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.



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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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!”





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



Quick Apple Pie and Cider run to Julian, CA

It was a beautiful first day of fall morning and my buddy Jason of 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 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.






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.


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.



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.


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.”


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

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

berries, melon, pineapple, sour cream and honey sauce

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

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

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
bourbon crème anglaise

creamy Tahitian vanilla bean custard served with fresh seasonal berries

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                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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


I’m Judging at the OC Fair 2011

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

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



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


Sliced Provolone

Fresh & Thinnly Sliced Tomatoes

French Bread Rolls or Flour Tortillas or Sliced Provolone


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.

Half A Tank at Ford’s Filling Station

I’d been wanting to go here for the past year, ever since I drove by and noticed it on my way back from a taping of The Bonnie Hunt show (since cancelled) at the Culver City Studios, I attended about a year ago.

Ford’s Filling Station  this day, was a default destination, as our original Sunday Brunch pick was compromised by a 3 square mile blackout that morning.

We arrived an hour early (cursed Yelp for the wrong info) and had to kill time at the local Starbucks (beautifully remodeled). All was on Washington Blvd in the midst of Sony Studios and the Culver City Studios production and filming grounds.

It was a gorgeous Los Angeles morning, sunny and clear with a nice cool tinged breeze. As we walked up, the staff were still cleaning and setting up the nice sized outdoor patio. Upon further reflection, the patio currently (May/June) is not somewhere I’d choose to sit as the beautiful Jacaranda trees are blooming and their pretty purple/blue flowers will drop onto the tables, chairs and ultimately your plate during these months.

I think if you’d like to sit outside, the side and completely covered patio would be your best bet even though you’ll be staring at the yellow umbrellas and patrons of the vegan establishment next door. Maybe y’all can share a meat plate with them.

The staff was very friendly upon entering and allowed us to choose our own table. I immediately liked the design and feel of the space. Ford’s logo and general concept really resonated with me and what I truly love and like my inner space to be. It is constructed of warm brown tones, exposed brick walls, a high ceiling of wood beams and down to earth and slightly beat up furniture. It was very comfortable and inviting. I almost felt like I was in the house I grew up in.

Once we got down to business, we ordered a starter of Ford’s Deviled Eggs (with Smoky Marash Peppers).

 They were tasty enough but nothing special. I assume the Marash Peppers were the sprinkled red topping that is usually the role of Paprika. Though a unique pepper flavor in its own right, I really couldn’t tell it apart from generic paprika. Marash Pepper should have lent some heat to the dish but there was none. Maybe more of it or actually mixing it into the filling would have featured it better? The egg filling itself was spooned in (rustically) and not piped, was a tad dry and again, generic in flavor. It could have been so much more. I did rather like taking a bite with the accompanying garnish of radish micro greens.

We asked our server, Liam, to pace our selections so as not to have them pile up on the table and go cold on us, which he was happy to do.

Our second selection was the brunch item Blue Maxx (poached eggs, bacon smoked potato, spinach, fontina and hollandaise)

I really liked this hearty dish. The poached eggs were tender with a slightly runny center. I like mine with a much runnier heart, but these hit the spot just fine. The potatoes were tender but not griddled, no crustiness to them, just good tender potatoes. I couldn’t detect any of the bacon ‘smokiness’ described on the menu. The fontina was deliciously melty and the hollandaise was bright, tangy and flavorful. The bacon on the side was just barely crisp around the edges and a bit floppy. I was fine with it but I think many may have thought them undercooked.

We ordered our two entrees and sat back to enjoy Ford’s comfortable ambiance. I soon spied our server (and bartender) Liam, mixing a big tub of something pale yellow and juicy looking. I got up and went over to ask what it was he was mixing. It was fresh squeezed lemonade! I asked if they used it as a mixer for something (anything) alcoholic and he said he could do anything I wanted…right answer! So I asked for a lemonade and Grey Goose cocktail. No problem, Liam said, so I sit back down eagerly awaiting our food AND my drink.

It was perfect. Liam knows how to make a cocktail. It was crisp and refreshing and very smooth. If I hadn’t been driving, I would have ordered two more.

Both entrees arrive at the same time.

First up is the Skillet Fried Chicken (ham hock risotto, wilted red frill mustard greens) that our server Liam stated was his favorite dish on the menu. 

The chicken here was not what I was expecting. Fried Chicken has a certain connotation that comes with a distinct image when stated and this was not it. This chicken was more of a pounded thin cutlet in four pieces, breaded (in panko?) and yes, most likely shallow fried in a cast iron skillet. It reminded me very much of Hawaiian Chicken Katsu. Sadly, it was on the dry, tough side with not much flavor to be had. The ham hock risotto wasn’t much better.

The risotto was not as flavorful as one would think, even with the ham bits and green onions interspersed throughout. It was a bit oily instead of creamy. I don’t feel the arborio rice was cooked long enough to allow it to develop the required starch creaminess. The wilted mustard greens were quite tasty. I enjoyed their tangy/tart vinegar dressing. Wilted though they were, they also had a top crispiness that made me think the morning chef possibly put them under the broiler or grill to char the wilt up a bit. I definitely liked them and their contrasting textures. 

Our second entrée was the Polenta Cake (pearl onion, mixed mushroom, blistered tomato and truffle mascarpone cheese)

It was a beautiful plate. The polenta cake was quite large. I’m thinking it was at least 2 inches thick, topped with a large dollop of  mascarpone cheese with a crazy afro of frizee lettuce. Surrounding it all was a lovely and flavorful mosaic of roasted/blistered yellow and red tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and white and purple baby onions.

It was all flavorful together. I really enjoyed the vegetable mosaic on their own as well as with the polenta cake. The cake itself, I felt, was a bit too thick. We were both slicing off pieces, then cutting those into smaller bite sized bits to top with the mascarpone (no real truffle flavor was to be detected), onion, tomato and mushroom. It was a nice bite even though the polenta was lacking in much flavor on its own.

Brunch was good but not great. The ambiance alone will draw me back, along with the really friendly staff and nicely attentive & accommodating service.

I’ll go again. There are many other dishes on the menu I would like to try, so they will surely be seeing me again …for dinner perhaps?

9531 Culver Boulevard

Culver City, CA 90232-2618