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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

Carefree Highway

Carefree HighwayBen Lomond’s little Spanky’s Café offers unique breakfast specialties | by Karen Petersen
Before a day of scenic hiking in Big Basin, there are numerous eateries along Highway 9 to fuel the journey. One is tiny Spanky’s Cafe in Ben Lomond, where scalable breakfasts won’t break the bank.
The little wood-wainscoted dining room accommodates just over 30 diners with another five patio picnic tables filled on busy days.
The entire menu is available from opening until close. Choose from sandwiches ($6.25 to $7.50) and one-third pound burgers ($6.75 to $7.25) all served with either potato, macaroni or green salad.
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Dining Reviews

Tiki Got Your Tongue?

Tiki Got Your Tongue?After work, I enjoy an occasional Happy Hour with friends, co-workers or my spouse. It’s a time for transition, when the day’s important issues are discussed and then left behind as we sashay into the dinner hour. On Tuesdays at Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room, Happy Hour lasts all night, and with its multi-faceted pupu menu the appetizers can easily become dinner.
I began with a $5 happy hour Painkiller, no, really, served in a stout Mai Tai glass.
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Wine Reviews

Pietra Santa Winery

Pietra Santa WineryZinfandel 2007

One of my husband’s favorite wines is Zinfandel. He’s always happy with a glass of bold and lusty red in his hand, especially a full-throttled Zin. We had a lunchtime function to go to in Hollister – so we headed out to Pietra Santa’s extensive piece of property after. Here was a golden opportunity, whilst in the area, to taste some of their interesting wines, the Zinfandel amongst them. This bold and earthy Zin tastes of ripe cherries and plums with complements of tasty oak—with a delightful finish of black pepper and sage. Coming from vines that are 50 years old on a block of the estate that was planted in 1905, it’s a “sinful Zinful” to be sure.
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Dining Reviews

Just Do It!

Just Do It!

From fried appetizers to fresh salads and giant burgers, Rocco's 503 is fresh

I have great respect for restaurateurs. It's a time-consuming profession, and in Santa Cruz, includes a seasonal risk. The odds of surviving a year in this business are small, but for Peter Rinaldi, owner of Rocco's 503, it was time to take the leap.

Rinaldi's Italian grandfather, and then his father, grew Brussels sprouts on the north coast. All of his cousins and their children still farm throughout the county.

"It just wasn't for me," Rinaldi says, "I always wanted to do something a little more social. I wanted to make my own path."

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Dining Reviews

Bringing Home the Bacon

Bringing Home the Bacon

On our last visit to France my teenagers and I left familiar Paris to explore the country's interior. We quickly learned that lunch was served only at lunch time. Fortunately the café-bars offered baguettes spread with rillettes, a pâté of sorts. Traditionally, tough cuts of meat were tenderized by simmering in lard, after which they were pounded to a paste, loaded into ramekins and preserved with a topping of melted fat. Now they are typically made from various cuts of pork, although goose and fish find their way into these creamy hors d'oeuvres.

Chef Chris LaVeque brings such old world handcrafted charcuterie, made from pasture-raised animals, to Santa Cruz at el Salchichero. Charcuterie is an ancient craft creating all things pork, from butchering to finished products, including cooked and cured meats, fresh and smoked sausages, ham, and pâté.

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Wine Reviews

Hess Collection

Hess Collection

Chardonnay 2008


A group of friends gathered recently at the Hollins House for dinner. As usual, food and service were excellent in this lovely restaurant. The extensive bar is a good spot to go for a cocktail – and you can always get some appetizers if a hunger pang or two kicks in.

I order a Hess Select Chardonnay 2008 Monterey to sip on before dinner (bottle $30, glass $8) and am delighted by this crisp and refreshing wine. Its vibrant tropical fruit flavors of pineapple, green apple and melon burst out of the glass.

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Dining Reviews

When the Point is Breakfast

When the Point is Breakfast

The multifaceted morning menu at The Point Chophouse and Lounge starts the weekend out right

Known for steaks and happy hours, The Point Chophouse opens its doors early for weekend breakfast and lunch where a diverse clientele clusters in the lounge's semicircular overstuffed booths. This room, once dark with light-consuming wood-covered walls, is now painted white with framed pen- and-ink drawings of local scenes adding to its luminescence.

Pints of Bloody Marys ($4) were accessorized with celery, olives, and pepperoncini. An ideal venue for armchair athletes, we gathered up close to the large flat screen to watch the March Madness basketball championship.

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Dining Reviews

Late, Great Pizza

Late, Great Pizza

People flock to San Francisco's South Beach to watch Giants games. You'll find top notch clubs in South Beach, Florida. But at South Beach Pizza Co. in Santa Cruz, I encountered a cheerful server, accommodating kitchen, and pizza just the way I like it. And they're open daily until 11 p.m.

From a tall-stemmed, tulip-shaped glass I enjoyed peppery Liberty Cabernet watching palm trees over the Main Beach volleyball courts oscillating rhythmically with the wind. The old-school CD juke box is free, and tunes from Nirvana, the late Nate Dogg, Lady Gaga and Blink-182 shared airplay.

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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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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