Saturday, May 22, 2010

Man vs. First Class Pizza

The husband and I visited our first First Class Pizza recently, and I was pleasantly surprised. Open since 1978 and voted best pizza of 2008 by OC Weekly, they have made a respectful name for themselves against branded giants like Round Table or Costco. A Southern California chain, the husband & wife owned eatery prides itself on "butcher cut" meats, quality veggies and 100% mozzarella. Sounds like a well rounded meal to me.

So getting back to the title, my eyes rested upon a sign towards the entrance. A food challenge? I've only seen those on TV. Needless to say, I was intrigued. While I scrawled everything down on my take-out menu, I can't read one of my words (good job, brekkie fan). In the interest of stating accurate facts, I did find an accurate depiction of its details for the San Clemente location. Quite the gut buster, let me tell you. Did I mention there are two?

The Porker Challenge:
In 30 minutes, an individual must consume
an XL Porker - (topped with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, meatballs, sausage and bacon pieces). Winners are reimbursed, given a $50 gift certificate and placed on their Wall of Fame.

The Side Kick challenge:
For those with a BFF, they have an even BETTER challenge. In addition to the aforementioned pizza, they must finish one pound of super hot wings, a cinna-za pizza, and a Tower (quite literally, they have a special beverage holder just for this size) of beer or soda. This prize includes everything previously
mentioned plus a ride home, if needed.

Kudos to FCP for being in the spirit of all things gluttonous.

Note: As I was about to link this topic to their main website, alas, they do not have one. Also, the location I went to is shutting down. Taking all that in consideration, I'm going to list the next closest one to me plus the location that described their challenges.

13175 Jamboree Road, Tustin

Talega Village
821 Via Suerte, San Clemente

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Open house (Blackmarket style)

What if I said the term "wine flour"? Does that make you nervous? salivate? confused?

All three?

Well, for the gang at Blackmarket Bakery, it means progress. Cabernet brownies and penne, to be exact. Marche Noir (their alter ego) specializes in these innovative flavors. They love them so much they're throwing an open house to celebrate.

If you're as Costco as the next person, then free samples are right up your alley. Pay a visit to their Irvine bakery for a look-see and embrace the summery tastes. Jot down Saturday, May 15 (3-6pm).

17941 Skypark Circle

P/S - The gang from Barcelona on the Go will also be there providing additional sustenance! I strongly recommend lentil soup for chilly weather or the empanadas for other climates.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A hard Habit to break

I am a meat and potatoes kind of gal. I'll take a steak ANY day over chicken or seafood. Having said that, I would mentally bookmark a particular chain every time I drove by it for future reference. They are known as The Habit (Burger Grill), and this particular location is off Main Street in Santa Ana.

At 4pm on a Sunday, there is a line almost to the door. A good sign, as far as signs go. A clean, well-lit place. Another star in my book. Pricing is reasonable too. For $6.95 I can get a burger, fries and unlimited soda fountain. That's within a dollar of many comparable fast food meals. You've also got alternatives such as salads or sandwiches to select from.

I wrapped mine in lettuce, which was not a wise idea. Instead of being a healthy substitution, I was busy having the fillings drip and spill all over me. While the burger was good, the truth is I found other details to love. That's what I'll share.

Onion rings! Seldom found in chains. When I bite into one, most of the time the inside ring pulls out before I can finish crunching on it. Frustrating, I tell ya. That is not the case here. Something tasted more fresh than frozen, and the rings were a nice example of that.

Soft serve! Of of the best bangs for your buck, er 95 cents. Your small cup is loaded with true vanilla, and then topped with a teeny cone for a little texture (or maybe just to be funny). Either way this is a filling finish to a hearty meal.

The Habit is more than a competitor, it's got some personality too. Instead of drive-thru, why don't you sit for a spell and enjoy the soft serve? Oh, and their newest location will be at 23632 El Toro in Lake Forest (inside The Orchard).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

It's a festival. For beer. Next Saturday.

Disneyland has one for food and wine. So do scenic locales like Temecula or Napa. Why would the city of Irvine hold a festival for beer? Because they can.

With more open event space than they know what to do with, next Saturday's fete at Irvine lake will be sure to bring in the hops & barley masses. Even though I don't partake in throwing back a cold one, the details surrounding this event are crowd pleasing enough to discuss.

Free parking!

The In-N-Out truck!

$15 tickets for Designated Daves!

80's glam rock band Metal Shop!

If you DON'T drink, I suggest grabbing a slice of pizza, work on that tan, and partake in some people watching. You'll want to look good while dragging friends back to your ride.

If you're ready to try 60+ brewskis (or know somebody who needs a ride), here's the 411.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A little sage advice (courtesy of Mark Peel)

I went to the Los Angeles Times' Festival of Books for one reason: to watch Mark Peel entertain us with his culinary prowess. On this warm Sunday afternoon, the audience felt as though they were the ones being roasted (yours truly included). Mark decided to share his updated version of a comfort food classic - tuna noodle casserole, one of his recipes featured in "New Classic Family Dinners".

One star quality of a celebrity chef is their gregarious nature. Mark's storytelling ability was no exception. We learned about his family life, the lively suppers at Campanile, and even a couple of pointers in the kitchen. Maybe you recognize them, maybe you don't. Either way, there was some tasty cooking going on.

Pasta advice: After cooking and draining, do not rinse! Otherwise the sauce will not effectively adhere to the pasta. Instead, add a splash of olive oil and pop in the refrigerator until needed. This only holds true for hot pasta dishes.

Herb advice: Fresh is always preferred unless you are one - oregano! For whatever reason, dried is more flavorful.

Tuna advice: Canned is not a bad thing. For the best, pay attention to a few things. First, the lesser known brands typically are not found at eye level (it's a marketing ploy). For maximum flavor, you'll also want to find one packed in oil and from Spain. But you don't have to take my word for it. Take Mark's.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Word of the Day: unctuousness

sounds like - UNC*chew*us*nes

What is it? An adjective

Defined - Containing or composed of oil or fat

Where was it used? In Top Chef Masters on May 5, 2010 by Chef Jonathan Waxman

When was it used? During the infamous "tag team" quickfire challenge. Chef Waxman was the last member of his team to work on their (winning) seafood dish. We also learn he's claustrophobic.

Quote - "I did some tinkering. I added a good amount of butter. Now the butter will give an
unctuousness to the sauce, plus it will mellow some of those acidic qualities".

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Come on, get happy (at Starbucks)!

Stopped by my local Starbucks for some cool refreshment and received the following....

a) Excellent service: Couldn't make up my mind, so my barista recommended something new - but charged me for my 'usual' price. If I wasn't pleased with my beverage, I wouldn't have paid the higher cost. (Normally I order a Shaken Passion Tea Lemonade sweetened. Today it was the Iced Tazo Chai with vanilla).

b) My Barista badge on foursquare: Recognition for (finally) visiting 5 different Starbucks venues. Yes, it's the little things.

c) A reminder: I was informed that from Friday, May 7th through Sunday, May 16th there would be a Happy Hour. Half price Frappuccino blended beverages from 3 to 5pm! As if we need another reason to go. This is timed quite nicely with their new customized Frap campaign

Mark your calendars for this excuse to take an afternoon break.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What every Chinese restaurant should have (in their name)


This stems from a conversation I had years ago when a few of us were en route to dinner. Living in Southern California, we're surrounded by a plethora of Asian cuisine - Vietnamese, sushi, Thai, dim sum, Korean BBQ, just to name a few. It may have been the area we were driving through. Diamond Bar? Rowland Heights? Alhambra? Anyway, the overall consensus was the school of thought over these four words.

Think about it. Could you name at least one Chinese restaurant that didn't have some combination of these words in their name? (Naming it after a person or utilizing the word Chinese doesn't apply here) We're talking descriptive prose to allure you into the promise of lazy Susans and honey glazed walnut shrimp. A round table discussion for you and six or more of your hungriest friends.

It was a lively topic that day. Since it reverberates in my memory bank, I'm thinking it may have also inspired my love of tasty cuisine. While I've always appreciated dining out, college was really the time when I was exposed to different flavor profiles.

OK, on with my weekend. Thank you for putting up with my silliness.

Note to restaurant owners: To further enhance your image, we also highly recommend the inclusion of a 3-letter (all CAPS) "TV" name, i.e. CBS, ABC, NBC. Ample parking is a plus.