It's not fair to impose resolutions on OC diners when I myself have failings. Some of those failings will have to stand (I absolutely despise white chocolate, for example--if a bakery specializing in white chocolate ever opens, it will be down to Gustavo, Edwin or Shuji to review it), but some are correctable. Read on for my five OC food resolutions for the New Year.
1. Eat and drink more in South County.
There's a reason I asked for recommendations, and my explorations south of the El Toro Y have actually been fruitful, which makes me very happy given the distance from my home in far-off, ghetto North County. Look for more explorations in San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Lake Forest and Dana Point.
2. Get over the mental hurdle between me and vegan food.
I have no problem with vegetarian and vegan food. I'd happily restrict my Indian restaurant choices to vegetables if I didn't need to inform people of the meat offerings at Indian places. I just have a mental hurdle between me and vegan restaurants. Time to change that--which means Native Foods, and Avanti Cafe, and any number of other places.
3. Seek out worthy cocktails.
Los Angeles has a vibrant cocktail scene. Orange County probably does too, but other than 320 Main, I haven't found them yet. There are plenty of places that can make a decent martini, but I'm talking about cocktails made to order for the patron. Who's the Julian Cox of OC? (N.B.: I hate, hate, HATE the word "mixology". It reminds me of "mixiote", which--while good--is not what you want to be thinking of while drinking a fancy cocktail.)
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4. Learn to cook Vietnamese food.
For whatever reason, I don't connect in the kitchen with Vietnamese food. I think it's time to rectify that. It's one of my favorite cuisines in the world, yet it doesn't feature at all in my weekly cooking. (Hints on where to start would be helpful.)
5. Find something--anything--worth eating in Aliso Viejo.
I've never seen a review for a restaurant in Aliso Viejo, save for Opah. In keeping with resolution #1, I am going to find something worthwhile in Aliso Viejo. It could be awesome coffee, it could be fancy food. I refuse to believe that there's a single city in this county that lacks a good place to eat or drink. (OK, except Laguna Woods--are there restaurants actually within the city limits?)