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Dueling Dishes: Battle Ube!

Categories: Dueling Dishes

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Anne Marie Panoringan
Ube doughnuts from Friendly's

At the beginning of this month, a local bakery in Orange collaborated with Buttermilk Inc., formerly The Buttermilk Truck luxe lonchera, to exclusively sell an ube (a.k.a. purple yam) doughnut in Orange County using a custom baking mix. The color purple may stir up thoughts of eggplant or even dinosurs, but you shouldn't knock one until you try it. So I spent one rainy Saturday breaking into a baker's dozen. Trying them reminded me of a post I did last year on The Ensaymada Project. Two distinctively purple treats can only mean one thing: DUEL!

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Let Robert Irvine Take You On a Ride With Restaurant Express

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Food Network
They've got a goal in mind and I want to help them reach that goal.

Chef, restaurateur, and all-around bad ass Robert Irvine definitely kept us entertained and interested over the years with shows like Dinner: Impossible and Restaurant Impossible. But starting on November 3rd, Irvine is into a whole new game. His newest show Restaurant Express is hitting the Food Network like a freight train full of grub and knowledge so if you can't get enough of Robert like we can't, tune in for your chance to get some new tips that you can use in your own life in a ton of areas. Plus, you'll be thoroughly engrossed in the excitement of a little friendly competition at the same time.

OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I'm really excited for your new show Restaurant Express. Can you break down the way it will work for us?

Robert Irvine: Sure, let me kind of give you an overview. There are nine contestants and some of them are chefs, some of them are not, some are moms, and some are from the military. So they're from all walks of life. There is a bus that has eight beds in it so obviously, we can only carry eight people in that bus. The challenges on every episode are based on running a successful business. In this case, it's a restaurant. The principles in the restaurant business are marketing, leadership, menus, cooking, financial...there all of these things that they need to know in order to run a successful restaurant so I teach them. There are challenges and one person will be sent home at the end of each episode.


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Dueling Dishes: Apple, Fig And Cheese Sandwiches

Categories: Dueling Dishes
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Anne Marie Panoringan
Boudin SF

One-hit wonders. Dynamic duos. How 'bout them threes? Three French hens. Three of a kind. Threesomes. Bell Biv Devoe. There are some trios with swagger out there. And apple, fig 'n cheese combinations are definitely one of them. We weren't aiming to do a comparison, but ended up finding two completely different versions that caught our attention.

In addition to ordering clam chowder on National Clam Chowder Day at Boudin SF, our astigmatism wandered to this hot plate. $7.99 for grilled cheese with apples and fig jam. We also had the option of mixed greens or chips.
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Dueling Dishes: Battle Chicken Nuggets!

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McDonald's

It took so long for Burger King to finally come head-to-head with their arch nemesis, even Wendy's started selling nuggets before they did. With last week's overdue announcement, The King has finally stepped up to face off against those golden arches. It's about damn time.

We gave ourselves two consecutive days of deep-fried protein at lunch to decide once and for all what was worth dipping into more. The results were bothersome.
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Five Ways to Beat Jason Quinn at the OC Fair Culinary Competition on Aug. 9

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So you know by now that this coming Thursday, August 9, I'll be facing off against chef Jason Quinn of Playground at the OC Fair's Pro Chef vs. Home Cook competition. The idea is sort of a mixture of Chopped and Iron Chef America, where we'll get access to a common pantry and have to incorporate a basket of disparate ingredients into a dish.

The show starts at 5 p.m. and is free with admission to the fair. While I'm planning on showing him what defeat looks like, the judges are serious food people, there's likely to be quite the audience, and it's time to brainstorm ways to ensure victory and make him cry like a little girl on stage.

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Dueling Dishes: OC Fair Cinnamon Rolls

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Anne Marie Panoringan

We admit, past fairs were usually spent wandering up and down aisles and ultimately getting lost trying to find some decent grub. Not anymore. Our saucy fair connection made us aware of this year's must try menu items (Porkabello!), as well as a few that garnered further inspection.

Like Philly cheesesteaks, there's heated debate among fair veterans among who serves a better cinnamon roll. And we thought it was all fun and games around here. So with our sweet tooth intact we proceed to the competitors.


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Battle of the Fast-Food Mexi Bowl: Taco Bell VS. Chipotle

Categories: Dueling Dishes
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Anne Marie Panoringan
Taco Bell, er, Cantina Bell's chicken Cantina bowl

The chain that El Jefe loves to hate has been on a mission to up the ante. Remember their attempt at breakfast? Those Doritos tacos? Now they want to knock on Chipotle territory. I had a fast food childhood of the Bell, but spent a large part of the last decade chowing Chipotle fare. We were curious to compare.

Sure, we could've taken the El Pollo Loco route, or gone banzai at Wahoo's. But what compelled us to duel these in particular, if anything, was the fact that Lorena Garcia actually judged with Steve Ells on America's Next Great Restaurant last year. One of the challenges even involved contestants taking over the lunch shift at one of his branches. Was the saucy lady already doing work for Taco Bell back then? Maybe. Did she make mental notes on all things Chipotle? You betcha. Our duel is to see how she fared.
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Battle of the Fast-Food Shrimp Burrito: Del Taco VS. Baja Fresh

Categories: Dueling Dishes
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Edwin Goei
Del Taco's Baja Shrimp Burrito

This was supposed to be a Dueling Dishes post on shrimp burritos between Del Taco and Taco Bell. But it turns out Taco Bell's Pacific Shrimp Burrito already sleeps with the fishes. It was their Lenten special last year. This year, the company is a little more than preoccupied with that whole Doritos shell game.

So who to pick as the shrimp burrito stand-in? Baja Fresh. Why? Because I said so. But it does seem appropriate: Baja Fresh, like Taco Bell, is headquartered in Irvine. And Del Taco is based in Lake Forest...so there's that.
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How Does McDonald's Filet-O-Fish Fare Against Other Fast-Food Fishwiches?

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Edwin Goei
Once again, it's fish sandwich season at the nation's fast food burger joints, a.k.a. Lent. It is said that 23% of Filet-O-Fish consumption happens during this period. But how do the others measure against what's arguably the nation's most popular fishwich, which McDonald's now offers in a double-dose with its Double Filet-O-Fish (seen above)?

Although many bloggers have done similar taste tests, what follows is this blogger's attempt to rank five fish sandwiches eaten over the course of five consecutive days at Burger King, Wendy's, Carl's Jr, Jack in the Box and McDonald's. The results represent observations made from a single visit at each establishment...because even a person who's foolhardy enough to do such a thing isn't about to do it twice.

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Dueling Dishes: Jollibee's Pancit Palabok VS. Red Ribbon's Pancit Palabok

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Edwin Goei
In the left corner, Jollibee. In the right corner, Red Ribbon.

Imagine if McDonald's bought out Burger King and they existed under the same roof like those Yum Brand hybrid restaurants with KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell sharing the same counter. That's essentially what's happened with Jollibee and Red Ribbon in Anaheim. They are two former competitors turned uneasy partners living together like a married couple who sleep in separate bedrooms. You can go into Jollibee, then walk a few feet without tripping on any barriers and be in Red Ribbon.

If there were a Venn diagram that charts their divergent menus (Jollibee is fast food known for their fried chicken; Red Ribbon is a bakery beloved for their mango chiffon cakes), you'd discover that at the intersection, there's exactly one shared dish: the pancit palabok.
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