Tuesday, December 30, 2008

California holiday 2008 - Exploring more local food options

To say Aptos, California is a different world from Bryan-College Station, Texas is probably the understatement of the year. Both have their plusses and minuses, but living the better part of my life in Bryan, I often crave the California atmosphere I enjoy while on holiday - especially when it comes to food. Yesterday I wrote about the amazing bounty at the weekend's farmers market in Aptos. And today, I'm continuing that food theme. 

Aptos Natural Food

Each morning, after breakfast, I've taken a nice long walk to explore the small town of Aptos, Dave's hometown. Some mornings, I walked around the local community college. Other days, I headed further into town where shops line the main strip.

On Christmas Eve, I took my morning stroll - Ok, so I admit, I don't stroll. It's more like speed- walking, but I consider this my exercise.  Anyway, my morning speed-walk had a destination: Aptos Natural Foods. 

Having been to the Aptos Natural Foods store before, I knew what to expect, but as I walked in the door, I was reminded at just how wonderful this little gem is. I spent most of my time in two isles (just like at home) - the bulk isle and the fresh produce isle. One word: Wow! 

We have a wonderful natural food store back home, but this tiny store (not much bigger than ours) had twice the bulk foods, including bulk oils and pastas (I'm in heaven...)! The produce isle (only 1/2 of which is pictured above) was to die for. Rows and rows of organic fruits and veggies, many of them local, made a beautiful and very "natural" display. No marketing needed here. These goodies really do speak for themselves. 

I asked one of the cashiers how this small store competes with so many larger organic box stores around. His response? "We don't." Just like our Brazos Natural Foods back home, Aptos Natural Foods has a committed clientele, about 50% of which come in weekly if not daily. I can see why. With such a wonderful selection and so much of it available in package-free bulk, why go anywhere else (other than the local farmers market, of course). 

With so much food at Mom's house, I only picked up a few things. Mostly, I contented myself with a little exploration, admiration, and some light drooling for good measure. Remembering my last visit here (1-1/2 years ago), though, I did pick up one of their homemade vegan cookies. While everyone nibbled on pumpkin pie and chocolate cake on Christmas day, I had my own delicious treat: a vegan ginger spice cookie. Thanks Aptos Natural Foods!

Garden Liquors and Deli

Hi. My name is Heather and I approve this sandwich. 

Garden Liquors and Deli is one of those places we stop every single time we visit. When Dave was growing up, it was here that he did some of his early computer tinkering, bartering his electronic expertise for a hearty ham sandwich. 

The same owner runs this tiny gem of a store and lunch here is not only a real treat, but a chance to reminisce about old times and catch up on all that is new. Pictured here is my sandwich: lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, sprouts, and avocado on rye. I love that here in California, when I explain I want a vegan sandwich, I don't get the evil eye or a blank (I have no idea what you just said) look, but rather a list of suggestions on toppings. Yes! I definitely get that "home sweet home" feeling, though I've never lived here. 


Our holiday is quickly coming to an end, but it's been a yummy one (as if you couldn't tell). California has all the things I love about local food in Texas. The only difference is that it's everywhere, all the time. Gotta love that! 

Hope everyone enjoyed the food porn. Have a great Tuesday and as always...

Happy (and mindful) eating!


Anonymous said...

Hi Heather,

I've been checking out your site for a while and enjoy reading your thoughts and efforts. I really like to see how you are putting yourself out there and , it seems to me, making some amazing contacts. In regards to wanting to move to Califonia because of how it's more in tune with your lifestyle (tongue in cheek or whatever), I always feel the same when I go to Vancouver, B.C. to visit family. (I live in Alberta.) The difference between the 2 places is night and day. The great thing is that you are helping to make the change in Texas so that some day people will think that your town is Mecca, because of the changes that you have brought about.


Heather @ SGF said...

Ingrid - You are absolutely right! In California, I'd be 1 in a million. Back home in Texas I'm a pioneer! :) Thanks for the encouragement!