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

 

 

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

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

Macchiato’s Hacienda Heights Location Grand Opening – Potted Boba Drink!!

The weather has been extremely muggy, and the heat doesn’t make it any better. Yuck! But I guess at the very least that gives me a legitimate reason to savor some sweets treats and Macchiato one of my favorite Taiwanese dessert shops is opening another location in Hacienda Heights  (15840 Halliburton Rd, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745)!!! WEE!!! To celebrate they’re giving away some goodies on Saturday August 11th from 11am-12am. See details below!

Potted Plant Drinks

The First 100 People will get a free drink; Next 100 People will get a BOGO Promotion (Same Drink); and if you miss those they’ll be doing BOG1 50% off all day. EVERYONE will be entered to win a Nintendo Switch! Oh!! I love how that sounds!

Charcoal Waffle and Sundae Waffle

They’re known for their Special Potted Plant Milk Tea ($4.50) and you’ve probably seen them all over Instagram or at the night-markets. In essence it’s crushed up Oreo cookies on top, with cream, and your choice of milk tea as the base. Super kawaii and a fun way to enjoy a cool beverage.

Be sure to pair your drink with some noms. These two are my top picks!

*Macchiato Sundae Waffle ($8.75) – Mochi style with strawberries, bananas, blueberries and three scoops of ice cream. Guests do have the option to order it crispy (which is a typical waffle), but the mochi style definitely gives the dish more flair. The chewy texture reminds me a lot of a traditional Chinese dessert and it’s beautifully presented. I ordered this at their Santa Ana location and the quality was consist here too! Loved it!

*Charcoal Waffle ($9.50) – A black waffle with strawberries and bananas paired with vanilla and Nutella ice cream and caramel sauce. I think this item is new because I didn’t recall a black waffle in the past. I wanted to order it as it seemed very Instagram worthy and to my surprise, it tasted really good as well! Photogenic desserts don’t always tasty as good as it looks, but this was the best of both worlds. It has a more cake-like texture with a charcoal aftertaste and goes nicely with the ice cream. Two thumbs up!

What will you be trying this weekend??

XOXO,

Rockstar

Macchiato Grand Opening – August 11th from 11am-12am – 15840 Halliburton Rd, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

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

Me, Myself and Irene – 2017 in Review

When I was first thinking about this post I thought to myself – man… I totally bombed the “will write a blog post every-week” goal, I “should” be making more money, I “should” be blah blah blah..  but as I looked through my rolo-dex of photos I realized that I had so many cool moments and while I didn’t meet all the goals I set out – I did achieve quite a bit and “should” remember those! This was definitely the year of “Me, Myself, and Irene” from my “Diary of a Beauty Queen’s Food and Travel Adventures (Instagram)” to opening up to my readers with my alias as @TheGeekyGuide (Instagram) to launching my College Consulting By Yu Youtube channel (website), I’m three people in one!

@yurockstar 2017 highlights

As @yurockstar I finished my term as Miss Taiwanese World Queen and passed the torch (blog entry), and visited so many cool restaurants – the Exchange Restaurant being my favorite this year! (blog entry) – and festivals as media including the LA Food and Wine Festival (blog entry 1; blog entry 2; blog entry 3) where I got to meet Tyler Florence and Brian Malarky. I also got to be a guest on Gordon Ramsay’s “The F Word” and critiqued the competitors dishes.  2017 was also the year when I got to visit San Diego Comic Con (blog entry) for the first time and hear Disney Legend Alan Menkin perform his classic hits at D23 (blog entry)! I also bought an annual pass to Six Flags Magic Mountain (blog entry) and convinced four of my friends to go on roller coasters with me. On a totally random note – I also won a mattress from an Instagram contest through yelp, woot!

@thegeekyguide 2017 highlights

To be honest, I was kind of a closet cosplayer and nervous about cosplaying one of my childhood idols. The live action Wonder Woman movie debuted earlier this year and I felt very conscientious about wearing a corset, let alone portray such an iconic character. I was selected as one of Game Spot’s Best DC Cosplay at SDCC  and WonderCon, and featured on the LA Time’s “Why Cosplay as Wonder Woman” video. But more importantly, I loved when kids came up to me to ask for a photo opt – just to see them smile made me feel that that 2 hours it took to do my hair and make-up all the worthwhile.

I also debuted Chun Li this year and was invited to join a Street Fighter group! Everyone does such a great job in portraying their character, and they inspired me to revisit and brush-up on my martial arts and dance techniques. I also upgraded some of my Sailor Mars uniform and had a blast with various photoshoots with the Sailor Scouts and Tuxedo Mask! I’ve made so many awesome friends through cosplay and it’s always awesome to see familiar faces portraying different heros and villians.

@Yucollege/ College Consulting By Yu Video Thumbnails

And yes, if you can believe it this was also the year that I decided to share my counseling knowledge through youtube. It’s been on my heart for a while so I finally bit the bullet and launched the channel:  College Consulting Youtube Channel (Instagram). I created 10 videos ranging from Survive a School Shooting to the Common App Tutorial, and boy you can definitely see improvements from video 1-10. There’s still much work to be done, and my goal next year is to do 40 more! Won’t you come and watch? (youtube link) 😉

I’ve learned that no matter what goal you’ve set yourself up for that if you didn’t meet it today, tomorrow is always a new day. My Resolution is to make each day count. What’s yours?

XOXO,
Rockstar