Continuing your couples weekend getaway in Orange County’s City of the Arts — Costa Mesa…
The former backyard to the beach cities, populated by acres of farmland, Costa Mesa has evolved into the center for commerce, culinary, art and entertainment and the Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa hotel is within walking distance to the Segerstrom Center of the Arts complex.
The night is young, let’s get on with it! First, walk over and pick up your tickets to tonight’s performance at Segerstrom Hall, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, or South Coast Repertory. Reignite your passion for dance, the symphony, musical theater, or dramatic plays. Go online for Segerstrom Center of the Arts full event calendar and snag tickets to see the incomparable Alvin Ailey American Dance, Tony-Award winning chanteuse Audra McDonald, or the hit Broadway production of Come From Away.
Next, pop into Orange County hotspot Vaca Restaurant for cocktails and tapas – also located in the Segerstrom Arts complex. This lively Spanish steakhouse is Chef Amar Santana’s homage to Spain and features Spanish specialties such Jamón Ibérico, Manchego and Cabrales cheese, Pan con Tomate, and paella. Add to this Chef Amar’s creativity, top-quality ingredients, a global superior meat selection, an innovative beverage program, new-found celebrity chef status and you have a bonafide hit. Beyond Orange County, Chef Amar is probably best known for his impressive finale on Season 13 of Bravo TV’s Top Chef. In the OC, he is loved as much for his big personality as his culinary prowess and is Executive Chef and Partner at Broadway By Amar Santana in Laguna Beach and Vaca in Costa Mesa.
Upon entering the dimly lit space, you’re hit with multiple visions of largesse: a hefty leg of Iberico ham at the charcuterie bar, a towering library of spirits, and a meat cooler filled with gigantic cuts of prime meats from around the world.
A must-try dish on the Tapas menu is the Canelon de Pollo Ahumado – one delicate canelon (like Italian cannelloni) stuffed with luscious smoked chicken, bathed in foie gras sauce and finished with a sherry reduction. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Often Vaca’s featured taste when participating in local wine and food festivals, if you had to name one signature dish at Vaca, this is it.
695 Town Center Dr. Ste. 170
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
If the theaters are dark during your stay, or you prefer a more interactive experience, sign up for a cooking class at Sur La Table in South Coast Plaza. You’ll go home with recipes, tips, and tricks to up your cooking game at home, and the satisfaction of eating your handiwork. Upcoming classes include Everyday Vegetarian, Homemade Pasta, Night Out-Provence Supper, Vietnamese Cooking Techniques, and A Love for Seafood. Instruction in knife skills and classes designed for kids and teens are also offered – peruse class offerings on Sur La Table’s website.
Before class, Chef Gerrie had prepared the pizza dough we were going to use as it needs about 2 hours to rise. She led participants through the process with two volunteers manning the stand mixers while she shared some key tips for getting the pizza dough right. One hot tip was to add the oil to the mixing bowl first, so the flour does not stick to the sides — making cleanup a whiz! One of those A hha moments, if you’ve ever made bread or pizza dough, you will appreciate this! Watch the short video for a few more tips from Chef Gerrie.
We made two different square pan pizzas: a simple one with Pomodoro sauce and basil and a purple potato with sun-dried tomatoes, gorgonzola and a pesto sauce – the class favorite! There was also Kerrygold cheese and crackers to nosh on during class and a crisp salad with grape tomatoes and blue cheese to accompany the pizza. All in all, a yummy evening!
3333 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Read Part 1 of Couples Weekend Getaway in Costa Mesa and stay tuned for suggestions on where to go and what to do before heading home. Thanks for reading!