Week out West

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Every year the Natural Products Expo West is out in Anaheim, California. The Expo showcases the latest and greatest products that are currently on the market and many which are trying to break in. Basically, it’s Whole Foods Market on steroids, with every single protein powder and “hip for the moment” natural product competing for an “in.” We were out there to see it, and had lots of fun checking out the rest of the LA scenery.

We started by renting a house in Long Beach, which turned out to be a great idea. The house was gorgeous and is rented by a couple that work and live between two cities (Atlanta and LA). Instead of their place sitting uninhabited when away, they rent it out, which is extra income for them and turned out to be a sweet spot for the team on our business getaway. The location was perfect— situated two blocks from 2nd street, which is adorned with restaurants, trendy shops, and hip little bars that carry on long after the sun goes down.

After an exhausting day at the Expo, we popped into “La Creperie Cafe” (www.lacreperiecafe.net) for bite to eat. The ambiance is comforting and stylistically reminiscent of French Bohemian decor. They truly live up to a Parisian crepe. Their sauces could turn their most unimpressed patron into a returned customer. The two savory crepes we tried were the “Au Bon Curry” (chicken breast, potatoes, cilantro and mozzarella cheese in a curry cream sauce with mango chutney and sour cream) and the second was the “Al Mare” (jumbo shrimp, sun-dried and plum tomatoes, wild mushrooms, shallots and mozzarella cheese in a lobster basil cream sauce). They were both out of this world and each last bite was savored.

I heard from others that both the breakfast and dessert crepes are equally as delectable. If you’re in the area and in the mood for something rich in flavor and extremely affordable, this is not a place to miss!

“Christy’s on Broadway” (www.christyslongbeach.com), which was recommended to us by locals, is the next mentionable spot in Long Beach. We were more than pleasantly surprised by the great service, abundant wine selection, fair prices and a menu diverse enough to please any palate. We ordered a number of small plates (listed by their price points), including the “Cherrywood Bacon Wrapped Dates (with a favorite, manchego) and the “Carciofi Brasato” (braised artichoke stuffed with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese). The entrees were equally delicious. The chef must have been “on” that night—the specials were out of this world. The pan-crusted halibut served on a creamy risotto was sublime. The dessert wasn’t quite as impressive, but still good. The
creme brulee lived up to its standard.

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Food wasn’t the only thing on the agenda aside from the trade show…

After the Expo wrapped, I headed up to Laguna Hills to meet up with a friend from San Diego. I’ve heard a lot about Laguna, but this was the first chance I had to go there for a little R&R. And rest I did! Even though the temperature was pretty low the entire week there, it was March, southern California is notorious for its never-ending sunshine, which always lends itself to a gorgeous day of sightseeing. Did you know whale watching is spectacular in March? The whales migrate through the area on their way back north and there are numerous sightings daily. Captain Dave was on the Ellen show talking about his tours. To sign up go to: www.dolphinsafari.com

Here you can also see how many whales, dolphins, etc., were spotted each day.

My stay was made comfortable, with breathtaking views at Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa in Dana Point. Majestically set out overlooking the Dana Point Harbor, the hotel features a beautiful spa, small golf green, two pools and hot tubs. Their food was impressive and the bar managed to make a perfect “dirty” martini accompanied by large blue cheese stuffed olives. The only downfall for my visit was the broken whirlpool in the ladies spa (they assured me and my guest this was a one time problem), however the seven-jet shower was just as worthy an experience, if not better. The massage was great (a little on the pricey side, even with Palm Beach standards), but relaxing nonetheless, and a great way to decompress.

I had quite a few meals there, but the only two places worth mentioning are “Mahé” (a nice sushi restaurant across from the actual harbor). I had to try their roll called the “Heat Wave” (spicy tuna, crab, jalapenos, cream cheese, salmon, soy paper, light tempura); the cream cheese perfectly offset the heat of the jalepeno, making for a solid flavor combination. The locals around the area said that if you wanted fresh fish, that was the place to go. Honest bunch of locals they were.

The second place frequented by locals and tourists alike was the wonderfully old school breakfast diner “RJ’s Cafe.” It wasn’t fancy, their food wasn’t strange omletas with braised pork bellies and creme fraiche, rather just your good ole two eggs and bacon combo, nostalgic and well worth the wait.

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By Kara Clapp
Creative Director of Sack Lunch Marketing
Lead designer for onli™ Beverages
kara@sacklunchmarketing.com | www.SackLunchmarketing.com