Tacos Are Twist on Shell Game

Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to the Times Orange County Edition. Information for this column can be faxed to (714) 966-7790. Or phone (714) 966-7700.

Some of the finest chefs in the county will offer up their wackiest versions of taco dishes at Wild and Crazy Taco Thursday on April 6.

Chefs participating in the event, hosted by Share Our Selves' OrangeAid Kitchen, include John McLaughlin (JW's), Jack Kalustian (Kayaki), Michael Philippi (The Hobbit), Ted Gray (Newport Meat Co.), Pascal Olhats (Pascal), Michael Kang (Five Feet), Alan Greeley (Golden Truffle) and Sarah Scott (Mondavi Wine & Food Center). Last year, Jean Pierre Lemanissier (Antoine) made ostrich tacos and Christian Rassinoux (Ritz-Carlton) put tropical fruit in a taco shell of almond sugar with ginger sabayon.

McLaughlin brought octopus tacos with spicy mango relish; now he's planning buffalo tacos with tomatillo sauce. "I shared a room with Michael Kang and Alan Greeley, and by coincidence, all three of us did octopus," McLaughlin said. "This year, I picked a new creature."

It's $25 at the door. There'll be strolling mariachis and a margarita bar, and it all benefits the food distribution and emergency services center and adjoining medical-dental clinic. The event, which takes place from 6 to 8 p.m., also kicks off the OrangeAid/Taste of the Nation Dinner at the Mondavi Wine & Food Center in Costa Mesa on May 12.

Share Our Selves, 1550 Superior Ave., Costa Mesa. (714) 721-9489.


Two local restaurants offer especially enticing winemaker dinners this week; both start at 6:30 p.m. On Monday, Restaurant Mon Chateau hosts the wines of Napa Valley-based Franciscan Vineyards and winemaker Alan Tenchser (formerly with Schramsberg) at a six-course dinner, highlights of which include skate with light mustard sauce with Franciscan's Chardonnay Cuvee Sauvage (due for release Saturday); roast veal loin in morel port demi-glace with 1990 Red Meritage Magnificat; peppered strawberry soup with 1992 Merlot and a trio of chocolate mousses with 1988 late-harvest Riesling. It's $65, all-inclusive.

On Wednesday, Golden Truffle invites Michael Michaud to share the wines of Chalone, and share he will. Following courses of keawe wood-smoked ono sashimi with ginger caviar salad, and steelhead trout with soul slaw--with Chalone Chenin Blanc and Pinot Blanc, respectively--dinner shifts into high gear with two courses featuring sampling side by side by side , of three vintages of Chardonnay with braised monkfish and oysters with potato ligier, and three Pinot Noirs with turnip "envelope" of foie gras and trumpet of death mushrooms . Dessert is tropical banana strudel with cashews. It's $78 a person without tax or tip.

Golden Truffle, 1767 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa. (714) 645-9858.

Mon Chateau, 23642 El Toro Road, Lake Forest. (714) 830-3812.

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