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Sep 30th
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Dining

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

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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Wine Reviews

Delicato Family Vineyards

Delicato Family Vineyards

Merlot 2009


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.

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Dining Reviews

My Old Italian Home

My Old Italian Home

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.

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Dining Reviews

Wake up and Smell the Pizza

Wake up and Smell the Pizza

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.

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Wine Reviews

Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards

Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards

Chardonnay 2009

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.

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Dining Reviews

Extreme Makeover

Extreme Makeover

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.

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Dining Reviews

Lighten Up

Lighten Up

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?

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Wine Reviews

Bartolo

Bartolo

Grenache 2009
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.

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Dining Reviews

Down in the Valley

Down in the Valley

Charming old-school service, fresh ingredients, and a bucolic drive make Scopazzi's a longtime favorite

In 1915 the original Scopazzi's Restaurant building was erected as a hotel by the Locatelli family, housing lumber men and, later, movie stars. The paneled Redwood Dining Room with open-beam ceiling was built in 1924, and the lounge added after the property was sold to the Scopazzis in 1955. There still remain china cabinets and a beautiful marble-topped buffet. And there still remains that old-school San Francisco Italian professionalism; from word-of-mouth orders to the kitchen, to table-side preparation of flaming specialties and dishes like Veal Scaloppine and Chicken Cacciatore.

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Reflecting Glass

Composer Philip Glass’ first trip to Big Sur was by motorcycle; little did he know that he’d establish a music festival there six decades later.

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Wurst Case Scenario

Venus Spirits releases agave spirit, Renee Shepherd on planting garlic, Sausagefest 2014, and wine harvest in full swing

 

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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

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”