Summer is Here

We drove down to Laguna and had lunch at Urth Caffe. Our friend Avalon showed us the cutest little “Hidden House” coffee shop on the most charming street – Los Rios in historic San Juan Capistrano. They say it’s the oldest continually occupied neighborhood in California (since 1794). Tiny adorable cottages along a dirt road with tall jacarandas, pepper trees and prickly pear cactus.
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^^^Mmmm lox & bagels plate + eggs benedict, Japanese matcha latte and coffee.
^ Los Rio Street Hidden House Coffee. It’s pretty adorable. D and I took our Mama’s here last Sunday and they loved it. We sat out on the patio and listened to the live Jazz band across the street – sipped on iced mocha’s and munched on salted caramel brownie bars, lavender biscottis and almond croissants. Definitely a Mom place…cute street, adorable cafe’s, tea rooms and a few tiny shops.
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The garden behind the adobe house.
House of Hope
The door from The Blas Aguilar Adobe AKA Casa de Esperanza, or House of Hope. In 1794, the Mission San Juan Capistrano built a number of adobes to house soldiers and the local Native Americans who worked at the mission.
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Another historic house –> converted into a lovely little restaurant. Supposedly my cousin’s favorite spot. I haven’t tried it yet, but she said it’s amazing. The Ramos House Cafe.

We ended our day with a picnic dinner on the beach. These summer weekends are heavenly!

Coconut Cabbage Thoran : A Southern Indian Dish

Thoran is a coconut cabbage veggie dish from Kerala – Southern India. Our friend and chef Shravan was kind enough to teach me how to make a few of his Mama’s recipes while we were cruising along the jungly backwaters in Alappuzha. His cooking was some of the best home homestyle food we had in India! Before Dan and I left the country he helped make a list of all the spices I would need to recreate these dishes back at home.

Coconut Cabbage Thoran

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
5 curry leaves
1 clove garlic (diced)
1 small green chili (chopped)
1 1/2 onion diced)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups finely chopped green cabbage
kosher salt to taste
1 cup freshly grated coconut

In a large pan, heat oil until simmering. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves and garlic, stir until fragrant. Add chopped chilies, onions, turmeric and cumin powder. Stir to ensure the spices don’t burn.  Add cabbage. Stir until the cabbage is coated with oil and spices. Cover with lid and let cabbage cook, stirring occasionally ~ 5 min. Add freshly grated coconut and stir until  mixed. Season to taste with salt and serve hot with rice, daal, or puris (crispy puff bread).
^^^Meet the chef! Shravan is on the left. His mom taught him how to cook – great job Mama! During the dry season he works as a chef on the rice boats. Shravan and Raj (on the right) were two of the three guys that accompanied us on our float through the backwaters! It was such a blast – crammed into that tiny galley with the engine humming, pans sizzling, amazing smells and misty water rainbows out the kitchen window. It was a very cool experience. A tad shhhhweaty but so awesome. Thanks for the cooking lessons friend!
I saved my spice shopping for the end of the trip in Kolkata. I ran around New Market, following scouters through a maze of shops with my giant list of spices… “Does any one have Valampuli??? What the heck is Valampuli!?” I have know idea, but it’s on my list. Facepalm. Hey Google? 😉 Looking back on it, we had a lot of fun. I found many of my spices in the attic of a saree shop (because everyone sells a little bit of everything around here). A boy helped me scoop spoonfuls of turmeric, tea masala and Kashmiri chili powder onto an old-fashioned scale. We sat there on the floor filling little bags with spices and sealing them with a candle flame he had melted to the floorboard. I love moments that. Our pantry at home officially smells like India.
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Ladies Night Out

Girls Night Out - Packing District
Ladies night out! Ooooh yeah! We decided to go to the Packing House out in Anaheim. Oh man this place it cool. Situated in an old Sunkist packing house (from 1919), it’s been refurbished as a multi level gallery with all kinds of amazing eateries, bars and shops etc. From Indian, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, ice cream bars, pork belly roasts, pho and more! I’m not much of a beer drinker, but oh man…the beer here is wild. My friends favorite is the creamy horchata beer from the Iron Press.
There’s so much to choose from. There’s lots of seating, benches and couches to sit and relax as you enjoy your meal and even a couple of oversized swings downstairs. There was a small area in the middle where a band performed nice blues tunes. Ahhh I love this place and love these girls…we definetly need to come back and check out the Blind Rabbit speakeasy!

If in this area, you MUST come check this place out. Come hungry and thirsty.
^^^Secret entrance to the Blind Rabbit speakeasy. There is a little rabbit handle on the middle row, second barrel in. Do you see it?

I got some garlic naan and aloo masala rolls with homestyle spicy potatoes, mustard seeds, ginger! We all put our meals on a big table and shared everything.
And then we shared this ^^^ Ohhhh my gawwwd. Must try Crepe Coop. Fun night girls! Let’s do it again soon!

A Day at the Farmers Market

We found a great farmers market at Soco! They are open every Saturday from 9:00-2:00. They have  lots of fresh local produce, a bunch of fun food trucks and homemade ice cream carts. You can also mosey on over to the mix shops inside. I tried a cara cara orange for the first time. They have “a flavor that evokes notes of cherry, rose petal, orange, and blackberry.”- so says wikipedia. It was quite yummy.
3315 Hyland Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
{homemade pops! Dan and I tried a pumpkin spice and my nanny babe had a strawberries and cream}
Farmer's Market
{Lavender lemonade at the Portola Coffee Lab}
{Coloring and taste testing at Fixtures Living}

Queens Bakery & {Sweet Cucumber Mint Sparkling Water Recipe}

Queen’s Bakery is an adorable girly bakery in Costa Mesa, California. They serve the “Queen’s” favorite treats from a variety of fascinating teas to sophisticated salads, fresh sandwiches, delectable desserts and pastries. To name a few…almond amaretto petit fours, rose cupcakes, hazelnut lattes, chipotle mocha’s, Italian cream sodas, and sweet orange blossom water etc. Their menu is so much fun! This place is every girls dream!
Sparkling Cucumber Mint
Sweet cucumber and mint sparkling water
How to make:
{Serves 5}
1 small cucumber finely minced or shredded
1/3 cup finely chopped mint
5 cups of sparkling water
1 cup club soda
1 cup of simple syrup
In a large pitcher
Muddle the cucumber and mint in the simple syrup
add sparkling water and club soda
pour over ice.
 A Parisian salad with cherry vanilla tea.

Petit fours