Though Colleen is the true Orange County fan amongst the two of us (and I blame her for getting me hooked on “The O.C.” by luring me to her house during showtime with orange cocktails), I’m the one who found herself on the SoCal coast last week for a business trip. And after a tiring day of telling people what to do media training, what is more relaxing than a glass of bubbly and some cheese? Luckily, my colleagues and I discovered a fantastic restaurant where we could do just that – the Watermarc Restaurant in Laguna Beach.
We actually had no idea we were entering one of Orange County’s hippest dining destinations when we entered the restaurant. We were just hungry and the menu looked good – especially the list of “grazing plates” (aka tapas) along the left-hand column. Happily, several of these small plates featured cheese, and it would have been a hard decision had it not been for these three words describing the first dish: fried. goat. cheese. Yep, I’m done.
Laura Chenel’s Chèvre (California made, of course) oozed out of its crispy coating when you cut each ball with your knife, mixing with the sticky honey on the plate and creating the sweetest possible bite when combined with the crunch of the apple. This is what Joey Tribbiani’s “fried stuff with cheese” taken to a level the sandwich-loving character would never appreciate. The smoothness of the chevre made it seem like it was almost whipped, and the fried bits on the exterior were very flavorful without feeling heavy or greasy. If you’re going to fry cheese, this is the way to do it.
Now I’m hoping I’ll have another business trip soon so I can try the Watermarc’s version of caprese with burrata, the blue cheese pear tart and the artisan cheese plate. Or if the chef wants to open a Minneapolis branch, I wouldn’t be opposed. I can even recommend a local goat cheese to use.