Roasting and Toasting at the LA Times The Taste Costa Mesa (Sunday)

The Los Angeles Times always puts on a fantastic Tasting Event and the last day in Costa Mesa was no different.  The three day inaugural festival closed out on Sunday and the feel was casual and light-hearted compared to Saturday’s peak attendance (Day 2).

Photos from Sunday’s Taste Event

With the event starting mid-day, I was able to better appreciate the presentation and beauty of all the offerings. I noticed more details of the decor outside of the food tents especially the fruit platter near the OC Fairgrounds Table. There was also a booth that was hand pouring candles and other vendors giving out swag that I missed on Saturday (gardening gloves, t-shirts, hats etc) – so I definitely loaded up! I guess you don’t know what you missed if you didn’t see it! lol

More photos from Sundays Taste Event

One of the highlights of the day was getting to talk to one of the Fashion Editors and discuss current and upcoming trends. Apparently, velvet is really in as is the color ultra violet. He also mentioned that they may do a LA Times Fashion and Food event in the future – how cool would that be?!

What’s your favorite section to read in the news? Food? Fashion? Local? Comment below.

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

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Chowing down at Los Angeles Times the Taste Costa Mesa’s Debut Event at The Met

For the past 3 year I’ve been fortunate to attend the Los Angeles Times The Taste at the Paramount Studios. The venue layout is really fun and I always have a blast (Summer 2018, Summer 2017,  Summer 2016). When they announced starting a second location in Orange County I could not be more ecstatic!!

Nom Noms from The Taste Costa Mesa

The three day event was held at The Met, a courtyard just outside of South Coast Plaza. I had other obligations on Friday’s launch date and was eager to see what the Costa Mesa location had to offer. When I first arrived, I saw a roasted pig turning at the center of the plaza along with rows of fresh coconuts. I attended a media event for Habana in the past so I loved that they brought some Cuban flair to this inaugural event.

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More photos from The Taste Costa Mesa

I also loved Hai Di Lao‘s offering as they assembled a mini hot pot bowl for guests to enjoy. There were also freshly shucked oysters from Water Grill and other vendors gave out extremely generous portions of their dishes. I’ve been to quite a few food festivals and as it’s first year festival I was incredibly impressed by the vendors. I loved the care and hospitality and can’t wait to come back next year – especially since it’s so close by!

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Enjoying Savor Santa Ana and Viva la Vida in Downtown Santa Ana

Downtown Santa Ana (DTSA) is a historic area with great diversity in traditional and fusion cuisine. Last year I was lucky to partner with Savor Santa Ana (2017 post) and was invited again to cover the event. It’s grown tremendously this year with 40 restaurant participants (!!!) and the neighborhood has so much character and charm. Similar to last year, guests purchase sheets of tickets in exchange to sample bite size bites ($10 for 5- what a steal) and would walk or take a trolley to visit participating restaurants

Savor Santa Ana and Viva La Vida Photos

Concurrently, Santa Ana’s Dia De Los Muertos Festival “Viva La Vida” celebrated their 3rd annual event making the streets lively with performances, decorations and memorials to remember loved ones. It reminds me of scenes from Disney’s movie Coco and I loved seeing other cultures tradition.

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More photos from the event

Unlike most food festivals, Savor Santa Ana is spread out and it’s really fun to see all the restaurants in their natural space. My favorites for the night were the green tea ice cream from Mr. Matcha as well as an authentic ceviche tostada from Taquerias Guadalajara. I made a reservation for The Playground, a prominent staple in DTSA that draws inspiration from all cultures, and can’t wait to try all their creations.

Do you prefer authentic or fusion food?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Living on Cloud 9 at the annual Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival

Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival is a luxury staple in Orange County. This annual event highlights great talents and features world renowned chef celebrities like Chef Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu Restaurant), Chef Jet Tula (The Charleston) and so many more! It’s one of my favorite regional festivals and I was thankful to cover the event again as one of @foodiejudge‘s plus one.

Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival tastes and sips!

In previous years this festival focused primarily on the edible guilty pleasures and this year moved to highlight other activities. Wine and other libations made up 1/2 of the festival and vendors specializing in pampering experiences such as a braid bar, silly photo booth stations, and luxury furnishings had a large presence. There were also several large art displays for guests to enjoy.

More noms!

My favorite sample at the event had to be the seared-diver scallops with quinoa served by Pelican Grill. The chef continuously laid large plump pieces on the portable grill, seared them perfectly, and served them fresh to the guests. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I had three servings because it was so so good. *Drool*

More Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival photos!

Personally I enjoy eating more so than drinking, but there were so many different libations to choose from. Guests could enjoy a cider from Stella, Macallan a prominent whiskey brand, and so much more.

What would you enjoy first? Noms or sips?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Finding healthy alternatives at the California Vegetarian Food Festival in Los Angeles, CA

It’s no secret that I love to eat meat, but finding alternatives to red meats is definitely something I try to incorporate more of into my daily diet. So when I was invited to cover the California Vegetarian Food Festival at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles, CA, I was curious to learn about the various options. Suffice to say this intimate event brought some distinguished vendors with different organic, Non GMO, and gluten free options.  

While there were samples at a few of the booths a number of them were selling full servings of their products. A most memorable item was the Mushroom Jerky from Pan’s Mushroom Jerky. The shitake mushroom has a very meaty texture and there were several different flavors including Applewood BBQ and Zesty Thai, though I really enjoyed the original!

The two day festival also had live music, vendors showcasing sustainable products and some non-profits advocating for animals rights. The vendors were very eager to talk to patrons about their products so if you’re newer to the healthy lifestyle movement these vendors definitely will spend time to walk you through.

What’s your favorite health tip?

Xoxo

Irene

Engaging in extreme gluttony at the OC Weekly Decadence in Costa Mesa, CA

Halloween is just around the corner so I’ve increased my exercise regime and returned to eating very lean meats and healthy, nutritious meals to prepare for my fall cosplay outfits. While I’ve seen positive results in these changes, I’ve incorporated at least one cheat day a week to balance my cravings. The OC Weekly Decadence event on Friday evening was nothing short of a self-indulgent.

OC Decadence Spread

This yearly event was hosted outside of the Segerstrom plaza in Costa Mesa and as a VIP guest I was given admission to check out all the glorious noms and sips at 6pm. I was also given a really sturdy tote bag and later found out was filled with tons of great goodies! As my friend and I wandered around the plaza trying everything, we both agreed that the steak over garlic mashed potatoes from Texas de Brazil and Bourbon Bread Pudding from Sweet Dixie Kitchen were the dishes of the night. There was also plenty of alcoholic libation poured and photo booth opportunities to pose for.

OC Decadence Spread Continued

Like many food festivals that I attend this had a great variety of local restaurants; however, the swag bag was definitely one of the best that I’ve seen. The gave away an elegant necklace perfect for a night out on the town along with generous coupons to visit the participating restaurants in the future. My favorite swag item had to be the $20 gift certificate from Mozambique. Can’t wait to try their exotic flavors and see their dessert options.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

 

XOXO,

Rocstar

Foodie fun at the Los Angeles Times – The Taste (Saturday)

Los Angeles is well known for fantastic restaurants at various price-points and the LA Times did a great job to highlight some of the area’s best at their annual LA Times – The Taste event. I along with other foodie friends spend the Labor Day weekend trying different vendors (Friday‘s Post), and was especially excited since Saturday is known to be the day with the highest turnout and arguable the most variety of food.

Photos from Saturday’s The Taste Event

During this visit my friends and I made it our mission to try every booth at least once and while I loved visiting all the booths, my favorite item that night was the beef brisket that Chef Burt Bakman of Trudy’s Underground BBQ prepared during his Pop-up BBQ demonstration. The fried donut with ice cream from Eatly was my 2nd favorite thing there and hands down the best dessert option. I also had the opportunity to meet Jenn Harris, the new acting editor of the Los Angeles Times Food section and chatted with her on her vision for the year ahead.

More Photos from Saturday’s The Taste Event

LA Times Food Legend Jonathan Gold made an enormous impact on the food community, so it is without a doubt a huge loss for the Los Angeles community when he passed. Yet, his legacy still lives on and the LA Times honored his contribution at this year’s event with a mural and a huge displace of his 5 culinary commandments.

How would you want to be remembered?

 

XOXO,

Irene

Getting the VIP treatment at Disney’s Exclusive Club 33

Disneyland is known as the Happiest Place on Earth, but did you know that it’s also home to one of the most exclusive restaurants as well? Yup! Club 33 is a private club with an initiation fee of $40k, $10k annual renewal fee, and a rumored 10 year waitlist! Whew! Talk about exclusive! Thankfully, a friend recently got off the waitlist and I was fortunate enough to get an invite to check it out!

Club 33 details

As a first timer I was extremely excited to finally see what this was all about. There were some strict guidelines on what we could photograph so I did my best to abide by the rules while also showcasing some of the details for you to enjoy. Nested right in New Orleans Square my friend and I rang the doorbell and were directed to the garden with a glass of ice cold water and a towel. It was so hot that day, so the gesture was greatly appreciated. We then took an elevator upstairs and were given a tour of the facility before being seated.

5 course meal

The intimate space was certainly very classy and the restaurant rotates its menus seasonally. The Summer 2018 dinner menu was inspired by Italian flavors and guests selected one item from each category: Primi, Insalata e Zuppa, Pasta, Entrata, and Finale, although I opted to forgo the Insalate e Zuppa section and doubled up on the Primi. Service was impeccable and the Sauteed Snow Crab Claws and Ahi Tonnato Carpaccio were the highlights of my meal.

Have you been to the elusive Club 33?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Living it up at the 2018 Lexus Grand Tasting (LA Food and Wine Festival)

Los Angeles is home to Hollywood stars, year-round summer weather, and some of the country’s best restaurants. So it should come as no surprise that the LA Food and Wine Festival is one of my favorite events to attend (See 2017 post here, here, and here) Not only do they serve from food from world class chefs like Aaron Sanchez and Antonia Lofaso, but over 200 of the best wines and talent rivaling that of the Food Network.

Food, Wine, and Friends at the Lexus Grand Tasting

This five day extravaganza gives foodies a wide variety of experiences to indulge in the countries finest and I was lucky enough to attend Sunday’s Lexus Grand Tasting at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, where I got to stuff my face silly and meet celebrity chef Curtis Stone!! In his station he was shucking oysters for patrons to enjoy, gotta love a man who’s willing to get his hands dirty. 😉

More Sips and Noms at the Festival

Like many festivals that I’ve attended they were pumpin’ the top 100 music and served a huge variety of bites to sample including fresh sashimi, lobster waffles, macaroons among other fine dining options. However, what really elevates this festival is the fact that they have servers taking your plates away so the environment is always clean and spotless.

If you could have any celebrity chef make you a meal who would you pick? I’d love Alton Brown to make me anything!

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Summer Lovin’ at the Pacific Wine and Food Classic

Summer is coming to a close, but I’m incredibly lucky to live in a part of the world where in essential it’s beach season year-round. Pair that with an event that serves fine cuisine and drinks poured with a heavy hand and you’ve got yourself the recipe for an epic party! Thankfully, I was invited again to cover the Pacific Wine and Food Classic at the Newport Dunes and it certainly did not disappoint.

Food and Venue

Held outdoors right along the alcove, this annual event brings together some of Orange County’s finest restaurants and wineries for guests to taste the flavors of summer. More than 60 chefs catered the event using exotic and vibrant ingredients to create colorful and flavorful bites. Both carnivores and vegetarians alike would enjoy the event as there were plenty of diverse options to sample. My favorite was the Ponzu Scallops from Blue Water Grill and the mushroom taco from Taco Rosa. Although Flank Steak with Chimichurri and micro greens over a horseradish mashed potatoes from Texas de Brazil definitely was a highlight as well!

Noms and Sips form the Pacific Wine & Food Classic 

This two day all inclusive event epitomizes California cool. You’ve got a mixed cocktail in one hand the ocean, breeze flowing through your hair, Top 100 music playing in the background and tons of stations to sample creative new and/or signature dishes.

What would you try first? Seafood? Beef? Chicken? Drinks? So many choices!!

 

XOXO,

Rockstar