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Rest and Revive at The Oaks at Ojai

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Travel

Rest and Revive at The Oaks at Ojai
The Oaks at Ojai encourages the youthful tranquility within

The Oaks at Ojai

A quick jaunt away from the hectic pace of Los Angeles rests a wellness oasis called The Oaks at Ojai. Located in the heart of the quaint town of Ojai, The Oaks at Ojai is spa, fitness, and wholesome food, all in one. Founded in 1977 by the forward thinking health advocate, Sheila Cluff, The Oaks at Ojai has become one of the most well-respected and often visited destination healing spa and wellness resorts in America. Going beyond a respite for weight loss, The Oaks embodies total wellness.

SheilaCluff doing pushups at age 80

SheilaCluff doing pushups at age 80

Cluff herself was not immune to weight gain having been a former champion ice skater. Upon retiring from professional skating, Cluff found her diet to be calorie high for the reduced exercise intensity. With a weight gain of 20+ pounds, Cluff decided to create a safe haven where women and men could experience healing rejuvenation, a restored sense of well-being and get on track with their health and fitness goals. “Whether it is to reboot healthy living practices or get started with a new regime,” shares Cluff, “It is my hope that guests take away a motivation and inspiration to make lifetime behavioral changes for healthy living.”

Hiking trails at The Oaks at Ojai

Hiking trails at The Oaks at Ojai

A pioneer in the healing health movement, Cluff was serving Potassium Broth for morning breaks from the get go, a tradition that continues to this day. “The fundamental values and core concepts of sound nutrition have always been a governing factor of The Oaks food philosophy,” Cluff explains. “Though there is nothing magical about our broth, it is a nutritionally dense snack to keep energy and satiety steady.”

Upon arrival, guests receive daily menus and an outline of fitness classes which begin each morning at six-thirty and continue until five each afternoon. Among the fitness activities are morning hikes into the Ojai mountains, aqua, dance, QiGong, yoga, and cardio sculpt classes. An on-site health director can provide a complimentary general wellness evaluation that includes weight, cholesterol check, and heart monitor and a personal journal is included to assist with goal setting, keeping track of spa appointments, fitness classes, and health and wellness lectures.

Pool at The Oaks at Ojai

Pool at The Oaks at Ojai

If resting is the priority, relax poolside, read underneath a tree on the resort lawn and visit their award-winning on-site spa for a total body treatment. Featuring a complete spa menu, choose from signature treatments such as a variety of massage, scrubs, and facials including Skin Authority “Fit & Firm” selections like the Fit & Firm VitAD Fortified Lifting Facial with AHA. Skin Authority’s skincare coaches follow-up after treatment to assist with personal skin care needs – an added bonus.

Chinese Chicken Salad at The Oaks at Ojai

Chinese Chicken Salad at The Oaks at Ojai

No wellness spa retreat would be complete without wholesome food. Executive Chef Christine Denney aims to help people “change their focal point” about food. “I strive to give a visual of what a healthy plate should look like and here, I serve the food in a way that guests don’t have to think about what or how much to eat,” shares Denney. Chef Denney enlists a “no added salt” attitude towards her menus, uses all-natural sugars in sparing quantities, and has expanded her selections to provide more options appealing to different groups including gluten-free, dairy-free, and adding items such as black bean noodles and quinoa. “It is appealing to be in a place where health and well-being is a priority,” says Chef Denney of her 10 years at The Oaks. “I, too, have lost over 50 pounds during my tenure just by creating a wellness focused practice daily.” Menu favorites among guests include Chef Denney’s famous Barley Burger, a vegetarian burger like no other, No-Cream Creamy Asparagus Soup with Lemon Pesto, Gluten-free Granola, and The Oaks Spa Bark – YUM!

Spa Bark at The Oaks at Ojai

Spa Bark at The Oaks at Ojai

An exclusive and affordable spa and wellness resort designed to promote a sense of youthful tranquility, The Oaks at Ojai features 46 rooms and suites available at private and shared rates. Special pricing packages and day spa programs also available. Visit the website at OaksSpa.com for details.

The Oaks at Ojai fig trees

The Oaks at Ojai fig trees

The Oaks at Ojai
122 East Ojai Avenue
Ojai, CA 93023
(805) 646-5573
oaksspa.com


Zimzala Restaurant and Bar – Deliciously Free-Spirited

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Zimzala  entrance

Zimzala Restaurant and Bar – Deliciously Free-Spirited

Huntington Beach is home to the swanky boutique hotel, The Shorebreak Hotel. A delightful place to relax and revive for stay-cay locals and worldwide travelers alike, The Shorebreak Hotel is just steps from the beach.
Chef  Brian Drosenos

On a recent visit, I had the pleasure of dining at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Zimzala Restaurant and Bar, which represents everything free-spirited and that “sand between the toes” feeling which I will call “whimsical”. Helmed by Executive Chef Brian Drosenos, Zimzala offers much more than just “comfortable California cuisine”. Chef Drosenos brings a rich and flavorful culinary history to Zimzala having earned his chops at restaurants such as LA Live’s JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, Noble House and The Ventana Inn and Spa. When I asked Chef what Zimzala-like element he brought to the menu, he replied, “I enjoy a free-spirited presentation of the foods.” Yet, I found the dishes themselves to be of equally delicious, creative whimsy.
Zimzala tasting  menu
For starters, a soup of roasted cauliflower with crispy Brussels, finely chopped Marcona almonds, golden raisins, and focaccia croutons was presented in an artful white bowl. And, when served, a whimsical swirl of lemon oil graced the top to add that perk of tartness that pleases the palate. Make this delicious soup at home, view my version of the recipe here: Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with  Lemon Oil drizzle
Quite possibly my favorite dish of the day was the Marinated Pepper Salad which was a finely chopped array of yumminess of marinated baby bell peppers, kale tossed with roasted pistachios, roasted garlic, feta cheese and a sherry vinaigrette. Refreshing and light, I could eat this salad everyday as it is not only delicious, it is filled with food healing ingredients – bell peppers, kale, garlic, and pistachios.
Marinated  Pepper Salad
Have you ever had charred octopus? Neither had I. Giving way to that Zimzala “sand between the toes” whimsical experience, the whimsy here was not only enjoyed in Chef’s presentation but in the food, too! Chef Drosenos explained the baby octopus is braised first and then charred with paprika giving it a tenderness that is not often found when eating octopus. The char totally works in this earthy dish that gets another flavor boost from espilite chili peppers from Spain, smoked potatoes, kalamata olives, lightly fried capers, and a housemade romesco sauce that has nuts, olive oil and sherry vinegar. Smokey is the flavor here as the peppers from Spain are naturally smokey and the potatoes are smoked. I give this dish a smoking hot two bikinis up for the whimsy alone… the flavor, a bonus.
Paprika Charred  Octopus
You would think I would be full by now and on most days I would but today’s tasting menu had me curious so I continued with the Porcini Mushroom Spaghetti. House made spaghetti noodles get their porcini-ness from porcini powder. I must get some. Then, the noodles are cooked al dente and tossed with an incredible medley of mushrooms that include brown beech and pink trumpet – I love everything pink. Also in the mix, a medley of herbs among them chervil, chives, tarragon, and dill. Finish with fresh lemon, grana padano, and a cured egg yolk, Chef fully got his whimsy on here.

Porcini Mushroom  Pasta
Being a ocean view restaurant, fish is an integral part of the menu. I was delighted when salmon arrived. Pan Roasted Salmon with eggplant purée, bloomsdale spinach, roasted fennel, roasted tomato, and black olive caramel made with burnt sugar. Wow! That pretty much sums it up.
Pan Roasted  Salmon
Now, normally I would skip dessert but the Chef insisted by surprising me – and the other guests – with a Persimmon Panna Cotta. The highlighted ingredient, persimmon, was served with an abundance of flavors and textures. Date and walnut bread whipped cream. Toasted pepitas and pecans. A hint of micro basil completed the dish and what a whimsically divine dining experience.
Persimmon  Panna Cotta
To say Chef Drosenos’ cuisine and Zimzala was a surprisingly palate pleasing experience is an understatement. Although I have been a fan of The Shorebreak Hotel since it opened, I had never had the pleasure of dining at their premiere restaurant. I half anticipated just another beachy restaurant experience which is not all bad but not whimsically amazing. To my surprise, Zimzala, under the direction of Chef Drosenos, is far better and beyond being a beachy restaurant. Producing high quality, delicious food that is artfully presented in a free-spirited style, Chef Drosenos brings a bit of gourmand and then some.
kitchen at Zimzala
In Huntington Beach and SO Cal, make Zimzala a “must dine” location. Visiting? Worth the stop!
the outdoor patio  at Zimzala

Bottom line for your bikini: 2 bikinis up!
Zimzala  decor

Zimzala Restaurant and Bar
The Shorebreak Hotel – a Joie de Vivre Hotel
500 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 960-5050

RestaurantZimzala.com


Tortilla Republic Laguna Beach Opens…

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Ceviche

Fast becoming a restaurant scene to contend with, Laguna Beach welcomes Tortilla Republic’s newest location. In an inviting, luxuriously comfortable beach style, Tortilla Republic Laguna Beach celebrates its highly recognized contemporary Mexican fare with the culinary team of Executive Chef Chris Tzorin and consulting Chef Cathy Shyne.
Emapanadas
Having known Chef Tzorin’s uniquely delicious culinary style, you can imagine my delight when I discovered he was on board. I have been a fan of his signature mole’ creations since first meeting him while judging the chef competition at The Chocolate Event about four or five years ago. Since then, Chef Tzorin has been succeeding in the kitchen and on the television airwaves. It comes as no surprise that Tortilla Republic Laguna Beach draws inspiration from the coastal community as well as beautiful Southern California.
Chicken Mole
Utilizing seasonal fresh ingredients and often organic ingredients, signature dishes include Sweet Potato and Beef Empanadas with chimichurri sauce, and cilantro; Shrimp Zarandeado Salad with sautéed shrimp zarandeado style, mixed greens, romaine, melon, jicama, tomato, roasted almonds, queso fresco, and kiwi vinaigrette; Torta de Carnitas with pulled pork, cabbage, candied oranges, pickled jalapeños, black beans, monterey jack cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, and torta bun, with your choice of soup or mixed green salad; Pescado a la Parrilla Taco with tequila passion fruit slaw, pico de gallo, avocado, salsa de mesa, and cilantro crema; and Short Rib Chile Verde Burrito with prime all natural short rib, slow roasted tomatillo & jalapeño chile verde sauce, monterey jack cheese, house rice, and black beans.
Shrimp Salad
The restaurant also features imaginative brunch dishes, such as Huevos Rancheros with two eggs sunny side up, roasted peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, Monterey jack cheese, black been purée, ranchero sauce, crema, and avocado; Egg White Mole Burrito with egg whites, spinach, cheddar cheese, mole de poblano, pico de gallo, and avocado; Seared Albacore Tuna & Sweet Potato Hash with two poached eggs, wilted micro greens, caramelized onions, and jalapeños; and Fresh Roasted Corn & Blueberry Pancakes with whipped salted butter, and maple syrup.
Tacos
From the bar, guest can enjoy Prickly Pear Bellini, Spicy Bloody Mary, Michelada, and Tomato Fresca, while taking in the unobstructed beach views. Open-air dining is a highlight here with two outdoor open-air dining terraces and a courtyard patio boasting a retractable roof.

Tortilla Republic Laguna Beach officially opens Wednesday, October 8, 2014 with a special open-to-the-public ribbon cutting ceremony beginning at 5pm.

Tortilla Republic
480 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949.393.4888
www.tortillarepublic.com

www.facebook.com/TortillaRepublicLagunaBeach
www.twitter.com/iloveTRLB

Open for lunch: 11am to 3pm Tuesday-Friday
Brunch: 10am to 3pm Saturday-Sunday

Beef Rib Burrito

ABOUT TORTILLA REPUBLIC
Tortilla Republic in Laguna Beach features modern Mexican cuisine in a sophisticated setting. From the owners of Taste on Melrose and Taste in Pacific Palisades, John Halter, Morten Kaag and Mina Azami, the Laguna Beach location is the newest Tortilla Republic in the portfolio for the restaurant group—the first opened in August 2011 in Poipu, Kauai, and the second location opened in West Hollywood, CA in March 2012. In conjunction with renowned interior designer Kirk Pereira, Halter, Kaag and Azami designed Tortilla Republic to reflect a polished aesthetic including custom furniture inspired by their travels to Mexico. Consulting Chef Cathy Shyne and Executive Chef Brandon Warren have created a farm-to-table menu using fresh ingredients and organic produce.