Thursday, March 13, 2014
"Michelin is the only guide that counts." - Chef Paul Bocuse | Do you believe that? There are slews of people who make it a part of their bucket lists to visit as many Michelin-rated restaurants as possible. The Michelin star's impact on a restaurant's success and a chef's career is almost immeasurable. It is an honor and perhaps a curse for those who lose their ratings. When Orange County heard that a Michelin starred chef was in town, the buzz was nearly palpable. I first associated Chef Conrad Gallagher in Orange County with Ways & Means Oyster House in Orange just outside of Old Towne, a restaurant that opened just a few months ago in late fall of 2013. Duc and I attended a media tasting there and found some favorites on the menu as well as an impressive wine pairing selection. Then, nearly as quickly as he had come, Conrad left the restaurant to work on his own project - Vanity Catering & Events, a boutique catering and events company. It was curious that he would shift gears but once we got to know him and his story, it only made sense why this dedicated and passionate chef would veer in that direction. Luckily, Orange County gets to keep him despite the "move."
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
When I make the mistake of choosing a Test Kitchen ingredient that is already a full product on its own, it becomes difficult to come up with ideas on what to do with it. Several of you lent your suggestions over on Facebook but I have to say, nice try but sorry, I'm not sending everyone the delicious Dark Matcha chocolate bars, haha. If I had an unlimited supply, I would but alas, my coffers were reserved for making something. So I thought and thought and though I wanted to avoid going the dessert route, it ended up being the way to go. However, a challenge must be a challenge so I opted for a type of baking I haven't done before - I wanted to make those light and fluffy cakes I see in Asian bakeries. After some snooping around the internet, I came across what was called an opera cake and was basically what I was looking for. The inspiration came from this recipe here which is a coffee and chocolate version but I green tea-ed it completely for a delicious and different approach. It requires multiple steps but oh, trust me, it's worth it.
Monday, March 10, 2014
This post is one of several as part of the Mushroom Council's 30-day weight loss challenge called the #MushroomMakeover. I am being financially compensated for my participation as an ambassador for this program but the opinions and anecdotes posted are my own.
All of us need a kick in the butt every once in a while. At the start of 2014, I told myself that I would be more focused on my health this year because the food blogger habits were catching up on my waistline and sleep schedule. I am the biggest now that I have ever been, and that is troubling to me. When I went to my first blogger/media event in late 2012, I took a look at the copious amounts of food we would be tasting and promised to Duc and myself (he promised too) that we'd continue to stay fit throughout all of the events. Less than two years later, we look down at ourselves and know that we broke that promise long ago.
The problem is...it's so much easier to gain that weight than lose it, isn't it? Working full-time (with an hour-long commute each way!) and running Much Ado About Fooding while trying to balance other responsibilities doesn't leave many hours in the night for sleeping nor time for exercise. Even though I said 2014 would be a huge change, I've only done little things here and there that are different. Then came the #MushroomMakeover challenge.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
We are no strangers to the wonders that LUCCA Cafe has to offer in Irvine but we were embarrassingly unexposed to Chef Cathy Pavlos' brunch until we started this brunch series for LOCALE Magazine. While the lunchtime mimics a European bistro and dinnertime lifts to a higher, fine dining experience, the weekend brunch adopts a feeling of comfort and home. It would have been appropriate had there been stairs to pad down those slowly while rubbing the sleep from our eyes and come upon the Cathy's food. Welcoming and warm, the dishes we saw each had their own expert twist that had us craving more and more. It didn't help that the restaurant itself had a gorgeous interior accented by shelves of enviable wines and highlighted by an open kitchen. Not into stopping in for a bite to stay? There is an exquisite display of cheeses and meats to the left of the kitchen that has been carefully curated. We won't say anything if you decide meat and cheese is a perfect breakfast to you!
Saturday, March 8, 2014
[Original post published December 2010] It has been a long while since I have baked cookies. However, I didn't realize how long it has been until Duc mentioned I hadn't made chocolate chip cookies for him before. I believe on more than one occasion during our relationship, I had boasted that I make damn good cookies and here I was, withholding them from him. I suppose it's because they get swiped up immediately after I make them that I haven't dedicated time to make more. They are eaten too quickly! Case in point: after my first batch of these to photograph, I made a second by request of my brother. I'm going to put my money on the fact that these will always be soft even after a few days (if they last that long) and are not too sugary. There's a trick to that which I'll share below. Oh also, I need a new hand mixer. My years-old one finally threw in the towel toward the end of my mixing this dough. Luckily, I'm handy enough with chopsticks to finish the job!
Thursday, March 6, 2014
With St. Patrick's Day not too far away, I asked Duc to kindly put his alcohol knowledge to (e)paper in a compilation of ways to enjoy the holiday. Below are his informative and detailed suggestions on how best to celebrate. I am all for his recommendations - hope you are too!
You probably think of it, though, in terms of green beer, green everything else, and drunken college kids. You'd be right about 80% of the time but one can still celebrate Saint Patrick's Day with class with some authentic Irish whiskey.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
"We embody the Turkish culture and how we share those values with our customers. To ensure quality and freshness, we make everything made-to-order and get our ingredients from local vendors that we know and trust. This is our recipe for perfection."My stomach is making grumbling noises as I write this article because I am imagining again the tender, flavorful meats and addictive rice that came to our table during our visit, wafting tempting savory steam. I have always known that I loved Mediterranean food so my interest was definitely piqued when Yalcin Aslan, founder and owner of DonerG, invited us to try out his restaurant which said both Mediterranean and Turkish in the name. Curious at the differences or similarities between the cuisines, I readied up for a visit at the Irvine location, the second in this line of soon-to-grow restaurants. Immediately upon entering, Duc and I could tell that this was a place that really cared about its food and appearance. My favorite color combination of red, black, and white covered all parts of the restaurant from the walls to the counters. It was chic and modern enough to entice young and old in but casual enough in concept that everyone could enjoy a stop. The food was obviously not of modernist cuisine about which we were happy - we much prefer the sight of a spinning spit of meat, glistening in its juices and oils. Spotting Yalcin was the one thing that snapped us out of the moment of staring (and perhaps drooling over) the stations.