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Friday, November 29, 2013

The 10th Annual San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival: The Grand Tasting, Part 1

Excitement was in the air as the VIP early entry started at 11:00am. With general admission starting at high noon, foodies and wine aficionados patiently waited with live music and perused food & wine magazines feeding their taste buds with anticipation. As high noon rolled around, people were clapping and cheering as the line started to move. With over 170 wine & spirit purveyors pouring over 700 different wines, there is no way to try them all. The trick is not to be overwhelmed and just pace yourself. Interspersed were 70 of San Diego's Top Chefs and over 30 gourmet food companies for you to nosh your way through.

Rubio's served up Regal Springs Blackened Tilapia Tacos. The slightly spicy flavor worked well with the tender, flaky tilapia. The creamy sauce added cool, refreshing flavor to the crispy cabbage. Lolailo Sangria garnished with lime and mandarin orange was fruity and refreshing like adult punch. Rubio’s strives to offer seafood that is certified sustainable  or from responsibly managed fisheries that maintain healthy populations and ecosystems. Currently, 85% of the seafood served at Rubio’s is certifiedsustainable. Seasonal Langostino Lobster Taco and burritos are now available until Tuesday, January 7, 2014. Find a Rubio’s near you and try some of these options for you next meal!


OC Food Diva

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Creekside Farms has the perfect gift for the special foodie in your life

Carol and Larry Umbarger moved to a Monterey County ranch in 1969 to offer their children a rural upbringing and space for their seven horses. As their children grew older, the Umbargers were trying to figure out how to pay for their oldest children's college tuitions. In the 1980’s, they started to grow ornamental and culinary herbs. To help a Smith and Hawkins’ vendor meet a deadline, the Umbargers learned how to make herbal wreaths and the rest is history. Now, Creekside Farms is featured in major catalogs such as Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and Harry and David.

To read more and see slideshow, please visit:


OC Food Diva

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Heighten your senses with Ascendant Spirits in Buellton, CA

Stephen Gertman, Master Distiller, organized Ascendant Spirits with the help from friends and family in late 2011. It is the first craft distillery in Santa Barbara County to legally produce whisky, vodka, moonshine, and other spirits since prohibition. Ascendant Spirits uses the best American grains and local organic produce to make its distinctive, handcrafted spirits. A 500-gallon American-made custom-built copper still is used to patiently produce small batches of distinctive spirits.

Silver Lightning Moonshine is ultra-premium moonshine with floral and maize (from the 100% American yellow corn) notes and a mildly sweet finish. It is also received the 2013 Double Gold Winner at the New York International Spirits Competition. The SoCal MoonshineFlash is a fun drink with the agave syrup adding a caramel-like flavor and tangy zing from lime juice. The lime juice actually softens the moonshine’s harsh bite (straight up). It’s strong stuff but could easily be used as a vodka alternative.


OC Food Diva

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Giveaway: Winder Farms delivers locally-grown & produced foods right to your doorstep

If you are an Orange County, CA home owner, you have the chance of winning $50 worth of groceries from Winder Farms. Keep reading to find out how!

It all started in 1880 with Winder Farms dairy farm and a horse-drawn cart. Since then, Winder Farms has been known for their home delivery service of high quality farm fresh food directly to customers’ doorsteps. The Winder Farms “farmers market on wheels” saves the customer time, money, and gas by delivering more than 300 unique all-natural products to customers every week. 

Their service area is largely Utah and Las Vegas, NV vicinity, but has now expanded to service households in Orange County, CA. Orange County is a great place for Winder Farms to expand to simplify the lives of busy Orange County parents who care about preparing natural and nutritious food for their family. With daily life on computers and mobile devices, it is so simple to buy your groceries online and have them delivered right to you – no hassles finding a parking space at the supermarket after work, no maneuvering a shopping cart through narrow grocery aisles, and no long waits at the checkout line.

Here’s a sample of what you can order from Winder Farms:

  • Fresh, local fruits and vegetables: herbs, squashes, tomatoes, oranges, bell peppers, eggplant, Swiss chard, lettuce, juices
  • Local dairy products: milk, cheese, butter, yogurt
  • Locally farmed meats: steaks, eggs, sausages
  • Grocery favorites: frozen pizzas, pastas
  • Locally made food products: homemade baked cookies and more!

Fruits and vegetables are farm fresh. Don’t be alarmed by irregular shapes or soil deposits. It is just part of nature and exactly what you will see at a farmers market. The shape has nothing to do with flavor and tastes just as good or sometimes better than that perfectly shaped apple you purchase at the store. Vegetables may have soil still on them, but you can tell its fresh from the farm. Wash leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach in the sink and spin them in vegetable dryer and they are vibrant and ready to eat. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes just need a quick scrub and they are ready to be cooked. We grilled eggplant, green bell peppers, and onions on skewers with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. They were delicious! Winder Farms juices are vibrant and robust and bursting with natural fruit flavor. Their orange juice tastes freshly-squeezed, nothing better than that.

Local dairy products are provided by local dairy farms in each delivery area. From the items I received, the farthest farm was in Los Angeles, which is mere hour or so away. Broguiere’s is located in Montebello, CA and has the best chocolate milk I have ever tasted. It was cool, creamy and had just enough chocolaty flavor so it wasn’t too sweet. The chocolate milk was gone in no time.

Winder Farms Meats come frozen and are locally sourced in Utah, where Winder Farms is based. A variety of cuts of chicken, beef, and pork are available. They also have locally farmed eggs to go with the Winder Farms bacon for a wonderful breakfast.

Frozen grocery favorites like pizza, pasta, ready-cut vegetables like potatoes, The Palermo’s thin crust pizza cooked up in no time on our pizza stone leaving the crust crispy and the toppings bubbling with gooey delight.

Locally-made food products are great. Homemade products are becoming very popular now from baked goods to canned goods like pickles. The chocolate chip cookies from The Cookie Lady Shop in Anaheim, CA were delicious with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee. They taste just like homemade because they are homemade!

Let Winder Farms check off grocery shopping on your to-do list! Don’t forget to enter to win $50 in groceries from Winder Farms! See below!


  • Orange County, CA Residents: WIN $50 worth of complimentary home-delivered groceries from Winder Farms! You can enter by:

1.       Commenting on this article on
2.       Commenting on this blog post on below
3.       Liking the Winder Farms post on OC Food Diva’s Facebook page
4.       “Retweet” or “Favorite” the Winder Farms post on OC Food Diva’s Twitter
5.      One (1) winner will be chosen at random after giveaway closes on Wednesday, November 27, 2013. Winner must live in Orange County, CA in a residential house (sorry, no apartments).

For more information:
1.800.WINDER1 (946.3371)

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Caorunn, small batch gin, from the Scottish Highlands

Caorunn is distilled at Balmenach Distillery which has been a working malt whiskey distillery since 1824 and is one of the oldest distilleries in the Speyside region of the Scottish Highlands. The heritage and expertise of the Celtic people are used to harness Scotland’s natural resources and age-old botanicals. Using their Unique Copper Berry Chamber, made in the 1920s, gin is produced with a slow process to infuse the subtle flavors of the botanicals surrounding the hills of the Balmenach Distillery – Rowan Berry (Caorunn is the Gaelic word for Rowan Berry), Bog Myrtle, Heather, Coul Blush Apple, Dandelion Leaf, Juniper Berries, Coriander Seed, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Angelic Root, and Cassia Bark.

This has to be one of the best gins I have ever had. It’s dry and crisp with an aromatic finish. The floral and citrus aroma permeates the air when you open the bottle. I knew at the moment it would make the perfect Gin and Tonic!


OC Food Diva

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The 10th Annual San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival returns on November 20, 2013

2013 marks the 10-year anniversary of the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival™. This event is promising to be bigger than ever with new events, the best wines in the world, and celebrity chefs and culinary personalities. Over 170 wineries, breweries, & spirit purveyors and over 70 of San Diego’s best restaurants will converge with 10,000 wine aficionados and foodies on the beautiful bay in San Diego.

Here are some events that shouldn’t be missed:

Date: Thursday, November 21, 2013
Time: 11:30 am to 1:00 pm
Location: Macy's School of Cooking
Price: $70
  • At the heart of all cuisine is fusion, where chefs become inventive with the mix and mingling of various flavors and traditions from all over the world. Balancing complex flavors to create an east-meets-west cuisine, Chef Looi will take you through a step-by-step journey into the depths of Asian fusion and show just how accessible it can be. This class demonstrates a simple approach to modern Asian cooking using regional ingredients and techniques. From Malaysia to India with a French twist, Chef Looi's eclectic background incorporates east-west cuisine without borders.
  • Chef Looi has been a guest chef at the prestigious James Beard House multiple times and was a master chef at the World Gourmet Summit in Las Vegas and Dubai, UAE. He was invited by the Chefs Association of Malaysia, Malaysian Hotel Association and the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, thrice to judge at the prestigious WACS sanctioned Culinaire Malaysia, the largest culinary competition in the South East Asian region.
  • Menu: Baby arugula, pickled Asian pear and ginger vinaigrette, Roasted hoisin + garam masala duck and mango chutney, Grilled lemongrass skirt steak and nyonya sauce
To read more and see slideshow highlights from 2012, please visit:

Mahalo and hope to see you next weekend!

OC Food Diva

Monday, November 11, 2013

Genji Products available at Whole Foods

Genji started as a local mom & pop sushi restaurant in Philadelphia. When Whole Foods began opening stores in Philadelphia, they did some research around the city to find the best sushi restaurant – uncompromised quality, freshness, authenticity, and customer appreciation. Whole Foods approached Mr. and Mrs. Omori, owners of Genji, if they would be interested in operating a few sushi bars within the Whole Foods stores. As Whole Foods grew, so did Genji. Peace Dining Corporation acquired Genji in 2005, transforming the company into a leading take-out chain. Genji operates over 158 sushi bar locations in the United States and United Kingdom.

Whole Foods may be overwhelming, yet fun for the normal grocery shopper. It is much different than any other chain market around. It’s a grocery store, bakery, seafood monger, farmers market, and food court. The scent alone will beckon you through the doors. Genji has a pre-packaged refrigerated section area, anything from sushi rolls to sides (like edamame, wakame salad, etc.) to soba and rice bowls. Or if you don’t find what you’re looking for, they will make it for you.

Calamari Salad is loaded with calamari caught right off the coast of California. The calamari is cooked and tossed with a variety of seaweed, chili peppers, and sesame seeds. If you like sunomono (Japanese cucumber salad with rice wine vinegar) or Hawaiian-style poke (seafood mixed with sesame oil, salt, seaweed, and other ingredients), you’ll love this. The calamari is very tender not too chewy. The combination of the flavors from the slightly sweet flavor from the vinegar mixed with the slightly salty seaweed is amazing. Give me a bowl of sticky rice and I’m good to go.

Check out Genji the next time you’re in Whole Food!

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Part 2: The 5th Annual Taste of Venice’s Walking Tasting Tour

After the VIP Reception, from 4:30pm-6:30pm, guests enjoyed a unique restaurant walking/tasting tour on famed Abbot Kinney Boulevard and sample signature dishes, wine, beer, and cocktails.

Our first stop, just a few steps away from the Electric Lodge, is Abbot’s Pizza. Opened in 1995 with a simple concept – make delicious food, top-notch friendly service, and maintain a clean, safe restaurant. Owner Richard has a very zen-like attitude, “Take care of your community and employees and in turn, they will take care of you”. It’s been working for almost 20 years so I think he’s on the right track. When you walk in through the doors, it reminds you of an east coast pizzeria, just a few stools to sit on and enjoy a slice before you’re on your way. The service is super-friendly. Glass-walled warmers hold the pies so you can see them. The scent of the freshly baked crust fills the air like a bakery. The first thing you’ll notice is the crust – beautiful color and a rim of poppy and sesame seeds on the outer crust. They call it the “Bagel Crust”. Yes, most people don’t eat that part of the pizza, but you don’t want to miss the crust on these. It’s like a pizza, and then an artisan breadstick to end your meal. The outside is like a crusty French baguette and the inside is tender, yet a little chewy. The Gypsy Pie is topped with spinach, mushroom, onion, tomato, ricotta & mozzarella cheeses on an olive pesto sauce. The olive pesto makes this pizza better than any other veggie pizza around – slightly salty, with a green flavor making all of the fresh veggies on top shine. Chicken Curry is topped with marinated chicken, honey, curry, onion, pineapple, mozzarella cheese, and alfredo sauce. This is amazing! If you like Hawaiian Pizza, but want chicken with a little more flavor, you have to try this. It is unlike any flavor you’ve ever experienced on a pizza. It has an Indian spice scent from the curry, but then the sweetness from the honey and the pineapple almost make it tropical. I would definitely order this one again! They are more than pizza. They also make calzones, salads, and gourmet cookies. 

Mahalo and hope to see you next year!

OC Food Diva

Savings from Winder Farms

Article coming soon, but use this code below to SAVE NOW! 
Visit or call 1.800.WINDER1

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Part 1: 5th Annual Taste of Venice’s VIP Reception

The Taste of Venice (formerly known as the Taste of Abbot Kinney) returned November 3, 2013 to the Electric Lodge (a solar-powered and ecologically minded performing arts center in Venice). The event supported the local charity, Inside Out Community Arts. Founded in 1996, Inside Out Community Arts has 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.

The afternoon VIP reception, from 3:00pm-4:30pm, featured awesome DJ music (lots of ‘80’s tunes) and we started making our way through. Customized bicycles were part of the silent auction, great for beach city riding.

Our first stop was Joia AllNatural Soda. Bob Safford along with Carleton Johnson, Steven Walker, and Dan Oskey launched Joia in the Twin Cities in June 2011. Looking for unique non-alcoholic beverages, Bob started making his own, inspired by culinary cocktail trend of introducing complex flavors to everyday foods like confections, salty snack, and ice cream – why not soda? Our favorites out of the selection were the Blackberry, Pomegranate & Ginger with its refreshing, fresh, explosive berry flavor and the Pineapple, Coconut & Nutmeg which actually transported me home to Hawaii - my favorite shave ice flavors with a hint of nutmeg. These are great sodas on their own and I can only image how great these would be as cocktail mixers. Break out the vodka, gin, and rum for some more fun! Joia will be showcasing their sodas at Unique LA at the California Mart on December 7-8, 2013. Also, find them at a store near you. 

Mahalo and hope to see you next year!

OC Food Diva