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Feb 11th
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How Great Thou Artisans

food featA whirlwind tour of the latest from Santa Cruz’s culinary crafters 

Artisanal update! Once I finally turned my attention away from the pumpkin tea cake and almond biscotti, I discovered the baguette sandwiches ($6) at Companion Bakeshop. Long slender baguettes perfect enough to make a Francophile weep are topped with various temptations all week long. There’s a sensuous veggie version, and another for us carnivores, such as last week’s model packed with Brie and el Salchichero’s divinely authentic salami.

Brisk field work revealed that the salami is properly called “summer sausage,” and so I zoomed down to the gleaming butcher shop at the edge of the Ingalls/Swift empire and had a look for myself. Yes, the summer sausage was indeed, visually at least, a doppelgänger for salami. But my attention was immediately snagged by two gorgeous slabs of paté—one a classic campagnola, country-style creation of rough-cut pastured pork, and the other a paler pink-brown made of rabbit. What could I do? You guessed it—I bought one of each, took them home and found out why paté will never ever leave our hearts and minds. From the $10 block of rabbit paté the size of a swollen baseball, I sliced a sample (to be washed down with a handy Malbec) and here was the deal: subtle, delicate, yet bold, the paté offered up its internal alchemy of locally sourced rabbit heightened by saffron, chamomile, crème fraîche and some pork to add richness. The next bite was of the pork-intensive campagnola—from an equal size block for $6.50. Rich, but not overwhelming, this was country paté made by a master artisan, perfumed by apple brandy, onion, cloves, nutmeg, garlic and the expert hand of charcuterist Chris LaVeque. El Salchichero uses pasture-raised animals from Devil’s Gulch Ranch, Marin Sun Farms, and other ranches where animals are treated with respect. These patés were a revelation. I’m thinking memorable picnic item, paired with bubbly and cornichons.

Greener Pastures

Come visit former chef and current sheep rancher/cheesemonger Rebecca King, at her atmospheric Monkeyflower Ranch, Saturday, May 3 from noon to 4 p.m. The first time I visited Rebecca— when she’d just begun raising her flocks—we sat at a picnic table on her property sampling some of the European-style sheep cheeses she had made that were aging and perfecting. From where we sat, I could watch the ewes pampering their little babies, and the young sheep literally bouncing around the pastures. I must admit, it was charming beyond belief. The handmade cheeses are superb and the ranch is an ideal place to come and savor a quieter, gentler way of life. Kids will go nuts over the sheep, and baby piglets, too.  Almost nothing is cuter than a baby pig (apologies to cat fanatics everywhere). Monkeyflower Ranch lives at 1481 San Miguel Canyon Road, in Royal Oaks—bring a picnic, or purchase foodstuffs made from farm-raised ingredients during the May 3 Open House. Beer from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing and wine from Odonata Wines will also be available. Total relaxing, ranch-style fun. Parking fee of $10 per vehicle. Please let Rebecca know you’re coming by clicking on the Open House Evite.

Product of the Week: Part 2

Those Kevita people are knocking me out! Just when I thought the Lemon Cayenne version of this exciting—and I’m not kidding—sparkling probiotic drink was the ne plus ultra, I just tried some of the Living Greens flavor. Pull up a chair—let’s review. Cool pale green and loaded with probiotic cultures, green tea, apple cider vinegar (think alkalinity), chlorella, lots of green aqua cultures, fig concentrate—all of it organic. The entire 15.2 fluid ounce glass bottle contains a mere 60 calories. So here is a tart and hence utterly refreshing drink that tastes like a blend of green tea, spirulina and a hint of fruit. You could sip this all day long.

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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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