When William Pereira and Raymond Watson planned the layout of Irvine in 1959, they envisioned a series of villages woven into one city. These villages—unified by a pre-chosen architectural style—would connect natural green spaces that were preserved by reclaimed water. And everybody would walk everywhere. Today most people stick to the six-lane streets that run between villages, and casual sidewalk strollers draw curiosity. But Irvine massage therapists have a valid reason to prefer footpaths over the road more driven: stronger legs make for better ashiatsu massages. What is ashiatsu massage? When you put yourself in the hands of an ashiatsu therapist, you’re actually putting yourself under her feet. And, for that matter, under a pair of parallel bars or wooden poles affixed to the ceiling that run the length of the bed. These are what the massage therapist will use, along with a stool off to the side, to maintain balance while performing the circular effleurage strokes typical of Swedish massage with one or both feet. The therapist’s weight allows for extra-deep pressure if desired, and massage oils help compensate for the foot’s relative lack of dexterity. The technique requires a lot of leg strength to help finely control the level of pressure. The modality can be adapted for just about anyone but is especially popular with athletes and larger clients who may prefer more pressure. Many ashiatsu massages are performed, for instance, with one foot. Two feet are only recommended if the client weighs at least 100 pounds more than the therapist. Other practitioners might change the height of their bars to incorporate work delivered via knees, elbows, or palms. Good for the client—and the therapist The average massage career lasts about eight years before the strain of standing bent over clients and performing fine motor work catches up with practitioners. Ironically, the strain sometimes forces massage therapists to seek treatment in realms beyond massage. In 1995, Colorado massage therapist Ruthie Piper Hardee developed ashiatsu partially as a response to her own back pain. Bending over a massage table all day was aggravating her back troubles and creating pain in her hands. Inspired by having seen back massage performed with the feet in Asia and in the Southern Hemisphere where everyone walks on their hands, she set out to develop a modified technique. She chose the name ashiatsu by combining words she found in a Japanese dictionary: “ashi” for foot and "atsu" for pressure. She now teaches ashiatsu to practitioners from all around the country.Read More
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With its ocean air, dozens of parks, and more than 44 miles of bike trails, vibrant Irvine is a city that continually asks locals and visitors to enjoy the outdoors. Irvine restaurants are no exception. Here are some of the hotspots for outdoor dining.1. Mick’s Karma Bar | 2010 Main StreetClaim to fame: Golden Foodie Award–winning burgers made with sirloin that’s ground fresh every few hours Why you’re eating outside: There’s some indoor seating, but this burger joint’s location—tucked away in an office park—means they cater mostly to workers looking for an excuse to get out and get some fresh air. Plus, the outdoor seating come with views of fountains and modern-art pieces. Try this: The Mediterranean burger, topped with roasted peppers, hummus, and feta cheese2. Dogzilla | Multiple LocationsClaim to fame: “Fusion” hot dogs served on Hawaiian roll buns and with toppings such as avocado, housemade teriyaki sauce, or yakisoba noodles Why you’re eating outside: There’s no choice. The chefs hand out their hot dogs from inside a green food truck, which travels throughout Irvine and the rest of Orange County, stopping near office complexes, festivals, movie-in-the-park nights, and other community hotspots. Try this: The Yaki Dog, a spicy Cajun pork link topped in yakisoba noodles, ao nori, red ginger, and okonomi sauce3. La Sirena Grill | 3931 Portola ParkwayClaim to fame: Mexican food cooked with local, organic, and sustainable ingredients Why you’re eating outside: A fountain bubbles over at the center of a huge outdoor patio, where red bricks line the floor and climb upwards to form columns—some covered in vines. Lights strung around trees make this ideal for after dark, when you can dine at tables for two or start a party at one of the patio’s couches. Try this: The blackened salmon burrito filled with Sirena cabbage, jack cheese, guacamole, and organic beans or rice4. Yard House | 620 Spectrum Center DriveClaim to fame: Their selection of “chalkboard beer,” rotating taps chosen to highlight local, domestic, and international breweries—be on the lookout for selections from the breweries of California's Hops Highway Why you’re eating outside: As one of the popular Irvine Spectrum restaurants, Yard House has a patio with candlelight in the evenings and a smattering of palm trees surrounding the area, offering a serene break from shopping at the center’s more than 100 stores. Try this: A poke stack of marinated raw ahi, crispy wontons, avocado, and wasabi soy sauce5. CUCINA enoteca Irvine | 532 Spectrum Center DriveClaims to fame: Hundreds of wines paired with housemade pasta and other Italian cuisine, all made with seasonal, local ingredients Why you’re eating outside: Combined, the two oversized patios total roughly 2,700 square feet. Flowers and greenery cover both brick-lined settings, and the larger tables make ideal places to eat a family-style meal while people-watching along the main drag of the Irvine Spectrum Center. Try this: Short-rib pappardelle with cremini mushroom, carrot, and parmigiano Pro tip: Pick out wine from Italy, France, Napa Valley, or one of America’s other wine regions at the onsite shop—then pay a small corkage fee to drink it with your meal.6. Knowlwood | 14952 Sand Canyon AvenueClaims to fame: Handmade milk shakes, award-winning hamburgers, and soups made from recipes that date back to the original restaurant’s opening in 1957 Why you’re eating outside: The exterior of this casual restaurant looks like a red barn, which lends a rustic vibe to the patio tables. (Thankfully, there are plenty of oversized umbrellas to prevent farmer’s tans.) Try this: Irish nachos—french fries covered in cheddar, chopped green onions, bacon bits, and housemade ranch dressingRead More
A beautiful Mediterranean climate isn’t the only thing Irvine shares with Italy. The city also has a host of places that pay homage to most beloved of Italian eats—pizza. Many Irvine pizza places prize the customizability of their pies, from Irvine Spectrum restaurants such as Pieology Pizzeria, with its build-your-own ethos, to MOD Pizza’s claim of “endless options” on its tailor-made pizzas. But in the arms race to think up ever more novel combinations of toppings, it’s easy to lose sight of pizza’s humblest, most workmanlike topping—the sauce. Marinara vs. Tomato Sauce?The difference between these similar red sauces may seem superficial, but it’s not. Tomato sauce is exactly as simple as it sounds. It’s a tomato-based sauce. But in order for a sauce to be a marinara, it must consist of ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and oregano or fresh basil. To a traditionalist, this means no tomato paste, no wine, no butter, and no onions. Why the Name Marinara?For a sauce that celebrates a land-based specimen like the tomato, it’s a little odd that marinara translates to “sailor-style.” Philologists, too, remain puzzled. Some theorize that the high acidity of the sauce, plus its lack of meat, made it a relatively shelf-stable staple for sailors on long sea voyages—who needed good sources of vitamin C to prevent scurvy. And then there’s the anchovy theory: original versions might have relied on the brininess of the little fish, which later became optional and left only the sea-evoking name behind. Noteworthy Sauces at Irvine RestaurantsIn Irvine, Terra Mia Pizzeria slathers its pies with a housemade marinara sauce made from scratch each morning in the kitchen. First Class Pizza, meanwhile, sets its sauce apart with a house blend of eight herbs and spices. These contrasting approaches serve as a simple reminder that the same ingredient in a different chef’s hands doesn’t always taste the same. With that in mind, check out the pizzas—and the sauce—at these other spots in the area: Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza Store | 2300 SE Bristol St., Newport BeachBlaze Pizza | 4255 Campus Dr.Pizza 900 | 23020 Lake Forest Dr., Laguna HillsRead More