South Coast Farms Pumpkin Patch

The other Saturday Dave and I took a mini field trip down to San Juan Capistrano, in Orange County California. We went to the “pumpkin patch” hosted by the farm that we receive our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) packages from, South Coast Farms.  It is pretty amazing that just a few streets from downtown San Juan there is this farm.

At first glance, you will see a food stand with fresh produce from the farm.  Behind the produce stand was a little pumpkin patch, with various activities including making cider, a craft table and learning how to wash rags with a washstand.

The pumpkins picked varied in shape and size and a lot had really beautiful stems–which may sound odd, but a good stem really adds a special touch to a jack-o-lantern.  Dave grabbed a wheelbarrow and we picked up four pumpkins (special order for the padres) afterwards we had our turn at making cider.

Cider PressApples







The owner’s kid showed us how it worked, and we crunched up apples into mash then squeezed all the juice out. It was sooo sweet and delicious.  As we went to check out and buy the pumpkins we also picked up some apples from the produce stand.  Overall it was really fun and the house on the property was beautiful, there was also a little garden area that you could walk around that showed a natural eco-habitat for California.



Map: South Coast Farms

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Nana Jean’s in Old Town Tustin

Last week I visited David at his office in Tustin after work one day and we decided to head out for early supper.  We did not really have anywhere specific in mind but we were in Old Town Tustin, saw the sunny quiet front patio of Nana Jeans and were set. We sat down outside and ordered a cold beverage and took a look at the menu.  There were lots of umbrellas out on the patio which provided a lot of shade from the hot afternoon sun.  Looking at the menu Dave knew right away what he was going to have – a short rib grilled cheese.  I chose the veggie grilled cheese, and as far as the sides, I decided on the sweet noodle kugel and Dave, the mac ‘n cheese. Nana Jean'sNana Jean'sNana Jean's For those of you not aware, as I was until I ordered it, kugel is a sort of sweet noodle casserole (not as weird as it sounds).When our food came out the sandwiches were large and Dave’s came with a killer side of au jus.  The kugel was okay–Dave preferred more than I did which was fine because I ate the majority of his mac’n cheese. But back to the sandwiches; my veggie grilled cheese included squash, bell peppers, tomatoes and eggplant —so delicous.  Dave’s sandwich was stuffed with short rib and onions, but really it was the au jus that made the whole thing fantastic. Overall it was a nice dinner–I would be interested to go back and try some of the larger items on the menu (pork chops, lasagne, etc.) or perhaps the brunch and the location is just off El Camino Real in Old Town, which makes for a nice little walk after a satisfying meal. Enjoy, Rachell

Map: Nana Jean’s at 303 El Camino Real Tustin, CA 92780

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What to do with too many zucchinis…

Do you ever get in one of those situations where you find yourself with a bounty of one type of food (in this case zucchinis) and yet you have no motivation to actually eat it?

That’s where Dave and I were at on Wednesday.  The last two CSA baskets we have received have had an abundance of zucchinis and cucumber(but that’s another story).  Plus our one little zucchini plant has been producing like crazy! We have been slipping zucchini into everything–pasta, pizza, Asian noodles, everything. We were down to our last two (very large) zucchinis and we were out of ideas. So I did as some many others do and switched on the computer and looked up some of my favorite food blogs for ideas.  I came across two recipes that I thought could handle the job.

The first—and the one we actually had for dinner was a zucchini galette with ricotta.  An awesome vegetarian dinner option to enjoy and I am pretty sure this recipe could be adapted to fit whatever produce is in season.  The other is zucchini bread. I cannot actually remember the last time I ate let alone made zucchini bread and Dave was a little nervous about the idea too, but the results spoke for themselves and it was delicious! It is our new favorite afternoon snack.

Below are my amateur attempt at photos and recipes (with website links)

Zucchini Galette from Always with Butter 

Makes one galette –serve (2 -3)


  • 1 1/4 cups flour, chilled (in freezer for 30min)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp cold butter cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2tsp lemon juice (about 1/2 large lemon)
  • 1/4 cup ice water


  • 1 large zucchini cut into 1/4 in rounds
  • 1-2 roma tomatoes (you can add more if you want more)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 small onion cut into rings
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan
  • 1/4 c. shreded mozzarella
  • fresh or dried thyme
  • sprig or two of rosemary
  • olive oil

Pastry Prep:

  1. Whisk (cold) flour and salt, cut in butter.
  2. Mix sour cream lemon and water in bowl. Add to flour mixture until just combined (kinda like biscuits).
  3. Wrap the dough and chill for 1 hour


  1. Oven at 400 degrees
  2. Spread zucchini over a cookie sheet (or parchment paper) and sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes—or until everything is prepped.
  3. Mix ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil.
  4. Mix in the garlic , a sprinkle of thyme leaves and some roughly chopped rosemary (maybe ¼ teaspoon each). Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Roll out dough into a 12 inch round.
  6. Very important place on baking sheet before you assembled –I made that mistake and it was a very messy transition.
  7. Spread ricotta mixture over dough leaving a two inch border.
  8. Place onion, zucchini and tomato over the cheese mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and a few thyme leaves and rosemary.
  9. Fold over crust, brush with olive oil (or you could do an egg wash).
  10. Bake for 30-40 minutes until crust is set and flaky.

Such a simple supper but it is so good. The crust is flaky and the herbs and fresh veggies is amazing.

I also saved some for lunch the next day and it was fantastic! I took it out of the frig in the morning and let it come to room temperature—almost better than the night before because the cheese had the time to set and it was not as gooey as at dinner.

Dave and I are definitely going to try this one again but with more  variety in the types of veggies, maybe some swiss chard, asparagus, even potato.

Zucchini Bread from Smitten Kitchen 


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
 (one zucchini of mine was closer to 3 cups but I just threw it all in)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour ( I did 1 ½ whole wheat, 1 ½ all purpose)
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or nuts a combination thereof (I used a handful of raisins)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans, liberally (I super greased down two loaves –with Crisco ashamedly, and they came out smooth enough).
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini.
  4. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as any nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, you want to use
  5. Stir into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.
  6. Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

This is a nice alternative to dessert or a sweet snack, Dave enjoys it with a smear of almond butter.


Mama’s on 39 in Huntington Beach

Riding BikesLast Saturday, Dave and I rode our bikes to the new neighborhood restaurant Mama’s on Beach Blvd and Atlanta (in Huntington Beach).  Not knowing anything about the food or theme we headed in blind. 

Once walking in, we still couldn’t figure out what we stepped into, part sports bar, part modern, part nostalgic surfer, Mama has identity issues.  We were sat right away and our menus were printed out on paper (disposable and all). Our server greeted us right away and grabbed us coffee. When she returned she explained the menu to us.

Mama’s serves breakfast all day and has a limited lunch and dinner menu as seen on the menu.  Mama’s utilizes locally grown produce whenever possible and makes everything fresh daily.  On the front half sheet of the menu, it listed the different specialty drinks (think mimosas, blood mary’s  etc.), on the inside it listed the breakfast menu– most plates average around $10 and are on the fancy high-end of the breakfast joints we’ve visited. 

We ordered the bacon biscuits(?) with house-made strawberry jam (which was more like macerated strawberries) to start the breakfast and we ordered their bloody mary which is 32oz–so our server was nice enough to prepare it into two separate mason jars for us.  That’s the thing about Mama’s lack of identity, our food is prepared in a hip modern fashion but the drink came out in a mason jar?

Okay, now for the food…the bacon biscuits were tasty, and the food was good.  For the meal, David had the waffle sandwich literally two thin but large waffles with two fried eggs, bacon and cheese in the middle.  I had the Egg and Smoked salmon (that’s not what it was called but that sums it up) it came out prepared beautifully and for $11 I got a decent serving of smoked salmon with egg, avocado and some heirloom tomatoes on bagel with dill sauce–neither of the dishes came with sides, but it was still a lot of food (especially with the biscuits).

Like many new restaurants it was over staffed -which meant that our server was at our table every 2 minutes–which is nice for some people, but we really just wanted to enjoy our breakfast alone not with company.

Mama's in Huntington Beach
Mama's in Huntington Beach

Overall, I do not know.  The decor did not fit with the theme of the menu or with the food, and the price was a little steep.  Mama has some figuring out to do. The one plus that would make it worth stopping by again–they serve Thrifty’s ice cream in the front (8 flavors).




25 Degrees, in Huntington Beach

Two weekend’s past, a close friend of ours was coming down from Camarillo and as a little reward for turning in her final project (PACT) for her teaching credential, Dave and I decided to take her out for lunch at 25 Degrees

This was not our first time venturing to the bistro burger joint and nor will it be our last.  Located just off Main St in downtown Huntington the front of the restaurant is unassuming and inside it is a fairly simple layout except that smack in the middle is the bar. 

Since there were three of us decided on a booth and sat ourselves.  We happened to arrive at the beginning of happy hour, which varies on specialties.  We ordered a happy hour appetizer, a honey glazed, Asian version of buffalo wings, and drinks. Rebecca ordered a raspberry mojito, I had a happy hour drink called, red head in bed(citrus vodka, muddled strawberries and lemon), and Dave tried the cream soda-of which none of the ingredients are actually cream soda, but rather whiskey and vanilla vodka and some others.  

Our appetizer came out quickly, the wings were really tasty and for a ‘happy hour special’ the quantity was good.  For the main course Rebecca ordered the number two and Dave and I shared the number one, we all split an order of 50/50 fries and onion rings. 

The number two burger includes roasted tomato, crispy prosciutto, burrata cheese and pesto (Delicious!). The number one burger is topped with caramelized onion, gorgonzola, crescenza, arugula and thousand island. Dave was not a fan of the arugula but I really enjoyed it, everything combined with the hamburger was amazing. 

Now you might think we would stop after such a decadent meal–but no.  The real reason we even chose 25 degrees was because of the “spiked” shakes.  Rebecca ordered the salted caramel: vanilla ice cream, bourbon, butterscotch and sea salt. Soooo good! This is a fairly strong shake, definitely be aware if driving, you may want to relax and order a glass of water. Dave and I split a chocolate spiked shake, I forget the exact ingredients but it went something like chocolate ice cream, chocolate liqueur, bourbon, maybe something else? It was tasty, but the salted caramel was better. 

The crowd was pretty mellow, however that is not always the case, especially if the weather is nice, or its dinner time the place fills up quick.  The price is on the high end–you are paying $10 for a burger–just a burger, so the bill can creep up, but the quality of the ingredients and unique parings makes the price seem of fair value, and they do have items that will not hurt the wallet (including $2 pbr in a can).



Map: 25 Degrees, Huntington Beach

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Hybrid Tomatoes from Dave’s Vendor

A couple weeks ago Dave came home with a small container of tightly packed tomato plants that he received from his vendor Mitch at Aloha Printing.  All David told me was that the tomatoes were a hybrid variety raised from seed by the local vendor/gardener in Old Town Tustin.  We separated the tomato plants into small individual containers to see how many were squeezed into the container–it turns out there were 10, although we lost two during the transplanting.

We allowed the tomato plants to grow in the individual containers for a few weeks while we tried to find homes for the plants, or larger planting containers for those we kept.  We were able to pass off five of the ten but that still left us with three that we had to find room for on our little concrete patio.  We already had two tomato plants (heirloom) that we started from seed, which means that we are going to have five tomato plants this summer, two more plants than last year.  This last weekend we headed to Home Depot to buy some more dirt, and trainers for the vines.

Fortunately, we were able to use a lot of dirt from of our giant vermicomposting bin, however we still needed to purchase dirt since each (tomato) container needed over two cubic feet (one giant bag plus some extra) of dirt.

I had read in my little Sunset Edible Garden Book that you can use concrete netting to act as trainers for the tomato plants to climb up.  So, by the time we got to Home Depot and looked at various types of netting/wiring, we decided to try a smaller (and less expensive) version from the original concrete wire netting.

A positive, in addition to the cost, the material purchased happened to be plastic which is more malleable and doesn’t prick the skin when you rub against it but the holes are smaller which may make it more difficult when we go to pick the fruit.  We secured the netting in place with a 5 and 4 foot stake -the netting is four feet tall.  So far it is working, but we will truly know if it was worth it once the plants get taller.

P.S. The sweet peas are finally blooming! They smell amazing and it is fun to guess what colors we will be having.

Happy Planting!

Our Garden:


Local, Organic and Fresh: Community Supported Agriculture

Dave and I love food.  Whether cooking at home or going out to eat, we cannot get enough.  So it is important to us to know as much about our food sources as we can, which can be very difficult.

We try to grow as much as we can in our concrete jungle (also known as a patio)–carrots, tomatoes, kale, lettuce, strawberries, herbs–however until we upgrade to more land, we have to supplement our food with trips to the market.

We are learning about the importance of buying organic and local produce.  It is not always easy, and we definitely slip from time to time.  However living in California we are blessed that we can grow a myriad of food options year round.

And in this quest of learning to eat more seasonally and locally, Dave and I joined a CSA program. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between a local farmer/producer and a community (us!).  We purchased a membership to receive a bi-weekly large basket for one quarter (equals 7 baskets or 14 weeks).

The basket includes local produce from the farm, in this case, South Coast Organic Farms in San Juan Capistrano.  When we went to pick up our first package at our previously agreed upon location (Old Vine Cafe at the Camp in Costa Mesa) on Thursday, we were met with disappointment and only came away empty handed!  After David contacted the farm, they apologized saying that our information was entered incorrectly and they would deliver our basket to us on Friday.

Friday afternoon we received our basket brimming with food.  It included fresh cut ranunculus flowers, swiss chard, cilantro, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi (don’t worry I had to google this too!), fennel, radishes, onion, oranges, apples, grapefruit, strawberries, avocados, and potatoes.

At first I was a little confused when I noticed stickers on some of the oranges, and apples, but after I looked the companies up online (local California farms), I found out that it is not uncommon for farms within CSA programs to join up with other local producers–especially it seems with fruit producers that are groves, to provide a larger amount of food for members.

The South Coast Farms CSA offers regular or large packages either weekly or biweekly, and you can pick up the package from one of many different locations or have it delivered directly to your home.  All of these variables affect the pricing so if you are interested please check out their webpage, South Coast Farms.

We will let you know how our adventure in seasonal cooking continues and any surprising recipes that become popular favorites!

Happy Eating!

Rachell A. Wilfert

The Sugar Shack in Huntington Beach

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal, and brunch is the most holy of all experiences.  Dave and I love to try new breakfast joints some new some old and all delicious.

Sugar Shack in Huntington Beach would fall into the “old” category, a staple of downtown Huntington, the family-run diner is a must try.  It is simple diner fare with a California outlook.  It was a hard sell getting Dave to come along, he like so many had written it off as overrated—but I reminded him that it is a good breakfast diner, and I showed him a little trick. 

The front patio is always packed weekday or weekend, so I told him we should sneak around back to the large back patio were there were still a few open tables.  We sat down, ordered our coffees and perused the menu.  My favorite item is the Keppler—scrambled eggs, avocado, and bacon on an English muffin topped with Hollandaise sauce.  I ordered the half size, which comes with hash browns (I appreciate the fact that Sugar Shack provides a large array of half sizes of their specialties breakfast items, too often am I overstuffed and unable to move let alone accomplish anything for the rest of the day because of ridiculously huge breakfast portions).  Dave ordered the Peggy’s French Toast (half order) with a side order of one fried egg. 

The food was up quick and we were glad to have not ordered the whole size—the food was rich and satisfying in just the right amount.  Dave drenched his French toast in the boysenberry syrup (definitely ask for it) the bread was thick and soft on the inside while a little crisp on the outside.  My Keppler special was great-as always- the scrambled eggs were not over cooked, which can be a total meal killer to me, and the bacon was crisp.  We slowly ate, sipped our coffee and watched as the sun decided to grace us with its presence.  After we paid our bill we slipped out the back and took a spontaneous walk down to the pier.

Get out and try something new.



Map: 213 Main Street, Huntington Beach

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OC Roller Girls

On Saturday we attended our second roller derby affair. 

It was a double header.  The first game was the Pulp Fiction (OC) against the West Coast Derby Knockouts and the second game was Blockwork Orange (OC) against the Long Beach Roller Derby Gals. 

Dave and I arrived a little late at about 6:30—it started at 6—however we purchased our VIP tickets earlier in the week so we got our wristbands and sat down in the bleacher seats.  The crowd was much larger than the last match we came to—we think it is because the opponents were local teams. 

The energy was thick and the competition good. 

For snacks Dave went to the Fresh Fries food truck that was parked outside and picked us up two sets of fries, one covered in hummus (yum) and another covered in a spicy guacamole style sauce.  Of course, we picked up a couple of “adult beverages” inside from the vendors.     

The first game Pulp Fiction had a substantial victory against its opponent.  However the second game was neck and neck until the last minute.  There were some substantial hits on the playing field (which is a flat track the OC Rollergirls plan on debuting their banked track later in the season), but Blockwork Orange pulled it out in the last minutes for a victory-something like 106 to 101—very close game. 

Definitely a fun night, if you want to know more check out



Map: 5555 McFadden Huntington Beach CA

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OC Restaurant Week: The Crow Bar of Corona Del Mar

Thanks to the Orange County Restaurant week, dinner at the Crow Bar was cheap.  A friend of mine had visited here way back and I have always wanted to go after she talked about the good food and cool atmosphere. 

Crow Bar is a gastropub, pub fare–but high end with a large selection of beer, wine and other spirits. The inside was clean, modern yet comfortable.  There was a large bar and a couple of bar height tables as well as regular tables that line one side of the restaurant.

For restaurant week there was a prix fix three-course menu for $30 dollars.

First Course

Dave had the ‘jar of heirloom tomatoes’ that literally is served in a jar.  Gimmick aside the tomato salad was delicious with fresh herbs, and a light olive oil dressing.

I had the ‘ice cube salad’, which was iceberg lettuce cut in the shape of a cube with a bleu cheese dressing on top sprinkled with red onion and bacon pieces. Delicious.  It has been months since I have had bacon–and it was amazing.

Second Course

Crow Bar is known for its burger and it did have one burger option on the prix fix menu; however Dave and I both chose something else.  Dave chose the fish and chips.  The fish was served as one larger fillet battered and fried rather than smaller greasy pieces.  The fish was moist, delicious and it was nice have such a large fillet.  The fries were not the typical ‘chips’ however they were crisp and flavorful.

I had the steak frites, medium rare.  It came out a little more rare than medium, but it was so tender and flavorful I really enjoyed it.  The fries were the restaurant specialty ‘duck fat fries’– so amazing! Super crunchy and melt in your mouth delicious.

Third Course

The dessert is not listed on the menu and may change per day. For us it was a banana fosters of sort.  There was light cake on the bottom layered with banana and topped with ice cream and a caramel sauce.

Dave really enjoyed, to me it was a little too sweet.

Overall, the meal was very satisfying and we will definitely be back.  This place was little classy and we did not want to pull out the digital camera, so we just pulled some photos off the Crow Bar’s website.



Map: The Crow Bar, Corona Del Mar

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Sweet Peas – Part II

I am not moving the seedlings outside just yet—I am going to wait until they sprout a few leaves. But I cannot wait for the sweet smelling flowers to begin to bloom! Stay tuned for the next step—planting the seedlings outside (and attempting to create some sort of teepee).

About two weekends ago, I transplanted our sweet peas into a large 12” pot. The seedlings had two to three pairs of leaves and were about four inches tall. I mixed rich fertilized soil with regular potting soil and buried the seedlings up to the first pair of leaves.

Sweet Peas need stakes or something to climb up, so this last weekend I put four tall stakes around the middle of my pot (about an inch from the plants) and tied the stakes together at the top with a twist tie. Later in the week I tied some kitchen string around stakes so that the vines could climb across. I only have four stakes and six plants, so I will have to tie two vines to one stake, however some of the seedlings are not quite tall enough to tie on.

I am not sure if the simple string will be able to hold the flowers but for the time being it works. I also tied the two larger plants loosely to the stakes so that they can begin to climb the simple tent.

Why did we choose sweet peas? Sweet peas produce fragrant and prolific flowers for the home and garden: wonderful smelling little flowering vines that climb up trellises, walls, patios and even themselves. Honey bees play a huge part to the pollination of the sweet pea plants. And in turn, these small plants produce a habitat for our little friends who commute around our garden cross pollinating our vegetable patch.

In addition to potting our pea plants, over the weekend I started the spring/summer seeds in a little egg carton. What’s on the menu this late spring/early summer? Strawberries, onions, thyme, rosemary and heirloom tomatoes. All of which recommend starting indoors.

Happy gardening!

Until next time,
Rachell A. Wilfert


Sweet Peas – Part I

At my bridal shower this past summer I received an envelope from my aunt, the green-thumb.  The contents were seeds from her sweet pea plant.  I was touched since I long to be the urban farmer (and gardener).  I could not wait until the beginning of the New Year so that I could plant my own sweet pea plants. 

Our current residence does not have a lavish open space to sow the seeds directly.  In fact, our apartment has a concrete patio, the luxuries of a renter’s life.  Therefore our little space is filled with pots of various sizes and contents. 

Last weekend, I planted my first sweet pea seeds into little starter pots. I picked up these biodegradable pots at the local Osh, filled them with a mixture of organic dirt and our homemade compost (courtesy of our vermi-compost) and set them in the sun to bath in the warmth of the day. 

My aunt’s directions were pretty simple, so I turned to a book that I own that has chapter on how to grow sweet peas.  Per its instructions, I started the seeds inside with newspaper on top and made sure the soil was always moist.  Within a week they had already sprouted! I have to say that the unusually warm weather probably helped.  

I am not moving the seedlings outside just yet—I am going to wait until they sprout a few leaves.  But I cannot wait for the sweet smelling flowers to begin to bloom! Stay tuned for the next step—planting the seedlings outside (and attempting to create some sort of teepee).

Until next time,
Rachell A. Wilfert



VermiComposting for the Household

Crema Café of Seal Beach

To celebrate the beautiful weather this weekend, David and I traveled up PCH to visit a friend in Seal Beach for brunch.  Since David and I are not too familiar with the options available my friend suggested we meet her at Crema Cafe. 

We arrived close to 11am and like any good brunch option there was a bit of a wait—but in this case only 15 minutes.  We chose to sit outside and fully enjoy the beautiful day.  The outdoor seating is actually located between the restaurant and a neighboring clothing store, it reminded me of Eat Chow where I could window shop as I waited for our food to be served. 

David, per usual, ordered the eggs benedict but with a twist—instead of Canadian bacon it was served on smoked salmon.  I ordered the vegetable eggs benedict (roasted eggplant and zucchini in place of the meat).  My girl friend ordered the breakfast crepe: a light fluffy crepe, filled with eggs, chorizo, chicken, onions, bell peppers—pretty much the works. 

Each plate was served with breakfast potatoes. Usually I am not a big fan of the large potato wedges however these were seasoned with rosemary and were deliciously crisp on the outside. 

Overall it was very satisfying and we will definitely be back.

After breakfast we walked down the rest of Main Street, I love Seal Beach’s downtown.  It is void of the large chains (no Starbuck’s here) it still manages to be quaint without being dated. 

The Wilfert Group©
Rachell A. Wilfert


Map 322 Main Street, Seal Beach:

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