Pop-Up Dinner: Love As Art

We, as a society, often refer to love as a science, a lot of times citing research on how certain chemical reactions in the brain and body create the feeling of romantic love. However, this past week, I was fortunate enough to experience a five-course pop-up Valentine’s dinner that made me see love in a different way– as an art form.

Thanks to Chef Tiffany of Something Good 2 EatThe Art Institute and Artistic Taste LA, we were in the company of talented artists, singers, and an open bar as we experienced thorough all our senses wonderful works of art and acts of love through food and entertainment. Shoutout to my wonderful, inspiring friend Yuri for inviting me to experience this beautiful dinner affair at Nobo in Los Angeles with her and a few of our other awesome friends this past Friday!

As we enjoyed wonderful conversation with other couples and single pals, we were serenaded in the background by singers and a live band. The candlelight ambiance really set the tone for a memorable evening!

Tanaya's Table Love Pop Up Dinner Soup

We sipped on cocktails and dined on an incredible five courses, starting with a velvety, creamy, comforting tomato soup with a crispy, gooey bite of grilled cheese to dip into it.

The second course was a refreshing garden salad with crisp vegetables, dried cranberries for a little sweet chewiness, and a fresh raw honey-lime dressing that I just couldn’t get enough of.

The third course was quite possibly my favorite, as it was a succulent scallop sitting on a bed of creamy cauliflower puree, topped with crispy bacon crumbles. What a delicious play on surf and turf!

Tanaya's Table Artistic Taste LA Scallops

I chose the chicken for my third course, which was hearty with the addition of garlic white cheddar mashed potatoes, chives and lemon butter asparagus. Loved the veggies, and the cheesy potatoes were a great accompaniment as well.

The grand finale was an incredible half brownie, half chocolate cake heart-shaped dessert iced with decadent ganache and garnished with a chocolate heart and raspberry sauce. This Chocolate Devotion dessert  was sweet art on a plate, and I was in chocolate heaven as I devoured it.

As we enjoyed the entire evening filled with love and art, I realized something… love, itself, is art. It is an art that can be practiced, yet is open to interpretation. Love is something that comes naturally to us, yet some are better at it than others. Yet everyone can learn to love themselves and others, in their own unique way.

Art is something that is very personal, and very unique to the individual who creates it. Yet, others can appreciate that art, be moved by it, and draw inspiration from it. In that same way, so is love.

I reflected back on how I interpret and show love, and came to the realization that although I’ve worked on giving love and showing my love to others over the past many years, I have neglected to show myself that same love… and to fully allow myself to freely receive love in all forms from others.

I discovered in that moment that it felt good to pause the multitude of “to-do’s” and “should do’s” running through my head and allow myself to enjoy a beautiful dinner experience with some of those I love. I realized while eating the food, that it was indeed food for the soul… not because of the type of cuisine served, but because it inspired me to stop and appreciate the moment, and realize that I am worthy of taking a break and allowing the love to flood into my soul sometimes.

Tanaya's Table Artistic Taste LA Chocolate Cake

Perhaps many of you can relate, but oftentimes, I feel that I don’t deserve a complete break from working until I reach my goals and achieve success. But perhaps I should simply aim to love and nourish my soul more, and to enjoy the little moments along the path to success. And perhaps success is also the ability to let go once in a while and enjoy the moment for what it is, with people who truly care about you. All these revelations came to me over the beautiful five courses that night, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it all.

I’m so grateful to have been part of this journey through the senses to experience food as an art form, and as an act of love. By cooking for someone, we are showing our love to another person. By eating food that nourishes us, or gives us pleasure, we are showing love to ourselves, and acknowledging that we are worthy of good food and love. By sharing a meal with those around us, we are connecting, sharing and spreading that love. And that is exactly why I decided to focus on food, and to start Tanaya’s Table years ago.

Let this unique pop-up dinner experience by Chef Tiffany, The Art Institute and Artistic Taste LA be an inspiration to us all… to view our lives, our food and the people we share that experience with, with love and appreciation. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but each and every day!

With love,

Tanaya’s Table

PS – If you’re interested in attending the next pop-up dinner experience, follow my Instagram account @tanayas.table for updates on upcoming events!

SNEAK PEEK: Inside U Jelly + Crafted Donuts

Happy New Year, guys! I know it’s a time for resolutions, but can’t we just resolve to enjoy anything we love in moderation instead of restricting ourselves? Because I love donuts, and I’m not giving them up.

Yesterday, I got the chance to head over to Fountain Valley to preview not one, but TWO new donut shops set to open this Saturday, 1/9 to the public! And yes, both media previews were on the very same day as well. What can I say… when donuts call, I must answer!

Tanayas Table U Jelly Taro Donut

This is me, answering the donut call with U Jelly’s taro donut. 😀

Thanks to Jed of @dailyfoodfeed and Andy & Scott of @tryitordiet for the opportunity for me to be here (on a sugar high) to tell you that both places have super creative concepts, unique flavors and a distinct flair of their own.

Here are some details on both places, plus video features to highlight some of the epic treats you’ll find inside each spot:

First, I checked out U Jelly. With their colorful, visually impressive donuts, I was especially drawn to the adorable green Baymax donut, since the flavor of pandan takes me back to my adventures in Malaysia a couple years ago.

After saying hi to some foodie friends and shooting tons of video (see below) plus photos for Instagram, I bit into the taro cream-filled donut to photograph the inside (I swear!)… and ended up devouring it all after shooting! I regret nothing. 😉

I also liked the coconut flan donut… because FLAN! And the warm, oozy pizza-stuffed croissant had me wanting another one, stat (more on that below). Check out the video below here.

Grand opening: 8 p.m. on Saturday, 1/9 at 16051 Brookhurst St. Fountain Valley, CA. The owners of U Jelly are Scott Afters and Andy Nguyen, a.k.a. the Afters Ice Cream guys… so you know it’ll be an awesome grand opening for a super innovative concept, as always. Heads up: The first 50 people get a special gift!

By the way, thank goodness for that pizza croissant (see video above), because it’s the only savory thing I had time to eat before driving a few miles down the road to the next new donut stop.

For providing me with savory goodness, this croissant will always hold a special place in my heart. The ooey gooey cheese and meaty pepperoni just oozed out thanks to the help of my hand model extraordinaire and U Jelly co-owner, Scott Afters. When Foodbeast featured it, they added in the PERFECT soundtrack to complete the entire experience. Here’s the shot… enjoy. 😉

Up next on my donut spree that very same day was Crafted Donuts!

Formerly known as OC Donut Bar, it recently reinvented its donuts with different shapes and flavors, such as a square Cracker Jack donut and more. Here’s how beautiful these donuts look… plus they’re pillowy soft and gigantic — almost the size of my face!

Tanayas Table Crafted Donuts box

The newly reinvented spot also kept some popular classics from the popular older location, such as the pink Homer Simpson Donut. See it in action (along with other beautiful treats) in this quick video sneak peek. And yes, that IS a cereal and milk frosted Fruity Pebbles donut!

Grand opening: Saturday, 1/9 (yes, both donut places are opening the same day but have totally different concepts!) at 8 a.m. with a free donut for every single customer, as well as a $10 gift certificate for the first 100 people.

Both donut spots are equally incredible in their own unique merits. Hope you guys get to enjoy all the grand opening excitement, now that you have the scoop. Let me know what you think!

Cheers 🙂

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Cookies - copyright 2015 Tanaya's Table

RECIPE: Dark Chocolate Red Wine Cookies For The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Note: So many travel adventures to share with you all! Stay tuned in 2016 for some exciting news with Tanaya’s Travels!

I grew up loving the holidays so much that there are recordings of me singing Christmas songs year-round. Even in 75-degree weather, every so often on family road trips I’d bust out with “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” (Yup, for some reason I placed great emphasis on the “wish” part.)

The holidays just gave me such a joyful feeling, a feeling of safety and love and happiness thanks to my festive and fun-loving family.

Something extra I looked forward to this holiday season was participating in the annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, since really I enjoyed doing it last year despite going through some tough times during the holidays. I suppose it brought a bit of normalcy to my anything-but-normal year in 2014.

Last year, I made Bourbon Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie Cookies. Since this holiday season had a strange kind of calm to it in comparison to my 2014, I decided my cookies should reflect that. Because what’s better than sitting back with a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate when you’re catching a much-needed (somewhat of a) break?

I decided to infuse some Merlot for a little tang, as well as some Himalayan Pink Salt to balance and round out the sweetness of this decadent, fudgy cookie. Here’s the recipe, hope you enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Cookies - copyright 2015 Tanaya's Table

DARK CHOCOLATE RED WINE COOKIES

Ingredients: (makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies) – Adapted from Simply Scratch

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick unsalted butter (softened)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup red wine (I used Merlot, but you could use pinot noir, red zinfandel or any red table wine you’d enjoy with chocolate)

3/4 bag (about 10 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chunks)

1 teaspoon Himlayan pink salt (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375°F

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt & baking soda.  Set aside.

In a separate mixing  bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Next, add in the egg, vanilla & red wine. Mix together until well incorporated.

Gradually add dry ingredients until well combined, folding chocolate chips in last.

The batter will have a mousse-like, slightly fluffy consistency. Oh, and it tastes DIVINE!

Place heaping teaspoons or tablespoons (depending on size desired) onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, a couple inches apart.

Sprinkle a few flakes of Himalayan pink salt on top of cookies, if desired.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on size and desired gooey or crunchy level.

If you’re sending your cookies across the country like I did for this cookie swap, bake those batches a little longer. Otherwise, enjoy these moist, gooey, chocolatey wine-infused cookies to enjoy at home or to share… and be proud of yourself for finding a delicious way to enjoy your dark chocolate and red wine antioxidants! 😉

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

I sent these cookies to the fab bloggers at Freshly Baked SweetsIn Natalie’s Shoes and Hye Thyme Cafe. I also received some incredible cookies from the talented bloggers of Sweet-E Pie & Babycakes, Kitchen Gidget and Creative Touch. Thanks for so much cookie love, everyone!

Check out the Tanaya’s Table Instagram photos with the #fbcookieswap hashtag for photos of the awesome treats. Participating bloggers’ cookie recipes, including mine, can be found here. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

 

VIDEO: Best New OC Fair Foods + FLASH Ticket Giveaway!

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It’s that time of year! Food festivals are in full swing, and it’s your turn to get in on the gastronomic fun. Check out the details below on how you can enter to win a pair of tickets to this year’s epic Orange County Fair!

First, if you needed a reason (or many deep-fried reasons) to go this year, it’s all right here below. I was lucky enough to get an invite to check out the most unique new foods at the OC Fair, and let me tell you… you’re in for a treat! Check it out:

One of my favorites is the deep-fried pickle stuffed with peanut butter, which works surprisingly well thanks to the tartness of the pickle, the creamy sweet-saltiness of the peanut butter, and the fluffy batter surrounding it all.

If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, try the Cubano Fusion Burger from Tasti Chips. It’s filled with savory goodness and is layered with texture and flavor.

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For dessert, I highly recommend Texas Donuts’ gigantic Fireball whisky-infused caramel donut. They’ve also got a Samoa giant donut, for you Girl Scout Cookie lovers.

Speaking of dessert, you see that caviar-topped Twinkie in the video, right? Although a $125 caviar Twinkie might sound a little crazy — or a even a lot crazy — it’s all for charity. If you have the means, the heart and the curiosity to try it, I highly encourage you to do so, because all proceeds go to CHOC – Children’s Hospital of Orange County. You can find this bite at Chicken Charlie’s.

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Other unique new items you’ll find this year include Kool-Aid brined pickles, Wasabi Bacon Bombs, Frosted Flakes chicken strips, bacon-wrapped pork belly on a stick, and even a gigantic funnel cake burger.

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As for the more classic battered and deep-fried innovations, try the the deep-fried Starbucks, deep-fried birthday cake or the Australian Battered Potatoes with their special Outback sriracha sauce.

There’s also a deep-fried SlimFast, for those who prefer a side of irony along with their fair food.

Bottom line is, there’s something for everyone. Unless you’re on a raw diet, of course. Now, how do you win?

Here are two ways to win your pair of tickets:

Instagram

  1. Follow me on Instagram (@tanayas.table) so I can direct message you to redeem your prize
  2. Comment on the image with the Krispy Kreme triple cheeseburger (yep, there’s that too!) saying why you want to win, and tag whom you want to take
  3. Entry closes at noon on Sunday, 7/26. This is a flash giveaway, so act fast and spread the word so if your friend wins, they’ll (hopefully) take you! 😉
  4. Wait for the winner (chosen at random, to keep it fair… since I want you all to win!) to be announced that same afternoon. Good luck!

Twitter

  1. Follow me on Twitter (@TanayaG) so I can direct message you to redeem your prize
  2. Retweet this tweet to enter to win, and reply to the tweet tagging whom you’d want to take with you
  3. Entry closes at noon on Sunday, 7/26. This is a flash giveaway, so act fast and spread the word so if your friend wins, they’ll (hopefully) take you! 😉
  4. Wait for the winner (chosen at random, to keep it fair… since I want you all to win!) to be announced that same afternoon. Good luck!

Also, heads up – there’s another foodie event giveaway coming up very soon!

You can get your tickets to the OC Fair here, or enter on Instagram or Twitter (see above for entry rules) to win!

On a quick side note, I’m about to go abroad and cover a month of food and travel in Hong Kong and India to share with you all. The Tanaya’s Travels section will be in full effect soon!

Check out what you can expect to come by visiting the travel section here, or from the navigation bar on the left. Also feel free to follow my travels on Twitter and Instagram to see the photos and videos while I’m on the road. I’d love to have you join me virtually!

More updates to come, as well as videos and giveaways. Cheers!

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VIDEO: The Ramnut + Other Unique Bites At 626 Night Market

626 Tanayas Table Foodbeast Ramnut

Behold… the Ramnut.

If you call yourself a foodie, hopefully you’re willing to try new tastes, flavors, ingredients and textures. For example, would you be willing to try a ramen donut?

Before you ponder this, check out what a Ramnut really is in my latest episode below, along with Spanimal Fries and Disco Soda, all exclusive offerings from Foodbeast at this month’s 626 Night Market.

The Ramnut was originally conjured up by Culinary Bro-Down, and Foodbeast brought it to life exclusively for the 626 Night Market. By the way, shout out to my foodie friend Jay, the 626 Night Market foodie expert!

626 Tanayas Table Foodbeast Spanimal Fries

Spanimal Fries. You know you want ’em!

Let me just tell you, these treats are not for the faint of heart. I mean literally, if you have heart problems you proabably shouldn’t eat a whole order… but if you like practicing moderation, then these quirky indulgences are so worth trying!

If you’re a novelty food lover (like me!) in the LA area, you’ve got to check out the 626 Night Market to taste these unique creations.

As featured in the video, you can also get squid on a stick, ice cream that looks like a beach (or even a potted plant), refreshing hibiscus soda from Pop’d Up… and even Circus Animal macaron ice cream sandwiches. I featured Pop’d Up in last year’s 626 Night Market video, as well! Check it out here, along with shark tacos and more.

The ice cream sammie basically tastes like childhood!

Circus Animal Macaron Sandwich by Dolcissimo Bakeshop

Circus Animal Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich by Dolcissimo Bakeshop

You’ve got til the end of this long weekend to get your munch on… GO! 😉

626 Tanayas Table Popd Up

This Hibiscus Soda from Pop’d Up really hit the spot in the SoCal summer heat!

Check out 626NightMarket.com for all the info. Admission is only $3, and it’s extra fun to go in a group and share a bunch of bites. Happy 4th! ❤