Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Oink, Oink!

Oink and Moo
Burgers and BBQ
121 N. Pico Ave
Fallbrook, CA 92028

  My wife has been insisting that we go to this place call Oink and Moo Burgers and BBQ down in Fallbrook ever since she heard of it. The family was on vacation in San Diego so this was a must stop while down in the area. The Oink and Moo is a small place located between what appears to be residential homes and can be missed so make sure to keep your eyes open. The family was seated quick and we quickly found what we all wanted to eat for dinner. We started with an appetizer, my daughter got the kids cheese burger, my son got the Hillbilly burger, my wife got the 2013 Taste of Fallbrook winning menu item which was a very tasty pork chop,and I got a three meat plate. With drinks and dessert this meal was about $85.

  The appetizer we started with was mac and cheese fritters wrapped in bacon and then deep fried. These little bites of goodness were served with a marinara sauce which went perfectly with the fritters. The bacon on the outside was crisp while the mac and cheese was soft and cheesy. I could have easily eaten a whole basket of these bad boys.

  The child's cheese burger was perfect for my daughter, she had no problems enjoying this burger. While it was enough to fill my daughter up she was asking for some french fries which did not come with the burger. But my daughter quickly forgot about the lack of fries while she was actually enjoying the burger it self. My daughter had no criticisms of the burger.

  My son is a growing boy and so is his appetite which means his choice for meals are becoming increasing larger. The Hillbilly burger my son ordered consisted of a 1/3 pound burger which was then topped with a hot dog, tater tots, caramelized onions and American cheese. My son started devouring this burger without hesitation and asked me if I wanted a bite. No way I was refusing this monstrosity, so I grabbed hold and went it in for a bite. The burger it self was cooked to a perfect medium which kept it moist, the hot dog was split down the middle yet retained some snap. The tater tots added a nice bit of crunch to the bite and the caramelized onions brought some sweetness the burger. What an awesome combination of flavors. It was like having a backyard BBQ on a single bun. Definitely a good pick by my son.

  What my wife ordered was on the menu as the 2013 Taste of Fallbrook winner which was a 12 ounce center cut, bone in, beer brined pork chop. The chop was served on top of a blueberry BBQ sauce and then covered on caramelized onions. I was able to get a few bites of this chop which it self was juicy and full of porky flavor. The blueberry BBQ sauce was not overly sweet and brought a nice fruity flavor to the chop. The onion added a slight bit of texture to the dish but some kind of crunch would have been nice. The few bites of pork I had were very good and something I myself would easily order. My wife had nothing bad to say to about her plate of food and was very satisfied with her choice.

  My choice of meats for the pick three plate was beef ribs, BBQ chicken and pulled pork. I got two gigantic beef ribs on my plate and was able to share one with my son. The beef rib it self was tender but still had some pull to it, meaning it just did not fall off the bone. Which was fine with me because while eating this rib I felt like Fred Flintstone gnawing on one of those brontosaurs ribs. The rib was smokey and the BBQ sauce was thick. I very much enjoyed the rib. The chicken was up next for me. This quarter chicken remained moist and was loaded with flavor. I think there may have been a rub on the chicken which was herby and scrumptious. Now for me the pulled pork was lacking something, I honestly cannot put my finger on what it was but something was missing. The pork was cooked til tender and the pork was full of good smokey flavor but I just felt a little under whelmed by the pulled pork. The biscuit was drenched it what I think was honey and maple syrup. The biscuit was flaky and pulled apart almost like those biscuits from a can, all I can say is yum.

  We decided to finish the meal with a smoked bananas fosters which was severed over two scoops of vanilla ice cream and came with macerated berries. The smoked caramel flavor really came through and cut through the richness of the ice cream. The berries added a nice tartness to the dessert that really made this dish complete. This was the final nail in the coffin for me and I was ready to tap out.

  The Oink and Moo definitely delivered fantastic BBQ and well made burgers. I am glad my wife found this place and took me there. I would highly recommend anyone near Fallbrook check this joint out. I can say for sure that the Oink and Moo will be on my list of must eat places next time I am in Fallbrook.

Oink and Moo Burgers and BBQ on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dinner after the show

Felix Continental Cafe
36 Plaza Sq.
Orange, CA 92866

  My wife and I were in Orange seeing The Maxies and after the show we were looking for a place to have dinner. While at The Maxies show a friend of mine had mentioned that they went to Felix Continental Cafe before the show and how good the food was there. This wasn't the first time I had been told about Felix so my wife and I decided it was time to try it out.

  The menu at Felix Continental Cafe was a bit overwhelming but not in a bad way, there was just so much on the menu that sounded really good. Felix has chicken dishes, beef dishes, pork dishes and seafood dishes. I personally was torn between the the ox tail, the Cuban sandwich or the roasted pork. I eventually decided on the roasted pork, my wife ended up picking the Arroz a la Cubana. With drinks this meal was about $32.

  The Arroz a la Cubana is casserole of saffron rice with chunks of pork, pieces of chicken and pieces of chorizo. My wife got the chorizo on the side because she thought the sausage would be spicy. I did try a little bit of each meat, the pork was tender but a tad bit on the dry side, the chicken was moist and shredded. While the texture of the chorizo kind of reminded me of wet jerky. The rice it self was cooked perfectly but still had some tooth to it. I said to my wife that the whole dish kind of reminded me of a Cuban fried rice. I really enjoyed each component of the dish separately and when mixed with the rice. A very tasty dish indeed.

  As for me the roasted pork was described as a Cuban holiday dish. Pork slowly roasted in its own drippings with bitter orange and seasonings. Served with rice, black beans and maduros. I love well made pork so I thought this would be a great dish and I was not wrong. The pork it self was tender and covered in the sauce which kept it extremely moist. The seasoning or sauce on the pork was so full of flavor and you did get a hint of the bitter orange. I enjoyed mixing the fluffy white rice with the pork and some of the raw white onion. I also thought the black beans were good, I am not a fan of black beans but these beans had a nice smokey flavor to them that I thought was nice. I tried the maduros which I believe was a deep fried plantain. It wasn't bad but not something I chose to eat simply because I wanted to finish the pork.

  I was very impressed with Felix Continental Cafe and will definitely be back. There are so many dishes on the menu that I want to try and I think the ox tail will be next. If you haven't been to Felix then I highly recommend you take a trip to this establishment as soon as you can. Oh on a side note the arroz con leche was creamy and the perfect end to this meal.

Felix Continental Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mediterranean Grand Opening

Luna Grill
3965 Alton Parkway
Irvine, CA 92606

  I received an email from a media relations person about Luna Grill having a grand opening celebration at the newest location in Irvine. So I thought I would go check it out. I was a bit disappointed that the food tasting was just samples and since I write about how foods taste and could care less about all the other festivities I had to go inside and actually order some food. My wife came with me so we got the chicken kabob and ground sirloin kabob plate, we also got a gyro plate and two drinks. This ended up costing me about $30. I wasn't surprised because the prices are clearly marked on the menu board but I was sure hoping the food would be worth the price.

  I stared by first trying some of the ground sirloin kabob. The meat was moist but a bit chewy. There was not much flavor to the meat other then the taste of beef. I did not get any taste of spice or seasoning. I was a bit disappointed to be honest. Next I tried the chicken and wow was this good. The chicken was tender and very juicy. The combination of spices and seasonings used on the chicken made it very flavorful. The slight char that the chicken had brought a nice smokey, grilled flavor to the chicken which left me wanting more of the chicken.

  Next I tried my gyro meat which is a mixture of ground lamb and ground beef with traditional near-eastern spices. I could tell from the slice of gyro meat that this came from a pre-formed hunk of meat and I believe I was correct. As I was about to leave I saw the cooks bring a perfectly shaped skewer of gyro meat out from the back and placeing in the cooking utensil. Now of course this could have been in the back but to me it just seemed to well made to be something that was done by hand. Now this is not to say the gyro was bad, in fact the exact opposite. The flavor of the meat was good and the spice is was exactly what I was used to, however, the meat was a bit dry because it was pre-sliced and sitting in a warming tray until being weighed out for service. I also want to mention that the sides on my plate were tasty. The basmati rice was cooked just right which made it light and fluffy. The pita bread was doughy but in a good way, not under cooked at all. The grilled tomato was a good compliment to the whole dish.

  The food at Luna Grill was good but seeing as how I am always trying to find the best tasting food for the best value I have to say Luna Grill isn't that place. If I had brought my kids with me the meal could have easily been over $50 and in my opinion I can get food that I personally enjoy more for less money. I will say that the chicken kabob at Luna Grill was out of this world fantastic and I would easily order that again but the combination of cost and just okay food may keep me away from Luna Grill in the future.

Luna Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A tasting at Gaufree

3851-A Alton Parkway
Irvine, CA 92606

  I was invited to a tasting event at Gaufree (Go-free) and since I enjoy waffle sandwiches so much it was a no brainier. The menu for the tasting event was limited to a few selection and I was able to pick one sandwich, one side, one dessert and a drink. I went with the Philly cheese steak, fries, black cherry soda and peanut butter pie. Since this was a tasting event there was no cost to me but if you would have ordered this the cost would have been around $20.

  I did want to mention the soda at Gaufree because it uses natural ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup. Which I think it pretty is cool. I much prefer these kinds of sodas when I do choose to drink soda. Plus the black cherry soda was excellent, nice cherry flavor without being overly sweet.

  As my food was delivered, Paul, the owner of Gaufree, stopped by my table and made sure to mention the garlic aioli that came with the fries. Being a lover of all things garlic that was the first thing I went for when it came to dipping my fries. The fries where crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The seasoning on the fries was perfect, just the right amount of salt to bring out all the flavor. But wait a minute, talk about a show stopper, the garlic aioli was just awesome. This dipping sauce would make a flip-flop taste good. The pungent taste of garlic was a welcome kick to the taste buds that sticks with you and will leave you craving more. Simply outstanding.

  I was fortunate enough to be sharing a table with a fellow food blogger we decided to share our sandwiches so we could each try more then more. I started with my Philly cheese steak sandwich, the waffle was loaded with grilled grass fed beef slices, sauteed peppers and onions which was all covered in melted cheese. This waffle had all the classic flavors of a Philly cheese steak, the beef was tender and moist, the peppers and onions added a bit sweetness and the cheese added a nice saltiness. The waffle it self was crunchy, fluffy and slightly sweet. This was a great tasting sandwich.

  Next up I tried the breakfast waffle which consisted of farm fresh organic scrambled eggs, apple wood smoked bacon and a garden herb pesto. Again the waffle was cooked just right, crispy and soft. The eggs were scrambled so they were light and airy. The bacon was thick which added a nice texture to the sandwich and a hint of smoke. The herb pesto brought a nice brightness to the entire flavor of this sammy. A breakfast sandwich that I could wake up to every morning.

  It must have been our lucky day because as we were sitting there enjoying our sandwiches we were offered a pulled pork sandwich. As full as I was there was no hesitation in answering yes. This pulled pork was slow cooked until pull a part tender and served with house made BBQ sauce. A bit of coleslaw also comes on the sandwich with caramelized onions and a spread of horseradish yogurt. The pork was tender and juicy, the BBQ sauce was smokey and sweet while the horseradish yogurt added some tang and spice. A very tasty version of pulled pork.

  Finally it was time to try the dessert waffle. This waffle is on the menu as a peanut butter pie waffle with sea salt caramel. However there are a few more ingredients included. The waffle had freshly sliced bananas, peanut butter, bits of chocolate cookie pieces, nuts and whipped cream the drizzled with caramel. This waffle brought sweet to a new level. You had better have a sweet tooth for this waffle. It was amazingly good but very rich. A cold glass of milk would have paired very nicely with this and rounded out this treat. I think this dessert is best shared with multiple people because too much can be overpowering but the flavors were spot on.

  My overall impression of Gaufree was very good. I was blown away by the quality of the ingredients and their attention to detail. I was watching them cook and after cooking the waffles they had a person trimming the edges so the waffle were nice and neat. All the ingredients are locally sourced, if possible, no use of GMO's and all natural where available. This combination brings the customers of Gaufree a quick dining experience that tastes like it came from a gourmet restaurant. I know I will be back and I suggest, no I urge, you to go and try Gaufree for yourself.

Gaufree on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Grand Opening

Hapa Cupcakes
105 W. Amerige Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832

  The first time I wrote about Hapa Cupcakes (article here) they were just getting started in a location in Anaheim, sharing a store front with another restaurant. Over the weekend I was stoked to be invited to their grand open in Downtown Fullerton. The new shop is small and quaint but loaded with the alcohol infused cupcakes that have helped Hapa Cupcakes become successful. Since last I visited Hapa Cupcakes they have added more then a few new flavors of cupcakes, added cakes, brownies and even cookies to the line up.

  I was treated to a four pack of cupcake so I wanted to to try different or new flavors then the last time. I first tried the salted caramel cupcake. The cake was moist and had a nice caramel flavor to it. The frosting was sweet but not overly sweet and it complimented the cupcake nicely. My only issue is I wish there was a bit more salt on this cupcake. I really enjoy the salty sweetness that most salted caramel confections provide but this one was missing the salty.

  The second one down the hatch was the "Squeeze my Lemon" cupcake. Again the cake it self was moist and had the classic lemon cake flavor. The frosting was creamy and smooth which added a nice lusciousness to the entire cake. The lemon flavor was bit too subtle for me but overall another very well made cupcake.

  Next up was the "Strawberries and Champagne" cupcake. I really did like this cupcake more then I thought I would. The strawberry flavor was pronounced enough that it was the first thing I tasted, then as I continued to enjoy the cupcake the champagne flavor finished off the bite. The frosting on this cupcake was delicate and worked hand in hand with the cake to deliver an awesome cupcake.

  The last cupcake tasting was the "My Cookies Make You Cream" cupcake. This is Valrhona chocolate cupcake with chocolate cream cookie topping. The cupcake packed a punch of chocolate flavor while the cookies added a nice crunchy texture. Like the previous cupcakes this cake was also moist with a sweet cream cheese frosting loaded with cookie bits. If you are chocoholic then this cupcake will surely cure that craving. 

   I finished off my Hapa Cupcake treats with something completely new which was a creme de menthe brownie. This brownie reminded me of thin chocolate mints. The brownie it self was dense and chewy. The layer of creme de menthe was thin but packed a lot of flavor and it was topped with fudge coating. All together this brick sized treat fed three members of my family and we were plenty happy.

  I am a sucker for sweets and Hapa Cupcakes can deliver. I am happy to see these ladies finally move into their own store front. I wish them the best of luck and many years of success. But I would urge you if you are in Downtown Fullerton to stop by Hapa Cupcakes and tell them PapaKaster sent you.

Hapa Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lunch with Mom

Hill Street Cafe
1004 Foothill Blvd.
La Canada, CA 91011

 I took my Mom to the doctor and on the way home we wanted to eat lunch. I saw the Hill Street Cafe and we decided to stop and try it out. The menu at Hill Street Cafe is expansive and covers many different food types from American, Mexican, to Italian.  Not wanting to be stuffed my Mom and I decided to share a sourdough melt and onion rings. This sandwich was turkey, grilled onions, ortega chilies, tomatoes, Jack cheese and thousand island dressing all on grilled sourdough bread. The sandwich and side was $12.50.

  The sandwich was loaded with so much sliced turkey that it was spilling out the sides of the grilled bread. The turkey was thin yet moist and it too was grilled so it had a slight toasted flavor to it. The Jack cheese was melted and gooey which made it string with each bite of the sandwich. The tomatoes added a hint of sweetness and a lot of moisture. The ortega chilies added the slightest bit of heat and brought a ton a of flavor to the sandwich. The bread was crisp and perfectly grilled on the outside while still being soft in the middle. What a great sandwich! Each bite was full of every flavor which really made this a complete sandwich. I am glad I shared the sandwich with my Mom because I could have easily eaten the whole thing but half was just enough to fill me up. The onion rings we got were super crunchy yet still had a good onion flavor. A very well made ring.

  I did not expect much from Hill Street Cafe because cafes can be hit or miss but this was definitely a hit. So much so that as I write this I am thinking of how I might be able to get back there again. I think the next time I visit Mom we may have make a trip to Hill Street Cafe and I would suggest if you are anywhere near that you should too.

Hill Street Cafe on Urbanspoon