Sunday, September 15, 2013

Around Town: Sniffing out the trail of morning coffee

Summers in La Cañada Flintridge are lovely. The weather is gorgeous. Some nights, there are meteor showers. Traffic is lighter.

Summer is the perfect time to take Miss Audrey Hepburn, our Lab-chow dog, out for Sunday brunch.

If we lived in Paris, Miss Hepburn could accompany us to lunch. There would be an empty chair upon which we would place five or six shopping bags. The maitre d' would bring her a small, porcelain bowl filled to the brim with spring water.

If we lived in West Hollywood, Miss Hepburn would come with us to the WeHo Bistro on La Cienega. She could sit with us, sample the scrambled eggs and forgo the coffee.

If we spent Sundays at our office, we could go to the Europane, the bakery next door. During the week, Europane hosts the Pasadena Humane Society's monthly canine field trip. Each shelter dog is accompanied by a volunteer. They wait in the patio outside. Europane's manager, Pat, and her staff bring out bowls of fresh cooked tuna and water for the dogs and complimentary coffee and pastries for the humans. The scene is so poignant that passersby stop to talk adoption.

We live, however, in La Cañada, a sports-minded upscale town at the base of the Angeles National Forest. Our dog-friendly options, therefore, are limited.

We can go hiking. We can ride bikes. We can jog down Foothill Boulevard with our dog.

We can walk to Descanso Gardens. But, alas, dogs are not allowed inside.

We can walk to the Saturday Farmers Market, which bars dogs from entry.

“Who, me?” says Miss Audrey Hepburn. “I don't even like grapes.”

Obviously the Farmers Market is trying to protect the grumpy French fromage guy from sniveling canines who beg, beg, beg for cheese.

“What's wrong with that?” asks Miss Hepburn. She supports dogs everywhere who just like cheese.

Despite these setbacks, we found several dog-friendly options in La Cañada for morning coffee, provided that one of us stays outside with Miss Hepburn to prevent kidnapping.

We skipped the two Starbucks with outdoor seating, even though one is next to Goldstein's Bagels and the other is near Trader Joe's. Why? The parking lots are too busy, the seating is too crowded and the many automobiles are too stressful for Miss Hepburn.

Even though we don't shop at Vons, we decided on Zeli Coffee Bar in the Plaza de La Cañada. The coffee is good. Sunday mornings are quiet. There are lots of outdoor seating, free newspapers and fresh pastries.

But then we noticed the tables and chairs in front of Goodie Girls, the cupcake factory. Goodie Girls is dog-friendly!

Amazingly, the young owners of Goodie Girls are named Starbuck.

Annette Starbuck stood in the gleaming kitchen, experimenting with cookies and decorating cupcakes. Annette is from Coeur d'Alene, so she gets our sophisticated yet small-town vibe. Her husband, Anthony Starbuck, was busy making coffee drinks. Not regular coffee. Drip-brewed or filtered coffee is not on the Goodie Girls menu. For that, you go to Zeli's.

The Goodie Girls coffee menu includes espresso, Americano, cappuccino, latte, caffe mocha, caffe white mocha, affogato and extra shots. The Americano, which is made from hot water added to espresso, tastes similar to drip brewed coffee.

For the uninitiated, an affogato usually is made from a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso. Anthony Starbuck makes it with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream topped with whipped cream.

All the more reason to choose Starbuck over Starbucks.,0,124701.story

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