The Hottest “Pop Up” Secret in LA

Pssssssst. Hey, you. Yeah, you! Want in on a little secret? Let me rephrase that…want in on a really, big secret? You do? Okay, well, listen up…

It’s common knowledge that Southern California is known for it’s top restaurants, stellar cuisine, superb wines, celebrity chefs, mixology madness, craft beer cool, and the hottest trend of “pop-up” dining, right??

Well, did you know that Los Angeles will host one of the most epic, “pop-up” extravaganzas ever to be staged in Southern California on August 25? Shhhhhhhhh, keep it down, will ya? Here’s what’s happening…

LA’s first-ever mass picnic, PopUp Dinner LA, has finally come to town; and nobody – I mean, nobody – knows where it will be. You heard me! Nobody knows. Pretty exciting, huh? PopUp Dinner LA is an elegant dining experience with a modern, radical twist. Described as an “underground dinner meets flashmob meets outdoor picnic,” this epicurean experience is sure to be an affair to remember.

After successful PopUp Dinners in San Francisco and San Diego, where thousands gathered to wine and dine under the stars, the Masters of Ceremony, Hand Made Events, decided to bring their unique brand of fun, enchantment, and spontaneity to a secret location here in Los Angeles. The location will be revealed to guests just hours before the event via email.

Now listen close, this is the important stuff. Guests of PopUp Dinner LA are required to wear all-white attire. Can you just envision the glamorous, swankified patrons, all gloriously swathed in silvery, gossimer moonbeams, dining on epicurean delights and laughing in shared revelry? I can’t help thinking of Gatsby right now…

Guests are also to bring their own delectable food and beverages that reflect a love for dining in style…don’t forget tableware and ambient lighting!

Hand Made Events provides the tables, chairs, and entertainment. And if you’re short on time, there’s even food and beverages available for those who would rather purchase pre-ordered dinner baskets curated by a fabulous local chef. Baskets include: a bottle of champagne, gourmet fromage, crackers & grapes, seared ahi, watermelon & mint salad, mascarpone & fig, and pot de creme. Gastronomic bliss!

Let your personal style set the tone: sophisticated, modern, country-casual, avant-garde, theatrical or traditional…there is no “right way” to participate in PopUp Dinner LA. There is only a time and a place to share the unparalleled communal experience of this magical event with friends and family.

What’s more, a portion of proceeds goes to Slow Food Los Angeles, a chapter of Slow Food USA that encourages health food education for children.

So, if you have a gastronomic flair and an appreciation for all things epicurean – good food, great ambience, music, dancing, creativity and adventure – you don’t want to miss PopUp Dinner LA.

Just a reminder, the location is a secret until the day of the event; but rest assured, the location is supposed to be magnificent…and large enough for you and thousands of friends, old and new.

Will I see you at the hottest, pop-up secret in town…?

PopUp Dinner LA
August 25th, 2012
Tickets are $28 per person
$50 to purchase a catered picnic basket (1 basket, per person)
To purchase tickets, view menu and get more details, visit

Thanks for reading!
For more exciting epicurean experiences, follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Posted in Dining Experience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greg Harrison Spices Up Friday Nights with “Chef’s Supper” at Five Crowns

It’s not uncommon for diners to watch an appealing dish arriving at a nearby table, and then to exclaim “I’ll have that!”  But during Five Crowns’ new “Chef’s Supper” on Friday nights starting August 17, that may not be an option.  

New Executive Chef Greg Harrison will be in charge of creating a one-of-a-kind experience for 8-10 people who attend this brand new dining adventure, which includes a bevy of interesting paired beverages – which may include beer, wine, cocktails or even interesting juices.  It’s only for those who gather up their friends, and come together around 6:30 – 7 p.m. for an evening that will exceed expectations.  Reservations are required for the experience priced at $100 per person (plus tax and tip, 8 persons minimum in your party) and can be made by calling (949) 760-0331.

The Chef’s Supper will capitalize on skills Harrison learned while working with some of the most recognizable names in the restaurant industry.  He gained experience in Japanese precision and ultimate freshness at his last assignment at Morimoto Napa.  Prior to that, he soaked up training from the Mina Group at Michael Mina’s Aqua at the St. Regis Monarch Bay Resort, and at NobHill Tavern and SEABLUE Restaurant at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.  During his time in Vegas, Harrison also served as executive sous chef at Fiamma Trattoria & Bar at the MGM Grand under the direction of James Beard Award-winning Chef Fabio Trabocchi and Chef Michael White, who has been awarded three stars by the New York Times.  Harrison began his career at Roy’s Kahana in Maui, Hawaii, after earning a Certificate of Culinary Arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. 

Adding to the Five Crowns culinary expertise is Sous Chef Steven Kling, who has experience in the kitchens of Mark Peel, Katsuo Nagasawa and Thomas Keller.  Also on the team is Junior Sous Chef David Moldovan, who has gained experience at a handful of popular local restaurants including K’ya Restaurant and Bar, and the Sundried Tomato American Bistro.

In May 2011, the 47-year-old Five Crowns re-opened after an unprecedented month-long closure to renovate the interior and renew the menu.  

While classic dinner items remain available, diners now have the choice of more progressive cuisine. Throughout the years, generations of loyal customers have returned again and again to celebrate special occasions at Five Crowns. 

Five Crowns’ greenhouse patio and beautiful English garden remain perfect settings for outdoor dining and festive events. SideDoor gastropub, recipient of Orange Coast Magazine’s “2010 Restaurant of the Year” Award, is also housed within the historic Five Crowns building; its primary entrance is on Poppy Street.

Five Crowns has earned the Automobile Club of Southern California Four-Diamond Award, the Mobil Travel Guide Four-Star Award, and the DiRoNA Award, marking it as one of the distinguished restaurants of North America.  It has also received the Wine Spectator Grand Award, the Southern California Restaurant Writers’ Gold Award, and the Golden Bacchus Award for its wine list.  It was singled out for “Best Hospitality” by Orange Coast magazine.  Five Crowns was selected to receive the WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Award™ for 2011 and 2012 as an outstanding wedding ceremony and reception venue. 

Five Crowns and SideDoor are members of the Lawry’s family of fine-dining restaurants, which includes Lawry’s The Prime Rib with locations in Beverly Hills, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Singapore, Taipei, and Hong Kong, and the Tam O’Shanter in Los Angeles.  Lawry’s Carvery, with locations in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, and at L.A. LIVE, Los Angeles, represents the company’s unique quick-service concept.

Five Crowns and SideDoor are located at 3801 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, CA, 92625. They are open for dinner nightly. Valet parking is available and all major credit cards are accepted.

Reservations are recommended and can be made online at
Or call (949) 760-0331.

For SideDoor information, call 949-717-4322, or got to 

Thanks for reading!

For more Epicurean Experiences, check out Coastal Food & Wine on Facebook and Twitter!

Posted in Dining Experience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Elizabethan Feast” Celebrates Old England in Perfect Style

Can’t get to London for the Olympics? Not to worry! What could better exemplify “A Taste of Britain” than an exciting Elizabethan Feast that celebrates the culture of England’s Golden Age? 

Presented by The Guild of St. George, “An Elizabethan Feast”will recreate an evening of music, dance, food, and laughter from Elizabethan England.

Guests will feel as if they have  traveled 400 years back in time and enjoy an exclusive dining experience, in splendorous 16th Century fashion, at a private club in the heart of Old Town Pasadena.

Indulge in a sumptuous multi-course meal of trout, lamb, game hen, and an array of side dishes with wine to compliment. Enjoy the lavish feast while listening to 16th century madrigals sung by St. George Early Music Ensemble, with instrumental music performed by Wessex Consort and Elements String Ensemble.

After dinner, prepare for further musical entertainment, as all will join in courtly dancing!

Embracing historical authenticity and theatrical excellence, the Guild of St. George  creates an environment in which the past can be passionately and accurately experienced by audiences, and “An Elizabethan Feast” will be no exception.

The Guild is the exclusive Elizabethan period living history organization at The Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens located in San Marino, California. They have performed at the Golden Gate Renaissance Faire in San Francisco, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire™, Heart of the Forest Renaissance Fairs™ in both Santa Barbara and Stafford Lake, and the Getty Center in Los Angeles. 

So if you’re craving a bit of Old England and an epicurean experience that’s fit for a queen – or an Olympian – “An Elizabethan Feast” is sure to be a magical event, not to be missed!

An Elizabethan Feast
Friday, August 17, 6:30PM
A Private Club, Old Town Pasadena

Tickets are $65 per person,
$75 with wine included.

Attendance is limited.
For tickets: Call (562) 692-1434, or
Ticket purchase by August 3.

Posted in Dining Experience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing the Hamburguesa

Broadway by Amar Santana is already a destination spot for foodie thrill-seekers looking for exceptional cuisine with modern, gastronomic flair. Now, there’s another reason to stop into this Laguna hot spot: the Hamburguesa.

The Hamburguesa by Amar Santana

In anticipation of long, hot summer days and nights that extend into the wee hours, Chef Amar is launching a late night menu for patrons who crave an evening bite after a full day of browsing local art galleries and enjoying the sun, sand and surf.

“Now that Summer has arrived, there is a need for extended kitchen operation hours,”  states Santana. “I wanted to offer locals and tourists an option for late-night dining and create specialty menu items that will appeal to everyone.”

The Hamburguesa is certain to appeal. A melt-in-your-mouth burger, the ten-ounce patty is a special beef blend from a local butcher. Add to that, the world’s most expensive and iconic, award-winning, raw-milk, bandage-wrapped cheddar from Fiscalini Farmstead, and you’ve got a winning combination. But it doesn’t stop there. Santana worked with a local bakery to create the whole grain mustard seed bun that is a beautiful, bright yellow and packed with spicy flavor. The Chorizo-Tomato Marmelade and Aioli garnish explode on the palate with sweet and savory, caramelized goodness.

The perfect side dish to accompany this gem of a burger, Santana suggested the Fried Brussels Sprouts with Chinese Sausage, cilantro and a sweet and sour glaze. The sommelier, Michael, paired Guild 2009 Columbia Valley Red, a Rhône-style mix of syrah, mourvedre, counoise and grenache that was lush and well-balanced…but I could just as easily have been persuaded to try a hand-crafted beer.

So, whether you’re in Laguna for a brief holiday, or you happen to be a lucky local, make sure you head to Broadway by Amar Santana to satisfy that late-night burger craving and beg for the Hamburguesa. You won’t be disappointed…

Thanks for reading! ~Stasha

phone: (949) 715-8234
fax: (949) 715-8241
328 glenneyre st ,laguna beach,ca 92651

For more Epicurean Experiences, follow Coastal on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted in Dining Experience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OY-Olé Bueno! The Classic Reuben vs. Jew-Mex Deli Reuben Taco

In this wacky world of mashable mixology and cross-cultural, culinary pollination, is it any wonder that purists like myself are left a little confused about what to do with their classics? The recipes we rely on for comfort and simplicity keep getting overhauled by inventive, gastronomic wünderkind.

Let’s face it, Grandma’s home-cooked staples aren’t what they used to be; those traditional recipes that have been handed down through generations have become — dare I say it? — conventional. Habitual. A bit too easy. In other words, the standards have now become the foundation and springboard for launching far more exotic experimentations.

Honestly, I feel boring compared to the rest of the world for falling back to recipes I can prepare blindfolded. I know it will come out perfect and taste fantastic because I’ve prepared it a million times. After all, practice makes perfect. And who doesn’t want to be perfect – especially, when it comes to cooking?

So, is it any wonder I found myself immobilized when contemplating a beautiful cut of corned beef I had slow-cooked all day? It was perfectly tender, ready to be assembled and served up on fresh Marble Rye with sauerkraut, Emmenthaler cheese, and homemade Russian dressing; but I couldn’t do it. Suddenly, I had visions of foodie guerillas and food trucks dancing in my head; culinary revolutionistas begging me to revolt and rebel against preparing my traditional Reuben Sandwich. The voices in my head kept saying, “You’ve done this…it’s become habitual…move on. Get creative and break boundaries.”

Break boundaries? Well, I wasn’t sure where to begin, but I knew I couldn’t stray far. The craving for that sandwich was just too powerful. My friends had been jibber-jabbering about Taco Tuesday all afternoon, and suddenly a lightbulb went off – I always have Mexican staples and ingredients in the cupboard and fridge. So, I decided to push through, roll up my sleeves and get creative. Hence, my Jew-Mex Deli Reuben Taco was born.

Adding fresh cilantro, diced jalapeno, and some fresh lime juice to my Russian Dressing gave it a nice zesty kick. <Pow!> Suddenly, my recipe went from la tradition to la fiesta! OY-Olé Bueno!!!!

While I learned that venturing from classic standards won’t kill me, I’m certainly glad I had enough leftover Corned Beef to make another sandwich, because lunch the next day couldn’t have been more traditionally comforting. Back to my good old-fashioned Marble Rye, Russian Dressing (sans kick), melted Swiss cheese and Sauerkraut. Biting into that sandwich was a sweet reminder that the classic Reuben was once considered “exotic” and “unique.”

Thanks for reading! ~Stasha

For more Epicurean Experiences, follow Coastal Food & Wine on FacebookTwitter and Coastal Blog!!

To make your own Reuben, try this recipe:

  • Try to get a point cut brisket from a real butcher or deli
  • Avoid vacuum sealed brisket from mass market grocery stores
  • Always use your own pickling spice, even if using vacuum packed brisket
  • Try making your own dressing
  • Look for artisan bread when possible


  • Beef Brisket (point cut)
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Kosher Salt
  • Hungarian Paprika (hot)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Garlic
  • Cabbage
  • Emmental Swiss Cheese (or close substitute)
  • Some type of Rye bread (e.g. Dark Rye, Pumpernickel, Marble)
  • Russian or Thousand Island dressing

Start with a dry rub of fresh ground pepper, then apply caraway seeds, kosher salt, and hot Hungarian paprika. Brown the brisket in a large cast iron pan with a small amount of EVOO. After browning, throw in some rosemary, garlic and thyme to heat, but not scorch. Course chop half a cabbage, then add it to a slow cooker. Add the brisket with all the dripping and set the cooker to “low”.

Use two pieces of a local bakery Rye bread or some variation of it. Select a Russian or 1000 Island dressing that suits the sandwich or make your own. Use an Emmental Swiss cheese or something similar that is not too sharp and without a lot of “feet” funk, such as a baby Swiss cheese. Look for something that hasn’t been aged long and has smaller holes. Find a Sauerkraut you like or make your own. Be sure to drain the Sauerkraut as much as possible to avoid a soggy sandwich.

Build your sandwiches between the two pieces of bread. Ratios for balance of ingredients are important, so avoid the ginormous pile of meat you often see on TV. If you add too much, the sandwich falls apart and will not heat in the center.

Heat your sandwiches in a the large cast iron pan. If making more than 2-3 sandwiches, consider using a 2nd pan. Preheat the pan with some EVOO over medium-to-medium-high heat so the oil shimmers, not smokes. Add the sandwiches until toasty “golden brown”.

**Serve immediately, take a bite, then sigh in traditional heaven…

Posted in Dining Experience, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stonehill Tavern says, “Au Revoir, Foie Gras…”

As you may well know, on July 1, Foie Gras will be forever banned in California. This has caused a flurry of feverish foie activity from renowned chefs and gastronomes who are opposed to the statewide ban. Foie Gras tasting menus are popping up everywhere, from Crescent City to San Diego, and will be featured until the end of June.
Situated above Monarch Beach, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Stonehill Tavern‘s “Au Revoir, Foie Gras” Menu is a prime example. An acclaimed Michael Mina Restaurant at The St. Regis Monarch Beach, Stonehill Tavern’s six-course homage to the duck liver delicacy is an indulgence not to be missed.
Executive Chef Craig Polignano’s specially created menu celebrates the delicacy with humanly treated Foie Gras from ‘Hudson Valley‘ Farms in Ferndale, New York.  Whether shaved, seared, sauteéd, baked or caramelized, Polignano has made sure you get your fill of Hudson Valley Foie — before you have to fly across the country to get your fix.
AMUSE BOUCHE                  foie gras dashi, uni, kumamoto oyster, tonburi
SHAVED FOIE GRAS          black grapes, shallot jam, pink peppercorn brioche
                                                      BRAIDA BRACHETO D’ACQUI, PIEDMONTE, ITALY 2011
SEARED FOIE GRAS          buddha’s hand confit, banana, sesame, walnuts
                                                      INNISKILLIN REISLING ICE WINE, NIAGARA
                                                      PENINSULA, CANADA 2007
CALIFORNIA SQUAB          pickled green papaya, foie gras, vanilla hoja santa          
                                                      ROYAL TOKAJI ASZU ‘5 PUTTONYOS’, HUNGARY 2007
WAGYU STRIPLOIN           porcini mushrooms, roasted shallot, blue cheese, 
                                                     foie gras bordelaise
                                                     CHATEAU D’YQUEM, SAUTERNES, FRANCE 1998
PEANUT ‘SUNDAE’             foie gras arlette, persian mulberry, balsamic caramel
                                                    SARACCO MOSCATO D’ASTI, PIEDMONTE, ITALY 2010
chef”s tasting menu 159
sommelier’s wine pairing 88
we are excited to present an especially created foie gras tasting menu for you to enjoy through the end of june, 2012. our foie gras comes from ‘hudson valley foie gras’, they are the grower of the moulard duck, from which foie gras is produced. ‘hudson valley foie gras’ is situated on 200 acres in ferndale, new york, a two hour drive from manhattan.
au revoir foie gras
1 Monarch Beach
Dana Point, Ca 92629
Tel: 949.234.3318
Wednesday & Thursday
6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday
5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Large Party Contact, Jacqueline Doti
Thanks for reading!  ~Stasha        

For more Epicurean Experiences, check out Coastal Food and Wine on Facebook and Twitter!
Posted in Dining Experience | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Perfect Marriage at Pelican Hill’s Andrea Restaurant

It’s always a surprise when an epicurean experience goes beyond one’s expectations and leaves you wanting more. Dining at Pelican Hill’s Andrea Restaurant was one of those rare instances when all the elements come together harmoniously—the perfect marriage.

Pelican Hill Resort leaves no architectural stone unturned in creating the perfect marriage of 16th century architecture, interior design and landscaping; but the resort’s aesthetics go beyond that. There is an ease here that immediately envelops you in its soft caress. From the art collection to the music, menus, wine and service — everything has been deliberately chosen to heighten the guests’ five senses.

And my senses were reeling by the time — as I call it — my mini-vacation to Pelican Hill Resort ended.

My guest and I were greeted warmly by Executive Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray and Andrea’s Chef Luca Cesarini, who led us on a grand tour of the kitchen.

“We source most of our produce locally from The Irvine Ranch,” explained Dubray. “This year in particular, we are proud of our first olive oil harvest from trees on the resort. We pressed a small batch and the quality is outstanding. We are preparing to harvest over 400 trees next year. This means our guests will be treated to something special that no other resort can offer.”

We were guided toward a small room where one of Andrea’s staff was busy mixing ingredients and pressing colorful sheets of pasta.

“You have a pasta room?” I gasped.

“Andrea’s dedication to bringing guests the finest ingredients is reflected in both the climate-controlled pasta and gelato rooms,” Chef Cesarini smiled at me. “We spend over 50 hours a week making six different pastas. You’ll be trying some.”

“I’m ready and at your disposal,” I said eagerly.

Andrea’s General Manager, Paolo Casciato, led us to the outside terrace and offered the wine list after presenting us with two specialty cocktails.

“Paolo, rather than order a full glass of wine, would you be so kind as to pair really small tastings with each course?”

“Absolutely, ” he replied as our first course, San Daniele Prosciutto Riserva and Figs Vincotto, arrived.

“To begin, I will pour a taste of the Livio Felluga, a Merlot-Cab blend, that’s bold in style and will complement the next courses,” offered Paolo. “Here we have two pastas: Ricotta and Spinach stuffed Ravioli with Sage Butter, and this dish, called Pope’s Hat, is a big tradition in Italy. It’s stuffed with pumpkin, coated with bread crumbs and bitter almond.”

“Pope’s hat? This would definitely make me religious,” I laughed.

Paolo returned with a different wine to accompany our next course.

“Now I’m going to take you to the Piedmont area of Italy with a Barbaresco. The Santo Stefano is a great palate cleanser and will pair well with the Porcini Mushroom Risotto, so try it now before we bring out the Parmesan wheel.”

Upon learning that my guest had never experienced risotto prepared table-side before, Paolo immediately engaged us in the process.

“Why is this special?” he asked, gently pouring the hot pasta into the center of the Parmesan wheel. “As we toss the risotto the cheese melts, the consistency becomes creamy, and then shaved black truffles are added; this makes a wonderful marriage of flavors.”

“A spoiled marriage,” I said, taking a bite.

“You like it?” asked Paolo.

“I’m…speechless. Absolutely speechless.”

“Now that’s a rare occurrence,” my guest chuckled.

“Seriously,” I said. “Every course so far has been more surprising then the next. I am thoroughly impressed by the attention to detail.”

“I’m glad. But now, we switch to a Chardonnay made by Antinori, Cervara Della Salla. No oak, very clean — perfect with the Sea bass, eggplant, red pepper, squash and braised tomato,” Paola stated. “The ash oil drizzled around the plate is made from burnt onions.”

I admired the warm, harvest colors of  the Sea Bass, took a bite, then sighed contentedly.

“The flavors in this entrée — please tell your guests if they want to order something that tastes like Fall, this would be the dish,” I hummed unabashedly.

“I love the decorations on the plate. They’re delicious,” my guest commented.

“I love it! The decorations taste good,” Paolo laughed.

“I have to admit, the Chardonnay is spectacular, too. Paolo, you really have turned my world upside down,” I accused outright.

“How so?” he asked.

“Because you taught me it’s okay to work backwards,” I smiled.

“Excuse me?” Paolo looked at me utterly perplexed.

“Let me explain. I’ve never worked backwards with wine before. We started with a big, bold red, then progressed to reds lighter in style, and finished with a white. It’s a wonderful lesson.”

“You can do that, but you have to have the food that complements it. The perfect pairing of bold and subtle flavors–one highlights the other. The wine complements the food and the food complements the wine. There are some rules, but…”

“You can take liberties on occasion?” I interjected with a laugh. “Honestly, this is not only one of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve had, but it has been extremely educational. I’m delighted to take what I’ve learned here and share it with others.”

“We get what we put in. No?” said Paolo.

“Absolutely,” I smiled. “The perfect marriage. No?”

For information on Andrea Restaurant, visit

Thanks for reading! ~Stasha

For more Epicurean Experiences and adventures, visit Coastal Food and Wine on Facebook and Twitter!!

Posted in Dining Experience | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments