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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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

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

Tasting Fusion Taiwanese Cuisine at Tru Grits in Anaheim, CA

When I think of Anaheim I think of Mickey Mouse and tourists galore. Rarely, do I think about it being a destination for authentic ethnic food – let alone solid Taiwanese food. Yet, Celebrity Chef Theresa Lin recently debuted some of her signature dishes at Tru Grits so I obviously wanted to taste her creations. Good Taiwanese food outside of Taiwan is hard to come by so I was excitedly try some authentic dishes so close to home

Minced Pork Rice

Located inside the Sheraton Hotel, many guests wouldn’t think twice about a hotel offering tasty ethnic food; however, this branch deviates from that notion and dare I say the flavors are very comparable to a restaurant in Taiwan. The Taiwanese Minced Pork Rice dish ($9) was so simple, but packed with immense flavor and the Free-Range Hainan Quarter chicken ($13) with savory rice and pickled vegetables was so moist and tender. However, the signature tycoon beef short rib ($23) was easily the highlight of the night. When I cut into the meat, it just fell right off the bone and paired with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus made it a complete meal. The value on this particular dish is very reasonable, without compromising the taste.

Hainan Chicken and Tycoon Short Rib

We ended our meal with some traditional American faire and the bread pudding with ice cream is a must. I’m on a low carb diet for 2018, but this dish is definitely a decadent and wonderful treat. The presentation is wonderful as it’s delivered in a small cask-iron pan, and the taste is equally impressive. Get this and you will not be sorry!

Bread Pudding with Ice Cream 

Orange County isn’t typically known as an authentic Asian cuisine location. I typically drive up to the 626 area for that; however, I’m happy to welcome a great local option that’s just footsteps away from “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Cheers!

Bread pudding is one of my guilty pleasures. What’s yours?

XOXO,

Rockstar

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

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