Santa Cruz Good Times

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Mar 31st
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Summer: The Prequel

dining summerCocktail of the Week: the Carraway's Envy at Motiv.

Light, filled with the perfume of summer, and a few exotic ingredients, this beautiful jade-green drink held my attention throughout an after-work catch-up with my colleague Hannah. My cocktail started with a foundation of Hendrick’s Gin—gin trumps vodka in my book— to which was added what tasted like equal portions of Pernod Absinthe and Chartreuse. Then some muddled mint, cucumber and lime. Shaken with ice, poured into a glass, topped with a fresh mint leaf. It’s $9 worth of soothing stress relief and delicious palate pampering. Motiv's upper room—the former Pearl Alley Bistro—is a great retreat if you go early enough to avoid the herds. A serious dance club scene is alive seven nights in the downstairs, but for cocktails and delicious bar food head on up those stairs (oh, if they could talk).

New Potatoes @ Westside Farmers Market

From my earth-loving informant and master gardener Orin Martin comes the last word on new potatoes. Turns out that Everett Family Farm (now farmed by former UCSC Farm & Garden apprentice program alumna Emily Parsons), is harvesting what Martin calls “the real deal.” Martin wants me to alert my readers that Saturday Farmers Market patrons will be able to take away new potatoes “dug fresh that day, or the day before—they’re not the ersatz new potatoes you see in stores, which are simply small storage potatoes.” Martin explains that “real” new potatoes are young, thin-skinned, small and almost sweet tasting—hence their skins are “really nicked up.” He suggests steaming these delicate spring spuds for 10-15 minutes—“don't overdo it”—then putting them into a bowl, adding butter, sprinkling sea salt, and grinding in some black pepper. Martin likes to chop up some fresh dill and add it to the mix. Then mash the whole thing with a fork. Sit down and eat. The potato variety Parsons grows at Everett Family Farm is called Red Gold, “and it is a creamy textured yellow flesh variety that yields 70-75 days from planting. Just about the earliest variety on the planet.” Now you know what you better not miss next Saturday at the Westside Farmers Market!

Sweets Sans Gluten

If this is what you crave, then Sweet Cheeks Gluten-free cookie dough is the answer. Sweet Cheeks Santa Cruz produces Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough that is now available in the freezer sections at Shopper’s Corner, Staff of Life, Deluxe Foods of Aptos, and Aptos Natural Foods. Sweet Cheeks guru Rose Calucchia tells us that the dough goes right from the freezer into the oven, so you can enjoy fresh, warm delicious cookies at home. And there's not one shred of gluten in the whole batch.

Route 1 Summer Farm Dinner #2

Since the June dinner is just about sold out, it's time to get a jump on the August 10 Summer Farm Dinner. I already have my reservation! The price ($100 for general public, $85 for Route 1 Farms CSA members) includes a season-intensive multi-course dinner created by flavor queens Heidi Schlecht and Amy Padilla of Feel Good Foods (founders of River Café). Wines are by legendary Jeff Emery of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard. The afternoon begins with a reception and stroll through the coastal parklands of Big Basin, a tour of the farm by farmer Jeff Larkey, and then a sit-down dinner in the Route One orchards. For reservations, go quickly to route1farms.com. Rancho del Oso (Waddell Creek) 3:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Plan on spending an unforgettable, dreamy, delicious afternoon on our incomparable Pacific coast.

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Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

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