Paso continues to blow up

Check out this slick, LOL  video. It stars Paso Wine Man, the Central Coast's answer to that "Most Interesting Man in the World" beer guy. It's all just more proof that my favorite region is hotter than the sun. If you missed Orange Coast's guide to Paso Robles Wine country, call 949-862-1133 to order a copy or get a digital ver

‘Bells Are Ringing’ From Mission San Juan Capistrano’s Women’s Guild

January’s not over yet, and neither is my soup fixation, not that it is in any danger of ending when the month turns over. Orange Coast’s restaurant critic earlier revealed a posole-with-bonus-sopapilla connection, and a senior editor for the mag confessed the source of her favorite chicken tortilla soup. Interesting how top-of-the-mind Orange County soups are often Mexican, innit. To complete the trifecta I’ll offer a personal fave, the ethereal crema de poblano at the La Habra branch of El Cholo, where my family has eaten since I needed a booster seat, though this particular soup is of far more recent vintage.

Wine tour of Italy at Pelican Hill

I always wanted to know more about Italian wines and on my first trip to Italy I was like a kid in a candy store—even grocery store wines for 10 euros were wonderful. I had the same feeling the other day chatting with Pelican Hill's sommelier Steven Ashworth. An expert on Italian wines he got turned on to them while traveling in Italy as a member of the U.S. decathalon team. Having dinner with another athlete in Milan he tasted a sangiovese he never forgot, "A 1986 Nozzole Chianti Cla

Praveen and Geeta Bansal

For many, outdoor cooking is a summer thing. For Praveen and Geeta Bansal, the chef-owners of Irvine’s Clay Oven, which they opened in 1986, it’s a daily ritual. “We have a complete outdoor kitchen,” Geeta says. “It’s rare that we ever cook inside. It gives us a chance to be as close to nature as possible, and we’ll pick things right off the trees and use them.” The two, along with son Tarun, 23, also love exploring the world outside their back yard. Their kitchen has flourishes of Barcelona, Paris, and the world’s wine countries, along with gadgets from their native India. “Everything in our house reminds us of a place we’ve been,” Praveen says. “Everything has a memory.”

Stranded at Mr. Stox

New Year's Eve. Time to live it up and make a few resolutions. We decided the resolution would be enjoy our wine responsibly and the live it up would be dinner at Mr. Stox and a one-night stay at Hilton Suites Anaheim/Orange. The restaurant's website said to make a reservation at both and they would shuttle you to and from the restaurant and hotel until 1 a.m. Perfect. We were going to the Ducks game that night, too.   We made reservations and figured we were al

Neighborhood Diners

A great diner doesn’t have to have countertop seating, an old cash register that noisily cha-chings! after each sale, or a rotating dessert case...

Top Tables

We all know a bad restaurant table when we see it: a lopsided slab crammed into a dark, noisy corner in front of a busy service bay or the kitchen’s swinging doors. If you want the best dining experience, you have to know the best seat in the house. Ask for a specific table by number; there are no guarantees, but good restaurants will make every effort to honor your request. It’s worth snagging the perfect table when you’re celebrating a special birthday or want to impress a client. Here are prime tables for just about every occasion.

When a White Elephant Wine Exchange Results in a Big Steal

Try as we might, my high-powered friends—a cadre of three of O.C.'s best-known food and dining writers and a highly placed publicist—could not get our schedules together to attend a Champagne tasting. We decided instead to enjoy a la-dee-da lunch at Marché Moderne and indulge in a wine exchange. These were the rules: no gift wrapping and the bottle must have cost $39 or less, which is the average price of a California wine according to the Wine Spectator.

Get into the holiday spirit

What do you mean you haven't put the lights up yet? You need to get to work and I'll tell you right now what you need to drink for inspiration before and to celebrate after.    First you need a glass or two of Chambull. Here's the simple nonrecipe. Put an ounce or two of Red Bull in a flute and top with nonvintage Champagne or sparkling wine. I had a dandy the other day:

‘Avec Eric’ Ripert—Going to See a Man About a Fish

Standing around in Whole Foods Huntington Beach waiting for Eric Ripert to arrive is a singular situation already. But when the chef finally does walk in, right through the main door near the produce there, surreality takes over. That’s Eric Ripert and his beautiful, unmistakable hair, walking under the fluorescent lights in the Whole Foods produce section. And, even though planned, expected, not a surprise or chance sighting, the incongruity lingered a bit.