Changes on the Food, Wine and Beer Scene
2013 has been a very eventful year, with more openings and closings than there is space to write about, but here is a partial list:
This holiday season, let your taste buds be your guide
Purchasing holiday gifts is so 2012. This year, why not put a smile on your loved ones’ faces with delectable homemade sweets? A treat for both the eyes and the taste buds, edible gift giving is all the rage, and with the expert advice of Love Apple Farms’ Chef Maggie Cattell, you can’t lose.
“I come from a family that believes food is the first priority during the holidays,” Cattell says with a laugh. “I remember the kitchen smelling like homemade stock a week before. Everyone had a part to play.”
Looking for a fabulous wine to spice up your Christmas dinner? Then let me recommend Beauregard Vineyards’ Pinot Noir 2012, Coast Grade Vineyard ‘667’—a simply gorgeous Pinot that will impress any lover of this varietal.
Mouth-watering flavors of dark cherry, strawberry, black tea and Christmas spice (how appropriate!) fill the mouth with pure pleasure. With its elegant bouquet, medium body and soft tannins, it is a bold and full-bodied wine—and not too fruit-dominated.
New menu items and robust spirit invigorate Café Rio
Café Rio has always been one of my favorite places to dine. After moving to the Santa Cruz area and searching out good restaurants, Café Rio was mentioned as a fun place to eat, with sand dabs and swordfish highly recommended. And we can rest assured that these popular items will always be on the menu. When Jeanne Harrison took over the iconic restaurant as owner in 2011, she left the menu pretty much the same, but now feels that the time has come to improve the dining experience even more.
Geoff Hargrave of West End Tap & Kitchen adds intrigue to Santa Cruz’s Westside
The Swift Street Courtyard complex has evolved into a bustling scene where people go to enjoy good food, wine and beer and have a good time, especially on the weekends. Along with about a dozen tasting rooms, a brewery and high-end bakery/eatery can be found as well.
When West End Tap & Kitchen opened in July, this casual “gastropub” added greatly to the vibrant culinary scene. And, along with former University of Colorado friend, co-owner Quinn Cormier, we have executive chef Geoff Hargrave to thank. Hargrave’s menu features the kind of comfort food people are looking for on a casual night out.
A short drive over Hecker Pass takes us to the rather warmer climes of Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy—and to where many wonderful wineries lie, including the splendid Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. A family-run business for close to 90 years, it continues producing fine wine with brothers George, Gene and Gary Guglielmo at the helm.
Guglielmo makes many different wines, but I absolutely love their Sangiovese Private Reserve 2010, Santa Clara County. With aromatic notes of apricot, peach, nectarine and strawberry, and mouth-pleasing flavors of ripe strawberries and vanilla—and with its balanced acidity—it’s a delicious wine to savor on the tongue. At $18 a bottle, it’s a steal, as they say.
Sondra Bernstein of the girl & the fig on NorCal feasts and the art of culinary creations. PLUS: Five holiday cocktails to relish
Day trips and “staycations” nourish the soul, so it’s no surprise that Sonoma continues to rank high for a delicious getaway. But for those who may not yet have the resilient girl & the fig on their culinary GPS, that’s about to change. One name you need to know as you venture toward and into 2014: Sondra Bernstein. She’s the proprieter of Sonoma’s girl & the fig as well as its enchanting winebar in nearby Glenn Ellen. With her strong adherence to farm-to-table creations, Bernstein’s imaginative fare has kept her portal thriving for 16 years now. National attention never hurts, either—the woman has been featured and saluted in numerous magazines and publications as well. She also published several bestselling books, “the girl & the fig Cookbook” and, more recently, “Plats Du Jour,” a luscious read that takes readers through seasons in the wine county. Questions abound when you meet Bernstein. For starters, how did a gal from Philadelphia wind up as one of NorCal’s most celebrated culinary royalty? Read on …
Artesana Winery is a premium winery based in Uruguay which concentrates on Tannat, a red wine grape historically grown in South West France. First introduced by Basque settlers, Tannat is now a prominent grape of Uruguay and plantings are increasing each year.
Artesana Winery is in the acclaimed Canelones region of Uruguay, a prime location for the Tannat grape. Their artisan wines are made from 100 percent estate-grown grapes and hand-crafted by two women winemakers.
My husband and I celebrated our anniversary last month and spent the weekend in one of our favorite nearby getaways—Carmel.
This time we stayed in a newly re-opened boutique inn called Vendange, meaning “late harvest” in French, which is very close to the town center—and it could not have been better. The place is spotless, beautifully decorated, comes with a nice breakfast, and offers a wine and cheese tasting every evening.