Quick Apple Pie and Cider run to Julian, CA

23 Sep

It was a beautiful first day of fall morning and my buddy Jason of http://saturdaynightfoodies.com asked if I’d accompany him on a run out to Julian, CA to grab some cider and apple pie before the weekend crowds descend to congest this tiny yet quaint village for the seasonal pies they are known for. Julian is located just south of the Volcan Wilderness Preserve, in San Diego County, it’s a quick and scenic two hour drive from home in Orange County.

After an hour on the freeways and an hour on a single lane, scenic mountain road, into Julian we arrived. Sure enough, since we left at 8am, the village seemed almost deserted. Church hadn’t let out yet and the tourists hadn’t quite arrived from sleeping in on a Sunday morning. We hit the Julian Cider Mill General Store to sample cider and apple butters before purchasing gallons and jars of both, and with that we are done with Julian, out of town we go.

The most beloved of the apple pies available in Julian are the ones made by Mom’s Pies http://momspiesjulian.com on Main Street but what many seem to miss (by the crazy long lines snaking out and down the sidewalk) is that they have an outpost just outside of town that most pass on the way into town, same deliciousness, no wait.

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It’s a cute & cozy place with friendly helpful staff. The crumb topped apple pies we ordered still needed 15 more minutes in the oven (can’t get any fresher than that) so Jason and I opted to kill the time with slices of pie and cups of fresh apple cider. They have a peaceful herb, flower & fruit tree garden with picnic tables to enjoy your sweet finds in, with bees-a-buzzing and birds-a-flitting, it’s a truly enjoyable eating location.

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Since I was buying two whole pies of my first love , apple, I opted for a slice of my second love, strawberry rhubarb. It wasn’t too sweet and was well balanced between the rhubarb and strawberries. With our pies hot & bubbly from the oven, we get back on the road for home.

Jason was also looking for raw honey for him and his wife’s many craft cocktail experiments and recipes. We found it at the tiny Hwy 78 roadside Trumper’s Honey & Fruit Shack in the township of Santa Ysabel.

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Walking into this tiny wood structure (it truly is a shack) we are a bit overwhelmed by the bottles upon bottles of the different honeys. There are about 8 to 10 honey bottles to sample of their many flavors (avocado, chipotle, habanero, citrus, lavender and others). I purchased one of raw orange, it was bright and beautifully light on the tongue.

They also sell quite a few different and unique meat jerky with boar, ostrich and kangaroo catching my attention. I’m not normally a jerky fan, but any chance to try an “exotic” meat in a unique form, I’m totally game. They have samples of the beef flavors to try but since the kangaroo was a new item, the owner had opened a package to try himself and was happy to share it with Jason and I. It was different than any meat jerky I’ve had.

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It was tender and the flavor was specifically marsupial (or so I’ll assume). I liked it and loved the lingering black pepper warmth throughout my mouth. I had to buy a package, now let’s see who will try it with me.

What a fun day to kick off the Fall season and with it still early in the apple season, a return trip may be just around the corner.

FREE TIX to Rock in the New Year at The OC Fair’s NYE Block Party!

19 Dec

Yes, it’s that time again and I am one guy who is really looking forward to it PLUS I’ve a pair of tickets to give away!

Last year’s OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party at the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa was a total blast. It was one of the best NYE events I’ve ever attended. It was the perfect size, plenty to see and do, with lots of festive revelers all having a great time in a safe environment.

NYE Block Party!

This year has an even better selection of Food Trucks than last, Dogzilla and The Burnt Truck being two of my favorite. The tribute bands sound like the real deal and they will get your ass-a-shakin.

I’m getting more excited with every key stroke!

For further info on the event and tickets: NYE BLOCK PARTY

Now, for a chance to WIN a pair of general admission tickets valued at $85 for the party to end 2012 with: Comment below with what you’ll miss about this past year and what you are looking forward to in 2013.

See, not too difficult and I’m looking forward to your comments.

I’ll select the winner on Christmas Day!

A Blood Orange Fizz & Easter Brunch

7 Mar

Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is serving up an exceptionally delectable Easter Brunch for the April 8th holiday. Fleming’s will also be serving the below special brunch menu on Mothers Day and for Fathers Day as well.

This Blood Orange Fizz alone has my tongue a tingling for a taste. It will only be available for this special Easter Brunch menu. New cocktails are going to be created for each Mothers Day and Fathers Day.

Brunch hours on April 8th,  Easter Sunday, are 11:30 AM to 3 PM. The prix fixe menu, offering mouth-watering choices in each course, is $34.95 per person with a children’s version for $16.95. Blood Orange Fizz, the new brunch cocktail bright with citrus flavors, is offered at a special price of $6.95. Fleming’s traditional a la carte menu will also be available.

“Sunday Brunch always brings back memories of great family get-togethers and traditional dishes,” said Russell Skall, Fleming’s Excutive Chef who created the menu. “There are four excellent entrees, but my favorites are the Filet Mignon Benedict and the New Orleans-Style French Toast—both modern classics that don’t get any better.”

FLEMING’S EASTER BRUNCH MENU

Celebration Cocktail
BLOOD ORANGE FIZZ $6.95
A refreshing brunch concoction: exotic Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur,
Stoli Vodka, fresh lemon juice and a splash of club soda

Choice of Appetizer
THE WEDGE
iceberg lettuce, grape tomatoes, red onions and crumbled blue cheese

FRESH FRUIT MEDLEY
berries, melon, pineapple, sour cream and honey sauce

Choice of Entrée
FILET MIGNON BENEDICT
sliced filet mignon and egg on an English muffin with herb béarnaise
sauce and tomato concassé

NEW ORLEANS-STYLE FRENCH TOAST
Grand Marnier battered brioche, maple syrup and country sausage

FLEMING’S FRITTATA -  choice of Shrimp or Filet Mignon
egg, mushroom, asparagus, onion, red pepper and gruyère cheese

STEAKHOUSE FILET MIGNON COBB
fresh greens with blue cheese, cucumber, egg, bacon, avocado, tomato
and red onion balsamic vinaigrette

Entrées served with:
POTATOES O’BRIEN peppers and onions
SAUTEED GREEN BEANS mushrooms and toasted almonds

Choice of Dessert
WHITE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
bourbon crème anglaise

CREME BRULEE
creamy Tahitian vanilla bean custard served with fresh seasonal berries

WALNUT TURTLE PIE
homemade caramel, walnuts and chocolate in a chocolate pie crust

For Locations, children’s brunch menu and Online Reservations, click HERE

Hope to see you there, in your Easter Sunday best!

Win Tickets To The OCfair’s New Year’s Eve Block Party 2011!

16 Dec

Got plans for New Year’s Eve???  WELL YOU DO NOW!

The talented people who bring you the OC Fair every summer, return with their 2nd annual NEW YEAR’S EVE BLOCK PARTY, Saturday night the 31st of December 7:30pm-1:30am. This is gonna rock, and unlike other NYE celebrations, OC Fair’s NYE Block Party has so many fun things to watch, do AND eat (my particular favorite)!

New this year is the Casino, where high rollers will be able to ‘gamble’ for some fantastic prizes.

All attendees will also be enjoying rides, the bands and at midnight, a pyrotechnic show to ring in 2012!

 

So many awesome GFTs to choose from. I’m personally salivating for The Greasy Wiener, Grilled Cheese Truck, Taco Maria, Chunk N Chip, Baconmania and The Burnt Truck. I may just have to bring to a cooler to take home good eats for New Year’s Day.

You probably will see (hopefully not hear) me singing my heart out to the RIO – the Duran Duran tribute band.

So in order to win these TWO tickets, to a sure bet fun time, leave a comment below with what you are looking forward to  in the new year. I know I can’t wait for more great eats and a culinary adventure to Portland’s food cart courts and a Tillamook Cheese Factory tour just over the New Year hump.

Video fun from last year’s NYE Block Party can be previewed here.

I will announce the WINNER on Christmas Day? or Christmas Eve? Tag in your comments below what you’d like better, winning tickets as a stocking stuffer OR as an awesome Christmas Gift?

Looking forward to seeing you there and sharing an OC Fair NYE Block Party drink with you!

OC Fair & Event                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       88 Fair Drive                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Costa Mesa, CA  92626                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ocfair.com/blockparty

Bruxie:The Bold Fold Debuts in Brea

13 Dec

Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches are definitely bold, and I would have to add, exciting, unique, fun and overall DELICIOUS!

You’ve never had anything like Bruxie, a Bruxie, I guarantee it.

When you hear that it’s a waffle sandwich, ya think, yeah whatever, how special can that be. Believe me, it is as special as it gets.

So what is a Bruxie? It’s a sandwich, of many types, that instead of the age old slices of bread, bun, roll or baguette, it is a gorgeously tender thin round Belgian waffle (folded in half) with just the hint of a tooth ‘crunch-against’ outer crust, pushing into the utmost tenderness within. It is not a sweet waffle but yeasty like fresh baked bread. The waffle holds it’s own againts numerous fillings, meaning it won’t get mushy and dissinigrate or crack under the pressure. This is amazingly delicious stuff.

The newest (and second location) to get your Brux-on is the just opened Downtown Brea location on the quaint Birch Street Promenade.

It is a fun location built on the idea of the original in Old Town Orange that took over an old 50′s gas station. By fun, I refer to the auto garage setting, right down to the two glass garage doors that are rolled all the way up, that invites you to stroll right in, or out with your Bruxies, to sit outside on the covered patio or railings lined with chrome barstool  that stands outside along the sidewalk.

The above is by far my favorite of all the Bruxies I have tried so far: The Hot Pastrami Bruxie (Boar’s Head Pastrami with Gruyere, Cider Slaw, Spicy Brown Mustard & Half Sour Pickles). Just typing that line makes my mouth water! The pastrami is juicily moist and quickly griddled to apply a slight crispy crust to the meat. The entire experience is hot, juicy, salty, tangy, crunchy and spicy. Oh my, it is just so good .

Bruxie also offers locally produced Old Fashioned ‘Pure Cane Sugar’ Sodas. The two pictured above with the pastrami are the Vanilla Cream. It is so light and refreshing, not cloyingly sticky on the tongue and overly sweet like most cream sodas.

The Bruxie Burger is an Angus Beef Patty, cooked to a perfect medium that retains all it’s lovely juicyness. Topped with the requisite cheddar cheese, mayo, tomato and lettuce. The Bruxie waffle works very well here. I was afraid it wouldn’t, but it really does.

The Carolina BBQ Pulled Pork  (slow roasted pork, cheddar cheese, cide slaw & their own Bruxie BBQ sauce) is juicy and tender topped with a nice sauce that compliments the pork. It gets a little messy here as the pulled pork and sauce is damp and if not eaten in a timely manner, it will soak through the waffle (though it is so worth it).

Now not only does Bruxie Waffles do gourmet sandwiches well. They do salads equally as well.

The Bruxie Salad (grilled chicken on romaine & arugula, topped with roasted mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and avocado in a lemon vinaigrette & balsamic reduction) is a salad to end all other salads. It is so amazingly flavorful…flavor that fills your mouth and imprints a memory of complete deliciousness you won’t soon forget. The flavors are big, bold and robust as well as tart, tangy and bright. The chicken is grilled to perfection, slightly charred, tender and moist. A perfect salad.

Another good salad they offer is the Grilled Chicken Caesar. A solid and delicious caesar though what stands way out is the giant parmesan waffle crisp that accompanies it. The entire crisp is parmesan!! Oh so good. You can break it up and sprinkle it over like croutons or use it like a tortilla chip and pile your perfect bite on a broken off piece to eat. I could devour just the crisp alone. Let’s hope Bruxie eventually sells just the crisp by the bag full.

Now for the sweets, and boy do they get sweet and crazy good.

The Lemon Meringue Bruxie with raspberries is just ooey gooey sweet tarty goodness. A classic and delicious combination.

And then there is this.

This complete surprise and amazing thing of a waffle.

Your eyes do not decieve you.

Yes, that is chocolate floating perfectly INSIDE a waffle. No need to drizzle it over the top, Bruxie stuffs it in. The Chocolate-Filled Liege Waffle (with carmelized pearl sugar, dark Belgian chocolate stuffed) is an amazing thing to behold, let alone eat. The Liege waffle is fluffy, dense and tender. By being gently sweet, it allows the dark Belgian chocolate to truly be a featured suprise.

I’m not sure how they get the chocolate in there but I suspect they have narrow ‘rods’ of the dark chocolate they push into the just poured Liege batter. While enjoying this perfect dessert, I noticed the chocolate on the outter edges was melty goodness while the chocolate closer to center had a bit more ‘al dente’ chew to it. Just awesome.

Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches is so unique and not just in the food. Both locations, in Brea and Old Town Orange, are fun to be at and you feel comfortable to just hang out. What is truly exceptional is the quality of service Bruxie’s staff offers. I have never met a nicer or more friendly staff. Every one of them have genuine smiles on their faces and sincere demeaners. They are eager to help you in any way and truly are happy when you are happy.

I can’t wait to go back!

215 W. Birch Street

Brea, CA  92681

714-255-1118

I’m Judging at the OC Fair 2011

8 Aug

I’ll have the honour of being one of three judges for the OC Fair’s “Let’s Eat!” Chowdown this Thursday August 11th at 4:30pm. The OC Fair has been having the fun competition of Fair Food vs. Food Truck Fare every thursday afternoon for the duration of the fair’s engagement. I’ve been witness to two of the ‘Chowdowns’ so far and they are a lot of fun.

I’ll be judging alongside seasoned veteran judge Suki Beasla of the EatSukiEat food blog and a yet known to me, third judge…very exciting this all is. The entertaining emcee for both Chowdown events will be the returning Dan Iehl of the GourmetFoodtrk blog.

The event I’ll be judging is the second round of Deep-Fried Desserts competition. It’ll be between the OC Fair’s very own Chicken Charlie, renown for their deep-fried Twinkies, and well…just about anything and everything deep-fried and the popular and local The OC Food Truck.

Click the pic for a bigger and clearer view.

I hope to see some of you there, cheering on both competitors. Make sure you let me know you are there, say hi and introduce yourself.

Til then, Great Eats!

Pesto Chicken Salad

18 Jul

Ok, this recipe came from way left field…or at least way In field ;o)

The set up: My foodie buddy Anita of MadHungryWoman and her son Sebastian of NachoTypicalKid decided to join me for the 4th of July fireworks off Main Beach, Laguna Beach California, which is walking distance from my humble home (yes yes, spoiled I am). I was very happy for it. How amazing is the daily opportunity sit upon beach chairs ON the beach, watching fireworks??

Our view from the beach:

It was their first time doing just that so I was hoping I could make it special by bringing some great food.

Character flaw of mine: wanting to impress and then deciding on a dish I’ve never made before. What would I have done had it not turned out? I would have run to the store and bought something pre-made, then at home ‘Austinized’ it (my friend’s term for a generic dish I’ve gotten my culinary fingers upon) to my acceptable tastes.

Though, this time, surprisingly, it turned out pretty darn good.

I had bought a tube of Amore Pesto Paste (concentrated) some time ago, on a whim and well priced at a Henry’s, after having seen & used their Tomato Paste (often used on cooking shows) though not really knowing what I was going to use it for. I’d used the tomato paste before & found it too pricey for regular consumption, the tube is just not big enough for the amounts I normally use. I prefer the much more cost-effective, and equally delectable, Costco case of S&W Organic (no less) Tomato Paste of 12 cans for….dirt cheap.

I’m getting off track here. This isn’t about tomato paste but PESTO. Come on people, you could have reigned me in here a lot earlier….jeezzzz (please do so later, as I am sure to meander)!

It actually turned out decent…tho honestly, not great. They liked it and we all ate it up. I served it up on a crunchy baguette (tasty but soooo wrong a bread option for this type of dish) and head smackingly forgot to bring the provolone for it. Aaarrrgghh, I almost went home for it (i hate to not have the ingredients for a perfect dish when I’ve envisioned it so) but traffic & parking kept my ass planted on the beach.

Afterwards, I knew I could do the dish better, and after a firm nudge from an outside source, I aimed to do just that.

I’m not one to write recipes down. I the heat of creation, it just doesn’t compute for me. It’s only after a few times of tweeking that it occurs to me “Dude, write that shit down or you’ll never be able to recreate it again later”. So upon that sage ID advice, the recipe below is #3 of five attempts at gastronomical perfection though I think I’ve moved onto to #5.

 So you got that right? The sketchy recipe above all makes sense and is easily made by you..right??? Good luck with that, cuz I’m not sure I could do the same….and it’s my own recipe!

Alright, alright, I’ll try to break it down for you, step by step (and of course, since I’ve ADD, I’ll most likely be skipping a few steps. Ask for clarity please).

OK THEN! Here’s the list of ingredients:

1 Cup Mayo (any kind you like tho I’ve been using Ralph’s store brand cuz it’s got a strong salty tang I really like here and in pasta salads)

3 Tblsps Amore Pesto Concentrate

1 Tsp Kosher or Sea Salt

35 Cranks or 1/4-1/2 tsp Fine Freshly Ground Pepper

1 Tsp Minced/Pureed Garlic

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then:

2.5 lbs chicken Breast

1/2 Cup Roasted Red Peppers (heaping is what I used)

1/2 Cup diced/micro diced White Onion (for crunch)

1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese (or more cuz you can never have too much of this)

10-15 Fresh Basil Leaves Chiffonade then Chopped

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Sliced Provolone

Fresh & Thinnly Sliced Tomatoes

French Bread Rolls or Flour Tortillas or Sliced Provolone

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Mix the first five ingredients together and let sit in the fridge for at least 30min, tho an hour is best, giving it a good mix-a-bout every 15 min or so. We need to marry these flavors together, yes?

What to do, during that hour…..what to do….OH let’s see, I still need the main ingredient CHICKEN and I’m thinking some roasted red peppers would be brilliant here, so now i’ve got something to do.

Okay, I roasted my own red peppers on my gas stove, which took a good 30min of roasting to a lovely charr all over (you can do this on a BBQ outside as well), then I put them into a bowl, sealed it in cling wrap, which steams them to loosen their skin from their flesh. I then seeded, scrapped/skinned them & chopped/diced the beauties. If you’re not up to this, most good grocery stores should carry a jar of roasted red peppers that will work just fine. Dice or slice it up for a heaping 1/2 cup worth or red, juicy and flavorful loveliness.

As to the chicken: I bought 2.5 lbs of skinless chicken breast from my Ralph’s butcher case, tho after noticing that the wrapped pre-processed kind (Fosters) was $6.99 a pound and the local Ralph’s had them at just $3.99 a pound, I felt I had accidentally bought the better option.

How to cook this chicken was now the current hurdle. I cook chicken breast often, tho every time I am fearful that I will over cook it to dry/toughness or undercook it to illness. This time I took the very large breasts and decided to slice them into manageable & a bit more uniformly workable pieces that I felt would cook up evenly…which worked beautifully. I cooked them ‘Low & Slow’ in a large sauce pan. I knew poaching was an option but I’ve heard too many times that it leeches away the actual chicken flavor which is what I did not want. So I thought, why couldn’t the same technique that works for beef work for chicken??? Guess what, it does! The chicken chunks turned out tender and juicy without the ‘sear’ aspect I did not want. Hmmmm, the ‘sear’ factor may actually add a depth of flavor I hadn’t anticipated…more hmmmm…I’ll have to try that in future batches.

Firmly springy was the guage for doneness. It was beautiful in keeping the flavor in, and most importantly, it’s juicyness.  A little pepper makes them look all the more appetizing for a recipe blog post (don’t cha think?) and doesn’t hurt in the least in adding a more depth of flavor to the overall dish. If your not up to this extra time, I’ll assume the canned, bagged or rotisserie variety of chicken will work just as well.

Once removed and cooled, dice it up! I’m thinking the next time I make this I’ll try the shredding process which might just stay on the bun better.

So from here on out, it gets easy.

Throw it all together: roasted red peppers, onions and mayo, then mix into a bowl, grate the parmesan cheese in, then mix away…doesn’t get much easier than that, does it?

I served it on a baguette initially, with provolone and freshly sliced tomatoes, though absolutely delicious, the baguette was too tough of a crusty bread for the tender innerds. The tasty insides gushed all outside. So after a bit of testing, a good french roll works beautifully. Also, a nice flour tortilla wrap is a brilliant option as well. Lay a single layer of provolone, smear a hearty spoonful of the salad upon the tortilla then top with fresh Arugila or Spinach greens, sliced tomatoes and you’ve got a beautifully delicious lunch, dinner or snack.

Be sure to top with more  freshly chiffonaded basil for the best burst of pesto/basil flavor.

And if your into the low carb thing, use a slice of Provolone as a tortilla/taco shell and you’ve got an extremely low carb snack.

 I hope you try this recipe out and if you do, please let me know how it worked (or not) for you.

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