Foodie View of the Orange County Fair 2011

Kim and I enjoy going to the fair every year, mostly to eat, but also to browse the photo submissions, cruise the new products pavilion and catch a concert or two.

The OC Fair did something new this year that was a lot of fun. Not only did they invite Southern California gourmet food trucks to be inside the Fair grounds on Thursdays but they also kicked off weekly Chowdowns. A Chowdown is a friendly competition between one of the weekly, guest gourmet food trucks and one of the Fair food vendors. I was asked to emcee the Fried Potato Chowdown and Kim was one of the judges. It was between Tornado Potato and Tasti Chips. Both brought out their best dishes but Tasti Chips won. This was the first Chowdown where a fair vendor beat out a gourmet food truck. Tasti Chips’ fresh sliced potatoes were fried to perfection and covered in a spicy, cheesy, jalapeno sauce. I was lucky enough to get a batch of my own. These definitely made my must-get-again next year list! Other Truck vs. Fair Food Chowdowns included: the Hamburger Chowdown – The Burnt Truck vs. The Burger Joint; the Hot Dog Chowdown – The Greasy Wiener vs. Pink’s; the Bacon Chowdown – Chocolate-Covered Bacon vs. Bacon Mania and the Deep-Fried Dessert Chowdown – Chicken Charlie vs. The OC Food Truck.

Fried Potato Chowdown Winner - Tasti Chips - Yum!
Parmesan Tornado Potato
Steve from Tasti Chips with Chowdown Judges: Christopher Trela from Coastal Food & Wine, Quyen Gin from Kitchen Runway, & Kim Nelson from Saturday Night Foodies and Emcee Jason Iehl from Saturday Night Foodies

In addition to the Chowdown and in full support of this year’s theme, “Let’s Eat”, we had an opportunity to try a lot of other food. The biggest surprise was Deep Fried Butter. It was introduced last year but I chickened out trying it then and have been kicking myself ever since. The butter is mixed with cream cheese, some sugar and a touch of cinnamon. It is put in the middle of what I would describe as a very wide hollow churro. The whole thing is fried and topped with whipped cream. It had a nice crunch with a buttery, sweet flavor. If you get a chance and are brave enough, you should also check out their Jumbo Mexican Churro. It is piled about 10” high and topped with fresh made whipped cream and strawberries. The vendor has a competition where if you can eat this within 20 minutes, you get it for free! Less than 30 people, over the last 4 years, have been able to do it. I couldn’t do it, however it was hard for me to give up…oh, and did I mention I was defeated even with the help of three other people? Kim says this vendor’s churros take the place of her funnel cake craving (a smaller version of course!). They make AWESOME churros, some of the best and crispiest we’ve ever tasted.

Deep Fried Butter
Jumbo Mexican Churro

The best dish at the fair for me was the Bacon Maple Donut from Texas Donuts. This thing was a monster but it was not all about shock and awe, as it was prepared perfectly! I have tried a few of these over the last couple of years and most are terrible. I think people like them because hey it is bacon and we are supposed to love anything that uses bacon. However, this donut was incredible, soft and chewy, the maple was almost creamy and the bacon was crispy and served slightly warm. Perfect! Another item added to our must have next year list!

Bacon Maple Donut - Yum!
1/8th of Bacon Maple Donut - It was Huge!

One of the long time vendors “Chicken Charlie,” adds new fried concoctions that are whimsical and sometimes a little over the top. Previous years they had fried White Castle burgers and a chicken sandwich with Krispy Crème donuts as buns. This year, the two we tried were the Fried Kool-Aid and the Fried Girl Scout Cookies (Thin Mint). The fried Kool-Aid was very good, like a fresh strawberry donut that was both sweet and sour. The fried Thin Mint was good when dipped in the chocolate syrup. The syrup added some much needed flavor to the batter that the cookie was fried in. My vote, they should keep the Fried Kool-Aid.

Fried Kool-Aid
Totally Fried Girl Scout Cookies: Thin Mints

One of the friendliest and coolest vendors was Legendairy Gelato. It is family run and the staff appeared to be having a great time with customers. We were given the rare opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour, meet the team and sample some amazing, made-fresh-daily, gelato. In addition to producing a delicious, quality product, they give much of their profits to help people in need. What started as a senior college paper for one of the owner’s sons has turned into a big focus for the company. That is pretty cool! If you have a chance, go check them out!

Super Tasty Fresh Gelato

We went to the fair twice so we had a chance to try a lot of different things. We even opted for some healthier options. Here are some photos from the other dishes we tried, including one of my childhood favorites, the cinnamon roll from the vendor in the new products pavilion.

Meat and Cheese Plate
Assorted Cheese Plate
Blurry Cinnamon Rolls - Yum!
Killer Chocolate Covered Bacon from Deep Fried Butter

What did you like? What didn’t you like? What do you think they should have next year?

Click here to check out more pictures from the OC Fair 2011

The Generous Pour Wine Event through September 4 at Capital Grille South Coast Plaza

A few weeks ago we attended a preview event at The Capital Grille, South Coast Plaza, in Costa Mesa, CA. The Generous Pour Wine Event, is a wine pairing that the restaurant is offering through September 4. For just $25 with dinner, you can experience nine of the wines they offer. Each wine is selected by Master Sommelier George Miliotes and there is something for everyone in this collection from well-established estates to lesser-known wineries. Everyone can benefit from his extensive knowledge because in addition to the Generous Pour wine selections, he is also responsible for selecting the wines for The Capital Grille family of restaurants. What was unique about this offer is that if you find a wine in the pairings that you really like, you can ask for more of that particular kind vs. being limited to a single pour like other wine tastings we’ve participated in.

This was the first time we had been to Capital Grille and it exceeded our expectations. In addition to the wines, we had a chance to sample some of their food which was also very good. The highlight of the evening was meeting and speaking with Master Sommelier George Miliotes. He is one of only 173 Master Sommeliers in the world. He was not arrogant or self important like we imagined sommeliers would be. He was quite the opposite. He was very personable and easy to talk to and he didn’t mind all the novice questions we asked. We also learned that a Master Sommelier is very well-versed in alcohol well beyond wine. We got some great suggestions from him and look forward to trying some of his recommendations.

Kim, Jason and Master Sommelier George Miliotes - Photo by 2011 Albert Evangelista

After the event a few of us stuck around and ordered a couple of items off their menu. We tried the Miniature Lobster and Crab Burgers along with the Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese that we have heard so much about. Both were excellent dishes. The mac ‘n’ cheese was creamy, rich and had a lot of lobster, which could be tasted in every bite. The lobster and crab burgers were tender, great flavor and seemed to just disappear!

Miniature Lobster and Crab Burgers
Lobster Mac 'N' Cheese

Thank you Holly Wong of The Endless Supper, Anita Lau from Diary of a Mad Hungry Woman and of course The Capital Grille for organizing such a well-planned and fun event. We had a great time!

Cupcake Inspired Pancakes and Da Kine Grinds in Las Vegas – Babycake Cafe

Babycakes Cafe - Las Vegas

One of the biggest reasons we go to Vegas is to explore all the food options. You may be surprised how much of a foodie town Las Vegas is, well beyond the Strip. This last trip, we went to Babycakes Cafe (@BabycakesCafeLV), which is about 20 minutes off the Strip. Their claim-to- fame is pancakes inspired by popular cupcake flavors — you know it was a must-try for Kim.

The pancakes were really good. They were light and fluffy but packed full of flavor. You can tell they put a lot of care into their pancakes and perfecting cupcake-like pancake batters. They had many flavors like lemon ricotta, peanut butter, strawberry and we had a hard time choosing. We decided to go with red velvet and carrot cake pancakes. Both were awesome and served with a cream cheese syrup. One suggestion for them, selfishly speaking, would be to create a pancake sampler to give customers an opportunity to try a variety of their flavors. We had to order two separate dishes just so we could taste more than one of their flavors.

Red Velvet Pancakes
Carrot Cakes

In addition to cupcake pancakes and traditional breakfast menu items, they also have Filipino and Hawaiian-inspired dishes. I ordered Rick’s adobo fried rice. This is a Filipino dish that includes shredded chicken adobo and fried rice, wrapped in egg.

Rick’s Adobo Fried Rice with Mac Salad
Inside Rick’s Adobo Fried Rice
Side of Portuguese Sausage

It was nice to find a place that Kim and I can both enjoy. It lets her justify eating cupcakes for breakfast and gives me an opportunity to eat dishes that I enjoyed when I lived in Hawaii. Moreover, it has a little bit of everything so you can satisfy a diverse group of people and palettes. The food was very good and we stuffed ourselves. They could work on their service a bit. They have a lot of teenagers working that don’t have a lot of service experience – you have to ask for refills or flag them down when you want your check, but the food was awesome, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

Babycakes Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

CHANCE TO WIN TICKETS: Bill Cosby at The Pacific Amphitheatre – August 6

Now we got our hands on 3 pairs of tickets to see Bill Cosby courtesy of the OC Fair! These tickets will not only get you seats at the concert on August 6, 2011 at 8:15PM but they include Fair admission. This should be a great show so get to the fair early and maybe grab some grub, check out the animals, exhibits, and then head over to the Pacific Amphitheatre to enjoy the story telling talent of Bill Cosby.

Contest details: There are a two ways to win:

1.  Follow @satnightfoodies and @ocfair (1 entry for each follow).

2.  After you follow, simply RT this link (1 entry). We’ve made it easier for you tweeters, all you have to do is copy and paste the following into twitter:

I Entered to Win Tickets to see Bill Cosby at @OCFair Sunday July 31 http://bit.ly/OCFairBC2011 via @SatNightFoodies RT to enter!

That means you can get a total of three entries!!

Contest ends Thursday, July 28 at 11:59pm PT and the winners will be announced on July 29.  Two lucky winners will win a pair of tickets to the concert which includes admission to the OC Fair.  Good luck and happy tweeting!

Event details:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Location:

The Pacific Amphitheatre & OC Fair
Costa Mesa, CA

Buena Park High Food Truck Fest – Saturday, July 30

On July 30th, from 5-10pm top gourmet food trucks from LA and OC will come together at Buena Park High School, 8833 Academy Drive, Buena Park, CA.  The school’s head football coach, Anthony White, created the Buena Park High Fest in an effort to help his struggling athletes.  This is not the first time the coach has gone above and beyond to care for his players. From issuing food bags to doing their laundry the coach has been both mother and father to many of his players. These young men come from broken homes and have little, if any, financial means but what they lack money they more than make up for with heart. “We’re not beggars,” the coach explains. “I hope people understand that. We’re fighters. We’re playing for more than points around here, more than memories. We’re playing for each other.”

It seems that local businesses have even started to rally behind them. Dwight Dunagan from Fullerton Dental Associates wrote. “There are a lot of charities out there for other countries and foundations to help abroad. This charity event is for kids right here in our “Hometown” that are in a financial situations where they can’t even play sports. We’re always hearing of “The need to keep kids off the street” here our chance as citizens to help!”

Everyone has been pulled down from time to time. It is when the compassion of a stranger lifts us up, do we truly feel the beauty in this world.  Coach White through perseverance and passion has bonded these young souls together not only as a team but as a family. So if you are free on July 30th come out and support these local kids. If your heart will not get you going, hopefully your stomach will.  To find out more about this event, please visit the facebook events page http://ow.ly/5DPPI

 

Cooking Channel's Eat St. is Filming in San Francisco & San Jose this Week

Yesterday we got the word that Eat St. filming will be happening in Los Angeles, now we have some more times of additional filming happening in San Francisco and San Jose. Make sure you tell them Saturday Night Foodies sent you. You may want to also follow @eatsttweet & @cookingchannel

Here are the dates, locations and times of the filming straight from Eat St.

Tuesday, July 26:

We are happy to start our San Francisco/San Jose trip with one
of the coolest looking trucks in all of the country – Le
Truc (@eatletruc)
come sit on the bus and have lunch with
us from 12pm – 2pm at 470 Brannan St.

Wednesday, July 27:

Dinner is served Filipino style cuisine (with some vinyl on
the menu as well) at the W.O.W Truck (@TheWOWTruck). Come
to E Hedding St at N 7th St, San Jose, for dinner between
5pm and 7pm.

Thursday, July 28:

Brass Knuckles has a special treat lined up for us at lunch
on Thursday (@Brassknucklesf) – check their twitter for the
current location and times.

Friday, July 29:

Start your weekend in San Jose with Babaloo’s Cuban Cuisine
(@babalootruck)
and test drive a lexus while you?re at it:
3333 Stevens Creek Boulevard 12pm-2pm

Cooking Channel's Eat St. is Filming in LA this week!!

We just heard through the grapevine that the Cooking Channel’s Eat St. will be doing more filming in LA starting tomorrow. This is a great time to get out and show you love for these awesome food trucks. If you are lucky maybe we will see you on TV next season eating some tasty grub!

Make sure you tell them Saturday Night Foodies sent you!!

Here are the locations and times:

Tuesday, July 26:

We are happy to kick off this LA trip with the incomparable
Rossa Bella Cuisina (@RosaBellaCucina) we will be filming
at The Pointe 2900 W. Alameda Avenue, Burbank, CA shooting
their lunch rush from 12-3pm.

Wednesday, July 27:

Come down and cool off with some hand made ice cream at
Lake St. Creamery (@lakestcreamery) at 2901 Bradley ,
Pasadena, CA, shooting the crowds from 11:30 – 2pm

Thursday, July 28:

Come get some Hawaiian/Filipino food that kicks ass at Truck
Norris
(@TruckNorris) we will be filming at Don Bosco High School, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd Rosemead, California 91770. They will be there from 5-7pm

Friday, July 29

Start your weekend lunch at the Shrimp Pimp
(@shrimppimptruck) in Santa Monica that day. It’s on
Pennsylvania, cross streets are Stuart and 26 Street. Get
in line early for lunch 12pm -2pm

CHANCE TO WIN TICKETS: Melissa Etheridge at The Pacific Amphitheatre – July 31

We are giving away two pairs of tickets to see Melissa Etheridge courtesy of the OC Fair! These tickets will not only get you seats at the concert on July 31, 2011 at 8:15PM but they include Fair admission. This makes for one great date night. Show up early grab some spectacular Fair food and then head over to the Pacific Amphitheatre to enjoy some great music.

Contest details: There are a two ways to win:

1.  Follow @satnightfoodies and @ocfair (1 entry for each follow).

2.  After you follow, simply RT this link (1 entry). We’ve made it easier for you tweeters, all you have to do is copy and paste the following into twitter:

I Entered to Win Tickets to see Melissa Etheridge at @OCFair Sunday July 31 http://bit.ly/OCFairME2011 via @SatNightFoodies RT to enter!

That means you can get a total of three entries!!

Contest ends Friday, July 22 at 11:59pm PT and the winners will be announced on July 24.  Two lucky winners will win a pair of tickets to the concert which includes admission to the OC Fair.  Good luck and happy tweeting!

Event details:

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Location:

The Pacific Amphitheatre & OC Fair
Costa Mesa, CA

OC Fair Chowdowns: Fair Food vs. Food Truck

Yes, you read that right. It is that time of year when the OC Fair is in full swing. One of the best things to do at the fair is check out all of the new, not so good for you, but oh so tasty creations in addition to the classics. The OC Fair is also including gourmet food trucks on Thursdays to the already tasty lineup.

This year the OC Fair is doing some new, they are hosting four Chowdowns. Think Food Networks Throwdown but OC Fair style. Each Thursday a Fair food vendor will go up against a gourmet food truck. These should be exciting. Saturday Night Foodies will be one of the judges for the Fried Potato Chowdown! Make sure you come out and say Hi!

Event Wrap-Up: Munchathon 2011 – Irvine, CA

Groups Waiting to Munch!

Today was the first ever Munchathon in Orange County.  This was a unique two part event.  The first part of the day was a 5K fun walk that had a wide variety of food and drink stations along the way.  The second part was a gourmet food truck gathering featuring many trucks from the OC and from Los Angeles.  We had a good time talking with some of the truck owners, other local foodies and of course eating all kinds of tasty treats.

Here are some pictures from the event:

I Love the Costumes!
One of Two areas that had Trucks
Fresh Fries LA was the First Stop on the 5K
There Were Even Obstacles! Irvine Lake in the Background
So Many Healthy People
They Look Happy to Cross the Finish Line!
Grilled Corn from The Lime Truck
Bacon Blue Iggys and The Bomb from The Greasy Wiener
Lobster Roll with Butter from The Lobsta Truck - Yum!
Just Chillin'
Carnitas Fries from The Lime Truck
More Trucks!
Chicken Adobo Bowl - Tapa Boy LA
Hawaiian Shave Ice - Tropical Shave Ice - Yum!
BOOYah - Chunk-N-Chip!

Click Here to see more photos from the event