Category Archives: Cooking & Chefs

A few April classes—and class discount—at New Leaf Community Markets

Learn how to make superfood energy balls at a New Leaf cooking class

Learn how to make superfood energy balls at a New Leaf cooking class

New Leaf Community Markets has announced a bunch of classes for April and May, and it’s offering a discount: 10% off any class that costs more than $20 (except series). To receive the discount, use promo code SPRING10. The organic, community market urges readers who are amateur chefs to sign up today and “Unleash your kitchenthusiasm” (New Leaf’s theme for April). Another reason to be enthusiastic at New Leaf? The sustainably farm-raised Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon is $3 off during April. Verified by FishWise as a “Best Choice,” this fish is free of hormones and antibiotics and raised in the pristine waters of New Zealand.

Below are a few cooking class highlights for April; these are all at the Westside location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306). ALSO: Another interesting event – not a cooking class – is an opportunity to learn about reducing your impact on the environment. On Friday, April 15 at 7pm, for only $5 (no discount for this one), people can attend “Zero Waste Lifestyle: Reduce Your Eco Footprint.” New Leaf’s Eva Pollard, founder of “thekindplanet.com,” will explain how and why she lives a zero-waste life by not creating trash or using plastic. Eva will show how everyone can reduce their trash footprint and teach about the benefits of a zero-waste lifestyle. Attendees are encouraged to “bring an open mind and heart, as well as your own cup.”
Preregistration http://newleaf.com/events/ is required.

Spring Dips & Dressings – April 13
Nutrition consultant and chef Madia Jamgochian teaches this class. If you love eating fresh salads, but sometimes lack the inspiration for making a tasty dressing, New Leaf encourages you to attend this class. Learn how to prepare yourself for the week by whipping up several different types of healthy salad dressings and dips that will “keep you reaching for the veggies.” Each attendee will get to take home recipes and a small jar of dressing made in class. Preregistration is required.
Cost is $25 or $40 for 2 before discount. Wednesday, April 13, 6-8 p.m.

Pickling Workshop – April 16
Home Chef Lisa Bono leads this hands-on workshop. Attendees will learn how to make classic pickles and pickle other kinds of veggies using vinegar, sugar and spice. The class will cover pickling and food preserving basics: equipment, technique, ingredients, storage, and recipes. You’ll leave class with a few jars of your own creations and the knowledge to start pickling at home. No experience necessary. Preregistration is required.
Cost is $25 before discount. Saturday, April 16, 2:30-4pm.

Superfood Energy Balls – April 20
Goji berries, lecithin, bee pollen, lacuma and chocolate are all nutrient-dense superfoods. Join the Westside New Leaf’s Wellness Specialist Sundari Lauren in this hands-on cooking class. Using nuts, fiber, good carbs, protein and healthy fats as a base, participants will create a variety of flavor packed treats and take home a box of their final products. Learn new recipes and experiment with making your own unique favorite. Preregistration is required.
Cost is $25 or $40 for two before discount. Wednesday, April 20, 6-7:30pm.

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Teen Kitchen Project news including Santa Cruz brunch benefit

Teen participants from Teen Kitchen Project’s new spot at El Pajaro CDC Incubator Kitchen

Teen participants from Teen Kitchen Project’s new spot at El Pajaro CDC Incubator Kitchen

The NEXTies of Santa Cruz (organized by Event Santa Cruz) recently announced that Teen Kitchen Project is receiving the 2016 award for “Nonprofit Organization of the Year” and TKP has even more good news to share; keep reading for details.

There will be a Teen Kitchen Project benefit brunch—actually two of them!—on Saturday, April 30 at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge (1001 Center St.). The TKP teens will be taking orders, cooking, and serving customers. A silent auction will have art, jewelry, flower bouquets, and more. There are two brunch seatings, 9:30 a.m. and noon. Tickets are $45 and include a menu featuring salad, fruit, baked goods, coffee, and tea. Each attendee receives an entrée choice (one selection is frittata with a side of Freedom Meat Locker sausage) and a choice of mimosa or orange juice. Kids under 12 cost $18. Purchase online. 100% of proceeds from tickets and auction benefit TKP.

For those unfamiliar with Teen Kitchen Project, executive director Angela Farley launched TKP in 2012 after her son was diagnosed with cancer. Farley decided she wanted to help other families affected by cancer, to at least attempt to decrease some of the pressure and feelings of being overwhelmed. Today, the organization regularly delivers free, organic meals to about 50 families affected by cancer, and has delivered more than 49,000 meals since 2012. There are families in locations across Santa Cruz County. Right now, 40% of the clients they serve live within five miles of Watsonville, but they hope to be able to increase this number. That leads to the next bit of news.

On March 7, TKP started cooking at the El Pajaro CDC (Community Development Corporation) Incubator Kitchen in addition to their original commercial kitchen in Soquel. They cook several days a week at the Watsonville kitchen, and will soon reduce their schedule to just two days a week in Soquel. The Incubator kitchen provides small groups of youth the opportunity to learn more about working as chefs in the hospitality industry. TKP’s “staff” adult mentor chefs are Stephanie Forbes, ElizaBeth Link, Cabrillo College culinary student Michelle Spencer and Cabrillo staff member Hector Quiroz. The “volunteer” adult mentor chefs are Tauna Coulson (Soquel kitchen), former Cabrillo Culinary Department instructor Kathy Niven (Watsonville kitchen), and Jesse Plasencia (Watsonville kitchen).

The program doesn’t just help the families it serves, it also helps teens gain valuable skills as they volunteer. These individuals are ages 14 to 19, in 8th grade or above, and have come from most of the area’s high schools. Most who work at the Soquel kitchen are doing this in exchange for community service hours, but there are some who sign up just for the experience. The required commitment is every other week for a minimum of eight weeks.

For more info on Teen Kitchen Project, visit their web site.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day 9: Win a pizza pack from industry pro Tony Gemignani including his cookbook, The Pizza Bible

The Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani

The Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani

It’s Day 9 of Santa Cruz Restaurant Examiner/Santa Cruz Foodie’s “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway.” See end of article for how to win a “pro pizza pack” from pizza guru Tony Gemignani of San Francisco restaurant Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Still have a couple holiday gifts left to buy for some foodie friends or family? Keep reading!

The Pizza Bible: Got any aspiring pizza chefs on your holiday gift list? When Ten Speed Press published this book by chef Tony Gemignani last October, Eater National called it “one of the most anticipated cookbooks of Fall 2014.” The book is a comprehensive guide to pizza making, with more than 75 recipes covering nine regional styles including classics like Neapolitan, Roman, Chicago, and what some call “pizza sub-specialties” like St. Louis and Californian. Recipes include New Jersey tomato pie, organic three cheese, fig/almond/Monterey jack, calzone with meatballs or spinach, pepperoni and sausage, and Calabrese “diavola.” The Pizza Bible has been described as a “complete master class in making delicious, perfect, pizzeria-style pizza at home… (including) the ins and outs of starters, making dough, assembly, toppings, and baking, how to rig your home oven to make pizza like the pros, and all the tips and tricks that elevate home pizza-making into a craft.” Gemignani is an 11-time world pizza champion and he owns 13 restaurants across Northern California and Las Vegas including Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Slice House at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Pizza Rock in Sacramento and Las Vegas, Tony’s of North Beach, and Slice House by Tony Gemignani in Rohnert Park. He is also proprietor of the International School of Pizza in San Francisco where he certifies chefs from around the world in various styles of pizza.

More pizza cookbooks: Other books that might pique a pizza-lover’s interest include “Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza” by acclaimed Portland baker Ken Forkish (of Ken’s Artisan Bakery and Ken’s Artisan Pizza) and “Pizza on the Grill: 100+ Feisty Fire-Roasted Recipes for Pizza & More” by Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer. “Flour Water Salt Yeast,” the #1 best seller from Amazon.com’s “Pizza Baking” category, features a tutorial on baker’s percentages, advice for manipulating ingredients ratios to create custom dough, tips for adapting bread baking schedules to fit your day-to-day life, and recipes such as sweet potato and pear pizza and golden beets and duck breast “prosciutto” pizza. Pizza on the Grill includes recipes like Kung Pao cashew chicken pizza, pulled pork pizza, and blistered corn, asparagus, and pesto pizza.

****
NOW FOR THE CONTEST:
One reader will win “Tony’s Pro-Pizza Pack,” graciously donated by chef/author Tony Gemignani himself. It includes a copy of Tony’s cookbook “The Pizza Bible,” a pack of his custom blend California artisan pizza flour, and an Italian professional pizza peel.

To enter, email your name to tfatemi@gmail.com by 9 pm. Tuesday, Dec. 22 and include the word “pizza.” The drawing will take place the next morning and the winner will be notified via email.

Employees of Examiner.com are not eligible for the promotion.

Good luck and happy holidays!

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Vegetarian dishes perfect for the season, including Annie’s pumpkin mac & cheese

Pumpkin mac & cheese – recipe courtesy of Annie’s

Pumpkin mac & cheese – recipe courtesy of Annie’s

As we move through fall and approach the winter, many of us crave soups and other comforting dishes. Of course, homemade soup is hard to beat, but sometimes pulling one together can be tough for busy parents or those who don’t own a crockpot. In September, Annie’s released a delicious new line of organic soups. Three of the five are vegetarian: tomato, creamy carrot & bunny pasta, and creamy tomato & bunny pasta. The carrot one has a nice sweetness and provides a lot of vitamin A, so it made my daughter and me happy. See end of article for a few more details on the soups.

I’m not vegetarian myself, but I know more and more individuals who are. I tried out a seasonal recipe from Annie’s recipe web site for pumpkin mac & cheese, and decided to make a vegetarian version by skipping the bacon-bit garnish (see my result in photo above). It didn’t taste like anything was missing; I’ll definitely be making this savory dish, which includes chard and apple, again. Because I had it on hand, I also substituted Annie’s organic vegan shells for the “shells with real aged cheddar” that the recipe called for. If you are vegan and want a quick recipe, Annie’s has one for spicy vegan bacon mac and cheese.

When searching for a few more vegetarian fall recipes, I discovered that Lundberg Family Farms has lots of options. I haven’t made these yet, but I look forward to creating kale and rice rolls and brown jasmine rice with pecans and orange honey glazed tofu, which is actually vegan. You can sort their recipes by vegan and/or vegetarian and/or course type (like appetizer), too. They also have recipes that feature their new American-grown organic tri-color blend quinoa, and their sprouted risotto. If you haven’t tried these yet you’re in for a treat. The sprouted risotto made with organic whole grain brown Arborio rice comes in three varieties including cheddar/pepper and sweet corn/bell pepper. They are good on their own, but it’s also fun to use a product you already like as an ingredient for a new recipe.

If you do have time to make some vegetarian soup from scratch, let me recommend a couple cookbooks I became familiar with when doing research for a Santa Cruz Sentinel article; they were both published in 2013. Mollie Katzen’s “The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation” includes recipes such as Black-Eyed Pea, Squash, and Shiitake Stew and Yellow Split Pea Dal (the latter is perfect for beginning cooks). Before this book, Katzen was already famous for writing “Moosewood Cookbook” among others; The New York Times and Amazon both named “The Heart of the Plate” a best book of the year.

“Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden” by Diane Cu and Todd Porter includes Hearty Celery Root and Red Lentil Soup. If you’re not vegetarian, the Curried Kabocha Squash and Chicken Stew recipe is one that I’ve made and loved—it’s an easy recipe with only a few ingredients. Foodies out there might already know Cu and Porter through their food/travel/photography, blog WhiteonRiceCouple.com.

More on Annie’s soups: Both tomato varieties offer a half-cup of vegetables per serving, while the chicken-based soups use only organic chicken and broth with no antibiotics added. All varieties are made with NO artificial flavors, synthetic colors, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.

More on Lundberg: All of their products use organic rice and/or quinoa.

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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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Santa Cruz hosts family-friendly Mole & Mariachi festival

Mole ingredients from a competitor's table at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival. Photo credit: Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Mole ingredients from a competitor’s table at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival. Photo credit: Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

The 3rd annual Mole & Mariachi Festival is Saturday, Sept. 19, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park. The food and music festival has free admission. If you want to sample moles, there is a $10 tasting kit for sale. A list of mole competitors and other vendors is below.

In addition to sampling mole, attendees can purchase local food, beer from Discretion Brewing, and other beverages including chavelas (a drink made from beer, tomato juice, and spices). Food vendors include The Penny Ice Creamery and Garcia Fish Tacos.  There will be music and dance performances, kids’ crafts, piñatas every hour, and a raffle.

This year, six local restaurants and chefs—including first-time participant Jozseph Schultz of India Joze—will prepare moles. Festival attendees and a panel of local judges led by Patricia Santana will select their favorites. Santana and her husband Leonardo own Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant in Aptos. In 2013 the judges’ panel chose Manuel’s as the winner of the inaugural mole cook-off with a recipe Leonardo developed.

Santana is excited and honored to be a judge this year; she is very passionate about mole. “This year, it will be fun to not compete, and actually get to enjoy other moleros’ creations without the stress of bringing our own,” she says. “I salute every mole maker bringing their best entry. In my opinion, mole is the king of sauces in the Mexican kitchen, but one needs to keep in mind there are seven different types of mole – and as many recipes as there are mole makers,” she adds. “This sauce is a labor of love, and every cook has their own secrets.” On mole day at Manuel’s (Sunday), her husband gets up at 2 am to have the restaurant kitchen to himself.

At the festival, free kids’ activities will include face painting, crafts, bubbles, and a mural project coordinated by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History.

Four folk music bands will perform: Mariachi Gilroy, Mariachi Alma de Mexico, Mariachi Juvenil Alma de Mexico and Trio del Sol. Also performing will be Estrellas de Esperanza, a children’s Mexican folklorico dance group from Watsonville, and Centeotl Grupo de Danza y Baile, a Santa Cruz-based dance group that preserves cultural connections with Mexico.

All event proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park (including educational programs and restoration and improvement projects) via Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. The event encourages alternative transportation by providing free trolley rides from downtown and having bike valet service at the park. For more information on the festival, visit the event web site.

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

Mole competitors:

  • El Chipotle Restaurant in Soquel (preparing a rojo Oaxaqueño mole)
  • El Jardin Restaurant in Santa Cruz—People’s Choice award winner at the 2013 festival, and a winner at the 2014 festival (preparing “Jorge’s Traditional Mole,” a red mole poblano)
  • My Mom’s Mole from Watsonville (with a 25-ingredient Guanajuato-style sauce that is spicy, not sweet, prepared by chef Cesario Ruiz)
  • Gerald Gonzalez (a home cook from Contra Costa County that will prepare “Mole de Paz,” a mole poblano)
  • Mariquita’s (home cook Emma Pinto Valedez will prepare her grandmother’s mole poblano recipe)
  • India Joze (Schultz will prepare a to-be-announced mole sauce)

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Second Los Gatos restaurant coming soon from Manresa’s David Kinch

Chef David Kinch is opening a new restaurant this fall Photo by Nick Vasilopoulos

Chef David Kinch is opening a new restaurant this fall
Photo by Nick Vasilopoulos

Fans of David Kinch’s cooking have a reason to celebrate: the owner/chef of Michelin-starred restaurant Manresa is opening New Orleans-inspired The Bywater this fall.

This is the first casual bar and eatery for Kinch, who is opening The Bywater with partner Andrew Burnham. Located minutes from Manresa, the space is named for The Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans, the city where Kinch grew up and got his start in the culinary industry. Chef David Morgan, formerly of August in New Orleans and Cyrus in Healdsburg, will serve as Chef de Cuisine. Burnham worked with Morgan at Cyrus.

The Bywater will pay tribute to the city where Kinch fell in love with cooking. “The Bywater is the kind of place where I would want to go after work or hang out on my day off,” said Kinch. “It’s casual, eclectic, and brings a bit of the food, drink, and atmosphere of New Orleans to this part of Northern California– music and all.”

The menu will showcases classic French and New Orleans-inspired dishes as well as Southern staples including fried green tomatoes. Kinch promises “Louisiana classics prepared with Manresa and California sensibilities.” Also, there will be a centerpiece raw bar offering a rotating selection of oysters, clams, and crabs.

Kinch visited New Orleans this summer to tape his appearance on PBS’ “The Mind of a Chef”(which debuts in a few days, incidentally). While there, he spent some time with his friend and fellow chef John Besh—I noticed he Tweeted about learning about gumbos with Besh, so I asked Kinch if the visit included any specific menu planning. “Having grown up in New Orleans, a lot of the dishes on the menu are inspired from my time there,” replied Kinch. “However, when I was in New Orleans recently filming, I met up with John. We don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but John and I did cook some dishes that may end up on The Bywater menu.”

Members of The Bywater’s cocktail team have experience from venues including Trick Dog, Kin Khao, Rickhouse and ABV. The drink menu will include New Orleans cocktails such as the Sazerac, Gin Fizz, and Milk Punch.  There will be a full menu of spirits with a special emphasis on American whiskey, bourbon, and rye with some French brandies in the mix.  There will also be a frozen daiquiri machine and a selection of cocktails on tap. In addition, beer and wine will be served.

Visitors to The Bywater can choose from a variety of seating options including a 10-seat bar, a 30-seat dining room, and an outdoor patio in the rear. The atmosphere will feature New Orleans design accents such as shutters and vintage neon signs.

The Bywater’s future details:
532 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, open daily for lunch and dinner & open on Sat-Sun for brunch

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