Anaheim restaurant damaged in two-alarm fire

ANAHEIM — A second-alarm fire damaged a restaurant in a strip mall in Anaheim Saturday night, authorities said.


2nd alarm response #MagnoliaCommand calling knockdown on fire with no reported injuries. Fire contained to restaurant kitchen. Great work and assist by @OCFA_PIO #fire #Anaheim

— Anaheim Fire & Rescue (@AnaheimFire) July 8, 2018

The fire inside the eatery in the 200 block of South Magnolia was called in about 8:25 p.m. when smoke was seen coming from the building’s roof, said Sgt. Daron Wyatt, spokesman for Anaheim Fire and Rescue.

The fire was contained to the restaurant kitchen, Wyatt said. There was also minor damage in an adjacent hair salon.

Some 30 firefighters from Anaheim Fire and the Orange County Fire Authority were dispatched to the scene and knocked down the flames in about 25 minutes.

Cause of the fire is under investigation. Fire was contained to the kitchen of the unit of origin with minor smoke/water damage to an adjacent unit. Approx 30 FFs from AF&R and @OCFA_PIO had the fire out in about 25 mins. @AnaheimPD still has s/b Magnolia closed N of Broadway

— Anaheim Fire & Rescue (@AnaheimFire) July 8, 2018

.@AnaheimPD has now opened southbound Magnolia. All traffic has returned to normal operations

— Anaheim Fire & Rescue (@AnaheimFire) July 8, 2018


No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remained under investigation.

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Anaheim restaurant robbed, employee flees to storage room

ANAHEIM — A restaurant  employee sought safety in a storage room after the business was held up by a masked robber late Friday night, Nov. 17, authorities said.

The robbery occurred around 10:50 p.m. at the Mexi-Casa restaurant in the 1700 block of  West Lincoln Ave., said Anaheim police Sgt. Randy Sany.

The robber displayed a gun and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. The employee, who was not injured, fled to a storage room and locked the door, Sany said.

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The Blind Pig’s Alexander is great

The Brandy Alexander cocktail sips like a cognac-kissed milk shake. A whisper of crème de cacao blends with freshly grated nutmeg. But, there’s a trick to making this sweet dessert drink. According to The Blind Pig’s bar manager Ryan Autry, the silky, heavy whipped cream that finishes the cocktail must be hand-shaken to order.

At The Blind Pig in Rancho Santa Margarita, Autry and his team enjoy dissecting what you enjoy imbibing. The goal is to mix the perfect cocktail, suited just for your palette. “We like to think of ourselves as anthropologists or social scientists,” says Autry. “What flavors do you like? What liquors do you normally order and what herbs or ingredients do you gravitate to when it comes to cocktails? Are you into ginger? How about bitters? The more we know about you, the better the drink we can concoct.”

The Blind Pig’s Modern Brandy Alexander began as a bartender’s challenge. “A woman came in and requested a classic Brandy Alexander,” Autry says. “It’s a simple drink, but then I put our spin on it. We added crème de cacao-infused cream and hand whipped each one. Now, every time she comes in, I know she’ll order our Brandy Alexander. She told me we sort of ruined this drink for her because we do it so well.”

Modern Brandy Alexander 

1 oz. Hennessy VSOP Cognac Brandy

1½ oz. dark créme de cacao*

1 oz. heavy cream

½ oz. Benedictine

A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

*Reserve ½ oz créme de cacao for whipped cream.

Shake liquor with ice. Strain and pour into a chilled coupe glass. Whip cream with Benedictine and
remaining cr¯me de cacao. Float cream on top
and sprinkle with nutmeg.

The Blind Pig, 31431 Santa Margarita Pkwy,
Rancho Santa Margarita, 949.888.0072 ::


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The hamburger you have to try

When the James Beard Foundation announced its second annual Blended Burger Project in May, chef Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub in Orange quickly rose to the call. The contest posed the challenge of creating an artisanal burger in which at least 25 percent of the patty is ground mushrooms, promoting the blended burger concept as a more healthful and arguably tastier version of the classic beef burger. Daniels’ creative calibrations resulted in the Haven Breakfast Burger, a menu entrée that proved so popular during the competition period it remains on the menu.

“We process mushrooms and season it as pork chorizo with our same custom grind … you’re not changing what the burger tastes like. The mushroom adds umami, and it still tastes like meat,” Daniels explains. (By the way, that “custom grind” is typically 65 percent chuck, 15 percent short rib and 30 percent pork fatback.)

Each burger is prepared to order and topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese, thick-cut bacon braised in maple syrup and coffee, and a fresh fried egg sourced from GoneStraw Farms in Riverside. All this is neatly sandwiched into a fresh double-egg-washed brioche bun from OC Baking Co. Served with fresh arugula and a distinctively bright housemade ketchup, the burger provides deep mid-morning satisfaction, as it hits every hearty breakfast note yet could be enjoyed easily any time of day.

The lower-fat level of the mushroom blend gave us license to pair it with a “breakfast beer.” In our case the Sumatra Mountain Brown by Founders Brewing Co. It’s the stuff of … dare we say … champions.

Burger Blend: Chorizo-Seasoned
Ground Mushrooms

5 pounds sliced white mushrooms

Dry ingredients

4 tbsp. salt

5 tsp. ancho chili powder

3 tbsp. smoked paprika

4 tsp.  chipotle powder

4 tsp. smoked serrano powder

2 ½ tbsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. ground black pepper

3 tbsp.  dry oregano

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin

Deglazing liquid

3 tbsp. tequila

3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

¼ cup achiote paste



Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Toss mushrooms in the spice blend and sweat in a large pan, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat. Cook until mushrooms release all their liquid and mixture begins to stick to pan. Deglaze with the tequila/achiote/vinegar mixture. Allow to simmer until almost dry. Pour out onto a baking sheet and chill. Once cool, grind through a meat grinder or food processor. Add as 20 percent of whatever blend of meat cuts you choose. Refrigerate remainder for use later.

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Chef Art Smith cooks up help for hurricane victims

Celebrity chef Art Smith, who makes an appearance at this year’s Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival, has helmed the kitchen at the Florida Governor’s Mansion, cooked for celebrities such as Oprah and had brief stints on television. His appearances on “Top Chef” and at numerous food festivals around the globe have launched Smith into super stardom. The country boy now rubs elbows with celebrities, musicians, diplomats, politicians and influencers. Disney tapped him to launch its first “Farm to Fork” dining program, and Lady Gaga’s parents hired him to run their NY restaurant. He’s cooked for Obama and world leaders, but never forgot his Southern roots. As a sixth-generation Floridian, Smith rushed to help those in need after Hurricane Irma. Coast caught up with the celebrity chef to see how we all could best lend a hand.

Coast: After the recent devastation from Hurricane Irma, what is the best way for us in Orange County to help?

Art Smith: Florida has lived with hurricanes for centuries, some very catastrophic. Everything grows back fast in Florida with its lush, warm, fertile environment, but people’s lives don’t. Hurricanes like Irma displaced thousands. Helping them to return to what is left of their homes is tough. Many, like in Houston, are still in shelters or living with relatives. I had over 30 relatives in our home. We had lots of Arepas parties.

Californians can help by supporting the American Red Cross and other groups that help feed displaced folks. Our agricultural community has been challenged, but they will rebound. My worries are that the families that work to help bring that freshness to our table need our full support.

Coast: You spent several years cooking at the Florida Governor’s Mansion and for celebrities such as Oprah. However, you still remain true to your north Florida roots. How do you plan to revitalize small town Jasper, Florida?

AS: This beautiful, lush, rural, fragile place has been an agricultural hub for centuries, well known for its fertile soil and spring water. Jasper, like many American rural towns, suffers from lack of the creation of sustainable systems. That’s why we created the nonprofit Reunion to bring sustainable education to rural America. Education will always save us.

Coast: Speaking of education, as a father, how do you teach your children about food and its origins? Your four children with Jesus Salgueiro have access to free-range chickens and roaming livestock at your home farm; and your restaurant at Disney World celebrates “Farm to Fork” dining. Is this your way of introducing the next generation to responsible eating?

AS: The kids always win! They want bright colors, simple flavors with a little heat, and it must be FAST. Our fresh eggs from our pet chickens make great scrambled eggs with our garden veggies tucked into Venezuelan Arepas – their version of a pita. [We’re making] baby steps.

Coast: What brings you to Newport Beach this October?

AS: Every celebrity chef in America goes to food and wine festivals. They have become the #WoodstockOfFoodom! We all love an audience and going to the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival is the equivalent to flying first class! I’m honored to be participating this year … [I’ll prepare] local sustainable dishes using my signature Southern recipes, from fried chicken, shrimp and artisan grits
to biscuits.

My favorite thing about Southern California is the sunshine. When you cook in the beautiful California outdoors, it makes everything taste better.

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Liquid Assets: Crazy for absinthe

Oscar Wilde penned glorious stories of sipping absinthe in fashionable Victorian parlors. Wilde wrote: “After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are… .”

With the promise of fantastical side effects, the libation enchanted writers and inspired artists during the height of Paris’s Belle-Epoque. Manet and Picasso imbibed the spirit daily. It’s rumored Vincent van Gogh’s excessive absinthe consumption may have even led him down the path to madness. Decades later Ernest Hemingway discovered absinthe in Spain as a journalist covering the Spanish Civil War. The spirit became one of his favorite muses – and vices.

The experience of sipping absinthe at Five Crowns in Corona del Mar recalls this European decadence. Only regulars of the bar know about the once-a-month speakeasy, where head bartender Randy Thais creates a revolving cocktail menu. The one constant? The absinthe fountain.

Thais places four goblets beneath a clear glass vessel decorated with silver flourishes that looks like a glorious winner’s cup trophy. He pours a few ounces of absinthe into the glasses; each topped with sugar cubes sitting atop perforated teaspoons. Water droplets splash from the fountain onto the sugar. The cubes begin to dissolve, and then disintegrate. As you watch the melting sugar blocks, your mind turns to existential questions: Does this absinthe preparation symbolize the ticking clock of time? Does it reflect the fragility of our own fleeting life? Maybe it’s the ceremonial way each glass is prepared, or the mysticism of the drinking ritual. Whatever the combination, this absinthe experience is crazy good.


1.5 ounces Vilya Spirits absinthe

1 sugar cube

3 ounces ice cold water


Pour liquor into an absinthe glass. Place a perforated absinthe spoon with sugar cube on top. Drizzle the water over the sugar cube until it dissolves. Stir vigorously.


Five Crowns

3801 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar 949.760.0331 ::

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The Taste: The Ahi moment

“Tuna is boring!”  So sayeth chef Paul Gstrein, the executive chef of Bayside since its inception in 1999.  Mind you, this pronouncement is boldly made before the presentation and tasting of his own Pepper Crusted Ahi.

Gstrein, an Austrian by way of Northern Italy, has his own interpretation of what defines the elusive and now perhaps quickly aging “New American” genre of cuisine. From Gstrein’s perspective, the style and sensibility of “New American” acknowledged a wider range of ethnic influence and allowed for what evolved into the international fusion movement. “It allows for a wider global palette,” the chef observes.

From the airy central dining room, he continues as we survey the splay of yachts in the marina just across Bayside Drive: “I am classically trained in French cuisine. So the sauces, stocks and broths, these are always the foundation regardless.” Gstrein also suggests that the signature pepper-crusting of his seared ahi reflects this same classical French breeding.

The chef excuses himself and shortly after emerges with an artful composition of four thick sticks of darkly crusted sashimi-grade ahi crossed over a light platform of baby bok choy simmered in an herb broth, basking in a shallow pond of soy chili ginger sauce. The bright pink planks of tuna luminesce against the pale verdure of the bok choy, all brightly framed by the electric orange of the ginger sauce. Almost as punctuation, small green orbs of wasabi dot the side of the plate.

As the chef had implied, what subtly sets this tuna apart from the rest is the combination of intense taste and texture of the pepper crust.  While the crusting is light, it caves with a pleasant crunch, as the wave of peppery heat crashes through the sear into the silken, buttery center of the ahi. The pepper’s bold presence obviates any call for the wasabi sitting timidly at the side of the action.  The bok choy offers gentle support while the soy chili ginger sauce assists with a piquant smack on the finish. All of which is to say, this seared tuna will wake you up and keep you fascinated until there is only a wash of chili sauce and the lonely wasabi dots staring back at you…


Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna

2 Tbsp black peppercorns

1 tsp white peppercorns

2 Tbsp sesame seeds

1/2 tsp salt

4 Sashimi grade tuna steaks

Ginger soy vinaigrette*




In a spice grinder combine and grind peppercorns, sesame seeds, and salt until it becomes a relatively fine powder. Spread mixture on a plate.

One at a time, press tuna steaks into the spice mixture, coating all sides. Use hands to press additional spice mixture into any areas missed. Set tuna steaks aside.

Heat olive oil in a nonstick fry pan or skillet. Cook for a minute and a half on the first side, then flip and cook a minute and a half on the second side. This will give you a nice rare tuna steak.

Slice and serve with steamed baby bok choy drizzled with ginger soy vinaigrette.


*Ginger Soy Vinaigrette:

1 ounce chili garlic sauce

2/3 ounce Tabasco

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/3 cup oil

1/8 cup Dijon mustard

1/8 cup sugar

1/8 cup sesame oil

1/8 cup soy sauce

 Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Keep refrigerated.





900 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach 949.721.1222



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One of 2 new In-N-Out restaurants planned for Orange County causing social media flap

  • When In-N-Out Burger enters a street corner, snaking drive through lanes are part of the deal. A flyer is circulating around Santa Ana, protesting the noise, traffic and odor the chain will cause if it builds a restaurant on a vacant lot at Tustin and 17th Street. (SCNG File photo)

    When In-N-Out Burger enters a street corner, snaking drive through lanes are part of the deal. A flyer is circulating around Santa Ana, protesting the noise, traffic and odor the chain will cause if it builds a restaurant on a vacant lot at Tustin and 17th Street. (SCNG File photo)

  • A flyer against In-N-Out in Santa Ana sparks debate on Facebook.

    A flyer against In-N-Out in Santa Ana sparks debate on Facebook.

  • In-N-Out is hoping to open a location at the corner of 17th Street and Tustin in Santa Ana. Santa Ana. The lot has been vacant for years. (Nancy Luna, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    In-N-Out is hoping to open a location at the corner of 17th Street and Tustin in Santa Ana. Santa Ana. The lot has been vacant for years. (Nancy Luna, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • In-N-Out tries to keep lines moving by placing workers at the drive through. They take orders to speed up the ordering process. (Stan Lim, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

    In-N-Out tries to keep lines moving by placing workers at the drive through. They take orders to speed up the ordering process. (Stan Lim, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • In-N-Out is hoping to open a location at the corner of 17th Street and Tustin in Santa Ana. The lot has been vacant for years. (Nancy Luna, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    In-N-Out is hoping to open a location at the corner of 17th Street and Tustin in Santa Ana. The lot has been vacant for years. (Nancy Luna, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Snaking lines at the drive-throughs are common at In-N-Out. (AP Photo/Adam Lau)

    Snaking lines at the drive-throughs are common at In-N-Out. (AP Photo/Adam Lau)

  • An In-N-Out Double Double and fries.

    An In-N-Out Double Double and fries.



In-N-Out Burger is adding two more Orange County locations including one on an empty Santa Ana lot that has triggered some controversy among neighbors.

A flyer protesting an In-N-Out proposed at the corner of 17th Street and Tustin Avenue in Santa Ana has been circulating on Facebook. The flyer, which has been distributed to area residents, said the fast-food project will cause “noise, traffic and odors.”  (The flyer also says a Chick-fil-A is planned for the site. But a spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A told the Register this week that the chain does “not currently have any new locations to confirm.”)

But, In-N-Out is definitely in play.

Carl Arena, vice president of development for Irvine-based In-N-Out, said the Santa Ana restaurant is still in the early phase of development.

“We do hope to open a restaurant there in the future. That said, it is still very early in the development application process,” he said.

He did not comment on the flyer, which was posted on a community Facebook forum targeting Orange residents. Most of the commenters said they didn’t have a problem with the new development. In fact, many rejoiced at the ability to order a Double Double closer to home.

“My husband and I are pretty stoked for this,” wrote one woman who said she lives nearby.

The busy corner, near the (55) freeway, is a few miles south of Orange. A gas station, a Starbucks with a drive-through and a Claim Jumper, occupy the other three corners.

Other locals said any development is long overdue as the blighted lot has been empty for years. “It will be great for that intersection. The area has been idle for years,” one person wrote.

If approved, and after construction begins, Arena said it will take at least four to five months to build.

“There is still quite a bit of work to be done before we can even set a time to begin construction.  Because it is still so early in the process, it would be premature to comment on a timeline or if we will even achieve a development approval,” he said.

Arena said the chain will open its next Orange County restaurant in early 2018 in La Habra.

At nearly 4,000-square-feet, the restaurant will take up two lots at 1761 W. Whittier Blvd. It will have a patio and drive-through lane that can accommodate 17 vehicles.

The 325-unit chain, founded in Baldwin Park in 1948, operates 25 restaurants in Orange County. All restaurants are company owned.

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