A few restaurants in Napa Valley and San Francisco for Thanksgiving 2015

An August dinner entrée at Michelin-starred Luce, which will offer a three-course prix-fixe Thanksgiving menu Credit: Luce Restaurant

An August dinner entrée at Michelin-starred Luce, which will offer a three-course prix-fixe Thanksgiving menu
Credit: Luce Restaurant

It’s less than a week to Thanksgiving; if you’re planning to dine in San Francisco or Napa Valley, here are a few restaurants to consider.

Napa Valley
Lucy Restaurant & Bar at the Bardessono hotel and spa in Yountville is offering a four-course holiday dinner ($90 adults, $40 kids under 10). As always, it will be fresh, garden-inspired cuisine. The menu features traditional holiday dishes that incorporate a twist, with sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients picked fresh from the onsite culinary garden when possible. First course choices include carrot salad with confit carrots, carrot chips, curry shallot dressing, and carrot fronds; and roasted pumpkin soup with pomegranate and nutmeg crème fraîche. Second course choices include butternut squash risotto with caramelized pears. Entrée selections are turkey with marjoram and brioche stuffing; house-cured honey ham with cabbages and little potatoes, whole grain mustard and caramelized pear jus; and pan-roasted sturgeon with brussels sprouts, napa cabbage, house cured bacon, and dijon beurre blanc. For reservations call 707-204-6030 or visit OpenTable. If you decide to make your special holiday feast part of an overnight getaway, you’ll be happy to know the Bardessono is an eco-conscious LEED Platinum-Certified property.

San Francisco Restaurants
Luce Restaurant

Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco will feature a 3-course prix-fixe menu for Thanksgiving. Michelin-star Chef Daniel Corey is offering a seasonal selection of items like winter squash with whipped ricotta, butternut marmalade, and pomegranate; slow-cooked turkey breast with sage and rosemary, brussels sprouts, and potato puree; and diver scallops with celery root and navel orange confit and green olives. Dessert options include bread pudding; sticky toffee pudding; and chocolate cheesecake. Cost is $85 per person; $45 for kids (4 – 12 years). Pricing excludes tax and gratuity. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling 415-616-6566 or visiting Luce’s web site.

Presidio Social Club
Presidio Social Club will be offering a prix-fixe Thanksgiving dinner from 11am-5pm for $60/person. This year’s menu will include kale salad with pomegranates, apple, and pumpkin seeds; cauliflower soup with roasted chestnuts; turkey with wild mushroom and sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce; pumpkin pie; and bourbon chocolate pecan pie. Call 415-885-1888 or email info@presidiosocialclub.com for reservations.

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins
Thanksgiving brunch and dinner are available at Top of the Mark. Presented by Chef Nenad Stefanovic, the buffet will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature breakfast selections (from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.), antipastos, raw bar, salads, soups, desserts, and more. Seasonal specials include smoked duck breast with grilled persimmons, toasted pumpkin seeds and fig compote; sherry-molasses roast beets with allspice crème fraiche, candied walnuts and tondo, pickled butternut squash and pancetta jam; and roasted free range turkey with orange-cranberry sauce and giblet gravy. Desserts will include traditional holiday delights along with pumpkin foster martinis with diced pumpkin, apple brandy, cinnamon sugar and graham cracker cookie ice cream. In addition to the feast, entertainment will be presented by Michael Athens and Ricardo Scales on piano and a “Little Explorer” petting zoo will be in the lobby from noon to 4 p.m. Top of the Mark’s Thanksgiving brunch and Thanksgiving dinner cost $119 per adult and $59 per child (ages 4-12). Reservations are required at 415-616-6941.

One Market Restaurant
One Market is serving a three-course prix fixe menu by Chef Mark Dommen. The four first course choices include artichoke soup with hazelnuts, garlic flan, and lemon balm; and beet carpaccio with radish, chèvre, and sherry vinaigrette. Four entrée selections include roasted turkey with cornbread-sausage stuffing, root vegetables, and shallot-thyme gravy, and mushroom risotto with yuzu, pine nuts, and scallions. Three dessert selections include triple layer sugar pie pumpkin cheesecake with ginger-mascarpone ice cream. The price is $74 per adult and $39 per child 10 and under. Please call 415-777-5577 or visit OpenTable for reservations.

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Thanksgiving selections at Whole Foods Market in Capitola and Santa Cruz

Whole Foods Market's many Thanksgiving options include cooked turkeys

Whole Foods Market’s many Thanksgiving options include cooked turkeys

As usual, the Santa Cruz and Capitola branches of Whole Foods Market have stocked up on lots of delicious Thanksgiving options. You can place your Thanksgiving orders in person or online — but remember the deadline for both is Tuesday, Nov. 24. Here is the 2015 holiday menu.

Whole Foods Market’s selections include prepared meals such as turkey dinner for two, four, or eight people. Choices include regular, organic, smoked, or lemon herb turkey. Other dinners include 72-hour sous vide short ribs, and spiral-cut hams. You can also order cooked (or uncooked) turkeys a la carte, and sides a la carte. A few side dish highlights are sage sausage sourdough stuffing, broccoli cheddar gratin and sweet potato mash. Serving a vegetarian Thanksgiving and want to do your own cooking? Check out Whole Foods Market’s online menu, complete with recipes.

If you’re in charge of bringing appetizers to your Turkey Day feast, they have many appealing party trays to choose from.  A classic antipasto platter features ingredients like prosciutto, salami, and marinated olives, artichokes and mushrooms; other platter options include vegetable-stuffed mushrooms. For something less traditional, there are selections like pumpkin-almond wontons (vegan) and Sriracha chicken wontons. Of course, top-quality cheese always serves as a dependable appetizer, accompanied by your favorite cracker or perhaps olive or walnut bread, and Whole Foods has hundreds of selections ranging from cow-milk to goat, sheep, and buffalo. In fact, any given location has anywhere from 250 to 1,000 varieties that come from all over the world—many of these are organic, too. One of my favorites is Red Hawk, a triple cream variety from Cowgirl Creamery. Each market has a cheese expert who can help guide you.

Let’s not forget about dessert. The bakery team at each Whole Foods Market makes pies from scratch, on site. Varieties include pumpkin (traditional or vegan), brown butter walnut, and apple cranberry. I had the traditional pumpkin one last year, and loved it.

The Capitola and Santa Cruz locations will both be open the day before Thanksgiving, Wed. Nov. 25, from 7 am–10 pm, and Thanksgiving Day from 7 am – 2 pm. Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information. Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

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Pre-order Thanksgiving food in Santa Cruz county and Los Gatos

Pumpkin pie from ManresaBread, available for pick up in Los Gatos or Santa Cruz Photo credit: ManresaBread

Pumpkin pie from ManresaBread, available for pick up in Los Gatos or Santa Cruz
Photo credit: ManresaBread

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and there are many stores, bakeries and caterers that can help you with prepared food options. These include New Leaf Community Market; see comprehensive article on their offerings  or visit store web site.

ManresaBread is offering advance orders for select items through their website available for pickup. Orders are required 48 hours in advance, and can be placed until November 23 for Thanksgiving (pick up November 25, the day before Thanksgiving). Pre-order a selection of breads, pies, sweet/savory pastries and more for pick up at the 276 N. Santa Cruz Avenue location in Los Gatos. Santa Cruz area residents can also pick up at PopUp (1108 Pacific Avenue) the day before Thanksgiving. Seasonal selections include pumpkin loaf, apple galette, pain d’Epices, and pumpkin pie.

The last day for Thanksgiving orders at Companion Bakeshop is Saturday, Nov. 21. Seasonal items available for pre-order include biscotti, pies such as pecan bourbon, Meyer lemon buttermilk pie, apple, pumpkin, and walnut (the latter two have gluten-free options), chocolate tartlets, maple bacon biscuits, and squash/herb galettes. Call (831) 252-2253 for more information.

The meat and seafood department at Staff of Life has lots of Thanksgiving offerings including pre-orders of organic turkey from Heidi’s Hens, pork crown roast, loin roast, grass-fed and finished prime rib, lamb crown roast. Other selections include Dungeness crab from Washington, seafood platters, and take-and-bake entrees.

Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola has pre-ordering available for a la carte items or packages. However, orders for complete dinners with a Diestel whole or half turkey are now closed (they sold out of pre-orders). They are still offering these dinners but with sliced turkey breast. Vegetarian options such as kale and wild rice stuffed acorn squash (with apricots, cranberries, and more) and butternut squash & carrot ginger soup are also available. Plus, they of course feature their famous bread plus a huge range of desserts such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake or shimmering pumpkin princess (chocolate cake, raspberry jam, pastry cream, chocolate whipped cream, with a pumpkin-shaped shell and a dusting of gold).

For the catering company Lifestyle Culinary Arts, orders must be in by 8 p.m. Nov. 21 and they can be picked up at the Food Lounge at 1001 Center St.; email chef Andrea Mollenauer at andrea@lifestyleculinary.com or call (831) 588-4515 to place order. See menu at Lifestyle’s Facebook page. Selections include whole cider-brined turkeys (stuffed with apples, onions, citrus, herbs), stuffed boneless turkey breast (white meat, ready to roast), and signature cranberry chutney (tart & sweet with a hint of ginger). For sides that will complement Lifestyle’s offerings, chef Andrea recommends Local Harvest Catering. Selections include sweet potato mash, green beans with caramelized onions and toasted pecans, and butternut squash/persimmon soup. See full menu at their Facebook page. Customers need to email orders to chef@localharvestcatering.com by Friday, Nov. 20, and Local Harvest orders can be picked up on Wed. Nov. 25th at Front Street Kitchen. For questions, call chef Denna at (831) 818-8482.

Emily’s Bakery offers items like stuffing, dinner rolls, cakes, and pies (the latter come in flavors like chocolate pecan, pumpkin, and apple). Customers need to place orders by Friday, Nov. 20. Call (831) 429-9866 for more information.

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New Leaf Community Markets: Thanksgiving offerings & holiday-themed classes

Thanksgiving dinner available from New Leaf Community Markets Photo credit: Angela Aurelio Photography

Thanksgiving dinner available from New Leaf Community Markets
Photo credit: Angela Aurelio Photography

Organic, Santa Cruz-based New Leaf Community Markets is offering lots of options for Thanksgiving Dinner. The store will be open until 2pm on Thanksgiving Day itself (Nov. 26) for any last- minute holiday needs. Also, they’ve added online ordering; you need to order online by Friday, Nov. 20 for meat and Sunday, Nov. 22 for deli items. You can still order in-store after these dates. Keep reading for specific selections and for highlights of a few holiday-themed classes.

During Thanksgiving week, New Leaf will have a large selection of a la carte items available in three areas: their grab ‘n’ go coolers, hot bar and deli. On Thanksgiving Day itself, the hot bar will have a “Green Plate Special” where you can get a turkey dinner with all the fixings for $9.99.

For personalized help during this busy season, the market is offering Holiday Solutions Stations at its stores—except for Felton and Boulder Creek. This is where you can place holiday orders, taste samples, get cooking tips, and ask questions about suggested pairings or accommodating your guests’ dietary restrictions. You are also welcome to sip on some seasonal beverages.

New Leaf only uses turkey from Sonora-based Diestel Family Turkey Ranch. There are many varieties available and they are featuring a few fully-cooked options that only require a quick reheat. These options include brown & serve turkeys and smoked turkeys. Other options include New Leaf’s herb rubbed and brined turkey, organic heirloom turkey, Cornish game hens, duck, or goose.

New Leaf also offers complete, freshly prepared turkey dinners that require no cooking. The “Turkey Dinner Package” ($99, feeds 4-6 or $119, feeds 6-8) includes an all natural brown and serve Diestel turkey, a 9-inch housemade pumpkin pie, and your choice of a side dish package (the latter has four selections to pick from including gluten-free and vegan offerings).

Some of their popular ready-to-heat-and-eat dishes:

  • parsnip bread pudding: a savory bread pudding with organic parsnips; which one staff member refers to it as “earthy” – it also includes bread cubes, grated Parmesan cheese and thyme
  • green bean casserole: a creamy mushroom sauce surrounds tender organic green beans, topped with housemade gluten-free crispy organic onions
  • butternut squash lasagna: a combination of sweet-and-savory roasted butternut squash and fresh sage
  • stuffing (a big serving of this is one of my personal indulgences every Thanksgiving—that and pumpkin pie, of course!): New Leaf is offering organic herb bread stuffing, gluten-free bread stuffing, and a cornbread version with sausage and apples

You can check out all of New Leaf’s offerings online at reservations.newleaf.com

Here are a few of New Leaf’s many upcoming classes; these are at the Westside location (1101 Fair Ave. in Santa Cruz). Pre-register here:

Cooking Class: Allergy-Free Holiday Side Dishes
Join Chef Lauren Hoover-West for a fun and educational hands-on cooking class. You will help prepare favorite holiday classic sides that are gluten- and dairy-free: stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, stove-top candied sweet potatoes, “never go back to the can cranberry sauce,” and veggies. You’ll learn to plan the meal so you can relax and enjoy your own holiday party. At the end of class, you’ll sit down with the class mates and sample tastes of all of the fabulous side dishes.
Tuesday, November 17, 5:30pm-8:30pm, $35/2 for $60

Fun with Succulents: A Wreath-Making Workshop
In this workshop, instructor Madia Jamgochian will guide you through the step-by-step process of creating your very own succulent decoration. Wreath rings, moss, and succulent cuttings will be provided. Hang your masterpiece up for the holidays, or give it away as a special gift. Succulent wreaths will thrive indoors, outside in your garden, or even as a table centerpiece, (put a candle in the center). Space is limited to 10.

Sunday, December 6, 2-4pm, $42

Holiday Cookie Exchange

This class, for kids and teens with their parents or relatives, happens once a year. We will be baking an assortment of cookies including Chocolate Chip, Ginger Snaps, Oatmeal and Shortbread Sugar Cookies to decorate. All gluten-free, dairy-free, low sugar, and high protein and fiber. There will be vegan cookies too. Come learn how to make no-guilt holiday cookies that everyone will want to enjoy, they also make great gifts. You will get to take home a plate of all the cookies we bake!

Thursday, December 10, 5:30-8:30pm, $20/kid, $30/adult

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This weekend’s food and wine events in Santa Cruz

Food by Ocean2table at a previous Food Lounge event (Pescetarian pop-up 11/8/15)

Food by Ocean2table at a previous Food Lounge event (Pescetarian pop-up 11/8/15)

There are many food and wine events occurring this weekend in Santa Cruz county. Below are details for a few of them.

Friday, Nov. 13: Food Lounge’s “Artisan Food Market”
From 4-9 p.m., the Food Lounge is the site of the Artisan Food Market, described as ‘farmers market meets cocktail hour.’ There will be many local food artisans and pop-up vendors, plus local wine and beer available for purchase and live music. Vendors include Mutari Hot Chocolate, Ocean2table, Notso Hot Sauce, and Makse Bars. The first of these monthly events was held in June; read details.
Location: 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz

Friday, Nov. 13: Food Trucks A Go Go event
Food truck event company Food Trucks A Go Go is hosting its third consecutive monthly food truck event at Skypark in Scotts Valley. They are offering a first-time beer and wine garden, including beer from Steel Bonnet Brewing Company, whose proceeds will benefit the Scotts Valley Education Foundation. Food vendors include Zameen Mediterranean, Aunt LaLi’s Mobile Café, Carmona’s BBQ, G’s Tacos, and India Gourmet. The event is 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: Skypark, 361 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley

Sunday, Nov. 15: Downtown Santa Cruz Wine Walk
The 3-6 p.m. event features the opportunity to taste wine from a dozen Santa Cruz Mountains wineries while browsing downtown Santa Cruz shops. Attendees check in at Abbott Square for their pass, glass, and pouring location map. It costs $30 online or at the “Downtown Santa Cruz” info kiosk (1134 Pacific Ave.). Participating wineries include Bargetto, Dancing Creek, Trout Gulch, Roudon Smith, Bonny Doon, and Pelican Ranch.
Location: Abbott Square, Cooper Street (next to Lulu’s at the Octagon), Santa Cruz

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Visit Pino Alto Restaurant for great meals by cooking students plus Friday farm to table dinner

Lemon buttermilk tart from a late October “New Releases” dinner at Pino Alto Restaurant

Lemon buttermilk tart from a late October “New Releases” dinner at Pino Alto Restaurant

If you are a foodie and haven’t yet discovered Pino Alto Restaurant, it’s a secret worth sharing. I just had the pleasure of dining there for the first time. The Cabrillo College culinary arts department operates Pino Alto, which is located in the historic Sesnon House on campus. It’s open during the fall and spring semesters, Sept.-Dec. and Feb.-May, and the Cabrillo Horticulture department grows a lot of the produce served. Students from the “Advanced Culinary” class are the ones who run the restaurant (with instructors’ supervision, of course). Lunch is served Mon-Thurs and dinner Wed-Fri. See the site for specific hours and menus. There are also special events like a farm to table dinner this Friday, Nov. 6: keep reading for details.

I dined at Pino Alto in late October; the menu I ordered from is available through Thursday, Nov. 5.  Dinner menus change every 3-4 weeks and lunch menus change weekly. A tapas-themed dinner menu will debut on Nov. 11. From the moment we entered the restaurant, everything was wonderful. Staff (culinary students) were very attentive, checking often to see if we needed beverage or bread refills (the bread was warm and fresh, so it was hard to say no, but I wanted to try several food items). The meal began with a complimentary salmon cake starter that they referred to as an amuse bouche, but it was bigger than the traditional one-bite amuse. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised by the generous sizes of all the courses! The salmon was delicious and moist, and the cake had a nice crunch. Chive masarpone provided a creamy, perfect topping. I had the chance to sample my husband’s crab-stuffed prawns with mango corn salsa, which was very tasty. Beet soup with ginger and coconut, garnished with a beet chip and crème fraiche, followed. It did not disappoint! All dinner entrees are accompanied by your choice of soup or salad.

Before I get to the rest of the meal, let me talk a little more about the way Pino Alto works. As I mentioned, Advanced Culinary students act as restaurant staff each semester. They fill all the typical positions including Manager, Set/Wait, Prep/Wait, Pantry/Wait, Bake, Pastry, Hot Line, and Head Chef. Our waitperson that night was Kimber Styles Ashley, who created—or helped create—quite a few dishes featured on the current menu, which is titled “New Releases.” She explained the menu-designing process that occurs each time: “This New Releases menu, which ends Nov. 5, was very much a collaborative menu. Individually we present a complete menu to our class in a discussion format on BlackBoard,” said Ashley. “Each meal is posted separately and we discuss, comment and vote on everyone’s dishes. We then discuss and vote on the dishes that received the most votes in class and then have a final vote. I was honored with having one of my main dishes and desserts chosen for the New Releases Menu. My main was grilled prime New York strip sirloin served with a lima bean and corn ragout and a nest of crispy string onions on top.”

My husband ordered the sirloin and it was divine; he pronounced it “buttery and tender.” My entrée was probably my favorite dish that night. I chose a wild mushroom cassoulet with artichoke hearts and onion confit. It was earthy and rich; the flavors and textures complemented each other beautifully. For dessert we shared a lemon buttermilk tart topped with vanilla whip cream and candied lemon rind. Let’s just say, it rocked our world and we sort of fought over the last bites. This was Ashley’s creation. She had the opportunity to work at Companion Bakeshop this past summer, and was inspired to create this tart after trying Companion’s Buttermilk Meyer Lemon pie, which she tasted at Pie Ranch up the coast.

Eric Carter, chair of the Culinary Arts program, serves as chef at Pino Alto restaurant and co-instructor for the Advanced Culinary class. He really enjoys these roles. “I love to see the growth in the students’ abilities and skills,” says Carter. “It’s a challenging class, nine units, and they are asked to perform at a very high level.”  It’s sometimes rough at the very beginning of the semester, he says, but things get much smoother very quickly as students become comfortable in both the front and back of the house. “Then I start to see them work independently and carry themselves with confidence.  It’s rewarding.”

Carter likes the fact that he gets to operate a restaurant that is well regarded in the community, and also influence many students’ lives in a positive way. He sometimes hears this from students years after they’ve finished the program.

The farm to table dinner on Nov. 6 will be a four-course menu with wine pairings, featuring lots of ingredients sourced from local purveyors like Jacobs Farm, Live Earth Farm and Stagnaro’s Seafood. The wine will be from Savannah-Channelle, Hunter Hill, Clos La Chance, Mountain Winery and Burrell School. See full menu below. The cost is $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. A reception starts at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7. For reservations, call (831) 479-6524.

Ashley is thrilled that several of her dishes were chosen for this event: the olive oil toast hors d’oeuvre, the rock cod fritter appetizer, the main course, and the dessert. She says that locally and seasonally harvested menus are her passion and that she’s been learning and growing in that direction through her Cabrillo culinary arts education. “I am definitely a California Cuisine-type of cook and would like to move towards the Slow-Food Movement as well,” says Ashley. “I think that’s why this Friday’s farm-to-table event was such a successful menu for me. Cooking from what’s at the farm makes me happy, excited and I feel alive.”

Carter hopes to see some new faces as customers in the near future. I can’t wait to go back myself. If you’re interested in getting on the list to keep informed about when Pino Alto is open and viewing current menus, Carter suggests writing to Sue Slater at suslater@cabrillo.edu.

November 6 menu

  • Three passed hors d’oeuvres: Jacobs Farm chive flatbread with garlic and brie; olive oil toasts with kale, feta, pine nuts and raisins; and ceviche on crispy won tons.
  • First course: smoked Pacific rock cod fritter with beet vinaigrette (or Romanesco fritter for vegetarian option)
  • Second course: grilled Monterey Bay calamari salad, mint vinaigrette, assorted Live Earth Farm vegetables
  • Main course: prosciutto wrapped halibut (depending on availability) with sage, served with rosemary apple braised chard and fennel potato gratin
  • Main course vegetarian option: Butterkin pumpkin sage risotto
  • Dessert: Apple pecan bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce and cinnamon ice cream

Pino Alto Location: Sesnon House at Cabrillo College: 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.


Free cookies at Pacific Cookie Company in Santa Cruz for 35th anniversary

Pacific Cookie Company in Santa Cruz celebrates its 35th anniversary

Pacific Cookie Company in Santa Cruz celebrates its 35th anniversary

Santa Cruz’s Pacific Cookie Company is celebrating its 35th anniversary this month, and the store is offering customers free cookies plus the chance to win a dozen cookies per month for a whole year.

Through Wednesday, Oct. 28, if you know the secret word or phrase of the day you can get a free cookie (flavors rotate daily; the promotion began Oct. 21). For the secret word, you need to visit Pacific Cookie Co.’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@pacificcookiecompanysantacruz) site. I’ll make it easy for my readers today: for Tuesday, Oct. 27 the phrase is “Breakfast of Champions.” Just repeat that at the Pacific Ave. retail store and receive a free oatmeal raisin cookie (while supplies last).

During the anniversary celebration they are also offering a “Scoop on a Cookie” special, featuring a scoop of Marianne’s ice cream on top of a cookie for $2.35.

The family-owned local business has added a new oatmeal, cranberry, and white chocolate cookie to its collection. But they are depending on their customers for a name and asking folks to submit suggestions on their Facebook page.  The person that creates the winning name wins a year’s supply of cookies.

President Cara Pearson is thrilled to be celebrating this milestone anniversary. “Thank you Santa Cruz for all of the love and support over the last 35 years,” she shared. “We would not be the business we are today if it was not for all of our loyal Santa Cruz cookie fans!”

A little history: Larry and Shelly Pearson – mom and dad to Cara – opened the retail bakery in 1980 on Pacific Garden Mall, and a retail store is still on Pacific across the street from the original location. The original flavors were Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Walnut, Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. If you want to learn more, read Pacific Cookie’s blog.

Location: Pacific Cookie Company, 1203 Pacific Ave. Santa Cruz, (831) 429-6905

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Food truck/family film event & Jamaican restaurant opening in Scotts Valley & Santa Cruz

Made to order ice cream sandwich from Aunt LaLi's

Made to order ice cream sandwich from Aunt LaLi’s

Here are details on a couple restaurant events occurring Friday, Oct. 23: a Scotts Valley food-truck-and-film event and a Jamaican restaurant opening in Santa Cruz.

Dinner and Movie in the Park
After a very successful debut event in September with 400-500 attendees, food truck event company Food Trucks A Go Go is hosting its second food truck event at Skypark in Scotts Valley Friday night. This time, it’s even bigger: there will be seven food trucks instead of four, and a free family-friendly movie—Monsters, Inc.—will be shown! The film will be aired on the big outdoor screen via Scotts Valley Recreation, who is partnering with Food Trucks A Go Go this time. Participating food trucks are Ate3One, Zameen Mediterranean, and Aunt LaLi’s Mobile Café (these three were all at last month’s “a Go Go”), plus event newcomers Carmona’s BBQ, G’s Tacos, Mariscos San Juanito, and Zocalo Tamales.

Ate3One really enjoyed participating in the September event. “We felt honored to be invited and share our food with so many of the folks that attended,” says co-owner Jonathan Smith. “It was great to see the excitement on people’s faces as their food came out.” When asked what they’d be selling at the Oct. 23 event, Ate3One replied that they will have staples such as Philly cheesesteaks and garlic shrimp tacos plus a few additions. “We will also be featuring some new menu items that will highlight locally harvested, seasonal produce,” said Smith. “ These include the ‘harvest hog sandwich’ with slow roasted pork tenderloin and a veggie salad featuring roasted butternut squash, apples, and pomegranate,” she added.  Smith looks forward to seeing “another great turn out of awesome foodies and their families.”

Aunt LaLi’s owner, LaLi Kates, is the Food Trucks A Go Go founder. She’s thrilled that the community has embraced these events. I asked her to tell readers a few of the things her truck will be stocked with on Oct. 23. “Our signature Nawlins’-style organic iced coffee, which has become quite popular…our Affogatos, which have a strong following: double shot of organic espresso poured over ice cream, with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle …made-to-order ice cream sandwiches…cones/cups of scooped ice cream…and hand-crafted Italian sodas,” shared Kates. Remember to save the date for the next Go Go Gathering: Friday, Nov. 13.

Date/Hours: Friday, Oct. 23, trucks start selling at 4:30 & film starts at 6:30 p.m. Trucks will stop selling at 7:30 (or earlier if they sell out)
Location: Skypark, 361 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley

Restaurant Opening: The Jerk House
Jamaican restaurant The Jerk House is officially open for business as of Oct. 23, 2015 — they had a soft opening on Wed., Oct. 21. One of their specialties is grilled dishes. The menu’s “small plates” include tacos with choice of shrimp or tofu; Jerk burger; and roasted root salad featuring roasted yam, onion, carrot, potato, turnip, and beets; glazed walnuts; spinach; and cilantro-lime vinaigrette. “Big plates” include spicy jerk chicken (slow-cooked organic Mary’s chicken); Caribbean chicken; hibiscus-glazed ribs; blackened snapper (from local Stagnaro’s) with mango salsa; pineapple yellow curry (vegan); and shrimp skewers. Big plates come with beans, rice, cucumber salad, and sweet fried plantains. The restaurant serves beer on tap from local breweries such as Santa Cruz Ale Works and Discretion Brewing, and bottled beer including Red Stripe. Visit The Jerk House’s Facebook site for the most current information.

Location: 2525 Soquel Drive (near Upper Crust Pizza), Santa Cruz, 831-316-7575

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New Leaf offers birthday discounts & party plus employees get raises

Limited edition “Dirty 30” ice cream from New Leaf & Mission Hill Creamery

Limited edition “Dirty 30” ice cream from New Leaf & Mission Hill Creamery

New Leaf Community Markets is celebrating its 30th birthday with lots of discounts through Sunday, Oct. 25, at its stores in Santa Cruz, Capitola, Half Moon Bay and Pleasanton. Also, the Westside store will hold a community block party on Saturday, Oct. 24. Visit Visit New Leaf’s 30-year anniversary site  for details on events and promotions.

Discounts & More
Through Sunday, there are 30 different product lines being sold at 30% off—choices vary each day. There are three or four on each weekday, and 14 Saturday/Sunday specials. For Oct. 20, selections on sale included packages of fresh pasta and ravioli from Pasta Mike and raw organic sauerkraut from Farmhouse Culture (both wonderful Santa Cruz area companies). Thursday’s discount items will include all bulk items except for coffee, tea, and herbs. The weekend deals include all New Leaf-brand cheese, organic local apples, and Talenti gelato.

The store created a few fun “30th anniversary exclusive products” including limited edition stainless steel pint cups (Klean Kanteen produced them) and a limited edition “Dirty 30” ice cream made by local Mission Hill Creamery. Only 1,000 pints of this delicious-sounding dessert are being made. It features organic vanilla MHC ice cream made with Straus Family Creamery dairy as the base, infused with a generous caramel swirl made with organic ingredients. The ice cream is blended with deluxe rich chocolate cake donated by Black China Bakery (a family-owned wholesale bakery in Santa Cruz), and chocolate Newman-Os, chocolate cream-filled cookies made with organic flour and organic sugar by Aptos-based Newman’s Own.

Birthday Party
New Leaf’s birthday party, 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Westside New Leaf (1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz), has free admission. It features music by The McCoy Tyler Band and the Painted Horses band, an in-store tasting fair, kids’ arts and crafts, and lots of food and drinks for sale. Food vendors include Uncie Ro’s, Mission Hill Creamery, Beckmann’s Bakery, and Farmhouse Culture. Drink vendors include Uncommon Brewers, Bonny Doon Vineyard, and Hallcrest Vineyard. Proceeds benefit Second Harvest Food Bank, a longtime New Leaf partner. If you donate a can of food to SHFB during the party, you’ll get a free raffle ticket (prize to be announced).

History and recent news
New Leaf has accomplished a lot over the years. When their very first store opened, it stocked produce from local Route 1 Farms—and Route 1 vegetables are still found at New Leaf today (in the regular produce bins and in the store’s popular, ready-to-eat Coastal Kale Salad). This is just one of the many local produce growers that New Leaf carries. In 2002, New Leaf became the first retail partner with non-profit marine conservation organization FishWise and launched a sustainable seafood labeling program.

In 2013, Portland-based New Seasons Market purchased New Leaf Community Markets. New Seasons was the first grocer in the world, and New Leaf the second, to become certified B Corporations, which recognize businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility. In late September 2015, New Leaf announced that effective January 1, 2016, it’s increasing the starting wage for all store staff from $10.30 to $12/hour. The pay rate for any staff whose rate falls below the new scale will move to the scale’s minimum, and any staff who have been with the company for more than two years will receive an additional adjustment based on tenure.
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Family-friendly Santa Cruz benefit with food, wine, Warriors prizes

Ice cream at Mission Hill Creamery, an official Santa Cruz Warriors partner and a participant in this weekend’s Taste of the Warriors

Ice cream at Mission Hill Creamery, an official Santa Cruz Warriors partner and a participant in this weekend’s Taste of the Warriors

The inaugural Taste of the Warriors—Saturday, Oct. 10, at downtown Santa Cruz’s Kaiser Permanente Arena—is a family-friendly event with food, wine, beer, and entertainment. The Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association and the Santa Cruz Warriors (the 2015 champions of the NBA’s Development League) are partnering to host this benefit for Santa Cruz City Schools (SCCS). In addition to serving wine from 19 local wineries including several South County vintners, the event will feature selections from several restaurants including local chefs who are SCCS alums. There will be photo ops with championship trophies from the Golden State and Santa Cruz Warriors. For more information or tickets, visit santacruzbasketball.com. The party will be from 6:30-9:30 p.m. and the arena is at 140 Front St.

For the kids, there will be a special area with a jump house, face painting, basketball hoops, and kid-friendly food. Adults can enjoy beer from Uncommon Brewers and New Bohemia and wine from the aforementioned wineries; their tickets include a souvenir Warriors wine glass. There are lots of restaurants and food vendors including Hoffman’s Bistro (Adam Hoffman is a SCCS alumnus), Assembly, Kianti’s, Pacific Thai, Back Nine Grill & Bar (chef Michele Costa is a SCCS alumna), Pleasure Pizza, Ristorante Italiano, Whitings’ Food, Goose’s Goodies (owner Marci Prolo is an alum), Penny Ice Creamery, and Mission Hill Creamery. Back Nine is serving rib tips; Hoffman’s is dishing up bruschetta and pineapple pulled pork sliders; Ristorante Italiano is providing homemade meatballs with marinara and meat dipping sauces plus mini Caprese salads; and Goose’s will provide toffee. Participating wineries include Alfaro, Armitage, Bargetto, Bartolo, Bottle Jack, Burrell School, Byington, Clos LaChance, Dancing Creek, Equinox, Odonata, and Stockwell Cellars.

Tickets have been on sale for a while at $50 in advance or $70 at the door. Those under 21 pay $10. On Oct. 7 organizers announced a 2-for-1 ticket deal. For that promotion, you need to call the Warriors ticket number (831-713-4400) or buy tickets at the door. Event proceeds will benefit SCCS, which serves 7,000 students. Since relocating to Santa Cruz in 2012, the D-League Warriors have collaborated with the district through the Read to Achieve and Math Warriors programs.

“We’re proud to host this event as part of our ongoing commitment to support our public schools,” said Santa Cruz Warriors President Jim Weyermann. “We are all champions when we stand together.” He described the upcoming event as “a family night that celebrates our community’s culinary talents, exemplary winemaking and dedication to education.”

Other highlights for Oct. 10 include an appearance by Warriors dual champion James Michael McAdoo who will take photos with fans; a raffle with autographed Warriors prizes such as jerseys signed by MVPs Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Flowers will be provided by alumna Wendy Melrose of Lina Floral.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.