Foodie Reviews

Delicious and Offbeat Recipes for Labor Day from George Geary @ChefGeary

Posted on August 31st, 2017 by & filed under Books, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

Award-winning chef, best-selling author, and renowned educator George Geary celebrates the weird and wonderful foods sold at state and county fairs with his new book, Fair Foods: The Most Popular and Offbeat Recipes from America’s State and County Fairs (Santa Monica Press/August 2017). This illustrated cookbook features 120 recipes of some of the most interesting and unusual foods served at fairs across the USA.

I was provided a review copy of the book  by George Geary from The Trina Kaye Organization/Lifestyle Public Relations. I was not required or obligated to publish a review. All opinions are my own. Recipes and photos used by permission. See my disclosure to read more about why I post articles like this on my blog.

Summer is Not Over Yet!

The summer season is a time for ice cream, trips to the beach, and . . . state and county fairs! The food selection at state and county fairs is now more diverse and delicious than ever before, ranging from timeless classics like apple pie and corn dogs to new inventions like spicy peanut butter and jelly cheeseburgers and fried Coca-Cola®!

Would you like to try making some of these crazy creations or even some timeless classics at home? Get the book for your pure enjoyment, the photos are amazing and it is a great “show and tell” book, but you can also use it to wow your guests when you follow the recipes.

Would you like to know how to make Deep-Fried Oreos®? Here is how George does it! 

 

 

FAIR FOODS: The Most Popular and Offbeat Recipes from America’s
State and County Fairs
By George Geary
Santa Monica Press/August 2017
Hardcover/$24.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-59580-093-0
“For 28 seasons, I was involved in the largest county fair in the country: the Los Angeles County Fair,” says Geary. “During that time, I watched as the focus of the fair moved from blue ribbons and homemade pie bake-offs to the rows and rows of vendors that now hawk crazy food combinations. Around 1980, ‘classic’ fair food began to evolve from cotton candy and snow cones to bacon-wrapped doughnuts fried in pork belly fat. Not all the food sold at the fair is fried, but the motto of today’s county fair might as well be ‘Just Fry It!’”
Fair Foods highlights not only the new culinary “classics” at state and county fairs, but also longstanding favorites. Some of the recipes in the book include:
  • Maple and Bacon Doughnuts
  • The World’s Gooiest Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Caramel Kettle Corn
  • Fried Sweet Potato Sticks
  • Ten-Pound Cheese Buns
  • Triple Cheeseburger Doughnuts
  • Cheesecake on a Stick
  • Chocolate-Encased Bacon
  • Deep-Fried Twinkies®
  • Fried Coca-Cola®
  • Deep-Fried Oreos®
  • Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots with Dill Dipping Sauce
  • Firehouse Chili with Peppers
  • Grilled Pork Chops on a Stick
  • Spicy Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheeseburgers
  • Egg Cream
  • Funnel Cake with Berries
  • Old-Fashioned Salted Pretzels
Each page of Fair Foods is illustrated with photographs of America’s most beloved fair foods, as well as vintage and contemporary images of rides, attractions, and nostalgic ephemera from the fair.
Fair Foods captures the joy and spirit of America’s greatest county fairs. You don’t have to wait for fair season to make these wacky and wonderful foods—now you can enjoy them all year long!
About the Author
George Geary is an award-winning chef, best-selling author, and renowned educator. A former pastry chef for the Walt Disney Company, George is a Certified Culinary Professional, and was recently chosen as the Culinary Educator of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He is perhaps best known for creating all the cheesecakes for The Golden Girls and other top-rated television programs.
George has worked as a critic and/or judge for ABC’s The Taste with Anthony Bourdain, The American Baking Competition with Jeff Foxworthy, Hell’s Kitchen, Supermarket Superstar, and many other popular television shows. He also teaches cooking classes aboard Holland America Lines.
For over thirty years, Geary has been a culinary contest judge for such major food manufacturers as Canola Producers, Veg-All, Hormel Foods, the Hershey Company, Knott’s Berry Farm Foods, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Fleischmann’s Yeast, the San Diego Union Tribune, ABC News, and many more. From 1982 to 2010, George was the culinary coordinator of the Los Angeles County Fair.
George is the author of L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants, as well as nine cookbooks including The Cheesecake Bible, The Complete Baking Cookbook, and 125 Best Cheesecake Recipes. He is a frequent guest on national and local television and lives in Los Angeles.

Up for a Challenge?

My son and husband love to try making their favorites from restaurants and events that we attend. One of the things they have enjoyed making is fried pickles. We try them everywhere we have been that serves them. My son thinks he has perfected a recipe of his own. Maybe he will be up for a challenge against Chef Cleary’s recipe! Here it is:
Recipe reprinted from FAIR FOODS: The Most Popular and Offbeat Recipes from America’s State and County Fairs
by George Geary
Santa Monica Press/August 2017
FRIED PICKLES
The hot, crunchy pucker of these fried pickles is like no other flavor you can imagine. Pair with ketchup or mustard.
Serves 4
24 oz. dill pickles, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tbsp. hot sauce
¾ cup water
canola oil
Special Supplies:
Stockpot
Candy/deep fry thermometer
Paper towels
Drain dill slices on paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Add hot sauce and water to make a runny paste.
In a stockpot, heat 1 ½ inches of canola oil over medium heat to 375°F.
Dip pickle rounds into the batter to coat all sides. If the batter is runny and doesn’t stick to the pickle, add additional flour. If it is too thick, add hot water.
Using a slotted spoon, lower the battered pickles into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds, turning over halfway through.
Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.
Do you like fried pickles or deep fried oreos?
Have you dared to try these items at the county fair?
Let me know if you try the recipe!

My Love for Mexican Food is About to Get Real! #MizMeliz @DelRealFoods

Posted on May 16th, 2015 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews, Product Reviews

Del Real Party In A Box Giveaway Featuring Fresh, Authentic Mexican Foods

Imagine my delight when I received news from Del Real that I could host a give away on my blog for a Party in a Box! (Disclosure)

I recently resolved to not do any more posts on my blog for free and to limit advertising that wasn’t beneficial to me or my own brand. But, I never said I would not work for food! Del Real offered me some free samples and a great gift for one lucky reader, so I am going for it. I don’t even need to wait for the samples to be delivered. I have tried Del Real Foods and I liked it.

I saw this commercial on TV around Cinco de Mayo. It cracked me up!

I love Mexican food, the kind we have here in Los Angeles, that is. I know it isn’t the same as they have in Central Mexico. Or, at least that is what I have been told, I have never been there. I don’t eat it because I am Mexican. (I am “mostly Mexican” by heritage.) I do eat it because my parents liked it and we ate it at home quite a bit. That is because my Dad loved it. It is the same reason my kids love Filipino food. Their Dad loves it. Homemade food and certain foods from restaurants are comforting to us and remind of us of good times.

“Del Real Foods is a family-owned Mexican food company based in Mira Loma, California. Del Real Foods offer authentic taste using the freshest ingredients, most of which are locally sourced. Gluten free and trans fat free, Del Real Foods are cooked over an open-kettle.”

I admit it, I don’t know how to make good Mexican food. I can make a few things the way my Mom made them. She had a deep dark secret that I found out when I wanted to learn how to make her best dishes for my family. Her recipes were not handed down from her mother, or even my father’s mother. She confided that she used the suggested recipe on the side of the can of sauce that she bought at the market to make her enchiladas, and her taco recipe was from the can of beans. (Don’t laugh at me!) I can relate, moms do what is necessary to make things easily as well as wholesome for our families and friends. There is nothing more authentic than that, right?

My mom gifted me with some authentic recipes and the love of foods from the South Western United States since she was from a small town near Albuquerque, New Mexico. My mother, my grandmother, aunts and cousins made sopapillas, carne adovada, green chile stew, posole, cabalacitas, and stacked enchiladas with red or green sauce made from the New Mexico chile (a variety of Capsicum annuum – peppers grown throughout the state of New Mexico.) These foods are family favorites, yet vary quite a bit from the flavors of Mexican food made in California.

Del Real makes it simple to get fresh tasting Mexican food on our table so we can enjoy it quickly and easily. Like the commercial in the video above, you can make it in minutes (and you might not even need hands.)

“Designed to satisfy all palates and promote healthy eating, Del Real Foods refrigerated products offer authentic taste, using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients and cooked with traditional methods for an enhanced dining experience among family and friends.

Del Real Foods refrigerated products include Carnitas, Barbacoa, Tamales, Seasoned Shredded Beef, Shredded Chicken and much more.”

http://www.delrealfoods.com/

You have a chance to sample the flavors, because Del Real is allowing me to give away a grand prize “Party In A Box” featuring Del Real highlights like carnitas, tamales, pork al pastor pupusas and the newest delicious addition: the Al Pastor Taco Kit. The grand prize Party In A Box will also include a Del Real picnic cooler basket, as well as a Del Real blanket. It’ll make for a great fiesta or spring picnic!

Everyone knows I have a little love affair going with tacos! I really like Baja style tacos like the ones at my favorite restaurant, solita’s Valencia. I love making tacos, too. The way I learned how to make them involves frying the corn tortillas in oil to to make the shells. All the fresh ingredients are prepared and served in a separate serving dish and everyone makes their own taco. It takes time to prepare all that stuff. So, I am really intrigued by the El Pastor Taco Kit that Del Real makes. I will definitely try them.

I did a little research on the company and I was so pleased with what I learned. Most importantly, I feel like I can relate to Del Real‘s message and beliefs…and they have a great sense of humor! Del Real Foods products are based on the following pillars:

●      Authenticity: the family strives to create deliciously simple products based on traditional recipes infused with Mexican culture and bold colors. Prepared in an industrial, home kitchen, the products will provide comfort and familiarity.

●      Healthy People: cooked with a safe open-kettle method, the products are made with the freshest, ingredients, most of which are locally sourced. Once prepared, they are ready to enjoy. The products are also gluten free and do not contain any trans fats.

●      Healthy planet and better communities: the company has adopted sustainable initiatives including wastewater management and recycling to help the environment. Del Real Foods has also sponsored local sporting events and made donations to local communities to contribute to their improvement.

For more information, and to find the nearest retailer, visit: http://www.delrealfoods.com/

Find them on Social Media @DelRealFoods on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.

TWEET THIS FOR A CHANCE TO WIN THE PARTY IN A BOX:

My Love for Mexican Food is About to Get Real! #MizMeliz @DelRealFoods @MizMeliz

On Thursday, May 28, 2015 I will search the hashtag and phrase “My Love for Mexican Food is About to Get Real! #MizMeliz” and choose a winner randomly. I will give the contact information (Twitter handle) to the folks at Del Real so they can reach out to you and get the party in a box to you right away. Check back here and see who the lucky winner will be.

I will give you an extra chance to win – if you leave a comment telling me a story about your love for Mexican style food. I look forward to your responses!

This post was written for the purpose of introducing you to Del Real Foods, quotes and photos are used with express permission. All opinions are my own. I was not paid for this post, however I was offered some free samples to taste the products and a special offer to give away a Party in a Box from Del real Foods to one lucky reader. See my disclosure for more details on why I post articles like this on MizMeliz.com.

Note: Anyone who shares this post on social media will automatically be entered to win as long as the title of the post is in the body of the share…this includes all shares with the title of the post in it.

This post contains affiliate links. Please support MizMeliz.com.

Let’s Go to Downtown Johnny’s! It’s Next Door to @TippleandBrine @LawrenceMoore

Posted on April 30th, 2015 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

Disclosure – this is not an ad or sponsored post. This is my review of a great new resto. Enjoy!

This is me thinking:

I wish there was a place where I could get a good drink without a lot of hype, but excellent quality and high end food, but in a casual environment.

Doesn’t that sound good? It actually sounds terrific. I could think of restaurants that fit the bill, mostly in L.A. I haven’t found quite the place yet in the Valley.

I want to go somewhere I can sit down at a table, have a few drinks, order some food, and just hang out. Either before or after dinner with my friends. But, not too trendy either. And I am tired of the same old bar food. I have had my fill of avocado wraps, cheesy artichoke dips, and chicken wings.

Guess what my friends! Such a place exists! It is not Uptown Calabasas or Midtown Wilshire – it is right in the middle…hey, let’s go to Downtown Johnny’s!

Really, that is how I think!

Downtown Johnny’s in Sherman Oaks opened this week and I highly recommend it! I didn’t get to try everything on the menu, the servers couldn’t pass out the samples fast enough – everything was so good people were grabbing them off the trays. In fact, I didn’t even see a server or a tray the first hour I was there and I wasn’t that far from the kitchen. The service was excellent, don’t get me wrong. It was packed with foodies trying to savor and enjoy every bite. When I finally got to taste some of the fare, I found out why. Everything is fresh, unique, and lovely. Especially the cocktails!

Okay, so you know me. I am sophisticated, right? I have been to a lot of restaurants, right? Okay, okay, I admit it. I eat a fair share! Pictured above are some images of items that I had never tried before. Until the other night at Downtown Johhny’s. Here are some important things for you to know about this place:

  • Everything I tried was fantastic!
  • I tried new things and loved them.
  • Okay, truthfully – I didn’t care for the Tuna Tartare with sesame, soy sauce and avocado, but my hubby did, so that counts.
  • It’s true, I never had a Mule before.
  • Now I love Mules!
  • Have you ever had a warm olive? Me either. They were awesome!
  • I seriously can’t get enough of that Beet Salad with tart orange, creamy goat cheese, spicy horseradish and crunchy pistachios. Yummo!
  • I love me some deviled eggs, and the one I had at Downtown Johnny’s was THE BEST EVER, and I have been to the South my friends. The Deviled Eggs are kicked-up a notch with kimchi and bottarga. Oh my go-o-o-sh! More like, Devine Eggs! (What’s bottarga? I thought you would never ask. No need to Google it, I already did: Bottarga is the dried, pressed roe of the mullet, which is sold in blocks and shaved over Italian dishes. Think caviar flavor shaved into magic sparkles of tasty earthy goodness.)
  • Last, but definitely 1st Street, my favorite new drink is a mix of gin, cucumber, lime, Fresno chiles and house-made ginger beer. Soothing cucumber and a kick of ginger and chiles! Yikes! Such is my life, right?

And now, here is what the experts are saying about the newest bar and resto in town:

 “My Uncle Johnny introduced my family to the hospitality business with his nightclub back in 1980,” says Richard DiSisto (Principal, Vantage Restaurant Group) of the new spot’s namesake, “and his advice to me was always to keep it simple.”

Now, 35 years and many successful restaurants and bars later, DiSisto is heeding that advice with his new modern sports tavern. “The art of hospitality is all about people coming in and having a great time,” he says. “Downtown Johnny’s really goes back to basics: It is just down to earth food, approachable cocktails, a long and versatile beer list, and a great time!”

Vantage Restaurant Group Executive Chef Marc Johnson, also in charge of overseeing the kitchen and creativity at DiSisto’s neighboring seafood-inspired Tipple & Brine, created a menu of what he calls “modern tavern cuisine” for Downtown Johnny’s. “Anyone walking down the street can come in and find something they will like,” Johnson says, “but I don’t want your typical sports-bar food—I want to elevate it with modern technique, quality ingredients and unique presentation.”

Next time we are sitting around trying to decide on where to go and what to do…you will hear me saying,

“Let’s Go to Downtown Johnny’s!”

Get ready to Drool

For starters, they actually do have Chicken Wings but, they are Korean-style, flavored with spicy-savory gochujang and garnished with peanuts and cilantro. They don’t just serve fries, they serve Johnson’s Poutine, which is sure to be a crowd favorite, atop hand cut French Fries with duck confit, white cheddar and perfectly rich gravy. The Macaroni and Cheese at Downtown Johnny’s is made with speck and black truffles. Then, there are the cleverly named Tongue & Cheek Tacos filled with hearty and tender beef. You can also munch on these offbeat bar must-haves: house-made Beer Nuts, a large house-baked Pretzel served hot with mustard and salt, and made-from-scratch Chips with herbs and a garlicky dip. And those are just the starters!

If you are having a meal at Downtown Johnny’s they will serve up some sure to please Salads, Flatbreads and Burgers & Sandwiches that will satisfy any taste.  Try the Brussels Sprouts with Caesar dressing, almonds, scallions, lemon confit and sourdough. The Chicken Flatbread is topped with smoked Gouda, caramelized onions, eggplant and a romesco sauce, and the Mediterranean-styled Lamb Flatbread comes with potatoes, olives and feta. Two burger options stand out, both delivering a huge 8-ounce patty: the Downtown Burger is topped with caramelized shallots, blue cheese and mushrooms, and the Patty Melt hews to tradition, with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and house-made special sauce on toasty sourdough. I want to cry, it sounds so delicious!

Yes, I am saying it, and…There’s More!

The Mains include mouthwatering favorites from Fried Chicken, served with spicy honey and bread-and-butter pickles atop potato purée, and flatiron Steak Frites with a red wine sauce—to the more unique, including Mussels, cooked in a green-curry coconut-milk broth, and the marvelously rich Crispy Pork Belly, served over polenta with pickled ramps, oven-dried tomato and a clever vanilla bean applesauce. These dinners sound amazing, don’t they. But it is a bar, right?

Oh yeah, it’s a BAR

I might be name tossing here…just a little. The Bar Director at Downtown Johnny’s is Daniel Ponsky, a 21-year veteran of the hospitality business who has slung drinks at such notable spots as Chapter 8 Steak House in Agoura Hills, Vitello’s in Studio City and Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City.

 When it comes to cocktails, “My philosophy is to keep the focus on the spirit and use the other ingredients to accentuate it,” Ponsky says.

In addition to the newest cocktails with a twist (see what I did there?) Downtown Johnny’s will also feature 20 beers on tap, plus another 35 bottles and 6 cans. The selection focuses on local and regional brews (all but five of the draft beers are made in California), but also encompasses a wide range of styles from around the world. Trust me on this, if you want to try something different, they’ve got it.

But, where is the dessert?

Seriously, where is the dessert? It is my understanding that there is no dessert on the menu. I guess Uncle Johnny was Diabetic or something. So am I. So, at Downtown Johnny’s I will have my sweet stuff in a cocktail and pick up a gelato on the way home.

I could tell you more about the cool decor, the giant screens with movies and sports playing and the awesome booths…but what are you waiting for? Get over there already! Tell me if you like those Devine Deviled Eggs!

Go there and tell me What do YOU Think?

Downtown Johnny’s is open daily from 4:00 pm to 1:30 am. For more information or reservations, please visit www.downtownjohnnys.com or call Downtown Johnny’s directly at 818.205.1616.

DTJohnnysDowntown Johnny’s

14649 Ventura Boulevard

Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

I will probably be there this weekend, so if you see me – say, “Hi Miz Meliz!”

If you like my review, you will love this one about a great Baja Style Resto in Valencia, it’s solita’s Tacos and Margaritas and it is awesome!

 My hubby and I got a few free drinks and some samples of the food at Downtown Johnny’s at the pre-opening this week so I could give you my firsthand experience. However, I was not asked nor was I expected to write anything at all and I was not compensated. I always tell you how I see it. (Or, in this case, how I taste it!) That’s just me. (See my official disclosure to find out more about why I write the things I do on MizMeliz.com)

P.S. Soon I will be trying something new, pay per view. That isn’t new! Yes, it is for bloggers. Would you pay $1 to read a review like this? Would you click on an ad like a game ap to read it? It is in support of the writer. What do you think of the idea? If you like it, let me know and I will tell you all about it. If you hate it. Well, tell me anyway, but I want details and suggestions, no rants about how everything costs something these days and all those advertisements. Yada yada. I need to get paid sometimes. Thank you.

Old Friends and a New Resto – A LOVE STORY by Melissa Reyes @solita_Valencia

Posted on February 1st, 2015 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews, I Love My LIfe

A Love Story

by Melissa Reyes February 1, 2015
http://mizmeliz.com New Love by Melissa Reyes 2-1-14

6 Pack Taco Sampler (Photo Credit: Courtesy of solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia)

Some Tacos

That should be read, “Some tacos!”

Yes, this story really does begin with tacos. And boy are they some awesome tacos. solita’s has the best Baja style tacos. Remember when I first had them and I told you that they talked to me? They still do. Do you want to know what they are saying now? Now, that we are in love, they say, “Mi Amor, my love, don’t share me with your friends. This can be our secret.”

But, I don’t want to keep it a secret. I want to tell everyone about my love. These tacos are meant to be shared. I want everyone to experience what I have at solita Tacos & Margaritas in Valencia! (disclosure)

It started with the first bite. And I knew. I knew I made the right decision when I suggested to my friends that we try this new restaurant. I had been there once already. Lito and I attended a soft opening. For a preview, it was well orchestrated and everything was absolutely perfect. We met Executive Chef Deborah Schneider  and Owner/Partner Rich Howland and they told us about their dream and vision for solita. The food was amazing that night. Would it be as good now that I brought my friends with me?

We shared a few plates of tacos. I tried the “wood-grilled ancho chile chicken taco” and the “red chile beef ‘borracho’ taco.” I will keep my secret of just how good they tasted. Some things must remain private. Besides, if I told you, you would stop reading this and go straight over there and order some. I want you to read the rest of the story. This isn’t even the juiciest part!

A Few Margaritas

solita's Grande Casa Noble Margarita (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

solita’s Grande Casa Noble Margarita (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

Just a few. A few each. Who could resist the temptation? Top shelf imported Tequilas. A bar with an emphasis on freshness, quality, and affordability. They have the best tasting margaritas. Cue the blurry flashback sequence and strange throwback music…

General Manager Jason Goetz greeted us at the door. It was a very busy Friday night. He seated us at a big table right in the middle of everything – and there was a lot going on. Couples dining in the glow of the romantic fireplace in the front area engaged in low toned conversations, groups of families and friends were laughing and having a grand time in the main dining area, the bar was active and buzzing with young people imbibing before dinner and a movie perhaps, outside there were small groups of friends by the outdoor fireplace and around the outside bar area enjoying the pleasant evening ambiance as if it were somewhere tropical, somewhere beachy, and I felt transported to somewhere different. Is this what it is like in Baja?

Watermelon Margarita (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

Watermelon Margarita (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

Jason brought us our drinks. He was so warm and welcoming that we all instantly hit it off with him. He treated us like a friend. We asked him to surprise us with the cocktails so we could sample the special concoctions that solita is known for. He brought us each something different, gorgeous, icy cold, luscious, fresh, and well, yummy!

All the drinks were good. Seamus had “the bulldog” – a big margarita with a Coronita beer bottle inverted in the glass. Kristy tried the “guava margarita” which was – to – die – for with freshly prepared fruit juice from the kitchen.  Mark had the “el hombre,” a margarita made with a unique tequila infused with chipotle peppers. Tina tried the “watermelon margarita” which was sweet and then ordered a classic solita house “cadillac margarita.” Lito had “solita’s grande casa noble margarita” which comes in the shaker and is served table-side. Much like a fountain ice cream malt when it is served with the blender container, you get more than can fit in the ice cold glass and the shaker is left on the table.

The bar at solita’s specializes in tequila. Much like a vodka bar is known for great martinis, this margarita bar has over 40 different exotic and unique tequilas and serves margaritas especial (that’s Spanish for “special margaritas” folks.) I had a “skinny margarita,” tart and fresh, it was possibly the best skinny I have ever had – and I finished Lito’s shaker of margarita made with Casa Noble. Sharing is caring, right?

solita’s encourages sharing. Many of the dishes we had were served family style. The appetizers are prepared at the table. Many of them come with some verbal instructions. Our server, Rachel, told us how she prefers each dish and suggested varied ways of mixing items to make them even more spectacular.

photo copyright Lito Reyes Feb 2015 http://mizmeliz.com for solita tacos and margaritas valencia

photo by Lito Reyes, Feb. 2015

As we were sharing our “queso al forno,” the “tequila shrimp and avocado sundae,” and “grilled corn elote” – Co-Founder and Director of Operations Matt Baumayr  brought a special gift to the table. The bottle was empty, so don’t get overly excited. What made it special was that it is a collector’s item. Casa Noble is the single barrel private label imported tequila that solita serves exclusively. Each bottle is signed and numbered. Each barrel produces a limited few hundred bottles. Only a few barrels are allowed to be imported to the U.S. at a time. Muy especial!

Old Friends, New Friends.

Our group of friends are very special to Lito and me. We had grown apart for awhile. However, the bonds of friendship are very strong. In recent years we were reunited at the funeral of a dear mutual friend from the high school and college days. Sadly, we were reminded how precious life is. We vowed to get together for the good times and make each moment a celebration. We happily just spent time together at Mark & Tina’s wedding in Oceanside. We reminisced of the days spent in San Diego together when Lito and Mark were in college there and Kristy and I would drive down from the Valley to visit. Those memories were blurred for years as we “grew up” and moved on in life. Now, we can make new memories! That is the reason I thought solita would make the perfect spot for us. It is a neighborhood restaurant with a South of the Border atmosphere (similar to the San Diego area restaurants we frequented in our youth) and a super friendly welcoming staff, our new friends at solita.

This will be our new hangout. This is where I will bring out of town visitors from distances where they do not have anything like this. This is where I will bring my kids on their birthdays. I will meet clients here. I will suggest it the next time Lito asks me, “Where do you want to eat?”

The Main Event

Our Table (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

Our Table (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

We were in the mood for surprises, so we asked our new friend Matt Baumayr to choose our entrees for us. He brought out some of his personal favorites and a newer dish that Head Chef Rogelio Vazquez had suggested. As Matt described, we would be needing some protein after our appetizers and cocktails. He brought out Chef’s smoked & grilled beef ribs, a half oak-roasted chipotle chicken, and classic chile rellenos con queso, beans and rice.

This is the juiciest part of the story that I promised. Have you ever had an orgasmic experience while eating something that exploded with flavor in your mouth? I didn’t want to swallow it because it tasted that good! I am having a hot flash this moment just thinking about it. I am talking about the chicken at solita. It happened to me just when Jason asked me how I liked the food. My mouth was full. Typical restaurant happening, right? The waiter comes by and asks you, “How is everything?” just as you take a bite. I usually nod and say, “Very good, thanks.”

This time, I reached out.  I grabbed Jason’s arm. I held on tightly. Right in front of my husband. Lito watched me as I leaned back in my seat, swallowed the mouthful of delectable smoked, fire-roasted, marinated, mouth-watering, out of this world flavorful moist and crispy chicken that I have ever had – and I said with utmost delight, “I am having a chicken orgasm right now.”

I can’t believe I said that to a man I just met.

But, it was truly amazing. (Honestly, I didn’t drink that much.) I took another bite. I looked around and everyone was loving it. We all kept saying, “Wow, this chicken is amazing!” Everything is great, but, “make sure you try the chicken.”

When Matt came over to the table, he asked what I liked best. I told him, “That chicken is so good. If they can make chicken like that, why would anyone make it any other way?” He agreed. It was magical.

Wait, There is More!

What could top that? Magical food, a truly memorable dining experience, presents. Then Jason and Rachel brought out the desserts. Fried Ice Cream, Creme brulee style Flan, fresh baked Churros with chocolate sauce, and a “Grown Up” Churro Sundae. At this point, I will admit – even though I tried to pace myself – the chicken really was the climax of the evening. But, I couldn’t resist solita’s charm. I was seduced by the beautifully presented and purely decadent desserts with their warm spicy cinnamon aroma, the chocolate sauces, the vanilla and rum taste sensations. We all tasted each of the delights that were placed in front of us. And guess what. They were terrific. You guessed it, huh? It’s hard to fool you.

I want you to experience these desserts for yourself, but to get you to read this all the way to the very end, I will just say that we weren’t satisfied. We loved them so much we wanted to get to know them even better. Kristy and I wanted to see how they were made. We asked Jason to take us…to the kitchen!

The Amazing Chef and Crew! (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

The Amazing Chef and Crew! (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

Bold move, I know. Jason was gracious and happy to escort us to the busy active kitchen. Everyone can see the kitchen in motion, it is an open kitchen with big windows so you see your food being prepared while you wait. We got the grand tour, and a demonstration of the secrets to making the perfect scoop of deep fried ice cream.  It was the perfect way to end the evening. Being romanced and charmed by the friendly people behind the scenes in solita’s kitchen.

 

 

 

Wow! What a night. You can see all the pictures we took of our evening at solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia in the gallery below.

Thank you to Matt Baumayr, Jason Goetz, Rachel, Chef Vasquez, Lawrence Moore, and everyone at solita’s for your hospitality and welcoming spirit. I received my meal gratis however, I was not asked to write this post/review, all opinions are my own, photos are copyright material of Melissa Reyes and Lito Reyes, unless otherwise indicated. Photos and press release information of solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia were sent to me by Lawrence Moore & Associates and used with permission. Read my disclosure for details on why I write blog posts like this on MizMeliz.com

Have a Romance of Your Own

solita Grand Opening Celebration

“To celebrate the official Grand Opening of their new Valencia location, solita Tacos & Margaritas is throwing a blowout celebration on Thursday, February 5th, 2015 that will highlight both their authentic cuisine and delicious cocktails, while also supporting the benefiting charity, the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.

 

GRAND OPENING INVITE 2015 (1)

100% of the beverages sold during the solita Tacos & Margaritas Grand Opening Fundraiser

will go directly to the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley’s “it just takes one” Campaign

 

At the February 5th fiesta, there will be complimentary eats all night long, but drinks will be for sale, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, an organization offering education, leadership, sports and arts programs to needy youth in the area. “We are a community-driven company, and it was really important to find a cause that is not just important to us, but that is also important to the community,” says Co-Founder and Director of Operations Matt Baumayr. “We have a very lofty goal of raising enough money to fund the programming of twenty of our local youth for one year at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita, which is $10,000.00. Being that Santa Clarita Valley is so community driven, it is a goal we hope to achieve, if not surpass.”

I encourage you to enjoy the complimentary Fresh Guacamole Station with fresh mango, tomato, onion, chile and cilantro alongside their House-made Tortilla Chips and Duros. The Taco Bar will feature some of Executive Chef Deborah Schneider’s famous Baja-inspired wood-grilled and smoked dishes ranging from their Wood-Grilled Ancho Chile Chicken, Carne Asada, Pork Carnitas and much, much more.

One More Time, Please…

Valentine’s Day

“Don Juans who are looking to show their ladies some hot and spicy romance on Valentine’s Day, should look no further than solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia. With cocktails and cuisine made for two, and a fiery atmosphere (literally, the space features both indoor and outdoor fireplaces!) this sophisticated Mexican restaurant has everything couples need to celebrate their love. Executive Chef Deborah Schneider and Head Chef Rogelio Vazquez have created a special Valentine’s Prix-Fixe Menu for $39.95 per couple, with three mouthwatering entrées and several sides to choose from.  Lovers can experience both land and sea by ordering the fresh Surf and Turf with marinated carne asada and chipotle shrimp, sautéed corn, mashed potatoes, grilled jalapeño and lemon cilantro dressing, or the Catfish, cooked to a flaky perfection, and served with avocado salad. Can’t decide on just one thing, but want to indulge? You and your love can share a solita 6 Pack Taco Sampler, which is perfect for two and offers something for each of you, such as the Oak-Roasted Chipotle Chicken, Carnitas and Beer Battered Shrimp and so much more. Compliment your dinner with a side of Mexican Rice or solita’s Signature Slaw with a creamy lemon cilantro dressing. One glass and two straws please! Make sure to pair these romantic specials, with a decadent and delicious 32 ounce shareable Frozen Margarita for Two topped with La Pinta, a pomegranate flavored tequila. End the evening with a little sweet with your sweetness, and nibble on the rich and creamy Homemade solita Flan, flavored with vanilla and a dash of Mexican spices, and served in a deep dish on a bed of caramel, and lots of love! solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia will be open on Valentine’s Day, Saturday, February 14th from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm with the bar remaining open until 12:00 Midnight; 24201 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 3470, Valencia, CA 91355; 661.291.1399; http://www.solitatacos.com/locations/valencia

 A Love Story in pictures to make your mouth water:

If you liked this story, please leave a comment. If you love solita Tacos & Margaritas, let them know @solita_valencia on Twitter.

Cheers!

11 Ways to Celebrate Everything Delicious About Football @FarrellsisBack #GridironGrub

Posted on January 5th, 2015 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

Start your celebration at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant

and enjoy these fun ways to celebrate everything delicious about football:

Disclosure

1. Eat a Farrell’s Tailgate burger.

2015-01-04 12.48.16The Tailgate burger is an action packed burger that slams two stadium favorites together into one hardy burger. A delicious cheeseburger and nachos in one! It all starts with a fresh 1/2 lb. Angus patty with melty Pepper Jack cheese, and crisp lettuce, then, thrown on top of that, a pile of nachos built with a crisp heaping helping of Doritos® nacho chips, melted cheddar cheese, sour cream, black olives, fresh guacamole and house-made salsa. This beast is served with Bleu Buffalo waffle fries on the side.

2. Try not to get stuffed with Farrell’s new bleu buffalo fries.

2015-01-04 12.38.42The waffle fries are drizzled with zesty buffalo sauce and tangy bleu cheese. They are very good – just the right amount of zest and punch that you would want for your tailgate party!

3. Save room for the 4th and Goal Sundae.

2015-01-04 13.26.44To top that off, don’t settle for the field goal… go for the extra point and get Farrell’s 4th and Goal Sundae. A 4-scoop sundae fit for a linebacker heaps up two scoops of Vanilla, a scoop of Chocolate Malted Crunch and a scoop of Cookie Dough ice cream dripping with warm caramel and chocolate topping, a mound of fresh whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Not “Super” enough? Under your souvenir, take-home Farrell’s helmet, you’ll find a pile of Oreo® crumbs to top that sundae off just right.

4. Take home the Farrell’s souvenir helmet to remember the deliciousness!

5. Enter-to-win a chance for Farrell’s to cater your “Big Game” party on February 1, 2015.

Just fill out the enter-to-win card when dining at any participating Farrell’s location.

6. Take some pictures and make it a special event for you and your friends.

7. Sing along with the servers when they bring out the burgers and ice cream.

8. Make it a big WIN and buy some candy for your sweetheart at the Candy Shoppe at Farrell’s.

2014-02-22 14.58.30

9. Invite all your friends over to watch the Big Game and don’t forget to get your YUM on!

2015-01-04 12.13.40

10. Post your pictures and share on Social Media sites with hashtag: #GridironGrub.

“Our limited time themed burgers and sundaes are doing great for us. The culinary team is having a great time coming up with these fun, tasty dishes and our guest are really enjoying eating them up.” Said Michael Fleming, Farrell’s CEO. “January’s promotion is dubbed Gridiron Grub—it’s everything great about eating at a football game without the guy with the painted face yelling at the back of your head.”

11. Send a Tweet to Michael Fleming, @FarrellsCEO telling him how much you love the new burger and hope it stays on the menu after football season!

 Its like a 7 layer burger! Try the Tailgate Burger @FarrellsIsBack Love the Dorritos Nachos on top! pic.twitter.com/xYEU1g1htv


I had a SUPER time celebrating at Farrell’s with my family and friends. Let me know if you go there. I hope you try the new burger, fries and sundae. I really loved them! In fact, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the chips in the burger and the nacho flavor was a much better combination than I expected.

I was treated by Farrell’s with free samples of the burger, fries, and sundae described in this post. I was not required to post this and all opinions are my own. This is not a paid or sponsored post. See my Disclosure for details and why I am posting this on my blog.

All items are available at participating Farrell’s California and Hawaii locations. Locations and complete details and rules for Farrell’s Caters Your Big Game Party can be found at FarrellsUSA.com.

Farrell’s Tailgate Burger and Bleu Buffalo waffle fries combo is $13.99 and the 4th and Goal sundae with take home helmet is $11.99.

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