The OCWino went on a two day road trip with her friend Lori Bassler Hayes up to Sun Valley. Below is a little photo journal of all the shenanigans and misdemeanors that occurred in the Mojave desert. Initially we planned to spend one night in Lake Tahoe, but due to a wrong turn on interstate 6, we ended up in the lovely town of Ely with only one hotel room to spare. It didn't have the glitz, but it was waay more adventurous with many laughs along the way.
Some things are so close, yet they feel so far away. I love to venture out a little bit. Off the 405 freeway and Harbor Blvd, there is The OC Mix. My friend and I went up there on Friday to tool around up there and see what exciting things we could encounter. It's like a giant warehouse filled with stores consisting of spice stores, cheese stores, olive oil and wine stores.
My favorite is The Mixing Glass, a mixologist haven. It supplies curated cocktail ware and knowhow according to their business cards. Owner Gabrielle Dion has set up many bar and cocktail menus around the OC for many years. Her store is a little slice of heaven. She carries some very unique, old, and new bar accessories.
When I did my radio show on Cinco de Mayo, I decided it would be really fun to do a tequila tasting. So I went to the professional. She introduced me to my favorite tequila, Siembra Azul, which is made in small batches. Everything she carries is very specialized and from small unique distilleries. I dropped in to buy a bottle and say hello from the OC Wino. I can't wait to take one of her monthly cocktail classes.
From there, we went and caffeined out at Portola Coffee, which is known for their decorative latte art.
We then decided to go across the street and explore Surfas, which is an industrial kitchen/gourmet store. They carry everything to decorate cakes, delicious organic meats, pastas, olive oils, and vinegars. Much to our surprise, they had a cheese bar. We enjoyed a sample of La Tour, a creamy goat cheese, Truffle Hard Cheese, and an aged Gouda. We washed it all down with a nice Sauvignon Blanc. It's one of those stores that inspires you to throw a party, cook, and stock your kitchen. A must to check out.
Our bellies were semi-full, but going to ARC restaurant across from The OC Mix was next on my agenda. What's unique about ARC is almost everything is cooked in a wood burning oven.
We sat down to two delicious cocktails. One called Cigarettes and Coffee and the other was called Ethel, a tequila-grapefruit compari and champagne mix.
Here it goes... the OC Wino's top menu picks at this meat lover's paradise:
Start with the Sautéed Calamari with shishito peppers and new potatoes and the Whiskey and Garlic Meatballs in a delicious marinara sauce served with toast points.
Unfortunately, you can't skip the Wedge salad with the bacon slab. It really is a palette cleanser before you order your burger.
The Duck, Beef, Bacon Burger is cooked in duck fat. Good luck getting your mouth around it for your first bite. It is sinful and must be split between 2-4 people. But it is worth it to sample.
At this stage of the game, dessert is not in my sights. Since tequila is a stomach settler, I decided to have one more Ethel to silence my digestive system.
Diego was our waiter, a Costa Rican who is as nice as can be. All the staff is friendly, encouraging, and gives you a big smile as you sit down at the counter. Eating at the counter is a MUST.
Try it for dinner sometime. They actually serve large pieces of meat to groups of six or more. And do they know how to prepare it.
Beware, they do not take reservations, so going at an off-time is suggested. If there is a wait and you have to put your name in, go have an oyster or two at his sister restaurant, Shuck. The hostess will call you on your cell when your table is ready. Just an added bonus.
Do we all miss Sorento Grill in Laguna Beach? Well I can honestly say that its usurper 370 Common is one of my favorite restaurants in Laguna. They have an extensive menu of small starter dishes that are really all full of flavor and provide many different selections that are fun to share with a group of people.
Their burger is outstanding and of course you have to get the egg on top. The pasta is excellent, and the brussel sprouts and cauliflower will blow your socks off.
It is so much fun to sit at the counter and watch the chefs do their thing while you sip on a healthy pour. My favorite thing on the menu, which is not offered all the time, is called Sending the Chef To Cooking School. When it's on the menu, trust me. You have to try it out.
The owner, Ryan Adams, did me a huge favor two years ago. As we all know, fois gras is illegal in California. I decided the day before it became a law, I was going to give a send off fois gras party. So I contacted Ryan, and he ordered three fois gras lobes. He was so amazing, had me back in the kitchen when I picked them up, and put me through a mini-cooking class on how to braise and sear the fois gras. It turned out delicious, my guests were amazed, and I have remained a fan of Adams and his staff ever since.
An added bonus... They are open on Mondays! Try to sit downstairs. As I said, the counter is my favorite. It's loud, the acoustics are a little noisy, but it is fun and delicious.
370 Common is located at 370 Glenneyre Street in Laguna Beach, CA