The evening drive from Monument to my Rockrimmon home was torturous, but not because of traffic or weather. It was the tantalizing aromas of truffle oil, garlic and rosemary wafting from the pizza boxes on the passenger seat that set the appetite alarms at high pitch. It was everything I could do not to rip off the lid and dive in for a slice.
The artisan pizzas were from Papa Bear Pizza, which opened Nov. 3 at 243 Washington St. in Monument in the former tasting room of Catriona Cellars. Owners Nicholas Blake and Charlie Snow offer a tight menu of pizzas and sandwiches. Blake shows his passion for cooking using fresh ingredients and making everything from scratch. The dough is made daily using Italian imported "00" Caputo flour to achieve flavor excellence.
One of my aromatic passenger pies was the Baby Doe ($17), a white pizza, starting with a roasted garlic olive oil brush on the crust, then layered with mozzarella and provolone, topped with sliced roasted red and Yukon gold potatoes, thick cut applewood bacon, red onions and fresh rosemary, and finished with white truffle oil drizzle and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
The other - the Clyde & Chauncey ($18) - is their classic pie with house pomodoro sauce topped with mozzarella and provolone blend, sliced house-made meatballs, caramelized onions, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh Italian parsley.
Blake takes great care arranging the toppings artistically, with every slice having a little of each topping. He's a perfectionist, which takes time, so plan accordingly. Call in your order. A wine and beer license is in the works. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Details: 418-2070, papabearpizzas.com.
Home sweet home
The first floor of the Historic Day Nursery was filled with the sweet smell of ginger, cinnamon and allspice during the Gingerbread Masterpiece Challenge. It was the 23rd anniversary of the event, in which teams of chefs go spatula-to-spatula trying to outdo each other for bragging rights as the first-place candy house makers. The contest took place during the Gingerbread and Jazz event. The competitors had two hours to decorate the cookie walls of their creations. Teams included:
- Icing on the Cake named its house Christmas at St. Elmo's.
- The Picnic Basket named its house Colorado Heights.
- The Sourdough Boulangerie created a house dubbed A Holiday at the Bakery.
- The Sugarplum Cake Shoppe produced the Small Town Christmas house.
The judges were former contestants Michelle Asher and Debbie Downing as well as yours truly.
As the decorating progressed, guests dined at food stations set up throughout the building and catered by The Picnic Basket. Four jazz bands entertained the crowd. It all made for a festive evening to kick off the holiday season.
First place and People's Choice awards went to The Picnic Basket.
The second-place award went to The Sugarplum Cake Shoppe.
The winning cake was auctioned for $2,000.
Bada Japanese Restaurant, 2777 Janitell Road, is tucked in a strip mall near Kohl's on Circle Drive, but it's a lovely place to enjoy beautifully fashioned sushi. Owner Song Yi is the skilled roll maker who most recently worked the sushi bar at Kura Japanese Restaurant. Bada's hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays; noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays; and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays. Details: 424-7269, tinyurl.com/yao5e576.
Jl Fields, vegan culinary instructor and cookbook author, will teach a three-part Vegan Holiday Cooking series at 6 p.m. on the following dates at Whole Foods Market, 7635 N. Academy Blvd. Advance registration is required; visit tinyurl.com/ycnyvwdn.
- Nov. 29 - Holiday Helper: Pressure cooking holiday classics made fast
- Dec. 7 - Air Frying 101, the holiday edition
- Dec. 14 - A Vegetable-Forward Holiday Dinner
The Sons of Norway serves a traditional Scandinavian Christmas Tea at Viking Hall, 1045 Ford St., at 2 p.m. Dec. 2. For $17, you get homemade holiday goodies and tea, lefse roll-ups, dainty open-faced sandwiches, krumkage (cookies) and Norwegian waffles. Reservations required before Nov. 29. Call 229-9289.
Closed for repairs
China Village, 203 N. Union Blvd., is temporarily closed because of a kitchen fire. Owner Mei Chung said there had been problems passing building and health department inspections. The eatery will remain closed indefinitely until needed repairs are complete.
Send tips about restaurant openings, closings and specials to email@example.com, 636-0271, Twitter: @tffoodie or Facebook Teresa Farney.