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Aug 20th
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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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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’

 

Say Uncle

Five types of kids, and how to be their best friend
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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

 

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.