The Champion's Table
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

PIE-NOT celebrated Australia Day with Aussie friends around Orange County, CA



On Sunday, January 26, 2014, PIE-NOT threw a big, family-friendly celebration for Australia’s official national holiday, Australia Day. Historically, it signifies the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British ships in Sydney Cove, New South Wales and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at that site by Governor Arthur Phillip. Currently, it celebrates the diverse society, landscape, history, and presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards. PIE-NOT celebrated the day with food, fun, and animals.

PIE-NOT was open for regular business but in the courtyard across from their location, they had set up a tent and served samples of the Sag Rolls (standard Aussie sausage roll with premium ground beef and pork with finely grated onions and carrots rolled into a puff pastry), Vegemite and Cheese pastries, and Digger (an egg-less biscuit mix of rolled oats and desiccated coconut with golden syrup). I’ve wanted to try Vegemite ever since I heard the lyrics of the Men at Work song “Land Down Under”: “Buying bread from a man in Brussels. He was six foot four and full of muscle. I said, "Do you speak my language?" He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.” This dark spread has eluded me until this historic Australia Day. I really loved the taste of it. It’s salty and reminiscent of kelp or seaweed. When it was mixed with cheese and put in a puff pastry, it was even more delectable. PIE-NOT needs to put this on the menu!


Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Pie-Not on Urbanspoon

Rubio’s® revamped the Burrito Especial


Rubio’s has a lot in store for 2014. To start the year off, they launched the new Ancho Citrus Burrito and elevated the Burrito Especial. The restaurant chain is going through a “culinary renaissance” providing new and loyal customers with innovations on the menu and in the restaurant itself. I visited the Foothill Ranch, CA location and the first thing I noticed was the new dine-in plates and silverware versus the plastic basket with wax paper liner. This new presentation is a nice touch and makes you want to dine in rather than take away in a plastic bag.

The revamped BurritoEspecial is grilled steak (or chicken) wrapped in a warm flour tortilla with citrus rice, fresh-made guacamole, black beans, salsa fresca, romaine lettuce, creamy chipotle sauce and red tomatillo salsa. I’ve ordered this with steak in the past and it was never consistent. But, I must confess, I was really impressed by the updated version. The citrus marinade made the meat tender, but I would have added a little salt to boost the beefy flavor. The rice and beans were good with a nice texture contrast to the crispy lettuce. The tortilla was elastic and slightly chewy. The tomatillo salsa paired the best with this burrito. Thumbs up!

To read more and see slideshow, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/rubio-s-revamped-the-burrito-especial

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 24, 2014

Chef Joe Youkhan battled for the title of “Chopped Champion” on the Food Network


On Tuesday, January 21, 2014, friends and family gathered at Rudy’s Pub and Grill to watch our favorite chef, Chef Joe Youkhan battle for the title of “Chopped Champion”. Rudy’s was gracious enough to have most of the television screens on the Food Network so everyone could have the best vantage point for the show.

As the show title came on, we started to cheer for our local culinary hero from Orange County, CA. Chef Joe owns and operates Tasting Spoon food truck and catering. Some of his family, including his dad, traveled here from New York to help cheer him on. If you have not seen Chopped before, there are 3 rounds: Appetizer (20 minutes), Entrée (30 minutes), and Dessert (30 minutes). At the beginning of each round, the chefs are given a basket of mystery items and can use items from the show’s fully-stocked pantry (staples like eggs, milk, vegetables, seasonings, spices, flour, etc.) It’s a similar premise as Iron Chef, but they just need to make one dish for each round. The mystery items usually throw a curve ball to the chefs, making them think on their feet and turn on the creativity. Chef Joe’s competitors were Chef Maxcel Hardy (personal chef to the stars in NY), Chef Ashley Fahr (freelance catering chef and food stylist in NY), and Chef Laurie Potts (Executive Chef of Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, TN).

To read more, please visit: http://www.examiner.com/article/chef-joe-youkhan-battled-for-the-title-of-chopped-champion-on-the-food-network

Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Angel’s Envy Bourbon from Louisville, KY



Louisville Distilling Company is a relatively new player to the bourbon industry. Started in 2010 by Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson (an inaugural member of the Bourbon Hall of Fame), who had more than 40 years of experience working for world class brands such as Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniels. Lincoln wanted to create the world’s finest bourbon, by returning to the original process of hand-blending whiskey in small batches of 8 to 10 barrels. The name started from the term “Angel’s Share” which is the percentage of evaporated bourbon that is lost during the aging process. As Lincoln Henderson said, “[I] sat the angels down and got them to agree that they could take a larger share if they agreed to leave behind something even better.” Hence, Angel’s Envy was born. Wine Enthusiast Magazine awarded Angel’s Envy 98 out of 100 points which is the highest-ever rating for a bourbon.

Angel’s Envy Bourbon Port Cask Finish (aka Expression 10/10) is described as “a warm spirit, lacking any hint of edginess with ephemeral hints of port wine and rich amber hue.” It is distilled for an unparalleled smoothness, aged for 4 to 6 years in American white oak barrels and finished in hand-selected port casks for a incremental 3 to 6 months. The result is exceptionally smooth, nuanced, and refined bourbon. Tasting notes: vanilla, spice, and oak flavors.


Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Fall in love with Spain with a culinary trip to Mundaka in Carmel, CA


The first thing that pops in my mind when I think of Spain is tapas. In the sleepy town of Carmel, on San Carlos Street and just a few minutes walk from HofsasHouse, lies Mundaka. Named after a town in northern Spain, it’s a cozy restaurant with three dining rooms and a few tables to dine al fresco. The European dining experience is apparent with the cozy tables and bustling atmosphere. If you’re new to the tapas experience, don’t be nervous. Your server is there to answer all your questions and explain the dishes to you – just relax, enjoy, and eat at your own pace. Chef Brandon Miller’s creations have been dazzling foodies near and far since March 2009.  

Boquerones are marinated white anchovies with fried garlic. These were a touch too vinegary but the fillets were perfectly pristine in color and texture. I would get them again, but maybe with some sliced baguette. Thumbs up!


Mahalo,

OC Food Diva

Mundaka on Urbanspoon