Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesdays with E

It's that time again.  And by that time I mean Tuesday French dinner night. This menu was strictly from The Bonne Femme Cookbook by Mini Moranville.

The dishes included Lemon-Saffron Rosemary Wings (I used chicken breasts) and Green Beans with White Onion Roux.

I have this amazing friend whom gave me a big bag of saffron from Iran as a gift.  (I know, she is an awesome friend.) I had been itching to try a recipe with the luscious red strands when I saw the lemon-saffron rosemary wings recipe.  I knew I could turn this appetizer into a main course.  Opening my refrigerator I saw the bag of farmer's market green beans I had purchased and consulted the index of The Bonne Femme Cookbook to see what side dish I could concoct and found the white onion with roux recipe.  If I had not found an adequate recipe I was going to have to make my Aunt Jan's Green Beans.  (Those are my favorite.)

Gathering the ingredients I marched over to my sisters place where she set the table while I was a mad scientist preparing our feast.

How was it?  Well let me tell you a little story.  As I was serving up the green beans my sister said not to give her too many as she was not starving. I assured her that if she did not eat all of the beans I would finish them for her. (I love green beans, have I mentioned that?)  Well as it turns out both of us were licking out plates and not a scant crumb was left. Another successful French dinner notched in the belt.

I feel inspired to continue the efforts and to read, cook, and experience more of that the French life has to offer.

Now go cook something and enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Capsule Wardrobe: Italy Edition

This past June I had the opportunity to travel to Italy and visit some old and new places alike with a pretty decent group of people.  I traveled with my two sisters, sister #1's husband, his brother and sister-in-law, and in one two we were joined by another sister-in-law, her friend, and daughter.  The core group were the first 6 mentioned.

One thing I suggest is to travel with like-minded people as that makes the trip easier to travel and less stressful.  One thing we all had in common was we all packed carry on only.

The trip was three weeks, one week for each city we stayed in.  Our accommodations were amazing and we made sure each one came equipment with a washer and sometimes a dryer.  We were so impressed with the places we were fortunate to stay that my sister and I made a video of the place we stayed in on Lake Como.  You can check out the video below.

So how did we pack three weeks worth of clothes in one carry on?  Simple.  I packed a capsule wardrobe.  I made sure to pack tops and bottoms that I could mix and match to create various outfits.  I chose to go with a navy blue and black theme.  Below are some sample pictures of my outfits worn.

I only packed two pair of shoes and one pair of sandals.  I will admit, I worn the sandals 85% of the time.  One thing I have come to learn is that I can walk quite a distance in sandals and my feet will not hurt.  I guess I am lucky in this regard as that is not the case for everyone. In addition to the shoes, I packed a few pieces of jewelry and two belts to act as accent pieces.  While I was there I purchased some amazingly beautiful Italian scarves for a song. The beauty of a scarf is it is multi-faceted and can be used as a ton of different accent pieces from a neck scarf to a belt to a headband and beyond. Also, scarves take up no room when packed.

Another tip for packing a capsule wardrobe is remember to pack in layers.  I was born and raised in Southern California and one thing you learn during the winter is to dress in layers.  The morning will start off frigid and by mid-day a sweater and jeans may be all that is required.  I made sure to pack for warm to cold weather by packing various shirts, sweaters, and one jacket just in case.

As it turned out, I wore every piece of clothing I packed.  Since each outfit had interrelated clothing I packed much less than I used to. Thanks to the capsule wardrobe planning I even had extra room to take home a few things should I need to.  I never once had to worry about what to wear each day as I new I could grab any two pieces of clothing, through them on and know that I liked the outfit.  The key to not looking redundant is the color accent pieces.  For instance I brought a yellow canary colored belt that broke up the outfit and made it looked more polished.

The pictures taken were the best I could do given the lighting and the full-length mirrors available.  Hopefully this inspires you to pare down on your closet and to create a capsule wardrobe that is suited for your lifestyle.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Crêpes: The Universal Meal Maker

I find that the more I read about the French the more I look at the American life differently.  As an American I have come to view the French crêpes as a breakfast meal.  Don't you? Those thin pancakes, for lack of a better description, always seem to be a sugary breakfast stuffed with whipped cream and strawberries.  Only after visiting France in the summer of 2009 did I start to view these thin disks in a different light. See pictures from my trip HERE. In France crêpes are multifaceted and in America they are a sugary breakfast that is doused in so many different toppings that you miss out on the taste of the crêpe itself.

There are categorically two types of crêpes: savory and sweet.  In France, the savory crepe is actually a dinner item as are eggs and soufflés and omelets.  Sweet crêpes, or the American breakfast mentioned above, are served as desserts.  Knowing this did not stop me from enjoying the delicious savory crepe filled with brie cheese and spinach while walking the streets of Paris. Or a nutella and banana crêpe like my sister is eating here.

With those found memories circling my subconscious, I decided to whip up a batch to use as pre-made lunches and dinners for the week.  Talk about menu planning!  I made sure to pack each one with adequate veggies and protein.  My favorite was the one packed with tuna and chives featured above.  I did all but lick my fingers when I ate it for lunch.  The breakfast crêpes I ate were filled with eggs and spinach and the occasional slice of cheese.  Pre-making the crêpes made meals a snap to prepare and having a game plan as to what types of crêpes I would make saved a ton of time.

I am not saying you need to go make crêpes right now, but you should go make crêpes right now.  Here is the recipe I used.  Hopefully it comes in handy.

Basis French Crepe Recipe (source):

Makes 12 7-inch crêpes

For the crêpes

3/4 cup 2% or whole milk
1/2 cup water
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional melted butter for the pan
Pinch salt

1. Place the milk, water, eggs, flour, melted butter, and salt in a blender in the order given. Pulse until blended, scraping down the sides of the blender container once. Refrigerate batter at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours. (This allows the bubbles to settle out so the crêpes are less likely to tear during cooking.)

2. If the batter has separated during refrigeration, stir it gently to blend. Because each crêpe needs to cool individually on a plate, set four plates (7 inches in diameter or larger) on a countertop, ready and waiting to receive the just-made crêpes.

3. Brush the bottom of a 6- to 7-inch nonstick skillet with butter to coat it lightly. Heat over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and pour a scant 1/4 cup batter into hot pan quickly swirling pan to coat the bottom of the pan with batter. Return to heat and cook until lightly browned on bottom and crepe flips easily, about 30 seconds. Using a thin pancake turner or heatproof spatula, flip crêpe and cook about 30 seconds more.

4. Slide crêpe out of pan and onto one of the plates. Repeat with remaining batter, buttering pan only if necessary. (Reduce heat to medium if crêpes brown too quickly.) Once you’ve made four crêpes, you can start stacking the cooled crêpes, freeing up a plate for stacking the next one hot out of the pan.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuesdays with E

It has come to pass that my oldest sister and I have our Tuesday nights free. What is one to do with a night off of work and graduate school?  Why cook French food of course.

It started off that I had a bee in my bonnet and wanted to try cooking French meals again.  I had been noticing that my love for all things French had taken over my reading, my movies, and my food.  I was inspired by an old episode of The Gourmet Next Door I found on YouTube in which chef Amy Finely quickly whipped up a French bistro meal for her family. I thought to myself, "Hmm...I could make that." And I did.  And it was awesome.

I called up my sister and asked how would you like me to make her dinner?  I am pretty sure that is music to anyone's ears and she responded in the positive.

I walked over to the grocery store to buy one last ingredient, steak.  I rarely eat red meat and even less so buy red meat, but tonight was the exception.  I purchased some skirt steak as I found I liked that better than flank steak.  It is the cut of meat that is used to make carne asada.  I highly recommend you give it a try the next time you are shopping in the meat department.

I walked back over to my sisters home and in about 30 minutes dinner was served.

The meat, Grilled Skirt Steak with Shallot and Red Wine Sauce, was a la Amy Finely from The Gourmet Next Door and the side salad was a la my older sister.

Very easy to make and even more delicious to eat.  This was the first of many meals and many more to come.  Eating dinner with your family at home should not be too complicated and is actually helpful when trying to pinch your pennies.  I hope you go out and make a delicious meal for those you love.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Goals

Yes, it has been a long time since I posted and I offer no apologies.  Life gets busy and priorities take over.

I woke up early this morning and had a million thoughts racing through my head.  I picked up a book I bought a long time ago, "Lessons From Madam Chic" and started to re-read some chapters.  Doing this exercise focused me back on lifelong goals I had been slacking on.  Whether it be "always be presentable in public" down to "add more accessories to my daily wear" or "continuously reading to improve the mind" or "find what you enjoy in life and do it more".  I realize that grad school has completely turned my life and areas of discipline upside down.  While I know my time is limited and I cannot get all of those things back until I finish, I have also come to the conclusion that the ones I still have control over need to be focused on.

I decided that "a goal without a plan is only a dream" and that September can be time for change.

1. Finish the book I started.  (500 pages to go).  I cannot let my only reading be for class.
2. Improve my french.  I want to go to the south of France in 2016 and I want to be able to semi-communicate so why not start now?
3. Have a wine event (already on the books)
4. Plan a weekend trip when class finishes
5. Establish an exercise plan that is doable.  (Might have to go back to Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred DVD)
6. Start noticing more of the simple pleasures in life and enjoy at least one a day.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

January Goals


1. Floss my teeth everyday - accomplished! I hate flossing my teeth.  I rarely do it.  True story.  Although my daily routine involves brushing my teeth quite a bit, the idea of flossing makes me cringe.  It has always been exacerbated by the thought of having sore teeth the rest of the day.  Despite the above, I decided that I may want my teeth whitened sometime this year which means dentist which translate to the proverbial "You should floss more." I decided January was the month to start and I am proud to say not a day went by that my teeth were not assailed with flossing.  The beginning of the moth was rough, I will spare you the details.  By the end my mouth knew a daily beating was coming and were only a little sore for a few hours in the morning.  I attribute the continued soreness to my teeth being tightly placed together. I hate to admit this, but this goal has spilled over into February and I continue my daily besieging on my teeth and gums. with a little more verve.

2. Drink 72 ounces of water a day - partly accomplished.  I carry my 32 oz. Nalgene bottle with me to work everyday and make a valiant effort to drink two a day plus a little.  Most days I am successful. Other days, stress takes over and I forget to eat and drink.  Weekends are also hard as unless I make a huge pot of tea in the morning, my water consumption drops to the level of dehydration as I am never aware of the time with errands being run and studying being done and therefore have no gauge on how much water I should have had.  I am still working on this goal as when you are dehydrated your body tends to hold on to weight which is quite the opposite of what I have worked so hard for.

3. The stragglers - towards the end of the month I jumped onto my sisters bandwagon of trying to eat 30 grams of fiber a day as well as added my own goal of making sure to have a good workout 3 days a week.  When your eating habits are out of whack, your fiber count tends to be awfully low.  I have moved this goal to February and am really trying to reach this goal this week. Both of these goals.  I have in the past tended to let my health fall by the wayside when I get busy and stressed at work.  This year I am working on staying healthy to help me cope better with the stress.

Monday, February 3, 2014

My updated goals

Happy Year of the Horse! I have realized that I have been a little lax about my goals lately and it has shown.  Being in school and busy with work is no excuse to neglect my personal life.  I like to set yearly, monthly, and weekly goals for myself.  Somehow ever Chines New Year is a reminder to get back on track.  (I refuse to make resolutions as those just appear to be nebulous dreams.)

I came across an inspirational quote a few weeks back that really gave me a kick in the pants.  "A goal without a plan is just a wish."  I did not want to be a wishful person, but rather one of action.  I planned my 2014 goals in December and they have been turning out well.

1. Use up my existing stationary - I have tons of great stationary and I have decided that it will all be used before the year's end.  This is a piggyback goal from last year when I decided I was going to be more active in my relationships.  Whenever I thought of someone I was going to let them know as I have a tendency of keeping things to myself whether that is a text, email, call, or note.  So far I am doing well on the stationary usage front.

2. Improve my vocabulary - I have to admit, Benedict Cumberbatch was really the impetus for this goal.  Watching and reading interviews with him really galvanized me to take the next step and to be proactive about improving and using my existing vocabulary that I may tend to refrain from using as I am afraid others will not understand.  Maybe by using such words and expressions I will arose that desire in others as well.

3. Be a little more hedonistic - I tend to put aside my needs and desires for others, even without expressing I am doing so.  I tend to keep my dissent to myself and allow others to sway my movements.  I love buying other people gifts, but I also realize I tend to not buy things for myself out of some weird and twisted outlook that I am not worthy.  I have decided that I am going to actually take the book of Ecclesiastes more seriously and live and enjoy life for who knows how long we all really have on this Earth.

4. Make a large purchase - ...more to come later...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cooking with friends

Just thought I would share a quick picture from my birthday celebration with friends.  I had a lovely day doing a lot of firsts, including making "Braised eggs with lamb, tahini and sumac" which I have wanted to make for quite some time.  I thought it turned out quite well and count it as another notch in my culinary belt.

Recipe from "Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi

Monday, December 30, 2013

Too soon to start over?

So this last year has facilitated a lot of change in my life; good changes. With that change my system got a little off kilter and I have decided it is time to get back on track. When I got back from Christmas vacation and got dressed for work this morning, well let's just say I was less than pleased with the way my skirt fit.

Although I have been staying strong with my belief in an edited wardrobe or what the internet refers to as a "Capsule Wardrobe", I would not mind being able to fit into a smaller size and update my wardrobe at that time.  Although 2013 is not quite over just yet, I cannot help but to reflect on the good things I did this year and a capsule wardrobe is up towards the top of my list.

So of course being a bit disgruntled at myself this morning, I decided it was time to get back on track and to add a bit more discipline to my life.

I am starting with bringing my lunch again to work.  Going out to eat is sociable and I love it.  I also love fitting into my clothes.  I have decided to be the inspiration and to bring my lunch again. Other people bring lunches occasionally and when they do I can sit and socialize with them at that time.  Today I held strong and my friends decided to grab a lunch from Starbucks and sit outside and to enjoy the sun.  When asked if I would come along I said gladly, but I was brining my own lunch. They were able to buy their lunch and I was able to still eat mine.  I have to say, they were a little jealous as mine looked a lot more fun to eat.

(Homemade Moroccan meatballs and hummus, blueberries, carrots, and broccoli)

Oh yes, and I am going back to my morning breakfast protein smoothies.  Having a good portion of protein in the morning really helps to stave off the hunger until lunch time.

Did I mention I did Jillian Michaels Shred tonight as well? Well, I did!

Now if you will excuse me, I am off to relax after a long day of work and about 28 things checked off my To-Do list.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Micro Apartments

So lately I have been obsessed with watching YouTube videos on micro apartments.  Ever since I was little I have dreamed of having a Murphy Bed to sleep on.  I loved the idea of having a bed fold up into the wall and having a whole separate room in the mean time.  I also love the idea of having dual-purpose furniture.  When I lived in my 300 sq. ft. apartment in Dana Point I had to utilize these concepts with a table that fold out to accommodate 6 people for dining as well as a coffee table that had hidden stools and could double as a storage bin.  So that was a few years ago but I have found a renewed vigor when it comes to this type of living.  Here are some of the videos I have found inspiring and I hope you will too.  Also, a great resource for dual-purpose furniture is which now has a LA store if you are in the area.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shuck Oyster Bar (Costa Mesa)

I went on a hike this past week with some people from work and when a girl asked where I lived I told her Huntington Beach. She commented that I must eat seafood all the time as I live in a beach town.  I had to laugh.  No, I do not eat seafood all of the time and no I do not always hang out at the beach.  In fact, I have not gone to lay out on the sand for years!  (I do bike the beach trail but that is the most action the ocean has seen from me in years.)

That being said, I though how funny that she would think that I eat seafood all of the time and realized it had been a while since I had.  Anywhere in Orange County is an easy drive to a beach and we have a ton of great restaurants that serve some pretty stellar seafood.  On that note, only one raw bar has come to my notice and that is Shuck Oyster Bar located at the SoCo shopping center in Costa Mesa.

Again, this one has been on the list since before it even opened.  It was one of the restaurants that a bunch of us wanted to go to but were never available at the same time.  Limited seating and the place does fill up, but we got there a little earlier and all secured places at the bar in front of the oyster shuckers.  Above the bar hangs a large black chalkboard etched with names of different types of oysters.  An oyster shell is placed next to the names of the oysters currently available for tasting.  The oysters are organically farmed raised and are anywhere from 16 hours up to two days out of the water.  The oysters are sourced from Massachusetts to Canada to Oregon and Washington.  The guys behind the bar were very well versed in their oyster knowledge and made some great suggestions so do not be afraid to glean some information off of them while you are there.
Fried Oysters | Shuck Oyster Bar in Costa Mesa

Oysters are $3 a pop and totally worth it.  You can select which variety you want or you can ask for the chef to select for you and just tell them the number you want to try.  To start off, three of us split a dozen of the chefs specials.  The varieties sampled were Kusshi, Hurricane, Sunken Meadow, and Island Creek.  They were all excellent but I feel in love with the Island Meadow and in fact ended the evening by ordering two more to down before heading home.  Apparently this the variety served at the White House and to that I say, nice choice.  I could still taste the fresh salt water with each bite.  Shuck offers a few choices of “dressings” to place on top of your oyster should you so choose.  First, a chili sauce that reminds me of a mellow Sriracha.  Next a horse radish dish followed by my favorite, red wine vinegar concoction with onions and cucumber.  I placed a little bit of the vinegar dressing on my oysters which matched the clean and crisp flavor perfectly.

Wine and beer are served and I opted for a chardonnay to go with the oysters.  It was not quite noteworthy, but still a nice compliment to the meal.  Others sampled the beer and seemed to like it.  My oldest sister ordered the clams and sausage which I tried and loved.  We make a version of this with orange and chorizo, but this was a great flavor combination as well.  Middle sister ordered the Caesar salad sans anchovies and the grilled cheese.  She was pretty pleased with her choices.
As I sit here typing I am getting hungry just thinking of those Island Creek oysters and might just swing by on the way home if only for a little sample.
Vegetarian option of Grilled Cheese Sandwich | Shuck Oyster Bar in Costa Mesa

Also, the guys behind that bar were cracking us up all night and seemed to be having a lot of fun.  Whether you stop by for a romantic dinner or just to shoot some oysters with friends, you won’t be disappointed.  Thanks for the good times, food, and fun memories.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Wine Lab (Costa Mesa)

Wine Lab anyone?  I had the opportunity to finally go to Wine Lab located at The Camp in Costa Mesa with an old colleague of my.  She too took the plunge and decided to find a new job so we went there to celebrate.  I have passed by here so many times, it was beginning to be a joke that I had never gone.

One of the first things you will notice is their amazing happy hour deal.  Red or white wine flights for only $8.  Each pour is 2 ounces which is perfect for sampling so I decided to go with the red wine flight before I even had a chance to look over the rest of the menu.  We also ordered a few appetizers to pair with our wine.  We sat down at the bar and behind us they were projecting the movie Spaceballs.  Classic.  I grew up appreciating Mel Books films and I can say that Spaceballs is my favorite.  I took this as a good sign.

Now you will have to pardon me as I do not have all the detail of the wine tasted, but I did take a few notes.  When you order the flight our server informed us that it was preset for each day and the flights vary depending on the day and what is available.  They are served to you in test tubes vials so you can pour at your own leisure.  Being a math and science nerd, I loved the presentation!  I also loved the forethought that went into this idea as people drink at different paces and why not let them chose when they wanted the next pour.

The wines tasted were as described:
1 – 2012 Napa Organic Pinot Noir
2 – 2011 Argentinia Malbec
3 – 2009 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon

Now I have to say, I was expecting to really only like the Malbec as 2012 grapes have been inconsistent, in my opinion, as have organic wines.  Also, the Chilean wines I have had are usually chalked with sediment and has an off-putting flavor to me.  Those may have been the cases in the past, not so at the Wine Lab.  I enjoyed all of them.  Okay, I really enjoyed the Chilean wine.  In fact, I liked it so much I am going back to buy a bottle that they sell for only $15!  The wine was pretty good, but when I nibbled on the gouda from Holland I was sold.  Those two were a match made in Heaven.  Seriously, I am not sure I have ever had such a perfect pairing before in my life.  And believe me, I do the research. 

We laughed, talked, ate, and drank.  A really relaxed atmosphere with a bit of fun character.  Nothing pretentious about this place and yet they have ever reason to act so.  Again, a successful restaurant/bar tried.  In fact, by the time you read this post I will have gone again. 
Wine and cheese anyone?  Come on over!

Previous Restaurants:
* East-Borough (Costa Mesa)
* Side Care Doughnuts & Café (Costa Mesa)
* House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer (Laguna Beach)

Friday, July 26, 2013

House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer (Laguna Beach)

House of Big Fish Laguna Beach

So despite my lack of blogging, I have been busy.  I started a new job two weeks ago and am really enjoying the change.  I also found out that I got into graduate school and have been scrambling to get all of my documents together before the new semester starts.  Not to mention, I have been hitting up restaurants on my list.

As you remember, Pinterest had a lovely suggestion of making a list of restaurants in your area you have never gone to.  So when you are all sitting around trying to decide where to go for dinner your decision is seamless.

I have a good friend who lives down in San Clemente where I used to work.  We would get together at least once a week and have a picnic lunch or just hang out and discuss life, politics, and religion (my favorite topics).  Since I no longer work down there we are making an effort to meet half way for dinner and I suggested a restaurant off of my list, House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer.  I have actually wanted to go here for years and am so glad that I finally made it happen.

Warning: summer time in Laguna Beach means an influx of tourists not to mention Pageant of the Masters traffic so parking came be quite a....well you know.

House of Big Fish is located south of Broadway Street on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.  The exterior seating offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and is absolutely gorgeous at sunset.  The hostess was actually great and let us sit in the reserve section overlooking the water as a spot had just opened up so we lucked out.  Next, them menu.  My friend and I were so enamored with the menu choices that we decided to order a few things and sample each. 
Bacon Wrapped Scallops House of Big Fish Laguna Beach
I opted for the Bacon Wrapped Scallops that came on a bed of sweet corn & wild mushroom risotto.  She ordered the Lobster Risotto with mushroom, asparagus, and Parmesan.  Sides are sold separately so considering were had a lot of starch we ordered roasted brussel sprouts (sans gorgonzola) and a kale salad.  I immediately fell in love with the perfectly succulent scallops and the golden brown crisped bacon which was also perfectly cooked.  Then the risotto...I am not sure if it was because I had not had rice in quite a while or what, but I could have licked the pan to gather every morsel left.  She felt the same about the lobster risotto.  Our sides where just okay, but I have a feeling they would have been over shadowed by the entrées anyway.  brussel sprouts needed to be a bit more cooked and the salad needed a bit more texture.
Lobster Risotto at House of Big Fish Laguna Beach

No dessert here, we were quite full.  And yes, I know you are going to ask about the beer.  I did not have any.  I don't like beer.  I ordered a glass of the La Crema and called it a night.  By all means, if you head here, please do try their beers.
Kale Salad & Roasted Brussel Sprouts at House of Big Fish Laguna Beach

In conclusion, I am so glad I went.  Loved the atmosphere, the food, and the company.  I will be hitting this place up again soon.

Previous Restaurants:
* East-Borough (Costa Mesa)
* Side Care Doughnuts & Café (Costa Mesa)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee (Costa Mesa, CA)

I was shopping at Whole Foods this week getting the essentials.  You know, coffee and wine.  While checking out the cashier commented on my coffee and asked if I had ever tried Stumptown Coffee that Sidecar Doughnuts sold.  Excuse me!?  It was like this guy knew that doughnuts were my absolute kryptonite and what the heck was Sidecar Doughnuts?!?  He explained it was a new "doughnutery" that opened up in Costa Mesa and if I liked Intelligentsia Coffee I would like Stumptown Coffee.  Needless to say that Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee made my list of restaurants to try immediately.

I went home, told the family, and we made a Saturday morning breakfast date.

Sidecar Donuts is a new doughnut and coffee house located on 17th Street in East Side Costa Mesa.  Hours  of operation are 6:30a - 4:00p daily.  Unique flavors of doughnuts made fresh daily from only the best ingredients.

You walk in and to the little shop and are immediately confronted with amazing smells from their kitchen calling you to sample not just one, but maybe another doughnut as well.

And that people, is why you travel in packs (Insert wolf pack joke here).  We ordered a bunch of doughnuts and cut them up to share.  My top two I wanted to try turned out to be my favorite.
Maple Bacon Doughnut straight out the oven anyone?!?!  I have to say, I thought the maple bacon doughnut I had at the Orange County Fair last year was the best, but this rivaled that donut and it is much more convenient all year round and at a greatly reduced quantity than Fair-size food.  Yum.....yum.

My second favorite was the Monte Cristo Doughnut.

Sorry about the lack of pictures of the other ones sampled, but we were kind of eating Zombie Apocalypse style meaning everyman for himself as fast as you can!  Or, I was just in rapture from the heavenly tastes that I may have forgotten to take pictures.  You decide.  And yeah, you see that bacon?  It was cooked to perfection!

And of course after all of that I did order the Stumptown Coffee and have to agree, it is pretty darn good.  Thank you Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee, you rock!  I will be coming back.

Another restaurant checked off the list.  I cannot wait to see where I end up next!

Previous Restaurant(s):

Thursday, July 4, 2013

East-Borough (Costa Mesa, CA)

It all started with Pinterest, as do a lot of things now.  I was scrolling through random images when I came across this pin which gave me a totally great idea.

It is basically a restaurant passport.  You make a list of 50 restaurants you have never gone to in your area but have always wanted to try.  Then you have a list going when you are headed out for the night and can check them off one at a time.  Let me tell you I hate the "where should we go tonight" back and forth discussion.  Conversation avoided with this handy list!

For me, the first 20 restaurants I wanted to try came to me in a flash.  The other 30 are going to be added when they cross my mind. Any suggestions?

On the top of my list was the restaurant East-Borough located at The Camp in Costa Mesa.  The restaurant is a combination of Vietnamese and French style cooking.  The seating is an open outdoor area with a great water feature in the center that cascades from a steel sheet boasting the restaurant's name.  When I first walked up to order I was greeted with the smell of Thai Basil and knew this was going to be good. The girl at the counter made a suggestion, including telling my the correct pronunciation on a few menu items, and I took a seat next to the calming water feature.

I ordered the Grilled Pork & Green Papaya salad and a side order of baguette.  The salad was a good size and very refreshing, especially with the warm weather we are having.  In my salad was also the basil I had smelled and what tasted like a hint of tarragon leaves.  Great flavor combinations and the texture of the meat and soft and crunching greens made the meal complete.  I also liked that the dressing was on the side and you could decide how much you wanted to add the your own salad.

Did I mention the prices were also pretty good?  Well they were.  Check out the menu HERE.  My sister ordered the Vermicelli Noodles which were served with a large salad made up of mixed lettuce and herbs accompanied with an egg roll.  She seemed pretty happy with her choice.

I am already planning on coming back and ordering a Bánh Mì (Vietnamese sandwiches on baguettes).

I am glad this was the first restaurant to kick off my 50 restaurants to try.  If you are in the LA / OC / SD area in Southern California I would love some suggestions!