Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 17th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Pins and Needles

dining cactusEver eat a cactus? Many parts are edible. Learn how to cook this plant, and taste entries from the cactus cook-off at Santa Cruz’s Festival del Nopal in the street in front of the downtown library on Sunday, July 22.

Nopales were an important food source for the Aztecs, and Mexico’s coat of arms features a golden eagle perched atop an Opuntia, whose name is derived from the Nahuatl word for pad. Today, jams, jellies and sorbet are made from the juice of the plant’s fruit, and at a rib joint in Scottsdale, sweet, prickly pear syrup is added to a sensational margarita.

The green, spiked pads are stems that bear fruit. The fruit and even the pads have tiny barbed hairs called glochids. They cause pain and itching when lodged in the skin, and must be removed. Swallowing any is very uncomfortable.

Use tongs or wear heavy gloves when preparing the produce. The pads are readily skinned with a knife or potato peeler. For the fruit, I prefer burning the hairs off over a gas range or with a kitchen torch.

To peel the fruit, cut a half inch off the top and bottom, then make a shallow cut lengthwise through the skin, and peel it off as you would an avocado. Although the seeds are edible, they are very hard. To make juice, purée the fruit in a blender and strain through cheesecloth. Four fruits will yield about a cup.

At the festival, the mercado will open at 10 a.m. Performances, including live music and Ballet Folklorico featuring brightly costumed traditional dancers will begin at noon.

Contestants for the Festival Queen have been selling one-dollar raffle tickets to benefit scholarships since April, and the most successful seller will be crowned queen on Sunday afternoon.  | KP

Third Annual Festival del Nopal, Sunday July 22, market opens at 10 a.m., and free program runs between noon and 6 p.m. 224 Church St., Santa Cruz. Visit

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.


Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.


Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.


Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments


Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.


How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management


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


Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.