Urban Plates – A Sea of Seasonal Food

Affordable, Fresh & Friendly

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

When SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel were invited to preview the new Urban Plates restaurant in Brea (3413 E. Imperial Hwy) that’s opening in mid-March we were excited to see how fresh everything is.

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The restaurant prides itself on “changing the way the world eats by making fresh, wholesome and delicious food that is affordable and accessible to everyone.”

DSC05886You can see the sandwiches and salads being made right in front of you and the fruits and vegetables arranged against the wall look like something out of a farmers’ market.

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DSC05893Executive chef Thomas McNamara told SurfWriter Girls the restaurant, which is a combination of cafeteria style and fine dining, makes everything fresh from scratch. He wants people to know that they can “eat good food and not break the bank.”

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Shane Templeman, operations services manager, echoes that sentiment and explained that he uses social media to help get the word out about Urban Plates’ passion for food.

 

From the moment you arrive at the restaurant it feels like a party with people talking to each other and reading the menu boards, deciding what to order. Overhead signs direct you to the salads – which are huge! – and to the sandwiches, braises & stews.

DSC05891Sandwiches, always a favorite, run the gamut from grilled wild albacore, free range chicken and grilled steak to barbecued beef and oven baked salmon, served on ciabatta bread or grilled brioche buns.

DSC05901If you’re looking for comfort food, check out the braised beef and mushrooms with a side of mashed potatoes. Or opt for something more exotic like the Moroccan chicken potato peas braise with a Middle East, bazaar-blend of spices, including turmeric, paprika, ginger and cinnamon.

DSC05902The beverage menu has local craft beers, local and regional wines, organic lemonade, iced tea, and seasonal replinishers, which vary throughout the year. The coffee is fair trade organic.

The dining area itself is a celebration of food with plates and cooking utensils on the walls and separate dining sections with outside seating available. It has a flow that encourages people to mingle and talk whether you’re just stopping in for a drink or a full meal.

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DSC05903SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti gave a hug to our friend, pastry chef Michele Deinstadt, who is a student in the Cypress College Hotel, Restaurant, Culinary program and also takes entrepreneur and marketing classes. She bakes everything from brownies, to layer cakes. And her molasses cookies are as big as saucers…and hard to resist!

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Even though the restaurant was packed with diners, general manager Alex Baumberg found time to stop by to talk to about Urban Plates’ commitment to healthy food and its plans to serve the Brea community.

DSC05919With its fresh, friendly environment, SurfWriter Girls know that this new eating spot will definitely be discovered soon.

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Summer Treat is Fun to Eat

Popsicles Create a Century of Smiles

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

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When the temperature rises who can resist a popsicle?

The popsicle is a true American classic – a colorful, sweet, icy creation that has been putting smiles on people’s faces since 1905.

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Invented in San Francisco by Frank Epperson – an 11-year-old boy – it was one of those accidental discoveries. Epperson was mixing a powdered flavoring with soda water to make a fruit pop drink and left it out on the porch overnight with the wooden stir stick still in.

The concoction froze around the stick, resulting in the first popsicle – a combination of soda pop and icicle.

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Popsicle, the brand, is currently owned by Good Humor, a subsidiary of Unilever.

Across America for generations the musical sound of the Good Humor truck would have kids running to get Popsicles on hot, summer days.

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kids at good humor truck

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel remember the double-sided bars that you could break in half to share.

vintage twin pop poster“I’d take them inside the house and cut them in half with a butter knife,” said Sunny, whose five younger siblings all wanted Popsicles.

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“And, if you didn’t cut them just right, they split the wrong way,” Patti recalls. Her sister Eileen was the one in charge of breaking the bars.

Available in a rainbow of colors, Popsicles have been joined by other frosty inventions.

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Fudgsicles, Creamsicles, Sidewalk Sundaes, Pop Ups, Rocket Pops, and more.

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With so many new icy pops on the scene, over the past century the name “popsicle” has become the generic term for any icy treat on a stick.

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Today frozen desserts are a $7 billion retail category and popsicles are one of the leaders of the pack with $2 billion in annual sales, providing retailers with cool profits and consumers with cool treats.

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Popsicles color

It’s amazing how something as simple as flavoring and ice could make such a mark in the marketplace…and in people’s lives.

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A Sea of Love

Chocolates Add Romance to Valentine’s Day

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

In the 1500s when the Spanish explorers sailed across the seas looking for treasures in the New World they found gold, silver, spices…and something more – chocolate.

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Discovered in Mexico’s Aztec civilization, chocolate quickly became a favorite in the royal courts of Europe – prized for both its velvety taste and as an aphrodisiac.

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that the belief that chocolate had love-inducing powers originated with Aztec Emperor Montezuma himself, who was said to drink 50 golden goblets of chocolate each day.

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By the mid-1800s, giving chocolates on Valentine’s Day as a way to celebrate romantic love was popular in much of the world.

 

One of the first chocolate-makers to create special Valentine’s, heart-shaped boxes was Richard Cadbury of the famous British chocolate company.

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The Victorian-era Cadbury boxes were so beautiful that people kept them long after the chocolates were gone and the boxes became treasured family heirlooms.

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The art of making chocolate spread throughout Europe and the Swiss, Belgians, and French established themselves among the premiere chocolate-makers.

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Artisanal Belgian chocolates

Familiar names include Nestle, Lindt, Tobler, and Godiva.

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And, in America, Hershey, Mars, and that ever-popular Mrs. See’s.

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National Geographic named Swiss chocolate company Teuscher the best chocolate maker in the world.

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To see – and taste – why these chocolates are the best SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti drove down the coast to Newport’s Fashion Island to visit the Teuscher Chocolate Shop.

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The upscale chocolates are like precious jewels…and just as dear.

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When you enter the Teuscher shop you feel like you are entering a shrine to chocolate.

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“It’s a small shop,” says Sunny, “but it’s overwhelming with all the different types and styles of chocolate to try… some shaped like ducks and elephants…

and planes and fish.”

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“And there’s hot chocolate, too,” adds Patti. “From the first sip there’s an intense burst of rich flavor. You just want to take it all in and enjoy each sip.”

 

In fashioning its chocolates Teuscher finds the best ingredients from around the world. Marcus, the shop owner, told SurfWriter Girls, “The chocolates have no preservatives in them. Every two weeks an order of chocolates comes from Switzerland.”

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Myths, folklore – and now even science – tell us that chocolate does in fact put people in the mood for love.

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So, on Valentine’s Day, to heighten the romantic mood, be sure to give your sweetheart some chocolates, whether it’s a fistful of M&M’s or that gold standard of Swiss perfection, Teuscher.

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Or simply make s’mores on the beach.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Patti & Sunny

Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

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Huntington Beach Beer Company Handcrafts Brews

Brewpub Taps Historic Roots

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Written By SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Tap into the historical roots of Huntington Beach at the Huntington Beach Beer Company (201 Main Street).

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In the early 1900s, when Huntington Beach was just being developed, local farmers would sickle the grain grown nearby and cart the malt by horse-drawn carriages to the downtown breweries in Los Angeles.

Reflecting that era, the Huntington Beach Beer Company – a brewpub started in 1992 in an upstairs location overlooking Main – has kept the feel of that time…

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with brick walls, stone floors, wood finishes, and malt sacks.

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Climbing the stairs to the second floor, SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel could hear the sounds of laughter and conversation, which told us this was just the place to take a break from the sun.

On the way to our table we noticed the huge, gleaming beer tanks.

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Starting with HBBC’s handcrafted, brewed-on- site ales and lagers, there’s an ever-changing lineup of craft beers from award-winning breweries.

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For a true taste of the beach, try HBBC’s own HB Blonde Ale, Pier Pale Ale, or Brickshot Red Ale, available in pints or pitchers.

 

Or check the chalkboard to see what other beers brewmaster Brandon Blankenship has in store for you. There’s always something new to try.

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Plus HBBC offers a wide range of burgers, soups and sandwiches, salads, appetizers, daily specials and more.

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HBBC’s burgers are big and served with its trademark beer battered fries.

The house burger is made with a half-pound beef patty and your choice of cheese. Other burger options include ahi, salmon, lamb, turkey or veggie patties.

DSC04547For sandwiches, if you like pulled pork or jerk chicken, you’ve come to the right place. You can also get a classic Reuben, made with corned beef or pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on rye.

And, for that ultimate comfort food sandwich, the grilled cheese, HBBC’s is served on sourdough with a choice of cheddar or provolone.

SurfWriter Girls liked the wood-fired, brick oven pizzas that are another of HBBC’s specialties.

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DSC03711AIf you’re looking for something different, try the Thai Chicken Pizza with spicy peanut sauce and cilantro or the Endless Summer Veggie Pizza that has “the entire garden” on it.

For entertainment, when you feel like kicking up your heels, stop by HBBC on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to dance along to the records the DJs are spinning.

Or go on sports nights to root for your favorite football, hockey and baseball teams while enjoying the food and beer specials – fish tacos, pizzas and chili cheese dogs, with HB pints.

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DSC03722Natalie and Jim Antista and son Josh told SurfWriter Girls they like to go to HBBC for fun family time. The food is great and they can see the shops on Main and walk on the beach.

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Wednesday Beer Appreciation Nights (reservations required) are set aside for beer aficionados who want to sample the latest beers.

DSC03717HBBC is open daily with a Late Night Happy Hour on Sunday – Thursday from 10 p.m. to close. For more information about hours or events, phone 714-960-5343 or check the website: hbbeerco.com.

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Then the next time you’re looking for a brewpub where you can relax with friends, stop by the Huntington Beach Beer Company and grab a stool at the bar or a table on the patio overlooking the pier.

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Cheers!

Patti & Sunny

Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

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Spice Up Fall with Savory Squash

Butternut Squash Brightens a Beef Stew

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Now with the fall harvest time here and an abundance of farm-fresh produce available, nothing says autumn like homemade Butternut Squash and Beef Stew.

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The bright yellow squash adds a new flavor dimension to beef stew.

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel especially like to make the stew on the weekend when there’s plenty of time to let it cook slowly in the crock pot.

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You can start it the day before and let it cook overnight so it’s ready for lunch the next day. Or begin it in the morning and be out at the beach enjoying the day while it’s cooking. Then have it for dinner. The total cooking time is 10 hours.

“Butternut squash is a favorite of mine,” Sunny says, “because it’s so versatile and can be cooked in many ways. The squash has a subtle flavor and melts in your mouth.”

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What’s more, it’s high in nutrients and fiber and low in calories with no cholesterol. One cup of squash (cubed) has just 63 calories and tons of Vitamin A (297% of the daily requirement) and Vitamin C (48%).

Sunny’s recipe for Butternut Squash Stew is hearty, but not heavy. “That’s because it has a lot of vegetables,” Sunny explains.

One of the seasonings Sunny uses in the stew is lemongrass, an herb that reminds her of her childhood home when she used to go out in the backyard and gather it fresh. “Then I would tie the leaves in a small bundle to put in soups and stews.”

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If you don’t have wild lemongrass growing where you live, you can get it in the spice aisle at the supermarket in dry packets or as a paste. Sunny uses the paste.

Sunny’s Recipe for Butternut Squash Beef Stew

Ingredients:

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1.5 lbs beef stew meat, chopped into 1” pieces

1 T. canola oil

5 small red or purple small potatoes

12 oz petite baby carrots or 3 large carrots, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tsp minced garlic

10 oz sliced cremini mushrooms

One 2.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled and chopped

1 quart beef broth (4 cups)

1 bay leaf

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1 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 T. soy sauce

½ tsp lemon grass paste

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

¼ tsp pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

½ tsp paprika

½ cup flour

Directions:

Place the flour in a shallow dish with the beef and toss well to coat. Heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about five minutes until soft. Add the beef and garlic to the pan and continue sautéing until the beef has browned.

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Place the beef, onions and garlic at the bottom of the Crock Pot. Next add the bay leaf, butternut squash, mushrooms, carrots and potatoes and afterwards pour the beef broth over them.

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In a small mixing bowl combine the Worcestershire, soy sauce, sugar, paprika and lemon grass powder or paste and stir with a spoon until blended. Pour over the mixture in the Crock Pot.

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Place the lid on the Crock Pot and turn the heat to low. Cook for 8 – 10 hours. Right before serving, add the salt, cayenne and black pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf. pinch-of-salt

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The recipe serves 8 – 10 people so after a morning or afternoon of surfing you can bring your friends home to a hot meal. Just set the table, serve it with warm French bread and you’re ready to enjoy some real comfort food.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti knew that the Butternut Squash and Beef Stew was a success when Patti’s husband Greg went back for seconds.

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Your friends will, too.

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Coffee Brewing in Seal Beach – Part II

Thanksgiving is Pumpkin Spice Latte Time

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 Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 Old Town Seal Beach is the perfect place to stop and savor the crisp fall weather and indulge in a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

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To usher in Thanksgiving and the holiday season, SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel always make a stop at Javatinis (148 Main Street) for its special PSL.

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Located right in the middle of all the action on Main Street, Javatinis central location makes it an ideal spot to meet friends for coffee or to stop and take a break from shopping or work.

DSC00336There are upholstered chairs up front, café tables along the side windows and counter seating in the back with bar stools.

Seal Beach locals hang out here and catch up on everything from the latest gossip and surf conditions to news and politics. On any given day, you never know who you will run into or what they will be talking about.

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One of the first things you notice is the smell of the freshly roasted coffee beans. SurfWriter Girls learned that Javatinis roasts its own beans on-site every day.

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PumpkinSpice DrinkSo you can be sure that you’re getting the freshest cup of coffee possible. That’s why its PSLs are so good.

Javatinis also specializes in what it calls “Latte Art,” creating original designs in the coffee foam.

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To go along with your coffee or latte, there is a variety of fresh baked goods to tempt you, including gluten-free options, breakfast sandwiches and gelato.

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During the Christmas holiday season Javatinis makes ginger bread men, too, which are great to eat on the spot or take home to put in a stocking or use to decorate a gift package.

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The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (347 Main Street), on the corner of Main Street and PCH, is hard to miss as you drive into Old Town Seal Beach.

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A true sidewalk café, it has eye-catching, bright red umbrella tables and a street front location that’s ideal for watching people and cars go by while sipping a perfectly-brewed cup of coffee or tea.

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As you walk inside, you immediately see an extensive assortment of premium beans and tea leaves from around the world displayed in clear wall units.

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There is a broad selection of coffee bean choices from light and subtle to dark and distinctive, sourced from Latin America, East Africa and the Pacific…

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and whole tea leaves gathered from plantations spanning the globe…Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Thailand, India, Kenya.

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Picking out which coffee or tea you’re going to try is like taking a journey and certainly part of the fun.

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There’s a full range of ice-blended drinks, too, in coffee and coffee-free versions.

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So, when the weather is hot or you’re feeling adventurous, try the chocolate-cherry Black Forest, strawberry-banana Malibu Dream, Mucho Mango fru-tea or one of the other concoctions.

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Then find a table where you can savor your CBTL creation and chill out.

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And, for something to munch on, check out the pastries and other treats in the baked goods case – the muffins and bagels are huge. There’s bound to be something there that’s hard to resist.

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SurfWriter Girls agree that Seal Beach locals and visitors are lucky to have so many different coffee houses to choose from.

DSC03031 With Bogart’s, The Crema Café, Javatini’s, and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, whether you just want to get a cup of coffee to go, feel like socializing, or are in the mood to relax, there’s something special brewing for you.

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And that’s definitely something to be thankful for.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Patti and Sunny

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Coffee Brewing in Seal Beach – Part I

Get Your Cup of Joe – to Stay or Go!

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

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When it comes to coffee culture, there’s always a Starbucks or McCafé nearby. But, if you’re looking for a change of pace and want to experience some coffee houses with a local taste, Old Town Seal Beach is the place.

On Main Street and Ocean Avenue, just steps from the Seal Beach Pier, you can sample what’s brewing at four different coffee houses, each with its own unique style – Bogart’s Coffee House, The Crema Café, Javatini’s and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

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DSC02175SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel love all the different choices for coffee that Seal Beach has to offer…especially now that fall is here and there’s some nip in the air.

Depending on our mood and what we’re doing, we can always find a coffee house that’s just right.

Bogart’s Coffee House (905 Ocean Avenue) is directly across the street from the Seal Beach Pier. You couldn’t ask for a more inviting place to relax with friends or just sit and enjoy the ocean view through the large windows.

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DSC02876It has a retro vibe and casual ambience with café tables, a comfortable couch and leopard-print easy chairs to settle into.

A painting of silver screen legend Humphrey Bogart is on the wall and a life-size Bogart is there to greet you along with stacks of newspapers and books waiting to be read at your leisure.

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The closest coffee house to the beach, Bogart’s is the place to stop in the morning for a steaming hot cup of coffee or a chai latte to take with you for a walk down to the water’s edge to watch the surfers and seagulls skimming the waves.

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Or drop in after a jog on Ocean Avenue and cool down with a smoothie. If you’re interested in a light breakfast or snack, there are pastries, crepes, and paninis to choose from.

When SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti are parked in the one-hour spaces on Ocean or coming back from the beach it’s nice to know that Bogart’s is right there. We can grab a quick cup of coffee on the run or stop and stay awhile.

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The Crema Café (322 Main Street) offers everything you could want in a coffee house with its gourmet coffee, pastries, full-service breakfast and lunch menu, and charming garden setting.

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It’s a place where you definitely want to linger, savoring a coffee refill and putting your other activities on hold.

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Whether you relax at a table inside or take time to slow down and enjoy the total Crema Café experience in the garden patio, you’ll start to feel a sense of well-being as soon as you enter the doorway.

The warm woods, plank tables and sunlit windows looking out on Main Street give the interior a cozy atmosphere that makes you want to sit down and catch up with a friend or stop to read the morning paper or a good book.

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Whatever the weather may bring, the table umbrellas and sheltering trees stand ready to keep the elements at bay on the patio.

And, when the café is busy and it gets crowded outside – especially on sunny days and weekends when everyone wants to enjoy the garden – Crema Café offers free coffee while you wait for a table.

With a large selection of sandwiches, paninis, savory and sweet crepes, omelets, quiches and salads, the hardest part about eating at Crema Cafe is choosing what to order.

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DSC02891SurfWriter Girls observed that many people, like Kay Kwok and Cyndee Ewing, like to pick different things to try from the menu and then share, having more dishes to taste. The portions at Crema Café are large. So give yourself time to indulge.

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The only ones in a hurry here are the waiters, quickly and courteously taking orders and ferrying plates back and forth from the patio to the kitchen.

To be continued. Look for Part Two with the latest on Pumpkin Spice Lattes and other Thanksgiving treats.

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Corona del Mar Seaside Garden Brunch

Sherman Gardens – An Oasis of Tranquility

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 Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 When you feel like taking a break from your everyday activities and want to slow down the pace a little there’s a special place in Corona del Mar that’s just steps from the beach…but a world away – the Sherman Library & Gardens.

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An oasis of tranquility that was first opened to the public in 1966, the Sherman Library & Gardens (2647 E. Coast Highway) has colorful flower beds…

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a tropical conservatory, water fountains, cacti and succulents, and a tea garden perfect for lingering over tea or indulging in a Sunday brunch.

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel opted for the latter – a relaxing brunch in the Gardens’ Café Jardin and the chance to sample award-winning chef Pascal Olhat’s French “coastal cuisine.”

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With Patti’s husband Greg Kishel on board for the culinary adventure, part of the fun was picking out the different menu items we wanted to try.

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The seasonal 4-course brunch ($35 per person), served from 10:30 am – 2 pm, includes an assortment of appetizers, a starter course, main dish, and dessert.

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To get the total Café Jardin experience, our game plan called for ordering a variety of dishes – and promising to share.

The appetizers were like miniature artworks – tomato and onion tarts, mini-quiches and a mix of olives, arranged beautifully on the plate.

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For the second course, Greg opted for the Vichyssoise cold potato soup, while Sunny went for the smoked salmon mousse and Patti the country paté.

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With the main course, Greg ordered eggs Benedict, cooked in the French style with ratatouille and asparagus.

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The roasted chicken breast and herb risotto got Sunny’s attention.

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And Patti couldn’t resist the grilled salmon.

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Then, when we were all still talking about how good everything was, the dessert tray appeared with an assortment of mini-pastries, berries, and individual chocolate mousse cups.

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By the time we finished eating we were ready to explore the gardens, named after early California business pioneer Moses Hazeltine Sherman, who achieved success in mining, cattle, and real estate…selling Henry Huntington the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad electric railway system in 1904.

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Wandering the gardens, immersed in the bygone California landscape, the 21st century was easily forgotten…except for the occasional intrusion of a car horn from the Coast Highway.

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To make your own garden brunch get-away from the everyday, contact the Sherman Library & Gardens for reservations. Sunday, October 12, is the last day for brunch service until spring 2015.

Or stop by to browse in the library’s extensive Pacific Southwest California history collection, check out the unique items in the gift store or enjoy handmade crepes in the Tea Garden Creperie.

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Whatever you choose, like a character in a Thomas Hardy Victorian novel, you’ll be “far from the madding crowd.

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Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

SurfWriter Girls

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Beach Eats To-Go

Perfect Pit Stops on Way to the Beach

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

With the warm days of summer soon to be replaced by fall’s autumn leaves, there’s no time to waste a single golden moment…especially waiting in crowded beach lines for food.

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When you’re headed out to the beach or driving down PCH, it’s a good idea to grab some food to-go. You’ll have something to eat on the way or when you get there…and be ready to drop your towel on the sand or paddle out to catch the best waves.

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Los Alamitos makes a perfect pit stop for beach eats – en route to both Seal Beach and Huntington Beach with great grab-and-go food that doesn’t need a knife and fork.

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel know just where to go – Pasty Kitchen, Volcano Burgers and Taco Surf.

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SurfWriter Girl Sunny has been going to Pasty Kitchen (3641 Katella Avenue) forever. She’s such a fan of the pasties (meat pies baked without a pan) that when she walks in the door everyone recognizes her.

 

Along with its traditional beef and chicken pasties made with a mix of potatoes and carrots, Pasty Kitchen has vegetarian pasties – Sunny’s favorite – and even apple- and cherry-filled dessert pasties.

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Pasties (pronounced “pass-tees”) originated in Europe in the 1300s and are closely associated with Cornwall, England, where coal miners favored the meat pies because they were easy to carry.

 

With over 50-years of experience making pasties, Pasty Kitchen knows how to create perfect pies that are packed with flavor and are just the right size to fit in your hand.

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DSC02933The baking area in the tiny shop is in plain sight from the order counter. So, you can even watch the pasties being made and pulled out of the oven. “For a little shop they have a lot going on,” says Sunny.

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Pasty Kitchen has a couple of umbrella tables outside, if you want to linger. Or just grab the hot pies and head out! At little more than two dollars each, you can enjoy an authentic taste of Cornwall that people have sought out for centuries.

Another way to jumpstart your taste buds on a SoCal beach day is to cruise through the drive-thru window at Volcano Burgers (3652 Cerritos Avenue), which has been making burgers for over thirty years.

DSC02983You’ll get a hamburger ($2.59) unlike any other you’ve tasted. When you see how big it is, with the ingredients spilling over the bun, you’ll be glad that the take-out orders come in boxes instead of bags.

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The same goes for the chili cheese fries ($3.69), which are hard to consume in a single sitting.

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The melted cheddar cheese covering the fries in lava-like splendor tells you that these fries are fit for a king or, in this case, a goddess – Pele, the Hawaiian Volcano Goddess. So, be sure to ask for extra napkins. Lots of them!

VB’s menu includes hot dogs, chili cheese dogs, gyros, BLTs, chicken strips, zucchini fries, and other hand-held food for the open road along with classic shakes and floats to stick in your cup holders.

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Given the large portion sizes, though, you may need to loosen your seat belt a bit to accommodate the extra calories.

If you’re in a hurry, just be sure to avoid the noon lunch and after-school crush of students from Los Al High across the street. When classes let out everyone makes a dash for VB.

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Taco Surf (10542 Los Alamitos Boulevard and other SoCal locations) lives up to its Mexican and beach-themed name, offering a variety of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and more in a casual, ocean type hangout with surf boards, bright colors and beach decor.

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Whether you drop by to get something to go or stay around to “Party on!” as the signs say, the staff is eager to make you feel welcome.

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The three-taco special ($8.75) is just the thing to take to the beach and you have a choice of beef, chicken or fish. So, you can get one of each.

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Taco Surf has been around for over 25 years providing a taste of Baja California’s surf culture and food, utilizing family recipes enjoyed for generations. The menu includes a wide range of taquitos, tostados and quesadillas and lunch and dinner combos.

DSC02962And, if you’re heading back from the beach early, Happy Hour starts at 2:00 p.m. on Monday – Friday with $1.50 tacos and $2.50 draft beers. So, even if you didn’t get in a full day of surfing or sunbathing, you can still relax and enjoy a beach vibe.

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When you’re in the mood to splurge a little, try the carne asada ($13.75) made with charbroiled flank steak or the pescado fish of the day ($12.95) topped with fresh mango salsa. Both come with Spanish rice, refried beans and tortillas.

With its other locations along the coast in Belmont Shore, Surfside, Seal Beach, Westminster and Dana Point, you can soak up Taco Surf’s friendly atmosphere from practically anywhere in OC.

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So, whenever you get a craving for one of its tacos, there’s a Taco Surf nearby. This works out great for SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti when we’re out covering beach stories and finding new places to share with our readers.

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Whether you’re loading up your car for a day at the beach or on your way home, it’s good to know that there’s no shortage of purrfect pit stops for beach eats to-go.

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Adding up their combined years in business, Pasty Kitchen, Volcano Burgers and Taco Surf have been satisfying the community’s food urges for over 100 years. That translates into a lot of meat pies, burgers and tacos…and definitely napkins!

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Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

SurfWriter Girls

Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

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Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at surfwriter.girls@gmail.com Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.

On Labor Day “Steak” Your Claim

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

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Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Now that the last grilling days of summer are here it’s time to fire up the barbecue and make the most of it!

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Are your steaks as tender and juicy as they can be? Or are they looking and tasting more like an old shoe?

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Don’t worry. SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel – with the help of Patti’s husband Greg Kishel – have done our homework and have the perfect recipe for grilling success.

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For starters, don’t just grab the first package of plastic-wrapped meat that you see in the supermarket. Get to know your butcher! Sunny is in charge of getting the meat for our barbecues and always talks to the butcher.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“This way I can find out what’s available and get the best prices, too! Often there are specials that can save you money,” says Sunny. “Plus the butcher can give me suggestions on which cut of meat to get and how to prepare it.”

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Check the steak for marbling – the lines of fat running throughout the meat. These add moisture and flavor to the steak.

hi-steaks-8colWhether you opt for a rib eye, Porterhouse, top sirloin, or other steak, just as important as the cut of meat you choose, is how you handle it.

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“I’ve eaten steaks in expensive restaurants and steaks grilled on industrial-sized, backyard barbecues,” Greg says. “But, the best steaks of all were the ones my father used to make on a small hibachi on the steps to the basement. Dad had a chair next to the grill and sat there, paying close attention to the coals and the meat, getting it just right.”

 

A key mistake that grillers often make is taking the steak straight from the fridge to the barbecue. To ensure that the steak cooks evenly the meat should be at room temperature.

DSC04068Keep it simple. If you’re not careful, fancy marinades and rubs can overwhelm the natural meat flavors. Lightly coating the steak with oil and then seasoning it with salt and pepper should be just the ticket.

DSC04135Season the meat about the same time you’re getting the coals ready. That way the salt and pepper will have time to be absorbed into the steak, rather than ending up covering the grill.

Then, when you place the steak on the grill, pick a spot that is giving off the desired amount of heat.

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Go easy on the flipping, too. Less is more. Leave the flipping theatrics to the chefs at Benihana’s. The more flipping you do, the harder it is to monitor the amount of heat that each side is getting.

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Once the steak is done (about 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare) and you’ve removed it from the grill, resist the urge to immediately start eating. Here patience is definitely a virtue. If you’ve watched any of the cooking shows on TV, you know that the top chefs always let the meat rest for 5 – 10 minutes. This allows the steak to finish cooking and helps to seal in the flavor.

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After that, your steak is ready to serve – with whatever side dishes you like…and maybe a special wine you’ve been saving for the occasion or a chilled beer.

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Patti picked out this Villa Mt. Eden 1993 Zinfandel from Napa we had on hand. With its spicy fruit flavors and mellow taste, it turned out to be the perfect pairing to Greg’s perfectly grilled steak.

DSC04087Bon Appétit!

Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

SurfWriter Girls

Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

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Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at surfwriter.girls@gmail.com Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.