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Sep 16th
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

Fork in the Road

Fork in the Road

10 Dishes You Need to Know About
Santa Cruz County has plenty of creative diversity. But the same can be said for its culinary offerings, especially ethnic dishes. Take note of 10 that captured our interest.

Pumpkin Red Curry
What It Is: Succulent scallops plus sizeable prawns and chicken pieces are encased in a fragrant, red curry sauce featuring pumpkin and Thai basil. You will swallow any pride and lick up every last drop; like all the restaurant’s dishes, you can taste the freshness. The recipe comes from Thailand native Dee Hongmanee, who co-owns Sawasdee with her husband Bill and creates all the recipes.
Get It Here
: Sawasdee, 5050 Soquel Dr, Soquel, 462-5051

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Storm Watch

Storm Watch

........ In any weather, the view from Paradise Beach Grille complements the marvelously seasoned food and attentive staff

When your business depends on the Internet and the power goes out, you might as well go to lunch and enjoy Mother Nature’s show. This was the justification that brought us to Capitola’s Paradise Beach Grille in the middle of a mid-week afternoon.

The charming hostess led us across the colorful rock mosaic floor to the best seat in the house. Adjacent to the glowing fireplace and overlooking rain-swollen Soquel Creek, we were ushered into autumn by the season’s first storm.

While we were waiting for appetizers, all manner of flotsam floated and bobbed by on Class III rapids, from patio furniture and a hay bale, to branches and whole trees. We had apparently missed sighting a floating dock with attached kayaks in tow. Seagulls facing the wind hung motionless on extended wings until blown backwards by strong gusts.

The bartender delivered a large bowl of Thai-waiian Spicy Black Mussels ($15) accompanied by a mound of sticky sweet rice. The dark broth was scented with coconut and salty, sweet, spicy Thai ingredients.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Let us Eat Cake

Let us Eat Cake

Two little girls perched atop silver stools enjoying an after-school treat. Forks full of frosting, the youngsters were admiring the handiwork of Starz Cupcakes.

Ignore the sign in the window of the bakery’s adjacent neighbor which announces the availability of Goddesswear. All good intentions will be forgotten when you see the pretty cupcake display. Colorful baking papers replace traditional accordion-like baking cups, making the rows of desserts appear as origami butterflies taking flight.

On any given day, 15 of the more than 100 cupcake flavors are available. The regular size is $2.95. All are made from scratch and contain no preservatives. Beverages include coffee drinks, juice, and regular, chocolate and nonfat milk. If you want a fancier cupcake, a variety of sprinkles are available at the counter.

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Downtown Oasis

Downtown Oasis

Inside and out, relaxing Center Street Grill dishes up Mediterranean style

It was a perfect October day when I settled on the tree-lined patio for lunch at the Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Although the sun was still warm, the autumn air, perfumed by long, pendant angel trumpet flowers, was comfortably cool. The sound of water trickling from various fountains added a touch of tranquility—just a block away from the bustling downtown.

Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, thick with pulp, and just tart enough to jumpstart the day, foreshadowed the freshness of the meals to come and the attention to detail paid by the chefs here. Inside the restaurant, I noticed the walls at sharp angles painted soft taupe and olive separate the dining areas. Cups of crayons awaited children who would doodle on white paper tablecloth covers.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Artisanal Goodies for Foodies

Artisanal Goodies for FoodiesShelving lines every available space in the small River Café and Cheese Shop, cradling a fine selection of artisanal gustatory creations; most of it Californian, much of it local, and all of it sure to add a new spin to your favorite dishes.
The small, but well-picked cheese selection includes farmstead Blue from Point Reyes Farm and soft-ripening Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery of the same town. Local olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Belle Farms, Pasolivo lemon olive oil from Paso Robles, and River Café’s own organic jams make a colorful display. Numerous wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains are also featured.
I was excited to find an 8-ounce chub of Dry Chorizo, the essential Spanish salami, made by Berkeley’s famed Chez Panisse Chef Paul Bertolli, proprietor of Fra’ Mani Handcrafted Salumi. I also picked up a wedge of sheep’s cheese from North Monterey County’s Garden Variety Cheese, to be enjoyed with the chorizo as tapas.
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Dining - Dining Reviews

Ship Ahoy

Ship Ahoy

The Crow’s Nest celebrates 40 years of salads, seafood, sunsets, and sociability

A considerable school of small fish broke the water’s surface, dappling it like raindrops and inciting two dozen pelicans to dive-bomb headfirst after them in rapid succession. Sleek pinnipeds joined in the frenzy, their shiny furred bodies leaping, spinning and splashing. This is just one of the many sunset performances staged nightly outside The Crow’s Nest, the popular beachfront restaurant and lounge now celebrating its 40th birthday.

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

For the Love of Ginger - Hot Plate

For the Love of Ginger - Hot Plate

My children, when small, created pet names for their favorite places. There was the Slide Park, the Duck Park, and Red Chinese. This moniker referred not to politics, but to the interior color scheme of King Chwan Chinese Restaurant.

Today, red tassels still hang from the lamps, but the room is light and airy, with sheer white café curtains and softly colored valances on the windows, and elegant blue upholstery.

 

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Feast Fit for a King

Feast Fit for a King

Artistic presentation complements fresh flavors at My Thai Beach
Prime restaurant real estate on Capitola’s Esplanade affords diners colorful views of the bay, and at My Thai Beach the meals are as pretty as the scenery.
The owners have undertaken a charming remodel of what was previously the Beach House. As if surrounded by ocean, there’s a metallic sheen to the aqua blue walls. A new bamboo bench seat stretches along one side, above which meticulously aligned frames feature photographs and original artwork. On the opposite wall hang portraits of kings and queens. Gilded roughly hewn beams run across the burgundy ceiling from which fans quietly twirl.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Full Circle Brew

Full Circle Brew

Grain, once it's cooked to make the wort that becomes beer, is of no use to the brewmaster. So spent grain from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is sent to northern Monterey County, where it helps nourish 100 sheep at Garden Variety Cheese. Three varieties of sheep cheese are then sold at the brewery ($7 for a quarter pound) and also offered with tasting flights of four beers ($7). Local partnerships such as this make SCMB and its organic beers unique.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Sugar and Spice

Sugar and SpiceAn entire generation has been born and become adults since Allbright’s Donuts began treating the Branciforte neighborhood to an incredible array of pastries and savories. Considered by many to be the best shop in town, donuts, croissants and bagels are still made fresh daily.

Be prepared for a time warp, as swivel chairs fixed to a linoleum-tiled floor and upholstered in retro orange vinyl encircle two U-shaped faux wood counters. Vintage advertising posters depict donuts of yesteryear. Even the proprietors seem not to have aged a day since I enjoyed my first apple fritter, and today these pastries are still the same two-fisted size they were two decades ago.

 

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A Different Revolution

Aries Moon late Wednesday and Thursday. We think new thoughts and initiate new ideas. Sun in Virgo with Saturn in Scorpio help disciples to create orderly structures to anchor and bring forth new ideas. Stabilizing Taurus moon Friday and Saturday. We anchor new ideas into form and matter, like seeds planted in the soil. We tend them, waiting for green shoots to emerge. Like the gestating Virgo Sun Madonna, awaiting the birth of the holy child, the Soul, the new light at winter solstice. Mercury and Chiron converse about what hurts and what heals.Saturday is a complex day with Mercury (communication), Mars (action!) and Uranus (revolution). Mercury in Libra is opposite Uranus in Aries. Oppositions (recognizing something new appearing over there somewhere) eventually synthesize. Mercury in Libra calls for Right Action and Right Relations, especially with money. Uranus in Aries—the revolution this time must be different.  Also on Saturday, Mars enters Sagittarius. Where are we going, what are our goals, where’s justice, where’s the mountain, do we have good shoes? Sunday Venus trines Pluto—in-depth assessment of money, values and resources. Gemini moon Monday; we talk a lot, tending to tasks in gardens and neighborhoods. Cancer Moon Tuesday and Wednesday; we nurture and nourish. The stars and planets remind us.Note: William Meader, esoteric author & international teacher, will be speaking on “The Soul of Humanity Evolving Through Crisis” at Meditation Mount, 7pm, Friday, Sept. 12.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past
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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

 

Soquel’s Pinot Winner

When you taste Soquel Vineyards’ extraordinary 2012 Partners’ Reserve Pinot Noir, you will know why it won a Double Gold in June at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

 

Wood Fire Woodie

Scotts Valley pizzeria gets fired up the old-school way