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Jan 29th
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Time is Ripe

din leadLocal fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

Have you checked out the fruit harvests coming in lately? Well, now is the exact moment of perfection for cherries, blueberries and nectarines, which seem to be better this year than I’ve ever tasted them. Head to your nearest farmers market and scoop up some of the local fruit harvest. Nectarines are superb right now. Cherries are abundant and sparkling with crunch, richness and a touch of tart. And the blueberries. Off the hook—especially those from the UCSC Farm & Garden and available at the Tuesday and Friday produce cart located at the foot of campus, at the intersection of Bay and High Streets. We do not remember ever (ever) having blueberries this brilliant. Also note: Live Earth Farm always has superior greens and herbs, but now in addition to peppery cresses, they’ve got plump, lemony-flavored purslane. This pretty veggie (see Shakespeare for purslane puns) makes a graceful visual statement for your next salad featuring the hot-off-the-farm Early Girl tomatoes (dry-farmed of course, for maximum sweetness and flavor) from Dirty Girl Produce. Yes! Nature is just the best.

Viti-Cultured

Kudos—again!—to Pamela and Steve Storrs, whose new 2012 Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay from the Corralitos neck of the appellation was named “Best White Wine of Region” at the 2014 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition. To celebrate, the winemakers are hosting a Chardonnay tasting and cheese pairing event this weekend, July 26 and 27 at the Storrs Tasting Room (open from noon until 5 p.m., located in the Old Sash Mill). The 2012 Wildcat Ridge chardonnay hails from Pleasant Valley, said to boast a perfect climate for Burgundian varietals. “In the valley, warm sunny days are cooled in the evenings by ocean breezes,” says viticulturist and winemaker Steve Storrs. “These factors allow for a wine that is well-balanced and filled with bright notes of mountain pear, ripe pippin and a long, lingering buttery finish,” Pam adds. Details at storrswine.com.

Red Wine of the Week

Don’t miss the 2011 installment of Thomas Fogarty’s hugely likeable Skyline, a luscious Bordeaux-style blend with a happy $14.99 price tag. This smartly-balanced wine only tastes expensive. Big tannins, gorgeous flavor, 14.5%. Think beef.

White Wine of the Week

A 2012 Sauvignon Blanc—part of the Whites line from Windy Oaks—filled with Monterey grapes. Unusually unctuous for a light alcohol creation (13.3%), this atypical SV offers saltiness, honeydew, and bay leaves. Winemaker Jim Schultz has worked a bit of voodoo and made a white that can stand up to charcuterie and cheeseburgers. What’s not to like? $14.99.

Salt of the Earth

Have you noticed the designer culinary salts being artisanally crafted by Farmer Freed? Those attractive jars of salt blended with herbs, citrus, zippy spices and more, are the handiwork of former UCSC Farm & Garden apprentice Emily Jane Freed. Sourcing local organic herbs, chiles, and other ingredients, Freed has placed her salt blends in top emporia around the Bay Area—locally at Companion Bakeshop, Cameron Marks and Westside Farm & Feed. This is great news for us salt lickers who can’t get enough of the mother mineral. And, the stuffed padron peppers at Soif continue to amaze and delight. As does the futomaki at Totoro.

Beer Fest

Set your clock for the 4th Annual California Beer Festival, coming up fast on Aug. 9 & 10 at the Aptos Village Park. Craft beers galore, live music, sliders, picnics, burgers—totally all-American summertime activities. I’ll remind you again next week.

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