Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fabrikators cool tools for the urban kitchen

Culinary design lovers will revel in the slick and kid friendly products from Danish based Fabrikators like the Skrub’a Gloves and the Toddler Cutlery set.

The need for better cleaning tools for dirt ridden, new dug potatoes and vegetables in Northern Europe led engineers, Lars Forsberg and Peter Andersen to formulate the Skrub’a vegetable scrubbing gloves. Upon their entry, the Skrub’a gloves are a hit in Europe with adults and children.

Time conscious cooks may find the thought of adding a few more minutes of cleaning exasperating but here is something to think about - The gloves clean vegetables and retain the most important part of your vegetables, the peel. Research shows that significant amounts of the vitamins, minerals and crude fibers are lost from vegetables if we remove the peel. Studies also show that scrubbing vegetables can assist in removing topical pesticides and fungicides and hence both aforementioned factors make this scrub glove very appealing to health conscious foodies!

The gloves are a twist to the standard scrub brushes because they allow you to hold vegetables in your hands and maneuver around them for cleaning.  The upkeep is no different from your ordinary dish scrub brush so feel free to rinse or toss these in your dishwasher for cleaning.

The Skrub’a vegetable gloves are FDA tested for food safety, rugged, low maintenance, one size fits all, with bright colors and varieties. Parents can enjoy involving children in the cooking process as kid’s gloves are also available. Fabrikators will be introducing a new waterproof version which can also clean fish in 2011.

The Toddler table cutlery was designed to aid children as young as six months in adapting to the skill of early self-feeding with ease and safety. The colorful, chubby handles allow small hands to grip utensils easily while the fork and spoon have a good size scoop bowl preventing food from spilling as the little ones learn to handle food. The knife easily and safely cuts most soft fruit and vegetables. Children learn by imitation and aesthetics aside, this flatware is a great way to improve motor skills and develop good eating habits. The product is fully BPA-free, and dishwasher and microwave-safe. This line recently won the prestigious Red Dot 2010 award, a coveted international award for the most innovative and design forward products. It also won the Scandinavian Formland Design Award in 2009.

Fabrikators also designed the magnetic dish brush and the Lemon friend, a lemon squeezer. Please see the video links and pictures on each product.

You Tube: Skruba
You Tube: Toddler Table Cutlery

Where to get the products and cost:
Fabrikators products are available in the U.S. at Dillard’s department store and various kitchenware shops. Santa Ana resident can find some products at the Costa Mesa Williams Sonoma store. You can also purchase these products online from the Roland website

Roland Inc Phone No: 800.321.2226
Hours: 9:00 to 6 p.m. Mon – Sat.

Skrub'a gloves:  $9.99 adult, $6.99 kids
Toddler Table Cutlery: $40.00 for the knife, fork, spoon set
Lemon Squeezer:  $7.99 for pack of 4

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mil Jugos Arepas: The hamburger of Venezuela

Norah Briceño, a Venezuelan native has brought a taste of modest home cooking to Mil Jugos in Santa Ana.  Since 2003, this small eatery has prized itself on a lean and fat free menu and has fast earned a reputation for serving up the best Venezuelan hamburger or Arepa in town.  The Mil Jugos menu also features other traditional meals like Cachapas a sweet, corn pancake.

Mil Jugos’ grilled Arepas or flattened bread are made out of imported cornmeal and are offered plain or stuffed with various fillings like white cheese, black beans and assorted seasoned, shredded meats. Briceño prefers to replicate the menu from a similar restaurant she operated while in Venezuela and chooses to import the same Venezuelan cornmeal for an authentic taste.  The bread is gluten free and reminiscent of a breakfast muffin in shape and size.  A plain arepera averages one hundred calories and is traditionally eaten with soups.

There are ten varieties of Arepas offered to satisfy the eclectic palates of Santa Ana patrons.  Available choices like shredded beef with black beans or finely shredded chicken breast drizzled in garlic and cooked with onions and tomatoes can be accentuated with accompanying sauces called Perejil and Guasacaca.  The Perejil or parsley sauce is a mild, aromatic fusion of parsley and garlic while the Guasacaca is a zesty and hot combination of Jalapeno peppers, cilantro, sweet peppers and parsley in an oil and vinegar base.  The service is warm, relaxed and guest requests for a vegetarian Arepa is surprisingly accommodated regardless of its absence on the menu!

The restaurant has a light and fresh ambiance and the healthy meals are modestly priced. For returning customers Rosemary and Chris Foreman, the restaurant is a quick pit stop to satisfy a craving en route to their new home in California. It is the only place which carries the Arepa and Cachapas she discovered on her frequent trips from Texas.  Arepa is a daily and common meal in most Venezuelan homes and per Briceño, “it is what hamburger is to Americans”.  True to her motto, Norah Briceño is well on her way in ensuring customers that Mil Jugos is the best Venezuelan restaurant in town.

 Mil Jugos is located in downtown Santa Ana at 318 W. 5th St. catering is offered.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

El Toro Carniceria: Santa Ana's Triple Threat

Located in the heart of Santa Ana, hungry passerby's rarely miss the wafting aroma of freshly made tortillas which lures them in for an unforgettable taste of El Toro Carniceria's famous carnitas. Once in, customers delight not only in the variety of selections from the deli, grocery and spirit shops but are also at once enlivened with the bustling mariachi music at this one stop shop for all things 100% Mexican according to Rudy Navarette. Navarette is one of nine brothers who help operate the triple stores since their mother, Justina Navarette opened it in 1976.

Maria Duran, a weekly customer of twenty years meanders down the glittering pinata topped aisle to one of her favorite sections which carries a variety of fine cut meats. She has driven four miles past her neighborhood grocery store for the fresh cut pork. Today, the meat case features a large pork's head centerpiece which overlooks exotic selections like Octopus pulpo or whole octopi, beef honeycomb tripe and pig's feet.
A few feet ahead, customers toggle between the produce aisles featuring fresh coconut, cacti leaves and Flor de Calabaza or squash blossoms, used as an ingredient in Mexican and Salvadoran cuisines. Tucked in the back corner, an unassuming clerk sorts a pile of dark chile pods for a counter filled with sixteen varieties of dried Chile and peppers like Chile de Arbol, Morita and Chile Guajillo.

On the west side of the store resides the deli where throngs of customers have grabbed a ticket and ordered food in an elbow to elbow standing room only area. A queue of hungry patrons stretching into the parking lot is a common affair. The success of El Toro's deli lies mainly in its key ingredient: Masa. The cornmeal dough filler is used in making tortillas, tamales and assorted baked goods. It is the Masa which contributes to the production of some of the finest, softest and mouth watering tortillas in this city. Three tortilla machines operate twenty-four hours a day churning approximately 30,000 fresh, corn tortillas a day. Customers can order beef carnitas or a sumptuous carne asada topped with garnishes like fresh guacamole, Nopales or prickly pear pads and rojo salsa. Add a salty snack called chicharon or pork rind and don't forget the six choices of tamale offerings from vegetarian to beef and chicken.

As the west end of El Toro quenches hunger, the east end quenches thirst at its renowned liquor store which carries the largest variety of tequila according to Navarette. El Toro carries one hundred and twenty varieties of tequila with top agave sellers like Tequila Cazadores and Tenampa Azula. Some prestigious brands include Don Julio Real and Seleccion Suprema. A popular seller at El Toro's liquor store is the repackaged beer. Try a customized, disposable beer bag of six Corona bottles, buried in ice and accompanied with salt and fresh lemons at $7.99 each!

Over the last twenty years, the growing celebrity of the market has extended to famed visitors like mixed martial artist, Tito Ortiz and members of the Angels team. For Rudy Navarette, the success of  this reclusive market in Santa Ana's barrio lies in the authenticity and wholesomeness of its products which keep first to third generation shoppers coming back for a memorable link to the flavorful tastes South of the border.

El Toro Carniceria is located at 1340 W. 1st in Santa Ana, California. Store hours are 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The deli hours are 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. El Toro Carniceria can be found in additional locations in Costa Mesa, Santa Maria and Fresno.