Nibbling at Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival

When I first started attending tastings I remembered the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival setting the bar of how all food festivals should be – refined and elegant, but casual and relaxed, all while highlighting the dishes as the stars of the show. I remembered each bite bringing together a myriad of bright fresh ingredients with complex flavors.  This festival has since become a household name and this year’s increase in guest attendees reflects it’s popularity. I had the opportunity to attend the event again this year and the culinary lineup for 2017 was equally spectacular.

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Snapshots from the event

During Sunday’s tasting my plus one and I enjoyed the finer things in life and indulged in so many delicious tastes. Many of Southern California’s most esteemed fined dinning establishments were present including Pelican Grill and Bar, Red O-Restaurant, and Alexander’s Steakhouse just to name a few and there was an abundance of seafood and steak options. If you love wine there’s not better place to sample so many different varieties, though I fancied the Kentucky Straight from Duke Bourbon. There was also a cooking demonstration by Top Chef contestants Chef Amar Santana and Katsuji Tanabe and viewers had an opportunity to sample their version of arroz con pollo. It was hilarious to see those two banter back and forth.

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Seafood and Steak noms

If you love seafood and steak, this event harmoniously brings two of my favorite proteins together with class and style. While many vendors offered them prepared in a variety of manners – marinated with secret ingredients, roasted, fried, my favorite dish was the Baja cocktail served in a tin-can from A&O Kitchen and Bar. It was simple, but the large chunks of charred squid and shrimp paired with the creaminess of the avocado on a crunchy tortilla chip just made it a perfect afternoon bite. It reminded me how good squid tastes and how infrequent I eat it.

If you could have a festival featuring your favorite protein exclusively what would you choose?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

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Chowing down tasty noms at the Taste of Santa Ana

Over the weekend I was invited to the Taste of Santa Ana at the lot of MainPlace Mall in Santa Ana. I’d gone to this event in the past, but this year definitely takes the cake in being their best year yet! From the pumpin’ live performances, to the fun giant games spread across the event, to the delicious noms and sips, this event has grown tremendously, and I had a great time. There were over 40 different food and beverage vendors and they all gave enormous portions for patrons to enjoy. There was everything from burgers from Slaters 50/50 to tacos from Wokano and everything in between.

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Snapshots from the event 

One thing that made this tasting stand out was the accessible price-point. There were many families at this event and at $25 for general admission, this AYCE extravaganza plus entertainment makes it an easy family-friendly outing for everyone to enjoy. There was so many options and my friends and I confess that I made extra rounds for dessert – The pear tart yogurt from Yogurtland was sinfully addicting as was the Italian ice from Mustache Mike.

 

Whats your favorite dessert?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Featuring US Foods and Food Fanatics LIVE Anaheim at the Disneyland Hotel 

As a foodie I’ve gone to my fair share of food festivals, but when I was informed about an upcoming industry event I didn’t know quite what to expect. Hosted by US Foods and Food Fanatics LIVE at the Disneyland Hotel, this annual food convention helps individuals from all areas of the food industry to network and get the latest scoop on the hottest trends. Guest were given ample samples of a variety of entrees, desserts, and garnishes, and I was lucky enough to cover the event with a wide grin and stuffed belly – all in the name of journalism of course. 🙂 img_2398When I first entered the venue I was overwhelmed by the layout. At the center there was a culinary demonstrations with industry-leading chefs on the Food Fanatics Stage as well as belly bars for guests to enjoy samples while listening to the lectures. I decided to venture toward the left side of the event and boy did I feel like I hit the jackpot – it was the protein station! 😀 img_2395-1There were refrigerators filled with beautiful meat cuts including: lamb, beef, and pork. I waited in line and saw the chefs cook and slice the meat right in front of me. Stockyards definitely produces premium cuts and on the other side was the seafood section. Salmon, bay scallops, crawfish, you name it and prepared in a variety of ways, fried, steamed… or in the case of oysters raw.

After I stuffed my face with pretty much every type of protein known to man, I explored the right side of the arena and made friends with some of the US Foods staff. I fell in love with Hope’s Cookies – you might have seen then in Boudin Bakery, or Bristol Farms if you’re in California. The cookies were absolutely devine! There was also vegetable dishes, pizza, and the list goes on and on. It’s really quite incredible to have a place where restaurateurs and chefs can collaborate and partner together on creating something new.

What would you be most excited to see on a menu?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar
P.S. I’m giving away two $10 gift cards for Miguel JRs on my Instagram account. Come enter here

Soaking up the Sun at the LA Times – The Taste Sunday Block Party 

I still can’t believe that it’s already fall and that summer is behind us. Thankfully, I was able to capture the end of summer in a fabulous foodie fashion and made delicious memories. Over the Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to attend The LA Times – The Taste Sunday Block Party, where I got the chance to sip refreshing spirits and munch on tasty treats at Paramount Studios, CA.

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Photos from the Sunday Block Party  

The afternoon affair was complete with all the Labor Day BBQ favorites, but with a gourmet twist. Sliders with chunks of lobsters was Slapfish’s contribution and Dog Haus served their dogs on buttered brioche bread with all the fixin’s – Yum!  Salt and Straw, a Portland based Ice Cream Shop that recently opened a branch in LA, was a favorite among attendees as the temperatures that day reached the 90s.  I also got a chance to participate in an educational champagne tasting class where my wine glasses were never empty – cheers!

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More photos from the Sunday Block Party 

Chef Jet Tila of 101 Asian Dishes you Need to Cook Before you Die and Judge on Cut Throat Kitchen was also among several celebrity chefs at the event and he entertained attendees with a live cooking demonstration. I was luckily enough to snap a photo with this awesome Asian American as I allowed my belly to digest all the scrumptious samples from event.

I absolutely miss summer, but am excited about all the upcoming holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas! Which holiday are you looking forward to most?

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

 

 

Taking Over the Taste of Lake Forest and Miguels JR Gift Card Winners Selected!

I don’t frequent the South OC Shop often, so when I was invited to attend the 6th annual Taste of Lake Forest this past Sunday I was curious to see their offering. I saw many soccer type moms with children at this event and the palm trees and bright sunny afternoon made it a fun family event for people of all ages to enjoy. One element of this tasting that’s different from other tastings I’ve attended in the past is how guests play an active role in selecting their favorite restaurant at The Taste of Lake Forest. With a map in one hand and a guide of all the participating restaurants, my guest and I went down the rows to sample each restaurants offerings to see which was our favorite.

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Tastes at the Taste of Lake Forest

There were many familiar restaurants and businesses that participated in the event including: Mimi’s Cafe, Pick Up Stix, and Jamba Juice just to name a few. Yet, my favorite was definitely Tito’s carnitas tacos with cabbage. It was juicy and the the tostado was a good solid base to carry this substantial bite. Miguel JRs was also present at the event, which is the perfect segway to introduce my Gift Card Winners. Drum roll please…. Congratulations Jean L and Lisa! Please email me at yurockstar4life@gmail.com by Friday September 29th to claim your prize!

Didn’t win this time? Don’t worry! I will throw another Miguel’s JR Giftcard giveaway on my Instagram account for another opportunity to win! Pst… there’s a good chance that it may be on Friday *wink wink*

Whats your criteria when judging a food competition?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Celebrating Miguels JR Grand Opening in Huntington Beach Plus GIVEAWAYS!!!

Huntington Beach is one of my favorite cities in Orange County. With the beach just footsteps away the ocean breeze blowing through your hair and people walking around in their favorite sunglasses and rainbow sandals the city evokes the quintessential Southern California lifestyle. Recently, Huntington Beach welcomed a new quick bite diner to Surf City, Miguel’s JR, a casual Mexican restaurant and celebrated Southern California staple. I attended their Grand Opening alongside prominent members of the community to welcome this new business.

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Grand Opening Ceremony and Celebration
The ceremony was an intimate one; however, several city council representatives came to present awards of recognition and to congratulate Miguel’s Jr owner. With 21 locations across Southern California Miguel’s JR roots lie in delivering fresh California Mexican cuisine in an inviting environment. The accessible price-point and counter-to-pickup model makes it an experience for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy. They have burritos, tacos, various combination plates and breakfast items too! I ordered the Carne Asada Taco Salad and that entree alone could feed several individuals.

I had a great time and want to share the wealth – so I’m throwing a GIVEAWAY!!! through all my social media accounts throughout the month! This week I will give two $10 Giftcards for my blog fans!

To enter (Southern California Residents Only):

  1. Follow http://www.yurockstar.com – top right side of the website on desktop and all the way to the bottom on your mobile device (it’s free!)
  2. Write a comment below on what you’re most excited to try – Taco? Burrito? Quesadilla?

Giveaway will end on 11:59pm Saturday September 23. Winner will be announced on Monday, September 25th.

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

Disclosure: Post is sponsored. Opinions and content are my own.

Sampling at Savor Santa Ana in DTSA 

Santa Ana is a popular destination for authentic Mexican eats and treats, but did you know that Downtown Santa Ana (DTSA) is home to more than forty different ethnic and fusion restaurants? During the Savor Santa Ana tasting event last week guests were invited to take stroll through DTSA’s brick sidewalk or hop on a charming trolley to sample some rich and flavorful bites

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DTSA’s bites and entertainment

With tickets in one hand and a map in the other guests explored the vibrant and historic community. The aromatic smells from the booths combined with live performances made the evening one for all the senses to enjoy. My friend and I throughly enjoyed sampling so many different cuisines but I’m very partial to the shrimp taco from Hectors on Broadway (OC Weekly feature) and Milk Man‘s itty bitty ice cream made from scratch.

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More shots from Savor Santa Ana

Santa Ana is such an exotic neighborhood with so much flair and thankfully we can continue the celebration with Santa Ana Restaurant Week  (September 24th – September 30th) and Taste of Santa Ana (September 30th). There’s a FREE BBQ tasting at Lola Gaspar on Sunday September 24 from 12-2, but you need to RSVP through the link above. Secure your spot! And your favorite blogger will be doing a giveaway for two complimentary tickets to the Taste of Santa Ana – so be on the lookout for upcoming posts.

Which restaurant are you most excited to try in Santa Ana?

 

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Letting loose at LIVE on Grand hosted by Tyler Florence (LA Food and Wine Festival) 

I’ve been to a number of tastings, but never have I gone to them back-to-back let alone for multiple days! So when @foodiejudge (of Instagram) and I were invited to cover the LA Food and Wine festival I was beyond excited.  This epic FOUR-DAY tasting featured culinary legends and new dishes at each venue (yes there are multiple), and I had the opportunity to check out Thursday’s Ultimate Bites of LA event and Saturday afternoon’s Lexus Grand Tasting. Both events were fabulous in their own rights; however, Saturday evening’s LIVE on Grand had a live hip hop performance by Wyclef Jean- you probably know him from Shakira’s hit song “Hips Don’t Lie.” Ah yeah…

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Tantalizing treats and satisfying sips 😀

While the entertainment headline was certainly a star-studded one, the restaurant line-up was certainly no joke. Celebrated chefs from across the nation including chefs from  Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hill (Los Angeles), Hudson Valley Foie Gras (New York), Joe’s Stone Crab (Miami Beach), and Sydney Street Cafe ( St. Louis) plated the evening affair and I loved all the vibrant and tasty dishes.  One of my favorite dishes was Tyler Florence’s “Bacon and Egg” concept where the breakfast duo was artistically presented inside the egg-shell – brilliant!

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Live on Grand Venue

Yet excellent food paired with a bomb venue heightens the experience 10 folds. With the downtown cityscape and Walt Disney Concert Hall serving as the backdrop it doesn’t’ get more glamorous that this!

Some shots from the event including a selfie with Chef Tyler Florence

I thought the night couldn’t get any better until I saw and took a selfie with Celebrity Chef and Food Network Star Tyler Florence, as seen on Tyler’s Ultimate and The Great Food Truck Race. *Gush* but in all seriousness if you’re a foodie/wineo this is definitely an event you should add on your bucket list! I mean who wouldn’t want to wine and dine with the country’s best culinary personalities?

 

If you could have a meal with any celebrity chef who would it be?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Drizzle OC Dessert Truck Grand Opening 

While summer may be coming to a close, the weather in Southern California sure doesn’t feel like it’s cooling down anytime soon. I periodically look at my car’s thermostat and it’s often in the 90-100 degree range – ouch! Thankfully, the warm climate attracts cool desserts like this ice cream and funnel cake concept!

T-shirts and Drizzle Speciality Items

Drizzle OC’s recently held it’s Grand Opening in the McDonald’s plaza in Fountain Valley (18972 Brookhurst, Fountain Valley, CA), so I went with some high school friends to welcome them to “A Nice Place to Live.”  At the debut event, the first 100 guests were given the option to pick up a free keychain or t-shirt, as well as a complimentary honey green tea drink with purchase of a “Drizzle Specialty” item. I ordered the strawberry delight and picked up a t-shirt. My friends picked the Peaches N’Cream and Matcha Madness.

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Menu and Honey Green Tea

Once we got our orders, we snapped a few shots then proceeded to eat the sweet treat quickly – the ice cream was melting and the heat wasn’t helping. My first impression was that the two dessert items paired well with each other, and while the funnel cake didn’t quite taste like what you’d eat at the fair (It tasted more like a dense pancake), I felt like it complimented the ice cream and gave good texture. The dessert is definitely very photogenic and a tasty treat that everyone would enjoy.

 

What flavor would you choose?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Savoring flavors at the Los Angeles Times – The Taste 

When I think of Labor Day Weekend I think of families and friends coming together to enjoy food and friendship, so when it came time again to attend the LA Times Annual Tasting event I was thrilled for another evening of scrumptious noms and sips. Saturday evening’s event entitled “Dinner with a twist hosted by Jonathan Gold” was almost too hot to handle, but a treat when enjoyed with people with great taste!

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Food samples and Jonathan Gold, Phil Rosenthal and me!

During the tasting my friends and sampled some unique flavor combinations in the Paramount Studios Lot. Some of my favorites were the black ink squid soup dumplings from Little Fatty as well as the lamb bacon and fig from Wolf. Yum! But the highlight of the night definitely was watching Phil Rosenthal (I’ll Have What Phil’s Having), and LA Time’s Food Critic Jonathan Gold speak about their culinary adventures on stage.

News coverage for Tour Taiwan 

The evening also supported tourism for various countries and naturally I gravitated towards the motherland. The Tour Taiwan booth allowed “The Taste” attendees to sample Tea Station’s latte with artwork and boba and play games to win prizes. I was briefly interviewed as a past Miss Taiwanese World titleholder and got to mix and mingle with some other media personalities.

Which country has the best food?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar