The Champion's Table
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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Food+Drink Crawling with the OC Food Diva and OC Bus in Buena Park and Anaheim, California

This post was sponsored by OC Bus but the opinions expressed here are my own.

Although I’ve been a Southern California resident for over 40 years, I have never ridden on our local transportation system (except for the Monorail and the Disneyland Railroad). OC Bus has made the way we commute around Orange County so much better. They have made so many resources, like an easy-to-navigate website offering real-time arrivals, different pass options, and now a mobile app. Whether you are commuting to work, running errands, or planning a day of fun, OC Bus is a great transportation option.

The nearest route for me is 38, which runs from Anaheim Hills Festival (a center with lots of shopping and restaurant options) to Lakewood (Del Amo Boulevard and Pioneer Boulevard). For Orange County, this route travels along La Palma Avenue. For those of us who drive, we sometime miss places that we pass on a freeway or while just concentrating on the traffic around you. But, if you are riding on the OC Bus, you see places that are new or just forgot about since it is not on your normal route. La Palma Avenue is one of these streets that has a lot of hidden adventures waiting to be had.

We planned our route to start on one of the earliest buses heading west. Our first stop was on Beach Boulevard and La Palma Avenue. Can you guess where we are going? There are actually many places to go near that intersection: Knott’s Berry Farm, Soak City, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, Pirates Dinner Adventure, Rock and Brews, and Teatro Martini. If you guessed Knott’s Berry Farm, you are correct but we were not going into the park. On the weekends, Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant is open for breakfast. When the hubby and I were dating back in the 1990s, one of our favorite restaurants was Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. The restaurant has been recently renovated and looks like a rustic home in the country. And yes, there is chicken on the menu for breakfast. Fried Chicken Filet and Eggs in Nest is definitely a breakfast food find. And it was absolutely amazing! The chicken filet was fried to perfection like chicken katsu, crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. My sunny side up eggs were served up “toad in the whole”-style. The breakfast comes with their famous buttermilk biscuits, butter, and boysenberry jam.

After breakfast, it was time to start heading back east towards Buena Park Downtown (formerly the Buena Park Mall). You can wait for the next bus or you can leisurely walk a couple blocks along La Palma Avenue. On the southeast corner of La Palma and Stanton Avenue is Buena Park Downtown. On Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Buena Park Farmers’ Market has a variety of farm-fresh Certified California Grown fruits and vegetables, local food artisans, arts, crafts, jewelry, and live music. I love strolling through a farmers’ market to see what fresh produce is in season and check out new food vendors. The food find here was Parmigiano Reggiano Spread. Their cheese spread was amazing, but the amazing different accoutrements like olive tapenades and other Mediterranean-inspired flavors just blew my mind. They would be great as a dip, added to salads, spreading on sandwiches, etc.

Buena Park Downtown has a great selection of restaurants. One of them in particular brings back food memories for me. Portillo’s is an iconic-Chicago eatery with only two locations in California, one in Buena Park and the other in Moreno Valley. But, if you love Chicago eats like I do, you’ll love Portillo’s. Chicago’s iconic foods are deep-dish pizzas, Italian beef sandwiches, and hot dogs. Portillo’s has two of them. Italian Beef Sandwich is made with slow-roasted beef served on freshly baked Turano French bread. Best, and messiest, way to have it is “dipped”. The whole sandwich, bread and all, is dipped into their famous gravy. Add peppers and/or hot giardiniera peppers for acidic and spicy notes. Portillo’s is also known for their hot dogs. We call them Chicago dogs, but they just call them Jumbo Hot Dogs served on a poppy seed bun and topped with mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, kosher pickle, and sport peppers. It may seem like a wacky creation, but it’s iconic flavor has people coming in droves just for a bite of one.

After filling our tummies with yummies, it was time to catch a ride on the OC Bus to our next stop in Anaheim. Craft breweries have been popping up all around the country. Beer connoisseurs will plan their vacations around visiting breweries and locals flock to their favorites for happy hour or a fun time on the weekend. Bottle Logic Brewing is one of these fan favorites! You’ll see in the video how busy they are on Saturdays. A great way to try a brewery’s beer is with a flight. Bottle Logic has a flight called “The Constants” which profiles 5 beers that are pretty much available year-round. They have a lot of seasonal and hyper-seasonal beers as well. The Autumn 2017 flight includes (714) Blond (Blond Ale), Lagerithm (American Dark Lager), Cobaltic Porter (Baltic Style Porter), Odyssey of Oddities (Chai Porter), and Haze Maze Cave (East Coast Style IPA).

This is just one food+drink adventure that you can partake in at your leisure or make up your own while using the route maps on Choose your next adventure! OC Bus is also an easy and budget-friendly way to make your daily commute. Let OC Bus doing the driving for a relaxing commute.

For more information:

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Review of No-Sweat Cooking! by George Yoshida and Derek Kurisu

The cookbook in this post was provided by Derek Kurisu but the opinions expressed here are my own.

I am very lucky to have parents who know how to cook. For my grandparents’ generation, it was very different. Women took care of the household duties like cooking, laundry, chores, taking care of the kids, and such. Men went to work and expected a meal on the table when they came home from work. When my grandma passed away, my grandpa was lost on what to do on the household side and most of all, how to cook for himself. Yes, you can go out and pick up food, but it’s always good to know some basics.

When Derek Kurisu gave me his cookbook, No-Sweat Cooking!, I immediately thought of my grandpa. He would have loved this cookbook because the recipes are simple, not a lot of ingredients, and you don’t have to have any culinary skills or techniques to make them. Derek and George Yoshida are culinary stars from KTA Super Store’s Seniors Living in Paradise on Ocean Time Warner Cable channel 27.

Corn Flake Chicken is a baked dish and has only 4 ingredients: chicken thighs, garlic salt, mayonnaise, and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Crumbs. This recipe is so easy and the chicken is tender and juicy. The outside is crispy and so tasty. Here on the mainland, I couldn’t find Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Crumbs in our local stores, but you can easily make your own by putting corn flakes in a resealable bag. Seal it tight and use a rolling pin or food mallet and pound away to make the crumbs. Rating: 5/5

Spam and Chinese Peas is a quick and easy stir-fry dish that only has 5 ingredients: Spam, Chinese sweet peas, shoyu, sugar, and salt. Most of the prep time is cutting up the Spam and taking the strings off the peas. Once all the prep is done, it cooks in minutes. Just get a pot of sticky rice going first so it’s ready at the same time. Rating: 5/5

No-Sweat Miso Salmon is another quick dish that only has 5 ingredients: salmon or butterfish fillet, ginger, sugar, sake, and miso. This is a good one to prepare the night before or morning of so the marinade really gets into the fish, but an hour works too. Fry da buggah up and eat with sticky rice! Rating: 5/5

Local Hawaiian food can be quick and easy with No-Sweat Cooking!

For more information:
No-Sweat Cooking by George Yoshida and Derek Kurisu
Available at KTA Super Stores

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

World Food Championships starts on November 9, 2017 in Orange Beach, Alabama

Jodi Taffel's Signature Dish for the 2016 Bacon World Championship

World Food Championships is ready to take over The Wharf in Orange Beach, AL in 3 weeks. Home cooks and professional chefs from around the world will meet and compete in the Ultimate Food Fight. You can join in as a spectator and watch me in the World Recipe Championship. You can also be a part of the events taking place during the World Food Championships.

Lisa Keys preparing her Cubano during the 2016 World Sandwich Championship
Fun facts about the 2016 World Food Championships:

  • 419 teams (38% culinary chefs, 22% home cooks, and 38% competition teams)
  • 14 countries and 48 states represented
  • $17,000 raised for charities
  • $350,000 prize purse
  • 22,000 attendees
  • 94 brands involved
  • 8 culinary schools involved
  • 12,000 pounds of food donated

Jodi Taffel's Top 10 Dish for the 2016 Bacon World Championship
Here’s a look at what you can expect to see and do this year from Thursday, November 9 through Sunday, November 12:

Lisa Key's Cubano Turn-In for the 2016 World Sandwich Championship
Competitions in the Kitchen Area and with a prize purse of $300,000:

  • World Barbeque Championship
  • World Open Chili Championship
  • World Burger Championship
  • World Dessert Championship
  • World Sandwich Championship
  • Bacon World Championship
  • World Recipe Championship (Cheer me on!)
  • World Invitational Steak Championship
  • World Seafood Championship
  • World Chef Challenge

Hope to see you there!

For more information:
23101 Canal Rd.
Orange Beach, AL 36561