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Apr 23rd
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Dining

Restaurant dining and wine reviews for Santa Cruz County >
Menu Guide for Santa Cruz area.

Dining Reviews

Fresh Meat

Fresh Meat

One of four Cabrillo College students featured in new Cooking Channel series spills the beans about ‘The Freshman Class: Santa Cruz’

What do you want to be when you grow up? Chances are, you were asked that question at least once as a child. For Amalia Laugesen, the answer was always “teacher.” But life had other plans for her.

At 21, Laugesen had her first of four children. And this past summer—14 years after her oldest was born—the San Jose resident found herself once again faced with that question.

“I’ve always kind of known that when my kids got older, I could finally figure out what it is that I want to do when I grow up,” she says with a laugh. “I could have gone back to [teaching], but instead, I realized that this is a time for me to do what I really want. I should explore what I’m passionate about.”

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Wine Reviews

Pleasant Valley Vineyards

Pleasant Valley Vineyards

Pinot Noir Dylan David Reserve 2009

By Josie Cowden When I visited Lester Family Vineyards not that long ago for a wine event featuring Pleasant Valley Vineyards wines from grapes grown on the Lester property, I was absolutely bowled over with the 2009 Dylan David Pinot, Lester Family Vineyards Willa Louise Block. Handcrafted from nurtured vines of French Dijon clone 667, this is a Pinot to be reckoned with.

Winemaker Craig Handley reveals his magic touch with the superb quality of his wines. Part of that magic is because he always uses the finest grapes, and the supreme fruit grown in Dan Lester’s vineyards most certainly falls into that category.

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Dining Reviews

Chef Versus Chef

Chef Versus Chef

Regional Occupational Program holds student culinary showcase and local chef challenge

In a competition that brings to mind television’s Iron Chef, Andrea Mollenauer, local chef and instructor of the Regional Occupational Program’s (ROP) culinary arts classes, will face off against her assistant instructor, Chef Christopher Stephenson, at the Museum of Art & History in Downtown Santa Cruz. The event will raise money for the ROP and give her students an opportunity to sharpen and showcase their cooking knowledge.

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Wine Reviews

Vino Tabi Winery

Vino Tabi Winery

Petit Sirah 2011

Katie Fox, winemaker at Vino Tabi, was showcasing her wines recently at an impressive six-course winemaker’s dinner at Lago di Como Restaurant in Santa Cruz. Not only was the food outstanding, but also the wines poured that evening were superb.

The 2011 Petit Sirah, Santa Cruz Mountains ($28) was featured with Nodino di vitello alla crèma di Gorgonzola—a veal chop served with a Gorgonzola and cream sauce—and a perfect pairing.

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Dining Reviews

A Carnival of Delights

A Carnival of Delights

Surprising flavors and budding beer culture on display at The Twisted Tasting

After several exciting but exhausting years of participating in San Francisco Beer Week, Emily Thomas, owner and brewer at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, was struck by inspiration: “Instead of hosting and attending multiple events for San Francisco Beer Week, why not have one gala event showcasing the local breweries and food artisans in a unique way?”

The result is The Twisted Tasting, an exhibition of unique and unusual flavors that hit the Top of the Ritt in Downtown Santa Cruz for the third year on Saturday, Feb. 15.

“I wanted to inspire brewers and food artisans to stretch their imagination, play with flavors and styles and, in return, I would provide a setting to rival and showcase their creativity,” says Thomas.

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Wine Reviews

Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery

Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery

Grüner Veltliner 2012

Made from the most widely planted grape in Austria, this dry white wine is like a burst of spring with its gorgeous flavors of lime and grapefruit. Aged for six months in stainless steel barrels, 70 cases were produced—and I imagine it’s going fast. La Playita Vineyard, where the grapes are grown, is the only CCOF-certified organic Grüner Veltliner vineyard in California—making this a pretty exceptional wine.

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Wine Reviews

Silver Mountain Vineyards

Silver Mountain Vineyards

Five of the six guests I had over to dinner recently are vegetarian, so I made vegetable moussaka from my Greek recipe book. This traditional Greek dish usually calls for ground lamb, but I used onions, tomatoes, potatoes and sliced eggplant instead of meat—layering it all and then adding a topping of béchamel sauce. It was pretty tasty.

After a few appetizers, enjoyed with wine our friends brought, we opened up a bottle of Silver Mountain Syrah 2008 to go with the “meaty” moussaka. Aromas of ripe plum, cocoa, white pepper and pancetta were quite exotic—and delicious dark fruit, black olive and white pepper rounded out the silky flavor. Winemaker Jerold O’Brien says this is a very sexy Syrah, and it most certainly is.

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Dining Reviews

Voracious Valentines

Voracious Valentines

Ashby Confections gives locals a taste of love

Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like chocolate. Whether you’re head over heels in love or single and ready to mingle, few can resist sneaking a sweet treat—or five—particularly at this time of year.

Luckily for locals, Ashby Confections has recently opened up shop in Scotts Valley, and is armed and ready to satisfy every sweet tooth.

At the helm of the operation, which specializes in artisan confections that are just as delectable as they are pieces of art, is Jennifer Ashby.

A lifelong baker, Ashby discovered her passion for chocolate while attending the Culinary Institute of America after graduating from UC Santa Cruz.

“It was new and very challenging, and that appealed to me,” Ashby recalls of her first introduction to making chocolate. “I love how versatile chocolate is. You can mold it, shape it, and even add a pattern to it. It can be savory or sweet. Little chocolates and confections are like jewels. For me, it was part artistry, part science, and part magic.”

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Dining Reviews

The Making of Maharaja

The Making of Maharaja

New Indian dining portal shows promise | By Josie Cowden

India is a fascinating country. It’s an overload of sights, sounds and smells that pervade the senses. I am very glad I experienced it, and that includes the pleasure of eating incredible dishes packed with exotic spices of all kinds. In England, where I grew up, Indian food is now so popular that chicken tikka masala has taken over from roast beef and Yorkshire pudding as the Brits’ most favorite dish.

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Wine Reviews

Poetic Cellars Merlot 2008

Poetic Cellars Merlot 2008

Poetic Cellars is a wonderful winery to visit over Valentine’s weekend. With its romantic overtones and interesting wines, not the least of which is the Merlot 2008, a bottle of Poetic Cellars wine would make a great gift—or to open up over a special dinner with your Valentine.

The 2008 Merlot is very aromatic with lots of plum, blackberry and currant flavors. Flavors of cherry, strawberry, plum and a hint of chocolate make this an all-round voluptuous experience on the palate. It’s available at the winery or at Vinocruz for about $30.

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Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).
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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management