MCCN Interview with La Nina del Mezcal interview

Interview from 3rd Annual Taste of Mexico:

Dave Miller: How did you get into doing Mezcal?

Cecilia:  Well um, kind of a long story but just to put it short… It was a trip that I took to Oaxaca about four or five years ago and the it was the first time I was there taking in the culture, taking in the people and the taste of Mezcal.  It occurred to me that people in Mexico were not appreciating it as they should so I started going back to Oaxaca and learning about Mezcal.  It is very extensive.  And then I started writing about it.  And that’s how the blog started and people started calling me la nina del Mezcal.  (Watch Interview for more)


Newport Beach, CA: Lighthouse Bay View Cafe

Newport Beach, CA – November 3, 2016 – Newport Beach’s newest waterfront culinary chef-light-housedestination, Lighthouse Bayview Café, is pleased to debut new winter menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, incorporating fresh flavor profiles and unique interpretations on classic dishes. The winter dinner menu also welcomes new nightly specials, courtesy of Executive Chef Ryan Sumner. The new menus unveil as the restaurant nears its milestone one-year anniversary in December 2016.

The Lighthouse Bayview Café winter dinner menu highlights Chef Sumner’s newest creations including a seafood ceviche with a “virgin mary mix,” sautéed brussels sprouts with Spanish chorizo, cioppino in a spiced tomato lobster broth and red wine braised short rib with parsnip puree, oyster mushrooms, horseradish and gremolata.

Each night of the week, Chef Sumner presents a menu of select specials starting at just $7.95. Features include an all-night happy hour to take the edge off of Mondays with brats and beers, crispy fish taco Tuesdays, burger and beer Wednesdays, linguini and clams on Thursdays, fresh catch of the day on Fridays, rosemary roasted prime rib Saturdays, and Chef’s special BBQ dinner on Sundays.

“Growing up in my parents’ market in Costa Mesa, I experienced firsthand the seasonal change of fresh ingredients,” commented Executive Chef Sumner. ”My inspiration for the winter menus came from that early education and the beach and boating culture here in Newport. And the nightly specials are for the locals.”

The winter lunch menu features new items like the “all grown up” grilled cheese with melted muenster, smoked gouda and parmesan on sourdough paired with creamy basil tomato soup. Brunch goes big with decadent offerings like the banana pecan bread pudding French toast topped with a salted caramel drizzle and whipped cream. The menu’s newest cocktail, the Buddy’s Bloody, is an oversized mason jar bloody mary with all the fixings, inspired by a legendary Newport Beach Lifeguard whose decorated career spanned 47 years.

Newport Beach welcomed Lighthouse Bayview Café to the new Marina Park on December 9, 2015. Since opening, the restaurant has offered breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week with happy hours Monday through Friday and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The waterfront destination boasts outdoor dining, breathtaking views, dock ‘n’ dine capabilities for boaters, and full service catering year round.

Lighthouse Bayview Café is uniquely located on the waterfront of Balboa Peninsula’s Marina Park within a 24,000-square foot sailing and community center that encompasses a park and multiple picnic areas adjacent to a 23-slip marina. The Café features a dock space for boaters to access the park from the water. Offering guests 180-degree harbor, mountain and city views, access to the sand, the Café’s modern beach ambiance and innovative menus are distinctive and unmatched on the Balboa Peninsula.

Located at 1600 W. Balboa Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663.

Instagram: @LighthousecafeNB

The Lake House – LA- Is Not Just Par for the Course Dining

Evchef-geore-and-chef-pauler had a meal so good you had to meet the chefs, I just did. The Lake House – LA – Nice to meet you Chefs George and Chef Paul.   This is not an obvious choice for dining as it is situated at Woodley Lakes Golf course but if you are golf,  work up an appetite  then crave a meal, you won’t be disappointed with this restaurant.   Check their schedule of Facebook for hours and events because even if you don’t golf, this restaurant is worth the trip.   Eat indoors or outdoors.   I dined outdoors and found it soothing to look out over the golf course as I sat at the nicely shellacked and rustic picnic table.


This was an inadvertent dining selection.  After walking four miles on the golf course, we were famished.  I wasn’t expecting much more than to extinguish my hunger.  Yet, quite the contrary happened.  I  took two bites of an incredible pulled pork sandwich brimming smoked flavor, my taste-buds totally impressed.  I offered a bite to my dining companion.  I could tell by his facial expression which spoke before he did that he had just eaten something more than ordinary.  He instantly mentioned how good it was.   I once review a bbq place where the made a simple statement, “If it is good you will not need sauce.”   If you ask for the sauce, it’s a crutch or habit because the flavor of this sandwich stands on its own.  You don’t need sauce.  Chef Paul knows a thing or two about BBQ.  It is a passion of his.  If you come to visit his restaurant, he confidently suggests that you try the tri-tip.   Now, I learned this after having no more room in my stomach to eat but I did devour the delicious pulled pork sandwich.

Van Nuys, CA: Colombian Cuisine at Meson Criollo Grill Restaurant

On a Sunday afternoon, I walked into joy my friends at Meson Criollo Grill Restaurant.  The husband is from El Salvador and his wife a Colombiana.  She would order for me and plate could have been three dinners for me.   We started with these piping hot crisp empanadas.   I would go back for those alone.   Then my hearty meal of steak, egg, rice, beans and plantains were the feast.   When in pseudo Colombia you drink as they do so I order a Colombian soda.

As for the decor, it seem casual.   I was so into my food and company that I barely noticed.  The restaurant is located in a strip mall.

– Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

Meson Criollo Food

Northridge,CA: Szechuan Place

Spicy wonton soup

Spicy Wonton Soup- Photo by Crystal A. Johnson

While going to do my laundry at a strip mall, a vibrant place caught my attention called the Szechuan.  Something about it even from afar screamed authentic.  The crowd mostly, if not all Asians except me tends to validate my authenticity suspicion.

The restaurant has an extensive menu.  Things caught my attention like Szechuan pork, a couple nearby sharing tofu stew,  and corn chowder soup.  However, I settled on something that I don’t see everyday which is spicy wonton soup.   This is not you standard American Chinese won ton soup.   Instead it is a mixture of chili oil, broth, green onions and garlic and my wontons were filled with pork.  Though, I enjoyed the flavor,  I did think it was too oily.  I would like to maybe had more broth based.  It was very rich.  The garlic and green onion tasted very fresh.   I also order some crispy spring roll that were perfectly crispy and the vegetables inside tasted fresh and were crunchy.

Appetizers average around $10.  Hot pots average $42 and include best for hot pads or chicken hot pot or duck hot pot.   Entrées Tinta range between 14 and $20.

On the day I visited,  service was extremely slow.

The decor is beautiful.  It make you kind of forget you are in s strip mall by a laundry mat and cleaners.  I definitely would like to explore some of the other dishes.

Szechuan Place

The restaurant is located by California State Northridge University.

Where: 9250 RESEDA BLVD UNIT #7-8 NORTHRIDGE, CA 91324

NBA Star Ray Allen to Open 1st Organic Fast-Food Restaurant on East Coast

Two-time NBA champion Ray Allen and his wife Shannon Allen, are in the process of opening a chain of organic fast food restaurants. The name of the fast food chain is “Grown” and their first one will be located in Miami, FL.  READ MORE


Los Angeles, CA: Joe’s Cafe

Joe's Cafe

Joe’s Cafe- Photo by Crystal A. Johnson

Located in the Granada Hills section of the San Fernando Valley is Joe’s Cafe.  Despite the ordinary name, it is not an ordinary restaurant.  Breakfast and Lunch are two meals of the day specialized at Joe’s Cafe.  If you know anything anything about this area then you know that Food Trucks meet on this business strip every Friday night.  Joe’s Cafe could be easily missed if it were not for the crowds waiting and the rare outdoor dining that you see happening during the weekdays especially.

Pretzel burger

The restaurant has heightened popularity with a Chopped Champion chef.  And let me tell you, the food does not disappoint.  I went with two men who ordered sandwiches that are accompanied with pretty green salads.  One dining partner kept talking about his menu item called The Beef , describing it as the best burger he every had.  Now, he had been to the establishment for breakfast and wasn’t originally that impressed but this time, he was.  His burger was sandwiched between a pretzel bun and the burger was topped with cheddar cheese, drunken onions and roasted jalepeño aioli.

Joe's Cafe Burger

I opted for the popular Belgian waffle which can be filled with chocolate

Belgian waffle

Bacon filled Waffle- Photo by Crystal A. Johnson (Joe’s Cafe)

chips and bacon.  I opted out of the chocolate.  I can say this was one of the better waffles that I have eaten.  It was light in texture and flavors included sweetness plus the right amount of savory imparted from the bacon.

Joe’s Cafe is not open for dinner.

Address: 17815 Chatsworth St, Granada Hills, CA 91344




Sherman Oaks: The Review of Fish Dish

Fish taco Cu at Fish Dish

On a Tuesday night the neon lights of Fish Dish on Ventura Blvd caught my attention.  The food critic(me) is trying to be slightly healthier though I admit that fries are a weakness.  My interest in fish tacos has reawakened since having a fabulous fish taco from Señor Sol.  At Fish dish, they offer various types of fish tacos and you have a choice for it to be friend or broiled.  I opted for the broiled Cajun fish taco with an order fries.

Fish Taco and Fries at Fish Dish

At Fish Dish, they give you an ample amount of fish but for me I found the flavor bland despite the so-called Cajun touch. It was not a bad taco.  The fish tasted fresh and I believe many would be pleased with it.   They have a nice salsa bar.   And the sauces are really good.

Fish Dish ext

The location is rustic and cool.   You order at the counter.  It is a no tipping spot.   Parking is always a challenge on Ventura.  Most of the nearby parking is metered.

Fish Dish on Urbanspoon

Northridge, CA(Los Angeles) Review of Señor Sol

Believe it or not this this review of Señor Sol has some divine inspiration.  My pastor loves this place.  He would talk about how I had to try these fish tacos. If he was Catholic I would say,  “Father knows best” but instead I’ll say my pastor selected a a great choice.  The incredible taco  will include two tortillas so it will not fall apart, perfectly grilled whitefish, cheese, cilantro and delicious sauces.  I’ve become a regular now.  I almost always order a fresh made agua fresca like jamaica.

You may be familiar with the sister restaurant Los Fuentes but I enjoy this restaurant better.  It is great looking.  If you are looking for a nice spot to take a date without having to leave a tip, my tip is check out this spot.

Señor Sol on Urbanspoon


Baltimore: Black Owned Restaurants & Eateries

Why would anyone want to know what is a Black owned business?  Unfortunately, Blacks in America still fight stereotypes about being lazy people on welfare waiting to collect a check and food stamps. Moreover, even many Black youth don’t identify with existence of successful Black owners right in their community.  Their perspective still may be limited to having to be a superstar or athlete in order to own a business.

In case you did not know Baltimore is one of the mostly highly Black populated cities in America.  The current mayor is an African American woman.   Not only are restaurants listed below Black owned but they are doing it with excellence, style and of course good taste.