Gluten Free Fine Dining at Darren’s in Manhattan Beach!

Gluten Free Fine Dining at Darren’s in Manhattan Beach!

By Erin

Only a block from the beach and located in the heart of Manhattan Beach, Darren’s features a variety of savory small plates and delicious fine dining options. Set in a posh yet welcoming and relaxed environment, you will feel at home quickly with the extremely friendly staff. Equipped with a full-bar and an extensive wine list, along with seasonal specialty cocktails you are sure to find something to quench your thirst. Darren’s also has a nice Happy Hour and Bar Menu that is perfect for watching the big games on their flat screen TV. When I was invited to come over and give Darren’s a try, I couldn’t resist. The best thing was how accommodating they are at Darren’s. My friend is on a very strict Gluten Free diet, and they made sure everything served was gluten free (unless otherwise stated). Why don’t we take a look around now?

Darrens

 The outside of Darren’s. It’s clearly marked, making it easy to find,which is always nice! 🙂

Darrens Tables

Inside, the tables are very intimate and cozy. I loved how bright and airy it was. Perfect for taking all of my pictures… 😉

Darrens Menus

A peek at the menus here at Darren’s.

Darrens Drinks

We started out with a couple of drinks to get started with. Pictured here is the Bath Water-American Harvest Vodka, St. Germain, Cucumbers, Fresh Basil and Lemon Juice. On the left is the Strawberry Kiss- Stoli Strawberry Vodka, Fresh Lemon, Fresh Strawberries, and a Kiss of sparkling wine. Both were made very strong.

Darrens Drink

A Little bit later we tried this one, called The Bear-Stoli Blue Berry, Fresh Lemon, Fresh Blue Berries, Basil Press. This was my favorite drink. Not quite as strong, with just enough of a fruity sweet taste from the berries.

Darrens GF Crab Cake

The first dish we tried was the Crab Cake-Jumbo Lump Crab, Daikon Sprouts, Soy Dry Mustard Sauce, Sriracha, Sweet Soy Sauce. The Crab Cake we had was a little bit different than what is stated on the menu as this one was made Gluten Free for us and it was VERY delicious!! We had fun trying to figure out all the different flavors it was that we were tasting.

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Picnicking with Good Boy Organics & Giveaway!

Picnicking with Good Boy Organics!

By Erin

You have probably noticed by now that I love to have picnics and tea parties and anything else that will get me outdoors. Well, I found a product here when I attended Expo West back in March that is just PERFECT for a nice spring or summer picnic! It is called Good Boy Organics!

Good Boy Organics

Good Boy Organics has two products that I reviewed.  BOPS (Baked Organic Potato Snack) pictured here in four different flavors and the Organicasaurus. All of their products are USDA certified organic, certified gluten-free, non-gmo, have no preservatives, no trans fat, and are baked, not fried. The BOPS also have 65% less fat in them than regular potato chips! These chips are a reduced fat alternative to fried potato chips. I am also in love with the packaging. The packaging for the BOPS makes me want to have a picnic every time I look at it! Good Boy Organics focus is on Certified Organic and Non-GMO products for the entire family. Look for them at your local grocer!

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LA County Fair Food Preview and Four Pack of Fair Tickets–Giveaway Ends 09/08!

The LA County Fair officially started today at 3pm with rides, games, shows, concerts,  new animal exhibits and of course, a huge variety of food.  Every year, the food is a huge draw at the fair, and this year will not disappoint as they are more than prepared to appeal to every palette and appetite.  You will see the usual fried fare from longtime fair favorites such as Chicken Charlie, but the fair does have some Gluten-Free options, one of my personal favorites; Terri’s Berries and then there is the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Marketplace. The Fair will run through September 30th.  Fun events and concerts are planned throughout the entire month and are sure to thrill and wow us.  This past Tuesday I was invited out to a food preview, and oh boy, make sure to wear comfortable clothing to the fair so that you can fully enjoy all the food the fair has to offer.  I grew up going to this fair, and by the tastes of food and drink I’ve had the pleasure of indulging in, I am so excited to attend the fair again this year.

There was just a handful of vendors on hand, but nevertheless it was a FANTASTIC sampling of all things fair food, so without further ado, here are the much anticipated  photos of the fair food we got to sample (Which is why you’re here I’m sure is for the fair food photos, not to hear me ramble on and on endlessly… 😉 You can find these food vendors while out and about at the fair this year.

1) Ten Pound Buns

Ten Pound Buns makes wonderful  freshly made sourdough bread topped with all sorts of delicious toppings.  They have a variety of options including BBQ chicken, the ultimate with everything on it,  pepperoni, bacon Nutella, meat lovers, jalapeno and cheese, to just their original with cheese. They have 7 different varieties to choose from. I decided on the BBQ Chicken, it was absolute perfection. The sauce was not too sweet, not too smoky.

The BBQ Chicken

I also had a sample of Jamie’s Bacon Nutella (be sure to check out her blog post about the food preview for more mouth-watering pics. 🙂  I was hesitant to try this, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the sweet and salty mixed together.

2) Skinny Girl Bar and Food
Next stop was, “Skinny Bar,” as I needed something to wash down that amazing BBQ Chicken creation.  New to the fair this year, these fabulous and delicious cocktails are low-calorie, but still pleasantly flavorful.  These drinks are especially designed for women and come in margaritas, lemonades, and cosmos. My favorite was the margarita. Very refreshing on such a WARM summer’s night!!!

3) Tasti Chips

Tasti Chips with Bacon Cheddar Cheese

For all of you Gluten-Free fans out there, make sure to make a stop at Tasti Chips!! These crispy “Tasti Chips” are made in peanut oil and are completely gluten-free!  My advice to everyone out there is to ADD the Bacon Cheddar cheese to your order (NOTE TO SELF: the cheese isn’t gluten-free!) You can also get them topped with  numerous other toppings if you so desire.

4) Big Kona Huna Shaved Ice

Big Kona Huna Shaved Ice

Hawaiian Shaved Ice has always been a favorite, and this night was no different. The Shaved Ice was a big hit and  everyone loved their personal creations.  What makes it “Hawaiian” you may be asking yourself? Well, they take Sweet and Condensed Milk  and pour a very generous amount of it over your masterpiece of flavors for you.

One of the personal favorites of the evening ammong our group was their “Root Beer” Flavor. Here I tried their Bahama Mama and Pina Colada flavors. Very tropical and just want I wanted on such a WARM warm night!

5) Ice Cream and Funnel Cakes

Always a fair favorite, goodies abound of ice cream creations and funnel cakes that will be here for you to enjoy throughout the fair. You can never go wrong with a dipped cone or funnel cake with powdered sugar or a fruit topping!!

6) Monster Grill

Burgers, corn dogs, and fries, Oh my!! You can get your corn dog on a stick fix here as well as lots and lots of fries. Oh and did I mention you can get fries here?  😉

7) Harold & Belle’s to Geaux

Want to try something a little bit different from your typical fair food?  Love some good old Louisiana Creole food straight from New Orleans? Then you  need to stop by this booth.  They had samples of fried catfish, Crawfish Etouffe and for a  delicious dessert they were also dishing up some wonderful bread pudding. This booth was one of my favorites of the night. The Crawfish Etouffe and the bread pudding were both amazing and I will definitely be back for more of this exquisite yumminess!

Crawfish Etouffe

Bread Pudding

8) Chicken Charlie

A long time fair favorite for many who love deep-fried foods.  With deep-fried cookie dough, deep-fried cereal,  deep-fried kool aid ( I STILL want to try this), deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried avocados and for the more adventurous– deep-fried frog legs can you really go wrong?  They even had deep-fried Dodger Dogs! I truly enjoyed the deep-fried cereal! I WILL be back to try the deep-fried Kool Aide as this was not available to sample that night.

Deep Fried Cookie Dough

Deep Fried Cinnamon Toast Crunch

This year they will also be having a “Pineapple Express” location where they will only be serving their  “Naked Pineapple Bowl.” As I have been trying to eat healthier lately, this was one of my  genuine favorites of the entire night. This delectable bowl comes with rice, pineapple, and eight pieces of shrimp. I love anything with pineapple in it and shrimp, so you can’t go wrong with this one.

Naked Pineapple Bowl

9) Fresh Frys

Fresh Frys is a two-time winner of the O.C. Fair’s Outstanding Fair Food award and serves freshly baked French Fries for your enjoyment. They are also well known for their famous Blooming Onions.  However, one thing I was told upon entering the food preview was that I just HAD to try these marshmallow yammies! Sweet potato fries with fluffy, gooey, marshmallow cream goodness drizzled all over them.  The sweet was just what I needed after having the saltier Tasti Chips. Here is a pic of their marshmallow yammies. YUM or should I say YAM?? 😉

10) Pink’s Hot Dogs

The oh so famous Pink’s Hot Dogs are back at the fair for another year. Home of the world’s best chili dog, among other favorites doused in ketchup, mustard, onions and relish. That evening they were sampling their Matt Kenseth hot dog with jalapenos, onions, guacamole, spicy mustard and ketchup.

11) C’est La Vie/Flavors of France

Last, but certainly not least, for the first time at the LA County Fair is “Flavors of France” from C’est La Vie.  These amazing artisans have some great restaurants right here in our own backyard in SoCal; as they are located in Laguna Beach and are here at the fair to bring Paris to us.  Their booth is all about delectable combinations like strawberries and Nutella swirled together into a freshly made crepe and other tasty french pastries, they have some spectacular talent with the endless creations they came up with. Admittedly, being the sweet tooth that I am, this was the first vendor I stopped at and I just had to have a piece of their cheesecake before having anything else. It did not disappoint, and I am pretty picky about my cheesecake! 😉 Chocolate Mousse, Fruit Tarts, Napoleons, Cheesecakes, and many more dazzling options await you from these fine folks.  You must make it one of your stops at the fair, I know I will.  You will not be disappointed. Shown below is the Chocolate Bomb, Fruit Tart, and Chocolate Mousse. Above are their fruit tarts and Napoleons.

A beautiful sunset at the LA County Fair.

The Fair is here just in time for the long Labor Day weekend, at the Fairplex in Pomona, 1101 W. McKinley Avenue, and runs through Sept. 30. This is the earliest opening date ever for the fair, now going on its 90th year.

NOW, what you have ALL been waiting for!!! ONE lucky reader has a chance to win a 4 Pack of Tickets to the LA County Fair!

Retail Value: Max retail value $68 Dollars

Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment letting me know what fair food item has your mouth watering and eager to try!

Optional Entries: Leave an additional comment for each entry you’ve done below.

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No purchase necessary, void where prohibited.  Must be a California Resident and be 18 years of age or older.  Winner will be chosen through the use of random.org and will be notified via email.  Giveaway ends at 9pm PST on 09/08/2012.  All other rules can be found here.

Disclosure: I was invited out to the Media Food Preview Night at the LA County Fair.  All food and drinks were provided to me for free, and I was provided with a 4 pack of tickets and a parking pass to the LA County Fair. All opinions stated above are my own.

Stay tuned for more Fair Fun!! 😉