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Jul 24th
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Dining

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

Dining Reviews

For the Love of Ginger - Hot Plate

For the Love of Ginger - Hot Plate

My children, when small, created pet names for their favorite places. There was the Slide Park, the Duck Park, and Red Chinese. This moniker referred not to politics, but to the interior color scheme of King Chwan Chinese Restaurant.

Today, red tassels still hang from the lamps, but the room is light and airy, with sheer white café curtains and softly colored valances on the windows, and elegant blue upholstery.

 

 

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Dining Reviews

Feast Fit for a King

Feast Fit for a King

Artistic presentation complements fresh flavors at My Thai Beach
Prime restaurant real estate on Capitola’s Esplanade affords diners colorful views of the bay, and at My Thai Beach the meals are as pretty as the scenery.
The owners have undertaken a charming remodel of what was previously the Beach House. As if surrounded by ocean, there’s a metallic sheen to the aqua blue walls. A new bamboo bench seat stretches along one side, above which meticulously aligned frames feature photographs and original artwork. On the opposite wall hang portraits of kings and queens. Gilded roughly hewn beams run across the burgundy ceiling from which fans quietly twirl.

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Wine Reviews

Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Chardonnay 2008

Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Chardonnay 2008

Although Thomas Fogarty is known mostly for making top-of-the-line wines, the winery also turns out a low-key Chardonnay called Skyline, which sells for about $15—a modest price to pay for a lovely crisp wine. The 2008 Skyline is fermented and aged in stainless steel. Because it is not aged in the finest oak barrels doesn’t mean it’s not worthy. Au contraire—this Chardonnay has a bright clean finish that’s unpretentious and delicious. Of course, a good Chardonnay that’s been aged in the finest French oak barrels is bound to be superior, but then you’ll be paying a lot more, too. The Skyline is named after Skyline Boulevard where the winery sits—at 2,000 feet above sea level – and where they claim the Skyline strip to be “the ribbon that adorns the Santa Cruz Mountains.” This particular wine comes with a screw cap, but don’t let that put you off. Many wineries these days are going that route, even though many people are not happy about it. I still prefer the “old-fashioned” cork, though.

At a recent dinner at Aquarius restaurant in the Dream Inn in Santa Cruz, I order the Skyline 2007 to go with my entrée of California White Bass—a lovely pairing with the succulent fish. I always try to drink local wines when I’m dining around town, and I was pleased to see that Aquarius has quite a few wines from our Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. They also do wine flights where you can taste a flight of three—and order a few “Bar Bites” if you get the munchies. It’s an all-round beautiful restaurant—esthetically stunning and with impressive food to match.

Two of the wonderful local wines that Aquarius carries, Heart O’ The Mountain Pinot Noir and Black Ridge Pinot Noir, were served at the restaurant’s recent celebratory opening. And what a party it was! As well as an abundance of delicious food and wine, there were synchronized swimmers in the hotel’s pool, and fire dancers on the beach. The place was packed with invitees having an absolutely wonderful time. We were even greeted at the door with a glass of champagne.

Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards, 19501 Skyline Blvd., Woodside, (650) 851-6777, fogartywinery.com. Open for wine tasting Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tasting fee is $8 and $12, but complimentary on Wednesdays. Aquarius, 175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz,  460-5012.


Wine Events

Johnny’s Harborside is doing an ongoing “Raise a Glass” fundraiser for local teachers. Until Jan. 1, 2010, they will be donating $1 a glass or flight and $4 per bottle of all Ventana wines. With the funds raised, Johnny’s will be partnering with the Institute of HeartMath to offer free training to local teachers.
Johnny’s Harborside Restaurant & Bar, 493 Lake Ave., Santa Cruz, 479-3430, johnnysharborside.com.

Wine Reviews

Ridge Vineyards

Ridge Vineyards

2007 Ridge Vineyards Three Valleys
What makes a good bottle of wine? Well, in this case, it’s 76 percent Zinfandel, 8 percent Petite Syrah, 7 percent Syrah, 6 percent Grenache, and 3 percent Carignane. I’m talking about Ridge Vineyards’ 2007 Sonoma County Three Valleys. This superb blend made by Ridge Vineyards of Cupertino, is luscious, fruity and sublime. The Carignane, a popular blending wine, adds a nice peppery finish. Bottled in August 2008, it’s ready to drink right now, but it will also keep well for another half dozen years or so.

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Dining Reviews

Full Circle Brew

Full Circle Brew

Grain, once it's cooked to make the wort that becomes beer, is of no use to the brewmaster. So spent grain from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is sent to northern Monterey County, where it helps nourish 100 sheep at Garden Variety Cheese. Three varieties of sheep cheese are then sold at the brewery ($7 for a quarter pound) and also offered with tasting flights of four beers ($7). Local partnerships such as this make SCMB and its organic beers unique.

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Wine Reviews

River Run Vintners 2007 Negrette

River Run Vintners 2007 NegretteA bottle of Negrette is something you don’t see every day. Negrette is a rare and wonderful grape that originated centuries ago in Cyprus. The owner and winemaker at River Run Vintners, J.P. Pawloski, must like a challenge because it requires some skill to make a good wine from this particular grape. Established in 1978, River Run Vintners has risen to the occasion many times. Located near Aromas, this family business – producing about 3,000 cases annually – is open to the public only six days a year, and by appointment.
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Dining Reviews

Sugar and Spice

Sugar and SpiceAn entire generation has been born and become adults since Allbright’s Donuts began treating the Branciforte neighborhood to an incredible array of pastries and savories. Considered by many to be the best shop in town, donuts, croissants and bagels are still made fresh daily.

Be prepared for a time warp, as swivel chairs fixed to a linoleum-tiled floor and upholstered in retro orange vinyl encircle two U-shaped faux wood counters. Vintage advertising posters depict donuts of yesteryear. Even the proprietors seem not to have aged a day since I enjoyed my first apple fritter, and today these pastries are still the same two-fisted size they were two decades ago.

 

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Dining Reviews

Neighborly Noshing

Neighborly Noshing

The Seabreeze Cafe continues to fetch fans with its fresh and hearty homemade cuisine
In Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe, an exceptionally tidy eatery, breakfast is served all day. And that’s a good thing. With three-egg omelets ($7.75 to $8.95), you can choose between potatoes or fruit, and toast or a homemade muffin. From the grill comes French toast and plain, bacon, or almond waffles. Throughout the room, children in high chairs decorated coloring book pages with crayons, anticipating a Mickey Mouse Pancake ($2.25).

 

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Wine Reviews

Vine Hill Winery

Vine Hill WineryVine Hill 2008 Chardonnay
Sharing food and wine with friends is one of life’s greatest pleasures. For all time, it has been the ultimate demonstration of giving – to empty one’s larder and to drain out one’s wine barrel in the name of hospitality. 

Every year when my husband and I go to Shakespeare Santa Cruz with a group of friends, we get together and share our spoils during a picnic before the performance. We also share what we have left during intermission. And because of the very nature of Shakespeare Santa Cruz – a wonderful laid-back way of seeing great plays and marvelous acting in the Sinsheimer-Stanley Glen – one can also partake of a little libation as the play unfolds.

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Dining Reviews

Fishermen’s Fare

Fishermen’s Fare

Gilda’s popular Friday night Cioppino celebrates our local Italian heritage

In a weekly ritual, seafood lovers seek traditional California sustenance. Braving snaking traffic on Municipal Wharf, they anticipate Gilda’s Friday night special Cioppino ($13.95).

A luscious aroma greeted us in Gilda’s foyer. Eyeing the practically packed house we headed to the cocktail lounge. It is fitting to enjoy this meal in a shared setting, after all: California Cioppino was invented as a potluck of sorts, as fishermen contributed their catch to a communal pot.

Although the views are magical at any table, southwestern-facing swivel-chairs look straight out from the bar upon Steamer Lane and the lighthouse. On the walls of the small room hang photos of the Cottardo Stagnaro family and historic hauls of fisherman from times past.

 

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Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Roger That

The late film critic Robert Ebert profiled in lively doc, ‘Life Itself’

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
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Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

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

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.