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Fishermen’s Fare

Gilda’s popular Friday night Cioppino celebrates our local Italian heritage

dining_gildasGilda’s popular Friday night Cioppino celebrates our local Italian heritageIn a weekly ritual, seafood lovers seek traditional California sustenance. Braving snaking traffic on Municipal Wharf, they anticipate Gilda’s Friday night special Cioppino ($13.95).

A luscious aroma greeted us in Gilda’s foyer. Eyeing the practically packed house we headed to the cocktail lounge. It is fitting to enjoy this meal in a shared setting, after all: California Cioppino was invented as a potluck of sorts, as fishermen contributed their catch to a communal pot.

Although the views are magical at any table, southwestern-facing swivel-chairs look straight out from the bar upon Steamer Lane and the lighthouse. On the walls of the small room hang photos of the Cottardo Stagnaro family and historic hauls of fisherman from times past.

 

The bartender brought a basket of warm, crusty bread and a bowl of golden foil-wrapped butter, soft enough to spread. In short order he delivered steaming oval plates brimming with an assortment of seafood swimming in herb-flecked tomato sauce. A traditional accessory bowl contained a lemon fork for securing small morsels, a two-position nutcracker for the crab shells, and numerous napkins. I thought the plastic bib was cute but superfluous, until the first crack of a crab leg sent a shower of saucy droplets in every direction.

I saved the crab for last; not just because it’s my favorite, but because it’s more hands-on. I speared cockle clams from their gaping shells, sliced into tender white scallops, plump prawns and flaky cod, and savored chewy corkscrews of tenderized calamari. Then I grabbed the crab, cracking the shell and extracting succulent sweet meat.    There was a substantial amount of zesty, seafood-flavored sauce remaining, too luscious to waste. It will soon be the basis of shrimp lasagna.

Gilda’s offers specials every weeknight, and at breakfast, the Construction Workers’ Special is old-school gratifying.


Gilda’s, Center of Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, 423-2010. Full Bar. Open at 7:30 a.m. weekdays and a.m. weekends. Serving dinner until approximately 9 p.m. nightly.

 

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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