Monday, September 12, 2011

Things I Love About Chico #1 - Fantastic Foodiness

Today's post is a bit of a departure from my posts as of late.  I am going to try to increase the number of posts on the blog as well as the diversity of posts - so, if you only read to follow Bean's story, you can skip this one as she is but a bit player in today's post (there are some pics though - she loves to have her picture taken, so its inevitable).  But, I will continue to cover her health care story...I will just be writing other things in between.  I'm going to attempt a blog schedule and my Sundays (when I post on Sunday) will be Things I Love About Chico posts.  Simply because I love Chico and its a good way of introducing my readers to some of the things we get to experience up here in the Northern Northern California area! 

I am getting ready to head out to my third Taste of Chico.  For those unfamiliar with this type of event, let me explain.  The city's (and surrounding area's) restaurants, caterers, stores and other businesses set up a booth on downtown streets and provide small "tastings" to ticket holders.  You buy pre-paid punch cards for so many food and drink tastings and the vendors punch them as they provide your tastes.  In addition to the food, there is a beer/wine garden for adult beverage tasting, bands playing all day in multiple places and a lot of coupon/discount offers from many vendors.  Its a really fun and tasty day and you get to sample some food that you might never otherwise know about.  I discovered one of my favorite Chico foods at Taste of Chico two years ago - Bacio's catering and their BBQ chicken or pork sandwich!  I've now eaten multiple things at Bacio's (which has a counter service as well as catering) and all of them have been fantastic - but without Taste of Chico, I may have never eaten there!  This year will be especially nice because it isn't horribly hot (it has often been in the 100s, but right now it is high 70s and at the peak today it will only be 92), which will make the whole experience much more enjoyable!  I can't wait to make a new discovery this year!

Speaking of new food discoveries, I have been participating in Upgraded Living's "Secret Menu" challenge and so far it has been a blast!  Basically, the challenge is to visit 18 local restaurants in the month of September, order the "Secret Menu" item listed in the magazine (some are not actually secrets, but are just the hidden gems on the menu), take pictures and post them on the magazine's Facebook page.  They are giving away $50 gift certificates to each of the restaurants and a $200 cash prize to one participant.  So far, I think I've been to the most places, but its still relatively early in the month.  But, it has been a lot of fun to try new places and new items at old places.  It is amazing how a relatively small city like Chico has so many great places to eat and so many hidden little places around town.  I think I'm close to being half way done with the 18 places and so far there has really only been one thing that I would not get again - and it is not a reflection of the restaurant, but the fact that their item was a gluten-free pizza, which wasn't bad, but not having a gluten allergy, I would prefer my usual pizza crust, thank you!  But, its nice to know there is a pizza option for those with gluten allergies in town!  I have gone to three new places due to the challenge (Donut Rising, Farm Star Pizza and Left Coast Pizza) and ordered a bunch of new and really good items at places I had been before.

Because of these food adventures, Bean has tried some new foods as well.  She really liked the donuts

 and very much enjoyed the dough on the pizza from Farm Star Pizza.

I have always loved the food choices in Chico, but this is bringing me a whole new appreciation for the variety and quality of food here!  Thanks Chico!  I'm not a foodie, but I love food and Chico is perfect for a food-loving non-foodie like me!

Finally, the last food thing I love about Chico is the Saturday Farmers' Market.  Its a year round farmers market with lots of great produce, some specialty food items and great gift possibilities from local artisans. This past weekend, my friend Theresa and I took some photos to give you a "taste" of this local event.  Enjoy!

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