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Apr 18th
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Dining

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

Wine Reviews

Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2011

Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2011

Located in the northern region of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation of Monterey County, Lucia Highlands Vineyard is in a prime grape-growing region. Its proximity to the cool maritime influences of the Monterey Bay allows the fruit to ripen slowly, producing a luscious Chardonnay with intense tropical fruit flavors.

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Dining Reviews

Ode to Osocalis

Ode to Osocalis

Why one local distillery strives to take its time

Winding through the Santa Cruz mountains, it isn't hard to spot a vineyard. And in town, you don't have to search long to find a local brewery. But when it comes to finding local hooch, there is only one place to go. Well, actually, there are lots of places you could go, seeing as state and federal alcohol laws require liquor producers, like Soquel-based Osocalis, to sell their products through stores and prohibits direct-to-customer sales. But forget about that for now.

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Wine Reviews

Galante Family Winery Kick Ass Cabernet 2009

Galante Family Winery Kick Ass Cabernet 2009

Jack Galante wears a cowboy hat, boots and jeans, and looks every inch like he’s right off the range, which is not surprising since a cowboy theme features in everything his winery has to do with wine. I first met him at a wine-tasting event at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands last year, and we had a long chat about his winery and estate wines.

Galante is an affable guy who wants everybody to have fun when they visit his winery. He calls his wine club the “Galante Wine Gang” and his membership tiers “Foreman,” “Trail Boss” and “Wrangler” so I’m sure you get the picture. Wine club membership in the Wrangler category includes one complimentary ticket to the Annual Wine Gang Muster and barbecue at his ranch in the Carmel hills.

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Dining Reviews

A Slice of Farm Life

A Slice of Farm Life

Ag-based education gets a boost at Slice, the fifth annual farm dinner to support the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program

Does a hamburger come from a farm?

It’s a surprisingly complex question, and one that youth who pass through the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program (LEFDP) have thoughtfully explored. The nonprofit’s 10 different programs provide farm-based education and activities for infants through teenagers, and the questions posed—such as the aforementioned quandary about the origins of a hamburger—vary in depth depending on the age group.

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Wine Reviews

Lester Family Vineyards

Lester Family Vineyards

“Redemption” Reserve Pinot Noir 2011

By Josie Cowden When visiting Dan and Pat Lester’s property, one is greeted by acres and acres of glorious vineyards. Around this time of year, grapes not already harvested are heavy and luscious. It’s a beautiful sight to behold and it’s obvious that some outstanding wines are going to be produced from this voluptuous fruit.

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Wine Reviews

Testarossa Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011

Testarossa Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011

The Italian word for “redhead” is Testarossa. Years ago, when the co-founder of Testarossa Vineyards, Rob Jensen, was a university student in Italy, he had very red hair, so he was given the nickname “Testarossa”—now the name of his winery.

Although Jensen’s degree is in electrical engineering, a minor in the Italian language and culture led him to Assisi, a hill town perched on Mount Subasio in central Italy. An interest in winemaking was even more heightened by experiencing the wonderful wines of Italy, and by further trips to Europe’s great wine-growing areas. Rob and his wife Diana founded Testarossa Vineyards in the late ’90s on very historic property—the 19th century Novitiate of Los Gatos, where Jesuit fathers still live to this day.

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Dining Reviews

Smooth Thai Landing at Main Beach

Smooth Thai Landing at Main Beach

Soquel’s Sawasdee earns great views at Casablanca Inn

I was looking forward to a Thai lunch, and an almost waterfront table overlooking the Main Beach surf on a pleasant day made this midweek jaunt even more tantalizing.

Walking a block down the Main Street hill from the designated free parking lot, the breeze bore the familiar summer scents of salt, sea and seaweed. Gulls closely followed dive-bombing pelicans in hopes of a catch, while a lone stand-up paddler glided atop the ocean’s smooth surface.

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Dining Reviews

Have Your Cake

Have Your Cake

It occurred to me that my children may have grown up deprived. I prepared thousands of cooked-from-scratch meals, albeit with some barely edible experiments in the mix. Focaccia, pizza and even a pair of baguettes made their way to the table (mea culpa; not so difficult with a bread machine), but I don’t recall ever making them a proper strawberry shortcake.

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Dining Reviews

Hot Plates Abound

Hot Plates Abound

Timeless and authentic, Tortilla Flats continues to impress in its 35th anniversary year

There are probably not many restaurants in Santa Cruz County that can attest to being in business for several decades, but Tortilla Flats has just logged 35 years—with owner-chef Cheryl Marquez at the helm.

Service is consistently good at Tortilla Flats. From the minute we enter the restaurant, servers buzz around making sure we have everything we need. A fresh bowl of chips and salsa appears on our table, the piquant salsa nicely presented in a little pouring jar. This place runs like a well-oiled machine.

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Wine Reviews

Burrell School Vineyards

Burrell School Vineyards

Cabernet Franc 2008

Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite wines, and Burrell School makes a good one. The 2008 Cab Franc ($30) is a beautiful wine—made from estate grapes grown in Pichon Vineyard located on Mount Umunhum above Lexington Reservoir. With its aromas of green tea, tobacco and raspberry and lots of big fruit flavors in the mouth, this smooth wine takes Cab Franc to another level.

Along with his wife Anne, winemaker Dave Moulton started in the wine business back in the ’70s, so to say he has a ton of experience under his belt would be an understatement. I see him often at wine events—always cutting a notable figure in brightly colored pants and snazzy jackets. He’s an ebullient, forthright character—and his personality reflects in his wine, too. He makes big bold wines that are not for the weak-kneed.

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Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

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.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
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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

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?