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Jul 30th
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

A Dimpled Diet

A Dimpled Diet

Discovering that today is National Waffle Day triggered a memory of my mother, who treated us to waffles on leisurely Sunday mornings.

Standing at her white-tiled kitchen counter, she whipped the egg whites until stiff before gently folding them into the flour, yolk, and baking powder batter to guarantee an airy waffle. Then she added chopped walnuts, which brought crunch and texture to the bread. For the grand finale, after brushing the checkered griddle halves with Crisco oil, she laid out two soft strips of cooked bacon which sizzled on the hot metal before she poured the batter over them. We stood by hungrily waiting for steam rising from the iron to subside. It took seven or eight rounds to satisfy the five of us with these nutty, crisp, airy, smoky, maple syrupy cakes.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Bus Stop Sandwich Shop

Bus Stop Sandwich Shop

A small triangular kitchen looks out upon the bus lanes at Santa Cruz's Metro Center. Here at Café Lena you'll find breakfast and lunch plus smoothies, coffee drinks and candy.

Morning bus commuters enjoy a variety of toasted bagels with cream cheese ($2), turkey ($5) or spreads such as pesto and sun-dried tomato along with a 20-ounce cappuccino ($2.75) or smoothie ($3.75). I ordered a plain bagel with buttery hummus ($2.75) which was both filling and flavorful. (Don't forget the napkins!)

For lunch, the list of sandwiches ($5) includes roast turkey and veggie pine nut pesto. Fresh salads ($5.75) such as Greek, Oriental Chicken, Caesar, and Chef bring the best of springtime to the workday.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Get Fresh with Me

Get Fresh with Me

Fresh Monterey Bay fish steal the show at Moss Landing's Sea Harvest

This week winter will finally hand the weather back to spring, and we will have more evening hours to work up an appetite in the arms of Mother Nature. It's again time to enjoy biking, hiking and kayaking.

In Moss Landing, just south of Monterey Bay Kayaks, Sea Harvest Fish Market and Restaurant is nestled in the corner of an immense parking lot. Inside, tables lined up along large windows shared views of the mouth of Elkhorn Slough, where two dozen sea otters feasted and frolicked in the choppy water.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

11 Sexy Foods

11 Sexy Foods

Burrata
Fresh Asparagus
Crab
Maguro Sashimi
Scallops
Sandwiches
Chocolate soufflé
Meyer Lemon Lavender Truffle
Fresh strawberries

1 Raw oysters

(from booth at Saturday morning Cabrillo Farmers Market) An oyster’s texture, unmistakably sensual, can make your tongue dance—and who knows what will follow. Treat yourself to some oysters with lemon and Tabasco after shopping for fresh, organic produce on a sun-filled day at the Farmers Market with your sweetheart.
Cabrillo Farmers Market, Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, montereybayfarmers.org/aptos.html.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Casual Fare

Casual Fare

The reincarnation of Carniglia's offers a relaxing view, friendly service, and excellent seafood
The news of Carniglia's closing was still reverberating through the community when the cherished wharf restaurant re-opened on February 13. In just 29 long-hour days, new owners and management created a menu and re-staffed in time for Valentine's Day. The partnership of local restaurateurs Germaine Grangerakin and Martin Drobac makes Carniglia's a half sister of Riva Fish House, 515 Kitchen, and Red Restaurant.

On my first visit, proficient, casually attired servers were in awe of their new work environment; the blue bay reflecting warm sun through the expanse of wraparound picture windows. Crayons waited on every paper-covered table with an amazingly functional rock salt and pepper grinder. Silverware was rolled in napkins the color of my spicy Gladiator house Merlot ($5), which was robust for this varietal and bore the appetizing scent of bacon.

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Sizzling Hot

Sizzling Hot

At Mexican restaurants it is common to hear, and then smell, the fajitas passing by, sputtering and smoking in their cast iron pan. Who invented these meaty morsels may be in dispute, but from humble beginnings the dish has evolved into numerous delicious entrées.

It is said that vaqueros conceived the recipe in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. These Mexican cowboys would be partially paid with less desirable cuts of meat, including skirt steak, or faja which translates as "belt". These tough little belts were tenderized at length in acids such as lime juice, and cooked over a camp fire. In northern Mexico, a similar dish is called arracheras.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Make Yourself at Home

Make Yourself at Home

The service at Felton's Rockys Cafe is sure to put a smile on your face

In the rear of a vintage mountain home, neighbors enjoyed breakfast and lunch just steps from Highway 9. Relaxing at Rockys in Felton reminded me of cozy roadside meals eaten after a day of Sierra skiing. The lone server, with impeccably manicured nails, wore a smile that could brighten the grayest of mornings.

The restaurant is mostly windowed, with views of young redwoods. On the rustic recycled wood walls hang framed portraits of smiling pooches. The yard may not be as idyllic as it could be, but we came for the food and the service.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Far from Plastic

Far from Plastic

In the mood for Japanese food, I sauntered into the little Totoro Sushi on Mission Street. Presented with both a lunch and special sushi menu, I knew immediately what I wanted. Something I had first seen, but made of plastic.

In Japan it is common to see plastic food samples in an eatery's windows. The idea for these replica foods materialized in the 1920s when a young entrepreneur made wax molds to help restaurants show customers how new western dishes appeared. Faux food has since grown into a huge industry. Each dish is custom made, based on photographs and sketches of a chef's dish. A silicon mold is taken of the actual food, and expert artists make plastic sauces, condiments and garnishes. Sometimes, the replica appears more appetizing than the original.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Long Live the Linguini

Long Live the Linguini

Celebrating 30 years, Ristorante Italiano's bright flavors and generous portions ensure its distinction as a local favorite

I'm fortunate to occasionally work in Branciforte Plaza, where the aroma of Ristorante Italiano's roasting garlic wafts across the parking lot. Many reasonably priced specials grace the lunch menu, which I happily order to savor in the office. One day, as the sun set, waves of laughter emanate from the heated patio deck, where groups gather to relax after work, and families celebrate birthdays. On the building's exterior, an extraordinary three-story mural depicting an Italian avenue adds a whimsical touch.

In the restaurant's main dining area, where ceiling joists are painted a lively green and autographed straw-encased Chianti bottles commemorate dinners of the past, subdued lighting and romantic booths set the stage for the spectacle of Italian specialties. A ceiling fan turned slowly, barely rustling the thin leaves of a tall parlor palm in the solarium-like front room.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

All Sauced Up

All Sauced Up

On an unassuming stretch of Soquel Drive, El Chino Mexican Deli Restaurant occupies a narrow storefront.

Inside, lively fiesta music plays on the stereo, decorative eaves with clay tiles jut from the walls, and healthy live plants crawl across rafters, creating the comfortable illusion of dining in a sidewalk cantina.

The list of weekday lunch specials ($5.85 to $7.50) includes avocado-chicken salad, enchiladas, chili rellenos and carne azada burritos. We were drawn to the generously plated house specialties, each of which occupied half of their oval pottery platters.

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Picture of Health

Santa Cruz just received a high ranking among California counties. But it may be hiding some of the biggest health dangers facing our area

 

Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Time Capsule

Actors age in real time in audacious, mesmerizing ‘Boyhood’
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Foodie File: Maharaja

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I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

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

 

Muns Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir

This vivacious cherry-pink Rosé is a simply beautiful summer wine.