Come experience beauty...

Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

French 75 Bistro & Champagne Bar

One of the things I truly love about Laguna Beach is that you can take a culinary tour around the world without leaving the city limits. From the Mexican Riviera at Las Brisas  to the shores of Italy at Romeo Cucina to the delicacies of French cuisine you’ll find at French 75 Bistro & Champagne Bar, you are sure to enjoy your epicurean adventure.

On a crisp night, my husband and I settled into a warm booth in the dimly-lit dining room of French 75. We had gone to Paris 10 years ago and hadn’t had any French food of note since our trip there, so we were excited for the opportunity to dine at French 75. As we always do, we started with a cocktail. I chose the Chanel Champagne cocktail and he the French 75 Champagne cocktail. They were exactly what we needed after a stressful and busy day of work, children and other family obligations.

Along with our cocktails, we enjoyed the sautéed Foie Gras. Now, you might be shaking in your boots right now at the mention of Foie Gras, but let me tell you that this was one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten! It is served with a strawberry wine poached pear, brioche crostini and an aged balsamic reduction. Each bite practically melted in our mouths and we found ourselves fighting over the last bite.

For our meals, I decided on the Holiday Prix Fixe menu, choosing a Roquette Fig Salad, Pan Roasted Scallops and Flourless Chocolate Cake. My husband chose the Pear Salad and the Oven-Roasted New Zealand Rack of Lamb. Every bite transported us back to our week in Paris. We reminisced about our favorite sites and our best meals while there.

Pan Roasted Scallops: Bacon Potato Risotto, Garlic Emulsion, Lobster Sauce

I was afraid that the bacon may overwhelm the scallops, but it didn’t and had just the right touch of flavor. The lobster sauce was rich and complemented the scallops and risotto nicely.

Like always, I was only able to sneak a bite or two of my husband’s meal and from those, I could tell that the lamb was fabulous! It was flavorful with that melt-in-your-mouth tenderness that makes lamb delicious.  The Rosemary Garlic Dijon flavors of the crust came thru with every bite. The lamb was served with pomme gratin, Mediterranean grilled vegetables and Bordelaise Sauce.

When having a meal with me, you should know I always order dessert and luckily, the Holiday Prix Fixe menu came with one, a decadent Flourless Chocolate Cake. This time I was the one who didn’t share with others.

There are no plot twists when it comes to French 75; it is simply a direct story line that ends with delicious French perfection. We enjoyed our time reminiscing about Paris all while feasting on the phenomenal creations of Chef Gregory Moro.

1464 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651


Mon - Sun, 4:30pm to 11:00pm

Happy Hour
Nightly from 4:30 to 6:30
Half-priced champagne cocktail
Half-priced wine by the glass
$6.00 well drinks and well cocktails
Small plates menu available

By Anne-Marie S.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sawdust Winter Fantasy 2011

The Sawdust Winter Fantasy is in full swing! It’s the perfect weekend outing that the entire family can enjoy. With over 170 artisans who create and showcase original works of art, you are sure to find unique gifts for everyone on your list. The Winter Fantasy has become an annual tradition for my family with my kids eagerly anticipating the trip to this cheerful wonderland.

If you have been to Sawdust’s summer festival you will notice that as soon as you walk into the Winter Fantasy things look a little different. The center of the festival grounds is transformed into a Winter Wonderland called Towne Square. Here you’ll find Santa’s Sleigh, a life-size playhouse, a reindeer barn, Santa’s house (complete with Santa!), decorated community trees and even falling snow. My husband and I look forward to the great photo ops in Towne Square perfect for our holiday cards.

Snow flurries at the Winter Fantasy

My kids enjoy all of the special holiday-themed activities at the Ceramic Center and Children’s Art Spot. This year they chose to make air-dry clay ornaments.

Mary Marquez, an artist and exhibitor at the festival, helped my girls make their ornaments at the Children’s Art Spot. She was extremely helpful and explained each step of the process for making the ornaments. Even my 2-year old was able to make ornaments with her help. I just love the small community feel this places offers.

Another highlight for the kids was getting balloon animals made by Balloon Diva, April Strong.

We stopped by a must see at Sawdust, Patti’s People. The kids got a real kick out of seeing all their favorite cartoon characters and super heroes made into clay ornaments. Patti makes custom ornaments for you that make the perfect gift!

We wandered over at Brett Keast’s booth after listening to live music at the Main Entertainment Deck. There we found a variety of island-inspired artwork.

These holiday stockings are made from leftover materials from Brett’s
swimwear collection, Tidepool Swimwear

After enjoying hot cocoa and a visit with Santa we headed home with our hearts full of holiday cheer. Thank you Sawdust for getting us in the spirit and for all of the great family memories!

Be sure to visit the Sawdust Winter Fantasy 
Open weekends only: November 19 & 20, 25-27; December 3 & 4, 9-11, 2011
10am to 6pm
$6 Adult one-day; $5 Senior one-day (65+); $3 Children (6-12); FREE Children (5 & under); $9 Season pass
Information Line: (949) 494-3030
note: this is an outdoor festival.

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Win a 2 night Stay-cation in Laguna Beach

French 75 Bistro & Champagne Bar and The Retreat in Laguna join together to bring you an incredible sweepstakes for a stay-cation in Laguna Beach. Win a 2 night stay in a luxury villa and dinner for two at French 75.

The Retreat In Laguna features eight ultra-luxurious vacation rental villas in a Tuscany-inspired village environment. With panoramic ocean views just steps from the shore, each vacation villa features a fully equipped gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. The Laguna Beach artwork enhances the Venetian plaster wall surfaces done in decorator tones with details like crown moldings, designer tile work, and fine wood cabinetry in deep rich tones. The unique art collections in each villa are from local galleries and bring a touch of creative interest.

French 75 Bistro & Champagne Bar is a French American bistro  that resides in a 60 year old country cottage where style and romance are deliciously combined. The decor is rich, intimate and romantic. The menu offers contemporary renderings of classic bistro dishes.  The quaint champagne bar features an extensive selection of champagnes by the glass as well as champagne cocktails, martinis, wine and beer. Most notable is the ceiling mural in the bar, depicting a 'champagne war' between cherubs and monkeys holding bottles of champagne. A fireplace lit covered patio offers the perfect destination for outdoor dining beneath antique chandeliers.

Don't miss you opportunity for your stay-cation. Enter the sweepstakes now!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Laguna Beach Shopping

Forget about the stress of crowded malls during the holiday season and  come to Laguna Beach to find unique and one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list. Make it an event and enjoy browsing the downtown in the afternoon, watch the unrivaled sunset from Heisler Park, and then refuel at one of the 70+ restaurants in Laguna Beach.

207 Ocean Ave.
Open daily, 10am to 7pm

Since 1992, Areo has been providing its customers with an eclectic selection of gifts and home accents. From books to one-of-a-kind jewelry and a wide selection of soy candles to glassware and home accents, there is truly something for everyone. 

The rustic and welcoming feel of the store keeps you browsing as you come across a new treasure around each corner. Many of the most unique items in the store are pieces that the owner has personally collected during his travels around the world. If you need a one-stop shop for your holiday list, Areo is the place to go. They even offer free gift wrapping!

903 South Coast Highway
Open daily, 10am to 6pm

Established in 2001, Thalia Surf Shop prides itself as an independent surf and skate shop that specializes in retro surfboards, unique clothing, shoes and art.  The store’s walls and ceiling are lined with the owner’s collection of vintage surfboards and skateboards. Local beachcomber, Jim Olarte, found and brought driftwood and palm leaves that represent the laidback authentic Southern California feel into the store. With clothing by California designers, t-shirts by local artists, and even limited edition Thalia-designed Vans shoes, this is a place that locals and visitors can come to find a piece of the local culture. 

Thalia Surf Shop also hosts a gallery exhibit every other month, as well as monthly concerts with local bands at the Marine Room. Check their blog for additional information. Thalia will be where I find gifts for my out-of-town guests that desire a piece of the Southern California beach lifestyle.

445 South Coast Hwy (inside Hotel Laguna)
Open Monday – Friday, 10am to 6pm
Saturday, 9am to 8pm
Sunday, 10am to 5pm

For over 10 years, Bubbles of Laguna has brought the world of fine bath and body products to Laguna Beach. From lotions and bath salts from Italy, France, Hawaii, Ireland and Sweden, to aroma therapy products made right here in the USA. I especially enjoyed the “Self-Serve Bar” of baths salts, lotions, bubble bath and bath tea herbs. 

It’s a creative way to make a personalized gift for the person on your list that is in need of some R&R. You will also find novel gifts, soy candles and toys.

278 Forest Ave.
Open Monday-Saturday, 11am to 7pm
Sunday, 11am to 5pm

LF Laguna, is the place for all the fashionistas on your list. This is where trends are unearthed. With an edgy sense of fashion and out-of-the-box styling, the girls at LF will help you find the perfect ensemble that portrays your personal sense of style. “Be yourself” is their motto and there are plenty of ways to find your self expression. 

Personally, my closet is full of items from this innovative fashion boutique and I love shopping here for the perfect accessory that best shows off the personalities of my best friends. (Shhh, don’t tell them, but they are each getting something from LF this year!)

Ken’s Jewelry Store
326 Forest Ave

Housed in the oldest commercial building in Laguna Beach, Ken’s Jewelry Store is a piece of our town’s history. As you spend some time in the store you’ll begin to notice both paintings and historical photos on the Koa wood walls. Paintings by plein air artists Roy Ropp (a founding father of the Festival of Arts) and Robert Wood line the walls. Historic Laguna photos of Ken’s Jewelry Store location are also displayed. Ken Lauher started out as a jewelry artist during the Arts and Crafts Movement in the ‘70s. In the 1980s, after the purchase of his current location, he built on and expanded the building to what it is now, a Swiss two-story Chalet. Downstairs is the show room, and the work room and offices are housed upstairs. Lauher told us that 75% of what you will find in his store are actually his own designs…beautiful settings that truly are one-of-a-kind. They also specialize in the mounting and re-mounting of precious stones, cut ‘rocks’ or semi-precious stones, and jewelry repair.

An interesting collection that Ken makes are mounted gold-in-quartz. Ken works with a Sierra Nevada goldmine (one of the few mines left still mining gold!) out of the Sierra’s. These are unique and beautiful pieces that you won’t find anywhere else. Ken’s Jewelry Store is a full-service; ultrasound and steam cleaning, repair and custom design, with many long-term loyal customers. Fun Fact: Ken creates a custom storefront, themed window each month that has become a must-see site in Laguna Beach.

Read our other stories about places to shop in Laguna Beach:

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Laguna Beach Becomes First to Partner Citywide with Clean the World

Now 22 hotels and lodging properties know that recycling soap to save lives is something they can all agree on.
The Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau (LBVCB) announced today that all of the hospitality industry lodging properties with 20 rooms or more in this picturesque, coastal Orange County city have partnered with Clean the World Global LLC, a social enterprise committed to saving lives and protecting our planet. Hospitality partners here will collect and recycle hotel soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels to help fight the global spread of preventable diseases.

Laguna Beach has 18 hotel and lodging properties with 20 rooms or more and four properties with less than 20 rooms that have joined the Clean the World hospitality partnership program. These properties include Aliso Creek Inn, Art Hotel Laguna Beach, Best Western Plus Laguna Brisas Spa Hotel, Capri Laguna, Carriage House, Casa Laguna Inn, Crescent Bay Inn, Holiday Inn Laguna Beach, Hotel Laguna, Inn at Laguna Beach, La Casa del Camino, Laguna Beach Inn, Laguna Cliffs Inn, Laguna Riviera, Montage Laguna Beach, Pacific Edge Hotel, Seacliff Laguna Inn, Sunset Cove Villas, Surf & Sand Resort and Spa, The Tides Laguna Beach, The Retreat, and Travelodge Laguna Beach. The properties represent more than 1,200 guest rooms in Laguna Beach.

Clean the World has hospitality partnerships with more than 1,200 hotel properties throughout North America, including 143 partners in California. Clean the World’s California hospitality partners have contributed 70,329 lbs. of soap and 67,844 lbs. of bottled amenities since the organization’s founding in 2009. That equates to 375,088 bars (3 oz. apiece), which is enough to provide 75,018 children with enough soap for an entire month.

This program symbolizes the LBVCB’s hospitality partners ongoing commitment to sustainable and environmental programs, the reduction of hotel waste in local landfills, and the benefits of recycling hotel soaps and bottled amenities (shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels) as hygiene products to benefit children and families in need.

Clean the World is the largest global recycler of hotel amenities, and in just two years of operation has distributed more than 9 million bars of soap to children and families in the United States, Canada and more than 45 countries worldwide, while also fulfilling a valuable environmental mission by diverting an estimated 600 tons of hotel waste from polluting landfills in the United States and Canada.

“We’re impressed by the efforts of Clean the World and wanted to show our support in a unique way by becoming the first citywide program to embrace its lifesaving mission,” says Judy Bijlani, President/CEO of the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau. “Our seaside village is an inviting retreat for art lovers, environmentalists and beach enthusiasts, and the idea of recycling soaps and protecting our planet is something we wholeheartedly support.”

Each day 9,000 children around the world die from diseases such as acute respiratory illness and diarrheal diseases that can be prevented by washing with bar soap. Clean the World has a mission to put soap in the hands of people who need it most to improve hygiene and sanitation conditions to lessen the impact of disease and promote better hygiene and living conditions worldwide.

“Laguna Beach is Southern California’s premier seaside destination, and a city deserving of praise for its promotion of sustainability and social responsibility,” says Shawn Seipler, CEO and co-founder of Clean the World. “Our hotel partners in Laguna Beach should be applauded for their collaboration on this unique partnership and its distinction of being our first municipality to embrace Clean the World’s mission to recycle soap and save lives. I hope the efforts of the LBVCB will inspire other communities, municipalities and cities to do the same.”

About Clean the World Global LLC Clean the World Global LLC is a social enterprise committed to saving lives and protecting our planet. It offers sustainable, socially responsible, and charitable programs and services to the international hospitality community. Clean the World Foundation Inc. is the 501 (c) (3) charitable arm of Clean the World Inc. As a private foundation Clean the World Foundation Inc. executes its mission of saving millions of lives around the globe by leading a global hygiene revolution to distribute recycled soap and hygiene products to children and families suffering from high death rates due to the top two killers of children worldwide – acute respiratory infection (pneumonia) and diarrheal diseases (cholera). For more information visit: Text CLEAN to 20222 to donate $10 to help Clean the World.

For more information about LBVCB and members working toward sustainability and socially responsible programs, please visit:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Royal Hawaiian

Slow down this weekend and head to the historic Royal Hawaiian for brunch inspired by the laid-back island way of life.

On a gorgeous and clear Southern California morning, my husband and I headed south on PCH to North Laguna for brunch at one of Laguna’s most historic restaurants. After a complete renovation which included an expanded dining room, bar and menu, Royal Hawaiian recently started serving brunch. It’s a casual dining ambiance with a mix of locals and visitors that makes for a pleasant experience.

The menu has classic brunch items, with an added island twist and a few unexpected combinations that may spark your curiosity. I decided on the Gazebo Pancakes and my husband, the Kalua Pork Scramble.

Gazebo Pancakes: Macadamia nut, bananas, bacon and coconut syrup.
The pancakes were light and fluffy and layered with bananas and sprinkled with macadamia nuts. The coconut syrup added a light, sweet taste that was well-balanced by the savory bacon.

Kalua Pork Scramble: Swiss cheese, green onions, peppers and breakfast potatoes.

The scramble is one of their house specialties…and we can see why! It has that ‘Mama’s-home-cooked’ goodness, yet with a Hawaiian flare.

We have both heard our friends rave about the excellent cocktails they mix up at Royal Hawaiian and we didn’t want to miss out!

Royal Hawaiian

331 N. Coast Hwy

Phone: (949) 494-8001

Monday to Friday Bar open at 4pm

Dining starts at 5pm

Brunch served Saturday and Sunday at 11am

Enjoy nightly entertainment and/or live music

Large flat screen TV’s for sporting events

By Anne-Marie S.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Casa Laguna Inn & Spa - Your Unique California Bed & Breakfast Experience

As soon as you step foot onto the property of Casa Laguna Inn & Spa you know that you are somewhere special. It’s a peaceful, serene and beautiful place that feels like an oasis. Around every corner you stumble upon a secluded garden nook, a lush sitting area perfect for reading, a calming water fountain, or a stunning ocean view. This mission style Bed and Breakfast was originally built as a private residence in the 1920s. It was then expanded into a motor lodge in the’40s, and was then converted to a Bed and Breakfast in 2000. Casa Laguna Inn & Spa has a loyal cliental and has become known for its gourmet breakfast (for overnight guests only!), friendly service, luxurious bedding and romantic setting.

As you explore the property you’ll see colorful mission-style tiles, many of which are the original tiles from the Catalina Tile Company. They were added to the property when it was functioning as an artists’ community. Now, the owner brings tiles to add to the property from his travels around the world. It is touches like these that make Casa Laguna a truly unique place to stay.

Each room is inviting and equipped with all the modern conveniences you hope for (flat screen TV’s, DVD players, Wi-Fi) which give you the comfort of hom, yet the luxury you desire when escaping the business of everyday life.

Casa Laguna offers a variety of rooms from ocean views, suites, rooms with patios and even a private cottage. You’ll be able to find just the right fit for your perfect getaway.

With your stay at Casa Laguna, you are treated to an award-winning breakfast each morning. The menu changes seasonally and is prepared with locally produced foods, much of which is purchased at the Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market (insert blog story link). The gourmet menu is the creation of Chef Allen Rietveld whose style is “eclectic freestyle—bringing together flavors and essences from cultures around the world to excite and please the palate; and, putting a new youthful spin on classic favorites.”

Laguna Egg Rolls: A blend of eggs, sautéed garlic, shallots, potatoes, cumin, chilli powder, garlic powder, chives, and avocado, rolled into a wonton wrapper and pan crisped. Garnished with mixed crisp cabbage and shaved carrots.

Savory Abelskivers: The latest take on our popular spherical Danish pancakes. These are stuffed with orange & basil-infused ricotta cheese; served with ground-mustard hollandaise and a sprinkling of bacon bits.

Both of these dishes were generous in portion, tasty and filling. Chef Rietveld has a way of taking the traditional dish and putting an unexpected spin on it that awakens the palate. He mentioned that there is a classic Eggs Benedict and a new Abelskivers recipes that will debut on the winter menu. In addition to this fabulous, gourmet breakfast, overnight guests are treated to a wine and hors d’oeuvres hour each afternoon.

To experience Casa Laguna’s manicured tropical grounds, their luxurious guest rooms and the gourmet award-winning cuisine, book your stay today!

By Anne-Marie S.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Barnaby Rudge Booksellers & DVD Rental

A mix of antique books and DVDs are items you may not necessarily think go together, but when you step inside Barnaby Rudge Booksellers & DVD Rental, you will see why they do. Spend a little time browsing and talking to owner and long-time Laguna Beach resident Ed Postal and you begin to see how they go hand in hand.

The story of how Barnaby Rudge Booksellers began dates back to the early 90s when Ed first started purchasing antique-like books. His interest began to turn into a passion and then a business of seeking out, purchasing and selling antique books, dating as far back as the 15th century, was created. Barnaby Rudge sells books to Universities and major libraries all over the world. as well as many museums, including The Getty. Book appraisals and restoration are also part of the services that Barnaby Rudge provides. They are also members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, one of only 400 bookstores in the US. Barnaby Rudge is the only antique bookstore left in Orange County.

For many of us history can seem fragmented and isolated when no connection to the present or the future is made. Ed has found just the opposite to be true when you’re able to interact with antique books. He says, “You begin to see how all of history is inter-related and connected (when looking at antique books). Without hundreds of thousands of years of over editorializing you begin to see historical events from both sides.” And for some of us we relate to historical events through film.

Seeing a historical movie can bring an event to life. In many films, the Set Decorators seek out authentic, historical props, like books, to add to films. Barnaby Rudge has been involved in 15 movies and about a dozen TV shows. Ed helped recreate the John Quincy Adams library in the 1997 film AmistadAnother example was in Pirates of the Caribbean II, where a Bible from the late 1700s was featured. You can spot the Bible in a scene where two pirates are reading passages from it while on a dingy boat. Barnaby Rudge sold that Bible to the Set Decorator for the scene.

Barnaby Rudge houses a large independent film selection, a strong classic film section and has all of the “Best Picture” Academy Award winners available. Ed and his staff prescreen all movies that come into the store, so they can truly recommend the right one and give accurate reviews about each film. His clientele like being able to ‘touch’ (it seems like everything is viewed digitally these days!) and hear about what they are going to watch before making a decision. DVD rentals are $3.50 for two nights, or pre-paid packages of 10 for $30, or 20 for $50 are also available.

Whether you’re looking to view a piece of history or watch a highly recommended film, drop in to Barnaby Rudge Booksellers & DVD Rental for a mix of the past, present and future.

1445 Glenneyre Street
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Toll Free (866) 840-5900, (949) 497-4079

Fun Fact: Barnaby Rudge is a character from a Charles Dickens book of the same name. In 1841, Edgar Allen Poe was the editor of the publication ‘Graham’s Magazine.’ Besides submitting his own writings for the magazine he also reviewed books, one of which was ‘Barnaby Rudge.’ The character Barnaby Rudge always carried a raven in his basket named Rip, and that was the inspiration for Edgar Allen Poe’s poem ‘The Raven.’

By Anne-Marie S.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

13th Annual Plein Air Painting Invitational

Every October, Laguna Beach turns into an outdoor studio with the Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational. The 13th annual Plein Air Painting Invitational is taking place October 9-16, showcasing 50 of the nation’s top plein air landscape painters who will be competing for prestigious prizes and participating in the week-long festivities including public paint outs, environmental awareness activities and educational events.

There are many opportunities for you to watch these talented artists in action:

Quick Draw Paint Out
Sunday, October 9
11am to 1pm
Heisler Park

Stroll through this beautiful park and watch these master painters in action as they create plein air masterpieces before your very eyes. At 1:00 pm, walk over to Laguna Art Museum for a Meet & Greet Reception with the artists who will be there until 2:00 p.m. Enjoy complimentary beverages courtesy of the Laguna Art Museum.

Laguna Canyon Foundation Paint Out
Tuesday, October 11
9am to 10:30am
Laguna Canyon

Choose between two private tours that will provide additional opportunities to watch the participating artists in a paint out, and to raise awareness about Laguna Canyon Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving, protecting, enhancing, and promoting the South Coast Wilderness Area.

Paint Out at Crystal Cove
Thursday, October 13
8am to 12noon
Crystal Cove State Park

At the north end of Laguna Beach lies the magnificent Crystal Cove State Park, which boasts 3.2 miles of beach and 2,400 acres of pristine coastal habitat. The participating plein air artists will be at the Park’s famous Historic District to paint the beautiful landscape and cottages, and bring awareness to the Park’s protected environment.

Collectors’ Soirée
Saturday, October 15
6pm to 10pm
Laguna Art Museum
The entire week culminates with the Collectors’ Soirée at Laguna Art Museum. Join over 400 guests for this exciting gala where you will have the opportunity to view and purchase, in advance of the general public, the artworks created throughout the week by 50 of the nation’s top plein air artists.

You Can Win!!!

In partnership with the Laguna Art Museum, we are offering you an exclusive chance to WIN two tickets to the Collector’s Soiree (a $300 value). Post the below status update to your Facebook wall, tag Laguna Art Museum and Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau,and you will be entered into the drawing to win.

Laguna Art Museum is hosting the prestigious 13th Annual Plein Air Invitational, October 9-16th. The event showcases 50 of the nation's top plein air landscape painters who compete for prestigious prizes and participate in festivities including public paint outs, environmental awareness activities, and educational events. Learn more and enter for a chance to WIN tickets to their annual Collectors' Soiree on the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau blog:"

Winner will be picked at random on October 14th and notified via Facebook direct message.

A life worth living, ‘Shirley Valentine’

Going about the mundane tasks of domestic life, we meet Shirley Valentine, a housewife living in Liverpool in the 1980s. She moves about her home kitchen preparing dinner and tea for her husband who has yet to arrive home from work. Her children are grown and have moved out of the house, her marriage is void of love leaving Shirley lonely and aimless. Her kitchen wall has become her confidant. She tells of a life empty with no passion, excitement or purpose. Her glass of wine and the wall seem to be her only comforts. Shirley starts to reminisce about her lost youth. She remembers living a lively and vibrant life before the hum drum of responsibility and duty of an ordinary life took over. We learn that her one friend and neighbor, has offered to take Shirley on a two-week holiday to Greece. Shirley wants nothing more than to go, but she worries her husband won’t let her go and  if he did, could he survive without her for two weeks? She jokingly says, “If I go to the bathroom for five minutes he thinks I’ve been hijacked.” In the end Shirley decides to find her inner strength and goes to Greece. There she recaptures her passion for life and finds a “land beyond the wall.” The hour and forty minute show, is a journey where she rediscovers herself and decides to take control of her life, and to live her “unused” years.

This one-woman play, written by Willy Russell, originally premiered in Liverpool in 1986 and received rave reviews. This was a time when one-person plays were not nearly as popular as they are today. In 1989, Pauline Collins won the Tony Award for ‘Best Performance’ by a leading actress in a play. It was in 2004 that DeeDee Rescher  brought to life Shirley Valentine at the Long Beach Playhouse. It is a treat to have her reprise the role at The Laguna Playhouse. She brings humor and a sensitive emotion to the role that easily draws you in and connects you to the character. This is an honest and heartfelt look at life and how it doesn’t always quite turnout like we thought it would.

Be sure to see ‘Shirley Valentine’ at The Laguna Playhouse 
Now through October 23rd
Tuesday-Fridays 2pm and 8pm
Saturdays 2pm and 8pm
Sundays 2pm

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A well-deserved Mom night out at Asada Laguna

Laguna Beach has welcomed several new restaurants over the last few months. One of the new kids on the block is Asada Laguna. Located along Pacific Coast Hwy (PCH), opposite of the Wyland Gallery, Asada is the ideal spot to grab a quick drink with chips and salsa or stay awhile and settle in for a full meal.

I took one of my friends who is a mom and was in need of a night out. Between the two of us we have nine kids (her six and I three), so you can imagine she and I needed a night without the worries and stress of children and home life. We started with the traditional chips and salsa, but Asada’s salsa is something special. It is a homemade fire-roasted salsa that is served warm! I had not had a warm salsa quite like this before and it was delicious. We also ordered a fresh guacamole that is made to order. The chips, salsa and guacamole were so good, that we had to stop ourselves from filling up before our main dishes.

And, in my opinion, no Mexican food meal can be consumed without a Margarita! I chose the popular Cadillac Margarita and my friend, the pomegranate Margarita. Both were excellent and a perfect way to start our night out!

After lots of gabbing, we finally decided on our entrée’s. I chose the Blackened Halibut Tacos. These are served in warm flour tortillas, roasted poblano sauce topped with crunchy cabbage, pico de gallo and served with homemade black beans and cilantro rice.
Insider Hint: The guacamole appetizer was such a generous portion, that I added some to the tacos. It was perfect complement to the light halibut.

My friend chose the Carne Asada meal. This is one of the most popular items on the Asada menu and no wonder why! It is made with USDA prime steak that is agave marinated, served with roasted scallions, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro rice and homemade black beans. My friend loved that there was extra sauce to add to the carne asada. The meat had the right amount of kick that keeps you coming back for more, but doesn’t light your mouth on fire. The meal came with a side of fire-roasted jalapenos that I just had to steal a bite of. These can be ordered as an appetizer and are filled with cream cheese and wrapped in crispy bacon. Honestly, these little packages were my favorite part of the meal!

We finished the meal off with the Buttered Crepes. They were sweet and served with fresh whipped cream and caramel.

When we left, we realized how nice it was to enjoy great conversation, a beautiful sunset, a view of the Pacific and great food, all in the peace of Laguna Beach. It was the perfect Mom’s night out.

480 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 715-5533

Sunday - Monday 11:00am to 10:00pm
Tuesday - Saturday 11:00am to 1:00am
Happy Hour Monday – Friday 3pm to 6pm

By Anne-Marie S.