Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Garlic Jo's - Things to Do in Orange County 61

I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather in OC these days!

My post today is for those who are suffering a bit from the summer heat in need of an extra boost of energy.

If you're feeling like you need to get revitalized, here is a nice place to go: Garlic Jo's in Newport Beach.

This place specializes in garlic food, and it said that they get their all of their garlic from the world famous garlic town, Gilroy, CA.

I was able to visit this place for a little celebration dinner since I finished a long overdue project. When we went, we decided to go with the 4 course, $58 meal for two. So here comes the fun.

First course is a Tuna Carpaccio appetizer with a lot of garlic. The two sauces compliment the tuna and the fried garlic very well. The tuna is fresh enough for people that doesn't usually eat raw fish to enjoy without any problems. Really good stuff.

The second course is the garlic pizza. The pizza was square, and it was very thin. It had small shreds of garlic on it, and was very good second course. Throughout all of this, we went on Monday where they have 50% off wine bottles, so we got a nice bottle of Riesling to go with all of our food for about $12~14 for the bottle.

The main course is both the rib eye and the garlic fried rice. You get one portion of the rib eye, and was enough for us to share. It came seared on a hot plate, with their original garlic sauce. You get a very well made garlic mashed potato and roasted garlic along with the steak. The garlic fried rice came in a bamboo shoot, and was extremely well made. Both were awesome.

And of course, you can't miss out on the dessert. We were pretty full by the time we finished our steak, but we saw something on the menu we couldn't resist. Garlic ice cream.

Have to try it.

The garlic ice cream has bits of garlic in a vanilla flavored ice cream. It came with a nicely made cinnamon, fried wonton like container with lots of fruits. Nice way to finish off the dinner with a lot of garlic.

So that was the entire 5 course dinner we enjoyed at Garlic Jo's in Newport Beach. The food is great here, but I do have to warn that after you dine, you will feel like you've had a Red Bull and Monster Energy drink. It kept me up all night long. Garlic power!

Garlic Jo's
2332 W Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Monday, July 27, 2009

Joe's Italian Ice - Things to Do in Orange County 60

My 60th post about Things to Do in Orange County!

Well, that's good news. Hope to keep blogging about the wonderful things in OC.

Lately, I've been posting more and more food related posts. I'm going to try and get away from that and try to post events and places to go. Hopefully... I just love to eat.

Anyway, today's post is about Joe's Italian Ice.

Comes at a great time since it's getting to be pretty hot these days in Orange County. I got no AC at my house, so that means going out somewhere to cool down during the day. I got to visit Joe's Italian Ice the other day.

My first impression: this is a cute little shop, right next to a pretty big street. It's not hard to miss, but maybe not the best first impression.

That was just my first impression. That impression will soon disappear as I start to order my ice cream.

This place has one of the best services that I've ever experienced at an ice cream/shaved ice joint. They gave us almost unlimited amounts of samples, and we didn't even ask for it. They just kept shoving us with all the different flavored Italian ice that they offer here. Yum.

After getting almost full from all the samples, we decided to get the Joe Latti and the dipped ice cream cone.

The Joe Latti is awesome. They give you a huge serving of their famous Italian ice, topped with some soft serve ice cream.

I tell you what, I've never had a better shaved ice anywhere in the world. (And I've had really good ones in Hawaii.) The texture is velvety smooth, and filled with a very sophisticated flavor. You can choose from over 40+ flavors. And on top of this awesome shaved ice, you get a swirl of their soft ice cream. Yum!

The dipped cone was good, but if you go here, I would recommend getting the Italian Ice instead of the soft serve ice cream. The soft serve had a very custard-y flavor, and they give you a ton of it. I got a medium, and at a regular place, it will be an extra large. I dripped away most of the ice cream since it was so big. Good stuff, but the Italian Ice was better.

So when you get to try their delicious treat, go with the Joe Latti or the Joe Smoothie. You'll get to indulge in both the Italian Ice and soft serve. You get your money's worth, and will come back for more soon.

Joe's Italian Ice

12302 Harbor Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92840
(714) 750-1076

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Beachcomber - Things to Do in Orange County 59

Boy, it is getting hot these days in Orange County. Nice beach day everyday here in OC. So for those of you enjoying your summer here, I wanted to post about one of my favorite spots in Orange County.

The Beachcomber restaurant in Crystal Cove is by far, one of the most unique, and beautiful restaurants in Orange County. I will go far as to say this place is one of the most unique places in the world.

The Beachcomber restaurant, is right on the sands of the beach at Crystal Cove. It is secluded from all of the corporate, planned influences of Orange County. Absolutely unique in that it feels like it is the only establishment on a private beach.

We were lucky enough to get the best seats in the house since we went a little late for lunch. You will need to sit in the patio area, and obviously, the best seat is in the front, right by the entrance. You will have an unobstructed view of the entire pacific ocean here while you dine.

The food here is good with large portions considering you're dining beach front. With such a spectacular view, your food will taste twices as good.

Although we dined here for lunch, this would be an excellent place for a romantic dinner. And they do have set courses for sunset dinners.

One thing to note is that parking is hard to find. Why? Because it is on the other side of the restaurant across the street. You will need to go through a tunnel to get over to the restaurant. They will likely validate your parking ticket, although when we went, there was nobody attending the parking lot. They actually have a little bus that can also take you back and forth if you don't feel like walking.

All in all, this is one of the most unique, romantic places to dine in Orange County. When you go, don't forget to bring your cameras!

The Beachcomber

15 Crystal Cove

Newport Coast, CA 92657

949-376-6900(Reservation recommended)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bagelmania - Things to Do in Orange County 58

Who said you can't get a decent bagel in Orange County?

Well, I've been to New York to try out their famous bagels. And I got to say though there are really good ones up in New York, Bagelmania is up there with the big dogs when it comes to bagels.

I've been coming here since I was a kid because I used to live by this place. It's in Huntington Beach, and I think they just recently opened up another store right by Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. Anyway, the one in Huntington Beach is the original Bagelmania.

On top of the usual, onion, blueberry, rye, and everything bagel, Bagelmania offers crazy alternatives like the Hawaiian Bagel, Italian Bagel, and the Mexican Bagel. They are all very hearty with a lot of cheese and sauce, and all are delicious.

I love to go here to get the bagels just plain. Their cinnamon raisin bagels are awesome, and I can eat 2-3 of them at a time. When I'm feeling like endulging a bit more, I get some of their cream cheese or get it in a sandwhich. All are just awesome.

Checking out their site, it looks like its been voted #1 bagel in Orange County by MyFox Los Angeles in 2008. And I believe it. The bagels here are better than a lot of the bagels in New York.

So anyway, next time you have the cravings for a very well made New York bagel in Orange County, you know where to go.

8861 Adams Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA
(714) 965-5637

Weekdays, 5:30 a.m.ー5:00 p.m.
Weekends, 6 a.mー3:00 p.m.

Monday, June 15, 2009

85℃ Bakery Cafe - Things to Do in Orange County 57

You may have heard about this place by now.

85℃ Bakery Cafe is an awesome Taiwanese bakery joint in Irvine. For those of you who already know about 85℃ Bakery, you know how good this place is. For those of you who haven't, you need to stop what you are doing, and go check this place out right now.

The 85℃ Bakery Cafe in Irvine is hands down, the best bakery around in Orange County.

I guess this place is suppose to be a hot franchise in Taiwan, but this store in Irvine is the first one over in the US. Their baked goods start at around $1 each to about $3 for the more hearty ones with cheese, custard, and meat. Whatever is on top of it, you would want to buy all of them since they are all just sooooooooo good.

Some of my friends go here, and they tell me that his co-workers are just addicted to this place, and they go here everyday. So if you go at the wrong time, the lines are pretty bad. But as long as you avoid the peak hours, you can take your time to pick out your little pleasures for that day.

From what I have read and heard, they are also known for their "Salted Coffee." I've never tried one myself, but it's suppose to be pretty good. Instead, I tried the coffee jelly iced tea while I was there, and it had very nice twist to the usual boba drinks that I like to get. Little coffee jelly instead of the baba.

Anyway, this place is a must if you love bakery goods as much as I do. If this place was within walking distance from my house, I'll probably live here since it's so good. It's like Taiwan's version of Krispy Kreme. Just a little bit healthier... maybe.

Better go check it out.

85℃ Bakery Cafe
Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center内
2700 Alton Parkway, Suite # 123
Irvine, CA, 92606

SUN 8AM - 10PM

Friday, June 12, 2009

Irvine Farmer's Market - Things to Do in Orange County 56

Ever wake up early on a Saturday morning trying to figure out what to do?

Well, here's a prefect little place to start off your weekend. Visit the Farmer's Market in Irvine.

Since I love farmer's markets, I've been to one all around Orange County. But this one in Irvine is probably one of the best. It's filled with people, music, and you got a lot of vendors here. The farmer's market takes place inside the parking lot of the University Center next to UCI.

The farmer's market has all sorts of fruits and vegetables with a lot of free samples. If you're a hard working student at UCI that's been living on instant ramen all week, this is a great place to revitalize on your Vitamins by eating a lot of the free orange and apples here. :)

On top of all the great things about the Irvine Farmer's Market, since there is a Lee's Sandwich, Le Diplomate Cafe, or a Trader Joe's in the same plaza, visiting these places after the market will enhance the experience even more.

Definitely worth your time on a Saturday morning to go and check out.

Irvine Farmers Market
Irvine Center on the corner of Bridge and Campus (across from UCI)

Free Parking and Admission
Every Saturday

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Marche Moderne - Things to Do in Orange County 55

This is a place that I found through Housewives of Orange County. I think on the show, Gretchen went out with Lynn to dine at this place.

Well, talk about a good French cuisine for a reasonable price. I went here for lunch, and they have a three course prix-fixe menu for around $20-25 per person, and you get a choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert.

Not bad if you ask me.

Here are some nice looking plates that I had while I was here.

Another entree that my friend had.

And best of all, the dessert.

The place was pretty much packed when I went. Reservations are recommended, and try to ask for the patio seats. That way, you get the most of what you pay for here.

And as a last word of caution, this place was a bit hard to find because its on the third floor at South Coast Plaza. I mean who's really been up there when you visit South Coast.

Anyway, worth a try. Check it out.

Marche Moderne
3333 Bristol St
Ste 3001
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 434-7900

Mon-Sat. 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Mon-Sat. 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Sun. 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Sun. 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Le Diplomate Cafe - Things to Do in Orange County 54

Here's an awesome chicken sandwich place that I found right by UCI. I've always walked by his place, but never been inside it until someone told me that the sandwiches they serve here are addicting.

I went in to try out the Chicken Dijon and the Chicken Bacon Club sandwich when I went in last week.

I got to tell you, this place is true when people say that they put crack in their sandwiches. It was awesome. The chicken subs are served hot, and they got these garlic sauce in them that makes everything blend together into one awesome harmony.

You got to try one out here. It's very good if you're craving a good chicken sandwich or if you're just in the area.

Le Diplomate Cafe
4237 Campus Dr
Ste B161
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 854-5161

Mon-Fri. 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Sat. 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Sun. 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Basilico's Pasta E Vino - Things to Do in Orange County 52

Looking for a nice intimate setting for an Italian dinner?  Well, a nice place to visit is Basilico's Pasta E Vino in Huntington Beach.  I got to visit this place for Valentine's Day.

Basilico's has been around for quite some time in Huntington Beach.  I would guess around 10 years at the same location.  I live real close by the place, and have visited them several times, but this was finally the time I got to dine there.

Why was it so difficult to dine here?  Well, first of all the wait.  They are an extremely popular Italian restaurant in Huntington Beach, and their place is tiny.  It may seat only about 15-20 people max at a time, and its always packed.  The wait to dine is usually about an hour, and they take no reservations.  Hence, the difficulty dining at this wonderful restaurant.

This year, we went prepared.  We expected the wait to be about an hour (in actuality it was 50 minutes) and brought our blankets, newspaper, magazine, books, and a Nintendo DS so that we can keep ourselves occupied while we wait in the car.

And finally, after the hour wait, we were able to get in to dine.  It was sure worth our wait.  

By the way, sorry about the pictures.  Since its really dark inside, my pictures didn't turn out very well.  But hope you get an idea of the place.

Okay, so about the dining experience.  First of all, Basilico's is pretty famous for its bottle wine practice.  Since a bottle of wine here is relatively inexpensive ($15-$20 a bottle) it is recommended that you get a bottle with your date, and dine slowly at the restaurant.  That's exactly what we did, and we got a bottle of Mondavi Chardonnay for $20, and dined like we were Parisians.

We first got the Fried Risotto Ball for appetizer which was delicious.  It complemented our Chardonnay very well.  You of course get your bread and butter, so we enjoyed our appetizer, bread, and wine as we waited for our entrees to arrive.

For entree we got the Seafood Linguine and the Fettuccine Alfredo Milanese.  The Seafood Linguine was good, but it was a bit overwhelmingly "Herb-y" for me.  I think they put in too much Italian parsley, and it wasn't the usual Seafood Linguine that you get at Italian restaurant.  But who knows, maybe this is the authentic version.  

The Fettuccine Alfredo Milanese was superb.  I usually don't like Alfredo sauces too much since they are usually very heavy in cream, and after a few bites, I get a little bored of the flavor.  Not here.  The Alfredo Milanese here was just superb.  Mmmm...  The sauce was creamy, yet for some reason not too heavy.  The pork in the Milanese was cooked perfectly.  Very thin, and tender.  You eat the pork and the pasta together, you are just in heaven.  And drink some of your Chardonnay afterwards, you will fly again to heaven.

So the meal was wonderful.  We got Tiramisu for dessert, and life was good.  I had a wonderful Valentine's Day thanks to Basilico this year.  Hope you can go visit them too.

Oh, I forgot to mention this, but if you don't like to wait an hour before being able to sit down, you can actually write your name down, and go on over to the Irish Pub in the same mall for some drinks.  The pub is called Fitzgerald's and they will actually give you a call at Fitzgerald's when your seat is ready.  That way, you can keep yourself busy and entertained before your romantic dinner.

We didn't know about this, so we waited  for an hour in the car.  Next time, we'll be drinking at Fitzgerald's before.

Basilico's Pasta E Vino
19171 Magnolia St Ste 1
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - Things to Do in Orange County 51

So the final stop of this 7 Day Mexican Riviera Cruise is Cabo San Lucas.  

Los Cabos is located on the very edge of Baja California.  So if you're able to drive straight down from Orange County, this is where you may just end up.  The beautiful peninsula of Los Cabos.

Once in Cabo San Lucas, you have to take a little boat ride to the shores of Los Cabos since there isn't a docking area for a huge cruise ship there.  Be sure to wake up early and get down to the boat station as fast as possible because it gets really crowded.  Everybody wants to get to Los Cabos fast, but there's only two little boats that go back and forth.  We thought we got down early, but had to wait about 30 minutes before being able to get on the boat that takes you to Los Cabos.

Anyway, once you're on Los Cabos, you are welcomed by the beautiful sea and wonderful natural architecture.  Here in Cabo San Lucas, we decided to go on the Land's End Boat, Beach, and Shopping excursion.

This excursion was an awesome deal.  We first start out by getting on the triple decker boat that takes you around the Los Cabos Peninsula.  You're able to see the famous "Arch," a beautiful natural archway, and all the beautiful things around it.

We also saw dolphins, seals, and pelicans as we sailed through the beautiful peninsula.

After your boat tour is done, the tour guide will then take you down to a local resort hotel.  The hotel is located right by the beach where you can relax, enjoy the ocean, and have a wonderful lunch.  As you saw from my previous post, we enjoyed this little spot, relaxing on the sand with some Pacifico beer.  One of those Corona beer commercial moments.

And after you relax and enjoy the beach for about an hour, they take you down to the local shopping mall where you can splurge what you have left of your money to buy souvenirs for your friends, family, and of course, yourself.  I was able to buy some Cuban novelties here myself.

After the shopping, its now time to go back on the cruise ship, and you have two more days of never ending entertainment, all you can eat buffets, and relaxing by the pool.  Can't complain.  :)

I think on this trip, we spent about $2000 for the two of us including the cruise, shore excursions, tips, and alcohol.  The cruise alone turned out to be about $550 a person or so.

One little advice for you to save money when going on a cruise is to bring your alcohol with you when you initially board the cruise ship in Long Beach.  Having a bottle of rum, tequila, whiskey, wine, or anything else that you like will help you to save a lot of money on alcohol.  Of course, we did splurge once on some strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas, but it's always nice to have your own bottle of wine that you can sip to.

The cruise will not let you bring in alcohol once you are in Mexico.  You can buy a bottle of tequila and some Kahlua, but they will take it away from you and give it back when the cruise is all over.  Having your own little stash of booze will definitely help to make your trip even more entertaining while saving a little cash that you can spend elsewhere.

Anyway, it was all fun on the cruise.  We hope to go again sometime soon!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mazatlan, Mexico - Things to Do in Orange County 50

So this is my 50th post! Nice! I hope to continue blogging about Things to Do in Orange County.

This post is a continuation of my 7 Day Mexican Riviera Cruise trip that I went on. You can go on this cruise right out of Orange County at the port of Long Beach.

After we visited Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, you wake up at Mazatlan on Thursday.

Mazatlan is known for their shrimps. After tourism, the shrimp fishing industry is the second biggest industry in Mazatlan. And that means awesome deals on some of the freshest shrimps in the world at Mazatlan.

In Mazatlan, we decided to go on the City and Shopping Excursion Tour. This tour turned out pretty normal. Let's get into it right now.

But before we do, I also wanted to mention that Mazatlan is also the home of the Pacifico Brewery. Come to think of it now, I should have went on that excursion instead. But maybe next time!

On the City and Shopping Tour, the tour guides will show you around Mazatlan. They will drive you around the city for you to check out some of their churches, beaches, and the shopping areas. Matatlan has a lot of European influences, as some of the early immigrants to this land were from Germany and other European countries. The city buildings were very colorful, and the architectural details were interesting to see.

After you go through the city and beach areas, the tour guides drop you off at the shopping area for some free shopping time and lunch. We decided not to shop at Mazatlan since a lot of the places were a bit of a rip off, designed for tourists to drop a buck. Instead, we went by the beach, walked around, and found a restaurant on the sand.

Since we were in the Shrimp Capital of the World, why not try some of the best shrimps around? We decided to go for some shrimps, margarita, and beer at the restaurant that we found.

Got to say, the shrimps here at the restaurant were awesome! Very fresh. The shrimps you see above were actually raw, sort of sashimi/ceviche style dish. Had some lime and hot peppers on it along with the shrimp, and they served it with Saltine crackers. Delish!

Combine this great dish with a mango margarita and Mazatlan's own Pacifico beer, and you're in Shrimp Mazatlan heaven. We also got some chips/guacamole, and an entree dish with three different kinds of shrimps cooked all differently. The total bill came out to something like $30 with tip. Awesome deal.

Shrimps, beach, Pacifico beer... Mazatlan is my kind of town! Love to go back anytime!  I just need to learn how to pronounce Mazatlan.

Next stop is Los Cabos!

(In Los Cabos)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Tequila Factory Tour) - Things to Do in Orange County 49

After my morning excursion from the Mismaloya City Tour, we are now off to the Tequila Factory Tour.

The Tequila Factory Tour was one of my favorite excursions that I participated on this 7-Day Mexican Riviera Cruise.  The educational experience of tequila making, experiencing the history and culture of Mexico, and of course, being able to enjoy the Tequila!  It was an awesome excursion!

On the Tequila Factory Tour, you will head the opposite direction of the Mismaloya City Tour.  This was great because we were able to see a wide range of areas in Puerto Vallarta.  Some of the  excursions actually go to the same places as others, so it is better to check before booking double excursions.  

On the Tequila Factory Tour, we visit two Tequila Factories.  

Tequila is made from Blue Agave plants, and the best tequila is made from 100% Blue Agave.  Some of the tequila that give you headaches in the morning blend their Blue Agave mixture with potatoes or other alcohol.  The mixing allow for the prices to come down, but it will give you a nasty hangover in the morning.

The tequila makers will dig up the Blue Agave after 3-5 years old.  They then roast it in an oven or a fire pit over an extended amount of time.  Once the roasting is done, the Blue Agave tasted something similar to a sweet potato pie mixture.

They then can make the silver tequila, resposado tequila, or the anejo tequila.  The difference is the amount of time the tequila sits in a barrel.  The silver tequila doesn't go through the aging process, while the resposado and anejo tequila sit in the barrel for 1-5 years.  The aging process allow the tequila to absorb the color of the wood, and hence you find the golden color in a tequila.  It also smoothes out the flavor.

Well, after the tequila making lecture, its tasting time.  It does become a bit more difficult to focus after a couple tastings of tequila.

And we finish off the day with a nice little meal for about $5 a person.  Awesome.

We did have some time to go shopping after the excursion, but after a few shots of tequila, we figured it was best to retreat to our staterooms.  So we didn't get to go visit the Wal-Mart or other American places by the port.  

Well, the next stop is Mazatlan!


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