Category Archives: California

Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival

Sometimes I feel like Orange County gets a bad rap for not having the hot new restaurants like LA, or the abundance of wine-related events like Napa. But the truth is, Orange County is home to some pretty amazing chefs and restaurants, which is why I’m super excited for the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival next week.

Newport Beach Wine and Food FestivalThe Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival is a 3 day event taking place on October 2-4 at the Newport Beach Civic Center. Expect celebrity chef cooking demos, a cooking competition, and endless food and wine tasting from some of OC’s hottest restaurants.

Newport Beach Wine and Food FestivalIf you’re a fan of Top Chef and Top Chef Masters like me, then you’ll definitely want to check out the cooking demonstrations from Rick Bayless and Hubert Keller Saturday afternoon and then be sure to check out the first ever at-home cooking challenge with Chef Shirley Chung!

Chef Shirley ChungAnd if that isn’t enough to get you excited, check out some of the awesome restaurants participating on Saturday and Sunday:

    • Red O
    • Twenty Eight
    • The Winery
    • Oak Grill
    • Mastro’s Steakhouse
    • Canaletto
    • True Food Kitchen

Tommy Bahama Island GrilleB.CandySleanne Steak TavernFig & OliveBoathouse CollectiveSlapfishStonehill Tavern

There will also be wine tasting, beer, specialty cocktails and live music. Basically a food lover’s dream.

Newport Beach Wine and Food FestivalInterested in joining me in all the fun next weekend? The Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival is offering $25 off general admission with code NBWFF25.

Come spend a day tasting great food, drinking great wine, and seeing all the best that OC has to offer.

Tommy Bahama Flavors of Aloha

One of my favorite things about dining at Tommy Bahama is their cool, Hawaiian vibe.  So when I was invited to attend the Tommy Bahama Flavors of Aloha event to celebrate chef Rick Rodgers’ new cookbook, I jumped at the chance to attend.

Flavors of Aloha is a cookbook exclusive to Tommy Bahama, and the recipes are all traditional Hawaiian-inspired dishes with a few unique twists here and there.  I’m personally a big fan of traditional Hawaiian cuisine, and loved how this cookbook paid homage to some of the islands’ signature flavors.

tommy bahama flavors of alohaOur evening started with a cocktail hour complete with leis, mai tais, and passed appetizers from the book.  My favorite appetizer by far was the Maui onion dip which was made with fresh onion, bacon and chives and served with taro root chips.

tommy bahama flavors of alohaSome of the other appetizers that were served included ahi poke in little cones, spam musubi (think spam sushi) and coconut shrimp.  I should also note that all these appetizers are in the Flavors of Aloha cookbook and can be found at Tommy Bahama restaurants.

Then it was time for dinner.  I had already informed the team of my food allergies so my meal was slightly different from everyone else but still quite delicious (also huge thank you to Orisi PR for helping me out!).

The first course that was served was a raw shaved papaya salad with chilled shrimp on top.  My lovely date for the evening Joelle was kind enough to give me her shrimp so I could taste part of the dish.

tommy bahama flavors of alohaI had a wedge salad with blue cheese and fresh tomatoes which was also quite delicious.

tommy bahama flavors of aloha For our main course, we were served two proteins: Kona coffee rubbed steak and grilled salmon.  I was served two pieces of salmon (minus the soy glaze) which ended up being quite fortuitous for this salmon lover.

tommy bahama flavors of alohaFor the grand dessert finale we were served either pina colada cake or my personal favorite, the vanilla creme brulee in a PINEAPPLE.  I packed up the pina colada cake for the Englishman, but the creme brulee was all mine.

tommy bahama flavors of alohaA big thank you to Chef Rick Rodgers and Orisi PR for hosting such a wonderful event!  I can’t wait to dig into the Flavors of Aloha cookbook and create some of the recipes for myself.  And make a return trip to Tommy Bahama for some more creme brulee.

Lark Creek Newport Beach

I realized it’s been quite some time since I reviewed an Orange County restaurant on my blog.  In fact, the last time I wrote a review was back in October!  Between wedding planning, work travel, and recipe development at home, I just haven’t been dining out as much.  This past weekend though I did make it out for a delicious dinner at Lark Creek Newport Beach.

The Englishman and I have heard nothing but great things about Lark Creek Newport Beach and decided to treat my parents to dinner there since they were big fans as well.  The restaurant is located in Fashion Island and has a wonderful outdoor patio area complete with fire pits and nice couches.  Since it was a bit chilly out we opted to dine inside, but I can definitely see myself returning in the summer for some cocktails and food on the patio.

The menu at Lark Creek Newport Beach focuses on seasonal cuisine which I happen to love because not only does the menu change frequently, but it also means you are getting the freshest produce available.

We decided to start our meal with a bottle of Rose, since the Englishman and I are obsessed after traveling to Oregon this summer.

Lark Creek Newport Beach RoseFor our entrees, I had my eye on the Truffle Burger so I ordered that as well as the Caesar Salad and split both with the Englishman.

Lark Creek Newport Beach Truffle Burger 1The burger was topped with black truffle cheese and truffle aioli and was cooked perfectly.  The fries on the side were a nice complement as well.  My only comment is the burger really wasn’t big enough to share between two people, and at $23, I felt the price was a bit steep for what you got.

Lark Creek Newport Beach Truffle Burger 2The Caesar Salad was good, just your basic salad.  It was good that we ordered this as well since the burger was on the small side.

Lark Creek Newport Beach CaesarMy mom ordered the Day Boat Scallops which were melt in your mouth good.

Lark Creek newport beach scallopsJust like the burger, the scallop dish was on the pricier side ($25) and she only got three small scallops and cauliflower puree. I would’ve liked to see a little more for the price.

It’s currently Crab Month at Lark Creek Newport Beach, so my dad ordered the Combo Louis Salad ($19) that came with dungeness crab, shrimp, lettuce, avocado and egg.  I happen to love dungeness crab so I snuck a couple of bites of his salad and they were delicious.

Lark Creek Newport Beach Crab Louis SaladFor dessert we ordered profiteroles, which were stuffed with caramel ice cream instead of traditional cream.

Lark Creek Newport Beach ProfiterolesThe pastry was light and flaky and I loved the ice cream inside of the profiteroles.  We practically licked the plate clean.

And since it was an ice cream kind of night we got a scoop of chocolate and vanilla.  Not the most exciting choice, but delicious nonetheless.

Lark Creek Newport Beach ice CreamI really liked the food at Lark Creek Newport Beach, but I did feel some items were over priced, and I have to mention the service.  While our waiter was nice and attentive, the lag time between courses was a bit significant.  It took a while to get the wine we ordered, and then the wait time between dinner and dessert was pretty high as well.  Since I’ve worked in the restaurant industry in the past, I definitely understand the timing between courses, but this seemed a bit excessive.

I’d like to come back to Lark Creek and try some of their menu items and see if the service is still an issue.  AND they have happy hour specials every day from 3-6.  Weekend happy hour anyone?

Easy Weeknight Dinner

Did you know that February is National Sweet Potato Month?  I didn’t either until Karla from Foodologie tipped me off to this fact.  Since this blog is named after my love for sweet potatoes, I thought I’d squeak in a few sweet potato dishes before February is over.  Starting with this easy weeknight dinner.

diced sweet potatoesThe Englishman and I like to meal plan each week, and 99% of the time one of our weeknight dinners involves eggs.  I’m a huge brinner (breakfast for dinner) fan, so I look forward to those evenings.  One of my all time favorite ways to eat eggs is poached over some roasted sweet potatoes.

I first tried the egg and sweet potato combo about a year ago, and ever since then I’ve been hooked.  It’s such a simple dish and the perfect easy weeknight dinner.  Just roast some sweet potatoes, boil some vegetables and top with a couple of poached eggs (and bacon).  Simple, yet perfect.

While roasting sweet potatoes can be somewhat time-consuming, I’ve found that if you boil them for about 8 minutes and then put them in the oven it helps to speed up the cooking process.

If you are looking for a healthy easy weeknight dinner, then this can’t be beat.

Eggs and Sweet Potatoes


2 large eggs

1 medium sweet potato


Preheat your oven to 375F.

diced sweet potatoes dishChop your sweet potato into small pieces and place in a baking dish.  Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until your sweet potato is tender.  If you are short on time, boil the potatoes first.

Diced Sweet Potatoes CookedOnce your potatoes are done remove them from the oven and place them on a plate.

Diced Sweet Potatoes and EggsPrepare your eggs to your liking – scrambled, poached, fried and place on top of your roasted sweet potato.  Season with salt and pepper.  Eat and enjoy.

What’s your favorite easy weeknight dinner?