My friend and food blogger Lady Ducayne has two, count ‘em, two websites tucked neatly under her belt: The original Lady Ducayne blog and now as the highlighted restaurant blogger for SantaClarita.com, SCV Eats with Lady Ducayne Blog. Lady Ducayne, who prefers to work anonymously, has succinctly reigned in all of the attention from local restaurants…luckily for me, she doesn’t drink. (2017 Editor’s Note: Lady Ducayne reviews can now be found at http://eatscv.com/)
I met the Lady herself through one of her tweet-ups that she sometimes organizes to introduce her followers to a Lady Ducayne-approved restaurant. I learned from that first meeting and through reading her blog that she doesn’t pull any punches when met with mediocre dish and never fails to praise when a chef makes a dish bloom.
So here are my five questions that I thought SCV Beacon readers would want the answers to:
EB: I know that your reviews are your opinions alone, but it’s clearly obvious that you are a “foodie.” Tell us, how did you learn so much about food?
LD: I always say I’m just a hungry girl with a camera, and I’ve been that way ever since I can remember! The credit goes to my parents, because from such a young age they always took me out to try the latest and greatest eats throughout Los Angeles, and beyond. We also traveled a lot, whether it was a quick road trip up the coast, or gaining some stamps on my passport, I feel that those experiences shaped who I am today. I’m a traveler, not a tourist, and even street food in a different country has never let me down.
Now that I’m older, I’ve learned so much more about how the restaurant industry works and what goes on inside a professional kitchen from my better half. He is a professional cook and currently works at a well regarded, award-winning restaurant on Fairfax in Los Angeles. I’m not as quick to judge a place anymore, and when something goes wrong during a meal, or I complain about something seemingly trivial, he explains the possible causes to me. I feel this helps my writing in that I can see things more objectively.
EB: You don’t call restaurants ahead, and arrange for interviews over their best dishes like other reporters do. Can you tell us why?
LD: I don’t consider myself a reporter, I’m just a customer with a camera. Ever since I can remember, friends have always asked me where they should go out to eat, and the blog started as a place to make it easier to show them. I also feel that you get a more genuine experience that way. A large majority of my posts are just from me going to lunch after work or heading out to dinner with a group of friends. My motive for going to these places is that I was hungry and needed a place to eat, since I don’t cook at home. I just happen to always have my camera in my purse. If a place is worth writing about (be it good or bad) then I’ll do it. I just want to keep it genuine and not forget the essence of why I started the blog.
EB: Professional photographs always accompany your reviews. Is it difficult to remain anonymous in a restaurant when you whip out a real camera instead of a cell phone to take your mouth-watering photos?
LD: Yes! I have a DSLR and I try to be as discreet as possible when taking photos, which is incredibly difficult! I also want to snap the perfect photo before the food gets cold so I try to be quick and stealthy. Funny, because I always joke that I know my friends don’t read my blog, they just look at the photos.
EB: Tell us what some of your favorite SCV restaurants are.
LD: My favorite restaurant in Santa Clarita is Sabor Cocina Mexicana located in the Bridgeport Marketplace. It reminds me of my travels to San Miguel de Allende. For a quick after school meal, you can find me at Rustic Eatery eating a prime cut sandwich on house made bread, served with a side of fresh cut fries. I’ve actually overheard a couple of customers come in and mention to the owner that they read about Rustic from “Lady Ducayne’s website” and I just get so embarrassed and quietly keep eating my sandwich. I’m flattered, of course, but I still think my friends are the only ones that visit the site.
EB: Of the restaurants in town that haven’t fared well in your reviews, what were some of the reasons? Lack or originality? Fresh ingredients? Service?
LD: Getting decent service is a huge problem in Santa Clarita. Lack of communication between front of house and back of house is evident in many local restaurants. At a majority of the places that have come and gone from SCV, the common factor I’ve noticed is that the owners seemed to be more interested in looking good and walking around and talking about themselves, instead of focusing on the food coming out of the kitchen. In LA, Bill Chait is a successful restaurateur, but he’s not above bussing a dirty table or refilling a water glass. When I go to a place, I like to see real heart and genuine concern in providing a great experience to diners, which is why I like supporting mom and pop restaurants locally. I try to avoid chains, except once a year when I get the Red Lobster cheddar biscuit craving.
If a place is absolutely dreadful, and I decide to post about it, I’ll omit the name or make it a blind item. I haven’t done that in a while because I haven’t had a terrible experience lately, and if I did then it wasn’t worth writing about. Most of those places don’t last long anyway. Having said that, I just ate the worst slice of tiramisu in my life over by Tesoro del Valle. I’ve been contemplating a post titled “Sad Tiramisu” but haven’t quite figured out how I want to go about it. I feel like that place lacks customers so they just gave up. The pastries look sad, the workers look bored, and no care is taken into plating or presentation. If you go through the trouble and risk involved in opening a restaurant, a little heart and soul (and research) goes a long way. Open a cookbook, look at what pastry chefs are doing at their own bakeries, find inspiration, and customers will come.
EB: I couldn’t help myself, but in adding a sixth question, I have to know why the name Lady Ducayne?
I don’t get that question as often as one would think so thanks for asking! I majored in English Literature as an undergrad, and right around the time period I was contemplating a blog, my professor assigned a short story titled Good Lady Ducayne by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I couldn’t come up with a name for my site (and didn’t want to use my real name of course) but as I was procrastinating on my reading assignment, and probably doodling in the margins, it just clicked, and that’s how I became known as Lady Ducayne.
As we welcome the beginning of spring, IKEA invites family and friends to celebrate the Easter holiday with its annual Swedish Påskbord. On Friday, April 7, 2017, join participating IKEA stores nationwide** for an all-you-can-eat smörgåsbord buffet filled with traditional Swedish classic food offerings such as Swedish meatballs, smoked salmon, assorted Swedish cheeses and many other savory favorites. Tickets are available for only $16.99 per person / $4.99 for kids 12 and under, or at a discounted rate for IKEA FAMILY members ($12.99 per person / $2.99 for kids 12 and under).
“Påskbord is an Easter tradition in Sweden that is celebrated with friends and family,” says Patricia Meumann, IKEA Food Manager. “We are very excited to invite everyone to join us in experiencing this special piece of our Swedish culture.”
The IKEA Påskbord menu*** includes:
Hard boiled eggs with mayo and shrimp
Marinated salmon with mustard sauce
Smoked salmon with horseradish sauce
Assorted Swedish cheeses
Tossed green salad
Crispbread, crisp rolls, soft bread and thin bread
Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes or broiled potatoes with dill
Desserts & Beverages
Assorted Swedish desserts and cookies
Fountain beverages and hot beverages
Seating is limited, so those who are interested in attending are encouraged to purchase tickets early at their local IKEA store. To locate and contact your nearest IKEA store for more details, including local seating times, visit the “Store Locator” page on http://www.IKEA-USA.com and enter your city/state or zip code.
Those who are unable to attend the event can still experience Swedish Easter traditions at home! Visit the Swedish Food Market in your local IKEA U.S. store to purchase select items from the Påskbord menu, including KÖTTBULLAR Swedish meatballs, or to explore and try ingredients for other Swedish recipes, such as salmon and avocado salad.
Salmon and Avocado Salad
Ingredients & Supplies
- 500g LAX FILÉ salmon fillet
- 2 avocados
- Approx. 5.25 oz. haricots verts
- Mixed green salad
- 1 lime
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- Chili powder
- Bring 1 quart of lightly salted water to boil. Boil the haricots verts for 2 min., then keep under running water until cool.
- Heat a frying pan or grill pan.
- Season the defrosted salmon fillets with salt, black pepper, paprika and chili.
- Grill each side of the salmon fillets for approx. 1 minute, high heat. Leave to cool.
- Turn the beans with the green salad in a bowl and add olive oil, salt and black pepper. Squeeze half a lime in the bowl. Distribute the contents of the bowl on 4 plates and add pieces of the equivalent of half an avocado to each plate.
- Cut salmon fillets into smaller pieces and distribute on the salad on each plate and serve. Add an optional sauce, for example SÅS PEPPARROT horseradish sauce.
- IKEA FAMILY is a benefits program that offers membership perks including special product discounts, sneak previews, free coffee and tea in the IKEA Restaurant, and more. Consumers can sign up for the free program online or in-store.
** Not available at the IKEA Carson store.
*** Menu is subject to change due to product availability.
Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design and function at low prices so the majority of people can afford them. There are currently more than 392 IKEA stores in 48 countries, including 43 in the U.S. IKEA incorporates sustainability into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment. For more information see IKEA-USA.com, @IKEAUSANews, @IKEAUSA or IKEAUSA on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.
California’s Central Coast hosts a global celebration of Chardonnay
December 9, 2015 (Pismo Beach, CA) –The world’s foremost gathering of Chardonnay producers, The International Chardonnay Symposium (TheChardonnaySymposium.com), will feature a line-up of top global Chardonnay winemakers, sommeliers, media, trade, foodies and wine enthusiasts during this year’s events, May 12-14, 2016. The Symposium will take place in the classic California beach towns of Pismo Beach and Avila Beach with a grand tasting at the picturesque Greengate Ranch & Vineyard (GreengateWeddings.com) in Edna Valley wine country.
- Wente Clone Comparative Tasting
- What’s Oak Got to Do With It?
- Pairing Chardonnay With Artisanal Cheese
- Digging In: An International Look at the Effects of Terroir
Additional events include a Vintners’ Wine Tech Symposium, Sommelier Chardonnay Challenge, Grand Tasting, La Paulée Dinner and Awards Ceremony and new to this year’s event, the Pét-Nat, Sparkling Wine and Oysters Gala. Early-bird tickets to the Saturday Grand Tasting are available and can be purchased by visiting TheChardonnaySymposium.com.
Complimentary tickets for qualified media to the three-day event can be requested by emailing TCS@ParkerSanpei.com.
About The International Chardonnay Symposium
The International Chardonnay Symposium attracts winemakers, sommeliers, media, trade, foodies, wine enthusiasts and tastemakers from across the globe to enjoy and study the world’s favorite grape. When the discussion ends, there’s plenty of time for exploring nearby Central Coast wineries as well as the hosting seaside resort towns of Pismo Beach and Avila Beach that offer downtown winetasting rooms, pristine beaches, surfing and kayaking, hiking and biking trails, farm-to-table and seaport-inspired cuisine, boutique shopping, and more. The International Chardonnay Symposium is sponsored by The Tasting Panel Magazine, The SOMM Journal, Pismo Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau, Avila Beach Tourism Alliance, and the California Highway 1 Discovery Route. For more information, visit TheChardonnaySymposium.com.
About Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, & Highway 1 Discovery Route of SLO County
San Luis Obispo County’s Pismo Beach, Avila Beach and the Highway 1 Discovery Route destination towns are located on California’s famous Central Coast, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. With miles of pristine Pacific coastline, enjoy great weather, a plethora of outdoor activities, rich wild life and nature preserves, downtown wine tasting rooms, and the neighboring world class wine producing regions of the Edna Valley, Avila Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Santa Maria Valley and Paso Robles. For information on the wide variety of lodging choices, accommodating every budget and lifestyle, visit Classiccalifornia.com, VisitAvilaBeach.com and Highway1DiscoveryRoute.com.
Paso Robles, CA— Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery has expanded its regular tasting offerings to include a new Wine and Food Pairing Experience as well as a selection of tapas plates that pair with the winery’s estate wines.
The Vina Robles Wine and Food Pairing Experience showcases a flight of five limited-production wines each paired with a small, delectable bite. The fall/winter pairing menu starts off with a “puddle” of soft-ripened Crescenza cheese drizzled with orange-infused olive oil and crushed red pepper paired with the Vina Robles 2013 Verdelho – Huerhuero. Continuing with savory pairings featuring bresaola and dates, the tasting ends on a sweet note with an almond macaroon filled with whipped chocolate ganache paired with the winery’s 2012 Segredo dessert wine.
The Wine and Food Pairing Experiences are guided by one of Vina Robles’ Hospitality Center Hosts who will help guests explore the world of aromas and how certain flavors can complement each other to highlight the wines. This tasting is an ideal way to entice experienced foodies to explore new and exciting pairings. Food and wine pairing novices receive the opportunity to learn how to create their own matches, taking with them the confidence to decide what wines to order at a restaurant or create their own memorable pairings at home.
As a nod to the winery’s Swiss heritage, visitors will find European-inspired items incorporated into both the Wine & Food Pairing Experience as well as the tapas menu, such as Raclette, a sumptuous traditional Swiss dish of melted cheese. Other tapas selections include crostini with Speck and Piave, hummus plate, olives, almonds, and a charcuterie plate.
Pricing for the tapas selections range from $6 to $35, the Food and Wine Pairing Experience is priced at $40 (discounts offered to Vina Robles Signature Wine Club members). Tastings and tapas are offered daily at the Vina Robles Hospitality Center located at 3700 Mill Road, off Highway 46 East, in Paso Robles from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. summer and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. winter. Reservations are encouraged for the Wine and Food Pairing Experience.
About Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery: European Inspiration – California Character. Vina Robles crafts wines that represent a stylistic bridge between the Old and New worlds, capturing the finesse associated with European wines while celebrating the bold natural flavors of their estate vineyards in Paso Robles. Here, proprietor Hans Nef and managing partner Hans – R. Michel bring their Swiss heritage to California’s Central Coast, where they aim to unite the best of both experiences. For more information, visit www.vinarobles.com.
SUTTER HOME FAMILY VINEYARDS AWARDS OVER $50,000 IN PRIZES AT THE 24TH ANNUAL BUILD A BETTER BURGER® RECIPE CONTEST
Harrison Wheeler from Boynton Beach, Florida Takes Home the Grand Prize for his Heart & Soul of Korea Burger
St. Helena, Calif. – As the official BBQ and grilling season kicks off, Sutter Home Family Vineyards announces that Harrison Wheeler from Boynton Beach, Florida was crowned the $25,000 grand prize winner at last week’s Sutter Home Build a Better Burger® Cook Off in St. Helena, California with his Heart & Seoul of Korea Burger.
On May 14, 2015, Sutter Home’s rock-star panel of judges were won over with the flavorful Heart & Seoul of Korea Burger topped with a peanut basil slaw and gochujang mayonnaise.
Laura Werlin, Build a Better Burger Emcee, noted after sampling the burger during judging, “Now THIS, I want to order in a restaurant.” The judges agreed.
Cristen Clark commented on the unusual ingredient, “Who would have thought Spam would be good in a burger – but just the right amount of texture and salt to complete the burger. It paired perfectly with the deep dark Sutter Home Zinfandel.” Chef Rusty Hamlin from Louisiana was a fan of the spice, noting, “Of all the burgers this one had the most flavor – goes straight to my roots of liking that heat! The flavor lingered until the next burger came out.” Tracy Benjamin said she “loved the crunch of the peanuts.” Celebrity Chef Eric Greenspan tasted the Heart & Seoul of Korea burger, which was next to last, and noted, “The next burger better be dope – or we have a winner.” He was right.
“It was fun creating this recipe, and I am thrilled that the judges enjoyed my burger creation,” noted Grand Prize Winner, Harrison Wheeler, “I love wine, and I am a self-proclaimed foodie, so it was an honor to have the opportunity to compete in Sutter Home’s recipe contest.”
The panel of judges named the Whistler Village Poutine Burger from Ann Elkina of Farmington Hills, Michigan as the Runner-Up Burger and $15,000 prize winner. Werlin called it “Onion Soup Fondue in Burger Form.” Greenspan commented, “I really tasted the meat. This one stayed true to ‘I’m just a burger.” Judge Dr. Sharon Ufberg, added, “I liked the pairing with the Sutter Home Chardonnay – It was perfect and I didn’t expect it.”
After hearing the good news, Elkina exclaimed, “I am so excited to be a Build a Better Burger winner! I love to cook, and I am so grateful that my passion for food and great flavors was apparent to the judges.” When asked how she was going to spend the $15,000 prize, Elkin noted “I love to travel, so I plan on taking a trip to Spain!”
Leading up to the cook-off, Sutter Home consumers and burger fans across the nation voted for their favorite burger and named the Chorizo Beef burger submitted by Pricilla Yee of Concord, California, this year’s $10,000 People’s Choice Winner. Chef Rusty, again the spice fan said, “Who doesn’t love Chorizo with that Southwest kick in it?” Clark noted, “The combination of the orange and the burger made the wine pop.” Upon hearing the great news, Yee commented, “I am extremely humbled and thankful.”
The 2014 Sutter Home Build a Better Burger® Recipe Contest winners were selected by this year’s panel of judges, including:
- Rusty Hamlin: The executive chef for the Zac Brown Brand and host of the renowned pre-concert catered party, the “Eat & Greet.”
- Eric Greenspan: A recognized chef and owner of 3 top LA Restaurants who has competed on Celebrity Cutthroat Kitchen and Iron Chef America.
- Cristen Clark: Last year’s Sutter Home Build a Better Burger® Recipe Contest Best Alternative Burger Winner with the $15,000 Sour Apple Pork Burger.
- Dr. Sharon Ufberg: A lifestyle journalist who writes for various print and online publications about women, wellness, music and wine.
- Tracy Benjamin: Founder of the fun and colorful blog, Shutterbean.
This year’s panel of judges was moderated by Laura Werlin, one of the country’s foremost authorities on cheese. She is the award-winning author of six books on the subject, is a sought-after speaker and spokesperson for consumer and trade organizations, and is a frequent television and radio guest.
Wendy Nyberg, vice president of marketing for Sutter Home, added “The judges were amazing this year. Including celebrity chefs, bloggers and a pork farmer, they really know what makes a great burger. We were honored to have Laura Werlin as our Emcee. As the author of James Beard Award-winning, “The All American Cheese and Wine Book,” she is not only a cheese expert but a wine expert – and that is really why we are all here.”
With the close of the 2014 contest, casual cooks around the nation have the opportunity to enter the 2015 Sutter Home Build a Better Burger® Recipe Contest, which opened on March 30th, 2015 and will run through September 8th, 2015. Prizes for the 2015 contest includes a $25,000 grand prize, $5,000 for the winner of the People’s Choice Award and $1,000 towards the purchase of Weber products. Consumers can also participate in a Build a Better Burger® text-to-win sweepstakes for the chance to win $25 grocery gift cards. Visit www.sutterhome.com for more information.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger® Recipe Contest has invited cooks from around the country to submit their original creative, flavorful burger recipes for a chance to win. The 2015 recipe contest is now open for submissions. Recipes can be entered at www.sutterhome.com.
Over the years, the popular recipe contest has collected thousands of mouth-watering burger recipes, allowing Sutter Home to create the BurgerBase®, the world’s largest collection of burger recipes. The BurgerBase® also serves as inspiration for contestants, as judges look for original and inspired recipes that are packed with flavor.
About Sutter Home’s Build a Better Burger® Recipe Contest
In 1990, Sutter Home uncorked the wine industry’s first major recipe contest: Sutter Home Build a Better Burger® Recipe Contest. By pairing one of America’s favorite wines with America’s favorite food—the burger—Sutter Home helps to demystify the challenge of pairing wine with food and encourages everyday cooks to create their own recipes and pairings. Since then, Sutter Home has awarded more than $1.3MM in prizes to home cooks across the U.S.
Sponsors of the 2015 Sutter Home Build a Better Burger® Recipe Contest, include Dole, PopChips, KC Masterpiece, Alexia, and The Pork Board, KitchenAid and Weber-Stephen Products LLC.
About Sutter Home
When the Trinchero family bought the Sutter Home Winery in 1948, they had a vision, a passion, and an insight into consumer tastes. In the early 1970s, Sutter Home started a trend when the company created White Zinfandel, introducing a new, sweeter flavor profile and changed the way Americans enjoyed wine by offering high-quality varietals at an affordable price. By the 1980s and 1990s, Sutter Home became a household name and the second largest independent family-run winery in the United States. In 2005, the winery was the first to produce the groundbreaking single-serve, 187ml in light-weight plastic bottles, and was one of the first wineries to produce Moscato over 60 years ago. For more information visit www.SutterHome.com.
Enjoy the Sophisticated, Earthy Luxury of Celestino Ristorante’s New Seasonal Mushroom & Truffle Menu
Pasadena, CA – Truffles. To the untrained eye, this nondescript ingredient may resemble a lump of coal, but those in the know obsessively await the arrival of the coveted garnish. With his new Seasonal Mushroom & Truffle Menu, no one highlights the glory of the truffle better than Calogero Drago, Owner & Executive Chef of Celestino Ristorante in Pasadena. To true foodies, this one simple word ignites a plethora of sensual, luxurious memories that come only once a year – and that time is NOW (through the end of March 2015)!
The Seasonal Mushroom & Truffle Menu at Celestino Ristorante kicks off with morels. Most commonly found in their dried form, morel mushrooms are only available fresh for just a very brief period each year. The rich, meaty flavor and texture of these fresh honeycombed ‘shrooms are portrayed with a rather simplistic elegance in dishes such as Tagliolini with Fresh Morel Mushrooms and Pecorino Cheese. Make sure to savor the flavor of early spring in the Veal Scaloppini with Fresh Fava Beans & Fresh Morel Mushrooms, or delight in Chef Drago’s famed risotto with the Risotto with Baby Scallops and Fresh Morel Mushrooms.
Next up on the menu is the porcini mushroom, whose pungent forest-floor flavor is special because it only grows wild. Celestino Ristorante showcases this “wild child” in a myriad of dishes. Enjoy it simply grilled and tossed in house-made pappardelle or risotto, or indulge in more complex entrees like the tender Roasted Rack of Veal with Fresh Porcini Mushrooms, as well as Porcini Mushroom Soup with Black Truffle, a great pairing with another late-winter delicacy.
No, we have not forgotten the king of all mushrooms, the beloved truffle itself. Celestino Ristorante’s Seasonal Mushroom & Truffle Menu features five truffle options, including Veal Carpaccio with Fresh Shaved Truffle & Pecorino Cheese, Risotto with Fresh Shaved Truffle, Gnocchi Stuffed with Mushroom in a Truffle Cheese Sauce and Filet of Sole with Mixed Vegetables and Shaved Truffles. But the most luxurious option is Drago’s absolute favorite: Tortellini with Meat in a Saffron, Pecorino and Black Pepper Sauce with Fresh Truffle. “Truffles will go with just about anything, but this tortellini dish is my favorite,” Drago says.
For those who want to take luxury to an even higher level, Celestino Ristorante also has the incredibly rare white truffle on hand. Availability is very limited, so ask your server for the daily white truffle specials.
Ready to taste the best of the mushroom kingdom? Reserve your table at Celestino Ristorante before the end of March 2015. You won’t want to miss this – it is true poetry on the palate!
Celestino Ristorante is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm and for dinner from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm Monday through Thursday, 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm Friday, 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm Saturday and 5:00 pm to 10:30 pm Sunday. The Seasonal Mushroom & Truffle Menu is available through the end of March. For information or reservations, please call 626.795.4006 or visit www.CelestinoPasadena.com.
For photos of Celestino Ristorante’s Seasonal Mushroom & Truffle Menu, please visit the Dropbox link below:
141 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101