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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.