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Feb 13th
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All Sauced Up

dining_ElChinoOn an unassuming stretch of Soquel Drive, El Chino Mexican Deli Restaurant occupies a narrow storefront.

Inside, lively fiesta music plays on the stereo, decorative eaves with clay tiles jut from the walls, and healthy live plants crawl across rafters, creating the comfortable illusion of dining in a sidewalk cantina.

The list of weekday lunch specials ($5.85 to $7.50) includes avocado-chicken salad, enchiladas, chili rellenos and carne azada burritos. We were drawn to the generously plated house specialties, each of which occupied half of their oval pottery platters.

Two chicken drumsticks and breast meat were served as Gallina En Mole ($12.95). There was an abundance of dark, rich mole sauce, seasoned with chocolate and spices, to flavor the tender meat.

The vibrant green sauce of the Chili Verde ($11.15) was thick with tart tomatillos and mild green chilies. Charred flecks of roasted skin bequeathed a smoky depth. El Chino's recipe, made uncharacteristically with steak, did not fall apart as the fattier cuts of pork do, but instead was braised until temptingly tender.

Kids will enjoy the mildly flavored Mexican Pizza ($6.50). A puffy, crisp, and crumbly flour tortilla was spread with refried beans and topped with moist shredded beef, crunchy white onions and diced green peppers, black olives and melted cheese. For me, the translucent red salsa, loaded with seeds and skins of hot red chilies, was the perfect dressing.

At Happy Hour, Monday through Thursday 3 to 6 p.m., enjoy special prices on well drinks ($2.99), margaritas ($2.50), domestic beer ($1.99), and appetizer combinations such as a quesadilla and draft beer ($4). The front patio will be an enjoyable spot later in the year, and the restaurant also features a good-sized banquet room to accommodate your festivities.


El Chino Mexican Deli Restaurant, 2525 Soquel Dr., Santa Cruz, 476-7175. Full bar. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner from 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

 

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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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