Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yes, you can find Gator and Roo tacos in Oxnard...

Recently, I had the opportunity to review Luigi Ortega's in Oxnard. Its one of the first times I've sat in a restaurant, feeling almost speechless, concerned that I may never find the words to adequately describe it. But, I did, and you can check out my review here. But, these photos might do better to explain.

To start, even the exterior is a bit perplexing (notice that the sign just barely covers the old Rusty's Pizza sign)...foreshadowing of what's to come.

This is the front part of the restaurant...complete with a decadent dessert case, an overwhelming menu...

and a waterfall, a bridge, and Mickey Mouse.

This one is taken in the giant main room, where there are video games galore to keep the kids (and grownups) occupied while you chow on wings, beer, pizza, ostrich, burritos and gourmet pastas.

This is the surf themed room. I couldn't capture the Day of the Dead themed room (yes, colored skulls on the wall and coffin table) or the dark bank vault because private parties were going on.

The Philly cheese steak, topped decadently or scarily (depending on your belief system) with Cheez Whiz.

The Gator Taco.

The Turtle chili.

The Ortega Fries. Decadent, naughty and totally excessive. And, yes, I really enjoyed them.

Milk and bones dessert. Delicious chocolate chip oatmeal cookies shaped like dog bones, served with ice cream, in a dog dish. Hmmmm? The perfect ending to the most memorable meal I've had in a while.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brussels are the new black

I didn't grow up eating brussel sprouts. In fact, I actually grew up fearing them. My only exposure to this little veggie was through the world of television. I'm pretty sure I watched the Brady kids refuse to eat them, and maybe even saw the Beaver (yes, I used to watch Leave it to Beaver) hide a few in his napkin.

Flash forward 25 years, and I've crossed over to the other side. I can't seem to get enough of these little cabbage like gems. And while the Cleavers and Brady's always served them steamed, plain, and nasty looking, roasting them is the way to go. When cooked at a high temperature, they caramelize and get brown, nutty, and a bit crispy. And this recipe, which came from my dear Uncle Bruce, calls for roasting them with bacon and adding some lemon juice at the end. If you're scared of brussel sprouts or have never tried them roasted, you must try this mind blowing recipe. And, if you like these, you have to check out Molly Wizenburg's recipe for cream braised brussels- another delicious way to do brussels.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with potato and bacon

1.5 pounds yukon gold or new red potatoes, quartered or halved if small
1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
6 medium shallots, quartered OR 1 medium onion cut into wedges
4 slices thick cut bacon, but crosswise into 1/2 inch strips
2 TBL olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 TBL unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine potatoes, brussels, shallots, and bacon in a large bowl; toss with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again. Transfer to roasting pan and roast for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the veggies are tender and well browned. As you can see from my photo, I love them dark and crispy.

Combine the melted butter and lemon juice in a small bowl, and pour over the vegetable mixture. Toss to coat and stir immediately. Note: this step can be skipped if you don't have lemon juice, but it adds another level of flavor, so if you've got a lemon and some butter, give it a try. The tang of the lemon really takes it to the next level.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hey, who doesn't love wine, bread, and tractors?

Breadshare Program
October 8th – December 31st
A new take on the “CSA” community supported agriculture model applied to their artisan community bakery. The model for the breadshare is very similar to that of a CSA, in which people pay up front and receive a weekly box of produce from a local farm. Instead of produce customers will be receiving a well-rounded weekly assortment of artisan breads, crackers, bagels, english muffins and compatible specialty items such as cheese, olive oil, and much more. Weekly Pick Up Day and Time is Thursdays from 3pm to 5pm. Cost: $35/week, 12 week minimum.

Tuesday, October 27th, 6:30-8:30PM
Ojai Vineyard Wine and Food Pairing Event

Saturday, November 14th
Basic Winemaking & Appreciation Class
Come check out this very informative class on Basic Wine making at the Winery from 11am-4pm. You can sign-up through Ventura Community College.

November13-15, 20-22, 28-29
Wine, Dine & Play at the Square
$49 p/p all inclusive. Wine taste at Rancho Ventavo Cellars, Dine at La Dolce Vita, Enjoy the play at the Elite Theatre with "Children of Eden" a musical by Stephen Schwartz. Pre-payment and reservations a must! (805) 486-6878.

Antique Tractor Weekend
October 10th & 11th, 9:00am - 6:00pm
Over 30 antique tractors will be visiting the farm this weekend along with their owners who will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. Don't miss the Tractor Parades at 12pm, 2pm, & 4pm!

Saturday October 10th
In honor of Columbus Day weekend, embark on a flavor voyage at We Olive Ventura. They are serving up tastes of their We Olive house-brand balsamic vinegar with vanilla ice cream. As they say in their newsletter, "For all you disbelievers, we're bringin' it on!" You'll also be able to sample vanilla ice cream drizzled with olive oil and sea salt -- a true taste treat suggested by Fantastic Frank from their corporate office.