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

Advertisements

Walk, Bike, and Roll at the CicLAvia in Los Angeles

When you think of LA you don’t typically think of people using public transportation, but for one day major LA destinations temporarily closed streets to car traffic and encouraged Los Angelenos to walk, bike, skate and roll through this amazing city. Lead by CicLAvia this nonprofit organization alongside with their sponsors promoted exercise with many free events and live performances.

Photos from CicLAvia

Inspired by Bogotá’s weekly ciclovía, CicLAvia advocated for greater community building by celebrating LA’s diverse neighborhoods. They selected 5 prominent LA areas and designated them as official hubs, each of which had a different commemorative and freshly printed handkerchief designed by local artists. I was able to secure the Melrose one, and was tempted to try to collect them all, but spent my time listening to the live performances and wandering the streets. There were also many interactive booths giving away various swag, food trucks, and crafts for all to enjoy. Target had a very large presence and gave away a lot of really great freebies. 

More photos from CicLAvia

CicLAvia will return for another community day event on  Sunday December 2, 2018 from 9am to 3pm, so if you’re looking for a free family friendly activity to enjoy during the holidays this would be a great option!

Aside from driving – whats your mode of transportation?

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

Newest healthy fast food trend at Ceviche Gloria  

Customizable healthy fast food is all the rage and with poke places poppin’ up it’s seems that the trend is really catching on. However, there’s a new healthy concept in the mix and I was invited to be among the first foodies to experience the next big thing! LA let’s welcome customizable ceviche bowls at Ceviche Gloria (Yelp)!Similar to poke bowls guest can select from a range of seafood options and mix-in toppings. Yet, unlike poke, which is rice and/or salad based, the seafood portion is substantially more generous and the highlight of the dish. Patrons have the option to add traditional ingredients such as octopus, fish, or shrimp or they can add exotic ones like abalone, and/or scallop – yum!

After the proteins are selected guests can choose various fruits and vegetables. I opted for tomato, mango, pineapple, cucumber, apple, avocado, then added their creamy chipotle sauce, a greek-yogurt based sauce – making it an even healthier alternative. Once all the ingredients were added to a large mixing bowl the chef tossed and moved the ingredients to a perfectly portioned bowl for me to enjoy. The ingredients compliment each other well and the price-point is extremely reasonable – less than $7 – that’s a steal if you ask me! img_6120-2They also serve some amazing fried tacos and bottled beverages imported from Mexico. If you’re a big coke fan you’ll love these bottle as they use real sugar cane sugar. Overall, I had a really great experience and hope that this new concept will flourish and grow. This particular location is based in a marketplace filled with shops galore and in the coming months I can imagine this venue becoming the next hipster invasion. But until that happens, this small hidden hole-in-the-wall restaurant has something for everyone.

Which would you order? A ceviche bowl or deep fried tacos?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

P.S. I reached 1000 subscribers on my Instagram and am throwing a $25 gift card contest! Enter here.

Warming up with Hot Pot at Tokyo Shabu Shabu in Monterey Park, CA

Food brings people together and with the weather cooling down it’s the perfect time to gathering around, and enjoy a warm meal shared among family and friends. Hot pot is one of the best ways to enjoy a roaring broth with protein and vegetables. At Tokyo Shabu Shabu (141 N Atlantic Blvd #100B, Monterey Park, CA) everyone can take charge in cooking their favorite ingredients, and this interactive meal is fun (and healthy) for people of all ages. You just pick up your item, dip it in the soup, mix it with your sauce and pop it in your mouth 🙂 Guests start off with a choice of one of their 16 broths and unlike many shabu shabu places they have some pretty unique flavors. They have everything from traditional Japanese dashi kombu boiling water to spicy kimchi to Tom Yum. I had the opportunity to try four flavors and the yellow curry was my fav – yum!img_6137They also have some really great quality protein including wagyu chuck-eye roll, certified angus beef rib eye, and premium Colorado lamb. And for the non meat eaters they offer a platter of seafood medley.img_6139Overall the meal was very satisfying and I had a great time with my foodie friends as we had an opportunity to try a lot of different items. There are three locations – Monterey Park, Pasadena, and Rowland Heights – spread across Southern California so hungry guests can get their fix for healthy and delicious food. (Bonus: They also offer Happy Hour too!) Eating healthy is one of the top new years resolutions, so why not get a head start and enjoy good company too!

Eating healthier is definitely one of my New Years resolutions – whats yours?

 

Irene Yu

The Exchange Restaurant – New Fushion Mediterranean Concept in DTLA 

When my friend said that he wanted to eat Mediterranean food at a new restaurant in DTLA called “The Exchange Restaurant“(416 W. 8TH ST, Los Angeles, CA) I was skeptical about driving from the OC for falafels and hummus. Boy was I in for a big surprise. This restaurant is an upscale fusion Israeli cuisine that uses bright and fresh ingredients for their healthy dishes. I’m on a diet, so finding anything that’s both appetizing to look at and to eat ranks top of my list (at least for now – I can be fat for winter 🙂 ).

Restaurant Interior

Upon entering you’ll notice the high ceiling and wood decor. It’s very rustic in nature and the natural lighting made it perfect to snap photos of all the Instagram worthy food and let me tell you the food not only looks but tastes uh-maz-ing.

My favorite dishes were as followed:
1) Pate – oh my gawd, so creamy and light. It just melted in my mouth. It was so luxurious without being overly indulgent. It’s really out of this world and you would be a fool not to order this.
2) Exchange Chraime – Presented in a pan filled with seafood galore swimming in a sea of tomato sauce. The presentation was on pointe, and tasted flavorful as well.

(Left to Right – 1st Row to 2nd): Pate, Exchange Chraime, Sweet Potatoe, and Olive Oil Cake 

3) Sweet Potato – I would hardly think that a vegetable could be a star dish, but this one definitely held it’s own. It’s roasted so it really heightened the root vegetables flavor and made a unique statement in taste. Super delicious!
4) Olive Oil Cake – OMG! I rarely order dessert at a restaurant, but I would definitely order this again and again. The flavor profile of this treat is moist and sweet, but not overly so. The  dollop of cream or whatever was on top paired with the cake perfectly. I’m a believer in desserts now!

img_5288-1Overall, this is a fantastic addition to DTLA. The atmosphere is beautiful, food is delicious and the service was on friendly and accommodating. Whether you’re planning to impress a hot date, discussing business, or going with a group of friends this is an excellent destination to enjoy a great meal with good company.

Which of the dishes would you be most excited to try?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar