Posts Tagged ‘Christie Lynch’

Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot

 &

Camino Real Playhouse

  {San Juan Capistrano}

 

First, on a sad note:I have to share some sad news.  On the Thursday in June, when I dropped off a stack of “Coto Voice” review publications to Scott Selman, owner of Milo’s Café in Lake Forest, I never envisioned it would be his last.  That evening, at 42 years young, Scott passed away from a heart attack.  Struck and saddened by this news, I prayed for his wife of four-years, Grace, who’s background is in finance, but who has now found herself running her husband’s dream restaurant, that he fought so hard to create.  Milo and Jake are deeply saddened as well, and want you to come visit them to keep Scott Selman’s dream alive; they believe a good card game, a scratch under their chin, and some good food can turn anyone’s spirits up!  (www.miloscafe.com – off Lake Forest Parkway, across from the newly renovated Etnie’s Skatepark, in the Home Depot Shopping Center).  (For the Milo’s Café June review, visit www.dinendesign.wordpress.com.)

MURDER BY THE MISSION!

 

 

And if that news wasn’t bad enough, as I was strolling around downtown San Juan Capistrano, a flyer blew past me with disturbing news.  Curious, I grabbed it and it read, “Murder by the Mission”.  I had to investigate.  I discovered that Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot (the incredible brick, historic building of the old railroad station), now a wonderful restaurant, partners with the Capistrano Center for the Performing Arts to host “Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre!”  Intrigued, I booked us a reservation.

The Experience 

On a warm and incredible summer Sunday evening, Ken, Andrew, Cindy and I arrived in the beautiful, historic district of San Juan Capistrano around 5:30pm.  We had time before our 6:30 reservation, therefore crossed the tracks and discovered a lovely little cozy area of Los Rios Street — old homes turned into restaurants, shops and gardens (stay tuned for future reviews!).  As we chatted about our top-of-mind stressers of the day, the stroll and surroundings massaged our minds and souls and we became more relaxed.  It was hard to believe that there was a murder taking place.

 The Interrogation

Looking forward to dinner, we checked in at Sarducci’s and were greeted by a rude Detective Victoria Campbell who asked us where we had been in the last hour.  After questioning us, she had us go into a special room, where they happened to be serving champagne.  Having nothing to hide, we obliged.  Curious conversation began brewing about “a murder”.  They had us sit down at our dinner table while finishing up the interrogations of other guests.

 The doors shut, and we were trapped in a wonderful room along the train tracks, surrounded by facinating art and enticing smells.  Then the murder began to unfold with a cast of character actors, playing out a game of “who done it?”  Now, I’m not going to say much more, as I don’t want to give too much away.  But I will say that it was fun, interactive and wildly entertaining.   Oh, and pay attention! 

Dinner Review

I got lost in the story, forgetting that we were there to review the food.  Once our dinner arrived, I woke up to wonderful aromas of Ancho-Chili Salmon (fresh salmon fillet, pan-seared then baked with a glace of ancho chili, honey and dijon mustard; garnished with dollops of jalapeno sour cream and served with herbed mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables), Parmesan Crusted Chicken (a tender chicken breast coated with panko crumbs and parmesan cheese then lightly grilled and served with a lemon cream sauce, mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus), Asparagus & Sundried Tomato Pasta (fresh asparagus, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes with olive oil, basil and garlic on linguine noodles topped with shredded jack cheese) and Mini New York Steak & Shrimp (a tender 5 oz. New York strip loin cooked medium rare with a brandied mushroom demi-glace and grilled shrimp;  served with herbed mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables).  For dessert, we enJOYed two wonderful and heavenly choices:  Mini Molten Lava Cake (warmed and topped with Vanilla Bean ice cream), and Apple Cobbler (a thick layer of fresh apples baked into a sweet Southern biscuit cobbler and topped with Vanilla Bean ice cream, whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce).

Throughout the performance, the four of us, exchanged dinner samples.  As the food critique in “Ratatouille” said, in a low, highly judgemental voice, “If I don’t like it, I don’t swallow.”  You could read our faces.  We communicated by swallowing, rolling our eyes in pleasure, smiling, finishing every morsel on our plate and concluding with four thumbs up! 

By the end of the performance, we found ourselves trying to figure out who the murderer was.  Thank you to Tom and Dennis, the managers at Sarducci’s, for their hospitality.  All in all, we agreed that this overall experience rated very high in our books and we give Sarducci’s Capistrano Depot and Camino Real Playhouse a standing ovation! 

Book It @ Sarducci’s!

There are limited “Murder by the Mission” experiences and we highly recommend you book your “Murder Mystery Dinnter Theatre” event today for August 14th, September 11th, or October 9th!  For reservations at Sarducci’s, call 949-493-9593 (26701 Verdugo, SJC, CA  92675)  www.capistranodepot.com

Camino Real Playhouse

Just up the street from Sarducci’s is the Capistrano Center for the Performing Arts, Camino Real Playhouse & Stage II, Capistrano Shakespeare Festival and Capistrano Acting Academy.  I must say, when I visited the center, it was bustling with summertime students, as well as professional actors.  It felt big time for our Orange County community.  I’d like to extend a special thank you to the writer/directors/producers of this unique experience, Beverly Blake and Tom Scott.  My hats off to you for your vision and creativity!  Visit their web site regularly to discover new events, classes and ticket information for their 2011-2012 season!  http://www.CaminoRealPlayhouse.org  (31776  El Camino Real, SJC, CA  92675).                                                           

EnJOY!

Christie Lynch – freelance restaurant reviewer

www.dinendesign.wordpress.com

It’s official!  Our first book:  “You Wiped What WHERE?” has launched on www.Amazon.com — a great gift for any boy, or his mom, for under $10!  Order as a special gift, just because, and send it directly to their house.  The joy of any child (or mom) opening up a package is priceless! 

“Boogers, snot and smeared food everywhere!  Shaking her head in disbelief, Mom asks, “You wiped what WHERE?”  Mom is serious about stopping her boys disgusting wiping habits.  But how can she teach Anderson, Russell and Timmy the importance of good hygiene?  With a little creativity, and lots more boogers, snot and food crumbs, of course!”

Written by:  Amy Von Kaenel

Illustrated by:  Christie Lynch

      

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

“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:  www.simplyfondueoc.com

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

28719 Los Alisos Blvd, MV, CA 92692

949-707-5200

San Juan Capistrano

31761 Camino Capistrano, SJC, CA  92675

949-240-0300

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:  dinendesign.wordpress.com.  We’d love to hear from you!

Bon Apetit!

Christie & Cindy

Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria

“We’ll Save You a Trip to Chicago”

We had so much fun last night!  Date Night lead us to our local Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria to check out their new Tap Room.  Ken, Andrew, Cindy and I have enjoyed Selma’s since it arrived in Rancho Santa Margarita in 2003, and they just seem to be getting better.  Honestly, we’ve been in the habit of ordering their pizza to go.  Old habits are meant to be changed up and I highly encourage you to come visit Selma’s new additional kids’ game room and grown up Tap Room.  The story behind the conception of the Tap Room reads something like this:

The Story of Our Berriphany

     “We were brainstorming in an intense meeting with a few cold beers one summer morning trying to come up with a great add-on to our successful restaurant. 

     What would complement Selma’s?  Donuts?  No, we like to sleep more than that.  Sushi?  Seemed a bit odd.  Coffee shop?  No, the triple mocha latte with 2 shots, sub soy, no whip, non-fat and add two ¼ pumps butterscotch flavoring seemed too confusing for us.  After throwing back a few more, we continued to praise the outstanding flavors of the local brewed beers we were drinking.  Hoppy, full-bodies, rich in aromas, yet smooth on the lips.  Then it came…an epiphany like no other…a beer epiphany!

     Hey, let’s open up a Tap Room!  A room filled with handles of small batch beers from local to abroad to allow other thirsty folks a chance to experience beer as we were that fateful summer morning.  A place of cheer, a place of flavor, a place of beer! 

     We then had the arduous task of sampling as much beer as we could to determine what beers would best represent this beer-iphany.  After hours and hours of “research” our work was completed.  (We have one hell-of-a-beer pong game now too!).  So, with that said, we hope you enjoy our vision to bring to you…Selma’s Tap Room.

 

Cheers,

Mike & Eric

Cinderella Cakes — a fantasy for the eyes, a fantasy for the senses. Cinderella Cakes, “Where Dreams DO Come True! “

Being food enthusiast ourselves, we love to watch the Food Network for inspiration.   “Ace of Cakes” is one of our favorite programs on The Food Network.  They are always creating the most beautiful cakes and works of art, which prompted us to visit Cinderella Cakes right here just outside of our gate. Cinderella Cakes is thee most quaint bakery and cookie shop that you have ever seen.   They offer you the opportunity to create the cake, cookie or baked item of your own design to make your special occasion truly unforgettable.

The minute Christie, her three boys and I entered Cinderella Cakes, we were all mesmerized by the beautiful, warm, and inviting atmosphere and of course, all of the delicious looking cakes and cookies.  Our visit to Cinderella Cakes was a date that was anticipated by all, and a day that definitely will stand out in our minds.

There were so many beautiful cakes, cookies, and flavors to choose from that we were all in such awe, because as you can probably guess, we wanted to taste them all.  We decided to first try the Brownie Pop.  What a great choice we made!  Christie’s oldest son gave it a rave review, stating that it had the “perfect rich and creamy brownie taste.”  Her middle son with chocolate covered lips, claimed that” it was the good stuff and absolutely delicious!” The youngest, “loved the very chocolaty taste!” The Brownie Pop was such a huge hit, that we knew we had to take one home for my son, who was at soccer practice.  The minute he came home from soccer, he couldn’t wait to try the Brownie Pop and was in “absolute heaven”, the words taken straight from his chocolate-filled mouth! Our boys have been told from another cupcake enthusiast, that they have the most incredible peanut butter and fruit-filled cupcakes that taste “better than a real peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

On an adult level, the Red Velvet Cake, my personal favorite, was a treat that I really shouldn’t be having but was so glad I did.  The cake was so moist and delicious, and the butter cream frosting was absolutely amazing with just the right amount of butter and creaminess.  We were all going to share the Red Velvet, however, I seemed to eat just about the whole thing because it was the best I have ever tasted!

If you are looking for a beautiful cake or would like to design a special cake for an event, then you have found just the place.  Cinderella Cakes has many inspirational books with photos of past cakes and will help you create the perfect cake for any occasion.  The cookies at Cinderella Cakes are a cookie lovers dream and can also be custom designed. We highly encourage you to visit their web site www.cinderellacakes.com, where you can view the many artistic creations.  Better yet you should visit them right here in our very own Rancho Santa Margarita on the lake!

Food Finds

Carmelita’s, Rancho Santa Margarita – January, 2010

Carmelita’s – Tequila, Cocina y Mexico.  Carmelita’s Restaurant has been serving authentic, Mexican cuisine in the Sacramento area since 1962 and are now open in Rancho Santa Margarita in a beautiful patio setting overlooking the lake.  Their menu features old family recipes from the Heredia family that come primarily from the state of Puebla, Mexico.  Carmelita’s claims that “Food isn’t just a meal.  It’s an experience.  It’s a chance to break bread with people you may not even know.”  The restaurant continues all the family tradition and is now owned by their son, Clemente Heredia —  and don’t be surprised to find Clemente greeting you at the door!

Cindy, Andrew, Ken and I began our date night playing Mexican music in the car, gearing ourselves up for a Mexican cuisine adventure!  We were greeted by Clemente, and were invited into a truly artistic, colorful and tasteful world of Mexico.  Being an artist and designer, I was drawn to the décor right away – warm wall color, great tile designs, beautiful oversized painting of the agave plant (which I learned is where tequila comes from), another colorful and beautiful, oversized painting depicting life in Mexico and a great bar, defined by it’s unique iron designs.  The patio furniture is very cool, and the setting, overlooking the lake, is soothing and relaxing.

Clemene took such good care of us and our waiter, John, was as warm and friendly (someone who truly loved his job – how refreshing!).  We started out with their house margarita – “Carmelita’s Top Shelf “ — made with three ingredients:  100% agave tequila (they make their own tequila!), hand-squeezed lime juice, and agave nectar – we were warned they were strong.  Well, they were strong and made me feel good, just like my husband (did I just say that?  It must be the tequila talking! Ooo la la!).  For every guest, they serve warm black beans and salsa with chips – nice and different and so good!  Next, we ask Clemente to surprise us with his most well known menu items.  We were brought four of thee most flavorful, and enjoyable dishes:

1) Enchiladas De Camaron – green tomatillo enchiladas filled with shrimp, sautéed with salsa fresca, served with freshly sliced avocado and sour cream (I’m salivating just writing about it);

2) Chili Rellenos (which I never have had and was pleasantly surprised!) – they were stuffed poblano chiles served with salsa and tortillas;

3)  Carnitas – their most popular dish.  Crispy and juicy pork, slow roasted to perfection.  The dish included sides of chile de arbol salsa, salsa fresca, lime, guacamole and tortillas (OMG!  Heaven!)

4)  Espada – Swordfish Tacos served with an amazing sauce (my signature order, and I must say I would order it again and again.  Next time I might try their shrimp or lobster taco).

For dessert, we had warm, petite Churros with Mexican carmel (cajeta), served warm with vanilla ice cream (muy, muy bueno!).  It was as warm and comforting as the service and environment.

It is so nice to report that EVERYTHING was sooo enjoyable, tasteful, and, as my husband wants you to know, “the food was truly GREAT!”.  In today’s society, both food and service can be a lost art and Clemente provides the perfect balance of both.  Speaking for all of us, we look forward to coming back to Carmelita’s!  We hope to see you there!

Christie Lynch & Cindy Shapiro