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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A Tribute To Mom. I’ll Miss You, Best Friend

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.” – Stuart Scott

There is no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it. I lost my mom on December 30, 2014 to a very aggressive type of cancer. She was always super health-conscious, and there was no family history. Life is just crazy… and to be honest, I’m just trying to deal with it all but not sure how to just yet.

I have experienced quite a bit of loss for someone my age, but this time it was the woman who gave me life, the one person in the world I lived and breathed for and always wanted to make proud. My mother, my best friend.

Prateeti Ghosh 4x4

The last 16 months since my mom’s diagnosis had been unbelievably hard on her, physically and emotionally, yet she never once wavered in her inner strength and determination to recover and get back to teaching her beloved preschool kids, and to being the most amazing mother, daughter, wife and friend she had always been in her 55 years of life.

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My parents and me on my second birthday

She smiled through the taxing treatments, and with every blow of jarring news we got from the doctor. She endured it all in such an unbelievably positive manner, and after a year of chemo, surgery and intense radiation, she was so happy her scan in September 2014 came back clean, and she went back to work and came out to events with me again. She was glowing full of life as she always had been, before her treatment had started.

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Then in late October 2014, less than two months after her clean scan, the cancer came back… worse than ever. It had spread to vital organs, and the unthinkable happened. Within two months, my mom suffered so much each day and night not being able to sleep or eat due to intense pain and discomfort, it was heartbreaking to watch… trips to the ER and ICU, then back home, then back to the hospital again… until the doctors gave up on her and sent her home.

We tried to take the best care of her we could, with the help of at-home professionals to help manage her intense pain and suffering in the final days. We felt so helpless. I just tried to be by her side as much as I could, caress her, and tell her how much I loved her. She was strong throughout it all, just for us, as all our hearts were silently breaking and our family was being torn apart. She knew how much we needed her, and she tried her best until her final days… and then she was gone. Forever.

I am so glad she is no longer suffering, but now the painful journey for those of us she left behind has just begun. I just can’t believe it’s over, that I’ve lost my mom and best friend in my 20’s. She was the epitome of perfection, grace, kindness and selflessness. She helped anyone and everyone, whether she knew them or not, and never once did anything out of selfishness, not in childhood nor all her life for that matter.

She was an incredible mom from day 1, and every single day of my life from then on.

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Her memorial service was just yesterday, and although I haven’t before shared very personal things here on the blog, I would like you all to know the inspiration and motivation behind my work, and of course who I am as a person today. Thus, I wanted to share the speech I wrote for her memorial service, to which 200+ amazing family and friends came to attend.

You know, the reason I finally started this blog was that I felt the intense need to scale back on work (for once) to be with mom more. I thought it was the perfect time to start writing again and doing what truly made me happy, and this time instead of doing it as a food editor, I would launch my own blog, as many people had encouraged me to do for years. It was my way of moving forward and staying productive while also spending more precious time with my mom throughout her fight to recover.

My mom was incredibly proud of every blog post, video, or milestone in my follower growth… just as she had been before, when I was working 13 hour workdays at the office and commuting 40 miles to get home each day. She was there supporting me in whatever made me happy by helping me record videos, arranging the new recipes we made together for the perfect shot, and proofreading every post that went up. She was a Master’s degree holder in English, and I got my love of reading and writing from her.

The Taste LA Times Ma Baba Me Family Photo Chefs Cooking - Copy

I was able to take my parents with me when I was covering The Taste in late August 2014. I will always cherish one of our last outings together as a complete family over something we all loved… good food and good company.

With my mother, a part of me died, too. But then again, a part of her will always live on within me. Mom, who would have known I would be writing this tribute to you, on the very blog you gave me the courage and opportunity to finally launch and grow? I hope to always make you proud by doing what I’m passionate about, just as you would want me to.

Ma Me USC Graduation - CopyThank you all for your tremendous support. Sometimes it’s all that gets me by.

You will find the transcript of my memorial service speech below. I hope this helps you further get to know the kind of person my mom was, and what a special place she will always hold in my heart, and the hearts of all whom she touched. It is her who made me who I am today, more than anybody else in the world. And hopefully we can all learn a thing or two from the angel who graced this earth for far too short a time.

Note: I’ve posted more photos in the Memorial section dedicated to her. There, if you wish, you can also donate to an early education project in India. She was a loving preschool teacher for the past 25 years, and we hope her legacy lives on through this project in India. Thank you. I truly love you guys.

A Tribute to Ma

by Tanaya Ghosh

…as delivered at Prateeti Ghosh’s memorial service on January 17, 2015

First, thank you all for being here. The support has been incredible during the most trying time in my life.

I never thought I’d be here so soon giving this speech about my mom, who was always perfect and invincible in my eyes. Her spirit still is.

For as long as I could remember, my mother did all she could to give me the best childhood imaginable. She set a strong foundation for who I have become today.

She did this in many ways. By taking me to the library regularly, where I would spend hours picking out the perfect books, I got my unquenchable thirst for learning, reading, and my love of writing.

She taught me dedication and commitment by taking me to my weekly Kathak dance classes for 10 years. I wasn’t always very fond of going to practice, but I did like to perform. She stayed firm and urged me to stick to it, and I learned what it takes to work hard for things that are worth it.

Her trust and confidence in me was unwavering, always. Believe it or not, I was shy like her when I was younger, as those who have known me from way back know. But somewhere along the way, due to life experiences, I learned to come out of my shell. I got bolder in exploring all that life has to offer, regardless of my secret fears that I must admit I still have, to this day.

My mom taught me to be smart, responsible and confident in my abilities. With that faith in me, she supported me wholeheartedly in my adventures around the world, from volunteering in the Costa Rican rainforest to working abroad in Hong Kong. Her main desire was always my happiness and growth, even if that meant I was halfway across the world at times.

Even though, as I grew older, I deviated from the way she was (gentle and more reserved), she not only supported me but enjoyed living vicariously through me in whatever I did… from doing a radio show to pursuing my degree in public relations, from becoming a food editor to launching my blog in the time I took off to spend by her side… a decision I will never regret.

As I got more opportunities in pursuing my passions, she was the number one person I wanted by my side through the wild journey. She would always be my first choice for whom to take as my plus one when covering an event… she really was my best friend. She even helped me film some of my videos. She would sometimes get frustrated with my perfectionism in getting the shot right (who wouldn’t?) but she helped in any way she could, and she did it for me. It was my secret mission to get her out of the house more and experience more of life, and I’m so glad we got to spend so much time together exploring new things.

As I got older, through life’s letdowns, heartbreaks and troubling times, she became my confidante, number one supporter, protector and source of strength. During the darkest of times, when it felt like the whole world had turned its back on me, the one person who always gave me hope and a reason to live was my mom. Just hearing her voice on the other end of the phone… whether unwaveringly supporting me, or telling me like it is when I needed to hear it… she was always just what I needed, and more.

I still remember the night my world started to crumble. I was finishing up another 13-hour workday at the office, ready to work the Catalina Film Festival, and was feeling on top of the world… like everything was going right for once. I called mom to let her know I would be starting my 40-mile commute home, but by the extra gentle way she greeted me, I should have known something was wrong… that she was just being strong for me.

I came home to learn the unthinkable… that my invincible, perfect mother had been diagnosed with cancer. My dad I and reeled, our worlds turned upside down.  And what did she do? She stayed strong for us for the remaining 15 months of her life. Throughout the entire emotional and physical roller coaster, she took it all with a smile and always asked how others were doing when they came to visit her. Such incredible inner strength from such a sweet, kindhearted person.

She was everybody’s favorite, from the dentist to her oncologist, to the vet to the Trader Joe’s cashier. Even the kids and parents at the school she taught at requested Ms. Prateeti as their teacher.

Although it was a long, twisting road, I am so glad we all got that last year to show her just how much we loved her. Not just me, but my dad, our relatives, and the entire community of friends surrounding us. Even our beloved 15 1/2-year-old Dachshund, Jellybean. My mom, who had always given and given without expecting anything in return from anyone, was so touched by everyone showing their heartfelt appreciation for her. I am so glad she got to know how much she meant to us all before she was taken from us.

Mom, I will miss the little things, like how you would pick out the absolutely perfect greeting card for any given person and occasion. We would spend an hour at the store when I was younger looking through cards, and I would eventually get annoyed. I later realized how much the right words can warm people’s hearts and stay with them.

My mother was never one to embrace the newest technology, often opting for a book instead. I remember teaching her how to text when my dad finally convinced her to get a smartphone. Once, I thanked her in great length for the delicious food that she had sent with me, as usual, to my grad school apartment. Her response to my lengthy text message was just… “ok.” And another time, she wrote an entire sentence as one long word, as she had forgotten where the space bar was! What I would do to get another text from her.

She started to learn Spanish with our urging, once she finally accepted an iPad into her life. She always had a knack for language, holding a Master’s degree in English… so she caught on very quickly. She was excited to recover so she could go back to work and talk to some of her students in Spanish.

As a big reason for a lot of what I do today, I also got my love of cooking and food from her. She didn’t like to cook elaborate things often, but I convinced her to be my accomplice in many food adventures we had together. Holiday baking each December for family and friends since my charmed childhood, or a full-course meal for a special occasion… some of my fondest memories involved my mom and our kitchen, throughout my life.

She was everyone’s timekeeper. I would often run late, so she would sit and talk with my friends while I finished getting ready. Then, as I rushed out the door she would say “Have fun!” …and then ask if I had my keys, or jacket, or whatever it was that I probably did forget. I would rush back in and say, “Mom, what would I do without you?” before saying bye and running out the door again. I don’t know now what I will do without her… not just for this reason, but for so many reasons.

The best part of going out somewhere while I was living at home was that as I pulled out of the driveway, she would — without fail — be at the window… waving goodbye to me, praying for my safety, and waiting to hear all about my adventures when I returned. Now that window will be eternally empty.

She really enjoyed all the treats I would bring back for her from all my food adventures for my work and on outings with friends around SoCal. Her eyebrows would dance and she would really relish the things she liked.

My grandmother and mom’s younger brother always said that my mom was always so obedient, and never went out of line or rebelled. Although I turned out to be a little more rebellious (who wouldn’t be, compared to her?) my mom never loved me any less for it.

People say I laugh a lot, and smile a lot. I tell them, you should meet my mom. Mom, with your selfless and loving spirit, look at the friends and family you cultivated for us. The support we’ve gotten these past couple weeks has been amazing, and I am truly grateful. Once again, mom left everything in place without even knowing it. Just by being her.

In her final months, her voice softened with me more than ever. I can still feel her playing with my ponytail in the hospital, with my head in her lap just laying there and enjoying her presence. Trying to soak up a lifetime of mom in just a couple more weeks that we had with her. Trying to freeze time.

How could it be that I was the one taking care of you so soon? I saw the appreciation in your eyes, but really it was the least I could do… I learned from the best in how to take care of others, but I would do anything especially for you, the woman who not only gave me life, but raised me with an unbelievable amount of love, patience, trust and dedication. I, too, lived and breathed for my mom… the center of my universe.

Sometimes I question why her, as she was quite a health nut. I remember watching “Dark Wing Duck” in the kids’ daycare at the gym while she went to her regular Aerobics class. I was the kid with the brown bread in preschool, and as I grew up my mom and I nerded out over reading Health & Prevention magazines. She cooked all the “right” foods for our family (garlic, onion, turmeric… and all the antioxidant-filled foods), and we used to go to the gym regularly together. No family history… yet cancer still happened. Life is just so crazy, and quite honestly, I’m scared to live the rest of it without you, Mom.

I still wonder why she was taken so soon from us all, since the world could use more exceptional people like her… but then I try to remember what I now realize: She was an angel here on earth, and we were blessed to have her with us and to know her for any amount of time that we did. Although I lost my mom in my 20’s, I had such a unique and special bond with her that is so hard to come by, no matter how long one lives. If quality over quantity is really the best thing, I consider myself fortunate. I am so incredibly lucky to call the woman whom we are all here for today my mom.

Although it breaks my heart that she will never be able to see my wedding or her grandchildren, all I can do to make sure that my future kids know their incredible grandmother is to show them stories, pictures, videos… and just try my best to be the kind of mother she was to me. Although I am a work in progress, if I can be half the woman my mom was, that’s all I can hope for.

Every happy occasion in my life from now on will have a deep sadness and emptiness to it… but I know that she always wanted me to thrive, and to be as happy as I can be, in whatever way that may be. Now I will try to do just that, not only for myself, but for the two of us. Some days, that is the only strength I have to go on. I love you Ma, and I hope I will always make you proud… until the day we meet again, my best friend.

I ask that you all please keep the memories of my mom alive within you, by sharing your stories today and long after. And most importantly, let’s all remember to carry at least a few of the many lessons she taught us by example during her time here:

– Smile often. Laugh often.

– Material things mean nothing. For her, as long as her family and friends were happy and healthy, she was content. She took pleasure in the small things, like her afternoon tea.

– Life really is short, so never stop telling (and more importantly, showing) those you love how much they mean to you. Don’t hold grudges. And know that you’ll never regret spending “too much” quality time with those who truly matter. Do it now before it’s too late.

Now we’ll take a little break from the speeches and songs with the following visual montage. Special thanks to Sumita for working so hard to help me put this together, and to my dad for taking so many photos all our lives. Even though Ma and I would often get frustrated on our many family trips around the country and world (we got tired of stopping and posing), thanks to you we have all these visual memories to cherish today.

We hope that you continue to hold Prateeti Ghosh in your hearts and memories to continue to honor her spirit and keep her legacy alive.

Photos from the memorial service, as well as some photos from the slideshow of mom’s life are now posted on the Memorial Page.

Sriracha Series, Part 1: Sriracha Festival Brings The Heat to L.A.

This post is Part 1 of a three-part series dedicated to the modern holy grail of hot sauces, sriracha. Stay tuned for a Halloween-themed post and a behind-the-scenes look inside the sriracha factory!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

See the stellar spicy sweet & savory foods in action at the 2nd Annual Sriracha Festival!

The 2nd Annual Sriracha Festival hosted by Josh Lurie of Food GPS & Randy Clemens, author of The Sriracha Cookbook was by far the hottest event to hit Los Angeles this past weekend, taking place at the historic Chinatown Central Plaza. As an avid heat seeker, this was an event I especially looked forward to this month, even with a total of three events to attend that very same day!

By far, the Sriracha Festival showcased some incredibly unique and impressive eats. Chefs and mixologists alike highlighted the versatility of the most trendy chili sauce to date with creative uses in savory and sweet dishes, as well as in cocktail form.

Beachwood BBQ Sriracha Ribs

Beachwood BBQ’s sriracha-glazed smoked ribs

The Mexican chocolate fountain you see in the video above is to dip crispy, sriracha sugar-dusted churrones (similar to chicharrones) courtesy of Eagle Rock Brewery, whose beer on tap included Witbier and IPA. And those meaty smoked ribs being doused in sriracha BBQ sauce come from Beachwood BBQ.

The deviled eggs also featured are not your mama’s deviled eggs. They’ve got a chicken skin crumble and sriracha caramel on ’em, thanks to “Top Chef” contender Mei Lin. Speaking of a great sauce, Willy B’s pork belly had some great flavors from their hot sauce.

That pork belly though.

That pork belly though.

Mud Hen Tavern’s Kajsa Alger served a smooth, creamy sriracha-braised pumpkin purée with white chocolate yogurt and basil oil, along with some fresh greens for texture… and the flavors came together beautifully. Meanwhile, “Next Iron Chef” & “Chopped” alum Nate Appleman of Shophouse served a moist and flavorful pork and chicken meatball with tamarind vinaigrette and green papaya slaw, along with a Thai basil and cilantro salad with crispy garlic.

Crawfish mac 'n cheese with house smoked Andouille sausage by Little Jewel of New Orleans

Crawfish mac ‘n cheese with house-smoked Andouille sausage by Little Jewel of New Orleans

Newcomers on the scene such as The Gadarene Swine and Little Jewel of New Orleans served diverse dishes such as a vegan crispy yucca with sriracha and avocado mousse, and a not-at-all-vegan crawfish mac ‘n cheese with house smoked Andouille sausage, respectively.

Last but not least, you know Eggslut brought the heat (and the longest lines!). Chef Alvin Cailan dished out his spicy pork tan tan men and explained (see video above) that the dish, topped with a seasoned soft-boiled egg, togarashi and bacon, symbolized the debut to their new Ramen Champ concept, set to open in Chinatown by the end of the year. You heard it here first, straight from Alvin!

Eggslut debuted their tan tan noodles from their new concept, Ramen Champ opening soon.

Eggslut debuted delectable tan tan noodles from their new concept, Ramen Champ opening soon.

The smoky bacon, tan tan noodles with a bite, the spicy kick from the togarashi, and the perfectly cooked egg with a soft yolk made for a splendid symphony of flavors in each sizeable bowl.

I also appreciated that there were plenty of cocktails and ice cream to cool palates down for another round of spicy goodness. There were frozen treats such as McConnell’s sweet cream and salted caramel chip ice creams, as well as cooling drinks like a cucumber jicama beverage by Hollywood bartender Jason Bran. However, being the sriracha fanatic that I am, my cocktail and ice cream of choice still incorporated sriracha… in very innovative ways!

Amaretto Sours with a Mango and Sriracha twist

Amaretto Sours with a Mango and Sriracha twist

Jason Bran mixed up a DiSaronno cocktail with mango, lemon and sriracha (see video), while Santa Barbara-to-L.A. transplant McConnell’s Ice Cream scooped pumpkin pie ice cream with a generous drizzle of thick, crave-worthy sriracha caramel. So simple, yet brilliant when paired with the pumpkin ice cream!

Pumpkin pie ice cream topped with sriracha caramel

Pumpkin pie ice cream topped with sriracha caramel

Crème Caramel LA brought their “Holy Petit S’mores” to the party. Want to know what those are? Buckle up before you read this: A sriracha marshmallow layered on a dark chocolate fudge brownie, dipped in white chocolate, rolled in graham cracker crumbs and sprinkled with sriracha honeycomb dust! The marshmallow had just a little kick, and complemented the chocolatey goodness of the brownie.

Yup, there is sriracha in there too!

Yup, there is sriracha in there too!

My absolute favorite dessert of the night, however, came from Red Bread. They served up plates of their (deep breath…) Whole Wheat Crusted Sriracha Black Bottom Meyer Lemon Custard Pie! It was heaven in a pie slice. They also served a Sriracha Apple Crumble Pie, which was a great sriracha-fied version of the classic American dessert. But I can’t deny that it was love at first bite with the Meyer lemon pie! That layer of sriracha-chocolate bliss on the bottom was superb, and I could eat it anytime, any place I tell you!

Thanks to the L.A. Sriracha Festival for a delicious experience. From what I heard while chatting with repeat attendees, last year was great… and this year was even better. I have no doubts that the Sriracha Festival will continue to impress in the years to come. Also, props to the fest for donating a portion of the proceeds to Food Forward.

Extra sriracha on that Greenspans Grilled Cheese, please!

Extra sriracha on that Greenspans Grilled Cheese, please!

Stay tuned for more heat in the next two installments of the Sriracha Series, right here on Tanaya’s Table!

Weekend Fun: Special Olympics Pier Del Sol Event + Tanaya’s Table on KTLA 5

Pier del Sol KTLA 5It’s a widely known fact that the weekend is an insanely short amount of time. Much too short. Two days, to be exact, and on Sunday you can either laze around like any other Sunday and run mundane errands while dreading Monday, or you can seize the second half of that glorious time away from the office to go do something memorable to make the most of it. So, what do to?

Well, there are a few things I can suggest. Perhaps going to brunch? Or maybe the Santa Monica Pier for a beach view on a sunny day? Or maybe an amusement park with rides and games… Or perhaps just tasting a bunch of top notch food around L.A. and meeting your favorite chefs? OR maybe doing something meaningful for a good cause? Good news is, the Special Olympics’ premier annual Pier del Sol event allows you the opportunity to do all that and more!

You can meet top chefs from around Los Angeles and taste their finest bites, enjoy all-access status to the rides at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, and the best part would be that you’re helping a great cause, which is the Special Olympics of Southern California. I got a chance to meet some of the athletes this past week at a live KTLA morning news segment (or 5 segments, to be accurate) with Gayle Anderson, and it was a great time getting to know them. More on that below!

The VIP brunch features the aforementioned top quality cuisine from 38 of LA’s top restaurants, including Chef Michael Cimarusti of Providence, Chef Olivier Rousselle of On Sunset, Chef Tanino Drago of Tanino Ristorante, and Chef Ermando Robles of Porto Via.

VIP Tickets are $150 each, and include the VIP Brunch, unlimited rides, plus 12 game tickets. General Admission is $45 and include unlimited rides, eight game tickets and a meal coupon for Pacific Park’s food plaza… but come on now, you know you want to try all the top food from all over L.A!

While generatl admission tickets are available on the day of the event, there area only a limited number of VIP tickets still available, so it’s best to get your tickets now. Another great thing about this one-of-a-kind special event is that proceeds go straight to the non-profit, so it is tax-deductible. Can’t complain about that!

Here we are on the KTLA 5 morning news with Gayle Anderson, right onsite of where Pier del Sol will take place! Totally worth waking up extra early for, as I got to meet wonderful Special Olympics athletes, staff, plus fellow blogger e*star LA, Pacific Park executives and great chefs. We also got to eat on camera… the first step in my dream of eating on camera as a career! 😉

Thanks to my friend Dani for snapping & sending me this!

Thanks to my wonderful friend (since preschool!) Dani for snapping & sending me this in realtime! Click above for all the segments.

On camera, we tasted the 62-degree egg on a beef cheek hash with housemade sriracha aioli prepared by Chef Joisah Citrin, and boy was it good! I hadn’t seen Josiah Citrin since his cooking demo last year, which I had also covered. He’s still just as friendly and witty! Chef Erik of the Daily Grill was also onsite, preparing his seared ahi tuna salad. These were just two of the bites, but you can get all 38 bites this Sunday, October 12 starting at 10 a.m. right on the Santa Monica Pier, complete with sun and surf.

What better way to spend a Sunday than with good food for a great cause, in sunny SoCal? Whether with family or friends, it’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday, and hopefully I see you there!

Since 1997, Pier del Sol has raised nearly $8 million, benefiting and changing the lives of more than 17,000 Special Olympic Southern California athletes. For more information and to get your tickets, visit the Special Olympics of Southern California’s Pier del Sol event website.

Happy weekend, all! 🙂

Recipe: Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese from Our New L.A. Food Bloggers Cookbook for Charity!

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh

Welcome to Tanaya’s Table! What better way to kick off the blog than by giving a preview taste of the goodies inside a cookbook I was fortunate to be part of? Thirty Los Angeles food bloggers (including myself!) have come together for charity to create 30 creative versions of macaroni and cheese for our new ebook, Mo’ Macaroni and Cheese: 30 Mouthwatering Recipes for America’s Favorite Comfort Food.

As a member of the Food Bloggers Los Angeles group, we were challenged to re-imagine mac and cheese and elevate it from a childhood favorite to include a bit of something for everyone. The recipes are likely to satisfy all types of palates, from decadent to healthy tastes. In addition to indulgent twists on the American comfort food, there are even gluten-free and vegan versions in there! My recipe, however, is unabashedly one of the more indulgent renditions of the classic dish… and it manifests itself in the form of Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese!

The fruits of our digital cookbook labor, Mo’ Macaroni and Cheese officially launches today, and is available on Amazon’s Kindle store, as well as on Google Play, Scrib’d, Nook and other platforms for under two bucks– $1.99, to be exact! Categories include classic recipes, international variations, lightened-up dishes, and mac and cheese with a twist.

The best part– and the reason we embarked on this ebook project in the first place– is that all proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which feeds more than 1 million Los Angeles County residents annually! Talk about feeling good about doing good, while cooking some really good food!

One thing I especially like about an ebook recipe is that I can put the reader in a protective sleeve and never worry about losing the recipe, spilling on the pages or accidentally tearing out part of the recipe while I do my thing in the kitchen. I also like that I can search the ebook for recipes using ingredients I already have on hand.

As a thank you for visiting Tanaya’s Table and for your support as I embark on this adventure, below is the recipe I created for the ebook.

I wanted to create a recipe that brings a comfort food classic and a fun go-to appetizer together, and I also love anything with a little kick. The secret ingredient here is actually garlic. It adds a depth to the flavor, while the extra bread crumbs give the crunch that comes from biting into a jalapeño popper. I love creating food with a twist, and pushing people to try something slightly out of their comfort zone. My hope is that you enjoy this fun dish with a kick as much as those whom I tested multiple versions on did (thank you to my family and friends, a.k.a. loving guinea pigs!):

Jalapeno Popper Mac N Cheese Recipe - Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
Recipe created by Tanaya Ghosh to benefit the L.A. Regional Food Bank

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
8 ounces large elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 large jalapeño peppers, 1 diced and 1 sliced into rings (de-seed for less heat)
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
8 ounces grated pepper jack cheese
4 ounces plain cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cook pasta according to package directions, to just al dente. Drain and set the pasta aside in the pot.

While the pasta cooks, heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. As the butter melts, whisk in the flour. Add the garlic and diced jalapeños. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth, bringing to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and add sea salt to taste. Gradually whisk in pepper jack and cream cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted smoothly into a thicker sauce.

Fold sauce into cooked pasta, coating thoroughly. Spread into a 9-inch-square greased baking dish. Sprinkle with sharp cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. Arrange jalapeño slices over the top and bake for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and top forms a crust. Enjoy!

If you’d like to help the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and its mission by supporting our ebook, please let me know what you think! If you love it, please do share it. It would mean the world! Plus, I’d love to see your macaroni and cheese creations on social media by tagging @TanayaG on Twitter or @mstanayag on Instagram, and using the hashtag #30macncheese. I’d be glad to share your creative photos, and I’d love to see how your recipe renditions turned out!

Next up: I’ve got an interview with the CEO and founder of Coolhaus Ice Cream, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of an organic farm opening its doors (bushes?) to the public for DIY blueberry picking! Until next time….

~T

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