A gluten-free diet may be much easier than you think

Gluten Free Cover

Laguna Beach resident Gini Warner’s new book release, The Gluten-Free Edge: Get Skinny the Gluten-Free Way! (Adams Media Corporation) will be introduced at Latitude 33 Bookstore next Saturday, May 14, at 4 p.m. Warner will be joined by Chef Ross Harris.

They will be providing gluten-free snacks and wine.

Dieting can be difficult, but nutritionist Warner lays out a 7-day meal plan that makes going gluten-free surprisingly simple, and chef Harris delivers gourmet meals that guarantee weight loss. Inside, you’ll find 200 recipes that taste so good you won’t even realize you’re leaving something out.

Gluten-filled foods can derail even the best-intentioned diets, but these gourmet recipes give you the edge you need to get the weight-loss results that last. Best of all, you don’t have to give up the foods you love to get there!

Gini Warner, MA has been a clinical nutritionist for more than twenty years and works with families, individuals, and corporations in the fields of celiac disease, immune dysfunction, diabetes, osteoporosis, weight loss, and overall wellness.

Chef Ross Harris is a personal chef who prides himself on giving his clients the choice of traditional or gluten-free ingredients.

Visit www.healthbygini.com for more information.

The Public Trough



Asada Laguna and Starfish…Stay Tuned!

I will be interviewing Scott McIntosh (Asada Laguna) and Nancy Wilhelm (Starfish) today and Monday, respectively.

McIntosh, the former Chief Operating Officer of Claim Jumper and co-founder of Nick’s, plans to deliver a fun “polished casual” Mexican restaurant with “custom dishes, awesome drinks, killer margaritas and tequila selections, great beer selection, custom music and sound, and exceptional views.”

Wilhelm, who also owns top Zagat-rated Tabu Grill, plans on opening her new “AmerAsian” fusion concept in early June. The restaurant will be located in the Aliso Creek Shopping Center across from the Montage Resort – and will be open for lunch and dinner daily at 11 am.

Stay tuned for next Friday’s edition – which will include in-depth stories on both new restaurants!


Sing Your Heart Out: Karaoke in Laguna

I’ve been known to moonlight as a singer in a local rock n roll band. Interestingly, I was first “discovered” while karaoking at a dive bar in Newport Beach. The owner offered me a paying gig – and the rest is history. My musical partner and I are just finishing up our first CD and we will be singing at the Sawdust Festival this summer.

Although certainly not like it is in LA – where bars like the Brass Monkey, Gas Lite, and Dimples are open 7 days a week for the sole purpose of karaoke – karaoke is on the upswing here in Orange County, and specifically in Laguna Beach.

Here in town, karaoke is available five nights per week (Sunday-Thursday) at the following spots:

Sunday: Ocean Avenue Brewery from 9:30 to 1 a.m. Food served until 10 p.m. Hosted by Giovanni.

Monday & Tuesday: Bounce from 9 to 1:30 a.m. Hosted by Peggy Lee. Also great spot for dancing.

Wednesday: Ocean Avenue Brewery from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Food served until 10. Hosted by Giovanni.

Thursday: Hennessey’s Tavern from 9 to 2 a.m. Food served until 11 pm. Hosted by Lucas/DJ Selecta.


Downtown Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream Shop for Sale

A recent BizBen.com query indicates that Laguna’s Haagen-Dazs shop (downtown next to the movie theater) is now for sale.

The shop was established in 1979 and has been under its current ownership since 2001. The building is approximately 535 square feet, and includes one walk-in freezer, two dipping cabinets, one walk-in refrigerator, one under counter refrigerator, one tabletop yogurt machine, and one cake display freezer.

The asking price is $150,000 with an additional transfer fee of $10,000. The current rent is $3,000/month. Adjusted net revenue for 2010 was $60,000. Potential buyers must complete a standard Haagen-Dazs application and be financially approved (net worth of at least $200,000 and minimum of $80,000 in liquid assets), as well as complete an in-person interview and 10-day training course in Minneapolis with the Haagen-Dazs Shops team.

Laguna Stew recipe of the week

Maro Wood Grill


Recipe Photo

This recipe is kindly shared by Maro Wood Grill Executive Chef Debra Sims.

1 cup water
1 tablespoon coarse Sonoma Sea Salt
1 cup organic Italian Parsley, finely chopped
2/3 cup organic Oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup organic Red Onion, finely chopped
1 head of organic Garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoon Argetinean Aji (or Crushed Red Pepper Flakes)
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup California Olive Oil

Step 1: Make the “Salmuera”  . . . . add the water and salt to a small sauce
pan. As soon as the water begins to boil, turn it off and cool completely.
Step 2: Combine the chopped Parlsey, Oregano, Red Onion, and Garlic.
Step 3: Add the Aji and the Red Wine Vinegar.  Stir until well incorporated.
Step 4: Add the Olive Oil.  Stir until well incorporated.
Step 5: Add the cooled “Salmuera”.  Stir until well incorporated.
Step 6: Serve with delicious Grilled California Grass Fed Beef.

Real Burgers in Laguna - 101


Comfort Food Correspondent

This is about as close to a veggie burger as I get…

Holy Hangover Photo

From holyhangover.com – the caption there said these girls were curing theirs by eating Jumbo Jacks with cheese and no meat…


I was supposed to have this issue off. Then I logged on to StuNewsLaguna this morning and, voila, I see that Shaena Stabler wrote about veggie burgers! Now no self-respecting “comfort food correspondent” can handle that without getting her eleven cents in!

I love burgers – really love a good burger and thank goodness this burg has a plethora of tasty examples of the burger art – a festival of patties and buns.

I could list my choices but for now, let’s just be satisfied with my saying that one stands in a class of its own as Laguna’s only drive thru burger place.

Jack-In-The Box Sometimes a girl doesn’t feel like gussying up and looking her best just to shut down her hunger pangs. That’s when you need to stay out of sight with just a scarf or a hat in a pair of grubbies of some sort – and sunglasses. I adore Jumbo Jacks - with the meat. They’re just $1.69 and you can add cheese for 40 cents.

Let me say something poignant – or as close to poignant as a crabby ole broad like me can get.

Shaena is, well, have you ever seen her? She is in great shape and as pretty as a picture with healthy skin. Sure, she loves veggie burgers and if I had it all to do over again and knew how to be healthy, I would probably have substituted a veggie burger one out of, say, every five or six burgers that I have eaten. (There was a time back when that ratio would have meant one every other day!)

The way I see it, Miss Shaena has given me a challenge.

So, next week, count on it, Miss Fonda will be building burgers all over town and I’ll write about ‘em for you pretties out there.

Maro Wood Grill

Maggi Henrikson


Maro Wood Grill, opened just last January, attracts a local neighborhood following of nearly cult proportions.  That loyal following probably does not want word to get out, but don’t blame Laguna Stew.  Word is no doubt already spreading by smoke signal from the sizzling aroma of steaks grilling on a blazing wood fire.

Maro Photo

Photos by Maggi

Fresh ingredients and natural wood fire combine under the knowledgeable hands of executive chef, Debra Sims.  Formerly of Ritual Supper Club in LA, and also a trained pastry chef, Debra enjoys an eclectic approach to menu planning.  “We shop every week at the Farmer’s Market, right here in town.  We partner with regional farms to get the freshest meats.  And we like to change the menu daily with different grill aspects.”

How about grilled watermelon?  “Some people thought it was tuna steaks on the grill!  We found that grilling caramelized the melon with a smoky sweetness that just explodes in your mouth.”  She has paired that with fresh lettuces and feta cheese for a lively salad with sesame ginger dressing.

Maro Photo 2The menu changes daily at Maro Wood Grill and guests are encouraged to check the day’s specials as well as reservations at marowoodgrill.com.

Small and chic like a European café, Maro Wood Grill has seating in front of the kitchen fire grill, similar to that at a chef’s table; enjoying life while you are also welcome to watch and learn.  Watch Debra at work on the day’s specials, or chat it up with your neighbor.

The very congenial atmosphere includes counter seating as well as two private tables.  With outdoor dining available on the deck, the cozy space provides seating for just 17-20.  They take reservations for two seatings per night (6 and 8), assuring you of an intimate environment, including a stylish and warm firepit on the deck, and amiable grill-master, Maro, heading up the sizzle factor at the wood fire.

“It’s like inviting 40 good friends to dinner”, says owner Maro Molteni.

Maro earned his restaurant chops in New York City, at the Tapas Bar, but more importantly he retains his cultural upbringing in Argentina by relishing in all things seared over an open fire.  Skirt steaks grilled to tender perfection are what he oversees on Maro Wood Grill’s coals. “We are careful not to use spices to overpower the beef and chicken.  The wood-smoke flavor comes through and we use the Chimichurri to season it”.

Chimichurri is a typical Argentine blend of fresh herbs, spices and vegetables that add a kick and counter balance to the tender grilled skirt steak.  Many of Maro Grill’s fans have requested to purchase the delicious condiment, but both Maro and Debra agree that the amount of chopping and prep time required are just too labor-intensive to price it for the take-out market.  (Maro Grill was kind enough to share the recipe with Laguna Stew).

Maro Grill does handle some take-out orders (though nothing at all like previous tenants A La Carte), and they do catering.

On Thursday through Saturday nights there is a prix-fixe menu including soup, empanada, salad, main course and dessert.  Closed Mondays, you can expect a variety of eclectic menu options for both lunch and dinner the rest of the week.  For example, this week they were featuring a Lebanese-inspired menu with Kabobs and fresh hummus.  Fridays will often feature seafood dishes, like their bacon-wrapped scallops and fresh bouillabaisse.

Desserts are not to be missed, with velvety angel food cakes and pastries with grilled bananas sweetening the deal.

There is a selection of wines from California and Argentina, Stone Brewery beer from Escondido and even an Argentine beer (who knew?).

Maro Grill, open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday from noon until 8 p.m.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday, lunch from noon - 3, and Prix-Fixe dinner menu from six o’clock until midnight, with seatings at 6 and 8 p.m.

Laguna Stew recipe of the week

Lumberyard Restaurant Roasted Tomato Bisque


3lbs  Plum Tomatoes, halved, roasted with olive oil, kosher salt (canned may be substituted)

2oz fresh garlic, minced

2/3 cup lemon juice

1 lb roasted red peppers (peeled and minced)

2 cups tomato juice

1/3 cup tomato paste

½ cup sugar

4 oz fresh basil leaves

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

Blend above ingredients until smooth

1-½ lbs cauliflower

2-½ cups vegetable broth

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ cup sugar

3 cups cream (milk, low fat milk or soy milk may be substituted)

Steam cauliflower until soft, combine with vegetable broth salt, pepper and sugar.  Blend until smooth – stir in tomato basil mixture and cream – heat soup to simmer and serve.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Lynette Brasfield is our Features Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Maggi Henrikson is our Contributing Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster.

Katie Ford is our Ad Designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Cameron Gillespie, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are the staff photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Account & Instagram Manager.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising


Email: Lynette@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc.