Trio of events at Santa Cruz’s Assembly and POPUP this weekend

Puerto Rican food by La Sofrita, Photo credit: La Sofrita Facebook page

Puerto Rican food by La Sofrita. Photo credit: La Sofrita Facebook page

There are many events, including some food-related ones, occurring this weekend in the Santa Cruz area. Here are details for three events in Santa Cruz at POPUP and Assembly (all at 1108 Pacific Ave.).

 

Friday night: My Mom’s Mole at POPUP

To celebrate National Tortilla Chip Day, My Mom’s Mole is hosting dinner at POPUP from 5:30-9:30 p.m. (or earlier if the food sells out). There will be mole nachos (chicken and veggie options) made with My Mom’s Mole homemade tortilla chips and a new mole queso sauce.

 

Saturday: La Sofrita at POPUP

La Sofrita will be at POPUP beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Puerto Rican Pop Up menu will feature dishes including empanadas with vegetarian options, Puerto Rican achiote rice and stewed pink beans, and garlic mojo chicken (made with organic thighs). “And, back by popular demand, shrimp a la criolla,” said chef Anna. The shrimp is simmered in a tomato-white wine broth, with sofrito and manzanilla-stuffed olives, and served atop Puerto Rican rice. “We’ll also have yuca fries served with garlic-olive oil dip,” she added. “You think you like French fries? Wait til you try these!” This pop-up doubles as the pre-party for the Santa Cruz Warriors vs. Windy City Bulls game at Kaiser Permanente Arena, but everyone is welcome, whether or not they are attending that game. A percentage of the proceeds will benefit the development of the Scotts Valley Sports Complex.

 

Sunday: Oscars Viewing Party at Assembly

Event Santa Cruz is hosting its second annual gala event—complete with red carpet—to celebrate the Oscars beginning at 5 p.m. at Assembly. People are encouraged to dress in black tie. Tickets are $35 and include several savory and sweet bites throughout the evening and a glass of champagne upon arrival (additional drinks can be purchased at the new Assembly cocktail bar). There will be a large screen to watch the Oscars, and a separate, “no-talking room” for serious fans. All attendees will be entered in a drawing for Santa Cruz Warriors tickets. Purchase tickets or get more information online at eventsantacruz.com.

All events are at POPUP and/or Assembly, 1108 Pacific Ave.

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Valentine’s Day dining in Santa Cruz & Monterey Counties, Part 2 of 2

Valentine's dessert trio at Michael's on Main: passion fruit mousse shooter, strawberry-filled chocolate bon bon & French vanilla bean macaroon. Photo credit: Michael's on Main

Valentine’s dessert trio at Michael’s on Main: passion fruit mousse shooter, strawberry-filled chocolate bon bon & French vanilla bean macaroon. Photo credit: Michael’s on Main

Valentine’s Day is two days away; have you made your plans? Here are details on a few options in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. If you missed yesterday’s post, here is a link.

Santa Cruz County

Food Lounge

The Santa Cruz Food Lounge (1001 Center St., Santa Cruz) has a couple options on Valentine’s Day. People can sit at the bar and have a chocolate tasting accompanied by a drink or two, or they can pick a spot in the dining room or lounge and order food from Tanglewood. Chef Rachel of Tanglewood will be creating selections including carrot ginger soup topped with crema and cilantro oil; and dinners with choice of pork tenderloin or grilled portabella mushroom plus lemon white wine sauce and garlic mashed potatoes. Roasted veggies accompany the tenderloin, and arugula in balsamic vinaigrette accompanies the portabella. No reservations are required (or allowed); and everyone is welcome including families, singles, etc. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m.

 

Johnny’s Harborside

Johnny’s Harborside (493 Lake Ave., Santa Cruz) is offering a four-course Valentine’s prix menu. Cost is $60 per person. Starter choices include raw abalone nigiri with honey miso glaze and seaweed salad; second courses include Dungeness crab bisque and salad with strawberries, candied walnuts, Gorgonzola and balsamic. Four entrée selections include prosciutto-wrapped halibut or Surf and Turf with 4 oz. filet mignon and half lobster tail. Desserts include strawberry shortcake or lemon tart. Call (831) 479-3430 for reservations.

 

Michael’s on Main

Michael’s on Main (2591 Main St., Soquel) began offering its Valentine’s prix menu Friday, Feb. 10 and it lasts until Tuesday. Cost is $35 for three courses. Appetizers include ahi tuna poke cups with wasabi cream; four entrée selections include cold water lobster tail with forbidden black rice, veggies and pink peppercorn beurre blanc or petit NY steak (8 oz.) with garlic mashed potatoes, Béarnaise and veggies. Everyone receives a dessert trio (see photo above) with passion fruit mousse shooter, strawberry-filled chocolate bon bon and French vanilla bean macaroon. Call (831) 479-9777 for reservations.

 

Assembly

Assembly (1108 Pacific, Santa Cruz) is offering a three-course Valentine’s prix menu for $55 per person; a few optional supplements are extra such as Kusshi oysters ($3/$15/$24 single/1/2 dozen/dozen). Starter choices include roasted quail with wild mushrooms, pinot soaked figs and herbed couscous. Four entrée selections include grass-fed Manhattan filet with creamed nettles and truffled Yukons and arugula almond pesto or sand dab Meuniere with caper brown butter sauce and roasted cauliflower rice. Desserts include sorbet trio from Penny Ice Creamery or dark chocolate pave with candied kumquats and salted butter ice cream. Call (831) 824-6100 for reservations.

 

Hindquarter Bar & Grille

Hindquarter Bar & Grille (303 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz) will have Valentine’s specials like Rack of Lamb, Prime Rib and seasonal seafood from 5-9:30 p.m. The restaurant will also serve its regular menu. Call (831) 426-7770 for reservations.

 

Ideal Bar & Grill (106 Beach St. at the Santa Cruz Wharf), The Point Chophouse & Lounge (3326 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz), Café Cruz (2621 41st Ave., Soquel) and Severino’s Bar & Grill (7500 Old Dominion Ct., Aptos) are all serving Valentine’s Day specials.

 

MONTEREY COUNTY

 

California Market at Pacific’s Edge

California Market at Pacific’s Edge at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands (120 Highlands Drive, Carmel) is serving a Valentine’s prix fixe dinner. The four-course Valentine’s dinner is $125 per person and reservations are required at 831-622-5445. First course choices include ahi tuna tiradito with fennel-cucumber salsa. Entrees include Colorado rack of lamb with piquillo peppers and chimichurri or wild mushroom risotto with winter truffle and Parmesan cheese crisps.

 

Steinbeck House

The historic Steinbeck House (132 Central Ave., Salinas) is serving a Valentine’s Day dinner. The meal includes one glass of wine, cheese tortellini soup, Caesar salad, entrée (choice of Porterhouse steak or filo-baked salmon) and dessert. Call 831-424-2735 for reservations; seatings are available from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Cost is $60 per person inclusive.

 

Jacks Restaurant at Portola Hotel and Spa

Jacks Restaurant (Two Portola Plaza, Monterey) is serving a prix fixe menu 5 to 10 p.m. on Valentines Day, Tuesday, Feb. 14. The four-course meal is $64.95 plus tax and gratuity; call 831-649-7874 for reservations. The meal starts with an amuse bouche of Hog Island oysters and caviar. First course options include lobster bisque with brioche croutons, Pernod and orange oil. Entrée choices include filet mignon and sweet breads with potato puree, local porcinis and Périgord truffles or wild King salmon with Dungeness crab gratin, haricot verts and Meyer lemon sauce. Dessert is passion fruit soufflé for two with macadamia nut and crème anglaise, plus a box of chocolate strawberries to go. Also, the hotel is offering a romance package until March 31. This includes accommodations, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot delivered to your room, breakfast for two at Jacks and more.

 

TusCA Ristorante at Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa

TusCA (1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey) is serving a special menu designed for two, from 5:30-9 p.m. Cost is $80 for two people. For reservations call 831-657-6675. Customers can choose an appetizer and dessert to share, and each person receives an entrée and a glass of sparkling wine.

 

Tarpy’s Roadhouse

Tarpy’s (2999 Monterey-Salinas Highway, Monterey) is doing a couple promotions for Valentine’s Day. Customers will receive fifty percent off all “bubbles by the glass” plus full and half bottles. Also, the restaurant will feature a special appetizer of seared diver scallops with lobster-parsnip puree and artichoke-corn succotash. Call 831-647-1444 for reservations.

 

Gordon’s Café and Catering

Gordon’s (343 Main St., Salinas) is doing a take-out promotion. If you order dinner to go for two people, the restaurant will include a special complimentary appetizer created just for Valentine’s Day. Call 831-422-4133 for more information.

 

Sardine Factory

Sardine Factory (701 Wave St., Monterey) is serving a prix fixe menu from 5 to 10 p.m. The four-course meal is $75 per person. A limited a la carte menu and Valentine’s drink specials will also be available. The meal begins with Dungeness crab bisque with sherry, cognac and crème fraiche, followed by a salad with greens, roasted strawberries, toasted pecans, feta cheese and cocoa balsamic dressing. Entrée choices include filet mignon and foie gras or King salmon with truffled gnocchi and artichokes. Dessert choices include chocolate pot au crème with spun sugar, Chantilly crème and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Reservations are required at 831-373-3775.

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Valentine’s Day dining in Santa Cruz & Monterey counties, Part 1 of 2

Hanloh Thai offerings at a Food Lounge pop-up on Feb. 10. Photo credit: Hanloh

Hanloh Thai offerings at a Food Lounge pop-up on Feb. 10. Photo credit: Hanloh

Valentine’s Day 2017 is only three days away. Here are details on a few Santa Cruz and Monterey County dining options; I’ll publish more tomorrow.

 

Santa Cruz

Midtown Café featuring Hanloh Popup

Midtown Café (1121 Soquel Ave.) is hosting a popup dinner with Hanloh Thai from 5:30-9 p.m. A la carte dishes for sale will include a lettuce wrap, two types of curry (chicken Masaman with tamarind, cinnamon, cardamom, lemongrass and more; vegan sour orange curry with mushrooms and other veggies), and black sticky rice pudding and coconut custard for dessert. Prices will be $3-12. There will be local craft beer and wine available.

 

The Chaminade

The Chaminade (One Chaminade Lane) will serve a three-course dinner on Valentine’s Day from 5-9 p.m.; the price is $65 exclusive of tax and gratuity. Three first course options include lobster bisque or braised pork belly with fennel jam. Four entrée selections include Osso Bucco or pan-seared Arctic char with lemon couscous salad, candied ginger crème, and roasted cauliflower. Desserts include champagne crème brulee with roasted strawberries. Call (831) 475-5600 for reservations.

 

Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting

Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting (1411 Pacific Ave.) is doing a “Sweetheart Dessert” fundraiser to benefit Planned Parenthood. The dessert buffet with wine and champagne is from 6-9 p.m.; the price is $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Call (831) 466-0373 for more info.

 

Pour Taproom

Pour Taproom (110 Cooper St., enter on Pacific) is offering a three-course menu on Valentine’s Day that includes vegan and GF options. There will also be beer and wine pairings. Reservations are recommended for table seating. Call (831) 535-7007 for reservations. The venue is also hosting a Makers’ Market this Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. that will include gift ideas for Valentine’s Day. Vendors will include Ashby Confections, Turquoise Blue Jewelry, and My Mom’s Mole.

Your Place

Your Place (1719 Mission St.) is offering its Valentine’s prix menu all month long. Cost is $25 for three courses. Appetizer choices include crab cake; five entrée selections include rib eye steak and 4 oz. lobster or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Desserts include chocolate ganache cake or Meyer lemon tart. Call (831) 426-3564 for reservations.

 

MONTEREY COUNTY

 

Estéban

Estéban at Casa Munras (700 Munras Ave., Monterey) is serving a prix fixe dinner on Valentine’s Day, with seatings available from 5 to 9:30 p.m. The five-course dinner costs $100 for two people; wine pairing is $35 extra per person. Featured selections include Kusshi oysters with cucumber mignonette; butternut squash and lobster soup with jumbo prawns and scallops; and duck and foie gras terrine. Wines include Madeleine’s 2012 L’Arsouille Pinot Blanc. A limited a la carte menu will also be available. Make reservations at 831-324-6773.

Il Vecchio

Il Vecchio (110 Central Ave., Pacific Grove) is serving a Valentine’s four-course dinner for $46. First course is a choice between two salads including Sicilian oranges, artisan greens and garlic dressing. Second course choices include house-made ricotta and spinach ravioli or house-made fettucine with sausage and mushrooms. Entrée highlights include tri-tip simmered in Chianti with pearl onions or Saltimbocca Romana. Dessert choices include limoncello sorbet with preserved amarena cherries. Make reservations at 831-324-4282.

 

Edgar’s

Edgar’s at Quail Lodge and Golf Club (8205 Valley Greens Drive, Carmel) is serving a prix fixe dinner on Valentine’s Day, with seatings from 5 to 9 p.m. The three-course dinner features appetizer choices including diver sea scallops or Dungeness crab salad. Entrée selections include sea bass with potato rosti and tarragon butter sauce and desserts include molten chocolate cake with raspberry coulis. Cost is $69 per person. Reservations are recommended at 831-620-8910.

 

Bistro Moulin

Bistro Moulin (867 Wave St., Monterey) is serving a prix fixe menu beginning at 5 p.m. The three-course meal is $55 per person; wine pairings cost extra. The regular dinner menu will not be available. The meal begins with choices such as lobster bisque with crème fraiche and chives with optional pairing of Sheldon’s grenache blanc; or truffle gnocchi with optional chardonnay from Figge. Entrée choices include filet mignon with cognac, peppercorn demi-glace and pommes frites. Dessert selections include crème brûlée and lemon meringue tartlett. Make reservations at 831-333-1200.

 

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February at New Leaf includes Valentine themes & classes for kids and families

Decorate Valentine cookies with the family at New Leaf Community Markets

Decorate Valentine cookies with the family at New Leaf Community Markets. Photo credit: New Leaf

New Leaf Community Markets has several events in February including Valentine’s classes and workshops for kids and families. Here are some highlights; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306).

Preregistration is required at newleaf.com/events.

 

Thursday, Feb. 9

Chocolate Creations

Ayurvedic practitioner and chef Talya Lutzker will introduce attendees to a spectrum of delectable chocolate desserts. You will learn “how the taste of sweet is of great benefit to the body, mind and spirit” and discover a “world of good-for-you sweet foods you may not have thought of before.” Plus, learn how to make your own delicious chocolate confections from scratch.

Time & Cost: 6:30–9pm, $40/Two for $70

Register at:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/chocolate-creations-tickets-30307158527

 

Friday, Feb. 10

Kids’ Class: Valentine Cookie Decorating Workshop

For ages 8 and up: drop your kids off for a fun workshop led by Kristen Valenza of Living Roots Food and Floral. Valenza will provide homemade sugar cookies made from organic ingredients, and kids get to decorate with an assortment of toppings.

Time & Cost: 6–8pm, $35

Register at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/valentine-cookie-decorating-workshop-for-kids-tickets-30314128374

 

Sunday, Feb. 12
Family Class: Mommy/Daddy & Me Valentine Cookie Decorating Workshop

This class with Kristen Valenza is for Moms or Dads and their little ones ages 3-6. Families will decorate an assortment of Valentine’s Day cookies made from organic ingredients, then take home a box of creations to give away as gifts–or eat themselves!

Time & Cost: 1–3pm, $45 for one adult & one child, $30 each additional child

Register at:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mommydaddy-me-valentine-cookie-decorating-workshop-tickets-30314804396

 

Tuesday, Feb. 21

For Seniors: Tuesday Talk & Tea on Heart-Healthy Foods

While you enjoy tea and snacks, you can learn which heart-healthy foods are high in antioxidants, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. The session is led by Nutrition Consultant Madia Jamgochian.

Time & Cost: 12–1pm, Free (but registration required)

Register at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tuesday-tea-for-seniors-heart-healthy-foods-tickets-30236352745

 

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Annual crab feed Saturday at Saratoga’s Mountain Winery

crab feed photo

Cold and hot crab, plus sauces, at the 2015 Mountain Winery crab feed. Credit: Mountain Winery

The Mountain Winery in Saratoga is offering its popular annual all-you-can-eat crab feed on Saturay, January 28. The cost is $105 for adults, $55 for kids 3-11, and free for kids under 3. Advance online ticket purchase is required. Parking is free.

The event takes place at the winery’s Historic Winery Building. Tickets include fresh local crab (choice of cold and/or hot) plus pasta, garlic bread, salad, and dessert. Beverages will be sold separately, and gratuity is not included. When buying tickets, attendees can choose a 4, 4:30 5, 5:30 or 6 p.m. seating. But that doesn’t mean you only have a half-hour or hour to eat. You can choose to have a quick meal or linger for a couple hours. The separate seatings and staggered arrival times are for the purpose of eliminating long lines.

I tremendously enjoyed this event in 2015 and 2016; in 2016, the winery brought in crab from Oregon due to the seafood being unavailable in the Monterey Bay area. How wonderful that local crab is back!

The Details

Crab Feed

Saturday Jan. 28, 4-8 p.m.

Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce Rd., Saratoga

$105 for adults; $55 for kids 3-11

 

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Inauguration day Planned Parenthood benefits in Santa Cruz

Equinox Winery is one of many California businesses donating a portion of proceeds on Inauguration Day to Planned Parenthood

Equinox Winery is one of many California businesses donating a portion of proceeds on Inauguration Day to Planned Parenthood. Photo credit: Equinox Facebook page

To coincide with Inauguration Day, today and tomorrow Friday and Saturday Jan. 20 and 21, companies across California including ones in Santa Cruz are showing their support for Planned Parenthood by donating sales proceeds and making other contributions to the reproductive health care organization. There are also a variety of businesses donating to other worthy causes like immigrants’ rights. See highlights below.

  • Downtown Santa Cruz’s Soif Wine Bar and Restaurant has announced it will donate company sales from Jan. 20 to Planned Parenthood. Hours today are 5-10 p.m.
  • Equinox and Bartolo Winery and Tasting Room in Westside Santa Cruz will donate 20% of profits from today to Planned Parenthood’s Santa Cruz chapter. Hours are 2-7 p.m.; they are staying open an extra hour for this fundraiser.
  • Fish Princess Farm is donating 20% of all purchases through Sunday, Jan. 22, to Planned Parenthood. They are open today from noon-6 p.m. Customers can select which chapter when they make their purchase. Fish Princess produces goat milk soap, chicken eggs, cut flowers and fresh produce; its downtown retail shop stocks soaps, lotions, edible treats (like Ashby Confections) and other goodies.
  • Chocolate the Restaurant will donate 20% of sales today to Planned Parenthood. Hours are 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • Pacific Cookie Company is donating 20% of sales from noon-5 p.m. tomorrow, Sat. Jan. 21, to PP.
  • Discretion Brewing is donating 20% of pint sales today to the Santa Cruz County Immigration Project (SSCIP), a program of the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County. Hours are 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

 

Details:

Soif Restaurant & Wine Bar, 105 Walnut Ave., 831-423-2020

Equinox & Bartolo Winery & Tasting Room, 334 Ingalls St., 831-471-8608

Fish Princess Farm, 109 Locust St., 831-402-0635

Chocolate the Restaurant, 1522 Pacific Ave., 831-427-9900

Pacific Cookie Company, 1203 Pacific Ave., 831-429-6905

Discretion Brewing, 2703 41st Ave., Ste. A, 831-316-0662

 

 

 

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Two Santa Cruz food popups on Friday, Jan 6

A curry dish by HANLOH Thai Food (served at an event in December)

A curry dish by HANLOH Thai Food (photo is from an event in December)

Santa Cruz’s popup food scene is deliciously thriving; here are two events occurring this Friday, Jan. 6.

HANLOH will be at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing from 6:45-10 p.m. The menu for “Ultimate Thai Beer Snack” will include Moo bing (charcoal grilled pork), Pla mug yang (charcoal grilled Monterey squid), and Khao rad geng (rice and spicy red curry bowl with two options–vegan or with chicken). The curry will be made from homemade curry paste; some of the ingredients are lemongrass, galangal, bird eye chili, dried shrimp, shallot, and garlic.  Owner/chef Lalita Kaewsawang, a Santa Cruz resident, recently started her Thai popup/catering business. As she proclaims on her web site (hanloh.com), her mission is to “bring justice back to Thai food by staying away from canned curry paste and super sweet stir-fry. We focus on the comfort and vibrancy of Thai street food.”

Location: Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, 402 Ingalls St.

 

La Sofrita is doing a “Dia de los Reyes Puerto Rican Popup” from 5:30-9 p.m., at POPUP next to Assembly. Chef Anna says she will be serving traditional Puerto Rican holiday fare like “mouth-watering pernil, or Puerto Rican succulent, skin-on, bone-in, roasted pork shoulder stuffed with garlic mojo. The pernil, made with pasture-raised pork from local Fogline Farm, will be accompanied by avocado-tomato salad over mixed greens plus arroz con gandules (Anna says the latter is “the quintessential rice dish that is served on every Puerto Rican table on Christmas Day and on Dia de los Reyes”). A selection of La Sofrita empanadas will also be available; I tasted one of these for the first time a few weeks back and it was absolutely delectable! The variety I had was veggie (kabocha squash, spinach, and leeks with goat cheese) but I’ve heard that the beef picadillo, chicken and shrimp ones are fantastic too.

Here’s a bit of background on Dia de los Reyes from La Sofrita’s Facebook event page: “in Puerto Rico, January 6th is Dia de los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day. It marks the culmination of the Christmas season. In Puerto Rico, this is a bigger celebration than Christmas Day itself; gifts are traditionally exchanged on this day rather than Christmas. The night before, children put shoeboxes of hay under their beds for the camels to eat after their long journey, and are rewarded with a gift left under their bed. The day is filled with festivities that include traditional foods and drinks.

Location: POPUP, 1108 Pacific Ave.

 

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San Francisco & Napa restaurant highlights for New Year’s Eve 2016

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco. Photo credit: Top of the Mark

It’s almost New Year’s Eve 2016-2017! If you’re planning to dine in San Francisco or Napa, here are a few restaurant highlights for New Year’s Eve and a couple for New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Eve:

San Francisco

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

Ring in the New Year with family, friends, and an unforgettable view at Top of the Mark! From 7:30 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., enjoy a special reception, entertainment, dinner, dancing, and a Champagne toast at midnight. Start your evening with champagne and hors d’oeuvres including assorted caviar, Tomales Bay & Rockefeller oysters, Spanish Serrano ham carving station, raw seafood selections, and more. Following the reception, guests will enjoy a seated five-course dinner with bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial before dancing the night away and toasting the New Year with a glass of Moet & Chandon Rose. Rounding out the festivities is live entertainment by Mirage, whose exciting style ranges from Jazz to rock. Formal dress is required. Regular reservations are $400 per person; premium seating is $450 per person. Reservations required at 415-616-6941.

 

Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco

Chef Daniel Corey of the Michelin-star Luce rings in the New Year with a five-course menu and optional wine pairing. Guests will enjoy live entertainment from 6pm – 8pm featuring Ricardo Scales and a jazz band will toast the New Year starting at 8pm. Dinner is $159 per person/$234 with wine pairing, excluding tax and gratuity. First seating is at 6pm and last seating is at 11:30pm. For reservations, visit OpenTable.

Presidio Social Club
On New Year’s Eve, Presidio Social Club will have a special a la carte dinner menu available, including specials like Foie Gras with Pineapple-Quince Marmalade and Quatre épices; Cannelloni with Crawfish Etouffee and Grilled Andouille Sausage; Black Bass with Potato-Celery Root Puree, Leek Confit with Bacon, and Black Truffle Sauce; and Filet Minon with Bone Marrow, Winter Hash, and Sauce Bordelaise. Presidio Social Club will be pouring from magnums of Charles Heidsieck all night long and a live band will be playing throughout the evening! Call 415-885-1888 or make a reservation through OpenTable.

Roka Akor 

Count down to the New Year at Roka Akor (801 Montgomery St.) while enjoying Japanese robata cuisine and prime-cut steaks, seafood and sashimi. This year, Executive Chef Roman Petry has put together a special dinner tasting menu that will highlight signature menu items prepared on the open-charcoal robata grill. Priced at $138 per person, the tasting menu will feature dishes such as King Crab Legs with chili lime butter; Robata Grilled Wagyu Fillet with grilled bone marrow and spicy sweet garlic soy; and a Sweet Corn with butter and soy. For dessert, a Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake with almond caramel and vanilla ice cream will conclude the tasting menu. Known for their high quality steaks, Roka Akor will offer an optional $50 Japanese Wagyu upgrade (requires a minimum of two people to order). Additionally, an optional wine pairing with the tasting menu is available for $68 per person as well as a limited a la carte menu. Roka Akor’s New Year’s Eve dinner will be served from 5:30 p.m. until midnight. Please note that Roka Akor will be closed for lunch on New Year’s Eve. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online, in-person, or by calling 415-362-8887.

La Mar
Ring in 2017 on the waterfront at La Mar Cebichería Peruana! With views of the Bay’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, the restaurant will offer the below three seatings throughout the night with colorful multi-course Peruvian feasts from Chef Victoriano Lopez. Reservations can be made on OpenTable or by calling 415-397-8880.

First Seating: 4:45-5:30pm, $89 3-course menu with signature Pisco greeting

Second Seating: 6:45-7:30pm, $89 3-course menu with signature Pisco greeting

Third Seating: 8:45-9:30pm, $129 4-course menu with signature Pisco greeting and midnight sparkling wine toast!

 

Nico
Critically acclaimed, Michelin-starred French/Californian restaurant Nico will be offering a festive six-course prix-fixe menu for $90 on New Year’s Eve, with special truffle supplements offered with certain courses for $15/each. Beverage Director Maz Naba has also created special standard ($65) and premium ($85) beverage pairings options for those looking to indulge in the last hours of 2016. Visit nicosf.com or call 415-359-1000 for reservations.

Foreign Cinema 

Join Foreign Cinema as they say farewell to 2016 with a nod to Old Hollywood. Ring in 2017 in true Foreign Cinema style with our celebratory prix fixe three course menu, with choice of options in each course, and a touch of vintage Hollywood glitz and glamour. $125.00 per person. Seatings from 5:30pm to 10:30pm

Napa

FARM at Carneros

Featuring jazz tunes by the Dan Daniels Trio, FARM at Carneros invites guests to celebrate New Year’s Eve and choose from one of two seatings (5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.). Designed by Executive Chef Aaron Meneghelli, two indulgent tasting menus will highlight the end of the year’s best ingredients. The first seating will offer a 5-course menu ($195) with courses such as a Big-Eyed Tuna with seared foie gras and kumquats; and Free-Range Venison from Broken Arrow Ranch with rosemary and bay laurel sourced from the 28-acre property, among others. For an extravagant bite, guests can add two courses that include white truffles and caviar. The second seating, priced at $225, will highlight seven courses, including Hand Cut Pasta with carbonara and Italian white truffles; a lobster course, and more. A special caviar course can also be added to top off the last supper of 2016. Finally, wine pairings for each course are available as well as a special curated bottle list for New Year’s Eve. On December 31, FARM at Carneros will be open from 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 707-299-4880 or visiting farmatcarneros.com.

New Year’s Day:

San Francisco

Presidio Social Club

Presidio Social Club will be open for brunch on New Year’s Day from 10 am—3 pm. Sleep off the previous night’s festivities before joining PSC for comfort foods like Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls, Challah French Toast, burgers, Macaroni & Cheese, and Brioche Beignets. Call 415-885-1888 or make a reservation through OpenTable.

Top of the Mark

Start off the New Year in style with a special brunch at Top of the Mark. From 10:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Chef Michael Wong presents a delicious feast offering something for everyone’s taste. Brunch features an omelet and waffle station, along with Rock Shrimp Eggs Benedict with choron sauce. Also available are small plates and antipastos featuring Smoked Salmon, Grilled Winter Vegetables with spiced buttermilk dressing and roasted pepper sauce, local and international artisanal cheeses, homemade soups, and a selection of salads. Mouthwatering entrees and roasts include Kurobuta Pork Loin with caramelized granny smith apple and calvados cream along with Bone-In Leg of Lamb with rosemary jus. Pianist Michael Athens will provide the musical entertainment for New Year’s Day guests. Top of the Mark’s New Year’s Day brunch is $109 per adult and $59 per child (ages 4 – 12). Reservations are required at 415-616-6941.

Napa

FARM at Carneros

On New Year’s Day, FARM at Carneros is serving a decadent brunch from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Guests can celebrate with bubbly, oysters, caviar, and generous family-style courses. Priced at $45 per person, dishes to indulge in include Sweet Corn Johnny Cake with 72-hour short rib, braised collard greens, and sunny-side egg; and Apple Crumble Coffee Cake with harvest apple compote and cinnamon cream, among others. FARM’s bar also serves a variety of bubbles, fresh juices, and handcrafted cocktails, such as the Basil Gin Fizz with Nolet’s Gin, basil, green chartreuse, and cream; or the Garden Cooler with Rain vodka, fresh fruit, cucumber and lime juice, among others.  Regular dinner service is from 5:30– 9:30 p.m.  Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 707-299-4880 or visiting farmatcarneros.com.

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Last minute foodie holiday gifts in Santa Cruz

Cookies from Pacific Cookie Co. Photo credit: PCC web site

Cookies from Pacific Cookie Co.
Photo credit: PCC web site

Haven’t finished your holiday shopping and have some foodies on your list? Want to shop local? There are lots of choices in the Santa Cruz area including some discounts; here are some highlights including a gift fair tomorrow that has plenty of options–whether you want to buy something food/drink-related or something else that’s made locally.

First, the gift fair:

2nd Annual Holiday Artisan Food & Gift Market — Saturday 12/17 at Food Lounge

I went to this fabulous event last year and bought gift items for several friends/family members, not to mention a few things for myself! The market will feature locally made packaged foods including jams, olive oil and hot sauce that are currently available in the Food Lounge Pantry, which opened in September. The holiday market will also offer beautiful jewelry, textiles, glass art, print art and kitchen antiques. Additionally, a few small-batch food producers will offer tamales, empanadas, meat pies and other items that would work well for holiday entertaining or for a delicious dinner with your family. Plus they will sell ready to eat food that customers can enjoy while shopping like empanadas (from La Sofrita Puerto Rican pop-up), tamales (Yoli’s Adobo) and savory pies (Artisan Hand Pies).

“We offer this market as close to the holidays as possible so that all of our vendors’ food-based products are fresh for gift-giving and entertaining,” said Andrea Conklin Mollenauer, one of the three partners in the Food Lounge, an incubator kitchen and event venue that will celebrate its second birthday in January. “We are excited to offer market space to 25 local vendors who don’t have their own brick-and- mortar places to sell products.”

Vendors with food gifts will include Friend in Cheeses Jam Co., Notso Hot Sauce, My Mom’s Mole, Ashby Confections, and Farmer Freed Salts. Non-food vendors will include True Blue Indigo (textiles), Love Light Vintage Candles, Verdant California (body products) and  Fereshteh Fatemi (artisan jewelry and greeting cards – disclaimer, this is the author’s mother).

In addition to the holiday market, the Food Lounge Pantry is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to

7 p.m. as a hub for local artisan food products – a perfect stop for holiday shopping, including next week when you realize which folks you forgot to buy for!

Location: Food Lounge, 1001 Center St. Santa Cruz

Date/Time: Sat Dec. 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Next, some gift card discount highlights:

Until Christmas, Hula’s Santa Cruz (221 Cathcart St.) is offering a special: Purchase a $50 gift certificate for someone else and get a free $10 certificate for yourself; purchase $100 and get a free $20 gift card to treat yourself.

Mission Hill Creamery (1101 Pacific Ave.) has these discounts until Christmas: Buy a $25 gift card for $20 OR buy four $10 gift cards and receive the fifth free OR re-Charge your existing gift card with at least $20 and get 20% off your gift card purchase.

Through Dec. 24, Johnny’s Harborside (493 Lake) is offering a bonus: Purchase a $50 gift certificate for someone else and get $10 free; spend $100 and get $20 free, etc.

Other gift ideas

Last but not least, other foodie gift options include certificates from local restaurants. The Glass Jar announced they’re offering a card that’s good at any of their three restaurants—that’s Assembly, The Picnic Basket AND The Penny Ice Creamery. If you know people who are fans of Soif and/or La Posta, you can also purchase gift cards that are good at both. And Crow’s Nest gift cards are redeemable at the restaurant or its neighboring Crow’s Nest Beach Market.

Want to send a sweet Santa Cruz-themed food gift to someone? Pacific Cookie Company has lots of options. These include Top Tier Cookies & Chocolate Box ($49.95), with 36 two-ounce cookies and 32 white and milk chocolate flower medallions made by local chocolatier Mackenzies Chocolate; Sweet Elegance Cookie Gift Box ($37.95) with 24 two-oz. cookies, Season’s Eatings Christmas Tin ($26.95) with 36 one-oz. cookies, and Classic Cookies and Milk ($24.95) with a dozen two-ounce cookies and two 8-oz cartons of organic milk (it’s shelf-stable low-fat Horizon milk which doesn’t require refrigeration). Also, Los Gatos-based Manresa Bread now ships its scrumptious artisan bread anywhere in the continental U.S.; see my November article and/or the Manresa site for details.

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Christmas 2016 at Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

Assorted cheese from Whole Foods Market Credit: Whole Foods Market

Assorted cheese from Whole Foods Market
Credit: Whole Foods Market

Whether you need to shop for a holiday feast or check some folks off your gift list, Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey have lots to choose from—including the always-dependable gift card idea (ones for the market itself or for other retailers).

Customers need to place orders for holiday dinners two days ahead of their desired pick up date. Food is available for pickup Dec. 18-24, and then again on Dec. 26 (WFM is closed on Christmas Day). Order in person or online.

For gifts, WFM has several selections where part of your purchase goes to a worthy cause. For example, they partnered with PBS Kids to carry the company’s toys and help raise money. I’ve seen some of the Aurora Plush Animals in the store (pandas, penguins, foxes and more) and they definitely look cuddle-able! Some of the animals are endangered species. There are also some colorful and fun PBS Kids toys made with a composite featuring rubber wood from mature trees that no longer produce latex. All net proceeds benefit PBS Kids’ mission of “building knowledge, critical thinking, imagination and curiosity to empower children for success.”

Other “gifts with a cause” include ones where part of proceeds goes to Whole Planet Foundation to help alleviate poverty worldwide. These include Alaffia trios (coconut oil triple-milled bar soap or whipped body butter); one percent benefits WPF. Or if you buy west elm kitchen products made from upcycled denim—such as potholders—a dollar from each purchase goes to WPF. In addition, they have gift cards for sale where one percent benefits the Whole Kids Foundation (which aims to support schools and inspire families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness). These include Chipotle and Best Buy physical gift cards, and Starbucks digital cards.

There are room sprays and handmade soy wax candles from Thistle Farms; scents include lavender & lemon (Gratitude) and Geranium & Citrus (Hope). Thistle Farms is a community, sanctuary and social enterprise led by women survivors of trafficking, addiction and prostitution. It provides housing, recovery support and education. Each spray or candle purchase directly benefits the women who made it.

WFM wine experts have compiled a list of “10 favorite wines for the holiday season.” Available online, each wine has several suggested food pairings plus a recipe for an additional food pairing. Two examples: Andover Estate Pinot Noir goes well with items like Sartori Herbs des Provence BellaVitano cheese or roasted winter vegetables, or with the dish “Easy Porchetta Pork Tenderloin” (recipe included). Autoritas Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with Vermont Creamery Coupole cheese, poached white-fleshed fish, or “Bay Scallop Linguine with White Wine and Parsley” (recipe included).

There are lots of other enticing articles on the WFM blog, including ones with recipes like “holiday cakes worth celebrating” (includes mini chocolate ricotta cakes and cinnamon-almond olive oil cake) and “holiday appetizers” (how about sweet potato bacon bites, spinach bites with honey mustard, or pigs in a blanket with cranberry-mustard dipping sauce? Ok now I’m hungry!).

For holiday appetizers, if you’re a cheese fan, WFM just announced a big “12 Days of Cheese” sale. From Dec. 13-24, a different artisan cheese is on sale for FIFTY PERCENT OFF each day! Some highlights with notes from the market’s cheese experts:

Vermont Creamery, Bonne Bouche (Dec. 15)

  • This mild ash-ripened goat cheese with earthy notes and a subtle hazelnut flavor is a visually stunning addition to any cheese board.

Uplands Cheese Company, Pheasant Ridge Reserve (Dec. 17)

  • The only three-time winner of the American Cheese Society Best of Show, this cheese has a sweet, broth-like flavor with notes of butterscotch and fruit.

Cypress Grove Chevre, Truffle Tremor (Dec. 19)

  • A silky, creamy soft-ripened goat cheese packed with truffles. Deep floral, herb and mushroom flavors. An American original!

Rapin, Le Maréchal (Dec. 20)

  • This creamy, raw-milk Alpine cheese is infused with flavor from herbs added by hand during the ripening process.

Papillon, Roquefort (Dec. 21)

  • This classic cave-aged sheep’s milk blue cheese shows rich spiciness, complex layers of flavor and a smooth texture.

Vermont Creamery, St. Albans (Dec. 23)

  • An American take on a traditional French cheese, sourced from milk from one farm. Delicate and smooth with rich creamy flavors and nutty notes.  Non-GMO Project verified.

As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving article, WFM’s 2016 holiday food shopping guide  features selections such as traditional turkey dinner for eight ($99.99). This comes with a fully cooked 10-lb. oven-roasted Diestel turkey, four pounds each of herb stuffing and mashed potatoes, a quart of turkey gravy, a pint of cranberry relish, 16 dinner rolls, and a nine-inch traditional pumpkin pie. You can also order turkeys (cooked or uncooked) and ready-to-eat sides a la carte.

Local Store Details

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.

Whole Foods Market Monterey is at 800 Del Monte Center, (831) 333-1600.

 

For more Whole Foods Market locations, see the store locator.

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