Time for a staycation! This year I have embarked on some pretty diverse travels abroad. When I come back home, I see my hometown of Southern California from a whole new perspective. It makes me realize all the things I have right in my own backyard that sometimes only tourists fully appreciate!
In the latest vlog, I venture to visit the City of the Arts, Costa Mesa, which is the center point of all the action in Orange County. I am talking about foodie spots like Michelin Star ranked tacos and authentic Cuban food, beaches, shopping, theater, and concerts - all within a stone's throw from the airport.
City of the Arts!
They don't call it City of the Arts for nothing! Costa Mesa has everything from world-class theater, shows, and concerts at the Segerstrom. We grab tickets to Miss Saigon, a legendary musical theater production and love story between a geisha and American GI set in Vietnam. The show was dramatic and entertaining- what a fantastic way to kick off a Friday evening!
Shopping Til You Drop!
Costa Mesa is the epicenter of the best shopping on the West Coast! The city offers two very different shopping experiences. First, we visit the South Coast Plaza, which is world renowned for designer shopping. Next we visit The Lab Anti Mall, a funky shopping district located a few blocks from South Coast Plaza, with eclectic handmade goods, artisanal shops, and art installations.
Time for a Mid-Day Espresso!
We visit Portola Coffee Lab and Vitaly (below) for the best lattes and coffee in town. This time we try the matcha and turmeric lattes.
Taco Tuesday - err, Taco EVERYDAY!
For Michelin Star ranked tacos, we try Taco Maria which is known for creative tacos with handmade blue corn tortillas. Below are the savory mole pollo tacos!
If you want to check out the best of Costa Mesa's food scene (including Habana - below) in an exclusive tasting event, check out Taste coming up October 18th and 19th! We visited last year, and it was a blast and featured live chef cooking demonstrations and creative tasters from the top restaurants. Be sure to arrive hungry and thirsty!
Cheers to the Weekend!
Brunch is one of the best times to visit Costa Mesa. We try Toast, which is known for their fun drink menu, including the OC Juice Cleanse (below) which is sparkling wine with a watermelon paleta!
Hiking and Biking Trails:
To walk off all the delicious food, it's time to do something active! We rent bikes at The Cyclist and ride along Costa Mesa's neighborhoods and parks. The ocean and Newport Back Bay are only a ten minute bike ride away!
Where to Stay:
Whether you are visiting OC for work or play, Costa Mesa truly has everything that makes Orange County a great place to visit (or live!). It is a a few minutes from John Wayne Airport and close to nearby beaches and theme parks.
We recommend staying at the Avenue of the Arts Hotel, which is a four diamond awarded hotel with the comfiest beds and pleasant hospitality. It is located across from the Segerstrom and within walking distance to South Costa Plaza.
The Tiburon Peninsula offers a peaceful and scenic escape from the urban life of San Francisco. Tiburon began as a railroad town shipping freight to San Francisco and is now one of the most sought after locations in the Bay Area. This charming bayside town is located only 20 minutes from San Francisco by ferry or about thirty minutes by car, and is tucked away from freeway and bustling city life.
In this vlog, we spend the weekend in Tiburon to show you the best views, foodie spots, and hidden gems in Tiburon!
Views Upon Views
Tiburon is known for its spectacular views of Angel Island, San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge and Mt. Tamalpais. Almost everywhere you look, you will see views upon views.
Angel Island State Park
Known as one of the hidden gems in the Bay Area, Angel Island State Park is in the city of Tiburon and reachable by a 12 minute ferry ride. The island offers a natural setting filled with sweeping 360 degree San Francisco views, bike trails, camping, and history. The island previously served as the Immigration Station (Ellis Island of the West) where over 1 million people passed through to America.
Beaches, Beaches, and more Beaches
Angel Island is an island after all, so that means beaches! The beaches are untouched, and while the water is chilly, it is clear, turquoise and perfect for sailing. And yes, this is located only a few miles from Downtown San Francisco.
Main Street - A Foodie Mecca
A trip to the Bay Area is not complete without a satisfying and savory bowl of cioppino, a seafood stew in tomato broth. Sam's Cafe is the perfect spot to enjoy this Bay Area delight with views of San Francisco in the background.
Running and Hiking
Tiburon hosts the Tiburon 10K and Half Marathon in late September, a race that offers a stunning coastal course that goes along the Bay, with fresh ocean air, and a family friendly atmosphere.
Beer and Hiking
To top off our trip to Tiburon, we grab a local beer at Waypoint Pizza and hit the St. Hilary Trail atop the hills of Tiburon for aerial views of the Bay. We even spot the Golden Gate Bridge from the top!
Whether you are in Tiburon for a day trip or for the weekend, you will feel truly rejuvenated after spending time in this serene setting. We hope you get a chance to visit the quaint waterfront escape of Tiburon. It truly is a great city escape!
One of the highlights of visiting Malaysia is being able to indulge in the cuisine. Because of Malaysia's geographic position and climate, the cuisine contains many unique fruits and vegetables and the cooking style draws influences from diverse regions. During our trip to Borneo, we explored open markets, food stalls, local coffee shops and restaurants.
Malaysia's cuisine has been shaped by many generations and culinary ideas and ingredients shared from the surrounding regions. Some dishes such as mee goreng (fried noodles), satay and nasi goreng (fried rice) are internationally known. While in Borneo, we found the "fried bee hoon" to be quite popular and the seafood salad wrapped in banana leaf was a delight!
Is Malaysian Food Spicy?
The food is known to be spicy due to the liberal use of locally grown chilies. However, they vary in size and taste (some are mild, others hot). Belacan is a shrimp paste which is pressed into a block and sun-dried. Although very pungent while in a raw state, when it is cooked the aroma mellows and a depth of flavor to a dish is the result.
Coconut is another typical feature of Malaysian cuisine. All parts of the coconut are used in cooking; water, oil and milk. They are used in savory noodle soups and sweet coconut crepe deserts. There is also nothing more refreshing on a hot day than a tasty coconut beverage.
The tasty vegetables that you will typically find in the markets are amaranth (bayam), bean sprouts (taugeh), brinjals (terung), bitter gourd (peria), bok choi (sawi), cabbage (kobis), choy sum, cucumber (timun) but as can be seen in the open market photos, there are many more.
King of Fruits
Because of Malaysia's tropical climate, fruit is also grown year-round. Many varieties
are common such as banana, jackfruit, papaya, mango, pineapple, watermelon, and of course the king of fruit - DURIAN! You will know this fruit from miles away, as its smell can carry.
Durian is a fruit that many people love to hate or truly love. In Malaysia, it is quite popular. During our visit in July, it was not in season, but is abundant in April and May. If you want to sample the Durian without the smell of the pungent raw fruit, we recommend the freeze dried Durian which can be purchased on Amazon. The consistency is unique, and has a creamier consistency than other fruits.
Malaysian Appetizers and Deserts
Another feature of Malay food scene is kuih, which are usually bite-sized foods. Examples include sepi - crispy folded coconut-flavored wafer biscuits.
For desert, we try Kochi is a glutenous rice dumplings filled with a sweet paste, shaped into a pyramid-like and wrapped with banana leaves. We liked the sweet pancakes and fried bananas served at the open market in Serian in Southern Sarawak.
Flavors and Herbs
I have visited Malaysia and Singapore many times and noticed some differences in Sarawakian cuisine. It is less spicy, and the flavors seemed more subtle. Since it lies on the north coast of Borneo, there is an abundance of fresh seafood and natural herbs like turmeric, lemongrass, ginger, lime and tapioca leaves.
Cuisine Steeped in Traditions
During our visit to a traditional Iban longhouse, pepper was being dried in the sun. Rice is a staple and Nasi aruk is a traditional Sarawakian Malay fried rice dish. In addition to fish, chicken, pork, beef are stapes. Popular dishes in Sarawak are kolo mee, sayur midin belacan, tomato mee, linut and ayam pansuh.
Top Dish to Try!
If we have to recommend one Malaysian dish to tempt your palate it is the Laksa Sarawak. Famous travel chef, Anthony Bourdain endorsed the Laksa Sarawak, a dish with noodles served in an aromatic spiced coconut milk soup, topped with shredded chicken, omelet, bean sprouts, prawns, and garnished with coriander.
We hope you have the opportunity to travel here and experience the sights and flavors of this region.
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.