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2011 Food Highlights

As 2011 wraps to a close I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the dining adventures that I had over the past year.  There were some highs, there were some lows (cough Ecco) but overall it was a great year for food.  I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings!  I already have some places on my must try list…

Here is the best of the best for 2011:

Best Organic Restaurant:  True Food Kitchen

My love affair with True Food Kitchen began early this year and hasn’t let up since.  I love the breakfasts, the freshly made hummus, the light flatbreads and of course the mojitos.  There will definitely be more True Food Kitchen in 2012.

Best Italian:  Cucina Alessa

Cucina Alessa is by far the best Italian restaurant I’ve been to in the O.C.  All the pasta is freshly made and the butternut squash ravioli is something else.  If you are looking for the real deal when it comes to Italian food, this is your place.

Best Mexican:  Mi Casa in Cabo San Lucas, MX

Mariachis, margaritas the size of your head and authentic Mexican cuisine.  Does it get any better?  I think not.  The chicken enchiladas were the best ones I’ve had in a long time.

Best Bar:  SideDoor

SideDoor was an early discovery in 2011 and I’m sad to say I haven’t been back since.  I loved the pub feel, loved the food, and loved the wine.  More return trips are in my future.

Best Burger:  Paul Martin’s American Grill

Paul Martin’s breathed fresh life into Irvine’s dining scene and I hope to see more places like this in 2012.  The burger I had was cooked to perfection and was incredibly juicy and flavorful.  The dirty martini that went with the burger didn’t hurt either.

Best Dessert: Sugar Blossom Bake Shop

Sugar Blossom Bake Shop was a refreshing change from your standard cupcake-chain fare. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Sprinkles, but I also loved the delicious cupcakes and unique flavors that Sugar Blossom had to offer.  In addition to cupcakes Sugar Blossom has cookies and other treats, namely a chocolate covered macaroon that I basically had a love affair with.  The carrot cake cupcake comes in a close second.

Best Bakery/Breakfast:  C’est Si Bon

C’est Si Bon isn’t new to Orange County, but it was a new discovery to me this year.  The scones are amazing, the croissants are nice and flaky and there is always a line out the door.  That should tell you something right there.

Best Cheap Eats:  Bruxie

Waffle sandwiches that are freshly made at a cheap price?  Sign me up.  Bruxie makes delicious waffle sandwiches with delectable fillings such as eggs and bacon, fried chicken and pastrami.  If you are skeptical about the idea of a waffle sandwich fear not – these sandwiches are a must try.

And that’s a wrap for 2011!  Bring on the good eats 2012!

Current Foodie Favorites: What’s up June

Every now and then I like to talk about some of my current (ongoing) food obsessions over at Sweet Potato Bites.  With summertime just around the corner, I felt it was time for another food obsession list.

Without further adieu…

1. The Acai Mojito at True Food Kitchen

There’s something about this mojito that was just so light and refreshing – maybe it was the Veev Acai, or the lemon juice or the fresh blueberries in the drink but it was just delightful.  I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time at True Food Kitchen this summer enjoying these mojitos.

2. Bruxie

Have you been to Bruxie yet?  If not, you really need to make it a priority to get down there and enjoy one of their delectable waffle sandwiches.  Seriously people, these are really good.  You can read more about my first experience with Bruxie here.

3.  Everything at Taco Mesa

I love Taco Mesa (and Taco Rosa) and nothing to me says summertime like enjoying some freshly made tacos and an ice cold beer.

4. The Scones at C’est Si Bon

C’est Si Bon may be a new (to me) food discovery and it’s certainly left an impression.  I spend nights dreaming about their raisin scones.  No, seriously.

5. Watermelon

Now that the temps are warming up – I can’t get enough.  Watermelon for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack?  Sounds good to me.  Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top and it’s the perfect combination of salty and sweet.

6.  The Calamari appetizer at Kitayama

I love pretty much everything at Kitayama but I really liked this Calamari appetizer.  It had the great calamari crunch but then also had a slightly spicy flavor to it.  Yum!

7.  The Shrimp Quesadillas at the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar in Cabo San Lucas

Oh. My. Word.  These quesadillas were pretty fantastic, so fantastic in fact that I had this meal twice.  I plan on trying to recreate this shrimp quesadilla goodness at home, or at least see how Taco Mesa stacks up.  If you ever find yourself in Cabo San Lucas be sure to go to the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar and order the shrimp quesadilla at the Delfines pool bar or Tomatoes restaurant.

I was too busy stuffing my face with quesadillas so I never took a photo, so here’s a view of Cabo instead.


C’est Si Bon!

The east coast has Au Bon Pain, Europe has Pret a Manger, and California has well, neither of those.  After falling in love with Au Bon Pain (only to find out that there were no locations in the west), I was determined to find a bakery/sandwich shop that had the same feel.  Enter C’est Si Bon.

C’est Si Bon is located in Newport Beach on PCH and is tucked away in a small strip mall.  Parking is limited and there’s almost always a line of locals eagerly awaiting freshly baked bread, homemade pastries and other goodies C’est Si Bon has to offer.  After hearing coworkers and friends alike rave about this bakery/café I knew I had to check it out.

cest-si-bonCredit: OCRegister.com

I cruised in during the week mid-morning and was surprised to see how packed it was.  Some people were ordering loaves of bread for the week while others were seated at the small tables inside, relaxing with a cup of coffee and a pastry.  The place also seemed to be full of Newport Beach locals which is always a good sign in my opinion.

C’est Si Bon offers made to order sandwiches, giant loaves of bread, and an assortment of desserts.  There is also a small section in the bakery where you can by jams and giant jars of nutella (which required strong resistance on my part).

The baked goods were calling mine (and my coworkers) names so we decided to get a bunch of different things and share including a cinnamon roll, chocolate chip cookie, raisin scone, and palmiers (also known as elephant ears).

While all of the items were delicious, I LOVED the scone.  It was light, fluffy, not too sweet and had yummy plump raisins.  I nearly devoured it all in a few short bites until I realized I was supposed to share.  Honorable mention goes to the palmiers which were light and crispy and dusted with sugar.

While this is not exactly the same as Au Bon Pain or Pret a Manger, I really liked the vibe at C’est Si Bon and thought they had a great pastry/sandwich selection.  I’d definitely come back on a nice sunny day and enjoy a scone (or two) while sitting outside with a cup of coffee.

Now we just need to work on C’est Si Bon getting a few more locations in the OC….

C’est Si Bon

149 Riverside Ave
Newport Beach, CA 92663