Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Since living in Rome, Italy in 2008/2009, my husband Tim & I have found it difficult to go out for Italian meals here in Southern California. Not because the Italian food here isn't good. But, somehow it's just not the same. It's hard to put into words exactly why - all I can think of is that somewhere along its trans-Atlantic, trans-continental journey, much of the Italian cuisine we've experienced since moving back to California has felt like it's lost some of its 'soul' by the time it reaches us here on the West Coast of America. That was how we've felt for the past couple of years... until August 12th, when we found our senses magically transported back to our favorite Roman neighborhood restaurant by the talented, and very soulful, Chef Cathy Pavlos of Lucca Cafe in Irvine, CA.

Chef Cathy Pavlos: Executive Chef & Owner of Lucca Cafe in Irvine, CA
Dining in Italy is about so much more than just the food itself. Granted, the food is phenomenal, but it's also about the experience. To me, it's about gathering around a table with family & friends, relaxing, taking your time, enjoying good wine & good conversation and savoring every bite of course-after-course of fresh, seasonal food. And the food is gorgeous & not overly-complicated - 'less is more' - the produce & meats are allowed to shine & speak for themselves, and the flavors dance over your tongue as you feel warm, happy & alive.

I hadn't felt this way since dining with our family at our favorite local neighborhood ristorante, 'Sora Rosa', around the corner from where we lived in Rome. But, that all changed at Lucca Cafe this month. Chef Cathy Pavlos & the team at Lucca host a once-a-month family-style Sunday Supper that is everything Italian dining is supposed to be & more. Long family tables, four abundant courses, large platters of beautiful, locally-sourced seasonal food, wine flowing, the chef interacting with her guests... It is truly Paradiso!

Beautiful, locally-sourced, seasonal foods are a key to what makes Lucca Cafe's Sunday Suppers so amazing. These are the men behind the magic! Left: A.G. Kawamura of OC Produce | Right: Dave Samuels of Ingardia Bros. Produce
August's feast was entitled, "My Sunday Picnic with Alice: Sunday Supper inspired by Alice Waters."  Known as 'the mother of American Food', Alice Waters is the owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA and is famous for her use of organic, locally-grown ingredients. Chef Cathy's Sunday Supper Menu reflected this mentality, showcasing local produce at its finest paired with California wines.

Below, feast your eyes on a taste-through-photos of what we lucky diners at the August 12th Sunday Supper were fortunate enough to enjoy. And then be sure to follow Lucca Cafe on Facebook & Twitter, and sign up for the Lucca Cafe Newsletter, to stay on top of the latest Lucca news & to learn about upcoming Sunday Suppers. Buon appetito!

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Lucca Cafe Sunday Supper: August 12th, "My Sunday Picnic with Alice" inspired by Alice Waters | Right: Eggplant Caviar
Stuffed Cage-Free Eggs
Left: Tangent Paragon Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Edna Valley, CA | Right: Heirloom Tomato Salad with Marinated Beets & Stefano Burrata Cheese
Housemade Bacon Yorkshire Pudding Popovers served by Chef Cathy Pavlos of Lucca Cafe, Irvine
Sweet Corn Soup getting a swirl of Roasted Sweet Pepper Puree
Chef Cathy Pavlos presents her Sweet Corn Soup with puree of Roasted Sweet Peppers
Sweet Corn Soup with a puree of Roasted Sweet Peppers
Left: Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Viognier 2009 | Right: Fresh-Baked Zucchini Bread
Left: Consilience Santa Barbara Syrah 2010 | Right: New Potato Salad
Left: All-Natural Halal Chicken Cooked Under a Brick | Right: Glazed Purple Carrots
Chef Cathy Pavlos presents her All-Natural Halal Chicken Cooked Under a Brick
Left: Grilled Pork Rib Eye Steaks accompanied by Green Beans with Marjoram | Right: All-Natural Halal Chicken Cooked Under a Brick with Glazed Purple Carrots
And, for Dessert... Baked Farmers' Market Peaches with Handmade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Alice's Oatmeal Currant Cookies

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Sunday, August 5th, 2012 was a glorious day of sunshine, craft cocktails & gourmet pork-centric feasting thanks to the first-ever PigOut 1.0 hosted by 100eats100days & Broadway by Amar Santana at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort in Newport Beach, California. Over 15 of Orange County's top chefs & mixologists were in attendance & guests had an amazing time pigging-out while simultaneously raising funds for two noteworthy charities that support aspiring culinary artists: Inspire Artistic Minds & the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).

PigOut 1.0 Event Hosts, Chef Amar Santana of Broadway by Amar Santana (left) and Bobby Navarro of 100eats100days (right)
I was in hog heaven as I wandered from booth-to-booth, chatting with the chefs & bartenders, bumping into friends & devouring some of the most delicious pork I've ever tasted. Oh, and naturally my camera was strapped to my neck (As usual! I'm thinking of having it surgically implanted.), so I was in my food-photography-zone, capturing all that I could in-between bites & sips.

Below, you can feast your eyes on a recap-through-photos of this celebration of the swine. It truly was an amazing event and I can only hope for more like it in the future! So that said, be sure to follow 100eats100days on Facebook & Twitter for up-to-the-minute news on future events! **Oink! Oink!**

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Chef Amar of Broadway by Amar Santana
Broadway by Amar Santana
Pastry Chef Santanna Salas (left) and Chef Greg Daniels (right) of Haven Gastropub / Haven Collective
Chef Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub / Haven Collective carves a whole roasted suckling pig
Suckling Pig Taco by Haven Gastropub
Pork Fat Cupcakes, anyone?! Courtesy of Pastry Chef Santanna Salas, Haven Collective
Chef Mark McDonald of Old Vine Cafe
Bacon Chowder, Old Vine Cafe
Bacon Chowder (left) & Pork Chile Verde (right), Old Vine Cafe
Chef Dee Nguyen, Break of Dawn Restaurant
Break of Dawn Restaurant: Mexican Chocolate Custard topped with Spicy Candied Bacon
The amazing Break of Dawn Braised Bacon: Pork belly cured for 7 days in ginger, rosemary & black pepper, dried overnight, smoked, and then braised in the oven until mind-blowingly tender & juicy.
Chef Aron Habiger of The Crosby
The Crosby's Beautiful Buche {pig esophagus} 'Deconstructed Street Taco'
The Crosby
Chef Sea Kyeong Kim of Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's
White Kimchee-Korean Miso Braised Pork by Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's
Chef Sea Kyeong Kim of Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's (left) | White Kimchee-Korean Miso Braised Pork (right)
Chef Deborah Schneider of Sol Cocina & author of 'The Mexican Slow-Cooker' serves-up her amazing Mexican-inspired pork dishes
Pork 6 ways on one plate, Sol Cocina
Sol Cocina
Chef Ryan Adams of Laguna's 370 Common workin' the plancha
370 Common
Chef Ryan Adams of 370 Common
Chef Casey Overton of The Loft Restaurant at Montage Laguna Beach
The team from the always-amazing Pizzeria Ortica
Pizzeria Ortica's Bruchetta with creamy mozzarella, arugula pesto & fried pig ear by Chef Justin Miller
Chef Jonathan Blackford of A Restaurant, Newport Beach
A Restaurant, Newport Beach
Chef Yvon Goetz of The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
The Team from Laguna's Cucina Alessa & Mare with Chef Alessandro Pirozzi
Laguna Beach's Cucina Alessa & Mare
The team from The Cellar & The Cheese Shop at The MIX making amazing gourmet 'nachos'
Craft Cocktail Time! Gabrielle Dion of Broadway by Amar Santana led the cocktail portion of the event
The Side Door / Five Crowns team: Mixologist Koire Rogers (left) & Chef Ryan O'Melveny Wilson (right)
Koire Rogers of Side Door presents the 'Red Dawn' cocktail made with Azunia Blanco Tequila & Aperol
Matt Ellingson & Ryland Brown of Napa Rose served-up an amazing Tiki-twist on whiskey
Napa Rose
A Refreshing Gin & Elderflower Cocktail by Felicia Chavez of Two 40 South
Delicious, hydrating coconut water by Melissa's Produce
Savory breads (made with pork fat, of course!) served by OC Baking Company
This lil' piggy went to PigOut 1.0! {Note: for those who may be concerned, this lil' guy is a pet pig & will never be eaten} ;-)