Archive of ‘Foodie Reviews’ category

Los Angeles Eats – Ayara Thai



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After battling almost two hours of traffic and missing lunch, I was excited to sit down to try an array of dishes that Ayara plans to introduce (if they haven’t already) to their menu.  I have stopped by Ayara Thai’s booth at a few food festivals around Los Angeles so I was excited to sit down and have some real deal portions of what they had to offer. I wasn’t disappointed.

Food is more delicious when shared with those you love” seemed like the theme of the evening. A large table was set in the empty building that Ayara Thai will expand into at the end of the year. I didn’t know anyone in the room, but by the end of the night I felt like I just had a delicious meal with close family and friends.  The food came out in huge portions meant to be put at the center of the table to be shared.

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My favorite had to be the Spicy Oxtail Soup. The meat was so tender and the spicy kick to it with the chili lime broth was the perfect combination.  I definitely suggest trying out Ayara Thai if are you around the LAX Airport area. Not only will get you get spectacular food, but you will feel like part of the family when you leave.

Some of the other dishes of the night included Pacific Halibut Nam Prik Kor-Sang which was a Chili Relish served with fresh veggies from the local Famer’s Market and Caramelized Son-in-Law Egg. The hard-boiled eggs were glazed with a tangy tamarind sauce and the perfect appetizer to the main courses.

veggies

egg

crabcurry

Another one of my favorite dishes was the Dungeness Curry Crab! I don’t think they could have packed anymore flavor into a dish. I’ve always been a fan of crab growing up, but the combination of the curry took this seafood dish to another level.  This was one dish that was worth getting my hands dirty!

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Now that we are in the Fall Season, it was nice to end the meal with a festive Pumpkin Creme Brulee for dessert. Ayara didn’t forget about the beverages either.  They plan to have a full bar when they reopen after their expansion and we got a chance to taste one of the cocktails they plan to offer. This Thai Paloma cocktail consisted of Lemongrass and Thai chili infused Tequilla. Balanced out with lime, grapefruit, honey simple syrup and Bimdanerge soda–this is one drink I will definitely have again.

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With 4-5 ratings on Urban Spoon, Yelp and Trip Advisor–this is one L.A. foodie spot that is a must try.  Be sure to also check out our Pad Thai Slider recipe using Ayara’s Pad Thai Sauce!

Pad Thai Sliders & Spicy Beef Skewers with Peanut Sauce

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This Thai recipe post was inspired by the Pad Thai Sauce that I got as a gift when I went to Ayara’s Media dinner last week.  If you guys remember my Los Angeles Times: The Taste post, I first found out about Ayara when they had a booth there. They had delicious Pad Thai Sliders that they served. Since I happened to get the Pad Thai Sauce as a gift (they have 7 different types of sauces), I found it fitting to recreate their Pad Thai Sliders with my own little twist.

The Coleslaw was first created to be a side dish, but after all was plated and we sat down to eat–we made the final call that the Pad Thai sliders tasted the best when topped with the Coleslaw. Make sure you do the same–you won’t be sorry!

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And if Pad Thai Sliders weren’t enough, we also paired the meal with Spicy Beef Skewers with Peanut Sauce! This was one meal that I wished I had a lot of leftovers of so I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did.

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Pad Thai Sliders
Ingredients
1lb of Ground Turkey
8 Shrimps (deveined and finely chopped)
2 oz. of Ayara’s Pad Thai Sauce
4 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Vegetable Oil
Hawaiian Bread Rolls

(Optional Toppings for your Sliders)

1/2 Chopped Peanuts
1/2 Cup of Cilantro
1 Cup Bean Sprouts
1/2 Carrot

Directions
1. Peel, devein and cut shrimp in fine pieces.
2. Combine with Ground Turkey, Garlic, Salt, Pepper, Ayara Pad Thai Sauce, Fish Sauce.
3. Make small patties (about 3 inches in 2 1/2 – 3 inches in diameter.
4. Cook with oil in pan or grill for about 4-5 minutes on each side.
5. Serve on Hawaiian bread with optional toppings and/or Coleslaw below.

Peanut Dressing for Coleslaw & to Serve with Thai Beef Skewers
Ingredients
4 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
6 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
4 Tsp White Sugar
2 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
4 Tbsp Creamy Peanut Butter
2 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Small Lime (Juice)

Directions
Combine all your ingredients and mix (I know…so easy!)

coleslaw

Thai Coleslaw
(Note: You can eat this as a side dish or also as an added topping to your Pad Thai Sliders. If I didn’t say it enough….use it as a topping on your sliders!!)
Ingredients
4 cups of Shredded Cabbage
1/2 Cup of Sliced Carrots
1/2 cup of Bean Sprouts
1/2 Red Bell Pepper

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Add in half of the Peanut Sauce you made and mix together. Refrigerate.

marinade

skewers

Spicy Beef Skewers 
Ingredients
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Tsp of Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 Cup of Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup of Rice Vinegar
1 Teaspoon of Ground Pepper
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Asian Sesame Oil
Bamboo Skewers
1 1/2 Flank Steak
Chili Paste

Directions
1. Cut Flank Steak in one inch strips.
2. Combine garlic, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ground pepper, sugar, and sesame oil.
3. Soak Steak in marinade, cover and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.
4. Soak your Bamboo Skewers in cold water for 30 minutes.
5. Thread your steak onto the skewers.
6. Cook on high heat for about 4-5 minutes on each side.
7. Serve with Peanut Sauce and Chili Paste for extra kick.


Cooking 101 – Corona, Ca.

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I know I start many of my posts with, “This is my Favorite Post“–but seriously, this is really my favorite review post since I launched this site.  My Supper For One adventures have mainly taken place in Los Angeles so it was a nice change to go on a foodie adventure in my own neighborhood.  After a long week of work, I usually take a break by watching a movie or going out to dinner.  However, this weekend we got a chance to take our first group cooking class at Cooking 101. The menu for the cooking class included Chile Rellenos, Spanish Rice and Rice Pudding.

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Chef Connie was nice enough to sit down with us before the cooking class started. One of the things that I love about Cooking 101 is the fact that they offer cooking classes for kids and not just adults. Chef Connie’s parents owned a restaurant so her passion to cook and teach people how to cook began at an early age. Chef Connie believes that the experience of cooking is an integral part of her life and is a way to connect with her children. Her children must be learning a thing or two because her son Ethan was one of the finalists on Masterchef Junior on Fox with Chef Gordon Ramsay.

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Not only does Cooking 101 offer group/private cooking classes for kids and adults, but it is also a full Bistro/Restaurant.  If you come at the right time, you can enjoy a bite to eat while being entertained with watching the cooking class at the far end of the bistro.

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The menu for the cooking classes are by requests so if there is something you want to learn to make, be sure to let them know.  Chef Connie said the most rewarding thing about what she does is seeing the people who attend her cooking class apply what they’ve learned at home.

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Another thing I enjoyed about the cooking class was being able to learn how to cook something new with a group of people. Not only were the other people who were taking the class friendly, but the Cooking 101 staff were funny and very helpful. Chef Connie even taught me the proper way to finely chop garlic (I usually leave the chopping to Daniel)! Keeping the tip of the knife on your cutting board and using the back part of the knife made it much easier to chop with less effort.

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It was an amazing time and I’m happy to let you know that our food turned out delicious. Be sure to check out the recipes below and try it at home! If you are in the Corona, California area, I highly recommend taking a class or grabbing a bite to eat. We will definitely be back in soon to try a few things on their menu that caught our eye.  Any place that offers Beignets and Nutella Crepes as a dessert already has won my foodie heart. 🙂

Address: 2570 Tuscany Street, Suite 101 Corona, CA 92881
(at the Crossings Shopping Center, next to Panera Bread)
Telephone: 951-340-1010
www.getcooking101.com

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CHILE RELLENOS

Ingredients
6 to 8 (8-inch) Anaheim peppers, stems and seeds removed
4 tablespoons grape seed oil (2 tablespoons to brush on peppers and 2 to sauté)
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (from about a 6-ounce piece before grating)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves (optional)
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (optional)
3 large fresh sage leaves, minced (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Brush peppers with 2 tablespoons of the oil (reserving the balance of the oil) and roast until blackened, about 10 minutes. Remove and cover roasting pan with foil or use tongs to transfer peppers to a plastic bag. (Or roast over open fire.) Let “sweat” for 15 minutes. This will help you remove the skin from the pepper. In a small bowl, mix jack cheese, thyme, rosemary, and sage, and mash together. Peel charred skin from peppers and stuff each pepper with about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cheese/herb mixture.

SAUCE:
1 small yellow onion diced
2 to 3 grated garlic cloves
2 large diced tomatoes
2 cups sour cream
½ cup milk

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion, sautee for about 5 min. Add garlic, then tomato. Cook until tomatoes are soft. Add sour cream & milk. Then add stuffed peppers. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

MEXICAN RICE

Ingredients
2 cups long-grain white rice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, halved
Kosher salt

Directions
Soak the rice in a bowl of hot water, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse and shake dry.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rice and toast, stirring, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, puree the garlic, onion and tomatoes in a blender. Add to the rice and cook until absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add 3 1/2 cups water, the jalapeno and a pinch of salt; cover and cook over medium heat until the rice is tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Uncover and place a clean towel over the rice, then re-cover and let stand 15 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork; serve with the jalapeno, if desired.

ricepudding

Rice Pudding

Ingredients
3/4 cup medium grain rice or 3/4 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt ( heaping)
4 cups whole milk ( I use 2%)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon

Directions
Bring rice, water and salt to a boil over med-high heat.
Simmer covered until water has been absorbed (approximately 15 minutes).
Stir in milk and sugar and cook uncovered over medium heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently–especially towards the end of cooking.

The pudding is done when the rice and milk have amalgamated into a thick porridge-like consistency.

DO NOT OVERCOOK or the pudding will be solid instead of creamy once cooled.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Turn into a bowl or cups. You can sprinkle cinnamon on the top if you like.

Cooking 101
Cooking Lessons & Bisto
2570 Tuscany Street,
Suite 101
Corona, CA 92881
Telephone: 951-340-1010
www.getcooking101.com

 


2013 Thai Food Festival

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With the dawning of another beautiful sunny weekend here in Southern California, we had our hearts set on one thing: what new and exciting foodie adventure does the City of Angels have in store for us?  To that end, the 2013 Thai Food Festival seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore a different cuisine and learn new, unique flavor and texture combinations.

This 1st annual Thai Food Festival was much more than a food tasting event as it was put on by Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion ministry.  The festival was to highlight not only the cuisine, but also Thai produced products, services and their rich culture.

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Guests in attendance were first greeted by the fine security folks at Paramount Pictures as the event was held at their Melrose Ave headquarters and studios. After checking in, the scene was set by a red carpet at the entrance (we are in Hollywood after all), complete with a backdrop signboard with key sponsors. The tree shaded areas around the food tents were setup with traditional Thai arts and crafts exhibits including intricate umbrella painting, fruit carving, folk dancing and even a Muay Thai martial arts demonstration. You definitely felt like you were getting a crash course in Thai culture. We got a sample of the sights, sounds and of course, the smell and taste of all the food that help shape Thai culture.

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Now on to the food since this is a food blog!  We found that describing Thai food may be our most challenging task to date.  Thai food is by design a combination sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy. Sometimes all in the same bite!

We learned that Thai food has several variations depending on geographic location. Each chef’s food tent had a sign noting whether their offering was north, northeast, central or south. In the same way that Italian cuisine varies from North to south and from the mountains to the ocean, so does Thai food.  For example, you will find stronger Chinese influences in the north and more Malaysian techniques and flavors in the south. No matter how you slice it, the flavors and combinations were always good and taste bud provoking.

Some of the noteworthy dishes that we had an opportunity to sample were:

fritter

Kajsa Alger Street’s Khao Gee which translated to foodie is a savory sticky rice fritter stuffed with curry chicken was very good with a nice crunchy exterior and a mild satisfying curry chicken filling with just a hint of white pepper spice afterwards. This type of dish would be an excellent party platter item.

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Lukshon’s Reimagined Thai Beef Salad was both light and delicate while still packing a nice crunch with compressed cucumbers. The smoked beef tongue possessed a rich salted and smokey flavor. It was covered with a bright green lettuce soup and finished with a paper thin slice of crispy tomato.

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Pok Pok’s Suki Haeng dish (Thai stir-fried glass noodles with Napa, Sprouts, Carrot, Water Spinach, Chinese Celery, Tofu & Eggs, with a Chili-Beancurd Sukiyaki) was really enjoyable. The glass noodles were soft and light while the crunchy vegetables added a nice crunch. The flavors were well balanced with heat being kept to a minimum. This was the type of dish that not only did you want to have more, but you could easily eat a full serving and not feel weighed down or too full.

crab

Manhattan Beach Post / Fishing with Dynamite’s  Blue Crab & Sweet Corn Green Curry was very interesting with the blue crab and sweet corn green curry over sticky rice. It had all the makings of a rich hearty seafood based Thai comfort meal and it delivered with flying colors! If Fall’s chill ever arrives–we want a bowl or two of this while sitting beachside.

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Ayara Thai’s Miang Khan is the perfect example of what we all love about Thai food while also illustrating why it’s so hard to quantify what an individual dish tastes like.  This dish is a take on a common street vendor offering and consists of a crab and vegetable mixture wrapped in a leaf. That’s the simple description, but the actual description of ingredients are as follows: “On Fresh Betel Leaves – Miang Kham combines savory crabmeat and poached prawns, with fragrant and spicy garnishes of kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, shallots, ginger roasted coconuts, peanuts, and Thai Chili.   It is topped with a few pieces of cold grapefruit, segmented by liquid nitrogen. And dressed with a complex palm syrup sauce. A perfect Miang Kham has contrasting textures, and embodies 6-flavors – bitter, salty, sour, sweet, spicy and umami!”  Wow! Our take? Delicious and provoking as it was seemingly able to hit every taste bud with a slightly different flavor note. Not easily accomplished and we can see why this kind of dish is popular for those looking for a quick street corner bite.

Again, this is just a sample of the many great dishes as others stood out as well, including Khao Soi Noodles with Chicken from Thai Society, Braised Beef Curry Noodles from Jet Tila’s Asian Kitchen and Ruen Pair Thai Cuisine’s Green Papaya Salad & Grilled Pork among others.

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Review By: Daniel Miller
Photos By: Kathleen Capalla


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