Behind the scenes at the big move for Staff of Life
I have excitedly watched the transformation of a building on Soquel Avenue from that of an auto dealership into Staff of Life's new home. Now, a metal fence has been built around the entrance with a canopied roof. An open-air beverage bar and produce bins house things like colorful berries. It’s a good welcome into the store.
Mid-afternoon on the day before the grand opening, the large parking lot was full, as was bordering Darwin Street. There was an air of excitement as throngs of shoppers pushed carts through the aisles and greeted strangers. School children bagged their favorite vegetables.
An on-line reader named Ben commented on the Pu-erh tea I wrote about from Dynasty Chinese Restaurant on Portola. He suggested that Internet purchases were risky, perhaps either overpriced or counterfeit, and suggested I visit David and his staff at Chaikhana for a taste of the real thing. As I've lately been developing recipes for flavored iced teas, it's a good time to visit.
Chaikhana, which means tea culture, has possibly a hundred different teas, estimated tea maker Andrew, but I'm interested in the Chinese post-fermented style in which dried green leaves are rolled, dampened, and left to ferment and darken.
Every now and then, I write about a very inexpensive wine that deserves a bit of attention. In this case, it’s Delicato Family Vineyards’ 2009 Merlot, which sells for around $6. Actually, I saw it in New Leaf for a bit less than this, so if you’re looking for a nice red that’s not going to break the bank, then you really can’t go wrong.
At a recent concert at The Catalyst, my husband bought a bottle of Delicato to while away the evening – as we got there early to nab a precious table and a couple of chairs.
Ristorante Barolo adds homemade touches to its Italian specialties in the Historic Bayview Hotel
At eight in the morning I was craving Italian food so I headed into Aptos Village where the county's oldest hotel, the Bayview Bed and Breakfast Inn, houses Ristorante Barolo.
The breakfast room was originally a wrap-around portico of the home which was built in 1878. It was remodeled in 1883 to add the third story, where dormer windows protrude from the mansard roof. Likely the Italianate features were added then, such as faux cornerstone quoins and decorative triangular pediments over the doors and windows.
Santa Cruz's home of the original pizza dance has parlayed its expertise with dough and toppings into some tasty weekend brunch fare. The scent of strong coffee seemed unusual at Kianti's, but welcome on a sleepy Saturday morning. Breakfast Pizzas ($11.95/$19.95), pizza dough pastries ($6.95 to $7.95), and Scrambles and Wraps ($8.95) pair just as well with Bloody Marys ($5) and bottomless Mimosas ($10).
Four scrambles can be wrapped in a flour or whole wheat tortilla and are served with fruit, pasta salad, or chips and house-made salsa. You can also design your own scramble (or pizza) from an abbreviated list of your favorite pizza toppings.
I tasted this lovely Chardonnay at Paradise Beach Grille in Capitola at the Wine & Crab Taste-Off held last month. (Other participating restaurants in the Taste-Off were Café Cruz, Ma Maison and Sanderlings.) This splendid event is not only a golden opportunity to compare some specially presented crab delicacies—as the restaurants compete for best dish—but also to sample some excellent local wines. This crustacean-centered event takes place every January, and is organized by the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association.
Golden Palace brings luxurious Chinese dining to Midtown
Impeccable decor at the new Golden Palace is accompanied by friendly service, and with more than 170 dishes to choose from, mild or spicy, vegetarian or omnivorous, there are numerous tastes to be treasured.
At night, red paper lanterns and white icicle lights highlight the golden brick exterior. Inside I was greeted by a highly carved chair and familiar shimmering wallpaper. Golden Palace is a sister to Dynasty on Portola Drive in Santa Cruz, and our server said the owner designed everything, right down to his shiny black shirt emblazoned with a sequined dragon. New tall-backed booths offer privacy and are decorated with gilded plastic dragons, as is the circular table which seats 14.
In my columns I focus on the best edibles our local cooks and chefs have to offer, and avoid chain restaurants, especially national ones. I rarely eat fast food, anyway.
But, there are extenuating circumstances, like when the kitchen was being remodeled and I needed a quick breakfast for the school kids, or when the "low on iron" buzzer signals a Whopper Junior emergency. Now you've met the skeletons in my closet.
On one clandestine visit to McDonald's, I was intrigued by the ads for smoothies, yogurt parfaits and oatmeal. I scoffed, recalling the introduction of Caramel Frappe and its 450 calories, for 12-ounces! Could McDonald's actually smaller-size me?
About a year ago, I wrote about Barry Jackson’s Cioppino Rosso, a blend of different wines that winemaker Jackson laughingly calls Cioppino because he “throws all the leftovers in a pot.” He’s referring, of course, to his vivacious blend of several wines—just as the cioppino fish stew is a mixture of fish and shellfish thrown into a pot.
Now, on a somewhat more serious note, it’s time to write about Jackson’s Grenache. A majority of Grenache grapes (there is only 4 percent Syrah added), this wine has the typical enticing aromas of earth and stewed fruits.