Mark your calendar: The 8th Annual LAWineFest starts on June 8, 2013

On June 8-9, 2013, the LAWineFest will be held at Hollywood’s Historic Raleigh Studios. It will showcase award-winning wines from 13 countries, craft brews, artisan cocktails, interactive cooking demos, wine tasting seminars, GFT’s (Gourmet Food Trucks), and early-entrance VIP tickets for an exclusive festival experience. Every year, the LAWineFest picks a charity to sponsor and this year’s beneficiary is Food Forward, bringing together volunteers and neighbors to share in the harvesting and recovery of locally grown produce  from private homes, public spaces, and farmers markets – 100% is distributed at no cost to agencies serving our community’s most vulnerable.

LAWineFest Seminars
Discovering Spain’s Rioja: Rioja is Spain’s leading wine region, where winemaking dates back to Roman times. It became Spain’s first DO (DenominaciĆ³n de Origen) controlled appellation in 1926, then was promoted to the newly–created DOCa (or DenominaciĆ³n de Origen Calificada) status in 1991. The region isn’t a part of dusty history, however. Rioja is absolutely thriving, with more and more bodegas (wineries) expanding. That means now is the time to come discover and learn more about the notable and diverse wines coming from this exciting region of Spain. Exclusive wine tastings included. Saturday, June 8, 2:45pm and Sunday, June 9, 2pm - $15

Mahalo and see you there!

OC Food Diva

30th Annual California Strawberry Festival: Sun-ripened sweetness in Oxnard, CA

On Saturday, May 18, 2013, crowds lined up an hour early to be a part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard, CA. As early as 9am, the air was filled with beautiful, sweet scents of strawberries and aromas of garlic and grilled meats from the food court enticed our appetites. Some of us didn’t have breakfast in order to save room to eat the fantastic foods that awaited us beyond the “Red Gate”. Attendees also sported strawberry-related gear from hats to earrings to dying their hair to a beautiful strawberry red.

As the 10am bell rang from Oxnard College campus, the red gate opened to happy patrons of this annual event. As you walk through the red gate, you were given your first tastes of California strawberries, chilled and super-sweet. Whole flats (12 pint baskets) were only $16, what a fantastic deal! Mental note: Pick them up on the way out. First order of business, check out the “Build Your Own Strawberry Shortcake” tent, sponsored by Bimbo and Reddi Whip. Build them as big as you like for $5. What a deal! If you want to try other foods as the festival, you don’t want to make it too big. Start by building your foundation of pound cake, ladle on strawberries in natural syrup, bring on the whipped cream, and top with some fresh strawberries. What a beautiful sight!

Mahalo and hope you can make it next year to the California Strawberry Festival!

OC Food Diva

30th Annual California Strawberry Festival: Berry Blast-Off Recipe Contest Finalist Announced

Chef Chuey Renteria and his culinary team at the Courtyard Marriott Oxnard have selected five contestants from 187 recipe submissions, the most recipes submitted year to date. On Tuesday, May 8, 2013, these five contestants had 1 hour to prepare their dishes for panel of judges ranging from chefs to culinary writers. If you have ever watched any food competition shows like Chopped, Top Chef, or Iron Chef, you know what it means to cook by the clock. When the timer started, burners and ovens were turned on as ingredient prep started. Lots of chopping was going on as the contestants were given the strawberries.
Tyler Deltoro from Sun Valley, ID prepared “Berry Buoy Croquettes, Floating in a Red Tide Sauce”. Interesting historical fact, his mom won the contest 20 years ago with the recipe she submitted. Michael Cohen from Los Angeles, CA prepared “Strawberry Risotto with Basil, Pine Nuts, and Balsamic Reduction”. Larissa Nelson of Fillmore, CA prepared “Oxnard Strawberry Coconut No-Bake Tiramisu”. Marc Slack from Simi Valley, CA prepared “Strawberry Sweet and Spicy Lettuce Wraps”. Winona Krieger from Agoura Hills, CA prepared “Strawberry Brulee (with Rockin Berry Brittle)”. As the minutes ticked down to 15 minutes, contestants were scrambling around trying to make their plate setups and prepare their main table presentation in the judging room. As the timer finally buzzed for the finish, Tyler brought his last plate to the table. Congratulations to all the contestants for their hard work, not only coming up with a recipe, but preparing it in 1 hour!

To read more and see slideshow, please visit:

Mahalo and hope to see you at the California Strawberry Festival on Saturday!

OC Food Diva

4th Annual California Wine Festival showcased CA wines and local food artisans

On April 20, 2013 at high noon, the 4th Annual California Wine Festival opened its gates to the early bird crowd who indulged in an extra hour of wine and food tasting. The extra hour was definitely worth the extra bucks to leisurely make your way through the different booths to find your favorite wines and taste all of the different food purveyors from local restaurants to specialty artisan food products.

Let’s take a tour of some of this year’s collection:

Rubio’s served up their Grilled Regal Springs Tilapia Taco topped with creamy chipotle sauce, salsa fresco, and Serrano slaw. The serving of tilapia was quite generous and succulent. Blackened would have been preferable to add a little more flavor to the fish as tilapia is a very bland fish and needs just a little punch of spices to bring out more flavor. But for a wine fest, tacos are a great way to prep the stomach for the alcohol ahead.

To read more and see slideshow, please visit:

Mahalo and hope to see you next year!

OC Food Diva

National Moscato Day is May 9th

May 9th is officially National Moscato Day, established by Gallo Family Vineyards last year. Gallo has a recipe bank on their website for food and wine pairings. Let’s take a look at some of them to help you celebrate.

Gooey Blondies are decadent and wonderfully paired with Moscato. The base is almost like a caramel from the melted butter and brown sugar. The blondies turned out like a combination between a cake, brownie, and cookie all in one. I changed it up a bit by substituting semi-sweet chocolate chips in place of peanut butter chips. I would probably do a combination of chocolate and peanut butter chips next time.

To read more delicious recipes and see slideshow, please visit:

Mahalo and Happy National Moscato Day!

OC Food Diva

Let California Rancher spice up your next meal

Mike Keller is the spice mastermind behind California Rancher, a spice and sauce company right here in SoCal. California Rancher was born in April 2012 after months of development of these all-natural products. Mike’s mom was an inspiration to him, by being a good cook herself, and teaching cooking techniques that stuck with him. As he started to get older, he began to travel and noticed that food was a great way to experience new places and then relive his adventure through recipes from his travels.

California Rancher is a celebration of California flavors with our all-natural ingredients. It can be described as “Paso Robles” in a bottle. Its namesake tips its hat to the tradition of hard work, the bounty of harvest, and a well-deserved meal at the end of the day – a day in the life of California agriculture.

California Rancher’s all-natural products are made to enhance good ingredients and not to overpower. These just aren’t for the BBQ but for everyday use. Everyone should have a jar of Santa-Maria-style seasoning in their kitchen to replace their salt and pepper. It’s fantastic on everything from a ribeye steak to fried eggs to roasted vegetables. Monterey Seafood seasoning is delicate and can be used on scallops, shrimp, or on a good piece of halibut. The Oaky & Smoky BBQ sauce has a highly complex flavor and is very different from any BBQ sauce on the market. 


OC Food Diva

Melissa’s Deluxe Pantry Box Recipe Series: Quinoa Cranberry Pudding Parfait

Melissa’s Deluxe Pantry Box in this post was provided by Melissa’s Produce but the opinions expressed here are my own.