Mar 28 2011

Eat, Drink and Help Japan! (Haven4Japan)

TODAY – Monday March 28, Haven Gastropub in Old Towne Orange is hosting a fundraising event! They will donate 100% of profits to a relief fund set up through Mercy Corps to help families affected by the disaster in Japan.

If you haven’t been to Haven yet, this is your perfect opportunity to try out their great food and contribute to a worthwhile cause!

What is a Gastropub anyway? It’s a pub with a focus on great food.

In Haven’s case it’s a focus on elevated comfort food. Old familiars we all love with a fresh twist. Mac and Cheese – They have it, but here it’s a creamy dream with black truffle. Other favorites include a juicy Haven burger with earthy blue cheese, spicy arugula, and pickled onions or their Chicken and waffles with homemade hot sauce. Along with these old favorites Chef Greg Daniels has also served up some new classics like their cabernet crusted escolar with wine powder, chilled lobster salad, popcorn shoots, duck fat roasted fingerling or the bucatini carbonara with guanciale (basically bacon), arugula, black pepper, chile flakes, poached egg. The egg by the way is a wonderful lighter flavor that is a surprisingly good substitute for the traditional cream sauce.

The folks at Haven have also sought out unique beer, wine and cocktails to enjoy alone or to pair with their dishes.

Another huge draw, for me anyway, are their hours 11am – 2am! This means open late for GOOD FOOD! Their happy hour is also pretty fab.

Small note from my soapbox – The Haven Kitchen takes every reasonable step to ensure that their produce selections are either local or organic, and that the meat and seafood they purchase is sustainable and humanely raised.

Anyway, I urge you to stop in to Haven, eat, drink and most importantly – Help Japan.

Haven Gastropub is located at 190 South Glassell Street Old Towne Orange, CA 92866

Phone: 714 221 0680

Follow them on Facebook or Twitter (@havengastropub)


Feb 19 2011

Music for a Springtime’s eve

I’m going to take a step away from actual food and talk about music for a post. Here is a play list I made the other day. I think I’d like to listen to it on a cool late spring evening outside on a garden patio eating some good food family style with friends, sharing a bottle (or 2) of wine talking the night away.


It’s Only a Paper Moon – Ella Fitzgerald &  The Delta Rhythm Boys

One More Time With Feeling – Regina Spector

Don’t be Afraid, You Have Just Got Your Eyes Closed – Mum

The Dress Looks Nice on You – Sufjan Stevens

Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo-Bee – Stacy Kent

Singin’ In The Rain – Gene Kelly

Blue Rain – Glenn Miller

Free Ride – Nick Drake

Slang Tang – Discovery

Lights Inside My Head – Cloud Cult

Man of a Thousand Faces – Regina Spektor

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries – Lisa Loeb

Peggy, the Pin-up Girl – Glenn Miller

Asinn – Amiina

Violin – Amos Lee

Osaka Loop Line – Discovery

Moon River – Audrey Hepburn

Lucky – Kat Edmonson

Cut my Wings – Seasick Steve

Pennsylvania 6-5000 – Glenn Miller

You’re the Top – Cole Porter

Feb 6 2011

Tender Greens

A few days ago I was fortunate enough to be up in LA with friends eating at Tender Greens.

The Tender Greens philosophy is simple :

“We believe there should be a conscious connection between the one who eats the food and the source of that sustenance.”

The majority of their produce comes fresh picked daily from Scarborough Farms in Oxnard, where it is grown naturally.  If it doesn’t come form Scarborough they utilize a few small local farms. Their food is comprised from organic ingredients wherever possible

Their beef comes from grain-fed hormone/antibiotic free cows.  The chicken comes to you from free-range farms, and fed grain without hormones.

Tender Greens looks for local boutique wineries, microbreweries and organic tea blenders to provide beverages that reflect the same values as their food sources.

Just right off the bat, how AWESOME is that?!?!? A restaurant that not only cares about where the food they prepare comes from, but they make that fully connect to the consumer as well.

And I should mention that this food is pretty darn good.

The soups are hearty, the meat flavorful, and the salads fresh and tasty. I think we’d all expect that a place like this would cost a lot too right? I mean we all see how much organic and free-range costs us at the grocery store. I was pleasantly surprised. The flat iron steak, simple spinach side salad and mashed potatoes cost me around $11.00.

This restaurant is a quick concept place – you order at the counter, and then as you move along the line to the register you see your meal put together. This kind of format does lend itself to the meat being a little dry (I’m not going to lie – mine was) but overall I really enjoyed it. Although dry, the beef was still really tender and the flavor was full bodied. My friend Mel got the chicken and hers unfortunately was dry as well, but still the flavor was impressive. At the end of the day I’d prefer dry beef to chicken but that’s just me. I assume that the meat (chicken or beef) wouldn’t be dry if you caught the cooking cycle just right.

The salads however were wonderful. I got the simple baby spinach salad it was dressed with goat cheese, hazelnuts (they were chopped) and a cabernet vinaigrette. I thought the vinaigrette might end up being heavy but it was really light and I could still taste the spinach. The goat cheese was creamy and mingled nicely with the chopped hazelnuts. The whole salad came together so well, I liked it very much and it will be hard to order something different next time.

The mashed potatoes were tasty, garlicky and rich, but as we moved down the line some roasted sweet potatoes caught my eye…something for next time I guess.

The salads can be ordered with or without meat, and they even have a vegan option that sounds quite hardy. It has farro wheat with cranberry and hazelnuts, quinoa with cucumber and beets, green hummus, tabbouleh, and tender greens. I will have to try it one of these days.

Mel’s roasted tomato bread soup with basil oil was yummy, and although I didn’t have a chance to try it, their daily soup which was butternut squash looked enticing as well.

I will have to go back soon so I can sample more menu items.

Tender Greens has several locations throughout LA, I recommend checking out their website for locations, and while you’re at it take a look at their new blog.

Another good place to eat for lunch. You can feel good that you’ve supported your local farmers, and eaten healthier by choosing organic hormone free food products.

Isn’t it nice to KNOW where your food comes from?

Website for Tender Greens: (you’ll be able to access their blog from there too)

Follow them on Twitter for daily specials @TenderGreens

Jan 25 2011

Olive Pit

“The best Greek and Italian classics, prepared Old World style, with a hint on invention here and there to keep it fresh. Chef Yianni prepares everything with a careful eye on healthy, low-fat, low cholesterol, natural ingredients.”

Yesterday I took a visit to Olive Pit – Fresh Mediterranean Grill. Its the fast-concept restaurant of Chef Yianni (John) Koufodonti.

The restaurant is located in an unassuming strip mall off of Imperial Highway in Brea. It opened in 2008 and my parents occasionally get mailers from them, so the place had been on my raider for quite a while but I never really made a point to eat there.

Anyway, yesterday my mom and I were planning on making a quick lunch stop at Baja Fresh and decided to give Olive Pit a go instead.

I ordered an entree plate (your choice of 1 grilled protein and 2 small bites), and picked the lamb gyro with tabouleh and hummus. It also comes with pita bread.

It was really good! I was pleasantly surprised. I’m sure there a lot of hidden gems in strip malls, but unless you happen to find a favorite and keep going back, the strip mall atmosphere isn’t always on the top of everyone’s list.

I have a cold right now and I could still taste the food! By the way, my mom DID confirm the food was just as yummy as I thought it was.

The lamb gyro had a nice little crunch from being freshly grilled (it didn’t seem like it came form the traditional spit) it was flavorful and juicy, but not greasy. The tabouleh was fresh tasting, and a little tangy. The hummus had a surprising kick to it and was pretty garlicky too.

I will be sure to go back soon, Olive Pit has 3 ways to build your meal – a wrap, a salad (which are HUGE by the way), and an entree.

The proteins you can add to the wrap, salad, or entree consist of a nice assortment. They have falafel if you are a vegetarian, they also have salmon, chicken breast, the lamb gyro that I tried, and a few other choices. The small bites (sides)include Oven roasted potatoes, steamed basmati rice, hummus, tabouleh, a few salads, and some dips like tzatziki.

Olive Pit also offers a few classic entrees like spaghetti, moussaka, or lamb chops and items to share like fried cheese ravioli, or spanakopites.

Side note – Olive Pit also has wine and beer to enjoy with your meal.

If you are looking for a casual lunch place – something a little bit different then the usual burger or mexican chain. Stop by and give this place a try. They also do take-out!

Olive Pit is located in the Food Court of Brea Union Plaza, at 2445 Imperial Highway in Brea, California.

If you want to try their take-out call:

Olive Pit hours:
Sunday – Thursday: 11AM – 9PM
Friday – Saturday: 11AM – 9:30PM

Jan 6 2011


Hey everyone HeirloomLA is hosting a  Wine Tasting this Sunday at 3! Four Courses of Food, Five Flights of Wine, 20 Bucks at Silverlake Wine. Reservations Required 323.662.9024

I HIGHLY recommend this tasting. Silverlake Wine is a cool little wine shop in Silverlake, and HeirloomLA (besides being the caterer at my wedding) is the current Rock Star of the catering business. Their food is delicious and innovative! Matt and I had our tasting a few months ago and we were both so impressed with everything they presented to us.

Their signature item – the lasagna cupcake – is a perfect portion size and a fun take on the traditional lasagna. They have several different flavors (most available for take home AT Silverlake wine!

Some of their most popular flavors include: Wild Boar Bolognese and Fresh Mozzarella,
Short Rib and Robiola, Lamb Ragu and Fresh Mozzarella, Sage Brown Butter and Pumpkin with Smoked Mozzarella, Smoked Mac-n-Cheese, Confit Baby Artichoke with Fresh Mozzarella.

HeirloomLA buys their produce, and meats directly from local organic farms and farmers markets so everything you taste comes to you fresh!
Their menus will often be based on what is currently in season and looking good. No wilted salad greens here!
They also make all off their cheeses in house!

You can visit HeirloomLA on the web at or you can follow them on Twitter @heirloomLA

Silverlake wine is located at:

2395 Glendale Blvd.
LA, CA 90039
Phone # is 323.662.9024