What to eat (or not) at the Orange County Fair

My first strategy at the OC Fair was to follow the smoke. Where there’s smoke, there will also be good food. Or so it usually goes. I spotted the beef tri-tips smoldering on a grill. They looked awesome. They looked like real Santa Maria barbecue. I immediately got in line and ordered the tri-tip sandwich. It was gross…

Best Thing I Ate This Week: Salade Nicoise

A lot has changed at the St. Regis Monarch Beach lately. For starters, it’s now just the Monarch Beach Resort, with a brand new, very beachy look throughout. The restaurant formerly known as Motif is now called Aveo, and that’s where I recently enjoyed one of the finest Nicoise salads I can recall.

O.C. Review: Sushi Hana re

The hostess sees me peeking through the window, so she opens the front door. “May I help you?” “Two for dinner?” I ask. I can see that almost every seat in the restaurant is already taken. “Just a moment,” she says. She walks across the very small room to whisper something to the chef. He …

OC Review: Old Crow Smokehouse, Huntington Beach

Old Crow is far and away the best restaurant to open thus far at Pacific City. The corporate chef is Tony Scruggs, a self-taught cook who competed on television’s “MasterChef” a few years back. Scruggs’ barbecue is probably best described as Chicago-style with influences ranging from Tennessee to Arkansas.

Quick Look: Pangkor Laut, Malaysia

There is no airport on the island of Pangkor Laut. There is merely a helipad and a dock. Getting there is half the fun. Here’s a quick look at this luxury private island resort off the coast of Malaysia. The resort’s helicopter met me at the Kuala Lumpur airport. I returned to the mainland by the resort’s private yacht.

One Perfect Morning: Playa del Carmen

I’ve just finished watching a the sunrise from the beach in Playa del Carmen. The coastline at dawn here is always eerily silent, the quietest it will be all day. For a few hours at most, no one is stirring. The dozens of bars and restaurants that line the shore appear abandoned, like a ghost town.

Photo of the week: Bangkok, Thailand

I shot this photo from Vertigo, the rooftop restaurant and bar atop the Banyan Tree hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. The city has an incredible rooftop bar scene, with outdoor bars on rooftops of skyscrapers all over the city. Vertigo was one of the first. Now there are dozens. The park in the foreground is Lumphini …

Best thing I ate this week: baby squid sushi

I told the chef “omakase,” meaning that I trust his judgement, I’m in his hands. And the first few courses were fairly predictable, as I’ve dined at the sushi counter at Shunka a dozen times before and knew more or less what to expect. But I also knew there would be a curveball at some point, and here it was: baby squid sushi.

Review: Playa Amor, Long Beach

I am constantly thrilled at the sight of a perfectly cooked lobster served with drawn butter. As far back as I can remember, this is a food that has fascinated me. It’s such a simple combination yet utterly luxurious. It’s something that works just as well in a fancy white-tablecloth restaurant as it does at a casual outdoor cantina on the beach.