Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

“Coto Voice – Food Finds” – February Issue 2011

Simply Fondue



February is traditionally the month of celebrating LOVE with our special sweetheart.  For a special dinner experience, we recommend you get a reservation (not required, but suggested) at Simply Fondue at one of their two locations (off Los Alisos in Mission Viejo, or across the street from the historic Mission in San Juan Capistrano).  Both locations have a dark, sultry and romantic feel and a European food experience that is unforgettable.

What Simply Fondue wants you to know…

“Recently voted as one of the Most Romantic Restaurants in Orange County for both locations, Simply Fondue has become a popular destination for food lovers who enjoy an interactive dining experience while indulging in their savory cuisine.  With its bright, eclectic décor and savory fondue cuisine, Simply Fondue is quickly gaining a reputation among patrons and critics alike as one of the coziest and most intimate restaurants to debut in Southern California’s recent history.  Experience the difference with over 100 designer martinis, award winning wines, homemade crepes and exceptional fondue!  Our Old World Eclectic San Juan Capistrano location or our European Chic Mission Viejo location is a perfect fit for an incredible evening with family and friends.  Simply Fondue recently won five awards in the “Best of Citysearch 2010 including Best Wine List and Best Dessert.”

Our Experience

Nic, the wonderful general manager at the Mission Viejo restaurant, warmly greeted us on a busy Sunday evening.  With a booked evening as it was, we couldn’t really tell because of the great service he provided and the great way the booths are designed – tall sides, so you’re not distracted by all the other guests around you.  Another unique feature is the small stove in the middle of your table for the fondue experience.  On this stovetop, two pots of fondue can be heated.  Fondue, by the way, by original definition is “a saucelike dish of Swiss origin made with melted cheese and seasonings together with dry white wine, usually flavored with kirsch: served as a hot dip for pieces of bread.”  As a kid I always wondered why I didn’t care for my parents’ fondue and now I know why – those are mature flavors for a kid! Well, welcome to 2011!  Simply Fondue has taken traditional fondue to new flavor levels (even kids like Simply Fondue)!

After ordering a couple designer martinis, we started off with four traditional salads:  The Greek, Classic Caesar, Spinach & Strawberry and Gorgonzola Field Greens.  All were full of fresh flavors and homemade dressings.

Next, Nic educated us on cheese fondues.  Each fondue is served with an assortment of fresh bread, crisp vegetables and fruits.  We experienced two.  First The Mediterranean which, in a fondue pot, melted together sharp cheddar cheese, beer, basil pesto, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes.  Secondly, we had The Italian Fontina, which, combined a rich blend of Fontina d’Aosta, grated Romano cheeses, tomato sauce, white wine and vegetable broth.  Both were very enjoyable.

Next, Nic suggested we order the Fondue Feast – a four-course sampling of their finest fondues and meats ($49/pp).  On the table he began heating up a pot for a vegetable boil and a skillet to cook the meat.  A platter of assorted meats and vegetables were brought to us and the interactive cooking began.  The four of us divided up the meat and had our assignments.  Together we cooked, with garlic butter and oil: beef tenderloin, sea scallops, salmon, pecan-crested mahi-mahi, coconut shrimp, bacon-wrapped tenderloin, seasoned chicken, ahi sesame tuna, Jamaican jerk chicken, herb-crusted pork tenderloin, roasted garlic chicken, and teriyaki sirloin salmon!  They served at least six tantalizing sauces for dipping as well.  The aroma coming from our table was drop-dead heavenly and the taste was extraordinary.

After wiping our mouths, rubbing our bellies, and clearing our table, Nic brought, for dessert, chocolate fondue ingredients and a tray of pound cake pieces, triple chunk brownies, marshmellows, rice crispy squares, rolled cookies, peanut butter balls, pineapple, strawberries, bananas, maraschino cherries and sugar bites.  Fire up the pots!  Yet, another fondue experience!  Ready for this?!  Reeses Peanut-Butter Fondue – Reeses Peanut-Butter added to their already famous milk chocolate as well as Kahlua Heath Krunch – creamy milk chocolate, swirled together with Kahlua liqueur and topped off with crunchy Heath Bar toffee bits.  Other dessert options are (and you can let your imagination flow with these titles): Raspberry Cabernet, Snicker Fondoodle, Thin Mint, Chocolate Grand Marnier, Chocolate Bliss (dark chocolate), Chocolate Confusion (white & milk chocolate swirled together), The Grand White (silky white chocolate swirled with Grand Marnier), Rocky Road, Pecan Caramel Swirl, and Campfire Chocolate, just to name a few!  I can see why they received the Best Dessert award in 2010!

Two and half hours later, we were done.  Cooked.  Stick a fork in us.  Our four course meal left us overly satisfied.  We all slept well that night and feared the scale in the morning.  All in all, Simply Fondue was a very unique, romantic, intimate dining experience that was simply pleasurable.

Visit them on their web site:

Mission Viejo (in the same shopping center as Piccolino’s)

28719 Los Alisos Blvd, MV, CA 92692


San Juan Capistrano

31761 Camino Capistrano, SJC, CA  92675


If you’ve eaten at any of the places we’ve reviewed or have a place you’d like to recommend, please let us know on our blog:  We’d love to hear from you!

Bon Apetit!

Christie & Cindy

“Coto Voice – Food Finds”

 December Issue 2010

I was so looking forward to our weekend date night adventure wine tasting and became pleasantly surprised that we didn’t need to travel far.  Right here, in Rancho Santa Margarita, is a little local gem called, Amazing Grapes Wine Store.   They opened their store about six years ago and, like wine, they keep getting better with age.  

What They Want You to Know

“Focusing on hospitality and graciousness, Amazing Grapes Wine Bar offers an extensive wine tasting experience.  From the casual glass to the special event, our desire is to offer you a tasting and food experience that is truly remarkable.  Our trained wine bar staff hand selects wines weekly for our bar as well as host a variety of wine tasting events – from current releases from a single winery to a regional or global perspective. 

Our chef, Gerri Anderson, has also assembled a uniquely stylized menu, featuring signature dishes and weekly specials, which are paired with specific wines to enhance and elevate the dining and tasting experience.  Whether it be a small, intimate evening or a special event – we invite you to join us.” 

 Our Experience

As you walk into the wine store, you’ll notice isles of wines, champagnes, ports and craft beers from all different regions – Argentina, Austrian, Australia, Chilean, French, German, Italian, New Zealand, Portuguese, South African, Spanish, Washington, and of course, throughout California.  Continue to follow your nose toward the back, left-hand corner where you’ll find a handsome wine bar and tables for dining as well as beautiful vineyard artwork that sets the tone of where you really want to be.  Our server, Amanda, was a sweet gal who had just moved back here from Paso Robles.  We were also visited by Lisa, an Artesa Vineyards expert who guided us through a very enjoyable wine tasting.  And even Chef Gerri could steal away from her beloved kitchen to come out and say hi to the patrons.

 To start off with, Cindy, Andrew, Ken and I so enjoyed the Figgy Cheese ($7) – rosemary-infused goat cheese, studded with black Mission figs, fig jam topping, & crackers. To die for!  I didn’t even know I liked figs and the goat cheese really did something for me.  The next day I actually had a dream of this appetizer, weird I know, but I must have it again!  Next, we shared a Seasoned Salad ($6) – baby spinach, dried cranberries, feta cheese, candied walnuts, & balsamic vinaigrette, so enjoyable with the 2008 and 2009 Artesa Chardonnay Carneros (& the Reserve) we were sipping.  At this point, Cindy and I were perfectly content.  Our husbands, on the other hand, needed something a little more substantial.  Ken ordered the Beef on “Weck” ($8) – roast beef on salty kummelweck roll, dipped in au jus, served with a side of horseradish — unique staple of Buffalo, New York, right here in RSM!  He cut off portions of his hearty sandwich for each of us, and I must say it was quite good, especially with the 2006 & 2007 Artesa Pinot Noir Carneros we next began tasting.  One of the servers, whom we became friendly with, named “Shawna, the Wine Wench” highly recommended the Verdura Pizza ($8) – artichoke hearts, spinach, tomato, basil, and mozzarella cheese.  Now we’ve had a lot of pizzas in our days, but I must say there was a little extra cheesy magic in this one – the wench was right!  As if that wasn’t enough, I had to try the Truffle Mac & Cheese ($11) – pasta shells enrobed in creamy truffle béchamel, and crunchy panko topping – a mature mac & cheese, not to be wasted on little ones and soooo enjoyable with our 2007 Artesa Pinot Noir Carneros Reserve tasting.  As any wine lover craves, a chocolate dessert was in order.  We all overly enjoyed Dark Chocolate Clusters ($3) – house-made confection of dark chocolate, Spanish walnuts, dried cherries and a hint of ginger – simply Amazing!  We ended the evening with a nightcap of Port.  Thank goodness Ken was our designated driver.  I think we passed him a few extra “Clusters” and he was perfectly happy!

 The next time I visit Amazing Grapes, I’m going to try their intriguing Fromage and Salumi, selection of a variety of cheeses, and Italian Prosciutto di Parma – Italian ham that has been aged 10-12 months using only one ingredient – salt; as well as their Italian Genoa Salami – seasoned with garlic, salt, black and white peppercorns, fennel seeds and wine.  My mouth is watering already!

 Holiday Gifts Idea

I would highly recommend you consider Amazing Grapes Wine Store as a convenient source for your holiday shopping this season – it’s a great find for those “hard-to-buy-for who have everything”.  Check them out at

 Thank you Greg Schroeder (GM) and Mike DeVries (Store Mngr) for your hospitality and helpful staff – everyone was delightful and I look forward to coming back again soon!

Bon Apetit! 

Christie Lynch

Amazing Grapes Wine Store

29911 Aventura, Suites D, E & F

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA  92688

Tel:  888-299-9463