Thursday, November 19, 2015

#CommunityTable at The Ecology Center: Chef Ryan Adams and Cook Pigs Ranch

"When we eat, we can make a positive change with every bite we take. What we sustain ourselves with everyday is damaging this beautiful planet; we can change that."- Evan Marks, Founder, The Ecology Center
Fifteen years ago, Evan Marks was inspired to become a farmer and attempt to turn around the negative impact that agriculture and human living was having on the planet. From this motivation came The Ecology Center which resides in San Juan Capistrano on an acre of land that includes the historic Congdon Farmhouse erected in 1878. A non-profit, dynamic educational facility that allows people to roll up their sleeves and build a self-rejuvenating community for the environment, The Ecology Center hosts a variety of events from workshops to school programs to even the beloved Community Table dinners for both members and non-members. While their annual Green Feast event is well-known, the quarterly (sometimes monthly) Community Tables are more low-key but still fuel the discussion on what it means to eat consciously. On Sunday, November 15, 2015, they hosted their last dinner for the calendar year, featuring Chef Ryan Adams of Three Seventy Common and Cook Pigs Ranch as the partnered farm source. We joined others that long afternoon to indulge on the chef's creations and to learn more about how we could make each bite we take it worth it for our bodies and for our planet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tangata Unveils New Design and New, Asian-Inspired Menu

One of the beauties of art is that its ever-changing nature constantly redefines what beauty is. Throughout history, whether as an aspect of culture or a representation of a practical part of life, art has served some type of form or function, and capturing its path throughout the years has constantly been on the forefront of people's minds. At the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, their newest exhibition, The Red that Colored the World, documents the history of the color red and all the parts of life that have been affected by this hue. With its debut also comes the reopening of the museum's in-house restaurant, Tangata, which was closed for renovation and has now opened with a brilliant new design from renowned Los Angeles-based designer Heather Aston. The redesign of the space also brought in a revamped menu featuring Pacific Rim-influenced dishes by Executive Chef Donald Harris, a menu we were eager to try and did upon invitation.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Cookbook Release - Fig & Olive: The Cuisine of the French Riviera

"The best cooking is like Francine's: simple, fresh, and in full, flavorful view on the plate and on our palate."
One of the aspects I have always admired about Fig & Olive was that not only is their food a point of inspiration for myself as a cook but it is also consciously created with health and untainted ingredients in mind. So, when I found out that a cookbook was being released on their 10th anniversary featuring the many recipes of Chef Laurent Halasz, I was more than excited to see what was in store for this publication. What I got to see during the official launch party and dinner was a little more than expected as I was previously unaware of the massive influence that the chef's mother, Francine Halasz, had on him and his cooking. FIG & OLIVE: The Cuisine of the French Riviera launched in October in association with renowned publisher Assouline and is the first cookbook for Fig & Olive. It features stories about the chef's culinary career, its start, and the results (recipes) of such a journey. I joined many others one evening in early November to celebrate the launch and indulge in exciting inspired dishes derived from the book.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bad to the Bone BBQ Bests Barbecuing Beasts

After a long week's worth of barbecue in North Carolina due to a recent trip, Duc and I were feeling almost at our limits for smoked meats...but then again, how could you deny the smoked meats after knowing just how much care and attention went into perfecting the art? We've always known others in Orange County to say that there isn't any decent BBQ in the area, or if there is, the restaurants are rare gems. I'm not surprised - it just isn't in the culture here in southern California. However, that shouldn't deny those who have brought the skill to the area and with 10 years under its belt, Bad to the Bone BBQ in San Juan Capistrano has gifted us just that around these parts.

Started in 2005 to fill the void that is BBQ in Orange County, Bad to the Bone smokes and grills their meats on site, serving up full-service goodness as well as delivery and occasionally catering. Not only does its food style set them apart due to a dearth of decent BBQ, the commitment to quality does too. Owner Marty Wells told us just that when we stopped in for an interview one morning -
"BBQ is hard to do consistently every day but we do our best to start with a quality product. All of our meats are Choice-grade and nothing is frozen. Everything's fresh as possible - 95% of the menu is made in-house from beans to BBQ to potato salad to fries. We even make our own hamburger patties which are 1/2 lb three-way mixes of short rib, chuck and brisket."

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Eatery - Finch & Fork (CA)

Finch & Fork: Corner Grill Cocktails Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
31 W Carrillo St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Pricing - $$ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - American, Breakfast

Breakfast - you need it, and you need it done well. Cast off the days of just grabbing a quick banana and granola bar on your way out. When my friends and I took a short trip up to Santa Barbara for a few days, we didn't want to default to the easy route for our breakfasts. We sought out places that specialized in this morning meal, and Finch & Fork at the base of Canary Hotel came up in our search. A simple reservation was made, and we waltzed into the neatly decorated, intimate restaurant when the time came, impressed by the choice in interior design and the superb service. How was the food though? You ought to drop in to give your tastebuds a ride sometime.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Shinkou Sushi & Poke Showcases Fine Fish and Style in Laguna Hills

To say that you can find good sushi in Laguna Hills would likely cock a few heads in confusion. Not a city in Orange County that is typically known for restaurant diversity, Laguna Hills might be one of the last places you'd consider getting sushi from but that's not to say that there aren't gems hidden there. Shinkou Sushi & Poke opened in 2009 (under the name Shinkou Sushi) with a goal of changing that perception one roll at a time and to also provide quality sushi to-go in the area. I was invited in to give their menu a try and get a chance to hear their story - why a sushi chef decided to come to the area and build out delicious sushi offerings in a delivery-friendly format.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Eatery - Dat Cajun Guy (HI)

Dat Cajun Guy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

66-472 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Pricing - $/$$ | Dining - To-Go | Cuisine - Cajun, Creole

Cajun food?! Count me in! Food truck wrangle? Sounds intriguing. After an awesome skydiving adventure off the North Shore on Oahu, we were huuuuungry. The search for shrimp truck gatherings was on after we had heard how fantastic they were. On our way to another section of the North Shore, we came upon a large parking area where several trucks were set up. Surveying the scene, we were curious about all of the garlic shrimp dishes but what ended up really catching our eye was Dat Cajun Guy because it boasted New Orleans fare. It had been a long time since I had been to NOLA, and Duc had never had a proper po'boy before so we had to give this truck a try. I'm so glad we did.