Friday, April 30, 2010

Something besides greens

I was sitting in a waiting room the other day when I came across an article discussing the colorful options healthy eaters have. The greens, reds, orange/yellows. Even black and white.

No, really.

For dark foods, the spotlight was on black beans and their high fiber content. It's this attribute that can prevent the spike in blood sugar levels after eating, helping both diabetics and hypoglycemics with their diets. Honorable mention was given to black currants and what's inside of them. Anthocyanins, chemical compounds that help keep blood pumping smoothly (and also give foods their color).

For lights, there was emphasis on varieties of onions (aka alliums) including shallots, garlic and chives. All are high in cancer preventing sulfur compounds. In addition, Vitamin C can be found in these as well as jicama and parsnips. This antioxidant is responsible for maintaining teeth and bones.

So the next time you find yourself in the produce aisles, know that it isn't just about stocking up on lettuces and tomatoes. Veggies and fruits all share similar benefits. It's finding that combination that works for you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reality show lead, author, web-series host, and (now) guest star. He's a chef, too!

The May 3rd episode of ABC's Castle will pay homage to one of my favorite shows - Top Chef. Titled 'Food to Die For', the storyline will revolve around the death of a former cheftestant found frozen in the kitchen of his trendy Manhattan restaurant.

In a cameo, chef Rocco Dispirito will play himself. A fan of Castle's literary prowess and the victim, perhaps he'll be a possible suspect?

For those of you that enjoy a little banter with your crime sleuthing (think Moonlighting with a little NCIS team spirit), I encourage you to check out my reason to stay up late on Monday nights.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Navigating the waters of Big Fish....

Checking out a new restaurant is always a bit of an adventure. I mean, you have an idea of what to expect (thanks to my fellow Yelpers), but until you go for never really know what's going to happen.

I'm here to make your next experience at House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer better than everyone else's. Just follow these 7 easy steps. It's like Franklin Covey, but for food.

  • Waiting for a bite - Fact: By 7pm on a Saturday, the wait was over 2 hours. I kid you not. Pick up a phone and call them. Restaurateurs say most RSVPs aren't even called in until the day before or day of. I'll even provide the number: 949-715-4500.
  • Staying afloat - This all depends on where you're coming from, day of the week, time of day, etc. However, most diners will cruise there for happy hour or a weekend dinner. If that's the case, beware of both PCH and Highway 133. Both are the direct routes into Laguna Beach, and both have a tendency to back up. Try allocating an extra 15 minutes, just in case.
  • Use a metal detector - (Note: If you are going to pay for $10 valet down the street or arrive after 7pm, stop reading and continue to the next bullet point.) The neighborhood runs on meters. Luckily there is a parking structure behind the plaza. Have quarters ready.
  • Beach blanket babylon - This is not a quiet place. Say it with me. This is NOT a quiet place. If you can get past that, the rest will be like butter.
  • Bonfire eats - I like reading fine print. "Bread served on request". Hot, yeasty goodness if it's right out of the oven. You can thank me later.
  • Fresh catch - Three little words. Spicy seafood stew. Not that the rest of the menu isn't already a good deal. Mr. brekkie fan is a big cioppino eater, and this is one huge bowl of love. Fish and shellfish in a tomato broth? Yes!
  • Sweeter than the perfect wave - The most flavorful tip actually originated from the chef. Two separate options on their menu, but for maximum effect order both the bananas foster AND the white chocolate bread pudding. Then when you get the two, pour the bananas over the pudding. Oh yeah.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Celebrate 50 Years of Flavor at Haagen-Dazs

Chocolate. Vanilla. Coffee.

The three original flavors of Haagen-Dazs.

Probably the purest of the ice cream brands I know. My favorite has to be sticky toffee pudding.

If not for Reuben
Mattus and his daughter Doris, we might never know the rich flavors their storefronts provide. What began as a "food truck" business in New York is now celebrating decades of quality product and satisfied customers.

For one day, Tuesday, May 18, folks will have a choice between the original three.
Scoopage is from 4-8pm at your local Haagen-Dazs. Stop by and be a part of history.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

and the next Sonic Drive-In in Orange County will be located ....

(drum roll please)

3531 South Fairview Street
Santa Ana, CA 92704
(cross street MacArthur)

Per their website, the location should be opening in the next 30-60 days.

Since I think most know Sonic because of their commercials (and cherry limeades, or tots), I think there should be a soundtrack as well. This will probably date me, but do I really care?

You see, the 'S' is for super
and the 'U' is for unique
The 'P' is for perfection
and you know that we are freaks
The 'E' is for exotic
and the 'R' is for raps
So tell those nosy people
just to stay the hell back


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A foodie's guide to navigating SCP's Spring Garden Show

Beginning Thursday, April 22 and continuing through the weekend, South Coast Plaza brings back the ever popular garden show to the home store wing (Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and so forth). While my favorite thing to do is wander the display gardens and live vicariously thru them - I noticed a few of their Speaker Series topics were worth checking out. Below are their descriptions. Note: All presentations will take place on Level 1, Suite 102.

**Thursday, 12:30-1:30pm
Chef Lulu's Insights on Shopping the Farmers Market
Executive Chef Lauren "Lulu" De Rouen of Pinot Provence will share her passion for farmers market seasonal vegetables, fruits and herbs, and give tips on how to best incorporate them into home menus.
** (4/20) This description is not listed on the website. However, I verified that Chef Lulu is still scheduled to speak.

Friday, 2:30-3:30pm
Food Preservation-Making Food Last Longer After Harvesting
Delilah Snell, owner of The Road Less Traveled store, a locally-based certified green business and Master Food Preserver will demonstrate the various methods of making food last longer after harvesting. Learn about the history of food preservation, cultural significance and how it celebrates flavor and tradition. Tasting samples will also be available.

Saturday, 11:15-12:15pm
Growing Summer Vegetables: The Organic Way
Pat Welsh, Emmy Award winning garden guru, TV host, magazine editor, columnist and author of Pat Welsh's Southern California Organic Gardening, Month by Month explains how to choose, plant, harvest and grow all the best-known summer veggies and control pests and diseases without synthetic fertilizers or dangerous pesticides. Spectacular photographs demonstrate growing summer crops in raised beds or the ground. Loaded with tips, hints, garden timing, free fertilizers new techniques and old time secrets culled from a lifetime of growing edible crops.
(Book signing following the presentation)

Sunday, 11:30-12:30pm
Backyard Bees: Keeping Them Alive
Janet Andrews and Kelly Yrarrazaval, founders of Backyard Bees, started beekeeping as a hobby and realized the urgent public need to provide an alternative to honeybee extermination and now rescue bees from the most unusual places. They are bee advocates and enthusiasts who keep hives alive, actively pollinating and producing honey in local, lush Orange county gardens. Janet and Kelly will also discuss the importance the honeybees in our food system.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thursday is the new Friday in least for one day in May

I'm normally the one who retrieves the mail. More often than not, I find things I'd rather recycle. The grocery store ads are set aside, but I fail to plan my meals around them. We don't need to refinance my home or gain another credit card. I sort through envelopes of coupons, figuring out what I might (remember) to use next time I'm out. All in all, pretty counterproductive work.

One magazine saved from the circular filing cabinet this week was @HomeIN Magazine. A bi-monthly publication distributed throughout the county. It's mostly advertising, with a few coupons and maybe even an article or two sprinkled in for good measure. What caught my eye was a cover of seafood and pizza dishes. However, the best thing I read about was the 15th Annual Taste of Anaheim. Going on May 13th between the hours of 5:30 and 10:30 in the evening, The Shops at Anaheim GardenWalk will host over 50 restaurants.

Places to check out include many Disneyland Resort eateries (Cafe Orleans, La Brea Bakery, Storytellers Cafe), a number of popular chains (Lazy Dog Cafe, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Ruby's Diner), as well as a few local faves (Slater's 50/50, K'ya, Foscari's).

Live bands are scheduled to perform, including Don't Stop Believin' - a Journey tribute band! You'll also find a silent auction benefiting both Canyon Hills Community Council and Leadership Anaheim.
Pre-sale is selling at $35 ($40 the day of). I'm gonna try to score a volunteer opportunity (includes a t-shirt as well as admission for you and a friend).

One insider piece of advice is to start on the 2nd level of GardenWalk. Apparently, last year had Costco Gas-sized lines of diners hungry for the first restaurant they laid eyes on. Additionally, if you pay a visit to the @HomeIN Magazine booth and mention hearing about their article ~ there might even be somethin' somethin' for stopping by (I'm guessing a reusable bag?).

Free parking located on-site at Anaheim GardenWalk, which is always nice. Find the entrances off both Katella and Disney Way off the 5 freeway.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When music and food collide....

Your love is better than ice cream
Better than anything else that I've tried
And your love is better than ice cream
Everyone here know how to fight

~ Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan

That was my cake cutting song. A way to share my passion for food with my love of music. Musicians are closeted foodies. We've seen Foo Fighters and The Bravery host Top Chef. Moby's got Teany. JLo has Madres. I found a couple of examples of local artists who have the makings of a culinary crossover.

John Henry Copen
& Boardwalk Ice Cream - Josh is a fan of John. Josh works at Boardwalk Ice Cream in Irvine Spectrum. For the past two Fridays, Boardwalk Ice Cream has not only sponsored John's performances by covering his stage fee, they bought dessert for anyone purchasing his CD. Utilizing Blue Bell ice cream, the gang at Boardwalk provide their take on the Balboa Bar (sans auto ferry). Couldn't decide on a topping, so I went for "everything".

For your viewing enjoyment, here's a link to John's vocal stylings.

OFFWHITE & Share Our Strength - Recently I volunteered at Second Harvest Food Bank. They are a local beneficiary for an event on April 23rd at the Island Hotel named Taste of the Nation, The Garden of Everything Good. A dinner and auction, 100% of ticket sales will go towards efforts to end childhood hunger. Featured restaurants include Bluefin, Break of Dawn and Studio at Montage Resort. OFFWHITE, a "Soul Rock" acoustical duo, will provide the evening's entertainment. According to their myspace profile, they describe their sound as, "If Lenny Kravitz was in Weezer and they took Green Day out for Chicken and Waffles" (as far as I'm concerned, that's a food reference).

For more information, including photographs from last year's event, click here.

It's a long way down
It's a long way down
It's a long way down to the place where we started from....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A word about croissants

It all started in junior high. Westborough Junior High in South San Francisco, to be exact (circa 1988). We had to decide between Spanish and French foreign language classes. I went en Francais because big brother chose that path. Found out exactly what his reasoning was years later, but I digress.

Ms. Orofino was the lone French teacher. We used to practice our numbers by tossing a Nerf ball around and counting up. I only have good memories of her class. My favorites happened to be on Fridays. I don't think it was every Friday, so we'll just say every other. Ms. O lived near a bakery, and she would take boulangerie orders mid-week. We had our choice of either plain croissant, pain au chocolat or baguette. A couple of days later, we would end our school week lounging at our desk with fresh baked goods. I thought the chocolate ones were too bitter, and you needed butter to make the loaf really tasty. Hence my addiction to the croissant.

Over the years I've had my fair share of flaky goodness. These are my discoveries.

Costco: Neither here nor there. Best bang for your buck in the multi-pak. Even better when you can pop in the (non-microwave) oven for a few minutes.

Starbucks: This was my cornerstone for what I thought a croissant tasted like. Sure, it's mass produced like Costco. My POV was that I didn't have to worry about freshness - each was purchased individually.

Peet's: Only spotted almond flavored ones. WTF!? Maybe I went to a bad location?

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: My BFF picked out a jalapeno cheese version without consulting me. While I am very "weak sauce", having that subtle bite of heat and creamy bit of cheese was a revelation. Then they split and toasted it. I was sold.

Champagne French Bakery: Noticeably different. More expensive and dense than all the previous ones. I was pleasantly surprised at how it tasted. While its buttery layers are a signature attribute, the less airy texture resulted in a more substantial product overall.

What about you?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ain't no such thing as a free lunch, but there are cooking classes!

What comes to mind when I mention Williams-Sonoma? Really good pancake mix. Seasonal rubber spatulas. The elusive pineapple logo. Free cooking classes.


Yes, you heard me. The grandiose chain is currently offering three "Healthy Cooking" classes in areas I could certainly use assistance in:

  • Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Chicken
Attendees will learn techniques which will enable them to create healthier (but still flavorful) meals. Demonstrations will explore different types of cookware, seasonings and tools.

One hour classes will be held on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings in the month of April at the South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa) location. Call to see if you need to RSVP. I found conflicting messages on the SCP Premiere newsletter and W-S website. Maybe I'll see you there.

(714) 751-1166