Friday, August 9, 2013

Dabbling in Dana Point, CA

Last weekend, T and I flew out to CA to visit my aunt and uncle who recently moved there. They are some of my favorite people in the world to just be with, so I was so looking forward to the visit...and being in beautiful CA was a total bonus. My aunt is also one of my greatest food and entertaining inspirations. She is passionate about food and can transform the most simple ingredients into a delicious and special experience.
After we arrived, my aunt picked us up at the airport and we headed to nearby Laguna, CA, to eat at Carmelita's. Chips, salsa, and black bean dip (a personal favorite), are served to every table and we supplemented that deliciousness with guacamole. The presentation was whimsical with plantain chips and cotija cheese. 
At the recommendation of our server, T and split a tacos platter complete with steak, chicken, shrimp, and queso fundido (cheese, pico, bacon, chorizo, and guacamole). It was easily enough for three and that queso fundido was lusciously indulgent. 

After lunch, we walked along the boardwalk (cue  The Drifters "Under the Boardwalk") in Laguna. I loved all the bright colors and graphic patterns of the umbrellas. 

After a post-lunch nap on the deck, my aunt and I went for a walk in a nearby preserve. Prepare for a gorgeous scenery photo montage. 
What is it about being next to the ocean that is so calming and serene?

And, because you already know that I find wildlife warning signs oddly entertaining, here's another gem for you. No goring this time, but a gem nonetheless. 
That night, we made BLT pizza on the grill. My aunt picked out the recipe because she knows that T has a particular love for bacon. The cheese and bacon "sauce" were rich and creamy and the fresh tomatoes and arugula were the perfect balance.
The next day we tried paddleboarding for the first time, and ate another delicious meal at Maro. It was so fun to get to try some of my aunt's favorite restaurants and get a sense for her eating experience now that we are in different cities. It was also so lovely to be able to relax outside after the last several crazy weekends. I got to read cook books and food magazines out on the deck while occasionally dosing off. It made me reflect and realize that I haven't been able to slow down and enjoy cooking as much as I love to in the last month. The beautiful recipes inspired me to refocus on making complete meals during the week and to start baking for fun again. Remember, "When in doubt, bake it out."
Our trip concluded with breakfast in the company of my favorite flowers. So happy. 
In the midst of a great chat about book recommendations with my uncle and T, I got to enjoy this amazing omelet. Bacon, spinach, cheese, and tomatoes enveloped in the fluffiest eggs. Add toasted olive bread with butter...perfect. In addition to being one of the most wonderful women I know, my aunt also happens to make the best omelets. How lucky am I?

Cheers to wonderful food enjoyed with the people you love, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

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