Eat Chow, in East Costa Mesa

Dave had the morning free, due to the abnormal weather pattern experienced here in the County of Orange, so we indulged in our favorite outing: breakfast.  We had heard of Eat Chow a few weeks ago from a review in the OC Register and we were in the mood to try some place new.  The restaurant itself is located in the Closet off Newport Blvd.  The restaurant has its own entrance off of 18th street.  The restaurant is no more than ten or twelve tables in a modern, minimalist esthetic.  Two walls of the restaurant are glass that look into The Closet, and there is a door that leads from one to the other.

Being up and early, there was no wait.  We were seated and ordered our coffees.  A quick look at the menu and right away I knew would order the Chilaquiles.  Dave, of course, ordered Chow Benedict (or Eggs Benedict).  The menu selection was small but well chosen, including many of the classic breakfast dishes: egg sandwich, omelets and a large selection of MexiCali dishes.   The wait was not too long for our food, but perhaps that was because I was visualizing all the clothes I might try on over at The Closet.  The portions were large, but not ridiculously so like some breakfast joints.  The Chilaquiles was a bit fancier than traditional recipes; it was two fried eggs over a small amount of chips in a very tasty red sauce.  It was served with black beans, guacamole and queso fresco.  The chips were still pretty crunchy but it was a nice contrast to the texture of the eggs and beans.

Dave really enjoyed his Eggs Benedict, the poached eggs were perfect: whites set and yolk liquid.  The baguette (in place of the English muffin) was warm and thick, it was served with a side of hash browns.  Dave believes the quality of a, breakfast, restaurant depends on the preparation of the Eggs Benedict. Everything, he said, was delicious.

Furthermore, the staff was friendly and helpful.  Bonus: at the bottom of our check it said we could get 10% off at The Closet when the receipt is presented.

I am definitely coming back, but do to the size of the restaurant I will probably try to stay away during the rush hours.

Sincerely,
Rachell A. Wilfert
&. The Wilfert Group©

Pictures:

Location: 1802 Newport Boulevard, Costa Mesa CA


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Preview Party for New Year’s Eve at the OCFair Grounds

The fairgrounds was having a free preview of their New Year’s Eve Block Party, the actual event costs $35 to enter.  The event consisted of about eight food trucks, a DJ, a raffle ticket drawing and some tables to sit and eat.  David and I are neophytes to the food truck phenomenon, many of the trucks available were new to us.

We did a once over on what was available then we picked up some drinks, and hit our first food truck.  First stop was Piaggio on wheels, Argentina fusion; this was my choice because I love argentine beef. I played it safe with a $2 skirt steak “gaucho” taco.  It had the shredded steak, with some green aioli (chimchurri) on lettuce and the smallest corn tortilla I have ever seen.  Three bites later, we both had the same verdict: eh, it’s a steak taco.

Ready to move on, we stopped off at Barcelona, Spanish food. I ended up ordering the “foodie” tapa del día for $6 ($5.45 to be exact), last night that meant lightly battered and fried smelt served with lemon and some fancy tartar sauce.  

As we waited for our food, we noticed a lot of people ordering sweet potato fries from the same truck.  All the ingredients, at this stop, were prepared and cooked as ordered which cannot be said about some of the other trucks.  When I did receive my fried smelt it included 5 fish, heads removed, with one lemon wedge, two deep-fried lemon slivers and the fancy tartar sauce. The fish were light and meaty with a great texture and fresh taste. David and I were both very impressed—definitely worth six dollars.

As we finished our tapa we walked down the way to Louk’s Greek food.  Following Louks via twitter, David wanted to try this one out for a while and he ordered the sausage gyro (about $5).  While he waited in line to order, I sauntered back down to the Barcelona truck for sweet potato fries ($3.45). 

After each receiving our separate orders, we took our food and sat at one of the tables.  The gyro included one piece of sausage cut lengthwise, lots of feta cheese, grilled red onions and French fries. Needless to say it was very salty, some people may like French fries in their gyros, but I do not.  I stuck to my sweet potato fries, and was very happy to do so.  They were lightly battered, almost like tempura on the outside, but soft and smooth on the inside.  Very delicious, the only down side was that it did not come with any dipping sauce which did not stop us from almost eating the whole container.  The portion was very generous and perfecting for sharing. 

As for the entertainment, a DJ was performing popular dance songs while little kids ran and danced around the tables.  I guess you could say, we had dinner and a show.  It was great to see many families out and about supporting this community event.  And the OCFair association was holding a raffle for those who participated in the Toys for Tots program.  It was a shame we missed out on the donation.  Remember, most if not all fire fighter stations host drop off stops for toy drives city wide. 

After our savory we decided we needed something sweet, which of course meant crepes!  We got in line at Bonaparte Crepes and watched as three well-suited chefs created magical sweet and savory concoctions.  David and I decided on the PCH (peanut butter, caramel and honey), and we added bananas ($4.88-including bananas) for the most delectable dessert ever!  It did take about 10 minutes to get our crepe, but you could watch the chefs as they created your food and it was totally worth the wait.  Only down side—they were out of forks!  The crepes were warm, light and delicious.  Generous with the peanut butter (and by the looks of it, the Nutella, too) everything just oozed.

After devouring our dessert we decided to call it a night.  You may ask, what about the happenings at the “Block Party?” Honestly, there was not much.  The DJ was what you would expect for a family friendly affair, mainly pop songs, not much mixing going on, which worked because most people probably came for the food which is what everything was geared around. 

However, this was only a preview, and the flyers boast that there will be a demolition derby, tribute bands and over 50 food trucks at the actual New Year’s Eve event.  So it may be something worth doing. For more information, check out OCFair.com.

All in all, we enjoyed going out and trying something new. We found a few new favorites, and I will definitely be looking for some as I venture out to the local farmers’ markets.

Price Break down for date night

Drinks…$17

One gaucho taco…$2

One “Foodie” Tapa del día…$5.45 

One sausage gyro…$5

Sweet potato fries…$3.45 

One PCH crepe…$4.88

In Total…About $39

Recommended Twitter Links:

OCFair

BarcelonaOnTheGo

CrepesBonaparte

Photos:

Location:  88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa CA


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The Costa Mesa Farmers Market & Seafood Paella Dinner

My husband, David, is always working through the weekend which is difficult since I work the more traditional work week of Monday through Friday.

However, this week I was fortunate to have Veteran’s day off which meant that our schedules aligned briefly.  We made the most of it by going to the farmer’s market in Costa Mesa, at the Orange County Fair Grounds.

At the end of the day we were exhausted but I knew before we even started the day that I wanted to make Paella for dinner.  This was my first attempt at the Spanish meat-fish-poultry rice dish and I was surprised how well it turned out.

The rice is deliciously flavored and slightly short of al dente giving it great texture next to the mezcla of proteins.  I also enjoyed this recipe because the majority of it is cooked in one pan (the exception is the heating up of the broth)—which makes preparing and cleaning a whole lot easier.

I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food television show. The recipe originally calls for shrimp as well as mussels; however the shrimp at the farmer’s market was slightly out of my cash budget so we simply went without it.  Also, I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

When you go to plate this meal, serve it up with a torn piece of crusty baguette for a warm and fulfilling dinner.

Serves 4:

4 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron

1 teaspoon smoked paprika or sweet paprika

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 pound total)

Coarse salt and ground pepper

6 ounces dried chorizo, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 medium onion, diced small

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

12 mussels, scrubbed

(1/2 pound medium shell-on shrimp, deveined)* once again we went without shrimp and it turned out just fine.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lowest position. In a saucepan, combine broth, saffron, and paprika; bring to a simmer and keep warm.

In a large skillet (at least 12 inches wide), heat oil over medium. Season chicken with salt and pepper. When oil is very hot, cook chicken, skin side down, until skin is golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip, spoon off all but 1 teaspoon fat from skillet, and push chicken to side.

Add chorizo to skillet and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add rice; stir to coat thoroughly with tomato-chorizo mixture. Stir in hot broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt (skillet will be very full). Arrange chicken evenly on top, making sure rice is submerged. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring rice occasionally, 8 minutes. Nestle mussels in cooking liquid and cook 2 minutes more.(Arrange shrimp on top- if using.)

Place skillet in oven and cook until all liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Let paella stand 10 minutes before serving.

Photos:

Links:

Orange County Farmers Market

Paella adapted from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart

Feel free to contact us with other great stories from your local farmer’s market!

Enjoy,
The Wilfert Group
Rachell A. Wilfert