Thanksgiving weekend wine tasting & holiday shopping in Santa Cruz & Carmel

Surf City Vintners is hosting an art, wine & gift bazaar

Surf City Vintners is hosting an art, wine & gift bazaar

I’ve got details on two wine and holiday shopping events worth checking out this holiday weekend: one in Santa Cruz, and one in Carmel Valley.

Santa Cruz
Surf City Vintners is hosting an art, wine and gift bazaar on Friday afternoon in Westside Santa Cruz at the Swift Street Courtyard.

Surf City Vintners is comprised of 10 wineries including Equinox/Bartolo, Odonata, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Silver Mountain Vineyards, and Vino Tabi. At the event, there will be wine tasting, plus gifts for sale by local artisans. Attendees are encouraged to bring donations of clothing or non-perishable food for the Walnut Ave. Women’s Center. Wineries are also donating a portion of the day’s tasting fees, which range from $5-10, to the Women’s Center. For more information, visit

Swift Street Courtyard is at Ingalls & Swift Streets.

Carmel Valley
Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery is holding a special two-day event at its Carmel Valley Village wine tasting room from 1-4 p.m. Friday-Saturday Nov. 28-29.

You’re invited to taste wine as you browse beautiful jewelry and cards for sale from Santa Cruz-based designer Fereshteh Fatemi (disclaimer: I might be biased about the “ beautiful” because Fereshteh is my mother, but she definitely has a lot of fans!). Fifteen percent of all sales will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Beginning Nov. 28, if you visit the tasting room you can pre-order holiday wreaths and gifts from family-owned Creekside Farms, and 15% of these sales will benefit Alzheimer’s research. Other holiday gifts that are available from Holman regularly – not just this weekend – include wine packs, wine club memberships, and organic Holman Ranch extra virgin olive oil (the latter has a 50-case limited production).

The Holman Ranch Tasting Room is at 19 E. Carmel Valley Road. Visit

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

More Bay Area restaurants for Thanksgiving: Monterey, San Jose, Santa Cruz

Restaurant 1833 in Monterey

Restaurant 1833 in Monterey

Here are a few more choices for dining out in the Bay Area on Thanksgiving.

If you missed my earlier Thanksgiving articles, see below:
Santa Cruz and Monterey area restaurants
San Francisco

Monterey & Carmel

Restaurant 1833

On Thanksgiving, Restaurant 1833 will host a feast from 1:30 – 7pm with a special three-course menu for $65 per person. Located in the historic California landmark, the Stokes Adobe house, guests can enjoy selections such as Roasted Apple Soup with sage, Brandy syrup and candied walnuts; Herb-Roasted Free Range Turkey with sage and chestnut dressing, potato puree, haricot verts, cranberry-orange relish, and classic gravy; Acorn Squash Ravioli with roasted mushrooms, port-braised shallots, and Parmesan; and choice of Pumpkin Mousse Pie or Spiced Chocolate Cremeux for a sweet ending. Reservations can be made through Open Table or by calling (831) 643-1833.
500 Hartnell St., Monterey

Cannery Row Brewing Company
The restaurant will offer its regular full menu on Thanksgiving, plus a three-course Turkey Dinner.  The dinner will be $29.95 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and under. Make reservations via Open Table or at (831) 643-2722.
95 Prescott Ave, Monterey

Il Fornaio
Il Fornaio in Carmel, located at the Pine Inn, will offer its full menu on Thanksgiving plus a special Thanksgiving dinner with traditional favorites. They invite you to celebrate “Thanksgiving with an Italian twist.” Make reservations via Open Table or at (831) 622-5100.
Ocean Avenue & Monte Verde St., Carmel

San Jose
Lark Creek Blue

The restaurant is offering a three-course prix fixe Thanksgiving dinner for $49 (adults). Children 10 and under get a half portion for half-price. First course options include roast butternut squash soup with maple glazed bacon lardons; jumbo shrimp cocktail; and steamed clams with housemade chorizo, scallions, garlic, cilantro, white wine, and butter. Entrée choices include lobster (stuffed with bay shrimp and served with green beans and drawn butter), and turkey accompanied by traditional items like cornbread stuffing and mashed potatoes. One dessert option is a fun decorate-your-own gingerbread cookie that benefits charity (click here for more info on the month-long promotion).
378 Santana Row, San Jose, (408) 244-1244

The Fairmont San Jose
The Fairmont San Jose is serving two special meals: the Fountain Restaurant is the site of their Family Orchard Buffet; reservations are available from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. The cost is $54 per adult and $27 per child 6-12. Kids 5 and under are free. Appetizers include fruit, chilled jumbo prawns, Caesar salad, and sushi. Entree highlights include an organic egg and omelet bar; parsley, rosemary, and thyme rubbed roast turkey; honey baked ham with bourbon mustard and brown sugar glaze; and garlicky Spanish saffron and seafood stew. There will also be festive holiday desserts. The Imperial Ballroom is hosting a Fairmont Harvest Brunch; reservations are available from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The cost is $69 per adult (includes one glass of sparkling wine, mimosa, or house wine) and $34 per child 6-12. Kids 5 and under are free. Appetizers include pulled duck confit; honey-glazed salmon; King crab legs; kale-and feta-faro-pomegranate seed salad. Entrees include an organic egg and omelet bar; parsley, rosemary, and thyme rubbed roast turkey; and sustainably fished Arctic char with pickled onion-cabbage slaw.
For full menus, visit
170 South Market St, San Jose, (408) 998-3960

Santa Cruz
Lago Di Como

Lago Di Como is serving Thanksgiving brunch, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with brunch and dinner menus plus specials including an Italian roasted turkey meal. Make reservations via Open Table or at (831) 454-8257.
21490 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz

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Thanksgiving 2014 restaurants and food options in San Francisco

It’s less than a week to Thanksgiving – if you’re planning to dine in San Francisco, here are a few restaurants to consider for Nov. 27, 2014. Also, Salumeria in the Mission is offering a take-out gourmet feast; order by 7 p.m. this Sunday.

Looking for places in the Santa Cruz or Monterey area? Read this article.

San Francisco Restaurants

Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco

Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco will feature a 3-course prix-fixe menu for Thanksgiving. Michelin-star Chef Daniel Corey is offering a seasonal selection of dishes including a first course of Veloute of butternut squash with buttermilk custard, olive oil and pumpkin seed granola or local winter mushrooms with slow cooked egg, raclette and toast. Guests can select from mains including Petrale sole and Manila clams with flageolets and bouillabaisse, Braised short rib of beef with fall roots and leaves and toasted green wheat; or Slowly Roasted Breast of Turkey, featuring Turkey Leg Boudin, Smoked Potato & Black Truffle Gravy. The menu is subject to change due to seasonality. Desserts include a milk chocolate, pecan and caramel dish or pumpkin cheesecake with Pomegranate and bay leaf. Pricing is $75 per person ($120 with wine pairing), $45 per child 12 years and younger. Price excludes tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by calling 415-616-6566 visiting

CLIFT will offer a special Thanksgiving dinner tasting menu at the hotel’s Velvet Room restaurant. Executive Chef Thomas Weibull partnered with local farmers and growers to produce a seasonal four-course menu where guests can choose between autumn dishes like Roasted Butternut Squashwithsmoked ham hock and ginger confit, Seared Day Boat Scallop with pumpkin risotto, and Sweet Pumpkin Tart with spiced pecans and maple ice cream. The Velvet Room will be open from 5:30pm-10:00pm on Thanksgiving and the tasting menu will be offered at $75 per person.

Presidio Social Club will be serving a traditional menu of a seasonal soup, turkey, stuffing, and of course, PSC pies (a choice of Spiced Pumpkin Bars with Cinnamon Ice Cream or Flourless Chocolate Cake with Persimmon Sorbet) for $59 per person.  Additional offerings include first of the season cracked Dungeness Crab and Local Oysters on the half shell. Fall cocktails are also available, featuring drinks such as the Root Old Fashioned with bourbon, Root liqueur, aromatic bitters, and orange.

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins

Enjoy the abundance of the fall harvest with a Thanksgiving brunch and dinner feast at Top of the Mark. Presented by Chef Nenad Stefanovic, the buffet will take place on Thursday, November 27 from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and will feature breakfast selections (11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.), antipastos, raw bar, salads, soups, desserts, and more. Seasonal specials include Smoked duck breast with grilled persimmons, toasted pumpkin seeds and fig compote, Sherry-molasses Roast Beets with allspice crème fraiche, candied walnuts and tondo, pickled butternut squash and pancetta jam, and Roasted Free Range Turkey with orange-cranberry sauce and giblet gravy. Desserts will include traditional holiday delights along with Pumpkin foster martinis with diced pumpkin, apple brandy, cinnamon sugar and graham cracker cookie ice cream. In addition to the feast, entertainment will be presented by Michael Athens and Ricardo Scales on piano and a “Little Explorer” petting zoo will be in the lobby from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Top of the Mark’s Thanksgiving brunch and Thanksgiving dinner is $119 per adult and $59 per child (ages 4-12). Reservations are required. Please call 415-616-6941.

One Market Restaurant

One Market is serving a three-course prix fixe menu by Chef Mark Dommen and Pastry Chef Patti Dellamonica-Bauler. The four first course choices include shrimp bisque (puffed rice, coconut milk, jalapeno) and beet carpaccio with radish, chèvre, and sherry vinaigrette. Four entrée selections include roasted turkey with cornbread-sausage stuffing, root vegetables, and shallot-thyme gravy, and mushroom risotto with herb salad and parmesan emulsion. Three dessert selections include triple layer sugar pie pumpkin cheesecake and with cranberry-ginger sorbet and Valrhona chocolate palet d’or with white chocolate sorbet. The price is $67 per adult and $29 per child 10 and under. Please call 415-777-5577 for reservations.

Thanksgiving to-go

Salumeria is offering a take-out Thanksgiving meal for those who want to enjoy a meal at home without worrying about all the preparations. Leave the heavy lifting to others: order a prepared dinner by their chefs. This feast will feed 4 to 6 people for $295 and includes a Pre-Brined Turkey, Butternut Squash Gratin with goat cheese and hazelnuts, pork sausage and fennel stuffing, Braised Brussels Sprouts with white wine and bacon, Turkey Giblet Gravy, and Cranberry and Quince Chutney. All food (with the exception of the pre-brined turkey) will be fully cooked and packaged in disposable containers with reheating instructions.

Thanks to Black Jet Bakery, you can add on your favorite pie or a bottle of wine to complement the meal. Each pie will be an additional $30. Any traditional wine will be $24.99 a bottle and premium will be $54.99 a bottle. Food will be ready for pick up on Wednesday, Nov. 26 between 2pm-6pm from Salumeria located at 3000 20th St., San Francisco.

Orders must be placed by 7pm on Sunday, Nov. 23 and can be made via or by calling 415-826-7001.

If you’re on Twitter, please follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Thanksgiving options from organic New Leaf Community Markets

Thanksgiving side dishes available from New Leaf Community Markets

Thanksgiving side dishes available from New Leaf Community Markets

Organic, Santa Cruz-based New Leaf Community Markets is offering lots of options for Thanksgiving Dinner; you need to order by Sunday, Nov. 23 for pick-up on Tuesday, Nov. 25 and Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014.

Several store locations are hosting Holiday Solutions Stations to help customers during the holiday season. This is where you can place orders, find recipes and cooking tips, and ask questions about suggested pairings and/or accommodating your guests’ dietary restrictions. The stations also feature occasional holiday treat and drink samples.

Find the station at the front of each store—including downtown Santa Cruz, Westside SC, Half Moon Bay, San Jose, Pleasanton, and Capitola branches—from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on:
Nov. 4 – Nov. 25
Dec. 8 – Dec. 30

New Leaf only uses turkey from Sonora-based Diestel Family Turkey Ranch. There are many varieties available which you can buy and bring home to cook yourself: original Diestel turkey; organic “Heidi” turkey; non-GMO natural turkey; and organic heirloom turkey.

Don’t feel like doing all the cooking yourself? New Leaf has holiday packages like “Turkey Dinner” ($139.99, feeds 4-6) with Diestel brown and serve turkey, organic herb bread stuffing, gravy and buttermilk mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and more. There’s also a gluten-free dinner package ($139.99, feeds 4-6) with the same turkey. Accompaniments include wild and brown rice stuffing, citrus beet salad, organic green bean casserole, gluten-free dinner rolls, and gluten-free pumpkin pie. These packages—and selections below—are specific to the Capitola and Santa Cruz (both downtown and Westside) stores. But rest assured, all of New Leaf’s locations are offering a variety of Thanksgiving dishes.

There are a cornucopia of other Thanksgiving selections available–a sampling is listed below:
Side dish packages
($49.99, feeds 4-6) in traditional, gluten-free, and vegan varieties
A la carte:
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes ($5.99/lb.)
Savory Turkey Gravy ($4.99/pint)
Mushroom Gravy ($4.99/pint)
Organic Maple Glazed Yams (vegan and gluten-free, $7.99/lb.)
Cranberry Orange Sauce (vegan and gluten-free, $7.99/lb.)

Read more at the New Leaf web site

Contact Info (there are also locations in Half Moon Bay, San Jose, Pleasanton, Felton, and Boulder Creek)

Westside Location: 1101 Fair Ave, Santa Cruz, (831) 426-1306
Downtown SC Location: 134 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, (831) 425-1793
Capitola Location: 1210 41st Ave, Capitola, (831) 479-7987

If you decide you’d rather dine out for Thanksgiving, see my recent article on Santa Cruz and Monterey restaurants with Thanksgiving menus.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Thanksgiving 2014 restaurants & food options in Santa Cruz and Monterey

Pie at Emily’s Bakery

Pie at Emily’s Bakery

It’s the countdown to Thanksgiving 2014, and time to make your reservations if you’re going out to eat! Want to dine in the Santa Cruz or Monterey area? Here are a few restaurants to consider for November 27, 2014. I’ll be publishing more Bay Area options in the next couple days.

Santa Cruz, Aptos & Soquel Restaurants

Chaminade offers a Thanksgiving buffet from noon to 6 p.m. The cost is $51.95 for adults, $17.95 for kids 6-12, and free for kids under 6. Selections include roast turkey with orange-cranberry compote, roasted Dijon-crusted lamb leg with mint jelly, butternut squash ravioli with porcini crème, a seafood assortment, gourmet salads, and pumpkin apple soup with toasted pepita seeds. Customers are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz County. Participants in the Chaminade’s annual toy drive will be entered into a drawing and there will be three winners with prizes of a 50-minute massage at The Spa, Sunday Brunch for two in the Sunset Restaurant, and an overnight stay for two.
One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz (831) 475-5600

Michael’s on Main is serving Thanksgiving dinner with seatings beginning at 2 p.m. The restaurant will offer a 3-course prix fixe meal for adults ($28) and a special meal for kids 12 and under ($12). The adult dinner features four entrée selections to choose from: oven-roasted turkey, Osso Bucco, pistachio-crusted salmon, or grilled Portobello. The kids’ menu is choice of traditional Thanksgiving turkey, chicken fingers and fries, or macaroni and cheese.
2591 Main Street, Soquel (831) 479-9777

Aquarius is offering a $52 prix fixe three-course menu (a kids’ menu for $24 will also be available). First-course options include kale salad with faro, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, and butternut squash vinaigrette, or crispy cauliflower with smoked Marcona almond romesco. Entrée choices include free-range turkey roulade with cornbread and pecan stuffing, persimmon/cranberry sauce, and more, or pan-roasted cobia with candied yams, roasted brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes.
175 West Cliff (at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn), Santa Cruz, (831) 460-5012

Ideal Bar & Grill has a limited holiday menu available all day beginning at 11 a.m. Dishes include a traditional turkey plate for $15.95 and slow roasted prime rib for $24.95. Homemade desserts will include pumpkin pie.
106 Beach Street (at the Santa Cruz Wharf), (831) 423-5271

Sanderlings has a buffet; the price is $44.95 for adults and $21.95 for kids. Salads and sides include Roasted Butternut Squash with frisée, toasted almonds, and ginger-red chili vinaigrette, Roasted Beets and Arugula Salad with Oranges, Red Belgium Endive,
Fennel, Watermelon Radish and Tarragon Dressing, Cheddar-Corn Muffins with Jalapeño-Honey Butter, and Yukon Gold Potato Mash with Caramelized Onions. Entrées include Sage Butter Roasted Turkey Breast with Sourdough, Pear, Shiitake Mushrooms and Red Onion Stuffing, and Rosemary Roasted Prime Rib of Beef with Horseradish Cream and Au Jus.
One Seascape Resort Drive (at Seascape Beach Resort), Aptos, (831) 662-7120

Monterey Restaurants

Anton & Michel Restaurant / $38 adults, $19 kids 12 and under, three-course prix fixe meal, 1 to 8 p.m.
Appetizer choices include butternut squash bisque; everyone gets roast free-range turkey for their entrée, accompanied by cornbread and sausage stuffing, cranberry-port chutney, and more. The regular menu will also be available.
Mission Street between Ocean & 7th., Carmel, 624-2406

Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel / $115 adults, four-course prix fixe menu, 6-9:30 p.m.
The restaurant promises “the traditional turkey dinner taken to new dimensions.” Wine pairings are available for $89 per person.
Monte Verde Street between Ocean & 7th., Carmel, 624-8578

Fandango / $36.95 adults, $16.50 kids 12 and under, prix fixe meal, Noon-8 p.m.
The meal includes duck pate and kalamata olives; Basque salad; dessert; and entrée choice from selections such as roast tom turkey with gravy, chestnut sage stuffing, fresh cranberry sauce, and more, or grilled salmon filet, café de Paris butter, mashed potatoes & garden vegetables.
223 17th St., Pacific Grove, 372-3456

Jack’s Restaurant at the Portola Hotel & Spa / $49 adults, $39.95 seniors, $19.95 kids 6-12, prix fixe meal, 1-7 p.m.
Diners will receive soup (cream of wild mushroom) and salad. Then, turkey and accompaniments (sourdough stuffing, yams, green beans and crispy shallots, etc.) will be served family-style. There will also be a dessert display.
2 Portola Plaza, Monterey, 649-2698

Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse / $26.95, prix fixe meal, seatings from 1-8 p.m.
For the prix fixe meal, appetizer choices include butternut squash soup. Everyone gets slow-roasted turkey for their entrée, accompanied by sides such as chicken apple stuffing and sautéed green beans. Dessert choices include pumpkin crème brulee. A separate, limited menu will also be available (entrees include skirt steak, prime rib, and halibut), as will the restaurant’s sushi bar.
Reservation Road at 3295 Dunes Drive, Marina, 883-9479

Lodge Restaurant at Carmel Valley Ranch / $75 adults, plated Thanksgiving dinner, Noon-8 p.m.
The dinner includes a glass of sparkling cider upon arrival.
1 Old Ranch Road, Carmel, 625-0645

Pacific’s Edge Restaurant at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands / $95 adults, $45 kids 5-12, four-course prix fixe dinner, seatings from 4-8 p.m.
First course options include warm brussels sprout salad with bacon-cider vinaigrette, dry ricotta, red grapes or winter mushroom bisque & black truffle toast. Entrée choices include slow roasted all natural turkey, buttermilk potato puree, sage stuffing, heirloom carrots, turkey gravy, or dry aged prime rib, white cheddar potato gratin, heirloom carrots, and red wine roasting jus.
120 Highlands Drive, Carmel, 622-5445

Point Pinos Grill / $35.95 adults, $10.95 kids 10 and under, buffet, seatings from noon-6 p.m.
The buffet includes chilled seafood such as Dungeness crab legs, a cheese and charcuterie display, wild mushroom stuffing, sausage stuffing, and baby lettuce salad with persimmon, toasted almonds, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. There will be a carving station with roasted natural turkey, roast beef, and pork tenderloin apple compote.
79 Asilomar Blvd., Pacific Grove, 648-5774

Porter’s in the Forest / prices vary / Thanksgiving menu features a la carte items, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Menu items will include roasted turkey (milk poached breast, fennel, sausage stuffing, fall vegetable au-gratin, cranberry compote, $32), smoked pork loin (bacon lardoons, kabocha squash, charred kale, quince, $33), and sides such as kale, brussels sprouts, garlic mashed potatoes, sausage fennel stuffing, and root vegetable au-gratin ($7 each).
3200 Lopez Road at Poppy Hills Golf Course, Pebble Beach, 622-8237

TusCA Ristorante / $40 adults, $15 kids 5-12, champagne dinner/buffet, seatings from 1-6 p.m.
The buffet price includes one glass of champagne (or sparkling cider) for adults over age 21. Selections include cola and clove studded brown bag ham, traditional herb-roasted turkey, and spiced butternut squash soup. There will be live jazz from 3-7 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey, 657-6675

Other options in Santa Cruz & Capitola

There are also a few stores, caterers, and bakeries that can help you with Thanksgiving options; these include:

  • New Leaf Community Market (watch for an article on their offerings soon or visit
  • Gayle’s Bakery–pre-ordering available for a la carte items or packages. Selections include traditional turkey (free-range Diestel) and buttermilk mashed potatoes, and vegan alternatives such as butternut squash and hazelnut lasagna. Visit
  • Emily’s Bakery– — offers items like stuffing, dinner rolls, cakes, and pies (the latter come in flavors like chocolate pecan, pumpkin, and apple)
  • Whole Foods Market–read my Nov. 17 article for details
  • Lifestyle Culinary Arts—orders must be in by Nov. 21; email or call (831) 588-4515 to get full menu or place order. Selections include whole turkeys, stuffed boneless turkey breast (white meat, ready to roast), and signature cranberry chutney (tart & sweet with a hint of ginger)

If you’re on Twitter, please follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Charlie Hong Kong restaurant news on soup & veteran-to-farmer benefits

New and improved vegan butternut squash soup at Santa Cruz restaurant Charlie Hong Kong

New and improved vegan butternut squash soup at Santa Cruz restaurant Charlie Hong Kong

Santa Cruz restaurant Charlie Hong Kong has news to share on two topics: soups, and benefits for veterans.

First, the veterans’ benefits news. Restaurant owner Carolyn Rudolph was moved by a documentary viewing/panel discussion event that she attended a couple weeks ago at Santa Cruz’s Vets Hall. The Veteran-to Farmer documentary film is called ‘Ground Operations.’ “It inspired me to offer support for Vets to farmers programs,” says Rudolph. “It’s a positive offering for the suffering of war, to do something related to creating and nourishing after so much destruction.” A few days ago, Rudolph donated a percentage of proceeds from Charlie Hong Kong’s sales that day to The Farmers Veterans Coalition, which offers educational retreats in sustainable agriculture for county veterans. She’s also donating ten percent of sales from today, Nov. 20, and next Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Next is Charlie Hong Kong soup news: if you’ve tried the restaurant’s soups in the past, you already know that Rudolph and her staff brew up delicious creations—like their Vietnamese Chicken Noodle—that are perfect for fall and winter. Now, they’re even better. Rudolph recently transformed the Thai Coconut Mushroom Soup recipe; it now features housemade vegetable stock instead of mushroom-infused water (it uses coconut milk, too). The Thai Butternut Squash Soup still includes delectable, dry-farmed Windmill Farm heritage heirloom squash, but now it uses BOTH vegetable stock and coconut milk instead of all coconut milk. It also features a hint of star anise and cardamom. Trust me, you want to get yourself a bowl of this as soon as possible. I happened to order some at the restaurant a couple weeks ago, and thought, “this tastes even better than I remember!” A few days later, I learned about the soup changes–no wonder it is so wonderfully rich and full of flavor. As is the case every year, the squash soup is available from late fall until January or February, whenever the local squash harvest ends.

If you’re on Twitter, follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Location/Hours: Charlie Hong Kong, 1141 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 426-5664, Open 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily.

Gingerbread cookies for charity at Lark Creek restaurants in San Jose, SF, Larkspur

Gingerbread stars from Lark Creek Restaurant Group

Gingerbread stars from Lark Creek Restaurant Group

Lark Creek Restaurant Group (LCRG) is currently hosting Gingerbread Wishes, which supports local Make-A-Wish chapters. Each restaurant in LCRG, including One Market Restaurant and Lark Creek Steak in San Francisco, Yankee Pier in Larkspur, and Lark Creek Blue on San Jose’s Santana Row, is participating through November 30, 2014.

Restaurant guests can order star-shaped, fresh-baked gingerbread cookies off the dessert menu for $10 each, and 100% of the proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish. Each cookie comes with frosting, sprinkles and candies to decorate with. Designed by One Market Restaurant Pastry Chef Patti Dellamonica-Bauler, the cookies can be enjoyed while dining, or they can be taken home in a decorative bag to give someone as a gift.

Lark Creek Restaurant Group has donated $148,000 to Make-A-Wish through previous Gingerbread Wishes campaigns, which have been held annually since 2007.

“The Gingerbread Wishes campaign is a wonderful event,” says Patricia Wilson, Executive Director of Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area. “It brings joy and delight to children and adults alike, which is what we strive to do every day by granting wishes to children with life-threatening conditions and their families. The Lark Creek Restaurant Group understands the power of a wish.”

LCRG was inspired to work with the organization after an employee’s niece, suffering from leukemia, was granted a wish through Make-A-Wish for a garden in her backyard to look at through her bedroom window.

Bay Area LCRG locations include:
• One Market Restaurant in SF: 415.777.5577
• Lark Creek Steak in SF: 415.593.4100
• The Tavern at Lark Creek in Larkspur: 415.924.7766
• Yankee Pier in Larkspur: 415.924.7676
• Lark Creek Walnut Creek in Walnut Creek: 925.256.1234
• Cupola Pizzeria in SF: 415.896.5600
• Lark Creek Blue in San Jose: 408.244.1244
On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Thanksgiving at Whole Foods Market in Capitola & Santa Cruz

Win a holiday dinner from Whole Foods Market

Win a holiday dinner from Whole Foods Market

The Santa Cruz and Capitola branches of Whole Foods Market are offering lots of Thanksgiving options, and even have special staff on-site that will help you with specific holiday needs. Make your Thanksgiving orders in person or online by Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014.

If you have specific questions for your holiday meal planning, like you want to stay within a certain budget or you’re hosting a gluten-free Thanksgiving or you’d like wine pairing suggestions, each store has holiday specialists available. You can make an appointment or stop by, and it’s a free service. Specialist Erica Stevenson, who works at the Capitola store, truly enjoys providing this service. “Every year, I look forward to working the holiday table. I get to know our regular customers better while getting to meet so many more,” says Stevenson. “And these days so many people have special diets. I get to use my creativity to better suit their needs while still helping them create their perfect holiday dinner.”

Another interesting holiday highlight is a “golden ticket” contest with free ham dinners as prizes! When a customer orders a Thanksgiving meal (only IN STORE, not online) at either location, they will automatically be entered in the Golden ticket promotion. One person from each store will receive a Golden ticket in their pickup meal. This ticket is valid for a “honeyed ham dinner for 8” that can be used for a future holiday meal.

If you want to go outside the traditional Thanksgiving box, how about taking advantage of Whole Foods Market’s sustainable seafood appetizers? Some examples are shrimp & Dungeness crabmeat platter (serves 6-8, $39.99) and shrimp platter with assorted seasonings (serves 4-8, $24.99).

A ready-to-eat heirloom turkey dinner for 12 costs $289.99 (serves 12) and includes an oven-roasted organic 16-18 lb. turkey from Sonora-based family-owned Diestel, herb stuffing (7.5 lbs.), mashed potatoes (4 lbs.), turkey gravy, cranberry relish, green beans with roasted shallots, dinner rolls (24), and two pies: pumpkin and cranberry apple. Other selections include an “intimate organic turkey dinner for 4” ($99.99) and a “traditional ready to cook turkey dinner (turkey is raw) for 8” ($129.99).

Whole Foods Market features several different types of turkey a la carte including Diestel in heirloom ($4.99/lb.) and organic ($3.99/lb.) varieties. Other meat selections include sous vide leg of lamb or pork loin (serves 4, $49.99/lamb and $39.99/pork).

A la carte sides include brussels sprouts with shallots and pecans (serves 4, $17.99, and it’s vegan). Like a few other holiday items, this became available at the market’s Hot Bar earlier in November, and I got to sample it. It’s wonderful!

One dessert option is cranberry crumble pie. This was a popular holiday item in previous years, but in 2013 it wasn’t available. Many people asked for it last year, so they decided to bring it back. All holiday pies, including Brown Butter Walnut, Pumpkin, and Apple, come in 10-inch versions for $19.99 and include 100% all-butter crust.

If you end up needing last-minute Thanksgiving supplies, both stores are open on Thanksgiving from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The day before, they’re open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.

Event Santa Cruz hosts Edible Night at Assembly

Ashby Confections is providing food for Edible Night at Event Santa Cruz

Ashby Confections is providing food for Edible Night at Event Santa Cruz

Interested in food, restaurants, beer, farms, and things of that nature? The November program for monthly speaker series “Event Santa Cruz,” which takes place at restaurant Assembly on Nov. 17, has an edible theme. There will be eight speakers, and it’s almost sold out.

Organizer Matthew Swinnerton, who started Event Santa Cruz in September 2013 to tell the stories of local businesses and the people that make these businesses run, is very excited about the program.  “There is something about an entrepreneur that is involved in the world of food,” he says. “Entrepreneurs usually have a lot of passion, but throw in an entrepreneur that loves food and deals with it for a living, oh man, that is passion ten fold.” He’s confident that attendees will hear some of the best talks Event Santa Cruz has ever had.

Scheduled speakers:

  • Zach DavisThe Penny Ice Creamery, Assembly, The Picnic Basket
  • Andrea Conklin MollenauerLifestyle Culinary Arts
  • Romney DunbarDunbar Productions
  • Tabitha Raquel StroupFriend In Cheeses Jam Company
  • Marci ProloAn Epicurious Lifestyle
  • Annie PautschBrew Cruz
  • Liz BirnbaumIncoming Board Chair, Slow Food Santa Cruz
  • Nesh DhillonSanta Cruz Farmers Markets

Participant Mollenauer says, “I was thrilled to be invited to speak. The very focus and passion I have for my business is our local community and how to feed it great food, so to be asked to talk about that in a room full of community members who are willing to be a part of that delicious conversation makes me smile.” She plans on sharing details about the next stage of growth for her business and how the community can get involved in that.

Speaker Zach Davis is also co-owner of Assembly, the night’s venue. He’s happy to have the program at his restaurant, which opened in March 2014 and continues to draw crowds. “We always imagined Assembly as a place where people would literally come to the table to meet and converse over nourishing food and drink,” he says. “I’m personally excited about sharing the stage with some folks I know and admire for their food expertise as well as their involvement in the community.” He looks forward to hearing about what motivates and inspires them. “For me it’s the people I work and interact with, and I appreciate the opportunity to share a little more about them.”

Matt Ruiz is the evening’s musical guest. Also participating are several local food and beverage vendors, who are providing refreshments for the first hour of the program, during which time guests are invited to come and socialize. There will be dumplings from Mortal Dumpling, and treats from Mutari Hot Chocolate, Ashby Confections, Cardamom Tuesday, Friend in Cheeses Jam Company, and Hush-Hush Kitchen.

Tickets are only $10; purchase tickets online at There are only 28 tickets left as of Thursday morning, Nov. 13.  There are also a limited number of “annual passes” available for $75. This grants pass-holders admission to 12 consecutive months of events, from now through Oct. 2015, so it’s a $45 savings over the entire year.
For more information call 831-332-8677.

Monday Nov. 17, 2014
6-7 p.m. refreshments, 7-8:30 p.m. speakers
: Assembly, 1108 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz (Assembly’s not open on Mondays, so this event will be held in the main restaurant space)

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Two fun holiday events at Westside Santa Cruz New Leaf

Cooking classroom at New Leaf Community Markets in Westside Santa Cruz

Cooking classroom at New Leaf Community Markets in Westside Santa Cruz

Organic, Santa Cruz-based New Leaf Community Markets offers lots of events every month. Here are details for a couple holiday-themed ones coming up soon at the Westside location. One is a combination cooking class/social event this Friday night, and there are still a few spots available. It’s taught by Elizabeth Borelli, who I highly recommend. She’s an engaging and fun instructor, and knows a lot about cooking. I haven’t met the person facilitating the second event, but she sounds very knowledgeable!

Dinner with Friends: A Very Veggie Friends-giving with Chef Elizabeth Borelli:

5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday Nov. 14, 2014
Price: $50 per person or $90 for 2 people

Enjoy a fun Friday night in the kitchen cooking up a vegetarian feast with friends! Whether you are cooking for two or entertaining a crew, having a vegetarian option on the table is always appreciated. Join chef/cookbook author Elizabeth Borelli as she leads the class through an assortment of appetizers, side dishes, a main course and dessert that will please your entire guest list, not just the vegetarian ones. The holiday meal will be paired with a delicious wine that will bring out the flavors of the dish. Bring a “plus one” to get a discounted rate. Preregistration is required; see this link.

Healthy Holidays Store Tour:
6-7p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014
Price: Free

Nutritional consultant and educator Sandi Rechenmacher will lead attendees on an entertaining and educational store tour at the Westside New Leaf. The tour will focus on healthy alternative ingredients for holiday cooking and baking. You can learn how to protect your health and well-being and take on the holidays with creative gusto. Preregistration is required. Visit this link.

For more information, call 426-1306 or see the New Leaf web site at
For all events, visit

New Leaf Westside location: 1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.