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Aug 28th
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Dining

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

Wine Reviews

Burrell School Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon & Wine Events

Burrell School Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon & Wine Events

Every time I drive past the little red schoolhouse on Summit Road in Los Gatos, I think of the story behind it. When Dave Moulton, owner and winemaker at Burrell School, started in the wine business back in the early ’70s, his wife Anne could not believe that they were actually going to live in the old – make that “historic” – schoolhouse. Even with all the history behind it (it was built in 1890), to be living and working from this spot seemed a bit inconvenient, to say the least. But fast forward to today. Burrell School is one of the best-known wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation – and Dave is hailed for producing some of the best local wines on the market.

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Dining Reviews

Artisanal Goodies for Foodies

Artisanal Goodies for FoodiesShelving lines every available space in the small River Café and Cheese Shop, cradling a fine selection of artisanal gustatory creations; most of it Californian, much of it local, and all of it sure to add a new spin to your favorite dishes.
The small, but well-picked cheese selection includes farmstead Blue from Point Reyes Farm and soft-ripening Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery of the same town. Local olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Belle Farms, Pasolivo lemon olive oil from Paso Robles, and River Café’s own organic jams make a colorful display. Numerous wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains are also featured.
I was excited to find an 8-ounce chub of Dry Chorizo, the essential Spanish salami, made by Berkeley’s famed Chez Panisse Chef Paul Bertolli, proprietor of Fra’ Mani Handcrafted Salumi. I also picked up a wedge of sheep’s cheese from North Monterey County’s Garden Variety Cheese, to be enjoyed with the chorizo as tapas.
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Dining Reviews

Ship Ahoy

Ship Ahoy

The Crow’s Nest celebrates 40 years of salads, seafood, sunsets, and sociability

A considerable school of small fish broke the water’s surface, dappling it like raindrops and inciting two dozen pelicans to dive-bomb headfirst after them in rapid succession. Sleek pinnipeds joined in the frenzy, their shiny furred bodies leaping, spinning and splashing. This is just one of the many sunset performances staged nightly outside The Crow’s Nest, the popular beachfront restaurant and lounge now celebrating its 40th birthday.

 

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Wine Reviews

Martin Ranch Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Martin Ranch Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2008

A visit to Martin Ranch is nothing short of an adventure. The address alone encapsulates the location – Redwood Retreat Road. It’s actually a very easy drive going over Hecker Pass and making a left on Watsonville Road—but I followed my Mapquest and drove down a long dirt road from Summit Road before I got to my destination. But all is right with the world when you get there. Martin Ranch is beautiful and the view is breathtaking. And the occasion was Martin Ranch’s annual wine club members’ barbecue.

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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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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.