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Mar 03rd
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Food & Drink

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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Dining Reviews

Far from Plastic

Far from Plastic

In the mood for Japanese food, I sauntered into the little Totoro Sushi on Mission Street. Presented with both a lunch and special sushi menu, I knew immediately what I wanted. Something I had first seen, but made of plastic.

In Japan it is common to see plastic food samples in an eatery's windows. The idea for these replica foods materialized in the 1920s when a young entrepreneur made wax molds to help restaurants show customers how new western dishes appeared. Faux food has since grown into a huge industry. Each dish is custom made, based on photographs and sketches of a chef's dish. A silicon mold is taken of the actual food, and expert artists make plastic sauces, condiments and garnishes. Sometimes, the replica appears more appetizing than the original.

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Wine Reviews

Bartolo 2007 Cioppino Rosso

Bartolo 2007 Cioppino Rosso

Plus Upcoming Wine Events
Barry Jackson, winemaker at Equinox, not only makes a fine sparkling wine, made in the methode champenoise style, but he also directs his talents to another of his labels—Bartolo—in the form of a fine red wine called Cioppino Rosso, a blend of 61 percent Syrah, 20 percent Chardonnay and 19 percent Mourvedre. “I call it Cioppino,” says Jackson, laughing, “because I throw all these leftovers in a pot.” He’s referring, of course, to the famous fish stew—first made by Italian immigrants. Jackson is not without a sense of humor—although the bottom line is he takes his winemaking very seriously. But the label spills the beans on what Cioppino’s all about. It says, “An eclectic blend of ever-changing varietals, Cioppino Rosso, as its culinary namesake, is composed of odd bits and wines nobody else wanted.” I can’t think of another winemaker who would—tongue in cheek— describe their wine as being made from “odd bits.” The label continues with “The wine pairs well with a broad range of foods and is, of course, fabulous with Cioppino.”

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Dining Reviews

Long Live the Linguini

Long Live the Linguini

Celebrating 30 years, Ristorante Italiano's bright flavors and generous portions ensure its distinction as a local favorite

I'm fortunate to occasionally work in Branciforte Plaza, where the aroma of Ristorante Italiano's roasting garlic wafts across the parking lot. Many reasonably priced specials grace the lunch menu, which I happily order to savor in the office. One day, as the sun set, waves of laughter emanate from the heated patio deck, where groups gather to relax after work, and families celebrate birthdays. On the building's exterior, an extraordinary three-story mural depicting an Italian avenue adds a whimsical touch.

In the restaurant's main dining area, where ceiling joists are painted a lively green and autographed straw-encased Chianti bottles commemorate dinners of the past, subdued lighting and romantic booths set the stage for the spectacle of Italian specialties. A ceiling fan turned slowly, barely rustling the thin leaves of a tall parlor palm in the solarium-like front room.

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Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
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Teresa’s Gourmet Foods

New owners for Santa Cruz’s leading local salsa company

 

What defines a good dive bar?

It’s slightly dirty, and they serve cheap drinks. Stella Celeste, Santa Cruz, Barrista

 

Picchetti Winery

After enjoying its contents, I couldn’t throw away the empty bottle of Picchetti Winery’s Red Table Wine.

 

Happy Birthday, Manny

Manuel’s turns 50, farmers market steel head pairs with Pinot, and a Birichino Malvasia