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food Forward 6 An Edible Adventure Take a trip with Santa Cruz Food Tours

10 Basket Case An all local, springtime picnic basket

12 Virtual Vegan Go online with Amey Mathews

15 Eco-Friendly Eating Celebrate Earth Day with your fork

eats

& treats

16 Authentic Italian Casa Nostra is the real thing

Liquid Therapy 38 It Takes Two Kombucha and wine come together as one in Brew Dream

18 Don’t Panic, It’s Organic Bantam settles in on the Westside

40 Ten Wines Worth a Sip Our wine expert picks 10 wines to know

22 More, Please! Five local dishes worth trying

32 Sweet Tooth Chocolate cake, gelato, crêpes and more

44 A New Brew Discretion Brewing brings organic beer and unique pub fare to Soquel

48 Spring Sip-ology Six cocktails to shake up your spring

editor’s note As Santa Cruz emerges from its wintry slumber, the sights, sounds and sumptuous flavors of our vibrant home come alive with the sunshine of spring. There’s plenty to keep you and your appetite busy, but if you need some inspiration, take note of the tasty ideas on the following pages. We have bites and sips that will satisfy you no matter the mood you find yourself in as the weather warms up. Feeling stressed? Slow down with a traditional tea ritual at Hidden Peak Teahouse (page 52), or unwind over a pint of organic brew at the mellow new beer hotspot Discretion Brewing (page 44). Enjoying an adventurous streak? Try a Beer Float from The Picnic Basket (page 34), or consider stopping by the Young Farmers and Ranchers annual Testicle Festival (page 59). On a health kick? Dine at Golden Carrot-winning eateries (page 14), sip on locally made kombucha wine from Brew Dream (page 38), and find sweet satisfaction in raw, vegan, gluten-free Coco-Roons (page 30). And if, after considering all of these options you find yourself feeling indecisive, sign up for a Santa Cruz or Capitola Food Tour, and let history buff Brion Sprinsock take the reins on your culinary journey (page 6). But the best way to celebrate both the spring season and your local food community is with—what else?—a delicious picnic. Check out page 10 for an example of how to pack a picnic basket to the brim with Santa Cruz-made delights. Now dig in.

—Elizabeth Limbach, Editor

food & wine spring 2013 Publisher Jeff Mitchell Editor Elizabeth Limbach Contributors Josie Cowden, Joel Hersch, Karen Petersen, Kim Reyes, Aric Sleeper Proofreader Josie Cowden Photographer Keana Parker Art Director Joshua Becker Layout and Design Director Jennifer Poli Designers Ian Webb Carly Gunther Advertising Director Stephanie Lutz x204 Account Executives Kate Kauffman x208 Kelli Edwards x 217 Chelsey Mosgrove x218 Rose Frates x 219 On the Cover: Design by Jennifer Poli. Photo of Bantam’s chrysanthemum, prosciutto and fontina pizza by Keana Parker.

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A Tasty Trail Food tour participants get schooled in local gastronomy as well as Santa Cruz and Capitola history By Joel Hersch

KEANA PARKER

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Brion Sprinsock


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ueled by his passion for Santa Cruz County history and a penchant for delicious meals from locally owned restaurants, Brion Sprinsock leads the Santa Cruz and Capitola Food Tours— scenic strolls flavored with enlightening stories, and the best, sometimes overlooked, eats around. Sprinsock and his wife, Kristine Albrecht, started the Santa Cruz walking tour in 2011 and added the Capitola tour last year. Both tours take about three and a half hours—covering around 1.8 miles—with 15 to 20 minute stops at designated restaurants. In Santa Cruz, partakers nosh on Mediterranean-inspired American cuisine at the Center Street Grill, sample vegetarian Sri Lankan fare at Malabar, cool off with fresh organic offerings from The Penny Ice Creamery, and more. Capitola tourtakers taste Island Fusion dishes

from Paradise Beach Grille, experience traditional English tea at The Quail & Thistle Tea Room, and visit the illustrious Shadowbrook Restaurant, among other stops. “You get really full, but the walking allows your food to digest and it also cleanses the palate,” Sprinsock explains. The idea, he says, is to get people to try great food from places that they may normally overlook, as well as give them a personal connection with those restaurants by sharing stories about their histories and the people who started them. Sprinsock, whose interest in local history was sparked by historian Sandy “The History Dude” Lydon, says that the food is what draws people to the tours, but it’s the history and architecture that make the experience truly memorable. “If you just take the 10-by-10 block area of Downtown Santa

x Cruz, there are so many interesting stories to tell that people never hear about,” he says. Sprinsock delves into historical anecdotes and points out Victorian architecture along each route. On the Downtown Santa Cruz tour, for example, his topics range from the history of the NearyRodriguez Adobe, which he says is the oldest structure in town, and the origins of Mission Plaza, located above Pacific Avenue, to the evolution of downtown’s architecture and the ways in which the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake changed the city’s look. Sprinsock likes to keep the groups small and intimate, usually no more than 10 to 12 people. “It makes it so you can ask questions and enjoy the company,”

he says. “Sharing a meal is the best way to get to know someone.” While the tours are perfect culinary and cultural samplers for out-of-towners, Sprinsock says they appeal to locals as much as to tourists. In fact, since they started two years ago, he says about half of their customers have been area residents. Local businesses are also benefiting from the tours: last year, Sprinsock says the tours brought in $15,000 for local restaurants. When it comes to selecting stops for his culinary excursions, Sprinsock says, “To be on our tour, a restaurant has to be unique, it has to be unrepeatable, and locally owned.” /FW Tickets are available online at santacruzfoodtour.com with a 25 percent discount offer, bringing the cost of each tour down to $59.

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MAPPED ? By Elizabeth Limbach

MY AMERICAN PANTRY: A SNAPSHOT OF SANTA CRUZ FOOD ARTISANS

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tells the stories of food and drink artisans making culinary waves in their own regions. Santa Cruz was the second stop in the photo series, which you can keep tabs on at myamericanpantry.com. Nearly two dozen Santa Cruz-area food and beverage crafters turned out for the Feb. 16 photo shoot, which took place at the Homeless Garden Project. “The meaningful location gives the photo

another layer of depth,” says Blum. People from the following are pictured: Silk Road Elixirs (aka Cardamom Tuesday), Shelly’s Biscotti, Creative Cultures, The Penny Ice Creamery, el Salchichero, Uncommon Brewers, Melinda’s Gluten Free, Three of a Kind, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Voss Gardens, Serendipity Saucy Spreads and the Homeless Garden Project. /FW

KENNY BLUM PHOTOGRAPHY & ANDREA BLUM

nspired by the growing artisan food movement nationally, writer-turned-chef-turned-food entrepreneur Andrea Blum decided to create an atlas that documents the people who comprise it. Through her project, My American Pantry (MAP), Blum plans to create “a giant, interactive photo atlas stitched together into a national (and eventually international) map” that celebrates and

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Scotts Valley Location

Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner 465-1105 • 1710 Brommer St., Santa Cruz 438-2567 • 95 Mount Hermon Rd, Scotts Valley gtweekly.com l food & wine l 9


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JEREMEY BOT

A day in the life of local vegan blogger Amey Mathews By Elizabeth Limbach

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n her 13 years of veganism, Amey Mathews has received the question (often with raised eyebrows and an incredulous tone) “What do you eat?” a few too many times. After years as a self-professed “unhealthy vegetarian” whose diet consisted mainly of bread and cheese, going vegan forced Mathews to reassess her kitchen routine. “Now I go to the farmers’ market twice a week and [my diet] totally revolves around veggies,” says Mathews, a local yoga teacher. “That’s absolutely one of my favorite things about being vegan—how much it expanded my tastes.” Eager to show the world what a vegan eats (and perhaps put that repetitive question to rest once and for all) Mathews started the blog “Vegan Eats and Treats” (veganeatsandtreats.blogspot.com) in August 2006. “When I first got interested in vegan cooking, I looked online and there were maybe three or four vegan blogs, total—which is hilarious because now there are, like, three or four thousand vegan blogs,” she laughs. But her original intent—that the blog be a form of activism— quickly evolved. “I realized that on the Internet no one looks up opinions they find challenging just to read about them,” she says. “You go to the Internet for what you already want. So I have a lot of people who aren’t vegan who read my blog, but they are at least interested in cooking and eating vegan

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food. The majority of people who do read it are vegan. The blog turned out to be more like a community of friends, and about sharing successes, and sometimes failures, in the kitchen.” She picked up a few key lessons in blogging early on that helped shape the site: No. 1, she says, is that “plenty of meals are unremarkable and don’t need to go down in history.” This means blogging less often, but with a higher quality of posts. “I wait until I have something more interesting to post about,” she says. The second most important thing to know as a food blogger, says Mathews, is that readers want to see big, eye-catching photos. Now armed with an SLR camera, Mathews has upped the ante on “Vegan Eats and Treats” images, but says she doesn’t take it as seriously as some other online foodies. “The best bloggers are people who eat cold meals, which I’m not quite willing to do,” she says. “They take a lot of time, a lot of staging, and they have light tables and backdrops. I’ll do my best to take a good picture, but after five or six snaps, I’m ready to eat.” On a recent sunny afternoon, Mathews set the table at her Soquel home with a home-cooked meal certainly worthy of a post: potato salad with peas,

sorrel and shallot vinaigrette, and open-face sandwiches with avocado and lime spread on homemade “Green Monster Bread” (from the cookbook “Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!”), topped with grilled herb tofu (crusted with fresh parsley, dill, basil, garlic and marinade) and New Native sprouts. For dessert, she served up “Grandaddies Cookies”—a recipe she based on her late grandfather’s favorite dessert of mocha almond fudge ice cream doused with Disaronno. (See page 60 for the recipe.) She describes the blog as “lighthearted,” and says that, at its core, it’s simply about tasty food. “I certainly have strong feelings [about veganism], and I’m so committed to it,” she says, “but I think you can win a lot more people over with a good attitude and good food.” /FW


Spring Style

‘Seasonal Eating’ blogger Robin Horn on local foods to grow and buy this spring By Kim Reyes

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he Santa Cruz coastal climate makes seasonal and local eating a very easy reality, due to the fact that crops grow year-round. Felton resident Robin Horn, who has been living in Santa Cruz County for more than 30 years, takes full advantage of this fact. She loves to garden and attends the local farmers’ markets in Felton, Scotts Valley, Watsonville, and Downtown Santa Cruz. Horn also stops by the UC Santa Cruz Farm, whose produce comes from their internplanted and -harvested organic garden, and is a

member of the Live Earth Farm Community Supported Agricultural program and receives a box of local vegetables from them every week. “It’s a lot of food sometimes, and I try to find ways to be creative with my recipes,” says Horn. As a way to keep track of her kitchen creations and share them with others, Horn started a blog, titled “Seasonal Eating,” in April 2011. The online

portal focuses on sustainable local produce and delicious recipes using those ingredients, such as a Moroccan fava bean dip and steamed artichokes with lemon sauce. “I write ‘Seasonal Eating’ to inspire people to eat seasonally,” she says. With the arrival of spring, Horn suggests keeping an eye out for spring peas, fava beans, artichokes, strawberries, snow peas and asparagus at local stores and farmers’ markets. Cherries and green beans will follow in early summer, she says. “Eating seasonally is the best way to get the freshest produce, as well as the cheapest,” says Horn. “I think it’s important to eat locally as well. We live in such a great agricultural area. So why not take advantage of the great crops growing year-round here?” Horn also encourages Santa Cruz residents to grow produce in their own backyards, pegging tomatoes, leaf lettuce, and Italian herbs like basil and oregano as good bets for growing this season. /FW Find Horn online at seasonaleating.net.

• GREAT FOOD • • GREAT DRINKS • • GREAT TIME! • Happy Hour 4-6 & 11-Midnight Daily – All Day Sunday

The Best Damn Bar Food In Town Featuring: Maiden Wings (choice of Buffalo, Honey Stung Buffalo, Tangy Garlic, Teriyaki, or Run to the Hills Hot ) served with crisp celery sticks and blue cheese dressing – 9

Dixie Pickles Crisp dill pickle spears coated with our homemade beer-batter and fried. Served with Ranch dressing – 7 Hangover Helper Two Over Medium fried eggs, avocado, bacon, American cheese, and Mayo on grilled sourdough – 10

The Belushi – Not approved by the AHA. A stuffed half pound-er with blue cheese, bacon, Aged Irish cheddar, and American cheese. Then we beer batter it, deep fry it, and wish you all the best – 14

(831) 421-0507

841 Almar Ave, Santa Cruz, CA (located on the corner of Mission St. Safeway Complex)

Open 11am–2am, Kitchen open till midnight

www.theparishpublickhouse.com gtweekly.com l food & wine l 13


BREAKFAST

LUNCH Lunch

Breakfast… served all day

$6.75 Our Burgers are the Greatest! 1/3 pound, char-broiled and served on a grilled homemade The Basic Tofu $7.50 sour roll, with mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion; choice of home-fries, fresh fruit or potato salad Creative Omelettes Starting at $8.25 $8.75 Pepper Bacon & Cheese Burger $10.50 Multi Grain Cereals $3.95 Gourmet Burger $10.75 French Toast $6.25 Patty Melt $9.25 1/2 order $3.95 Chili Burger $9.25 $8.75 Pancake Breakfast 1/2 stack pancakes, two Catalina Veggie Burger eggs any style, and bacon, sausage (link or Sandwiches patty), or ham $9.25 *turkey • *BLT • *ham • *avocado $8.75

The Basic Breakfast

Fruit Pancakes 1/2 stack $6.75, full stack $9.25 Sourdough Pancakes Sourdough Waffles

grill any of these & add cheese *grilled cheese

$0.75 $6.95

1/2 order (3) $4.50, full order (5) $6.25 Ahi Tuna Melt $4.95

$9.50

Chowders & Chilis Brunch Specialties

Cup $2.75, Bowl $4.25

Mike’s Mess Three eggs, mix it up with bacon,

mushrooms & our famous home-fries; top it off with Fresh Salads sour cream, tomatoes & green onions. Served with Imperial Chicken your choice of homemade breads, toasted. $10.95 “Junior Mike’s Mess” (smaller version) $8.95 Greek Salad (Sub. any omelette ingredient for bacon–$0.75)

Tofu Mess $10.95 “Junior Tofu Mess” (smaller version) $8.95 Zach’s “Bennie” Three poached eggs served on an herb roll, topped with cream sauce & crumbled bacon; our home-fries on the side. Or try Traditional Creamed Eggs, served with the eggs boiled & sliced. $9.95

$7.25 $6.95

Spinach Salad

$

2

$7.25

Off

Artichoke Frittata

$8.95

Basic Burger

Corned Beef Hash & Eggs

$9.95

or

Chili & Eggs

$9.95

Spicy Italian Scramble

$10.50

Basic Breakfast Tues–Fri Only (exp. 12/31/13) valid with coupon

Voted Best Breakfast in Santa Cruz for over 20 years! OPEN TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY • 7AM–2:30PM 819 PACIFIC AVE., SANTA CRUZ • 427-0646 * Thank you Santa Cruz for over 25 years of patronage! 14 l food & wine

Eat Out— Healthily? By Kim Reyes

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inety-six percent of main entrees served at American chain eateries exceed the USDA’s daily limits for fat, saturated fat, sodium and calories, according to a study published in the Public Health Nutrition journal last year. Between that fact and the reality that Americans are eating out more than ever, organizations like United Way of Santa Cruz County’s Go for Health! collaborative have their work cut out. “There are more unhealthy choices than healthy choices in our county, especially in Watsonville where there are more fast food options,” says Megan Joseph, director of community organizing for United Way. Joseph notes that, according to the 2012 Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project Report, a quarter of the county’s lowincome children between 5 and 19 years old were considered obese. As part of their mission to promote nutrition and physical exercise and combat childhood obesity, Go for Health! established the Golden Carrot Award in 2008 to encourage restaurants to dish up healthy options and reward restaurants that already do. “Originally, the Golden Carrot Award was designed as an incentive for restaurants to consider healthy options,” says Joseph. “Now we use it as a way to also encourage the community to choose healthier options, as well as recognize healthy restaurants.” In order to be considered for an award, restaurants must meet a certain number of criteria, such as offering free water, a choice of brown rice, a children’s menu with smaller portion sizes, and food cooked in less oil. Points are awarded for each requirement met, and a panel looks over the submissions. Restaurants with the most points are awarded a Golden Carrot Award, and the restaurant with the most points is the Ultimate Winner of that year. The top winner in 2011 was Charlie Hong Kong, an Asian fusion restaurant on Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz, and The Picnic Basket, a restaurant on Beach Street by the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, nabbed the honor in 2012. “We want people to know more about this award, because we want people to be able to eat out and still be healthy,” says Joseph. /FW Learn more at unitedwaysc.org/go-health.


Eating for Earth Day Mon: $20 Gourmet 3 Course Meal with a Sample Glass of Wine (5pm-close)

By Elizabeth Limbach

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arth Day is Monday, April 22. What does that have to do with food, you ask? Everything. Paying close attention to what is on our forks (and how it got there) is a powerful step in becoming a good steward of this precious planet. That’s why, as you zip around town this Earth Day on your zeroemission, human-powered bicycle—reusable tote slung over your shoulder—you should also think about eating in the following ecofriendly ways.

MEATLESS: A 2006 United Nations report titled “Livestock’s Long Shadow” found that animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gases—more than all transportation combined. A University of Chicago study from that same year found that adopting a vegan diet is more effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions than driving a hybrid car. Not eating meat one day a week saves 22 bathtubs full of water, according to Meatless Monday, the increasingly popular campaign that promotes cutting out meat once a week. It’s fitting, then, that Earth Day this year falls on a Monday. LOCAL: It doesn’t take a genius to realize that foods grown in your own region will have a smaller carbon footprint by the time they reach your plate than foods trucked from farther away. Luckily, this is Santa Cruz—a locavore’s paradise. Look for local produce and products at the store, join one of the many Community-Supported Agriculture programs, and don’t forget to stop by the glorious local farmers’ markets. (P.S. There’s nothing as local as your own backyard—if you haven’t done so already, start planting that spring garden!)

Tues: Taco & Tequila Night $3 Tacos a la carte & Specialty Margaritas (3pmclose)

Wed: Fresh Catch Kebabs $16 - Fish & Meat Selections Change Weekly

Mon -Fri:

Three to Six Happy Hour $3, $4, $5, $6 Food & Drink Specials Served 3-6pm

$10 Roadtrip Lunch Specials Served 11:30am-3pm

Brunch Sat -Sun: Bloody Mary & Mimosa Specials. Served until 2pm

Local Salmon Season Happening– Spring/Summer 2013

Voted “Best Seafood in Santa Cruz”

ORGANIC: Pesticides aren’t Planet Earth’s friend. The Rodale Institute estimates that if all 434 million acres of U.S. cropland were converted to organic practices, it would be like eliminating 217 million cars from the road. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations put it this way: “The impact of organic agriculture on natural resources favors interactions within the agro-ecosystem that are vital for both agricultural production and nature conservation. Ecological services derived include soil forming and conditioning, soil stabilization, waste recycling, carbon sequestration, nutrients cycling, predation, pollination and habitats.” /FW

like us on facebook 493 Lake Avenue in Santa Cruz

479-3430 | Open Daily with Continuous Service

www.johnnysharborside.com

Located at entrance of Santa Cruz Harbor gtweekly.com l food & wine l 15


KEANA PARKER

Reminders of Rome Casa Nostra Ristorante serves Italian food as traditional as it gets BY JOEL HERSCH

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t a little restaurant called Casa Nostra, just off Highway 9 in Ben Lomond, stepping through the front door transports you into old country Italy. Italian opera plays, the hot aromas of spicy sausage and pasta fill the air, and Raffaele Cristallo and Pasquale Bianco—both owners and chefs—are talking, sometimes yelling, in Italian, about how to make the perfect carbonara. Casa Nostra, which opened in December 2012, is owned and operated by Italian-born Cristallo and Bianco, and also Mario Ibarra, who is originally from Mexico but has cooked in and owned Italian restaurants for many years. Bianco, head chef at Casa Nostra, hails from Benevento, Italy, but has worked in the restaurant business in Paris, Sweden, and San Francisco. He’s a big man with a goatee, excited blue eyes and a bright-white chef’s uniform. Sitting at the front bar, where Cristallo serves up a variety of imported wines, such as Negroamaro red, and Lavazza Italian coffee, he and Bianco recount tales of learning to cook gourmet dishes alongside their mothers (mandatory training in Italy) and meeting one another, all the while emphasizing the pride they take in creating authentic Italian food. “We have been knowing each other around 15 years,” Cristallo says with a thick Italian 16 l food & wine

Branzino Alla Siciliana ($24): Seabass seared in garlic, onions, cherry tomatoes, raisins, capers, pine nuts and white wine.

accent. “I met Pasquale in San Francisco for the first time, and we were both fresh from the boat.” Casa Nostra offers many classic Italian dishes like Fettuccine Alla Bolognese ($12.50), a pasta cooked with tomato, cuts of pork and beef, and a cream sauce, as well the Linguine Ai Frutti De Mare ($17), a seafood pasta plate complete with fresh mussels, clams, calamari, salmon and shrimp simmered in white wine. But, Bianco notes, the carbonara ($11.50) is the real test of Italian culinary authenticity. It’s a spaghetti dish with pancetta, onion and a cream sauce made from eggs. When Italian tourists come in and taste the carbonara, they are extremely pleased, he says. “Carbonara—that’s the classic,” Bianco says. “You go to Rome—you find it exactly the way we make it.” Similarly, they boast that only here does the

Italian Bolognese taste exactly as it does in Bologna, Italy. “Like the bruschetta,” Cristallo says happily, both hands in the air. “We know how the bruschetta is supposed to be tasting!” /FW Casa Nostra Ristorante, 9217 Hwy 9, Ben Lomond, 609-6132, ristorantecasanostra.com. Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.


R E S TA U R A N T + B A R Solaire features a locally sourced, sustainable farm to table approach Solaire Restaurant Bar is truly a Santa Cruz LOCAL dining destination. Taste the flavors that Chef Ross McKee has created for your dining pleasure. Freshly prepared, farm to table American comfort cuisine which uses only the finest sustainable and organic ingredients. Featuring local growers and farmers, fresh-caught seafood and Santa Cruz vintners and brewers. Join us on the Paradox pool deck with heated patio, outdoor bar and al fresco dining. Rent one of our private Cabanas for special occasions or for a fun group gathering and enjoy the pool, Jacuzzi and company of friends while our service staff attends to your every need. Call today for details and booking availability. Hotel Paradox offers an urban forest design aesthetic, charming yet whimsical Hotel experience in downtown Santa Cruz. Unwind in peace in our earthy, forest designed rooms and suites. Relax at the Paradox Pool deck complete with fire pits, chaise loungers and Paradox poolside bar. Let the service team take care of you as you let the day drift by. We also offer one of the area's largest and most impressive meeting spaces in the downtown Santa Cruz area. Call our Sales team today to check for available dates for your next festive, catered social gathering or your upcoming corporate event.

Mention the Food & Wine Ad to your server and receive an amuse course compliments of the Chef along with the purchase of any entree.* *Happy Hour served M–F 4p–6p in Solaire Bar + Lounge only

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Located at Hotel Paradox | 611 Ocean Street | 831.600.4545 I solairerestaurant.com gtweekly.com l food & wine l 1 7


Farm To Pizza Bantam reinvents the pizza wheel with creations that offer a true, seasonal taste of Santa Cruz By Joel Hersch

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The restaurant is spacious, with large windows and rustic wood plank walling—materials salvaged from a friend’s barn. The prep kitchen and fire stove are situated along the back wall, where pizza dough is mixed and spun up into the air for all to see while the sound of seasonal veggies being chopped fills the air. “That’s part of keeping it casual,” Sims says, “[we’re] not hiding in the back. We really like people to see us cooking and see where their food is coming from and how much care all the cooks are putting into it.” While the Margherita ($13) and the Marinara ($10) pizzas are staples, the rest of the menu changes daily and depends on what Reitz purchases at the farmers’ market. With the dawn of spring, the pies took on a fresh quality reflective of the area’s fruitful fields. “Spring time brings in a freshness to add to the food,” Reitz says. “It makes things more exciting.” Her go-to ingredients aren’t always the obvious choices, however. Earlier this year, she worked with Italian chicory and wild nettles, and concocted balsamic-esque syrup from pinecone resin. True to its tagline “Don’t Panic, It’s Organic,” Bantam uses all organic ingredients from local farms. Some of their local veggie suppliers

include Mariquita in Watsonville and Route 1 Farms in Santa Cruz, while their meats, which come from naturally and sustainably raised animals, is produced by their neighborhood butcher shop, el Salchichero, and Fogline Farms, where they buy chicken. Those chickens go into Bantam’s best-selling dish (which, surprisingly, isn’t a pizza): gluten-free fried chicken ($16), served with roasted carrots, fennel and spicy herb salsa. Reitz’s secret? She soaks the poultry in buttermilk, dredges it in rice flour, and then fries it. For Sims, watching Bantam become a community hub is incredibly exciting. He says there’s been more support for the restaurant than he could have possibly expected. “There’s this feeling of pride and accomplishment that I get as an owner when people finish their meal that’s new to me,” he says. “When diners stop to thank me for opening Bantam, I feel this great satisfaction.” /FW Bantam, 1010 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz, 420-0101. Beer and wine. Open Monday through Thursday, 5 -9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 5-9:30 p.m. Closed Sundays. No reservations.

Three Pizzas to try Wood Fire Woodie Pizzeria in Scotts Valley offers a bevy of unique and tasty pizzas, but The Kona Gold, $17, is a good bet. It contains fresh kona pineapple, hickory-smoked bacon and a three-cheese blend on top of fresh tomato sauce. 3105B Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley, 316-9001, woodfirewoodie.com. At Engfer Pizza Works, on Seabright Avenue, Megan’s Vegan Pizza makes for a tasty choice for herbivores and omnivores, alike. It’s made with an organic tofu spread in lieu of mozzarella, and toppings of the customer’s choosing. Price varies. 537 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, 429-1856, engferpizzaworks.com. Pizzeria Avanti, a new offshoot of the beloved Ristorante Avanti, offers an enticing array of traditional and distinctive pizzas, including the prosciutto, arugula, tomato sauce, and Parmigiano-Reggiano pizza ($15 small, $25 large). 1711 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 425-1807, avantipizza.mobi. | Kim Reyes

KEANA PARKER

he key to making authentic Neapolitan pizza is in the crust, says Bantam’s head chef Melissa Reitz. With an open stove burning almond wood at close to 1,000 degrees, Bantam pizzas cook fast, searing the outside into a flavorful crunch, while leaving the inside with just the right amount of chew. The mix of textures, garden-fresh veggies and high-grade meats from local farms, not to mention the laid back, social atmosphere of an old school pizzeria, are all giving the new eatery a good name. When husband and wife duo Benjamin and Sarah Sims opened the restaurant in the heart of the lower Westside last November, they introduced to the neighborhood a casual but classy fusion of traditional Mediterranean cooking with a Californian, farm-to-table sensibility. Sims, who honed his pizzamaking artistry at Chez Panisse in Berkeley before working as a chef locally at Oswald Restaurant and most recently at Ristorante Avanti, says he wanted to explore a more playful, relaxed culinary style than he was able to practice previously. “I always wanted something that was a little bit more neighborhood-y,” he says. “I wanted something that was a little bit more now.”

PLUS

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Early Bird Menu Sunday - Thursday 4p.m.-5:30p.m. $14.99 Choice of select entree, salad, glass of wine and ice cream

Established Since 1987

Monday Penny Wine Night Select wines with purchase of two entrees Italian whipped potatoes and Italian braised beef short ribs served with reduction sauce. wine red a with topped are ribs The broccolini.

Banquet area up to 60 guests Catering Services Available

Lunch Wednesday-Friday 11:30-2pm Dinner Nightly from 4-9 p.m. 6231 Graham Hill Road • Felton, CA 95018 Located in the Felton Fair Shopping Center

335-4414 • mamamiasinfelton.com

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Breakfast

Served All Day Omelets • Scrambles Breakfast Burritos- Pancakes Soups- Salads • Sandwiches Juicy Burgers • Pulled Pork Mac N Cheese • Chili • Fries Seasonal Deserts • and Breads Ice Cream • Milkshakes • Sundaes

Dine –– In In -Carry -Carry OutOut- Catering Catering Dine

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Cafe Ivéta’s artisan treats find a following on the Westside By Karen Petersen

Y

KEANA PARKER

vette Bilanko attributes her love of food to her upbringing in an Italian neighborhood in Chicago. With ready access to fresh ingredients, her father prepared the family’s meals from scratch. At Cafe Ivéta—the eatery she opened in Santa Cruz in June 2010— she insists on following in his footsteps. “I grew up with all of this absolutely wonderful food,” she says, “which gave me a really good palate.” It was necessity, determination, frugality, insisting on the finest ingredients, and a little bit of luck that fueled the twists and turns of Bilanko’s culinary life. She learned to cook when she married her husband John Bilanko, but it was a 1972 issue of Bon Appétit that led her to discover her passion for creating in the kitchen. John’s career as an international attorney led them to relocate to suburban North Chicago. Their family grew to include four daughters, and they had invested in commercial real estate when an economic downturn resulted in John’s loss of employment, and left tenants unable to pay rent. To make a living, the couple decided to open a cafe like those they enjoyed in the city, serving good Italian coffee and food, with attention to details right down to the house-made caramel sauce and mayonnaise. Inspired by the resourceful way in which her parents were raised in a little town near San Remo, Italy, she sought creative and useful solutions—what to do with egg whites left over from making mayonnaise, for 20 l food & wine

instance—and found herself researching recipes in the library. It was fate that brought their signature scones to the Bilankos. A customer had requested some, but they were time-consuming to make for a mother of four. Bilanko attended a food show in a Chicago snowstorm, and discovered a mix created by graduate food science students. The pastries were a hit in the cafe. When the students were ready to move on, it was John who jumped at the chance to buy the recipes, leading the family into the wholesale food business. In 1999, the scones were a finalist in a Fancy Food show and made Oprah’s O! list. After visiting their daughter in Santa Cruz, the Bilankos fell in love with its bay that reminded them of San Remo and the availability of fresh and artisan ingredients. At 50 years old, the determined couple packed up their award-winning scones and little else, moving their gourmet operation initially to Harvey West, and then opening the cafe on the Westside. In addition to its signature scones, Cafe Ivéta offers freshbaked pastries made on-site daily, including blinis, bread pudding and Cowboy Cookies, which are crafted with pecans, oats, chocolate chips and coconut. Breakfast and lunch are also served, with standouts like a chili chive biscuit with poached egg and bacon and a caprese sandwich with fresh mozzarella and homemade pesto and mayonnaise. /FW Cafe Ivéta, 2125 Delaware Ave., Santa Cruz, 713-0320, iveta.com.


MONDAY

Mini Tostaditas – 4 Mango Mojitos – 5 TACO TUESDAY

Three Chicos Tacos – 4 Michiladas – 4 WINE DOWN WEDNESDAY

Homemae Sangria 1/2 Price Wine Bottle House Wine – 3 Wheat Tortilla Quesadilla with Baby Spinach & Cotijo Queso SLIDING THURSDAY

Three Carnita Sliders – 4 Hornitos Margaritas – 5 FRIDAY

Three Shrimp mini Tostaditas – 4 Rosenblume Zinfandel – 5 LA ZY DAY SATURDAY

Pork or Chicken Pozole – 4 Pomegranate or Orange Juice Mimosa – 4 SUNDAY

Egg Rancheros Tostada – 4 Bloody Mary – 5 BAR & PATIO 3-7PM 655 Capitola, Rd. Santa Cruz 11am–9pm (831) 477–9384

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DISHESIMPOSSIBLE Make it a culinary mission to find and try these five dishes By Karen Petersen

1 GARLIC NAAN at Ambrosia India Bistro

T KAREN PETERSEN

he word masala, common on the menus of Indian restaurants, means mixture. It is this multitude of herbs and spices, balanced like an algebraic equation, that draws me to Indian food. The chefs at Ambrosia India Bistro in Aptos match the spices to main ingredients, and the concentration of chilies to your palate. Even their simple flatbread naan has delicious variations. The garlic naan ($2.95), speckled with peppery, triangular nigella seeds, is the perfect utensil for scooping up cubes of Murgh Shahi Korma, in which succulent chunks of chicken, chili-cilantro chatni, thick sweet and sour tamarind and spicy pickled vegetables add a different dimension to each bite. /FW Ambrosia India Bistro, 207 Searidge Road, Aptos, 685-0610, ambrosiaib.com.

Comfort • Chops • Cocktails Happy Hour $1 off drinks • 1/2 off apps Monday–Friday 4-6pm

Dinner Daily 5pm-Close Breakfast Fri-Sun 8:30am-3pm Lunch Sat & Sun 9am-3pm Weekly Dinner Specials

831.476.2733 | 3326 Portola Dr. Santa Cruz | www.thepointchophouse.com 22 l food & wine


BREAKFAST 2 TACOS at Conscious Creations cheese are topped first with home fries that are made with both soft white and (surprisingly) creamy sweet potatoes. Atop the potatoes are a wide variety of finely chopped vegetables and herbs including bright red cabbage, onions, dill, cilantro, greens and tomatoes. A pair of buttercup yellow, paper-thin omelets are folded on top and embellished with tart tomato compote, black and white sesame seeds, avocado and chewy, salty bacon. /FW Conscious Creations, 1121 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 427-9269, conscious-creations-cafe.org.

KEANA PARKER

A

t Conscious Creations, whose menu is meant to satisfy vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike, Chef Joshua Server creates symphonies on the plates where an unexpected ensemble of ingredients come together nicely. Numerous breakfast combinations are served as either burritos or tacos, and never having imagined a breakfast taco, I went for The Basic ($6) vegetarian-style, adding bacon and avocado ($2). Like a painstakingly painted still life, the colorful visual appeal was only exceeded by the impact of its multitude of textures and tastes. Like tostadas, two lightly crisped corn tortillas with a bit of melted

• Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Daily • Happy Hour 5-7 Daily • Specialty Cocktails • Lounge Open Every Day at Noon

Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley 6001 La Madrona Drive, Hwy. 17 at the Mt. Hermon exit 831.440.1000 santacruzscottsvalley.hilton.com gtweekly.com l food & wine l 23


TUESDAY NIGHT

‘AROUND D 3 THE WORLD’ SPECIALS

at Michael’s on Main

O KEANA PARKER

n Tuesday nights, travel the world from the deck of Michael’s on Main while overlooking the lush banks of Soquel Creek. Kicking off at 6:30 p.m., live acoustic music accompanies Chef Michael Clark’s themed food, wine, and beer pairings ($25). So far this year, we’ve been treated to Caribbean nights with jerked meats and Pelican Ranch wines, Argentine mixed grill with Malbecs, all things pork with juicy spareribs, wedge salad with Corralitos Market bacon and Soquel Vineyards, and “grandma’s house” with comfort foods like meatloaf and mashed potatoes accompanied by Bargetto wines. There have also been a number of guest chefs offering their specialties, like a Tex-Mex feast with Bob and Kathleen Warfield, which introduced us to pot de chocolat chili, tequila vinaigrette, and Cinnabar wines. Check the website for upcoming events. Reservations are recommended. /FW Michael’s on Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel, 479-9777, michaelsonmain.net.

ists: n arstetd in o i t n Atte re intere l please

5447 Hwy 9 Felton 24 l food & wine

831-335-5551

www.OakTreeRistorante.com

a a If you t the festiv le of samp ying a displa il a bio and to ema your work mail.com g rante@ eristo oaktre


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Mini Bennie: Egg ben-addict with 1 egg and potatoes

Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner | Everyday 8am-9pm 1102 Pacific Avenue | Downtown Santa Cruz | 420-0135 | hoffmanssantacruz.com

Villeroy & Boch

Anmut Bloom Anmut—the game of possibilities.Whether simple and traditional, understated, or modern and playful, the Anmut collection keeps reinventing itself. Discover the diverse range of possible combinations and give free rein to your creativity.

Smith’s China

Open Mon–Sat 10–5:30

426-3111

1111 Water Street, Santa Cruz

www.smithschina.com

gtweekly.com l food & wine l 25


FIRE 4 GODDESS at Geisha

A

KAREN PETERSEN

t Geisha Japanese Restaurant and Teahouse, you won’t find unagi eel, octopus, or any other endangered or irresponsibly farmed or harvested seafood. What you will find at the county’s only sushi restaurant that is committed to sustainable seafood are copies of Seafood Watch’s sushi guide, and a plethora of delicious dishes that respect the ocean habitats while also delighting your taste buds. They serve an amazing sweet, marinated catfish (onagi) in numerous rolls, as well as a Baked Seafood Creme appetizer ($8.50) with shrimp, scallops, and mussels in savory miso sauce topped with vibrant orange masago roe. But our favorite is the Fire Goddess ($12), an attractive makimono roll that rests in a dark, sweet glaze. Stuffed with creamy raw scallops, green onions, and shiso herbs, it is topped with pink Arctic char, shaved slices of lemon, and crowned with sparkling emeralds of piquant wasabi-spiked tobiko eggs. /FW Geisha Japanese Restaurant and Teahouse, 200 Monterey Ave., Capitola, 464-3328, facebook.com/geisha.capitola.

Ideal Beach Front Dining DAILY DINNER DEALS $9.95

Ribs Sunday & Monday

Heated Deck!

$11.95 Live Maine Lobster Wednesday

$11.95 Prime Rib Friday

$4.95

Breakfast Special (Mon – Fri 8:00–11am, Sat/Sun 8–10am)

Full Service Espresso Bar & Café open daily at 7am

Daily: 8am – 11pm 106 BEACH ST. AT THE SANTA CRUZ WHARF 423-5271 www.idealbarandgrill.com 26 l food & wine


Simply Sustainable Locally Grown & Sourced Coastal Cuisine

Sustainable Seafood

Lettuce & Veggies Grown in our garden

Our quaint chalet is surrounded by beautiful redwoods, and filled with Bavarian folk music, a warm fire, and friendly service. 19 entrees for $19 or less! Happy Hour Fridays 4–6pm 1/2 off all appetizers and $4 German Beers

Wienerschnitzel Wednesdays $12.00 includes salad

Friday Wild game specials Opens Mother’s Day Weekend Pet Friendly • Bounce House for the kids!

Join Us May 18 for Mai Fest!

Everything you love about Octoberfest!

Costanoa Lodge & Resort Call for Reservations (650) 879-1100 www.costanoa.com gtweekly.com l food & wine l 27


5 TUSCAN SALAD at Café Cruz

I

KEANA PARKER

t’s springtime on the posy-rimmed patio at Café Cruz, where potted trees are laden with lemons. The scent of the springtime air and gentle warmth from the sun is refreshing and enlightening, leading to a craving for fresh greens. The huge Tuscan Salad ($15), however, is no lightweight. It takes full advantage of what the restaurant does best: spit-roasting California-raised, natural air-chilled chickens. A platter was loaded with green and aborigine-colored lettuces of varying textures and pretty pink radicchio interspersed with sweet strips of sun-dried tomatoes and chunks of white and dark chicken in a light, balsamic vinaigrette. It was topped with plenty of Gorgonzola, grated Glaum hard-boiled eggs and chewy strips of natural bacon. Fresh slices of Gayle’s Bakery bread, served with freshly minced garlic, complemented it well. /FW Cafe Cruz, 2621 41st Ave., Soquel, 476-3801, cafecruz.com.

WOOD-FIRED PIZZA • ORIGINAL RECIPE SAUCES • HANDMADE DOUGH

! New n Glutee Fre

featuring WOOD-FIRED pizza build-to-suit or combinations vegan option • organic salads homemade soups and desserts beer and wine to dine-in or TAKE OUT ping-pong • checkers • smiling faces!

eat and be happy

call

831.429.1856

hours

Tuesday – Sunday 4:00 to 9:30pm-ish

537 seabright ave • santa cruz • www.engferpizzaworks.com 28 l food & wine


y a c o a l t i e o n u q o i n n w t h e Pacific A u10 minutes north of Santa Cruz gh i H t C s o a Just

Restaurant Seasonal menu featuring local and organic ingredients, artisan crafted stone fireplace and high-ceiling redwood beams & a full bar.

Inn Apart from our great food we also invite you to stay in our inn where most rooms have ocean views. Special weekday rates available.

Events Live Music Every Tuesday and Saturday 6-9pm Tuesday: Taco Tuesday + live music

Thursday: Happy Hour and Wine tasting

Hours: Monday 8–3pm Tuesday–Sunday 8am–9pm Call for Reservations: (831) 426 8801 http://www.facebook.com/davenportroadhouse

All Photos by Rob Born

Wednesday: Prefix Menu for two: $30

1 Davenport Ave., Davenport www.davenportroadhouse.com gtweekly.com l food & wine l 2 9


Taste the Love Wonderfully Raw’s Coco-Roons make a splash far beyond Santa Cruz County By Elizabeth Limbach

T

he Wonderfully Raw headquarters off of Hangar Way, in Watsonville, is perhaps the sweetest smelling warehouse around. As home to the company’s flagship product, Coco-Roons, the space is filled with the aromas of vanilla, maple, lemon, strawberry and other allnatural flavors that make their way into the popular raw treats. At the mouth of the warehouse, workers busily stack and shrink-wrap pallets of CocoRoons that are destined for more than 1,000 stores across the country. Surveying the fortress of boxes of fresh product, thousands of pounds of almond flour in sacks, and an arsenal of 55-gallon drums of unfiltered maple syrup, CEO and “Macaroon Maven” Sequoia Cheney chuckles. “When I first started, I was buying the ingredients at Nob Hill. Now we’re doing contracts with thousands of pounds,” she says. In the back, past a clean commercial kitchen filled with employees in crisp white lab coats and hair caps, lies the heart of the operation: a custommade, walk-in dehydrator. Inside, the air is warm and even thicker with the smell of cookies. Cheney raises her voice over the machine’s loud whirring to explain that 800 cases of Coco-Roons are made in eight hours in the dehydrator. As a raw product, Cheney explains, “this cookie is dehydrated at 118 degrees so that all of the vitamins, enzymes and minerals are still intact.” At 58 years old, Cheney never expected to be running a new business. “We’ve been doing this for two years now, and we’re still in shock,” says Cheney, who formed the company with her gourmet chef son Eric Hara. “It feels like a dream.”

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The determined seed for Wonderfully Raw was planted when Cheney was diagnosed with diabetes six years ago. After years of running art therapy programs in a Southern California hospital and then in prisons, Cheney and her husband, Jack, opened an alternative healing center in Watsonville called Three Trees. The diabetes diagnosis came as a big surprise. “After having had such a healthy lifestyle, and doing all of this alternative healing, I thought ‘how can I get diabetes?’ But it was really a gift because it

put me on a journey to find out even better ways to eat,” Cheney says. Intent on healing herself, she trained at a raw chef school in Mendocino and was off all medication and had reversed her diabetes within a year of the diagnosis. In the process, she’d caught the raw food bug, and was teaching raw cooking classes and selling raw items at Three Trees. The online grocery store Santa Cruz Local Foods soon began selling her goods, and, not long after, New Leaf Community Markets showed interest in the Coco-Roons. “They loved it and said ‘We want ’em, how quickly can we get them for all eight stores?’” Cheney recalls, “I said, ‘Wow, can you give me 30 days? I don’t have a bag or a label.’” The Coco-Roon was designed as a tasty treat for those with dietary restrictions: in addition to being raw, they are gluten-free, dairy-free, low in sugar (unfiltered maple syrup is the sweetener), low carb, and organic. “Food is medicine” is the company’s guiding philosophy. Wonderfully Raw recently launched a new product—raw veggie snacks called Brussel Bites and Snip Chips that are similar to kale chips. Seated in the office, sounds of the industrious warehouse streaming in, Cheney pulls a piece of paper off of a bulletin board. It’s a letter from a 10-year-old boy in Yuba City, Calif. that came in the mail a few days earlier. Attached to the thank you letter is a photo of him with a wide smile on his face and a bag of Coco-Roons in his hand. “I get these daily,” Cheney says. “That makes it all worth it, when you know you’re changing someone’s life. When a kid takes the time to write you—c’mon. That’s the best thing in the whole world.” /FW Find Wonderfully Raw online at mycocoroons.com.


Paradise Beach Grille Specials Happy Hour Monday thru Friday, 4–6pm

1/2 off Special Bar Menu $3 Draft Beers • $4 Well Drinks $4.50 House Wine

“Thank you to our customers for your continued support!”

Monday Gary’s Rib Night Join us for a FULL rack of “fall off the Bone” Baby Back Ribs Served with Garlic Cheese Fries and Island Slaw for $18 All Night Happy Hour

Wednesday Island Surf and Turf 6ozs. Of Delicate Lobster with a Petite Filet Mignon Served with Drawn Butter, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables $30

c! i s u M e ive Music! LLiv Live Music!

Live Bands Saturday and Sunday from 3–6 Live Music on Tuesday & Thursday Nights from 6–9

PA R A D I S E BEACH GRILLE Lunch & Dinner served 7 days/week 215 Esplanade, Capitola-by-the-Sea 476-4900 • www.paradisebeachgrille.com gtweekly.com l food & wine l 31


Sweet

Springtime These five luscious treats are calling your name By Karen Petersen

KEANA PARKER

A taste of France awaits at Sweet Pea’s Café and Catering, where crêpes are filled with savory or sweet ingredients ($6.50). On a recent afternoon, the chef des crêpes ladles batter onto a circular griddle, spreading it out with a tiny paddle, then giving it a layer of sweet custard and adding warm blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. Folded into quarters and topped with fluffy whipped cream, it makes for a delectable luncheon. /FW Sweet Pea’s Café, 2121 41st Ave., Capitola, 476-2737, sweetpeascrepes.com.

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Café Sparrow in Aptos Village still going strong after 28 years! Thai Dinner For 2 Under $25 Fresh Local Ingredients Beautiful Garden Patio Seating 8 Varieties of Eggs Benedicts & so much more!

Enjoy 1/2 Priced Wine Mondays! (excluding holidays)

Half Off Second Entrée! (Equal Value or Less) With this Coupon, $5.00 max value Valid Mon–Fri. Exp. 10/31/13

HWY 1 exit Bay/Porter to Soquel Drive

Serving Aptos Since 1988!

(831)) 462-5051 5050 Soquel Drive. Soquel, near Porter St. www.sawasdeesoquel.com

Open every day Lunch & Dinner Take Out Orders

783 Rio Del Mar Blvd. Deer Park Marketplace in Aptos (Above CVS) 685.1224 • Open 7am–4pm Everyday

8042 Soquel Drive • Aptos cafesparrow.com 688-6238 Open Everyday • Lunch • Dinner • Sunday Brunch

gtweekly.com l food & wine l 33


Beer Float Frosty beers and smooth ice cream are both things that come to mind during spring. But did you know they actually taste great together? This is especially true if the ice cream is organic and handmade by The Penny Ice Creamery, and the beer is a Santa Cruz Aleworks’ Stout. In The Picnic Basket’s Beer Float ($8.70), a scoop of fresh ice cream counters the fizzy sharpness of the stout and keeps the beer icy cold as well. Try picking a strongly flavored ice cream. The Picnic Basket, 125 Beach St., Santa Cruz, 427-9946, thepicnicbasketsc.com.

Warm Date Cake KEANA PARKER

With a new pastry chef on board, it’s really sweet to eat at Shadowbrook. Sitting by the massive stone fireplace in the Alpineinspired dining room, I recently enjoyed dark rich coffee while awaiting the server-suggested dessert ($7.95). A dense rectangle of warm, date-sweetened cake arrived, drizzled with and resting in a puddle of thin toffee syrup. The accompanying scoop of coconut ice cream, tart with cream cheese, nested on sweet toasted coconut and pecans. Shadowbrook, 1750 Wharf Road, Capitola, 475-1511, shadowbrook-capitola.com.

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Homemade Gelato With hearty salads and deliciously filling entrées, it’s a challenge to save room for a house-made dessert at Focaccia. Then again, it’s a harder challenge to pass on a single scoop ($3.50) of their house-made gelato. Recently they offered Spumoni, that multi-colored, candied fruit concoction I associate with San Francisco’s Little Italy. Focaccia’s creamy version— a rainbow of hazelnut green, chocolate, and pink with real cherries—really takes the cake. Focaccia, 503 Water St., Santa Cruz, 425-1213, focacciasantacruz.com.

Besides wood-fired pizzas, the new Bantam restaurant offers memorable house-made desserts. Their ultra-creamy flourless Chocolate Nemesis Cake ($8) melts on your tongue like sweet, thick frosting, releasing a depth of intense chocolate flavor never before experienced by humankind. Bantam, 1010 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz, 420-0101, facebook.com/Bantam1010.

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KEANA PARKER

Chocolate Nemesis Cake


Chef Mark is an acclaimed personal chef who has the skill and expertise to turn your next event into a culinary delight. Affordable Chef uses the highest quality meats, fish and local Santa Cruz County grown organic produce available. Catering to the Santa Cruz County area

831-325-6924

www.affordablechef.info

gtweekly.com l food & wine l 37


JENNIFER POLI

Brew Dream and the wondrous new world of kombucha wine By Elizabeth Limbach

B

rew Dream pegs its unique wines as “kombucha-style,” but when speaking to people for whom the trendy term “kombucha” holds little meaning, owners Chase Fortner and Laura Bradford use descriptions like “sparkling fruit wine,” “probiotic wine spritzer,” and “a fresh take on sangria.” Seated under a large oak tree at Brew Dream’s idyllic Ben Lomond winery, the pair cracks open a bottle of Apple White. Pale brown and lightly effervescent, the wine evokes the flavors of fresh apple cider with a subtle, yet noticeable, alcohol presence. Sweet and crisp, the drink has very little of the vinegary aftertaste normally associated with kombucha, which—for Santa Cruzans not in the know—is a popular health tonic made from tea and fermented yeast and bacteria. The Grappleberry is rich and fruity, and more like a red wine than the Apple White is like a white. Brew Dream, which officially launched in January, strives to source only local and organic ingredients, and the owners are currently experimenting with a variety of fruits and flavors. A blackberry red, blueberry red, peach white and blueberry ginger are all in store when the season is right. All Brew Dream wines are crafted by hand in small five-gallon batches.

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“Our whole philosophy now is to keep it local, with seasonal flavors depending on what fruit is available,” says Fortner, who began brewing kombucha wine as a hobby five years ago. Although the winemakers are tightlipped when it comes to their process—they are, as far as they know, the first kombucha winery in the country—they explain that it involves combining winemaking and kombucha brewing methods. "It's a fermentation of kombucha tea, fruit, and wine, which, when fermented together, provides all the probiotic benefits of kombucha with the added flavors of local fruits and wines,” Fortner says. Brew Dream is truly a product all its own: part fruit wine and part live probiotic health drink, it comes in a champagne bottle with a cider cap and is caffeinated, thanks to the green tea base in the kombucha. Even its alcohol content is

unique at around 7.4 percent— much higher than regular kombucha (which is typically .5 percent), and less than most wine. Unlike many wines, it’s best to drink Brew Dream fresh or soon after purchasing—although it won’t go bad if kept longer, its taste and makeup will change as the yeast continue to feed off of the sugars in the wine. The concept was so new that the government agency in charge of wine labeling, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, wasn’t sure what to do with it. “The wine people in the labeling division didn’t know what kombucha was,” says Fortner. Brew Dream eventually got the word “kombucha” on its labels, and hope to someday also get approval for “probiotic.” Many of the purported health claims associated with kombucha are not scientifically backed, but Fortner and

Bradford are looking to produce evidence for the theories they hold about their product. “It’s probiotic, so while it gives you a buzz, it settles your stomach and aids in digestion, and it detoxifies your liver while you’re drinking,” says Fortner. “We are going to start working with a lab in Petaluma [Calif.] to back up some of the probiotic and health claims we have.” Reactions to the wine have been positive so far, says Bradford. It’s a hit on the festival circuit, as well as in local health food stores like Staff of Life. “If you don’t feel like drinking sometimes, and you’re at a social scene, it’s a nice alternative to having a full liquor drink or a beer,” says Bradford. “It is lighter and seems easier to digest and handle.” So far, the duo says Brew Dream is proving to straddle the line between kombucha and wine gracefully, attracting fans from both sides of the spectrum. “One of the most common things we hear back,” says Fortner, “is that people who don’t like kombucha, and sometimes people who don’t like wine, like it.” /FW Brew Dream is available at Staff of Life, New Leaf Community Markets, and at brewdream.com.


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Artesana Wine: Tannat-Merlot 2010 Artesana is an ultra-premium boutique winery based in the Canelones region of Uruguay. With a blend of 53 percent Tannat (the signature varietal of Uruguay) and 47 percent Merlot, this bold and spicy wine has gorgeous exotic flavors and is muy bueno. Imported by Epic Wines of Aptos, the Tannat-Merlot is sold in restaurants and wine shops throughout California and can be purchased locally at Soif, Vino Prima, Cava, Deluxe Foods of Aptos, Michael’s on Main, Johnny’s Harborside, Mint, and Oak Tree Ristorante. ($20) 419-7485, artesanawine.com.

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard: Grenache 2010 This delicious 100 percent Grenache wine is all about dark raspberries, exotic spices and white pepper. It has a lovely spicy complexity with flavors of wild strawberries and a peppery character commonly found in this variety. Very flexible, it will pair easily with just about everything, from pizza and pasta to poppadoms and paella. ($18) 334 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 426-6209, santacruzmountainvineyard.com.

Heart O’ The Mountain: Pinot Noir 2009 When you buy a bottle of estate-produced Heart O’ The Mountain Pinot Noir, there’s also a little bit of history attached: the grapes were grown on the old estate of famous movie director Alfred Hitchcock, which is now in the hands of the Robert Brassfield family. Fortunately for us, winemaker Brandon Brassfield is dedicated to his craft, and makes some of the finest Pinot Noir around. I particularly love the 2009 Pinot with all its rich and spicy intrigue, earthy aromas, and full-bodied flavors. ($48) Visit heartothemountain.com for where to buy, as the estate is not open to the public.

Corralitos Wine Company: Syrah 2010

By Josie Cowden

Loma Prieta Winery: Viognier 2009 As a lover of Viognier, this is one of my favorites. A deserving gold medal winner in the Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition, this luscious wine has beautiful notes of vanilla and tropical fruit with superb aromatics and a vibrant hue. Touches of sweet lychee and honeyed apricots add to its appeal and make it a wine to crack open and simply enjoy anytime. Although the wine is available in stores around town, I would suggest a visit to the Loma Prieta tasting room, which has stunning views of the Monterey Bay. ($24) 26985 Loma Prieta Way, Los Gatos, (408) 353-2950, lomaprietawinery.com.

Bruzzone Family Vineyards: Chardonnay 2010 The Bruzzone family started out making Chardonnay from grapes grown on their property in Scotts Valley in 1999, and their wines just get better and better. Hand harvested in late fall and oak barrel processed, this 2010 estate-grown Chardonnay is fresh and bright with hints of apple, citrus and a lovely touch of light coffee. Bruzzone wines are available in stores and restaurants all over the Bay Area. ($27) 438-3120, bruzzonevineyards.com.

Vino Tabi Winery: Pinot Gris 2009 Vino Tabi means “wine journey” in Japanese, so take your own little excursion and try this aromatic Pinot Gris. Delightfully refreshing, this is a good wine for those who like something on the lighter side. White peaches on the nose with ripe peaches and stone fruit in the mouth, and a crisp fresh grapefruit finish. Pinot Gris pairs well with a wide array of food. Head to Vino Tabi’s tasting room on the Westside to try their other wines. ($25) 334 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 426-1809, vino-tabi-wine.com.

Martin Ranch Winery: Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Luscious plum is accented with bright raspberry and crisp acidity in this excellent wine, which will pair well with many kinds of food. A touch of oak and hints of black pepper give this ruby beauty a spicy warmth—a flexible wine to open up for any occasion. Corralitos Wine Company now has a tasting room in the Store More America building in Aptos. ($27) 9687 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 709-1500, corralitoswinecompany.com.

Sauvignon Blanc is one of my all-time favorites, and Martin Ranch makes a good one. The J.D. Hurley 2011 Sauvignon Blanc has subtle aromas of green apple and light grassy straw with flavors of apricot and citrus fruit. An ideal wine to consume in the spring and summer months, it’s also great to pair with fish or to take on a picnic. Martin Ranch has “kissed” the wine with a hint of Semillon by adding just 1 percent to the 99 percent Sauvignon Blanc. ($20) 6675 Redwood Retreat Road, Gilroy, (408) 842-9197, martinranchwinery.com.

Poetic Cellars: Mantra 2007

Bargetto Winery: Chaucer’s Honey Mead

Try this delectable blend of 45 percent Mourvedre, 45 percent Syrah and 10 percent Sangiovese to get a delicious surprise on your taste buds. Succulent red fruit from the Mourvedre and the richness of the Syrah come together in harmony with the Sangiovese and create a smooth and special amalgam. ($34) 5000 N. Rodeo Gulch Road, Soquel, 462-3478, poeticcellars.com.

As well as making their well-known Bargetto wines, the winery also makes dessert wines under its Chaucer’s label. Taking you back to brews made in medieval times, the Chaucer’s wines are made from pure fruit and contain honey from hives in Northern California. This mead will go well with dried fruit, nuts, and most certainly with a hearty variety of cheese. You can also add a few spices and serve it heated. ($15) 3535 N. Main St., Soquel, 475-2258, bargetto.com.

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d auregar e 2009 Be lliqu nay Meta Chardon ow Only 14.99 9N i Reg 25.9 eldesch fandel T e in Z d o o id Ravensw Connoisseurs Gu 9 .9 4 2 96 pts 9 Now Reg. 43.9 yrah umbre S 2008 Cr Mountains, ruz Santa C ow Only 29.99 N 9 .9 Reg 69

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SANTA CRUZ

MOUNTAIN WINEGROWERS

ASSOCIATION

& MEGAN METZ By Josie Cowden

L

ike jewels in a crown, our beautiful wineries in the Santa Cruz mountains area are true gems. Many are hidden away up winding mountain roads, or down long country lanes, but they lie, conveniently, on our doorstep. Our climate has the perfect balance for growing superb grapes, and for turning these delicious little globes into excellent wine. But to make it to the mouths of appreciators, wine needs to be marketed. This is where Megan Metz of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association (SCMWA) comes in. SCMWA was formed to support and arrange public wine events for participating wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, and now has more than 70 member wineries from Woodside to Gilroy. Metz began her new position as executive director of SCMW in October 2012, and has already made a number of changes in operations and the direction the association is heading. As wine tasting becomes ever more popular, Metz is looking to secure this region as a destination travel spot. Metz, who was born in Santa Clara and has lived in Los Gatos, Soquel and Santa Rosa, is glad to be back in the Santa Cruz area and working at SCMWA. She comes from a wine-region background and was executive director of the Mendocino Wine Grape and Wine Commission. Coming into her new job, she started with a 30day assessment of SCMWA operations, including raising membership dues and reaching out extensively to the media, both local and national. “You have to look at more of an integrated marketing program,” Metz says. “They were missing components like bringing media to the Santa Cruz Mountains. “It’s not like we want to be another Napa,” Metz adds. “We’re not big enough. But we produce wines that are Napa quality, and my goal is to get the word out and to introduce wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains to those who are not very familiar with them.” Working with Shannon Flynn, director of operations at SCMWA, Metz is revamping many of the annual events put on by the association. An extra day was added to one of the most popular events, Pinot Paradise, which took place in March, and the one-day Wine & Crab Taste-Off every February has now been expanded to involve more local restaurants and by extending this fun gourmet event to a week. “It’s almost like we turned the lights on,” Metz says. /FW

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see Come the us at r’s Farme et Mark

From Our Family to Yours

HHFreshFish.com

(831) 461-1576

Enjoy wine tasting along the beautiful

Corralitos Wine Trail Discover why the Corralitos area has become the grape growing region everyone is talking about! Visit these small, family-owned wineries on any Saturday, noon to 5pm, and taste our locally grown and produced wine—all located within an easy drive of each other.

Enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting and picnicking, meandering through redwood forests, apple orchards and flower farms. The wineries are also open on selected holiday weekends.

Call the wineries direct or visit their websites for more information:

Windy Oaks Estate

724.9562 • windyoaksestate.com

Nicholson Vineyards 724.7071 • nicholsonvineyards.com

Alfaro Family Vineyards

728.5172 • alfarowine.com

Pleasant Valley Vineyards

288.0074 • info@pvvines.com

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KEANA PARKER

Kathleen Genco >

T

here was nothing very discrete about Discretion Brewing’s March opening— the county’s new brewery has been generating buzz for months. “Since we put our sign up on 41st Avenue, every day we had people coming in saying ‘We’re so glad to have something on this side of town’ or ‘I live just down the street,’” says Dustin Vereker, the brewery’s Chief Beer Ambassador and son-in-law of owners Kathleen and Rob Genco. “Folks seem really excited that we are opening.” After a few years of planning, the Discretion team, themselves, are also excited to be up and running. “We’d been talking about starting a family business of some sort for years,” says Kathleen, who quit her job at a private school two and a half years ago to make this family-owned organic brewery a reality. While the brewery’s reception has been anything but, the “discretion” moniker translates into its overall mission and vibe: from the off-the-beaten path location, tucked away just off of 41st Avenue, to its desire to be more of a mellow place for community gathering than a rowdy watering hole or sports bar. (To foster that, they close at 8 p.m. and don’t have any televisions.) 44 l food & wine

‘Wisdom, wit, kindness and beer’ is the motto at Santa Cruz County’s new brewpub, Discretion Brewing By Elizabeth Limbach “We wanted something that implied subtlety and thoughtfulness and kind of a safe place, a sanctuary,” says Kathleen. For the most part, the beers—all organic—will also stick to that theme. “We don’t necessarily want to have huge, in-your-face, highalcohol beers all the time, which is sort of a trend,” says brewer Michael Demers, who has been brewing professionally since 1995, most recently at Boulder Creek Brewery. “We want to offer more sessionable beers that people can come and enjoy a few and still be able to leave and be safe.” The opening lineup includes a German-style pilsner, a mild brown ale, a “nice and hoppy” American IPA, and a strong ale that embodies both the bold and slightly sweet style of a traditional English old ale with that of a West Coast American ale. “It won’t be big and hoppy like an IPA, but it will have some bitterness to the backbone,” explains Demers.

Discretion expects that its lagers—the pilsner, and others in the works—will be what set it apart. “That is a niche that is not filled in Santa Cruz County—no one is really doing lagers except for maybe once in a while as a specialty,” he says. This is because they are more difficult and time-consuming to brew, which Demers says is worth it. “They’re our personal favorite—we all love them,” he says. The space is designed so that patrons can see the beer making. “You can smell the process, you can see the process, you get the whole experience,” says Vereker. Demers will be on hand to answer questions and will provide tours to those interested in a firsthand look at where the magic happens. The brewery’s unique take on pub food is also sure to make it stand out. Discretion has paired with Main Street Garden & Café for its taproom fare, which is inspired by, meant to pair with, and often made using Discretion’s own beer.

Main Street will operate as a popup at Discretion, serving up seasonal, sustainably minded dishes like pilsner-braised Brussels sprouts with breadcrumbs and chili made with Discretion beer and sausages from Fog Line Farm pigs (which, as it happens, feed on Discretion’s spent grain). But for all of its distinctiveness, the Discretion team considers itself one part of a larger whole. They were regulars at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing before deciding to open their own brewery, and say they have received continued support from that Westside beer hub and many others. “It’s very much a community,” says Kathleen. Discretion is one of three microbreweries to open in the county this year, bringing the total number of local breweries to around 10— making the Santa Cruz craft beer scene officially a force to be reckoned with, says Demers. “Santa Cruz is now getting to the point where it can be considered a beer destination,” he says. “Each brewery is different and produces different tasting beers. There is room for more.” /FW Discretion Brewing, 2703 41st Ave., Ste. A, Soquel, discretionbrewing.com. Open 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. every day.


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Devout Stout: Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing With aromatic hints of dark, Italian roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate, this organic stout is a thick, rich and creamy brew. Its dark coloration, a pleasantly rounded 35 IBU, and smooth, almost syrupy texture make the Devout Stout a beer worthy of dessert pairings— raspberry chocolate truffles, suggests the brewer. Alcohol percentage: 5.5. Pints $5; happy hour pints $3.50.

Heffenweizen: Santa Cruz Ale Works A light, blonde wheat beer, the Heffenweizen is a great springtime beverage, with light and refreshing qualities. With 22 bitterness units and a mellow 5.2 percent alcohol content, this crisp, unfiltered beer is well-balanced and easy on the palate. Pair with a spicy dish. Available at The Poet & Patriot Irish Pub. Pints $5; happy hour pints $3.75; pitchers $16.

Good Faith Strong Ale: Discretion Brewing This is a lumberjack’s beer. Paul Bunyan—the giant with the axe who was famous for chopping down trees—would drink Good Faith. This organic beer from the county’s newest brewery, on 41st Avenue, has subtle hints of toffee, a strong, hoppy finish, a whopping 61 IBU, and, just to be sure it could satisfy a giant, a 9.3 alcohol content. Suggested pairing: ox tail. Available at Discretion’s taproom. 10-ounce pour $5.

Saison Bernice: Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Despite slightly rural aromas of hay and citrus, this ale has a sophistication to it. Saison Bernice is light and refreshing upon consumption, but also holds its own at 6.5 percent alcohol content. It’s tart to the taste buds, which comes from Brettanomyces yeast, making this a great beer to enjoy with seafood or strong and flavorful cheeses. Available Thursdays and Fridays, 4 to 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, 1 to 7 p.m. Snifter glass $5; 750ml bottle $15.

Casserly Pale Ale: Uncommon Brewers This Belgian style harvest pale ale is brewed with fresh, wet hops from a small farm in Watsonville, just off Casserly Road—the origins of its name. The Casserly, which has a 5.2 percent alcohol content, is brewed with a blend of West Coast and German hops and a hearty addition of Biscuit malt, giving it a nicely rounded, toasty malt character. Available at 99 Bottles. Pints $5.75; happy hour pints 4.75; pitchers $16.25; happy hour pitchers $13.25. | Joel Hersch

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I

t may be months away, but lovers of organic beers and the ever-evolving microbrew culture are already getting excited about the third annual California Beer Festival, which takes place Saturday, Aug. 10 at Aptos Village Park. Last summer, more than 3,000 fans turned out to sample 35 entries from local and national brewers. The winning brew was the

smooth, creamy Oatmeal Stout by Santa Cruz’s own Seabright Brewery. The goal of CBF is to shine a light on the craft beer movement, educating people’s palates on delicious and innovative craft beer and all of its satisfying diversity, says CBF President Vincenzo Giammanco. “One thing I can tell you is there will be more craft beer repre-

Monday Madness

sented and the entertainment will be top notch,” he says of the 2013 event, which also features live music and food. New this year will be Santa Cruz County Beer Week, which kicks off Aug. 4 and leads up to the festival. Beer Week will highlight everything about local beer in Santa Cruz County. “It’s time to celebrate great beer,” says Giammanco. /FW

California Beer Festival Santa Cruz, 12:30 – 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 10, Aptos Village Park, 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos. $30/adv. $35/door. Kids 5 and under are free. VIP session is from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.; break-in pouring from 12:30 – 1 p.m. Tickets went on sale April 2.

15% off food all day.

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The Bruce

With Oswald’s offerings of enticing cocktails, it can be hard to pick just one. But bartender Ben Caruso makes the decision easy. He suggests The Bruce. “It’s a more refreshing Old Fashioned,” Caruso says as he sets the cocktail down. THE RYE WHISKEY IS COUPLED WITH FRESHLY SQUEEZED JUICE OF AN ORGANIC BLOOD ORANGE, giving it a satisfying bite—like you’re sinking your teeth into the flesh of the fruit itself. ($11) | Aric Sleeper

The Golden James At the Crepe Place, where the fashion frames and beards run thick, ask veteran bartender Eric Norlin for one of Santa Cruz’s more simple and delicious cocktails, The Golden James. THE VIBRANT WHISKEY ELIXIR CONTAINS JAMESON AND ORGANIC GINGER BEER, MADE RIGHT HERE IN SANTA CRUZ, SERVED ON THE ROCKS WITH A WEDGE OF LIME. ($7) | AS

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PHOTOS BY KEANA PARKER

Prickly Pear Margarita Tortilla Flats in Soquel should be at the top of every margarita lover’s list. THEIR SEASONAL PRICKLY PEAR MARGARITA USES NOPAL (CACTUS) GROWN BY OWNER CHERYL MARQUEZ. SERVED ON THE ROCKS WITH A WEDGE OF LIME, the margarita has a taste that is stronger than it is sweet with a hint of melon. Paired with their house-made chips and salsa, the Prickly Pear Margarita provides an easy escape from the worries of the day. ($10.50) | AS


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Lunch • Dinner • Appetizers • Specialty Cocktails Food: 11am-9pm Fri/Sat 10pm Drinks: 11am-late. (831) 600-7068 • 3910 Portola Dr. Santa Cruz gtweekly.com l food & wine l 4 9


The Glen or Glenda The cocktail bar at burger. comes alive thanks to mixologist Alice Graves, who pours her vivacious energy into every concoction she makes. Graves mixes one of burger.’s signature cocktails, the Glen or Glenda, with particular care. The androgynous drink is comprised of HOUSE-INFUSED CUCUMBER VODKA, PIMMS, STRAWBERRIES, CILANTRO, FRESH GINGER, LEMON JUICE AND CRUSHED ICE. With a refreshing flavor and Romanesque garnish of organic thyme, even Bacchus would drop his wine glass and give it a try. ($7) | AS

The Last Request Leave it to 515 Kitchen and Cocktails to whip up a luscious take on the classic Last Word cocktail: this complex-yet-delicate remake features HOUSE-INFUSED ROSE SENCHA GIN (SENCHA, AS IN JAPANESE GREEN TEA) PAIRED WITH FRESH LEMON JUICE, ROTHMAN & WINTERS ORCHARD PEAR LIQUEUR, CHAMOMILE CITRUS BITTERS, AND AN ITALIAN HERBAL LIQUEUR CALLED LIQUORE STREGA. Not too sweet, with herbal, floral, and citrus notes, the cocktail is certainly worthy of being anyone’s last request. ($8) | EL

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PHOTOS BY KEANA PARKER

The Pega The bold, invigorating flavors of spring are alive and well in this cool libation, which, like all concoctions at Suda's bar, features ingredients grown in the Santa Cruz area. FORTALEZA REPOSADO TEQUILA IS COMPLEMENTED WELL BY SPICY FRESH GINGER AND LOVELY BASIL. ($9) | Elizabeth Limbach


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JENNIFER POLI

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Here Now Hidden Peak Teahouse is Shangri-la in Downtown Santa Cruz By Aric Sleeper

D

avid Wright, co-owner of Hidden Peak Teahouse, has a message for the people of Santa Cruz: slow down. “That’s what tea has done for thousands of years,” Wright says. “It inspires people to slow down, and reminds us that it’s OK to stop.” As I dip down the Plaza Lane alleyway off of Pacific Avenue, and step inside Hidden Peak Teahouse, I almost turn around to make sure I am still downtown. Eastern décor, tea ware, intricate wooden tables, and antique furniture fill the space. No one is using phones or computers. A table of three men converses over a plate of steamed buns, while a nearby woman sips a small bowl of tea without taking her eyes off a book. A record player fills the air with waves of analog sound. Wright is quick to welcome me to this otherworldly sanctuary. With a beaming visage and slender frame, Wright resembles a plain-clothed, middle-aged monk. He ushers me to a private tearoom where we sit around a wooden table that looks as if it has grown up and out of the floor itself. “The thing that’s most important, they call it the mother of all tea: water,” Wright says as he fills an electric boiler—the only apparent electrical device in the teahouse.

Wright became interested in tea in his late teens, around the same time he moved to Santa Cruz, and began experimenting with it more in his early twenties. He soon found a passion for pu-erh tea and the gung fu style of ceremony, but didn’t truly fall in love with the traditional beverage until he shared it with his wife and co-owner Marilee Wright more than two decades ago. “The only reason I’m doing this is really because of her,” Wright says. “She’s the one who got me inspired.” The Wrights opened Chaikhana Tea Culture, their first teahouse in Santa Cruz, in 2003, but

eventually outgrew the small space. With the help of “tea angels” as Wright calls them, he and his wife were able to open Hidden Peak Teahouse in March 2012. After the water is boiling, Wright pours it into the clay teapot, a glass pitcher, the small ceramic cups, and douses three wooden figurines, called tea pets, which occupy the table. Wright pulls me into the moment with the pageantry of the gung fu ceremony. The cup of unblended brick pu-erh tea is earthy, but sweet. This is one of the more popular teas at the teahouse, and one of Wright’s favorites. He recommends all newcomers try puerh, but Hidden Peak offers all manners of tea, from oolong to green. After a thorough discussion of tea culture’s past, present, and future, Wright explains why the name Hidden Peak was chosen. “It’s where the teas grow in the high mountains,” he says. “You have to go through the clouds to find it.” /FW Hidden Peak Teahouse, 1541 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-4200, hiddenpeakteahouse.com.

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SEQUOIA EMMANUELLE

Taylor’s Tonics uses Santa Cruz roots to craft old-fashioned libations By Elizabeth Limbach

“It was fate, I suppose.” S

o begins the story of Taylor Peck’s rise to artisan soda maestro. The journey began in an apartment at UC Santa Cruz’s Kresge College, where, in 1995, Peck and some roommates put on events on campus, and then in town, under the name Nub Circus. The real adventure began during summer break in 1996, when Peck and future part owner of his business Nate Brogan traveled across the country selling raw-food burritos and chai tea, “which, in 1996, despite its hundreds of years of infiltrating other cultures, was more or less new to ours,” says Peck. The road trip culminated with a stop at Burning Man, where they set up a booth and served free chai. “That was when I realized it was a big thing, and it was there I had my epiphany that I wasn’t going back to

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school,” he says. He took a leave of absence from college to pursue a beverage career, and never looked back. “I’m sure they expire, but for all I know I’m still on a leave of absence from UCSC,” he jokes. The chai-focused company took an unexpected turn around four years ago, when it got stuck with a large amount of a unique chai concentrate they had made for a client. “We were sitting on enough inventory of this concentrate that it could have toppled the company if we hadn’t found an outlet for it,” says Peck, who decided to test it out in a chai soda concept he had been contemplating. “It was an immediate perfect fit. It was meant to be.” Now 16 years old, the company has morphed into a craft brewer of all-natural sodas, including the flagship Chai Cola, that hearken

back to the early days of botanically rich soft drinks. “It comes form a period of time when sodas were first coming into vogue medicinally,” explains Peck, adding that Taylor’s Tonics are made in small batches by hand using distinct, mostly organic ingredients. “There’s a certain amount of magic and witchy-ness to everything we do.” The small company now has sodas in 700 retail locations across 40 states, and recently opened a store, The Fizzary, in San Francisco’s Mission District, where they carry 900 varieties of soft drinks from craft soda companies, of which Peck says 25 percent are natural and 10 percent are organic or “earth-based.” While most of its operations now take place in San Francisco, Taylor’s Tonics still has roots (and a Watsonville facility) in

the Santa Cruz area. “Santa Cruz established our company ethos,” Peck says. “We’ve cycled through 16 to 20 product concepts, looking for ‘the one,’” he adds. “Taylor’s Tonics is the first one we genuinely think has national legs.” Although, while they are certainly better for you than a soda of the conventional, high-fructose corn syrup variety, Peck is quick to point out that Taylor’s Tonics are still a treat. “We are trying to enrich our product with the original botanicals [found in sodas],” says Peck, “But when someone asks, ‘Is this good for me?’ I say that we have one guarantee—we guarantee it will make you not thirsty.” /FW Visit taylorstonics.com.


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New beverage combines taste and quality with a humanitarian mission By Elizabeth Limbach

F

ive years into its existence, Half Moon Bay-based nonprofit Not For Sale took stock of its work combating global human trafficking and decided it needed a new approach. “We looked at everything and said ‘we are going to be doing the same work forever unless we start addressing the root problems,’” says Allison Trowbridge, Santa Cruz native and NFS’s vice president of strategic partnerships. “[We asked] ‘What would it look like to go to the source of the issue?’” The organization decided to focus on the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon, where they already had longterm relationships with the indigenous tribes and boots on the ground working to protect them from trafficking. The idea was born to create a separate, for-profit beverage company that would source ingredients from the region, creating a sustainable enterprise. The end result is REBBL, a line of health tonics that hit stores—beginning with New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz County—this spring. In addition to coordinating the procurement of the herbs REBBL uses, NFS will be a benefactor of the new company. “The funds that come back allow us to reinvest in the region,” says Trowbridge, explaining that NFS’s work in Peru includes job training, putting children in school, artisan training, and community development.

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REBBL CEO Palo Hawken was brought on to develop the tonics, which come in Hibiscus Mint, Ginger Citrus, and Forest Berry. His vision was to craft good-tasting drinks using legendary, therapeutic-strength medicinal herbs in levels that “have biological relevance” and aren’t just “marketing gimmicks.” “We are taking the culmination of thousands of years of work and knowledge and reverence for a few culturally important herbs from around the world and giving them a place in the modern North American supermarket,” Hawken says. It was important to him that the products stand on their own two legs as desirable drinks—a distinction that will ultimately make the tonics an even more powerful agent of change, he says. “Most efforts like this, to me, are not destined for success,” says Hawken. “Usually the quality of the product takes a backseat to the focus on the message, and the assumption that the message is enough to exist in the marketplace. Well, the marketplace is ruthless. It buys what it wants and rejects what it doesn’t. What we have here is a product that completely justifies its own existence, which is ultimately to Not For Sale’s benefit.” /FW For more information, visit rebbltonic.com and notforsalecampaign.org.


Downtown Eats

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Food & Wine Festivals May 11-Sunday, May 12, 462-9337, maggiehellmann.com.

The Strawberry Festival Join the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center when they shut down a portion of Walnut Avenue for their annual Strawberry Festival this June. This free festival celebrates all things strawberry, and features carnival games, bouncy houses, a dunk tank and giant slide, more than 100 prizes to be raffled off, and entertainment provided throughout the day. The 25th Annual Strawberry Festival, 11a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, June 1, Walnut Avenue (between Rincon Court and Chestnut Avenue), 426-3062, wawc.org.

A cactus-based dish at Festival del Nopal.

Art & Chocolate This Mother’s Day weekend why not take mom to Art & Chocolate on beautiful Monterey Bay. Twelve art galleries within a two-mile radius of the Live Oak/Pleasure Point area of Santa Cruz will open their doors to the

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public. The free event presents various local artists and art forms including painting, ceramics, and glasswork, and, of course, chocolate treats will be available at each studio. Sixth Annual Art & Chocolate, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday,

Festival Del Nopal The Festival Del Nopal is back for its fourth year celebrating the prickly pear cactus and the rich culture surrounding it. The prickly pear has been a staple in the diet of Latin American people for centuries, and this festival seeks to honor its many uses. The free event features a variety of cactus dishes, recipe contests, live music, dancing, and more. Fourth Annual Festival Del Nopal, 10 a.m.6 p.m., Sunday, July 28, 176 Lincoln St., Santa Cruz, 295-2518, festivaldelnopal.com.

The Watsonville Strawberry Festival This August, visit historic Downtown Watsonville for the 19th annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival. The free event celebrates the sweet red fruit with carnival rides and games, a variety of local food vendors, live entertainment, and activities for the whole family. Watsonville Strawberry Festival, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3-Sunday, Aug. 4, Watsonville City Plaza on Main, Peck, and Union streets, 768-3240, cityofwatsonville.org.

Scotts Valley Art and Wine Festival Celebrate local artists and winegrowers this August in Scotts Valley’s SkyPark. More than 100 artists will be presenting their work this year, so there will be something for every taste and style. The festival features wines from local wineries, beer from the area’s microbreweries, live music, a “Kids’ Korner,” and a variety of things to eat in the “Fabulous Food Court.” Scotts


Food & Wine Festivals Valley Art & Wine Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 10 and Sunday, Aug. 11, SkyPark, 361 King’s Valley Road, Scotts Valley, 438-1010, scottsvalleychamber.com.

The Young Farmers and Ranchers Testicle Festival If you have ever been curious about trying a rocky mountain oyster, here is your chance. The fifth annual Testicle Festival features all-you-can-eat rocky mountain oysters alongside a full barbecue dinner. With an “All in the Sauce” competition for the best homemade dipping sauce, a horseshoe tournament, live music, and dancing, this event is a must for all adventurous eaters in Santa Cruz County. Fifth Annual Testicle Festival, 3-7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 24, Estrada Deer Camp, 500 Mount Madonna Road, Watsonville, 722-6622, agri-culture.us.

Greek Culture and Food Festival The Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church presents the 33rd annual Greek Food Festival, a sampling of the unique cuisine and rich culture of Greece right here in Santa Cruz. This weekend-long event will feature a variety of authentic Greek foods like dolmathes, mous-

saka and gyros, among many others. There will be live music, costumed dance performers, church tours, a raffle to win a free trip to Greece, and more than 20 vendors with jewelry, clothing, and crafts.The 33rd Annual Greek Culture and Food Festival, 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7, 12 p.m.-8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 8, Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, 223 Church St., Santa Cruz, 429-6500, propheteliassantacruz.org.

Santa Cruz County Fair The 2013 Santa Cruz County Fair promises to be a good old-fashioned time for adults and kids alike, ripe with traditional and unique culinary offerings. This year, attendees can also enjoy a presentation from Kobert Animal Productions Exotic Bird Show and Turkey Stampede, a visit from Dr. Solar and his traveling medicine show, pig races, and a charro horseshow on Sunday. 2013 Santa Cruz County Fair, Sept. 10-15, Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, 2601 East Lake Ave., Watsonville, 724-567, santacruzcountyfair.com.

Capitola Art and Wine Festival It wouldn’t be September in Capitola without the

The sun shines on the Capitola Art and Wine Festival. annual art and wine festival by the water. This year’s event will boast wine tasting from 21 local wineries, and will feature 150 local artists from a variety of mediums, gourmet food, and live music. The festival also features a children’s art area, performance arts groups, street

performers, and more. The 31st Annual Capitola Art & Wine Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14 and Sunday, Sept. 15, on the Esplanade in Capitola Village, 475-6522, capitolachamber.com. | Aric Sleeper

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A Santa Cruz Institution (831) 458-2321 • 555 Soquel Ave. Santa Cruz • ristoranteitaliano.biz Open for lunch Mon–Sat. 11:30–2 and a limited menu from 2–4pm Mon-Fri. Dinner nightly starting at 5. Full Menu available for Take Out.

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JEREMEY BOT

Inspired by her grandfather, Kirk Smith, and his favorite dessert (mocha almond fudge ice cream with a genero us pour of Disaronno liqueur), Amey Mathews created this delectable dairy-free cookie. INGREDIENTS: 3/4 cup whole almonds (or 1 cup almond meal) 3/4 cup whole grain spelt flour (or 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour) 1/2 cup turbinado sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 1/2 - 2 teaspoon instant coffee granules 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (mini chips are best) 1/4 cup Disaronno liqueur 2 tablespoons canola oil 1 teaspoon almond extract

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put almonds in a food processor and grind to a fine meal. Measure out 1 cup of almond meal and place in a large bowl. Add in spelt flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, the instant coffee granules and chocolate chips. Whisk to combine. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the Disaronno, oil and almond extract and whisk to combine. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and stir until fully combined. Form the dough into golf ball-sized gobs (they may be a bit crumbly). Place balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and press down to flatten a bit. Bake for 11 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Yummus is a delightful party dip that pairs well with sweet apples, juicy jicama, red radishes, raw zucchini and celery sticks. Preparation time is 15 minutes, and yield is about 4 cups. INGREDIENTS: 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds 2 cups water 2 15-ounce cans cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained 1 cup coconut juice 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 3 cloves garlic 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, including most of the stem 1 ripe avocado 1 tablespoon raw tahini 1/2 cup olive oil 1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup 2 teaspoons salt

SOAK THE PUMPKIN SEEDS IN WATER FOR FOUR TO SIX HOURS OR OVERNIGHT. Drain and set aside. If you are using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse them. Place the chickpeas and the soaked pumpkin seeds in a food processor or Vitamix with all of the remaining ingredients. Process for 20 seconds, scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl and blend again until smooth. If your Yummus is too thick or pasty, add an additional few tablespoons of coconut juice until you reach a creamy consistency.

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Good Times Food & Wine Spring 2013