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Jul 31st
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Dining

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

Wine Reviews

Ghost Tree Wines Merlot 2007 + Wine Events

Ghost Tree Wines Merlot 2007 + Wine Events

Birthdays are always an occasion to dine out. Five of my women friends and I headed to The Greek restaurant on Front Street to celebrate a friend’s birthday. One friend in our group, who is Greek, knows the owner, Vasili Karagiannopoulos, so as soon as we were seated he started plying us with typical little appetizers – in true Greek hospitality style. Meantime, we had all ordered an entrée, so in less time than it takes to say yassou (hello in Greek), our table was weighted down with all kinds of good Greek food.

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Dining Reviews

One Fish, Two Fish, Green Fish

One Fish, Two Fish, Green Fish

Three years ago I interviewed Dave Greenberger, owner of Dave's Gourmet Albacore in the Harvey West neighborhood, where he cans flash-frozen, line-caught fish. Recently I noticed they've added a large deli complete with tables, as well as numerous canned products.

Dave's albacore has so much flavor that it can be enjoyed undressed. Each piece of prime fish is cut by hand, individually canned, and then cooked, retaining all of its flavorful and healthy juices. The Tuna Bagel Melt ($8) showcased this mildly flavored white fish with tomatoes on two bagel halves, topped with thin slices of cheese and broiled. Salty, smoky albacore was pulled from the case to fill another tender bagel with cream cheese and capers ($8).

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Dining Reviews

Sushi Surpise

Sushi Surpise

Capitola's Sushi Garden combines the best of traditional Japanese cuisine with creative fusion rolls
At Japanese restaurants I find it difficult to choose between traditional dishes, old school sushi, and the gustatory surprises that may be hidden in a fusion roll. And so it was at Capitola's Sushi Garden where all of the above are offered. Japanese ingredients like shiso herb leaves and burdock root gobo join jalapeños and macadamia nuts integrating cultures.

At lunch, when most entrées cost $9.50 or less, choose from noodle soups, teriyaki, and donburi rice bowls. Two- and three-item Bento Box combos ($9.50/$12.50) include a small selection of main dishes, potstickers, sushi, sashimi or a California Roll. At dinner, expect to add about $7.

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Wine Reviews

The Best Wineries to Visit

The Best Wineries to Visit

Many wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains are in the most idyllic spots. There are too many of them to list in this issue, but here are a few that Bacchus has blessed us with. They are all well worth a visit, for their location as well as their wine.

Five of our delightful local wineries have banded together and formed a group called Summit to Sea. Each of these has its own distinct charm, and each sits on a prime piece of land in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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Dining Reviews

Lend Me a Hand

Lend Me a Hand

Gabriella Café blends incredible house-made pasta and charcuterie, local organic produce, sustainable fish and pasture-based beef

To mark our return home and the final day of vacation, my husband and I settled into a cozy table at Gabriella Café. It had been some time and a chef ago since our last visit.

We began the evening with a bottle of unfined and unfiltered Sangiovese from Healdsburg's Peterson winery ($34). Gabriella's famous focaccia that night was topped with green and sweet caramelized onions which took the edge off of our appetites.

We then enjoyed long paper-thin shavings of tender asparagus ($11) dressed with flowery Sevillano olive oil and topped with truffled pecorino sheep's milk cheese and bits of red kohlrabi.

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Dining Reviews

Italian Lesson

Italian Lesson

La Posta attracts Seabright neighbors with unique Italian food
Like a foodie foreign language class, the servers at La Posta are kept busy explaining the menu which is riddled with less familiar Italian foodstuffs and regional specialties. Cavolo (cabbage), cacio (cheese), caprino (goat cheese), or farro (spelt) combine to make meals that you don't frequently find.

By 8 p.m. on a Friday night, the tables were all occupied by couples, groups and families. In the softly lit room, alive with conversation, a single tiny flame danced on each table like a firefly.

Being huge fans of bivalves we started with two dozen Mussels alla Triestina ($10), which is named for an Italian town. Large, creamy morsels of seafood were cooked with garlic, chilies, and a fresh bay leaf and topped with fine, crisp breadcrumbs. We soaked up the broth with dark, nutty homemade bread. We also enjoyed Asparagus al forno ($6) with thin spears roasted al dente and served with salty green and black olives.

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Dining Reviews

Witchy Women

Witchy Women

According to Bruce Aidells and Dennis Kelley in the book "Real Beer and Good Eats," beer was brewed by women as part of their kitchen responsibilities. It is said that the image of a witch stirring a bubbling cauldron came from this very activity as her trusty cat kept rodents away from the grain. In colonial America ale was drunk with every meal, and our forefathers, who considered the beverage liquid bread, declined to tax it.

Fast forward to 2010, when the women brewers at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing invited other females to make an organic Belgian-style Wit beer, or "white beer." Owner Emily Thomas along with brewers Kelly Vaillancourt and Nicole Beatie were joined by two community members. The ladies used traditional ingredients coriander and orange peels, although theirs were from fresh blood oranges. Just 155 gallons were brewed.

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Wine Reviews

Gatos Locos Chardonnay 2007

Gatos Locos Chardonnay 2007You’ve just got to love a winery with the name Gatos Locos—meaning Crazy Cats. Even the label—depicting two blue felines out for a good time – makes you want to buy the wine.

Made under the umbrella of Vine Hill Winery, which also produces wine under the Cumbre label, Gatos Locos wines are very reasonably priced. I bought the Gatos Locos Chardonnay 2007 Mokelumne River at New Leaf for about $15, an excellent price for this crisp and delicious nectar.

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Wine Reviews

Silver Mountain Vineyards

Silver Mountain Vineyards

Silver Mountain Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2008
I recently wrote that Rosé is fast becoming one of my favorite libations, so I’m now on a quest to find local Rosés. Several wineries in the area make different kinds of Rosé: there’s a Rosé of Pinot Noir, a Rosé of Zinfandel, a Rosé of Syrah—and so on. Their pretty pink hues make them so appealing—varying from the lightest pink to an almost-crimson blush. The strawberry shade of Silver Mountain’s Rosé of Pinot Noir is pretty and vibrant. It all depends, of course, on how long the red grapes are pressed and the juice is in contact with the skins. In the case of this Rosé, the Pinot Noir grapes are de-stemmed and partially crushed before they “bleed” the must. After a small amount of juice is drawn off to ferment alone, it becomes this delicious Rosé with bright floral aromatics and a squirt of summer sun.

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Dining Reviews

Mountain Mama

Mountain Mama

Mama Mia's large portions and colorful sauces give Feltonians a taste of Italy
In the heart of Felton, Mama Mia's has been serving hearty Italian fare for 14 years. The restaurant has been so successful that she now has three younger sisters in Santa Clara County.

Eighteen pasta dishes include spaghetti with homemade meat sauce or marinara ($13.99) and homemade cannelloni and manicotti crêpes ($14.99). For entrées, veal or chicken parmigiana ($17.99) are breaded and baked, as is the rolled chicken breast saltimbocca. The scaloppine is made with eggplant ($13.99) and Osso Buco ($19.99) is served with lamb demi-glaze over risotto. They proclaim their pizzas to be the best in town. On our recent visit, bowls piled high with seafood cioppino were the nightly special ($24.95).

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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

 

Muns Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir

This vivacious cherry-pink Rosé is a simply beautiful summer wine.