Saturday, June 30, 2012

Eatery - Brodard Restaurant (CA)


Brodard on Urbanspoon

9892 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844
Pricing - $/$$ | Dining - Casual, To-Go | Cuisine -Vietnamese
www.brodard.net/home

It's funny how I've never been to Brodard (I went once to just sit and meet friends but left soon after for another dinner so never had the food), especially considering how everyone has been there and it's right down the street from me. Anyhow, some friends from San Diego were in the area and wanted to snag a quick dinner so off we went here. They've actually been here more than I have (I know, for shame!).

 

So what are they most known for? Their nem nướng (pork meatball) rolls which have delicious vermicelli, basil, shredded carrot, green onion, lettuce, and fried egg roll wrapper inside of a rice paper roll. There's also the special dipping sauce for this. I've had this before in Vietnam where it began (which was amazing!) but this is a pretty good remake too. We got that along with the ram tôm (shrimp) rolls which had similar fillings except for shrimp paste instead of pork meatball. They were generously sized and delicious.

 

My friend had craving for the chicken rice porridge (who gets cravings for that? honestly...) which I tasted. It was mushy as it ought to be but I honestly like my mom's homestyle one better. He also got a noodle dish that I can't remember the name of but the picture is a reference. It's dried egg noodle which is covered in seafood in brown sauce. I didn't get a taste of it but it looks great.


My other friend took an order of bánh mì bò kho for himself. It's a tomato-y beef stew that needs bread to sop up. It came off a little salty to me but still good. I only had a small bit but really enjoyed the fresh baguette that came with it.


My order was the Bún Đặc Biệt Brodard, their specialty bún dish consisting of pretty much everything. It had grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, bbq pork, grilled shrimp paste, nem nướng, and eggrolls for the meat; the vegetables were iceberg lettuce, cucumber, pickled carrots, green onions, and fried red onion. Atop of vermicelli and topped with chopped peanuts, this dish was a smorgasbord of awesome. I really enjoyed it but don't recommend it for those who aren't hungry. It honestly took quite a while to finish (most of) it!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Articles & News - "Force-Feeding Morality"


We're coming upon it, the enactment of the foie gras ban. Now, I have yet to see protestors myself but the foodie air has been thick with this issue lately. Various restaurants have been hosting their farewell to foie dinners named in a variety of ways including more bellicose names such as "Fight for Foie," a call to foodie arms to repeal the ban. Foie gras has probably been more creatively tackled in the past year than it has in a while. We've seen foie gras "snow," donuts, sushi, you name it.

The practice of gavage is what's technically being banned; the bill's latent enactment was to give time for another method of production to be found. Many protestors are claiming abuse and some are wondering if the government is force-feeding morality upon us. It makes sense to ban food items that threaten the population of species but when it is merely some uninformed propaganda for a product of animals that aren't going extinct anytime soon (and definitely not because of the production of foie gras), is it right to say no? What of humane practices? Check out the interesting article below.

Reader questions: What is your stance on foie gras? What do you think about the ways that people are handling the impending ban? Are you actively participating in this discussion yourself?

Original link: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-0628-foie-gras-20120628,0,566733.story

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Quips & Anecdotes - First Canned Craft Beer



I...I finally had a craft brew in a can and man oh man was it not a pleasant experience. Call me brainwashed by society but there is just something about popping open a can tab that cheapens the moment. The beer I had was Sobrehumano Palena'ole, a red ale that had strong passionfruit and cherry notes. Was the beer bad? No. Was the experience not as fun? Yes. There was just something not right about drinking my alcohol from a can. The slurp from the lip of the can, the foam that gathers at the top, the lack of seeing my drink, the warming of the drink that occurs from holding it not by the neck, and so much more! I guess I'll have to get used to it though - it'll soon be the norm (sigh).

Photograph by Duc Duong.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eatery - Thuyen Vien (CA) Revisited

Thuyen Vien on Urbanspoon

1740 S Euclid St, Anaheim, CA 92802
Pricing - $/$$ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - Vegetarian, Vietnamese
www.facebook.com/thuyenvien

[You can read the first post here.] You know how a lot of people have cravings for unhealthy food? Can I have a healthy craving? Local vegetarian food craving! Off to Thuyen Vien!


I finally got to try the banana flower tacos that reviews I've seen have been congratulating and boy were they delicious. I loved the freshness of the vegetables and the mixture of natural crunch (cabbage) and artificial crunch (deep-fried banana flowers). It even gave me inspiration for a dish I might want to make sometime in the near future.


Then we got their "infamous" garlic "chicken" which was just as amazing as before. It has a great texture and flavor, coated in orange sauce with a slightly crispy exterior.


Next we had the "beef" pho which I really, really commend Thuyen Vien for doing well with. I mean, not using beef but still creating a delicious, savory broth? The power of mushrooms and whatever magic they put into it is strong. I also loved the awesome steamy picture I got of it - isn't that a sexy bowl of pho?


The second dish that day that I tried which I hadn't before was their special seafood combination plate. I've got to hand it to them - they sure know how to get a great shrimp texture in whatever medium they used to make those parts. I also greatly enjoyed how many vegetables were in the mix and the amount of tofu. The owner was also very nice and personable. This place is great for some healthy but wholesome Vietnamese food. You probably won't believe that there isn't meat here!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eatery - Sweet & Saucy Shop (CA)


Sweet and Saucy Shop on Urbanspoon

7922 East Coast Hwy, Newport Coast, CA 92657
Pricing - $$/$$$ | Dining - To-Go | Cuisine - Bakery
www.sweetandsaucyshop.com

Let me first preface this post by saying that I had been invited to a media preview of the shop which was unfortunately canceled. However, Melody, the owner, was kind enough to offer one-on-one appointments for tasting for those of us who were going to attend. I took her up on that offer and am writing this post because I was thoroughly impressed with everything in the shop.


First of all, I had heard of the store before through my work at my previous job at an event production company (we did mostly weddings). The first Sweet & Saucy Shop actually is in Long Beach and has been there for the past 4 years when Melody opened it with her mother. By the way, she is so sweet! I've yet to meet a professional baker who didn't have a sugary personality but I love how genuine Melody is too. So anyhow, about the Newport Beach store, it has a much larger storefront than the other location since more casual clientele is based in the area (it's in the Crystal Cove Promenade). I thought the decor was quite spot-on for the dainty but elegant type of desserts being sold.


So what did I have the pleasure of tasting? I think my favorite of the bunch was the little shooter of passionfruit pannacotta which had a creamy texture and tangy kick. It wasn't so much that my jaw hurt but had enough citrus to make it not seem as indulgent. I mean, who doesn't feel a little guilty about eating desserts? There was also a mini cappuccino cheesecake which blew my mind. I definitely wanted more of that. The chocolate-dipped red velvet cake pop was decadent; its richness was just right.


My tasting box had quite a few other desserts which I shared later at home with others including a salted caramel macaroon (delicately savory), mini chocolate cupcake (the tiny rice crisp balls on top gave a great crunch), and a chocolate salted caramel cake. Three others that I got pictures of were the best-selling mini candy bar cupcake (vanilla cake with chocolate ganache filling topped with peanut butter frosting and drizzled in caramel - a sweetness that makes you close your eyes in bliss), key lime mini tart (perfect amount of tart and toasted meringue), and mini peach pie (she heated it up for me too so that the cinnamon-y peach slice inside was warm when I bit into it - the latticework is so cute!). At $1.50+ per mini dessert, it isn't so easy budgeting yourself at spending under $10 per visit because of the variety of delightful desserts but it's also worth it considering the care in every morsel.


I admire people who have as much finesse as Melody and her staff. A neat thing about the Newport Beach store is that it has a refrigerated section allowing for cold delights to be sold individually instead of bulk, as is listed online. There were so many sweets to choose from - I was so glad she made the choices for me when I came in! I asked her a bit more about the store and was pleasantly surprised to learn that almost all of her staff has been with her since the beginning. They offer 2-month unpaid internships before hiring and generally, everyone has stayed on. That's quite impressive for retail. I guess it must be the warm community that has grown at the Sweet & Saucy Shop. By the way, Melody's baby girl is adorable and a visitor on the weekends!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Event - Next Golden Chef


The Golden Foodie Awards! They're coming! I attended the Next Golden Chef competition on Saturday because my friend was competing and also to check out what people were making.

 
 

The contestants there were the competition's semi-finalists who had submitted recipes to be considered in an earlier part. The rules were laid out; every contestant had to provide 1 presentation plate  and 8 tasting plates after 2 hours of cooking. The judging scale's weight had 20% on culinary skills (including sanitation), 20% on recipe content, 20% on sticking to the recipe, and 40% on taste. The top 3 would move on to the mystery basket challenge which I unfortunately did not stay long enough to see. However, the first round was amazing (as were the refreshments). The judges were Susan Irby, Katy Clark, Pascal Olhats, Wing Lam, Mareya Ibrahim, Daniel Mattos, Rich Manning, and guest judge Jason Quinn. 

 
 
 

It was awesome to see everyone go into cooking mode. Below are the entries:


Hoa Ngi Trinh - cajun potstickers with a wasabi soy sauce on the side


Heidi Roark - airline chicken breast with spicy peach BBQ sauce


Vincent Espinoza - a beautiful top sirloin atop wasabi risotto and sauteed broccolini smothered in a ginger verblanc and complemented with a pear crisp that had been dipped in simple syrup

 

Veronica Baggs - filet mignon chimichurri atop cilantro parsley puree 

 

Rachel Fleischer - vegan roasted fig goat cheese salad w/blackberry citrus compote


Devereux Alo - crusted tilapia with mango sauce and microgreens


Eric Tang - house special lobster paired with Chinese sausage and lobster egg fried rice (by the way, can you believe he had just graduated high school this year?)

 
 

Francis Laureano - a gorgeous pannacotta with raspberry gelee; a vanilla bean mint sauce was on the side and the glass was accented by a salted Florentine cracker he made himself


Bryan Householder - lime and herb marinated lamb kabob with salsa verde

 

Roshelle May - a braised lamb duo of chops & rack accompanied by swiss chard and red wine-candied pearl onion (beautiful!)


Kacee Dozier - macadamia nut topped chicken breast with a lemongrass coconut emulsion and ginger


Tyler Moiser - herb marinated chicken breast with oranges & red leaf lettuce salad


Khoi Pham - stuffed pork tenderloin w/roasted mashed potato & crushed tomato sauce


Tanisha Thatcher - three cheese arancini w/prosciutto risotto and a side of spaghetti squash (can someone say homage to spaghetti and meatballs?)


Alex Hernandez - poached apple w/chocolatey mangoes & banana mousse (Impressive - he is still in high school!)


Paul Robinson - airline chicken breast with Chardonnay mushroom puree


The winners were Roshelle, Vincent, and Francis! Congratulations! Great job to my friend Rachel who competed. I unfortunately had to leave before I could see what the Mystery Basket Challenge produced from the hard-working finalists but I did sneak a peek at some of the basket contents. What could one do with such an assortment? I saw apricots, carrots, avocado, red wine noodles, eggs, butter lettuce, and other such wonders. To find out the outcome, go to the Golden Foodie Awards where the actual next Golden Chef will be announced in September; check that out when it comes by. The Next Golden Chef gets a $25,000 culinary school scholarship!

Photography by Minerva Thai. More photos available on Facebook.