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Sep 30th
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Dining

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

Dining Reviews

Tasting Away

Tasting AwayBeautiful inside and out, Margaritaville blends Mexican specialties with Californian originality 

Last year I felt horribly deprived by the relative lack of warm summer days. Earlier this month though, there was enough shirt-sleeve weather to put me in remarkably giddy spirits. After thoroughly enjoying a walk on Capitola's sunny Esplanade in the middle of January, we stopped in at Margaritaville, a restaurant I had not visited in quite some time.
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Dining Reviews

Back at the Farm

Back at the FarmThere really was a farm at one time, farther up the road, which I remember for their enjoyable breakfasts. Thirty-five years later, now much smaller and located just south of Cabrillo College, The Farm still serves an abundant choice of fresh fare, made from scratch, in the middle of a chic boutique. I was surprised at the variety of tasteful gifts, from sweaters and jewelry, to cook books, cards and glassware.
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Wine Reviews

Skov Winery

Skov WinerySauvignon Blanc 2010—and Johnny’s Harborside Restaurant

Skov Winery is a fairly new kid on the block. But it’s certainly not new in the wine biz. Formerly called Roudon-Smith Winery, owners Annette and David Hunt decided on a complete turnaround, sold off the old winery and brought in a whole new label with a very different look. The Skov label reflects Annette’s Danish background—Skov is Danish for forest and it just so happens that their winery on Bean Creek Road in Scotts Valley is surrounded by redwoods. It also fits hand in glove with the whole Santa Cruz image—more redwoods in a heavily forested area.
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Dining Reviews

The (Local) Food Network

The (Local) Food NetworkCooking school founder serves up a tasty menu of culinary classes  

Salmon and English muffins? Check. Lemony chicken—heavy on the lemons—that’s my unfortunate specialty. God-awful scrambled eggs, sweet potato hash gone wrong, dreary pasta sauce, burned meatballs. The list goes go on and on. Those who know me are distinctly aware that I’m a wretched cook. (And they have the stories to back it up.) In fact, I’ve been banned from cooking by everyone close to me. They refuse to eat anything I’ve prepared.
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Wine Reviews

Kirigin Cellars

Kirigin CellarsVino de Mocca—California Grape Wine with Coffee, Chocolate and Orange

I’m giving you all a heads up for Valentine’s Day so that you have time to visit Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy and get some Vino de Mocca. This voluptuous wine is available only at the winery, so you will have to go out there to get some. But it will be worth it.
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Dining Reviews

Special Treatment

Special TreatmentUnique culinary touches at Zachary's have kept us coming back for 26 years

Babies know not the difference between weekends and weekdays, and my oldest awoke by 6:30 every morning. On Saturdays we'd either drive to the wharf, or put him in an aluminum-framed backpack and walk downtown for breakfast. Once, when my not-quite toddling son dragged his backpack to my bedside, sadly on a school day, I knew he was hungry for Zachary's.
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Dining Reviews

Mid-day Milkshake

Mid-day MilkshakeWith Café Violette changing hands again, I wondered if they still served any of the original Middle Eastern plates. It was a sunny afternoon, and surprisingly busy for a mid-week.

This tiny cafe on the corner of the Esplanade and Stockton Avenue in Capitola serves 48 flavors of locally made Polar Bear and Marianne's ice cream. A regular milkshake ($5) made with Marianne's Raspberry Cheesecake was thick and bubble gum pink.
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Wine Reviews

Bernadus Winery

Bernadus WineryChardonnay 2009 

One of the most impressive weddings I have ever attended was at the Bernardus Lodge recently. Not only were the bride and groom an extremely handsome couple, but also they had planned each detail so carefully and thoroughly that the whole event was truly a fairytale affair.

The Bernadus Lodge is a gorgeous facility to hold a function, and well worth a visit. It’s a beautiful premier resort nestled on verdant acres in Carmel Valley—complete with luxurious spa, tennis courts, ballroom, function space and vineyard.
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Dining Reviews

Chow Time

Chow TimeCowboy Bar and Grill updates staples of the Wild West  

After an energizing hike through Henry Cowell State Park, I like to refuel at Felton's Cowboy Bar and Grill, situated just one half mile north of the park's Highway 9 entrance. The servings are generous, the cocktails playfully named, and the soups housemade.

Specialty cocktails ($7 to $10) include margaritas and variations of the Long Island Iced Tea. I found the peach-colored Bolo Tai ($8) refreshing in an icy pint glass with hints of pineapple and Odwalla orange juices mixed with four varieties of rum.
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Dining Reviews

Good News for Home Chefs

Good News for Home ChefsI remember my first trip to a restaurant supply store. I had been taking weekend classes at San Francisco's California Culinary Academy, and needed a bigger skillet. Two years ago I drove to Seaside for a huge stainless steel pot for the city's Chowder cook off. Now Santa Cruz home chefs have a supply store to call their own.
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Reflecting Glass

Composer Philip Glass’ first trip to Big Sur was by motorcycle; little did he know that he’d establish a music festival there six decades later.

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Wurst Case Scenario

Venus Spirits releases agave spirit, Renee Shepherd on planting garlic, Sausagefest 2014, and wine harvest in full swing

 

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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

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”