What a treat to have my friends Johnna and Shelby celebrate my birthday at this legendary spa. We hopped in the car after our workouts and headed out on the 91 freeway. It is a quick 40 minute drive from the OC. It is a very reasonable spa and relaxing to spend the whole day with friends, while enjoying the benefits of the natural hot springs and lounge chairs. I actually read two magazines. It is tough to get the OC Wino to relax but it worked.
Lounging by the pool, we had a nice bottle of wine, relaxed, and struck up funny conversations with the other patrons and even pulled a prank or two.
Then we headed towards Club Mud. We slathered the mud all over our bodies and laid in the sun to let it dry. Afterwards, we rubbed the dry mud off and our skin felt like a baby's bottom. Speaking of babies, you must be 16 years old with parental supervision to visit the Spa. Sorry McCall.
This is the Retox food intake we enjoyed. Everyone was eating these huge plates of Nachos. Realizing the spa was known for them, we decided on a single serving to test them out. Cheese sauce is not my thing but Jalapeños are and they were quite good. Didn't try this artful cupcake but the picture turned out good.
A little wine stop was necessary on the way home. Did you know if you buy a six pack of wine at Pavilions you get 10% off? The only redeeming quality for that God forsaken market.
Glen Ivy Hot Springs, located in Corona, California
Another lucky night with Ms. Pearl! We decided on Mozza Newport Beach, a go-to spot of the OC.
Transplanted from Los Angeles, this delicious italian pizzeria has delicious appetizers and even more phenomenal pizzas.
Nancy Silverton started with the concept in Los Angeles on Highland and Melrose. Starting with the Pizzeria Mozza then later launching the Osteria Mozza and completing the trifecta with Chi Spacca, Silverton decided to bring the concept to Newport Beach. It truly is a go-to spot for both locals and tourists.
Grace is our adorable server who helped us pair our wines with our ridiculous amount of food choices. Ms. Pearl asked for specifically since she was hosting the dinner.
It is a must to start with a dirty martini. They come with smooth bright green olives that taste like butter. Seriously, it's the best martini in town.
My favorite starters on the menu are the meatballs, bone marrow, and my new favorite Shishito Peppers with Mozzarella cheese.
To cleanse your palette, the arugula salad is a delicious respite before you order your massive amounts of pizza.
My favorite pizza is the white pizza with the fennel sausage. My son's favorite is the meat lover and my daughter's favorite is the margarita.
Some like to sit at tables, I prefer the bar. Particularly the wine bar or the pizza bar.
I also understand that their whole roasted chickens are to die for, however I've been too full every time to even try them.
It's great to try their many desserts. Going with a crowd lends you the capacity to sample so many delicious flavors.
Bar none, their Buffala Mozzarella is so delicious with their bread baked in olive oil.
The haricots verts and the shishito peppers are new additions to the menu, however they kill it with the addition of the addition of buffala mozzarella.
You definitely need to do a spin class a day after, but it is a great to spend a meal with friends.
Reservations are requested.
We ended our meal in a secret location drinking limoncello to settle our stomachs and top off the evening.
Mozza Pizzeria at 800 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA
FMI: Find their website here
Last Saturday, I invited the Kramers and the Smiths for dinner. There was going to be five of us and I needed to prepare in advance since I had an adventure planned all day Saturday afternoon. Friday was my day to get things done. I needed to get flowers, set the table, and prepare my menu.
I had decided earlier in the week that I would be too pressed for time to cook for this crowd. Joni Peterka, a well known in home chef in Orange County, prepared the most delicious chicken and mushroom goat cheese roasted asparagus lasagna and a delicious salad of greens, cranberries, pistachios, and sliced oranges with a kalamata olive vinaigrette.
Nana Kramer started our meal off with delicious bruschetta. We drank Golden Eye Pinot, Rombauer Chardonnay, and started the evening off with delicious tequilas and scotch.
It went off without a hitch and somehow they believed I made it all. They asked me for the recipe and now I have no clue how to respond.
We finished the meal with a delicious lemon cake from Susie Cakes.
The table setting was simple but elegant, incorporating my grandmother's stemware and my mother's sterling silver.
Compliments to Joni and myself for pulling off a great dinner party!
If you want Joni to help you cater your next party, you can reach her at (949) 646-5069.
Lunching with my friend Miss Pearl on manic Monday, we decided to drop into Sol in Newport Beach for a salad and a pour. They serve their pours in 3 oz (which is just a waste of time), 9 oz, and bottles. We opted for the 9 oz to accompany our tortilla soup and mixed greens salads. Eric was our waiter and brought us tastings of different wines.
Miss Pearl had a pinot, while I had the Lincourt Chardonnay. It was an amazingly hefty pour.
One Thursday a month, it's so much fun to go to the Back Bay Tavern behind Whole Foods to see the band, The Sarcastics. Matt Marshall, Matt Magiera, Gary Grainger, and Brett Grainger keep the crowd rockin'. They have a following, both old and new, enjoying the music. It appeals to both my generation and those young millennials.
Back Bay Tavern offers a full menu of delicious food and great small plates. Check out their wine pour. This nice glass of Rombauer Chardonnay is $13. Can't beat the price with entertainment in tow. They usually play from 6:30-9. It is a great way to start off your Thursday night!
FMI about Back Bay Tavern click here
This past Tuesday, I took my tech girl Shelby out on the town to check out some of the best spots for happy hour in Laguna Beach. We went to some great new places, judged some pours, and even bought a bottle of wine!
We started our late afternoon jaunt at Laguna Wine, Coffee, and Specialty Foods. We first got distracted with their amazing selection of wine glasses, olive oils, and gifts. This OCWino got excited over their collection of Riedel Wine Glasses, and overjoyed when I found a beer stein with a wine glass inside.
After checking out the shop, we moved over to their wine tasting section. The store has something that could only be described as a wine tasting vending machine. First you can purchase a $10, $20, or $50 card. You enter the card into either the white or red side of the machine, and make a selection of which wine within the case you would like to sample. Place a glass underneath a spout, press your chosen button, and have a perfect amount of wine to taste dispensed. Each wine varied in price slightly, but we were able to sample about 6 wines for $20. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, quick to offer suggestions based on our palette preferences and show us their estate wines.
Our favorites included Butter, a nice chardonnay, Meomi, a pinot noir, and Neyers, an aromatic merlot. I decided to purchase a bottle of the Neyers since the bouquet and taste were both incredible.
Next stop was the newly opened Tortilla Republic and Margarita Bar, located on South Coast Hwy. The restaurant has two other locations in West Hollywood and Hawaii. We first came to the bar with the expectation for Happy Hour pricing. However we learned their happy hour menu was still getting developed and would be released in the coming month. However we were content ordering their wonderful margaritas and appetizers despite the extra dinero.
The friendly bartenders made a whole range of margarita specialties for us ranging from our favorite Sweet Chile Margarita, a spicy Jalapeño, the "Perfect", Cucumber Lavender, Spicy Pomegranate, and Hydration, which blended in coconut water. We got all our margs made skinny to cut back on sugar and calories. These drinks were not strong, so we were able to try a lot and save room for the great food.
To counter the tequila, we ordered many reinforcements. First, we started with a salsa tasting, which included a salsa mesa, salsa de tomatillo fresca, and salsa de payaya habenero. Armed with a basket of freshly baked chips, we finished the colorful and flavor packed dips easily.
Next came the Flautas de Pollo. Our bartender recommended them and we were not disappointed. Initially, I remarked how they were too beautiful to eat. However after our first bite, we dove in and demolished the delicious and savory treat.
We ended our mexican feast with a Queso Fundito. We weren't exactly sure what the dish would be, but since it had the words cheese and fun in it, we assumed it would be awesome. The ramekin filled with hot spiced cheese and fresh tortillas did not disappoint.
It was hard for us to leave to catch the sunset since our bartenders were so fun, especially Mark who gave us free drinks!
Disaster struck as we hit The Deck for sunset. Just as we sat down at the bar, an overhead seagull left a present on my freshly blown out do! People say it is a sign of good luck, but that unexpected surprise could have come a day earlier!
The Deck wasn't too crowded as it can be on the weekends, but it was a great place to watch the sunset, drink a final cocktail, and make new friends at the bar with Laguna locals. An OC musician, Kevin Miso, serenaded the patrons with the sounds of Jack Johnson, John Mayer, and some other beach-y classics. Overall, a great bar for a beach town.
As we finished our night, we headed back to Shelby's home in North Laguna, and enjoyed a slice of pizza, a final pour, and great conversation with her family.
What a big night... my eighth grader McCall graduated with her class at St. Margaret’s.
After the event, we decided to have a pour at Tannins across the street from school. Since the parents have all survived the tuition bills for 9 years, a Kettle One Martini was in order.
Bartender, John Lanieski, who is also an actor, made an absolutely delicious and smooth pour.
The red wine was also a very nice pour later in the evening.
Pahlmeyer is one of my new favorite chardonnays. It is a little less heavy than the cougar crack Rombauer.
I'm not a big fan of Pinot Noirs since they tend to be a little chalky in flavor and finish.
However Goldeneye is smooth, full bodied, yet light.
These are my two picks of the month.
I think most of us locals were sad to say goodbye to The Villa Nova. Our friend Charlie Dale and his family had the restaurant for many years. I think most of us from Newport grew up at this local joint.
The Winery, which originally opened in Tustin, just opened their second location in The Villa Nova's old location. They did an extensive remodel, and have turned it into quite the fancy joint. As you can well imagine, The Winery has been very controversial within both the old and new Newport scene. I definitely had my reservations when I stepped foot in the bar.
The bar scene was a sausage fest. Why is it that all the men sit around the bar, and all the ladies sit at tables? It harkened back to the days of middle school dances.
My friend, OC local Bob McDonald, bought me a delicious glass of Kistler Chardonnay. For a delicious $26 glass, the pour sustained me throughout the hour. The pour in the photo looks small, but I'm pretty sure I took a couple sips before I remembered I needed to take a photo.
The wine list is extensive and I would definitely have another pour here. Go with a coed group and it might be fun.