THE O.C. “HAUTE SPOT”

I love fine dining in an environment that is energetic, yet elegant at the same time. About 40 minutes north of our beautiful north county San Diego is a place called Mastro’s Ocean Club located in Newport Beach. Just about one mile north up coast highway from the breathtaking {I call it the mini French Riviera} downtown Laguna Beach. I was fortunate enough to live in Laguna for 12 years and proud to call it my old stomping grounds. Such a wonderful community that is so full of life and warmth. The town is eclectic and full of amazing art galleries along with lots of fun!

As you pull in front of the gorgeous entrance to valet you are always greeted with a smile and a pretty hot guy to take your car. Upon entering the large beautiful glass and dark wood doors, you are again greeted by the amazing staff and a giant water wall to gaze at. We always like to sit in the bar area as it is packed with great people watching and lots of energy! If you want less action going on request to be seated in one of the dining areas, as you can have better conversation without distraction. There is also a fabulous piano bar from which a duet entertains in that area. First come first serve if you want to actually dine on the piano, and I mean literally dine on the piano. Be VIP front row for the  music – everything from Elton John and Frank Sinatra to more current artists.

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The cocktail menu is filled with all sorts of creative specialty drinks to please anyone’s desire or concoction of choice. I’m a straight up Grey Goose martini girl with a squeeze of lemon. I have had their delicious Lemon Drop which is excellent because it’s not too sweet, yet the rim has a little sparkly edge of sugar and the dry ice makes it fun to sip and to look at for that matter. They serve up a nice big glass and they even leave the shaker at your table with the extra to finish off. You gotta love that! I highly recommend this martini and they also have a few gluten-free choices as well. The Mastro’s Mojito is a must try too.

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The menu is amazing and is obviously known for the steak. The seafood choices are to die for as well. For starters we usually get what is called the Seafood Tower. It is literally a tower custom-made just for you. Choices include crab, lobster, shrimp, snow crab, oysters on the half shell and Alaskan king crab legs just to name a few. It is a work of art and once again they throw in some dry ice to make your tower a PARTY! My hubby always gets the Bone in Filet and it is always cooked to perfection. Customer service is always an A+, hence why this place is consistently packed. The sides are endless, and you can never go wrong with the gorgonzola mac and cheese or the lobster mashed potatoes. Don’t think I don’t get a double work out in the day of or the day after. It is truly worth the indulgence. YOLO right?! The roasted brussels sprouts, sautéed mushrooms and sautéed asparagus are also delicious.

Last but not least, the Mastro’s signature butter cake  is pretty sinful.  It is served with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center and surrounded by fresh berries and drizzled with a raspberry sauce. It is truly a must have or take some home. I have indulged the next day with the leftovers and it is truly yummy!

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The atmosphere has such a great vibe and high energy. A great spot for a romantic date night or a fun place to hang with your girlfriends. There’s always a lot of singles a mingling, so if that’s your deal this is the place to be seen. One of the most unparalleled dining experiences ever and it will keep you coming back for more. As we were leaving, my stepdaughter and I had our photo taken with the “Bodyguards”  there must have been some VIP’s there that night. Isabella did mention she saw some people from Housewives of Orange County. You never know who you might see at this place, some well-known people have been known to drop in so keep your eyes open for the celebs!! Make sure you make your reservations well in advance as there is a high demand for dining here. Drinks are flowing, music is playing and energetic chatter is happening. Always a great night in the OC and you can’t go wrong with the scene!

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Check it out, I guarantee you will be happy you did!

Andrea

 

 

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Savvy Southern California Girl:-)

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I am so fortunate to have been born and raised along the California coast line.  I grew up in a beautiful beach community called Belmont Shore.  I have always appreciated the people, things and places that have surrounded me where I live.  I currently live in Encinitas and have  had the fortunate experience of living in the “OC” Laguna Beach.

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My name is Andrea and I would love to share with you the little gems I have found along the way. I enjoy travel,  fashion,  fine dining and hot spots in these pockets I call home. Can’t wait to share some of the best places I have been, and know, without a doubt, you will enjoy them as much as I have.

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So excited to be a part of Geoffrey Scott and his LIVE LOVE and STYLE!!!

An EPICurean Delight Worthy Of Christmas Morning Breakfast

I love food. I love to cook even more. Now let me preface this by saying that I can’t bake worth a damn, and anything that requires me to follow instructions or a recipe can result in disaster {you know, like a simple IKEA bookcase gone bad?}

Those close to me can attest that “bland” is not my cup of tea {and I don’t even like tea} so needless to say, when I cook – I cook with passion – and have been known to use a spice or two.

Several years back when Nikki and I first stayed at the Encore in Las Vegas we were introduced to a little gem called Society Cafe. We had such an EPIC late night snack {those Lollipop Buffalo Wings in my prior post} that we decided to check it out for breakfast. Little did I know that breakfast would turn out to be of celestial awakening of my taste buds that would change the way I viewed French Toast forever.

Society Cafe French Toast

My French Toast, one of the few things that I cook with such love + divine flavor {that one thing I thought could never have been done better} had been trumped.

Not to be outdone, I set out on a quest to not only replicate Society Cafe’s French Toast – but to kick it up a notch.

Now It all starts with the bread, and many will argue that using fresh sourdough or french bread {yuppy style} is the best for French Toast – I personally disagree. I mean, they’re good and all, but I like to know that my French Toast batter is evenly distributed and saturated across all slices {which you simply can’t achieve with a traditional loaf} and not to mention, this is WAY more family friendly for those little critters who don’t like crust. Yeah, I know…who doesn’t like crust {my son}??

So….I use the standard Texas Toast bread available at the supermarket. Cheap, easy, gets nice and crispy, and super FLUFFY!

texas french toast bread

You’re going to need the following ingredients which should yield 6-8 fluffy slices:

4 Eggs

1/3 Cup Low Fat Milk

4 Tsp Cinnamon

2 Tsp Nutmeg

1 Tsp Ginger

1 Tsp Salt

3 Tsp Vanilla

*2 Cups Frosted Flakes

*Maple Syrup

*Raw Chocolate Chunks or Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

*1/2 Stick Butter

French Toast Ingredients

Whisk eggs, milk/cream, vanilla, and spices together in a bowl so that the egg mixture is COMPLETELY mixed in and you can not see egg white/yolk separation. From here, I typically play around with a little extra cinnamon, milk, or vanilla based on how the mixture appears and based on how many slices I need. Remember, there’s no perfect science – only preference.

Next, to the side, prepare your Frosted Flake crust mixture. Take 2-3 cups of Frosted Flakes and toss them in a zippy bag. You can crush by hand or with a rolling-pin – just make sure they’re pretty finely crushed {but not powdery}

Frosted Flakes

Now, I’m not sure if you have one {not necessary for your success here} but I’d highly recommend having a Cast Iron Skillet. They’re the absolute best for cooking anything at high heat, are naturally non-stick, aren’t cancer causing, last longer than we do, maintain stable temps, and the list goes on and on. Ohh, and they’re cheap – mine was $24 at Target

I like to use a nice organic Coconut Oil from Trader Joe’s mixed with a tad bit of vegetable oil. I find that butter burns too quickly and the blend of oils provides a nice health vs functional cooking benefit. You’re going want to have your oil starting to slightly ripple {not bubble or smoke} when your almost ready to drop your toast in.

Trader Joes Coconut Oil

Your pan is hot, your oil is nearly ready, and the kids and dog are salivating at the mouth {not to mention picking through the chocolate chips below} so it’s time to cook these puppies up!

First, you’re going to dip and soak your fluffy bread in the egg mixture so that it’s fully saturated {usually 30-45 seconds per side}. Let excess liquid drip off and then transfer to the Frosted Flake plate where you’ll lightly dust the entire slice.

As not to let the crunchy flakes turn soggy too quick, transfer slices to the hot oil ASAP. Cook each side until golden brown.

While you’re French Toast assembly line is going, you should be easily able to get your savory syrup going.

Chocolate Maple Syrup

I like to do it the easy way in the microwave personally. Toss 1/2 stick butter and approx 1/2 cup of Maple Syrup in a microwave safe serving cup and cook for a minute or so – until it’s nice and hot and the butter is fully melted.

Now, slowly whisk in your chocolate chip pieces until you reach a desired consistency. This is rich, sweet, and savory – so probably won’t need to butter your toast as the butter is built-in!

Frosted Flake French Toast Recipe

Now that you’re ready to eat, garnish with some fresh fruit {I prefer bacon} pour your self a mimosa and enjoy!

Good luck ~ And thank you for sharing!

Finding The Silver Lining

Last weekend, Nikki and I packed up the Prius and embarked upon our 4 hour trek out to Las Vegas {Vince calls it “lost vegas” – which I see fitting} for a couple of nights away from reality. On a side note, I promised Nikki that I wouldn’t run us out of gas in Death Valley again and would surely keep it above 1/4 tank at all times – OOPS.

This trip however was graced with pouring rain – THE WHOLE TIME. Not exactly what we’re used to when we hit up Vegas for a “break.” Soon enough however, we checked into our all time fave hotel in Vegas – Encore @ The Wynn. After years at the Bellagio, Four Seasons Mandalay, and many others {including an incredibly BORING Palms Place stay last June} we decided to never stray from the place that makes us feel at home {without screaming children}

Encore Las Vegas Tower Suites

Tower Suites – Encore Las Vegas

If you haven’t had the opportunity to stay at the Tower Suites in The Encore Las Vegas, next time….DO IT!  It’s AHHMAZING! It all starts with the service, and frankly from what I recall still the only place in Vegas where they actually open the door for you upon arrival.  If you’re driving, valet is free {yes – F R E E} and check-in is as smooth as can be.  Hotel is Contemporary Asian meets Neoclassical, but still pure American luxury. Clean, refined, light and bright – it is quite harmonious for your all your senses 🙂

Encore Las Vegas Tower Suites Bed

THE BED – Encore Tower Suites, Las Vegas

But seriously – now the important stuff. The BED. The bed is…unbelievable!  Maybe its monotony, or 6am kid wake-ups, or a 100lb Jack Russel {he’s really only 18lbs but uses an easy 100lbs of sheer force} in and out of the covers all night….but the beds are pretty stinking cozy over here! In fact, generally upon our arrival we’ll cozy into this little piece of heaven and watch Steve {Wynn} give us a tour of the hotel on the in-room entertainment channel.  Keeping it real, I think we’ve watched it a few hundred times now but Steve’s voice just lulls us into vacay mode so easily.

Society Cafe, Encore Las Vegas, Wynn Style

Society Cafe – Encore Las Vegas

Now that we’re completely relaxed and the bottle of Tequila we snuck in our room {sorry Steve} is taking hold – it’s time to hit up Society Cafe for a quick bite of bliss. Hands down, and really hands down, one of the BEST meals in Vegas that won’t leave your wallet feeling raped. Definitely, definitely, definitely try the Lollipop Buffalo Wings {you’ll thank me later} as they’re TO DIE FOR. Sorry vegans.

Ladies Splendid Top, Zachary Prell Mens, Rolex Day Date II, Society Cafe

After a fun first night of drinking, shopping, eating, and more drinking it was time to settle in {yes – before midnight} as we were going to be meeting up with some long time local friends on Saturday.

Saturday came, and as the remote-controlled blackout curtains opened up around 9am {for real} I look out the strip view window to see nothing but RAIN. What?!?! No pool time – that’s all we know! What are we to do?!?

Knowing we weren’t going to be meeting up with Mike & Roya till after 4pm we were forced to get creative. I decided to call in a favor from a friend of a friend that would get us into Pawn Stars to get a VIP tour.

We headed down to Old Town Vegas which is ghetto as hell, but really is experiencing quite the renaissance thanks to Zappos CEO and his quest to vitalize the area. We got down to GS Pawn {aka Pawn Stars} and waited for a few while they wrapped up some filming.

We met up with the manager Jeff and he toured us through the entire facility and showed us how everything works and some pretty cool stuff on display. After seeing nearly everything there is to see in jewelry in my career, not much blows my mind, so it was bound to be something musical or historical to really get me excited.

And although one of Sinatra’s original Gold records signed was pretty darn cool, I think this complete cigar box from the desk of JFK {with cigars} took the cake for a cool $250k

JFK Cigar Box As Seen On Pawn Stars Las Vegas, Geoffrey Scott

Nikki was on a quest to meet ChumLee and little did we know we’d find him roaming around in the warehouse with Antwaun {not causing trouble}

Geoffrey Scott with ChumLee at Pawn Stars Las Vegas

I have to say, after watching the show on the History Channel for a while now, I never quite imagined what actually goes into the production and running of this operation – pure organized chaos.

Good times were had by all and it was onto finish up our stay with a great night out with Mike & Roya. I guess in the end, the silver lining was the rain. As after all, without the rain we would have laid by the pool sipping {pounding} Mai Tai’s all day and would have missed out on such a memorable experience.

Thanks Jeff, ChumLee, and the Rick’s for letting us kick around for a bit!

Are they insane?

I actually wrote this back in January and must have been sidetracked for ohh…9 months or so.  Ironically, not much has really changed in gov’t and it seems fitting that I just post instead of hitting delete – and now that I have a renewed commitment to myself to continue the blog I started nearly a year ago, here we go.

January 6th, 2013~

For those close to me can attest, I don’t read much.  In fact, I had a self-diagnosed learning disability through my school years in which retention was so hard that I basically said screw it and passed on the reading 😉

I do however enjoy reading inspirational and motivational quotes by the great leaders of our times.  You know – the guys like John Lennon, Bob Marley, and the Albert Einsteins (yes, I threw Bob in there) of our world that although they did not have the political powers to effect our finances and our futures, they held the innate power to change our lives forever with their words.

Tonight, I was on a different track.  I thought I had it all figured out and then I ran across this simple quote that seemed perfect given we just spent the last couple of weeks with our feet hanging over the edge of the proverbial “fiscal cliff”

“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives”

– John Lennon

Ha!  Seriously?  Could it have possibly been that society and our leaders were just as insane back then as they are now?  Yes, It’s true.  I used to think that maybe our government was getting too big.  But if you think about it, and really, really think about it….maybe we’re the ones getting too big.  Government just grew with us.  We’re rapidly navigating uncharted waters with technology, media, and government making choices for us everyday.  We’re looking to our leaders to coddle us and make everything better but change ultimately lies in how we choose to live our daily lives.

The past few years of pain and transition in business and life have taught me two invaluable lessons.  Lynyrd Skynyrd’s mama was right….

Mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this
It’ll help you some sunny day
Oh, take your time
Don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
You’ll find a woman, yea yea, you’ll find love
And don’t forget son
There is someone up above

And contrary to what the Rolling Stone’s thought….Time is not on our side.

Journey OR Destination?

This past Monday, Buster and I began our trek back home from San Francisco following 6 days of in-store and private trunk shows.  It was a VERY long week, full of ups and downs, old friends and new, and some great family moments.

Our drive from Encinitas to Benicia where my folks live was a cool 6 hours on the way up. The traffic gods and clouds wouldn’t let us go so easy on the way home.  Let’s just say I had a good amount of time to reflect about my week, life, and where I was headed.  Buster was sawing logs the whole way home 😉

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Being exposed to non stop media attention around the horrific events in Connecticut, I was eager to get home and hug my kids.  It had been a week and all I really wanted was my family.  I got to thinking that no matter how many curve balls life can throw us – no matter how bad the finances can look on any given month – or how many times I can get my face punched (not really) on a cold sales call…we get to wake up and see our kids in the morning.  This is something those parents will never have again and I have the deepest sympathies for them as they endure this unimaginable pain.

After closing my retail operation in 2011, the long road to recovery is still being driven.  There are days where I just plain want to quit – and there are those great days where it seems the stars have aligned.  But I clearly have not felt enough, learned enough, or experienced enough to reach the success I set out for.  So I guess I’ll just keep on truckin’ and remember that…

“success is a journey, not a destination.” – Arthur Ashe