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

 

 

Yelp Review of the Day: REPOST Gourmet Sandwich at Deli-Licious @Huntington Beach, CA

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Hi YuBargainRockstar Fans!

I’m excited to announce that my Yelp review on this Deli-Licious was selected as today’s  ROTD (short for Review of the Day) for the Orange County spotlight. Woohoo! It’s a great honor and as my first ROTD, I thought I’d also repost my original entry for your enjoyment. This restaurant truly deserves all the credit in serving excellent food and outstanding customer service. Check it out if you haven’t done so already! – Irene

 

Sandwiches are the quintessential lunch food and while mom’s sandwiches are made with love, there’s something special about eating a gourmet sandwich from Deli licious (Yelp Review) in Huntington Beach.  With over 300 reviews and a staggering 4.5/5 average on Yelp, I had to investigate the validity of these positive endorsements.  And yes this definitely lived up to the hype.

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I was looking for a cute shop, but after only seeing rows and rows of boring gray buildings I stared down at my GPS and realized that I missed the shop. Hmm… that’s peculiar. However, unlike many restaurants, this small mom n’ pop shop was located among the rows of gray buildings. This is definitely not the type of shop that you’d casually drive by and stop to check it out, because it was not visible from the street!  Nevertheless the restaurant was pretty busy for a weekday afternoon. So I thought that it must be good if next-door-neighbors are frequenting this shop.

Upon looking at the chalk menu I decided to order their top seller “Sue’s Chicken-Avocado Caprese” while my girlfriend tried the same sandwich with a ½ southwest salad. ImageMmm… The ingredients used for the salad were fresh and crisp it was a solid choice for a mid-day meal. And the sandwich, wow… tender roasted chicken with sliced avocados, fresh mozzerlla, plump roma tomatoes, and a light lemon caper mayo all between a ciabatta roll. Mmm.. makes me hungry just thinking about it.  I wonder if my mom could replicate this masterpiece. Hehe…

Additionally, I loved that it was also a nice sunny day and we had a lovely conversation out on the patio. Good food, great company, you really can’t ask for much more.

What’s inside your favorite sandwich?

XOXO

Rockstar

$6.95 AYCE Lunch Buffet @Vishnu in Irvine, CA

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India is such an exotic country and their food is just as (if not more) intriguing.  The bright colors and different spices make this culture’s food a fest for the eyes and stomach. So when I stumbled upon this little AYCE lunch buffet in Irvine on yelp, I could not have been more ecstatic, although the drive there was an adventure in and of itself! After driving loops around the industrial complex we finally found the restaurant- Vishnu (Yelp Review).  It’s definitely a no frills joint, and we helped ourselves by loading up our sectioned styrofoam plate!

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The selection was diverse with curries and other traditional Indian dishes. I’m embarrassed to say that my knowledge for Indian cuisine is rather limited, but I do know that each dish had it’s own distinct flavors and that the variety was incredible for a whopping $6.95 a person. I can’t even imagine how this is profitable considering the selection and how time-consuming it is to make all the items.  I’ve been told that certain dishes take more than 5 hours to prepare, as it needs to simmer to allow the flavors to meld into one another.

I inquired with the owner about his business and was informed that it had only been opened for three months (!!!) but that he’d been in the catering business for well over 15 years. He’s done events as far as Reno, NV and the Bay Area, so I imagine that’s he’s your guy if you want an authentic Indian feast in the Golden State (and surrounding bordering states).  The restaurant is only open Monday-Friday from 10:30-2:30 since evenings and weekends are reserved for catering gigs. Ah! It’s all coming together now.

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Lucky for me this little shop is not too far away. Muahaha… delicious food for a fraction of the cost, although, I am curious about his catering options. So if you’re in the market for authentic Indian, Vishnu’s Restaurant and Catering’s got you covered.

What’s your favorite lunch special spot?

XOXO

Irene

Date Worthy Dessert to Share @Scraps in Huntington Beach, CA

New York has Serendipity3 and Orange County has Scraps.  For all you non-chick flick movie goers, Serendipity3 is where they shot the ironic romantic comedy called Serendipity staring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. It’s a must see feature that is the epitome of romantic comedy and there are very few movies that even come close to this classic.  The two stars shared a dessert and the rest is history- gosh I miss New York!

Panne Cotta

So for the Orange County hopeless romantic, I found the best substitute! The Panna Cotta ($7) with homemade kumquat marmalade at Scraps (Yelp Review) is amazing and way too good not to share. It’s silky smooth, but with a firmer consistency than pudding. Combined with the tart kumquat, this dessert is heavenly.

What’s the perfect dessert to share?

XOXO

Rockstar

Gourmet Sandwich at Deli-Licious @Huntington Beach, CA

Sandwiches are the quintessential lunch food and while mom’s sandwiches are made with love, there’s something special about eating a gourmet sandwich from Deli licious (Yelp Review) in Huntington Beach.  With over 300 reviews and a staggering 4.5/5 average on Yelp, I had to investigate the validity of these positive endorsements.  And yes this definitely lived up to the hype.

IMG_0765

I was looking for a cute shop, but after only seeing rows and rows of boring gray buildings I stared down at my GPS and realized that I missed the shop. Hmm… that’s peculiar. However, unlike many restaurants, this small mom n’ pop shop was located among the rows of gray buildings. This is definitely not the type of shop that you’d casually drive by and stop to check it out, because it was not visible from the street!  Nevertheless the restaurant was pretty busy for a weekday afternoon. So I thought that it must be good if next-door-neighbors are frequenting this shop.

Upon looking at the chalk menu I decided to order their top seller “Sue’s Chicken-Avocado Caprese” while my girlfriend tried the same sandwich with a ½ southwest salad. ImageMmm… The ingredients used for the salad were fresh and crisp it was a solid choice for a mid-day meal. And the sandwich, wow… tender roasted chicken with sliced avocados, fresh mozzerlla, plump roma tomatoes, and a light lemon caper mayo all between a ciabatta roll. Mmm.. makes me hungry just thinking about it.  I wonder if my mom could replicate this masterpiece. Hehe…

Additionally, I loved that it was also a nice sunny day and we had a lovely conversation out on the patio. Good food, great company, you really can’t ask for much more.

What’s inside your favorite sandwich?

XOXO

Rockstar

 

8 Course Yelp Elite Tasting @Yori Modern Japanese Restaurant W/ Yelp OC & Friends

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Tantalizing Menu!

I confess that I have been spoiled rotten with opportunities to sample some of Orange County’s best. As I had mentioned in my previous post that I was invited to a Pre-Grand Opening for Yori Modern Japanese Restaurant (Yelp Review) in Brea, CA. It was such an amazing event, though I’m easy to please if free food is involved. 🙂

Usually on these events we are given the opportunity to bring a +1, but on this occasion our Community Manager, Ryan, pushed us outside our comfort zone and assigned us to tables to make new foodie friends. Shout-out to my table buddies Minh D, Sarah S, and Quynh P and to all my old Yelp friends Minerva, Rodney, Steve, and Craig.  But let’s move on to why you’re really here- to see all the food porn!. Yum!

We started off with a Mango Ceviche and Shrimp Dumplings to kick off our feast. Mind you the first dish was to die for and I highly recommend diners to order this appetizer. So incredibly refreshing and the perfect dish to cool down on a hot summer day.  Following these dishes included the Grilled Asparagus, Heart Attack, Udon Salad (my next favorite dish!), Tofus Burger, Seafoodyaki Roll, and Cod Misoyaki all of which had excellent presentation and were presented to us promptly.  

UPDATE: WordPress is proving to be more difficult than I am willing to deal with today. So on today’s post I am going to upload all the beautiful photos of all the dishes. Once I become more comfortable with formatting I will further infuse my passion for photographer and journalism together. Sorry loves!

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What food item are you looking most forward to trying this summer?

XOXO,

Rockstar