Can’t beat a staycation at Loews Coronado Bay resort

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Mitral Restaurant (Courtesy Photo)

Mitral Restaurant (Courtesy Photo)

The lazy days of Summer should be spent relaxing by the pool, lounging in a beautiful guest room by the water, taking walks on the beach and savoring great food.

Since we live in sunny San Diego, visiting this Loews Coronado Bay resort can be fun all year long. Family friendly and pet friendly, this is a place you definitely want to check out.

My family and I thought the view from our suite was so breathtaking, we found it difficult to get any sleep. By day the we enjoyed the sound of the soft waves rippling over the water, while by night, the lights from the Coronado bridge dazzled the city sky. We could even see the fireworks going off at SeaWorld.

Executive Chef Marc Ehrler (Courtesy Photo)

Executive Chef Marc Ehrler (Courtesy Photo)

My husband and I attended the mixology class (see details below) and had so much fun learning how to make specialty cocktails. I met a couple who said this is their second year vacationing at Loews because they love it so much. They brought their children and really liked the fact that the hotel offered classes for the kids during the day.

“My daughter came back to our room with a dozen chocolate chip cookies that she learned to make in one class,” one guest said. “It’s so nice that we can leave our kids in a safe place and not worry about them at all.”

The highlight of my trip was getting to chat with Loews Hotels’ corporate chef and French Master Chef Marc Ehrler. In addition to overseeing the property’s extensive culinary operation, Chef Ehrler will pay particular attention to the resort’s signature restaurant, Mistral.

Ehrler boasts an impressive background.  A native of Antibes on the French Riviera between Cannes and Nice, and trained with world-renowned chefs including Alain Ducasse, Jacques Maximin and Andre Daguin, his technique is a tribute to his native Provence and rich family traditions. He is also influenced by his extensive travels to the Caribbean, Latin America, California, Asia and the Southwest.

Santa Barbara Mussels (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Santa Barbara Mussels (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

A Master Chef of France and the first Chef to receive the AAA Five Diamond ranking in two restaurants of the same hotel while working at Ritz Carlton Cancun, Ehrler plans to de-formalize the setting at Mistral, as well as creating a new rustic Northern Italian and Southern French menu he characterizes as “simple, yet not simplistic.”

Mistral’s lower price point will reflect this conceptual shift and his dishes will still embrace fresh fruits and vegetables from local farming communities. Many of the herbs in the cuisine and specialty cocktails, come straight from the Loews on-site organic herb garden.

From the finest wines to starters of Valdivia Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata Mozzarella and Basil Pesto Oil to Santa Barbara Black Mussels, the presentation and flavor of every dish proved outstanding. I managed to steal a few bites of the Liguria Risotto with Mano De Leon Scallops from my husband. Served with garden herbs, corn, arugula and crispy prosciutto, it proved utterly irresistible. My teenage son devoured the tender Grilled Beef Tenderloin with an artichoke twice baked potato, asparagus and pomegranate-port reduction. A pasta lover, I adored the Penne a Campo with fennel sausage, mushrooms, spinach, Pecorino and persillade sauce.

Basil/Goat Cheese Cheeecake (Phot by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Basil/Goat Cheese Cheeecake (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Desserts made in-house were nothing short of luscious. Don’t miss the Basil/Goat Cheese Cheesecake with pistachio crust and Watsonville Raspberries. Chocolate lovers must have the Chocolate  Rapture with layered chocolate torte with hazelnut crust and chocolate ganache. Other decadent favorites include the Lavender Creme Brulee with Valdivia Strawberries and the Chambord Panna Cotta with seasonal berries and white chocolate twigs.

To calculate the number of diamonds and stars earned at hotels and resorts where Marc Ehrler played a starring role would be difficult, as his career spans more than 35 years and countless kitchens from around the world. A master of food arts, Chef Ehrler has been praised by critics, celebrities and the media as well as featured in Wine Spectator, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Gourmet, Tattler and the New York Times as well as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, the Discovery Channel’s “Great Chefs of the World,” Best 10 Restaurants in the World, CNN International and the Food TV Network. He has participated in the James Beard House “Best Hotel Chefs Series” and has been recognized by the Culinary Academy of France.

I can’t wait to go back!

The Green Flash Signature Cocktail (Courtesy Photo)

The Green Flash Signature Cocktail (Courtesy Photo)

Modern Mixology: Learn how to create an organic cocktail, a healthy mocktail and a classic rocktail every Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Bar at Mistral. Mixology lessons include tasty bar bites for $15 per person. Reservations are required by 1 p.m. the day of and can be made by calling Loews Coronado Bay Resort’s Concierge at 619.424.4000 ext. 6300.

Maria Desiderata Montana is an award-winning food and wine journalist, editor, and published author based in San Diego. She gained an appreciation of European cuisine from her parents who were born and raised in Calabria, Italy. Visit her website at www.sandiegofoodfinds.com.

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