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Apr 23rd
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Dining

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

Wine Reviews

Ventana Vineyards Chardonnay 2012

Ventana Vineyards Chardonnay 2012

Ventana Vineyards’ wines are pretty well known on the Central Coast—their wines can be found all over. And with a brand new label, they are easy to spot on wine store shelves.

The labels are designed to tell the story of Spanish explorer, Gaspar de Portola, who came ashore in Big Sur in 1769. He proceeded inland through what is now called the Ventana Wilderness and looked upon the fertile Salinas Valley through a gap formed in the Arroyo Seco Canyon. The explorer called the gap ‘La Ventana,’ the Spanish word for window. These easy-to-read new labels show exactly what the wine is—in this case an estate-grown Chardonnay, 2012 vintage from Arroyo Seco Vineyards in Monterey, and all sustainably produced.

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Dining Reviews

Sips To Savor

Sips To Savor

Katie Fox of Vino Tabi Winery helps fuel Santa Cruz County’s unique culture

The first time Katie Fox stepped onto United States soil, she was 11 years old. Born of American parents in Hitachi, Japan, she grew up speaking Japanese and English, and is completely at home in both cultures. After returning to Japan for a time, Fox eventually attended UC Santa Cruz and took a wine chemistry class there in her senior year, never imagining then that this would be the start of her winemaking career.

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Wine Reviews

Villa del Monte Winery

Villa del Monte Winery

Pinot Noir Reserve 2011. Wine Events.

During Restaurant Week at the beginning of October, when participating restaurants offer three courses for $25, I met up with a couple of friends at Booka for dinner. One of my friends particularly wanted to go to this fairly new Aptos restaurant because her son is a chef there.

I took along a bottle of Villa del Monte Pinot Noir Reserve 2011, Santa Cruz Mountains William Vincent Vineyard to share. We all had different appetizers and main courses, but the very drinkable Pinot paired nicely with everything. My friends also ordered cocktails from the bar, but I wanted to simply enjoy the well-made Pinot. Smooth and silky, it’s bursting with red fruit and characteristic earthiness. Aromas of spice, leather and caramel and some vanilla and spice in the mouth add to the overall pleasure of drinking this impressive wine ($34). We all loved it.

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Dining Reviews

The Next Culinary Adventure

The Next Culinary Adventure

Beverlie Terra takes a new position at Cabrillo College

When Beverlie Terra started her position recently as instructor with the Cabrillo College Culinary Arts program, she did so with a wealth of cooking experience under her belt. After 26 years at Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz, Terra is now putting her expertise into a whole new journey as a chef. 

“It was time for something new,” Terra says. “I always knew that I had more career ahead of me, and I felt I needed to explore that.”

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Dining Reviews

HalloWine Weekend

HalloWine Weekend

With Halloween upon us next week, there are plenty plenty of upcoming spooky events for us all to enjoy, including all the witches, ghouls, goblins and ghosts out there (who I’m certain drink wine …especially deep, dark reds).

Haunted Hotel Halloween Party at the Hotel Paradox
Haute & Howl-o-ween Barbecue
Ruby Hill Winery’s Halloween Party
Evening of Wine & Roses
Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf
Au Midi Harvest Dinner

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Dining Reviews

Fit or Treat

Fit or Treat

Local chef Lauren Hoover-West offers tips for a healthier Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and whether dentists approve or not, that means one thing: candy—and lots of it … everywhere you look. Though few have the willpower to resist a treat or two in the spirit of the holiday (nor should we), with childhood obesity and diabetes looming overhead, it’s about time that we come up with ways to celebrate that don’t lay waste to our bodies. For tips on a healthier Halloween, we turned to local chef Lauren Hoover-West.

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Wine Reviews

Martin Ranch Winery Zinfandel 2009

Martin Ranch Winery Zinfandel 2009

As we head into fall weather, it is good to stock up one’s wine rack—or cellar, if you have one—with a few robust red wines that will warm the cockles.

Martin Ranch Winery’s 2009 Zinfandel is a hearty two-vineyard blend from the Santa Clara Valley that is perfect to open up as the evening’s chill sets in. This particular wine—under their J.D. Hurley label—can be found all over in markets and liquor stores for around $18. With hints of blackberry jam on the nose and flavors of dark fruit, black licorice and spice, it’s a good pairing with barbecue and pizza. Barrel aged for about 20 months, this blend of 78 percent Zinfandel, 8 percent Petit Sirah and 14 percent Carignane is a full-bodied wine that’s ready to drink now.

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Dining Reviews

The Bean Queen

The Bean Queen

‘Beanalicious Living’ author Elizabeth Borelli is on a mission to demystify and simplify healthy eating

Nearly nine out of 10 American adults think they eat a healthy diet, as suggested by a 2011 Consumer Reports Health poll. This is odd, considering a third of them are obese. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also projects that one in three American adults will have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue.

So how did we arrive at such a dire disconnect? In the opening chapter of her new book, “Beanalicious Living: A Healthy Eating Guide & Cookbook,” local Elizabeth Borelli gives this simple answer: “When it comes to eating right, a lot of us have it, well, all wrong.”

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Wine Reviews

Bargetto Chardonnay 2011 + Local Wine Events

Bargetto Chardonnay 2011 + Local Wine Events

Bargetto Winery produces a multitude of good wines—from high priced to very reasonable. I found a Central Coast 2011 Chardonnay in New Leaf for $13.99 (regularly $15)—a pretty good deal for this lovely wine.

A lighter style of Chardonnay, this vibrant straw-colored wine is aged in stainless steel tanks to maintain the true flavors and acidity of the fruit. With a soupçon of lemony zest on the tongue and aromas of citrus on the nose, the wine is very refreshing and bright. The winery suggests pairing it with fish, sushi and Thai food, and I also like this wine with some zesty cheese.

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Dining Reviews

Capturing Kauboi

Capturing Kauboi

New Japanese grill and sushi bar from the owners of burger. takes on Aptos

Kauboi Japanese Grill & Sushi Bar is the new kid on the restaurant block. Having opened  in early September, it is still in the throes of a “soft opening,” it’s certainly not lacking in concept or courtesy. Owned by the duo which have the two successful  burger. restaurants (one in Santa Cruz and the other in Aptos) Kauboi may be headed for a similar kind of popularity. 

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Best of Santa Cruz Critics' Picks

Best Cute Overload Beau and Theo’s Nap Habit In the fall of 2013, the Shyba family adopted a 7-week-old puppy from the Santa Cruz SPCA. Theo, as he came to be called, had been abandoned as a baby along with his siblings. Upon moving in with the local family, Theo immediately began napping with the family’s son, Beau, who was not quite 2 years old. The rest—as they say—is history.

 

Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

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Palate-Stretching 101

A wine education with Soif’s experts As a veteran of many weekend wine “seminars” at Soif, I have to confess that I’ve never known less (going in) and learned more (coming out) than I did last week at the Spanish Wine Tasting with ace rep Brian Greenwood. These are classy, casual events and it’s hard to imagine having this much flavor fun anywhere for $20.

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management