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Top Chef Amar Santana Has A Luxurious Uni Scrambled Egg Dish You Need In Your Mouth Right Now

Amar Santana is a product of Queens, New York, but has found a new home on the West Coast, as chef and partner of Vaca in Costa Mesa, and Broadway By Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, California.

After finishing as a finalist on Bravo’s well-known culinary elimination show, Top Chef, in 2016, it’s safe to say Santana’s culinary resume is intimidating.

Yet, his humble demeanor paired with his competitive passion for cooking – along with an outside-the-box approach in creating vibrant, imaginative delicacies – is exactly what makes this Southern California chef and his cuisine “Foodbeast Approved.”

Recently, FOODBEAST was able to catch up with Chef Santana at Vaca, a Spanish-style tapas restaurant in Costa Mesa, where he whipped up one of the most elegant items on the menu.

Erizos con huevos, softly translated to “uni scrambled eggs,” consists of a freshly cut sea urchin with a mixture of soft scrambled eggs, served with toast and housemade miso butter.

If you’ve never had sea urchin before, don’t let this enigma deter you. The Erizos con huevos is creamy and full of umami, and manages to be the shining star despite a Vaca menu consumed with meaty options like Jamon de Iberico and pork belly.

Vaca is located in Costa Mesa – also known as ‘City of the Arts’ – a bustling neighborhood on the Newport Beach border full of good food and culture. If you hadn’t heard of this spot previously, it’s for certain Amar Santana and Vaca should be on your radar in 2018.

To learn more about the Costa Mesa food scene, visit travelcostamesa.com/eatcation. Don’t forget to tag your photos with #eatcation!

Photos by Pete Pham


Created in partnership with Travel Costa Mesa

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Restaurants

The Foie Gras And Sea Urchin Espressos That Kept Me Up All Night

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While sitting at my desk yesterday contemplating changing my last name to “Burger,” I began to doze off. In my sleepy state, I heard a rumor that a restaurant in Pasadena, CA, served an espresso made with foie gras.

Holy shit, I couldn’t tell if that sounded disgusting or delicious, but I was more than ready to seek it out. I grabbed fellow writer Reach and hopped into my car ready for a foie gras adventure.

We arrived at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Downtown Pasadena where were were seated at the bar. It was right at the peak of Happy Hour and folks were ready to get their booze on after a long day of work.

I asked the bartender if she served an espresso made with foie gras. She confirmed it and, shortly after, brought us a cup they called Kuki to sip on.

Two hours in traffic we sat through, waiting for this beverage.

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You can definitely taste the foie gras right off the bat. While subtle at first, the flavor gets more and more intense as you get to the bottom of the cup. The top is filled with a smooth foam, while the middle is a tad oily. Finally, when you get to the bottom, you can easily find chunks of foie gras settling at the base.

The bartender was eager to hear our thoughts, as she had never tried the drink before. Not many customers had. As we happily gave her our review, she mentioned there were two other espressos on the menu we needed to try.

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One was made with Wagyu fat and the other with Uni (sea urchin).

I quickly looked at Reach who gave me a nod of approval. We ordered the drinks.

The Wagyu fat, called Tochi, didn’t taste too crazy. The sweetness from the chocolate and honey overpowered the fat, but it made for a pretty delicious dose of caffeine. Probably the most normal of the trio.

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While I was sipping on the Wagyu espresso, Reach had just done the same to the Uni. His eyes lit up like it was Christmas. The dude isn’t normally a coffee drinker, so when he says to try it, I don’t hesitate.

The foie gras was good, but the there was something about the uni beverage they named Umi that blended so well with the espresso. Hands down the best of the three. At the bottom, like the foie gras, you can clearly spot bits of sea urchin swimming about.

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The three drinks were definitely a cool take on espressos.

After a jittery car ride home, I spent the rest of the night watching New Girl episodes on Netflix. Can’t handle three espressos after 5pm any more. Not if I want to sleep at a decent hour.

You can get the espresso trio for $30, or $10 a piece.

Categories
Animals Tastemade/Snapchat

10 Shellfish Facts That You Probably Didn’t Know

Shellfish thrive as intriguing little weirdos who look like tiny versions of the creatures that once tried to take out Godzilla in old monster flicks. But what do you really know about them, aside from their ability to be a celebrated main ingredient of coastal dives? Let’s take a closer look at these shelled invertebrates that swim, float, and live under the sea.

 

Lobsters taste with their legs and chew with their stomachs

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The leg and feet hairs of a lobster are chemosensory, and they use their antennas to track down possible food. They’re also fitted with a gastric mill, essentially a set of teeth in their stomachs, located behind their eyes.

 

Oysters can and will change their sex

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All oysters are born male and will swap genders at least once. Given that they are born with both sets of reproductive organs, oysters can also fertilize their own eggs.

 

A sea urchin’s mouth is known as “Aristotle’s Lantern”

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Located on the underside of a sea urchin’s body, their unique, complex mouth has five sharp teeth that can drill a hole into a rock. These chompers can also be venomous, so watch out on the beach and at your favorite sushi bar.

 

Lobsters are sometimes cannibals

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Lobsters have eaten each other when in the same cage, as though in some type of underwater Thunderdome, but they now seem to be doing it in the wild as well. Typical cases involve adults eating their young.

 

The phrase “happy as a clam” is incomplete

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The longer version of the term is “as happy as a clam at high water,” though it’s rarely used. The idiom makes more sense in full because a clam at high tide is typically free from predators.

 

Crabs communicate by the sound of their claws and pincers

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Crabs create sounds by drumming and flapping their sharp appendages in what can only be described as crustacean Morse code. Some species of crab have one especially large claw used for communication.

 

Lobsters pee out of their faces, especially when they want blood or sex

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Lobsters’ antennal glands are the greenish-brown spots near the antennae, and it’s custom for them to pee at each other during battle or courtship. The female, who makes the first move, pees in a male’s shelter several times, creating a pheromonal state of relaxation for the male.

 

One shrimp can lay a million eggs

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In a single season, a female shrimp will produce an absurd amount of offspring, which will hatch in two weeks’ time. They can also survive in any water conditions as long as there’s food, so a breeding area can be pretty much anywhere.

 

Lobsters used to be served to prisoners who absolutely hated it

Back in colonial times, in a stunning comparison to their high-brow status these days, lobsters were constantly fed to prisoners (and slaves). They were cheap, omnipresent, and gross. Prisoners got so sick of eating lobster that a rule to reduce their serving to only three days a week was enforced.

 

The mantis shrimp kills its prey in the craziest, most brutal way imaginable

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The mantis shrimp dismembers other shellfish with its two appendages that carry the same velocity of a rifle gunshot — moving so quickly that they boil the water around them, ultimately creating a shockwave that can also kill prey. To put that into perspective, if a human had utilized that same force in their arms, they would be able to throw a rock into outer space! Not only that, but their shell is so intense that it’s inspired actual human body armor.