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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Kitchen 2.0

I just returned from vacation in the Bay Area and at Molly's parents' home in Chico, California. It was a wonderful time away from Madison, with great weather, terrific food, and even better friends and family. More on that in the coming days, especially after I have a chance to look at my many photos.

While in Chico, I took the liberty to sleep in, cook fantastic meals with Molly and her family, and relax by the pool and around downtown. The weather was cooperative for bike rides, shopping, and sightseeing. One obligatory stop in Chico is always Zucchini & Vine, one of two stores that Molly's mother Nancy owns downtown. My previous visits to the North State have included just brief stops at Z&V to meet the helpful and informative ladies that man the counter or to quickly pick up a caesar dressing or some fromage for a cheese plate. This time, however, I brought my camera as I explored this gourmet kitchen store and sought to come to terms with the shopping experience Nancy had spent her life crafting.

Zucchini & Vine is magical. Not only does it have probably the best selection of top of the line items for the kitchen, but the care with which they are chosen and displayed for customers is unique. Perhaps we can chalk it up to the fact that Z&V is a small business and these sorts of things are just necessary. I think it is because Nancy wants the best for everyone who walks in the doors of Zucchini & Vine. And it all starts with the handwritten signs for the selection of local items throughout the store.

Even Nancy's attempts to keep these same customers informed via an email listserve is creative, direct, and quirky.

If you ever find yourself in Chico, stop by Zucchini & Vine at 2nd and Main. You certainly will not regret it. Nancy will dig deep to find out much about you, why you're in Chico, and connect with you in unexpected ways. Don't miss Z&V's first-press olive oil (also in lemon and orange varieties), delicious cheeses from the West Coast and abroad, bowls, glasses, and cutting boards from local artisans, and an amazing coffee wall.

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