Date Night

Tamarind of London…best date night ever!

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Disclosure: Complimentary media dinner provided. Tamarind of London Review

I was THRILLED to be able to be chosen for a Tamarind of London review assignment for Tiny Oranges.  Not only do I love food, but I love, love, LOVE INDIAN food!  In fact, 11 years ago, my husband and I went on our first date to Indian food and it holds a special place in our hearts.  Then a few years later, we traveled to London (before kids, of course!) and had about the best Indian food ever.

We have tried a few Indian restaurants in Orange County, and while the food was great, the ambiance was less than mediocre.  If we are going to pay a babysitter and get ourselves out to dinner…it better be great food AND great ambiance.  Situated in the lovely Crystal Cove Shopping Center, Tamarind of London was the perfect marriage of those two ingredients.

Tamarind of London Fountain Beautiful water features usher you into the contemporary dining room, which although large, was still very inviting.

We were seated on the side of the restaurant with a large wrap-around bar and fantastic patio with a beautiful fire pit.  Uber dark and uber romantic.  Perfection for a date with the hubs that has been a long time coming!

I ordered the Narangi Crush (Premium Vodka, Chase Elderflower, freshly muddled blood oranges in simple syrup, splash of Grapefruit) and the hubs got Pimm’s PM (Muddled Molrello Cherries, Lemon, Pimm’s No.1, Premium Gin, housemade sour mix and topped with soda).  Both were DELICIOUS.  I only wish I could have had one more…but it was a Monday night!

tamarinddrinks

Before I get into my Tamarind of London review, let me give you a little background on the restaurant.

Tamarind of London is the sister to Tamarind restaurant in Great Britain, which has received the Michelin star for each of the past 13 years. The restaurant is guided by a philosophy that seeks to blend cultural authenticity with mainstream accessibility.

Tamarind of London pays homage to India’s flavorful traditional favorites while artfully integrating California’s robust selection of seasonal, fresh and sustainable ingredients in every dish.

We had the pleasure of meeting Chef Imran Ali and he showed us the 3 specialized tandoori ovens that each cook at different temperatures.  He has been at the restaurant for about one year, and is an absolute treasure.  He really takes pride in the food served here in that it is authentic.  No fusion here!  It’s also important to note that the 5 staff in his kitchen are from all parts of the continent, which is how he likes to showcase the different flavors and techniques used in different regions.

Chef

As for the dishes we sampled, everything was absolutely delicious.  Indian food is traditionally served family-style.  So come hungry.  Very hungry.

For the appetizers, we tasted spiced masala-potato croquette, the spinach and potato dumpling, the tandoori swordfish and the caramelized tandoori tikki chicken morsels.  Each were served with amazing sauces that really brought out the rich and unique flavor of each one.

The chicken morsels may have been my favorite.  Wait, I can’t pick a favorite!  All were amazing.  And the Goat Cheese stuffed Naan??  What?? Imagine a pillowy, flavorful pita-like bread stuffed with goat cheese.  Unreal.

tamarind of london apps

The dishes were served with traditional Indian basmati rice and a lentil dish that went nicely with everything.  All entrees are reasonably priced at $26-$29 each and we had seriously enough food for 4 meals.  Do you even know how good Indian leftovers are?!  Let’s just say it’s as good as Thai or Asian food, for sure.

We had the Coconut Prawn Curry in a rich creamy curry sauce with notes of ginger and coconut.  It was warm and spicy and simply delicious.  The Chicken Tikka Masala, even though I’ve had this dish many times, was extraordinary.  The chicken was tender and the sauce was spicy, but not overwhelming.  Just perfect.

The Lamb Roganjosh ((even though I am not usually a lamb fan!) was amazing too.  The lamb was so tender and mild and was in a traditional sauce that is dark and rich with browned onions, tomatoes and Kashmiri red chilies.  It truly was the perfect blend of spices.

But…the best dish of ALL…was the Tandoori Sea Bass.  I must say, I have never had Chilean Sea Bass prepared this way, and it was to die for.  It was marinated in saffron, ginger and green chilies and served with an apricot curry sauce and an Indian risotto.  The tandoori oven makes the outside of the fish crisp and the inside is SO moist and flavorful.  It was for sure my favorite and I will get it when we go back!

tamarind food

Our attentive server Frankie suggested a nice syrah to pair with the food and it was the perfect pairing.  It was strong enough to stand up to the bold and spicy flavors and was even great with the sea bass.

Dessert??  Yes, please!  I had to unsnap my skinny jeans, but I did it.  We were served a sampler of Cardamom Ice Cream, Tandoori Pineapple and a traditional Rice Kheer.  They were rich, but surprisingly light after the ridiculous amounts of food we had already consumed.  The sweet flavors cut the spiciness of the curry sauces and left us feeling VERY satisfied.

So, this was a date night we will not forget!  We will for SURE be back to this little gem of a restaurant.  We did see they have a happy hour with great food and beverage specials and also a kids menu ($5 entrees!).  We love our boys to try all types of cuisines and this is for sure next on our list to take them.

Thank YOU to Frankie, Chef Imran Ali and the wonderful staff at Tamarind of London.  We are SURE to be back.

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An Evening at the New Irvine Improv

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irvineimprov

Last weekend my husband and I were treated to two tickets to see one of our favorite comedians, David Spade, perform at the new Irvine Improv in the Irvine Spectrum shopping center.

The show happened to fall on my parents 45th wedding anniversary, so we invited them to join us and had the BEST NIGHT EVER!

I had been hearing lots of good buzz about the new Irvine Improv and its fab new location attached to a super cool Umami Burger (the biggest in OC) across from the Edwards IMAX movie theater in the Spectrum.

The New Irvine Improv 

The new Irvine Improv is a beautiful, state-of-the-art 500+ seat theater.

To celebrate the grand opening, world class comedy acts including comedians like Ralphie May, David Alan Grier, Jon Lovitz, Carlos Mencia and (my FAVORITE) Jay Mohr can be found on their upcoming calendar.

Irvine Spectrum Umami Burger

The Irvine Spectrum Umami Burger is a spacious, colorful, indoor/outdoor restaurant which also serves the Irvine Improv guests for dinner.

A word about Umami Burger.  If you a carnivore and haven’t tried one, well, their burgers are simply out-of-this-world. Put it on your must-try OC list. The burgers are fresh and mouth-watering delicious.

And, take it from me, also order the Tempura Onion Rings. Best ones I have had in my life.

Irvine Spectrum Umami Burger

Our Evening at the Irvine Improv 

David Spade was performing at the 7:00pm show, and we arrived at 5:30pm with a dinner reservation.

We were able to order off of the Improv’s Umami Burger menu and found service to be extremely efficient and friendly (thank you super server Mike!)

I was surprised we got to see two different comedy warm-up acts before David Spade came on; both of which were hilarious and highly entertaining.

Between the opening acts and David Spade, my cheeks hurt from laughing. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time and it felt SO good.

parentsatimprov

Irvine Improv Tickets

If there is a comedian you really want to see, best to buy tickets online ahead of time as shows do sell out.  However, walk up tickets are also sold. Box office opens at noon.

I found the prices to be very reasonably priced for the talent. For example, Jay Mohr is $30/ticket (so was David Spade) with a two-drink minimum (pssstttttt…..the Mango Tango martini was delish).

Groups of 10+ can reserve a section ahead of time. Check the website for details.

On Friday and Saturday nights, Kiyan the magician can be found making the rounds doing some magic tricks towards the end of dinner.

He also performs a longer set for their Family Fun Magic Show held every about other month. This show features kid-friendly jokes and magic along with a yummy kids’ menu.

New Irvine Improv

I love this saying on the new Irvine Improv building. Life can get so busy and serious sometimes.

Going with your friends or significant other on a date night at the Irvine Improv is such a nice break from the same ‘ole dinner out and like they say, laughter really is the best medicine.

I was still feeling the laughter after-glow all the way home (that, or maybe it was the Mango Tango martini)? In either case, it was one of the most fun nights out I have had in a long time.

www.irvine.improv.com

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We’ve Got Your Valentine’s Date Night Covered

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Valentine's Day Dinner

Do you have a plan yet for you and your special someone for Valentine’s Day dinner?

How about get the kiddos down early, light a few candles and serve your Hubs this amazing dinner? If your guy is anything like mine, he’ll be stoked to not have to fight the Valentine’s Day crowds and not have to hire a sitter!

If a night at home sounds up your alley, this Valentine’s Day dinner recipe is sure to shoot cupid’s arrow straight through your man’s heartSlow Cooked Short Ribs & Celery Root Puree.

It’s easy to prepare and boasts a few layers of complementary flavors = definitely Valetine’s-date-night-worthy.  I mean, seriously, have you ever met a man who doesn’t like a short rib?

slow-cooked-short-ribs

Any good chef will tell you, the most important component of executing a successful, elegant meal is where you start: the ingredients!  The fresher, higher quality ingredients, the better.

I love Whole Foods because they have the most beautiful meats, produce and spices to ensure the perfect finished product.

Oh and here’s the fun part – you can do your shopping for this special Valentine’s Day  meal, grab a girlfriend or your hubby, and meet up with Jennifer and I for a night out at Whole Foods Market Huntington Beach on Tuesday, February 11th for very special Valentine’s themed complimentary store-wide tasting called Ingredients: A Love Story.

We can’t wait!!

Ingredients: A Love Story

Tuesday, February 11th ~ 6-8pm

Whole Foods Huntington Beach

Some of the tasty treats to look forward to:

*Cheese & Chocolate*

*Mango, Pineapple & Habanero Guacamole*

*Fresh Shucked Oysters*

*Sweet & Hot Fruit Spreads with Tangy Goat Cheese*

*Chicken Wellingtons with Smokehouse Habanero Aioli*

*Chef Nick’s Roasted Asparagus with Lemon, Basil & Crisp Quinoa with a Fresh Green Goddess Dressing*

*Chocolate Covered Strawberries*

*Chantilly Fruit Cake with Sweet & Savory Butter Cream*

*Themed Beer & Wine- meet your Beer & Wine Specialist*

*Coffee Tastings*

AND there will be an in-store raffle to win tickets for a Valentine’s dinner for two!

(In which case if you win the raffle, stick this recipe in your back pocket for another at-home date night!)

Follow Whole Foods Market Huntington Beach on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you’re always in the know on their exciting and tasty events and happenings!

(Ie: Fridays in February they have live jazz in their 24 tap craft beer bar, Woody’s Surf City Grill, from 6-9pm.  How cool is that???)

We hope to see you Tuesday!

XO,

Your Sus Chef

(Disclosure:  Whole Foods is a beLOVED Tiny Oranges Sponsor)

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Fall in Love This Valentine’s Day at Montage Laguna Beach

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Valentine's Day at Montage Laguna Beach

I have yet to meet a woman that would not completely flip over any gift or experience involving a visit to Montage Laguna Beach. Guys, I am talking to you! Let me give you a tip. Ladies like feeling special, even if they say they don’t “want” or “need” anything. If you are looking for a way to celebrate the love of your life, please check out the Valentine’s Day at Montage Laguna Beach offers.

Valentine’s Day Dining at Montage Laguna Beach 

Montage Laguna Beach invites you to celebrate your special someone this Valentine’s Day with memorable dining experiences at both Studio and The Loft.

Their signature restaurant, Studio, welcomes sweethearts both on Valentine’s Day and throughout the month of February with a special Couples Tasting Menu by  Executive Chef Craig Strong.

The Couples Tasting Menu highlights modern French cuisine with California influences and artisanal ingredients, crafted especially for romantics with five courses available at $175 per person or $250 per person with wine pairings.

The Loft invites guests to enjoy Chef de Cuisine Casey Overton’s four course prix-fixe dinner on Valentine’s Day.  Chef Overton’s delectable menu will feature Carnaroli Rissoto, Braised Vintage Beef Short Rib, and Strawberry Frozen Soufflé to name only a few (click here to view the full Valentine’s Day menu). This exclusive four course prix-fixe menu is available on Valentine’s Day only from 5:00pm to 10:00pm.

For reservations at Studio or The Loft, please call 949.715.6420.

Let Montage Babysit While You Dine

For couples with families in tow, the Paintbox children’s program is hosting a special Valentine’s Day Children’s Night Out. The resort’s popular children’s program will host a night for kids to enjoy Valentine’s Day crafts and other kid-friendly activities while their parents delight in a romantic evening dining on property.  Beginning at $60 per child, Children’s Night Out takes place from 6pm to 10pm for ages 5-12 and includes dinner for the little ones.  Reservations are required.

You Can’t Go Wrong with a Montage Gift Card 

Montage Laguna Beach is one of my favorite places on earth. Spa Montage Laguna Beach is a mom’s paradise. Completely elegant, but understated with service second to none. So guys, if you are looking for a gift for your beautiful wife who bore your children and works 24/7 for her family, consider a Montage Gift Card.

Yes, an amount good for a facial or massage would be lovely. But if your budget is more limited, they also offer monthly $65 Yoga Workshops, a part of their Mind-Body Wellness Series, and $75 Surfset Fitness Class, both of which include access to the spa amenities and spa pool for the day.  I recently reviewed the Surfset class here – completely innovative workout.

Writing this post was tough, makes me want to make a dinner reservation and book a fitness class. Hopefully my husband is reading this post today! Ohhhhhh, this makes me excited for Valentine’s Day.

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Our Pacific Edge Getaway: 24 Hours to Recharge

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Where to stay in Laguna Beach

Where to Stay in Laguna Beach

Recently my husband and I were invited to sneak away for a little 24 hour getaway to the beautiful Pacific Edge Hotel on the sand in Laguna Beach.

As I was relaxing on a lounge chair their onsite beach attendant set up for us, looking out at the Pacific, I thought, “How lucky are we to LIVE in a place where Laguna Beach is only a short drive away?!”

Pacific Edge Hotel has special meaning to us because we got married there in 2001. I could look up to what is now The Deck restaurant and see the exact spot where we said, “I do.”  And, there we were, 11 years and 2 kids later. A lot of changes have happened since that Fall day.

Pacific Edge Accommodations 

And speaking of changes, the property, now owned by boutique hotel company, Joie de Vivre Hospitality, has gone through many recent renovations, including a complete make-over of the Surf Wing rooms where we were lucky enough to stay.

The oceanfront rooms in the Surf Wing all have balconies overlooking the ocean, and many have adjoining non-oceanfront rooms that can be opened up to make it a family suite.

With a beach front balcony to watch the crashing waves, quintessential beach decor, and an ultra-plush, comfortable bed where we were lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves, it was in a word, paradise.

The Bungalows on Laguna Beach 

On the bottom floor of the newly renovated Surf Wing are five beachfront Bungalows available to rent by the day. These indoor/outdoor living spaces are like having your own mini beach house, stocked with everything you need for the perfect day at the beach.

The five Bungalows are all uniquely decorated with stunning interior decor by local companies.

Here is one of my favorites, the Gorjana & Griffin Bungalow, contemporary and nautical, with even a little kid sized art table for pint sized guests. For more information on renting one of the Bungalows on Laguna Beach, visit www.PacificEdgeHotel.com/bungalows.

Save Money with the Edge Card 

One of the best things about staying at Pacific Edge is the location, as it is a short walk from Main Beach and all the shops and restaurants.

When you stay at Pacific Edge, you can save money on dining and shopping with their exclusive Edge Card, which saves you between 10 – 15% off at participating businesses.  A complete list is given upon check-in and can be found here on their website.

On this list is The Beach House Restaurant, located next door to Pacific Edge, where guests save 10% off food. My husband and I had an amazing oceanfront dinner there after spending a day at the beach.

It was also the place where we had our rehearsal dinner, again, another walk down memory lane.

Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard

The next morning we woke up, had a cup of fresh Keurig coffee I made in our room (thank you very much Pacific Edge ~ it really is the little things that mean so much), then took a walk all around Laguna and went out to breakfast.

It is really fun playing tourist in your own backyard!

It is amazing how 24 hours away with your husband can recharge your soul.

To be able to sit on the beach, read, talk, go out to dinner, stroll around Laguna and just enjoy each other’s company with NO distractions is an amazing and also necessary gift!

When getting away for just one night, a local spot in Orange County can be just what the doctor ordered.  And if you are looking for where to stay in Laguna Beach, it doesn’t get much better than Pacific Edge.

Pacific Edge Amenities at a Glance

~ On property restaurant, The Deck, is open daily (but was closed for renovations when we stayed. Call for updated info.)

~ Complimentary beach towels, lounge chairs, and umbrellas

~ Two heated pools and a hot tub

~ Complimentary access to Art of Fitness, a few blocks away from the hotel

~ On-site valet parking for $24/night

~ Complimentary Wifi throughout the hotel, pool and beach

 www.PacificEdgeHotel.com
647 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

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[Pacific Edge provided my husband and I with a complimentary one night stay and dinner to facilitate this review. We were very grateful for the 24 blissful hours and I am thrilled to share this property with you!] 

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