Twenty-four wine bottles line the circumference of two stainless-steel cylinders, both of which add a futuristic flourish to the middle of the room. With the touch of a button, the machine dispenses a 1-ounce sample of any of the wines—red at room temperature, whites at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Praised on Foodbeast, this self-serve tasting bar, called the Enomatic wine system, lets guests sample an array of wines before committing to a long-term relationship with a single—or several—bottles. This method is just one of several ways OC Wine Mart & Tasting Bar owner Julie Lim takes the intimidation out of wine buying.
At her boutique wine store, Julie fills the shelves with vintages from both well-known and under-the-radar vineyards, with some of her favorites including Silver Oak Cellars, Caymus Vineyards, and Cakebread Cellars. She and her team thrive on helping guests find the best bottle—whether they're hunting for wine, craft beer, or a fine liquor. Once guests feel confident in their selections, the staff can help them compile gift baskets for holiday parties or year-end performance reviews. Committed to green practices, the staff eschews foam packaging in favor of molded-pulp shippers, derived from 100% recycled materials. Such practices earned Julie a place on OC Metro's list of 20 Women to Watch, plus her boutique a place on Gayot's Top 10 Wine Bars in the United States.
Satisfying meals and handcrafted beer intersect with premium sports viewing at Lamppost Pizza and Backstreet Brewery, founded in 1976 by Angelo Barro and his sons, Dan and Tom. Today, the franchise welcomes patrons to 37 locations in three states, and the philosophy remains the same at all of them. Seven big-screen TVs broadcast football, basketball, and baseball games from around the leagues to entertain patrons sipping small-batch draft beers brewed onsite. Fans munch on traditional sports-viewing snacks, such as jalapeño poppers, potato skins, and buffalo wings. Chefs also prepare heartier entrees including garlic-chicken pasta, Pesto Supreme pizzas covered with artichoke hearts, and The Linebacker, a pizza loaded with pepperoni, salami, ground beef, sausage, and two types of bacon.
Gold Star Audio outfits autos with resounding radios, receivers, and other audio equipment from brands such as Kenwood and Morel online and in its Irvine shop. CD players and auxiliary plug-ins for iPhones, cockatiel parrots, and other portable music players resonate through thrumming speakers and subwoofers. Techs also install cutting-edge GPS systems, satellite radio, and bluetooth setups that drivers can protect with security features such as remote starters and alarm systems.
Arnabal International produces the gourmet infused oils and vinegars of Gourmet Kitchen O&V and Les Lavendes and features cookies from Gloria’s Gourmet. Sprinkle salads, marinate meat, or fill a hot tub with a fragrant field of lavender vinegar (200 ml. for $9.99). For an aromatic cooking choice that's finely aged but not quite over the hill, order a balsamic vinegar, naturally sweet and aged for 20 years (200 ml. for $19.99). Blood-orange oil (200 ml. for $7.99) makes a sweet and tart topping for chicken salads, sautéed seameat, and numerous veggies that would otherwise become indistinguishable to the indifferent tongue. Gloria’s Gourmet Cookies are ideal as after-dinner treats while entertaining or delectable for munching solo in a darkened room. Savor a yellow packet of caramel lemon-drop bites ($2.60), or go decadent with choc-orange sandwich cookies stuffed with raspberry jam ($5.50).
With 40 years of sandwich-making expertise, Togo's gives party planners an extensive catering menu from which to choose their spread. Sandwich trays ($45 regular size, feeds 10), the Endless Combinations platter ($65, feeds up to eight with 16 half sandwiches of four different varieties, plus a regular salad), and a 3- to 8-foot Party Footer (feeds up to 32 people; prices vary depending on sandwich type and size) will supply sustenance for Valentine's Day group gatherers, enthusiastic Presidents' Day celebrators, and supporters of early-February professional American football championships.