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Oct 22nd
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Dining

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

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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Dining Reviews

From Peru to You

From Peru to You

With a remodeled kitchen, a compact healthful menu and Internet access, La Moraqueza Espresso Café has opened its doors in the historic Camp Capitola Superintendent’s office.

The café was one of the stops on this month’s First Friday tour, and still features the art of Heejin Lee and Robert Ernest Quihuis III. However, owner Washington del Aguila proudly pointed out photographs from his Peruvian home town.

Soft ’70s and ’80s rock included ballads by Air Supply, REO Speedwagon and Phil Collins as we sat in what was possibly a parlor in this State Historic Monument.

Breakfast choices ($3.50 to $5) include bagels and toast with eggs. The crusty warm Lox Bagel ($4.50) included thin slices of cured salmon, capers, red onions and mixed greens. The tartar sauce spread gave it a tasty, tangy bite.

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Wine Reviews

Villa Del Monte

Villa Del Monte

Chardonnay 2010

As most people like Chardonnay, this is a good wine to have around over the Thanksgiving holidays. Most white wine drinkers can’t always handle red, but you can count on red wine drinkers being able to drink white. It’s good to have a variety of wine in stock to give people choices, but Chardonnay is a safe bet for most.

Villa Del Monte Winery’s 2010 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains Regan Vineyard ($25), is a wonderful wine to open up when guests first arrive for Thanksgiving dinner. With its crisp tropical fruit flavors and buttery finish, this lightly oaked Chardonnay goes well with cheese, fruit, nuts—and other hors d’oeuvres set out for people to munch on before the main meal. And it would, of course, go perfectly well with turkey and all the trimmings.

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Dining Reviews

Delightfully Corny

Delightfully Corny

Chelito's Pupuseria offers an introduction to the Salvadorian kitchen

Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, present day El Salvador was home to numerous indigenous populations including the Maya, Lenca and Pipil peoples. Today's Salvadorian menu has roots in these various cultures when corn, peppers, fruit, and cacao were local staples—and the menu at Chelito’s Pupuseria is no different.

We enjoyed a basket of unique tortilla chips which were thin and crisp with well-bubbled surfaces. We helped ourselves to smoky red salsa, tart tomatillo salsa and pico de gallo loaded with green chilies at the condiment bar.

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Dining Reviews

Daily Bread

Daily BreadJust across the Stockton Avenue Bridge at the portal to the Esplanade sits Capitola Coffee Roasting Company and Pâtisserie. Michaella (Mika) Olavarri is at the helm, popping warm pastries out of the oven and mixing up hot and iced coffee drinks.
There aren't many bags of beans on the shelves, as Olavarri prefers to roast in small batches for the freshest flavor. And with each bag or tall ceramic mug purchased, comes a free cup of coffee.
Rays of the morning sun brightened and warmed the small café as one of my favorite French chanteurs serenaded softly through the speakers. Two large tables and stools at a bar along the wall provide seating, and power strips support WiFi use.
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Wine Reviews

Muccigrosso Vineyards

Muccigrosso Vineyards

Pinot Noir 2008


Dozens of bottles of wine had been generously donated by Muccigrosso Vineyards for silent auction at a fundraiser I attended recently. The event was for a friend’s brother whose house needs remodeling—as he’s now wheelchair bound after brain surgery. Held at Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery—whose owners had donated their beautiful location and gallons of wine—the turnout was amazing and several thousand dollars were raised. I find the wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains to be extraordinarily generous in supporting the community. Hunter Hill and Muccigrosso wineries are but two of the many in the area who step up to the plate to give a helping hand when needed.

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Dining Reviews

A Harbor Fall

A Harbor Fall

The new fall menu at Johnny’s Harborside offers fresh and comforting fare

I was craving a pleasant, tasty, and leisurely brunch with an exquisite view, so, under a cloudless sky, we headed to Johnny’s Harborside at the small craft harbor. Soft butter melted gently into warm, itty bitty cinnamon-scented muffins which tasted of chocolate with autumn walnuts while we reviewed the new fall menu.

Chef Brian Woods’ new creations include a number of starters such as grilled shrimp cocktail with avocado ($13), grilled romaine salad ($7) with smoked tomatoes and citrus Caesar vinaigrette, warm spinach salad ($9) with bacon vinaigrette, caramelized onions and goat cheese, and vegetarian spring rolls ($7) with sesame vinaigrette.

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Dining Reviews

Hot from the Oven

Hot from the Oven

Roland Konicke, a transplanted New Yorker, worked in and around local farmers markets for years. He missed the Big Apple's pizzas, and set out to let Californians taste the difference, using local, organic ingredients. Even the meat products, from Santa Cruz's El Salchichero, are from local pasture-raised animals.

Konicke sells his Uncle Ro's take & bake pizzas at Santa Cruz farmers markets. Shoppers can snack on a warm slice, or take one home to bake. Local ingredients lead to seasonal combinations, and August's Padrón pepper pies made the local top-ten list.

Temporarily mobility-impaired, (oh, I miss the farmers market), I followed a hint that someone had spied the pies at Whole Foods in Santa Cruz. Right next to the store’s in-house creations were four varieties of Uncle Ro’s ($10.99).

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Wine Reviews

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard

Pinot Noir 2009


Ever since Café Rio opened its doors recently – with brand new owners at the helm – this lovely ocean-view restaurant has done extraordinarily well. Restaurant news spreads quickly in the Santa Cruz area, and the word is that Café Rio has regained its reputation of old and is serving up some excellent food, including their famous and much-loved sand dabs.

Dying to check the new vibe, I finally get there with a friend for a light dinner from the bar menu  – knowing ahead of time that I would order of one of my favorites – seared ahi tuna. We also order some delicious smoked salmon and tender deep-fried calamari.

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Dining Reviews

Nest Eggs

Nest Eggs

Crow’s Nest launches daily breakfast

Stand-up paddle boarders, scullers, kayakers and a back-pedaling otter floated down the channel followed by Team O'Neill with a boat load of school children. Two sets of twin toddlers pranced happily in the sand while a runner and dog-walker made their way down the levee toward the lighthouse. It is the familiar view from the comfortable Crow's Nest, and now it's available at breakfast.

With all those healthy people exercising outside, I assuaged my guilt with a reminder that breakfast is the most important meal, and, coincidentally, that's the way it was treated by the Crow's Nest kitchen.

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Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
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Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay