Driving south from Idle Hour Winery in Oakhurst, I
could enjoy the beautiful foliage as we whisked passed on rock carved roads
toward O’Neals, CA. As you leave the mountain area, it opens up and reminded me
of scenery in Oregon
– open space, greenery, and overcast rays of sunshine.
Westbrook Wine Farm is a quaint winery located in
O’Neals, CA. It is by appointment only and when you go there you’ll understand
why. Ray and Tammy Krause love their wines and will talk anything “wine”. Ray
reminds me of an esteemed college professor. As he poured each wine for
tasting, the “students” sat back as he explained each wine from growing and
harvesting grapes to the final wine produced. The intimate setting induces more
comments and questions from the tasters as they sip the wine versus just
standing at a wine bar with a huge crowd of people.
If you read my last article on The Melting Pot (http://www.examiner.com/review/celebrate-chocolate-month-at-the-melting-pot-with-your-valentine), you know I’m a big fan of them. So I’m glad to see they are a part of OC Restaurant Week 2013, February 24 through March 2, 2013. It’s not just a date place. Have fun and go with a group of friends. Fondue is just a fun concept. Lunch and dinner menu offerings are really good deals so you don’t want to miss out on it. Let’s take a look:
The OC Restaurant Week Lunch Menu is $20 per person (excludes tax and gratuity, but includes iced tea, soda, or coffee.)
·Option One has 3 courses:
oCheese Fondue with a choice of Cheddar, Spinach Artichoke, Wisconsin Trio, or Fiesta
oSalad with a choice of California, The Melting Pot House, Caesar, or Spinach Mushroom
oChocolate Fondue with a choice of Flaming Turtle, The Original, Yin & Yang, Chocolate S’mores, Cookies n’ Cream Marshmallow Dream, Bananas Foster, or Pure Chocolate
·Option Two has 2 courses:
oSalad with a choice of California, The Melting Pot House, Caesar, or Spinach Mushroom
oFondue By You Entrée with a choice of three items including Teriyaki, Marinated Sirloin, Atlantic Salmon, Honey Orange Duck Breast, Pacific White Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, Citrus-Infused Pork Tenderloin, All-Natural Breast of Chicken, Chicken Potstickers, Spinach & Artichoke Ravioli, or Wild Mushroom Sacchetti. It is accompanied by a vegetable medley with a variety of dipping sauces and your choice of cooking style: Court Bouillon, Mojo, Coq qu Vin, Bourguignonnne ($5.95 extra).
The OC Restaurant Week Dinner Menu is $30 per person (excludes tax and gratuity).
·First Course is a choice of cheese fondue or salad (pick from the same choices as the lunch menu).
·Second Course is Fondue By You Entrée (pick from the same choices as the lunch menu).
·Third Course is Chocolate Fondue (pick from the same choices as the lunch menu).
The Madera Vintners Association’s family wineries presented Madera Wine Trail’s Wine and Chocolate Weekend to kick off Valentine’s Day week. Our weekend started with a detour due to the 5 freeway being closed at the Grapevine. A four hour trip turned into a 6-hour cold, rainy drive up to Madera. Getting in at 1:30am on Saturday morning, we were tired and just wanted to go to sleep. I was amazed how courteous and accommodating the front desk staff was at the Hampton Inn in Madera. The front desk manager got us checked in, gave us our HHonor welcome goodies, and even an upgrade to a King suite (perks of being a Gold HHonors member). In less than 10 minutes, we were snoozing away and dreaming of our adventure ahead of the Madera Wine Trail.
We started at the northern-most point of the wine trail in Oakhurst, which is just 12 miles south of Yosemite National Park. We had stayed in Oakhurst before during a week-long vacation of visiting and hiking through Yosemite. In this quaint little town, you’ll find Idle Hour Winery. They even have Queen’s Inn attached, an 8-room inn complete with wine bar and beer garden. Idle Hour Winery produces small lot, single vineyard designated wines using sustainably grown grapes and makes the wine gently using native yeast fermentation, gravity flow and other traditional methods. They specialize in Viognier, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. Their tasting room is very spacious for the size of the winery with wine barrels stacked along the edges and country décor all around. And while it’s a very open room, it still makes you feel at home.
Since my first visit to Lazy Dog Café in Irvine, I’ve been a fan
ever since. The Brea
location just opened and it sits in the former Le Vie en Rose plot. The
building is brand new and has a mountain lodge look to it with floor to ceiling
glass façade to let the natural light in. If you have ever been to Big Bear, the
architecture is very similar to the homes facing the lake.
Day, Lazy Dog will be kicking off sweet menu specials, including a Sparkly Strawberry Sangria, as well
as Surf & Turf and Passion Fish entrees that are sure
to win extra points with that special someone.
Let’s take a look at the Valentine’s Day Special Menu:
Surf & Turf - Hickory-smoked, bacon-wrapped USDA Prime Coulotte Steak, Grilled
Garlic-Herb Jumbo Shrimp Skewer, Mashed Potatoes, and Broccolini with
Burgundy Wine Sauce and Citrus Cream Sauce ($21.95)
Passion Fish & Champagne-Lump Crab Cream Sauce - Pan roasted
Barramundi, Walnut Wild Rice, Sweet Pea Shoots with Champagne-Lump Crab
Cream Sauce ($19.95)
Butter Cake – From the new dessert menu, homemade butter cake topped with
strawberry compote garnished with balsamic reduction and mint chiffonade
finished with vanilla bean ice cream ($4.95)
also have an extensive selection on their menu to choose from as well. Let’s
take a peek:
Lazy Dog Burger is a charbroiled 1/2-pound beef patty, mayonnaise, our house-made savory
onion relish, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, red onion, atop a
grilled soft potato bun. The burger was juicy and charbroiled to perfection.
The bun was sturdy, yet spongy. The potato bread flavor was very apparent and
added a great taste to the burger. The Cajun fries with chipotle ranch for
dipping was awesome! If I had just the fries, I would be a happy camper! Thumbs
up, way up!
has been known for fish tacos and unique seafood dishes since 1983. In 2013,
they are spotlighting fresh options from the grill. The recipes were developed
by Ralph Rubio and his culinary team and include grilled sustainable Atlantic
salmon and Pacific mahi mahi. Rubio’s practices sustainability when it comes to
Atlantic Salmon Plate is sustainable Atlantic salmon, grilled or house blackened
on an authentic comal with a special garlic marinade and topped with
fire-roasted corn with a pinch of ancho chile, creamy chipotle sauce and served
with salad, rice, and beans. Salmon plate had a good portion of fish but would
be better with mango salsa. The rice was a little bit crunchy and might be a
little undercooked. The avocado salad and black beans were good.
It’s that time again! Girl Scouts across Orange County begin the annual tradition of selling those delectable cookies that you know and love. It’s not all about the cookies. The Girl Scout Cookie Program helps these girls build skills. According to a survey from the Girl Scout Research Institute, 85% learn money management by developing budgets, taking cookie orders, and handling customers’ money, 83% build business ethics, 80% learn goal setting, 77% improve decision making, and 75% develop people skills equals The 5 Skills Girls Learn in the Cookie Program. In 2012, 16,891 Orange County Girl Scouts sold more than 2.5 million boxes of cookies.
The first 3 residents of Orange County, CA who answer these 5 questions correctly will win a FREE box of Girl Scout Cookies:
1. What is the new cookie flavor this year?
2. What is the top selling Girl Scout cookie flavor?
3. Name one of the 5 Skills Girls Learn
4. What is my favorite Girl Scout Cookie?
5. How many Girl Scouts are there in Orange County.
Please use the comment section below to submit your answers and GOOD LUCK!
Michael Pauwels and Marijke Adam, natives of Belgium, have been in the restaurant business for years in Belgium and in the US. They wanted to opened up something they could call their own. With their combined experience, they opened up The Globe Dine Bar on July 28, 2011 with global inspired, seasonal cuisine and an exclusive selection of Belgian craft ales. Michael and Marijke are always around being the perfect hosts in the dining room and behind the bar. The ambiance has a neighborhood bar feel but yet European. Tables are wrapped in country highlights of Europe. We sat at the Greece table depicting images of Athens and specialty dishes like gyros. The music is streamed from Belgium with very few commercials – great music selection from 80s rock and news updates in French.
Charcuterie Platter is a chef’s selection of cured meats and pate from around the globe, with seasonal trimmings. The meats were perfectly sliced, especially the prosciutto, paper thin so it just melts in your mouth. The meats had different textures and flavors that satisfy the taste buds. Love the roasted garlic, so sweet, and it matches perfectly with the meats. An expertly sliced French baguette is the perfect vehicle to get these delectable meats into your mouth. Thumbs up, way up!
The Madera Vintners Association’s family wineries present Madera Wine Trail’s Wine and Chocolate Weekend on February 9th and 10th. Sample a wide variety of local wines as you make your way through the wine trail. On this particular weekend, right before Valentine’s Day, the wineries will be pairing chocolate with some of their wines along with live music, local art, and delicious food.
My first visit to The Slidebar was August 2011 and was amazed by food. This rockin’ kitchen pushes out some of the best comfort food and innovative dishes around. Check out my previous article to see what was and is cooking.
Here’s a preview of some dishes Chef Al will be rolling out of the kitchen!
Kale Salad is fresh kale, crisp apples, pecans, and bleu cheese crumbles tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. Jeremy loves this salad with seared ahi on top. The salad was vibrant and crisp. The pecans were candied and added a great flavor. Apples were sweet and crisp. Bleu cheese was perfectly paired with its creamy and punchy flavor. The balsamic vinaigrette was just right adding just the right amount of flavor. Thumbs up, way up!