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Apr 24th
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Dining

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

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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Dining Reviews

Downtown Turnaround

Downtown Turnaround

Assembly hits Santa Cruz with a promising menu and a delicious event tie-in to boot

A much-anticipated restaurant on the Santa Cruz dining scene is soon to appear on Pacific Avenue in the space that was formerly Aqua Bleu. Named Assembly by co-owners Kendra Baker and Zach Davis, who rose to fame after opening The Penny Ice Creamery and then The Picnic Basket in Santa Cruz, it promises to be the new go-to hot-spot.

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Wine Reviews

Figge Cellars Syrah 2007

Figge Cellars Syrah 2007

My husband and I spent a weekend in Carmel recently at the Bavarian-style boutique hotel, the Hofsas House. We particularly love this place because of their warm hospitality and its close proximity to Carmel village center. Our room, complete with ocean view and fireplace, was cozy and warm on a chill winter’s night—and a continental breakfast of fresh pastries, fruit and hot coffee is served in the lobby area or can be taken back to the room.

Owned and operated by the Theis family, the Hofsas House is within walking distance of everything Carmel has to offer, including shops, the beach and wine-tasting venues.

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Dining Reviews

Surprises in Scotts Valley

Surprises in Scotts Valley

Stonehouse Bar & Grill’s new chef adds creative flair to the menu

As a busy hotel serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, the Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley Hilton caters to business people, travelers, tourists, wedding groups, private parties—you name it. But for locals, too, of course, the hotel’s casual dining room and bar are regular stops.

The Stonehouse Bar & Grill’s informal restaurant has Formica-topped tables and an inviting cozy fireplace that’s welcoming to all, and the friendly full bar is an informal gathering spot to enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine or two.  When my husband and I stopped by the Stonehouse recently for dinner, we were impressed by the quality of service we received, especially from our server Michael Beck.

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Wine Reviews

Hunter Hill

Hunter Hill

Hunter’s Blend 2012

A private wine-tasting trip to Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery with about 20 people turned out to be a great deal of fun.  Christine Slatter, owner of Hunter Hill with her winemaker husband Vann Slatter, provided copious amounts of cheese, crackers, fruit and other munchies for guests to enjoy, and everybody had a good time tasting flights of Hunter Hill’s wonderful wines.

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Dining Reviews

All in the Family

All in the Family

Home-delivered baked goods are all the rage, thanks to I Rise Bakery

If you were to drive by Redwood Pizzeria in Felton during the middle of the night, you might be surprised to see a person loitering in the empty restaurant. The sheriff certainly was, when he and some of his fellow officers recently confronted the mystery man who appeared to be robbing the business.

But instead of a thief, they found one Gardner Lund, covered up to his elbows in dough.

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Best of Santa Cruz County 2014

The 2014 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll Come on in, and have a look around. There’s a lot to see—hundreds of winners selected by thousands of GT readers across Santa Cruz County. So if some of this looks familiar, it’s probably because you helped make it happen. But there are always new things to discover, too—you could go to a different winner or runner-up every day in the Food and Drink category alone, and you’d be booked just about until next year’s Best of Santa Cruz County issue comes out.

 

Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.

 

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

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Palate-Stretching 101

A wine education with Soif’s experts As a veteran of many weekend wine “seminars” at Soif, I have to confess that I’ve never known less (going in) and learned more (coming out) than I did last week at the Spanish Wine Tasting with ace rep Brian Greenwood. These are classy, casual events and it’s hard to imagine having this much flavor fun anywhere for $20.

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

 

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.

 

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