Monthly Archives: February 2014

It’s Been A Slice

pizzaHard to believe that our sojourn at the beach is almost over and in about a week of sleeps we’ll be trading our walks on the sand for the icy sidewalks of my home town.  Well as Dorothy says, “there’s no place like home” even if it is a little blustery. But before we go, a promise is a promise, so I’m here to share with you what I have learned while at the sea. About pizza that is. Since I seem to have eaten my share of it this visit. And this year, unlike last, when the purveyors of donuts remained anonymous, I’m going to name names which I’m guessing might be somewhat more helpful should you ever find yourself down here longing for a slice. Because there are a whole lot of pizza joints in this neck of the woods, each and every one of them professing to be the best. But that’s not possible, is it.

Before I continue I have a couple of things to say, as this whole “review” thing is a bit of a departure for the Shallow Gal. The first is that pizza is my favourite food so I’m usually happy when I’m eating it. The second is, as you may have read in one of my “get to know me better” posts of the past, my relationship with food is somewhat pedestrian and I pretty much like whatever other people cook for me. And since other people always cook pizza for me there’s a good chance that I’m not only going to eat it, I’m probably going to like it. So, as you read this review you may discover that I’m not as discerning as some of those “Yelpers” you rely on to guide you through your dining deliberations. As a matter of fact, I myself employed their expertise to determine where to start and which shops to eliminate at the get go. I mean, let’s face it, there’s only so much ‘za you can eat without undoing the benefits of the long walks on the beach, not to mention the hours of tedious pounding on the treadmill to lose those extra few pounds that anyone my age knows are persistent, to say the least. There they are, the caveats. Now, for better or worse, here are my thoughts on a rather small but discerning sample of the local pies, in chronological order.

Our initial tasting, ironically enough, occurred the moment we arrived in our temporary home. You know what it’s like. You’ve been travelling for the better part of a day and the last thing you want to do is cook, especially when to do so, you’re going to have to stop by the local grocer and since you’re already hungry, you’ll likely fill your basket with a bunch of stuff you know you shouldn’t eat, but will. So instead, we stopped by Urban Pi, an eatery we had passed by many a time last year but never had a chance to visit. At least we knew it had been around awhile. I’m going to lump this one together with Blaze (surely you’ve seen that review) as they have a lot in common. It’s a great concept. Pies made right before your eyes. You walk down the line, choose from an array of fresh ingredients, and shortly after you find a table, your piping hot, wood-fired, thin and crispy crust pizza arrives. And here’s the kicker. Regardless of how many toppings you pick, and let me tell you, there are plenty, this pie’s going to cost you 8 bucks. No “extra cost premiums” in this place. You want “shaved organic carrot”? It’s yours. “Jidori free range chicken breast”? Just ask. Red sauce or white, this one’s worth a try. Lots of salads, soups and “sweetie pi” desserts to round things out. The downside. In an effort to get more bang for your 8 bucks you’ll be tempted to add one too many toppings. Remember, this is thin crust, and like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, add too much and you’re bound to find a pile of marinated artichokes smack in the middle of your lap.

Another night, another Zumba class and, for the sake of all, I need to take-out. We decide to stop by Bongiorno, which earns a consistent 4-5 star rating by the local food pundits, securing their place at the top of the pizza parlour heap. Like New York style pizza? Yearning for a slice you can fold? Then this is your place. Nestled in a rather nondescript strip mall, this gem shines and but won’t need me to tell you this. These are thin crust, oven-baked pizzas that will have you coming back for more. You’ve got some options here. Not famished? In true “big apple” style you can grab yourself a slice or two for the road. Hungrier? Build the pie of your choice and watch them pop it into the oven. Takes a little longer but worth the wait. Only medium and large here but it’s a no brainer. Go for the gusto. For an extra 2 bucks you’ll have lunch the next day. Just a few blocks from the beach this is an immaculately clean, retro diner (black and white checkerboard floor, red chairs, the whole kit and Kaboodle) that will make you think you are in California, back in the day.

Let me tell you, one of the problems with reviewing multiple eateries in one post is coming up with a variety of ways to refer to them. Our next “peatery” (my new term for a pizza eatery) was a direct result of reading the reviews in our quest for the best. A little down the road from us in Leucadia is Pandora Pizza, and even though we have driven by it many a time in our travels on Hwy. 101, this was our first time through the front door. To be fair, it is well liked by the locals so, just because it wasn’t my favourite doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try. Thin crust, wood-fired pies with both “in and out of the box” options (their terms and I suspect a nod to their namesake Pandora) that include toppings like duck confit, are named after a fine selection of Greek and Roman gods. Now I’m no expert on mythology but when Jupiter offers me avocado, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and sea salt, I gotta say that’s my kind of pie. Unfortunately it was also my pie for a couple of hours after I ate it which reminded me that sea salt just isn’t the same without the chocolate.

Ok, we thought we were done. I mean how much pizza can a person eat? And yet, we found ourselves pulled, compelled actually, to make a final stop at what is perhaps the most iconic “grub and grog” stop in our little beach town, the Pizza Port. Where else will a “Laguna” come with olives, mushrooms, onions and artichoke hearts? Add a zesty tomato sauce and lots of mozza and you have yourself one heck of a meal. No fine dining here. You order at the counter, find a seat at one of the picnic tables and wait until they blast out your name over the loudspeaker. If you want the quintessential beach experience, and the chance to meet some really gnarly surfer dudes and dudettes while munching on a great piece of pie, this is the place for you. Oh yeah. Did I mention the fine selection of local brews to wash it all down? Just remember to brush the sand off your feet before you jump into bed at night.

So that’s it. We’re on our way home and it’s been a slice. Next year FroYo, or burgers, maybe bagels. You never really know, do you.

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This is Not a Resolution

pink fleece3Most of you know by now that, other than having a penchant for the “Top 10” of anything, I don’t really make lists. There are no resolutions at the start of the year; nothing in my bucket; and certainly no promises I can’t keep. Having said that, I am always open and ready for suggestions that just might make my life a tiny bit better than it already is. Not that it isn’t great. I mean, here I am in one of the most beautiful places in the United States of America spending my days sipping on a “grande” and evenings watching the sun sink into a sea of remarkably vivid yellows, reds and oranges. But every once in a while something happens that makes me want to change things up a little. And that’s what happened just the other day.

Big surprise. I’m sitting on the patio of my local Starbucks working hard at listening to the interesting conversations going on around me, at least the ones that are taking place between people. Because something I may not have mentioned is that there are a lot of dogs here at the beach and most of them appear to be very close to their humans. So close that for some reason unbeknownst to me (I share my home with a cat, which we all know is a horse of a different colour), the humans here seem to believe their dogs have an excellent command of the English language, and so they talk to them. In full sentences. And sometimes, when you’re listening in on other people’s conversations, that gets just a little confusing. Although none of this has anything to do with my life changing experience because on this day there were no interesting conversations. There was only a very cute little girl.

Let’s face it, with a few exceptions, kids in general are pretty cute. I see lots of them everyday and, other than the ones that live in my house, they normally have little to no impact on my life. But this little girl with her shiny jet black, silky locks, was different. It wasn’t because she was able to amuse herself playing a lonesome game of hide and seek while her parents chatted away at their table. Nor that she was exceedingly well behaved as she patiently waited for them to finish their afternoon delights. There was nothing remarkable about that. Nope. What made this little girl stand out from all others was her extraordinary sense of fashion reflected in her outfit which I am pretty sure she alone was responsible for putting together. Here’s what she wore. To protect herself from getting a chill she donned a purple, leopard patterned, down vest. She sported this over a red striped jersey dress and for added warmth, a pair of apple green leggings. To complete this ensemble she chose a pair of pink striped socks and blue canvas shoes. Although looking very “couture” not one item in this collection of designer duds matched. And she looked perfect.

I’ve said it before so I suppose I’m saying it again. I’m no fashionista but if there’s one thing I know about, it’s matching which, I get, is not all that difficult when your wardrobe consists primarily of black t-shirts and skinny blue jeans. But I do get “dressed” every once in a while and when that happens you can bet your bottom dollar there will be no conflicting colours or patterns to jar the eye on my 5’2” frame. Although my shoes may not always match my purse, mostly because I get up late and who has time to make the transfer of goods from one bag to another, you can be pretty sure they will at least coordinate with whatever else is on my body. Listen, you’re talking to a girl who has 15 watches in a variety of colours, and north of 30 belts so there’s a pretty good chance that those accessories are going to harmonize. I mean how could they not? And while many would say this propensity to coordinate is a “good thing” I cringe just a little as I recall my latest conversation with my hairdresser when, in her attempt to complement, referred to my style as “matchy, matchy”. Translation: “boring, boring”.

Which is why I was so inspired by that little girl on the Starbucks patio that, while not making an actual “resolution” I have decided to change my ways. Of course this is easier said than done as my predilection for dressing in complementary tones is rather ingrained in my being.  Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like “everything” I wear matches. I mean I have been known to arrive at work with one navy and one black sock but that’s usually because I have put them on in the dark and who couldn’t make that mistake. And I do have a pair of shoes that are designed to be mismatched (the left is different than the right) but maybe that doesn’t count since they actually are a matching pair. Nonetheless, I am painfully aware that to fully meet my goal I’m going to have to put in more than a modicum of effort but there’s always a first step to be taken and I have taken mine. Yesterday, as I got ready for my daily walk on beach, against what was heretofore my better judgement, I chose from my otherwise monochromatic wardrobe, an orange “t” topped by a rather shocking pink fleece. And without a second glance in the mirror, out the door I went in all my unmatched glory.

Now I know what you’re thinking and to put any of your doubts to rest, the answer is yes, as unlikely as it may seem, I really do own a pink fleece.

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Mountain Sheep of the Sea

dolphin2Here’s something you don’t know about me. I like to take pics. Not of me but of other stuff. Truth be told, there was a time in my life that I was rather focused on photography. Even took some classes. I wasn’t great but I wasn’t bad either. Which was fine by me. I liked it way better than my pottery class (obvs I was going through some sort of artistic phase at the time) mostly because it didn’t get my hands mucky. Not to mention, I’m not afraid of the dark so it seemed like a good choice. You see in those days cameras actually had film in them and pictures needed to be developed in dark places. Which is what I did. At least until I didn’t. Because unlike this blog of mine, that hobby had a rather short shelf life. You know, back then cameras, lenses and the associated paraphernalia were pretty heavy and unlike today, didn’t actually fit in a pocket. So it was all a bit of an ordeal really.

Here’ something else you might not know about me. I haven’t always lived “out west” (as we like to call it), hailing originally from what some people refer to as “the East” but what most of us know is really the central portion of the country. It’s true. I am a product of the biggest city in this nation which doesn’t really need a mention right now since it has had so many mentions of late and mine would probably just fall through some sort of crack. At any rate, the reason I tell you this is because, when you grow up in a big city you become accustomed to a particular way of life, one that includes concrete sidewalks filled with hoards of people who, at the end of each work day descend from their glass encrusted, high rises (each one taller than the next) to their underground transportation tunnels for the crushing ride home. This is not the land of wide open spaces which might help to explain my fascination with the mountains and the sea. More importantly, it explains why I was so taken with the cows I encountered on an elementary school field trip to a farm, that I brought home, in my little polaroid, a heap of close-ups of their cute little faces. No pictures of my friends or my teachers or even the farmers. Just the cows. Which, I might add, my parents had to pay to get developed. But let me continue.

It shouldn’t surprise you that when I found myself living virtually in the foothills (we delude ourselves just a little in the place I now call home) of the majestic Rocky Mountains, I was drawn in by all of the splendour and majesty of those big rocks, not to mention the four-legged inhabitants therein. Now in case you have never had a chance to do so, here’s what happens when you drive through one of our National Mountain Parks. The first thing is all the cars in front of you are going to slow down in part because the speed limit tells them too but also because everyone knows that when you drive through the park you’re going to see animals. If you’re really, really lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of a mountain goat or maybe a moose. If it’s the right time of day and the berries are abundant, you might notice a bear lumbering in the bushes beside the road.

But dimes to dollars, no matter the weather, time of day, or cycles of the moon, at some point along the way you are going to run into (hopefully not literally) a flock of mountain sheep. When you do, all those slow moving cars in front of you are going to pull over and stop. Almost simultaneously each and every one of them is going to take a camera out of their pocket and start to snap away because that’s what you do when you see wildlife in their natural habitat. At least that’s what I did each and every time I went to the mountains. The result being a photo album full of pictures of mountain sheep, all looking the same because the reality is, they just do. So really, if you can get one good pic of one of them you can set your camera down and call it a day.

Which brings me to my most recent visit to the beach. It’s a funny thing what a little time will do. Of late I’ve had a hankering to resurrect my interest in photography, so much so that I bought myself a nifty little number that lets me take close up shots without the bother of changing lenses. So I’m walking along the beach and look out just in time to see a herd of dolphins (it’s correct and fits with the theme but you can look it up if you like) frolicking in the water. Admittedly, even with my zoom it’s a little harder to catch a pic of these guys, mostly because they are jumping up and down in the water and not standing at the car window hoping for a carrot. So mostly, as you snap away, you’re going to get pics of the water where the dolphins “were”. But if you persist you will get them, over and over again. Which is what I did. But as I download my shots onto the computer, it suddenly hits me. These are the mountain sheep of the sea. And no matter how many pics I take they’re all going to look the same. Because they’re dolphins and they just do.You’d think I would have learned.

Well, at least these days I don’t have to pay for the processing.

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