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Apr 16th
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Dining Reviews

Dining - 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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Dining - Dining Reviews

When the Point is Breakfast

When the Point is Breakfast

The multifaceted morning menu at The Point Chophouse and Lounge starts the weekend out right

Known for steaks and happy hours, The Point Chophouse opens its doors early for weekend breakfast and lunch where a diverse clientele clusters in the lounge's semicircular overstuffed booths. This room, once dark with light-consuming wood-covered walls, is now painted white with framed pen- and-ink drawings of local scenes adding to its luminescence.

Pints of Bloody Marys ($4) were accessorized with celery, olives, and pepperoncini. An ideal venue for armchair athletes, we gathered up close to the large flat screen to watch the March Madness basketball championship.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Late, Great Pizza

Late, Great Pizza

People flock to San Francisco's South Beach to watch Giants games. You'll find top notch clubs in South Beach, Florida. But at South Beach Pizza Co. in Santa Cruz, I encountered a cheerful server, accommodating kitchen, and pizza just the way I like it. And they're open daily until 11 p.m.

From a tall-stemmed, tulip-shaped glass I enjoyed peppery Liberty Cabernet watching palm trees over the Main Beach volleyball courts oscillating rhythmically with the wind. The old-school CD juke box is free, and tunes from Nirvana, the late Nate Dogg, Lady Gaga and Blink-182 shared airplay.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Foodie Road Trip

Foodie Road Trip

The Ferry Building Farmers Market is a community celebration

San Francisco's Ferry Building Farmers Market is considered one of the best in the country for its diversity of produce and the uniqueness of artisinal foodstuffs. Each week, its three markets attract 25,000 visitors, the largest one on Saturdays.

In the spirit of sustainability I gathered canvas bags, a trio of reusable mesh produce bags ($7.50 Bed Bath & Beyond) and stepped onto Metro's 17 Express bus just before 7 a.m. to catch Caltrain at San Jose's Diridon Station. From an upstairs seat overlooking homes and fruit-laden citrus trees I pondered the juxtaposition of graffiti-tagged warehouses and backyard tennis courts.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Dig Deep amid the Gathering Bloom

Dig Deep amid the Gathering Bloom

For a couple of years I've announced Love Apple Farm's spring tomato seedling sale. Last year we made the trek to Boulder Creek to see what heirloom tomatoes were all about, and came home with six varieties. This year, Love Apple will not be selling at their farm, but, closer to many of us, in Scotts Valley.

My thumb is anything but green. I like perennials and flowers that reseed themselves. Occasionally I grow hard-to-find ingredients like Thai chilies fresh curry paste and tiny cucumber cornichons. My previous experiences with hardware store tomatoes, after applying all the TLC I could muster, produced tasteless offerings.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Made from Scratch

Made from Scratch

Homemade goodness delights diners at Scotts Valley's Heavenly Cafe

he building on Mt. Hermon Road reminds me of an old western general store. I almost expect to find Ma Barker dishing up simple, made-from-scratch, rib-sticking grub. But here at Heavenly Cafe, I found that the simple adjective does not apply, and grub is a total misnomer. Turkey burgers with feta cheese and yogurt tzatziki sauce, smoked salmon salad with salsa fresca, and walnut waffles with fresh bananas are just a sample of Heavenly's interesting offerings.

For breakfast, which is served all day, choose from omelets, Belgian waffles, buttermilk pancakes and French toast or a few Mexican specialties.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Spilling the Beans

Spilling the Beans

I stood facing two portals at Brown Ranch Marketplace. The one on the right read Weight Watchers, the other Zizzo's. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee lured me left.

"Good Friends Great Coffee" seemed to be more than a slogan at Zizzo's, as the steady stream of customers seemed to be all on a first name basis. With 60 hot, cold, and blended espresso, coffee, tea and fruit beverages to choose from, plus the ability to mix and match to create your own gourmet specialty, my choice was not a simple one.

I chose a Mexican Mocha—with nonfat milk and no whipped cream as penance. The steaming twelve-ounce beverage with a shot of espresso was flavored with cinnamon, chocolate, and hazelnut. It tasted as marvelous as Kahlua and Frangelico but totally work-appropriate, and was just sweet enough.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Menu Guide for Santa Cruz area

Menu Guide for Santa Cruz area> Click here for the menus, phone numbers and address of all these restaurants:
Laili, Kianti’s, Rosie McCann’s, El Palomar, Fire Fish, Ideal Bar & Grill, Miramar, Casablanca Restaurant, Zelda’s, Paradise Beach Grille, Zameen Cuisine, Sawasdee Thai Cuisine, Lillian’s, The Crepe Place, burger., The Parish, Samba Rock, Pearl of the Ocean, Vasili’s Greek Taverna, Zoccoli’s Deli, Taqueria Vallarta, Charlie Hong Kong, Aloha Island Grille, May’s Sushi, Engfer’s Pizza Works, Chill Out Cafe, Clubhouse Kitchen, Hollin’s House, Hindquarter, Ristorante Italiano, Zachary’s, Hula’s, Linwood’s Bar & Grill. Click HERE to get the menus >
Restaurant A-Z in Santa Cruz area >
Dining - Dining Reviews

Full Circle

Full Circle

Behind the scenes at the big move for Staff of Life

I have excitedly watched the transformation of a building on Soquel Avenue from that of an auto dealership into Staff of Life's new home. Now, a metal fence has been built around the entrance with a canopied roof. An open-air beverage bar and produce bins house things like colorful berries. It’s a good welcome into the store.

Mid-afternoon on the day before the grand opening, the large parking lot was full, as was bordering Darwin Street. There was an air of excitement as throngs of shoppers pushed carts through the aisles and greeted strangers. School children bagged their favorite vegetables.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

On Aging Well

On Aging Well

An on-line reader named Ben commented on the Pu-erh tea I wrote about from Dynasty Chinese Restaurant on Portola. He suggested that Internet purchases were risky, perhaps either overpriced or counterfeit, and suggested I visit David and his staff at Chaikhana for a taste of the real thing. As I've lately been developing recipes for flavored iced teas, it's a good time to visit.

Chaikhana, which means tea culture, has possibly a hundred different teas, estimated tea maker Andrew, but I'm interested in the Chinese post-fermented style in which dried green leaves are rolled, dampened, and left to ferment and darken.

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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.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.
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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

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

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.