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Dining Reviews

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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Dining - Dining Reviews

Momentary Magic

Momentary Magic

Pop-Up Breakfast series creates fleeting hubs of artisan food and community-style dining

Breakfast may lay claim to the title of most important meal of the day, but now, thanks to a new Pop-Up Breakfast series in town, it can also boast of being the tastiest.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

A Taste of Cambodia

A Taste of Cambodia

Scotts Valley’s Jia Tella’s offers diverse tastes and plenty of history

Often when dining out, I reach a satiety point, enjoy another bite or two, and take the rest of the meal home. Occasionally however, that bite or two turns into three, four, or more, as I just can’t seem to get enough of the array of unique flavors. That was my experience at Jia Tella’s, the Cambodian restaurant tucked into a corner of the neighborhood mall that houses Scotts Valley Market.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

A Little Birdie Told Me

A Little Birdie Told Me

On Sundays, Café Sparrow dishes up a delectable breakfast and brunch menu, peppered with house-made surprises in its little Aptos storefront.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Creative passions invigorate

Creative passions invigorate

Santa Cruz Aleworks

A tantalizing smoky smell was carried by the breeze through the brewing room’s open door, drawing me zombie-like toward the source of the aroma. In the parking lot behind Santa Cruz Aleworks, Executive Chef Jeff Greer was just finishing up the day’s batch of smoked meats. Facing Pogonip in an industrial park in the Harvey West neighborhood since 2007, the brewery has recently added a delicatessen which is open daily.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

A Sustainable Culture

A Sustainable Culture

The popularity of old world yogurt is surging, and it’s easy to make at home

Yogurt is a product of the ages. With a name originating in Turkey and probiotic benefits touted by the health food industry. A fondness for Greek-style yogurt has taken the country by storm, resulting in a tripling of the number of yogurt factories in New York State, and a $2 billion a year industry. What sets this Mediterranean yogurt apart is straining.

Other cultures refer to the product as “hung” yogurt. Stirred yogurt is placed in a fine mesh strainer which has been lined with cheesecloth and suspended over a deep container. Watery whey seeps out, resulting in a thicker, denser yogurt with more protein by volume. It makes a lovely base for a stiffer tzatziki cucumber-garlic dip and spread.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Good Morning Maui

Good Morning Maui

Pono Hawaiian Grill rolls out Hawaiian-style weekend brunch

Goodness, righteousness, virtuousness and fairness are some of the four-score English words that attempt to describe the Hawaiian essence of pono, whose use in the state motto translates to “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”

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Dining - Dining Reviews

A Very Fine House

A Very Fine House

Casa Nostra rolls out traditional Italian fare under the redwoods of Ben Lomond

A trio of restaurateurs with backgrounds at local favorites Star Bene and Oak Tree Ristorante have upgraded the old home of Ciao Bella and created Casa Nostra, a welcoming Italian eatery.

Adjacent to the front door, the long, clean wooden bar is surrounded by pumpkin-colored stools. At the entrance to the dining rooms, there is a new low-slung cafe door hung in the wood-covered arch. Where there once was a stage, stocky wooden tables are neatly arranged perpendicularly on a new tile floor, each set with square white plates and burnt orange cloth napkins.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

From Rough Seas to the Trees

From Rough Seas to the Trees

Former owner of Wharf Bait Shop makes a splash with Felton Italian deli

The students at San Lorenzo Valley High School may be some of the luckiest in the county since the opening of Castelli’s Deli-Café last summer. Adjacent to the school’s parking lot, the restaurant serves pizza, salads, sandwiches, desserts and ice cream novelties, in addition to caffeinated beverages made from Italian Lavazza coffee.

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Reflecting Glass

Composer Philip Glass’ first trip to Big Sur was by motorcycle; little did he know that he’d establish a music festival there six decades later.

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

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Wurst Case Scenario

Venus Spirits releases agave spirit, Renee Shepherd on planting garlic, Sausagefest 2014, and wine harvest in full swing

 

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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

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”