Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Test Kitchen - Blackened Shrimp Grit Cakes in Corn Cream Sauce

I have always loved grits in just about any way that I've had them. They usually cannot be messed up other than being blander than preferred. When it became a Test Kitchen ingredient for us to experiment with, I thought of the different applications I have seen it in. Shrimp and grits is a very popular dish but felt overdone...however, what if you combined them into a snackable piece? Chopped up finely, the shrimp would be able to mix in with the grits well enough to make a shrimp and grits cake. What a thought! To prevent it from being too bland, I seasoned both the grits and the shrimp pieces too. The recipe requires several ingredients because everything is made from scratch but this savory, Southern treat is well worth the effort. Give it a try yourself. I got the thumbs up from even my parents who rarely eat non-Asian food!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Community Table at The Ecology Center: Chefs Ryan and Nikki Wilson

"Community Table is a sensory experience, a program where we work diligently to connect with chefs in our community who source ingredients with integrity and back-stories."
The Congdon House, built in 1878, has seen years of changes to its surroundings and the communities in the area. It began its legs as a slightly out-of-the-ordinary structure, built of English Walnut and Redwood rather than the typical infrastructure at the time but now has withstood the test of time to become part of The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. It sits on a 135+ year old certified organic farm and serves its purpose as an educational center that connects all individuals in the community with hands-on activities to teach and create environmental solutions. "Founded on the principle that each person can make a difference toward a sustainable future," the center offers a variety of programs including what we were there fore - Community Table. This event allows attendees to enjoy local and sustainable food from area chefs while learning about the food ecosystem. We were invited one beautiful morning to enjoy the very talented Tuscan-inspired fare of Chef Ryan O'Melveny Wilson, Corporate Executive Chef for Lawry's Restaurants and Executive Chef of Five Crowns and SideDoor (and Ecology Center board member), and Pastry Chef Nikki Belcore Wilson of Studio at the Montage.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Recipe - Pea Hummus

Easy pea-sy recipe right here! Looking for something outside of the typical hummus you see made with garbanzo beans? You can make it with peas which have a sweeter flavor as well as an interesting color that can be good for themed parties or just to change things up a bit. The recipe is simple, as is any base hummus, so you can prep this quickly for a snack or gathering.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bacchus Bar & Bistro Buffs Up Irvine Wine Scene

[Giveaway details at the bottom of this post] In the quiet of the Quail Hill Shopping Center in Irvine, there is a spot that contains within its walls the community buzz that has been steadily growing for wine and dining. The former Bacchus Secret Cellar wine bar that was in the back corner of the center refreshed itself and relaunched as a more formidable Bacchus Bar & Bistro at the start of the year, resulting in an impressive accolade - the 2014 Wine Spectator Award Of Excellence. Equipped now with a kitchen (albeit modest with only a convection oven and small refrigerator), the establishment can now put forth thoughtfully complementary foods. As a wine bar foremost, Bacchus has extended its hospitality in a way counter-intuitive in the restaurant world by pairing its food to the existing wines whereas most places look for wines to pair with the food. It is a unique stance, and one that we happily experienced upon invitation one early evening when we came in to see what Executive Chef Charity Smith had up her sleeve in her humble kitchen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Eatery - The Whale Wins (WA)

The Whale Wins on Urbanspoon

3506 Stone Way N Seattle, WA 98103 (Neighborhood: Wallingford)
Pricing - $$/$$$ | Dining - Dressy Casual | Cuisine - American (New), Small Plates

It feels odd to chide a place for not meeting expectations, especially when expectations started high, but when the letdown is worse than even a normal experience would turn out, it is downright disappointing. We don't like to say anything negative without some constructive comments but we also aren't chefs so take the post with a grain of salt. We were just incredibly surprised that we could have had one of the best meals we've ever had in the sister restaurant of this spot that we thought was a terrible way to cap off an evening.

The Whale Wins was recently named in Bon Appetit as one of the Top 50 New Restaurants in the U.S. so when our travel plans took us to Seattle, we were excited to give it a try. After all, the magazine has some clout behind it, and to be listed as one of 50 of who-knows-how-many in the country that excels is an honor. We absolutely loved our time at The Walrus and The Carpenter, sister to this newer joint, and were in high hopes for this one. Surprisingly, the evening turned out 0/5 for everything we ordered...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Boathouse Collective Rises to Keep Costa Mesa Cool

There seems no end to the expansion that Costa Mesa's restaurant scene has seen in the past year or two. The highly anticipated multimedia space of Boathouse Collective is the newest addition to the good vibes at the end of the 55, opening October 8th to much fanfare. Owner Clayton Peterson, Orange County native, has been in the space for 10 years with the grand goal of making it a venue for both great family-style food and undeniable art and music. Teaming up with Executive Chef Mathieu Royer (of Pizzeria Ortica, Hinoki and the Bird in Century City, and Morimoto in Napa Valley and trained under master sushi chef Gen Mizoguchi) easily put this venture on the map for guaranteed good food, and the locale had already made a name for itself as a hub of interactive industrial design. Why wouldn't there be excitement for its opening? Invited pre-opening, we were immediately smitten with the layout, use of reclaimed materials, and commitment to local, organic, and seasonal ingredients.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Eatery - Biscuit Bitch at Caffe Lieto (WA)

Biscuit Bitch at Caffe Lieto on Urbanspoon

1909 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101 (Neighborhood: Downtown)
Pricing - $/$$ | Dining - Casual, To-Go | Cuisine - Breakfast/Brunch, Southern

On our way to Pike Place Market in Seattle, I knew we needed breakfast and landed my eyes on a bold place called "Biscuit Bitch." Sounds edgy enough, and I sure can't say no to good biscuits. Give me your crudeness but follow it up with something delicious please! They certainly delivered on it, and we came away from the experience knowing we'd be back the next time we were in town. Established with the intent of making everyone feel at home (we all know that area of Seattle is a total tourist trap), Biscuit Bitch kept to their promise and we did not feel like we didn't belong. It was great and the food...the food was bitchin'.