The nation's best pumpkin pie is made right here in Santa CruzNow that it's pumpkin month, at 45 bay area farmers markets you can find Beckmann's Bakery's pumpkin pies, which are the best in the country.
My first taste of baklava came in the kitchen of a friend's Russian grandmother. She spoke little English, but the message she sent through those infinite layers of sweet, sticky pastry was one of true love.
Numerous peoples claim title to the inception of baklava, but it is believed to be of Central Asian Turkic origin, and perfected by the chefs of Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman Sultans in Istanbul. The dessert, popular throughout Greece, Eastern Europe and the Middle East is made by individually buttering micro-thin sheets of dough called phyllo, the Greek word for leaf, which are alternately layered with nuts and spices. After baking they are doused with honey.
My own attempts to prepare what has become my kids' favorite dessert have produced barely edible results. To the rescue comes Scotts Valley's Eva Marie Vaniotis-Tordoff who launched her line of baklava this past summer at select retail establishments. I found packages with two browned and shimmering squares of Eva's Baklava ($2.89) at Shopper's Corner on a baked goods rack back by the kitchen utensils.
The United States is such a geographically diverse country that I never cease to be amazed. Coming from the pint-sized country of England, when I travel the wide-open spaces of the U.S., it always takes my breath away. My husband and I recently did a road trip to Yellowstone—our second time there—taking in Badlands National Park and the Black Hills of South Dakota also. Because we were staying in cabins in the national parks, we took our own wine – as well as an abundance of snack food.
If you'd like to improve your sushi-making technique, Chef Jim Song stars in an informational five-minute video on the website of Watsonville's Imura Japanese Restaurant. In it, he makes rolling a compact, symmetrical California Roll appear error-proof. At Imura you will find this perfectly made roll along with other traditional Japanese dishes and locally uncommon culinary gratifications.
In the evenings, the setting sun casts its rays on a vibrant, standing-room only crowd on the deck of Caffe Pergolesi. But on a fall morning I discovered a sea of tranquility.
The dozen or so patrons included retirees discussing football, an occasional studying student or businessperson channeling Cruzio's free wifi, and a constant stream of acquaintances choosing from the caffe's long list of caffeinated beverages.
One of the most fun areas to go wine tasting is in the Swift Street complex in Santa Cruz. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners, the place has been a hive of activity.
Vino Tabi, which belongs to the group, is an eclectic winery run by accomplished winemaker Katie Fox, who always offers a warm welcome and is happy to share her knowledge of wine.
Summit Kitchen has commuters covered with ready-to-heat meals, flowers, and smoked hot dogs
I traded a commute down industrial Highway 101 for the idyllic redwoods of Highway 17. The slow trek up the mountain was ideal for dreaming and planning, but once I hit the summit, the sweeping view of Monterey Bay and drop in temperature shook me into reality. "What's for dinner?" I would distressfully inquire.
Good Times readers voted Drunk Monkeys the Best New Restaurant in 2009. Since then, owners Dameon and Laura DeWorken have shuttered their Seabright restaurant and gone mobile, serving Asian Street Food from a ferociously painted catering truck.
This self-proclaimed Westside Lurker is often found on Mission Street at CVS Pharmacy or U-Save Liquors, and is also is known to haunt the corner of Encinal and Sylvania by Costco. In this new business model, roach coach meets high tech, as DeWorken occasionally updates the Drunk Monkeys facebook page with his location. Fans, currently numbering 678, or anybody else can also text him for a real-time update.
Syrah Rosé 2008
On a recent wine-tasting visit to Hunter Hill, I sample a very unusual Rosé. Darker than most Rosés, this one has a moody hue, almost verging on red. “You have to try this,” says Christine Slatter, owner of Hunter Hill with her winemaker husband, Vann Slatter. “It’s our first Syrah Rosé, says Christine. “And we’re very happy with it.”
I ask Christine why this wine has such a deep ruby color. “Well, in the process [of winemaking] the color is determined by how long you leave it on the skins, and since the crush was late in the evening, we just got tired and left it,” she chuckles. They then realize that they had made a darker-than-usual Rosé, but it turned out really well. “The darker color gives more flavor and intensity to it,” she says. “It’s been a great summer wine.” Although supplies of the Syrah Rosé are running low – Christine tells me that they have only three cases left – Michael’s on Main restaurant in Soquel still has a good supply and you can buy it there by the glass or by the bottle.