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Apr 16th
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

Join the Club

Join the ClubThe Clubhouse Kitchen brings weekend breakfast to Seabright along with tasty sandwiches and fresh salads

During two separate incidents, friends raved about The Clubhouse Kitchen, whose mission is to serve “comfort and quality all on one plate.” Having just opened its doors three days before, it is the fourth restaurant in this location in as many years. But its predecessors didn't serve weekend breakfasts, and in the Seabright neighborhood, morning meals are extremely popular.

We arrived during the first official Saturday shift prepared for the occasional glitch, which fortunately failed to materialize. The French Toast ($8.99), thick slices of soft-crusted baguette soaked in a cinnamon batter, was cooked to a golden brown with custard-like centers. The bacon was just what I craved: smoky and fully cooked but still soft and chewy.
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Dining - Dining Reviews

Barista Island

Barista IslandYears ago it occurred to me that thoroughfares leading to freeways should have drive-up coffee stations. I could get my first fix of caffeine safely sitting in the parking lot that was otherwise known as Hwy 101, and be primed to leap into the workday.
We have a few such establishments in Santa Cruz, and when the tiny shack in the Whole Foods parking lot was torn down, I appreciated the sign that hinted at a bigger and better replacement.

And so was born Midtown Lulu's where you can obtain a handmade cup of joe from the comfort of your car, and the attractive olive-colored island now includes walk-up service as well.
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Dining - Dining Reviews

Last Call

Last CallEnd-of-the-season vegetables join fall produce on the seasonal menu at Oswald
s we creep deeper into fall, sunflowers mature, the last of tomatoes hang on the vines, squash ripens, and roots are harvested. There is something    about autumn that alters my appetite. Something, I wonder, that might reside in my DNA.

Birds build nests without the benefit of parental instruction. Do they hear voices whispering, “Build it!” as did Noah, and Ray Kinsella?
It is perhaps this same phenomenon that creates a craving for vegetables at this time of year unlike that of any other. Perhaps it is my ancestors, who lived before the advent of supermarkets, reminding me that fresh produce will soon become scarce.
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Dining - Dining Reviews

Lost in Translation

Lost in TranslationI was craving egg rolls, or maybe wonderfully hot Chinese mustard, so I stopped by Kong's Market which is nestled on a residential street near Pleasure Point. Stocking a small selection of household staples, it also houses a deli counter with sandwiches and pocket-like burritos to-go.

I chose Pork Egg Rolls ($1.40) over the vegetarian version and was quite surprised by their appearance. The crisply fried, long rectangles of dough stuffed with lightly seasoned ground pork were bumpy and blistered. The wrapper was thicker than that of any egg roll I had previously eaten. I asked for some sauce, and was presented with four bottles of condiments.
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Dining - Dining Reviews

Pie Guys

Pie Guys

The nation's best pumpkin pie is made right here in Santa Cruz

Now that it's pumpkin month, at 45 bay area farmers markets you can find Beckmann's Bakery's pumpkin pies, which are the best in the country.

Beckmann's, celebrating 25 years, sells its pies only at farmers markets, an operation run by Tony Stumbaugh and his boss Scott Adams. Stumbaugh was investigating ideas to increase sales and found the American Pie Council, an industry organization that aims to preserve America's pie heritage. Joining the organization, they headed to Florida and the National Pie Championships.

Transporting 20 frozen pies was the first challenge. "Everyone at the airport was looking at us funny," Stumbaugh said. "We had this giant thing packed super well with so much dry ice we were worried we were going to get arrested by Homeland Security."
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Dining - Dining Reviews

Nuts and Honey

Nuts and Honey

My first taste of baklava came in the kitchen of a friend's Russian grandmother. She spoke little English, but the message she sent through those infinite layers of sweet, sticky pastry was one of true love.

Numerous peoples claim title to the inception of baklava, but it is believed to be of Central Asian Turkic origin, and perfected by the chefs of Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman Sultans in Istanbul. The dessert, popular throughout Greece, Eastern Europe and the Middle East is made by individually buttering micro-thin sheets of dough called phyllo, the Greek word for leaf, which are alternately layered with nuts and spices. After baking they are doused with honey.

My own attempts to prepare what has become my kids' favorite dessert have produced barely edible results. To the rescue comes Scotts Valley's Eva Marie Vaniotis-Tordoff who launched her line of baklava this past summer at select retail establishments. I found packages with two browned and shimmering squares of Eva's Baklava ($2.89) at Shopper's Corner on a baked goods rack back by the kitchen utensils.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Due West of Japan

Due West of JapanImura Japanese Restaurant serves sushi, shioyaki and some Korean specialties too

If you'd like to improve your sushi-making technique, Chef Jim Song stars in an informational five-minute video on the website of Watsonville's Imura Japanese Restaurant. In it, he makes rolling a compact, symmetrical California Roll appear error-proof. At Imura you will find this perfectly made roll along with other traditional Japanese dishes and locally uncommon culinary gratifications.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Step Back

Step Back

In the evenings, the setting sun casts its rays on a vibrant, standing-room only crowd on the deck of Caffe Pergolesi. But on a fall morning I discovered a sea of tranquility.

The dozen or so patrons included retirees discussing football, an occasional studying student or businessperson channeling Cruzio's free wifi, and a constant stream of acquaintances choosing from the caffe's long list of caffeinated beverages.

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Peak of Convenience

Peak of Convenience

Summit Kitchen has commuters covered with ready-to-heat meals, flowers, and smoked hot dogs
I traded a commute down industrial Highway 101 for the idyllic redwoods of Highway 17. The slow trek up the mountain was ideal for dreaming and planning, but once I hit the summit, the sweeping view of Monterey Bay and drop in temperature shook me into reality.  "What's for dinner?" I would distressfully inquire.

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Mealz on Wheelz

Mealz on Wheelz

Good Times readers voted Drunk Monkeys the Best New Restaurant in 2009. Since then, owners Dameon and Laura DeWorken have shuttered their Seabright restaurant and gone mobile, serving Asian Street Food from a ferociously painted catering truck.

This self-proclaimed Westside Lurker is often found on Mission Street at CVS Pharmacy or U-Save Liquors, and is also is known to haunt the corner of Encinal and Sylvania by Costco. In this new business model, roach coach meets high tech, as DeWorken occasionally updates the Drunk Monkeys facebook page with his location. Fans, currently numbering 678, or anybody else can also text him for a real-time update.

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Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

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.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
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Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.

 

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

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.