Memphis at the Santora Brings Southern Style Crawfish Boil to the West – Santa Ana, CA

In late October Memphis at the Santora in Downtown Santa Ana, announced Executive Chef Diego Velasco’s newest fall menu item, the Memphis Crawfish Boil.

Big Pile of Crawfish!

The Crawfish Boil includes 1.5lbs of fresh crawfish, smoked sausage, corn on the cob, potatoes, cornbread muffins, salad and one Dixie Lager per guest, all served on traditional New Orleans butcher paper. The Louisiana-style meal typically feeds 8-20 guests at $30 per person with one week advanced reservations required.

We were invited to try this feast first hand with a number of other food bloggers from around Southern California. Here are some pictures from the event.

Executive Chef Diego Velasco
Fresh Beignets!
Memphis Famous Cornbread and BBQ Butter
Dixie Lager
Entire Feast

The Lime Truck Alumnus Jason Quinn to Open The Playground in Downtown Santa Ana

If you are a Southern California gourmet food truck lover then there is a good chance that you have eaten at or at least heard of the Lime Truck in Orange County. They have won numerous accolades for their inventive California, ingredient-driven cuisine, most notably Season 2 winners of the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race.” The Lime Truck has been one of the best food trucks to hit the road, in large part to Chef Jason Quinn. Chef Quinn is one of our favorite chefs because he continues to raise the bar with his commitment to fresh, quality ingredients and creates dishes that are inspired by what is in season.

People Walking by can Watch the Masters Work!

We have been waiting with much anticipation for the result of his vision for his first brick and mortar restaurant. This Friday, November 18, Quinn will open, The Playground. The Playground will be located in downtown Santa Ana at the corner of Fourth and Spurgeon.

The Playground plans to change the menu every week, which is a tough thing to do, but it means that guests will never get bored. They will also offer 15 craft beers that I expect will change almost as often. This will give them a chance to pair different beers along with the food.

The menus will be written on the blackboard-covered walls behind the counter. With the different colors of chalk and the communal-style dining, it is slightly reminiscent of your childhood playground.

The Playground will Feature Art from Local Artist

In addition to snagging craft beer expert, Jarred Dooley, formerly of The Bruery to manage the craft beers, Chef Jason has also surrounded himself with some spectacular talent. . Brad Radack, Executive Sous Chef, has worked in a number of places around the US after completing is training at Le Cordon Bleu College in Scottsdale, AZ, Frank Deloach, Sous Chef who specializes in curing and pickles great ingredients, Karl Pfleider, Sous Chef formerly at the Crosby and April Ventura, Sous Chef former Chef de Cuisine at Golden Vine Winery. With this all-star line-up guests are sure to be rewarded by the results of this team’s collaboration and genius.

The Playground
220 East 4th Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701

SOCO Farmer's Market Announces Farm to Food Truck Challenge II – November 19

On Saturday, November 19th, SoCo Certified Farmers’ Market will host its Farm to Food Truck Challenge II. The event is a farmers’ market inspired cooking competition pitting top Gourmet Food Truck chefs against each other to create the best dish using locally grown farm fresh ingredients. Over 15 gourmet food trucks will be hosted during the weekly farmers’ market from 9am-2pm with selected trucks competing.

Contestants From the First Farm to Food Truck Challenge

The event is a Food Network TV Show “Chopped”-style competition. Food truck chefs will have only 60 minutes to shop the farmers’ market for its pre-determined seasonal ingredients and then whip up a culinary masterpiece. The dish will be served to a panel of top foodie judges to be judged on creativity, taste and presentation. The winner will be crowned the ‘Top Chop’ Truck! The Challenge kicks off at 12pm, judging begins at 1pm and the Winner announced at 1:30pm.

The festivities will also feature live music, kid-friendly activities and plenty of free parking. The event is held in conjunction with the SoCo Certified Farmers’ Market, which is held every Saturday at South Coast Collection (“SoCo”) (the 3300 block of Hyland Ave) in Costa Mesa from 9am-2pm.

Competition Trucks:
Home Skillet
Piaggio
Seabirds
The Flip Truck
Taco Maria
SlapFish

Participating Trucks:
Tamarindo
Refresh Truck
Lobsta Truck
Calbi
Bakery Truck
Komodo
Waffles de Liege
Rancho a Go Go
Barcelona On the Go

Bacon Mania Wining the First Farm to Food Truck Challenge

Why Farm2GFT?
The purpose of SoCo Farmers’ Market Farm to Food Truck Challenge II is to showcase the farm fresh produce from our local farmers, and encourage Chefs to gather their ingredients from sustainable sources. We also want to inspire and educate the public to make nutritious+delicious with farm fresh ingredients. We will also be hosting a food drive at this event, to collect food for families in Costa Mesa for the Holidays.

Our first Farm to Food Truck Challenge witnessed Bacon Mania (@baconmania) being crowned ‘Top Chop’ Truck. The event had over 3,500 people in attendance with over 20 farmers’ market foodies, bloggers, photographers and volunteers capturing all the action.

Gourmet Food Trucks Wrangle for Halloween Block Party – Valencia, CA

A wide array of cuisines will roll into Valencia on Saturday, October 29 as Bridgeport Marketplace hosts the Halloween Gourmet Food Truck Block Party. The event will delight food enthusiasts and novices alike, as they will experience the finest dishes that Southern California’s hottest food trucks have to offer. A portion of all proceeds will benefit the Child & Family Center and Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Health Foundation.

Guests can expect a wide variety of entertainment including a rockin’ DJ to help get your Halloween groove started. There will also be a pumpkin painting station, face painting and a balloon artist, as well as a kids’ Halloween costume contest at 6:00 PM in front of Marston’s Restaurant. So bring your appetite and most creative Halloween costume to the Bridgeport Marketplace at McBean Parkway and Newhall Ranch Road from 4 PM to 9 PM.

To date over 20 gourmet trucks have confirmed to partake in the festival. Participants include Ahnjoo, All American Gourmet Grill, Border Grill, Breezy Freeze, Dogzilla, Grilled Cheese Patrol, India Jones Chow Truck, Jose O Malley’s, LA Great Balls on Tires, Lees Philly, LongBoards, Ludo, Nom Nom, The Poutine Truck, Rebel Bite, Shrimp Pimp, Slap Yo Mama, Tapaboy, Tornado Potato and Yummy One. The event is FREE to the public; just bring cash to indulge in the assortment of rare tastes the trucks will have to offer!

Great Wine and Killer Pizza – Cordiano Winery – Escondido, CA

I don’t know about you but sometimes I like to just turn left or right during a journey to explore. This very thing happened on a recent trip or better said adventure with Kim, our friend Kelly (@DP_SNFoodies) and Austin the author of Hungry Dogg when we on our way to Julian to pick some apples and bring home their famous apple pie. On our way, Austin found a winery in the Escondido valley. We were thinking we would want to try some wine, and were especially intrigued when the one he found also served pizza. Thank you Austin for being bored and playing with your smart phone.

Cordiano Winery is a family-run winery with some amazing wines. They have been making wine for about 10 years and have a great selection to choose from. Their tasting was $10 per person and we got to try seven wines. Each one built on the next and we were not disappointed.

Pizza Margarita
Breadsticks - Yum!

That was not the best part. This family use to own a successful chain of pizzerias on the east coast and in San Diego. They have an outdoor pizza oven that you smell as soon as you walk into their tasting area. All pizzas and breadsticks are made fresh to order and they use fresh ingredients that is evident with each bite. I was in heaven. The smell of fresh made pizza, the beautiful view of the valley and the great wine. It was hard for us to leave.

Trinity Wine - Yum!

We ended up taking home a half case of their just released Trinity wine. It is made of 60% sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is amazing, smooth and just wonderful. It was so new that they had not even put labels on the bottles.

The family was so friendly, and they graciously welcomed every guest and made them feel special. I would highly recommend this winery.

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Cordiano Winery - Escondido, CACordiano Winery - Escondido, CACordiano Winery - Escondido, CACordiano Winery - Escondido, CACordiano Winery - Escondido, CACordiano Winery - Escondido, CA
Cordiano Winery - Escondido, CACordiano Winery - Escondido, CACordiano Winery - Escondido, CA

Cordiano Winery on Urbanspoon

Some Crazy Cool Doughnuts – Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, OR

Portland is known for a lot of things, it’s great foodie culture, amazing street food and if you look at Yelp or Urbanspoon, you are bound to see a place called Voodoo Doughnut. This is a crazy little bakery in downtown that always has a line of fans waiting to get their hands on some very “inspired” doughnuts.

We tried a bunch of different ones and enjoyed all of them. They are dense without being heavy, if that makes sense. I think they excel in their creative shapes and toppings which makes them quite unique. Next time we are in Portland, I’m sure we will stop by again. Also since these photos were taken, I understand they have gone through a remodel. I bet the new place will be just as fun!

Bacon Maple Doughnut

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Voodoo Doughnut - Portland, ORVoodoo Doughnut - Portland, ORVoodoo Doughnut - Portland, ORVoodoo Doughnut - Portland, ORVoodoo Doughnut - Portland, ORVoodoo Doughnut - Portland, OR
Voodoo Doughnut - Portland, ORVoodoo Doughnut - Portland, ORVoodoo Doughnut - Portland, ORVoodoo Doughnut - Portland, OR

Voodoo Doughnut on Urbanspoon

Oyster Bar – Palace Station, Las Vegas, NV

Kim and I love trying new places and really like when our friends and followers suggest new places for us to try. So far, we have been very lucky and a most of the suggestions have been awesome. The Oyster Bar at Palace Station was one of those great suggestions.

Be prepared to wait in line, it is a small setup in the middle of the casino and can seat about 10 to 12 people. There is usually one cook behind the “bar” and one additional server. There are no reservations but you will find a line. From what we hear, there is always a line and after our visit we understand why.

Palace Shrimp Pan Roast
Étouffée.

We had a chance to try a few things off their menu and cannot wait to try more on our next visit. The oysters and clams on the half shell are super fresh and shucked to order right in front of you. Their clam chowder is solid, very creamy and hearty. The main courses were unreal. We had the Palace Shrimp Pan Roast and the Étouffée. Both had generous helpings of seafood with very distinctive flavors, and can be ordered at the heat level that best suits you. We ordered a six on the heat level, which can go as high as 10. We like hot and this was almost perfect but I think we will do a 7 the next time. But be careful, the heat level is serious.

The service was really good, more relaxing than I expected. The cook kept us entertained while he prepared our entrees. If you head to Las Vegas, make sure you check this place out.

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Oyster Bar - Palace Station, Las Vegas, NV: Clam Chowder

Oyster Bar (Palace Station) on Urbanspoon

Event Wrap-up OC Blogger Bash 2011 & Knott's Berry Farm Ticket Giveaway

Couple of weeks ago Kim and I were invited to the first ever OC Blogger Bash at the Anaheim Convention Center and was put on by the Anaheim/OC Visitor & Convention Bureau. It was a throw back to the early 60’s, food and decorations were a lot of fun, not to mention most of the people that attended dressed up in their best “Mad Men” style attire. We finally got to meet Kelly from Just Spotted and Julie from Angry Julie Monday blogs.

The food was very good as well, to be honest we were surprised how nice it was. The Deviled Quail Egg, was my favorite. The classic Pepsis were a nice surprise too. Kim really liked her Dirty Martini’s and the Prawn cocktail. Make sure you check out the photo gallery below.


Now for the important part of this article, one lucky winner will win a pair of regular admission tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm. These were given to us in our swag bag from the event and we want to give them to our readers!

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Check out the pictures from the event:

OC Blogger BashOC Blogger Bash: Great Cheese PlateOC Blogger Bash: Tasty Skewers to dip in CheeseOC Blogger Bash: Great Cheese PlateOC Blogger Bash: BuntsOC Blogger Bash: Mini Pineapple Cake
OC Blogger Bash: Sliders and Pizza with FigsOC Blogger BashOC Blogger Bash: Classic Pepsi with Natural SugarOC Blogger Bash: Many Popcorns and even on with BaconOC Blogger Bash: Jump Shrimp CocktailOC Blogger Bash: Flaming Pineapple Down Cake
OC Blogger Bash: Deviled Quail Eggs - Loved theseOC Blogger Bash: Plenty of Classic CandyOC Blogger Bash: View from AboveOC Blogger Bash: Classic Root Beer FloatOC Blogger Bash: @SatNightFoodies BadgeOC Blogger Bash: Swag Bag

OC Blogger Bash 2011, a set on Flickr.

Food Truck Fare After Dark Launches October 5

Food Truck Fare After Dark Launches at OC Fair & Event Center Wednesdays 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. starting October 5

Evening Food Truck Gathering Offers Free Admission and Parking

The OC Fair & Event Center (OCFEC) will begin Food Truck Fare After Dark on Wednesdays from 5:30-9 p.m. starting October 5. This evening event will be in addition to the popular Food Truck Fare Thursday afternoon event, which just celebrated its one year anniversary. Admission and parking are free for both events.

Food Truck Fare After Dark will offer food truck chasers an opportunity to partake in an alternating lineup of gourmet food trucks offering a wide variety of cuisines including Argentinean, BBQ, burgers, gourmet fries, Latin-Asian fusion, seafood, vegetarian and desserts. Food Truck Fare After Dark on Wednesdays will also offer a cash bar, ample seating, promotions for New Year’s Eve Block Party and OC Fair ticket giveaways, free food vouchers and other prizes. Trucks are located in the parking lot outside the Pacific Amphitheatre Box Office, enter through Gate 1 off of Fair Drive.

A lineup of each week’s featured food trucks will be made available on Twitter (@ocfair), Facebook (OCFair) and ocfair.com in the Events Calendar section.

The original daytime Food Truck Fare is open Thursdays from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. and also features free admission and parking. Guests can peruse the fresh produce at the Farmers Market which is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. each Thursday in the parking lot next to Food Truck Fare.

The OC Fair & Event Center is located off the 405 and 55 freeways at 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa.

Two New Events Debut in OC, OC Wine Week Begins This Weekend

OC WINE WEEK: September 25 – October 1, 2011
OC BEER WEEK: October 2 – 8, 2011

The Orange County Restaurant Association debuts two new events this weekend: OC Wine Week, September 25th through October 1st, and OC Beer Week, October 2nd through October 8th. These back-to-back weeklong events will be similar to Restaurant Week with great menus from Orange County’s top restaurants, but will also offer fantastic wine and beer pairing options at unbeatable prices.

Following are confirmed to participate in both events (menus are posted online at http://www.ocwineandbeerweek.com/, the official site for both events):

6ix Park Grill

Katsuya

Royal Khyber

Alcatraz Brewing Company

Kimera

Ruth’s Chris Steak House Irvine | Anaheim

Auld Dubliner Irish Pub

K’ya Bistro

Sage

Anaheim White House

K’ya Street Fare

Savannah Chop House

Andrei’s

Leatherby’s

Signature Kitchen

AnQi

LUCCA

Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar

Avanti Cafe

Luggatti’s

Simply Fondue

Bacchus Secret Cellar

Lulu’s Creperie Cafe

SOL Cocina

Bayside

Maggiano’s Little Italy

Splashes

Bistango

Matador Cantina

Starfish

Buffalo Wild Wings

Marrakesh

Sundried Tomato

Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurant

Mayur Cuisine of India

taco asylum

Brasserie Pascal

Memphis at the Santora

Tapas Restaurant

Brix Brews

Mozambique

The Cannery

Canyon Restaurant

Nello Cucina

The Crow Bar and Kitchen

Capital Grille

Newport Beach Brewing Co.

The Deck on Laguna

Catal and Uva Bar

Newport Landing

The Derby Deli and Dueling Piano Bar

Chapter One

Nieuport 17

The Dock

Charlie Palmer

Nirvana Grille

The Loft

CLAES Ovation

OC Brewhouse

The Melting Pot

Clancy’s Clubhouse

O’Neill’s Bar & Grill

The Pint House

Crow Burger Kitchen

Orange Hill Restaurant

The Porch

Enne Cucina Italiana

Orea Taverna & Wine Bar

The Ritz Restaurant & Garden

French 75

Pablos Cantina

Tommy Bahama Island Grille

GG’s Bistro

Phans 55 Irvine | Fullerton

Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach Bar & Grill

Great Maple

Pinot Provence

Tradition by Pascal

Harborside Restaurant

Pizzeria Ortica

True Food Kitchen

Haven Gastropub

Primecut Cafe

Tusca

Hooter’s

Quattro Cafe

Wine Lab

House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer

RA Sushi

Yard House | Multiple Locations

House of Blues

Red Table Restaurant

Zimzala

JT Schmid’s Restaurant & Brewery

Riptide Rockin’ Sushi & Teppan Grills

“Our goal is to keep things fresh, fun and delicious, so it seemed natural to shake things up by producing an event that builds on the success of OC Restaurant Week with fabulous wine and beer pairings,” commented Pamela Waitt, president of the OC Restaurant Association. “The back-to-back weeks of wine and beer fun will offers options for every taste and budget so that those interested may take advantage of amazing deals at the best restaurants in OC and maybe even try new restaurants. Really, there will be something for everyone!”

The unique culinary celebration will replace the fall OC Restaurant Week with prix-fixe menus and wine-pairing options during OC Wine Week, September 25th through October 1st. Immediately following will be OC Beer Week, October 2nd through October 8th with equally interesting beer offerings throughout the county.