July Restaurant Weeks: Summer Dining for Less

dineLA 2015 AOC dish blog copyAs we welcome the start of summer, we’re pleased to share the steals on meals you can take advantage of in cities across North America. Find out where July restaurant weeks are happening near you!

* Toronto Summerlicious has what you crave with $18, $23 + $28 lunches and $25, $35 + $45 dinners, July 3-26. Book a table.

Mpls St. Paul Magazine Restaurant Week invites you to make the most of Twin Cities dining with $10-$20 lunches and $15-$30 dinners, July 12-17. Book a table.

* Providence Restaurant Weeks serves up perfection in the way of $14.95 lunches and $29.95 or $34.95 dinners, July 12-25. Book a table.

* Chicago French Restaurant Week is your opportunity to eat, drink, and be French with magnifique meals priced at $17.89, $35.78, and/or $178.90, July 13-19. Réserver une table.

* NYC French Restaurant Week asks you to say oui to dining deals during Bastille Week with revolutionary prices of $17.89, $35.78, and/or $178.90, July 13-19.  Réserver une table.

* Clayton Restaurant Week in Missouri has three-course gourmet dinners for just $25, July 13-19. Book a table.

* dineLA has deals that will leave you starstruck with $15, $20 + $25 lunches and $30, $40 + $50 dinners at more than 250 restaurants, including AOC (which will be offering its torchio pasta with baby broccoli, roasted tomato, chili + breadcrumbs, pictured), July 13-26. Book a table.Continue Reading

Nine Showstopping Popcorn Dishes to Celebrate Blockbuster Season

Independence Day is almost here, and ahead of this epic movie-going weekend, we’re wondering which will be the big winner at the box office on July 4th (not to mention the summer). Jurassic World might claw its way to the top of the heap. Maybe Minions will take over the world. Or perhaps Terminator: Genisys will be the supersized success of the season. When the movie studios start binging on blockbusters, we get hungry for popcorn – and not just at the theater. Lucky for us, sweet and savory preparations featuring the puffy kernels have been popping up all over the country. In honor of the instances in which this concession-stand classic steals the show, we present nine show-stopping popcorn dishes to celebrate blockbuster season.

Almanac, New York, New York
Remember those nut-crusted cheese balls your grandmother always made at the holidays? Chef Galen Zamarra created an upscale riff: caramel popcorn-crusted goat cheese. The globe of goodness arrives with semolina crisps and golden raisin-fennel compote.

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Americano Restaurant & Bar, San Francisco, California
There’s an old saying that bacon makes everything better. That certainly holds true with executive chef Josua Perez’s ballpark-inspired bacon-pecan caramel popcorn. The sweet, salty, briny, and buttery snack mix is a certifiable home run.

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The Back Room at One57, New York, New York
There are éclairs and then there is pastry chef Scott Cio’s Cracker Jack éclair. The tubular treat is topped off with slightly salted caramel popcorn. Dig in and don’t worry; there’s not a prize hiding inside.

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Barton G. The Restaurant, Los Angeles, California
You’ll feel like you’re making a trip to the concession stand when you order this fun-loving appetizer. A mix of fried shrimp and Old Bay-spiced popcorn arrive in a chipper red and white retro popcorn maker. The jumble of crispity, crunchity bites is accompanied with Sriracha aioli and sweet chili sesame sauce.

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Dig This: The Best Varieties of Clams + the Delicious Ways Restaurants Are Serving Them This Summer

In the broadest of terms, a clam is a bivalve mollusk with two hard shells that protect the edible, sweet yet briny, exquisite yet simple, meat within. Found in most coastal areas throughout the world, clams are both a reliable dietary staple and a treasured delicacy. Served raw, baked, fried, poached, roasted, steamed, or in chowders, sauces, or stews, the versatility and relative plenitude of clams render them an indispensable seafood pick with chefs from coast to coast. Our seafood markets are brimming with a number of varieties of clams, some wild, some farmed, and all infinitely tasty. Here are the best varieties of clams and the delicious ways restaurants are serving them this summer!

Atlantic Hard Shell Clams at The Clam, New York, New York
Atlantic hard shell clams (Mercenaria mercenaria), also known as quahogs (pronounced coe-hog), are the quintessential east coast clam. Quahogs are graded by size, with littlenecks being the smallest (approximately 10-12 clams per pound), followed by top necks (6-10 per pound), cherrystones (3-4 per pound) and chowders (1-2 per pound). The Clam serves up its favorite and eponymous ingredient in a number of expected, and unexpected, dishes: littlenecks on the half shell, clam dip with zesty potato chips, clam and lobster sliders, and grilled white clam pizza, to name just a few.

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Soft Shell Clams at Island Creek Oyster Bar, Boston, Massachusetts
Soft shell clams (Mya arenaria) are also popularly called steamers, piss clams, longnecks, or Ipswich clams and are native to our northeast coast. The soft shell name is a bit of a misnomer as the shells are more brittle than soft. Soft shell clams are more oblong in shape than hard shell clams and are distinguished by a long protruding siphon, which the clam uses to both feed and filter the water. A bowl of steamers dipped in melted butter is one of the purest joys of a New England summer, and Island Creek Oyster Bar does not disappoint with its Ipswich steamers served with crusty bread for sopping up the every last drop of clammy goodness. [Photo by Michael Harlan Turkell]

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Razor Clams at Saxon + Parole, New York, New York
Razor clams, shaped like old-fashioned straight razors, are found both on the east and west coasts. East coast razors (Ensis directus) are known as Atlantic jackknife clams. West coast razors (Siliqua patua) are known as Pacific razor clams and are slightly more oval-shaped than their east coast cousin. Prized in Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Korean cuisines, razor clams are now finding their way onto non-Asian menus on both coasts. At Saxon + Parole, chef Brad Farmerie creates razor clam magic by combining steamed razors and egg salad, served with caviar and grilled bread. Brunch will never be the same.

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Nine Stunning Summer Restaurant Menus Showcasing the Season’s Bounty

Summertime and livin’ is easy. Farmers markets overflow with a rainbow of just-harvested vegetables, fruits, and herbs, while fishermen haul in seasonal specialties. For chefs, this wealth of freshness is a bonanza that they look forward to all year long. You can practically hear them rubbing their hands with glee when it starts flooding into their kitchens. To highlight the best of the sunny season, we rounded up nine stunning summer restaurant menus.

Bouchon, Beverly Hills, California
Thomas Keller presents French favorites crafted with farm fresh produce. Roasted chicken comes with a ragout of summer pole beans and sweet corn, artichokes pair with a pan-seared swordfish, and a radiant apricot tart leads the new dessert offerings. C’est magnifique!

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Charlie Palmer Steak, Washington, D.C.
When he’s not in the kitchen, executive chef Jeffrey Russell spends time tending his garden plot across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia. The vegetables and herbs he cultivates there become a part of his four-course tasting dinners, which change weekly. The initial menu features a baby butter lettuce salad filled out with cukes, carrots, and bronze fennel and teres major steak accompanied by braised Swiss chard and charred Vidalia onions.

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Chefs Club by Food & Wine, New York City
If restaurants were movies, this one would be The Avengers. A rotating, all-star cast of contributors presents a seasonally inspired menu, which currently includes a watercress-jalapeno-watermelon salad from chef Michelle Bernstein and lobster cannelloni from chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado. Sounds like a blockbuster to us.

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Lincoln Ristorante, New York, New York
For his latest menu, executive chef Jonathan Benno found inspiration in traditional Sardinian cuisine. Standout dishes include a burrata orb graced with strawberries and pickled ramps, brown butter sautéed morels sit atop ricotta-pea pocketed ravioli, and a mélange of spinach and red dandelion greens are gussied up with briny bottarga, chili, and garlic. Best of all: you don’t have to buy a plane ticket to enjoy this authentic taste of the Mediterranean isle.Continue Reading