Show 324, May 18, 2019: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris

Now a tempting preview of this Saturday’s salivating show. It’s not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case that’s probably a pretty good thing… As always, we greatly appreciate you being a part of our loyal listening audience.

Our Co-Host, Chef Andrew Gruel, the Founder of The Slapfish Restaurant Group, rejoins us from the road where he is in the process of opening 3 new Slapfish restaurants. We’re resuming “Ask the Chef.” Chef Andrew discusses what it’s like to take an American restaurant concept overseas. Does everything translate well?

The James Beard America’s Classics Award is given to locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are cherished for quality food reflecting the character of their community. The Tran Family’s Pho 79 (Garden Grove) is a 2019 Honoree as an America’s Classics. This prestigious honor represents the first James Beard Foundation Award ever presented to an Orange County Restaurant or Chef! We’ll meet Tran Family member, John Nguyen..

One of the attractions at Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden in Corona del Mar is the Farmhouse Bar under the direction of Anthony Laborin, head of Cocktail R & D. He shops weekly for seasonal ingredients at the Wednesday morning Farmers Market in Santa Monica with Owner/Executive Chef Rich Mead. He has 13 new cocktails on the Spring Menu. Also just introduced is Laborin’s Counterfeit Cocktail menu with a tempting selection of four non-alcoholic specialty beverages.

As part of the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl embrace Latin cuisine with Latin Roots: Food & Wine With Passion showcasing a four-course meal created by chef Ricardo Zarate and featuring wine pairings by Bibiana González Rave of Cattleya Winery. (This is the evening of May 26th at Los Balcones in Studio City.) The theme of the meal is Latin Roots, and each course will be a blend of Peruvian and Colombian cuisine, with the spirit of Los Balcones Studio City’s “mestizo style” of cooking (a blend of Spanish and other European influences). All four courses will celebrate the flavors of Colombia, Peru, Europe and California.

The April issue of Orange Coast Magazine is Orange County’s Best New Restaurants of 2019. Restaurant of the Year is Chef Zachary Geerson’s Journeyman’s Food & Drink in Fullerton. Orange Coast’s long-time Restaurant Critic and Contributing Editor, Gretchen Kurz, is our guide.

La Maison Palm Springs Hotel is an award-winning boutique hotel property in Palm Springs. They are a member of the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. This carefully-maintained boutique hotel is a Mediterranean-inspired property, complete with clay tile roofs, terracotta floors, and a walled garden, offering a tranquil place for guests to unwind. The unique ambiance combines the relaxing colors and warmth of Provence with the vibrant energy of Palm Springs. Our host is Proprietor Richard Slosky (who operates the property with his wife, Cornelia Schuster.)

Our own Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group joins us with another informative “Ask the Chef” segment. With the Summer grilling season on the horizon it’s great to have a real working chef in our corner always providing handy and practical advice! Raw oysters have been in the news of late. Chef Andrew serves up what we need to know about continuing to enjoy them free of worry.

We’re live with an overstuffed show on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Please do join us…

Play

Show 324, May 18, 2019: Orange Coast Magazine’s Dining Critic Gretchen Kurz on 2019’s Best New Restaurants Issue

Orange Coast Best RestaurantsThe April issue of Orange Coast Magazine is Orange County’s Best New Restaurants of 2019. Restaurant of the Year is Chef Zachary Geerson’s Journeyman’s Food & Drink in Fullerton.

‘Eat, write, repeat’ summarizes the notable career of Gretchen Kurz, who is Contributing Editor at Orange Coast Magazine and its Dining Critic since 2004. She was also the Zagat Local Editor for Orange County for 13 years. A native of southern California, she first fell under the spell of restaurant writing as a journalism student and freelancer for San Jose Magazine. Her very first writing gig: sewing names on mouse ear hats at Disneyland.

Orange Coast’s long-time Restaurant Critic and Contributing Editor, Gretchen Kurz, is our appropriately opinionated guide.

Play

May 18: Pho 79, Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden, Cattleya Winery, Orange Coast Magazine and Chef Andrew Gruel returns!

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Chef Andrew Gruel, Co-Host and Founder of Slapfish Restaurant Group
Segment Three: John Nguyen, Garden Grove’s Pho 79, 2019 Recipient of James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics Award
Segment Four: Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden’s Anthony Laborin, Head of Cocktail R & D
Segment Five: Winemaker Bibiana Gonzalez Rave of Cattleya Winery with a Preview of a Latin Roots Collaboration Dinner with Ricardo Zarate
Segment Six: Orange Coast Magazine’s Dining Critic Gretchen Kurz on 2019’s Best New Restaurants Issue
Segment Seven: Innkeeper Richard Slosky, La Maison Palm Springs Hotel
Segment Eight: Chef Andrew Gruel, Co-Host and Founder of Slapfish Restaurant Group – “Ask the Chef”

Now a tempting preview of this Saturday’s salivating show. It’s not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case that’s probably a pretty good thing… As always, we greatly appreciate you being a part of our loyal listening audience.

Our Co-Host, Chef Andrew Gruel, the Founder of The Slapfish Restaurant Group, rejoins us from the road where he is in the process of opening 3 new Slapfish restaurants. We’re resuming “Ask the Chef.” Chef Andrew discusses what it’s like to take an American restaurant concept overseas. Does everything translate well?

The James Beard America’s Classics Award is given to locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are cherished for quality food reflecting the character of their community. The Tran Family’s Pho 79 (Garden Grove) is a 2019 Honoree as an America’s Classics. This prestigious honor represents the first James Beard Foundation Award ever presented to an Orange County Restaurant or Chef! We’ll meet Tran Family member, John Nguyen.

One of the attractions at Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden in Corona del Mar is the Farmhouse Bar under the direction of Anthony Laborin, head of Cocktail R & D. He shops weekly for seasonal ingredients at the Wednesday morning Farmers Market in Santa Monica with Owner/Executive Chef Rich Mead. He has 13 new cocktails on the Spring Menu. Also just introduced is Laborin’s Counterfeit Cocktail menu with a tempting selection of four non-alcoholic specialty beverages.

As part of the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl embrace Latin cuisine with Latin Roots : Food & Wine With Passion showcasing a four-course meal created by chef Ricardo Zarate and featuring wine pairings by Bibiana González Rave of Cattleya Winery. (This is the evening of May 26th at Los Balcones in North Hollywood.) The theme of the meal is Latin Roots, and each course will be a blend of Peruvian and Colombian cuisine, with the spirit of Los Balcones Studio City’s “mestizo style” of cooking (a blend of Spanish and other European influences). All four courses will celebrate the flavors of Colombia, Peru, Europe and California.

The April issue of Orange Coast Magazine is Orange County’s Best New Restaurants of 2019. Restaurant of the Year is Chef Zachary Geerson’s Journeyman’s Food & Drink in Fullerton. Orange Coast’s long-time Restaurant Critic and Contributing Editor, Gretchen Kurz, is our guide.

La Maison Palm Springs Hotel is an award-winning boutique hotel property in Palm Springs. They are a member of the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. This boutique hotel is a Mediterranean-inspired property, complete with clay tile roofs, terracotta floors, and a walled garden, offering a tranquil place for guests to unwind. The unique ambiance combines the relaxing colors and warmth of Provence with the vibrant energy of Palm Springs. Our host is Proprietor Richard Schuster (who operates the property with his wife, Cornelia.)

Our own Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group joins us with another informative “Ask the Chef” segment. With the Summer grilling season on the horizon it’s great to have a real working chef in our corner always providing handy and practical advice! Raw oysters have been in the news of late. Chef Andrew serves up what we need to know about continuing to enjoy them free of worry.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s not-to-miss show!

Andy Harris and Andrew Gruel at Cabana 14 at the Cove at Pechanga Resort and CasinoOur Co-Host, Chef Andrew Gruel, the Founder of The Slapfish Restaurant Group, rejoins us from the road where he is in the process of opening 3 new Slapfish restaurants. We’re resuming Ask the Chef.”

Chef Andrew discusses what it’s like to take an established & successful American restaurant concept overseas. Does everything typically translate well?

John Nguyen of Pho79The James Beard America’s Classics Award is given to locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are cherished for quality food reflecting the character of their community. The five 2019 honorees join the ranks of over 100 restaurants from across the country that have received the award since the category was introduced in 1998.

The Tran Family’s Pho 79 is a 2019 Honoree as an America’s Classics. This honor represents the first James Beard Foundation Award ever presented to an Orange County Restaurant or Chef!

“Orange County, California, claims one of the most vibrant Vietnamese-American communities in the country. Pho 79 was founded by Thọ Trần and Liễu Trần who opened in 1982, when it was among the area’s very first restaurants of its kind, introducing Americans to bowls of slippery rice noodles in beefy broth, topped with eye of round steak, brisket, tripe, meatballs, or the restaurant’s justifiably legendary oxtails. With chef Lieu Trần in the kitchen, Pho 79 helped pave the way for southern California’s Little Saigon to become the dynamic hub of Vietnamese cuisine it is today. The next generation of the Trần family continues to operate the restaurant, as well as others in the area including Pho 101. The family’s story is as much about intrepid entrepreneurship and excellent cooking as it is about a community that rose from war and displacement to forever change American cuisine.”

We’ll meet Tran Family member, John Nguyen.

Anthony Laborin of Farmhouse at Rogers GardenOne of the special attractions at Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden in Corona del Mar is the Farmhouse Bar under the direction of Anthony Laborin, head of Cocktail R & D. He shops weekly for seasonal ingredients at the Wednesday morning Farmers Market in Santa Monica with Owner/Executive Chef Rich Mead.

He has 13 new cocktails on the Spring Menu. Among Anthony’s latest creations is Scandalous Scandinavian Panamanian Daiquiri with lime, Swedish Punsch and Panama Pacific Rum.

Also just introduced is Laborin’s Counterfeit Cocktail menu with a tempting selection of four non-alcoholic specialty beverages. Think The Green with cucumber water, pineapple, citrus, wild honey and seedlip.

“The kitchen table is where problems are solved. This is something that Anthony Laborin, head of Cocktail R&D at Farmhouse learned at an early age as he helped his mother and aunts in the kitchen. Since those early days, Anthony has loved the social aspect of the culinary experience. Inherently friendly and genuinely interested in people, he values the interaction with guests that tending bar gives him. Special moments come from listening to guests, learning what kind of drinks and flavor profiles they enjoy and then using that information to introduce them to a specially made, handcrafted cocktail that they never would have thought to order. “When I can convince a guest to try something new and they like it, it brightens my day,” shares Laborin.”

Winemaker Bibiana Gonzalez RaveAs part of the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl embrace Latin cuisine with Latin Roots: Food & Wine With Passion showcasing a four-course meal created by chef Ricardo Zarate and featuring wine pairings by Bibiana González Rave of Cattleya Winery. (This is the evening of May 26th at Los Balcones in Studio City.)

The theme of the meal is Latin Roots, and each course will be a blend of Peruvian and Colombian cuisine, with the spirit of Los Balcones Studio City’s “mestizo style” of cooking (a blend of Spanish and other European influences). All four courses will celebrate the flavors of Colombia, Peru, Europe and California.

Bibiana joins us to share her incredible journey and preview Latin Roots: Food & Wine with Passion.” In 2015 she was named “Winemaker of the Year” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Orange Coast Best RestaurantsThe April issue of Orange Coast Magazine is Orange County’s Best New Restaurants of 2019. Restaurant of the Year is Chef Zachary Geerson’s Journeyman’s Food & Drink in Fullerton.

‘Eat, write, repeat’ summarizes the notable career of Gretchen Kurz, who is Contributing Editor at Orange Coast Magazine and its Dining Critic since 2004. She was also the Zagat Local Editor for Orange County for 13 years. A native of southern California, she first fell under the spell of restaurant writing as a journalism student and freelancer for San Jose Magazine. Her very first writing gig: sewing names on mouse ear hats at Disneyland.

Orange Coast’s long-time Restaurant Critic and Contributing Editor, Gretchen Kurz, is our appropriately opinionated guide.

Richard SchusterLa Maison Palm Springs Hotel is an award-winning boutique hotel property in Palm Springs. They are a member of the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. This boutique hotel is a Mediterranean-inspired property, complete with clay tile roofs, terracotta floors, and a walled garden, offering a tranquil place for guests to unwind. The unique ambiance combines the relaxing colors and warmth of Provence with the vibrant energy of Palm Springs.

“Indulge in lavender scones and handcrafted lattes each morning. Spend the day lounging by the pool in our charming inner courtyard. At night, enjoy the most peaceful sleep on your feather bed dressed in imported luxury linens.”

“Here at La Maison Palm Springs Hotel, we know that every detail is important. All 13 guest rooms surround the pool and lush gardens. Each room is individually decorated and includes either a queen or king feather bed with luxury linens, seasonal down comforters and a small guest fridge. Our bathrooms have marble or granite accents, L’Occitane bath amenities, plush bathrobes and rain showerheads. The pièce de résistance? A complimentary lavender sachet on your pillow at night.”

Our gracious host is Proprietor Richard Slosky (who operates the property with his wife, Cornelia Schuster.)

Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group at the AM830 KLAA StudiosOur own Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group joins us with another informative “Ask the Chef” segment. With the Summer grilling season on the horizon it’s great to have a real working chef in our corner always providing handy and practical advice!

Raw oysters have been in the news of late. Chef Andrew serves up what we need to know about continuing to enjoy them free of worry.

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Chef Andrew Gruel, Co-Host and Founder of Slapfish Restaurant Group
Segment Three: John Nguyen, Garden Grove’s Pho 79, 2019 Recipient of James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics Award
Segment Four: Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden’s Anthony Laborin, Head of Cocktail R & D
Segment Five: Winemaker Bibiana Gonzalez Rave of Cattleya Winery with a Preview of a Latin Roots Collaboration Dinner with Ricardo Zarate
Segment Six: Orange Coast Magazine’s Dining Critic Gretchen Kurz on 2019’s Best New Restaurants Issue
Segment Seven: Innkeeper Richard Slosky, La Maison Palm Springs Hotel
Segment Eight: Chef Andrew Gruel, Co-Host and Founder of Slapfish Restaurant Group – “Ask the Chef”

Show 218, April 8, 2017: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris

Now an enticing preview of this Saturday’s ample show. It’s not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case that’s probably a pretty good thing…

“The Big Cheese” Grilled Cheese Festival & Competition (4th Annual) returns to Provisions Market in Orange on the evening of Wednesday, April 12th. It’s National Grilled Cheese Day of course! Event Co-Founder Chef Greg Daniels (Haven Gastropub & Provisions Market) and Chef Max Schlutz of Sessions West Coast Deli are our appropriately melty & cheesy guests.

Ever wonder how Orange Coast magazine’s annual April Restaurant issue comes together? Orange Coast’s long-time Dining Critic Gretchen Kurz shares an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek into this year’s 30-plus favorite restaurants and the bizarrely inexplicable “Orange Coast Curse.”  Do restaurant critics have “Pet Peeves”? You bet, and we’ll discover some of Gretchen’s most bothersome…

Innovating the outstanding gameday experience with new levels of flavor and fun, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Legends Hospitality have further expanded the menus and fan apparel and collectible retail destinations at Angel Stadium of Anaheim for the 2017 MLB Season. It officially premiered on April 7 when the Angels played the Seattle Mariners for the season home opener, with an even more outstandingly diverse and exciting selection of food, beverage and retail destination options and items will satisfy fan appetites for big delicious flavor and premium Angels branded gear with custom and personalized detail. Halos’ Executive Chef Robert Biebrich of Legends Hospitality joins us.

The Santa Maria area is known for classic Santa Maria BBQ, pinquito beans, and great California Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay. All of these tasty elements come together on the menu at Far Western Tavern in Orcutt established in 1958. Co-Proprietress, Susan Righetti (representing the founding Minetti Family) joins us. It’s quite a meaty story…

Chef Andrew Gruel is on the road today in the wilds of New Mexico. He’ll rejoin us next Saturday just in time for our Easter Show.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s show!

Play

Show 218, April 8, 2017: Gretchen Kurz, Dining Writer, Critic, Orange Coast Magazine

Orange Coast Best Restaurants 2017Ever wonder how Orange Coast magazine’s annual April Restaurant issue comes together? Orange Coast’s long-time Dining Critic Gretchen Kurz shares an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek into this year’s 30-plus favorite restaurants and the bizarrely inexplicable “Orange Coast Curse.” Do restaurant critics have “Pet Peeves?” You bet, and we’ll discover some of Gretchen’s most bothersome…

“Where should we eat? Some foodies never ask this, as they always have a hot place in mind. Other friends are open to anything, any time. When I have to decide where to go, it’s usually about the atmosphere as much as the food. A rainy day lunch with girlfriends calls for a different venue than a special-occasion date night. And what better way to please out‑of‑town guests than Sunday brunch on a waterfront patio?”

“Whatever your appetite, we’re sure to have something that suits you in our Best Restaurants feature (Page 116) as we’ve tripled the size of our list this year and broken it into categories. So you won’t just find the best new restaurants, but also the classics, most-improved spots, and delightful one-of-a-kind places, among other groupings. This issue is a fascinating chance to get into the head of our dining critic, Gretchen Kurz. She comes in for a planning meeting, we talk trends, what she likes (and doesn’t), and we leave those meetings excited and hungry—no more food meetings before lunch! One pattern we’re noticing is fewer lunch options. About half of the 30-plus restaurants we feature in this issue don’t offer weekday lunch and have added weekend brunch instead. Other places have decided to focus only on daytime dining. The scene in Orange County is shifting, and sometimes it moves fast—we had to swap or remove at least three dining listings in our last issue just before we went to print. Keeping up is a challenge we relish, most of the time. Be sure to check out Gretchen’s essay about the downsides of her job (Page 125). It will make you grateful to be able to choose where you eat after she does the preliminary work.”

Alan Gibbons, Editor-In-Chief, Orange Coast

Play

Show 218, April 8, 2017: Gretchen Kurz, Dining Writer, Critic, Orange Coast Magazine Continues…

Orange Coast Best Restaurants 2017Ever wonder how Orange Coast magazine’s annual April Restaurant issue comes together? Orange Coast’s long-time Dining Critic Gretchen Kurz shares an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek into this year’s 30-plus favorite restaurants and the bizarrely inexplicable “Orange Coast Curse.” Do restaurant critics have “Pet Peeves?” You bet, and we’ll discover some of Gretchen’s most bothersome…

Best Restaurants is the April 2017 issue of Orange Coast – The Magazine of Orange County. “For the first time, we (Orange Coast) give you an expanded list of O.C.’s standout restaurants—everything from new to classic, cozy favorites to attention-getters.”

Play

April 8: The Big Cheese, Gretchen Kurz, Angels Baseball Bites, Far Western Tavern

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: “The Big Cheese” Grilled Cheese Festival & Competition
Segment Three: Gretchen Kurz, Dining Writer, Critic, Orange Coast Magazine Part One
Segment Four: Gretchen Kurz, Dining Writer, Critic, Orange Coast Magazine Part Two
Segment Five: Executive Chef Robert Biebrich, Angel Stadium, Legends Hospitality Part One
Segment Six: Executive Chef Robert Biebrich, Angel Stadium, Legends Hospitality Part Two
Segment Seven: Susan Righetti, Far Western Tavern & Susie Q’s Brand, Santa Maria & Orcutt, CA Part One
Segment Eight: Susan Righetti, Far Western Tavern & Susie Q’s Brand, Santa Maria & Orcutt, CA Part Two

Now an enticing preview of this Saturday’s ample show. It’s not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case that’s probably a pretty good thing…

“The Big Cheese” Grilled Cheese Festival & Competition (4th Annual) returns to Provisions Market in Orange on the evening of Wednesday, April 12th. It’s National Grilled Cheese Day of course! Event Co-Founder Chef Greg Daniels (Haven Gastropub & Provisions Market) and Chef Max Schlutz of Sessions West Coast Deli are our melty & cheesy guests.

Ever wonder how Orange Coast magazine’s annual April Restaurant issue comes together? Orange Coast’s long-time Dining Critic Gretchen Kurz shares an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek into this year’s 30-plus favorite restaurants and the bizarrely inexplicable “Orange Coast Curse.”  Do restaurant critics have “Pet Peeves” ? You bet, and we’ll discover some of Gretchen’s most bothersome…

Innovating the outstanding gameday experience with new levels of flavor and fun, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Legends Hospitality have further expanded the menus and fan apparel and collectible retail destinations at Angel Stadium of Anaheim for the 2017 MLB Season. Officially premiering on April 7 when the Angels play the Seattle Mariners season home opener, an even more outstandingly diverse and exciting selection of food, beverage and retail destination options and items will satisfy fan appetites for big delicious flavor and premium Angels branded gear with custom and personalized detail. Halos’ Executive Chef Robert Biebrich joins us.

The Santa Maria area is known for classic Santa Maria BBQ, pinquito beans, and great California Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay. All of these tasty elements come together on the menu at Far Western Tavern in Orcutt established in 1958. Co-Proprietress, Susan Righetti (representing the founding Minetti Family) joins us. It’s quite a meaty story…

Chef Andrew Gruel is on the road today in the wilds of New Mexico. He’ll rejoin us next Saturday.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s show!

The Big Cheese Grilled Cheese Competition“The Big Cheese” Grilled Cheese Festival & Competition (4th Annual) returns to Provisions Market in Orange on the evening of Wednesday, April 12th.

In celebration of National Grilled Cheese Month in April, Provisions Market and OC Baking Company will once again join forces to host The Big Cheese, Orange County’s grilled cheese festival and competition. Event Co-Founder Chef Greg Daniels and his fellow OC Chefs will compete for the title of “The Big Cheese” in this 4th annual event to be held on National Grilled Cheese Day on Wednesday, April 12th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Provisions Market (143 N. Glassell Street, Orange, CA 92866).

OC Baking Company Master Baker Dean Kim will supply locally produced freshly baked bread to the competing chefs, while the farmer-owned dairy cooperative Tillamook County Creamery Association will offer a selection of its award-winning butter and cheeses for use at the festival, including new Farmstyle Cut Shredded Cheese crafted for ideal melt. Competing chefs will present their own spin on the classic grilled cheese sandwich that will be evaluated by a panel of judges who will determine The Big Cheese 2017. In addition, the festival attendees will sample and then vote on a “People’s Choice” winner from the collection of high-profile chef participants including Amar Santana of Vaca and Broadway by Amar Santana.

“This is our 4th year, and I love how this event keeps bringing our local chefs together in a lighthearted competition to melt cheese and make people smile,” commented Chef Greg Daniels, who oversees the kitchens at Provisions Market and Haven Gastropub.

Event Co-Founder Chef Greg Daniels (Haven Gastropub & Provisions Market) and Chef Max Schlutz of Sessions West Coast Deli are our melty & cheesy guests.

Orange Coast Best Restaurants 2017Ever wonder how Orange Coast magazine’s annual April Restaurant issue comes together? Orange Coast’s long-time Dining Critic Gretchen Kurz shares an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek into this year’s 30-plus favorite restaurants and the bizarrely inexplicable “Orange Coast Curse.”  Do restaurant critics have “Pet Peeves?” You bet, and we’ll discover some of Gretchen’s most bothersome…

“Where should we eat? Some foodies never ask this, as they always have a hot place in mind. Other friends are open to anything, any time. When I have to decide where to go, it’s usually about the atmosphere as much as the food. A rainy day lunch with girlfriends calls for a different venue than a special-occasion date night. And what better way to please out‑of‑town guests than Sunday brunch on a waterfront patio?”

“Whatever your appetite, we’re sure to have something that suits you in our Best Restaurants feature (Page 116) as we’ve tripled the size of our list this year and broken it into categories. So you won’t just find the best new restaurants, but also the classics, most-improved spots, and delightful one-of-a-kind places, among other groupings. This issue is a fascinating chance to get into the head of our dining critic, Gretchen Kurz. She comes in for a planning meeting, we talk trends, what she likes (and doesn’t), and we leave those meetings excited and hungry—no more food meetings before lunch! One pattern we’re noticing is fewer lunch options. About half of the 30-plus restaurants we feature in this issue don’t offer weekday lunch and have added weekend brunch instead. Other places have decided to focus only on daytime dining. The scene in Orange County is shifting, and sometimes it moves fast—we had to swap or remove at least three dining listings in our last issue just before we went to print. Keeping up is a challenge we relish, most of the time. Be sure to check out Gretchen’s essay about the downsides of her job (Page 125). It will make you grateful to be able to choose where you eat after she does the preliminary work.”

Best Restaurants is the April 2017 issue of Orange Coast – The Magazine of Orange County. “For the first time, we (Orange Coast) give you an expanded list of O.C.’s standout restaurants—everything from new to classic, cozy favorites to attention-getters.”

Robert BiebrichInnovating the outstanding gameday experience with new levels of flavor and fun, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Legends Hospitality have further expanded the menus and fan apparel and collectible retail destinations at Angel Stadium of Anaheim for the 2017 MLB Season.

Officially premiering on April 7 when the Angels play the Seattle Mariners season home opener, an even more outstandingly diverse and exciting selection of food, beverage and retail destination options and items will satisfy fan appetites for big delicious flavor and premium Angels branded gear with custom and personalized detail.

From mouthwatering, on-trend recipes crafted from premium fresh ingredients, to sensational pairings with craft beers and cocktails, to fan apparel tailored to each fan’s preference, the 2017 season at Angel Stadium of Anaheim is sure to exceed fan expectations with the innovation and energy that are a Southern California tradition and standard.

Halos’ Executive Chef Robert Biebrich joins us with all the crave-worthy details. Here’s his his overview of what’s new in food and beverage at Angel Stadium for 2017.

Super Food Salad is new from Melissa’s. It’s baby and Tuscan kale blend with quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, dried cherries, golden carrots, edamame, toasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds with a zesty lime vinaigrette. Location: Melissa’s at 1st & 3rd Base Food Court on Field Level, plus The Corner Market, Section 221 Terrace Level, as well as In Seat Service.

Crafty Dawg Signature “Pastrami Dawg” – all-beef hotdog topped with shaved pastrami, sauerkraut and sweet and spicy mustard. Location: Section 127 Field Level and 420 View Level

Oke Poke – a fresh and satisfying poke bowl destination with all the classic Hawaiian dish elements, and variety. Fans will be able to custom build a bowl or burrito started with tuna or salmon with choice of brown or white rice in the following options: Crunchy Garlic – ‘Oke’ garlic sauce, ginger, sesame oil, honey; Fire Cracker – spicy mayo, ‘Oke’ garlic sauce, sesame seeds, Hawaiian sea salt; Okeechi -Korean Napa cabbage, minced garlic, kimchee sauce; Bailey – ‘Oke’ sweet chili, cucumber, carrots, cilantro, scallions, sesame seeds.   Also featuring authentic Hawaiian shaved ice. Location: 3rd base food court on Field Level, In Seat Service and The Corner Market, Section 221 on Terrace Level.

LA Rotisserie Opening later in the season, this new destination eatery delivers a new incredible dining experience of fresh and delectable fine roasted meats and poultry to our concessions concourse. Located directly behind home plate on field level this new location will feature a delicious variety of composed salads and slow roasted chicken roasted with savory spices, served as a wholesome platter or in hand-crafted sandwiches. Location: Behind Home Plate on Field Level.

Susan RighettiThe Santa Maria area is known for classic Santa Maria BBQ, pinquito beans, and great California Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay. All of these tasty elements are on the menu at Far Western TavernContemporary California Ranch Cuisine in Orcutt established in 1958.

“Welcome to the Far Western Tavern – Contemporary California Ranch Cuisine inspired by local traditions. For more than five decades, spanning three generations of Minetti family ownership, the Far Western Tavern has been driven by a timeless appreciation for regional cuisine and an inherited commitment to hospitality.”

“Our restaurant is recognized as a landmark of Santa Maria Style Barbecue, a renowned regional fare rooted in native ingredients and methods that were first popularized by 19th century rancheros. Our menu blends this local barbecue style with other dishes that reflect our family’s heritage in the Santa Maria Valley’s Swiss-Italian ranching community. Our menus are graced with fresh flavors from the nearby farms, ranches and vineyards.”

“The Far Western Tavern was established in 1958 by Clarence and Rosalie Minetti along with Rosalie’s cousin Richard Maretti and his wife Jean. Originally located in the historic Palace Hotel building in the town of Guadalupe, the Far Western Tavern quickly became a hometown favorite, attracting locals and visitors alike with its legendary fare and welcoming ambiance. Today the restaurant has its home in a beautiful building in Old Town Orcutt.”

“Since those early days, the Far Western Tavern has outlasted countless culinary trends, remaining true to its original style while keeping pace with contemporary tastes. As Clarence was fond of saying, “To last in this business, you have to like people and you have to serve great food. It’s that simple.” Today, Clarence and Rosalie’s children and grandchildren remain committed to advancing the Far Western Tavern tradition.”

Co-Proprietress, Susan Righetti (representing the founding Minetti Family) joins us. She is also the proprietress of Susie Q’s Brand, purveyors of gift packages of signature local food products. It’s all quite a meaty story…

“Welcome to the Far Western Tavern—contemporary California ranch cuisine inspired by local traditions.”

“Our restaurant is recognized as a landmark of Santa Maria Style Barbecue, a renowned regional fare rooted in native ingredients and methods that were first popularized by 19th century rancheros.”

“Our menu blends this local barbecue style with other dishes that reflect our family’s heritage in the Santa Maria Valley’s Swiss-Italian ranching community, all prepared with fresh flavors from nearby farms, ranches and vineyards.”

Buon appetito!

-The Minetti Family

“Sharing the unique flavors of the Santa Maria Valley with the world”

“As a young girl, Santa Maria style cuisine was always a central part of gatherings at our family ranch. I can still recall the aroma of my mom’s beans simmering on the stove, while ranch-raised steaks, seasoned with the perfect blend of garlic, salt and pepper, sizzled over coals of red oak.”

“This style of cooking, pioneered by Spanish vaqueros of the Santa Maria valley over a hundred years ago, is unique to the central coast of California. The cuts of meat, the flavorful seasonings and the use of local ingredients, like plump, pink pinquito beans, have been passed down for generations; including to my parents, whose love of Santa Maria barbeque led them to open the Far Western Tavern in 1958.”

“While I was working at my parent’s restaurant I enjoyed meeting diners from all over the world who traveled here to experience Santa Maria cuisine. It inspired me to find a way to share the wonderful flavors of my family’s culinary heritage beyond the restaurant. So in 1981, I created the first Susie Q Brand products and created relationships with local grocers who kindly put them on their store shelves.”

“I’m proud that Susie Q Brand is the original maker of authentic, artfully-crafted Santa Maria style food, and even as we’ve grown, we’re still a family run business. Today my children, and even grandchildren, help us share more of our family recipes, including delicious Santa Maria style salsas, locally grown pinquito beans, and red oak chips for grilling – everything you need to create an authentic Santa Maria style barbeque in your own home!” – Susan Righetti

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: “The Big Cheese” Grilled Cheese Festival & Competition
Segment Three: Gretchen Kurz, Dining Writer, Critic, Orange Coast Magazine Part One
Segment Four: Gretchen Kurz, Dining Writer, Critic, Orange Coast Magazine Part Two
Segment Five: Executive Chef Robert Biebrich, Angel Stadium, Legends Hospitality Part One
Segment Six: Executive Chef Robert Biebrich, Angel Stadium, Legends Hospitality Part Two
Segment Seven: Susan Righetti, Far Western Tavern & Susie Q’s Brand, Santa Maria & Orcutt, CA Part One
Segment Eight: Susan Righetti, Far Western Tavern & Susie Q’s Brand, Santa Maria & Orcutt, CA Part Two