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Feb 06th
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Dining Reviews

Food & Drink - Dining Reviews

Thai for Two

Thai for Two

The bright colors of lightly cooked vegetables sparkle in Sawasdee's uniquely flavored dishes

We occasionally visit Soquel on our errands day. It's either the dentist, stylist or CPA that brings us into the town, and even though my husband and I differ wildly on Scoville index tolerance levels, Sawasdee Thai Cuisine's huge menu satisfies us both.

Sawasdee's home is bright and cheerful, with lavender, white and paprika walls and an occasional fanciful carving. Gilded pottery lined the counter, which was busy with take-out orders, and colorful woven runners gleamed from under glass tabletops.

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Food & Drink - Dining Reviews

Afternoon Delight

Afternoon Delight

Outside it was gray and drizzly, but to enter Cafe Sparrow at lunchtime was like stepping into spring in Provence. Pastel sponge-painted chairs surrounded tables draped with colorful cloths and lace, protected with glass tops and paper doily placemats.

Sourdough bread with chewy crusts and soft centers was served with fresh butter. The Iced Tea ($3.50) was playfully flavored with black currants.

Two crisply browned Crab Cakes ($11.50), soft and moist in the middles, lusciously fell apart. The delicate crab flavor peeked out between tiny bits of red pepper.

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Food & Drink - Dining Reviews

And Betty Makes Three

And Betty Makes Three

Betty Burgers Eat Inn on Pacific storms out of the gate with dynamite menu additions and a full bar

When Betty Burgers' sister restaurant Vida left town, Betty moved right in to the space on Pacific Avenue, leaving her shiny old Airstream trailer right on the new patio. Fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits and mashed potatoes with gravy are just a taste of the down-home-style comfort food that Betty's slingin' at her new Eat Inn.

The restaurant was packed on opening weekend, and a week later during a mid-week late lunch it was almost at capacity. The smiling, energetic staff was still learning the ropes – there was no service on the patio for ten minutes and then we were double-covered. A few days later, service was perfect on a very busy dinner shift.

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Food & Drink - Dining Reviews

Asada Muy Bueno

Asada Muy Bueno

A taco bar named Leo's sounds less than authentic but it was co-founded by Leonel Espinoza and Maria E. Valencia whose names are associated with La Mission and Cafe el Palomar. The kitchen is larger than the restaurant in this Live Oak establishment, and what it creates is remarkable.

A charbroiled salmon taco ($4) was so loaded with chunks of fish I ate half of it with a fork before I could pick it up. It was topped with fire-roasted salsa, cabbage, cilantro and tomatoes. The Carne Asada Taco ($2.25) was just as large. The pieces of steak were tender, smoky and charred as if barbecued in the traditional manner.

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Food & Drink - Dining Reviews

Fresh Start

Fresh Start

New menu and seating sets the stage for fun at Coldwater Bar and Grill

The Coldwater Bar and Grill has replaced Hawg's Seafood, and although the ownership hasn't changed, the restaurant's interior and menu are substantially different.

Most of the booths have been replaced by tall, freestanding tables attaining a networking, neighborly ambiance. Eight booths remain for the benefit of people with little ones, those who'd like a more secluded, romantic experience, or me, to clandestinely take notes and snap photos. The front patio now holds a pingpong table, and with five flat screen televisions Coldwater is the local baseball clubhouse.

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Food & Drink - Dining Reviews

Cake from cheese, fancy that!

Cake from cheese, fancy that!

When my mom once ordered cheesecake, all I knew about cheese was that it was hard and orange. At 5 years-old I didn't know the word oxymoron, but I knew at that moment what it felt like. At that age I expected sugary desserts and didn't come to appreciate the sour tang of her creamy indulgence for many years.

Learning that Cherry Cheesecake day is celebrated this month when the cherry trees are blooming, I remembered my first cherry cheesecake with canned pie filling, and it made perfect sense.

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Food & Drink - Dining Reviews

Carefree Highway

Carefree HighwayBen Lomond’s little Spanky’s Café offers unique breakfast specialties | by Karen Petersen
Before a day of scenic hiking in Big Basin, there are numerous eateries along Highway 9 to fuel the journey. One is tiny Spanky’s Cafe in Ben Lomond, where scalable breakfasts won’t break the bank.
The little wood-wainscoted dining room accommodates just over 30 diners with another five patio picnic tables filled on busy days.
The entire menu is available from opening until close. Choose from sandwiches ($6.25 to $7.50) and one-third pound burgers ($6.75 to $7.25) all served with either potato, macaroni or green salad.
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Food & Drink - Dining Reviews

Tiki Got Your Tongue?

Tiki Got Your Tongue?After work, I enjoy an occasional Happy Hour with friends, co-workers or my spouse. It’s a time for transition, when the day’s important issues are discussed and then left behind as we sashay into the dinner hour. On Tuesdays at Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room, Happy Hour lasts all night, and with its multi-faceted pupu menu the appetizers can easily become dinner.
I began with a $5 happy hour Painkiller, no, really, served in a stout Mai Tai glass.
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Food & Drink - Dining Reviews

Just Do It!

Just Do It!

From fried appetizers to fresh salads and giant burgers, Rocco's 503 is fresh

I have great respect for restaurateurs. It's a time-consuming profession, and in Santa Cruz, includes a seasonal risk. The odds of surviving a year in this business are small, but for Peter Rinaldi, owner of Rocco's 503, it was time to take the leap.

Rinaldi's Italian grandfather, and then his father, grew Brussels sprouts on the north coast. All of his cousins and their children still farm throughout the county.

"It just wasn't for me," Rinaldi says, "I always wanted to do something a little more social. I wanted to make my own path."

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Food & Drink - Dining Reviews

Bringing Home the Bacon

Bringing Home the Bacon

On our last visit to France my teenagers and I left familiar Paris to explore the country's interior. We quickly learned that lunch was served only at lunch time. Fortunately the café-bars offered baguettes spread with rillettes, a pâté of sorts. Traditionally, tough cuts of meat were tenderized by simmering in lard, after which they were pounded to a paste, loaded into ramekins and preserved with a topping of melted fat. Now they are typically made from various cuts of pork, although goose and fish find their way into these creamy hors d'oeuvres.

Chef Chris LaVeque brings such old world handcrafted charcuterie, made from pasture-raised animals, to Santa Cruz at el Salchichero. Charcuterie is an ancient craft creating all things pork, from butchering to finished products, including cooked and cured meats, fresh and smoked sausages, ham, and pâté.

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On the Run

Is there hope for California’s salmon?

 

Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey

Monday, Feb. 8, is Aquarius new moon (19 degrees) and Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey (an imaginative, intelligent and vigilant creature). Monkey is bright, quick, lively, quite naughty, clever, inquiring, sensible, and reliable. Monkey loves to help others. Often they are teachers, writers and linguists. They are very talented, like renaissance people. Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the year of Monkey. Monkey contains metal (relation to gold) and water (wisdom, danger). 2016 will be a year of finances. For a return on one’s money, invest in monkey’s ideas. Metal is related to wind (change). Therefore events in 2016 will change very quickly. We must ponder with care before making financial, business and relationship changes. Fortune’s path may not be smooth in 2016. Finances and business as usual will be challenged. Although we develop practical goals, the outcomes are different than hoped for. We must be cautious with investments and business partnership. It is most important to cultivate a balanced and harmonious daily life, seeking ways to release tension, pressure and stress to improve health and calmness. Monkey is lively, flexible, quick-witted, and versatile. Their gentle, honest, enchanting yet resourceful nature results often in everlasting love. Monkeys are freedom loving. Without freedom, Monkey becomes dull, sad and very unhappy. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), the Chinese official title of Marquis (noble person) was pronounced ‘Hou,’ the same as the pronunciation of ‘monkey’ in Chinese. Monkey was thereby bestowed with auspicious (favorable, fortunate) meaning. Monkey years are: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 5

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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