By Cheryl Pruett
Thanksgiving month is usually filled with big meals and plates piled high even when you dine out for the holiday.
However, think about the small flavors and treats you can appreciate. It doesn’t need to be traditional Thanksgiving fare to be on the grateful list.
Because November seems the appropriate month to give thanks for all the small things packed with big flavors, here are foods you may not know you’re missing, but perhaps should try.
Find new things to appreciate in a time of traditional nibbles.
SAN CLEMENTE SMALL BITES
Rapport Coffee by Café Smith
647 Camino de los Mares, San Clemente, rapportcoffeecs.com.
Be grateful for a perfect combo: Croffle. The hybrid pastry is a cross between a croissant and a waffle.
111 Avenida del Mar, San Clemente, 949.312-2210, solagave.com.
Give thanks for pork belly bites: slow-roasted pork belly with honey-serrano, green tomatillo salsa, which is served with mini corn tortillas.
213 Avenida del Mar, San Clemente, 949.481.2200. nicksrestaurants.com.
Warm Butter Cake is Nick’s signature dessert. A warm cake with crystallized sugar crust, served with vanilla ice cream and berry compote garnish.
DANA POINT TASTY BITES
26881 Camino de Estrella, Dana Point/Capistrano Beach, 949.248.1914.
A rather rare find: spam musubi. A bite for lunch or simply a snack, it is grilled spam on rice and wrapped with nori.
Eden Vegan Restaurant
32860 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point (Monarch Bay Plaza), 949.503.2163. edendanapoint.com.
Vegan Bomber french fries are crispy fries with chopped marinated vegan steak, mushrooms, jalapenos, and house ranch dressing with coconut oil. A healthy thank you, indeed.
24633 Del Prado Avenue, Dana Point, 949.496.6368. bonjourcafe.com.
Merci to the Quiche du Jardin with spinach, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and sweet onions.
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO MORSELS
Ramos House Café
31752 Los Rios, San Juan Capistrano, 949.443.1342. ramoshouse.com.
Cinnamon apple beignets are a perfect reason to give thanks for a breakfast or brunch treat. The delicate, deep-fried pastry is worth a try.
Parmiss Mediterranean Restaurant
31952 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, 949.503.1249. parmissrestaurant.com.
Be grateful for the flavors the world offers, including Tahdig Fesenjan, a traditional Persian stew with pomegranate paste and walnuts over crispy rice.
Fesenjan stew also comes with chicken.
Five Vines Wine Bar
31761 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, 949.800.9145. fivevineswinebar.com.
Thanks go out to co-owner Suzy Fairchild-Fisher’s mom, Marianne.
Her Mormor’s Famous Cheese Ball has some secret ingredients, but the family recipe consists of bleu cheese, black olives, chives and other hush-hush ingredients—all rolled on crushed walnuts and served with crackers and sliced apple.
FYI: Mormor is Swedish for mother’s-mother. Thanks, Mom!
Cheryl Pruett is an award-winning journalist and editor, having covered Orange County city and county topics to the food scene for Orange County Register, Patch.com and local magazines. She has called Dana Point/Capistrano Beach home for more than 30 years.