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PostHeaderIcon Amici's East Coast Pizzeria

Ask a New Yorker where to find good pizza and chances are they’ll tell you it doesn’t exist outside the New York City limits. New York style pizza is renowned for its large size and thin crust. A Los Angeles Times article (March 14, 2009) takes it even further, explaining that New York style pizza “should be less than one-fourth-inch thick until you get about 1 to 1 1/2 inches from the edge; this area should be thicker, with good hole structure, i.e., bubbles.”  The article goes on to explain that the pie should be baked in a wood or coal fired oven until the crust is nearly charred. Mozzarella is the preferred cheese.

There are countless restaurants that claim to be able to reproduce the famous pie, but Manhattanites, still turn their noses up.

So what’s the difference? In 2009, the television show, Food Detectives (Food Network), set out to dispel the claim that it’s the water. The water theory is prevalent. There are pizza joints throughout the country that claim to import New York City tap water to make their pizza. Despite their efforts to put this theory into the “urban myth” category, judges were able to pick out the pizza made with New York City tap water as the “true” New York style pizza.

So how does Danville’s Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria stack up? Friends and I filled a couple of tables recently to find out.

We started the evening with a couple of Amici’s salads: a spinach salad ($7.95) and the large version of an artichoke panzanella salad ($13.75), which easily served four. The spinach salad was filled with great toppings, like roasted red peppers, red onion, tomato, bacon, feta and toasted pine nuts tossed with a lemon basil vinaigrette dressing. The panzanella salad, billed as a classic Tuscan bread salad, included artichoke hearts, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onion and capers. It was a bit disappointing. I prefer the bread in my salad to be married with the rest of the ingredients. The bread in Amici’s version is tossed in more like unbaked croutons.

For our pies, we selected two large specialty pizzas. The spicy pepper chicken pizza ($24.95) had sliced chicken breast, mozzarella, roasted red peppers caramelized onions, cilantro, oregano and hot red pepper flakes. This pizza doesn’t come with tomato sauce, but the kitchen happily accommodated us by including it.

The Calabria ($24.95) pizza was topped with mozzarella, provolone, pancetta, and a choice of either green olives or tomatoes. Again we added tomato sauce to the pizza and opted for the green olives. The olives certainly added flavor, but if you’re not a big fan, they can be overwhelming, so opt for the tomatoes instead.

Both pizzas were fabulous – and nary a slice was left. 

The crust was definitely thin and on the charred side and the slices big enough to fold over, but as far as authenticity goes, this native Californian will yield to the yelpers who say it’s the closest you can get in the Bay Area.

I will definitely be a repeat customer.

Amici’s menu also features a dozen or so pastas. Low-carb crust and low-carb pastas are available. Some locations include gluten free options.

Amici’s has several Bay Area locations. Find Amici’s in Danville at 720 Camino Ramon and in Dublin at 4640 Tassajara Road. For a complete menu listing, visit www.amicis.com.


PostHeaderIcon Acalanes High School Wins Fourth Straight Academic Decathlon

Congratulations to Acalanes High School of Lafayette, the overall team winner of the 2010 Contra Costa County Academic Decathlon. This is Acalanes' fourth year in a row as the county's team winner.

The annual event, which was held over two consecutive Saturdays earlier this year, is directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), along with the assistance of numerous community volunteers. Close to 150 participating students studied since the beginning of the school year in September to prepare for the event.

The Academic Decathlon provides an opportunity for high school students to compete as individuals and teams in a series of ten academic tests and demonstrations including: art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, essay, interview and speech (both prepared and impromptu). The event culminates in a SuperQuiz; this year's theme was the French Revolution. Acalanes High School will represent Contra Costa County at the California Academic Decathlon that will be held in Sacramento March 12-15. Last year, Acalanes was named as the overall Division III Team Winner in the California State Academic Decathlon. The National Academic Decathlon will be held in Omaha, Neb., April 21-24.

"The Academic Decathlon is an outstanding event, which challenges our students’ knowledge and learning skills," says Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Joseph A. Ovick, Ed.D.  "My congratulations to all the schools and students who participated, I know they will never forget this experience. We at the CCCOE would also like to convey a big thank you to all the teachers and volunteers who made the event another success.”

The high school teams are made up of nine students, grades 9-12, with a maximum of three students in each of the following divisions: Honors (3.75-4.00 GPA), Scholastic (3.00-3.74 GPA) and Varsity (2.99 GPA and below). For the complete team and individual scores of the 2010 Contra Costa County Academic Decathlon, visit www.cocoschools.org/edsvcs/events/decathlon.htm.


PostHeaderIcon Andrea's Weight Loss Tale - Week 17

This week I lost 1.5 pounds for a total of 36.1. I was excited to be accompanied to my weekly WW by my friend Kay. Kay is my neighbor but also a colleague as we work in the same industry. Kay and I have done some walking together and she has followed my weight loss journey here. She does not need to lose anywhere near the amount I need to, but she wants to lose some and was curious about how the WW program has changed since she last joined in the 90's. She e-mailed asking if she could come along and I enthusiastically welcomed her aboard the weight loss train.

We work near one another so we'll get to attend meetings together and motivate one another to stay on track. Kay is also a great cook, doesn't eat beef or pork and knows a lot about foods and ingredients generally, so I'm sure she will share some good food finds with me as we drop pounds together. She has already alerted me to some research involving artificial sweeteners which I consume every day. I need to be more aware of the downside of artificial sweeteners. 

One of my fellow WW members surprised meeting attendees by bringing a dish she made from the WW website - Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie. The dish called for reduced fat crescent rolls and a skim-milk based sauce, and it was delicious with a one cup serving equaling 5 points. As someone who loves chicken pot pie, I really enjoyed the many vegetables and seasonings present in this dish. I plan to contribute my own dish to this week's meeting by making the Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta for attendees. The recipe was featured in our Weight Watcher Weekly newsletter and it looks tasty, featuring turkey sausage and red wine - mmmmmmm. 

Tune in next week for a review.


To read all of Andrea's blog entries, click here.

For pictures that tell stories you won't soon forget for rejuvenation of body and mind

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