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We are truly fortunate to be living in this beautiful community of ours, in a climate that rivals any in the world.  As the summer approaches we can look forward to warm evenings and Southern California sunsets.  When the weather gets warm, my family goes to the beach, and more often than not, we go to Laguna, because Laguna has my favorite beaches.  For this month’s Food Finds, we’re going to venture outside our little sphere, to the incredibly beautiful town of Laguna, to tell you about a new restaurant with a familiar name:  Tommy Bahama.  Some of you may be thinking that you have already been to Tommy Bahama, and that they are all the same, but the one in Laguna is different.  The food can be best described as a lighter healthy fare exclusive to the Laguna location.

We just happened to go to Tommy Bahama on a very hot and balmy Saturday night, the perfect night to go into Laguna Beach.  The ambiance of the Laguna Tommy Bahama gives you the feeling that life’s just one BIG weekend with its laid-back décor and airy atmosphere.  The entry foyer looks and feels as if you are visiting a friend’s beach home with a very inviting and cozy feel.   The walls are all adorned with the most fabulous photos of Laguna’s beaches, the boardwalk, as well as long ago shots of downtown.  No matter where you are seated within the restaurant, there are perpetual views of the ocean from the surrounding sparkling windows.  We truly lucked out the night we went and were able to catch the sunset from our table while entranced in the amazing flavors being served to us.

Tommy Bahama in Laguna Beach has it’s own unique menu, which is on the lighter side and features seasonal changing dishes.  Executive Chef Marcus Lage has come up with many incredible fusions of tastes to tantalize any newcomer to the restaurant.  We started off with the Muscles (which I have never had before…) they are served with an amazing broth that you can soak up with some of the tastiest garlic bread around.  Yup I will definitely be having muscles again.  The Lobster Corn Dogs are perfectly fried (not too heavy), and definitely the bomb at Tommy Bahama, which are served with Sriracha Mustard (Nice N spicy) and Mango Ketchup dipping sauces.  You must try them!  My favorite appetizers of the night were, the Lobster Corn dogs and the Ahi Tuna Tacos.  The Ahi Tacos are served with a lightly fried wonton shell with the most amazing Asian slaw and perfectly topped off with a Wasabi-Lime infused avocado sauce.  Seriously I really could have eaten the whole plate myself. 

Dinner was on its way and we were already in food heaven.  We had the Atlantic Char, which is a cross between Salmon and Trout.  It was extremely delicate and lightly prepared with a Sweet Pea Risotto and Fennel slaw.  Atlantic Char is farmed here in the US and considered very safe to eat, a new favorite of mine.  The Mahi Mahi was served with Grilled asparagus and Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc Red Quinoa.  The Mahi Mahi was cooked excellently giving it the perfect lightness that you want from Mahi Mahi, and the Quinoa  was very tasty.   All the Seafood and Meat served at Tommy Bahama is locally sourced and humanely raised whenever possible. Next we had the Filet and Shrimp, which was the most  tenderest Tenderloin topped with herbed cheese, served with Chipole-lime shrimp, the fluffiest whipped mashed potatoes and a cracked pepper demi glaze.  If you’re a steak lover, then you have to try the Filet.  The meat was very tender and moist and cooked to perfection.   I know it sounds like we had everything on the menu… but that’s what you MUST do to during a review.  Lucky us, we even got to have the Steak Salad, which was served with their mouth watering tenderloin, watercress, baby greens, cucumbers, roma tomatoes, all drizzled with sweet onion vinaigrette dressing.  The Tenderloin salad is the perfect salad for a light appetite.

Ok, Ok, on to the desserts!  We had the Root Beer Float, which brings back childhood memories, and is served with drizzled caramel on top and definitely a great treat after a long warm afternoon at the beach.  The Banana cream pie is nestled in a graham cracker crust drizzled with caramel sauce.  If you’ve never had Banana Cream pie, then this is the place to indulge.  You will be hooked and begging for more.   The triple chocolate cake has three different kinds of chocolate with four layers of chocolate perfection.  Definitely large enough to share but it might be hard to give up one bite of this delicious cake. 

Tommy Bahama in Laguna Beach is committed to being an Eco-friendly company, and are constantly working on ways to reduce waste by using sustainable systems such as a high tech compost system and donating their compost to the a local elementary School.  Nutra, an environmentally friendly water filtration system, is used to serve the most delicious water in a reusable glass bottle that is placed on your table while you dine. The Natura water filtration system eliminates the impurities and retains the healthy minerals in water.    We ate EVERY last bite of our meal and had no need for To Go containers.  However if you cannot finish your meal, the good news is, their To Go containers are made from biodegradable cardboard.  Tommy Bahama is definitely on the for front of the Green movement with their Eco-Friendly ways and sustainable commitment to our community. 

Tommy Bahama of Laguna Beach, a great place to take the family for an extremely delicious meal and as well as a great place to go after a long and warm day spent on the beautiful beaches in Laguna.  Where you can feel like you’re on vacation without having to go far from home. 

Also don’t forget to check out their retail store, which is just steps up from the dining room on a mini replica of the boardwalk from main beach.   Tommy Bahama has always been known for their fashionable clothing and will not disappoint here in their new Laguna location.

We hope to see you at the new Tommy Bahama next time we’re in Laguna!

                                                        Cindy and Christie

Tommy Bahama

400 South Coast Hwy

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

949-376-6886

www.tommybahama.com

Open 11:30 AM-11PM Sun-Thurs

Open 11:30AM-Midnight Fri & Sat

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“With three boys, a loving husband, a male dog and cat, I AM the queen of the household. 

Along with my crown, I also wear my most prized possession – my tool belt.”

In this suffering economy, we can still find happiness and contentment within our own castle – whether we own it or rent it – and especially if we have little or no budget.  A simple project that can really enhance the look of your back/front yard, patio, or even your street, is to paint a boring looking retaining wall, to make it look rich in stack stone or brick.  Here’s all you need:

Supplies:

v  Take photos or find samples of what you’re trying to emulate (optional).  Otherwise, choose 3-5 paint colors that will compliment your home and it’s surroundings.

v  3-5 exterior/acrylic paint colors (low sheen).  

  • For this project, I happened to use:   an outdoor brown from Lowes (or any home improvement/paint store) as a base color;  acrylic paints including raw umber, burnt umber, raw sienna and a touch here and there of burnt sienna, black and white.

v  A clear glaze, found in the paint section, in Lowes  

v  4 sturdy paper plates

v  A 2” paint brush and 1 smaller paint brush

v  Paper Towels

Instructions:

v  Add some glaze to a paper plate and begin with a base coat on your wall, thinning some “bricks” with glaze added to your wall.  (Note:   If you notice, “bricks,” in general, are not all alike.  There is a variance in the same color.)

v  In another paper plate, mix (1 part) paint color to (3 parts) glaze (you do not need to necessarily mix it together).  Again, painting this wall is all about the variances of paint color.  Add another squirt of another color to your plate and to each “brick”.  Note:  if paint is too thick, wipe it off with a paper towel.  The fun part is that the color will sink into “the valleys” of the brick, therefore giving it depth!  That’s cool!

  • Tip:  If you’re still hating a particular area of color or it’s too dark or light, you can always paint over it–that’s the beauty of paint!

v  Once you get your “bricks” looking like your sample, check out the grout (area in between the bricks) and choose a color that resembles it and paint it.  This is the exciting part!  Your bricks will begin to pop and look more like bricks.

v  Above and beyond:  If you’re not tired yet, and really want your bricks to pop and look more 3-dimentional, in a paper plate, add (1 part) black to (3 parts) glaze and with the small paint brush, paint a line underneath each brick.  This will give it a shadowed effect.

EnJOY and I hope your wall looks FABULOUS!

“Coto Voice – Food Finds” – April Issue 2011

Casa Ranchero – Mexican Cantina ~ Ladera Ranch, CA

 

 

Bravo!  Bravo! Lonnie and Claire Shepard have done it again!  Not only do they own the wonderful restaurant, Infusion, but they scored with a property across the parking lot and created a new Mexican cantina called Casa Ranchero (in the Mercantile West shopping center at Crown Valley Parkway and Antonio Parkway, in Ladera Ranch).  Lonnie and Claire, husband and wife, are a great restaurant team. Lonnie has perfected his talents as a chef over the past 25 years.  He has cooked for Chateclair in Irvine, the Pacific Club in Newport Beach and he was the opening executive chef for Dove Canyon Country Club as well as the Dana Point Yacht Club.  Currently, Lonnie is the executive chef of Infusion.  Combining his chef skills with Claire’s business mind, they decided to challenge themselves with their new Mexican cantina venture, Casa Ranchero.

 

The Look, Tone and Feel

The interior and exterior of Casa Ranchero is really fun.  The creativity of the interior makes you feel like you’re in a Mexican casita.  The patio is great!  There are comfortable couches, a big bon fire, outdoor bar (with a TV), and plenty of heat lamps.  It’s great ambiance to hang out, sipping one of their signature margaritas and munching on homemade chips and salsa.  Once the weather becomes warmer, I can see Casa Ranchero becoming a great hang out this summer! 

Our Experience

At the end of a long day, Ken, Andrew, Cindy and I relaxed outside on the patio.  Casey, our very polite, informative and awesome waiter, took great care of us, offering us first and foremost, Mexican blankets for our laps (with our cold winter, this was a nice touch).

 

After taking our drink order of Mexican beer and margaritas, we ordered four typical Mexican meals.  Ken had the Casa Ranchero Carnitas – crispy shredded carnitas with cilantro, onions, avocado and fresh lime ($13.95).  Andrew had the Carne Asada – charbroiled marinated skirt steak with green onions, sour cream, and guacamole, choice of fresh flour or corn tortillas ($13.95).  Cindy had the Chimichanga – a crispy burrito filled with chicken or beef, topped with tomatoes, ranchero sauce, melted cheese, sour cream and guacamole ($12.95).  Casey talked me into the Suizas Chicken and Cheese – chicken and manchego cheese enchiladas with tomatillo sauce ($10.95).   Chef’s Note:  Queso Manchego is a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the Manchega breed.  Que bueno!   All in all, this was good food with reasonable prices in well-designed setting.

Weekly Events

Happy Hour:  3-6pm, M-F, (bar and patio only).

Taco Tuesdays:  3-closing, (bar and patio only; DJ E&J Ent).

Wednesdays:  Ninos Eat Free!  AND Wacky Wednesdays, 6-11, (cantina & patio only).

Easter Event – April 24th

Try Casa Ranchero’s Easter Brunch this year from 10-2pm.

Contact Information

Book your reservations online at www.casaranchero.com

And friend them on Facebook to find out all their upcoming events.

25606 Crown Valley Parkway, Ladera Ranch, 92694

949-276-7800

Blog Your Comments and Future Restaurant Review Suggestions @

www.dinendesign.wordpress.com

  Tijeras Creek Country Club had some beautiful faux painting done years ago on their heavily used doors.  I was called in to do re-paint them to match the original artist. 

  

I’m on a pomegranate kick!  My family and I are drinking pomegranate juice, eating pomegranate seeds (brings back great childhood memories of eating them at my friend Sue’s house straight from the trees!) and now I felt compelled to paint a pomegranate.  I gotta go.  I’m thirsty for some p juice now….EnJOY!

It’s Friday!  Farmers Market Day in Rancho Santa Margarita!  1:00pm-6:00pm  Get there early before the cold rain (and snow!) comes!

A healthy recipe to think about making while you’re there is the refreshing and very healthy Pomegrante Lime Iced-Tea.

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 tea bags, steeped with 4 cups hot water
  • 4 limes, cut up in quarters
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pomegranate juice and seeds
  • ice cubes

Directions:

  • In a pitcher, pour in the tea and let cool.
  • In a bowl, place the limes and sugar and mash together.  Pour lime sugar mixture into the pitcher.
  • Add a splash of pomegranate juice and place in the refrigerator.
  • When chilled, use a strainer to catch the limes, and pour into glasses with some ice.  Add a few pomegranate seeds and enJOY!

FYI:  Pomegranate Nutrition:

  • vitamin C, potassium, tannins, anti-oxidants
  • fiber in the seeds
  • can help reduce chances of prostate cancer, diabetes, lymphoma, common cold and coronary heart disease, just to name a few!

FYI:  Lime Nutrition:

  • vitamin C, vitamin A, a bit of calcium and iron

Famers Market – Fresh Lemonade! (so easy!)

RECIPE

  • 1 cup sugar (fine granuals are best)
  • 6 large Meyer lemons, seeded and juiced
  • 5 cups of water, divided into 1 cup and 4 cups
  • 1 tablespoon organic maple syrup, optional
  • mint leaves, optional
  • 

 

 

 

 

Directions:

  1. In a small sauce pan, bring the sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil.  Sir occasionally until sugar dissolves completely and turns into a syrup.  Let cool.
  2. In a large pitcher/jar, stir in the syrup, unstrained lemon juice, maple syrup and 4 cups of cold water together.
  3. Chill in the fridge or serve over ice.  Add mint for an edible decoration.

EnJOY!

Christie