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Dec 24th
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Food & Drink

Dining Reviews

A Dimpled Diet

A Dimpled Diet

Discovering that today is National Waffle Day triggered a memory of my mother, who treated us to waffles on leisurely Sunday mornings.

Standing at her white-tiled kitchen counter, she whipped the egg whites until stiff before gently folding them into the flour, yolk, and baking powder batter to guarantee an airy waffle. Then she added chopped walnuts, which brought crunch and texture to the bread. For the grand finale, after brushing the checkered griddle halves with Crisco oil, she laid out two soft strips of cooked bacon which sizzled on the hot metal before she poured the batter over them. We stood by hungrily waiting for steam rising from the iron to subside. It took seven or eight rounds to satisfy the five of us with these nutty, crisp, airy, smoky, maple syrupy cakes.

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Dining Reviews

Bus Stop Sandwich Shop

Bus Stop Sandwich Shop

A small triangular kitchen looks out upon the bus lanes at Santa Cruz's Metro Center. Here at Café Lena you'll find breakfast and lunch plus smoothies, coffee drinks and candy.

Morning bus commuters enjoy a variety of toasted bagels with cream cheese ($2), turkey ($5) or spreads such as pesto and sun-dried tomato along with a 20-ounce cappuccino ($2.75) or smoothie ($3.75). I ordered a plain bagel with buttery hummus ($2.75) which was both filling and flavorful. (Don't forget the napkins!)

For lunch, the list of sandwiches ($5) includes roast turkey and veggie pine nut pesto. Fresh salads ($5.75) such as Greek, Oriental Chicken, Caesar, and Chef bring the best of springtime to the workday.

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Wine Reviews

Naumann Vineyards 2006 Chardonnay

Naumann Vineyards 2006 Chardonnay

One of the most diverse wine events to kick off the year is much-anticipated Ultimate Winemakers dinner – held at Shadowbrook Restaurant every February. Starting with wineries showcasing their wines with a general tasting in the Rock Room Lounge, guests then enter one of the dining rooms to have dinner with their chosen winemaker. Because the event is put on by the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association (SCMWA), attendees of the event know to go to their website to select a winery of their choice.

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Dining Reviews

Get Fresh with Me

Get Fresh with Me

Fresh Monterey Bay fish steal the show at Moss Landing's Sea Harvest

This week winter will finally hand the weather back to spring, and we will have more evening hours to work up an appetite in the arms of Mother Nature. It's again time to enjoy biking, hiking and kayaking.

In Moss Landing, just south of Monterey Bay Kayaks, Sea Harvest Fish Market and Restaurant is nestled in the corner of an immense parking lot. Inside, tables lined up along large windows shared views of the mouth of Elkhorn Slough, where two dozen sea otters feasted and frolicked in the choppy water.

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Dining Reviews

11 Sexy Foods

11 Sexy Foods

Burrata
Fresh Asparagus
Crab
Maguro Sashimi
Scallops
Sandwiches
Chocolate soufflé
Meyer Lemon Lavender Truffle
Fresh strawberries

1 Raw oysters

(from booth at Saturday morning Cabrillo Farmers Market) An oyster’s texture, unmistakably sensual, can make your tongue dance—and who knows what will follow. Treat yourself to some oysters with lemon and Tabasco after shopping for fresh, organic produce on a sun-filled day at the Farmers Market with your sweetheart.
Cabrillo Farmers Market, Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, montereybayfarmers.org/aptos.html.

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Wine Reviews

Muns Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir

Muns Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir

Plus Upcoming Wine Events

Rose is fast becoming one of my new favorite wines. And when you find a good one such as Muns Vineyard’s Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2008 Central Coast ($18), then one’s wine-drinking life is most certainly elevated.

I first tasted the Muns Rosé at a food and wine event at Café Cruz in Soquel.  Mary Lindsay, who, along with winemaker Ed Muns, plays a major role in production, public relations, tasting events, and everything else that’s involved with running a successful winery, was pouring that day. She invited me to try the Rosé and I immediately bought a bottle to take home. I often have friends over for wine and cheese get-togethers, and it makes a change to offer Rosé—along with the Merlots and Chardonnays of this world.

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Dining Reviews

Casual Fare

Casual Fare

The reincarnation of Carniglia's offers a relaxing view, friendly service, and excellent seafood
The news of Carniglia's closing was still reverberating through the community when the cherished wharf restaurant re-opened on February 13. In just 29 long-hour days, new owners and management created a menu and re-staffed in time for Valentine's Day. The partnership of local restaurateurs Germaine Grangerakin and Martin Drobac makes Carniglia's a half sister of Riva Fish House, 515 Kitchen, and Red Restaurant.

On my first visit, proficient, casually attired servers were in awe of their new work environment; the blue bay reflecting warm sun through the expanse of wraparound picture windows. Crayons waited on every paper-covered table with an amazingly functional rock salt and pepper grinder. Silverware was rolled in napkins the color of my spicy Gladiator house Merlot ($5), which was robust for this varietal and bore the appetizing scent of bacon.

 

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Dining Reviews

Sizzling Hot

Sizzling Hot

At Mexican restaurants it is common to hear, and then smell, the fajitas passing by, sputtering and smoking in their cast iron pan. Who invented these meaty morsels may be in dispute, but from humble beginnings the dish has evolved into numerous delicious entrées.

It is said that vaqueros conceived the recipe in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. These Mexican cowboys would be partially paid with less desirable cuts of meat, including skirt steak, or faja which translates as "belt". These tough little belts were tenderized at length in acids such as lime juice, and cooked over a camp fire. In northern Mexico, a similar dish is called arracheras.

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Wine Reviews

Ahlgren Vineyard Syrah 2004

Ahlgren Vineyard Syrah 2004

Plus Upcoming Wine Events
Most red wine drinkers love Syrah. It’s bold, meaty, smoky and peppery—a robust brew that pairs extremely well with meat.

The 2004 Syrah, Ventana Vineyards, Monterey—made by Ahlgren Vineyard – is a pretty good wine for around $9 (from Deer Park Wine & Spirits). Winemaker Dexter Ahlgren, who, with his wife Valerie, has operated his vineyard in Boulder Creek for more than three decades, has made a wine here that’s big and bold—and, in this case, unfined and unfiltered. The winemaker’s comments on the label say “Deep and dark, classic Syrah bouquet with bright, spicy flavors.” It’s also rich, complex, a downright bargain—and the perfect wine to take to SmoQe BBQ & Wood Fired Pizza.

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Dining Reviews

Make Yourself at Home

Make Yourself at Home

The service at Felton's Rockys Cafe is sure to put a smile on your face

In the rear of a vintage mountain home, neighbors enjoyed breakfast and lunch just steps from Highway 9. Relaxing at Rockys in Felton reminded me of cozy roadside meals eaten after a day of Sierra skiing. The lone server, with impeccably manicured nails, wore a smile that could brighten the grayest of mornings.

The restaurant is mostly windowed, with views of young redwoods. On the rustic recycled wood walls hang framed portraits of smiling pooches. The yard may not be as idyllic as it could be, but we came for the food and the service.

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Dancing In the Rain

District Attorney Bob Lee’s death in October stunned the Santa Cruz community, but he had battled cancer fiercely—and privately—for more than a decade. Now one of his closest friends reveals the remarkable inside story

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Pinned Down

Actors shine in true-crime wrestling drama ‘Foxcatcher’
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Best Bites of 2014

A look back at the year in good taste

 

What downtown business is good for both one-stop shopping and last-minute gifts?

The Homeless Garden Project store. Because it is a community effort and has really useful and beautiful things, and allows you to connect with a lot of folks who are doing great work in Santa Cruz. Miriam Greenberg, Santa Cruz, UCSC Professor

 

Vino Tabi Winery

One of Santa Cruz’s most happening areas to go wine tasting is in the westside’s Swift Street Courtyard complex. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners (SCV), the place has been a hive of activity, and a wine-tasting mecca. Adding to the mix is the lively Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beer company—making Swift Street Courtyard a perfect spot for a glass of wine or a pitcher of ale.

 

Betty’s Eat Inn

Yes, she’s a real person; no, this isn’t her