Battle of the South County Sandwiches: Board and Brew vs. The Trough

Categories: Dueling Dishes

Photo by Lynn Lieu
Who's got the win? The Trough?

There was an episode of Chopped that featured sandwiches, and it brought up a lot of questions: What actually a sandwich? And do simplicity and traditional ingredients reign over complicated, out-of-the-box combinations? While searching for a sandwich for lunch one day in South County, I pondered these questions and one more: How much am I really willing to pay for a sandwich?

I didn't have too many options. I work in Rancho Santa Margarita, have a 1-hour lunch break (including drive time) and don't really want to stop by a grocery store deli or Panera. So, it boiled down to two choices, two places that have either been recommended to me or sparked curiosity among my co-workers and friends: Board and Brew, a SoCal chain with two (soon to be three) Orange County locations, and The Trough, the newly opened sister of South County darling The Blind Pig.

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Battle Delivery Sushi: Ippo Sushi vs. DelSushi

Categories: Dueling Dishes

Photo by Courtney Hamilton
Who will be the winner? Del Sushi? Or..

For a while now, UC Irvine and its surrounding community has had but two food delivery options: pizza, the old standby, and sushi. That's right, sushi. And it's not even just one sushi delivery service. Two different sushi storefronts compete for hungry student money: DelSushi and Ippo Sushi. Both locations deliver into the wee hours of the night, offer a comparable menu at a similar price point, and serve the same area, though Ippo Sushi has a slightly larger delivery range. If you've got a hankering for sushi or have eaten all the pizza you can take, which sushi joint do you order from? Below, I evaluate the two on quality, taste, and delivery time.

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Holiday Sandwich Battle: Capriotti's Bobbie vs. Earl of Sandwich's Holiday Turkey

Categories: Dueling Dishes

Photo by Kristine Hoang
On the left, Capriotti's. On the right, Earl of Sandwich.

The anatomy of a holiday turkey sandwich is simple: You just have to fit a turkey dinner between two pieces of bread. Turkey, stuffing, and cranberry jam -- that's what you're working with. But of course, not every turkey sandwich is built equally.

Take two of Orange County's fanciest sandwich chains: Capriotti's in Newport and Anaheim's Earl of Sandwich. Capriotti's has the Bobbie while Earl of Sandwich has its Holiday Turkey. They're like fraternal twins who share the same genes but have completely different personalities. Take one bite and it's immediately clear how different they are.

And of course, this means it's time to put them against each other in battle. Who wins battle of chain turkey sandwiches?

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Battle Bougey Cafeterias: Urban Plates vs. Tender Greens

Categories: Dueling Dishes

Photo by Courtney Hamilton
Will Tender Greens be the winner?

Conceptually, Urban Plates and Tender Greens are the same place: your middle school cafeteria line meets farm-to-fork food. Their menus are nearly the same: entrees, salads, and sandwiches assembled around lean proteins or vegetable preparations. (Though Urban Plates does distinguish itself by offering braises and "pizzettes," or flatbread pizzas.) Each also offers a display case at the end of the food assembly line brimming with beautiful pastries and cakes--the vegan and gluten free options marked, of course. Pricey fresh fruit beverages, highbrow soda, teas, coffee, beer and wine account for the remaining refreshments.

Both eateries even attract the same patron mix: moneyed businessmen, ladies who lunch, and college foodies. They're even close to each other--the University Town Center Tender Greens and Urban Plates are a five-minute-drive apart. So, if you're lunching in Irvine and have a hankering for upscale, home-style food, which do you choose? We've pitted the two against each other in three categories: ambiance, price, and most importantly, food.

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Dueling Dishes: Battle Ube!

Categories: Dueling Dishes

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

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
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!


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

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

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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