Girls on Food

Event

Hotel Thrillist Presents: A Phoenix Feast

Scottsdale, Arizona always offers extremely fun and social events. A lot of those events actually revolve around food. There is quite a large foodie network in Arizona and I am so happy to be able to be a part of that community now. When I first heard about Hotel Thrillist at The W Scottsdale Hotel, I instantly wanted to go.

Hotel Thrillist

Hotel Thrillist Diego Pops 1

Hotel Thrillist DJ Hotel Thrillist Itinerary

This event had 16 chefs who were challenged to make something off of their menu and bring on the heat. There were loads of delicious menu items including venison burgers, burgers topped with pulled pork, bacon beignets, mini cubanos, street tacos and so much more!

Hotel Thrillist Diego Pops

Jack Daniels

Hotel Thrillist Chef

Hotel Thrillist Bar

Among the many different items that were offered, two really stood out to me. The first was the Boot Dumplings from Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse. These delectable dumplings were stuffed with pork belly and shrimp, and topped with a moonshine barbecue glaze. You read that right; moonshine! Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse is a casual American Tavern, with two Arizona locations. One in Phoenix and one in Old Town Scottsdale. Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse celebrate the craft of making good food, good drinks, and good friends. The menu is designed for snacking, sharing, and celebrating. They also offer house made strawberry moonshine, mango moonshine, apple pie moonshine and more! If you visit one of their locations, you’re able to get a ‘moonshine flight’ to sample 3 different moonshines. How cool is that?!

Bacon Beignets

Hotel Thrillist Taco

Hotel Thrillist Merch

Hotel Thrillist W Scottsdale

My second favorite item from the event was the Monte Cristo from Snooze, An A.M Eatery. This was absolutely delicious. They took a locally baked english muffin, organic brown sugar and vanilla egg batter and cooked that french toast style. This was then topped with swiss cheese, shaved tender belly ham, slopeside pure Vermont maple syrup and Snooze’s dijon hollandaise sauce. Can you say YUM? I made sure to tell Chef Jon Schwartz to please consider bringing this to the menu. It was just THAT good! Hotel Thrillist

Hotel Thrillist Chicken Sandwich

Hotel Thrillist Red Carpet

Did I mentioned there was a freakin’ Chocolate-Spiced TABASCO® brand fountain? It was so delicious. They had an array of strawberries, marshmallows, rice krispies and other yummy treats to dip into the chocolate fountain.

Tobasco Chocolate Fountain

Hotel Thrillist Street Taco

TABASCO chocolate fountain

There were hosted cocktails that included 3 different options. You could choose from the following: The Fire Starter, Spiced Tea or the Fire Extinguisher. I tried all three! The Fire Started was a chilled shot of Jack Daniel’s newly released, cinnamon-spiked Tennessee Fire. The Spiced Tea was Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, apple juice, cranberry juice and unsweetened tea. The last was the Fire Extinguisher. This consisted of a chilled shot of Tennessee Fire mixed with hard cider. All of the drinks were served in specialty Jack Daniel’s glasses specifically for this event. My favorite out of the three was the Fire Extinguisher.

Thrillist

hotel thrillist W Scottsdale Hotel Thrillist

This event, as I am sure you can tell based off of the pictures, had a really great theme. It was a very ‘neon sign’ inspired event; meaning, bright colors and that night life vibe. It was hosted on the roof top pool at The W Scottsdale. There were actually mermaids swimming in the pool during the event, a DJ with an electric violinist and at the end, to get everyone out and on their way to the after party, they had a marching band led by a fire breather. It was such a fun event and I am so glad I was able to go to represent Girls on Food.

Restaurants Involved:

Elements At Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Sushi Roku 

The District All American Burger Bar

Dakota

Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Cowboy Ciao

The Montauk

Diego Pops

Chompie’s

Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

Gadzooks Enchiladas And Soup

SumoMaya

Central Bistro

Nothing Bundt Cakes

 

A Trip Down Chocolate Road: Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival in San Francisco

It’s an Indian summer in Northern California. The time of year when we have to pack both a heavy sweater and sunscreen for the unpredictable weather Mother Nature bestows upon us. Will it rain?  Will it be sunny?  Will pea soup fog topple over the Marin County hills and spill into the Bay or will the San Franciscans run into the nearest café in search of cooler air-conditioned temperatures amid an unseasonably warm 85 degree day?  Students are slowly getting used to the sound of school bells ringing, grapes in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys are being picked by the ton and our boys in orange and black are scrambling to pick up as many runs and wins as possible in a last ditch effort to make a break for the playoffs. It is also the time of year when amidst the aroma of salt water and fresh seafood a familiar smell fills the streets of San Francisco… the smell of chocolate.

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Just off of Van Ness, in the heart of one of San Francisco’s busiest neighborhoods is Ghirardelli Square, the location of the famed Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival is a celebration of everything and all things we love about chocolate. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company along with over 60 regional food and wine vendors come out to share with the community the best there is to offer and pair with chocolate. From tea and coffee, to ice cream and olive oil, no cocoa bean is left uncrushed.

Some of the best in the cocoa covered business were out in full force to demonstrate their craft. Chocolatiers such as Ghirardelli’s owner Jenna Fu demonstrated the artistry, delicacy and versatility of chocolate.

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Through her work and chocolaty knowledge she provided viewers with various tips and tricks about working with chocolate, such as combining it with fruit in order to pull out the chocolates sweet and bitter notes.

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For me, one of the biggest highlights of the entire festival was getting to meet the individual chocolate and candy makers who were there to share their love for all things chocolate. Entrepreneurs such as Monica Elzalaki, founder of West Coast Toffee were proud to share their confections with anyone who came with an appetite for something a little different.

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Located out of Santa Cruz, California, Monica explained that her toffee recipes are a product of years of testing and tasting, in order to come up with something that “are a little more chewy” but “even more delicious” then your average taffy. After trying several flavors including the traditional semi-sweet chocolate almond and a little more exotic pumpkin spice with roasted pumpkin seeds it quickly became obvious why her booth had what seemed like an endless line of eager toffee tasters.

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A second purveyor, which was impossible to resist, was Fab Delight Chocolate Truffles. Specializing in special occasion presentations, there eye-catching creations were hard to pass up. They offered samples of various truffle flavors such as Oreo, cookies and cream, caramel apple and my personal favorite, Tiramisu.

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Made every day by hand combined with their use of the best ingredients created a clean yet complex taste that left me in my own little truffle happy place.

As I strolled down what was affectionately referred to as “Chocolate Road” I went from tent to tent trying as much as my belly could contain. Macaroons, petit fours, chocolate tea and of course the best Ghirardelli hot chocolate, it was impossible not to be in a blissful sugar coma at the end of that chocolate road.

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The best part of the entire day, however, had nothing to do with the chocolate itself. The cherry on top of my chocolate Saturday was the reason we were all there to taste. What was almost better than the abundance of chocolaty goodness available to try was all of the benefits from the festival went to an amazing local organization called Project Open Hand. Project Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides home cooked meals and groceries to seniors and seriously ill patients living in San Francisco and Alameda counties. For myself personally, as someone with a serious medical illness, this organization is particularly close to my heart. I understand how important receiving good nutrition during a time of healing can be. It was so exciting to see so many people gathered in Ghirardelli Square to not only satisfy their sweet tooth, but also support such an invaluable organization.

Overall the day could be summed up in one word… SWEET! Both a perfect ending to a semi-sweet Bay Area summer or the delicious beginning to a bittersweet Bay Area fall. Either way you choose to sample it, it’s been a delicious journey thus far.

G Festival

Lick My Ribs: Best of the West Rib Cook Off, Reno NV

The morning breeze was crisp and the air was filled with the smell of smoky BBQ. The song, “It’s the MOST,  wonderful time, of the yeeeeeear” was blasting within my noggin as I knew, it was time for the Best of the West Rib Cook Off.

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Every year, my husband, friends and I strategize how we will possibly sample every single rib vendor, and then cop a squat and argue over ice cold Bud Lights with bbq sauce plastered all over our faces seriously debating which vendor stole the show.  We then cast our votes, and anxiously await the results. Ok, now that you get the jist of what this is, let me give you the guts and glory of the annual Best of the West Rib Cook Off.

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“Too Legit Too Quit” by MC Hammer was proudly bumpin in the car for the ribbn’ pre-funk party. The essential fanny pack was loaded and ready to go. Cash, ID and more cash. One of my favorite things about the Rib cook off, besides the ribs of course, is the shopping vendors. Its not your typical street fair with the same junk being sold at the flea market down the street. I always find the most custom, unique gifts at this event and typically get 70% of my Christmas shopping done at this time. Not to mention I usually pick up a new set of shades that rock my face pretty tough! This year… I found cat eyes. Score! Here is our previous years find:

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First and foremost, hands down my favorite no questions asked or you get punched in the face, Desperado’s BBQ is my repeated favorite. I am like the kid at Chuck E. Cheeses who gets released into blinky light game land. I basically run towards the usually long line with that stupid happy smile on my face with my mouth wide open. It’s not cute. I wait in line, invading the personal space of the poor person in front of me. In my mind, it makes it seem like the line is moving faster. Closer and closer, one by one I make my way to the front of the line. “A taster and Mac N Cheese Please” as my eyeballs are moving a million miles a second as I watch all the pitmasters slather sauce all over the racks of ribs that are cookin’ low ‘n slow.  Once you get your grub, it doesn’t end there. You go over to their self serve BBQ station, and drown your ribs in their signature sauces.

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Desperado BBQ Co., located in Hinckley, OH has always been my favorite because their meat is crisp, the rub is spiced just right and the their sauce has the smoke and glory you would expect to find at any pit master competition. This is the real deal people. Look for yourself and try to tell me your mouth isn’t watering right now.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1038After taste testing nearly every BBQ Co., I have to give a huge shout out to my new bestie, Bourbon Q straight from Westport, Kentucky.  I noticed a gal who was working pretty hard grilling the ribs over in the corner.

 

I love bourbon, so why not stand in line and order a rib taster? After talking with the staff for a bit and introducing myself as a Girls On Food blogger, they were kind enough to offer me one of their signature products. Pig wings. Pig Wings? They are made from the shank – a single bone surrounded by lean, tender meat. Think, the filet mignon of pigs marries chicken wings. They were dipped in Bourbon Q’s signature sauce and literally, no freaking joke, fell. off. the. bone.

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Literally, fell off the bone and on the street. They were so good they couldn’t be wasted. My friend and I looked each other quickly and made the crucial split second decision to pick it up and eat it. We just didn’t eat the bottom layer that touched the street. So like vultures picking at road kill, we sat on the curb and silently enjoyed our pig wings.

Yes, it is possible to get sauce on your little piggies!

We managed to make our way through Back Forty, Butchs, Rasta Ribs, Chicago BBQ company and many more. I am still and always will be in love with Desperados, with Bourbon Q right next to them. Seriously, those pig wings though.

Did I mention there is also a carnival? Here’s a word of advice, do NOT, go on the rides after you are stuffed and full of bbq. My very energetic side kick forced me against my will to participate in this vertigo madness and it wasn’t pretty. She kept laughing as though she was crawling from under the fire pits of hell as she spun us ferociously round and round and I screamed loud enough to scare all the innocent children away. So please, hit the carnival first and if you don’t like carny rides, don’t bring a friend that does!IMG_1069

That wraps up my 2015 Rib Cook Off experience. I am completely impressed with everything the competitors brought to the table this year and already can’t wait until next year. The competition continues to heat up every single year and the BBQ companies bring their very best to showcase their greatest potential. “When Pigs Fly”, they fly to Reno, and they’re DAMN good! I may not make the best ribs, or even come close, but I will challenge anyone to lick their bones clean like I do. Yes, I am a professional rib grubber and proud of it!

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A Look Back: Food Network and Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival

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Are you a foodie? Do you live in or close to the New York City Metro area? Do you wish that there could be a time and/or place where you could schmooze and booze with other foodies and world-renowned chefs and restauranteurs? If only such a thing existed. Wait…what’s this, Sam? It does exist?! Yes!

This year marks the 8th annual Food Network and Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival, presented by the famed Food & Wine Magazine. Not only is this a great opportunity for networking and giving your taste buds a new experience, it’s also a great way to give back to the community. Proceeds benefit the Food Bank for New York City and the No Kid Hungry organization, helping to feed the some 16 million some-odd American children that struggle with hunger and lack of nutrition on a daily basis.

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Taking place from October 15-18th, this food fest will feature over 100 different events hosted by noted culinary individuals such as Ted Allen, Dominique Ansel, Dan Barber, Lidia Bastianich, Mario Batali, Dana Cowin, Franklin Becker, Martha Stewart, and Geoffrey Zakarian, just to name a few. Whether you prefer wine tastings/pairings, lectures, or hands-on classes, there’s something for everyone in varying price ranges. A full list of personalities, events, and more information, check out nycwff.org.

Food Nwtork

Siblings and Seafood: The Bodega Seafood, Art and Wine Festival

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~ brother (age 4), sister (8 years old), myself (3 years old) ~

One of the most wonderful aspects of living in California is what I like to call the “Are We There Yet Rabbit Hole”. On any given random whatever kind of afternoon you can hop into the car with a few friends or family, close your eyes, spin a circle and your compass will point you towards a riveting place more commonly referred to as the great unknown. California is a culinary Pandora’s Box just begging to be opened. Whether traveling north, south, east or west you can find countless tiny towns and quirky communities which in themselves carry the great history and mystery of the edible bounty this golden coast has come to be known for. This past Saturday myself, along with my two older siblings, their significant others and my eighteen month old nephew (who we have come to affectionately know as “Lumpy” or “The Nugget”) found ourselves in one of these such towns; Bodega, more specifically amidst the eclectic crowd at the 21st Annual Bodega Seafood, Art & Wine Festival.

Located in what was once a Coast Miwok village, Bodega is more historically known as the site just south of California’s first steam powered saw mill. Built in 1843 by Massachusetts native Captain Stephen Smith, this mill produced lumber that would be used to literally build the foundation of California from the ground up. Even with this newly established business venture knocking at their door Bodega remained small. With a current population of less than three hundred, the residents of Bodega take pride in the passive enclave they call home. After all, living less than two miles from Bodega Bay and its array of freshly harvested seafood does have its edible advantages.

DSC00175The Bodega Seafood, Art and Wine Festival is a celebration of all that is delicious and good in the region. Fisherman, wine makers and crafts people come together to share with the community their goods and services in a family friendly atmosphere filled with music, hospitality and a wide array of seaside treats. The vast variety of food left my hungry cohorts and I more than interested to try something new, as well as, sample some revamped old standards. From the Key Lime Calamari, to the beer battered garlic parmesans French fries smothered in crab aioli topped with even more fresh snow crab.

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Both prepared by Gourmet Faire, a gourmet food company located out of Sonoma County, whose goal is simple: “we serve yummy food to hungry people!” Every one of us found something to savor. So much so that we found ourselves pulling six little immortalized words straight out of the mouth of Charles Dickens young fictional protégé Oliver Twist. We all found ourselves enthusiastically saying at one point or another… “PLEASE SIR, I WANT SOME MORE!!”

We happily tried a wide selection of festival offerings, cherry picking and nibbling from one another’s plates without hesitation or remorse, taking in the sounds and smells as we ate our way through the celebration. The youngest member of our munching motley crew, Lumpy, even found something refreshing to snack on: a paleta or Mexican fruit bar created by the Frozen Art Gourmet Ice Cream Company. Having been in the ice cream industry for over 40 years, this third generation family run business not only takes pride in their Mexican heritage but also believes in sharing that pride along with their ice cream and paletas (fruit bars) with the rest of Northern California. With over 45 flavors to try it was impossible not to find something we each craved, and for Lumpy it was a kiwi paleta for the win!!

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The five and a half of us could have stayed at the festival all day. But with the hot California sun beating down on us and our belly’s full to the brim with fish tacos, lemonade and ice cream cones, we took a last whiff of the fried smells which mingled through the air, licked the salt and vinegar from our fingers and waved goodbye to Bodega. Heading towards two separate cars, my brother and his lady love in one, the rest of us in the other. We wobbled like Weebles with our hugs and goodbyes; proud with the four hours of delicious gluttony we had all partaken in together.  As we drove east on Bodega highway headed back home, with Lumpy and my brother-in-law resting in a deep food coma in the backseat, my sister and I commenting on the events of the day. We yammered back and forth over what our favorite foods of the day were. For my sister it was the shrimp tacos.

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For me, my heart could not leave behind one of the first foods my father, a lifelong seafood lover, taught me to enjoy… fried calamari, only this time it was spiked with just a touch of key lime.

11949471_10100477329734513_7526199566107691092_n (2)Our Bodega seafood festival adventure was all I hoped it would be and more. Spending time with my siblings: my older sister, brother-in-law and the Nugget as well as my older brother and now soon to be sister-in-law (my brother just happened to pop the question the night before. Fortunately for all of us she said YES!!). A happy ending to what actually is a new beginning for my family, one filled with love, fun and hopefully plenty of delicious memories to come.

The 5th Annual L.A. Taco Festival

The 5th Annual L.A. Taco Festival was held last Saturday in downtown Los Angeles. The hot August day didn’t stop the crowds from heading outdoors to try some of the best tacos from around the city. 18 vendors set up shop in Grand Park and along a portion of Hill Street which had been blocked off just for the event

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Long lines formed at every vendor during the entire festival. Taco lovers waited for 20 – 30 minutes sometimes more just to snag some of the amazing food they’d come to try. Every taco vendor offered something different to the crowd. Some tacos were very traditional by nature; fresh tortillas, grilled meats or veggies and fresh guacamole. Some were a little more unique, with ingredients like ahi tuna or short rib.

Like so many other attendees I grabbed a soda in a glass bottle marked made in Mexico and sipped on it as I listened to the live band playing in the park square. After strolling around the festival for a while scoping out what I just had to try I spotted Guerrilla Tacos. I knew immediately after reading their unique menu that this was the place for me.

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Guerrilla Tacos is a food truck out of Culver City, CA. Their menu changes daily as they seek local produce and sustainable ingredients. For the L.A. Taco Festival they offered a few dishes. I opted for the Sweet Potato taco and the Baby Squash taco.

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Both tacos were completely new to me and absolutely delicious! The baby squash taco was filled with shredded squash and zucchini. The taco was packed the taco with oaxacan cheese and top everything with chives. Every bite was light and fresh.

The Sweet Potato taco was layered with mashed sweet potatoes, feta cheese, and fried corn. The potatoes had spicy chiles mixed into them which ensured the taco would pack a punch. The feta cheese off set the heat in the most amazing way!

The L.A. Taco Festival was a glimpse of Los Angeles at it’s finest. Grand Park remained busy for hours as Angelenos made their way downtown to eat tacos from around the city as they enjoyed what remains of the summer.

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Website- http://www.latacofestival.com
Instagram- #LATacoFest

Guerrilla Tacos Website- www.guerrillatacos.com/home.html

Footballs and Meatballs: Ornella Trattoria Italiana in Astoria, Queens

It was an afternoon chocked full of footballs and meatballs on Sunday, August 23rd, as Girls on Food was invited to brunch with noted former NFL pro Rob Carpenter at Ornella Trattoria Italiana in Astoria, Queens. Other guests in attendance included CBS & Sirius FM anchor/reporter Peter Schwartz, New York City PR whiz Alysia Stern, members of the blog La Mode Exposé, and of course, chef-owner Giuseppe Viterale.

Ornella Trattoria Italiana
29-17 23rd Avenue
Astoria, NY 11105
http://www.ornellatrattoria.com

Ornella exterior
Ornella exterior

The décor of Ornella is a reflection of signore Viterale in every way. Much like Giuseppe, the restaurant is warm & welcoming; a charming Italian accent is evident on both Viterale and the restaurant. His craftsmanship of the exterior wooden doors and hand painted sign is matched on the interior as well. The restaurant is intimate, dimly lit & romantic, but playful at the same time.

 

 

Hand written menu
Hand written menu

It is decorated with a wooden bar and tables that Viterale hand built, on which a hand written, laminated menu laid. He was an architect by trade before immersing himself in the restaurant business. His personality shines through from every corner of the property, including the bathrooms, which are plastered with Yelp reviews of previous diners. Not only is Viterale aware of the praise & criticism surrounding Ornella, he even responds to the diners, not afraid to be artfully sarcastic. “I’m not like everyone else,” said Viterale.

IMG_5340-e1440477028633I walked in, having never met anyone else from the brunch, so I was a bit nervous. However, that nervous feeling melted away quickly as soon shook Alysia’s hand. Her personality was fun and infectious, making me feel like I was meeting someone I was already familiar with. She was so excited to introduce me to Giuseppe, as well as Rob & Peter, and I was equally excited to meet a fellow foodie as well as such prominent names in sports.

 

Rob Carpenter & I
Rob Carpenter & I

Carpenter played wide receiver for notable teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, and most recently, the New York Jets. Although his 6’2” stance might look intimidating on the field, off the field, Carpenter was a gentle giant. He was refreshingly friendly and down to Earth. He described himself as “low key, but a little crazy.” He shared about his love for “the game,” reminisced about sports memories with Schwartz, and talked to me about plans for a possible Super Bowl party. “Definitely wings…and empanadas! I love empanadas,” he exclaimed.

 

Rob Carpenter and Giuseppe Viterale
Rob Carpenter and Giuseppe Viterale

After some mingling and a cocktail or two, we sat down at the table. Giuseppe spoke about the importance of food, and how it brings everyone together. “Start with the food,” he spoke softly, but powerfully. “The best business, you do at the table,” he said. And so, the business began. He took us on a journey through his menu. Course by course, plate by plate, Giuseppe guided us through different textures, flavor profiles, preparation methods, and atypical ingredients. “I want to let you try stuff that you wouldn’t find in other places,” he encouraged.

pastaHe makes his own gluten free pasta from chickpeas, as they are a wonderful source for all kinds of nutrients. He also let us sample his wildly popular Pasta di Castagna, a pasta made from chestnut flour, dressed in a pistachio and truffle oil sauce.

 

 

 

meatballIn addition, he presented us with his version of Canard a l’Orange, using a duck meatball with an orange sauce instead of a whole duck. Each dish we tasted was unique, coating every crevice of your palate with flavor. Viterale let us know that “If you have an explosion of flavor in your mouth, then the food was good.”

Before we knew it, the early afternoon had suddenly turned into the early evening. Our break from reality was over, and our journey through the world of Ornella Trattoria had ended.

We all said our goodbyes, but I knew that we would all remember this experience. We were all bonded by the sacred activity of eating and sharing with each other. We shared feelings, memories, and emotions. It is these kinds of bonds that are more powerful and evoking than any number of likes re-tweets on social media. I left feeling like I just made a handful of new friends. Whether or not we’ll all stay in touch remains to be seen, but we’ll always have that Sunday afternoon at Ornella.

Ornella Trattoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

City Under Construction: Sacramento Cocktail Week

IMG_9197I’ve already been crushin’ on Hook & Ladder for a while…

But again, they’ve made me fall a little bit deeper. Sacramento takes its themed weeks very seriously. So, it’s no surprise that Sacramento Cocktail Week would be any different. Each night a location is selected and they host an event in the honor of Sac Cocktail Week.

Hook & Ladder killed it for Bacon Week, so I knew I had to check them out for an evening dedicated to their true love, libations. Their food is amazing, but they take their hand crafted adult beverages extremely seriously over there.

Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. 
1630 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95811
916-442-4885
hookandladder916.com
http://sacramentococktailweek.com

As we walked up, I knew we were in for a completely themed evening. I guess the bright orange construction roping and construction clad doorman were a huge hint. Construction, huh (is what you’re probably thinking)? Well, given our downtown is in shambles due to the new Sacramento Kings arena, I think this was their homage to the exciting beginnings that is happening in our city. Completely themed, the staff was donning bright orange vest and Sacramento Kings, purple hard hats. There were four “construction” stations, two inside and two outside:

Hammer & Nail Station – Shots, shots, shotsIMG_9234Draft Station – Beer

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Grout Mixing Station – Cocktails, The Brick & The Mortar

IMG_9220 Paint Shaking Station – Cocktails, Matte, Red & Primer

IMG_9202In addition to the stations, the bar was also serving their own menu of construction themed libations. Every drink was $8, which is a good deal for H&L. The stations all required you to prepay for a red ticket, which you redeemed at a station.

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The outside stations were where it was at, which is not to say the inside wasn’t tasty. However, outside the theme was taken to the extreme. Have you ever had a drink that was shaken via a paint shaker? No, me neither! The dramatics behind the cocktail making was a show in itself. I was thoroughly amazed and enjoyed their attention to detail. These drinks came in cups that emulated paint cans, although clear and plastic. They killed it with this station, from conception to execution and I was thoroughly delighted.

IMG_9211 IMG_9201 IMG_9204 IMG_9205IMG_9210IMG_9214I couldn’t justify ordering my next drink from the bar, so again, I found myself on the patio at the Grout Mixing Station. I even got out of line to watch a dude cut ice with a chain saw. I ordered one of each of the drinks, since I’m a (spice) wimp, I stuck with The Mortar, and my BF tried The Brick. This station was all about teamwork, the duo behind the station worked hard on the presentation of the drinks. Again, both tasted delicious and were aesthetically pleasing!

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IMG_9228Don’t worry; we both shared the Big Mike Bacon Cheddar Burger so we could walk out of there properly! It was definitely a night dedicated to cocktails, but their food was on point, per the usu. Their effort to stick with the theme and pay their respects to our local, hometown team did not go unnoticed. H&L kills at every single one of these themed weeks, time and time again. Sac(ramento) Cocktail Week was no exception!

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What isn’t there to like about a themed cocktail soiree?!?

Crazy for Crawfish: Long Beach Crawfish Festival

Long Beach Crawfish Festival

http://www.longbeachcrawfishfestival.com/

With an entire weekend off and no idea what to do with my time, I found myself hopping into my car and driving out of sunny San Diego up to LA for a visit, and when my mom told me they would be at the Crawfish Festival in Long Beach on Saturday and had an extra ticket, I knew I had to tag along. Now, I’m not a huge fan of steamed crawfish or any steamed shellfish really, solely due to the fact that I am lazy and don’t want to work that hard for my food. Luckily, I had a plethora of other down south specialties to choose from, and because I don’t love making choices, I basically just ate everything.

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My huge and ridiculously strong margarita was placed in my hand upon arrival after over an hour in traffic, so refreshing on a 100-degree day, and it did its job almost too well.

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Mom decided that we needed to “take a lap” to check out all of our options, her new husband (Congrats mom and Mike!) told us to bring something back to snack on before he went and picked up his giant bucket of crawfish, so off we went. We wandered a bit before coming to a screeching halt upon reading the words “fries etouffee.” I became etouffee obsessed when visiting New Orleans, and I love fries topped with basically anything, so these guys did not disappoint. Crispy and substantial fries were the perfect base to hold the rich and saucy etouffee, with a little crawfish tucked into each delicious bite.

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Our other choice was the catfish nuggets, because duh, you don’t take a girl to a festival rooted in southern food and deprive her of catfish. Crispy on the outside, perfectly tender and flaky fish on the inside and almost too easy to just keep popping into your mouth, these certainly didn’t last long.
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I couldn’t leave you hanging without proof that there actually was steamed crawfish at this event.  A whole bucket of crawfish was included in the ticket price for only $4 over the general admission price. What a steal! My stepdad Mike is creole, a huge fan of crawfish, and seemed very happy with his giant bucket of crawfish, red potatoes and corn.

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Somehow, I made room for dinner after our little appetizer party, and chose tilapia that was breaded in cornmeal and had the most delicious crunch. I was so full, but could not stop eating and washing it down with my delicious mango/strawberry margarita.

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As we relaxed to the sounds of zydeco music and watched everyone fill up the dance floor, we were treated to the most beautiful sunset over the water. It inspired me to walk to the lit up ice cream truck at the edge of the water for one last treat. While I might be sort of lactose intolerant, I will literally never turn down ice cream and am a total sucker for rainbow sprinkles, so this made me the happiest girl in town!

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The Long Beach Crawfish Festival was such a lovely way to spend an evening, and after attending the Long Beach Funk Festival last year, I highly recommend any event. The city certainly knows how to offer up a great time!

Going Bananas: Sacramento Banana Festival

Being a Sacramento native, I always get excited at the prospect of innovative eating around here, and news of the Banana Festival in the beautiful William Land Park caught my attentions.

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jill ZThis annual event was is on it’s 6th year and presented by Elmhurst Natural Banana Water. The event was full of art exhibits, musical performances, dance performances and even a fashion show. This festival benefits the National Athletic Youth Corps, which provides art and education in the Sacramento region.

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My husband and I got the Banana Steak Tacos and Banana Ginger Pudding. Surprisingly, my favorite part about the diverse array of flavors in the banana steak tacos was the scallions. The touch of scallion made all the difference. I love how little flavor additions can do that.

 

 

 

 

Banana Festival 4The Banana Ginger Pudding was rich enough to make you say “Mmm”, without making you feel sick, like richness can do. It was just the right amount of sweetness, and like I said, little flavor additions can make all the difference, and this was the case once again with the ginger.

Well done, Banana Festival. It was a pleasure to go bananas with you.

An Evening of Sliders and Beer at the New School of Cooking in Culver City

We all know the torture of watching the Food Network – seeing skilled chefs create delectable looking dishes and not being able to get so much as whiff let alone a taste of their beautiful creations. It’s every foodie’s dream to jump head first into their favorite cooking show. The Slider and Beer Pairing Demo at the New School of Cooking + Cafe in Culver City made this dream a reality for this foodie on Friday night.

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 New School of Cooking
8690 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, Ca, 90232
(310) 842-9702
http://www.newschoolofcooking.com

New School of Cooking has offered hands-on classes in Culver City for 15 years. From its Pro-Series to its recreational classes that any novice can navigate, New School of Cooking offers a wide array of themed classes and wealth of knowledge for anyone.

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Walking in and seeing the top-notch facilities, I knew I was in for some serious cooking! I could hardly wait to see these stoves fired up and ready to grill some mouthwatering burgers! I most definitely was not disappointed.

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On the menu for the night were four delicious sliders to be expertly paired with five different ales. Without too much frill, the classroom was set up so that a perfect view of the grilling magic could be clearly seen by each student.

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The first round was a classic All American burger. Our expert instructor, May Hennemann, Senior Chef Instructor at the New School, advised using a less lean type of beef, such as chuck, for the best flavor. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper on a bun dressed with a spicy Dijon-Mayo mix, pickle and cheddar cheese, this burger hit the spot!

This classic was served with El Segundo IPA (India Pale Ale). The bitterness of this hoppy brew went nicely with the kick of the Dijon-Mayo blend.

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Next we went a bit south of the border with the “Spice of Life” slider, aptly named for the fiery chipotle mayo that dresses a beef patty with ooey-gooey Queso Fresco mixed right in.

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And this is when things got really out of the box. The next slider up was the Quacking Pig – 50% ground duck, 50% ground pork and 100% tasty! Instructor May made sure to advise that when doing this at home, you get duck that has been ground with the skin on, sealing in an extremely rich flavor.

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Dressed with Mostarda di Frutta, a sweet Italian condiment made with candied fruit, with Brie cheese on a Hawaiian roll, this unconventional burger was reminiscent of thanksgiving – akin to a turkey burger with cranberry sauce. Totally decadent and scrumptuous to the last bite. This slider was paired with an almost sweet Samuel Adams Summer Ale.

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Last but certainly not least we came reluctantly to the last slider of the night – the “Lambinator”. This patty was made, as the name might suggest, from ground lamb leg and shoulder with feta cheese and scallions mixed in. The bun was dressed in hummus spread and a slice of Persian cucumber giving this slider the real Mediterranean treatment.

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The robust flavor of the lamb paired nicely with the richness of two Red Amber Ales that were served –  Coronado Brewing Company’s Mermaid’s Red and Petrus’ Aged Red, which had a delightful cherry sweetness to it.

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This pairing was the unanimous class favorite.

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I, personally, loved them ALL.

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So, if you have any level of curiosity about cooking, eating, or just food in general, New School of Cooking is definitely the place to explore. Whether you want to have a hands-on experience, just want to see and taste expert cooking or would like to have a private party, they have a class for you. Availability can be found on their website, http://www.newschoolofcooking.com or on giltcity.com .

And when you go, come prepared. You’re going to want to take notes!

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Around the World in 80 Sips: Galco’s Summer Soda Tasting in LA

Girls on Food got invited to celebrate the 5th annual Galco’s Summer Soda Tasting. Although it was raining, crowds of people attended the event and got ready to do some serious soda sampling. The point of this event was to invite soda-lovers of all ages to try a wide selection of delicious bubbly soft drinks.

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Galco’s Soda Pop Stop 

5702 York Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90042

323-255-7115

Homepage

The event itself is a fundraiser for the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition that is working to re-open Los Angeles’ first museum. So all the money went to a good cause and all the sugar went to my head. It was a challenge I was willing to accept.

Galcos2Galco’s is located in hipster central Highland Park. But don’t be fooled by it coolness, it has been a small family owned grocery store in Los Angeles since 1897. It became a specialized soda stop in 1995 when John Nese took over his father’s business. John has been fascinated with soda since he was a child so when he became Galco’s owner it was only natural that the soda stock increased in the store. It became a goal of his to support small soda makers and not only that John is also a member of the Highland Park Heritage Trust. You can always find him in the store recommending exactly what you need.

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The store is about the size of a small super market and filled with a wide selection of pops, beers and candy from all around the world. It has over 550 sugar cane glass bottle sodas and 550 craft domestic and international beers. This year’s theme was “international sodas” and we jumped right into it. The countries that were participating in the soda sampling were England, France, Italy, Greece, Republic of Georgia, Romania, Japan, Australia, Cuba, Peru, Hawaii showcasing 71 one exciting flavors and the state of California and New York were also featured with 9 fantastic sodas.
galcosfranceMy first stop was France. They were showcasing Lorina’s flavors: coco lime, lemon and strawberry. I really enjoyed the strawberry soda. It was like drinking a sparking rosé wine without the alcohol.

 

 

galcosenglandAnother favorite was England’s Belvoir. They were featuring the Elderflower Lemonade and the Elderflower & Rose Lemonade. I particularly liked the Rose lemonade. It was refreshing, exotic and aromatic all at once.

 

 

 

 

 

galcosromaniaRomania’s Sweet Blossom Florals were such a nice surprise. Who knew Romania had such good soda! They had Rose, Elderflower, Lavender and Mr. Q Cucumber. I liked all of these sodas especially Mr. Q Cucumber. It really tasted like a cold pressed cucumber juice with sparking water and a hint of sugar.

 

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Representing Japan was the always fun and super tasty Ramuné. All the kids were super excited by the cool design of the bottle and the marble inside of it. The tasting flavors were: Original, melon, strawberry and plum. Ramuné is one of my favorite sodas and even with all the competition out there it didn’t disappoint.

 

galcosguavaMy favorite soda of the whole event was Australia’s Bundaberg Guava. You are reading correctly, the guava soda was amazing: sweet, refreshing and bursting with guava flavor.

 

 

 

 

Around the world in 80 sips was such a fun event. There was live music and all kinds of couples and families enjoying a sugar loaded and rainy afternoon at the one soda pop stop: Galco’s.
Galco's Old World Grocery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato