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Aug 27th
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Dining

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

Wine Reviews

Muns Vineyard

Muns Vineyard

Syrah 2008


Local winemaker Ed Muns, along with his business partner Mary Lindsay, was pouring his excellent wines at a recent event – which is when I tasted his Syrah 2008, Santa Cruz Mountains and immediately bought a bottle to write about. Here’s an estate-grown Syrah ($25) that is rich, complex, well balanced, and bursting with beautiful fruit. It’s a dynamic wine that drinks well now, but will also bottle-age nicely for years to come. Syrah, with its peppery flavor and smoky aroma, pairs very well with meat, but it’s a bit too robust for fish or anything light.

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Dining Reviews

Foodie Road Trip

Foodie Road Trip

The Ferry Building Farmers Market is a community celebration

San Francisco's Ferry Building Farmers Market is considered one of the best in the country for its diversity of produce and the uniqueness of artisinal foodstuffs. Each week, its three markets attract 25,000 visitors, the largest one on Saturdays.

In the spirit of sustainability I gathered canvas bags, a trio of reusable mesh produce bags ($7.50 Bed Bath & Beyond) and stepped onto Metro's 17 Express bus just before 7 a.m. to catch Caltrain at San Jose's Diridon Station. From an upstairs seat overlooking homes and fruit-laden citrus trees I pondered the juxtaposition of graffiti-tagged warehouses and backyard tennis courts.

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Dining Reviews

Dig Deep amid the Gathering Bloom

Dig Deep amid the Gathering Bloom

For a couple of years I've announced Love Apple Farm's spring tomato seedling sale. Last year we made the trek to Boulder Creek to see what heirloom tomatoes were all about, and came home with six varieties. This year, Love Apple will not be selling at their farm, but, closer to many of us, in Scotts Valley.

My thumb is anything but green. I like perennials and flowers that reseed themselves. Occasionally I grow hard-to-find ingredients like Thai chilies fresh curry paste and tiny cucumber cornichons. My previous experiences with hardware store tomatoes, after applying all the TLC I could muster, produced tasteless offerings.

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Wine Reviews

Vino Tabi

Vino Tabi

Pinot Noir 2008

Pinot Noir is a sexy wine. With its full-bodied earthy nuances and creamy texture, it’s a perfect wine to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

With this in mind, I take a bottle of Vino Tabi’s gorgeous 2008 Pinot Noir, Lester Family Vineyards, to a special Valentine’s dinner at Center Street Grill—the first in a series of dinners prepared by local chef Jake Gandolfo of Fox TV’s MasterChef cooking show—featuring the controversial Gordon Ramsay.

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Dining Reviews

Made from Scratch

Made from Scratch

Homemade goodness delights diners at Scotts Valley's Heavenly Cafe

he building on Mt. Hermon Road reminds me of an old western general store. I almost expect to find Ma Barker dishing up simple, made-from-scratch, rib-sticking grub. But here at Heavenly Cafe, I found that the simple adjective does not apply, and grub is a total misnomer. Turkey burgers with feta cheese and yogurt tzatziki sauce, smoked salmon salad with salsa fresca, and walnut waffles with fresh bananas are just a sample of Heavenly's interesting offerings.

For breakfast, which is served all day, choose from omelets, Belgian waffles, buttermilk pancakes and French toast or a few Mexican specialties.

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Dining Reviews

Spilling the Beans

Spilling the Beans

I stood facing two portals at Brown Ranch Marketplace. The one on the right read Weight Watchers, the other Zizzo's. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee lured me left.

"Good Friends Great Coffee" seemed to be more than a slogan at Zizzo's, as the steady stream of customers seemed to be all on a first name basis. With 60 hot, cold, and blended espresso, coffee, tea and fruit beverages to choose from, plus the ability to mix and match to create your own gourmet specialty, my choice was not a simple one.

I chose a Mexican Mocha—with nonfat milk and no whipped cream as penance. The steaming twelve-ounce beverage with a shot of espresso was flavored with cinnamon, chocolate, and hazelnut. It tasted as marvelous as Kahlua and Frangelico but totally work-appropriate, and was just sweet enough.

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Dining Reviews

Menu Guide for Santa Cruz area

Menu Guide for Santa Cruz area> Click here for the menus, phone numbers and address of all these restaurants:
Laili, Kianti’s, Rosie McCann’s, El Palomar, Fire Fish, Ideal Bar & Grill, Miramar, Casablanca Restaurant, Zelda’s, Paradise Beach Grille, Zameen Cuisine, Sawasdee Thai Cuisine, Lillian’s, The Crepe Place, burger., The Parish, Samba Rock, Pearl of the Ocean, Vasili’s Greek Taverna, Zoccoli’s Deli, Taqueria Vallarta, Charlie Hong Kong, Aloha Island Grille, May’s Sushi, Engfer’s Pizza Works, Chill Out Cafe, Clubhouse Kitchen, Hollin’s House, Hindquarter, Ristorante Italiano, Zachary’s, Hula’s, Linwood’s Bar & Grill. Click HERE to get the menus >
Restaurant A-Z in Santa Cruz area >
Wine Reviews

Morgan Winery

Morgan WinerySauvignon Blanc 2009

One of my favorite places to go for lunch is the Crow’s Nest. It has a bright and cheerful interior as the sun pours through every window, the view looking out to the harbor is magnificent, and the food is always splendid. And they have a pretty good wine list as well.
As 12 of us gathered for lunch to celebrate a friend’s birthday, I ordered a bottle of Morgan Sauvignon Blanc ($30) to get things going and whet our appetites – not that much of either was really needed.
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Dining Reviews

Full Circle

Full Circle

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.

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Dining Reviews

On Aging Well

On Aging Well

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.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.