Santa Cruz Good Times

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Feb 01st
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Love Shack

din loveappleAs if growing choice and rare veggies and herbs for Michelin-starred Manresa restaurant wasn't enough, Love Apple Farms’Cynthia Sandbergand her expert crew have started up a new, boutique "On-The-Farm-Store" up at the terraced property located at 2317 Vine Hill Road in the Santa Cruz Mountains (just off Highway 17).

It's an obvious next step for the entrepreneurial proprietor/grower, whose reach extends from growing to an entire year-round schedule of classes for food crafters of all kinds. Now you'll be able to stop by the Farm Store and find jams, pickles, gardening tools, signed copies of David Kinch's Manresa cookbook, planter boxes, estate tomato seeds, cheese-making supplies—okay, you get the idea. Cynthia says that the specialty boutique should be open most weekend days, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but recommends texting the farm at 588-3801 to make sure.

Wine of the Week

Hop on your bike and head on over to Shoppers for the absolute deal of the century: a very drinkable white wine for under $5. Disueño Torrontes 2011 at $4.99, I'm not kidding. This is the top grape of Argentina, where the Disueño people are located. A light, summery 13.8 percent alcohol, the wine offers layers of lemongrass, bay leaves, ginger ale, and a long, dry finish full of something I can only describe as pale orange flavors and trace minerals at the very delicate end. It's quite nice and likes foods such as grilled salmon, soft cheeses, green olives, almonds, and probably many other happy foods outside of the red meat and pasta group.  Let me put it another way: this wine drinks like a $15 bottle, and is miles beyond the nether regions of 2 buck chuck or Crane Lake. A serious steal, so just go for it.

Father's Day Choices

A tie? Or perhaps a scenic outing to Alfaro Family Vineyards for a gala afternoon of wine tasting with complimentary snacks, live guitar with Chava from 1-4 p.m, and views of the vineyards that will astound your eyes.

The spacious tasting room with its encircling decks will be open on Father's Day, Sunday June 15, from noon to 5 p.m., so bring dad and start a new holiday tradition.

Also you should know that now Alfaro is open for visitors both Saturdays and Sundays through the end of August. alfarowine.com

Popping Up @ Farmers Market

Those mouth-watering pop-up breakfasts are gaining a steady stream of fans, as last week's celebratory sit-down at the Westside Farmers Market proved. Sausages sizzling on the grill, fat slabs of gorgeous fresh breads, just-harvested fruit and berries—it was a gorgeous sight. All the neighbors sitting around interlocking tables in the morning air, just like a scene from Breughel. Well, the Pop Ups will continue on June 21, at the Scotts Valley Market at the Community Center. Wrangling up a multi-course breakfast feast will be ultra-creative chef Brad Briske (formerly of Gabriella, and Main Street Garden Cafe) now of Carmel's La Balena. You know the drill: arrive at the event early, 9:30 a.m., to sign in and get seated. Food begins at 10 a.m. Bring your own plate and silverware - everything else will be provided. Expect to dine al fresco until about noon. And for details and reservations, call 325-4294 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Pastry of the Week

It's official - the most absolutely delicious, distinctive, creamy, crisp and fruity dessert right now this very moment is the peach and semolina cream tart at Companion Bakeshop. Not since Como have I tasted such an authentically Italian pastry, in which semolina cream takes the texturally voluptuous place of pastry cream, or cream cheese. Seriously. Topped with a few tart/sweet early peaches, it is deeply satisfying. Why are you not in your car right now?

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