Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's that wonderful time again! Get ready to get your tickets to Eat Drink SF happening from August 20th to August 23rd, 2015.  I've missed it a few years now but will be back in the Bay Area and hope to enjoy the festivities! My favorite event has always been the Grand Tastings from Friday to Sunday as you get to sample a little bit of everything from all the wonderful culinary masters that SF has to offer!

Perfect for any occasion and be sure to bring your appetite! Check out their website for more details on each events and all day events.  Hope to see everyone there!

Event :
Eat Drink SF

Date :
August 20th-23rd, 2015

Location :
San Francisco, CA
Check out their websites for tickets and the event details.

Website :

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I feel that everything that used to be a great deal just get worse and worse.  Outlets and shopping deals only progressively get worse as the trends catch on.  In the past I have gone to many of the Dine LA experiences and the first few years were great, but slowly it got worse and worse.  By chance I was up in LA all last week and decided to give Redbird a try.  Trekkie recommended it as his brother just went and it was literally right outside my hotel, so why not?
They are on Open Table so you can book and get some points as well.  They are located at the corner of Los Angeles Street and 2nd Street.
Their Dine LA lunch menu was $25 for an appetizer and a main course.  To get dessert it would be an additional $5.  I was already planning multiple stops so I didn't stay for dessert.
For the first course I decided to try their Chicken Pot Pie, which normally is $14 on the menu.  Inside was thigh meat, heart, and hen of the woods.  At first glance, it is very cute served in a pot.
The pastry on top was easily moved and you can see what's under.  There is only a crust on top and the bottom seemed very soupy.  At this point I was a little worried because it was so watery below, but I began to break the crust and mix it in.  This thickened the broth inside and gave it more texture.
The flavors were on point.  There was a healthy amount of ingredients inside and is quite filling.  I enjoyed the earthy flavor mixed in with the hen of the woods.
For the main course I chose the Gnoccheti Sardi.  Inside was rock shrimp, tomato confit, and fine herbs.  The gnoccheti was nicely cooked, al dente.  I thought the flavors were good, but I wished there was more shrimp in the dish.  It was disappointing that I bit into a shell while enjoying this dish.  I would have called them over but I was on a time constraint and just continued eating but with caution.  They should have offered some bread to go with the dish so that you can enjoy some of the excess sauce.
All in all the food was good but not mind blowing.  I had to deduct points for biting into the shell (the photo is on my Facebook Fan Page).  The service was friendly.  For Dine LA, it was not a bad deal and conveniently close to the hotel.

114 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012 
(213) 788-1191
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

For those who have not tried sugarcane juice, you are really missing out! Asians love drinking the juice and also the gnaw on the actually sugarcane as a snack.  There are many different types of sugarcane around the world.  I was intrigued to find a Raw Sugarcane Juice stall at the Farmer's Market near the OC Mix.  It was the last stall closest to the entrance to the OC Mix.  They offer many options of adding kale, ginger, kumquat, and more to the drink.
Personally, I love just pure sugarcane juice.  Any other fruit or vegetable you add will change the flavor completely.  If you have never had sugarcane juice, I recommend trying it pure to get a sense of the taste and in the future add other components.  Most Asian places add kumquat to the juice.  They actually have a banner that listed the healthy qualities of drinking sugarcane, which I was very surprised.  Now I can use this as an excuse to continue drinking the super sweet sugarcane juice.  They use pretty good sugarcane as it was refreshingly sweet.  I'd definitely come back to this stand for another drink!

The OC Mix
3313 Hyland Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Friday, July 17, 2015

It's really hard to find some tasty Cajun food down in OC.  Many people recommend Ritter's for their pan roast but I think they are only okay.  In fact I even went back to Oysters at Palace Station recently and it was only so-so.  I waited in line for 2 hrs at 4am in the morning and it wasn't worth the wait.  Ms. Lin Guide was not happy about waiting for the food.  While I was waiting around for a friend, I happened to stumble upon Kettlebar, which just opened up at The District in Union Market.
The entrance was a little hard to find but eventually we were able to maneuver our way around to it.  We had a quick stroll at least inside the Union Market.  They are hoping to make it similar to The Anaheim Packing District but far from it.  Hopefully it will eventually be as full of good food and fun.
We grabbed dinner before the movie.  The Hot Wings were nicely seasoned.  They use Nola dry rub and serve it with blue avocado cream.  Here they asked us how spicy we would like it and medium or higher would be a good choice to bring out the flavor.  I went back to The Anaheim Packing District and got the same hot wings, but they didn't ask for how spicy and ended up being only so-so.  =(
A friend recommended the Calamari with sweet ink.  The batter was light but I didn't really like the sweet ink.  It was just so-so in flavor.  Nothing different from your typical sweet and sour sauce.  They only drizzle it on the side so there really isn't much sauce for you to actually dip in, which left the dish a little bland and flat.
I wanted to try the Wagyu Beef Sliders.  The sliders were very tender and flavorful.  There is only two tiny bites for $8.  Kind of pricey in my book but at least the flavor and quality was good.
The main reason for coming was to try the Kettlebar Pan Roast.  Since there was a few of us, we got some variety to try.  The pan roast is made in a tomato cream base with snow crab, lobster, shrimp, chicken and topped with white rice.  We got it medium spicy.  I wanted spicy but my friends were a little skeptical.  This was definitely one of the better pan roasts I have had.  It was full of flavor and had an extra kick.  One order is definitely enough for two people or two meals.
To my surprise, I really enjoyed the Seafood Diablo.  It comes with mussels, clams, shrimps, and capers mixed in a linguini.  The flavors were immense and with a kick.  They use a generous amount of seafood in their dishes.  We all agreed that this was probably the best main dish.  Both were great to dip your buttered french bread in.  The server forgot to give us the bread until the end, which was one of the best parts!
Another reason I wanted to come here was to try their Beignets.  I am always looking for a traditional beignets.  Here, not so much.  They are like mini pillows accompanied by a nutella and banana sauce.  The sauce is good and the beignets were decent, but nothing too special.  I would recommend you to try it for fun but not something I would order again.
All in all I liked the food and the portions are pretty big.  Hence, I took Ms. Lin Guide back when we went to The Anaheim Packing District.  I hope they keep the flavorfulness consistent because I liked this location a lot more.
2493 Park Ave #41
Tustin, CA
(714) 258-8160 
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Urban Plates offers a healthy selection at a reasonable price.  Their meals all range around $10, depending on what you order and if you add anything else on.
Everything is already prepared and under heat lamps waiting to be served.  Kind of reminiscent of the Chipotle approach.  They are constantly cooking fresh meats and fish so that the food you get hasn't been sitting there too long.
First choose what kind of meal you would like.  Ranging from salads, sandwiches, pizzas or just a combo.  Typically I choose the meat/fish plus two sides combo.
You can also order everything online so it will be ready to be picked up when you come.  However... the quality varies when it is packed and ready to take home versus picking out the goods yourself.
For meat, I always choose the grilled steak.  They offer chicken, oven baked salmon, and more.  I do not like my meats over cooked.  The first time my friend bought me the meal and the steak was charred, but still flavorful.
When I went to the store myself, I made sure to get some rare cuts.  There is always a pro and con to things as I liked the meat was more tender and rare, but the flavor was not as rich.
All the combos come with a toasted focaccia bread.  They offer cold and hot sides.  The cold sides tend to be very healthy and all vegetarian.  Sorry, but not for me.  O=)  I got the mac & cheese and mashed potatoes.  They were just okay.
The grilled chicken was surprisingly tender and I liked that the skin was still on.  I know a lot of people do not like to eat the skin because it's 'unhealthy'.  For the sides, the brocolini and Brussels sprout with turkey bacon were very fresh and nicely cooked.  I like the Brussels sprout because it is the most flavorful with a hint of lemon.
My friend let me try her dessert one time and I really enjoyed the cheesecake.  The crust is nicely flavored and adds a nice crunch with the cheesecake.  It's light and refreshing, but for the price... you could almost buy another meal.
They offer an assortment of freshly made fruit drinks to choose from.  Feel free to ask them for a taste before purchasing.
Everything is serve yourself and self seating.  So just pick up your try and find a seat.
All in all the food is solid and if you don't want to spend too much money but still be full, I would recommend this place.
Urban Plates
3972 Barranca Parkway
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 387-2600 
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Blaze Pizza has been rapidly growing its franchise in Southern California.  They are part of the new trend where you can create your own pizza and it'll be freshly cooked in 90 seconds in their fire oven.  I really like the location in UCI as the service is friendly and efficient.  They load quite a bit of toppings onto the pizza. This location tends to get pretty busy as lots of hungry students and locals frequent this place.
The price is pretty reasonable for $7.95 to create your own pizza with all the toppings you want.  First you can select your sauce from the white sauce, red sauce, spicy red sauce and more.  I usually try a combo of the spicy red sauce and white sauce, but lately I like just using the white sauce for a sweeter flavor.  As you can tell, I have been quite often.
Next you get to select your cheeses.  I looooove cheese so I tend to use almost all the cheeses.  Warning, if you don't love love blue cheese then I wouldn't recommend adding it on because it will have a kick.  I personally adore the ovalini mozzarella that simply melts into a gooey yummy mess!

As for meats, there is quite a selection but I have to warn you that the more meats you choose the saltier the pizza gets.  Due to this factor, I actually limit the amount of meat choices on my pizza because I like a lighter but still tasty flavor.  Of course some nights, you just have to make it a meat lover's pizza.
They have a nice selection of veggie and seasonings to add on.  I love that they have chopped garlic and roasted garlic to add.  Typically I don't choose many veggies, no surprise there.  However, I do like adding the arugula at the end.  They don't cook the arugula so just ask for it after your pizza comes out and they will add it on the top.
One of my favorite things to get is the S'mores pie and ask for it to be toasted.  Mmmm good! As you need to eat this while it is fresh and hot, I usually eat dessert first! =D  They also offer a blood orange lemonade, which I thought sounded wonderful... but alas... it's just sweet tangy syrup with no real blood orange taste.
All in all, I think Blaze Pizza is great and always tastes fresh.  Yes, I have been to Pieology but I like Blaze Pizza more.  Be sure to go on Pi day (3/14) as they offer pizzas for only $3.14.  It's a great deal but expect a long line! lol
Blaze Pizza
4255 Campus Drive #A120
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 725-0012
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