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Sep 22nd
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

Smooth Thai Landing at Main Beach

Smooth Thai Landing at Main Beach

Soquel’s Sawasdee earns great views at Casablanca Inn

I was looking forward to a Thai lunch, and an almost waterfront table overlooking the Main Beach surf on a pleasant day made this midweek jaunt even more tantalizing.

Walking a block down the Main Street hill from the designated free parking lot, the breeze bore the familiar summer scents of salt, sea and seaweed. Gulls closely followed dive-bombing pelicans in hopes of a catch, while a lone stand-up paddler glided atop the ocean’s smooth surface.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Have Your Cake

Have Your Cake

It occurred to me that my children may have grown up deprived. I prepared thousands of cooked-from-scratch meals, albeit with some barely edible experiments in the mix. Focaccia, pizza and even a pair of baguettes made their way to the table (mea culpa; not so difficult with a bread machine), but I don’t recall ever making them a proper strawberry shortcake.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Hot Plates Abound

Hot Plates Abound

Timeless and authentic, Tortilla Flats continues to impress in its 35th anniversary year

There are probably not many restaurants in Santa Cruz County that can attest to being in business for several decades, but Tortilla Flats has just logged 35 years—with owner-chef Cheryl Marquez at the helm.

Service is consistently good at Tortilla Flats. From the minute we enter the restaurant, servers buzz around making sure we have everything we need. A fresh bowl of chips and salsa appears on our table, the piquant salsa nicely presented in a little pouring jar. This place runs like a well-oiled machine.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Edible Art

Edible Art

Local chef Wendy Brodie encourages us to play with our food

For Wendy Brodie, cooking goes far beyond a recipe—it’s an art form. The Carmel-based chef believes that color, texture and presentation are just as important as the food itself.

Locals will have the opportunity to experience some of Brodie’s culinary masterpieces first-hand on Aug. 29, when she is the featured chef at one of the Annieglass Platemaker Dinners. The series offers participants a market-fresh feast with paired wine by renowned chefs and vintners, hosted by local artist Annie Morhauser. Each four-course meal is served on Morhauser’s award-winning, handcrafted glassware in her production studio, and benefits the Annieglass Scholarships at local high schools, as well as the California College of the Arts, Morhauser’s alma mater.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Sid’s is Smokin’

Sid’s is Smokin’

The inventive team behind Sid’s Smokehouse gets a (delicious) GT grilling

Barbecue is an all-time popular food—think Fourth of July, family get-togethers, casual corporate events, back-yard birthday celebrations—and most people love a tasty piece of meat. Sid’s cooks up all the favorite meats—pork, brisket, ribs, chicken, burgers and turkey—and has just added salmon to the menu as well. Fixin’s include Sid’s Slaw, Smokehouse beans, Smokehouse greens, garlic fries, garlic mashed, beer-battered onion rings, and sweet potato fries.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

The Craft

The Craft

Find these local breweries at the annual California Beer Festival

Beer enthusiasts rejoice: for one afternoon this week, on Saturday, Aug. 10, more than 40 craft breweries will land at Aptos Village Park with upward of 70 beers on tap. The lines for another sample may be lengthy, but you’ll have food, live music and a bevy of other beer lovers to keep you entertained while you sniff out the hoppiest IPA, the creamiest stout or the most traditional English ale. 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Boil Before Baking

Boil Before Baking

Main St. Bagels offers traditionally made, unforgettable breads

I was a lucky teenager during the time my mom was earning her degree in food sciences. Her homework assignments included perfecting pâte à choux, the pastry basis of cream puffs, and making bagels.

I was intrigued when she tossed the shaped bagels into a saucepan of boiling water before baking the eggless yeast-leavened dough in the oven. A minute or two in boiling water serves to set the crust, which not only contributes to its chewiness, but also constrains rising to achieve the familiar dense interior.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

More than Fortune Cookies

More than Fortune Cookies

When a young man of Vietnamese descent inquired as to whether there was decent pho noodle soup in the area. I sent him to Asian Express in the Capitola Mall near Togo’s in the building that houses Ross. He told me later that he was quite pleased, and also turned me on to an Asian market on the Pleasure Point end of 41st Avenue.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

The Anti-Cupcake

The Anti-Cupcake

Santa Cruz resident Hannah Balliet puts her gluten-free dessert to the test on Lifetime’s ‘Supermarket Superstar’

Upon looking for ways to control her 9-year-old son’s facial and body tics and curb her own autoimmune disease, Santa Cruz resident Hannah Balliet turned to gluten-free foods. Much to her chagrin, she quickly found that few gluten-free desserts could satisfy her son’s sweet tooth.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Meals To Savor

Meals To Savor

Booka breathes new life into Aptos Village

When a new restaurant opens, word quickly spreads on its performance—with food, ambiance, warmth, courtesy and service all taken into account. From my first bite of food at Booka, which opened in the historic Bayview Hotel in Aptos, I detected unusual flavors with a different twist. Everything seems to come together here, and servers look the part dressed all in black with crisp white aprons and white folded napkins in their waistbands. It’s good to see this beautifully decorated restaurant doing well and the parking lot full.

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Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Watch List

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

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
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Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

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

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.