Monday, January 30, 2012

Chocolate Class

Chocolate Class
Saturday, February 11th
9:00am-12:00pm, Cost $45
Lisa's home in Thousand Oaks

For Valentine's Day Lisa Valantine will be offering a cooking class that will feature chocolate recipes that will range from the classic French to the campy - things you could take on a hike with you etc.  The selection of chocolates will feature all organic ingredients and will use full fat cream and natural sweeteners such as honey and rapadura sugar.  The class will also be gluten and grain free.

You will be making 5 - 7 different chocolate recipes.  Participants should bring an appetite for sampling and plan to take some chocolates home with them to share with their sweethearts on Valentine's Day.

Lisa Valantine is a WAPF member in Thousand Oaks and is the creator of Serene Cuisine.  She has worked in Southern California as a personal chef for over a decade.  Lately she's focusing more on education and cooking classes which feature local foods and farmer's markets produce.

To reserve a place in the class e-mail or call 805-492-1783.  Her food blog at 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Third Thursday Review- Sidecar Restaurant

For our first review, we went to the the Sidecar Restaurant in Ventura.  Run by a relatively young chef who, at the age of 26, started at this location in 2004, the Sidecar touts its local and seasonal menu as its number one draw.  Indeed, the menu, posted on their website, was a deciding factor in our decision to drive so far out of the way for a meal.

After the 45 minute drive, the relaxing and quiet atmosphere was welcomed and appreciated.  Our group was promptly attended to by the friendly staff and were served drinks right away.  While they were aware that we were there to review the restaurant, I believe firmly that if they can provide good service under pressure, it can also happen for the average customer.

We were able to order quite a variety from the menu, which changes often, both seasonally and with what happens to be available from vendors/farmers at the local farmer's markets.  This week, we had braised beef ribs, NY steak, Niman Ranch pork chops, wild salmon, roasted chicken and a burger with bacon.  Off of the appetizer menu we had sweet potato fries, crispy herb fries, a roasted beet salad and a mushroom crostini.  For dessert, we sampled the "Cheesecake", with lemon curd, and the flourless chocolate cake with a peanut butter topping.

The most interesting thing about reviewing a restaurant with a large group is the sheer diversity of opinion on flavor.  While we were all pleased to be able to get grass fed, range free, fresh and organic ingredients, there was not one item that reached our table which was a unanimous palate pleaser.  Some of us LOVED the burger, which was sourced from Ojai, and some were unimpressed.  Others thought the ribs were wonderful.  Still others only gave the plate an "okay".  We all agreed that the veggies-sourced from McGrath, Underwood and local Farm markets- were done well and the sauces were lovely, and most of us would come back if we were in the area.

On a down side, we did learn that canola oil was used to fry the potatoes.  If I go again, I will make it a point to call ahead to see if we can get our fried foods cooked in a healthier fat like tallow, lard or coconut oil...or we might just avoid anything fried completely.

Bottom Line:
You get what you pay for.  While every item on the menu might not be stunning, you should be able to get a decent meal that won't break either your diet or the bank in a very quaint and peaceful environment.  $$

We gave the Sidecar:


Monday, January 16, 2012

Third Thursday Restaurant Reviews

Third Thursday Restaurant Reviews
Thursday, January 19th
7:00 PM

What? You are invited to meet up with us at a pre-determined restaurant to conduct a restaurant review from a WAPF perspective.  We will select the restaurant based on specific criteria such as:  carries either organic, grass fed beef, pastured pork or poultry, local ingredients if possible, obtains food from a sustainable farm, etc... All restaurant reviews will be included on our website.
Location?  Restaurants will be within a 50-mile radius.  We will definitely try and scout out the ones close to home.
Price?  We will keep it budget minded, $15-$20 per person.
Menu?  We will be ordering the dishes ahead of time.  It will NOT be a full dinner, (so don't come starving) but will be a tasting menu.  We will sample and share the appetizers or dishes.  Any beverages (alcoholic or non) need to be put on a separate tab, as we will split the bill equally.  This is a group event, so NO individual ordering.
RSVP before Friday, January 13th.  Once you RSVP, we will provide you with the restaurant location details.
If you have any suggestions for restaurants please e-mail them to us at