Posts Tagged ‘“Coto Voice – Food Finds”’

 

 {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

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

      

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