Fried Chicken Worth The Wait: 370 Common

Fried chicken? YES! Wait for it? NO!

Normally, you’d be right. No one wants to wait for fried chicken when that crunchy juicy salty chicken-y craving hits but trust me, 370 Common’s fried chicken is worth that wait.

Wait? Why do I need to wait for it, you ask? Well, it’s only available on the last Sunday of the month, at 370′s prix fixe only, Sunday Social dinners. Chef Ryan Adams started his Sunday Social family style dinners about 2 years ago and they been a very popular dining experience with locals and visitors ever since. Each Sunday, Chef Ryan offers a 5-7 course prix fixe meal served family style, meaning every dish comes as one big plate and everyone passes it around to serve themselves, just like you did as child around the dinner table on Sundays.

Chef Ryan sources most of his vegetables from the local farmers market so the side dishes change with the seasons but the fried chicken is always on that last Sunday’s menu.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Cucumber Tomato Salad

First up on this occasion, the Cucumber Tomato Salad was fresh with herbs, a bright zip from the vinaigrette and silky from the avocados’ buttery nature. The crunch from the cucumbers (hidden under the arugula) and radish lent a nice contrast in textures along with the mini crunches of the toasted bread crumbs. To top it all off with a personal favorite, crumbled goat cheese, made me a very happy eater.

Carmelized Onion Corn Bread

Caramelized Onion Corn Bread

It’s hard to describe this dinner surprise as it wasn’t listed on the menu but all I can say is a resounding WOW. Corn Bread like you’ve never had it before. It was so light, fluffy almost and incredibly tender and moist. The caramelized onions sprinkled over the top before baking, so they’d sink into the corn bread crust, just added to the bread’s gentle sweetness. Maldon Salt with fresh ground pepper & herbs sprinkled over the butter pats secured my love for this corn bread.

Pork Belly Braised Greens

Pork Belly Braised Greens

Pork Belly Braised Greens…that pretty much says it all. Greens are greens to me, I generally enjoy them as much as the next guy, but braise them in a little pork fat from the belly (fresh un-cured bacon, if you’re not sure what that is), toss in some chiles for a little spicy kick and you had me at…well, pork belly.

Green Beans with Crispy Garlic & Shallots

Green Beans with Crispy Garlic & Shallots

Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

Green beans and mashed potatoes have always been a huge part of the sunday dinners my mom used to make and these at 370 Common elevate the classic dishes to the next level. The Green Beans with Crispy Garlic & Shallots are perfectly cooked to retain a gentle snap while the Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy are the best classic rendition you’ll have tasted. The gravy is rich & deep in flavor from the chicken stock made in-house. We scraped that serving dish clean.

Bucket of Fried Chicken

Bucket of Fried Chicken

Damn Good Fried Chicken

Damn Good Fried Chicken

Here is what you’ve been waiting all this time for (has it been a month already?), FRIED CHICKEN!! And damn good fried chicken at that. It’s perfectly crispy, perfectly juicy, perfectly tender, perfectly season and well, it’s just perfect fried chicken. I tried to get Chef Ryan’s secret seasonings and technique out of him, but he wouldn’t budge at my pleading. How fun though, that it comes to the table served in a paper bucket, an ode to KFC perhaps, that helps solidify the feeling that you are at home with family, eating a comforting meal.

Slaw and Spicy Honey

Slaw and Spicy Honey

The fried chicken is served with a side of slaw, nicely crunchy and mildly sweet along with a ramekin of spicy honey for dipping your chicken in. Originally, it was served drizzled over  the fried chicken but is now on the side for those who prefer their fried chicken without, as I do. Good call Chef.

Ginger Pear Cake

Ginger Pear Cake

As if I’m not already stuffed and very very happy about it, out comes dessert. The Ginger Pear Cake is a beautiful dish to end the meal. It wasn’t too sweet, almost gooey moist, with the toasted top giving an enjoyably tensive chew. The zing of the ginger was gentle enough to not overpower the mild tasting pears. This is the one dish that did not come “family style” though if it had, I would have cut myself a huge piece.

Chef Ryan used to offer his fried chicken just every once in a while, it was quite random. You had to have signed up for the 370 Common newsletter (be sure that you do ASAP) to know when it would be on the Sunday Social Supper menu. I thank him for listening to his diners who clamored for it more frequently, so now every last Sunday of the month it is, bravo! It truly is worth the wait.

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www.370common.com

You Know Summer Has Started: Irvine Greek Festival

I may not always remember the exact date of the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of sunlight and official first day of Summer, but I know I can rely on when the Irvine Greek Festival weekend starts, Summer is here.

The Irvine Greek Festival ‘A Taste Of Greece’ celebrates its 36th year at St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church. I found it to be a wonderful neighborhood event that takes place on the church grounds. It’s the perfect place to bring the family and enjoy great authentic Greek foods, boutique booth shops, plenty of activities for the kids, Greek dancing for the adults and a full carnival of rides for everyone.

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I think all of our mothers told us (or forced us) to eat our spinach. It’s an easy thing to do when it comes in the delicious Spanakopita (spinach, feta, philo dough) here at the festival. It’s definitely one of my favorite Greek foods.

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Another favorite is what is commonly called “Greek Lasagna” and Pastichio by the Greek’s. With layers of noodles, ground beef, veal or lamb, bechamel and then cheese, what’s not to love. I particularly liked the extra spoon of dripping bechamel on top, icing on the cake.

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Who needs the French dish ‘Steak Frites’ when you can get freshly grilled lamb chops and Greek Fries. The chops were perfectly juicy and seared off beautifully.

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Now here is a Greek dish I hadn’t heard of before, Saganaki. It is cheese prepared in a small frying pan and here presented on top of pita bread. The Irvine Greek Festival takes it one delicious step further by frying it in Brandy and setting it afire.  It comes out gooey and rich and finger licking good, as you smear a bit on a torn off piece of pita. If there is more than one of you, it will disappear rather quickly.

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Of course it can’t be a Greek Festival without Baklava, which is there but I’ve discovered that I much prefer the Sarangli which I consider a first cousin to Baklava but much easier to eat. Sarangli is also less sweet but more complex in flavor from the roasted chopped nuts, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, glazed with honey syrup then spinkled with chopped pistachios.

The Philoptochos, St. Paul’s philanthropic group, will be baking around the clock to provide all the Greek pastries and goodies that can be eaten at the festival. They even have a baked goods counter where you can buy and take your favorites home. I’ve heard they bake an average of 14,000 individual pastries for the festival weekend.

Yes, Yes, and your other favorite Greek foods will be there: Loucanico (Greek sausage), Dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), Loukoumathes (Greek doughnut holes), Calamari and Greek Salad to name a few. As an added bonus, you might run into a very nice man with a big generous smile, who offers you a free shot of Ouzo. If you do, be sure to reply with a hearty “OPAH!”

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One of my most favorite things to do after I happily stuffed myself on all the great Greek food is to go into the church and gaze up at the stunning mosaic dome,  ringed with Saints captured in stained glass. It a breathtaking sight. I’ll find an empty pew, slide down a bit, lean back and look upward. It’s a serene way to end a meal and I’m sure it aids in my digestion.

If you’d like free admission, print up the flyer below then kick of your summer with fun and good eats at Irvine Greek Festival.

Greek Fest 2014

http://irvinegreekfest.com/

 

 

Quick Apple Pie and Cider run to Julian, CA

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!

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

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!

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

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