Californians get labeled as being gorgeous, healthy and tan. The first two stereotypes are actually pretty spot on. The majority of Californians are health conscious, most love eating-all fruits and vegetables, and love exercise? If you call playing outside on a beautiful day exercise, yes, we do that too. That is in part, California Living.
California is aptly associated with sprawling miles of coastline and an endless supply of sunshine. Ok, NorCal has some gray days, but the special geographical and topographical factors present in the long coastal state all contribute to the world renowned and abundant local produce varieties grown here. California is often the leading national producer of; almonds, milk (dairy), grapes, strawberries and tomatoes, yet despite recurring drought conditions the most recent report (for fiscal year 2014) from the CDFA (California Department of Food and Agriculture) notes a five percent increase in crop yields across the fields from more than 76,000 farms and ranches, occupying approximately 25.5 million acres across the state. Green is good and with cash crops totaling $54 billion in annual state revenue, the golden state leads the nation consistently with “cash farm receipts with combined commodities”, hence fruits and vegetables, not tourism, are the lifeblood of the state.
When we think of eating healthy, pizza isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but in California it can be and at California Pizza Kitchen it actually is healthy(er). Did you just die and are now suddenly reading the ‘Heavenly Herald’? No, but here’s the real “News Flash”, you can have your indulgent pizza and be healthy too. It starts with the ingredients. Last summer the iconic California Pizza Kitchen decided to write a “Next Chapter” and introduced both Lunch and Dinner entrees which include seasonal and rotating specials based on the freshest locally sourced ingredients. Sure, it sounds like every other chain now tailoring to local tastes and farm to table approaches, and it works.
Known best for their innovative signature pizzas, inventors of the Barbeque Chicken Pizza-an instant American classic, at all San Diego locations of California Pizza Kitchen you will now also find a few customary local dishes. Mahi Mahi fish tacos drizzled with a Sriracha ranch drizzle and come loaded with the mandatory California weights and measure of avocado (½ an avocado per taco) served on a “hybrid” (corn and flour) Mazina tortilla with a side of (house made daily) fire-roasted salsa alongside blue and white corn tortilla chips. After tasting the full range of complete dinner options at the Solana Beach California Pizza Kitchen, sampling items from the “Next Chapter” menu the only pizza I sampled was the Wild Mushroom flatbread with shaved Cremini’s, Spinach, Romano and fresh grated Parmesan, the mushrooms may have been in the dirt that morning. A light and crunchy way to get started with some fresh vegetables. Jennifer Feldman, Manager of the Solana Beach location, who has been with California Pizza Kitchen for over a decade (multiple locations) is beaming with pride since the enhancements have been made to the menu and inclusion of flexible tailored fare for the “locals”.
Rabbit food, or ‘Salads’ as some say, are most often pretty simple dishes. Hence, the freshness and quality stand out (unless masked by thick salad dressing) and nowhere is it more flavor-fully evident than in the California Pizza Kitchen’s Salads. Stepping up their nutrient game with the towering Quinoa and Arugula super-grain salad tossed in a bubbly hint of champagne vinaigrette, this is a salad-meal that will make you feel energized, revitalized and full. Tossed with roasted pine nuts, chunky and creamy Feta and crispy sprigs of asparagus it is the most filling (and nourishing) salad you will ever try. Proteins such as Grilled Chicken Breast, Grilled Shrimp or even Sautéed Salmon can be tossed in as well. And as for proteins-California Pizza Kitchen is also now serving a Fire-Grilled Ribeye cooked in Pinot Noir sea salt and served with a creamy blue cheese butter pat melting over the top. Served on a cutting board with tri-color roasted carrots and fingerling potatoes, pizza and steak is a new take on California Gourmet.
What about fish? The “Next Chapter” Hearth-roasted Halibut is a sustainable wild catch from the Aleutian islands which is roasted on a cedar plank and crowned atop a rich medley of seasonal vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and cauliflower all tossed with farro, a nutty and light, it is sweetly surprising flavor combination paired with the clean fresh white Halibut.
Lunch Duos are a wonderful expansion of the regular menu for locals who are all too often in a weekday time crunch for lunch and sick of the same ol’ same ol’. These half and half items keep you going with good sustainable energy. Pair a half sandwich or half pizza with a cup of made fresh daily soup or lunch portion salad, the combinations seem endless.
All of the California Pizza Kitchen most popular fan favorites are still on the menu including the creative pastas, scrumptious appetizers, unique kids menu. And if you haven’t tried a dessert from California Pizza Kitchen-save room for the Butter Cake -as the menu and hosts will advise, “Just try it.” Delectable and rich, there goes the healthy meal!