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Monday, March 26, 2018

Sail Around the World at the Seven Seas Food Festival at Sea World!

So I admittedly haven't been to Sea World in quite awhile but when I read about the Seven Seas Food Festival and saw the list of 55+ food & drinks ( available during the festival I knew it was time for a visit! Upon first entrance, I was immediately wowed as Sea World has really upped its game in recent years! Lots of rides, shows and exhibits that I didn't recall seeing last time I was there. Not to mention the park itself was sparkling clean and the staff was beyond friendly and helpful.

The Seven Seas Food Festival is a celebration of international food traditions, craft beers and wines paired with music and fun! The event focuses on local, sustainable ingredients and unique signature flavors from around the world -- all presented in themed areas around the Sea World park. The festival works on a lanyard basis - where you purchase a lanyard for a certain number of food/cocktail tastes and if you want to do wine/beer tasting they have a separate lanyard you can purchase for those items. The items can also be purchased on an individual basis and most are priced between $5-$7. However, the lanyards get you a discounted price per item so if you're planning to try more than a few (easy to do with all the options!) I highly suggest you pick up a lanyard. Lanyards are sold in three items sizes - 5 items for $25, 10 for $45, and 15 for $65. You can also share them as there's no restriction on how many people can use one lanyard.  It's also really nice to not have to worry about cash as the lanyards hang around your neck and are simply punch holed every time you buy an items so gone are your acrobatic days of balancing your wallet, food, drinks, etc. It really is a GREAT and convenient way to do it! 

As for the food itself, all I can say is WOW! We're not talking your standard amusement park food here folks! Food and drinks are broken out into themed areas so the food, wine/beer and cocktails correspond to each specific area's theme. This year they're also featuring a special "Daring Flavors" challenge sponsored by Coca-Cola where each area has one atypical item using exotic ingredients that you might've always wanted to try! Kinda fun way to knock some stuff off your bucket-list huh?!  They also have live music in each area which added a really fun element to the festival as I saw people dancing and relaxing while enjoying the live entertainment.

Escargot Maision, Lamb Lollipops and he Warm Brie with Duck Confit
We started out in the French Bistro Area where we enjoyed Escargot Maison (the daring flavors item!), Warm Brie & Duck Confit, and Lamb Lollipops. Yes - you read that right, you can now get upscale and delicious French food at a theme park! Crazy huh?! We liked all three but our hands down favorite was the brie with duck confit which was perfectly cooked and served up warm on crispy bread with a side of fresh sweet strawberries to cut the richness. This one is a NOT to miss for sure!  In the same area, there is also the French CafĂ© which is every sweet lovers dream featuring crepes, nitrogen cheese balls (another daring flavors dish!), chocolate mousse and macarons.

Our next stop was the Mediterranean area where we had the most divine Loukoumades Beignets! If you've had loukemades you know they're a yummy Greek treat of dough balls typically served drizzled with honey. These were similar but shaped into baby beignets topped with honey, cinnamon and a smattering of powdered sugar, and served in an easy to handle cone. We ate every last morsel and had to hold back from ordering more!  We also tried the Grilled Lamb Slider here and couldn't get over the delicious spices and flavor in the ground lamb. They also offered a Spiced Tomato Gazpacho and a Feta Cheese and Tapenade Crostini at this area that both looked really fresh and yummy.

After getting our dough balls on, we ventured over to the Tuscan Flavors for some Tripe Florentine and Potato Ravioli. The Tripe is the daring flavor item here and I have to say I've had tripe before and it's never been my favorite, but with the way it was prepared here,  which was basically as a faux pasta dish using the tripe in place of noodles, it was pretty fabulous! It comes served with a lovely tomato basil red sauce and a ball of goat cheese polenta to add some additional flavor. The Potato Ravioli was another favorite and almost reminiscent of large size gnocci. It came topped with a the most decadent sage butter sauce and speckled with pancetta and fresh sage. Yum! The Tuscan area also offered a tasty looking heirloom tomato Bruschetta and a Balsamic Strawberries Panna Cotta that I had a very hard time resisting!

Jamaican Spare Ribs

We next came upon the Caribbean Heat Scale Flavors area which offered three select your heat items including the Duppy Conquerer, the Yo Man Jerk Chicken, Jamaican Spare Ribs and to calm the spiciness after, a milk bar featuring soy, almond or cow's milk. They just thought of everything here! 

Fried Spam Musubi Sushi
Next up on our tour was the Island Fusion Flavors which was a mix of Hawaiian and other Polynesian style flavors.This is where we tried one of our favorite dishes of the day, the Fried Spam Musubi Sushi. This was not your ordinary spam musubi - it was deep fried to a nice crunch but still moist and filled inside with spam and sticky rice, and topped with a decadent sriracha sesame mayonnaise that I could've drank by the gallon. Another MUST-TRY in my book. 

The daring flavor here is a the Lava Rock Grilled Pacific Oysters which looked incredibly delicious and the Kalua Pig which comes with a pineapple truffle sauce. They also offered a Crisp Pineapple Beignet served with a caramel vanilla sauce which we ordered but unfortunately was one of our least favorites. It wasn't bad mind you, but we all agreed something was lacking in this dish that could've made it stellar in the future - a hint more sweetness or perhaps caramelizing the pineapple first? Even so, we were so pleased with the fried spam musubi that it didn't dampen our enjoyment in this area. They also had Hawaiian dancers and music on stage and how can you not be happy watching that? :)

Fire Cracker Coconut Shrimp

Pacific Rim Flavors was almost in the same location and featured a yummy Fire Cracker Coconut Shrimp in a Citrus Coconut Sauce which was tasty although not quite as coconutty as it sounds. Still  very worthy of trying but if you're expecting a coconut explosion you might be a tad disappointed. The other items here are the Tuna Poke Stack, the Rice Paper & Quick Pickles (daring flavors!) and the Pandan Tapioca Pearl Pudding which looked heavenly.

Little Noah with his Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Right next door is the Asian Street Food Flavors which was another big hit for us! We tried 3 out of 4 items here and loved them all!

The K-Popper Rice Balls were little balls of heaven stuffed with kimchi fried rice, eggs, bacon and another tasty sriracha (no sesame this time!) sauce.

The Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken with spicy dipping sauce was equally delicious and even our little 3 year old buddy, Noah, gave us a thumbs up on these!  We ended here with the mocha ice cream which came in green tea and strawberry - light and fresh tasting they were the perfect ending to our meal here! The one item we didn't try here was the daring flavors item - the Crispy Thai Basil Frog Legs with a sweet chili sauce. They sound quite tasty though!

Sea Salt Grilled Churrasco - our FAVORITE! 

The South American and the Nuevo Baja Flavors areas were right next to each other but each had their own unique flair! The South American booth had Peruvian Ceviche (the daring flavor item!), Sea Salt Flavored Grilled Churrasco, Chipotle Chimichurri Shrimp and a Creamy Flan. Our #1 item of everything we tried in the park was the Sea Salt Flavored Grilled Churrasco - angus beef cooked on an open grill adjacent to the booth and served on warm crispy toast with a side of grilled panko covered tomato half and a slice of grilled chicken sausage. It was so good we used two punches on this one dish! I can't recommend enough that you MUST TRY this dish - even if you don't buy a lanyard, this is a not to be missed item in the park!

Nuevo Baja had yummy items too including the angus beef tacos, the unique black pepper marinated strawberries and another of our park favorites, the Oaxaca Spicy Chocolate which was a decadent drinking chocolate covered with candied chili pepper marshmallows. Their daring flavor here is probably one of the MOST daring-est as it's a Chili Lime Cricket (yes, you read that right!) Tostada! Basically, crunchy fried crickets served on a crispy tostada and covered in a avocado sauce with queso fresco and pico de gallo sauce. We didn't try it but if you're daring enough I heard from a few folks that it
was quite tasty!

Shaken Bacon Mojito

Our final stop was the Southern California flavors area which included Pretzel Flavors,
Bacon Flavors, and Hand Rolled Sushi & Sake Flavors! So many items to try here including some of the best cocktail offerings! We tried the Buzz Button Sake (Daring
Flavor alert!) that was a lychee sake that comes with a buzz button that leaves a tingling numbing sensation in your mouth as you eat it and then you follow it with the sake.

We also had the frozen Bacon Margarita served up with a giant Jalapeno Popper on top and the refreshing Shaken Bacon Mojito which comes with a Cuban garlic bread wrapped in bacon with a baby pickle on top. Both of these were pretty tasty and hit the spot for us!

Bacon Margarita
 We also all had a hoot with the Candied Bacon Cheescake (another Daring Flavor!) which comes topped with pop rocks which pair surprisingly well with the creaminess of the cheesecake! At the Pretzel Flavors a favorite was the Pretzel Mac & Cheese which came topped w chorizo, panela cheese and chives - YUM! We also really loved the Cave-Aged Humboldt Fog Cheese with a smattering of honey comb and pretzel sticks - a great combination for any blue cheese lover. Also of note in this area is the Pretzel Crawfish Mary (as in Blood Mary) which is the Daring Flavor at the Pretzel booth - it was pretty interesting looking w a crawfish seemingly crawling out of it! Sadly, none of us ventured to go there with it this time!

Candied Bacon Cheesecake

There is also a fun looking Coca-Cola Flavors area with some fun non-alcoholic drinks for the soda lovers in your group including a Cherry Coke Sundae, a Bursting Boba Snow Pop and a Pure Snow Pop! Definitely worth checking out!

This is seriously one of the best food festivals inside a theme park I've ever attended! Very well run and really makes for a fun and unique day along with enjoying the park. No additional fees (other than the price of food/drink items) to enjoy it which I also found very refreshing. I also have to touch again on how friendly the staff throughout the park was - we had no less than 4 staff members who saw our festival lanyards hanging around our necks come up to us and ask us how we were liking the food and if we had any tips or favorites. It was really nice to engage with the staff and hear a little about the history of the festival and how some of the food was chosen, etc. Very nice personal touch that made us feel extra welcome!

If you're looking for a fun spring day trip Orange County this is it! It only took me a little over an hour on Sunday morning to get there from Tustin so don't let the drive deter you! It may be a smidge further mileage-wise than LA but takes about the same time. Also, parking couldn't be less stressful as they have a huge lot with lots of attendants guiding you into the lot. We were parked and at the entrance in literally 5 minutes. Can't do that at any of our theme parks up here!

The Seven Seas Food Festival runs every weekend til April 15th so make plans to get down there soon and enjoy this annual tradition! 
Pretzel Mac n Cheese and Humboldt Fog Cheese w Honeycomb

Sea World is located at 500 Sea World Drive in San Diego - right off the 5 freeway.
Admission is $89.99 and even cheaper at $69.99 if you buy your tickets ahead of time online.
They also offer great deals on season passes as well as multi-park tickets. For families with small children under 5 yrs of age, they also have a $10 unlimited admission card.  Children under 2 are always free.  Check here for more information:

Friday, March 23, 2018

Spring time at Snooze A.M. Eatery in Tustin!

Spring is here and Snooze is celebrating with their new SPRING menu! 

Every season, Snooze A.M. Eatery in Tustin debuts fresh new menu items to showcase the best of the season!  New items include fresh egg white frittata, a crisp and delicious spring salad, a delicious new pancake, and a tasty new spring harvest benedict. Also available are some new refreshing cocktails!

I recently was invited in to try a few of the new items out and have to say they were pretty darn delicious! 

My hand down favorite new dish was the Spring Harvest Benedict which to be honest isn't something I would normally order. This benny, as they loving call their benedicts at Snooze, comes with two perfectly poached eggs. smoked cheddar hollandaise sauce and is dressed with a fresh veggies including heirloom cherry tomatoes, zucchini and watercress tossed in a super yummy djion citronette.  My friend & I were both blown away by the flavors of this dish! We also LOVED the cheesy quinoa cakes on which it's served -- could eat these all by themselves all day! 

Spring Harvest Benedict 

Spring has Sprung Frittata

They also have a new egg white frittata called the "Spring has Sprung Frittata" made with cage free egg whites filled with a fresh asparagus and mushroom salad, sliced zucchini and house made pistou. It comes topped with arugula, heirloom cherry tomatoes, dijon citronette, corn salsa and grated parmesan. YUM! 

I want Sum'oa Cakes Pancake

We were so excited to try the new spring pancake, "I want Sum'oa Cakes" - inspired by that famous cook of the same name, this pancake didn't disappoint! 

A fluffly buttermilk pancake topped with housemade vanilla creme anglaise, caramel sauce and shortbread crumble then drizzled with chocolate sauce and sticky coconut. This was pure heaven, although admittedly I'm a complete sucker for anything chocolate and coconut. #faint

I didn't get to try it but they also have a new "Spring is in the Heir Salad" made with cherry tomatoes, a semi-soft hard boiled egg, avocado, raosted corn salasa, zucching, speiced pepitas and cotija cheese atop watercress, arugula an spinach, all dressed with a pistou vinagrette.  Sounds pretty darn tasty! 

If you haven't made it to Snooze A.M. Eatery in Tustin since they opened last year,  there's really no time like the present with these fabulous new spring items! If you're in the mood for something different they have quite an extensive menu with both breakfast and lunch items - definitely something for everyone! 

Snooze is located at The Tustin Marketplace Shopping Center in Tustin, in front of Best Buy.  
Address is 3032 El Camino Real in Tustin CA 92782.
Open daily from 6:30-2:30pm.

Tip: They don't take reservations but you can put your name in via the "No Wait" App. ;)