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.

Ring In 2015 with Festive Eats, Cocktail Treats & Live Beats @solita_valencia @LawrenceMoore #Inspiredfor2015

Posted on December 10th, 2014 by & filed under Discoveries, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

If you are like me, even though I have lists of things that must be done before Christmas, I am already thinking of what to do on New Year’s Eve! I was just thinking about that when I received an email from LM&A with nine suggestions for awesome dining and entertainment with New Year’s in mind. Great minds think alike! But now, I have a decision to make. Where shall I celebrate on New Year’s Eve?

Ring In 2015 with Festive Eats, Cocktail Treats & Live Beats at the Hottest Spots

In Los Angeles, Pasadena, Sherman Oaks and Valencia This New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day!

 These all come recommended by my friends at Lawrence Moore & Associates (Disclosure) – –

and Solita Tacos and Margaritas is recommended by me, Miz Meliz!

The Countdown Begins….

TEN!

NINE!

CARDAMOM:

Cardamom is welcoming in the New Year in a BIG way, with an elaborate four-course New Year’s Eve menu for only $50.00 per person.  Start the evening with a complimentary Glass of Champagne and the traditional Indian bite, Pani Puri thatwill be waiting to greet you when you walk through the door.  Once you take your seat, you will be offered the option of ordering a Tandoori Platter with Chicken Tikka, Sheekh Kabob, Onion Piazza and Vegetable Pakora, or aVegetable Platter that includes Sigara, Onion Piazza and a Vegetable Pakora.  For the main course select from the Murgh Tikka Masala, diced chicken tikka tossed in Hyderabadi spices cooked in lusciously, creamy tomato sauce,Jhinga Patia, tiger prawns cooked in a zesty, hot and sour sauce, or Aloo Palak, potatoes and baby spinach tossed with turmeric.  Main dishes will also be accompanied by Zafrani Rice, made from Chef Manju’s special recipe and fresh baked Naan with house-made Raita for the table to share.  We hope you saved room, because dessert promises Gulab Jamun, a lovely cheese dumpling immersed in a saffron-infused syrup, along with traditional Indian-spiced Chai Tea or fresh brewed Coffee. Cardamom will offer two seating’s on New Year’s Eve, one at 5:30 pm and the other at 8:00 pmCardamom will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 5:00 pm to 10:30 pm; 7233 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036; 323.936.1000; www.CardamomLA.com

Cardamom - South Dining Room

Cardamom – South Dining Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Cardamom Interior

Photo Credit: acuna-hansen

EIGHT!

CELESTINO RISTORANTE & BAR:

Let your last meal of 2014 be prepared by a Drago!  Executive Chef Calogero Drago invites you to join him at Celestino Ristorante & Bar for a special Four-Course New Year’s Eve Menu in celebration of 2015.  Start the evening off with an appetizing Antipasto course, offering a choice of Veal Tortellini or Steamed Lobster over sweet pea purée, followed by a Second Course of delicate Smoked Salmon Crepes with mascarpone and caviar or luxurious Arborio Rice with Sea Urchin and champagne sauce. For the Main Course, guests can select from an elegant Chilean Sea Bass with vegetables timball and Filet of Guinea Fowl generously stuffed with sausage and porcini mushrooms, bathed in a decadent black truffle sauce.  We hope you saved room, as the crown jewel of this New Year’s Eve feast is a Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake that can be described in just one word – sinful.  For daintier diners, all dishes from the New Year’s Eve menu will be available à la carte, in addition to Celestino’s Annual Holiday Menu for guests to enjoy as well.  Because, as Chef Calogero likes to say, “Life is beautiful!”  Celestino Ristorante will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 5:30 pm to 12:00 am. 141 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA, 91101; 626.795.4006; www.CelestinoPasadena.com

Celestino Ristorante - Interior

Celestino Ristorante – Interior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Celestino RistoranteInterior

Photo Credits: Moretti Photo; Danny Liao

SEVEN!

MAGNOLIA HOUSE:

When thinking of Pasadena and New Year’s, our minds automatically go to one thing: The Rose Parade.  But this year, it’s not just the roses that will have you heading to Pasadena; it will be the new craft cocktail hot spot that is hosting the best bash in town… Welcome to Magnolia House!  A $25.00 entry fee will grant you access into this sexy little craftsman bungalow on New Year’s Eve where tunes will be spun by a Live DJ and all Magnolia House guests welcoming in 2015 will receive a Complimentary Welcome Cocktail,Party Favors, Complimentary Champagne Toast at Midnight and a special Magnolia House Gift Bag filled with special commemorative goodies.  After just one sip of your handcrafted ‘Welcome Cocktail’ from the masterful hands of Bar Manager Colin Shearn, you know it’s going to be a night to remember. The DJ’s beats will pump through the air and get your appetite grooving as you make your way through Magnolia Houses’ bespoke menu of shared plates and eclectic bar snacks courtesy of Executive Chef Kyu Yi.  Make sure your final memories of 2014 are delicious ones by ordering an array of festive and easily shareable favorites like the Truffle Pistachios with shaved black truffle-infused sea salt, Shrimp Toasts with herb salad and a sesame ginger aioli, Ahi Sashimi with a ponzu, smoked-salt and wasabi vinaigrette, crushed wasabi peas and crispy fried kale, Korean Short Rib served atop a shiitake and baby kale risotto with pickled daikon and crushed sesame, and let us not forget the always-comforting, yet equally luxurious King Crab Mac & Cheese which combines three cheeses into a luscious sauce with roasted red pepper that is topped with a bacon and herb crumble. Then gather around the fireplace as the clock nears midnight, put on your party hats and get out your noisemakers as the ball prepares to drop and champagne kisses signal that 2015 is finally here.  Don’t want the party to end?  Neither does Magnolia House!  Stay for a nightcap… literally, and sip on the Magnolia House Nightcap cocktail that shakes up coffee bean Cynar with blanc vermouth and fresh fig bitters.  For table reservations and large parties, please contact Magnolia House directly for availability and pricing – seating is limited. Magnolia House will be open for regular service on Wednesday, December 31st from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The Magnolia House official New Year’s Eve Party will commence from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am; 492 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101; 626.584.1126; www.TheMagHouse.com

Magnolia House - Bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Magnolia House Bar

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Magnolia House

SIX!

MURPH’S:

Looking for a cool, casual spot to fuel your New Year’s Eve cravings in Sherman Oaks?  Motor over to MURPH’S, for delicious down-home favorites like the finger lickin’ good Potato Puffs dusted with fresh parmesan and chives, Sweet Corn Soup with chili and bacon, Prince Edward Island Mussels served with smoked sausages and grilled baguette, or the Fried Chicken Sandwich piled high with spicy slaw, bacon, cheddar cheese and pickled jalapeños.  The MURPH’S crew wishes everyone a sweet New Year by offering guestsA Complimentary Dessert along with Party Hats and Noisemakers so that you can feel as though you’re right in the middle of Time Square while watching the Ball Drop on one of the bar’s five TV’s and nine foot big screen.  Receive A Complimentary Glass of Champagneto toast friends and loved ones once the clock strikes twelve. Staying past midnight? Make sure to sip on MURPH’S signature cocktail, the Oil Change, with bourbon, ginger, honey, lemon and you will be set to start your engines and rev up for a great 2015!  MURPH’S will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 4:00 pm to 2:00 am; 14649 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA, 91403;818.986.9999;www.MurphsLA.com 

MURPHS - Interior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: MURPH’S Interior

Photo Credit: Moretti Photo

FIVE!

SOLITA TACOS & MARGARITAS – VALENCIA: (earned 5 thumbs up from MizMeliz.com)

solita Tacos & Margaritas, New Year’s Eve

No one should begin a New Year hungry, and after a New Year’s Eve dinner at solita Tacos & Margaritas in Valencia, you most certainly won’t be! For only $14.75, the El Primo Taco Taster Plate lets you mix and match four of their incredible tacos including Wood Grilled Ancho Chile Chicken, Oak-Roasted Chipotle Chicken, Pork Carnitas, Chorizo Bacon & Sweet Potato, Crispy Fried Fish, Chile-Garlic Tofu, Wood-Grilled Carne Asada, Red Chile Beef Borracho, Wood-Grilled Fish Mazatlan, Beer Battered Shrimp or Sautéed Mushroom and a choice of one side.  We know what you’re thinking, “what more could I possibly want?”  How about a sampling from solita’s 40+ unique tequilas, including theCasa Noble Single Barrel that is carefully blended exclusively for solita and their big sister, SOL. Don’t miss the Grande Casa Noble Margarita, shaken tableside, for a chance to experience this rare tequila at its finest.  If you are able to keep your taco-induced food-coma at bay, stick around for a Complimentary Champagne Toast at midnight, along with Party Hats, Noisemakers and other festive Party Favorssolita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia will be open onWednesday, December 31st from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm with the bar remaining open until Midnight; 24201 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 3470, Valencia, CA 91355; 661.291.1399; www.solitatacos.com

 

solita Tacos & Margaritas, New Year’s Day

For a skinny-licious start to 2015, join your friends at solita Tacos & Margaritas in Valencia for a Skinny Burrito stuffed with Ensalada Picada, your choice of protein, cotixa, avocado and crunchy tortilla strips inside of a red burrito wrap.  Pair your Skinny Burrito with a solita Skinny Margarita that is a little less sweet and little more tart for a deliciously guilt-free New Year’s Day feast.  Do your New Year’s resolutions begin on January, 2nd?  Then you’ll want to order the Bulldog – a refreshing beer/margarita made with Agavales blanco tequila, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, Jarritos grapefruit soda and an upturned Coronita all in a monster-sized goblet.  And you can’t order a Bulldog without it’s ultimate partner in crime, the El Panzón’ “Big Belly,” which is like a Mexican calzone – a single flour tortilla folded and super-stuffed with meat and cheese, butter-crisped on the comal, topped with guacamole, sour cream, lettuce and salsa fresca.  If that doesn’t have you howling, we don’t know what will!  solita Tacos & Margaritas will be open on Thursday, January 1st from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm with the bar remaining open until Midnight; 24201 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 3470, Valencia, CA 91355; 661.291.1399; www.solitatacos.com 

Matt Baumayr, dedicated to bringing a family style to guests. Photo by Melissa Reyes

Matt Baumayr, dedicated to bringing a family style to guests. Photo by Melissa Reyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOUR!

THE RAYMOND 1886:

Spend the last night of 2014 drinking and dancing to the beats of DJ Heat Maxwell & WLDCT as we count down to 2015 at The Raymond & 1886 Bar’s Ultimate New Year’s Eve Bash!  Make your way to the bar for a festive collection of celebratory libations including Barman Peter Llyod Jones’ favorite seasonal sipper, the Huckleberry Sour, a bourbon sour made with huckleberry jam, fresh lemon and singed rosemary. The Raymond’s Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan will be providing delicious shared plates to satisfy famished partygoers from 10:00 pm to 12:30 am.  Ticket prices will include Live Entertainment a Champagne Toast at Midnight and classic Party Favors.  Insider tip: purchase your party tickets ahead of time at www.EventBrite.com and score a “Friends & Family” discount of $20.00 when you enter the code “RAY86!”

If you’re planning to party the night away into the wee hours of 2015, chances are you will want some dinner to go with it. Kick off New Year’s Eve with Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan’s special Five-Course New Year’s Eve Menu for $115.00 per person, or $135.00 per person for the second seating, including access to 1886 Bar’s Ultimate New Year’s Eve Bash.  The indulgences begin with a choice of Baked Potato Gelato & Smoked Wild Steelhead Roe with “all the fixins,” or the Micro-Farmed Massachusetts Oyster with vanilla bean and champagne.  Next up you’ll select from a Wild Fijian Albacore with pear, chili, miso and kumquat or a buttery Roasted North Atlantic Scallop served atop black trumpets, winter squash and wild basil.  For the Third Course enjoy either A Warm Soup of Potato & Parmesan garnished with shaved Oregon black truffles and freshly grated nutmeg, or the Whisper Farm’s Arugula & Winter Fruit, a salad of aged pecorino, golden beets and a honey-walnut vinaigrette.  Main course offerings include a vegetarian Artichoke Ravioli, Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast, North Pacific Cod and a classic Dry Aged New York Steak.  You’ll want to save room for Dessert to sample the delectable Manjari Chocolate Custard served with caramelized banana, sable chocolát and rum roasted banana-dulce de leche ice cream.  But wait – there’s more…  A Dulce Chocolate Truffleprovides a final sweet bite and added caffeine jolt to keep your energy pumping until 1886 Bar’s countdown to 2015!  Early Seating: Available in The Dining Room between 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm for $115.00 per person. Second Seating:Available between 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm for $135.00 per person (Includes access to 1886 Bar’s Ultimate New Year’s Eve Bash). A credit card is required to hold the reservation with a 48-hour cancellation policy. 1250 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105; 626.441.3136; www.TheRaymond.com  

The Raymond 1886 - Christmastime Patio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: The Raymond Exterior

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Raymond/1886

THREE!

TIPPLE & BRINE:

What better way to say goodbye 2014, than with Champagne & Oysters?  Head over to Tipple & Brine in Sherman Oaks this New Year’s Eve for bivalves, bubbles and a delicious seafood feast!  All guests will receive a surprise New Year’s Eve Amuse Bouche compliments of Tipple & Brine to start the evening, and then begin with favorites from the Raw Bar including Hamachi with lime curd, chili relish and peanuts, a Salmon Tartare with lemon aioli, pickled ginger and celery served with brioche, and of course a dozen or so of the day’s best Oysters.  Make it a point to order the decadent Sea Urchin Toast with avocado mousse, radish and scallions, and the Fried Octopus with squid ink aioli, eggplant, shishitos and mojo to share.  For Entrées, the Market Fish served atop black lentils with pancetta relish and a delicate herb salad is cooked to perfection, while the Seafood Stew with clams, mussels, gulf shrimp and rockfish in a tomato and fennel broth is the perfect wintertime fix.  Though there will be a Complimentary Champagne Toast at Midnight (with Noise Makers and Party Favors too!) guests will also want to try either the New Year’s Sour crafted with whiskey, lemon, simple sugar, bitters and a cabernet float or the Grapefruit Twist with champagne, grapefruit liqueur, vodka, grapefruit twist, lemon, honey and a lemon twist.   Hello, 2015!  Tipple & Brine will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 4:30 pm to 2:00 am; 14633 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA, 91403; 818.528.2580; www.TippleandBrine.com

Tipple and Brine - Interior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Tipple & Brine Interior

Photo Credit: Moretti Photo

TWO!

TUNNEL BAR:

Celebrate a Rockin’ New Year’s Eve at Tunnel Bar!  The exclusive bar and lounge above Tipple & Brine will be open late this New Year’s Eve, serving up a pair of specialty cocktails all-night-long.  The serious cocktail aficionado will appreciate the Candidate, made with rye whiskey, honey and grapefruit juice. Meanwhile those wanting something a bit lighter, but equally delicious to sip on should try the Countdown a sparkling mix of Appleton rum, Aperol, lime, honey and Prosecco.  Those staying to watch the ceremonious ball drop on the big screen will receive Party Hats, Noise Makers and Complimentary Glass of Champagne when the countdown to 2015 begins.  Access to Tunnel Bar is granted through Tipple & Brine. Tunnel Bar will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 7:00 pm to 2:00 am; 14633 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403; 828.528.3434; www.TunnelBarLA.com  

Tunnel Bar - Interior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Tunnel Bar Interior

Photo Credit: Courtesy Tunnel Bar

ONE!

VENICE WHALER:

Venice Whaler, New Year’s Eve Dinner

Those looking for a delicious way to kick-off the evening can enjoy a special New Year’s Eve Prix-fixe Menu at the downstairs Crab Shell Bar before the party really gets going at 8:00 pm.  Sit down to a three-course menu showcasing seasonal winter specialties curated by the Venice Whaler’s Executive Chef Nick Liberato.  The First Course will offer a choice of Smoked Tomato Soup with fennel pollen, crème fraîche and chives or a dish of Roasted Beets with goat cheese, toasted pistachios and peppery wild arugula.  For the Main Course, sample the traditional Grilled Branzino with macadamia nuts, olives and fresh oregano or Slow Braised Short Rib served atop creamy polenta with a zesty lemon-shiso gremolata (a vegetarian option will be available upon request).  Dessert will be a light, sweet and savory Strawberry Basil Napoleon layered with fresh cream, lemon and celery. Dining at the Venice Whaler this New Year’s Eve doesn’t just promise a fantastic meal.  Those indulging in the prix-fixe menu for $65.00 per person will also be able to choose from one of Bar Manager Anthony Settecase’s hand-crafted seasonal cocktails including a Hot Toddymade with brandy, honey, fresh cranberries and mint or a delicious homemade Egg Nog with brandy and fresh nutmeg, as well as gain free access to the evening’s Winter Wonderland bash beginning at 8:00 pmFor New Year’s Eve dinner reservations ($65.00 per person, including admission to Winter Wonderland), please contact the Venice Whaler directly.  A credit card is required to hold the reservation with a 48-hour cancellation policy. The Venice Whaler will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 11:00 am to 2:00 am; 10 West Washington Boulevard., Venice, CA 90292; 310.821.8737; www.venicewhaler.com

 

Venice Whaler,New Year’s Eve Winter Wonderland

A white Winter Wonderland on Venice Beach?  Yep, you read that right!  It’s going to be a New Year’s Eve to remember at the Venice Whaler, where guests will enter down a Red Carpet frosted with Snow into a mystical Winter Wonderland.  Champagne will greet you at the door a Complimentary Glass of Bubbly before you make your way to the upper deck to dance to the tunes spun by a Live DJunder the fresh falling SNOW(alright, it’s from a machine – this is LA after all).  Favor a Live Acoustic Band over a top 40 playlist?  Then you’ll want to spend the night downstairs in the Crab Shell Bar, where you can also find the Winter-Themed Photo Booth, for perfect take-home souvenirs to remember the magical evening – even if you don’t! Presale tickets to the Venice Whaler’s Winter Wonderland New Year’s Eve Bash ($20.00 per person) will be available for purchase by contacting the Venice Whaler directly. Tickets will also be for sale at the door on New Year’s Eve for $30.00 per person. The Venice Whaler will be open on Wednesday, December 31st from 11:00 am to 2:00 am; 10 West Washington Boulevard., Venice, CA 90292; 310.821.8737;www.venicewhaler.com

 Venice Whaler, New Year’s Day

If New Year’s Day at the beach sounds like the perfect way start-off 2015, then head right back to the Venice Whaler for a special New Year’s Day Brunch on the boardwalk!  Ready to retox?  The crowd-pleasing Crab Shell Bloody Mary provides a spicy kick and comes with your very own crab claw.  Select your booze to pair with brunch time favorites such as Eggs Benedict, Short Rib Hash, or Fried Chicken & Waffles for ultimate satisfaction.  Meanwhile, detoxers will be happy to see Groundworks Coffee, fresh squeezed juices and lighter options like a build-your-own Egg White Omelet and a healthy Kale Salad on the menu. Partied hard and looking to stay in your sweatpants all day? Grab some delicious grub from the Venice Whaler Take-Away window including the eye-opening Day Tripper, a specialty juice that blends lemon, ginger, tomato, cayenne and cucumber, or go for the ultimate hangover cure: a Spicy Street Dog. The Venice Whaler will be open on Thursday, January 1st from 9:00 am to 2:00 am; New Year’s Day brunch will be served from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm; 10 West Washington Boulevard., Venice, CA 90292; 310.821.8737;www.venicewhaler.com

Venice Whaler - Front & Side Exterior

 

 

 

Venice Whaler - Crab Shell Bloody Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Venice Whaler Exterior; Crab Shell Bloody Mary

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Venice Whaler

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 After all the fun ringing in the new year,

it will be time to REV it UP in 2015!!

Contact me at MizMeliz@yahoo.com

to help you get organized, set a path for your future, stay balanced,

and celebrate the good times!

Rev Up Your Goals for 2015! Get yourself organized, focused and make a plan!

#Inspiredfor2015

#MyRearisinGear

The TACOS at Solita Margaritas and Tacos in Valencia TALK TO ME! @SolitaTacos

Posted on November 19th, 2014 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

These tacos and cocktails rock! They also talk. Seriously, they cheered me up when they said, “Eat, enjoy, relax. We are here for you!” (Disclosure)

Maybe it wasn’t actually the tacos talking. I haven’t flipped out that far, yet. But I wasn’t feeling well when I went to the media preview at the new Solita restaurant in Valencia last week. I couldn’t pass up such a wonderful opportunity to sample some amazing food and drinks prepared by the extraordinary Author and Chef, Deborah Schneider. I couldn’t disappoint my hubby either, he was really looking forward to sampling the Baja style menu items. I would never let down my wonderful blogging friends, Carolyn and AJ, who recommended me to the PR firm organizing this event. I am glad I went because the restaraunt was fabulous, inviting, comforting, warm and spoke volumes to me. Yes, the owners, chefs, servers, and fellow diners spoke to me. They said, “Eat, enjoy, relax. We are here for you.”

I went away with the sense that I will be back again soon, hopefully feeling better, with the knowledge that I will be comforted and treated especially well, like family at Solita’s.

solita

solita Tacos & Margaritas Brings Authentic Baja-Style Mexican Cuisine, 

Craft Cocktails (and 40 Tequilas) to Valencia!

  There is a new resto on my list of faves! It’s the Baja-inspired, chef-driven Mexican cuisine of solita Tacos & Margaritas coming to Valencia on Tuesday, November 18, 2014.

 The story behind solita Tacos & Margaritas involves a trio of restaurant-industry veterans and some serious Mexican-food cravings. While living in San Diego, co-founder and Operations Director Matt Baumayr fell in love with Baja’s casual roadside restaurants he discovered on frequent surfing trips south of the border. “Everything is fresh and local,” he says. “They order just enough food to last the day.”

It all started when…”Baumayr brought one of his close friends, his former boss and mentor, Rich Howland, who had started the RA Sushi concept, down to Baja to explore the food scene further, and the pair decided to find a way to bring the experience back across the border. A little research led them to ¡Baja! Cooking on the Edge, one of the first English-language cookbooks highlighting the cuisine of the region. And by sheer coincidence, it turned out the author, Deborah Schneider, lived less than a mile from Baumayr’s home.”

How Chef Schneider became the Baja Taco Queen:

“Originally from Toronto, Schneider left a job as an editor to pursue her cooking dream more than 30 years ago. She worked as a cook on private yachts in the Mediterranean and Florida before settling in San Diego and beginning her chef career in earnest, working her way through San Diego’s best kitchens. In time she became the first female chef at the Grant Grill and was the first (and only) female Executive Chef in the Hilton hotel chain at the four-star Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. For several seasons, she oversaw eight kitchens and more than 200 cooks running the dining program at the Del Mar Racetrack during thoroughbred race season.”

“No matter what you are cooking, in the kitchen, you talk about food and what your grandmother used to make,” Schneider says. “So I learned about authentic Mexican food by cooking next to Mexicans.”

I am all about finding life’s passion in all that we do. It turns out that Mexican food became Chef Schneider’s true passion. She has now published a total of five cookbooks, including Baja! Cooking on the Edge (a Food & Wine Best Cookbook choice), Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Latin Cooking, The Mexican Slow Cooker and Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta, which was nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award. (Schneider’s sixth book, Salsas and Moles, comes out next March.)

Photo Credit:  Moretti Photo

Photo Credit: Moretti Photo

…and the Rest is History!

Baumayr and Howland convinced Schneider to quit her day job, and the trio opened SOL Cocina in Newport Beach in 2009. That led to a second location in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the first solita Tacos & Margaritas in Huntington Beach last December.

“With solita, we wanted to reinvent the neighborhood restaurant,” Baumayr says. “We wanted to build a great restaurant with quality food where you could still walk out the door full (and with a buzz) for twenty bucks.”

 

Photo Credit:  Moretti Photo

Photo Credit: Moretti Photo

Authenticity is the Key to Success

From the Copa de Frutas to the Horchata Cocktail, everything is fresh, inviting, warm, and wholesome. At solita Tacos & Margaritas, nearly everything on the menu is grilled or smoked over oak, giving it the deep, rustic flavor that distinguishes authentic Mexican food. “It’s real flavorful, but simple. It’s very traditional flavors without any unnecessary bells and whistles,” Schneider says.

It is All ABOUT THE TACOS!

Tacos are the main attraction, with 11 choices for fillings, ELEVEN!

These are my faves:

  • Wood-Grilled Ancho Chile-Rubbed Chicken
  • Red Chile Beef ‘Borracho’ made with Chihuahua-Style Oak-Smoked shredded beef cooked in beer-spiked red chile salsa
  • Pork Carnitas cooked with Coca-Cola
  • Crispy Fried Fish Taco
  • Mushrooms with Garlic & Epazote complete with exotic mushrooms sautéed with fresh epazote, red chile and garlic
  • pan roasted Chile Tofu with firm pressed tofu with ancho chile, garlic and red chile rub

Oh heck, just try The El Primo Taco Taster Plate and you can choose four tacos to sample!

For Burrito Lovers

Any of those fillings can also come in a burrito, quesadilla, enchilada, rice-and-beans bowl or a Panzón, which is sort of like a Mexican calzone: a large flour tortilla stuffed with fillings, folded in half and cooked until crisp on the comal.

Family Style Appetizers

There are plenty of shareable Antojitos as well, including made-to-order Yellowtail Ceviche Tropicale, which is both sweet with bits of tropical fruit and hot with fiery chiles. The best-selling Grilled Corn Elote with butter, chipotle salsa and cotija cheese is served with flair, with servers slicing the kernels off the cob tableside.

 Schneider likes to combine that dish with the Queso al Forno, a bubbly combo of Mexican cheeses with green onions and Serrano chiles in an iron cazuela served with both corn and flour tortillas. “If you mix the corn into the cheese and then dish it out on a tortilla, it’s really tasty,” she says.

 If You are Still Reading This, just get in your car and drive over there!

Solita’s has the traditional stuff, and off the hook specialties, too:

  • Chile Relleno con Queso with roasted poblano chile stuffed with Mexican cheeses fried in a fluffy egg batter, on fresh tomato ranchera sauce with crema, cotixa cheese and avocado
  • Wood-Grilled Wild Fish, served with lime butter and avocado salad, with only local seasonal fish.
  • Oak-Roasted Chipotle Chicken Salad with Bacon & Jalapeño and the Grilled Carne Asada & Esquites Salad
solita - Deep Fried Ice Cream

Photo Credit: Moretti Photo

 

Don’t Forget to Save Room for…

The desserts! House-made Churros come with cinnamon sugar and chocolate dipping sauce, while the Deep-Fried Ice Cream is a scoop of vanilla with a crunchy corn flake-coconut coating served with nutella, dulce de leche and chocolate sauces.

 

So, make the trip to Valencia to experience all that solita Tacos & Margaritas has to offer, because the city coined “Awesometown” just got a lot more awesome…Mexican style!

*This week the restaurant and bar are open for dinner only.

 Solita Valencia is open from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm Sundays through Thursdays and 11:00 am to 11:00 pm Fridays and Saturdays. (The bar is open until midnight or later daily.) For more information, please visit www.solitatacos.com or call solita Tacos & Margaritas directly at 661.291.1399.

My hubby and  I received a free meal at the preview and were each gifted with a goody bag, a few copies of Chef Schneider’s books, and some samples. I really loved the restaurant, the food, and the location. I can’t wait to go back! All opinions in this review are my own. I was not asked and it was not required of me to write about my experience, however, I am happy to do so. All facts and quotes in this post are directly from the press release sent to me by Lawrence Moore & Associates Inc.

Come back to MizMeliz.com and read my review about the bar at solita Tacos & Margaritas.

It might be because of their great Skinny Margs that made me hear Baja calling me!

Photo Credit:  Moretti Photo

Photo Credit: Moretti Photo

 

My Mid-Summer Dream at StoneFire Grill #SFGsummer @StoneFire

Posted on July 25th, 2014 by & filed under Discoveries, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

My Mid-Summer Dream at StoneFire Grill

It’s summertime and what is better on a warm summer evening than sitting outside on the patio drinking cool drinks, eating amazing fresh food and hanging out with friends? (Disclosure.)

2014-07-16 18.17.25

Selfie with my BFF Carolyn West of #SCLB on the Patio at StoneFire Grill West Hills

That is exactly what I did last week with my So Cal Lady Blogger friends at the StoneFire Grill in West Hills.

The wonderful people at StoneFire Grill invited us over for dinner to sample their newest menu items. They are so hospitable and friendly, it was like being asked over to a friend’s home for a meal.  We had a whole section of the patio to ourselves. It was so nice, I wanted to stay longer.

My family enjoys eating at StoneFire all the time. We love to order barbecue and breadsticks and all the yummy sides and salads for parties. The cheesecake is to die for! Like most people I know, we try to eat healthy but we love the ease and convenience of ordering from our favorite restaurant. Since we always order our favorites, I had not looked at the menu or tried any of the new items since they were introduced. This was the perfect opportunity.

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Maddie and Colin at StoneFire West Hills

It was a special treat to meet the people behind the new menu at StoneFire. Justin Lopez was there serving us dinner and his brother, Kyle was actually doing the cooking. Everything was amazing!

Now I have some new, very healthy, favorites. The best part is they are very very yummy and just as worthy of craving as the rich meaty dishes I have grown accustomed to. I seriously have not stopped thinking of the Keen Green Salad and Grilled Shrimp. As much as I love the ribs and chicken at StoneFire, it will be easy to eat light this summer! 2014-07-22 03.47.13

So, it kinda makes you wonder why and how they did it, huh? I mean, why improve a good thing, right? Everyone loves the great food at StoneFire. Why the new items? Are they going to change? I hate when new things replace the old stuff that everyone loves. New management or owners or franchisees usually make changes like that. What’s the scoop?

Well, it helps if you know the background. The way things started over at StoneFire, I would be surprised if there were big changes in the plans. I received this story from my friends who coordinated the media event:

What happens when a strict vegetarian takes his place in his family’s popular “meat & potatoes” restaurants? That was the very real dilemma recently facing Justin Lopez, whose mother, Mary Harrigan and aunt Maureen, founded Stonefire Grill in 2000.  After all, the popular restaurants, with 7 locations in LA and OC, are known for large-portions of tri tip, ribs, pizzas, mac n cheese, carrot cake, etc.

To make his mark, Lopez did something risky – something that could have turned off the restaurant’s core customers and forever damaged its image.  He began reshaping the menu with a sharp focus on vegetarian dishes.  The result?  Sales of the new items quickly outpaced many of the favorite items that had been on the menu for years and the restaurants now are attracting a broader market share including many vegetarians and vegans.

He introduced items with key ingredients like kale, quinoa, chickpeas and arugula taking center stage.  Some customers had never even heard of some of these ingredients, however, they proved more than popular.  For instance, the Golden State Kale with chopped kale, red cabbage, cucumbers, golden raisins, roasted chickpeas and avocado with lemon tahini dressing has emerged as one of the top selling items on the entire menu.

photo by Melissa Reyes for http://mizmeliz.com copyright 2014

The Golden State Kale Salad: pretty, elegant, healthy and tasty!

Lopez also introduced a simple concept that has caught on – allowing guests to take any of the 16 salads featured on the menu and having it served as a wrap.

What are his latest offerings? Since cauliflower is the “new kale” this season, Lopez has developed several dishes featuring this cruciferous veggie like the Roasted Cauliflower Pita stuffed with chopped tomatoes, green onion, lemon tahini and a spicy cilantro-Serrano pepper sauce.

photo courtesy of StoneFire Grill

I never thought I would like cauliflower this much! The flavor from the roasted cauliflower is rich and savory.

Not all of the new items are vegetarian.  He has also crusaded for more lean protein items like turkey and shrimp that are key ingredients in several new dishes.

photo by Melissa Reyes for http://mizmeliz.com copyright 2014

The best grilled shrimp ever! Served on a bed of quinoa and a side of Keen Green salad.

From a business standpoint, retooling the menu was a risky move that could have alienated Stonefire’s loyal devotees, but that didn’t come to be.  In fact, the new items have invoked new energy, new customers and higher sales overall.

Sometimes, it really is that simple. It’s not a dream, but it is a dreamy way to spend your summer nights. Try one of Justin’s creations and let me know what you think.

photo by Melissa Reyes for http://mizmeliz.com copyright 2014

Served up with a refreshing Saint Archer Blonde Ale, the Grilled Cauliflower Pita was my favorite!

Tweet your favorites @StoneFireGrill and enter the #SFGSummer Contest

StoneFire

I Remember One Time at Farrell’s #FondestMemories @FarrellsisBack #CMB

Posted on February 25th, 2014 by & filed under Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

I remember one time I went to Farrell’s

There was a Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor in my neighborhood in Northridge, CA. I was already seventeen years old. It was my nephew’s 2nd birthday. I was babysitting. My brother and sister-in-law had a party planned for him, of course. But I wanted to share something extra special with him. I realize now that he most likely doesn’t remember it, he was so small. But I will never forget.

I took Christopher to Farrell’s for ice cream on his birthday. Just him and me. We sat in a booth and he was such a big boy. He had a smile that melted my heart. He was such the charmer! All the staff thought he was my little boy. We shared a sundae and everyone there sang to him as he blew out a candle.

Afterwards, I took him to the candy shoppe and bought him a giant lollipop. I got my favorite jawbreaker. I sat him on the steps in front of Farrell’s and took his picture. My little man.

I expected to be able to have a similar experience with my own children one day. By the time I had kids Farrell’s had closed. We went to Chuck E. Cheese’s instead. Fun, but not the same.

Now, Farrell’s is back!

I am so happy!

I had a chance to go to the opening of the NEW Buena Park Farrell’s. It was exactly how I remembered it. Great food. Amazing ice cream. Terrific service. Fun entertainment. It was a quality experience that I will always remember.

2014-02-22 14.00.13 2014-02-22 14.50.14 2014-02-22 14.58.30

Click on “Farrell’s is Back!” below to see the video with pictures of the new Farrell’s.

Do you have a fond memory of Farrell’s?

 

5 Stops on a Culinary Road Trip

Posted on April 23rd, 2013 by & filed under Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

One of the best things about taking a vacation is going to new restaurants and checking out the local fare. On our recent road trip to the Southwest, I enjoyed some of my all time favorite foods. If you are a foodie and like to read about food adventures, grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as I take you on a Culinary Adventure Road Trip!Road Trip Food

1. Green River, Utah

Chow Hound

I wanted to go to a family style diner, somewhere I could relax and stretch out a bit after a very long drive, and a nice server would wait on me. When we pulled off the highway and arrived at the halfway point between Las Vegas, Nevada and Boulder, Colorado we were literally in the middle of nowhere. Green River is a small town in Utah and for some reason it seemed very desolate. I had looked up restaurants in the area online ahead of time and there seemed to be quite a few. It’s the only populated area around and I expected there to be restaurants dotted along the main road. Not so much. Maybe we got off an exit too soon, or too late but we certainly didn’t see any signs of life around.

It was mid day and even though we had an early breakfast and snacks on the road, we had built up an appetite. As we drove down the main street looking for signs of life that hopefully lead us to a full service restaurant, one of the boys spotted a burger joint. A box style, family run, three table, stick in the mud. It was awesome! We had Green Chile Cheese Burgers and Fried Tater Tots. It was the first time we saw green chile burgers on a menu on this trip and the boys and I had been looking forward to having one. I don’t think they used New Mexico Green Chiles, but they were big, juicy and had the tasty tang and spicy heat that we were hoping for. After lunch, the chocolate soft serve ice cream hit the spot! We were ready to take on the long road ahead of us once again.

Chow Hound 3-28-13

Chow Hound Tables

ice cream

When we finally arrived at our destination  after a grueling day of driving which included an incredible excursion over the Rocky Mountains, we didn’t care where we ate – we just wanted food. The boys went to Denny’s and brought me back a pancake sandwich that I devoured in my hotel room. In the morning, we had just enough time to grab coffee and a continental breakfast provided by the hotel. It was pretty good. We stayed at the Best Western Kiva Inn near Fort Collins, Colorado. It was one of the nicest Best Westerns I had ever stayed at. If you are in the area, I highly recommend it.

2. Fort Collins, CO

Lark Burger

For lunch that day we had specific instructions from a friend to try Lark Burger. We were told they had awesome burgers. For some reason, I didn’t expect to find a high-end gourmet eatery in Fort Collins. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection and the quality of the food I tried. It was totally yummy and the prices were good for what you got. It turns out that Lark Burger is a chain, so if you have a chance to try it let me know. I had a Larkburger with Swiss Cheese and Truffle & Parmesan Fries. I loved every bite!

From Fort Collins, we drove to Boulder, Colorado. The first thing we did after checking in at the hotel was go on a factory tour of Celestial Seasonings. Even though we planned on being in town all weekend, it was a holiday so this was our only chance. The kids weren’t too interested and we had just experienced quite a bit of “togetherness” over the last 48 hours, so my hubby and I decided to go it alone. We had a blast! We have both always loved Celestial Seasonings teas. On the way there we reminisced of the past thirty or so years that we have enjoyed the herbal tea, the encouraging words on the packages, the unique artwork and our favorite, the Sleepy Time Bear. Besides the fact that we have both loved the product since childhood, we both love taking factory tours.

3. Boulder, Co

Celestial Seasonings

I am sorry to say that we did not get to eat at the Celestial Cafe because it closed early for the holiday. But we did enjoy the Tea Room very much and it deserves a stop on the Culinary Adventures Road Trip! When we arrived we were given our “pass” to the factory tour (it was a small package of blueberry herbal tea) and to unlimited hot and cold herbal tea tasting. There is a snack bar and a gift shop where you can buy anything and everything tea related and Celestial Seasonings trademarked. The tour itself was quite impressive. Our favorite was the Mint Room where all the mint is stored exclusively from the rest of the herbs and teas. Everything smelled remarkable and refreshing! We learned a lot about tea and herbs from around the world.

Turley’s

That night, we met my cousin for dinner. She has lived in Boulder for a number of years and qualifies as a local. We discussed in advance where we should eat and since it is a local favorite, this fit the bill. Turley’s serves buffalo meat as part of their very extensive organic and “clean” menu, which was something the boys wanted to try. I had a hard time deciding what to have since I was still full from the burgers over the past few days and all the tea I drank! I ended up having the Chicken Pot Pie. It was a little dry with a pizza dough kind of crust rather than a flaky pie crust. It was pretty good. I never saw the food on the boy’s plates. It vanished before I could take a picture. It must have been good!

I enjoyed a wonderful, fresh and hearty meal at Turley's in Boulder Co.

I enjoyed a wonderful, fresh and hearty meal at Turley’s in Boulder Co.

Turley's provided an elegant atmosphere, excellent service, and great food.  A perfect place to visit with family!

Turley’s provided an elegant atmosphere, excellent service, and great food. A perfect place to visit with family!

4. Broomfield, CO

Flatz Restaurant

Easter Brunch at the Renaissance Boulder Flatiron Hotel was to die for! It was very pricey, but you would expect that at a fine restaurant located in a four star hotel on a holiday weekend. The buffet menu was extensive combining unique chef prepared dishes with hometown favorites and brunch classics. Everything was displayed beautifully, the service was exceptional and the meal was a dream. Especially the bottomless mimosas!

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Boulder Cafe

It was very difficult to pick a restaurant in the Pearl Street area. There were plenty of choices and everything looked amazing. The boys are clued into finding the local fare and skipping the chain restaurants and things we normally eat. So, it was hard to resist an eatery called the Boulder Cafe. It is right in the center of Pearl Street Mall. It has inside and patio dining. The place felt authentically local, with a cafe menu, oyster bar, fondues and “Rocky Mountain” cuisine. It looked like a great place to take a date and there was a young clientele. I assumed everyone there to be college students. At this point, still stuffed from the reckless vacation eating I had been doing, I had an Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap appetizer for my meal. It was such a bountiful helping, I shared it with the boys. They also chose light meals that ended up not being quite enough to fill them. They finished every last bite of my dinner! The best part was just hanging out with my boys. We walked the length of the mall and shopped a little. I got them to go in LUSH with me and they got me to go in Rocket Fizz with them.

A cool brew at the Boulder Cafe

A cool brew at the Boulder Cafe

The boys toast with their sodas from Rocket Fizz on a cool Spring night in Boulder, CO

The boys toast with their sodas from Rocket Fizz on a cool Spring night in Boulder, CO

In the morning, we rushed to check out of the hotel and get to the college tour at the University of Colorado. We had no time for breakfast, so it was “hotel room” coffee, tea, granola bars and juice on the way. Then we grabbed a bite to eat at the cafeteria at the college before we got back on the road for our next, and final stop on our road trip. Boy, were we famished when we were driving along the dry, dusty road to New Mexico! As we approached each little town, my husband would ask, “Do you want me to stop to find a place to eat here?” We were all thinking the same thing. If we stopped now, we won’t be able to eat when we go through Santa Fe. We would drive the entire distance just to eat real New Mexico chile! So, we held out until 9 PM.

5. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen

As we rolled into one of my favorite all time places to visit, we started naming restaurants we knew in Santa Fe. We did a Yelp search based on our location and we selected the closest “New Mexican” restaurant we could find. As we walked in to Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, it seemed vaguely familiar. I may have been there before. I wasn’t sure. I know for sure I felt at home. It may have been the smell of tortillas and sopapillas cooking, the smiles on the faces of the servers, the families eating a late Monday night dinner, and the old adobe that appealed to me. It was familiar. It was wholesome cooking, the food that my family makes. We took a quick look at the menu and we all looked at each other, who would ask first? “Red or green?” We all have our favorites and we like both! One of the boys ordered exactly that – both, referred to as “Christmas.” Red and green sauces made with New Mexico chiles.

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen served it up fast, large portions of all of our favorites, complete with sopapillas and honey. I had my favorite, Stacked Enchiladas with Chile Adovada and Red Chile with a side of sour cream to cut the heat. The heat of New Mexico chile always gets me at first. Luckily, I had the chance to eat it quite a bit during our visit over the next few days and I was able to adjust! It was an amazing meal. It had been far too long!

Everything is a blur after that! We spent a few days with family and ate wonderful food while we enjoyed being together. The boys managed to get out to their favorite local restaurants in New Mexico like Twisters Burritos and Dion’s Pizza. On our way home we stopped at a Cracker Barrell in Flagstaff, Arizona. I don’t have any more food pictures to share from the trip. It turned out to be a fun Culinary Adventure Side Trip that I hope you enjoyed.

Have you been to any of the restaurants listed here? Do you have any suggestions on where to eat in New Mexico, Colorado, or Utah? Let me know! I would love to hear about your foodie adventures!

So, I didn’t mean to leave you hanging!  If you are following the entire Six States in Seven Days Road Trip Saga, I left off describing the exciting adventure just as we made it over the Rocky Mountains.  Stay tuned for more fun!  I would love to share with you what I did to make this trip fun for myself and how our family survived driving the rest of the 1000 miles or so through Boulder, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico and back to our home sweet home in Southern California.

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