Seasonal specials at Capitola restaurant Shadowbrook include international 3-course Sundays

Shadowbrook has been serving great food in Capitola for more than 65 years

Shadowbrook has been serving great food in Capitola for more than 65 years

I am a big fan of Capitola restaurant Shadowbrook and I just learned that they have a special menu every Sunday night from October through March, except for holidays. For the restaurant’s Ports of Call promotion, each month they “visit” a different country and offer a three-course $29.95 fixed-price dinner with two appetizer choices, two entrée choices, and two dessert choices that are from that country-of-the-month’s cuisine. Also, Shadowbrook serves up an optional wine pairing for each course ($12).

October’s country is Italy. Appetizer choices include Pappa Pomodoro (tomato and bread soup garnished with virgin olive oil and ricotta). Entrée selections are Pollo Alla Cacciatora (chicken braised in tomato, onion, white wine, with porcini mushrooms) and Ragu Bolognese (meaty tomato sauce; ground filet mignon and New York steaks, carrot, onion, tomatoes; served over tagliatelle pasta). Dessert choices include Cannoli (ricotta-stuffed pastries).

From October through May, there are Winemaker Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. at Shadowbrook. Each week the restaurant spotlights a different Santa Cruz Mountain appellation winery. The winemaker is on site and flights of wine (sample-sized portions) are served in the bar area: the Rock Room Lounge. There will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres to accompany the wine.

Also remember that every Tuesday — not just during winter — Shadowbrook hosts Two-fer Tuesdays with two-for-one prices on pizzas, small plates and starters if you dine in the Rock Room. There are also several cocktail, wine, and beer specials on Tuesdays at the Rock Room.

Restaurant Location: 1750 Wharf Road, Capitola (831) 475-1511

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Silicon Valley Restaurant Week Oct. 15-22: discount prix fixe 3-course dinners


Heirloom tomato salad from Village California Bistro & Wine Bar this summer; a similar salad is available during Silicon Valley Restaurant Week 2014. Photo from the restaurant's Facebook page.

Heirloom tomato salad from Village California Bistro & Wine Bar this summer; a similar salad is available during Silicon Valley Restaurant Week 2014. Photo from the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Silicon Valley Restaurant Week is Oct. 15-22, 2014. During this time more than 45 local restaurants – from Los Gatos, Downtown San Jose and San Jose’s Santana Row to Mountain View, Saratoga, and Palo Alto – are serving three-course gourmet dinners for $35-68 per person.

Special menus typically include three options for each course: appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Customers choose one selection for each course. Some way wonder why the prix fixe menu prices vary so greatly; event organizers explain this is because selected restaurants choose to serve larger portions, use more expensive ingredients, and/or want to showcase signature dishes.

Silicon Valley Restaurant Week began in 2009 as an annual event. It’s now held twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. Restaurant reservations are recommended but not required.

For more information, and to see menus and prices for selected restaurants, visit the event web site at The site is also searchable by cuisine and city, if you’re craving a particular kind of food or only want to travel a certain distance.

A few highlights:
At Saratoga’s Sent Sovi, Executive Chef/Owner Josiah Slone has designed a $35 menu with three choices each for the first two courses, and two choices for dessert. First-course choices include Lonely Mountain Farms fall squash soup. Entrée choices include Parisian-style gnocchi with fall vegetables and savory heirloom apples, and roasted trout stuffed with “herbs, alliums and lemons from Josiah’s backyard.” Dessert choices include red wine poached pears with Icelandic stout ganache.

LB Steak is offering different menus at its Santana Row and Menlo Park locations. Menlo Park costs $45, and Santana Row costs $65. The Santana Row menu has ahi tuna tartare (with fuyu persimmon, harissa, tahini lavash) and Wagyu beef carpaccio (olive, caper, and rosemary relish, plus Parmigiano Reggiano) included in the appetizer choices. Entrée selections such as porcini-crusted filet mignon or honey chipotle glazed beef shortribs or lemon/herb-crusted local swordfish, and desserts such as pumpkin parfait and apple tart round out the special menu.

More tidbits to whet your appetite:

• The Restaurant Week menu is $35 at Scott’s Seafood in San Jose. Dessert choices are pumpkin cheesecake and molten chocolate cake; entrée choices include pumpkin and prawn risotto.
Hult’s in Los Gatos has an intriguing $65 menu that’s divided into water, land, air, and earth. Selected dishes include oxtail wonton, 36-hour chicken breast (creamy potato puree, black truffle puree, pinenut-apricot-cranberry chutney), and octopus carpaccio.
Morton’s The Steakhouse in San Jose is serving a $45 menu. Entrée choices include filet mignon and honey-chili glazed salmon filet. Desserts include double chocolate mousse.
Village California Bistro & Wine Bar on Santana Row offers a $40 menu for Restaurant Week. Its four entrée choices are 38 North ‘Two-Way’ duck (seared breast and confit leg), wild Coho salmon (accompaniments include butternut squash risotto and bacon gastrique), braised all-natural lamb shank, and Creekstone Beef Wellington. Appetizer selections include late harvest heirloom tomato salad featuring shaved cucumber, green beans, and burrata (see photo above).

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Cruzin’ Courses offers women’s progressive wine dinner and benefit

One dining area at Hotel Paradox, the site of the Cruzin' Courses' start and finish

One dining area at Hotel Paradox, the site of the Cruzin’ Courses’ start and finish

The ninth annual Cruzin’ Courses is Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in downtown Santa Cruz, from 4 to 10 p.m.

Participants are encouraged to park their cars at Hotel Paradox, where the evening begins. It’s a women’s evening of strolling, eating, drinking, shopping, talking, and discovering. One goal of the night is for guests to “discover and rediscover all that our thriving Center (Santa Cruz) has to offer.”

At Hotel Paradox, attendees will enjoy appetizers (coriander cured duck breast, figs, and Bellwether Farms Crescenza cheese) and wine (Chalone Cabernet Sauvignon and Estancia Pinot Grigio). From there, folks will stroll to Soif for soup, salad, and wine, followed by a shopping opportunity (with discount) at Annieglass. The entrée portion of the evening will take place at Red Restaurant and Bar, while dessert will be enjoyed back at Hotel Paradox. See the full schedule below.
Tickets are $125. The event traditionally sells out, so if you’re interested it’s recommended you buy tickets online soon via (search for “Cruzin’ Courses”).

In the past, this event has benefited scholarships for young women through the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce’s Women-In-Business education program. They are still going to receive a portion of the proceeds, but this year, a second beneficiary has been named: a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center.

More details:
Event organizers have announced “dressy dinner attire is appropriate.”  Self-parking is complimentary and available on a first-come, first-served basis; valet parking is $15. Also, Hotel Paradox is offering a special rate of $165 for overnight accommodations that evening.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.
2014 Strolling Schedule and Menu Choices
Hotel Paradox (4pm-5:10pm) hors d’oeuvres
Coriander cured duck breast, figs, and Bellwether Farms Crescenza cheese
Wines: Chalone Cabernet Sauvignon and Estancia Pinot Grigio
Hunter Hill Winery will offer select wines
Soif (5:30pm-6:15pm) soup and salad
Soup:  Fall root vegetable soup with Belle Farms extra virgin olive oil
Salad:  Salad of Blue Heron red lettuces with scallions, radishes and cucumbers
(Both dishes are dairy, nut, and gluten free)
Wine:  Tyrell’s Hunter Valley Semillon 2007
Annieglass (6:25pm-7:35pm) retail therapy
Enjoy a refreshing palate cleanser and receive a 20% discount on all first quality Annieglass pieces.

Red Restaurant and Bar (7:45pm-8:30pm) entrée
Petrale Sole
Pan fried, with sautéed Blue Lake beans, potato puree and caper brown butter OR
Chicken Breast
Herb roasted chicken with wild mushrooms, cheese grits and pan juices OR
Tuscan Orecchiette
Pasta with brussel sprouts, gigante beans, roasted pearl onions, garlic chips and pecorino cheese
Wine: Your choice of red or white

Hotel Paradox (9pm-10pm) dessert
Pomegranate panna cotta
Secco Moscato Dessert Wine

A non-alcoholic beverage will also be served at all locations.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf offers discounts for creating their coffee at home

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf offers discounts for creating coffee at home

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf offers discounts for creating coffee at home

Now until October 12, 2014, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s single serve coffee boxes are “Buy 2, Get 1 Free.” Also, there are several products in their retail coffee and tea line that are on sale for “2 for $20.” Specifics for each promotion are below.

Here are the details for the Buy 2 promotion: The Coffee Bean’s single serve coffee boxes include K-Cup and CBTL Capsules. If you buy two 16-count K-Cup® boxes (starting at $11.95 each), you receive a complimentary 16-count box of K-Cup® packs. The same offer applies to CBTL® Capsule Boxes (of equal or lesser value), which start at $6 each. If you’re unfamiliar with capsules, these are single servings of espresso, coffee, and tea that are brewed using The Coffee Bean’s at-home CBTL® system that’s for sale at retail locations and at

Selections valid for this offer include:

  • Costa Rica Coffee K-Cup® Pack ($11.95)
  • NEW Jasmine Green Tea K-Cup® Pack ($11.95)
  • NEW Darjeeling Tea K-Cup® Pack ($11.95)
  • CBTL® Italian Espresso Capsules ($6)
  • CBTL® Chai Tea Capsules ($6)

Next, you can save money on the company’s signature retail coffees and teas—such as whole leaf teas, whole bean and ground coffees. If you buy one bag of whole bean or ground coffee, and one tin of tea, you get both for $20 (exclusions apply).

Selections valid for this offer include:

  • Espresso Roast Coffee ($14.95)
  • French Roast Coffee ($14.95)
  • Lemon Chamomile Herbal Infusion ($8.75)
  • Tropical Passion Black Tea ($8.75)

These promotions are currently being offered at participating The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf retail locations. To find your nearest location, visit the Coffee Bean’s store locator. Launched in 1963, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is the oldest and largest privately held specialty coffee and tea retailer in the US. There are stores in more than 20 other countries, as well. Read more at

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Hospice Santa Cruz Oktoberfest 2014 features lots of food & wine opportunities

Friends of Hospice Oktoberfest postcardFriends of Hospice present their 31st annual Oktoberfest benefiting Hospice of Santa Cruz County on Sunday Oct. 5, 2014, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Elks Lodge.

Admission to the family-friendly event is free. Lunch is available for purchase from 12-2:30 p.m. Items include kielbasa, sauerkraut, potato salad, and apple strudel prepared by Five Star Catering. Beverages available will include soft drinks, beer, wine, and cocktails.

The program includes live accordion music and both silent and live auctions; the silent one is from 12-3:30 p.m. and the live one begins at 2:45 p.m. Also, tickets will be sold for a drawing with cash prizes — and you don’t need to be present to win.

Auction items include more than 250 bottles of wine (!), a Las Vegas vacation package, plus getaways to San Francisco and to local Seascape Resort; tickets to sports events and area shows; jewelry; artwork; and gift certificates from restaurants, caterers, shops, and beauty salons.

Here are some wine details: at the silent auction there will be bottles and tasting gift certificates from local wineries such as Loma Prieta Winery,  Martin Ranch Vineyards, Dancing Creek Winery, Windy Oaks Estate, Soquel Vineyards, Alfaro Family Vineyards, and Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards. It’s an incredible opportunity to pick up fabulous bottles of wine for amazing prices. This area is always a community favorite and every bottle of wine is sold each year.

One of the event sponsors is Whole Foods Market, who donated several gift baskets for the silent auction and a $500 gift card for the live auction. The baskets have various themes like chocolate, cheese, and coffee.

Another highlight is the bargain “cash and carry” tables where folks can purchase products including holiday items as well as vintage and re-purposed items. There is also a garden section that includes flowering plants and ornamentals.

“This is a wonderful event,” said Lorraine Margon, Friends of Hospice member and volunteer. “The food is really tasty and there are plenty of great items to bid on, many of which are fantastic bargains, and all for a worthy cause.” Friends of Hospice member/volunteer Rebekah Leekley adds, “It’s a great way to get a headstart on one’s holiday shopping.”

Remember, all proceeds will benefit Hospice of Santa Cruz County’s local hospice programs. Hospice of Santa Cruz County is the only non-profit hospice in the county and their mission is to provide “professional, compassionate care recognizing that individuals and families are the guiding force in their own end-of-life experience.”

For more info call (831) 430-3000 or visit
Location: Elks Lodge, 150 Jewel Street (at Graham Hill), Santa Cruz – there will be free parking.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Buy one get one free at Peet’s Coffee & Tea for National Coffee Day


For National Coffee Day, Peet’s is doing a buy one get one free deal

For National Coffee Day, Peet’s is doing a buy one get one free deal

Peet’s Coffee and Tea has a great promotion to celebrate National Coffee Day Sept. 29, 2014: all Peet’s across the country are offering “Buy One, Get One Free.” Customers can purchase any coffee or espresso beverage and receive a second FREE coffee or espresso beverage of their choice. There is no coupon required for this offer.

Peet’s has additional activities in honor of this Monday’s coffee event:

  • Free coffee and espresso samples all day long
  • Get $2 off a bag of Peet’s fresh coffee, 12 oz. or larger (ground or whole bean) at Peet’s store locations
  • Go to Peet’s Facebook page at — this promotion has already started, you don’t need to wait ‘til Monday! — and answer various questions that Peet’s has posed like posting “how you take your afternoon coffee break” or “what passionate thing have you done for freshness” for a chance to win a year of free Peet’s coffee

The coffee company promises that visitors to Peet’s will “Get Fresh.” Peet’s emphasizes that they strive to get beans from “their roaster to your cup” as fast as possible, because the fresher the beans, the more flavorful the coffee. Peet’s roasts and ships its coffee the same day, and beans in all Peet’s stores are used within three weeks of roasting to deliver the best flavor.

To find the Peet’s Coffee & Tea near you, use the Peet’s online store locator.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Two Santa Cruz area food events this weekend: A Taste of Soquel & Sausagefest

scmb aleI want to share the news about two fun food events this weekend that benefit great causes: A Taste of Soquel Saturday (late morning through the afternoon) and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing’s Sausagefest Sunday afternoon. More details are below; remember that Saturday is also the always-wonderful festival “Gourmet Grazing” that benefits Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group. Read details in my Sept. 11 article.

A Taste of Soquel: Saturday, Sept. 27, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
The sixth annual “A Taste of Soquel,” benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank, takes place in the courtyard of the Congregational Church of Soquel (4951 Soquel Drive). The theme is “Food & Music for the Common Good.” Read more about the Food Bank at

There will be lots of live music, including Nina Gerber & Chris Webster headlining at 12:25, and the Steve Abrams Latin Jazz Quartet “Chile Con Soul.”

Attendees can enjoy food from restaurants and vendors such as:
Café Cruz, Carpo’s, Fogline Farm, Jeff Walls’ Family Honey, Fish Lady, Aldo’s Bakery, The Kitchen at Discretion Brewing, and Sawasdee

Plus, beer and wine from:
Discretion Brewing, Soquel Vineyards, Bargetto Winery, and Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery

There will also be coffee from the Ugly Mug, plus tea, lemonade, water, and more from The Bagelry and Donut Station. A kids’ area will feature free activities such as miniature golf, crafts, and dancing. More than 60 local businesses participate in the raffle, featuring prizes such as Weber BBQs from Home Depot; gift certificates from Tortilla Flats, El Chipotle, The Little People’s Store, and Safeway; and a produce basket from Everett Family Farm.

Tickets are $25 for adults (includes music, food, wine) and $10 for youth 12-20 (includes music, food). Kids under 12 are free. Call 831-475-2867 or see for details. Advance tickets are available at the church or at

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing’s Sausagefest: Sunday, Sept. 28, 1-4 p.m.

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is hosting the 8th annual Sausagefest which includes sausage from vendors el Salchichero, Freedom Meats and Corralitos Market, and homemade sauerkrauts, relishes, pickles, and mustards. Additional food will be available from vendors including Buttercup Cakes, Penny Ice Creamery, Companion Bakeshop, and Firely Coffee House.

There will also be lots of organic ale from SCMB, plus beverages from locals including Santa Cruz Cider Co., Uncommon Brewers, and Hallcrest Vineyards. San Francisco punk/polka band Polkacide is performing for the second consecutive year.

The festival has an admission fee of $10 for adults and teens, and it’s free for kids under 12. Food and beverages will be for sale; event proceeds benefit Friends of Santa Cruz Parks. There will be “Radical Redwood Rootbeer” and other non-alcoholic drinks, and some kids’ activities.

Buy tickets at the SCMB taproom, Discretion Brewing, 99 Bottles of Beer, or online at Doors open at 12:30pm and the event is at the location of the Westside Farmers Market at the corner of Mission Street Extension and Western Drive. Call 831-425-4900 or see for details.
Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Learn delicious, non-sugar recipes with Chef Lauren’s classes at New Leaf in Westside Santa Cruz

Nut-crusted chicken and salad with lemon herb vinaigrette from Chef Lauren’s Sugar Solutions class

Nut-crusted chicken and salad with lemon herb vinaigrette from Chef Lauren’s Sugar Solutions class

A fabulous new six-Saturday series started last week with Chef Lauren Hoover-West at New Leaf Community Markets in Westside Santa Cruz, but don’t worry—you can still sign up for one, some, or all of the remaining five sessions, which run through Sat., Oct. 18. Each class includes cooking an entire well-balanced meal, and the ticket cost includes lunch.

“Sugar Solutions: Meal Planning for a Sugar Free Diet” is the name of the class series. I participated in the first session Sept. 14, and was very impressed. Chef Lauren is a wonderful teacher with an engaging personality. She has a wealth of knowledge to share—not just on effective ways to cut back on sugar without sacrificing flavor, but also on a variety of topics including proper knife skills (resulting in less backaches), time-saving meal preparation, which vegetables have less carbs than others, and kitchen equipment recommendations.

Tess Quadres also attended on Saturday. I observed her taking notes and asking questions, and it was obvious she was learning a lot. The next day, I asked her to comment on the course. “I’ve been reading about nutrition for years now; I cook very healthy food, and I wasn’t sure I would learn that much from a low/no sugar cooking class,” she said. “Lauren surprised me with so much new information and great cooking tips. I went away excited to try a bunch of new things I could put into practice immediately, to make my cooking even healthier.” Quadres went grocery shopping right after the class so she could get started while it was all fresh in her mind.

One interesting fact I learned, and want to share with you readers: Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar but has no glycemic index. This index, often shortened to GI, refers to a food’s ability to raise a person’s blood sugar. For cooking, Lauren prefers SweetLeaf liquid stevia, which New Leaf carries.

The menu for the first class was:
• Nutty Smoothie w/homemade nut milk
• Salad with Lemon Herb Vinaigrette
• Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets
• No Cook Chocolate Chia Pudding

You can see the menus for all upcoming classes online.
All the recipes prepared in these classes are dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free. Some will include raw and/or paleo dishes. Course themes include “Road to Asia” this coming Sat., Sept. 20 (includes Veggie Bowl with Lemon Tahini Sauce and Thai Coconut & Chicken Soup) and “Taste of Europe” Oct. 4 (includes Lamb Loin Chops with Garlic & Rosemary, Pumpkin Seed Pate with Raw Veggies, and Fermented Sauerkraut).

Attendees get to do hands-on prepping and cooking. I liked that we first got to taste the almond milk we created, and then we added more ingredients to this milk and transformed it into smoothies, which were delicious. I enjoyed all of the food; we drank the nut milk and smoothies right after we made them, but saved the other three dishes to eat all at once for lunch at the end of class.

I was surprised at the speed and ease of the nut-crusted chicken recipe, and I loved the texture and the flavors. I’ll be making this one at my home soon, and am guessing it’s going to be a hit with the whole family! I’m excited it’s a low-carb option. As Lauren mentioned, these days a lot of us need quick recipes for weekday options. Another positive aspect to this recipe: if someone is allergic to nuts, they can substitute sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Chef Lauren promised to email her students the recipes, and she was true to her word—they actually arrived later that same day. I appreciated the quick access to these resources, which included a list of low-carb vegetables arranged from lowest to highest carbohydrate per serving.

Single class tickets are $40 each. You can purchase these online until 1 hour before each class begins, but Chef Lauren encourages people to sign up at least 24 hours in advance if possible (that’s ideal for planning). She also mentions that even if you don’t have a health issue or problems with sugar, these classes will give you vital information about blood sugar plus tips on cooking balanced meals featuring natural whole foods.

As the official series description states, participants can learn how to cook “…delicious sugar-free recipes for every meal of the day.” Balancing blood sugar through diet can help you manage many conditions that are becoming an epidemic in the US including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, candida, depression, obesity and ADHD. Chef Lauren will focus on teaching “dietary changes that will help balance the body for optimal health, energy levels and well-being.”

Quadres adds a couple more comments: “The environment at the New Leaf kitchen is comfortable and unintimidating, and Lauren’s approach is friendly, straightforward and inspiring.  I found the class very valuable and would recommend it to anyone who wants to cook healthy food.”

Chef Lauren was trained at San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy, and has 25 years of cooking and teaching experience at venues including Michelin-starred La Folie, Fairmiont San Francisco, and Sur La Table. She offers services including menu planning, food sensitivity coaching, nutritional counseling, pantry makeovers, and grocery shopping tours. Read more at her site at – No Wheat, No Dairy, No Problem is also the name of her gluten- and wheat-free cookbook.

For more information on this or other classes, call 426-1306 or see the New Leaf web site at For all events and classes at Westside New Leaf, visit

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

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie

Tomato festival at Lark Creek restaurants in San Jose, SF, and other Bay Area cities

Heirloom Tomato Salad with grilled shrimp addition at Lark Creek Walnut Creek

Heirloom Tomato Salad with grilled shrimp addition at Lark Creek Walnut Creek

Good news for heirloom tomato fans: September is the Heirloom Tomato Festival hosted by Lark Creek Restaurant Group and all the LCRG restaurants – including Lark Creek Blue on San Jose’s Santana Row, and Lark Creek Walnut Creek – are featuring delectable artisan tomato creations.

Even better news: there is an opportunity for one of you to win a gift card good at Lark Creek restaurants — see end of article for contest details. You can use the card during the tomato festival or at a future date.

LCRG chefs are preparing dishes made from tomatoes still warm from the garden. Restaurants will source Brandywine, Green Zebra, Yellow Marvel and Purple Cherokee heirloom varietals among others from local growers, including J+K Smith Farms. In addition, bartenders have crafted delicious heirloom tomato cocktails.
Chef Scott Wall of Lark Creek Walnut Creek has been cooking at Lark Creek for 14 years.  Of all the themed menus the restaurant does each year, the Heirloom Tomato is his favorite. “The tomatoes are so fresh and grown just miles away; (the festival) epitomizes the farm to table theory,” he shares. “As a chef, creating a menu based on these great local ingredients is almost effortless. There are so many combinations.”
For these special September dishes, Chef Scott is exclusively using tomatoes from Rose Lane Farm in Oakley. “We receive a tomato delivery four times a week. Each delivery includes tomatoes that were just picked.”  He says the farmer assures that each box is of the highest quality and sweetness.

I went to Lark Creek Walnut Creek for lunch in August, and really enjoyed the experience. I was with two other adults plus my three-year-old daughter, and the enclosed outdoor patio provided a comfortable atmosphere. We received extremely gracious, attentive service, and food standouts included fresh corn soup with pumpkin seed pesto, moist and delicious meatloaf, a savory Reuben, and a kids’ peanut-butter-and-jelly that already had the crusts removed!
Lark Creek Blue Chef de Cuisine Chad T. Ferry shares that he’s excited about this month’s festival because of “…the simple versatility of the tomato. Some take the tomato for granted, not knowing the difference between a roma and a beefsteak tomato. Heirlooms have a better, fuller flavor and we need to celebrate such a product when its at it’s peak.” Ferry encourages diners to “enjoy its simplicity and marvel at its complexity in flavors and textures.” I have dined at Lark Creek Blue twice, once for dinner and once for lunch, and each time it exceeded my expectations.

Special heirloom tomato selections will be available through the end of September 2014.

Highlights are below; see Lark Creek’s news site for links to all restaurants (including one in Southern California, in Newport Beach) and specific menus.

Food highlights
• Heirloom Tomato Salad with house-made mozzarella, balsamic dressing (see photo, which features the salad with an optional grilled shrimp addition)  from Chef Scott Wall at Lark Creek Walnut Creek ( 925.256.1234
• Grilled Swordfish- heirloom tomato and basil risotto from Chef de Cuisine Chad Ferry at Lark Creek Blue (  408.244.1244
• Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops- tomatoes, artichokes, olive oil mashed potatoes, lobster emulsion from Chef Mark Dommen at One Market Restaurant ( 415.777.5577
• Calabrese Pizza- heirloom tomatoes, ricotta, Calabrese peppers from Chef Marc Tennison at Cupola Pizzeria ( 415.896.5600
• Brown Butter-Poached Maine Lobster- Brentwood corn, grilled romaine, Copia garden cherry tomatoes, lavender, lobster coral emulsion from Chef Scott Ekstrom at Fish Story ( 707.251.5600
• Heirloom Tomato Salad- Italian peppers, cucumber, torpedo onions, green goddess dressing  from Chef Aaron Wright at Lark Creek Steak ( 415.593.4100
• P.E.I Mussels served with an heirloom tomato concasse, chipotle lime butter, from Chef Michael Dunn at Yankee Pier Lafayette ( 925.283.4100
• Grilled King Salmon & Heirloom Tomato Panzanella- pickled red onions, rocolla, torn sweet batard croutons, basil, watermelon from Chef Alex Marsh, Yankee Pier Larkspur ( 415.924.7676
• Heirloom Tomato B.L.T.- crisp Zoe’s bacon, butter lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, herb mayonnaise, toasted focaccia from Chef Heidi DiPippo at Lark Creek Grill  SFO (  650.821.9315
• House-Made Cheese Tortellini- sweet 100’s tomatoes, smoked tomato ragout, toy-box eggplant from Chef Jonathan Hall at Parcel 104 408-970-6104
• Heirloom Tomato Soup- basil oil, parmesan, olive oil croutons from Chef Heidi DiPippo at Yankee Pier SFO ( 650.821.8938

Selected Heirloom Tomato Cocktails

• “Tomato Haze”- smoked heirloom tomato bloody Mary- house-infused peppar vodka, pickled carrot at Lark Creek Steak (
• “New Morning” – roasted tomato water, Hanson Brothers cucumber vodka, mezcal, simple syrup, blistered tomato garnish at One Market Restaurant (
• “Italian Garden”- heirloom tomato juice, watermelon juice, Carpano Antica at Cupola Pizzeria (
• “Summer’s Bounty”- Gin, fresh watermelon juice, cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, simple syrup, lemon juice at Yankee Pier Lafayette (

Prize: A $100 gift card to Lark Creek Restaurants
To enter, email your name to and include the words “Lark Creek tomato festival.” Deadline to enter is Wednesday, Sept. 17 2014 at 8 p.m.
This contest is open to readers of Tara Fatemi Walker’s and sites. Employees of are not eligible for this promotion.


Family-friendly Santa Cruz events: Mission Hill birthday, Mole & Mariachi festival

Mariachi Gilroy, a performer at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival

Mariachi Gilroy, a performer at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival

Here are a couple upcoming family-friendly events in Santa Cruz.

Mission Hill Creamery’s 2nd birthday celebration: Monday, Sept. 15, 2014
Owner Dave Kumec invites the community to visit Mission Hill Creamery’s Scoop Shop and Dessert Café on Monday, Sept. 15 – all day and until they close – for a $1 birthday scoop of ice cream. This special discount is his way of saying thanks for all your support.

A bit of history, as told by Dave:
Mission Hill Creamery started 4 1/2 years ago in the Culinary Center of Santa Cruz on Front Street. From those humble beginnings, we have grown to our current location and now offer a variety of ice creams, desserts, novelties, milkshakes, floats, as well as a full coffee and tea menu, and packed pints. Our products are distributed in nine counties and growing. Come help us celebrate as we happily grow into our third year in our Pacific Avenue Creamery store.”

Location: 1101B Pacific Avenue near Cathcart, next to Taqueria Vallarta and across the street from Kianti’s
Hours for 9/15 celebration: Noon to 11 pm

Mole & Mariachi Festival: Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014
The 2nd annual event is from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park, and it offers lots of fabulous food—and not just mole! In addition to local food, wine, beer, and other beverages, guests can enjoy music and dance performances, kids’ crafts and a piñata, and a raffle. I attended last year, and it was great fun for the whole family. There is free admission.

This year, nine local restaurants and chefs will prepare moles. Festival attendees and a panel of local celebrity judges will select their favorites. Santa Cruz restaurant El Jardin won “People’s Choice” last year. If you want to sample moles, there is a $10 tasting kit for sale. A list of mole competitors and other vendors is below.

All event proceeds benefit Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. Want to avoid the trouble of parking your car? There will be bike valet service at the park, as well a free trolley to the festival from downtown Santa Cruz.

For more info, visit Watch a 30-second Mole & Mariachi PSA video here.

Location: Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park, 144 School Street near downtown Santa Cruz

Mole competitors:

  • El Chipotle Restaurant in Soquel (preparing “rojo Oaxaqueño mole”)
  • El Jardin Restaurant in Santa Cruz (preparing “Jorge’s Traditional Mole”)
  • My Mom’s Mole from Watsonville (with a 25-ingredient Guanajuato-style sauce that is spicy, not sweet, prepared by chef Cesario Ruiz)
  • Lidia’s Taqueria in Watsonville (traditional Oaxacan dark mole with nopales [cactus paddles])
  • El Chino Restaurant in Santa Cruz (mole with poblano chiles)
  • The Kitchen at Discretion Brewing (Soquel brewery)
  • Vivas Restaurant in Santa Cruz (serves organic food)
  • Maya Mexican Restaurant in Scotts Valley (Michoacán mole)
  • Plaza Lane Optometry (a newcomer to the event, will prepare a staff member’s personal recipe featuring chocolate, peanuts and pumpkin seeds)

Vendors selling a variety of food/drinks:

  • El Jardin Restaurant
  • Garcia’s Fish Tacos
  • Mission Hill Creamery
  • Chocolate Restaurant
  • Sazon Mexicano
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
  • Discretion Brewing
  • Lagunitas Brewery

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.