Seattle’s Best Coffee opens plus a giveaway

Seattle’s Best Coffee is now open for business in Lake Forest and next week, on Tuesday, May 1st, a grand opening celebration will be held where the first 150 guests to visit the cafe will receive a free small Mocha, Latte or Cappuccino.

In addition, complimentary fresh-baked goods will also be available as well as chances to win exciting prizes including free coffee for a year (a cup a week), Seattle’s Best Coffee® merchandise and other cafe perks.

The cafe serves the full line of coffee and non-coffee beverages, including lattes, mochas, iced coffees and blended beverages.

An extensive food menu featuring fresh-baked pastries such as danishes, croissants, muffins and cookies.

Those looking for savory items can indulge in bagels as well as breakfast sandwiches and other specialty treats made by local Orange County chefs such as Chef Katherine Louis.

Frequent giveaways and incentives will be part of ongoing efforts to say ‘Thank you’ to the cafe’s loyal guests. Customers can leave their business card in “The Big Mug” by the register for their chance to win a variety of prizes.

This week, one lucky reader will have the opportunity to win a Seattle’s Coffee giftbox which includes coffee beans, mug, water bottle with filter, reusable drinking cup and an array of delicious cookies and snacks.

Leave a comment telling me why you love Seattle’s Best Coffee with your FULL name, by Sunday, April 29th. Winner will be announced on Monday April 30.

Seattle’s Best Coffee – Lake Forest
22621 Lake Forest Drive
Suite D2
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Tel: 949-830-5282

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Mick’s gourmet Karma Bar burgers

When I first saw Mick’s Karma Bar on Yelp, I was strangely curious because the name conjures up images of a weird spot decorated with ‘om’ symbols and Buddha statues, maybe even some crystals of sorts here and there. But then I read the reviews and they were of burgers which totally threw me off.

When I finally made it to Mick’s, it was nothing like how I’d initially imagined. Instead, this tiny spot was originally a juice bar — and you can totally see that — which served a great burger, and now, the juices are gone, but the burgers are what the hoards of people come for.

The menu is simple. There are five burgers and a sprinkling of wraps. If you’re looking for a salad, or a sandwich, you’re not gonna find it here. But when all’s said and done, the burgers are crazy good and at under $6 a pop, I can honestly say they are just too good to be true.

If you haven’t yet experienced Mick’s you really need to do it soon. My favorites are the Habanero and the Patty Melt. All burgers start with the same basic ingredient — freshly ground Angus steak — with various toppings to give them their own individuality.

The Habanero is pretty straight forward. It has a nice kick with a house-made habanero sauce and the crispy lettuce and tomato which is pretty much on every burger on the board. This is my burger to die for — I mean, habanero? Seriously, nothing is better than this.

When I’m wanting something more ‘traditional’ the Patty Melt is great because it’s the meat and caramelized onions with gruyere. This is a juicy, rich burger dripping with goodness.

For those less adventurous, there is always the Karma burger, your traditional burger with American cheese. The Mediterranean offers up feta, roasted red peppers and hummus……

……. while the Baja is topped with pepper jack (although in the picture, it was exchanged for American), guacamole and sour cream. It’s just a matter of preference really, but no matter which topping you choose, your burger is always juicy and oh so scrumptious.

But wait! The menu also offers Fish Taco ($7.95) — a flour tortilla topped with cabbage, pico de gallo and a seriously big piece of grilled mahi mahi. It is not only healthy, but oh so flavorful you’ll polish off the entire plate with no trouble whatsoever. For an additional $3.95 you can make your meal a combo with a drink and English-style ‘chips’ (steak cut fries).

Mick’s Karma Bar now has somewhat of a cult following. People come at all hours and there’s no telling when you’re going to encounter a nutty gaggle of people, or, have the luxury of dining at the counter and be able to chat with owner Michael Schepers while you eat.

Either way, when you’ve taken that last bite and downed the last drop of those addicting Strawberry Basil Lemonades, you will leave feeling utterly fulfilled and plotting your return visit even before you walk out the door.

Mick’s Karma Bar
2010 Main Street
Ste 165
Irvine, CA 92614
Tel: 949-851-6316

Mick's Karma Bar on Urbanspoon

fresh & healthy eats at Z Cafe

When I am shopping at South Coast Plaza, the last thing I want is to waste time by going to a sit down restaurant. I want to zip in, zip out, have something delicious, quick and fresh, but without paying too much, or waiting too long. Here’s where Z Cafe comes in. Located where CPK used to be on the 3rd floor of Crystal Court, this casual dining spot has a little something for everyone.

Let’s start with the Fresh Hummus ($5.95), a perfect vegetarian selection with Greek olives, roasted peppers, cucumber slices, and Z bread (pita). The portion is rather generous and if you’re not sharing with anyone, this alone will fill you up — that is, if you’ll even be able to finish it on your own.

I was particularly fond of the Quinoa Taboulleh with Chicken ($9.95) with lots of healthy quinoa, cilantro, parsley, golden raisins, slivered almonds and caramelized onions. Grilled chicken is served alongside for even more protein. This is great when I’m trying to go low-carb and is so tasty I couldn’t stop eating it.

Another notable salad was the Pear & Gorgonzola ($7.95). Sweet grilled pears sit amidst organic mixed greens with gorgonzola crumble, candied walnuts and tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. I loved the walnuts which provided a great crunch to the salad. I didn’t even mind the pears — not a fan of pectin fruits — which married well with the gorgonzola.

I love soup and Roasted Tomato Soup ($2.95 cup/$4.95 bowl) was quite delicious! The tomatoes are first oven-roasted which gave the soup more depth in flavor and then finished with basil and cream.

Always ask what the Soup du Jour is. On the day of our visit, it was tortilla soup and boy oh boy was it good! I loved the aromas and strong flavors which meant a heartier soup. This is a winner!

My son loves their pizzas and Margherita Pizza ($9.95 flatbread size) is a sure winner every time. The roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, tomato, basil, parmesan combine to create a really nice vegetarian option.

I was so surprised to find that Curry Chicken and Yam ($9.95/$16.95 whole) pizza to my liking. I like mozzarella, fire roasted curry chicken, roasted yams, mango chutney, golden raisins and fresh cilantro — all the ingredients on this pizza — although I never thought I’d like them TOGETHER. In fact, I think this was my favorite pizza out of the ones we tried.

If you’re a traditionalist, then Tuscan ($9.95/$16.95) pizza will not fail you. Roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, a blend of crimini and shiitake mushrooms with caramelized onions, feta and truffle oil make for a heady aromatic mouthful.

Those looking for a sandwich should look no further than the Grilled Asada Sandwich ($10.95). The lime chipotle grilled steak is bursting with flavor and topped with a sweet corn salsa, chipotle aioli, tomato, pickled red onion, mixed greens between wheat ciabatta — just outstanding!

I am not vegetarian, but the Roasted Veggie Sandwich ($8.95) is even appealing to my carnivorous palate. Roasted seasonal vegetables, provolone cheese,  caramelized onions, tomato, mixed greens, artichoke hearts, balsamic vinaigrette on ciabatta will not leave you going away feeling like you’re missing something.

Yes, it’s a fast, casual environment, but the staff are friendly and courteous and extremely helpful. I like to sit at the newly renovated patio with comfortable sofa-style seating. It feels more relaxing than at the tables and I can take a load off to enjoy my meal before resuming my shopping again.

Z Cafe has generously donated TWO $25 giftcards for me to giveaway. Leave me a comment telling me what your ideal salad should include with your FULL name. Entries close on Sunday, April 22nd and winners will be announced on Monday, April 23rd

ZCafe
3333 Bear Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: 714-545-5500

Zcafe on Urbanspoon

break bread with us at 50 Forks

50 Forks is a student-run restaurant at the Art Institute of California, and each semester, a new group of culinary students prepares a menu in a restaurant environment catering to the public. Last semester, I visited for the first time and found myself impressed and blown away by the quality of the dishes gracing our table.

My group of six ate the entire menu, consisting of a number of appetizers ($7), entrees ($14) and desserts ($5), but before we delved into that, we were given some freshly baked bread still warm, with butter to slather on and enjoy.

Roasted Kabocha Squash & Fennel Soup — although I couldn’t detect a lot of fennel, the squash was delightful and creamy. Candied pumpkin seeds added a textural component while creme fraiche provided a boost of silkiness to each mouthful.

When students make their own Smoked Salmon & Pickled Vegetables you know you MUST order it. When it arrives, there is also ciabatta baked on the premises served with French butter, pickled egg and yukon chips.

A plate of greens is something I can leave or take. Roquette Salad of arugula, blood orange, dates and toasted almonds tossed in a house-made vinaigrette suffices for those who want something light or…. are vegetarians.

The Stracci di Pasta was one of my favorites of the night. Hand-made pasta carbonara topped with a runny fried duck egg was devoured by the six of us in record time. The rich, creamy sauce with the soft pasta combined with the unctuousness of the duck egg was heavenly! I still dream about this today.

I’m a big fan of Pissalidiere, but the one here wasn’t my favorite. The puff pastry topped with caramelized onions, anchovy, olives, and creme fraiche was difficult to eat as the puff pastry was ‘inserted’ with the acoutrements and not really served flat with the ingredients laid on top. I also wasn’t sure I liked the creme fraiche either.

Moving on to the entrees, I was shocked I enjoyed the Braised Pot Roast so much — I’m normally not a fan. Everything accompanying was delicious — -potato hash, Brussels sprouts, dijon sauce and the incredible tomato jam which added some tartness to the mix.

Miso Marinated Cod ($14) was a little grating on the tongue although the cod was cooked perfectly. The use of white miso was too strong on its own. I felt it was lacking some sweetness ordinarily provided by adding mirin, or using a mix of red and white miso.

My least favorite entree of the night was Coq au Vin. The chicken leg and thigh was braised too long making it fork tender but stringy and dry on the palate. The glazed onions and flageolet were fantastic though which really made up for the chicken.

I was so full by now but couldn’t resist a taste of the Chili Grilled Skirt Steak.  Sauteed mushrooms and onion marmalade olive aioli made for a great meat dish. Served with french fries.

I wasn’t all that excited about eating dessert and we had all of them. Let me just say, once again, the students surprised me.

Bishops Cake — orange syrup with blood orange sorbet and vanilla ice cream.

Housemade Rootbeer Float — not a fan of root beer, but the brown butter ice cream and hot chocolate chip cookies were delicious.

Apple Mille Feuille — not my favorite — expected the mille feuille to be crispier than it was. Served with pistachio baklava, rum raisins, caramel and whipped cream.

But here’s the piece de resistance. Butterscotch Pudding with vanilla sables and whipped cream just knocked my socks off and I don’t even like butterscotch. This was THE best butterscotch pudding I’ve ever eaten…… so nutty and not too sweet.

So there ya have it. The students are just incredible. The food that came out of that kitchen was better than some ‘real’ restaurants I’ve eaten at. If you haven’t tried them yet, please do. The new semester started last week and the dining room is now open to the public.

Dining room opens Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and reservations are HIGHLY recommended as the dining room is small. Please call 714-429-0918 to reserve your table.

I have an opportunity for two lucky readers to win a chance to break bread with us at 50 Forks this semester. Leave me a comment with your FULL name, telling me why you would like to win a seat at the table. The meal should be no more than $40/person before tip — you will be responsible for your portion of the check. We share everything and divvy up the check equally among us.

50 Forks
3601 W Sunflower Ave
Santa Ana, CA 92704
Tel: 714-338-1325

a Latin brunch with killer music

If you’re ever looking for a place to spend a fun Sunday at, look no further than Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen in Brea. On Sundays, the restaurant comes alive with the sounds of Sombra Quieta, a Latin trio belting out lively songs with their upbeat music to brighten your day. Some people even get up to dance in between courses!

I came here one such Sunday with my girlfriends and spent a few hours enjoying brunch and sipping on delicious cocktails. Classic Margaritas ($7.95 pictured right) is strong but the housemade sweet and sour is awesome making my mouth pucker a little. Mango Habanero ($8.95 pictured left) was fruity but devilishly strong and it took only one of these for me to feel that headiness seeping in.

My favorite was the Cha Cha Margarita ($9.50), strong, but disguised by all the ingredients including ruby red grapefruit juice.

A basket of chips are brought to the table with two types of salsa. I loved the tomatillo salsa and they brought these just in time as the cocktails were seriously messing with me by now. I needed to EAT!

We started with Wood Fired Queso Fundido ($8.50) , a blend of cheeses, melted over potatoes and poblano peppers, served with tortillas which you can wrap the cheesy concoction with chunks of chorizo in. So tasty but so sinfully rich!

Shrimp Ceviche ($10.95) arrived in a terracotta dish with shrimp marinated in fresh orange and lime juices, Serrano chiles, red onions and Haas avocado chunks. I loved this and could possibly polish an entire order off by myself — EASILY!

If you like crispy things, then Chicken Flautas ($14.95) may definitely be your thing. Fresh chicken, roasted corn, guajillo peppers, Oaxacan cheese are stuffed inside crisp flour tortillas and topped with mango habanero sauce. Kids will love them, but you might want to ask for the sauce on the side if the kids are eating these even though I didn’t think the sauce was spicy at all.

I’m a sucker for poached eggs so Cha Cha Hash and Poached Eggs ($15.50) definitely caught my eye. Roasted chicken, poblano peppers and potatoes are baked in the restaurant’s clay oven with cheese and fresh tomatillo sauce on top. The poached eggs are the piece de resistance of the dish.

Those not wanting breakfast items can try Fresh Mahi Mahi ($19.95), a generous portion of fish pan roasted, served with sauteed calabasitas, or squash, and fresh corn with a lime herb vinaigrette.

Alternatively, meat lovers can indulge in Wood Oven Carnitas ($17.95) slow braised marinated pork, with achiote onion, fresh salsas black beans, rice and corn tortillas.

For those of us on the breakfast streak, Chorizo Scramble Souffle ($14.50) was a light and fluffy egg dish with fresh chorizo sauteed with Yukon Gold potatoes, green chiles, Mexican cheeses baked in the wood fired brick oven and ends up on the table resembling the texture of souffle. You can eat it with tortillas or on its own low carb style!

All the portions are pretty big and I suggest sharing everything to maximize the things you can taste. This is a great place to spend with family or friends but make sure you call ahead and reserve a table because they get busy!

For an opportunity to try Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen, enter in this week’s giveaway for one of THREE $20 giftcards to visit them. Just leave me a comment with your FULL name for one chance to win, or, for an additional chance, “like” Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen’s Facebook page and diary of a Mad Hungry Woman’s Facebook fanpage and leave me another comment letting me know you’ve done that. GOOD LUCK! As usual, entries close on Sunday and winners are announced on Monday.

Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen
110 W Birch Street
Brea, CA 92821
Tel: 714-255-1040

Cha Cha's Latin Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Omakase & happy hour at Hamamori

Generally, a restaurant inside a mall doesn’t always deliver the way I’d like them to, but when it comes to Hamamori, one must overlook its location to see and taste how delightful and innovative the menu is. Chef James Hamamori has brought together his Japanese heritage and married it with some modern day influences to produce eclectic and tasty dishes everyone will enjoy.

I’ve been here a few times, including omakase and happy hour, YES, happy hour. Between 5pm and 6.30pm. drinks and small plates are discounted, and you can relish in signature dishes such as asparagus and Asahi on tap.

Omakase is a prix fixe meal decided by the chef depending on freshness and availability. Lunch is $35 and started with tofu steak with fresh tomato and fried julienned shiso.

Sashimi salad was next with ebi, salmon, taco and scallop on top of a bed of baby greens drizzled with a ponzu vinaigrette. Refreshingly delicious and mouth-puckering tart at the same time. Just lovely!

Next came the asparagus wrapped in okaki, a crispy rice snack similar to arare. When you order it during happy hour, there are three jumbo asparagus in one order served with togarashi salt. So crunchy and delicious — addictive!

Course four was three pieces of nigiri sushi and a small mound of pickled ginger. I would’ve been happy with 10 pieces of this and nothing else.

When it came time for entrees, you had a choice of fish or beef. Everyone at the table ordered beef which was a filet mignon topped with asparagus and mushrooms including shimeiji and King oyster. Tender beef in a succulent au jus is not only satisfying but so flavorful.

Dessert was ice cream and there are a few flavors to choose from. My red bean was perfect to finish the meal off with.

If you visit for happy hour, my other suggestions include Shiitake Mushroom Frites ($6) topped with fried salsify.

Or, alternatively, Salmon Skin Rolls are only $7 during happy hour and is rather good with a beer or sake.

No matter what time of day you decide to visit, Hamamori is good for a leisurely meal or a special occasion. Don’t let the fact that it is situated inside a mall deter you from visiting.

Hamamori
3333 Bear Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: 714-850-0880

Hamamori on Urbanspoon