Los Angeles with after school programs. Over 300 middle and high school youths a year are empowered with the tools, confidence, and inspiration to make a positive difference in their communities and the world from the inside-out. Exceptional food and drinks will be provided by local restaurants such as Chef Govind Armstrong’s Willie Jane and Chef Joe Miller’s Joe Restaurant.

The afternoon VIP reception, from 3:00pm-4:30pm, will feature music, a silent auction, special presentations and cooking demonstrations, and appearances by celebrity chefs Jet Tila from Iron Chef America and Adam Gertler from the Food Network as well as Food & Wine’s Los Angeles Correspondent Jennifer Sommer. Here’s a list of who will be participating:

Mahalo and hope to see you there!

OC Food Diva

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Only seven scary nights left of the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor in Long Beach, CA

Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor returns with The Captain and his horrific armada of ghosts to give new life (or death) to a haunted carnival. The Captain invites you to cross over when you reach the main entrance. Don’t be scared, my pretty! He only wants your soul. As you cross over, a new evil character, The Ringmaster, hauntingly greets you with a snide smile and evil laugh. As you enter the carnival, more spooky characters reach out from the beyond to make contact by grunting, growling, and staring into your soul.

After crossing over, the energy drain made us a hungry for flesh. Dracula’s Pizza had giant slices of pizza, garlic battered corn dogs, garlic fries, and garlic chicken kabobs. Flesh freshly grilled on the large bbq pits in front. I didn’t feel like scaring off the vampires so I went to the next stand, Creepy Tacos. Now, this is what I’m talking about – brains, cheeks, and tongue. The zombie in me wanted brains (sesos), but due to the unpopularity of this menu item for the first couple of weeks, they decided not to offer it. I was a little disappointed, but they did have the cheeks (cachetes), tongue (lengua, one of my favorite taco meats), and I replaced the sesos with al pastor. The portions were good, but the flavor was just not there. It’s like they cooked the meats to perfection, but with no salt. The meats were very bland. By texture, I could tell the lengua from the cachetes, but flavor wise, they tasted exactly the same. The green salsa didn’t help as it also was very bland, but it, at least, added a refreshing acidity to cut through some of the fat. The al pastor had a little more flavor, but still on the bland side. Bring on some salt and these would be perfect!

To read more, please visit:

Mahalo and Happy Halloween!

OC Food Diva

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pipikaula Tacos with Adoboloco

I needed to make a quick dinner. I had some leftover corn tortillas and thawed out a pack of pipikaula (Hawaiian dried smoked beef) which is actually juicier than you would think of dried beef. It's more like smoke cured beef. I chopped up some vidalia onions and loaded the tacos up. Instead of using hot sauce, I stayed with the Hawaiian theme and splashed on some Adoboloco Jalapeno Sauce. Onolicious!


OC Food Diva 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s “Trade Up Your Cup 2” at Angels Stadium of Anaheim

In the wee hours of Sunday, September 29, 2013, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf fans from Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego counties converged on the streets of Anaheim awaiting the opening of the Angels Stadium parking lot. Traffic backed up for miles on the 57 freeway in both directions as cars got off of Katella and Orangewood Avenues. Fans that had been there since midnight had parked on the street illegally to save their place in line when the gates finally opened. Mayhem ensued as others started parking on the street in disorderly fashion treating it like a parking lot and blocking traffic. Sleep and caffeine-deprived fans started yelling at stadium parking staff. As arguments started to get heated, the Anaheim Police and CHP (California Highway Patrol) arrived on the scene to clear traffic. Some fans had the nerve to argue with the police officers as well. I’m surprised they didn’t get arrested. The police told fans that if they were not waiting in the right-hand lane to get into the parking lot, they would be ticketed or towed. Some fans were stubborn and left their cars unattended anyway and actually got towed.

The parties broke up into drivers and walkers. As the gates opened at 6am, walkers turned into runners, even though they were told to walk, and raced to get in line. Cars peeled out as the gates opened, like they were at a drag race. My mom was with me and told her to just look straight ahead and walk really fast as I didn’t want her to get trampled. The only thing I can equate this to was a store opening on Black Friday. It was a little scary as people seemed completely oblivious as to how unsafe they were being. The mad dash to be first in line was because the first 250 people would also receive a free CBTL® Milk Frother. As we finally made it in line, it seemed to calm down a bit. CBTL staff came around with orange juice, bottled water, and pastries. Unfortunately, the coffee never made it down to the end of the line. Fans were accosting the staff as they left the refill station and they ran out before they even stepped onto the asphalt. We brought some extra snacks with us get through the morning. We got our wristbands and stood/sat on the asphalt for over 2 hours before the trade up started. It was interesting seeing all of the different varieties of coffee makers people brought in from old Mr. Coffee’s from the 60s and 70s to brand new coffee makers still sealed in boxes. It probably should have been limited to 1 per household as there adults who brought their 13 year or older children with them to trade in coffee makers too. Why would one family need 4 new coffee makers?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

2013 Banana Festival in Port of Hueneme, CA went bananas

On Saturday, September 28, 2013, a beautiful, sunny morning welcomed the 2nd annual Banana Festival to Port Hueneme, CA. Unfortunately, they did not receive enough entries for the banana recipe contest so we had to readjust our itinerary. Del Monte and Chiquita were giving away free bananas (and pineapples if you came early enough).

We decided to hit the Port Tours early since the weather was cooperating. Hook’s Sportfishing, provided tours of the port – barges carrying shipping containers, huge naval ships, sonar research ships, sea lions sunning themselves on a buoy, tugboats, and uni (sea urchins) in the water off of the gangway. I wanted to crawl down there and collect them for lunch. The boat ride was relaxing and educational for children and adults alike. I’m a very glad we decided to do this first as there was a major line for it right after lunch. 

Seeing the uni made us hungry as we didn’t eat breakfast (saving room to try foods offered at the festival). Our first stop was Kiwanis International Banana Crepes. Banana and Strawberries Crepe was a great combination of flavors – bananas and strawberries always make a great pairing from the creamy sweet banana to the sprite and tangy strawberries (Oxnard’s finest). Unfortunately, the crepe itself was underdone with a doughy texture.


OC Food Diva