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Aug 22nd
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

A Foray into Foraging

A Foray into Foraging

Indulge in a taste of the wild side at the second annual Big Sur Foragers Festival
Web extra: Chanterelle, Honey and Lavender Ice Cream recipe

Big Sur, with its world-famous beauty and rugged wilderness, is no stranger to disaster. In the words of Sharen Carey, locals know “it’s not a matter of if, but when” the next calamity will cause road closures or, worse, evacuations. Case in point: the recent Pfeiffer Fire, which ignited on Dec. 15 and consumed more than 900 acres in Big Sur’s Los Padres National Forest.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Bargetto Winery La Vita 2009

Bargetto Winery La Vita 2009

On the day of Bargetto Winery’s 80th anniversary celebration, Dec. 5, 2013, I headed to their tasting room to give my congratulations—where a celebratory atmosphere was most definitely to be found. There are not many wineries in this country that can boast of 80 years of winemaking, even continuing through the days of Prohibition when wine was permitted to be made only for religious purposes. The Bargetto family has a lot to be proud of—not the least of which is their ability to make fine wines—and their story goes back generations.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Loving Louie’s

Loving Louie’s

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler—Let the Good Times Roll at Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar

If you don’t know the Cajun phrase “laissez bons temps rouler”—let the good times roll—then you soon will when you enter Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar in Downtown Santa Cruz. It’s painted on the vibrant murals that cover the walls of this spacious restaurant. Brightly colored scenes of New Orleans run from one end to the other, adding an abundance of pizzazz and atmosphere.

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Taking in Takara

Taking in Takara

Capitola’s Takara Japanese Restaurant adds more zest to its overall creative flavor

Take some sushi, sashimi, tempura, add some hot wasabi and ginger, sip on a little sake, and you will feel like you’re dining in Tokyo. And this is what Takara Japanese Restaurant likes to convey—an authentic experience in a beautiful restaurant decorated in typical Japanese style. Everything hits the spot in Takara. It’s right on target with quality food, exquisite flavors, courteous service and elegant ambiance.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Truffle all the Way

Truffle all the Way

This holiday season, let your taste buds be your guide

Purchasing holiday gifts is so 2012. This year, why not put a smile on your loved ones’ faces with delectable homemade sweets? A treat for both the eyes and the taste buds, edible gift giving is all the rage, and with the expert advice of Love Apple Farms’ Chef Maggie Cattell, you can’t lose.

“I come from a family that believes food is the first priority during the holidays,” Cattell says with a laugh. “I remember the kitchen smelling like homemade stock a week before. Everyone had a part to play.”

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Rendezvous at Rio

Rendezvous at Rio

New menu items and robust spirit invigorate Café Rio

Café Rio has always been one of my favorite places to dine. After moving to the Santa Cruz area and searching out good restaurants, Café Rio was mentioned as a fun place to eat, with sand dabs and swordfish highly recommended. And we can rest assured that these popular items will always be on the menu. When Jeanne Harrison took over the iconic restaurant as owner in 2011, she left the menu pretty much the same, but now feels that the time has come to improve the dining experience even more.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Wild, Wild West

Wild, Wild West

Geoff Hargrave of West End Tap & Kitchen adds intrigue to Santa Cruz’s Westside

The Swift Street Courtyard complex has evolved into a bustling scene where people go to enjoy good food, wine and beer and have a good time, especially on the weekends. Along with about a dozen tasting rooms, a brewery and high-end bakery/eatery can be found as well.

When West End Tap & Kitchen opened in July, this casual “gastropub” added greatly to the vibrant culinary scene. And, along with former University of Colorado friend, co-owner Quinn Cormier, we have executive chef Geoff Hargrave to thank. Hargrave’s menu features the kind of comfort food people are looking for on a casual night out.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Go, Girl, Go!

Go, Girl, Go!

Sondra Bernstein of the girl & the fig on NorCal feasts and the art of culinary creations. PLUS: Five holiday cocktails to relish

Day trips and “staycations” nourish the soul, so it’s no surprise that Sonoma continues to rank high for a delicious getaway. But for those who may not yet have the resilient girl & the fig on their culinary GPS, that’s about to change. One name you need to know as you venture toward and into 2014: Sondra Bernstein. She’s the proprieter of Sonoma’s girl & the fig as well as its enchanting winebar in nearby Glenn Ellen. With her strong adherence to farm-to-table creations, Bernstein’s imaginative fare has kept her portal thriving for 16 years now. National attention never hurts, either—the woman has been featured and saluted in numerous magazines and publications as well. She also published several bestselling books, “the girl & the fig Cookbook” and, more recently, “Plats Du Jour,” a luscious read that takes readers through seasons in the wine county. Questions abound when you meet Bernstein. For starters, how did a gal from Philadelphia wind up as one of NorCal’s most celebrated culinary royalty? Read on …

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Turkey Day Tips

Turkey Day Tips

Local chef Jonathan Miller offers advice for a stress-free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just days away, and for the person in charge of cooking the meal, that means one thing: pressure. Pressure to beat other shoppers to the same essential ingredients. Pressure to appease guests with different tastes and dietary needs. Pressure to cook several items simultaneously and get the timing just right.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Cheers to Chef Anthony

Cheers to Chef Anthony

Shadowbrook’s executive chef marries creativity and innovation in the restaurant’s unforgettable dishes

A scintillating platter of food is set on the table and almost immediately one’s senses make a mad dash toward “overload.” What makes the dish stand out? The aroma? The presentation? The food itself?

Maybe all of that, but one thing is certain, when this surf and turf tower is placed in front of you, the combination of grilled flank steak, seared garlic prawns, blackened ahi tuna, jalapeño poppers, stone fruit relish, citrus aioli and fried pickled ginger is truly hard to resist.

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Trending Now

Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.

 

The Thought Form of Solution

It’s our last week of Leo before the sun enters Virgo (next Friday/Saturday). The planets this week make complex patterns and relationships (vibrational cadences and rhythms) with the outer planets, mainly Neptune—the planet that veils, obscures, protects and finally refines us. Neptune offers us entrance into a deeply spiritual sense of comfort and solace. Neptune is the personality ruler of Pisces (saviors of the world) and soul ruler of Cancer (world mother). “The fish goddesses who leapt from earth (Virgo) to water (Pisces) unitedly give birth to the Fish God (Christ, the Soul) who introduces the waters of life  (Neptune & Aquarius) into the ocean of substance (matter, mother bringing light to the world. Thus does Neptune work.” (Esoteric Astrology).

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Cultures Collide

No surprises, but lots to savor in foodie film ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’
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Foodie File: Kauboi

Japanese-Western themed unites sushi with whiskey and beefgrill

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

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

 

Have Mercy!

Looking for a frisky summer wine at a reasonable price? Look no further than Mercy Vineyards’ 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($20). Richly textured “with an exotic flavor profile,” the wine reveals aromas of honeydew melon and honeysuckle, with anise appearing as a star attraction. Smidgeons of pineapple and honeycomb add a touch of sexiness to this well-balanced, easy-drinking wine, which pairs well with a variety of cuisine —especially ceviche, calamari and other not-too-heavy foods.