I See Pancakes in the Grand Canyon – 020305

I have this thing about seeing food in almost everything I look at. Now that’s what I call food obsessed. Mike Buchheit, lustrous field director of the Grand Canyon Field Institute, was giving a colorful and informative presentation at REI in Tempe on trials and tribulations of Grand Canyon water rafting. Packed full of great slides depicting rafting adventures of the Colorado and Green Rivers.

Looking down at the Colorado River from Plateau Point photo by Tery Spataro

Mike reenacted historical overview of the first rafting expeditions. He made very clear to us if we were ever to venture into the Canyon either by hiking, mule pack, or rafting that drinking water is essential. AND, he emphasized that eating is equally important. The REI room was packed with accomplished adventure seekers, first timers, and those who could only hope through Mike’s presentation to experience the greatness of the Grand Canyon.

Kim and Mike Buchheit


I sat next to Kim Buchheit, graphic designer extraordinary and Mike’s wife. She opened her lovely purse and pulled out chocolate candies and cookies Mike’s mother made. She nudged me with open bags indicating I should have one. These yummy treats were a great accompaniment to exciting exposition and adventurous rafting tales of the Grand Canyon Mike related to the spell bound audience. At the end of the presentation I felt like I been on a rafting tour as I looked up at the slide on the screen I swore I saw a stack of pancakes instead of the sandstone plateau.

As we were leaving Kim introduced me to Rachel Woodburn, accomplished artist and instructor at the Scottsdale Community College. Rachel and I had a delightful conversation about the arts in Phoenix. She reminded me I should attend First Fridays, incidentally is this Friday. She also gave a tip on a place to have dinner, My Florist.

After the engaging discussion on Grand Canyon water rafting dinner was encouraged. It was late about 9pm by Phoenix standards. Not many restaurants were open, but NYPD Pizza in Chandler welcomed us with open arms. Pizza pies and pancakes have a somewhat similar look. Carolyn, our dining host, knew we must be hungry and took our order. Joey’s Favorite, vegetarian pizza in which we added anchovies I planned on splitting with my mom. My dad ordered Brooklyn Family consisting of his favorite toppings of pepperoni, sausage and fresh basil and beverage of choice Budweiser. To my surprise they had Stewart’s Root Beer, which I love! Even through I grew up with A&W.

Carolyn didn’t mess around she brought us Chelsea Chopped Salad quickly. Almonds, bacon, gorgonzola cheese, sun dried tomatoes, mixed greens and NYPD’s own dressing that is a mix of house vinaigrette and ranch dressing. It was tasty but I have pet peeve about what mixed greens are suppose to be. When I think of mix greens I think of green leafy lettuce, arugula, roman lettuce but no iceberg lettuce. According to Food Reference.com “Iceberg lettuce is 90% water and has very little flavor, and almost no nutrients.” You can find the complete nutrient breakdown at Nutrition Data. With a title like Chelsea Chopped Salad, being a former Manhattanite once have an apartment in the center of Chelsea, removing Iceberg and replacing it with lovely fresh greens will upscale the favor all the more and live up to it’s name!

While waiting for our pizzas to be served, Earth Kitt was singing C’est Si Bon in the background, we debated the nicely painted NYC cityscape mural. I kept looking and looking finally concluding directional perspective was off. I walked every inch of Manhattan where I live there for over 18 years the skyline is burned in my mind what I was seeing wasn’t in realty. Execution of the painting is nice nevertheless.

Seconds after our artistic debate, Carolyn came with pizzas in hand. I sampled both Joey’s Favorite and Brooklyn Family it was hard to decide which one I liked best. With all honesty I can say, “It’s so good!” NYPD does pizza right! Both crust and sauce rich in favor made me long for home!

We couldn’t finish the rest of pizza so it was boxed to go. Carolyn came out with a surprise us to sample later on: New York Cheesecake and The Bada Bing Chocolate Cake. Later on I’ll have a tasting while I write the next Daily Eats.

This former New Yorker is proud to say NYPD is a great place for pizza, fun, and of course to debate the history of New York City, Italian culture and the “families”!

Postscripts:

Hit The Trail Grand Canyon and Southwest – Mike Buchheit

My October 31, 2001 hike at the Grand Canyon with Kim and Mike Buchheit and Tom Spataro, my brother.

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