The oh-so true adage that it’s all about location, location, location was as clear as the impossibly azure sky as we pulled off PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach soon after landing at LAX. We headed straight for the beach, hankering for that quintessentially California view of the sunny southern coast.
Too many sporty convertibles passed us while we ogled the Pacific, so we pulled off the road for a good long gaze at the very California view. Below the 80 foot drop, descending through dense shrub and lush patches of thick grasses, was a wide open view of sandy beach stretching 3.2 miles and protected by the CA. state parks, known as Crystal Cove State Park.
It was the perfect introduction to what would be our favorite place in the sand, aptly named The Beachcomber.
The next morning, with jet lag on our side, we scrambled out of bed early enough to see the sunrise, parked across PCH and walked down to the beach before the Beachcomber opened at 7 AM.
The cafe is elevated just a few steps up from the sand and is the ideal spot to ease into the day, take a midday break for lunch or retreat under the heat lamps for dinner. Twelve tables are squeezed onto the deck (umbrellas, fleece blankets and heaters are thoughtfully provided) and another few along a wraparound porch where spillover from lunch and happy hour lands.
My favorite breakfast dish was Smoked Salmon Flatbread, a deconstructed twist on bagels and lox. Green chile cream cheese is the foundation for thinly sliced smoked salmon, capers, pickled red onions, hard cooked eggs dotted with micro greens and capers.
With music of the 20’s and 30’s and the crashing waves keeping time, the day was starting out just fine.
Try the Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes as a carbo loading alternative. The slightly tangy, light batter oozes with fresh berries and is worth the calories.
Just across the street from the beach is a shopping center where Bear Flag Fish Co. became our go-to lunch spot for super fresh, quick, casual lunches. Beach wear is expected and acceptable.
Bear Flag is fish market, taco joint, and great salad place all at once. Seating on the sidewalk alongside the parking lot? We got over it quickly as panko grilled fish tacos bursting with freshly chopped cabbage and house made pico de gallo beckoned us day after day when we tired of the beach.
Hastily handwritten boards list the freshest fish choices of the day and surfing videos are entrancing. Sides of avocado, black beans, brown rice and sauteed veggies all cost $1-2 so we had ourselves a fiesta.
We quickly integrated Zinc Cafe and Market into our rhythm as it is vegetarian, making it all fair game for breakfast and lunch. While table service is provided, it’s fine with them if you order from the market side and bring it to a table yourself.
Deviled eggs, house baked scones dotted with berries, and breakfast burritos were highlights early in the day. Freshly baked fruit cakes and tartes are irresistible.
Lunches of personal sized chipotle sauced pizzette, easy sandwiches with runny brie and seasonal arugula or vegetable packed lasagna had us feeling happy to have landed in this veggie heaven.
Ready to whip up something special for breakfast? Check out Susie Fishbein’s recipe for light and fluffy blueberry pancakes, below. Thanks, Susie, for sharing this treat from KOSHER BY DESIGN LIGHTENS UP.
Watch for part 2 of Newport Coast,CA. fave spots next week! We found some great choices!
From Susie Fishbein: "Feel good in knowing that these pancakes are healthier than most. Most pancakes do not contain as much protein (milk, eggs, cottage cheese) or antioxidents from blueberries."
Susie suggests finding your own preferred balance of flour combinations, considering whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat, wheat or all purpose.
If using straight whole wheat, you may need to stir in a little milk to thin the batter.
- 1/2 c. fat free milk
- 1 large egg
- 3 T sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 T canola oil, divided
- 2 T water
- 1 c flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 c fat free cottage cheese
- heaping 1/2 c blueberries
- fat-free sour cream
- light pancake syrup
- In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, egg, sugar, vanilla, 2 tablespoons oil, and 2 tablespoons water.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.
- With a spatula, mix in the cottage cheese and fold in the blueberries.
- Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- When the skillet is hot, drop the batter by 1/4 cup measures. An ice cream scoop works well.
- Cook for 3 minutes until golden: flip and cook another 2 minutes.
- Serve with fat free sour cream or light pancake syrup.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Susie Fishbein, KOSHER BY DESIGN LIGHTENS UP, 2008.