Morsels: 7 Days to EAT – A week of great bites in OC

The OC sizzles in the summertime. Enjoy each day eating and drinking at sweet, gluten-free spots. Pig out on buzz-worthy vegan ice cream – made with sweet tomatoes – from Salt & Straw at Downtown Disney. Get your boba-fix filled with an artisanal strawberry coconut milk green tea at Omomo in Irvine. Or, need other sweet suggestions? Start here:

 

  • MARGARITA MONDAY: Toast to Las Brisas’ 40th anniversary with the Laguna Beach restaurant’s signature margarita. :: lasbrisaslagunabeach.com Photography by istock

  • TACO TUESDAY: Taco Mesa and Taco Rosa serve traditional Valencia-style horchatas made with organic tiger nuts. :: tacomesa.com

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  • WHISKEY AND WAGYU WEDNESDAY: A wagyu and whiskey tasting menu takes over midweek at Nobu Newport Beach, Lido Marina Village. :: https://noburestaurants.com/newportbeach/home/

  • THIRSTY THURSDAY: Thursdays are for high rollers who sip Hennessy V.S. by Felipe Pantone; the artist-designed bottle intended for collectors and connoisseurs is now available at Hi-Times. (Photography courtesy of Hennessy.com )

  • FRIDAY FUN: Another reason to luxuriate in the lobby: Montage Laguna Beach unveiled its afternoon tea service with delectable sandwiches combined with a lovely view of the Pacific. :: montage.com

  • SATURDAY SUMMER SKOOP: Nekter Juice Bar’s dairy-free frozen Skoop is a great way to chill out this summer.
    Flavors include s’more and an orange offering made with coconut milk. Both are available for a limited time. :: nekter.com

  • SWEET SUNDAY: Two Costa Mesa friends created Lavender Lane Baking Co. to feed the need for delectable gluten-free and paleo-friendly desserts. The dark chocolate gluten-free brownies won our office taste test. :: lavenderlanebakingco.com

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Taste: In the kitchen with chef Pascal Olhats

If there is a godfather of French cuisine and fine dining in Orange County, it is Chef Pascal Olhats.

For more than 30 years (“I came as a tourist and I feel I am still on vacation,” Olhats says) the chef has provided reliably authentic and appropriately innovative cooking in the now classic French style of nouvelle cuisine. His mastery comes well-earned, having served under the legendary creator of the style, Chef Paul Bocuse, in Lyon, France.

Having recently sold his branch of Pascal in San Juan Capistrano, Olhats remains at Café Jardin, the elegant outdoor bistro located on the grounds of the Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar. Typically serving sophisticated lunch and weekend brunch menus, the café launched a series of special Sunday evening prix fixe dinners in June.

On this occasion we encountered the esteemed chef at his cozy home in Tustin on a rain-spattered day in May. Diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in November, Olhats had just returned home from a stay at City of Hope, where he had undergone a successful bone marrow transplant. Nonetheless, he greeted us with hale vigor and good humor as he welcomed us into his home.

Across from the stove in the kitchen an impressive mise en place had been set out on a square standing butcher’s block. Freshly diced tomatoes; whole garlic cloves blanched in milk and roasted; chopped Nicoise olives; a tangled mélange of parsley, thyme, rosemary, and tarragon – all clues as to what’s for lunch: chicken breasts Provençal accompanied by a rich potato gratin, prepared with a casual deftness in the chef’s own kitchen. C’est formidable!

Chef Pascal Olhats sizzles with summer dishes at Sherman Library & Gardens.

Textbook French nouvelle cuisine? Bien sûr! This recipe is in fact redacted from Olhats’ course at Saddleback College, where he has taught for many years.

 

Café Jardin/Sherman Library & Gardens2647 Pacific Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar

:: slgardens.org

 

CHICKEN BREAST À LA PROVENÇAL

INGREDIENTS

4 bone-in 8 oz. chicken breasts

2 tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced

16 garlic cloves (blanched in boiling milk for 5 minutes and roasted in foil for 15 minutes)

6 oz. black olives, pitted and halved

10 oz. chicken stock

4 oz. dry chardonnay

2 oz. extra virgin olive oil

Fresh herbs: chopped thyme, rosemary, parsley and tarragon

salt & pepper

 

METHOD

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Sauté the chicken skin-side down in olive oil.

Remove fat from the pan. Turn the chicken skin side up. Add diced tomatoes, garlic, olives, and fresh herbs (reserving some for garnish). Add the wine and stock.

Braise the chicken in the oven for about 12 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and reduce sauce to 1/3.

Plate the chicken and pour sauce over the breasts. Garnish with remaining herbs and serve.

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Taste: In the kitchen with Café Jardin at Sherman Library & Gardens’ chef Pascal Olhats

If there is a godfather of French cuisine and fine dining in Orange County, it is Chef Pascal Olhats.

For more than 30 years (“I came as a tourist and I feel I am still on vacation,” Olhats says) the chef has provided reliably authentic and appropriately innovative cooking in the now classic French style of nouvelle cuisine. His mastery comes well-earned, having served under the legendary creator of the style, Chef Paul Bocuse, in Lyon, France.

Having recently sold his branch of Pascal in San Juan Capistrano, Olhats remains at Café Jardin, the elegant outdoor bistro located on the grounds of the Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar. Typically serving sophisticated lunch and weekend brunch menus, the café launched a series of special Sunday evening prix fixe dinners in June.

On this occasion we encountered the esteemed chef at his cozy home in Tustin on a rain-spattered day in May. Diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in November, Olhats had just returned home from a stay at City of Hope, where he had undergone a successful bone marrow transplant. Nonetheless, he greeted us with hale vigor and good humor as he welcomed us into his home.

Across from the stove in the kitchen an impressive mise en place had been set out on a square standing butcher’s block. Freshly diced tomatoes; whole garlic cloves blanched in milk and roasted; chopped Nicoise olives; a tangled mélange of parsley, thyme, rosemary, and tarragon – all clues as to what’s for lunch: chicken breasts Provençal accompanied by a rich potato gratin, prepared with a casual deftness in the chef’s own kitchen. C’est formidable!

Chef Pascal Olhats sizzles with summer dishes at Sherman Library & Gardens.

Textbook French nouvelle cuisine? Bien sûr! This recipe is in fact redacted from Olhats’ course at Saddleback College, where he has taught for many years.

 

Café Jardin/Sherman Library & Gardens2647 Pacific Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar

:: slgardens.org

 

CHICKEN BREAST À LA PROVENÇAL

INGREDIENTS

4 bone-in 8 oz. chicken breasts

2 tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced

16 garlic cloves (blanched in boiling milk for 5 minutes and roasted in foil for 15 minutes)

6 oz. black olives, pitted and halved

10 oz. chicken stock

4 oz. dry chardonnay

2 oz. extra virgin olive oil

Fresh herbs: chopped thyme, rosemary, parsley and tarragon

salt & pepper

 

METHOD

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Sauté the chicken skin-side down in olive oil.

Remove fat from the pan. Turn the chicken skin side up. Add diced tomatoes, garlic, olives, and fresh herbs (reserving some for garnish). Add the wine and stock.

Braise the chicken in the oven for about 12 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and reduce sauce to 1/3.

Plate the chicken and pour sauce over the breasts. Garnish with remaining herbs and serve.

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Morsels: Seeing Michelin stars in OC and Terranea’s healthy eats

A level playing field. That’s all I’ve ever asked for. When my friends, typically cocky chefs, bragged about their Michelin star restaurants in New York, Chicago and Paris, all I could do was roll my eyes and say, “When Michelin comes to Southern California, then it’s on.” And, I was right. On June 3, Michelin presented its first all-state guide at a sunlit ceremony at Paséa Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach. During that idyllic Orange County evening, 90 restaurants were celebrated as Michelin star recipients.

Niki Nakayama and Carole Iida-Nakayama of n/naka in Los Angeles stole the show. The duo had a big week. Netflix had just released Ali Wong’s celebrity chef-inspired romcom “Always Be My Maybe,” which utilized the kaiseki chefs’ talents as culinary consultants for the movie. Then on that evening, the couple stood on a male-dominated stage and took home two Michelin stars. “This could only happen in Southern California,” said Nakayama as tears streamed down her cheeks, her wife, Carole, standing beside her, arms intertwined and holding her close. “We have 20 people in our restaurant – 13 of them are women. We’re so proud of that,” added Carole. “The ingredients. The freedom – we could only do it here,” said Nakayama.


Chef Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria in Costa Mesa jokes around and hugs the Michelin Man mascot at the star selection for the 2019 Michelin Guide California. (Photography by Leonard Ortiz)

Carlos Salgado titillated the Michelin inspectors at Taco Maria. “The enticing scent of meat cooking over the fire and house-made heirloom masa tortillas on the griddle set the tone for an amazing experience,” stated Michelin inspectors. Taco Maria was one of two OC restaurants to receive Michelin star nods. Hana re at the Lab took home a star for chef Atsushi Yokoyama‘s refined Spartan take on sushi reverence. In total, the 2019 Michelin Guide California features 27 new restaurants with a one-star distinction, many of which have been featured in the pages of Coast. The new guide also revealed dishes to try such as pancit noodles at Irenia, paella at Vaca and Amelia’s salad at Marché Moderne. Five local spots – chef Ross Pangilinan’s Mix Mix Kitchen and Bar, Garlic & Chives, Hiro Nori Ramen, Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen, and LSXO received Bib Gourmand recognition. The evening revealed what we’ve known all along. California is a culinary hotspot. Now, we have a nifty red guide to prove it.


Chef Atsushi Yokoyama, center, of Sushi Hana re raises his glass with other chefs after his restaurant was awarded one Michelin star. (Photography by Leonard Ortiz)

COOL COCKTAIL

The boozy S’mores Milkshake from Slater’s 50/50 combines nostalgic flavors of camping spiked with marshmallow vodka. The adult-only concoction melds vanilla ice cream, toasted marshmallow syrup, chocolate, whipped cream, marshmallow fluff and finely crushed graham crackers into one lovely glass. If you don’t get a buzz from the booze, you’ll definitely succumb to the inevitable sugar high.


The boozy S’mores Milkshake from Slater’s 50/50. (photography courtesy of ajendapr.com)

6362 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road, Anaheim Hills17071 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach:: slaters5050.com

Food Field Trip


Avocado sweet potato toast at Terranea’s solviva wellness restaurant. (photography courtesy of terranea.com)

This year Terranea celebrated its 10th anniversary and unveiled Solviva, a new wellness-driven restaurant. Chef RJ Dela Merced developed a plant-forward menu with resident nutritionist Navil Lorenzana. The dishes honor Terranea’s bounty: produce grown onsite, the surrounding kelp forest and honey by resident bees. Think: sweet potato toast topped with avocado and sprouts, seasonal crudite dipped in housemade hummus along with heartier hand-cut pappardelle covered in almond pesto and grass-fed lamb with fresh fava beans.

Breakfast at Solviva boasts the resort’s bounty. Terranea kelp-cured smoked salmon topped with tomato and onion jam, whipped cream cheese on half of a whole wheat bagel is so tasty, you’ll order two for yourself. The kelp is harvested in the wild marine forest that encircles the resort. The kelp serves two purposes. Bernard Ibarra, vice president of culinary experiences and executive chef, harvests sea salt from these waters. He gathers buckets of water and lets it evaporate in special beds; the result is local sea salt. The kelp imparts oceanic terroir while simultaneously purifying the water and improving the salt’s quality. The jams are made with fruit from the resort’s garden. Eggs from the on-site coop have psychedelic orange yolks.

The honey harvested from Terranea’s bees is served in many ways. My favorite was the Bee’s Knees cocktail, which combines artisanal gin with sweet honey. It’s the perfect way to toast the resort’s 10th anniversary.

  • Black Tiger shrimp ceviche with taro chips. (photography by Terranea)

  • Soliviva dining room. (photography by Terranea)

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  • Terranea kelp-cured smoked salmon topped with tomato and onion jam, whipped cream cheese on half of a whole wheat bagel. (photography by Jenn Tanaka)

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Taste: Chef Vic Casanova’s recipe for English pea pesto at Balboa Bay Resort’s A&O Kitchen + Bar

Chef Vic Casanova, the new executive chef at Balboa Bay Resort, is framed and backlit by the early afternoon sun beaming from the harbor into the spacious dining room of A&O Kitchen + Bar. The cascade of adjectives applies to the new menu that Casanova has recently engineered and launched here, as well as the philosophy applied to his purview over the resort’s fine dining venue, Waterline.

“It’s where we are and where we’re trying to go … My goal was to gather up a menu that is ingredient-driven and three-dimensional. The way to do that is to use bright, vivid colors and textures…” And he goes on: “I find great ingredients and let them speak for themselves.”

If they can get a word in, that is. Nothing if not energetic, genuinely enthusiastic, articulate and loquacious, Casanova has embraced his new outpost in Newport Beach with verve.

A Bronx native trained on the line at Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne and Danny Meyer‘s storied Gramercy Tavern, Casanova arrived in Southern California ten years ago, after an extended stint at The Phoenician in Scottsdale. From the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, he opened the popular nouvelle trattoria Gusto, which Esquire named as Best New Restaurant in 2012. Initially, he moved his young family to Orange County because he realized that after 10 years in L.A., he had never seen the beach. When the opportunity opened at Balboa Bay, it seemed a natural fit. He joined the resort’s team at the end of February.

His chef de cuisine Josh Shapiro joins us as we begin to assay the ultimate purpose for our visit: to eat.

A small rectangular ceramic plate arrives at the table. Atop sits grilled ciabatta layered with English pea pesto and creamy burrata crowned with furls of delicate pea tendrils and finished with a fresh squeeze of lemon. It’s played like edible art. Soon only stray bits of crumb remain.

Have we noticed an odd preponderance of toasts and toppings on our beat of late? Yes.

Yet are we instantly weakened by anything involving burrata, let alone English peas? Again, the answer is yes! Is the combination irresistibly simple and sophisticated? You be the judge.

 

ENGLISH PEA PESTO

Ingredients:

4 cups English peas, blanched and shocked

3 cloves garlic, peeled

8 cups pea tendrils

4 tsp lemon juice

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Place peas, garlic, salt, pepper, pea tendrils, and lemon juice into a food processor. Pulse a few times until everything is coarsely chopped.

While the food processor is running, slowly stream in olive oil and blend until everything is incorporated into a smooth pesto. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula and pulse once more to incorporate.

 

A&O KITCHEN + BAR at Balboa Bay Resort

1221 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach

:: balboabayresort.com

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