After spending some time in Northern California's wine country this summer, I was elated to hear about OC Wine Week in Laguna Beach. We chose to participate at the quaint bistro and cafe Sundried Tomato, which is tucked away in the heart of town on Forest Avenue. It offered a three-course wine and food pairing menu for $35.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a gracious assistant manager, Savannah Struble, then seated on the open and airy patio alongside several other guests. It soon became apparent everyone was enjoying their experience. Several even offered up positive comments after finding out I was with Laguna Beach Patch.
Colleen and Steve Marshall told me they chose Sundried Tomato to celebrate their 32nd wedding anniversary, accompanied by their 8-year-old dog, Jake. They complimented the "fantastic" food and service and said they were regular customers. Colleen said Jake might need a girlfriend to share spaghetti with at next year's celebration.
Our waitress for the evening was Laura Hodgkinson. She helped us pair our food and wine, and seemed very knowledgeable in all areas.
For our first course, we chose the pairing of Napa's Honig sauvignon blanc and a signature chopped salad with cranberries, pine nuts, red onions, gorgonzola, golden beets (the secret ingredient) and a cilantro caper. Amazing.
Our second course included Atlantic salmon, asparagus, rice, and currants with cipollini onion sauce paired with Frogmore Creek pinot noir from Tasmania. We also tried the Aquinas cabernet paired with tournedos of filet, portobello and green beans/pancetta with sweet onion sauce. A match made in heaven.
For the third course, we decided on the fresh apple tart a la mode with the Storm Bay Tasmanian red meritage. Devilishly good.
Lastly, we joined bartender Rene Karlson at the bar for a nightcap. He recommended a Fonseca 10-year-old port. Even Frasier and Niles would have been envious. On the subject of OC Wine week, I asked Rene if he thought Laguna Beach would benefit from more places offering wine tasting. He replied, "Laguna Beach is a town that's based on tourism, and restaurants are a part of that tourism. It would be nice to have some places in town where visitors could go to enjoy the wine-tasting experience."
I’m very pleased we chose Sundried Tomato for our OC Wine Week adventure. Owner Rob Quest will also be pleased to know just how much pride his employees take in their work. They all did an outstanding job, and spoke very highly of Rob. The atmosphere at Sundried is warm and friendly, with an air of elegance, and there's definitely a bit of magic going on behind those kitchen doors. Sundried Tomato just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and I think it's safe to say it will be around for decades to come. Cheers!