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: Inside Koala Tapioca, Westwood’s Newest Eatery + Boba Spot

TT Koala Tapioca Jasmine Sea Salt Green Tea Boba

The Taiwanese-Vietnamese fusion café concept that started as a food truck just opened in brick and mortar form, right in Westwood.

I decided to take my fellow Bruin friend Anshu along with me to our old stomping grounds to check out the media preview event for the new joint, Koala Tapioca.

Looking back on our four years at UCLA (and plenty of excursions in Westwood), it’s crazy to think how much has changed in the area. However, with the addition of Koala Tapioca to the Westwood Village scene, it’s safe to say that this place is a valuable addition.

Check out the one-minute video for the inside scoop (and sip!) on the hottest new cafe in Westwood.

Check out the one-minute video for the inside scoop (and sip!) on the hottest new cafe in Westwood.

Koala Tapioca was founded by recent UCLA graduates David and Vincent, who had a solid business strategy coming straight out of college.

While their brick and mortar location was in the works with construction and permits, the duo used that time to get a food truck going to do some market testing with their product.

TT Koala Tapioca  Popcorn Chicken

Popcorn Chicken with Fried Sweet Basil

They perfected their food with low overhead costs, while also building a solid social media following in the meantime.

The truck, previously called Koala Tea, was a hit… and now they’re ready to open their doors, with great momentum behind them in the form of loyal foodie fans and Twitter followers.

Banh Mi

Banh Mi

Koala Tapioca offers a variety of unique and traditional coffee and tea drinks (with boba, if you’d like!) as well as Taiwanese and Vietnamese food. The fact that they have free Wi-Fi and board games is just the cherry on top! All I can say is I wish we had this place when I was at UCLA.

Check out the video above for a peek at the tasty snacks and drinks that this awesome little spot in the heart of Westwood has to offer.

TT Koala Tapioca  Snacks Drinks Spread

You can find more information on visiting Koala Tapioca here. Stay tuned for a Dine LA Restaurant Week new opening post coming soon. Cheers 🙂

Behind The Counter: See’s Candies Opens At Newport Beach Fashion Island

See the video below for a *sweet* look behind the counter at the newest See's location!

See the video below for a *sweet* look behind the counter at the newest See’s location!

Here are a few of my favorite things: Chocolate, I Love Lucy, and behind-the-scenes, hands-on experiences (if you couldn’t tell from my previous posts!).

So, when I got the chance to attend a pre-opening See’s Candies party with fellow blogger friends at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, I jumped at the chance.

I was especially excited to learn that we’d get to go behind the counter and assemble our own boxes of See’s chocolates. The first thing I thought of was the “Job Switching” episode of I Love Lucy when Lucy and Ethel work at a chocolate factory and hilarious shenanigans ensue with the speedy chocolate conveyor belt.

Turns out, that episode was filmed at the historic See’s Candies factory on La Cienega in Los Angeles!

TT Sees Candies Bordeaux

What seems to give See’s chocolates their distinct taste is their chocolate-making process, which remains consistent since the first store opening back in 1921. See’s is one of the remaining few, if not the only one, to still age its chocolate. No wonder they sell over 26 million pounds of chocolate each year!

We learned how to pack the chocolates into our boxes just like the See’s workers are expertly trained to do, and got to take home quite a few goodies as a result! So many, in fact, that it will last me a good week… unless I decide to get chocolate wasted.

TT Sees Candies Pecan

As for flavors, I got the Apple Pie & Pecan Pie seasonal holiday truffles, as well as Butterscotch (for my mom), Maple Walnut, Dark Butterchew, Dark Bordeaux (my all-time See’s favorite!!), Pecan Bud (like a turtle), plus the Peanut Butter Crunch and Strawberry flavors to make a custom creation.

Check out the behind-the-counter video below to find out what it is!

Check out this 1-minute video to go behind the counter with me at the newest See's Candies location!

Check out this 1-minute video and come behind the counter with me at the newest See’s Candies location!

What’s great about going into a See’s Candies store anytime is that you will always be treated to a free sample when you visit. With over 100 sweet varieties at each location, you can visit every day and still never get bored!

Of the multitude of chocolatey choices, See’s has kept the Bon Bon, Maple Walnut Cream, Chocolate Walnut Fudge and Victoria Toffee recipes exactly the same throughout the decades. Sometimes you just can’t change a classic.

Their top five best sellers are the Milk Bordeaux (I personally adore the dark version), the Scotchmallow, the California Brittle, the Pecan Buds and the Almond Buds. Which are your favorites?

...or do you like ALL of them? (photo via Huffington Post)

…or do you like ALL of them? (via Huffington Post)

While we’re going back in time, if you’d like Huell Howser to show you around the See’s factory from back in the day, check out this See’s Candy – California’s Gold episode.

Back to the present: the Fashion Island store just held its grand opening the very next day after I filmed the video above, and is located near Macy’s in Fashion Island at 401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660.

I already can’t wait to get back to try some more flavors… and to get another Dark Bordeaux chocolate truffle while I’m at it! See you there ;).

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New Opening Sneak Peek: Ice Cream Lab Comes To Pasadena

Come with me behind the counter for a sneak of Ice Cream Lab's newest location. (Had to represent for the Lakers since today was the season opener!)

VIDEO: Come with me behind the counter for a sneak of Ice Cream Lab’s newest location. (Had to represent for the Lakers since today was the season opener!)

What if your ice cream could be made to order, going from the creamy liquid base to the frozen treat you know and love… in mere seconds?

Look no further, because Ice Cream Lab makes its desserts with liquid nitrogen, freezing your ice cream right before your eyes in a mystical cloud of nitrogen smoke (vapor, if you want to get technical).

What’s even better is that more Southern Californians will get to experience this magical ice cream, because Ice Cream Lab Pasadena opens its doors for its grand opening tomorrow at noon.

The mayor will do the ribbon cutting and they’ll be giving away free ice cream all day. Their ice cream comes in traditional flavors and creative combinations like Salt Lick Crunch, Blue Velvet and Banilla.

A breakdown of each of the three year-round specialty flavors (also shown in the video above):

  • Salt Lick Crunch – Organic vanilla bean ice cream blended with crushed salted pretzels and homemade caramel sauce, topped with sea salt
  • Blue Velvet – Organic vanilla bean ice cream blended with homemade blue velvet cupcakes and cream cheese frosting
  • Banilla – Organic vanilla bean ice cream blended with organic locally grown bananas, homemade caramel sauce and crushed Nilla wafers
Flavors: Blue Velvet, Strawberry and Salt Lick Crunch

Flavors: Blue Velvet, Strawberry, Salt Lick Crunch

I’ve been to the Beverly Hills location a few times, and uncharacteristically (since I usually love to try different things) I end up getting my ultimate favorite, the Salt Lick Crunch, almost every time. I’ve sometimes snuck spoonfuls of other flavors from my friends before, but it was nice to be able to get a taste of the entire original menu at this private pre-opening tasting they hosted for me!

The strawberry had real pieces of strawberries in it, and you could taste the freshness of each of the flavors. However, my ultimate favorite still stands, as the Salt Lick Crunch is just exceptional! The creamy ice cream studded with crunchy, salty pretzel bits just hits the spot… and that drizzle of oozing caramel over the top doesn’t hurt, either. 😉

I also had the chance to go behind the counter to see up-close how they make their ice cream, and boy is that liquid nitrogen cold… between -346°F and -320.44°F to be exact! You can check out the crazy amounts of liquid nitrogen smoke in action in the 1-minute video above.

Behind the counter liquid nitrogen action

Behind-the-counter liquid nitrogen action

The staff was friendly and warm, and the decor is similar to the larger Beverly Hills location, with quirky graffiti-style murals in icy blue tones. The interior is otherwise sleek and white, fitting well with the molecular gastronomy theme of their product.

What I love most about Ice Cream Lab is that they use locally sourced fresh ingredients that you can see and taste — none of those suspicious-looking artificially flavored and colored bottles spotted at some other liquid nitrogen ice cream spots. They also use kosher ingredients and don’t use any additives. Can’t complain about that!

Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry and Cookies & Cream are also on the menu, with vegan options like sorbets and more to come, including a seasonal vegan pumpkin flavor. After a few weeks, the Pasadena location will be serving seasonal flavors too, like the Beverly Hills location now does.

Birthday tip: They give you a free waffle cone on your special day, as well as a free Ice Cream Lab tote bag. Check out the other swag they have in the video above!

The glorious Salt Lick Crunch has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy

The glorious Salt Lick Crunch has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy

The second Ice Cream Lab, opening in Old Town, is located at 16 S. Fair Oaks Ave. Pasadena, CA. You can also check out the Ice Cream Lab website for more information.

Ice Cream Lab also plans to open a third location in Little Tokyo in the near future. The Pasadena grand opening is tomorrow, so get yourself some ice cream… because it’s always ice cream season here in L.A.

New Restaurant Sneak Peek: SoCal Gets Its First Steak ‘N Shake

Get the inside scoop before anyone else on the first Steak 'n Shake to arrive in Cali. Dancing waiters, DIY eggnog-beer floats and more!

Get the inside scoop before anyone else in this video recap of the first Steak ‘n Shake to arrive in Cali. Dancing waiters, DIY eggnog-beer floats and more!

Midwest-to-L.A. transplants — or just about anyone who’s had the privilege of trying Steak ‘n Shake — will be happy to know that you don’t have to drive to Vegas to get your Steakburger and milkshake fix. There’s a new burger joint in town opening tomorrow, and it will mark the long-awaited arrival of the legendary 80-year-old burger chain from the Midwest.

I had the chance to attend the pre-opening party for Steak ‘n Shake earlier tonight, and we got to order anything and everything off their full menu while a DJ spun party tunes loud enough for the waiters and guests to break out into impromptu dance (see video above).

Having been to the Steak ‘n Shake located inside the Las Vegas South Point Hotel & Casino once before and enjoying it, I have to say that this Third Street Promenade location is a great one. It’s sleek and modern (with LED screens and a couple of those fancy billion-choice soda machines), but also retains that nostalgic diner vibe. The servers are friendly and fun-loving, and seem to really enjoy accommodating guests.

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

You can also dine al fresco, as the eatery occupies a prime corner location with patio seating on both sides. It’s a nice view of the Third Street Promenade and the iconic string lights in its trees.

Upon entering, you order at the counter and take a seat, then sit back and wait for them to bring your meal to you. It’s fast-casual, with the right amount of attentive service and do-it-yourself ordering.

We tried the Frisco Melt (my personal favorite!), Signature Steakburger and the Original Double ‘n Cheese. All of them were juicy and tasted fresh, from the vegetables to the bread.

We also tasted the chili cheese fries, parmesan herb and salt & vinegar fries, wine, beer and a cool, creamy seasonal eggnog milkshake. Talk about food coma!

Check it all out here (or in the one-minute video above):

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

The Steak ‘n Shake full menu with pricing, wine selection and beer on tap (click to enlarge)

 

Tanayas Table Steak n Shake Steakburger

The Signature Steakburger with grilled onions and parmesan & herb fries

 

Tanayas Table Steak n Shake Meal

Eggnog seasonal milkshake (it’s a winner!), red wine, Santa Monica Brew Works local beer, chili cheese fries and the Original Double ‘n Cheese burger

 

Tanayas Table Steak n Shake Steakburger inside

Inside the Signature Steakburger

Oh, by the way… the first 100 guests in line will get free Steak ‘n Shake for a year. The only Steak ‘n Shake in California opens its doors for its Grand Opening at 11 a.m. on 10/28 and is located at 1455 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA.

There may be a lot of great burger places in L.A. and even Santa Monica, but Steak ‘n Shake brings a friendly vibe and delicious, hearty yet fresh food in a modern yet nostalgic diner setting. It’s just more proof that all good things eventually come to Cali!

Check out the video above for all the action and stay tuned for a sneak peek at Ice Cream Lab, opening its doors later this week in Pasadena. Cheers!