Summit Kitchen has commuters covered with ready-to-heat meals, flowers, and smoked hot dogs
I traded a commute down industrial Highway 101 for the idyllic redwoods of Highway 17. The slow trek up the mountain was ideal for dreaming and planning, but once I hit the summit, the sweeping view of Monterey Bay and drop in temperature shook me into reality. "What's for dinner?" I would distressfully inquire.
California's Department of Transportation estimated that 20,000 commuters traveled daily over 17 in 2006. The new Summit Kitchen in the restaurant building adjacent to the southbound lanes is poised to answer the omnipresent dinner question smack dab in the middle of the commute, offering quick and healthy prepared meals.
The Kitchen's website lists take-out-ready meals that are available on a daily basis. On Mondays, you will usually find tri-tip with corn and garlic mashed potatoes, and spaghetti with meatballs or veggie marinara and a green salad.
One night I chose a take-and-bake pizza. The 15-inch All-Meat Combo ($14.99) cooked for about 16 minutes before achieving a thoroughly browned crust. I cheated a bit, placing the paper baking pan on the pizza stone I store in the oven. I also couldn't resist picking a plum tomato while walking up the drive to slice and add to the toppings. Pizza parlor aromas filled the kitchen as bubbling cheese surrounded spiced pepperoni, crumbles of sausage and salty salami on a coating of tart, herbed tomato sauce.
The following night I heated two different meals ($6.95) in sectioned recyclable containers in the microwave. Soft cubed beef in a mildly spiced tomato-based Chile Colorado sauce was joined by Spanish rice and refried beans. The scent of American comfort food arose from a thick slice of seasoned meatloaf with bright green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy.
If you're immediately hungry, try one of the Miller's brand long, juicy, hickory-smoked beef hotdogs ($3.50) which have fewer grams of fat than the leading chicken and turkey franks. Summit has all the condiments including brown mustard and sauerkraut, and the view from the landscaped deck is beautiful.
Additionally, if you find you've forgotten your partner's birthday, Los Gatos Florist shares the space selling flowers and gifts.
Summit Kitchen, 23123 Santa Cruz Highway 17, Los Gatos, (408) 353-1000. Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit summitkitchen.com. ★★★
Love Apple Farm is now teaching many of its cooking classes at a new location off of Highway 17 and Vine Hill Road, where the Smothers Brothers once made wine.
Some of these courses will be taught by David Kinch and his staff from the renowned Los Gatos restaurant Manresa. Kinch sources most of his produce from his "kitchen farm" at Love Apple.
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