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Jul 24th
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Dining

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

Wine Reviews

Nicholson Vineyards

Nicholson Vineyards

Chardonnay 2008

A few weeks ago, some friends who live close by invited me over to their house for a light lunch to meet some British folks they do a house exchange with periodically. Since I hail from England myself, they thought it would be nice for me to meet them—and it was.

I had just bought a bottle of Nicholson’s 2008 Estate Chardonnay ($24), Santa Cruz Mountains, and so this would be the perfect libation to have with a variety of cheeses, salad, salami and pickles.

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Dining Reviews

Fuel Stop

Fuel Stop

Moss Landing's Lighthouse Harbor Grille offers tasty entrées

After kayaking, or on the way to Laguna Seca or the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Moss Landing is a convenient stop for breakfast or lunch. Sandwiched between The Whole Enchilada restaurant and a huge fruit stand sits a shack-like structure which houses Lighthouse Harbor Grille.

The brightly painted interior is decorated with nautical kitsch right down to the vinyl tablecloths and curtains with lacy lighthouses. Each table held Tapatio and three flavors of Tabasco, stirring in me a craving for something spicy.

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Dining Reviews

Hot from Your Oven

Hot from Your Oven

Fresh Prep Kitchens returns to a retail storefront, this time in Capitola's King's Plaza Shopping Center next to Baskin Robbins. To ensure that your favorites are waiting when you arrive, it's best to order through the website. However, I was at OSH and stopped in to see what was available.

The kitchen was abuzz as employees prepared and packaged ready-to-cook meals. From the refrigerator I selected Dijon-Herb Crispy Chicken Bake ($14.95) with mashed potatoes. I then heard a call from the kitchen that the Chicken Pot Pie ($15.95) was ready. Each comes with a side of vegetables or greens.

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Wine Reviews

Nonno’s Italian Café & Wine

Nonno’s Italian Café & Wine

Vino di Nonno – California Red Wine

Nonno’s Italian Cafe is one of the most unpretentious little places on the map of California. It’s also a treasure trove of wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. Situated atop a hill in the beautiful Redwood Estates, it’s an easy drive from Santa Cruz, threading one’s way through majestic redwood trees to Nonno’s bucolic setting. Restaurant owner Ralph di Tullio is passionate about wine, so much so that as well as running his very busy restaurant, he even makes his own wine—Vino di Nonno, a California red wine which sells for $12 at his restaurant. “I buy the components from different Santa Cruz Mountains wineries and we make our own blend,” he says. “This particular one is 65 percent Tempranillo, 33 percent Petite Sirah and 2 percent Viognier. It’s a non-vintage blend of several years,” he adds.

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Dining Reviews

Curry My Favor

Curry My Favor

The new Real Thai Kitchen still offers a huge selection of fresh, house-made and delectable dishes

When Real Thai Kitchen changed hands, I was understandably concerned. This was a kitchen that made curry pastes from scratch, which didn't hold back on traditional ingredients, and which knew that if you asked for "Thai Spicy" you understood the consequences. With some attractive decor changes, the addition of Sunday dinner, and a beautiful color photo menu, I still recognize some faces, including the chef's. Thai Kitchen's weekday lunch buffet ($8.95) offers a quick and flavorful midday repast. It typically includes Tom Kha coconut-based soup with cabbage and tofu, a crisp green salad with peanut dressing, fruit, white and brown rice, and eight hot dishes, of which the curries tend to be the spiciest. Still, if you'd like more heat, ask for a condiment tray which includes ground chilies and chili paste.

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Dining Reviews

Fore The View

Fore The View

Pasatiempo, which means "a relaxed pastime" is a golf course designed by internationally acclaimed Dr. Alister MacKenzie and local Marion Hollins. It is fitting then that the bar and grill that bears his name is perched on a hill overlooking the 9th fairway with a view of Santa Cruz and the bay beyond. Golfers can enjoy an early breakfast, order lunch from the kiosk at the 9th tee or enjoy post round meal and beverages, and the public is welcome. Breakfast ($7 to $10.50) served all day, includes eggs, applewood-smoked bacon, omelets, burritos, oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruit and Grand Marnier French toast.

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Wine Reviews

Clos LaChance Winery

Clos LaChance Winery

Chardonnay 2008

A fellow Brit and good friend, Emma, was in Santa Cruz recently, visiting from London, and it’s always a pleasure to show visitors our wonderful area. Having been to this neck of the woods before, Emma particularly loves Capitola Village, so we headed there for a stroll around and then to Paradise Beach Grille for a glass or two of wine.
Paradise Beach Grille carries quite a few of our local wines and, of course, I always choose local when it’s available. On this particularly warm afternoon, a Clos LaChance Chardonnay is just the ticket. It’s an upbeat refreshing wine, full of tropical fruit, apples and pear flavors with a flinty mineral finish.

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Dining Reviews

Midwestern Hospitality

Midwestern Hospitality

Peachwood's arranges happy marriages between local produce, Kansas City beef and Omaha pork

On Sunday mornings at brunch you may find David Smith, chef-proprietor of Peachwood's Steakhouse, manning the carving station dressed regally in whites and a tall, pleated toque. Once a Midwest college chemistry professor, Smith owned a Kansas City-style steakhouse and in 1991 brought his recipes and relationships with family ranchers to Santa Cruz.

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Wine Reviews

Vino Tabi Winery

Vino Tabi Winery

Chardonnay 2009

Taking a sip of Vino Tabi’s 2009 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, is a joyful experience. Lots of butterscotch and candied pear on the nose is the first hint that this is a worthwhile juice. And in the mouth, there are flavors of baked apple, light buttery oak and a touch of nutmeg—ending with a delicate light vanilla finish. This delicious and tantalizing wine is well worth the price of $24.

Winery owner Katie Fox works incessantly to craft her fine wines. When last I saw her at the beginning of November, she was relieved that harvest was over and can now concentrate on other wine-related events her winery is involved in.

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Dining Reviews

Parmesan Meets Pico de Gallo

Parmesan Meets Pico de Gallo

Part Mexican, part Italian and sometimes a fusion of both, MexItalian Restaurant offers a bright array of fresh options

Jean-Pierre (JP) Iuliano, co-owner of Café Mare, and Fernando Vasquezmatias who hails from Oaxaca, Mexico have worked together since their days at Star Bene. Their new endeavor, MexItalian, combines Old and New World ingredients and recipes in unexpected ways.

The Water Street restaurant’s interior is relatively unchanged from its previous incarnation where glass tops protect brick red fabric tablecloths. In the cabinet, shakers of Parmesan and oregano share the shelves with bottled hot sauces. The menu includes a number of vegetarian and gluten-free options, and Vasquezanatias said everything is made from scratch.

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Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Roger That

The late film critic Robert Ebert profiled in lively doc, ‘Life Itself’

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
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Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.