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Apr 23rd
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Best of Santa Cruz '10

Santa Cruz - Best of Santa Cruz '10

Best Food & Drink

Best Food & Drink

Appetizer, Wine Bar, Wine List
SOIF
Soif offers an interesting array of choice appetizers. Especially good are the pan-seared scallops with potato risotto and black trumpet mushrooms, and the pan-fried local sardines served with lacinato kale from Route 1 Farms in Santa Cruz. Entrees include spinach gnocchi, stuffed quail and braised lamb shank—each and every dish paired with a suggested wine, and all of it fresh, local and organic. Soif prides itself on its eclectic variety of wines from California and all over the world. As well as featuring the well-known wine countries of Spain, Italy, France and Germany, there are also wines from Australia, New Zealand, Austria and Portugal. There is even one from an area that most people don’t think of particularly as a wine region, the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Cozy up to the fabulous wine bar and taste some of their eclectic assortment of wines by the glass or by the bottle. And the helpful staff will suggest something if you don’t know what to get. BRAIN CANDY: If you’re looking for that special bottle of wine, try Soif’s retail shop right next to the wine bar. | Josie Cowden
Runners-up (Appetizer) Paradise Beach Grille, 515 Kitchen, Crow’s Nest (Wine Bar) Cava, Bonny Doon, Vino Primo (Wine List) Shadowbrook, Paradise Beach Grille, Cava

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Santa Cruz - Best of Santa Cruz '10

Best Shops

Best Shops

Adult Store, Lingerie
CAMOUFLAGE
“We want to push the envelope, but we don’t want to give you a papercut doing it,” says Camouflage co-owner Shannon Collins, putting the store, as a whole, in a nutshell. The iconic downtown sex shop, which turns 30 this year, is edgy but not over the top, sexy but never crude, and inviting but not forceful. Started as a small T-shirt shop by Joan Levine in 1980, the store has evolved into the area’s most complete adult store—selling “a little bit for everyone” as Collins says, from lingerie and panties to lubes and sex toys, to their biggest seller, vibrators. “Camouflage sells hundreds and hundreds of vibrators,” says Levine, who sold the store to Collins and her husband, Ken Vinson, in 2006. “Who is buying them? Doesn’t everyone in Santa Cruz already have a vibrator?” But there are always newer, better and different options to try, and their best-selling items are “far and away” the premiere, top-of-the-line vibrators (popularized after the infamous Sex and the City episode in which Vibratex’s Rabbit Pearl guest stars). But in addition to a wide selection of products, Camouflage offers notable customer service—something that is especially important when dealing with a sensitive, and potentially uncomfortable, subject. Collins and Vinson are Certified Sex Educators with more than 60 hours of training each in everything from human anatomy to kink, and each employee undergoes two weeks of training before starting. Whether a customer is shy or a sex toy rookie, the staff is eager to answer questions and share their extensive knowledge of the products. And while most shoppers are picking up a fun gift or item for themselves, there is the occasional customer with a serious question. “Just yesterday we were able to help a guy out who was having trouble with his wife,” says Vinson. “We aren’t therapists but one of the things the staff gets a lot of reward out of is when someone comes in with an issue and their expertise can help them solve it.” The shop is proudly “sex positive,” and welcoming to all walks of life—something that has made them a local favorite and a true community institution.
Visit Camoflage online. QUICK BIT: Since 2001, Camouflage has sold more than 60,000 vibrators. That’s 2.5 vibrators for every woman living in the City of Santa Cruz!  | Elizabeth Limbach
Runners-up
(Adult Store) Pure Pleasure, Frenchy’s (Lingerie) Victoria’s Secret, Amoureuse, Perrfect Girl

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Santa Cruz - Best of Santa Cruz '10

Best Health & Fitness

Best Health & Fitness

Acupuncture
5 BRANCHES
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chinese medical herbs, energetics, dietetics, Tuina massage— it doesn’t get much better than this! Your coveted one-stop holistic portal is both a school and a haven.  Its impressive roster of professional health workers are simply dynamite. But it’s the unique methods of acupuncture that generated the most buzz this year. Thanks for the good vibes—inside and out—5B.  QUICK NOTE: Founded in 1984, the year of the mouse. | Charlie Price
Runners-up Lee Holden, Martha Benedict, Spa Fitness

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Santa Cruz - Best of Santa Cruz '10

Best Professionals

Best Professionals

Bartender
PATRICK JOHNSON @ MOTIV
Can cute people actually make better cocktails? Well, why not? Still, we’re not saying it’s PJ’s dashing looks that gave him the top vote this year—although it didn’t hurt, and there’s nothing wrong with that—we’re just saying that it must have something to do with how well the guy can balance his smarts for drinks with efficiency. Especially on those Friday and Saturday evenings when Motiv in Downtown Santa Cruz is packed. (Wait till he flashes that smile the next time he makes a drink for you.) FUN FACT: Motiv’s very telling staff gave us the dirt on Patrick. 1.Tattooed a bottle of poison on himself. 2. He’s endearingly clumsy. 3. Eats one item at a time on a plate. | CP
Runners-up
Blaine at the Red Room, Lisa Moulton at El Palomar, Jeff Pappas at Clouds

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Santa Cruz - Best of Santa Cruz '10

Best Arts, Entertainment & Nightlife

Best Arts, Entertainment & Nightlife

Art Gallery
FELIX KULPA
For more than a decade now, Felix Kulpa Gallery been a bastion for art and sculptures. Whenever you walk down Elm Street, just behind Streetlight Records in Downtown Santa Cruz, you can see its extraordinary sculpture garden, with the gallery sitting behind it. And, with gallery manager Robbie Schoen at the helm, FK is now an institution. Santa Cruzans love its funky exterior and sculpture garden, and the gallery contains rotating exhibits, which display the work of predominantly local artists. Upcoming exhibits include the work of painters, photographers, group shows, and a neon show toward the end of the year. “It’s the found art object world headquarters,” Schoen says. “And it’s a little bit dangerous.”  Hours are noon to 6 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays. FUN FACT: One of Manager Robbie Schoen’s favorite shows had to do with motorcycle art. | Christa Martin
Runners-up
Artisans, MAH, Motiv

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Santa Cruz - Best of Santa Cruz '10

Best of the Rest

Best of the Rest

Beach
SEABRIGHT
Smack in the middle of Santa Cruz, in the sunny belt of the Seabright neighborhood, Seabright Beach is (once again) your top pick for sunbathing and sand revelry. Around the bend from both the Santa Cruz Harbor and the Boardwalk, it’s got easy access to all your family’s needs. Fourth of July fireworks mayhem and lights show? Check. A Museum of Natural History for a little education across the street? Check. Ample bars and eateries along the Seabright strip for your post-beach volleyball indulgence? Check. When you want to wet yourself before you wreck yourself, you do it right—you do it at Seabright. TAKE NOTE: Because the old Scholl-Mar Castle used to sit at the entrance to the beach from 1928-1967, some local elders know it as “Castle Beach.” | Linda Koffman
Runners-up Cowell’s, Capitola, 16th

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Santa Cruz - Best of Santa Cruz '10

Critics’ Picks

Critics’ Picks

Best Sweaty Body:
KALIL MOUTAWAKKIL
It’s hard not to admire sweaty bodies when you’re a Bikram yoga enthusiast. And, God knows, if you’re going to take yoga, there’s nothing wrong with meditating on the beauty of all the beauty around you. Hey, what can I say? I think people should be thanked for being beautiful. Why, it was just the other year that I picked up the brand new habit of thanking people for their various attributes. “Thank you for having that great haircut,” I once told a young lady texting on the street. A nervous toss of her blond locks later, she shot me a concerned look and continued thumbing her iPhone. “Thank you for having nice biceps,” I recently told a young man on Pacific Avenue. He kept moving, his cocoa-puff brown eyes holding a horrible look of fear. (If he’s going to wear a tight white T-shirt that shows off his biceps, why is he so surprised about the attention he’s getting?) Anyway, it only seemed to further fuel what I now have dubbed “The Gratitude Experiment”—thanking people for things they wouldn’t normally be thanked for. “Thank you for your lovely mole—it’s surprisingly becoming.” “Thank you for your great neckline.” “Thank you for your minty fresh breath.” So, when it comes to smoldering Zen attractiveness—can Zen smolder?—Kalil Moutawakkil stands out, especially when he’s moist. As one of Village Yoga’s savvy, compassionate Bikram Yoga instructors, Kalil instructs with grace. And, when he’s taking class with you, the local simply inspires with his deep dedication to an age-old practice—and, of course, all that perspiration. So, thank you, Kalil … thank you for your sweaty body!  | Charlie Price

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Best of Santa Cruz County 2014

The 2014 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll Come on in, and have a look around. There’s a lot to see—hundreds of winners selected by thousands of GT readers across Santa Cruz County. So if some of this looks familiar, it’s probably because you helped make it happen. But there are always new things to discover, too—you could go to a different winner or runner-up every day in the Food and Drink category alone, and you’d be booked just about until next year’s Best of Santa Cruz County issue comes out.

 

Something Essential Disappears

Lunar and solar eclipses follow one another. Lunar eclipses occur at full moons, and solar eclipses at new moons. Two weeks ago at the full moon we had the blood red moon—a total lunar eclipse (the next one is Oct. 8). On Monday night, April 28 (new moon), as the Sun, Moon and Earth align, a solar eclipse (Sun obscured) occurs. Eclipses signify something irrevocably is changed in our world. The Sun is our essential life force. Monday’s new moon, 9 degrees Taurus, is also an annular solar eclipse when the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun, yet does not cover the Sun completely. The Sun's outer edges, still visible, form a “ring of fire” around the Moon.

 

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

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Palate-Stretching 101

A wine education with Soif’s experts As a veteran of many weekend wine “seminars” at Soif, I have to confess that I’ve never known less (going in) and learned more (coming out) than I did last week at the Spanish Wine Tasting with ace rep Brian Greenwood. These are classy, casual events and it’s hard to imagine having this much flavor fun anywhere for $20.

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

 

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