Santa Cruz, Capitola, Gilroy, & San Jose food and beer events this weekend

Chef Carla Hall learns how to do a calamari flame-up on Gourmet Alley at the 2014 festival

Chef Carla Hall learns how to do a calamari flame-up on Gourmet Alley at the 2014 festival

There are many food and beer events occurring this weekend in local cities including Santa Cruz, Capitola, San Jose, and Gilroy. Below are details for a few of them, including two that start today.

Friday, July 24-Sunday, July 26: Gilroy Garlic Festival
The annual Gilroy Garlic Festival includes celebrity chef Daphne Oz (from ABC-TV’s “The Chew”), four chefs competing in the garlic cook-off, and lots of food. The garlic cook-off takes place Sunday, July 26, where the contestants face off in front of a live audience. Following that battle, Chef Oz will conduct a cooking demo. And for the first time, the cook-off stage will also feature a “garlic dream wedding” where contest winners/garlic-loving couple Stacy and Tom Davenport will renew their wedding vows.

As always, the festival’s “Gourmet Alley” is open all three days. It features cooking demonstrations and many foods for sale including garlic bread, garlic fries, pasta with pesto, garlic burgers, Italian sausage sandwiches, garlic scampi, and garlic ice cream. There will also be some vendors giving out food samples. These include Primizie and the company’s all-natural Gouda & Garlic crispbreads, which I recently had the chance to sample. I definitely recommend you find their booth at the festival:. the smoked Dutch Gouda and roasted garlic combine to create a flavorful snack which—warning—is a bit addicting.
Parking is free. Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Ticket costs: Adult $20, Children (ages 6-12) & Seniors (60+) $10, Kids under 6 are free.
Location: Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy

Friday, July 24-Saturday, Aug. 1: Silicon Valley Beer Week
This craft beer celebration lasts eight days and includes more than 150 events such as tap takeovers, new release nights, tours, food pairings, parties, seminars, demonstrations, and brewmaster’s dinners. The Silicon Valley Beer Week kickoff party, July 24 from 5-9 p.m., takes place at four different San Jose breweries: Strike Brewing Company (2099 S 10th St #30), Santa Clara Brewing Company (101 E Alma Ave), Hermitage Brewing Company (1627 S 7th St), and Gordon Biersch Brewing Company (357 East Taylor St).
Location: Various bars, restaurants, breweries, etc. in Silicon Valley

Sunday, July 26: Festival del Nopal
At the 6th annual Festival del Nopal, there will be food for sale, music, and an appearance by Ballet Folklorico. Also, there will be a recipe contest and cooking demonstrations with nopales, which are cactus paddles. Admission is free. The market is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and the program runs from noon-6 p.m.
Location: 176 Lincoln St. parking lot, Santa Cruz

Sunday, July 26: Post Wharf-to-Wharf Whole Foods Party
From 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Whole Foods Market Capitola is holding a post-Wharf to Wharf party celebrating the market’s 6th birthday. There will be free samples, a beer garden with 16 featured breweries, a kids’ zone including face painting and activities with June Bugs gym, live music, and free massages. There will also be a BBQ with hot dogs. A portion of beer and BBQ sales benefits the Santa Cruz SPCA. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.
Location: 1710 41st Ave., Capitola
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National Ice Cream Month in Santa Cruz includes Mission Hill Creamery’s birthday

Ice cream from Mission Hill Creamery, used with permission

Ice cream from Mission Hill Creamery (photo used with permission)

July is National Ice Cream Month, and here in Santa Cruz this coincides with Mission Hill Creamery’s 5th birthday plus a contest where you can win free ice cream for a year.

First, the Mission Hill Creamery news: Dave Kumec founded this wonderful artisan ice cream company in July 2010. To celebrate Mission Hill’s fifth birthday, the downtown shop is offering $1 ice cream scoops from noon to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21. There will also be live music and drawings for Santa Cruz Warriors merchandise. Kumec loves giving back to the community. I asked him to reflect on the last five years. “I feel like the business has become a grown-up,” Kumec shared. “We had some challenges early on, but now we are finding a great groove. It’s all about the team you surround yourself with and our team is fantastic. It’s a fantastic career knowing you make people happy all day long.”

Kumec and Mission Hill started out in the former Front Street Culinary Center, and moved to the current Pacific Avenue site in 2012. They serve a variety of ice creams, desserts, milkshakes, and floats—with local and organic ingredients like Straus organic cream and Santa Cruz County strawberries—plus coffee and espresso, and packed pints. Mission Hill Creamery products are also sold at many Northern California stores and other venues including Whole Foods Market and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Next, here are details for the ice cream contest Downtown Santa Cruz is sponsoring. It’s a coloring contest, and the Ice Cream for a Year prize will be comprised of 50 gift certificates: 10 gift certificates for a scoop, from each of the 5 participating locations. The idea is you get one scoop of ice cream per week, for all but two weeks of the year.

How to play: pick up a coloring sheet at one of Downtown Santa Cruz’s five participating stores: Cold Stone Creamery, Marini’s Candies, Mission Hill Creamery, Pacific Cookie Company and the Penny Ice Creamery. Return your completed coloring sheet to the Info Kiosk in front of New Leaf Market on Pacific Ave. by July 31 and you will be entered in the contest. The winner will be notified by email during the the first week of August.

People are encouraged to follow Downtown Santa Cruz on Facebook and check out the front windows of Palace Art on Pacific Ave. to see featured coloring sheets, and participants are encouraged to post photos of both ice cream treats and coloring sheets on Instagram with the hashtags #downtownsantacruzicecream and #downtownsantacruz.

Location details:
Mission Hill Creamery, 1101B Pacific Ave. near Cathcart
The Penny Ice Creamery, several locations including original downtown branch, 913 Cedar St.
Pacific Cookie Company, two locations including downtown, 1203 Pacific Ave.
Marini’s Candies, two locations including downtown, 1308 Pacific Ave.
Cold Stone Creamery, 1129 Pacific Ave.
New Leaf Market, 1134 Pacific Ave.
Palace Art, 1407 Pacific Ave.

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Ben Lomond’s Casa Nostra offers monthly wine dinner

Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Mama’s homemade Eggplant Parmigiana recipe), one of the featured dishes at Casa Nostra’s July wine dinner

Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Mama’s homemade Eggplant Parmigiana recipe), one of the featured dishes at Casa Nostra’s July wine dinner

Italian restaurant Casa Nostra in Ben Lomond is hosting a wine dinner on Tuesday, July 28, from 6-9 p.m. See end of article for menu.

This is part of the restaurant’s wine dinner series. Events are held the last Tuesday of each month. For $65 (excluding tax/gratuity), attendees receive a prix fixe meal with five small plate courses prepared by chef Mario Ibarra, plus wine pairings. Every month, a different local winery and winemakers are featured. This time it’s Santa Cruz-based Rexford Winery. Owners/winemakers Joe and Sam Miller will be present at the dinner. Jazz duo Joe & Paul will be performing.

Contact (831) 609-6132 or for reservations.

After July 28, the next dinner is August 25 with Beauregard Vineyards.

July 28 Menu, featuring Rexford Winery

Creamy Artichoke Croquettes on a bed of mixed greens, with homemade ranch dressing

2013 Rexford Pinot Gris, Santa Cruz Mountains


Orchiette Pollo, with chicken, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccolini, pecorino cheese

2010 Rexford Pinot Noir, Brosseau Vineyard, Chalone

Melanzane alla Parmigiana, Mama’s homemade Eggplant Parmigiana recipe

2013 Rexford Zinfandel, Lodi


Boneless slow-braised short ribs, red wine reduction with carrots, celery, onions & herbs

2012 Rexford Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa Valley


Tiramisu with cocoa nibs & chocolate drizzle

2012 Rexford Zinfandel port-style dessert wine

Casa Nostra is open for lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and also serves weekend brunch from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays and Sunday.

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The Details

Wine Dinner Series, 6-9 p.m. the last Tuesday of each month: next dinner July 28
$65 per person
Ristorante Casa Nostra, 9217 Highway 9, Ben Lomond, (831) 609-6132

Santa Cruz Farmers’ Markets Pop-Up Breakfast Series continues Saturday

Bloody Marys from Chef Brad Briske, at the 2014 pop-up breakfast series.  Photo credit: Carolyn Lagatutta

Bloody Marys from Chef Brad Briske, at the 2014 pop-up breakfast series.
Photo credit: Carolyn Lagatutta

The summertime pop-up breakfast series at the Westside Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley farmers markets is in full swing, with the next event this Saturday, July 18 in Scotts Valley. There is limited seating; tickets are $36 and are available for purchase online and at the markets. Different local chefs are featured at each event; this Saturday it’s Kevin Koebel of Local FATT—see menu below.

The August 22 breakfast features chef Mark Denham of Soif Restaurant & Wine Bar, and chef David Jackman of Chocolate is cooking for the September 12 breakfast. Both are at the Westside market; see web site for full menus.

Graduates of Santa Cruz’s Food, What?! youth empowerment program provide service at the events. Upon arrival, attendees choose their seats by placing their own plate and silverware at a space along a u-shaped, family-style table. A local band provides music while guests drink a hot beverage and await the first course. At 10 a.m., plates of seasonal cuisine made with ingredients sourced from the markets begin rolling out. As the guests eat and visit, farmers and chefs share their knowledge and perspective regarding agriculture, community and consumer choice within the food system.

The first summer series occurred in 2013, and it draws more and more fans each year. The 2014 Pop-Up events sold out well in advance. These farm-to-table meals are hosted at the Westside and Scotts Valley Markets between June and September. The June event at the Westside Market featured Kendra Baker and Carlo Espinas of Assembly, the Penny Ice Creamery, and Picnic Basket. As a market spokesperson states, “the goal of these ticketed, outdoor, events is to highlight our rich local agriculture and food artisan community while raising funds for the markets’ public educational programs including the Foodshed Project.” For more information call 831-325-4294 or email

July 18 Pop-Up Breakfast Menu
• DRY FARMED TOMATO CARPACCIO with collard-whole cream, tarragon savory bread pudding and cherry-balsamic syrup
• CORN BEEF AND HASH TIMBALE shredded roasted potato, slow cooked brisket and spinach
• ROSEMARY EGG FLAN topped with meyer lemon, macerated raw beet and a cilantro-arugula coulis
• FIG AND FENNEL SALAD mint, chevre and strawberry vinegar reduction
• BRAISED GREENS roasted alliums, olive oil and salt
• SWEET FINISH honey-lemon curd with lavender shortbread

Read more about the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Markets at

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Ocean2table hosts Santa Cruz Pescetarian PopUp Dinner

Charlie & Ian grilling up miso sablefish at the first Pescetarian PopUp. Photo courtesy of Ocean2table

Charlie & Ian grilling up miso sablefish at the first Pescetarian PopUp.
Photo courtesy of Ocean2table

Santa Cruz-based Ocean2table is partnering with several other local businesses to host their third Pescetarian PopUp Dinner on Thursday, July 16, at the Food Lounge in downtown Santa Cruz.

Tickets are $50 for the multi-course dinner and there will be a cash bar. Buy tickets online.

Sustainable seafood company Ocean2table is Charlie Lambert and Ian Cole. They started this dinner series with the hope of encouraging community support for local, sustainable food. So far, they have had two successful events, one in April and one in May. Their collaborators for the July 16 dinner are Crescent Farm, Mutari Chocolate, Companion Bakeshop, Squash & Blossom, Creative Cultures, and Ty’s Eatery. The final menu will be set a couple days before the event, but there will be a salad from Crescent, hot chocolate from Mutari, bread from Companion, beet kvass from Creative, and appetizers from Ty’s.

“We see our pop-ups as a chance to meet and bring together people who care about where their food comes from,” says Cole. “There are a lot of great businesses here in Santa Cruz working to bring delicious environmentally conscious food to the table, and I think it makes sense to get us all under one roof to share. We learn a lot from working with other businesses and it’s quite a rush pulling it off!”

Normally, Ocean2table offers very fresh seafood to customers via pick-up or delivery. Those who are email subscribers get notified the day before local fish is available—it depends on what they or other local fishermen catch—and customers must place their orders by a certain deadline, choosing a half share or full share. If you’re on the email list, there is no obligation to purchase anything. I’m an email subscriber and bought a half share of rockfish earlier this year, and it was very succulent and fresh. I even used the recipe they recommended, which was simple and delicious. They always include a link to a recipe with their emails.

For more information visit

Details: Thursday, July 16, 2015, 5:30-8:30 p.m., $50

Location: Food Lounge, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz

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Carmel Valley’s Bernardus offers lavender event and Lucia has new menus

Cal Stamenov in the gardens at Bernardus Lodge & Spa Credit: Bernardus Lodge & Spa

Cal Stamenov in the gardens at Bernardus Lodge & Spa
Credit: Bernardus Lodge & Spa

The renowned Carmel Valley-based Bernardus Lodge & Spa and executive chef Cal Stamenov are hosting a lavender harvest celebration at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 11.

The annual event honors the 1,000 lavender plants that are in full bloom among the venue’s olive trees, rosemary and rose gardens. Horticulturist Mark Marino will guide attendees on a tour of the Chef’s Garden that includes wine. Then, guests will enjoy a lavender-inspired buffet lunch with ingredients from Bernardus’ garden and vineyard. Tickets are $95 and reservations are required at 831-658-3400.

Lucia Restaurant & Bar has announced a new summer menu. Dishes include salads with roasted nectarines/arugula/prosciutto or local octopus/King salmon belly/preserved lemon relish; butter-braised Maine lobster with sweet corn puree, tarragon and black truffle vinaigrette; Day Boat Scallop Wellington with chanterelle mushrooms and foie gras; housemade sweet potato pasta; a variety of brick oven pizzas; and Wagyu beef. Also, a four-course chef’s tasting menu is available.

Lucia Bar, in a separate area from the restaurant with more casual dining, has new summer craft cocktails such as Green Tea Collins (Charbay Green Tea vodka, fresh lemon and soda) and Summer in Jalisco (pressed watermelon, muddled cucumber, fresh lime, jalapeno agave and Corralejo Silver Tequila).

In April 2015, Forbes Travel Guide four-star luxury property Bernardus re-opened with new ownership after being closed during a four-month multimillion-dollar transformation. The former on-site restaurant, Marinus, is now closed, but chef Stamenov remained and he is now at the helm of brand-new Lucia. The restaurant was named after the Santa Lucia Range that provides the backdrop to the new 2,300-square-foot outdoor dining terrace. Other highlights include a 25,000-bottle wine cellar, and a food menu that features ingredients from local farmers, foragers, and fishermen.

For more information, visit Bernardus is at 415 W. Carmel Valley Road in Carmel Valley.

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Santa Cruz County food & wine events this week

Chaminade’s “Happy Yappy Hour” is July 6 from 5-7pm. Photo Credit: Chaminade

Chaminade’s “Happy Yappy Hour” is July 6 from 5-7pm.
Photo Credit: Chaminade

There are many food and wine events occurring this week in Santa Cruz County. Below are details for a few of them–including one tonight, July 6.

Monday, July 6: Chaminade’s “Happy Yappy Hour”
From 5-7 p.m., Chaminade Resort & Spa is hosting “Happy Yappy Hour” on the Sunset Patio. They’re offering drink, appetizer, and “yappetizer” specials, and invite dogs and their owners to attend. Chaminade is donating a portion of the proceeds from this event to the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter. They will also be serving Chateau La Paws wine; this company contributes funds to no-kill shelters and animal rescue organizations.
One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz,

Wednesday, July 8: Soif’s “Re-Opening Celebration”
Soif invites the community to a re-opening celebration from 4-6:30 p.m. July 8. They’ll be serving appetizers and drinks. As you may recall, Soif reopened two weeks ago after extensive renovations. Learn about their new food menu, new wine bar, and upgraded wine shop in my June 19 article.
105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz,

Thursday, July 9: Lionfish SupperClub’s “A Taste of Ancient Grace”
From 6-10 p.m., Lionfish SupperClub is holding a special outdoor dinner event at the downtown Food Lounge. Attendees must purchase tickets in advance for $75. Last week’s preview event at the Lounge, where Lionfish sold a la carte Greece-inspired items, was very well received. Highlights included spiced ground lamb souvlaki skewered on freshly picked rosemary stems—a very succulent, flavorful dish—and a wonderful, chilled lemon-herb zucchini soup.
1001 Center St., Santa Cruz,

Friday, July 10: Food Lounge’s “Artisan Food Market”
From 2-7 p.m., the Food Lounge is the site of the Artisan Food Market, described as ‘farmers market meets cocktail hour.’ There will be more than 20 local food artisans and pop-up vendors, plus local wine and beer available for purchase. The first of these monthly events was held in June; read details.
1001 Center St., Santa Cruz,

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Hop N’ Barley Beer Festival this weekend in Scotts Valley

The 6th annual Hop N’ Barley Beer Festival is June 27-28

The 6th annual Hop N’ Barley Beer Festival is June 27-28

This weekend is the 6th annual Hop N’ Barley beer and BBQ festival. The main event is on Saturday, June 27, but this is the second consecutive year that the festival is holding activities over two full days instead of just one. The festival offers live music occurring on two stages.

There are more than 50 regional and local breweries participating, including Ballast Point, Ninkasi, Discretion, Green Flash, Sante Adarius & Alpine. For the first time, there will be craft cider tastings.

Saturday is the main event with beer and barbecue, plus other food including vegetarian selections and oysters. The gates open at 10 a.m. and beer starts flowing at noon. The gates close at 5 p.m. On Sunday, there is a home brew competition.

General admission is $20; purchase tickets here. Kids under 10 are free, and adults who are not drinking beer get in for a reduced price of $5. The Hop N’ Barley beer and BBQ festival benefits non-profit Community Housing Land Trust of Santa Cruz County.

When:  10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (beer starts at noon)
Where: Skypark, 361 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley
Cost: $20 general admission, $5 for non-beer-tasters, free for kids under 10

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Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz weekend roundup

WFM is offering “Ready for Action” bags for $10 at 10 a.m. Saturday

WFM is offering “Ready for Action” bags for $10 at 10 a.m. Saturday

Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz is dishing up lots of appealing sales and events this weekend, June 26-June 28, including a big discount on protein powder and a chance to help kids in Togo, West Africa.

Fri. June 26-Sun. June 28
Beginning Friday, June 26, WFM is offering a 25% discount on all protein powder at both the Santa Cruz and Capitola locations.

Sat. June 27
WFM in Santa Cruz and Capitola are releasing “Ready for Action” bags for $10 at 10 a.m. Saturday. They will contain $50 worth of products “to gear you up for your summer activities.”

Also on Saturday, the Santa Cruz location is hosting a BBQ from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The $8 lunch includes chicken, macaroni salad, coleslaw, and watermelon. The store is serving up these BBQs every Saturday.

Sun. June 28
WFM Santa Cruz is partnering with Alaffia, a sustainable skin care line dedicated to lifting up people in poverty in Africa, to source bikes for kids in the West African country of Togo. On Sunday, shoppers can bring used bikes and bike parts to WFM Santa Cruz between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Bikes will be sent directly to Togo to give kids a much-needed method of transportation to school. “Many kids in Togo must travel more than 15 miles to and from schools,” said Alaffia founder Olowo-n’dj Tchala. “Without a reliable transportation source, many of these children would not attend school at all. Bicycles that would otherwise be destined for the landfill are encouraging students in Togo to stay in school so they can lead their communities out of poverty.” 95% of these students graduate from school when given a bicycle.

Customers who are unable to bring a bike but want to contribute to Alaffia’s mission can buy Alaffia Good Soap Bars for only $1 the day of the event.

Attendees will be also be able to sample Alaffia’s skin care products, which feature shea and coconut butter from Tchala’s homeland of Togo. For more information, visit


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Lots of food & drinks at Saturday’s family-friendly Pleasure Point Street Fair in Santa Cruz

The 2015 Pleasure Point Street Fair is Saturday, June 27

The 2015 Pleasure Point Street Fair is Saturday, June 27

This Saturday is the third annual Pleasure Point Street Fair in Santa Cruz, with a variety of local food and drinks for sale. The event, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Portola Drive between 38th and 41st Avenues, has free admission.

The fair includes two stages with nine bands, a kids’ area, and more than 75 vendors selling arts, crafts, local services, and food. Food selections include products from New Leaf Community Markets, East Side Eatery, Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine, The Point Chophouse, Lucy’s Hot Dogs, Surf City Sandwiches, and India Gourmet. A beer and wine garden will offer traditional European-style craft lagers and pale ales from Capitola’s New Bohemia Brewing Co. and several wine selections from Bonny Doon Vineyard.

The kids’ area will have face painting, crafts, and a photo book. Kids between 3-8 can also play at June Bugs Gym on Portola for $10/hour.

Bands at the fair include reggae, rock, and funk musicians. The headliners are Coffee Zombie Collective at the New Leaf Stage and El Cuadro Verde at the NuBo Stage, both performing at 3:30 p.m. I saw Coffee Zombie Collective perform last month as they received a 2015 NEXTtie award and they were fun and fantastic. Here is the full music schedule.

Other highlights include a skateboard contest organized by the Santa Cruz Boardroom, and a dunk-a-surfer dunk tank. Proceeds from this activity and from other parts of the event will be donated to Surfrider Foundation. The 2014 Pleasure Point Street Fair donated $2,000 to the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group. The Pleasure Point Business Association presents the event. David Adams, Association president, is excited about this year’s fair, which, he promises, will be “bigger and better.”

For more information, call 419-8433 or visit

Details: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, June 27
Location: Portola Drive between 38th & 41st Avenues

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