Through the Lens Thursday – September 22, 2011 – Hawaiian Style!

I was feeling inspired so thought I would share some food photos from a previous trip to Oahu, Hawaii! Now these are Da Kine Grinds!

Libby's Manapua Shop - Honolulu, HI - 1 of my Top 10 Restaurants of All Time!
Giovanni's Shrimp Scampi -North Shore, Oahu - Yum!
Side Street Cafe - Spicy Chicken - Honolulu, HI
Leonard's Bakery - Fresh Malasadas! - Honolulu, HI

Click here to see our growing collection of food photos!

Event Wrap-up Dos Lime Pop-Up at the Shark Club

Pop-up restaurants are becoming quite popular. I am not sure of the origin but I hear about them more and more. When I heard that Hop Phan, owner of Dos Chinos, an Orange County gourmet food truck, and Jason Quinn best known as the chef from the Lime Truck, and soon-to-be-opened the PlayGround in Downtown Santa Ana, were teaming up for a pop-up, we knew we had to go.

Kim and I really like the food from both of these gourmet food trucks. The event was a lot of fun. They had two seatings at 6 p.m. and then 9 p.m., for this one night only event. Jason and Hop put together a six course, family style, tasting menu along with an optional drink pairing by mixologist Gabrielle Mosa Dion of the Charlie Palmer Restaurant.

Vietnamese Shrimp Ceviche
Vietnamese Shrimp Ceviche
San-Gri-La - Rose, Grapefruit, Elderflower, Maurin Quina, and Hottenroth

Hop kicked things off with his version of a Vietnamese Shrimp Ceviche with Meyer lemon, nuoc man (fish sauce), sweet pepper medley, pineapple and a Vietnamese tostada. The ceviche was light and fresh, not too citrusy and had good-sized pieces of shrimp.

“Bahn Mi” Salad
Chef Jason Quinn Working Hard on the “Bahn Mi” Salad

The second course was Jason’s “Bahn Mi” Salad. It was a deconstructed Bahi Mi sandwich which highlighted the freshness of the vegetables and the bold flavors of the cured five-spice pork belly served with fresh made croutons. I liked the playfulness of this dish and the flavors were sweet, spicy, savory and sour with each bite.

Oxtail Soup
Oxtail Soup with a French Baguette & Roasted Bone Marrow Butter

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Oxtail Soup by Hop. This was made with roasted root vegetables, cilantro, and Pho broth and was served with a French baguette and roasted bone marrow butter. The pho broth was delicious and the meat from the oxtail was tender.

Chicken Tikka Masala
“I Gotcha Back”, 10 Cane Rum, Ginger, Lemongrass Syrup, Lime & Yogurt.

Now onto the Chicken Tikka Masala, with roasted wings, tandoori spices, peas, baby fingerling potatoes, and cotija cheese. The wings were roasted with a slight char, which added texture, even though the meat fell of the bones. The tikka masala sauce was very good. The potatoes were a different twist. Kim wanted some rice or naan to sop up the extra sauce. This was not traditional but the flavors really worked. The drink paired with this dish was called “I Gotcha Back”, 10 cane rum, ginger, lemongrass syrup, lime and yogurt. It was very refreshing and complex.

Crispy Skin-Charred Lemongrass Salmon
Watermelon Felon - Jose Traditional, Watermellon Shrub, 6 Spiced Watermelon & Lime

The fifth course was Crispy Skin-Charred Lemongrass Salmon, with mangos, watermelon, tomatillo sauce and orange scented cous cous. The cous cous was served chilled. The skin was very crispy which surprised me because it didn’t look like it would be. I felt this dish was missing something, maybe a little heat (spice).

Green Goose Pluot Cobbler Topped with Vanilla Bean Passion Fruit Yogurt
Cold World Float - Root, Becherovka, Vanilla Cream & Housemade Espresso Soda

If all of that wasn’t enough, it was time for a collaborative dessert of green goose pluot cobbler topped with vanilla bean passion fruit yogurt. The cobbler was amazing, and I really liked the yogurt, however I did not like them together. Everyone else at the table disagreed with me on that. The pluots were tender and not too sweet. It was really an amazing dessert. This was paired with my favorite drink of the night, a Cold World Float made of root, Becherovka (herbal bitters), vanilla ice cream, and housemade espresso soda. When I took a sip of this one it really smacked me in the face. Once the ice cream melted and I stirred the flavors together, it was incredible. It was a very fun twist on a root beer float.

The food was right on, as we expected. Jason and Hop did not disappoint. The drinks were good, but they did not seem like they were really paired with the dishes but more like six very good drinks. I expected them to complement the dishes more. The service had a few hiccups but what can you expect from a one-night-only event. It was great to see what they could pull together outside the truck and look forward to trying their future endeavors.

Event Wrap-up Cupcake Camp OC September 11, 2011

Just Some of the Cupcakes I Got to Judge

This past Sunday, September 11, was the second Cupcake Camp OC. Cupcake Camp OC is a fundraising event all about cupcake making, eating and bakers’ competition. This year’s event helped raise awareness and funds for Children of the Night, a non-profit organization that helps rescue children from prostitution.

I was asked to be one of the judges this year. I got to enjoy some great cupcakes, see some of my foodie friends and make new foodie friends. When I was not stuffing my face with cupcakes I was able to take a few pictures. Check out some of the winners:

1st Prize for Most OC - Bubba Sweets - Chocolate with Salted Carmel
2nd Prize for Most OC - Hollicakes - Chocolate Orange
Runner Up for Most OC - Design Cakes and Cupcakes - Churro - One of my Favs!
Jason with Saturday Night Foodies Eating, oh yeah, Judging the Cupcakes!
Sweet September Cupcakes - French Toast - One of my Favs!
1st Prize - Spirit of September 11 - Hollicakes
2nd Prize - Spirit of September 11 - Hey Cupcakes
Runner Up - Spirit of September 11 - Design Cakes & Cupcakes
Amateur Winner - Spirit of September 11 - Elyse Stadlmayr
1st Prize - Most Childhood Inspired - Banana Split - Yum Sweets
2nd Prize - Most Childhood Inspired - Grandma's Chocolate Chip Cookies - Hollicakes
Runner Up - Most Childhood Inspired - PB & J - Bubba Sweets

A muffu whatta? – Central Grocery Co., LA

Ever since we started watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, a TV show on the Food Network, we find more and more great shows that highlight amazing food across America and the world, which we add to our “must-try” list. This next place we saw on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. This is all about the New Orleans classic, the Muffuletta, pronounced moo-foo-LET-ta. The Muffuletta is a monster submarine sandwich on Sicilian-style bread. It usually has an olive salad or tapenade marinated with olive oil and vegetables, various meats like capicola, ham, salami, and pepperoni and finally provolone cheese – all on a huge round loaf of bread.

Central Grocery Muffuletta - 1/2 Sandwich

I have tried a couple different ones but had heard Central Grocery in New Orleans makes the best. I couldn’t agree more. I have not had one in almost a year and now the cravings are killing me! I am actually getting to the point where I am considering paying the huge shipping costs to get one of these incredibly flavorful, coma-inducing delights delivered to my doorstep!

Simply Amazing!

Central Grocery is basically a convenience store but they spend most of their time cranking out these beauties and there is always a line out the door for these sandwiches. The olive salad has a nice acid to it, which cuts the fattiness of the meat and cheese. It’s very well balanced and one sandwich could easily be two or three meals.

If you are in New Orleans, even if only for one day, I suggest you make it a priority to stop and pick one of these up. Don’t forget to grab me one!

Central Grocery on Urbanspoon

Food Truck Festival Coming to Downtown San Bernardino August 26-27

The food truck revolution, as it’s being called, has hit Los Angeles with a vengeance over the last couple of years. And the culture has grown; there are now so many of these restaurants on wheels roaming the city that there are smartphone apps to help users track them (although most end up tweeting their daily locations). Not only that, but they’ve gained so much notoriety that some cities require them to take part in the brick-and-mortar restaurant rating system, sporting a letter grade to let consumers know the level of health safety they’ve achieved. This is good news for anyone wary to eat at an establishment that is in a different location every day.

While this may not be news to Los Angeles and Orange County residents, the subculture surrounding food trucks is slowly moving further down South and will invade San Bernadino August 26-27, for a Food Truck Festival. If you find yourself at the intersection of Fourth and E, between 4:30 and 10pm on these dates, you’re going to see more tasty food than you can shake a stick at (and some of it is likely to be served on sticks). Here’s what you can expect to find.

Spicy Tuna Nachos

There will be four gourmet food trucks to cater to the crowd, but they are nothing if not a diverse group. Jogasaki Sushi Burrito, as the name implies, are sushi fillings getting a south-of-the-border treatment when they’re rolled into a flour tortilla. Alternatively, you can have it wrapped in soy paper for an uncut sushi roll on the go.

If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, you can always opt for hot dogs, hamburgers, and sandwiches at Stella Pierre’s (just don’t miss out on their delectable desserts, including the heart-attack-inducing chocolate-covered bacon).

Lobsta Truck - Crab Roll with Butter

The Lobsta Truck, which caters to seafood lovers, offers East Coast specialties like crab and lobster rolls, clam chowder and crab cakes.

Lastly, The Mighty Boba Truck delivers traditional Taiwanese delights, including both meat and vegetarian entrees, along with their signature tapioca tea drinks. So basically, there’s a little something to suit every taste. Or if you want to get crazy, invite a bunch of your friends so you can share and sample from each truck.

You might be wondering why there are so few food trucks featured at the festival, and in truth, it is augmenting the larger Laugh Out Loud Comedy Festival at the nearby California Theatre of Performing Arts (August 25-28).The festival will feature stand-up comedians like Jay Mohr along with groups of performers like Snoop Dogg Presents The Bad Girls of Comedy. The cost of admittance for comedy shows range from $25 for a single show up to $140 for the four-day package, but you can stop in and visit the food trucks for nothing more than the cost of your meal.

Guest Blog By Sarah Danielson (@semitrucks). Sarah Danielson writes for Trucker to Trucker where food trucks are king! You can also find used box trucks and other used trucks for sale across the country

Gourmet Food Trucks Roll Back to the OC Fair for Food Truck Fare Thursdays

The OC Fair & Event Center, home of the annual OC Fair, will continue its popular Food Truck Fare Thursdays each week in the property’s parking lot. Food Truck Fare Thursdays features a variety of gourmet food trucks that change weekly. The weekly event is held 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the lot next to the weekly Farmer’s Market, which is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m., with free parking and admission – all, you need to bring is your appetite!

Each Thursday, Food Truck Fare will feature 8-10 popular LA and OC food trucks including Piaggio On Wheels, The Burnt Truck, Lobsta Truck, Lee’s Philly, SlapFish, Spudrunners, Fresh Fries, Dos Chinos, Chunk N Chip and Crepes Bonaparte, to name a few. This week’s lineup includes:

White Rabbit – Filipino Fusion (@WhiteRabbitTruk)
Chunk-N-Chip – Ice Cream Sandwiches (@ChunknChip)
The Burnt Truck – Gourmet Sliders (@TheBurntTruck)
Tropical Shave Ice – Hawaiian Style Shave Ice Truck (@TropShaveIce)
Fresh Fries LA – Gourmet French Fries (@FreshFriesLA)
Lobsta Truck – Lobster Rolls (@LobstaTruck)
The OC Food Truck – Sandwiches (@TheOCFoodTruck)
Piaggio On Wheels – Argentine Taco Truck (@PiaggioOnWheels)

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

Craft Cocktail Recipe: #082111 Cosmo Caliente a Saturday Night Foodies Original

SNF Cosmo Caliente

Nothing like having friends over to the house to get Kim working hard to create new drinks. This is one of my new favorites, the Saturday Night Foodies Cosmo Caliente! Close to a traditional Cosmopolitan but with some backend heat to get the party going.

Here is the recipe:

  • 4oz Premium Vodka
  • 2oz Cranberry Juice
  • 1 1/2oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 1/2oz Monin’s Habanero & Lime Gourmet Syrup

Muddle Jalapeño in shaker then add ice and ingredients.  Shake well and strain into Martini Glass.  Garnish with a slice of fresh jalapeño and serve!

Be careful this one has a bite!

Through the Lens Thursday – August 18, 2011

Here are a couple of pictures from last night at OC DinDin-A-GoGo. We had not been there for a few months but really enjoyed the food and experience as always!

Dos Chinos - Bolsa Pork Fries with Fried Egg
Bakery Truck - Fresh Strawberry and Chocolate Cream Puff
The Lime Truck - Plated Special - Scallops tossed w/ Dr. Pepper Blood Orange Peel Sauce & Asian Style Cous Cous w/ Edamame and Lump Crab
Lobsta Truck - Crab Roll with Butter

Click here to see our growing collection of food photos!

Gourmet Food Trucks Coming to the 2011 Inland Empire Auto Show – Free Tickets!

Print out this coupon to receive free admission to the IE Auto Show!

The Inland Empire Auto Show (IEAS), presented by the Ontario Auto Center, one of Southern California’s premier auto shows, has announced that Gourmet Food Trucks, LLC will supply a fleet of several popular specialty food trucks for the 2011 IEAS, running August 19-21, 2011, at the Ontario Convention Center. Each truck will be showcasing its own unique menu, including tacos, hotdogs, home-cooked favorites, french fries, shrimp po-boys, salads and more! Food truck vending is catching on in a major way across America as proprietors are now offering a wider variety of cuisines expertly prepared and served in a convenient, on-the-go style.

“Gourmet Food Trucks is very excited to showcase some of Los Angeles and Orange Counties’ premier specialty food trucks,” said Dan Iehl of Gourmet Food Trucks. “Our partnership with the IE Auto Show and the Ontario Convention Center is a perfect fit – cars, trucks, good food and a beautiful facility to showcase our food trucks to all of the Inland Empire.”

Iehl has dedicated the following specialty food trucks to set up just outside the auto show, offering meals and treats throughout the duration of the August 19-21 IEAS weekend:

Three hundred lucky attendees will receive free food item vouchers, good at any of the onsite food trucks, simply by test-driving a vehicle at the IEAS Ride & Drive program. General Motors, Toyota and Chrysler are co-hosting the Ride & Drive event this year and will each give away food vouchers to their first 100 test drive participants. With many exciting new models for show goers to test-drive, signing up for the Ride & Drive program early in the day is highly recommended.

Click here to print out a coupon to receive free admission to the IE Auto Show!


About the Inland Empire Auto Show

The Inland Empire Auto Show (IEAS), presented by the Ontario Auto Center, is San Bernardino and Riverside Counties’ largest auto show and will be held August 19-21, 2011. The show is produced by the Ontario Convention Center, On the Edge Productions and DRIVEN Media Communications. Show hours are Friday from Noon to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online, and cost $10 for adults (13 years and over). Seniors, military and children (7-12 years of age) are $5.00. Children under the age of six are free with a paid adult. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit the official IEAS website at, or get real-time news and announcements from the Inland Empire Auto Show on Facebook and Twitter.

The Great Food Race Season 2 Kick-off Party hosted by The Lime Truck

Last Sunday, The Lime Truck hosted a kick-off party for the season two premier of the Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network.  The party was at the Lime Truck’s new popup restaurant at the OC Mart Mix in Costa Mesa, CA (located at 3313 Hyland Ave.).  The Seabirds Truck, another contestant on the race, was also there serving up their incredible Vegan fare.

The Lime Truck groupies were in for a special treat, because they had both of their trucks serving food at the party.  Chef Jason Quinn created a prix fixe menu for one of the trucks and as usual, knocked it out of the park.  The second Lime Truck served up some a la carte fan favorites.  Seabirds had a full menu, so the choices between the trucks were extensive.

First Course - Lobster Bacon Deviled Eggs - Yum!
Second Course - Stewed Apricot with Fennel, Black Pepper, Pistachio and Ricotta Cheese
Third Course - Shrimp & Avocado Ceviche with Tostones and Garlic Aioli
Fourth Course - Iberico Bellota Ham with Confit Tomatos with Burrata Baby Mizuna; Pedro Ximenez Reduction
Fifth Course - Goat Cheese and Hatch Chili Risotto with Lamb Loin - Yum!
Dessert - Foie Gras Panna Cotta with Maple Syrup - Yum!
Seabirds Truck - Vegan Fried Rice - Yum!
Seabirds Truck - Famous Fried Avocado Tacos

About 150 people hung out to watch the first episode.  Both Seabirds and The Lime Truck kicked butt!  Everyone had a great time laughing and enjoying the show.  Even better, the Lime Truck was the first week winner!

Just Part of the Crowd!
Jason and Daniel Celebrating their Week 1 Win!

The Lime Truck plans to host a viewing party every Sunday night through the season at their popup at the OC Mix Mart.  The festivities start at 6pm and the show airs at 10pm.

Click here for more pictures from the kick-off party