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The Best of Santa Cruz County

The Best of Santa Cruz CountyWelcome to the 2010 Best of Santa Cruz Readers' Poll, in which you the reader voted for the area's most popular shops, dining spots, arts and entertainment, and so much more. This year’s voting attracted more than 4,000 online voters and features more than 150 little-known facts about all of the winners. There's more: Take note of our Critics' Picks, too, where GT scribes ponder the Best and Worst around town. It's our most extensive collection—ever!—of what's best in the county. Dive in ...
Best of Santa Cruz Shops>
Best Arts, Entertainment & Nightlife>
Best Food & Drink>
Best Health & Fitness>
Best Professionals>
Best of the Rest>
Critics’ Picks>
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Our Ocean Sanctuary

Our Ocean Sanctuary

An inside look at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s plans for a new Exploration Center and what it can mean for Santa Cruz
What does it mean to have a sanctuary lapping up on the shores of Santa Cruz? It’s a variety of things. No oil drilling, for one. Some regulations about things that can be legally taken out of the water, and more regulations about things that can’t be legally tossed into it.
But what the sanctuary designation is really about is spreading the word. It’s a fragile ocean out there, and it needs protection. Even in an environmental stronghold like Santa Cruz, that word sometimes doesn’t get out. Let’s face it. For most residents and visitors here, the sanctuary may not mean much—except for the satisfaction that you don’t have to stare out at oil platforms.
“Most people never have the opportunity to experience the ocean beyond the shoreline,” says Paul Michel, superintendent of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. “There’s a lot to discover and learn about Monterey Bay, and it’s important to bring these unique features to the public in an engaging way.”

 

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Eating for the Environment

Eating for the Environment

Reducing meat consumption may just help solve the world’s environmental problems

“Eighty percent of Americans, in polls, say they are environmentalists … And yet, most of us have remained unaware of the one thing that we could be doing on an individual basis that would be most helpful in slowing the deterioration and shifting us toward a more ecologically sustainable way of life.” – Excerpt from “The Food Revolution” by John Robbins

To mark the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990, bestselling author John Robbins made his rounds on the talk show circuit, appearing on major shows of the day like Donahue and Geraldo. Robbins made waves by urging Americans to change dietary direction in his 1987 book “Diet For a New America,” which remains a big seller today. He would go on to become one of the world’s leading experts on the relationship between diet and the environment.

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From Here to Haiti

From Here to Haiti

Bob Gillis carved out quite the niche for himself with his enterprising geodesic dome tents. Now, the tents are helping victims devastated by the Haiti earthquake.

Haiti. Burning Man. The North Face backpacking company. Each shares an unlikely connection: one Santa Cruz tent company and the inventor behind it. It’s hard to believe that cutting edge, durable tents now being distributed to many homeless Haitians were born out of a forest in Aptos.

When Bob Gillis sold his first patent for a small tent design to The North Face in 1975 for $500, he didn’t know it would forever revolutionize backpacking tents from being A-frames to the geodesic dome shapes seen around every campfire today. Nor could he have guessed that more than three decades later, after blooming because of a little festival known as Burning Man, his Santa Cruz company, Shelter Systems, would end up providing tent refuge for thousands of Haitians.

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Riders of the Sea Spray

Riders of the Sea Spray

How three young Hawaiian princes first introduced surfing to Santa Cruz—and to the mainland of the Americas

By all accounts, the middle week of July in 1885 was a glorious one in Santa Cruz. Tourists from throughout the Central Valley were flocking to the bustling seaside community to escape the sweltering summer heat of the interior. The city’s hotels and boarding houses were bulging with visitors, and so, too, were the bourgeoning businesses along Santa Cruz’s fabled waterfront—the Dolphin, Neptune and Liddell bathhouses, and the beachside Free Museum.

The South Pacific Coast Railroad had been completed in 1880—linking Santa Cruz not only to the far reaches of the state, but to the entire country—and, suddenly, summertime tourism was emerging as an important piston in the city’s economic engine.

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House of Straw

House of StrawOne Capitola couple lives the good life—in a home built primarily from bales of straw!

If you think back to your childhood, you may remember the wisdom found in the story of the Three Little Pigs. The story tells of three little pig brothers who decide to build houses. The first little pig builds his home out of straw, the second pig out of sticks and the third (and most intelligent) pig out of bricks. When the Big Bad Wolf comes a knocking, he huffs and he puffs and he blows down the first two flimsy houses. Straw and stick piglets are forced to run for cover in their more insightful brother’s brick abode lest they be devoured by the bacon-craving wolf. But technology has changed since this popular children’s tale of yore, and huffing puffing wolves hardly roam the streets of Santa Cruz County. In fact, now it is perfectly safe, acceptable and ecologically sound to build a home out of straw as local couple Kristin Jensen Sullivan and Mark Sullivan have successfully done.

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Pirate Radio

Pirate Radio

One thing is clear: pirate radio is illegal.  We take a look back at 15 years of  nonviolent civil disobedience.
My first encounter with pirate radio was when I was 16.  I was visiting a kibbutz in Israel, and while we picked potatoes or assembled irrigation piping, we’d listen to rock ’n’ roll coming from what turned out to be a pirate radio station.  Between songs a deep voice would announce: “From somewhere in the Mediterranean this is The Voice of Peace.”  Like Radio Caroline off the British coast in the ‘60s and ’70s, these were renegades that broadcast without government approval, outside of capitalist culture.

Pirate radio stations—on land or at sea— have long been a part of social justice movements worldwide by promoting positive change and artistic creativity through an independent media.  In 1995 a group of activists in Santa Cruz continued the legacy by establishing Free Radio Santa Cruz at 89.3 on the FM dial.  Like The Voice of Peace, FRSC also broadcasts from unknown locations, though reporters and government agents have periodically found their way to the DIY station.  (Join FRSC in celebrating 15 years of unlicensed, commercial-free radio at 7 p.m. Saturday March 27 at Kuumbwa Jazz Center. A donation at the door is requested for an evening that will include speakers and live music.)

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Food & Wine

Food & Wine

Inside:
Oak Tree Ristorante
SmoQe
Soif Wine Bar & Restaurant
Cava
Vino Prima
Vinocruz

Plus:
Nightlife
11 Sexy Foods you just have to sink your teeth into

 

 

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66 WORDS

66 WORDS

Editor’s Note: Highs, lows, blows and woes. Behold: The 66 Words Short Story Contest. This year, we were inundated with entries. Take note of the ones that made the top of our list. Watch for more to be added over time.

No Trace, No Disgrace
During a small dinner party, I excused myself and went to the ladies room. It was welcoming with fresh daffodils and a vanilla candle burning. When done, I flushed and all was well except one little stinker that lingered. Flushed again. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Heard knock on door … panic. No wastebasket, darn. What to do? Took that floater and stuck it in my pocket. Went home early.
—Stephanie Hoffman

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(hitting) the spot

(hitting) the spot

Local Charles Muir is a revered Tantric teacher. But can our intrepid reporter survive his illuminating weekend of prowess and spirituality?

Years ago, I began dating a young woman I was crazy about. I desperately wanted to prove my worth to her as a lover, but it wasn’t helping my cause that I was hopelessly wet behind the ears where lovemaking was concerned. So I figured I’d give myself a leg up by reading a book about Tantric sex, an ancient form of erotic yoga based in Eastern spirituality. During my third encounter of the close kind with my new companion, I decided to try out one of the practices I’d been reading about: a set of straightforward, easy-to-follow instructions for locating and stimulating the female pleasure nexus known as the G-spot. I was wholly unprepared for the results. This idiot-simple technique, which I’d spent all of 10 minutes studying up on, sent my partner slow-motion bliss-leaping through golden meadows of eternity. Afterward, as angels, stars and butterflies haloed her head, she told me with unmistakable sincerity that she’d just had the single greatest sensual crescendo of her life. “You should write a book!” she swooned, apparently under the very mistaken impression that I was some kind of high-level sexual sorcerer. I tried my best not to shatter that illusion, but inwardly, I was dumbfounded. It was like rubbing a magic lamp and finding out that it isn’t just a story—a genie really does appear.

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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.