Friday, December 14, 2007

Casa De Liquid Muse!

I know....once again it's been to long between posts and I have no other excuse than being butt kickin busy.

A couple of weeks ago I get an exciting! It's from The Liquid I'm thrilled!! Cocktails with the girls at her place. This was my lucky day!!! Check out her book deal (yeah!), cocktail recipes, and local happenings!!!

I've been lucky enough to meet up with several O.C. Food bloggers; Chubby Panda and Monster Munching to name a couple. I million things go through my head before we meet for the first time. What do
they look like, are they funny, will we have a good time? I have yet to be disappointed! Charming, funny and a great time is what I walk away with.

I am flattered to be asked to someones home. What an intimate and gracious gesture! As I approached the door, it opened with a warm "You must be Deb!" and a big hug. We got right down to business and poured glasses of champagne. I like this girl! As the other ladies continued to stream in and introductions made, I felt like I was with a group of girlfriends catching up.

The food was wonderful. A beautiful "Oh it's sooo simple" salmon fillet was nestled between brie & blue cheeses. Wonderfully crisp flatbread was waiting to be layered with the delicious items one plate over. come the most delicious things are the simplest? I love hummus....who am I kidding... I love just about everything! ;) The 'closer' was chocolate covered Fortune Cookies and more great conversation.

This is truly the time of year to embrace our gifts. Friends (new and old), time well spent (slow down) and open that bottle of wine you've been saving! Now is the best time to drink it!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Break of Dawn

A few weeks ago I met up with some of my favorite fellow food bloggers from O.C. Food Blogs for breakfast @ Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills. As soon as I receive the e-vite from Chubby Panda, I knew I was in for a treat!

Chef Dee Nguyen (formerly of the Ritz-Carlton) set up shop in a small Laguna Hills shopping center just off the 5 freeway and El Toro. Break of Dawn is a much over due breakfast alternative to Coco's and Mimi's. The small but airy interior reflects a sense of what I call 'Asian calm'. Inspirational writings grace the walls, reflecting his love of food and his joy in preparing it.

There was a good turn out and I love it. New friends and great conversation as I anxiously wait to see what everyone orders. That's half the fun I think....did they get something I wouldn't have given a second thought to? How was it prepared and what's in it? Is it good???? With Elmo from Monster Munching sitting right across from me, I knew I'd be good for one bite of his dish!

Elmo ordered Corned Beef with Sweet Potato Hash, Tarragon Braised Cabbage, Two Poached Eggs and Whole Grain Mustard Sauce. was delicious.

I landed on the Smoked Salmon & Egg: Oatmeal Galette, Herb Poached Eggs, Marinated Tomato & Preserved Lemon-Caper Emulsion. The eggs were not overpowered by the salmon (which I find with most salmon/egg combination dishes) and the lemon caper sauce complimented everything beautifully.

The menu offered an impressive selection of dishes without leaving me overwhelmed with choices. Open for breakfast and lunch, it's a welcome change from the bland and boring fare we are all to willing to ingest and call a meal.

The Flaky Puff Pastry with artichoke & roasted tomato puree, poached eggs, black forest ham, portobello cream and white truffle essence demands that I return. Who am I to say no? Get there.

Break of Dawn
24351 Avenida De La Carlota #N-6
Laguna Hills, Ca. 92653

Monday, October 22, 2007


While cruising the web I've searched for an Orange County Slow Food convivia and finally hit gold! I sent them an e-mail and received a reply with a potluck invitation to boot! This was my lucky day!! Bring your best "Fall Harvest" side dish, they'll provide the sausages and great company. I'm in....

I head back to the Internet to find a recipe describing itself as 'authentically' German, and found Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Pie). I decide to cook a pie on Saturday to make sure it's 'worthy'. I figured if it wasn't a success, the chances of my teenage sons devouring it were pretty good. Saturday's pie was beautiful. The crust was substantial and was more 'biscuit like' than standard crust. Better to hold the caramelized onions and bacon I think!

Onion Pie
Title: Zwiebelkuchen
Servings: 8

1 pk Yeast; Active Dry
1 t Sugar
1 1/2 t Salt
3 c Unbleached Flour
1 T Shortening
1 c Water; 120 to 130 Degrees F.
6 Bacon; Slices, Cut Up
2 Onions; Medium, Sliced
1/4 t Cumin
1/2 t Salt
Pepper; As Desired
1 Egg Yolk
1 c Sour Cream

Mix yeast, sugar, 1 t salt, and 1/2 cup flour. Blend in shortening and warm water. Beat for 2 minutes. Add enough flour to make a soft dough.
Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a
lightly greased bowl. Cover and let dough rise in a warm place 1/2 hour.
Pat dough into a lightly greased 12-inch pizza pan or onto a lightly
greased baking sheet. Press up edges to make a slight rim.

Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from grease and drain on absorbent paper. Add onions to bacon grease; cook slowly until tender and caramelized.

Sprinkle onion,bacon, cumin, 1/2 t salt and pepper over dough. Bake at 400 Degrees F.for 20 minutes.

Brush crust with little yolk & water.Blend egg yolk and sour cream. Pour over onions. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until golden brown and sour cream is set.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Yum! We're good to go for Sunday!

I duplicate my success on Sunday, or so I thought! My pie looked beautiful, but since I cooked it earlier in the morning and refrigerated it, I re-heated it for 30 min @ 300 degrees. The result, a crust too hard to cut. The topping was delicious, but I needed the 2 glasses of wine I had just to cut through it! Don't you love wine?! Note to self, next time, don't re-heat, or consider a puff pastry crust. Hmmm....puff pastry sounds good. Next time!

As I gathered my empty dish and I said my good byes, I was grateful for a wonderful evening under the stars in beautiful Laguna Beach with such a welcoming & gracious group of people. It's not hard to live well. Connect with people that are passionate about food, drink and life. They'll show you how. Does it get any better??? Thank you!

Let's eat!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cocktail anyone?

A good cocktail and something wonderful to eat. I'm challenged to think of anything better. My favorite mixology blogger Natalie, over at The Liquid Muse has something fun going...Mixology Monday's, or Mix Mo. She and her mixologist friends are taking turns hosting this new Monday event (who better than Natalie, right??)and this Monday it's all her.

First off, let me come clean with my lack of experience of what cocktail pairs best with what dish….I just know what I like. Is that a crime??

My favorite food/meal/cocktail pairing is an easy one. I like my cocktails straighforward, my food reliable. That makes it easy...a big bone in ribeye, (medium rare), lobster mashed potatoes, steamed asparagus with lemon and butter, followed by a good single malt scotch.

Let’s just say that’s my favorite way to ‘get down to business”’. ;)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Elephant Delicatessen- Portland

With most of my business travel over, I can now start back to posting. And I'm behind! Mike and I visited Elephant Delicatessen in Portland about 2 months ago and I have to say it's shaping up to be a favorite. I love the small food stations, that can accommodate whatever my taste may be for the day. Brick oven pizza, soothing soups, unique and classic sandwiches, pasta, coffee and yes....even cocktails! Place your order directly with the chef at each respective station then keep an eye out to pick it up. Not only is the food great, but the store is an epicureans dream to browse.The wine selection, the cases of prepared food & the deli case are screaming "come see".

The cheese case if phenomenal! Yes... I am a cheese hound. Andrew, the General Manager can be found behind the counter and is more than happy to to share his love for good food with samples from their case.The meats are all right there...making it easy (or hard) to pick what you'll be taking home!

I'm a staunch believer in good food. Be careful not to confuse this with expensive food. I mean fresh, high quality, simple and flavorful. Can it be expensive? You bet, but then wouldn't it be nicer to have a little bit of the best rather than a lot of mediocre? A little bit of the best, now that's living!

After my browsing, Mike and I were ready to order. Mike went for the Fish and Chips while I chose the Croque Monsieur sandwich with a side or their wild mushroom soup.Delish!

The baked goods, including breads are amazing. Their simple (but obviously delicious) Cowboy Cookies seem to be Mike's favorite.

With a menu that gives you choices like the Willamette Valley Salad with mixed greens, Oregon hazelnuts, bleu cheese, crispy Northwest apple slices & grapes, tossed with Elephants Own raspberry vinaigrette dressing or Picnic baskets and cheese trays to go, and catering to boot there's no excuse not to enjoy fine food.
You gotta go!

Elephant Delicatessen
115 NW 22nd Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97210

Sunday, October 07, 2007


It's hard to believe last weekend I was in Hawaii. It was for our National Toyota Dealer Meeting in Waikiki. Toyota goes all out, great food (sushi as far as the eye can see) along with prime rib and lamb chops and the cocktails are flowing. We get a big name M.C. and entertainment each year. This year the Jay Leno M.C.'d it then we we treated to a concert with Stevie Nicks opening for Aerosmith. Good times but lets get back to the food!

I asked the concierge at the hotel for suggestions on a local plate lunch joint. He said the only place to send me was to The Rainbow Drive-in.
I got the combo plate...rice, mac salad (YUM!), bbq beef, fish & pork. I did not leave hungry! Hawaiian macaroni salad is my favorite. Real mayo and plenty of it. I know it may sound gross, but it tastes soooo good when it touches your lips!

After lunch I explored a little and discovered another local favorite, Leonards. It's a bakery that serves the donut of Hawaii, Masaladas. Although I don't like the taste of sweets, I love to look!

Great local places, beautiful weather, awesome eats.

Please forgive me on this not to descriptive post...traveling and spare time do not go together. Looking forward to being home for a while and getting back into the swing of things.

Eat up!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A new favorite!

I picked up a copy of Tastes of Italia to read while lounging by the pool on a crystal clear day in Palm Springs. Let me think.. a glass of wine, a great food rag and someone new playing softly in the background.I keep listening, racking my brain for the name of this singer. Can't figure it out so I ask the bartender. He tells me "Everyone asks, it's Jane Monheit". What rock have I been under?? I all know is it can't get much better than that on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Flying out this Friday to Hi for a long weekend ('s work) and back Monday eve. Behind as usual with posting, and I actually have plenty to post on. That damn time factor kills me. Hope you enjoy Jane as much as I did!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's a matter of taste

How can anyone not love sushi??? I do! There are those occasions it's not as fresh, traditional, creative as you'd hoped. Ahh...but then there are the times when the moment it melts onto your tongue the clouds part and the angels sing. I experienced just that Thursday afternoon @ Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills.
Nobu Matsuhisa opened his first US restaurant in Alaska. After loosing everything to a fire, he came to Los Angeles, opened Matsuhisa and the rest is history. Matsuhisa fathered the famous Nobu in NYC, and now several sister locations dotting the globe. Robert DeNiro is his longtime partner.

I had a lunch date with a client. He asked if I like sushi....was he joking?? He said he was going to treat me to something incredible and he was right. Mike bought me the Nobu cookbook a couple of years ago and sad to say I've merely toyed with it, browsing the pages, making a shopping list then setting it all aside. For me, it's not only a time thing, but who will eat it? My boys are the obvious candidates but are rarely home. That's the center of food and cooking isn't it? Feeding and sharing a meal with people we care about.

We started with Edamame & Red Miso Soup. Sometimes the simplest fare requires the most attention to get it right. This was outstanding. The edamame was sprinkled with a red salt. Hawaiian possibly? Regardless, it was enough to strike a note with me that this was going to be very good. The soup was no different. The deep rich flavor of the seaweed and just the right amount of miso. I'm amazed by the difference in quality when it comes to miso. My pallet is not as discerning as I'd like it to be, but I do recognize when the best ingredients are used. It's all about quality.

We moved on to Yellowtail Jalapeno. What rock have I been under???? This was incredible! No thick slabs of fish, but thin translucent slices of yellowtail topped with a shaving of jalapeno and drizzeled with ponzu. It was intoxicating. Before I could fully appreciate each bite, it melted away. Next we ordered Baby Abalone with asparagus, spring onions and light garlic sauce. The sauce was perfect. The ingredients glistened without floating in the sauce. Everything was in balance, without one ingredient overwhelming the other. Heaven.....
We moved on...A Soft Shell Crab Spring Roll. Everything wrapped neatly in rice paper and flashed fried. It was served pre-cut and sitting on a dollop of spicy cream sauce.

It is evident Nobu was far beyond his time when creating inovative yet approachable dishes. It was just right. When it comes to the new hot sushi place, the creativity factor can be over the top and dilute the experience. Not here. Nothing pretencious, just the highest quality ingredients with all the experimentation out of the way. I was surprised at how reasonable it was to! Next time you're in L.A., anywhere near La Cienega & Wilshire, GO!

Edamame $4
Red Miso Soup $5
Yellow Tail $20
Baby Abalone $15
Soft Shell Crab $17

All of these were more than enough for two. Love to hear from anyone that knows of an O.C. establishment that can rival this!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Think outside the box...

No sorry excuses. I just haven't posted lately and I need to. I mean it, I really need to. Eating & drinking are way up there on my list of life's indispensable passions, so let's get busy with it!!!!

I'm getting married the beginning of next year and it's starting to sink in how much I need to do. Lot's going on. Mike is in Portland (which will be my new home) and most of the planning discussions are over the phone. We're getting married in Hawaii, then back to So Cal for an intimate dinner with close friends and family. Just what we want. I entertain a lot for work and get the opportunity to eat at some pretty incredible places, and although Mike & I love Roy's, when it comes to eating...we like to think outside the box. Who's cooking at that new little place downtown? It's so much fun to try places before everyone knows about them and things change.

In my search, I've found a wonderful hidden gem right in my own backyard (Irvine) called Lucca Cafe. Not tapas, but small plates, perfect for sharing. They pride themselves with serving incredibly fresh and innovative food in an unpretentious atmosphere. Their wine list is extensive with a price range for everyone, and over 60 wines by the glass! They're $10 reverse corkage ain't bad any bottle to take home and take $10 off the price.

I've been tossing them around as a location for our 'reception' dinner and decided I'd treat myself to a beautiful dinner to seal the deal. Elliott (owner/manager?) now knows me...this makes me feel very important. ;)
He shows me to a table and spends a minute to introduce a few new cheese finds from a purveyor in Dana Point. It's after work, I'm tired and hungry. I tell Elliott I'd love some cheese, but more importantly would like for him to decide on my meal for me. I love doing that and I've had some of my best meals from letting the staff decide! He leaves and a server appears to pour a glass of Terrabianca Campaccio 2001 Super Tuscan, which is their best seller for very obvious reasons. Very big red with a smooth finish. Nothing overbearing or shocking & left me noting the vintage.

Elliott chooses a 3 cheese plate (they serve a choice of 1, 3 or 5 cheeses). A little more than I actually needed, but should I care? I sampled a blue from Rogue Creamery on the Oregon Coast, Brie d' Meaux (triple cream...need I say anything more?) and a tart goat cheese from Midnight Moon Humbolt County. All this plated with beautiful berries, champagne grapes, flat bread & my glass of wine. Am I dreaming?.......

Next comes a plate of petite pork tenderloin. Spiced, peppered and cooked perfectly. It was thinly sliced and rested on a bed of caramelized new onions and strewn with fried leeks. On the side was a perfect little ramekin filled with polenta topped with sour cherries.

He finishes with their signature Lucca bread pudding. It looked crazy good, but I don't like sweets and didn't have the heart to tell him so I took it to go. My boys will happily finish off any leftovers I bring home! I have a cup of coffee, enjoy the sunset and wish Mike was there.'s a done deal. For our reception dinner, Lucca will work out beautifully.

Glass wine $16.50 (YES....I'm worth it!)
Cheese plate $13.00
Pork tenderloin $17.00
Bread Pudding $ 5.00
Coffee $ 1.75

Food - Incredible
Ambiance- relaxed and unpretentious
Value- Outstanding!

Lucca Cafe
6507 Quail Hill Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92603
(949) 725-1773

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pok Pok PDX

My last day in Portland Mike and I headed over to the latest hot Thai joint in PDX (aka Portland). It more than lived up to the streams of praise & accolades. Starting out as a small lunch cart, they've evolved and now occupy a small house right next door which they've named Whiskey Soda Lounge.

The reviews said we had to try the Papaya Pok Pok, a green papaya salad with tomatoes, long beans, Thai chili, lime juice, dried shrimp, ground pork & peanuts tossed in a coconut milk dressing. Just enough chili to give it a little kick!
We paired that with Kai Yaang, charcoal roasted game hen stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, spices and served with a sweet & sour dipping sauce.

I'm a Thai soup fan and we added an order of Kaeng Om Neua, a brothy beef jungle curry soup. This was my favorite! Pair these with a couple of Thai beers and it's a beautiful thing. Although eating outside was fine with us, if you prefer to eat inside the Whiskey Soda Lounge, they only accept reservations of 5 or more, and yes...reservations are needed. My only complaint was the rice. You actually have to order it separately (which is a little unusual that it doesn't come with any of the dishes) and it's $2.00 for about 1 cup?... Don't get me wrong it's no deal breaker, but it continues to nag me.

Good Thai, unpretentious and fun location. Next time your path crosses Portland, treat yourself to some amazing Thai.

Eat up!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The 'Vacation Five'

You all know what I'm talking about...That "What the heck, I'm on vacation" attitude every time you pick up a menu. Well, I won't disappoint!I spent a wonderful week in San Francisco for a sales conference. LOVE that city!

I checked out the Cowgirl Creamery in the Ferry Building and checked out The Slanted Door for lunch. No photo ops here, but phenomenal food!

I flew home on Friday and flew out to Portland on Sunday for a week of R&R with my man. We spent the week exploring the Oregon Coast. Insanely beautiful and very relaxing!

We hit The Rogue Breweryfor a cool one and some lunch. Kobe Beef Burger topped with Oregon Blue Cheese and a salad. Although beer is not usually my drink, I had a Will Ferrel Old School moment.. "It tastes so good when it touches my lips!". We also visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Pretty wild watching the process, but I have to say I prefer the romance of the beautifully over crowded cases @ Cowgirl Creamery.

On to the Inn at Cape Kawanda for (that's right), more eating drinking and a weak attempt to hike it all off. We indulged in a beer flight along with the 'Tower of Onion Rings', another Kobe Burger & Fish and Chips. I have to make this clear. I am a fish and chips snob. I like mine battered, not breaded. Lightly please so when it reaches my table, it's light & fluffy, not oily and dense. Unfortunately we did not hit the mark on this one, but the beers I'll give a 10. Finish and take that harrowing 50 yard walk to our place across the street. It's all good.

We do love the 'little guy'. You know, the guy just trying to make it and happens to put out incredible food. We landed on
Harvest Fresh River Deli. On a Tuesday "all you can eat" pasta night to boot! They had 5 pasta dishes to mix & max and eat your fill. It included soup or salad so we got one cup of Mushroom Barley & and one Potato Cheese soup. Mike had the sausage lasagna while I had Linguine with chicken, lemongrass pesto and chili. Round 2: It was so good we stuck with the same.

That's all for now. Next stop (post), Manzanita!

Eat up!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

O.K.....I'll play.

I've been tagged by Natalie @ The Liquid Muse. Seems she'd like to know 7 things about me that fellow bloggers don't know. Let me say that I'm fully aware none of this info might interest you, but what the hell...I'll play.

#1. Tomorrow I turn 47. yes...that's correct, THREE years from 50! I haven't decided whether I'm going to have issues with this or not.

#2 I'm engaged to a great guy and will be moving to Portland in a year to start a new chapter in my life).

#3 I was a stylist (old school definition: hair/makeup artist) @ Warner Bros in the early 80's.

#4 I up and moved to Colorado when I was 23. I lived @ 10 thousand feet in the middle of the Rockies. No phones (c.b. radio's), rode horses, 10 other people lived on "the mountain", snow 10 months out of the year. I escaped from a broken heart, & lived in a killer apt above the cafe/bar I ran with my aunt.

#5 I LOVE to cook & entertain...I don't do either nearly enough

#6 I HATE sweets (I know.... that's really weird)

#7 I grew up with 5 ballet in my house. Strictly self defense!

Natalie...this does not replace our drink date. I'll e-mail you next week when I'm back in town! ;)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Who would have known?

Work brings me to Culver City about once a week and each time I discover another gem. Although Cafe Surfas is not new to's one of my favorites. Surfas restaurant and cooking supply has been around since 1937 and with this years addition of Cafe Surfas, it makes the perfect lunch time stop and shop. I'm like a kid in a candy store. The store offers gourmet foods and oodles of awesome cooking supplies for everyone from the recreational to professional cook. Today I picked up an OXO Mandoline. I've wanted a mandoline for a while and this one got great reviews by Gourmet Magazine so there you have it. All that walking up & down the seemingly endless isles of wares, made me hungry!

How convenient....the cafe is right through the doors! I take my usual stance in the center of the cafe. This way I can clearly see the beautiful cheese case, with a connecting case holding sandwiches just waiting to be dressed, grilled and served. The side salads are all wonderful. My favorite is a pea, minced red onion, Spanish ham salad dressed with creme fresh. Today I decide on the Roasted Turkey Club. Turkey, grainy mustard, sauteed arugula, Taleggio Cheese grilled on Rosemary Bread. Yes..... it was delicious. The sandwiches are served with baby greens lightly tossed with a raspberry vinaigrette and pickles. I pass on the hand crafted sodas and go with a simple bottled water for a near perfect lunch that never disappoints.

Everything from the Kobe Beef Haute Dog with horseradish mustard, blue cheese cream, cioppolini onions on a french baguette or the Kurobuto Ham Panini with Snake River Farms Kurobuto Ham shaved thin, Schoolhouse Kitchen Chutney, appenzellar cheese on rosemary bread are divine. They also serve some incredible breakfast sandwiches, soups and salads. Next time you find yourself in Downtown Culver City, swing over to Washington, do some kitchen shopping and grab a little something to eat!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Get to cookin!

Lately I've been slackin....about cooking that is. I have 2 teenage boys (you'd think that would keep me busy in the kitchen!), but they're never home and so the dilemma continues. If I cook, who will eat it?? Well, I've been catching up on my favorite blogs which have inspired me to cook more, and blog one dish weekly.

Last night while laying in bed reading one of my (90+) cookbooks, I came across the following recipe in Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef Takes off.

white risotto with lemon thyme, sliced prosciutto, percorino & crumbled goat's cheese

As I'm finishing the dish, my 19 year old son Rob comes in for a taste. He loves it, but we have different opinions. Far too rich for me. The recipe called for 4 ounces of both freshly grated Parmesan and percorina cheeses. Top this with the goat's cheese and prosciutto and it was over the top. I'd make the dish again, but cut both cheese in half, add fresh peas and eliminate the goat's cheese.

I love the whole idea of how cooking gets our wheels turning. How can the dish be better? How would we put our 'stamp' on it? And when you land on the perfect share it with everyone you know.
What a great thing to love...this cooking..

Eat up!