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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Solita Tacos & Margaritas is a casual “little sister” Mexican eatery of “SOL”

Matt Baumayr, Rich Howland, and Executive Chef Deborah Schneider are not newbies to the restaurant scene. They also own SOL Mexican Cocina with locations in Newport Beach, CA and Scottsdale, AZ. Known for their authentic Mexican cuisine that was inspired by their travels through Mexico and vast array of tequilas, SOL was just yearning for a “little sister” to share its love of Mexican food. In December 2013, Solita opened in the Bella Terra Center in Huntington Beach, CA. It’s a neighborhood, casual Mexican eatery featuring bold, imaginative dishes along with traditional favorites including an all-weather patio, indoor/outdoor bar, and take out service. Their indoor bar is beautifully lit to showcase their wide selection of tequilas.

Let’s take a look at some of the Specialty Drinks:

Solita House Margarita is made with 100% blue agave Agavales blanco shaken with house made sweet & sour, a splash of fresh orange juice and Triple Sec. It can be served frozen or on the rocks. This had a balanced flavor, not too sweet and not too sour. The tequila was very smooth. Thumbs up, way up!


OC Food Diva

Solita Tacos & Margaritas on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 26, 2014

HopScotch isn’t “child’s play” when it comes to scratch food and handcrafted cocktails

Rob Marshall, Bryan Gonzales, and Mario Marovic have revitalized the Downtown Fullerton restaurant scene with their innovative college town concepts of Matador, Wild Goose, and Commonwealth Lounge. In November 2012, HopScotch opened with the widest assembly of specialty whiskeys in Orange County with over 100 different varieties from single malt Scotch to small-batch and single barrel Bourbons. Mixologist, James Wood (now lead mixologist at Scott’s Restaurant in Costa Mesa), started up their handcrafted cocktails menu making whiskey not just a gentlemen’s drink but a palatable, hip mixer. Yes, they are known for their selection of whiskey, but they also have an excellent scratch kitchen creating craft American cuisine headed by Chef Cody Storts. No canned or processed foods are in this kitchen – only fresh from the farm produce and fresh meats.

In November 2013, HopScotch started a Weekend Seasonal Brunch Menu. On the menu, I saw the word “scrapple” and I was in food love. Let’s take a look at some of the menu items I tried:

Crispy Pig Ears is served with roasted Fresno coulis and lime. These are amazing! I’ve had pig ears before off of a roasted pig and just love the crispy texture and roasted flavor. HopScotch’s version is cut into strips, fried to crispy perfection and tossed in a seasoned salt mixture which matched perfectly with the porky flavor. The roasted Fresno coulis was a little spicy, but comfortable, with a sweet, roasted flavor that paired well with the crispy pig ears. This would be perfect as a snack during happy hour or shared as an appetizer before brunch. Warning, they are addictive so try not to fight over the last strip! Thumbs up, way up!


OC Food Diva

HopScotch Tavern on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wafflette Café makes an “impression” in Foothill Ranch, CA

Francisco Izawa, owner of a few restaurants in South Orange County including Chile Fresco and Maison de Pho, was searching for his next restaurant venture. With his childhood upbringing in Europe and Japan, he was introduced to many different food cultures. While in France, Gaufres a la Flamande are a specialty just like crepes. After recipe development, a waffle recipe was conceived, but not too sweet so it would work equally well in both savory and sweet applications. Wafflette Café
 opened on December 8, 2013 with tasty waffle sandwiches and sweet treats. Utilizing his Japanese heritage, the waffle is very light. It reminds me of my childhood with very light breads and desserts from the Japanese market. The menu is a fusion of American flavors with European and Asian influences and cooking techniques. Francisco and his staff are always super friendly and can help you with any questions you might have about the menu.

Organic Flavored and Sweetened Iced Teas come in flavors like strawberry, mango, guava, and mixed berries. We tried the Guava Iced Tea. Admittedly, I’m not a big tea drinker, but the tea was sweet and had a light, refreshing flavor. The guava was a nice blend and an excellent pick-me-up on a warm day.


OC Food Diva

Wafflette Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Squares Deli is story of the American dream in Lake Forest, CA

Ali and Mina Neaimi-Pour lived in London, United Kingdom and came to Lake Forest, CA to visit family. They fell in love with California’s weather and the friendly city of Lake Forest. They were restaurateurs by trade having successful pizza restaurants in London and decided to open up a pizza place as their first venture. It didn’t do so well since SoCal has so much competition with chains and local pizza parlors who had already established a following. Ali and Mina decided to look into franchising. Schlotzsky’s, an up and coming chain from Texas, seemed like the best fit for them. The location, at the time, was situated in a busy shopping center with a Diedrich’s Coffee on the corner and Staples as the main anchor for the center. But due to lull in the economy, businesses started closing up shop. Diedrich’s started closing their retail locations across the country. Staples started downsizing their locations as well. In 2013, Schlotzsky’s decided not to renew their franchise license unless they moved to another location. The new location was not favorable so they decided to open their own deli shop. In July 2013, the location became Squares Deli. It is a place where Ali and Mina know everybody by name. They treat their customers like family and they feed their family the freshest ingredients possible. Ali even makes bread daily with a strict 36 hour rule of freshness. If there is any bread past 36 hours old, it is donated to a local food bank. With this new venture, he needed to source all new vendors for his meats and vegetables. The difference is in the taste with organic meats and fresh vegetables that Ali personally picks out.

Beef & Provolone is thinly sliced London broil, provolone, mushrooms, caramelized onions and horseradish. Similar to one of my favorites from Schlotzsky’s menu, it tasted even better with sliced rare beef and an ample horseradish kick. The squaw bread, shaped into a square, was amazingly chewy with a chocolate-like finish. Thumbs up, way up!


OC Food Diva

Squares Deli on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Quick Leftover Creations...

I needed to whip up something quick for dinner. I grabbed the Costco fish sticks from the freezer and baked them in the toaster oven. Then, I layered some leftover Pineapple Chimichurri from the Living Coastal cookbook I had just tested. Topped it with an easy over egg with a sprinkle of California Rancher Monterey Seasoning. The creamy yolk worked surprising well with the fish sticks and the chimichurri added a refreshing kick.

Product Review: CBTL’s Americano Machine

If you read my previous article, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s“Trade Up Your Cup 2” at Angels Stadium of Anaheim, the story of this product started in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, September 29, 2013. Even after hours of waiting in line, CBTL’s Americano Machine was well worth the wait.

The outer packaging was very sturdy and kept the Americano Machine in pristine condition during transit. With machines like this, it is best to use distilled water to keep the water lines clear of mineral deposits that may clog them over time. Read the instructions carefully before using it for the first time. There is a priming process that it needs to go through before you make your first cup of coffee. I suggest doing it the night before as it may take a little time than you have available if you plan on making a travel mug of coffee before work. In comparison to the Keurig machines, the Americano Machine is much louder. I like that there are adjustable height levels for the base depending on the coffee cup size you are using, but I felt that the bottom level had the best support. So if you’re using a smaller cup, you might want to hold it up to the dispensing tip so the coffee doesn’t splatter on your counter or the machine. I also like the self-contained capsule storage drawer that collects the used capsules. When it gets full, just pull the drawer out and dump it into the trash. You may want to wash out the drawer as there will be residual coffee that may drip out of the pods. Purchase includes a 1-year limited warranty. Thumbs up!


OC Food Diva