Vinaigrette

Zimzala Restaurant and Bar – Deliciously Free-Spirited

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Zimzala  entrance

Zimzala Restaurant and Bar – Deliciously Free-Spirited

Huntington Beach is home to the swanky boutique hotel, The Shorebreak Hotel. A delightful place to relax and revive for stay-cay locals and worldwide travelers alike, The Shorebreak Hotel is just steps from the beach.
Chef  Brian Drosenos

On a recent visit, I had the pleasure of dining at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Zimzala Restaurant and Bar, which represents everything free-spirited and that “sand between the toes” feeling which I will call “whimsical”. Helmed by Executive Chef Brian Drosenos, Zimzala offers much more than just “comfortable California cuisine”. Chef Drosenos brings a rich and flavorful culinary history to Zimzala having earned his chops at restaurants such as LA Live’s JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, Noble House and The Ventana Inn and Spa. When I asked Chef what Zimzala-like element he brought to the menu, he replied, “I enjoy a free-spirited presentation of the foods.” Yet, I found the dishes themselves to be of equally delicious, creative whimsy.
Zimzala tasting  menu
For starters, a soup of roasted cauliflower with crispy Brussels, finely chopped Marcona almonds, golden raisins, and focaccia croutons was presented in an artful white bowl. And, when served, a whimsical swirl of lemon oil graced the top to add that perk of tartness that pleases the palate. Make this delicious soup at home, view my version of the recipe here: Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with  Lemon Oil drizzle
Quite possibly my favorite dish of the day was the Marinated Pepper Salad which was a finely chopped array of yumminess of marinated baby bell peppers, kale tossed with roasted pistachios, roasted garlic, feta cheese and a sherry vinaigrette. Refreshing and light, I could eat this salad everyday as it is not only delicious, it is filled with food healing ingredients – bell peppers, kale, garlic, and pistachios.
Marinated  Pepper Salad
Have you ever had charred octopus? Neither had I. Giving way to that Zimzala “sand between the toes” whimsical experience, the whimsy here was not only enjoyed in Chef’s presentation but in the food, too! Chef Drosenos explained the baby octopus is braised first and then charred with paprika giving it a tenderness that is not often found when eating octopus. The char totally works in this earthy dish that gets another flavor boost from espilite chili peppers from Spain, smoked potatoes, kalamata olives, lightly fried capers, and a housemade romesco sauce that has nuts, olive oil and sherry vinegar. Smokey is the flavor here as the peppers from Spain are naturally smokey and the potatoes are smoked. I give this dish a smoking hot two bikinis up for the whimsy alone… the flavor, a bonus.
Paprika Charred  Octopus
You would think I would be full by now and on most days I would but today’s tasting menu had me curious so I continued with the Porcini Mushroom Spaghetti. House made spaghetti noodles get their porcini-ness from porcini powder. I must get some. Then, the noodles are cooked al dente and tossed with an incredible medley of mushrooms that include brown beech and pink trumpet – I love everything pink. Also in the mix, a medley of herbs among them chervil, chives, tarragon, and dill. Finish with fresh lemon, grana padano, and a cured egg yolk, Chef fully got his whimsy on here.

Porcini Mushroom  Pasta
Being a ocean view restaurant, fish is an integral part of the menu. I was delighted when salmon arrived. Pan Roasted Salmon with eggplant purée, bloomsdale spinach, roasted fennel, roasted tomato, and black olive caramel made with burnt sugar. Wow! That pretty much sums it up.
Pan Roasted  Salmon
Now, normally I would skip dessert but the Chef insisted by surprising me – and the other guests – with a Persimmon Panna Cotta. The highlighted ingredient, persimmon, was served with an abundance of flavors and textures. Date and walnut bread whipped cream. Toasted pepitas and pecans. A hint of micro basil completed the dish and what a whimsically divine dining experience.
Persimmon  Panna Cotta
To say Chef Drosenos’ cuisine and Zimzala was a surprisingly palate pleasing experience is an understatement. Although I have been a fan of The Shorebreak Hotel since it opened, I had never had the pleasure of dining at their premiere restaurant. I half anticipated just another beachy restaurant experience which is not all bad but not whimsically amazing. To my surprise, Zimzala, under the direction of Chef Drosenos, is far better and beyond being a beachy restaurant. Producing high quality, delicious food that is artfully presented in a free-spirited style, Chef Drosenos brings a bit of gourmand and then some.
kitchen at Zimzala
In Huntington Beach and SO Cal, make Zimzala a “must dine” location. Visiting? Worth the stop!
the outdoor patio  at Zimzala

Bottom line for your bikini: 2 bikinis up!
Zimzala  decor

Zimzala Restaurant and Bar
The Shorebreak Hotel – a Joie de Vivre Hotel
500 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 960-5050

RestaurantZimzala.com


Tortilla Republic Laguna Beach Opens…

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Ceviche

Fast becoming a restaurant scene to contend with, Laguna Beach welcomes Tortilla Republic’s newest location. In an inviting, luxuriously comfortable beach style, Tortilla Republic Laguna Beach celebrates its highly recognized contemporary Mexican fare with the culinary team of Executive Chef Chris Tzorin and consulting Chef Cathy Shyne.
Emapanadas
Having known Chef Tzorin’s uniquely delicious culinary style, you can imagine my delight when I discovered he was on board. I have been a fan of his signature mole’ creations since first meeting him while judging the chef competition at The Chocolate Event about four or five years ago. Since then, Chef Tzorin has been succeeding in the kitchen and on the television airwaves. It comes as no surprise that Tortilla Republic Laguna Beach draws inspiration from the coastal community as well as beautiful Southern California.
Chicken Mole
Utilizing seasonal fresh ingredients and often organic ingredients, signature dishes include Sweet Potato and Beef Empanadas with chimichurri sauce, and cilantro; Shrimp Zarandeado Salad with sautéed shrimp zarandeado style, mixed greens, romaine, melon, jicama, tomato, roasted almonds, queso fresco, and kiwi vinaigrette; Torta de Carnitas with pulled pork, cabbage, candied oranges, pickled jalapeños, black beans, monterey jack cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, and torta bun, with your choice of soup or mixed green salad; Pescado a la Parrilla Taco with tequila passion fruit slaw, pico de gallo, avocado, salsa de mesa, and cilantro crema; and Short Rib Chile Verde Burrito with prime all natural short rib, slow roasted tomatillo & jalapeño chile verde sauce, monterey jack cheese, house rice, and black beans.
Shrimp Salad
The restaurant also features imaginative brunch dishes, such as Huevos Rancheros with two eggs sunny side up, roasted peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, Monterey jack cheese, black been purée, ranchero sauce, crema, and avocado; Egg White Mole Burrito with egg whites, spinach, cheddar cheese, mole de poblano, pico de gallo, and avocado; Seared Albacore Tuna & Sweet Potato Hash with two poached eggs, wilted micro greens, caramelized onions, and jalapeños; and Fresh Roasted Corn & Blueberry Pancakes with whipped salted butter, and maple syrup.
Tacos
From the bar, guest can enjoy Prickly Pear Bellini, Spicy Bloody Mary, Michelada, and Tomato Fresca, while taking in the unobstructed beach views. Open-air dining is a highlight here with two outdoor open-air dining terraces and a courtyard patio boasting a retractable roof.

Tortilla Republic Laguna Beach officially opens Wednesday, October 8, 2014 with a special open-to-the-public ribbon cutting ceremony beginning at 5pm.

Tortilla Republic
480 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949.393.4888
www.tortillarepublic.com

www.facebook.com/TortillaRepublicLagunaBeach
www.twitter.com/iloveTRLB

Open for lunch: 11am to 3pm Tuesday-Friday
Brunch: 10am to 3pm Saturday-Sunday

Beef Rib Burrito

ABOUT TORTILLA REPUBLIC
Tortilla Republic in Laguna Beach features modern Mexican cuisine in a sophisticated setting. From the owners of Taste on Melrose and Taste in Pacific Palisades, John Halter, Morten Kaag and Mina Azami, the Laguna Beach location is the newest Tortilla Republic in the portfolio for the restaurant group—the first opened in August 2011 in Poipu, Kauai, and the second location opened in West Hollywood, CA in March 2012. In conjunction with renowned interior designer Kirk Pereira, Halter, Kaag and Azami designed Tortilla Republic to reflect a polished aesthetic including custom furniture inspired by their travels to Mexico. Consulting Chef Cathy Shyne and Executive Chef Brandon Warren have created a farm-to-table menu using fresh ingredients and organic produce.


The Wild Blueberries of Maine

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Travel

Wild Blueberries in the barrens
The Wild Blueberries of MaineGeologists state that nearly one-third of the world was covered by ice. During the last ice age, roughly 20,000 years ago, much of North America was covered by glaciers creating a barren land of ice. As the glaciers moved when the ice receded, they carried huge rocks that were worn down creating smaller rocks, gravel, dirt, and sand leaving a very complex, layered, mineral rich soil combination. The melting ice gave birth to newly formed streams and rivers thereby nurturing a foundation for new vegetation, including wild blueberries.
In the wild blueberry fields of Maine

Recently, the Wild Blueberry Association of North America invited a group of registered dietitians and food bloggers, myself included, to visit the massive wild blueberry barrens of Maine. The beautiful state of Maine, in fact, is the largest producer of wild blueberries representing nearly 40 percent of the world’s total wild blueberry production.
David Yarborough, right, with one of the lead growers
It is here, in Maine, that I learned to admire the wild blueberry. Most of us have admired them for their vitamins and antioxidant properties. We’ve heard that eating blueberries helps fight cancer, many refer to them as a superfood, and of course, we all know they taste delicious. But what is it about the wild blueberries of Maine that sets them apart from the patch?
Layers of glacial soil

Native to North America, wild blueberries have been thriving in the glacial soil referred to above for thousands of years but it was the Native Americans who first encouraged the growth of the wild blueberry by burning the fields, called barrens. The burning process actually stimulates the growth of the wild blueberry which grows up from the ground through their natural roots called rhizomes. One single rhizome can produce an entire field of wild blueberries and it is natural for several varieties of rhizomes to rise up in the fields producing deep blue wild blueberries, some more red in color, or even lush purple colored wild blueberries. Not only does this naturally occurring variety of berries make for a savory product for you to enjoy, but it also makes the fields so inviting I chose to lie down in them – see photograph below taken by writer and public relations executive, Betta Stothart.
Absorbing blueberries in the field

It is important to note that most people visualize blueberries as growing way above ground on a tall bush. These tall bushes are called the “high bush” blueberries and although all blueberries are derived from the wild blueberry, the high bush blueberries are cultivated. They do not grow wild and were thereby given the official name of “tame” by the US Department of Agriculture.
Wyman's Wild Blueberry processing plant
It’s pretty remarkable that the wild blueberry began growing naturally through the incredibly dense glacial soil, right? These must be some pretty strong plants. This strength just may prove my theory as to why the wild blueberry claims 2x’s the antioxidants as their tame cousins. The wild blueberry is also a bit smaller and more concentrated than the tame cultivated berries, however, this year’s harvest showcased some of the most plump, lush, and flavorful wild blueberries ever. According to David Yarborough, wild blueberry specialist with the Cooperative Extension and professor of horticulture in the School of Food and Agriculture at the University of Maine, good buds in the winter, the high amount of pollination by honey bees and bumblebees, adequate rainfall, and good weather during the harvest season have led to the success of this year’s crop and helped the blueberries thrive in their wild environment.
hand-raking the wild blueberries on Merrill Farms
Hand-raked wild blueberries
When the wild blueberries are ready for harvest, usually in late July or early August, 500 growers, of which 50 are certified organic, pick the berries by either hand-raking or mechanical harvestings. Our group had the opportunity to view both harvest techniques and actually experience hand-raking “first hand” at Merrill Blueberry Farms. Owner, Todd Merrill was kind enough to teach us the process which uses a fairly large metal rake that you hold by hand and scoop and shake the blueberries off the vines. Then you politely dump them into a bin and repeat the process for about 8 hours. What a workout! And, Merrill Farms is one of the top organic wild blueberry producers in the region. However, another important aspect to point out is that even non-organic farmed wild blueberries are grown with limited pesticides due to their emphasis on natural pests and insect control.
Merrill Blueberry Farms of Maine
After the field harvest, whether mechanical or hand-raking, blueberries are taken to the processing plants where they are handled with kid gloves and processed from fresh to individually quick frozen in 24 hours. A triple washing and air drying process that is so proprietary we were not allowed to photograph, the blueberries are then individually frozen. True! The IQF (individually quick frozen) process is so specialized that the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and flavor of each blueberry is locked in providing you with the highest quality for your family. As Thomas Gardner, VP of Wyman & Son, a family owned company since 1874, says, “the IQF process is nature’s pause button.” Wyman & Son, a proven leader in the wild blueberry market, processes on average 1 million pounds of wild blueberries per day. WOW!
Mechanical harvesting of wild blueberries
Giving a new perspective to fresh frozen fruits, fresh cultivated berries found it most grocery stores are often picked early and travel long distances thereby depleting vital nutrients and flavor. The IQF wild blueberries which, in my opinion, fought their way out of the ground to produce the antioxidant rich blueberry, provide you and your family with the highest quality fruit year round. Locally, in Maine, fresh wild blueberries can be purchased at Farmer’s Markets, shops and grocers. As for the rest of us, buy these specially frozen flavor dense berries in the freezer section of your grocery store. Your grocery retailer does not carry them? Don’t be shy! Request they bring them in. Most of the time, store managers are thrilled to do so. Chances are if you are looking for them, others are too.
Chef Lou Keifer in his restaurant garden at the Bar Harbor Inn
A few more reasons to love Maine Wild Blueberries… chefs love them! Bar Harbor Inn Executive Chef Louis Kiefer grows them in his own backyard. He brings in what he calls this “versatile ingredient” to serve with dishes like Wild Blueberry & Tomato Salsa, Taste of Brie with Pear, Wild Blueberry and Basil, and Wild Blueberry Sorbet.
Wild blueberry cocktail at Havana

Maine Diver Scallops with Wild Blueberry Sauce
At Havana Restaurant, where we dined “with” Martha Stewart – she just happened to dine at the table adjacent to us, wild blueberries were the feature of the evening with selections of Wild Blueberry cocktails, Seared Scallops with wild Maine blueberry vinaigrette, Beef Tenderloin Skewers with a wild Maine blueberry chimichurri, and Goat Cheese Cheesecake with wild Maine blueberry compote.
Captain Dan
Dining didn’t stop there. The next night we were whisked away in a power boat steered by Captain Dan which took us across waters filled with lobster pots to the quaint island of Little Cranberry Island where we dined at Islesford Dock Restaurant “with” again, Martha Stewart! Yep, who would have believed but the Queen of culinary walked in again – for the second night in a row – while we were dining. We dine in good taste, wouldn’t you say, Martha? Our Islesford Dock dining experience had most of us diving in to the truly fresh Maine lobsters. Lobster so tender the butter didn’t stand a chance. And, Little Cranberry Island couldn’t keep the wild blueberries away. We finished dinner with one of the best Wild Blueberry Crisps ever to touch my lips.
Islesford Dock on Little Cranberry Island
A few antics in the kitchen at Islesford Lobster Pot
As the chefs will agree, wild blueberries are a versatile ingredient. From savory dishes to sweet, nearly every recipe can be made with blueberries year round. Look for fresh frozen wild blueberries in your grocer’s freezer section. You won’t be disappointed.
Bar Harbor Inn Housemade Moon Pies with Wild Blueberries
A final note, I am a Certified Food Healer. My trip to the Wild Blueberry barrens supports the food healing properties of the berries in that they are filled with vital phytochemicals like anthocyanins which help repair cell damage (ie, help you age better), decrease inflammation in the brain (ie, help you think better), slow memory loss in adults (ie, help you remember better), and are linked to increasing memory and attention in both adults and kids. Bottom line for your top of the line superfood wild blueberry – eat up!
Eating wild blueberries directly from the field
Wild blueberries for your skin? Wild blueberries are abundantly found in everything from soaps,
Wild Blueberry soap
to jams and syrups,
Wild blueberry syrup and jam
to pancake mix,
Wild blueberry pancake mix
and honored on coffee mugs, ceramics, and all kinds of gifts.

Wild blueberry soaps and mugs
Walking in Bar Harbor, you’ll find wild blueberries on every menu.
Wild blueberry pie and tea
Even the local lobster loves wild blueberry ice cream. 🙂 There are an abundance of ways to celebrate the wild blueberry…

There's a lobster loose in Bar Harbor

A few links for your enjoyment:

Wild Blueberry Association of North America

MerrillWildBlueberries.com

Wymans.com

BarHarborInn.com

IslesfordDock.com

HavanaRestaurant

Wild Blueberries everywhere!