Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Best thing I ate this week: Petite Reve coconut chai infused chocolate truffle

"Don't do it if you're not passionate about it." That's what entrepreneur Kate Dunbar says about starting your own business. But she has nothing to worry about because she is beyond passionate about making decadent, high quality desserts with fresh, natural, and local ingredients.

She is a proud and busy mom of three, and the proud and busy owner of Petite Reve Chocolates - a new addition to the culinary scene in Ventura. Though right now most of her business is by special order, she's hoping to be at the Ojai and Ventura Farmer's markets in the next few months.

I met with her this week to talk about her business and taste her wares for a short piece I'm writing for Edible Ojai. I tasted flourless chocolate cake(above), buttery madeleines, and French macarons made with almond flour and filled with chocolate ganache. I tasted rich, dark chocolate brownies infused with different spice combinations and a towering crepe cake made (below) of 20 layers of handmade crêpes filled with a whipped chocolate ganache.

It was all insane and worthy of a thousand words, but OMG, the truffles were by far the best thing I ate this week. I tasted one that was infused with local honey and chipotle - it was sweet, spicy, and warming to the mouth. Another was infused with bits of pixie tangerine rind, blood orange rind, and meyer lemon rind.

But the true show stopper was the coconut chai infused truffle(from Ojai's very own Zhena's Gypsy Tea). Somehow Kate infuses each tiny little bite with the essence of this tea - and the mouth is bathed in chocolate, coconut, and a hint of spicy chai. The truffles are so decadent and rich that Kate suggests cutting each tiny little truffle into quarters and allowing them to melt slowly in the mouth. Trust me, these truffles are so good, you'll want the taste to last all day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jam your June with foodie fun

Pick your own lavender at New Oak Ranch
Looking for a family outing? You can pick your own lavender at New Oak Ranch in Ojai. Take a picnic and enjoy a little escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. U-Pick Lavender begins the weekend of June 19th and runs through the weekend of August 28th. Hours are Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. To visit during the week, or anytime throughout the year, please call (805) 640-1189. Admission to the Ranch is free but there is a $5.00 per bunch cutting fee. New Oak Ranch is located below the Ojai Foundation at 9599 Ojai-Santa Paula Road – just 6 miles east of Ojai and 12 miles west of Santa Paula.

Ojai Valley Lavender Festival
And for a day packed with the magic of lavender, mark the calendar for the Ojai Valley Lavender Festival on Saturday, June 26th in Ojai’s Libbey Park. There’ll be nearly 100 vendors boasting lavender products and Mediterranean-inspired merchandise, speakers to stimulate and educate your thirst for lavender and music to put you in a festive summer mood.

Oxnard Salsa Festival
The Oxnard Salsa Festival will take place on June 24th and 25th from 11am-7pm. The festival is a FREE community event presented by the Oxnard Downtowners to bring people downtown for a great experience. Enjoy food, music, dancing, and some of the best salsa you've ever tasted.

Check out Boccali's 24th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday June 5th, from 5:00-8:30pm. Tickets are $25.00 and include dinner, show, tip, and tax. Dinner is all-you-can-eat pasta, pizza, and tri-tip buffet, and includes non-alcoholic beverages.

Edible Celebration
A celebration for the publication of Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods will take place at Treasure Beach & Café (928 East Ojai Avenue, Ojai; 805-640-0611) on Sunday, June 20th from 2-4 PM. Authors and Edible Communities, Inc. co-founders, Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian will be available to sign books and answer questions about this important, fast-growing movement and community of publishers that began in 2002 with the publication of Edible Ojai magazine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Best thing I ate this week: Spencer Makenzie's Ceviche

Spencer Makenzie's is known in Ventura for their gargantuan tempura battered fish tacos, but don't be fooled: this is not your average taco stand. They also make a delicious ceviche, filled with big chunks of fish and shrimp, chunks of red and yellow peppers, and even fresh radish. All of this is laid over crispy tostada shell with a tangy citrusy sour cream sauce. And if you've already enjoyed the ceviche, the parmesan crispy tacos and the tuna pockets are out of this world as well.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cooking Classes for young and old (and those in between)

Playing in the Kitchen has announced a few new summer classes at the Lavender Inn in Ojai.

Learn how to make it, dry it and have it handy for mid-week! A perfect recipe for 2 people to do together. Menu includes 15 Minute Pink Tomato Sauce, Salsa di Pomodoro, and Homemade Pistachio Pesto.

Geared for kids 8-12 years old. Menu includes Green Eggs & Ham, Sweet 'n' Crunchy Granola, Yogurt Parfait with Honey, and Homemade Marshmallows with Cocoa.

Geared toward Adults who are interested in learning some options for a gluten free meal your kids can eat and love! You will learn, make an awesome meal using alternative ingredients to accommodate gluten allergies, including celiac patients.

Check out these upcoming classes at Seasons Catering:

Spring Sweets, Tuesday May 18th, with Jana Heredia
Upside-down Orange Blueberry Cake, Spiced Mexican Chocolate Pudding with Cinnamon Sugar Crisps, Lemon Ricotta Tart, Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes, Lemon Pepper Cornmeal Cookies

Light and Easy Dinner Party,Wednesday May 19th, with Daisy Mastroianni
Artichoke, Goat Cheese Spread on Garlic Crostini, Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing, Dijon and Crème Fraiche Brushed Halibut, Wild Rice with Roasted Spring Vegetables, Rhubarb, Strawberry Crumble

Greek Holiday, Tuesday May 25th, with Linda Skene
Toasted Pita with Tzatziki, Moussaka, Greek Roasted Potatoes, Rosemary, Garlic Grilled Lamb,
Fresh Greek Salad

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ladyface Alehouse is having a busy month...

Ladyface Cigar Night
Monday, May 19th at 6:30 PM on the patio. A representative from Wall & Welch's Cigars will be your guide. There will be cigar selections, education, and conversation and Brewmaster Dave will be roaming the tables with beer pairing suggestions and a presentation of some new Single Malt Scotches selected for the occasion.

Sunday, May 23rd "Celebrate Stage 8"
This is your chance to watch the world's greatest cyclists battle for supremacy as Stage 8, the final stage in the Amgen Tour of California, passes their patio four times.
Reserved Patio tickets on sale now for $50/pp. Reservation includes:
* In & Out access to the patio from 11:30AM to 5:30PM
* Commemorative tulip glass & first Ladyface ale
* Large-screen HDTV with televised race highlights & award ceremonies

May 17-23: The Mother of All Beer Weeks
Join in this annual celebration dedicated to craft brewers and the culture of craft beer. The nation's largest beer week, this is an exciting opportunity for craft brewers to commemorate their art, innovation, and tradition with enthusiasts across the country.

To celebrate at Ladyface, they will be featuring:
* A stellar lineup of American Craft Beers to pay homage to those pioneering brewers who have sought to bring great beer to every table in America
* Brewery tours will be offered every day at 5:30 PM, Sunday May 17th through Friday, May 21st
* Happy Afternoons will begin at 3 (instead of 4) to 6 PM, Monday through Friday
* Saturday, May 22, 7-11 PM: Release Party for "Dérailleur Bière de Garde," a Commemoration Ale celebrating The Tour of California, made in collaboration with Semler Vineyards