Coffee Brewing in Seal Beach – Part II

Thanksgiving is Pumpkin Spice Latte Time


 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.

Old Town street

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.



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.


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.



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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


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


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


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


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.

blended iced drinks cb

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


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.



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.


And that’s definitely something to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving!


Patti and Sunny

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Coffee Brewing in Seal Beach – Part I

Get Your Cup of Joe – to Stay or Go!


Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

old town sign

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.


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.


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.


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.

seal beach street signs

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.








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.



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



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.



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.


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.


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


 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.


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…


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




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.”


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.


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.

Cafe Jardin logo

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.


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.









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


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


And Patti couldn’t resist the grilled salmon.


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.


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.



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.






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.





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


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Beach Eats To-Go

Perfect Pit Stops on Way to the Beach

food tray on car door

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.


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.


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.


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





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.



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.


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.


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.



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


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.


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.


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.



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.

taco-surf Party On sign

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

red napkin dispenser

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On Labor Day “Steak” Your Claim

How to Grill the Perfect Steak


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!


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

charlie chaplin





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.


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.”


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.

Raw meat ribeye steaks in grocery store


“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.



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.


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.


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.


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!

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Enjoy Summer’s Cool Delights

Beat the Heat with Ice Cream Treats!


Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

“I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.” So, the saying goes, especially in the summertime when everyone is looking for a cool treat.


SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel love ice cream, particularly when we’re out at the beach and want to escape the heat. Whether it’s a waffle cone, hot fudge sundae or a date shake, there’s something good to try.




In ancient times, dating back to the Roman Empire (54-86 A.D.), ice cream was reserved for emperors, who claimed it as their “just desserts.” To make the dish, Nero Claudius Caesar sent the empire’s fastest runners into the mountains to bring back snow, which was flavored with fruits and juices.

Over a thousand years later, when Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Orient bearing amazing treasures, one of the riches he brought was the recipe for sherbet. It still took 400 years, though, before ice cream reached the masses in the mid-17th Century.

marko-polo-story (5)


Fortunately, today we have lots of choices of ice cream right here in the OC…and you don’t have to be an emperor or an explorer to enjoy it!

 If you’re looking for new flavors to experience, then Baskin Robbins is the place. With 31 flavors on its menu, there’s a flavor for every day of the month.



Some of the flavors for summer include: Cotton Candy, Splish Splash Sherbet, Very Berry Strawberry, and Blueberry Cheesecake. They’ve even got a movie-tie-in treat, Amazing Spider-Man 2.

And that summer favorite Baseball Nut is back. The classics are still here, too – Jamoca Almond Fudge, Oreo Cookies and Cream, and Old Fashioned Butter Pecan.

DSC03688And, when you’re feeling creative and want to express yourself, then head to Cold Stone Creamery and supervise your own Signature Creation, made right in front of you on the ice cream shop’s trademark stone mixing surface.

store coldstone

You can choose your own candy, fruit, nuts, and other mix-ins to make your personal creation that’s uniquely you.


How many flavors can you make? According to Cold Stone, “We stopped counting after a gazillion.”

For a quick, refreshing ice cream cool-down that won’t break the bank, Rite Aid hits the spot. When Rite Aid acquired Thrifty Drug Stores it wisely kept the chain’s beloved Thrifty Ice Cream.

DSC03381A summer treat that has a special place in many people’s memories, Thrifty Ice Cream is no farther away than a walk to your neighborhood drugstore. Known for its iconic, cylindrical-shape scoops, Thrifty Ice Cream cones have been satisfying generations of fans since 1940.




Some of the flavors that have been popularized over the years include: Mint Chip, Birthday Cake, Rainbow Sherbet, Pistachio, Coconut Pineapple, and Surfwriter Girl Sunny’s favorite Chocolate Malted Krunch. The cones don’t cost 25-cents anymore, but they’re still a great value.

When you’re in a party mood and feel like sharing, Farrell’s is the place.



The home of The Pig’s Trough (a “traditional banana split times two!”) and not soon forgotten Farrell’s Zoo (a creation “so huge it takes two Strong servers to deliver it to your table”)…

farrells zoo



Farrell’s is that classic ice cream parlor of old.



And, when you’re cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway on a California Dreamin’ day, make sure to stop in Ruby’s Shake Shack (7703 E. Coast Highway, Newport Beach), overlooking the historic Crystal Cove beach.

heavenly date shakesRuby shack sign

Along with your ice cream treat, you’ll get a panoramic ocean view unlike any other. You can also get the best date shakes this side of Palm Springs, a unique taste of California that keeps SurfWriter Girl Patti coming back year-after-year.

Everybody likes ice cream. Even SurfWriter Cat Smokey…

DSC03393So, now that summer’s here, let’s all scream for ice cream!


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