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Thursday, August 28th, 2008

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Fort Bragg – Come for the fun, stay for the food

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Cynthia Ariosta Piaci

Chef Gregorio Garcia & Piaci Owner Cynthia Ariosta

Walking into Piaci Pub & Pizzeria in downtown Fort Bragg is like walking into Boston’s fictitious Cheers Pub; where everybody knows your name.  “Or at least where you work,” says co-owner Cynthia Ariosta with a smile.  Ariosta and Business Partner Stephen Duerr took over this local hang out, known for its superior thin crust pizza, from original owner Jim Muto in 2003, and its been hopping ever since.

“This is Italian style pizza,” notes Ariosta as she multi-tasks, serving sandwiches and salads to regulars, pouring micro-brewed beer from the tap and offering pizza suggestions to out-of-towners such as myself.  “We make our own sausage in house.  We buy our pork from Roundman’s Smokehouse up the street and we utilize local produce.”  Case in point, today’s caprese salad is made with Sky Hoyt Farm’s tomatoes from Lake County.  Piaci Chef Gregorio Garcia picked  up the tomatoes and basil from the Wednesday Fort Bragg Farmer’s Market.

“We have a great staff and are strong believers in the economic gardening philosophy,” notes Ariosta.  That is, they embrace strategies to grow existing businesses in their community.  This philosophy seems to be paying off in the formerly blue collar town of Fort Bragg.

Mendocino Chocolate Company

Like the product?  Why not buy the company?

Mendocino Chocolate Company Owner Julie Keaton had purchased chocolates for their Seabird Lodge hotel guests for years.  When they heard the business was for sale in 2003, she and her husband jumped in with both feet, or perhaps hands is a better word.  Afterall, the candies are decorated and made by hand.  The coffee toffee with hazelnuts is unique, as is the 6 Angels Mocha Truffle, six being the number of children in Keaton’s household.

For something homemade and unique to Fort Bragg, visit Cowlicks Handmade Ice Cream located on Main Street.  Locals rave about the seasonal mushroom ice cream that tastes like maple nut.  Across the street, Piaci offers Cowlicks Spumoni flavored ice cream.

Mendocino Cookie Company

Mendocino Cookie Company

“Do you want to know something funny?” asks Mendocino Cookie Company Manager and Owner Wendy Alarcon.  “My mother never baked us cookies when we were growing up!” laughs Alarcon.  Previously located in Mendocino for fourteen years, the company moved to Fort Bragg because they needed more elbow room and they viewed the community as up-and-coming.

In selecting a few cookies from the fifteen different varieties, Alarcon suggested the Backpacker cookie,  sort of a granola cookie with oats, raisins, chocolate and butterscotch chips, along with the Chocolate Bliss, a chocolate shortbread cookie with chocolate chips.  Mighty taste cookies.

Winemaker meets fellow BlogHers at SF Conference

Monday, July 28th, 2008
 San Francisco Heart Imagine my delight when I found a familiar face in the crowd during a recent BlogHer party.  I'd spotted Debra Mathy pouring her luscious Zinfandel at an exclusive gathering.  Hours earlier ... [Continue reading this entry]

A wannabe Carmel resident

Sunday, June 29th, 2008
Carmel Point Lobos I wrote about Carmel for Uptake this week from an "almost local's perspective."  My mom and dad have lived there for over twenty years, my husband and I were married in Carmel and ... [Continue reading this entry]

A southern Oregon river runs through it

Saturday, June 21st, 2008
North Umpqua Oregon's North Umpqua River       photo credit: Marico Fayre The only blackberries you'll find at the Steamboat Inn come from the kitchen in a fresh pie or cobbler.  There is no ... [Continue reading this entry]

New Zealand trip so good, the kids liked it

Friday, February 29th, 2008
Pelletreau New Zealand   Contra Costa Times Article Launched: 02/29/2008 03:18:20 AM PST [Continue reading this entry]

Vacation wonderland awaits in Machu Picchu

Friday, February 1st, 2008
[Continue reading this entry]

Spanish experience was truly fit for a …pilgrim

Friday, December 28th, 2007
Contra Costa Times
No one snoozed in the pews when visiting Santiago City’s church service.  “It was theatrical,” marveled Lafayette’s Marcia ... [Continue reading this entry]

Around the world with a mother and daughter

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007
Espani Fountain Zaragoza, Spain   Nancy Brown, left, and her mother, Janet Mooers, make a stop in Zaragoza, Spain.
Contra Costa Times
THE TRAVELERS: Lafayette mom and consultant Nancy Brown, age 40-plus; and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Travelers enjoy a touch of Midas

Friday, November 30th, 2007
Contra Costa Times
Forty five miles northeast of Winnemucca and eight miles from the Nevada ghost town of Midas, is a place Cory Brown calls, ... [Continue reading this entry]