Jody Robinson - Sorbet
Jody Robinson

Jody Robinson

180blu offers inventive dishes, hand-crafted cocktails and unparalleled, awe-inspiring views

Here in South Orange County, we’re pretty lucky to live so close to the coast and have an abundance of wonderful dining destinations to choose from. But for inventive cuisine coupled with awe-inspiring ocean views, there are few establishments that rival 180blu. Located in The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel - the aptly named 180blu boasts an outdoor lounge/deck situated 150 feet above Salt Creek Beach, defined by breathtaking 180 degrees of blue sky and clear blue ocean water.

180blu’s culinary offerings showcases Pan-Latin Coastal Cuisine prepared with sustainable seafood, local produce, natural and organic meat. Acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval’s signature Latin flavors define the seasonal menu which draws inspiration from California and Asian cuisines.

The dining destinations at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel have long been favorites for special occasions, date nights and girls’ night out - the service here is what you’d expect of The Ritz-Carlton and consistently so: Attentive yet unobtrusive, professional, yet casually friendly. And 180blu is THE perfect locale to find yourself at happy hour - for the food, the handcrafted cocktails and the spectacular sunsets.

The menu here is characterized by refreshing hand-crafted beverages (watch Mixologist Erin Snider demonstrate how to make Tequila Sangria, one of the specialty drinks served here), small plates (our favorite here is the Wild Mushroom Huarache - a variation on flatbread piled with wild mushroom, caramelized onion, black bean, goat cheese and truffle oil), sushi (on Friday and Saturday from 6 pm to 9 pm) and desserts. Bonus! Weather permitting, live music Thursday through Sunday from 6 pm - 9 pm.

Other popular small plates include the lobster tacos (enhanced by chile de arbol salsa) and baby kale salad tossed with date, Spanish manchego cheese, roasted beet, toasted almond and a sherry guajillo vinaigrette.


The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is located at 1 Ritz Carlton Drive in Dana Point. For more information, call (949) 240-2000.

Many years ago, a manager I had said something to me that I’ve never forgotten: “That good customer service isn’t simply the absence of bad customer service.” In today’s retail environment, it sometimes seems a challenge to find businesses that consistently adhere to that adage. Perhaps the ever increasing reliance on technology is to blame; people come face to face less. Perhaps there is more traffic, or more days feel like Mondays, and the attitude of service gets shifted to one of self-reliance. Perhaps the customer has learned to expect outstanding customer service, so it’s just harder to please everyone who walks through the door.

Dennis Penman, owner of the San Juan Capistrano-based Sanctuary Home Furnishings by Renaissance thinks that good customer service is more than just making clients satisfied, he wants them happy. Dennis believes that happiness will translate into repeat customers and positive, word of mouth referrals.
The transformation from sales associate to partner, and partner to owner may have something to do with Dennis’ dedication to his clients. But simple ownership is never the full story.

“I have always been a people pleaser,” says Dennis. “Just ask my friends - I’m a guy they can turn to for help with whatever. All my jobs have been in a customer service field. I like the feeling when I know I have done the customer right, whether it’s guiding them on sizing, color and style to providing the lowest price.

“I found my way to Renaissance Home Furnishings in 2003 when the business was just two and a half years old. I fell in love with the business as each day presented new opportunity to help others and be creative. Nearly 15 years later, my favorite parts of the business are still creating new looks to keep up with the shifting trends of home décor and ensuring customers are happy.

“This month, with the immense assistance of my design and sales team we have completely redesigned our 11,000-square-foot showroom starting with our new name Sanctuary Home Furnishings by Renaissance. “We started in San Juan Capistrano, and now we’re coming home - to help local home owners design their home to reflect their personality.”

Growing up in Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Laguna Niguel and now residing in Capistrano Beach gives Dennis a unique perspective on local taste and expected quality. Renaissance Home Furnishings has long been known for their Mediterranean and Spanish Tuscan flair but as trends have shifted and Renaissance becomes Sanctuary Home Furnishings by Renaissance Sanctuary can now help the Spanish Tuscan homes bring in a cleaner Coastal Transitional feel without requiring a home remodel. “For all the new homes in Rancho Viejo our look is perfect- we can help their homes look like the models.”

Not ironic too, that the heart of the coastal transitional design trend is the word refuge; a perfect synonym for sanctuary. A safe place to rest one’s head.

“The showroom has an abundance of sofas, sectionals, accent chairs, media chests, accent pieces, bedroom suites, art, mirrors, area rugs and accessories,” says Dennis. “Most everything on the showroom floor can be delivered straight to the customer’s home.”

Having three local manufacturers at its disposal helps immensely. In two to three weeks, Sanctuary can customize, to the inch, a sofa, sectional, or chair to the scale and color palette of the client’s home.
“We can fit any room, in any scale and in any fabric color.”

Sanctuary tries to make the customers shopping and buying experience relaxing and not intimidating. At their store they allow clients to come in and peruse without being tracked throughout the store by a “suit with a clipboard.” They want you to take your time, “tush test the seating”, and know the designer is available yet not hovering. Sanctuary offers piece of mind shopping by allowing customers to memo out products they like but aren’t sure it will work in their home they can check out the item(s) to see them in their homes before purchasing.

Most stores would like to be known for low prices but they offer poor quality goods. Sanctuary wants to be known for quality furnishings at low prices. “I think what really sets us apart is our quality, pricing and the ability we have to work with our clients on every level, from design to customization to installation all at low pricing.” Often, Sanctuary Home Furnishings is lower priced than online but if not they will match the price you find.

Nowadays, that elusive “good customer service” typically goes hand in hand with a commissioned sales force. Motivated by the sale, associates will bend over backwards for their clients. Not necessarily bad for the customer, unless the customer isn’t ready to buy.

“We understand that sometimes it takes a little back and forth to make decisions about your home - you may have these furnishings for the next ten or fifteen or twenty years,” says Dennis. “We want to make the process as easy as if you had the choice to redesign every calendar year.” No pressure, with a non-commissioned sales force. Dennis wants every customer to be helped by any available person at anytime - before, during or after the purchase.

As I shared earlier in this edition, one of the perks of publishing South County Magazine is that I am provided a venue to share with our readership personal experiences of local business owners whose services I have utilized either personally or professionally. Our introduced a furry new addition to our home last year - a beautiful and rambunctious yellow lab puppy named Bella who prompted wreaked havoc with the wooden legs of the barstools, the couch cushions and the coffee table. When she started to mellow out on the chewing phase a few months later, we surveyed the damage and determined that it might be time to redecorate. As luck would have it, we happen to know a local purveyor of fine furniture and home accents at affordable prices - yep, you guessed it … Dennis Penman and his team at Sanctuary Home Furnishings couldn’t have made the process any easier. Dennis made recommendations based on the colors scheme and general style I said I was looking for and I literally walked out in less than an hour with an delivery date on the calendar. When the pieces arrived, his crew set everything up, hauled the old items out to the garage and voila! … the room was back to being a beautiful space in spite of our pup’s best efforts.

That same manager I had years back told me one other thing that has stuck around all these years. That we were in the business where the word “no” didn’t exist. You can find that adage anywhere you look at Sanctuary Home Furnishings. As Dennis puts it: “Yes. That is all we try to say.”


Sanctuary Home Furnishings is located at 31896 Plaza Drive, Suite E-7 in San Juan Capistrano. Connect with Dennis and his team by calling (949) 248-9772 or visit www.sanctuaryhf.com

ThomasThomas is an eight year old sweetie who is finally ready to settle down. A gentle and mild-mannered cat, he enjoys spending his afternoons lounging on a sunny window sill or birdwatching. Thomas has an adorable and quirky personality and would make a great companion for almost anyone.

 

 

 

 

GumboFour year old Gumbo is a happy guy who just loves to make new friends.  Full of energy and a fun personality, he enjoys going on walks and playing with his canine buddies in the yard.  If you’re looking for an all-around great dog, Gumbo might just be your perfect match!

 

 

 

 

BurberrySweet little Burberry is a great dog on so many levels.  At four years old, he has a patient and gentle personality while still loving to run around and have fun.  Burberry is potty-trained and would get along well with family members of any age!

 

 

 

 

CuddlesWhen it comes being friendly, no one can beat six year old Cuddles.  As her name suggests, she is very affectionate and playful and doesn’t mind a good snuggle after an energetic game of catch the mouse toy.  Give her a chance and she’s sure to win you over with her winning personality.

 

 

 

If you would like to know more about the animals listed here, please call the San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter at (949)492-1617, or visit with them at 221 Avenida Fabricante, San Clemente.

Kristy Fleming, MD, FAAD. Changing the Face of Dermatology

It takes a trained eye to note the subtle shading needed to contour a surfboard. To taper the rails just so. To send the airbrush lightly over the fin box and trace the shape perfectly, symmetrically, precisely. It takes a trained eye to paint the female form, to counter shadow and shape until a living woman appears on the page. It takes a trained eye to dive below what William Asbury called the “large-scale manifestations of classical biology” to the molecular plane below. For Kristy Fleming, MD, each of those became immediately necessary and tangential to another when she discovered that skin cancer often occurs in cosmetically sensitive areas that take a nuanced hand to repair. “My specialty is repairing the defect left by the removal of cancer. Each one is unique, a puzzle to solve in order to give my patients the absolute best cosmetic outcome.”

A board-certified dermatologist and fellow of the American Society for Mohs Surgery, Dr. Fleming has been preparing for this task her entire life. An attendee of the University of San Francisco, Kristy graduated summa cum laude, moving on to the University of California, Irvine - where Alpha Omega Alpha elected her as part of their top tier graduate honor society. Not quite finished with her education, she moved to Houston, Texas for a residency in dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine.

K Headshot BandW“In my training at Baylor, and later as a faculty member at UCLA, I became accustomed to seeing very challenging cases,” says Dr. Fleming. Everything from minor skin concerns to life-threatening dermatologic disorders. Those are the cases that keep my days exciting and force me to stay current with emerging treatments.”

Treatments which have gained Dr. Fleming a dedicated patient following- one that made her transition from Newport Beach to Laguna Hills difficult. “I’ve been slow to move out of the Newport office because I didn’t want my patients to feel abandoned. I know it sounds cliche, but patients really become part of our family. And I believe our dedication to them is really what sets us apart.” Kristy’s sister also works in the office; a talented hair stylist and brow expert. Unique in their ability to provide multiple services at once, it is not uncommon to see Kristy offering Botox or filler treatments to patients waiting for their hair to set. Though the Mohs micrographic surgery allows Kristy to treat her patient’s skin cancers, its efficacy can affect a cosmetic change, and however small, the team wants to fix it all. “All procedures are performed in-house, under my hand. We don’t have nurses or physicians assistants working on our patients. I want you to know you are personally being taken care of.”

On top of skin cancer removal and cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Fleming is personally invested in the physical health of her community.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with the Orangewood Foundation to provide laser tattoo removal to victims of human trafficking,” says Dr. Fleming. “The girls are branded with large tattoos across their necks, or chests. We’re out to change that.” Kristy and her team also began a program called Fresh Start, which provides basic skin and hair care products to women and children who fled from unsafe living conditions, and are currently residing in shelters for battered women.“

Now open 5 days a week at their location in Laguna Hills, Kristy and her team are excited to become a staple in the local community, and start changing the way patients view themselves. It doesn’t take a trained eye to see the good in that.

Fleming Dermatology & Aesthetic Center is located at 23141 Moulton Parkway, Suite 110 in Laguna Hills. For information, call (949) 916-5956 or visit www.coastalhillsdermandplastics.com

 

Inventive dishes, award-winning cuisine and stellar service make this intimate OC steakhouse a standout

Whether your tastes run to dishes influenced by exotic culinary spices or dishes that tend toward simpler, seasoned fare, there is certainly no shortage of diverse dining destinations from which to choose here in South Orange County. But if you’re looking for inventive cuisine coupled with exemplary service in the spirit of a time-honored classic American steakhouse, there are but a handful worth writing home about.

The elegant enoSTEAK (located in the gorgeous Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel) harkens back to an earlier era - a time steeped in tradition and attention to detail in everything from its interior design and decor to its exquisite culinary offerings and expansive list of highly-rated California vintages (on impressive display as the centerpiece of the dining room is a floor-to-ceiling glass wine cellar). The restaurant’s interior is defined by rich wood, marble flooring, upholstered furnishings and accented by artwork by critically acclaimed painter Sandra Jones Campbell.

On a recent date night, my husband, Tim, and I reserved a table next to the crackling fireplace to indulge in a glass or two of fine wine and each course of beautifully presented, delicious dishes made from the highest quality ingredients … including what are arguably among the best steaks in Orange County featuring prime and grass-fed, pasture-raised beef. The organic produce is locally grown and harvested at the peak of the season. The majority of the herbs used to enhance each specialty appetizer and entree are gathered from the resort’s organic garden. The fish is sustainable and either farm raised or pole/troll caught. enoSTEAK also highlights artisanal cheeses, charcuterie and of course, the aforementioned selection of fine wines.

The menu changes are based on the essence of the season. enoSTEAK’s spring menu - which debuted the night we visited last month - features noteworthy starters, including the decadent crispy brie accompanied by a jalapeño bacon jam, strawberry and pistachio lightly drizzled with balsamic, the Cali onion soup was flavorfully rich with sherry, crouton, San Geronimo, Sonoma Jack cheese and topped with crispy shallots.

Our server Christian recommended that we sample with the chef’s signature spring pea salad. Now I fancy myself somewhat of a salad connoisseur and as such, was expecting it might fall short of expectation. But I have to say, Chef nailed it with what is now be my new favorite salad - which combines micro greens and fresh-from-the-garden peas with toasted almonds, feta and carrot atop an aromatic arugula pesto.

A meat-and-potatoes man, my husband chose the filet mignon and while I typically steer toward seafood selections, opted instead for the Wagyu NY steak prepared Oscar-style with dungeness crab, asparagus and bearnaise – again at Christian’s suggestion. Both of our steaks were grilled to perfection and literally melted in our mouths.

Showcased entrees range from a dry-aged prime ribeye chop, grass-fed filet and coffee-rubbed Wagyu NY Steak (a more marbled cut than the filet) to pan-seared sea bass and Mary’s farm fried half chicken. Accompanying the handcrafted meats and seafood are a selection of five signature compound butters including creamy horseradish, garden herb and garlic/truffle butter, cognac green peppercorn, béarnaise and enoSTK sauce. Enhancements to the entrees include sherry cream sauteed mushrooms, truffled white cheddar cavateli (the chef’s inspired spin on “mac and cheese), Yukon potato mash and creamed corn.

With enoSTEAK, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel has certainly raised the bar for destination dining in the region and for our part, we can’t wait to visit again and experience what will undoubtedly be an equally-inspired summer menu.

Open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, enoSTEAK is located in The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel at One Ritz Carlton Drive in Dana Point. For more information or reservations, please call (949) 240-2000 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com/lagunaniguel

When I was a child, I remember my parents moving our family into a new house, with pristine, white carpets. Beautiful to look at, but completely impractical when you consider that two young children would soon be tromping about.

As expected, my brother and I managed to ruin a swath of the floor covering in spectacular fashion … and in relatively short order. Enough so that it was replaced with a more manageable shade. Had my parents discovered the benefits of professional carpet cleaning services like those offered by the Laguna Niguel-based Beacon Carpet Cleaning, they certainly would have been better able to keep their flooring, countertops and upholstery from looking like they’d survived the tornado of their kids.

Ken and Linda Rogers, who founded Beacon in 1988, originally intended to simply find something they could do side-by-side. Both having spent their careers in various customer service oriented businesses, and searching for an opportunity to branch out, they decided upon carpet cleaning. In the years since, the couple and their longtime staff “family” have set the standard in residential and commercial carpet cleaning across Orange County.

An IICRC, Wools of New Zealand and Carpet and Rug Institute certified firm, Beacon takes the process of education to the next level, ensuring their team of professionals are trained to an unprecedented degree of sharpness and quality. The Master and Journeyman Certifications, highest available in the carpet cleaning industry, ensure that Ken and Linda’s customers enjoy a necessary service given by a trustworthy crew.

Premium Carpet CleaningPremium Carpet CleaningFast forward (a few) years and I’m now a grown-up with kids of my own. By pure happenstance, our family inherited the gorgeous off-white carpeting that came with the home we purchased a few years ago. Add the happy fact that our abode has been the scene of many an afternoon play date and the recent addition of a new puppy and you can probably imagine the toll the carpets have taken. But unlike my parents, I have long recognized the importance of calling in the experts - well before the point of no return.

When we called Beacon Carpet Cleaning, Ken personally came out to give us an estimate. In utilizing their services, I can confidently share that he, Linda and their crew - many of whom have been with the company for over a decade - are not only highly professional, but are among the nicest people in the business. They did a great job and given that our kids and pup are still young, we’ll very likely be calling on Beacon again in the not-to-distant future.

Maintaining one’s floors, showers, countertops, upholstery, rugs, mattresses, and other areas around the home can be overwhelming: with or without children running amok. Since its inception, Beacon evolved to encompass a complementary business - Marblelife Stone and Tile Restoration with the goal of engaging its clients on as many surfaces as possible. Beacon providing protectants and cleaning services for almost anything you can think of: your Grandmother’s antique Oriental rug to yacht and boat cleaning in the harbors of Orange County.

“Each of these surfaces work together to create a cherished expression of your identity, dreams, and values,” says Ken. “It’s a unique space to celebrate with friends, or just to enjoy time by yourself. We can meet you in that space and help you protect what you invested in, keeping it looking its best for as long as possible.”


IMG 0642Beacon Carpet Cleaning and Marblelife is located at 27665 Forbes Road in Laguna Niguel. To connect with Ken and Linda, call (949) 525-4742 or visit www.beaconcarpetcleaning.com or www.marblelife.com

JaxThis handsome guy is Jax, a 1 ½ year old Great Dane mix looking for a new start in life. Before coming to the shelter, Jax was shuffled through multiple short-term homes and never quite got the chance to truly belong anywhere.  Now, he’s ready to become a permanent fixture in an active household where he can really thrive.  Could Jax be the match for you?

 

 

 

FondueOne year old Fondue is a happy little guy with a quirky personality to match.  He enjoys outdoor activities and playing with his canine pals.  Full of energy, Fondue is looking to find someone who loves to have as much fun as he does!

 

 

 

 

MitsyMitsy is a big kitty with an even bigger personality.  Her general hobbies include sunbathing, playing with toys, and ruling over everything in her cat domain.  Mitsy would make a great companion and would do best as the only cat in a home where she can be the center of attention.

 

 

 

 

MatzoFive year old Matzo is a well-mannered canine who would make great addition to the family! Matzo loves to go for walks and run around and play in the yard with his other dog friends. He has a friendly personality, is well potty-trained, and would be good in a home with other dogs or kids.

 

 

 

If you would like to know more about the animals listed here, please call the San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter at (949)492-1617, or visit with them at 221 Avenida Fabricante, San Clemente.

Call me old fashioned, but I believe that physical photos are a medium worth preserving. When I recently sat down to put together my daughter’s baby book, I thought of how printed images might at times seem like a thing of the past. But then I can’t imagine showing off my family photos by scrolling through all the images I posted to Facebook once upon a time.

Diana Schmitt of the San Juan Capistrano-based Accents Portraits by Diana understands the desire for individuals and families to preserve their most precious memories in more than merely a digital format. She has spent the better part of 30 years specializing in family portraits, wedding photos and capturing the most priceless of moments in all types of life celebrations.

With nearly 30 years of experience, Diana’s focus is families, and she always aims to deliver “extraordinary customer service.”

“Diana is amazing,” says Heidi Hitt. “She has taken so many special pictures over the years for me and my family. They all turn out so beautifully. I am so blessed to have someone I can trust to help me capture special moments in time. Everybody loves when we send out our Christmas cards; they can’t believe how beautiful the pictures are. Thank you Diana for all the beautiful memories.”


Accent Portraits by Diana and San Juan Photo and Digital is located at 32281 Camino Capistrano,
Suite C-104 in SJC. They can be reached at (949) 661-6465 or online at
www.accentportraitsbydiana.com

April 3, 2017 in Segerstrom Hall

Segerstrom Center for the Arts welcomes back legendary composer and performer YANNI in a special appearance during An Evening In Conversation With Yanni and his Piano on Monday, April 3, 2017 in Segerstrom Hall. On his upcoming tour, YANNI, one of the most celebrated composers and multi-gold and platinum-selling artists of our time will provide fans with the unprecedented opportunity to talk with him directly. For decades, YANNI has thrilled audiences worldwide with his dynamic live performances.

Now, for the first time, he is stepping off the concert stage to give his fans the chance to interact with him on a more intimate and personal level. Rather than having the backing of an orchestra, this tour will feature YANNI and his piano, which he will play from time to time throughout the show. YANNI will share his experiences traveling the globe, insight into his creative process, his understanding and interaction with cultures from around the world, and his experience planning and performing in mega shows in some of the most revered places on earth. Fans will be encouraged to ask any question that is on their mind.

Single tickets start at $59 and are available online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787. For inquiries about group ticket savings for 10 or more, call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236.

bootsBoots is a 10 year old kitty looking for a new lease on life.  Don’t let her age fool you; This little lady is full of life and just loves having company!  While she does get along well with other cats, Boots’ favorite pastime is spending the afternoon in the lap of a friendly human.  She would make a spectacular companion for someone looking for some real one-on-one time.

 

 

 

cindySeven year old Cindy is quite the little sweetheart.  She absolutely loves to be around people and will happily climb into your lap if given the chance. With a mellow personality and lovable charm, Cindy is sure to win your heart!

 

 

 

 

merlynMerlin is a blue-eyed Dutch neutered male rabbit. One of several hundred rabbits brought into the OC Shelter from a single residence, Merlin was transferred to the San Clemente Dana Point Animal Shelter as part of A Rescue Mission program.  Though he can sometimes be a bit shy to start, he’s actually a very sweet bunny who loves getting pets and cuddles. Merlin is a well-mannered rabbit with excellent litter box habits and would be a great bunny for a first-time owner!

 

 

caviarThis little cutie is Caviar, a 2 year old Miniature Pinscher mix ready to be your very best friend!  She is very friendly and always on the lookout for a comfy lap to sit in.  With her happy mild-mannered personality, Caviar would make a great pet for family members of all ages.

 

 

 

If you would like to know more about the animals listed here, please call the San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter at (949)492-1617, or visit with them at 221 Avenida Fabricante, San Clemente.

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