Sunday, July 24, 2011

Things I love... California Edition

Alternatively titled: What we will do when we go to California.

Nothing more really needs to be said. If you have eaten In-N-Out, you know what's to love. If In-N-Out could be here in Colorado, and I could eat at In-N-Out AND Chick-fil-a whenever I wanted, life may just be perfect! :)

Again, food. Or rather, a drink. CCC's are Chocolate Coffee Creams- a drink that my favorite coffee shop, the Great Bear, in Los Gatos, CA makes. Luke took me here on our second date. I told him that I don't drink or like coffee. He assured me, I would like a CCC. I was certain he would be wrong. And he was right. Yes, you heard it! My husband was right. CCC's are like a little bit of heaven, especially on a hot summer day. I really miss CCC's, but considerung they are loaded with lots of fat and calories, it may be a good thing I can only have them on the rare occasion we are back in San Jose. (And in case you are curious, a CCC is made with Ghiardelli Chocolate Powder, iced coffee, milk, and ice cream; basically a chocolate coffee shake. And topped with real, homemade whipped cream).

The Fountain in Los Gatos
We started taking Silas to the fountain in downtown Los Gatos when he was one year old. He loved it! Luke and I both love Los Gatos- Luke always dreamed of living in downtown Los Gatos. (Dreamed because it's insanely expensive). When we lived in California, one of our favorite things to do was spend the afternoon in Los Gatos. Los Gatos has a small town feel, a very cute downtown, and is surrounded by the Santa Cruz Mountains. There are lots of great restaurants. Fun, unique shops. Some chain stores we like (William Sonoma, Gap, Borders). Coffee shops. Candy and ice cream shops. And the fountain. It's a pretty perfect place to spend a beautiful afternoon.

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk
Our last year in California, we started going to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk a couple of times a summer with our friends Brian and Marny (and their kids). We would go to the Boardwalk on Monday or Tuesday night- when all rides are $1- and some food items are $1 (soda, cotton candy, and hot dogs- and let me tell you, the hot dogs taste like they cost $1. I had one once, never again.) Mostly the kids go on rides and we have chance to hang out with some of our best friends and catch up. And the ocean is right there- the Boardwalk is lit up. It's so much fun! 

Pizza My Heart
This is a northern California pizza chain. They sell pizza by the slice- and the slices are huge! Their restaurants are surfing in theme- surf posters, surf boards hanging from the wall... We ate their often when we lived in California. We would grab pizza in Capitola and eat it on the beach. There is a Pizza My Heart in Los Gatos- we ate their often. And another favorite location was the one located right next to San Jose State University. When Luke was still in school, Silas and I would meet him there for dinner some nights when he had class... Lots of memories at this place- and the pizza is delicious!

Willow Street Pizza
Probably the restaurant I miss the most... I waitressed at Willow Street for 5 years. I started their shortly after I moved to California and waitressed until I was 8 months pregnant with Silas. I always hoped to go back- it was a fun restaurant to work at and I always made great tips! I worked at the original Willow Street in Willow Glen- it's small and quaint- with lots of regular customers. When I was pregnant, I had some of my customers bring me baby presents... After I quit, we ate there often. I still have friends that work there- and the food is as good as ever! My favorite pizzas: Thai Chicken and Garlic Chicken. My favorite sandwich: Chicken Pesto Sandwich with Garlic Fries. (Oh, the garlic fries are so good! When I used to work there, sometimes I would have garlic fries and plate of pepperoni for lunch. Honestly, I have no idea how I don't have a serious weight problem!) Favorite dessert: Carmel Apple Bread Pudding. Favorite free thing they serve? Homemade Honey Wheat Bread- made twice a day. Always delicious- especially good right out of the oven. 

La Villa Ravioli
A little Italian deli in Willow Glen that makes amazing handmade raviolis. I didn't discover this little gem until I had been living in California for years. Sad. I miss it. Last time we were in California, I went and bought a bunch of the raviolis, froze them, and brought them home to Colorado. Yep! I carry food on flights- sometimes it's a wonder that Luke puts up with me! :) And yes, I will be bringing more home when we go to California in a few weeks.

One of my favorite grocery stores. Is it weird that I have favorite grocery stores? Probably. And truth be told, I have a few. We shopped at Lunardi's mostly for produce- great produce and pretty good prices. And good meat. They have very quite kid size shopping carts- that Silas loved. He was a little maniac- pushing the cart around the store. :) And the bonus is they give free cookies to kids- whatever kind they want. Silas always would choose a sugar cookie with big sprinkles covering it.

Trader Joe's
Another favorite grocery store. I have no idea why we don't have Trader Joe's in Colorado. I have heard it's because of the liquor laws... I have heard it's because we don't live close enough to a distribution center... The truth is that there are lots of people from California that live in Colorado. Hence, there are lots of people wanting Trader Joe's here. I hope someday they will open here. We will bring some of our favorite things home with us (like their Cinnamon Bread). But there are some favorite items that can't make the trip because they have to be frozen... Orange Chicken, Chocolate Croissants, Burritos... I have often said that if there was an In-N-Out and Trader Joe's in Colorado, it would be a perfect place to live.

Santana Row
Think upscale restaurants, shops, hotels, and lofts. This is Santana Row. I have heard some call it the Beverly Hills of northern California. It's not nearly that big- maybe 4 blocks long and 3 blocks wide. Before we had kids, I was a secret shopper for a company that was hired by a lot of restaurants (one of them being Willow Street, which was how I got connected with them.) This company "shopped" most of the restaurants in Santana Row. So I would receive a few assignments a month to visit specific restaurants- and we were reimbursed for our expenses. We had the opportunity to eat at quite a few restaurants we never would have visited if we were paying for it. Some of our favorite restaurants in Santana Row are Strait's, Yankee Pier, the Counter, and Pasta Pomadoro. Santana Row was a fun "date night" place for us. Dinner, coffee, stores to shop in, and a fun atmosphere.

Vasona Park
One of our favorite parks in Los Gatos. Luke and I had engagement and some wedding pictures done here. It's beautiful! Lots of walking paths and trails. A lake. Multiple play structures for kids. Picnic areas. And Silas' favorites: a carousel and train to ride.

The first (and only time) I have had Sprinkles cupcakes was in April of 2010. We were on a trip to San Diego and stopped for lunch (and to try to spot some stars) in Beverly Hills. I had read about Sprinkles (probably in People magazine)- and when we saw it, I had to stop and try these cupcakes. WOW! They did not disappoint. They were amazingly delicious! I have tried other specialty cupcakes from shops and nothing has compared to Sprinkles. My favorite was a dark chocolate cupcake. I am hoping we will be able to hit the Sprinkles in Beverly Hills and in Palo Alto when we are in California- you only live once! :)

The Ocean
I have realized that for me, water = life. Colorado is DRY. I miss water. We definitely did not taken advantage of how close we lived to the ocean. But when we did take the time to go to the beach, we loved it. We are looking forward to going to the beach in San Diego and in Santa Cruz.

Phil's BBQ
This is our favorite San Diego restaurant. It is the best BBQ I have ever had. Seriously. It's that good. The line is almost always out the door. But it's worth the wait. My favorite is the Broham sandwich- which a BBQ pork sandwich- and huge. And I eat the entire thing. :)

"Our" Children's Museum
Silas always calls the Children's Museum in San Jose, "Our Children's Museum." We had a membership to the museum when we lived in California- and we definitely got our money's worth. We went a lot. And I miss it too. We loved going as a family- and it was a great place to meet friends and play. I have lots of happy memories at the Children's Museum.

Well I started this post over a month ago... and I am glad that I waited until now to finish it. Writing about our favorite places and looking at some of these pictures... it makes me homesick! I am so glad that we are going to California soon. We miss lots of people in California- and lots of our favorite things and places. But it's not where we want to be anymore (at least not most days). Colorado is finally starting to feel like home- and we are so happy to be here. But we excited to be going back to California for a long visit! :)


~Allyson said...

I am getting really excited about your visit, and I would love to tag along to any of your California outings! :)

Cristina said...

I love how you plan your trip around your favorite places! I do that, too! Have a wonderful time!!!