Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation at The Montage, Laguna Beach – June 2, 2013

Taste of The Nation Montage Laguna Beach
Taste of The Nation Montage Laguna Beach

On June 2nd, 2013, Montage Laguna Beach will host Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation®, one of America’s leading culinary benefits, in hopes of eliminating childhood hunger across the nation.
Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation® is the nation’s premier culinary benefit, featuring top chefs and mixologists — all of whom are coming together to donate their time, talent and passion to end childhood hunger in America. Celebrity chefs will share their passion and skills in preparing fresh farm-to-table delicacies to further Share Our Strength’s dream of ending childhood hunger. Attendees will enjoy an afternoon of delectable dishes, wine, signature cocktails, live music, and the picturesque panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean at Montage Laguna Beach.

PAST PARTICIPATING CHEFS:

  • Chef William Bradley, Addison at the Grand Del Mar
  • Chef Floyd Cardoz, North End Grill, New York City
  • Chef Suzanne Goin, The A.O.C., Lucques, and Tavern, Los Angeles
  • Chef Lee Smith, Executive Pastry Chef, Montage Laguna Beach
  • Chef Michael Voltaggio, ink., Los Angeles
  • Chef Alan Wong, Alan Wong’s Restaurants, Honolulu

As contributors to the charity’s cause, guests can choose between two of the following event packages:

  • Celebrity Chef Tasting 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $150 per person or at the door for $175 per person.

  • VIP “Meet the Chefs” Reception 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Complete the night with VIP treatment and a sunset toast. Enjoy the Celebrity Chef Tasting followed by an after party to mingle with the chefs. Valet parking and post-event gifts are included. Tickets purchased in advance are $250 per person and $275 at the door.

The revenue from each ticket purchased for Taste of the Nation® goes to Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry” campaign that advocates ending childhood hunger in America by increasing access to nutrition programs and investing in effective community organizations to fight hunger.

For more details regarding Taste of the Nation at Montage Laguna Beach and to purchase tickets, visit www.tasteofthenation.org or call (877) 26TASTE (82783)

Brew Ha Ha’s Newest Micro Festival – "GRAY CLOUD" – April 13, 2013

Brew Ha Ha’s Newest Micro Festival
Brew Ha Ha’s Newest Micro Festival

Premier pairing event features award-winning cigars, limited release beers & gourmet food

From the producers of the renowned OC Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival comes “Gray Cloud” an intimate afternoon/evening festival on one of Orange County’s most beautiful golf courses, Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo. This exclusive event will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2013 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Designed to provide guests with an extraordinarily personal and intimate pairing experience featuring an unprecedented lineup of award-winning cigars, limited release craft beers, along with “small plate,” gourmet food offerings specially prepared by Chef Jeff Platt, this package will be expertly woven together by the internationally recognized master pairing guide, “Dr.” Bill Sysak Craft Beer Ambassador for Stone Brewing Co. and Certified Cicerone. “Dr. Bill,” as he has become known as, will focus on “the finer things” in artisanal pairings and collaboration between chefs, breweries and fine cigars experts.

Both seasoned aficionados and novices alike will enhance their appreciation for fine beer, food, and cigars while watching the sun set overlooking the 18th hole and the gorgeous private lake. Guests will enjoy nine hand selected, limited release beers such as Big Foot Barley Wine from Sierra Nevada, 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing Co, and Cedar Plank Pale Ale from Green Flash. “While our flagship event will always be our Annual Brew Ha Ha held in September every year,” says co-producer Cameron Collins, “we also enjoy showcasing some of the many great aspects of craft beer at smaller events such as our Brew Ho Ho Holiday Ale Festival in December. This GRAY CLOUD pairing event takes ‘smaller’ to an extreme but it is going to be an awesome experience.”

Only 250 Full Access tickets are available and range in price from $55 limited release to $75 at the door. Tickest include: nine 6 oz pours of hand-selected, limited release beers, a beautiful commemorative stemmed Belgian style tulip glass, Cigar Aficionado’s 2008 and 2012 cigars of the year, three “small plates” of gourmet food, two free raffle tickets, and free parking. Tickets are available online at www.ocbrewhaha.com.

Playing with Our Food at Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot – Irvine, CA

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

There is a shopping center in Irvine, at Culver and Irvine Center Drive that we frequent when picking up our Asian cooking supplies. The last time we were there we noticed that the Teppan place had closed and something called Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot had taken its place. We kept telling ourselves that we should go and check it out. Well, today was that day.

House Yin Yang Pot
House Yin Yang Pot

The easiest way for me to describe it is it’s kind of like the Mongolian version of Shabu Shabu or fondue. Each guest selects their choice of broth, meat(s), vegetables, noodles and other sides. You order everything a la carte unless you order one of their combinations. Be careful with the a la cart plan as the items add up. We were a bit overwhelmed by all the choices so we opted to order the sampler vegetable and mushroom platters instead of ordering each vegetable separately.

Pork Belly
Pork Belly
Chicken Breast
Chicken Breast

We chose their original and spicy broths, but there is also a vegetarian option available. They brought out a Ying Yang-shaped pan filled with our broths and set it on an induction stove in the middle of the table. They placed all of our a la carte ingredients on the table and then it was our turn to cook. You can mix and match any of the items and cook them in whichever broth you like.

House Shrimp Meatballs - Yum!
House Shrimp Meatballs – Yum!
Mixed Mushroom Basket with Enoki, Oyster, Shiitake, Wood Ear and Brown Beech
Mixed Mushroom Basket with Enoki, Oyster, Shiitake, Wood Ear and Brown Beech
Choices from the Sauce Bar
Choices from the Sauce Bar

There was also a sauce bar that included cilantro, scallions, minced garlic, seafood soy, peanut, sesame oil, and bean paste sauces, to name a few. In addition there was lack vinegar, chili oil and sriracha. You can dish these up and take that the sauces to your bowl, plate or hot pot.

Our Table After Going a Little Crazy
Our Table After Going a Little Crazy

We enjoyed playing chef and being able to create our own soup.

Fresh Think Noodles - Yum!
Fresh Think Noodles – Yum!
Veggie Combo Basket
Veggie Combo Basket
Sliced Lotus Root
Sliced Lotus Root

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot on Urbanspoon

Craft Cocktail Recipe: #030213 Scotch, Meyer Lemons & Ginger

#03022013 Scotch, Ginger, Meyer Lemon, and Basil
#03022013 Scotch, Ginger, Meyer Lemon, and Basil

This drink was created by Kim (@Mrs_SNFoodies) from the ground up. She is usually involved in every drink recipe that we publish but she took this one to a whole new level of perfection. I probably tasted about nine different variations as she experimented with different spirits. I really think that the final ingredients selected for this drink surprised her. Ginger was her inspiration. She began testing with vodka, then gin, and after lots of convincing moved to scotch. She also played with honey, agave and simple syrup to find the best ingredient to highlight the spirit. I think this one came out amazing. Cheers!

Saturday Night Foodies #032313 Ginger, Basil and Meyer Lemon with Scotch with Sherry Cask Finish

INGREDIENTS:

3oz Kirkland Macallan 15 Year Old Sherry Cask Finish (Scotch whiskey)
2oz Lemon Juice (We used Meyer lemons from Frieda’s Produce – Amazing!)
1oz Stirring Simple Syrup
4 Slices Fresh Ginger
5 Fresh Basil Leaves (Set two aside for garnish)

PREPARATION:

Muddle ginger and three basil leaves in a martini shaker. Add remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Pour over ice in a tumbler. Garnish with one basil leaf and rub the second leaf with your fingers to release the oil and rim the glass.

If you are looking for other cocktail recipies from Saturday Night Foodies <CLICK HERE>

Craft Cocktail Recipe: #030313 Asombroso Tequila, Blackberry & Meyer Lemon

#03032013 Asombroso Tequila & Grand Marnier
#03032013 Asombroso Tequila & Grand Marnier

One of my favorite things to do is look around the kitchen at the fresh ingredients available to me and think, “what would make a great cocktail?”. Doesn’t everyone think that way? This cocktail was inspired by blackberries, basil from our garden and Meyer lemons from Frieda’s Produce. I did not want to overwhelm the delicate flavors of the fruit and basil but at the same time wanted to add a little depth. So I picked a young, silver tequila from Asombroso.

Saturday Night Foodies #030313 Blackberry, Basil and Meyer Lemon with Asombroso Silver Tequila

INGREDIENTS:

2oz Asombroso Tequila (Silver)
1oz Grand Marnier
1oz Lemon Juice (We used Meyer lemon juice.)
.5oz Simple Syrup
7 Blackberries
5 Fresh Basil Leaves

Splash of Fever-Tree Tonic (Light Indian Tonic Water)

PREPARATION:

Muddle basil and blackberries in a shaker. Add remaining ingredients (except tonic water) and shake with ice. Pour over ice in a tumbler. Garnish with blackberry, basil leaf and splash of tonic water.

Great Ingredients Make Great Drinks
Great Ingredients Make Great Drinks

If you are looking for other cocktail recipies from Saturday Night Foodies <CLICK HERE>

Craft Cocktail Recipe: #022313 Sumo Tangerine & Corn Whiskey (Moonshine)

Sumo Tangerine & Moonshine Craft Cocktail
Sumo Tangerine & Moonshine Craft Cocktail

We recently were introduced to the glorious Sumo Tangerine, a baseball sized, easy to peel juicy ball of sweet goodness. Thank you Jason Quinn (Chef/Owner PlayGround DTSA). We ran out picked some up and I just had to make a cocktail. After doing a little research on different drink combinations I finally thought of this:

Saturday Night Foodies #022313 Sumo Tangerine & Midnight Moon Moonshine

INGREDIENTS:

3oz Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon (Corn Whiskey)
1.5oz Sumo Tangerine juice
.5oz Lemon Juice (We used Meyer Lemon juice)
.5oz Simple Syrup
.5oz Real Grenadine
8 drops of Hellfire Bitters from Bittermens

PREPARATION:

Mix all ingredients in a shaker. Shake with ice to blend. Pour over ice in a tumbler. Garnish with tangerine wedge and Luxardo Cherry along with a dash of syrup

Bittermans Hellfire, Midnight Moon and Sumo Tangerines
Bittermans Hellfire, Midnight Moon and Sumo Tangerines

Paso Robles Wine Country Grand Tasting Tour Comes to San Diego and Los Angeles February 25 – 28, 2013

Grand Tasting Tour 2013

Paso Robles Wine Country, one of the nation’s premier wine regions, announced today its schedule of events for the 2013 Paso Robles Wine Country Grand Tasting Tour. Over 30 winemakers from California’s third largest wine producing region will visit San Diego (February 25 – 26), Los Angeles (February 27 – 28) and San Francisco (April 10 – 11) showcasing their award-winning and nationally acclaimed wines.

Each city visit begins with multiple winemaker dinners and wine retailer tastings then culminates on day-two with a trade/media experience and ticketed tasting event for the public. The Grand Tasting will feature more than 30 wineries sampling their current vintage wines. Cheese and charcuterie will be presented by Peacock Cheese Company (San Diego and Los Angeles) to complement this Paso Robles wine experience.

“The region is excited to showcase the wines of Paso Robles in these marquee cities,” said Christopher Taranto, Communications Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “In 2013 our focus is California, reconnecting with our most ardent fans and turning on some new followers with the latest and best that Paso has to offer.”

The complete schedule of events for the Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour is as follows:

San Diego
February 25, 2013
Winemaker Dinners at various San Diego restaurants (TBA)

February 26, 2013
Paso Robles Grand Tasting
Corky McMillin Events Center, Liberty Station
2875 Dewey Road, San Diego
1 – 2 p.m. – Wine Seminar (Trade/Media Only)
2 – 4:30 p.m. – Trade/Media Tasting
6 – 8:30 p.m. – Public Tasting ($60 per person)

Los Angeles
February 27, 2013
Winemaker Dinners at various LA restaurants (TBA)

February 28, 2013
Paso Robles Grand Tasting
The BookBindery
8919 Lindblade Street, Culver City
1 – 2 p.m. – Wine Seminar (Trade/Media Only)
2 – 4:30 p.m. – Trade/Media Tasting
6 – 8:30 p.m. – Public Tasting ($65 per person)

San Francisco
April 10, 2013
Winemaker Dinners at various San Francisco restaurants (TBA)

April 11, 2013
Paso Robles Grand Tasting
The Bently Reserve
301 Battery Street, San Francisco
1 – 2 p.m. – Wine Seminar (Trade/Media Only)
2 – 4:30 p.m. – Trade/Media Tasting
6 – 8:30 p.m. – Public Tasting ($65 per person)

The 2013 Grand Tasting Tour is the region’s 9th annual tour dedicated to bringing the Paso Robles Wine Country experience into top cities across the nation. Admission sales for the public events begin Wednesday, January 23, 2013. Trade/Media are encouraged to contact the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance for invitation.

For more information, or to purchase Grand Tasting Tour admission, please visit www.pasowine.com.

Slater's 50/50 Opens Third Orange County Location in Lake Forest

Inside the New Slater's 50/50 in Lake Forest
Inside the New Slater’s 50/50 in Lake Forest

Bonified bacon and burger champion, Slater’s 50/50, is thrilled to announce the grand opening of its third Orange County location in Lake Forest on Monday, February 11th. Famous for the signature 50/50 Burger, comprised of 50% ground beef and 50% ground bacon, Slater’s embraces over-the-top comfort fare and a delivers a extensive selection of local and craft brews to their new South Orange County location. Featuring an expansive, welcoming space, more than 25 big screen TVs to cover all the sporting action, and a menu designsed to satisfy the cravings of the most creative carnivores, Slater’s 50/50 is set to score in Lake Forest.

Slater’s 50/50 Lake Forest marks the latest phase of growth for the brand and what founder Scott Slater fondly refers to as its “O.C. trifecta.” A SoCal native, Slater had his sights set on Orange County as a stronghold for his brand from the start, believing the Slater’s 50/50 concept would resonate with a wide cross section of consumers in the region not only because of its commitment to great food and service, but for its unique approach to customizing the guest experience. “I have always loved Orange County and felt it was a favorable and supportive place to do business,” Slater says. “I feel like Orange County customers have embraced us in such a wonderful way because we embrace them. In every community we enter, our overiding goal as a team is to ensure that our restaurants feel like part of the fabric of a neighborhood and deliver a personalized experience for each and every patron that walks through our doors.”
With five restaurants already under his belt, Slater aims to make Slater’s 50/50 a household name across Southern California and beyond in the coming years and his line-up of burgers, brews and bacon-laced everything is up to the challenge.

The star of the show at Slater’s 50/50 is the signature 50/50 patty made of 50% ground beef and 50% ground bacon, resulting in 100% deliciousness. For more adventurous spirits, the Peanut Butter and Jellousy Burger and the all-bacon B’ B’ B’ Bacon Burger consistently create burger converts out of naysayers. The Design It! Menu gives guests the ability to custom design their own gourmet burger bliss with seven meat options, four breads, 12 cheeses, 30+ toppings and 20 sauces. Guests who are less burger minded will not suffer menu malaise as they set their sights on favorites including the Fried Chicken and Pancakes, numerous salads, tempting appetizers and desserts such as the 50/50’s Famous BACON Brownie. To wash it all down, Slater’s 50/50 offers more than one hundred rotating taps of craft beers and local brews, as well as a creative cocktail menu featuring a Bacon Bloody Mary and a Bacon Old Fashioned alongside a wide selection of wines and beer cocktails.

Slater’s 50/50:
24356 Swartz Avenue
Lake Forest, CA

Artisan Pizza makes OC debut – Pitfire Pizza, Costa Mesa, CA

PitFire Pizza - Costa Mesa, CA
PitFire Pizza – Costa Mesa, CA

New pizza joints seem to be popping up all over the OC, with their various interpretations of Chicago-, New York- or Neapolitan-styles. We don’t get too caught up in the pizza wars because we don’t discriminate when it comes to pizza style, only taste.

Pitfire Artisan Pizza, is a small Los Angeles-based chain that just opened its first O.C. location in Costa Mesa, CA. When you walk in, you are greeted by a surf theme, with walls painted with orange and yellow stripes, lacquered light wood tables and stools and an architectural piece made from a 60s VW Van, paying homage to the restaurants locale. It’s a fast-casual restaurant, so you place your order at the counter and take your number to your table.

Pitfire makes rustic pizzas and hand-crafted panini, pastas, salads, and a seasonally-inspired menu made from simple and fresh ingredients. Beverages include beer, sangria and a selection of crafted cocktails. The pizzas are wood-fired and they are able to solidly execute dough that is crunchy and yet slightly chewy. We had the opportunity to sample their menu and owner, Paul Hibler was on hand to show me how to make my own pizza.

FARMERS MARKET VEGETABLE PLATTER - Roasted Carrots with Chili Honey & Rosemary, Farro Salad with Arugula, Cranberries & Hazelnuts, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Parm Dressing and Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan & Lemon
FARMERS MARKET VEGETABLE PLATTER – Roasted Carrots with Chili Honey & Rosemary, Farro Salad with Arugula, Cranberries & Hazelnuts, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Parm Dressing and Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan & Lemon
BRUSSELS SPROUTS & BACON PIZZA - Brussel Leaves, Panna, Zoe’s Natural Bacon, Garlic Slivers, Pepper and Fresh Mozzarella
BRUSSELS SPROUTS & BACON PIZZA – Brussel Leaves, Panna, Zoe’s Natural Bacon, Garlic Slivers, Pepper and Fresh Mozzarella
SAUSAGE PARTY - Tomato Sauce, Huntington Fennel Sausage, Zoe’s Natural Bacon, Salami & Prosciutto with Balsamic Drizzle
SAUSAGE PARTY – Tomato Sauce, Huntington Fennel Sausage, Zoe’s Natural Bacon, Salami & Prosciutto with Balsamic Drizzle
MARGHERITA - Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, California EVOO and Basil
MARGHERITA – Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, California EVOO and Basil
THE BURRATA PIE Burrata Cheese / Tomato Sauce / Wild Arugula / Caramelized Onion / Hazelnut / Pesto Drizzle
THE BURRATA PIE
– Burrata Cheese, Tomato Sauce, Wild Arugula, Caramelized Onion, Hazelnut and Pesto Drizzle
LINGUINI BOLOGNESE Spinach Linguini / Meat Sauce
LINGUINI BOLOGNESE – Spinach Linguini & Meat Sauce
The Flamin' P - Reposado Tequila, Jalapeño  Honey, Pink Grapefruit Soda & Mint
THE FLAMIN’ P – Reposado Tequila, Jalapeño Honey, Pink Grapefruit Soda & Mint
THE CRYSTAL COVE -  Vodka, Pear Nectar, Elderflower Liqueur, Prosecco, Lemon and Rosemary Garnish
THE CRYSTAL COVE –
Vodka, Pear Nectar, Elderflower Liqueur, Prosecco, Lemon and Rosemary Garnish

Pitfire offers private dining in the back of the restaurant which can be also used for birthday parties, large groups or act as overflow for the restaurant. It comes equipped with its own wood-fire oven so you can also have a pizza-making party. There is a secret room just behind this space that is what we are most excited about. Slide away the faux pantry shelves that house empty tomato sauce cans and pasta boxes and enter a 1920’s era speakeasy. It’s dimly lit with dark wood-paneled walls, and only a handful of small tables and chairs. Its bar is framed out with a vintage pie oven, a leftover tribute to its previous tenant Marie Calendars. We’re told “the community will determine how this space is used”. I’m still waiting patiently to hear from “the community”, or perhaps city planning cause it has yet to open.

The Bar in the Speakeasy
The Bar in the Speakeasy
Wood Fired Oven
Wood Fired Oven
Kim taking a turn making a pizza!
Kim taking a turn making a pizza!
JUMBO CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIE
JUMBO CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIE

Pitfire Artisan Pizza on Urbanspoon

Unexpected Late Saturday Breakfast with Craft Cocktails – Hopscotch – Fullerton, CA

Hopscotch in Fullerton, CA
Hopscotch in Fullerton, CA

Kim and I were finally able to get over to Hopscotch Tavern in downtown Fullerton. We wanted to try their craft cocktails but heard mixed reviews when it first opened. I am glad we waited because it gave them a chance to work through the “just opened” kinks. We walked in from the back parking lot. There is a large patio filled with tables made from wine barrels for outdoor dining. The inside is decorated with an old saloon vibe. They are mostly known for their large selection of craft beers and whiskeys, but we are all about the mixology.

Inside the Bar
Inside the Bar
Morning Glory - Templeton Rye Whiskey, Grand Marnier, Lemon Juice, Vanilla Syrup, Adult Grenadine, Egg Whites and Nutmeg
Morning Glory – Templeton Rye Whiskey, Grand Marnier, Lemon Juice, Vanilla Syrup, Adult Grenadine, Egg Whites and Nutmeg
Kentucky Orange Blossom - Angles Envy Bourbon, Noilly  Prat Sweet Vermouth, St Germain & Burnt Orange
Kentucky Orange Blossom – Angles Envy Bourbon, Noilly Prat Sweet Vermouth, St Germain & Burnt Orange

We went in early on a Saturday afternoon and as it turns out they serve breakfast until 2pm on weekends. To be honest, it was not what we were hoping for but after the first round of cocktails we wanted to try some of their food.

Pulled Pork Benedict - with Hatch Hollandaise & Cheddar Hash Browns
Pulled Pork Benedict – with Hatch Hollandaise & Cheddar Hash Browns
The Fun Guy - Portobello, Pico de Gallo, Avocado, Piquillo Sauce & Goat Cheese
The Fun Guy – Portobello, Pico de Gallo, Avocado, Piquillo Sauce & Goat Cheese

The Pulled Pork Benedict tasted even better than it looks in this photo (and this photo makes it look really good!). The eggs were poached perfectly and the pork was tender and well seasoned. They use housemade biscuits instead of english muffins which was a nice, modern twist on a classic dish.

Merry Weather - Oatmeal Honey Scotch Liqueur, Port, Damson Plum Gin, Grapefruit, & Cinnamon
Merry Weather – Oatmeal Honey Scotch Liqueur, Port, Damson Plum Gin, Grapefruit, & Cinnamon
Dealer's Choice - This One is with Cat Daddy Moonshine, Sweet Vermouth & Cherry Bitters
Dealer’s Choice – the option to pick your spirit and let the bartender craft you a drink. This one is with Cat Daddy Moonshine, Sweet Vermouth & Cherry Bitters

Kim and I enjoyed everything about the experience. The staff was friendly, the drinks were smooth and refreshing, and made with pride (Thanks Jose). And the prices are reasonable! Ten dollars for a hand crafted cocktail! That is not a typo. The team behind Hopscotch took into account the college neighborhood and primary demographic but still devised good craft cocktails that even students can afford. If the kids go in any bar on the Commonwealth strip, they’d probably be charged $15 only to receive a chemically-enhanced cocktail. So why not learn how a real drink should be made and save a few bucks while they’re at it? We look forward to going back and checking out their dinner menu soon.

The Bar at Hopscotch in Fullerton, CA
The Bar at Hopscotch in Fullerton, CA
Deviled Eggs
Deviled Eggs

HopScotch on Urbanspoon