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Saturday, September 27, 2014

4th Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival: Iron Chef Morimoto Cooking Demonstration

When I was younger, my parents loved to tune in to PBS to watch Japanese talk shows and cooking shows. They attended Japanese school in primary school years and used their Japanese to communicate with their bachan (grandmother) and jichan (grandfather). When the regular school day ended, Japanese school began. Not only did they have homework from public school, but they also had homework from Japanese school. Since I was lucky to be third generation and we moved to California from Hawaii, there were no Japanese schools nearby for me to attend. My parents always told my brother and me that we had it easy. Long story short, I ended up learning only a little from what my parents would say at home, which was mainly food items.  But any youngster from a Japanese family will know this word, “Yakamashi!”

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Calivino Wine Pub for eclectic wine tasting and scratch kitchen in Anaheim, CA

Daniel Bradley always wanted to open a wine bar in Orange County, CA. A perfect location opened up in Anaheim strategically located near the Honda Center, Angels Stadium, and the Grove of Anaheim. On May 10, 2014, Calivino Wine Pub was born. Whether you are a wine novice, wine connoisseur, and/or foodie, Calivino has options for you. The interior is a cross between a lounge and a winery tasting room. The natural light from the all-glass entrance and rustic lighting fixtures bring a calming ambiance to the dining room and bar area.

House Burger is a chuck/brisket grind topped with fried onions, onion jam, and Havarti and served with your choice of side salad or fries. The beef patty has the perfect meat to fat ratio for a juicy, mouth-watering burger. The beef pairs well with the crispy fried onions, sweet onion jam, and creamy Havarti for the perfect umami balance. The brioche bun is soft and chewy, but with the juiciness of the burger comes a soggy bottom bun. It’s okay to be a hot mess sometimes! This dish pairs well with the 2009 Eguia Tempranillo. Rating: 4.8/5 stars

Calivino on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 22, 2014

Unforgettable dining at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, CA

Laurie Sisneros and Cary Hardwich have mastered the recipe of a successful restaurant. Celebrating its 26th anniversary this year, Spaghettini is located (very) conveniently off of the 405 freeway and Seal Beach Boulevard. During the lunch hours, the dining room is quietly abuzz with business professional and client interaction.  The location is a perfect meeting point between Orange and LA Counties with its casual elegance and lots of natural lighting. The service is stellar whether you’re in for just fun with friends or down to business with clients and co-workers. I watched as the service staff adjusted their service based on their clientele – seamless and perfect.

Cioppino Soup contains fish of the day and shrimp with a grilled baguette slice. The seafood broth base is rich and robust. The whole shrimp and portion of fish were quite generous in size! The mirepoix is perfect with the seafood.  This tasty cup of soup was is like a warm hug, even on a sunny day. Rating: 5/5 stars

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Spaghettini on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 20, 2014

#GetInTheMyx with Myx Fusions Moscato

Myx Fusions Moscato is owned by American rapper/songwriter/actress, Nicki Minaj, and entertainment industry tycoon, Mona Scott-Young. The indigo blue bottles and starry night package are an attractive sight. Plus they utilize an easy-to-open twist-off cap.

Moscato is described as “the seductive taste of Moscato Wine enriched with hints of apricot, vanilla, and honey. Natural fruit juices and effervescent bubbles refresh the palette and leave a sweet and subtle finish.” Tasting notes: Apricot and peach aromatics; Peach and white grape flavors experienced; Needs an increase in sweetness. Food pairings: Salads and hors d'oeuvres. Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Road Trip: Oxnard Salsa Festival in Oxnard, CA

On Sunday, July 27, 2014, we took a leisurely drive up the 101 freeway from swelteringly hot Los Angeles County to what started out to be cooler and overcast Oxnard, CA. Oxnard is approximately 35 miles west of Los Angeles. The city loves festivals, the Oxnard Salsa Festival (in July), California Strawberry Festival (in May) and the California Beer Festival (which starts next weekend). Oxnard is the agricultural center for strawberries and lima beans and a major transportation hub with many rail and bus lines stopping here. Due to the diversified landscape in Oxnard, there is a hometown, on the farm, and beach city feel all coupled into one.

Our commute was quicker than expected so we decided to park and eat breakfast near Plaza Park. Free parking in downtown Oxnard was definitely a plus. We walked to BG’s Café for breakfast. It’s a family-owned, hole in the wall restaurant. What caught my eye was the shoyu on the table. Historically, there were a lot of Japanese immigrants who settled here decades ago and began the strawberry agriculture that exists today. One of my friend’s families is one of them. BG’s Cafe had me at Bacon Pancakes. They were so good! This carb-laden breakfast helped coat my stomach for the salsa judging to be had shortly. If I’m in the area again, I will definitely stop by for breakfast or lunch. Rating: 5/5 stars

It was 10:45am and time to check in for the salsa judging at the Oxnard Salsa Festival. There were 22 entries ranging from mild to hot in different styles like all tomato, tomatillo, and add-ins like mango and nopales (cactus). The process took two hours as we judged each salsa in regards to appearance, flavor, and the submission heat category (mild, medium, and hot). As the submissions were weeded down, some had to be tasted multiple times to choose a winner for each category. And the winners were: 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Passion XO Sun is perfect for SoCal’s over-extended summer days + “Fun in the Sun” Spritzer recipe

Birkedal Hartmann Group has been known for their cognac since 1887 in France. Since 1980, Kim Birkedal Hartmann, who is a descendant of the Norwegian side of the family, has been the CEO with a driving passion for the perfect cognac. In 2011, the BH Group started to push the boundaries of innovative spirits with Passion XO, The Fat Trout Whisky, Lotus Vodka, and Notorious Pink Rosé.

Passion XO Sun is a refreshing, natural passion fruit-infused liqueur blended with Birkedal Hartmann’s XO Cognac. It is versatile – served chilled on the rocks or mixed with vodka, gin, tequila, rum, whisky, bourbon, and champagne. Tasting notes: Tropical (mango, citrus) aromatics; Passion fruit and mango flavor; Tart. Rating: 4/5 stars 

Winder Farms is hand-delivered, farm to table freshness

It’s been over a year since Winder Farms started offering service to Orange County residents and they are still going strong. With so many local farms and food artisans around, it’s not difficult for them to source the best food for you and your family.

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

  • Fresh, local fruits and vegetables: peppers, carrots, chicory, avocados, oranges, stone fruit, peaches, celery,  juices, pre-packaged salads, and pre-cut fruit combinations
  • Vegetarian based items like coconut milk
  • All-natural drinks like iced tea
  • Local dairy products like yogurt
  • Locally farmed meats: steaks, bacon
  • Grocery favorites: frozen entrees, pastas
  • Bakery items: fresh bread, cookies and more!