Recently, I joined some friends in Orange County for a “Wicked” fun getaway—that is, a trip built around seeing the Broadway musical “Wicked.” I had a blast! Here are some of my favorite OC finds.
1. “Wicked” – The show was amazing! I had never been to a professional musical before, and “Wicked” exceeded my expectations. From the opening scene with the robotic time-clock dragon, dancing and thunderous music, I was transfixed. The actors brought the story to life beyond anything I could have imagined (even though it was a Disney version of the book). I adored Glinda. I especially loved how her voice, mirroring Glinda in “The Wizard of Oz” warbled to a comic effect. Thanks to a CD from the original Broadway show, I have been singing the songs for weeks. My life is now a musical. Welcome!
2. Coconut Creme Pie from The Capital Grille (Suncoast Plaza) – This is the BEST pie I have ever eaten. (Notice that I did not say this is the best coconut pie I have ever eaten.) The bottom is a giant macaroon-esque, buttery cookie that melts in your mouth. The cookie is topped with coconut creme, homemade whipped cream, and large, toasted coconut flakes. (Note: You might want to skip dinner at this restaurant; the fish was just okay. But that pie is totally worth the trip.)
3. Varga (Huntington Beach, CA) – This cute boutique clothing shop for women showcases adorable vintage-inspired tops, dresses, skirts, shoes, scarves and jewelry. The prices are affordable, and the salespeople are warm and friendly. Although, I don’t have one of these stores in Fort Worth, I did grab a card with the store’s Web site to order online (although the site isn’t quite as cute as the store).
4. Zinc Cafe & Market – While walking among the artist shops in Laguna Beach, we stumbled upon this adorable outdoor cafe, which served delicious chamomile tea. The cafe also has coffee and pastries.
5. Tide Pools on Laguna Beach – After stopping for tea at Zinc, we headed down to the shore. It was a bit chilly for swimming or sunbathing, but we stumbled upon some tide pools and managed to spend a considerable chunk of the day exploring. I was amazed to see large clusters of purple-shelled mussels clinging to the rocks and tiny pools harboring crabs, fish and sea anemones. I felt like I was at an aquarium, not simply walking along the beach. After about an hour, a lady appeared with brochures to educate us about the sea creatures, which is just something she does on weekends. She then directed us to an overlook where we could see seals. Amazing!
6. Sakae Sushi (Newport Beach, CA) — If you’ve ever wondered what Cheers would be like if it was a sushi bar, then you have to visit Sakae. When you walk through the doors of this cozy restaurant, the staff greets you by gong. As we were eating, several patrons came in and greeted the sushi chef with a hug. We each ordered the all-you-can-eat sushi for $25 per person (unbelievable price). Now, the all-you-can-eat menu was somewhat limited and basically consisted of california rolls topped with various fish. However, the fish was fresh and the rolls were delicious. At the end of our meal, the sushi chef brought us 2 complimentary bottles of sake, which had a nice almond finish. Even I wanted to hug him.
7. Ruby’s Diner (Costa Mesa, CA) – For brunch on Sunday, we stepped back in time at Ruby’s Diner. I was impressed by the large selection of vegetarian items at this very traditional 40s-style diner (including veggie breakfast sausage and burgers). My friends ordered cinnamon roll french toast, and I settled on the Portabella Benedict. I really wanted a milkshake too, but I was too stuffed.
And that just goes to show you that California offers much more than beaches, especially when you go in winter, er, March.