Greer's OC: Taste of Orange County is back after long hiatus

Taste of Orange County, a premier food, wine and entertainment festival featuring more than 50 restaurants and wineries, will kick off at noon Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine.

The two-day event is back after a 16-year hiatus and will include local restaurant samples, cooking demos from top chefs in Orange County, wine and tequila tastings, entertainment and music to showcase local culture and lifestyle.

A few participating chefs include Shachi Mehra of Tamarind of London, Craig Connole of K'ya Bistro/House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer, Pascal Olhats of Pascal Restaurants, Louis Jocson of Red Table, Matt Briggs of Mastro's Ocean Club, Greg Daniels from Haven Gastropub/Taco Asylum, and Michael Doctulero of Scott's Seafood.

On Saturday, Taste of Orange County will be open from noon to 8 p.m. for guests ages 21 or older, and from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday for all ages. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Orange County Food Bank and the Culinary Liberation Front.

General access tickets cost $25, VIP access costs $179, and an Ultra Pass costs $250. For tickets and more information, visit

The Verizon Wireless Amphitheater is at 8808 Irvine Center Drive.


Snow cones for adults

Grown-up snow cones are the new rage this summer at Raya at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Raya's chef de cuisine, Marissa Gerlach, serves the frozen childhood desserts for adults with tasty ingredients such as tequila, rum, pisco, blood orange and coconut water.

Her inspiration came from visits as a kid to the Orange County Fair, where snow cones are a must.

"I loved being able to pick a color and watch the ice slowly turn into a blast of flavor," says Chef Gerlach. "And holding the cone was a way to cool off in the summer heat."

The refreshing adult snow cones can make an afternoon in the sun even better at 180bl¿, the resort's oceanfront lounge.

The new menu features a trio of snow cones: blood orange tequila margarita with Herradura silver, Grand Marnier, blood orange and black salt; a coconut rum cool off with Malibu coconut rum, coconut water, coconut milk and sweeten toasted coconut; and chicha morada with pisco, pineapple, clove, cinnamon and sweet purple corn.

180bl¿ also serves handcrafted drinks and RAYA-inspired appetizers such as smoked swordfish tacos, crispy achiote pork wings and queso fundido.

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is at 1 Ritz Carlton Drive in Dana Point. For more information, call (949)240-2000.


Fifth taste burger joint opening in Laguna

It's opening week for the new Umami Burger in Laguna Beach. The joint was founded by Adam Fleischman and has a cult-like following.

We highly recommend our favorite, the Hatch Burger, with roasted green chilies, housemade American cheese; or the Umami Burger with shiitake mushroom, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, Parmesan crisp and Umami ketchup. And you can't go wrong with the Manly Burger, with its beer-cheddar cheese, smoked salt-onion strings and bacon lardons.

Be sure to try the sides too: sweet potato fries, malt liquor tempura onion rings and delicious house pickles. Umami's sauces make everything taste that much better, so try some Umami ketchup, house spread, roasted garlic aioli, kombu relish, jalapeño ranch or the diablo sauce.

Umami at 610 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.


Treat dad to brunch

This Father's Day, treat Dad to the ultimate Sunday brunch in Orange County at Motif Restaurant at the St. Regis Monarch Beach. Dad will love its pancake bar, featuring more than 10,000 ways to make pancakes, including a Jack Daniel's-inspired pancake.

And the whole family will enjoy myriad international dishes, as well as all of their favorites, including omelet, seafood and carving stations.

You can also enjoy the Signature Bloody Mary Bar — a premium St. Regis drink ($10 per Bloody Mary) — sip unlimited champagne and delight in breathtaking ocean views.

Call (800) 722-1543 to reserve your special oceanview Father's Day brunch. Special pricing for Father's Day is $85 per adult and $35 per child. For all St. Regis Monarch Beach Father's Day offerings, visit

St. Regis Monarch Beach is at One Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point.


Go in for a face-lift

Want to help smooth the texture of your skin with virtually no down time and no discomfort?

Grace Gutierrez, owner and founder of True Grace in Newport Beach, is celebrating her third anniversary. She is offering a nonsurgical face-lift called the Super Lift and Microphototherapy Facial that really gives instant results.

It's really a double facial that combines mild current to tighten facial tissue and muscles, and Microphototherapy that gives soothing pulses of heat and light to even out your skin tone, all while smoothing the texture of your skin.

The treatment helps reduce and diminish the appearance of facial aging factors, such as fine lines and wrinkles. And it's designed to use low-level energy to stimulate chemical reactions at a cellular level for firmer and smoother skin.

Results are cumulative, so it's best to go in for a series. True Grace Skin Care is at 250 Newport Center Drive #150.

For more information, call (949) 706-0011, or visit


Cleansing juices!

Nekter Juice Bar will be offering Nekter Cleanses to juice fans across the country, starting July 1.

Anyone can special order a Nekter Cleanse online and have it shipped within 48 hours Tuesdays through Saturdays. The process will use a state-of-the-art coldpress juicing method for optimum nutrition and cleansing. Each cleanse comes with a custom Nekter tote bag and educational information on juicing, cleansing and how to achieve the best results.

Through July, Nekter Juice Bar will be offering flat-rate shipping for $20 per cleanse anywhere in the U.S.

For more information, visit

GREER WYLDER writes Greer's OC for the Huntington Beach Independent each Thursday and the Daily Pilot and Coastline Pilot each Friday. She's the founder and president of, a free daily email service that provides the latest in Orange County fashion, dining, music, events and trends. Her blog can be viewed and she can be contacted at

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