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Feb 11th
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Comfort Food

dining_vidaWith cozy booths, professional service and an ever-evolving seasonal menu, a visit to Vida was delightful

We often enjoy appetizers at Vida Lounge and Grill, but it had been some time since we sat down for dinner. In the meantime, Noah Thorwaldson had become the Executive Chef and the new menu was inviting. I was pleased to encounter the same level of service that I had in the past. We were greeted warmly at the door and ushered to a softly-lit booth where our server was extremely knowledgeable with respect to the ingredients, and very thoughtful.

Vida is also known for its creative cocktails, as was evidenced by full attendance in the bar area on a Saturday evening. The legendary Mojito ($7) includes Myer's rum, fresh mint and lime and sparkles with a splash of soda. Slices of cucumber and the pulp of freshly squeezed lemon juice floated on top of the Cucumber Martini ($9), made with smooth Hendrick's Scottish gin and French St~Germain elderflower liqueur. The vodka Ginger Rodgers ($7) with muddled mint and fresh lemon was seasoned with spicy pieces of fresh ginger.

We decided quickly on an appetizer of Cheese Fun-dido ($9), a showy skillet of violet flames which leapt from the surface of molten manchego and Parmesan cheeses. Occasionally scooping up a whole roasted clove of garlic to mound on the crisp bread, stretchy strings extended from the skillet to the plates. In the mouth, it was smooth and creamy, tempered with a bit of Madera wine.

In the mixed greens Dinner Salad ($7), shaved carrots and grape tomatoes were dressed with herbal citrus-balsamic vinaigrette. The plate of Romaine Salad ($9) was drizzled with thick, sweet and tart balsamic vinegar. It seemed like the entire heart of the head of lettuce was topped with chewy pieces of salty pancetta bacon, tomatoes, and razor-thin red onions and drizzled with tasty Gorgonzola blue cheese vinaigrette.

While the menu is not lengthy, it is deep and offers interesting medleys of ingredients which made our decisions difficult. Pasta dishes ($14 to $16) included truly autumnal sweet potato gnocchi with sage Carbonera. From the meat entrées ($13-$22), I was tempted by the Duck Confit with crispy polenta as well as the free range Chicken Marsala with horseradish mashed potatoes.

Knowing that Vida conforms to Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch for sustainability, we felt confident splurging on fish. A rich seafood aroma accompanied the bowl of Rio de Janeiro Stew ($19). Salmon, scallops, shrimp, tender rings of calamari, and red bell peppers simmered in a silky, savory coconut brodo stock.

Scallops are sometimes harvested by dredging, a process that rakes the seafloor, damaging habitat and marine life. At Vida, five large Diver Scallops ($22), so named because they were hand-harvested, sat atop tender crimini mushroom risotto with bright bunches of al dente broccolini. The soft medium-rare shellfish were drizzled with paprika oil and sweet balsamic reduction. Warm and filling, it was the perfect prescription for a drizzly fall evening.


Vida Lounge and Grill, 1222 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-787. Full bar. Serving dinner Sunday through Thursday 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Happy hour Tuesday through Friday 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and all night Monday.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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