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Aug 29th
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Dining

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

Dining Reviews

From Field to Able

From Field to Able

The Youth Crew at Food, What?! mixes farming-based curriculums with personal, business, community and networking skills

Since 1979 Santa Cruz’s nonprofit Life Lab organization has built a fine boutique of garden-based curriculums. Children around the country learn hands-on science in the fresh air of their school gardens. At the Garden Classroom at UC Santa Cruz, kids learn about nature, weather, and decomposition, while teacher-training classes offer graduate credits. And three years ago Food, What?! was born as a high school youth empowerment program.

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Wine Reviews

Via Vega Vineyard & Winery

Via Vega Vineyard & Winery

2005 Red Wine
I could not resist buying this wine in time for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. The label depicts a skeleton wearing a sombrero and holding a bunch of red grapes. He even has a flower tucked behind his ear.

This amusing artwork by Keith Puccinelli is part of the October series by Via Vega, and is a tribute and celebration of the harvest season. It says on the label “Growers, winemakers, and you with your glass, share the lovely October glow of the harvest moon. So enjoy our wines as you taste these vines.” At $15 a bottle, this is a fun and drinkable wine to enjoy—especially for a Halloween party if you’re looking for something killer eye-catching.

Although the vineyard and tasting room are located in Paso Robles, the local connection is Paul Furman, who is general sales manager of both Via Vega and California Pajarosa Floral—one of California’s major rose growers. Furman was pouring at a local cancer benefit when I tasted the donated Via Vega wine.
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Dining Reviews

Join the Club

Join the ClubThe Clubhouse Kitchen brings weekend breakfast to Seabright along with tasty sandwiches and fresh salads

During two separate incidents, friends raved about The Clubhouse Kitchen, whose mission is to serve “comfort and quality all on one plate.” Having just opened its doors three days before, it is the fourth restaurant in this location in as many years. But its predecessors didn't serve weekend breakfasts, and in the Seabright neighborhood, morning meals are extremely popular.

We arrived during the first official Saturday shift prepared for the occasional glitch, which fortunately failed to materialize. The French Toast ($8.99), thick slices of soft-crusted baguette soaked in a cinnamon batter, was cooked to a golden brown with custard-like centers. The bacon was just what I craved: smoky and fully cooked but still soft and chewy.
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Dining Reviews

Barista Island

Barista IslandYears ago it occurred to me that thoroughfares leading to freeways should have drive-up coffee stations. I could get my first fix of caffeine safely sitting in the parking lot that was otherwise known as Hwy 101, and be primed to leap into the workday.
We have a few such establishments in Santa Cruz, and when the tiny shack in the Whole Foods parking lot was torn down, I appreciated the sign that hinted at a bigger and better replacement.

And so was born Midtown Lulu's where you can obtain a handmade cup of joe from the comfort of your car, and the attractive olive-colored island now includes walk-up service as well.
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Wine Reviews

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard

Santa Cruz Mountain VineyardDurif 2007—Gold Medal Winner

The Petite Sirah grape is known in France as Durif. In the 1880s Dr. François Durif created a hybrid by cross-pollinating Peloursin and Syrah—and named it after himself. Both of these grape varieties are native to the Rhône Valley in France, and both produce high-octane, dark, inky wines—resulting in big, full-bodied reds that are not for weak-kneed wine drinkers. Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard’s winemaker extraordinaire, Jeff Emery, prefers to call his Petit Sirah by its “real” name—Durif—and not the name that was given to the Durif grape—Petit Sirah—when it was shipped over to California from France. “There is no such thing as Petit Sirah in France,” says Emery. “We are just strange and iconoclastic enough to insist on calling this grape by its real name.”
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Dining Reviews

Last Call

Last CallEnd-of-the-season vegetables join fall produce on the seasonal menu at Oswald
s we creep deeper into fall, sunflowers mature, the last of tomatoes hang on the vines, squash ripens, and roots are harvested. There is something    about autumn that alters my appetite. Something, I wonder, that might reside in my DNA.

Birds build nests without the benefit of parental instruction. Do they hear voices whispering, “Build it!” as did Noah, and Ray Kinsella?
It is perhaps this same phenomenon that creates a craving for vegetables at this time of year unlike that of any other. Perhaps it is my ancestors, who lived before the advent of supermarkets, reminding me that fresh produce will soon become scarce.
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Dining Reviews

Lost in Translation

Lost in TranslationI was craving egg rolls, or maybe wonderfully hot Chinese mustard, so I stopped by Kong's Market which is nestled on a residential street near Pleasure Point. Stocking a small selection of household staples, it also houses a deli counter with sandwiches and pocket-like burritos to-go.

I chose Pork Egg Rolls ($1.40) over the vegetarian version and was quite surprised by their appearance. The crisply fried, long rectangles of dough stuffed with lightly seasoned ground pork were bumpy and blistered. The wrapper was thicker than that of any egg roll I had previously eaten. I asked for some sauce, and was presented with four bottles of condiments.
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Wine Reviews

Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards

Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Cabernet Franc and Fish and Chips
My little British group of women holds a get-together once a month and the hostess usually makes dinner. Joanna always makes typical English grub such as shepherd’s pie and hearty stews, so I was a bit surprised to find she hadn’t actually cooked this time. Instead, she had gone to the Britannia Arms in Aptos and bought everybody fish and chips – a sure-fire hit for any Brit.

With beef stew and other such concoctions in mind, I had thought a bold Thomas Fogarty Cabernet Franc (on a cold night, to boot) would be just the ticket. I have always enjoyed the wines of Thomas Fogarty Winery and imagined that this particular Cab – a 2006 Santa Cruz Mountains priced at $30 – would go well with whatever Joanna had cooked. But I wasn’t expecting fish and chips!
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Dining Reviews

Pie Guys

Pie Guys

The nation's best pumpkin pie is made right here in Santa Cruz

Now 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.

Beckmann's, celebrating 25 years, sells its pies only at farmers markets, an operation run by Tony Stumbaugh and his boss Scott Adams. Stumbaugh was investigating ideas to increase sales and found the American Pie Council, an industry organization that aims to preserve America's pie heritage. Joining the organization, they headed to Florida and the National Pie Championships.

Transporting 20 frozen pies was the first challenge. "Everyone at the airport was looking at us funny," Stumbaugh said. "We had this giant thing packed super well with so much dry ice we were worried we were going to get arrested by Homeland Security."
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Dining Reviews

Nuts and Honey

Nuts and Honey

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.

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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.