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Feb 12th
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Full of SmoQe

dining_SmoQeThe new SmoQe brings BBQ and wood-fired pizzas to Aptos
The warm smell of smoke mingled with the scent of simmering barbecue sauce.  At SmoQe, food is prepared the way our ancestors cooked it—over a wood fire. And if the mostly full house on my last lunchtime visit is any indication, they are going to need a bigger parking lot.
Conversation echoed off the cement floor in the refurbished pizza parlor building. We took a seat and studied the menu, which posed difficult decisions, creative spelling aside. Although orders are placed at the counter, diners are treated to cloth napkins and real silverware, and the “plastic” soda cups are 100 percent compostable.
Our six meals were delivered sporadically, but all within a few minutes. A half pound of peel-and-eat Hot ’n’ Spicy Shrimp ($11) was seared in the wood-fired oven and seasoned with both chipotle and smoked paprika, giving them a depth of hot spice.
The iceberg Wedge Salad ($5) was crisp, with crunchy house-made croutons, and included a welcome twist of sweet, roasted garlic.
Options for the wood-fired pizza include regular or gluten-free crust, dairy-free cheese, grilled and then wood-fired, or entirely wood-fired. The colorful, thin-crusted Pesto Pizza Napolitano ($12) was topped with alternating spoonfuls of tart herbed red sauce, dollops of ricotta, aromatic garlic, fresh mozzarella and rich basil pesto, and topped after cooking with fresh basil. The heat of the Italian pizza oven, coaxed a nuttier flavor from the sprinkle of tanned pine nuts.
In addition to house-ground beef burgers, SmoQe offers a Bison Burger ($11). On a poppy seed bun, it included grilled onions, Irish cheddar, and a choice of fries. Thin sweet potato fries, lightly dotted with salt crystals, were light with crisp exteriors.
Other sandwiches, made with thin, grilled focaccia bread, are called tacos ($7 to $8).  Each comes with a choice of house-made thick, BBQ-seasoned potato chips, maple beans, or crisp coleslaw, unusually dressed with tasty vinaigrette. The hormone-free beef brisket was dry-rubbed and smoked for 18 hours. The smoked chicken breast taco included arugula, avocado and cheddar cheese. Regular and spicy BBQ sauces are also available.
The plate of Pulled Pork ($10), smoked over apple wood for 14 hours, came heaped in a large, square bowl. Soft threads of tender meat and rich, chewy end pieces were flecked with red peppers. I enjoyed the tart and piquant vinegar-based sauce. There was enough left over to make two sizeable (and delicious) sandwiches at home.
On my next visit, I’ll make sure to save room for dessert. SmoQe offers cookies, carrot cake, lemon meringue pie, and caramel apple dumplings with ice cream. Sure to be family favorites are the S’mores ($9), which include a sampling of house-made ingredients that you cook at your table.

SmoQe, 10110 Soquel Dr., Aptos, 662-2BBQ. Beer and wine. Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Monday. Visit smoqe.com
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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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