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Sometimes, You Just Need a Cupcake

I know the fad is long gone, but I don't care. On trend or not, sometimes you just want a cupcake to satisfy that sugar craving! (Pictured: Golden Butter Cupcakes with Madagascar Vanilla Buttercream) My new favorite bakery that does the job is Sugar Blossom Bake Shop in San Clemente. Its cupcakes and other confections are made from scratch daily and with only the best ingredients—Valrhona and Callebaut chocolate, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, and organic dairy products. Read more...

It's Fate: Falling in Love With an Iced Mocha

Never far from caffeine—you'll rarely find me without a cup—I've taken to scouting out the best coffee around, wherever I am. Though black iced coffee is my ultimate go-to, I love indulging in iced mochas. It's pretty easy to get your hands on a decent cup, but I've found it difficult uncovering places that offer just the right proportions of espresso and good quality chocolate. I'm not a fan of mochas overloaded with sugary syrup. Read more...

Lil Places We Love: The Book Corral

In the age of digital reading, The Book Corral is a great place to find good reads that don’t require batteries. Nestled in a small, rustic Mission Viejo shopping complex, the second-hand store has wooed casual readers and hardcore bibliophiles alike since opening more than 30 years ago. Rich Lucas, the fourth owner since taking over in 2011, enthusiastically runs the homey bookstore with help from his wife and two sons. The 1,800-square-foot store offers more than 40,000 books that are fiction, nonfiction, and sometimes in-between. You’ll find vintage comic books (up to $40) from the 1970s, as well as a small collection of used textbooks ($5 to $100). Regular customers receive discounts, and those who donate books throughout the year get a voucher for a free book come their birthday. You also can rent a few new books for $3 a week, including picks such as “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King, and “Sycamore Row” by John Grisham. And, you can meet some Orange County authors at in-store promotions; past guests have included Deborah Radwan (“The Compass”) and M.J. Roe (“The Blue Amulet”). Read more...

Lil Places We Love: Laguna Beach Institution Husky Boy Burgers

Once family-owned but now privately operated by Viva Laguna Inc., the drive-in style eatery—still in its original Coast Highway location since it opened in 1951—offers a variety of grilled burgers made in-house. Read more...

Lil Places We Love: Lake Forest’s El Progreso, Carmel’s Revisited

In Lake Forest, if you look past the Denny’s, which sits close to El Toro Road, you’ll see El Progreso, a Mexican restaurant that serves authentic cuisine that’s easy on the wallet. Read more...

Finding Blueberry Heaven

Last week before shooting our October "Global Diner" feature, our photographer Priscilla Iezzi and I decided to take a detour--which ultimately made us late to the shoot--to admire the pastry counter at Tustin's Cream Pan bakery. As a food stylist for Orange Coast and lover of anything involving butter and pastries, I took it upon myself to try their blueberry croissant, and boy am I glad I did! Everyone knows you can’t beat owner Yoshinori Inada’s strawberry croissant, but this must-try, filled with sweet, juicy blueberries, is equally tantalizing. The perfect combination of buttery, flaky pastry, and melt-in-your-mouth custard, it’s simple and comforting, and every bite is blueberry heaven. Read more...

OC Guides

Guides

OC Guides
  • Neighborhoods: Rancho Santa Margarita

    Rancho Santa Margarita’s Plaza El Paseo is a South County suburban mall with a twist. It’s the unexpected finds—a little gem of a florist, cozy spots to sample tea and wine, and a top-notch steakhouse across the street—that put it in a league of its own. Read More
  • O.C.’s Best: Bloody Marys

    Get your vegetables and booze in one convenient—and delicious—serving with what’s been hailed as America’s murkiest and most complex cocktail. Traditionally made with tomato juice, vodka, celery salt, horseradish, Worcestershire, and Tabasco, its origins are widely debated. Here are five superb O.C. renditions of the world-famous drink.

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  • Hot O.C. Neighborhood: East Side Costa Mesa

    This updated neighborhood doesn’t have to try hard to be interesting, original, surprising, and modern—it just is. Take the mile-long stretch of strip malls along 17th Street, between Newport Boulevard and Irvine Avenue, the heart of the renaissance. Foodies come for the Instagram-worthy Aussie-style meat pies at PieNot, coconut French toast at Plums Café, and braised pork panini at Pitfire Artisan Pizza. And that’s just the Ps. Other homegrown restaurants and shops tip toward lean-and-clean fare, such as the casual Jan’s Health Bar. Plus it’s the birthplace of Mother’s Market & Kitchen. Read More
  • Hot O.C. Neighborhood: Downtown Anaheim

    With a focus on food and community, downtown’s fresh look gets inspiration from the city’s rural roots. It takes resourcefulness to restore and imaginatively reuse old buildings, qualities the city’s founding farming families had, too. The new energy is centered on the Packing District, a two-block stretch of Anaheim Boulevard between Santa Ana Street and East Broadway: the restored 1920s-era Packard Building, now home to Anaheim Brewery and Umami Burger, and the 1919 Anaheim Citrus Packing House, with a food hall of locally based food-and-beverage artisans. Read More
  • Neighborhoods: Costa Mesa

    Chain restaurants and stores dominate most of the strip malls on Costa Mesa’s east side. But at Santa Ana Avenue and 17th Street, look a little closer and you’ll find indie boutiques and cafes tucked in among the usual suspects Read More

Style Stuff

  • California Cool: Oliver Peoples Launches WEST Sunglass Line

    This being the land of perpetual sun, it's no surprise that sunglass brand Oliver Peoples decided to launch a new line inspired entirely by coastal California. Read More
  • O.C. Trunk Show Worth Seeing: Michael John

    Don't miss Orange County-based award-winning jewelry designer Michael Hezar's trunk show until 5 today at Neiman Marcus, and again from 10 a.m. To 4:30 p.m. tomorrow. Read More
  • WANTED: Burger Records Musicians

    It sounds like a request for background musicians, but guess again. It's the call of a famous French fashion house and it's lured an up-and-coming musician you may know. Saint Laurent's creative director, Hedi Slimane, has selected---among other locals---Rex Tyler Osterkamp, frontman for O.C.'s Rexx, to model in a Saint Laurent men's fashion show in Paris. Osterkamp is among a growing list of local musicians snagged to strut the catwalk for the famed designer line. Check him out in stills from last weekend's show in the City of Lights: Read More
  • New Year, New Beauty Booty

    You know that deep maroon lipstick and funky purple eyeshadow we always think we’re going to wear on some special occasion, but haven’t touched in years? Now we can donate them and get something in return! Spa Gregorie's has set up a beauty product donation station at each of its three spas as a way to launch its new Osmosis makeup line. Osmosis, which works on all skin tones, is made using 100 percent triple-milled minerals and a unique gogi-berry antioxidant blend. Read More
  • The Easiest Way to Get Ready for Holiday Parties

    Can you think of a better way to pamper yourself than with a makeover and complimentary glass of Champagne? On Dec. 14th, Fashion Island will unveil its newest addition, Blushington beauty bar. The first of its kind in Orange County, Blushington is similar to DryBar, but for makeup. A variety of services will be offered, including lash tinting, brow waxing, and full makeup applications. "The goal is to leave the bar feeling like an enhanced, more beautiful version of yourself" says founder and CEO Stephi Maron. For more information, check out the website at blushington.com Read More
 
 
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