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Apr 17th
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

Let us Eat Cake

Let us Eat Cake

Two little girls perched atop silver stools enjoying an after-school treat. Forks full of frosting, the youngsters were admiring the handiwork of Starz Cupcakes.

Ignore the sign in the window of the bakery’s adjacent neighbor which announces the availability of Goddesswear. All good intentions will be forgotten when you see the pretty cupcake display. Colorful baking papers replace traditional accordion-like baking cups, making the rows of desserts appear as origami butterflies taking flight.

On any given day, 15 of the more than 100 cupcake flavors are available. The regular size is $2.95. All are made from scratch and contain no preservatives. Beverages include coffee drinks, juice, and regular, chocolate and nonfat milk. If you want a fancier cupcake, a variety of sprinkles are available at the counter.

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Downtown Oasis

Downtown Oasis

Inside and out, relaxing Center Street Grill dishes up Mediterranean style

It was a perfect October day when I settled on the tree-lined patio for lunch at the Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Although the sun was still warm, the autumn air, perfumed by long, pendant angel trumpet flowers, was comfortably cool. The sound of water trickling from various fountains added a touch of tranquility—just a block away from the bustling downtown.

Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, thick with pulp, and just tart enough to jumpstart the day, foreshadowed the freshness of the meals to come and the attention to detail paid by the chefs here. Inside the restaurant, I noticed the walls at sharp angles painted soft taupe and olive separate the dining areas. Cups of crayons awaited children who would doodle on white paper tablecloth covers.

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Dining - 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 - 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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Dining - 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 - 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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Dining - 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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Dining - 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 - 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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Dining - 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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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.

 

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.

 

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