Great Eats This Week: Best Bites from Local Restaurants

Uncategorized By Apr 03, 2012

NEW SPRING MENU AT SEASONS 52 (Costa Mesa): Nothing over 425 calories

My favorite is the Columbia River Steelhead Trout with spring vegetables (including edamame, snow peas and cherry tomatoes), basmati rice and lemongrass sauce.

Chef Tim Kast told me how he builds so much flavor in the rice without adding fat. He toasts it in a dry skillet before adding liquid, a broth spiked with a mirepoix of veg and a little ginger.

Loved the wine pairing for the sustainable fish.

Botani Moscatel, Sierras de Malaga 2010; a muscat with notes of apple and apricot. Great juice to bring out the best in the succulent steelhead.

Also loved the Lamb T-Bone Chops (sirloin on one side, tenderloin on the other = yum) with red wine glaze.  Cooked on an oak-burning grill and served with asparagus and truffle mashed potatoes.

Don’t miss the artichoke and goat cheese flatbread.

And the Mini Indulgence Desserts:  Key Lime, Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl, Old-Fashioned Carrot Cake, German Chocolate Cake, Belgian Chocolate Mousse, Seasonal Fruit.

Each is five or six bites of sweet goodness.


Hadn’t been to L’OPERA in far too long. Now I remember why I like this Long Beach ristorante so darn much.

Trittico de Cose: A trio of bright flavors in 3 antipasti served in a three-bowled platter. This Ahi Tuna Sashimi is topped with toasted walnuts, thin wedges of kalamata olives and a smidgen of extra-virgin olive oil.

The other bowls? Buffalo mozzarella with red and yellow tomatoes drizzled with basil pesto. As well as mascarpone topped crostini with beef tartar, capers and a whisper of extra-virgin olive oil.

Sampled a trio of pasta, too. My favorite? Cannelloni all’ Osso Buco, homemade pasta rolled with osso buco and ricotta cheese, served over porcini mushrooms in a brandy veal sauce. (It’s the one at the top of the photo.)

Often, I don’t like panna cotta (“cooked cream” in Italian) because it is a little rubbery. But L’Opera’s version is perfect. Smooth and creamy with a berry coulis that offers perky contrast.

Owner Enzo DeMuro says that making it not-too-sweet is one of the secrets. And says that consistency is important too. Pastry chef Dora Vargas has been making the same silky panna cotta for 20 years.


Love the salted goat milk ice cream at LUCCA, Irvine. Chef-owner Cathy Pavlos buys it from Edouard Vicqueneau, chef-owner of Le Bon Goûter in Irvine. Pavlos serves it along with dark chocolate sorbet.

Wait for it, wait for it … atop warm chocolate brownies!  Seriously good.

Vicqueneau provides many of OC’s finest restaurants with his small-batch ice creams and sorbets. The flavors showcase everything from bourbon to green tea, espresso to mint. Sorbets  highlight flavor marriages such as blackberries and Cabernet Sauvignon, or apples and cinnamon.


ZOV’S BAKERY AND BISTRO, Tustin, sells some of the prettiest Easter cookies around.

Here, Zov’s executive pastry chef Michelle Bracken puts the finishing touches on some chicks.

SO beautiful. And they taste good, too!



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