Monday, August 8, 2011

Flavors of Laguna Food Tasting and Cultural Tour

I have lived in the OC for a little more than a decade now and there is still so much about this county that eludes me. I guess this is not unusual since we tend to not notice the things right in front of our faces. Why am I telling you about this mumble jumble? Well because it relates to this does, I promise.

This past Saturday as a part of my Sweetie's birthday weekend festivities, I booked us on a walking food tour. Specifically, the Flavors of Laguna Food Tasting and Cultural Tour. I don't profess to know a lot about the city of Laguna Beach but this tour really made me feel like I knew nothing at all about this cute little beach town. Needless to say that I probably enjoyed this tour more than most.

We showed up at the meeting location at 10:30am to meet up with the tour guide and the other participates.

This was our tour guide expert, Perla. I hope she is not mad that I am using this photo. It is one of few that I actually have of her.

So our meeting location and first "taste" was at the La Sirena Grill. Our guide informed us that "la sirena" is the Spanish word for mermaid which is the name of the street that this restaurant is located on. La Sirena cooks with all organic ingredients and nothing is ever frozen. They pride themselves on serving fresh and light fare. We were surprise to find out that the owners, a husband and wife team, are not even Mexican. He is Persian and she is Korean.

Chicken street tacos. These were good but not extraordinary.

La Sirena Grill
347 Mermaid Street
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 497-8226

After our first tasting, we walked a bit to this place, the Cope House, one of the first residential building in Laguna. This is still being rented out to this day so no tour of the inside. This place use to have a direct view of the ocean but now there are many shops and other residents built all around it. Plus, it cost something like $5000 a month to rent out.

Next up on the tour was the world's smallest cathedral (it's in the Guinness Book of World Records), the St. Francis by the Sea (The American Catholic Church). Built in 1933, this is one of Laguna Beach's oldest structure. The curator of this church (Jessica DeStefano) is also the granddaughter of the bishop who built this church. She is very knowledgeable about every brick that makes up this building. 

Speaking of bricks, most of the materials used to build this church was salvaged from the Long Beach Earthquake.

This cathedral not only holds a lot of history but check out the view from the front of the building. Not bad right?

These cottages located across from the St. Francis Church are some of the original residential structures of Laguna as well. I can't even image how much they cost.

The tour guide wanted us to direct our attention to the back of the White House, why the back? Well the White House is a trendy restaurant in the Laguna scene and they have redone the front of the restaurant to make it more suitable for the area but the back of the restaurant is original building material that they have kept for historical purposes.

Our second tasting was at Gallo's Italian Subs.

It is very cozy inside, not much seating to speak of either. 

But the Pastrami Sandwich with avocado, Provolone cheese and mayo was pretty amazing! Plus, who needs inside seating...

...when you can take your sandwich to go and walk across the street and eat it on the beach. Must be nice to work here! 

Gallo's Italian Subs
202 Park Ave
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 497-1100

Moving on...The Candy Baron! Old time candy shop with taffy of all the colors of the rainbow spill out of wooden barrels.

So much little time!

The Candy Baron
231 Forest Avenue
Laguna Beach, CA 92651-2113
(949) 497-7508

Then more walking.

This was the first of a couple of stops at Tchatchke stores. I realize that part of the purpose of this tour is to bring some businesses to the local shops but I don't live too far from here so I have no use for an "I love Laguna Beach" t-shirt. Seriously, does anyone have a need for one of those?

Our next tasting was at the Lumber Yard restaurant. This place got it's name because this block where the restaurant resides use to be an actual lumberyard. 

This little nook inside the restaurant use to be the lumberyard boss' office but now it is a cozy corner to have meals.

A lot of history inside in restaurant as well. 

We did some wine tasting and food pairing here! 

This is what the bar area looks like. Somewhat different than the boss' office.

 Chicken penne in a vodka sauce.

The perfect pair!

Happy Hour had me at Oysters on the Half Shell at $7.50!

Until we meet again.

Lumberyard Restaurant
384 Forest Avenue
Laguna Beach, CA 92651-2130
(949) 715-3900

More "knick knack" stops.

With some really expensive knick knacks.

But I was distracted by this...

...and this...

...most definitely this! We talked to the rep of this wine company who promised us a tour of their winery in Italy when we are there next summer. Why yes, don't mind if we do!

Plus, there was a nice puppy outside to play with...

...and an interesting kitchen display next door.

And I was starting to get tired but we were more than half way through. Must move on! But this post is getting too long so this will be part 1 of 2. :)

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