A grilled cheese inspired lunch with a crow!

So I’m going to make the assumption that you are like me.

That even though you have a few kids and are a grown adult, that your parents can still one up you. They know more, they’ve been around the block more, they are your parents.  And as much as we think we have a thing or two we can teach or introduce our parents to, we will most likely get a “Been there, done that” from them.

Now that I’ve gotten that little back history spelled out.  Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese month? I didn’t until I was catching up on some blog reading and read THIS from Dine & Dish, and saw THIS from Eat, Live, Run.

Now if either of those wasn’t enough for ya, I received an email about the grilled cheese awesomeness that James Beard nominated chef, John Cuevas has been throwing together at The Crow Bar and Kitchen…..

Chef Cuevas has been serving up daily renditions all month long….can you stand this ~

Smoked Mozzarella and Provolone with Selection of Cured Meats and Spicy Mustard on Wheat Bread

Smoked Mozzarella and Grilled Zucchini, Heirloom Tomatoes and Olive Mayo on Country Bread

Aged Cheddar and Braised Short Rib, Pickled Onion Aioli on Potato Bread

Danish Havarti and Crispy Pork Belly, Haas Avocado, Caramelized Onion on Sourdough Bread

Really!?!? I’m biting.

No really, I’ll take a bite. I’m serious.

And really I did take a bite.

Addie and I made a lunch date and we invited Grandpa along because who better to enjoy a gooey grilled cheese, than with your Dad??

Addie was very taken with the crow on the plate.  It is “The CROW Bar & Kitchen” after all. Very cute!

Check out these specials….we opted to try them all out.

As it turns out, my Dad and Mom are frequent diners of The Crow Bar and Kitchen, and as Dad was listing off his favorite dishes they’ve tried (high on the list is the fish & chips), he goes on to say you can’t go wrong with the Chef’s specials…and since we were there for a grilled cheese, we did just that!

Tried ALL the specials….

Ummm, I don’t even know what to say.

One of the best soups I’ve ever eaten. By ever, I mean ever.

I would never have ordered a fennel soup normally. Love it in salads, but just didn’t seem to work in my brain for soup.

So glad I didn’t listen to my brain….it has no idea what it’s talking about sometimes.

We pretty much spoon battled over every bite…

“Creamy fennel, garnished with green apple and pancetta”.

They should have just said “Heaven in a bowl.

I think dad won, but I definitely made a dent and could have eaten an entire second bowl.

By myself.

Then the tacos landed on the table.

I can’t even tell you what was in them, other than the fact they looked so good to Addie she immediately grabbed some beef, and then immediately grabbed her water glass…they had a tad bit of a deliciously, spicy kick.

Again, DEVOURED (by Dad and moi…not Addie!)

THEN the grilled cheese arrived.

Today’s gooey-goodness was “Swiss cheese, roasted pork loin, spicy mustard, cornichons, sourdough”.

Now, if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if you have the privilege of being served by a talented Chef, even if there are ingredients you would not choose to eat together, just GO WITH IT. You will almost 100% be surprised and impressed with the result.

This was definitely the case.

With everything we ate. Awesome.

Addie, of course, had her hands in the french fries faster that you could say, well, “french fries”.

Annnnnd then there was more….how about a little Flatbread?

Maybe a flatbread with “pamplona chorizo, provolone, Serrano chilies, spicy tomato sauce, pepperoncinis, herbs”.  To say it was spicy is kind of an understatement.

Dad and I LOVED it….

But they quickly brought out a special cheese flatbread for Addie!

Here’s what I have to say.

  1. Parents are almost always right. (As a parent now don’t you think you are!?!?) So even though I had been a patron of The Crow Bar and Kitchen before, as dad pointed out, there are SOOO many fabulous, easy, unbelievably flavorful, well priced dishes on the menu, that this restaurant warrants frequent visits.
  2. Taking time out of your week to invite your dad to lunch is good for your soul. You hear about things you might not have known. Like the fact your grandmother, who is no longer living, who is your Dad’s mom, who your oldest daughter’s (the one sitting next to you) middle name is after, once took a cooking class from James Beard. Didn’t know that.
  3. Sharing a grilled cheese, with your Dad, and your daughter is the best. I can only imagine what it’s like from the other side of the table to be looking at your daughter (yet seeing her as though she is 3 years old) while she sits next to your 3 year old granddaughter.  No matter the craziness of the lunch, it’s special.
  4. Make time for family.
  5. Eat a grilled cheese.
  6. Go to The Crow Bar and Kitchen, sample the awesomeness that comes out of Chef Cuevas kitchen.

And really, can you argue with this??

Go. You wont be disappointed.

(Disclosure: The Crow Bar and Kitchen was kind enough to share their kitchen with us, but the opinions and recap of our wonderful lunch are all my own. It was most certainly a favorite meal. I’m currently penciling in when to get my booty back for more!)

true commitment & true food

This past Friday my guy and I were able to take a much needed date night.  Love them Littles, but a night off with a couple great cocktails at Fashion Island’s newest restaurant, True Food Kitchen, was just what we needed!

To back this story up a bit, I was recently introduced to an organization with a TRUE commitment, Beckstrand Cancer Foundation.

Why is this organization a part of my favorites list?

Because of this…

Beckstrand Cancer Foundation serves patients who are in the midst of cancer treatment and struggling to cope with day-to-day critical survival needs. The programs provide direct financial assistance, patient advocacy, supportive counseling, community resources, and life planning. By making crucial payments, intervening with debtors and advocating on the behalf of patients, the Foundation ensures that each patient’s focus remains on treatment and recovery – rather than how to keep a roof over their heads or food on the tableand encourages families to stay hopeful, supportive and together.” (source)

I cannot imagine the fight that families must commit themselves to when diagnosed with Cancer. To know that there is an organization out there that is providing assistance with LIFE for them is a TRUE COMMITMENT and exemplary action.  Please take a moment to check out their site.

If you are local, join them for An Evening in Havana, sure to be an unforgettable night!

As part of their fund raising efforts,

a pre-opening dinner was hosted at True Food Kitchen, the newest restaurant to join Fashion Island.

True Food Kitchen is an innovative new eatery developed in partnership with Fox Restaurant Concepts and best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil…we believe simple, fresh, pure ingredients create the most satisfying and memorable dining experiences. While our menu is packed with nutritious, good-for-you vegetables, whole grains, and proteins, we never sacrifice flavor. You may not notice the difference, but it’s there.” (source)

Oh they are not kidding…”IT’S THERE!” When I told my guy where we were going, his response was, “We’re going to a Vegan place???”.

Let’s just clear something up, because something is HEALTHY . It does not mean, VEGAN, CARDBOARD, or TASTELESS!  While True Food Kitchen does offer a selection of vegetarian, and gluten free dishes, that is not the primary focus. (I’m 100% sure those dishes wouldn’t taste like cardboard either, but you are talking to a meat lover here…)

The focus is on food that is healthy, TASTES GOOD, is seasonal, locally grown, sustainable, organic, natural and wild.  Let me say it again, food that TASTES GOOD.

Let’s get the party started.

Though beautiful, this display had the carnivores in us a little concerned…

However, this house specialty Ginger Margarita put us at ease.

On to the menu.  Great selection. Good, reasonable prices.

First up ~ Caramelized Onion Tart with Smoked Garlic, Black Figs & Gorgonzola

Next ~ Hamachi Sashimi (FABULOUS flavor! Always huge for me to say, since I’m not a seafood lover.)

2 courses down, we take in the surroundings. This is the wall behind me out on the outdoor patio, breathtakingly beautiful.  The photo doesn’t do it justice.

A service table in front of me, love the casual elegance!

And then came dinner…

My guy’s Grilled Steelhead Salmon with Local Arugula, Beets, Pomegranate, Lemon & Cold Pressed Olive Oil.  He loved it!

My Teriyaki Brown Rice Bowl with Asian Vegetables, Sesame & Avocado.  I chose chicken, but was also offered with Tofu or Shrimp ~ DELICIOUS!  Could someone make this for me every night??

Let’s see if we can end this well…

Though both desserts were wonderful, mine won.

Banana Chocolate Tart with Mesquite Flour Crust & Brazil Nuts

My guy ordered the Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Marinated Strawberries and Greek Yogurt.

Great casual, but upscale vibe.  Decor details were on the money.

Even the service stations were functional but design savvy.

And though we didn’t get a chance to enjoy it, you can be sure we’ll be spotted out by this firepit in the weeks to come!  True Food Kitchen opened Monday evening, be sure to put it on your list of spots to check out this summer.

(Disclosure: I was one of many invited guests of the Beckstrand Cancer Foundation at True Food Kitchen‘s pre-opening dinner.  Neither organization knows me, nor asked my to write this review.  These are my true and honest opinions.)

friend favorite ~ to media

PR is a business of people and as a boutique lifestyle PR firm, we get the opportunity to meet some really fabulous people.  Great ideas, innovative products, interesting stories.  People who truly see the world differently than the rest of us, which is what makes their genius so fabulous.

Lauren and I love to meet up with our clients on a regular basis to talk about their Public Relations campaigns and hear about the latest products or ideas but we don’t have a “real” office.  I know that working from your home is a common practice these days, but really – do my clients need to see my clean clothes neatly stacked but not put away? I think not.

So after many meetings held at eateries from LA to Orange County, we have a soft spot for small, local spots run by a “foodie”.  Here are our favorite places to have a meeting while grabbing a bite to eat:

Haute Cakes – Our all time favorite and sometimes feels like our second office!  Feel special and has lots of options for those who want to get something to grab and go or if you need a little more sustenance. After ordering there a million times we have narrowed it down to our favorites — I love the oatmeal with berries and  a latte while Lauren orders the egg white scramble and a vanilla latte.    Bonus – they have outdoor seating.  Bad news – on rainy days when everyone is sitting inside, it can get a little loud. (Newport Beach)

Bear Flag Fish Co – “Food Porn” is how one of our husband’s described it recently!  The only thing we have ever ordered here are the fish tacos. They are SOOOOO good you don’t want to ever order anything else even though I am sure the other items are just as great.  The beachy casual, atmosphere is fun when you don’t want a stiff, formal environment plus it is next door to our client Halsea so it is also geographically desirable for multi-tasking.  (Newport Beach)

Zinc CaféAnother yummy treat of a place with a great latte.  I love the granola with berries there – it is SO good! They are also great if you need food to go – they do some amazing trays that are perfect for small parties or in office meetings.  There are two locations – Laguna Beach or Corona del Mar, making it easier to meet clients in different locations or if you just want  a change of pace.

Zov’s Bakery – This long time Orange County bakery is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Located right off the 55 at 17th Street in Tustin, Zov’s is a bit more central than the coastal eateries.  Zov’s has incredible pastries, delicious salads and hearty entrees, plus the hummus is incredible – they are Greek after all!!  Definitely a favorite any time of day.

Joan’s On Third, LA – Just in case you are in the neighborhood… you must drop in.  This is one of LA’s coolest lunch spots.  We highly recommend the Roasted Beet Salad… and just about everything else on her menu!!  Joan’s is located on Third St. between La Cienega and Fairfax, so if you do make it by, make an afternoon of it strolling the chic boutiques on Third, the Farmer’s Market and The Grove on Fairfax or hit The Beverly Center on La Cienega.

Allison’s list of favorites:

  1. iPhone App – California Blooms for when you need roses for a loved one or for when you just want to reward yourself.
  2. Organizational tip – When you are talking on the phone, multi-task. Clean out a drawer in the kitchen, wipe down the cabinets, put away laundry. You will be surprised at how much you can get done while you are just chatting with a friend.
  3. Beach – I LOVE the Mauna Kea beach for a great family vacation but the Caneel Bay Resort on St. John ranks right up there too.  Both are old school resorts without all of the flash.
  4. Tonic or Soda? Soda for sure! Nothing is better than a vodka soda with a splash of cranberry and a lime.

Lauren’s favorites:

  1. Kid or baby item – Everything from Crayola!  It’s all washable and the kids can’t get enough of all their creative products.
  2. Wrapping trick – Start your ribbon upside down so you don’t see the seam
  3. iPhone App – Spin Art
  4. GlassesNapa Style’s wine tumblers.  They are so delicate and classic.
  5. MagazinesVanity Fair
  6. Recent BookNurtureShock.  Every parent should read it.
  7. Trader Joe’s Pick – Frozen Frenched Rack of Lamb, Sweet & Savory Trail Mix
  8. Online shopShop it To Me!!  Finds all my favorites for me!!
  9. Fashion tip – “If it doesn’t go with anything, it goes with everything” Sally Bartz, designer, Halsea
  10. Must have shoe for summer – gold sandals/flip flops – they go with EVERYTHING!!
  11. Local Restaurant – Favorite menu item &/or drink – The Winery, Tustin – Risotto popsicles and their game specials.
  12. Out of Town Restaurant ‐ Favorite menu item &/or drink – Red Square, Las Vegas – Caviar Bellinis and their Dirty Martinis with Blue Cheese stuffed olives
  13. HotelBernardus Inn, Carmel Valley and Cipriani, Venice, Italy
  14. Soda or tonic – Tonic!  If I didn’t my mother would never forgive me
  15. TowelsRestoration Hardware
  16. CameraCanon EOS Digital. It’s the ONLY digital camera I’ve found that doesn’t have that weird delay!
  17. Sunglasses – Chanel

***  Thanks for sharing your favorites with us ladies!  These are 2 VERY IN THE KNOW gals!  I trust them implicitly and actually share quite a few of their favorites! Thanks for sharing your Friend Favorites with us all!