Dining with nature at Sundance Mountain Resort

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When most of us think of Sundance, we think of the film festival founded by Robert Redford in the 1980s. The indie filmmaker event moved many years ago to nearby Park City, Utah, but still today Sundance Mountain Resort remains a beacon for creatives and independent spirits.  At Sundance, the philosophy on food is art and dining is communal, making the dining experience integrated with nature, making Sundance a wonderland for  family and friends to spend quality time together and make lifelong memories, on the mountains, and over the dinner table.

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When it comes to dining, you can’t go wrong with any of the resort’s restaurants, which all have stellar reputations for their culinary excellence. The romantic candlelit Tree Room Restaurant is the most formal offering, yet the ambiance is comfortable and inviting. Décor includes Native American art from Redford’s personal collection.

For more casual and family friendly dining, the frontier-themed Foundry Grill features fresh hearty fare and pizza from its open kitchen. Après ski and into the night, the late crowd can enjoy drinks and live music at the Owl Bar, the site of the original Redwood Bar where Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang hung out. For quick pick-me-ups, the Creekside Café offers sandwiches and soups at the base of the mountain, and for the adventurous, the Bearclaw Café is a treat at the top of the back mountain, for skiers skilled enough to get there.

While the film festival gets greatest brand recognition, and the mountains and outdoors are the main attraction for most visitors when it comes to Sundance, the food also gets top billing with rave reviews and plenty of awards, and plenty of famous faces in the dining rooms.

Top California foodies say recipes that’got milk’ trending

 

milkCalifornia’s Culinary Experts, Including Bravo-TV’s “Top Chef” Shirley Chung and Napa’s Ethan Speizer, Showcase Milk-based Recipes For 2017

Cooking with milk and a return-to-indulgence movement is back this year, according to chefs from across the state of California who participated in a January 2017 Food Trends culinary competition. With semi-finalist recipe submissions ranging from pork chops braised in milk to Latin-fusion desserts including Coconut Tres Leches and Churro Sando with Horchata Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche, one thing is certain – 2017 will be a stellar year for milk-loving foodies.

The winning recipe – Smoky Chili Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Kahlua Milk Frosting & Vanilla Milk Drizzle – was created by Merry Graham, a Southern California award-winning home cook and published author. Her recipe combines Dutch cocoa, ancho chili, brewed coffee, Kahlua and milk for a decadent dessert.

The competition was hosted by the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB), creator of the iconic got milk? and Toma Leche campaigns, which invited California-based culinary artists to submit on-trend recipes featuring milk. Notable influencers who participated in the campaign include Shirley Chung, a season 11 finalist and current contestant on Season 14 of Bravo’s popular show, Top Chef, and Napa-foodie Ethan Speizer, founder and executive chef at late-night pop-up Nuri Napa.

Chef Chung contributed a Milk-Braised Napa Cabbage recipe that incorporates Virginia cured ham, ginger, Goji berries, a reflection of her “modern American cooking with Chinese soul” philosophy.  Napa-notable Ethan Speizer contributed a traditional-style Milk-Braised Lamb Neck recipe that incorporates an array of spices and herbs such as bouquet garni and Shisho gremolata.

“The start of a new year inspires an openness to try something new, especially in the kitchen,” said Steve James, CMPB Executive Director. “We’re excited to showcase new culinary creations that demonstrate milk’s central role in expected food trends for 2017.”

Sea Level’s Californian cuisine rises to the occasion

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If you’re looking for a new scene that’s vibrant and exciting but not the same old LA crowd, get down to Sea Level. This happening restaurant and bar, adjacent to The Shade Hotel Redondo Beach, has excellent cuisine, spectacular views and a hip, cool, and comfortable atmosphere.

It’s definitely not a quiet romantic getaway, but for those who like it a little loud, this place has electric energy, with a lively crowd, and a wall of plasma TVs across the bar for even more for stimulation, if the conversation around you is not enough.

The friendly wait staff is incredibly attentive, with no fewer than four people checking in on our table to make sure everything was superb after our food arrived.

Yeah, but how’s the food?

Every menu item we tasted was outstanding. The generously portioned beet salad with goat cheese and pesto had an abundance of multicolored beets and was bursting with flavor.

Following the salad, we sampled a couple delicious plates from the raw bar. The Citrus Cured Hamachi with lime, yuzu kosho vinaigrette, marinated Persian cucumber and puffed wild rice was exquisite. Likewise, the Spicy Tuna on crispy rice was delightful, with ginger soy, wasabi, avocado and shaved jalapeno.

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It was a chilly night, so we ordered a hearty seasonal butternut squash, which was deliciously infused with nutmeg and a dollop of creme fraiche. We also indulged in the hand cut fries which were crusty with sea salt and satisfyingly crunchy.

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Looks as good as it tastes

 

As a believer in “presentation is everything,” the chef did not disappoint with his artistic talents.  All of the plates were adorned with deliciously decorative swirls, splashes, crumbles and streaks of sauces, worthy of framing.

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We had planned on ordering entrées, but the soup, salad and sushi were more than enough for a meal, and we wanted to save room for dessert.  We were glad we did.

 

We finished off this fine meal with one of the most decadent chocolate desserts I have ever laid fork into, a Black Bottom Chocolate Pot De Crème, with cocoa cake, almond toffee, chocolate streusel, and fleur de sel.  It was basically a layer of moose over a chocolate cake sprinkled with sea salt and sliced almonds and adorned with thin slab of brittle served in a terrarium.

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After such a scrumptious dinner at Sea Level, we came up for air, or rather went out for air, to have drinks by the water, warmed by the flames of a fire pit, as we watched the lights of the boats in the harbor drift by.  A perfect meal of Californai cuisine, a quintessentially LA experience, without the LA.

Celebrate National Margarita Day with the Best Damn Drink Ever

They say there’s a day for everything, and indeed, even margaritas have their day. Yes, on February 22, it’s national Margarita Day, and Who Song and Larry’s cantina is inviting patrons to imbibe what they call, “the best damn drink” you’ll ever experience.

The drink is called El Diablo, made with Patron Barrel Select Reposado Tequila, Lejay Black Currant Liqueur, handmade sour, mini bottle of Grand Marnier, and served with a black salted rim.  But don’t plan on downing these all night.  This $15 drink is limited to one per customer.

el-diablo-margaritaWho Song and Larry’s might be the most apropos place to celebrate National Margarita Day.  If you don’t know the backstory, legend has it, after a lifetime of travel, best friends Who Song and Larry had more tales than they could tell.  Their stories revolved around the good people they met, the great food they enjoyed, and the copious amounts of tequila that helped guide their way.

 

When they returned home, they yearned for a place to sit back, relax and share their stories.  They couldn’t find that place, so they opened it…and Who Song & Larry’s was born.  They filled the menu with their favorite things to eat, crafted amazing cocktails and adorned the walls with the mementos they collected along their travels. Most importantly, Who Song and Larry hired their best friends to work there to make sure everyone who came in would be treated like one of their own

 

Who Song and Larry’s is located at 1535 W. Katella Avenue in Orange.

La Tropezienne Bakery Opens on La Brea

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From the beautiful coastline of the French Riviera in Saint-Tropez, and also known as the famous starlet, Brigitte Bardot’s favorite St. Tropez bakery, CEO and founder Lionel Azoulay and Chef Laurent Cavazza introduce ‘La Tropézienne Bakery’ (211 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, Ca), where the exquisite French cuisine meets the city of Los Angeles.  The bakery officially opens on Thursday, February, 16th, 2017.

With a design reminiscent of traditional St. Tropez, white marble walls are touched with a hint of gold, exhibiting architectural excellence in the structure of the bakery. Displayed along the walls are still nostalgic photographs taken from St. Tropez, where guests can relish in the classic beauty of the city while enjoying a delightful meal.

While sitting on the charming terrace that oversees La Brea Avenue, newcomers can indulge in all the delicacies ‘La Tropézienne Bakery’ has to offer, where every savory delicacy is crafted with all the ingredients including butter, milk, eggs, coffee, equipment, etc., and even the staff, are all imported from France.

The French bistro and café bakery will be open daily Monday-Wednesday from 7am-8pm, Thursday – Friday 7am – 9pm, and Saturdays 7am to stay open through Sunday’s close at 9pm, where guests will find a wide variety of items on the menu that will fill any craving they desire.

Culinary Fight Club announces 2017 competition schedule and expansion into new cities

culinaryfightclub Culinary Fight Club, the popular food sport event series, announces its expansion into 12 new cities in 2017, with a fresh list of competition series scheduled and key sponsors returning to add to the exciting year. Chefs will now battle in 17 markets, including Chicago, Omaha, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Boston, Knoxville, Johnson City, Pittsburgh, Virginia Beach, Charlotte, Twin Cities, Kansas City, Montgomery, Charlotte, Charleston, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Los Angeles!

Culinary Fight Club competitions will be title-sponsored by Reinhart Foodservice, as the official pantry sponsor in 11 of 17 markets. The pantry provides fresh ingredients that allow the competitors the opportunity to battle for the best dish.

“We are excited to continue to grow our relationship with Culinary Fight Club,” says Eric Cronert, Vice President Marketing and Communications, Reinhart Foodservice. “Partnering with organizations like Culinary Fight Club allows us to be part of the food sports movement and local food scenes all while helping support a great cause, Fight2Feed.”

2017 will host various themes, including Chocolate, Pork, Taco, Pitmaster, Blended Burger, Steak, Seafood, Chocolate and Sip + Bite. Culinary Fight Club also brings back by popular demand its Amazing Culinary Fight Club Pantry Race competition.

“Food sports is one of the fastest growing events in the nation,” says Culinary Fight Club founder, Jiwon McCartney. “We are thrilled to expand our reach and work with amazing chefs who can battle it out and create delicious dishes in a competitive environment.”

With the successful launch of the 2016 Chicago Culinary Fight Fest, the Culinary Fight Club tournament series will be hosted in Chicago, Atlanta and Kansas City in 2017.  In addition, a new Mystery Box Series will launch center stage at this year’s Travel & Adventure Show in seven cities.  As with all CFC events, each benefits Fight2Feed, a non-profit that aims to feed the hungry.

“Culinary Fight Club is one of the most entertaining live events,” says Matt Hensler Director of Integrated Marketing Communication, Blast Marketing & PR and Advisory Board Member, Culinary Fight Club. “Blast Marketing & PR is delighted to be partner with Culinary Fight Club and be a part of its growth, as the company offers our clients’ chefs the opportunity to receive the recognition they deserve in food sports.”

Stacking up on pancakes at IHOP

img_4591“I don’t want a huge stack of pancakes,”  said no kid ever. And IHop listened. For kids of all ages, IHOP is holding its much-anticipated annual promotion of all-you-can-eat pancakes, through February 12.

Our family headed out to our neighborhood IHOP to indulge. The promotion features one price for a stack of five of IHOP’s famous original buttermilk pancakes, and then you can order more pancakes to your heart’s content.

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Another option is to order a combo with favorite breakfast sides like sausage, bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns, which come with a two-stack of pancakes, which can be replenished on demand.

The only thing kids love more than a great stack of pancakes in front of them is pouring on flavored syrups, like good old-fashioned maple flavored syrup or more exotic varieties, like blueberry,  strawberry, or butter pecan.

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IHOP has been a family favorite of ours since I was a little kid, and in fact they’ve been doing this for nearly 60 years, so they pretty much have gotten this down pat.

Here’s a fun fact: The IHOP original buttermilk pancakes, which happened to be one of the most popular menu items, selling more than 700 million each year at the chain’s more than 1,700 restaurants across the world.

Here’s an even  more meaningful statistic: since 2005 IHOP as raise more than $24 million for cherries that focus on the well-being of families and children and address critical issues like health and hunger.

So take your family, take your appetite, and hurry to get all you can eat pancakes before the promotion runs out; but  even if you can’t get there before the promotion ends, no worries, IHOP will never run out of pancakes.