Posts Tagged ‘Christie Lynch’

 

 {Rancho Santa Margarita & Orange}

   

One of the restaurants in our South Orange County area that I have frequented often, by pure craving, is Tutto Fresco – located in the beautiful foothills of Rancho Santa Margarita as well as a fun location in Orange (a must stop prior to an Angels or Ducks game!  Bring your Angels/Ducks ticket and you can receive a free appetizer or dessert too!).  Tutto Fresco, translated to “everthing  fresh”, says it all.  Their ingredients are always so “totally fresh” and carefully and artistically blended to be appealing to the eye, as well as evoke your  taste buds.  I sat down with owner, and Coto de Caza resident, Debbie White (co-owner with husband, Steve White) the other day over an amazing lunch at Tutto Fresco/RSM to discuss their restaurant philosophies.

The Team

The true food artist and one of the main ingredients to Tutto Fresco’s success, is Dan Johns — both chef and general manager.  Dan is passionate about the experience he wants his guests to have.  Along with his sommelier talent (buying and selling premium wines that compliment his clientel’s taste, both financially, as well as, of course, complimenting and enhancing the food), and his creativity with the menu (always a seasonal menu in addition to their main menue which is full of fresh variety), he truly knows his purpose in this life.  Dan’s foodie talent, along with Steve and Debbie White’s  combined years of experience and consulting in the restaurant industry, makes this Tutto Fresco team, top notch.  The best part?!  They all truly enjoy what they do!  You can feel that sentiment through their plates and willingness to please their customers.  For example, Dan, on an occasional busy Friday or Saturday night, will take a platter of samplers out to the patrons who are waiting for their table.  This team gets involved with and gets to know their customers — that truly is an added bonus in my books and a key ingredient to success.

The Atmosphere

Debbie, you can tell, had a say in the décor – very tastfully accented and comfortable, with a touch of an Italian flair.  Patrons have a choice to sit either indoors (like a family living room) or outside on their patio where you can watch the hustle and bustle of RSM life.  City Hall is across the street and the movie theater is across the way, making it a very convenient place to eat prior to a local event, or movie showing.

The Food

Life is full of choices and when it comes to restaurants, we don’t want to waste our time and money, and we expect the food to be amazing every time.  Restauranteurs really need to nail it, knowing that they are pleasing most of the people, most of the time.  At Tutto Fresco, I would bet you’ll be pleased all of the time with innumerable options of:  appealing appetizers, pasta dishes, vegetable dishes, great salads, tasty soups, paninis, wraps, sandwiches, chicken,  fish and seafood, lamb, sausages,  pizzas, calzones, desserts (awarding winning carrot cake!), etc. etc.  Their menu is quite extensive.  Their three most popular dishes are the Baked Sausage Lasagna (true “man food”), Rigatoni della Camera dish, and the Spinach Ravioli.  New recipes make their debut on the seasonal menu, then, based on consumer interest, they will pass and make it on the big menu.  And I must say, the menu is growing!!!

Dan personally came out and started us off with one of his many new creations:  Bruschetta Parmesan Nest,  a beautiful presentation, easy to eat, and full of parmesan and fresh tomato flavor!

Always thinking and creating, Dan came up with another Bruschetta al Pomodoro   served with grilled corn and home-made guacamoli – a must try.

Next, we tried his Mini Fig Pizza  which is a wonderful combination of sweet figs and savory pancetta with Norwegian goat cheese – great bold flavor with a balance, very, very good and one of my favorite flavor combinations.  Debbie ordered the Blackened Shrimp & Peach Salad (no photo here, we ate it too fast!  Oops!) – a great summer choice, and the shrimp was done just right.  And finally, we had lamb.  I must note, that I was honest, and told Dan and Debbie that I am not a fan of lamb, but they insisted I give it a try.  From the appetizer menu, another beautiful presentation of four Macadamia Nut Baby Lamb Chops  with a macadamia pesto and mustard sauce – I was impressed and I WILL order it again, it was that good.  I’ve been won over!

Menus everywhere seem to be declaring the American consumers’ cry for “health conscious choices”.  Tutto Fresco hears you and has developed healthy menu items, including a Fitness Wrap and a great Tortilla Soup, just to name a few.

After Debbie’s and my big, wonderful meal, there was no room for dessert.  Ironically enough, at my Girls Game Night Out the next evening, the hostess ran out to Tutto Fresco and ordered an assortment of appetizers, salad and their little aMAZing Chocolate and Carrot Cakes.  I know I haven’t had everything on the menu yet, but everytime I go/order from Tutto Fresco, I’m going to try something new.  I’m thinking eggplant next time…

Fund Raisers

Not only is Tutto Fresco a truly great destination for wonderful family dinners, sporting lunches/dinners, wedding showers, baby showers, birthday celebrations, Mother’s Day brunches, but also a wonderful place to have a fund raiser for a school, a team, or helping someone out in the community.  Debbie and Steve White,  are always eager to participate in community events and fund raisers.  Just last week at the restaurant,  the Santa Margarita Catholic High School Girls Cross Country families held a successful fund raiser dinner for their team.  Fund raising dinners have helped out Tesoro High School’s football team, drama group, as well as Tijieras Creek Elementary and St. John’s schools.  We held a very successful dinner fund raiser to help out the Fallon family last year when our friend, Luke, had sudden brain surgery; Luke showed up and was greeted by familiar and unfamiliar faces in support of his recovery.  (I’m happy to report that, a year later, he is doing more than amazingly well!).  Debbie and Steve are more than willing to give back 20% of lunch/dinner sales (dining in/take out orders apply), Mondays-Thursdays.  Give Debbie a call to set up your fund raiser today:  (949) 858-3360.

All in all, I can’t say enough about Tutto Fresco – amazing food for all occasions.  Contact me on my blog and tell me about your favorite menu items!

Buon Appetito!

Tutto Fresco Trattoria/RSM

30642 Santa Margarita Parkway, Suite E104

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA  92688

949-858-3360

Tutto Fresco Trattoria/Orange

1333 N. Glassell

Orange, CA  92867

(714) 771-1555

http://www.tuttofresco.biz

Enjoy!

Christie Lynch – freelance restaurant reviewer

Blog:  www.dinendesign.wordpress.com

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Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse, Trabuco Canyon

If you think back to why you moved all the way out to the Coto/Trabuco Canyon area, you’d have to admit that you enjoy the secluded, rustic, California terrain.  The stories the hills, horse trails and ancient oak trees of our Trabuco Canyon could tell…tales of cowboys and indians, hunting excurtions, and the people of our local canyons are told and retold everyday, and they never seem to get old.   I recently met Dori Nordeck-Odenath, a Coto de Caza resident, and 25-year owner of Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse, and her husband, Al.  Over an amazing steak, crab, halibut and ribs dinner, they told Cindy, Andrew, Ken and I the legend of Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse.

The History

On June 28, 1968, Eleanor, Duke and Randy Sherod, opened Trabuco Oaks as a snack bar serving campers from O’Neill Park, as well as Trabuco Canyon residents.  Eventually they began serving dinner with two rules:  1) “Keep it simple”, and 2) “Do it right”.  Ever since, the steakhouse “serves only USDA CHOICE  corn-fed beef, the best available, aged just right, and hand-trimmed to their exacting standards.  Extra-thick top sirloins, T-bones, and hand-cut filets are broiled over real mesquite charcoal.  No gas, no electricity, no folderol.  Just the best darn steaks you have ever tasted.”  And they truly are!

“Doing it right” has attracted many repeat customers, like the local fire fighters, local football teams, other sporty and local legends, as well as President Nixon (there is actually a picture on the highly decorative wall of Eleanor cutting Nixon’s tie!).  Please note:  There is a tradition here; if you choose to wear a tie, it will be cut off and placed amongst the millions of ties adorning the walls throughout the restaurant.  You’ve been warned!

 

Location

If you’ve never been to Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse, it seems so close, yet so far away.  Leaving the big skies of Coto, you venture down into the canyon and will find yourself under an umbrella of oak and sycamore trees.  From Coto de Caza Drive, take Plano Trabuco Road out the north un-manned gate, pass SMHS.   As you descend into the canyon, Plano Trabuco will turn into Trabuco Canyon Road (Hang on!  It’s a curvy road!  And watch out for bikers, hikers and horseback riders!), cross the creek, and, at the ol’ General Store, take a right onto Trabuco Oaks Road and Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse will be on your right.  Welcome to rustic Trabuco Canyon!

Inside the Steakhouse

After parking your car/horse with their complimentary valet, you will enter a unique world, overwhelmed with old photos and collectables that tell stories of days of old.  We were escorted to a corner table, literally beside a tree!  The original owner of this house, actually built the structure to include the tree in the room!  Dori took us on a tour of this dark, eclectic steakhouse.  She shared with us a “special room”.  The staff refers to it as “table 24”.  In this private room, is a table that seats about ten.  Real barn doors adorned the walls and old pictures hang telling tales of people from years past.  As we continued to circle around the steakhouse, we ended up in the front room, decorated with more fabulous ties, an amazing tie quilt, and cool red vinyl booths.

Dori’s Staff

Dori can not say enough about how much she “LOVES HER STAFF”!  Her loyal cooks, servers and bar tenders have been with the steakhouse a good 20 years!  Our server, Kendall, one of the newer hires, has been waiting on steakhouse customers for only 10 years!  All the staff we talked to truly enjoy taking care of their guests and love what they do.  This attitude is both refreshing and important, and, says a lot about the owner.  Bravo Dori!

The Food

Upon arriving at the restaurant and smelling the BBQ smoke, I realized I was ready, and in the mood for, hearty eating.  We had an amazing spread that night, one that any cowboy would have been thoroughly satisfied with.  To start off, Ken and Andrew enjoyed a couple of tasty bloody marys.  Cindy had her signature Pinot, and I, my dry cab.  Dori suggested ordering “Fresh Off the Prairie” – a healthy vegetable ensemble of plump mushrooms, onions and pieces of bell peppers, served in a piping hot skillet, simmering slowly in red eye (sherry), blanketed in cheese and topped with a touch of “prairie dust”.   It was easy to entice me to order the special filet (so tender and juicy!) with crab legs (sweet!). Ken downed the Cowpoke – 16 oz Top Sirloin (the “bigger bang for your buck”).  Cindy enjoyed a Kansas City Rib Steak – a juicy 18 oz. bone-in cut mesquite grilled rib eye steak.   Andrew’s Catch of the Day was a really good 10 oz. filet of Halibut, which was cooked nicely over mesquite and served with tartar sauce (this was another of my favorites!).  We shared a wonderful plate of BBQ Beef Ribs, glazed with homemade BBQ sauce.  All entrees are served with their signature house salad (with blue cheese on the side – a nice touch that I really enjoyed!),their homemade baked beans and great baked potatos.  Needless to say, none of us had much room for dessert but decided to split a wonderful Hot Cherry Gizmo – cherry pie filling wrapped in a flour tortilla, deep fried, and topped with hot cherry sauce and whipped cream – oh yeah… it was good!

The menu at Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse goes beyond steak.  They make a mean patty melt (that I hear is quite addictive), downhome spaghetti, mesquite grilled chicken, fish plates as well as something for the vegetarians.  Next time you go, don’t forget your little buckaroos, as they have a great dinner menu for kids also.

The Morning After

The beauty of this meal is that it was hearty, healthy, satisfying, and, bizarrely enough, I felt great Sunday morning!  We brought a little extra steak home and had the left overs with our eggs,  a pot of coffee, and a bon fire outside amidst the cool morning air.  Ken and I thought of what legends we will leave behind – some can be retold, and some will go with us to the grave.

Thank you, Dori and Al, for your humor, company and hospitality.  Thank you, also, for sharing with us the great tales of Eleanor’s vision and continuing to “do it right.”  And finally, thank you for keeping the fun and unique traditions of Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse alive.

—————————————————

Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse (reservations recommended)

20782 Trabuco Oaks Road

Trabuco Canyon, CA  92678

949-586-0722

www.trabucooakssteakhouse.com

Hours:   Mon-Th  5:00pm-9:00pm;   Fri, Sat, Sun  4:00pm-9:00pm

Enjoy!

Christie Lynch – freelance restaurant reviewer

Blog:  www.dinendesign.wordpress.com

With your left over carnitas from yesterday, you can do one of many easy things for tonight:

1) LOUISIANA STYLE:

Shopping List:  Box of Black Beans & Rice, Frozen White/Roasted Corn, Turkey Sausage Link, Frozen Cooked Shrimp, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Red Onion, Ranch Dressing

This is one of my husband’s favorites:  In a big pan, make Black Beans & Rice (usually a Louisiana-style box of rice – follow box directions), add the carnitas, some corn, and cut up turkey sausage (like Hillshire Farms brand), defrost some cooked shrimp, if you have it.  Heat up and serve.  Eezy Peezy!  And it’s husband approved! 🙂     Add a salad, mixture of lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and Ranch Dressing

2) SOUTHWEST STYLE:

Shopping List:  Big Tortillas, Frozen White/Roasted Corn, Cheedar Cheese (shredded), Can of Black Beans, Enchilada Red Sauce, Corn Bread Mix, El Torito brand green cilantro salad dressing, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions

This one, also husband approved! Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grab some big tortillas, corn, shredded chedder cheese, some canned black beans, and the left over carnitas.  Get a 9″x13″ pan, coat with canola oil and about 1/3 cup of Enchilada red sauce (Trader Joe’s has a good one).  Fill the middle of each tortilla with the ingredients, wrap like a burrito and lay about 6 on top of red sauce/oil.  Pour remaining red sauce over the top of the burritos and rub sauce all around to coat.  Shred more cheese on top and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.   Whip up some corn bread (from a box; we love Trader Joe’s) and bake according to directions.  Make a quick salad with lettuce, cut up tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cut up red onion and El Torito’s green cilantro salad dressing.   You’ll look like a super star at the dinner table!  Don’t forget to say grace and be thankful!

3) BREAKFAST BURRITO:

Shopping List:  Eggs, Big Tortillas, Cheddar Cheese, Tomatoes, Red Onion, Salsa, Hot Sauce for dad, Juice/Milk Boxes, paper towels, tin foil, and plenty of Coffee of course 🙂

On game day, these are a hit, especially on the road, early in the morning.  First off, make your coffee (always take care of #1)!  Then make 6 eggs, any style; I prefer making egg whites in a small saute pan.  In each big tortilla, add carnitas, eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, and tomatoes, and onions, salsa, hot sauce (or whatever your favorite ingredients are).  Wrap into a burrito, then wrap in paper towel (your napkin for the road) and then wrap in tin foil (to keep warm).  Pour your coffee, grab the boys’ juice/milk boxes and off you go!  Kids get a healthy, hearty meal before the big game!  Note:  These can be made the night before for grab-n-go in the morning (just don’t forget to heat in the microwave withOUT the tin foil!)

Let me know what you think!

EnJOY!

Carnitas – Day 1

Oh, boy, is your family in for a treat!  This recipe is simple, simple, simple and yet so good!  Get out your crock pot – your new best friend during your favorite busy sport season.   I guarantee your family will LOVE YOU!

{Please note:  my family involves 2 boys, 1 man-child, 1 man, and 1 female who likes to eat a lot of protein – we’re ALL carnivors, so we hope you enJOY all our meaty recipes!}

 

CARNITAS

  • 3-5 lbs pork – shoulder roast (melts in the crock pot and shreds so nicely!) – enough for a 2nd meal, stay tuned!
  • 1 cup whole milk (this is a creamier version; 2% milk is OK too)
  • 1/2 orange – cut in half
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or whatever you have)
  • 2 tsp pepper (personally, I like cracked pepper)
  • 1/2 onion – chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves – chopped/pressed

Place pork in crock pot, fat-side up (so fat juices are pulled down through the meat while cooking,  mmmmmm!).  Add in milk, squeeze juice from the orange over the meat and throw in the rind, salt, pepper, onions and garlic.   Turn your crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.  Come home from practice and your house will smell like you’ve been cooking all day!

Serve with your favorites:

  • Flour/corn tortillas
  • Tomatoes – finely chopped
  • Onions – finely chopped
  • Cilantro – finely chopped
  • Corn – frozen white corn is our favorite; heat up in a hot water in the microwave
  • Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Guacamoli – home made if possible; check out my Guac recipe!

Let me know what you think… and check out “Carnitas, Day 2” – other meal options for the left overs.

EnJOY!

Football — Meaty Marinara Sauce 

The excitement is starting!  Football season kicks off this weekend with Pop Warner scrimmages and High School practices and preseason games!   To create a great, hardy meal for your family with little effort, get your crock pot out and let’s make some Meaty Marinara Sauce!                                                                 

Ingredients to throw into the Crock:

  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 1 pound Ground Beef (already cooked and seasoned with salt and garlic powder)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Dash of Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Basil
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregeno
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 3 large Garlic Cloves (skins removed, finely chopped)
  • 3 (14-oz.) cans of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt (or whatever you have)

 Set the Crock on low and let slow cook for 6-8 hours.

When ready to serve, take out the bay leaf, boil up some of your favorite pasta, throw a quick salad together and dinner will be ready for you and your family after practice (and, oooooohhh, your house will smell GOOD!)   EnJOY!

Go Titans!  and EnJOY!

xo  Christie (Team Momster)

 

Who’s who?

xo

These four paintings were custom designed to match the accessories in a young girl’s room, accenting pinks and black, and providing a relaxing atmosphere.

Ahhhhh….