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As my youth quickly dissipates, one childhood fantasy remains. I have long dreamed that I am one of the winners of that “golden ticket” in the chocolate bar that wins me access to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. When it comes to chocolate, my fantasies are void of caloric intake, complete with eye rolling primitive grunting, and yes, moaning. I have visions of gallivanting from one glorious and creative concoction to another.
The Orange County Chocolate Festival made this fantasy a reality: It was truly a dream come true. The festival brought together chocolatiers and vendors that dispensed samples of cakes, frozen desserts, truffles, chocolate cocktails, wines, deconstructed s’mores, cupcakes, and unique small bites. It was unreal and I think, my sugar induced high may have caused me to “black out” and I couldn’t stop myself (not that I would have anyway). Thank you to the visionaries that brought this annual event together. If you want to attend next year’s event, follow them on Facebook or Twitter. www.occhocolatefestival.com
Once in a blue moon, one will experience a meal that cannot be forgotten. The meal leaves such an impression its impact is almost haunting. Such is the experience with The Olive Pit. I literally cannot stop thinking about it and started to crave it the very same day I had it. The Olive Pit’s offerings are that of a fine dining establishment but with counter prices. You walk up, place your order at the counter and find a seat in the quant and welcoming booths or tables. When the food arrives, the feast begins with the eyes with generous portions, brightly colored ingredients, bold flavors that burst with layering flavors, succulent meats, and a journey through a meal unlike any I’ve had in a long time. It quickly becomes apparent that this is a meal that is mastered only by someone who is truly passionate and believes in what they are producing and puts their heart and soul into it. Chef Yianni’s commitment to good food doesn’t go unnoticed. He’s developed a loyal following which becomes apparent by the line out the door. If you’re dining during rush hours and only have an hour for lunch, I recommend you call in your order. If you’re going for dinner, it’s worth the wait. I promise.
The Three Dip Combo served with pita bread is so amazing; the hardest part is to select only 3 of their 7 options. Do yourself a favor and try them all! Their menu appeals to wide variety of the population, including the trendy new glutten free army. I’m still not even clear on what that is, but they also have vegetarian and vegan options. The protein offerings include the typical, but also items one usually only finds at fine dining establishments, including shrimp, lamp chops, and salmon. And to round out any great meal, they offer wine and beer. Be sure to ask your server about the day’s specials. Chef Yianni has special treats based on fresh ingredients he gets his talented hands on.
Olive Pit has 2 locations: Brea and Huntington Beach
If you can relate to the phrase, “Love is in the details,” then you will truly appreciate the love, care, and attention to detail that is called Two 40 South. Two 40 South is not simply an address on Brea Boulevard. It’s a mecca for those who truly enjoy quaint sitting areas, romantic lighting, fire places, a superb wine list, and an impeccable dining experience.
The décor and architecture of the space can only be described as a place where one goes to get away from it all. It’s perfect for date night or to meet friends to unwind. It’s where one goes to celebrate that special birthday, anniversary, or simply a night on the town. Two 40 South is conveniently located in pedestrian friendly Brea Downtown. There are so many extraordinary details to Two 40 South that it must be experienced first-hand to be fully absorbed and appreciated; The interiors, the patios, the wine vault with personal wine lockers, the 32 bottle self-dispensing wine machines that allow you to select a taste, a pour, or a glass.
The details are consistently orchestrated through to the kitchen with Executive Chef Marc Boussarie presenting exquisite plates. Foodies will truly appreciate the phenomenal flavors, textures, and presentation of the food. After tasting a number of dishes, I sent my compliments to the chef and had the honor of meeting Chef Marc and shaking his hand. He is gracious and appreciated the compliments. What artist doesn’t appreciate being acknowledged for their craft?
Every single one of the staff treat you like you really matter and they are so happy you came. Two 40 South is absolute perfection in every aspect of the word. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try it, please stop by and try it for yourself. They also have a great lunch menu for quick business lunches. I’d love to hear from you and what your favorite aspect is. E-mail me at
Exoctic Taco's Worth Traveling For
If you were ever told, “you can be ANYTHING you want to be,” nodded your head in agreement and then proceeded with your life of boundaries and limitations, then you should go to Taco Asylum for some inspiration. Someone told these owners to be anything they want and WOW, they do it with such flair and pizazz. Chef Daniels thinks so far out of the taco it is mind blowing with unique and exotic ingredients masterfully mixed with not only fresh flavors but also colors and textures. So much thought and care goes into each flavor profile that every taco it’s a culinary journey that is truly delightful.
If you’re like me and enjoy trying a little of everything, I recommend trying the flight of tacos. They are beautifully presented and will allow you to get a good sense of the offerings! While there, the “regulars” made sure to point out that while the tacos are “killer” they also enjoy the great beer selection at decent prices. The table sauces (created by Taco Asylum) are an added kick of flavor and heat.
To Chef Daniels and the team of Taco Asylum, your ingenuity in making amazing forward thinking food, not only makes for a wonderful experience, but is downright awe-inspiring and delicious.
Taco Flight:Grilled Octopus – kalamata olives, oregano, feta, tomatoes
Pork Belly – carrots, daikon, onions, cilantro
Short Ribs – pickled onion, salsa verde, cotija cheese, cilantro
Curried Paneer – Raita, tomato chutney, scallions
Wild Mushroom – chickpea puree, parsley salad, fried chickpeas
Lamb – olive tapenade, ratatouille, mache
Duck – camembert, Dijon crème fraiche, purple fingerling chips
Steak – chimichurri, buttermilk fried onions, potato hash
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