Category Archives: Food & Food News

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day 11: Locale

A box of Locale goodies, photo courtesy of Locale

The next “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway” prize is a $50 gift card from online food delivery business Locale. Read below to learn more about Locale and to find out how to enter the prize drawing.

Locale offers weekly delivery of food, with a unique set-up: customers get to choose products from dozens of businesses all over the Bay Area when they place orders, and it all arrives in one box for a flat fee. There is everything from fresh juice, produce and meat/seafood to ready-to-heat food to frozen selections.

In the mood to plan ahead and buy a different food for every day of next week? Locale has you covered. You can get avocados from Brokaw Ranch; pastries or sweets from bakeries like Manresa Bread, Ono Bakehouse, and Fleur de Cocoa; cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and Belfiore; Middle Eastern food from Oren’s Hummus (I had never tried their products before ordering from Locale, and I can highly recommend them); pizza from San Francisco’s Pizzeria Delfina (another product that was new to me, that I loved); Indian food from Curry Up Now, or Singaporean food from Straits—just to name a few! 

Los Gatos-based Locale delivers every Saturday to customers in Santa Cruz County, San Jose and Silicon Valley, the Peninsula, San Francisco, and the Peninsula. They even recently expanded to L.A.—that’s a different site, la.shoplocale.com, with L.A. county businesses providing items for sale.

Jonathan Friedland and Chris Clark co-founded Locale during the pandemic, in May 2020. They created the business after noticing that residents in their Los Gatos community were often waiting a long time for food and that people didn’t want to travel far with shelter in place, etc. The business soon expanded to nearby cities, and it’s grown exponentially since then, continuously adding more partners and products. Locale donates any extra food to Los Gatos’ Live Oaks Senior Center.

Need a gift idea? Locale offers gift cards in any amount.

Information: shoplocale.com, IG @localemarket.

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CONTEST:

One lucky reader will win a $50 digital gift card to Locale.

To enter, email your name to tara@santacruzfoodie.com by Friday Dec. 24 at 7 p.m. with the word “Locale” in the subject line. The winner will be notified via email.

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12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day Nine: Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria

Bûche de Noël (Yule log), photo courtesy of Gayle’s

The next “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway” prize is a $50 gift card from beloved Capitola institution Gayle’s Bakery and Rosticceria. Read below for how to win.

Gayle’s Bakery is popular any time of year, and during the holidays it’s especially busy. Although advance online orders have closed for Dec. 21-24, Gayle’s will have limited availability for certain popular items for walk-in customers on those days. These products include holiday appetizers like Deviled Eggs; Gayle’s Basil Torte (layers of sundried tomato & pesto, cream cheese and provolone with chopped pistachios outside—after ordering one of these tasty crowd-pleasing appetizers last year for the holidays, I am getting it again this year); and Creamy Brie Bake (Kalamata olives, sauteed mushrooms and scallions are encased in Gayle’s own Capitola Sourdough bread). Holiday dinners include Roast Turkey with housemade gravy and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing and green beans with fresh thyme. Side dishes include scrumptious garlic bread loaves. Cakes include Mini Bûche de Noëls, Winter Princess Cake, and Flourless Snowy Forest Cake. Pies include Pumpkin, Apple Crumb, and Olallieberry.

Of course, we have to talk about Gayle’s pastries, including their amazing almond croissants, decadent cinnamon rolls, and savory ham and cheese croissants, all available year-round. They always have a variety of fantastic cookies, and during the holiday season they have specialties like red and green checkerboards (almond shortbread) which comes in individual pre-made cookies or a slice-and-bake log you can make yourself at home.

Although the pastries are a popular breakfast item, Gayle’s also makes wonderful hot breakfast foods like individual quiches (I tried the tomato & spinach one the other day and it was divine) and breakfast burritos (vegetarian option or with bacon). And of course, you can’t go wrong with one of the bakery’s many signature bread loaves, to have at home with butter and jam or whatever your heart desires. These include Joe’s Bread (wheat sourdough), Organic Old World Raisin Walnut Loaf, and Challah.

If you’re not aware of the bakery’s awesome Blue Plate offerings, here are details: every week Gayle’s creates five dinners. You can buy any of them as “cold plates” from Monday-Sunday (until they sell out). Each weekday, there is one Blue Plate special that you can purchase hot after 4 p.m. Recent ones have included Chicken Schnitzel with bacon pepper gravy, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and Buttered Green Beans, and Shrimp Scampi with garlic & white wine Linguine, Fresh Asparagus and Rio Baguette. Other dinner ideas include lots of items in the cold case like their fabulous Salmon Niçoise salad. Note these salads won’t be available Dec. 23-24 when there is a limited menu.

Need a gift idea? Gayle’s offers gift cards in any amount.

Regular hours: Daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Holiday changes to hours: Open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 24, closed Dec. 25

Information: gaylesbakery.com, IG @gaylesbakery, 504 Bay Ave., Capitola, 831-462-1200

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CONTEST:

One lucky reader will win a $50 gift card to Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria.

To enter, email your name to tara@santacruzfoodie.com by Wednesday Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. with the word “Gayle’s” in the subject line. The winner will be notified via email.

Side note: Please be aware that although my website is called santacruzfoodie.com, I am not affiliated with the Instagram account called santacruzfoodie – that is someone else’s account. My IG is @tarafatemiwalker. I have been told many people mistakenly believe @santacruzfoodie is mine.

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12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day Seven: Mutari Craft Chocolate House

Holiday gifts available at Mutari, photo courtesy of Katy Oursler

The “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway” prize from Santa Cruz’s Mutari Craft Chocolate House is very exciting: a private tour and tasting for up to 10 attendees, valued at $200! The event includes a cup of single origin sipping chocolate and tastings of Mutari’s single-origin chocolate bars for all guests plus education about cacao trees and the process Mutari uses to make their chocolate (including hand sorting and stone grinding the beans). Read below for how to win.

Katy Oursler and Stephen Beaumier own and operate downtown Santa Cruz’s Mutari. The award-winning team makes everything from scratch. They source ethically traded cacao directly from farms and make all of their small batch chocolate in house from the bean.

If you’re looking for gift ideas or want to buy yourself a sweet treat, you’re in luck. There are a la carte truffles, or beautiful ready-to-go gift boxes of truffles, made in-house from Mutari’s bean to bar chocolate. These come as four, nine or 16 to a box. There are ones with ingredients from local and regional artisans and farms such as Venus Spirits Brown Butter Milk Chocolate, Far West Fungi Candy Cap Brown Butter Milk and India Joze Chai Dark. The Mutari team can also help you curate your own Craft Chocolate Gift Boxes. And while you’re shopping, you might want to buy their soft serve ice cream (like plant-based Uganda dark chocolate, yum!).

Also available: Single Origin Chocolate Bars. In addition, they sell bottles of handcrafted craft chocolate powder for at home do-it-yourself hot chocolate (think Himalayan Pink Salt or Spicy Mexican), decadent brownies, and housemade chocolate-covered marshmallows—good on their own or to accompany the Craft Hot Chocolate. Mutari also offers gift certificates.

Regular hours: Wed-Sun Noon-6 p.m. (closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

Expanded holiday hours: They will be open on Monday and Tuesday this week for extra holiday shopping. Hours from Dec. 20-Dec. 23 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Dec. 24 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Closed Dec. 25

Information: mutarichocolate.com, IG @mutarichocolate, 504A Front St., Santa Cruz, 831-687-8141

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CONTEST:

One lucky reader will win a Mutari Craft Chocolate House private tour and tasting for up to 10 attendees ($200 value), which must be used by Feb. 14, 2022.

To enter, email your name to tara@santacruzfoodie.com by Monday Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. with the word “Mutari” in the subject line. The winner will be notified via email.

Side note: Please be aware that although my website is called santacruzfoodie.com, I am not affiliated with the Instagram account called santacruzfoodie – that is someone else’s account. My IG is @tarafatemiwalker. I have been told many people mistakenly believe @santacruzfoodie is mine.

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12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day Five: Cheese Shop 831 in Capitola

Example of a gift basket owner Jillian Pirolo can create for you at Cheese Shop 831, photo courtesy of Jillian Pirolo

The prize from Capitola’s artisanal cheese store Cheese Shop 831 is a wonderful gift basket curated by owner Jillian Pirolo. Read below for how to win this fun “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway” item.

Pirolo opened Cheese Shop 831 in November 2020. She worked as a cheesemonger about 17 years ago and has always had a love of cheese.  After many years in the science and technology field, she returned to the cheese field and is glad she did.

The shop features about 120 gourmet cheeses at any given time. Some are from around the world, some are from local cheesemakers. Customers can sample cheese before they purchase it. Pirolo can prepare cheese platters for your special occasions; allow at least 24 hours’ notice for these.

Cheese Shop 831 has dozens of unique gifts—for the holidays and beyond—including fun tea towels, cheese boards, cards, chocolates, and other specialty food items. There are also wine stoppers, books and much more. Custom-made gift baskets tailored to your needs are available if you order in advance. You can also purchase gift cards in any amount or book a customizable “after-hours private party” as a unique gift to someone.

If you are shopping during the day, try going between 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. when you can buy one of Pirolo’s delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. Varieties rotate every two weeks; flavors this fall have included Brie with Fuji apple and chopped pecans or Havarti, Alpine and Provolone with spinach and artichoke. Sometimes fresh, hot truffle popcorn is available too. Follow Cheese Shop 831 on social media for updates and specials.

Regular hours: Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sun 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri-Sat 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Expanded holiday hours: From Dec. 21-Dec. 24 they’ll be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. for last-minute gifts

Information: cheeseshop831.com, IG @cheeseshop831, FB @Cheese-Shop-831-106562904105917

Suite V at Brown Ranch Marketplace (3555 Clares St.), 831-515-7406

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CONTEST:

One lucky reader will win a Cheese Shop 831 gift basket that includes a gift card (total value $75).

This particular contest is for Santa Cruz County residents only.

To enter, email your name to tara@santacruzfoodie.com by Saturday Dec. 18 at 10 p.m. with the words “I love cheese” in the subject line. The winner will be notified via email.

Side note: Please be aware that although my website is called santacruzfoodie.com, I am not affiliated with the Instagram account called santacruzfoodie – that is someone else’s account. My IG is @tarafatemiwalker. I have been told many people mistakenly believe @santacruzfoodie is mine.

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12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day Two: Staff of Life in Santa Cruz and Watsonville

Staff of Life Natural Foods in Santa Cruz

Staff of Life Natural Foods is the next participant in Santa Cruz Foodie’s “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway.” You can win a fantastic prize. Keep reading for how to enter.

A beloved member of the community since 1969, Staff of Life carries a giant selection of organic food and vitamins and supplements. There is a bakery section with traditional and gluten-free options; a butcher department with meat, seafood, and poultry; a large bulk section; artisan cheese; craft beer; a diverse wine selection; a deli with made-to-order sandwiches; and a hot and salad bar.

This year has seen many additions. They added a Watsonville location in March. This summer, the Santa Cruz store’s Café del Sol added gelato and sorbetto to its menu; these treats had already been offered at the Watsonville shop.

In late September, Staff of Life opened a Gift and Garden shop at its flagship Santa Cruz location which stocks home accessories, candles, stationery, kitchenware, plants and pots, birdhouses, and more if you need any holiday shopping ideas.

The supermarket offers seniors a daily five percent discount for all items except sushi, liquor, or anything on sale. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, this discount doubles to 10% off.

Hours are 8 a.m.-9 p.m. in Santa Cruz and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. in Watsonville. Staff of Life will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Contact Information

staffoflifemarket.com, IG @staffoflife

Santa Cruz location: 1266 Soquel Ave., 831-423-8632

Watsonville location: 906 E. Lake Ave., 831-726-0240

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CONTEST:

One lucky reader will win a Staff of Life gift card worth $50.

To enter, email your name to tfatemi@gmail.com by Thursday Dec. 16 at 10 p.m. with the words “Staff of Life” in the subject line. The drawing will take place the next morning and the winner will be notified via email.

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Christmas offerings, cheese event from Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz & Capitola

A few holiday sides from Whole Foods Market (photo used with permission)

Christmas is around the corner, and Whole Foods Market in Capitola (1710 41st Ave.) and Santa Cruz (911 Soquel Ave have lots of special offerings to choose from. In addition, the annual “12 Days, 12 Cheeses” promotion with a 30 percent discount just started! More on that a little later in this article.

For Christmas, place orders in person or online at shop.wfm.com through Dec. 23 for in-store pickup.

Whole Foods Market has partnered with cookbook author Chloe Coscarelli for a pre-made vegan holiday meal. Here are details on the dinner for two:

  • Cremini Mushroom Roast with Mushroom Gravy
  • Miso Creamed Greens
  • Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole 
  • Jalapeño Cornbread Dressing
  • Pumpkin Curry Soup (V). 

For non-vegan meals, there are a plethora of selections. Some would be considered classics (whole roast turkey meal for four, eight or 12 people – organic option available), while others are paleo-friendly or have another twist (how about a beef Wellington or lamb shank feast for four?). You can also order scrumptious a la carte sides like cider-roasted Brussels sprouts with pepitas or corn pudding.

Last but not least, desserts include Midnight Bûche de Noël (Yule Log — chocolate sponge cake filled with champagne mousse and topped with chocolate buttercream) plus several pies:

  • vegan Scarlett (juicy pear, tender apples and figs, and tart cranberries topped with a crispy walnut streusel)
  • Cherry
  • Apple
  • Blueberry
  • Pumpkin (vegan or traditional)
  • Pecan

Cheese Event

From now through Dec. 21, it’s the Holiday Cheese Bash where customers can save 30% off 12 different cheeses for 12 days. These include Klare Melk Truffle Gouda (exclusive to Whole Foods), Quadrello di Bufala, Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, and Cowgirl Creamery Organic Mt. Tam—which Whole Foods playfully refers to as “Brie’s quirky Californian cousin.” Prime members even receive an extra 10% discount after the 30%.

Local Store Details

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.

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

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Santa Cruz Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 7

Goodies from Cheese Shop 831
Photo courtesy of Cheese Shop 831

Welcome to the final installment—part 7—of my holiday foodie gift guide with information for several local businesses if you have some last-minute shopping to do. Contact me at tara@santacruzfoodie.com with questions or comments.

Also see:

Gift guide part 1

Gift guide part 2

Gift guide part 3

Gift guide part 4

Gift guide part 5

Gift guide part 6

Note: some past installments include events that have taken place, but they also mention local businesses you can still support!

I wanted to mention one non-food-related idea: there are so many wonderful artists in our County, and some rely on the annual Open Studios event to bring in a significant part of their income. Due to the pandemic, OS could not take place this year. The sponsoring organization—Arts Council Santa Cruz County—launched a great “curated directory” website to showcase visual artists and provide easy opportunities to support these creative individuals. Visit the Visual Artists Network website at visualartsnetworkscc.com.

My mother, Fereshteh Fatemi, is one of these artists—a talented jeweler—and she’s donating 10% of her sales through Christmas to Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County.

Speaking of Second Harvest Food Bank, another gift idea is to make a donation to them in honor of someone that you care about. This year, more than ever, people are relying on SHFB for food. The organization distributes over eight million pounds of food each year to children, families, vets and seniors in Santa Cruz County.  More than half of the residents they serve are kids. Traditionally, every dollar donated provides four healthy meals to someone in need. Right now, thanks to a challenge grant from the COVID-19 Local Response Fund at Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, donations are being matched so your dollars are having a double effect.

Here are a few more gift possibilities:

Captiola’s Brown Ranch Marketplace (the center with Trader Joe’s) recently welcomed the store Cheese Shop 831. Owner Jillian Pirolo was supposed to open her business several months ago but got delayed due to the pandemic. I’ve been told by one friend who shopped there that they have amazing cheese—including local, regional and international varieties—and I’ve seen on Instagram @cheeseshop831 that they have other products like olive oil, handmade cheese boards, truffle hot sauce, towels and oven mitts. Visit cheeseshop831.com.

Aptos gift shop Hammond Glass Engraving & Gifts is open by appointment from Tuesday through Saturday. They carry items like Christmas mugs,  Spode mugs, wine glasses, high-ball glasses and serving dishes. The shop has been around for 30 years, and Jessie & David Campbell bought the business in 2018. I haven’t been there myself, but I hope to check it out post-holiday-season. Visit hammondaptos.com.

Five Star Catering put together a fun Local’s Gift Box; read more and purchase online. It supports eight local Santa Cruz area businesses affected by the pandemic including Mutari Craft Chocolate, Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company, Edith Meyer Wedding Cakes, and Magnolia Fine Gifts and Apothecary. They are even offering no-charge, no-contact SC County delivery. Visit fivestarcatering.com/holidayboxes.

Michelle Kneads Dough Monterey County is home to talented pastry chef Michelle Lee. A finalist on Food Network’s recent Halloween Baking Championship and a former staff member at restaurants including The C Restaurant+Bar at Intercontinental the Clement Monterey, Michelle found herself out of work due to the pandemic. She decided to get her cottage food permit and start doing pop-up “QuaranTreats.” I’ve enjoyed her food at The C and at special events, and also bought one of her yummy QuaranTreats and plan to buy more. I don’t know if she does gift cards for future treats, but just telling any “sweets fans” you know about her is a gift in itself! Visit Instagram.com/michelle.kneads.dough.

Lots of wineries and breweries are offering gift cards if you want to give your gift recipient the choice of what exactly they will receive. You can get contact info for many wineries at the Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains website. Visit winesofthesantacruzmountains.com/wineries.

A final list of stores & vendors (without going into too much detail I wanted to make sure and at least share a few more names):

Santa Cruz County

Counter Cultures Kitchen Visit IG @countercultureskitchen

El Salchichero Visit elsalchichero.com

Far West Fungi Visit farwestfungi.com/pages/santa-cruz

Farmer Freed Salts Visit farmerfreed.com

Itso & Notso Hot Sauce Visit makefoodhappy.com

Marini’s Candies Visit mariniscandies.com

Mountain Feed & Farm Supply Visit mountainfeed.com

Sushi Market Sprouts Visit Instagram.com/sushimarketsprouts

Monterey County

Carmel Honey Company Visit carmelhoneycompany.com

The Chef’s Stash (weekly local food boxes curated by chef and restaurateur Gabe Georis and chef Brandon Miller, with omnivore and pescatarian options). Visit thechefsstash.com.

Elroy’s Fine Foods Visit elroysfinefoods.com

Happy Girl Kitchen Visit happygirlkitchen.com

Jerome’s Carmel Valley Market Visit jeromescarmelvalleymarket.com

Other Brother Beer Visit otherbrotherbeer.com

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Santa Cruz Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 6

Aptos Apiary honey, one of many gift options at local farmers markets
Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets

Here is part 6 of my holiday foodie gift guide—with some ideas for bakeries, Italian groceries, farmers markets and more. Let’s shop local and support small businesses as much as we can this season (and beyond)!

Also see:

Gift guide part 1

Gift guide part 2

Gift guide part 3

Gift guide part 4

Gift guide part 5

Note: some past installments include events that have taken place, but they also mention local businesses you can still support!

Bakery Gift Cards

Your favorite local bakery can use your support right now. One idea: visit in-person and buy a gift card and one bakery item & put them together for a nice gift! Or if you prefer to shop from home, buy a gift card online. Our wonderful local bakeries include Gayle’s, The Buttery, The Farm, and Companion Bakeshop. Going to Gayle’s? You might combine it with a stop to neighboring Lyons and Melrose, which offers floral arrangements plus a variety of gifts like unique ornaments, European candles, soap, home décor, and packaged sweets. Visiting The Buttery? Its Soquel Avenue location is just four blocks down from the shop Home/Work, which features gift ideas like mugs and bowls, bamboo lunch boxes, beeswax wrap, aprons, homemade hot sauce kits, and seed ball kits like “Pizza Garden” (grow your toppings).  The Farm Bakery, Café & Gifts has its own chock-full-of-fun-items gift shop. You can pick up one of their signature fruit tarts plus things like housewares, linens, whimsical water bottles, cookbooks, candles, toys, and more. Companion Bakeshop has two locations; the Aptos one is in the same center as Outside-In, a shop that has enticing items like botanical candles, travel mugs, Talavera dishes, fleece jackets, puzzles, and ornaments.  

Farmers Markets

Your local farmers market is a wonderful place to shop for gifts. Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets runs these markets: Wednesday downtown Santa Cruz (DT), Saturday westside Santa Cruz (WS), Sunday Live Oak (LO), and Felton and Scotts Valley (both closed for the season). Below is information on several vendors and products, and their corresponding markets. A fun gift idea to either put with these products or use on its own? Each market sells gift certificates in any amount at the information table at. These funds can be spent over time at any stand at any of the markets. For exact market locations, hours, and more info, visit santacruzfarmersmarket.org.

Listed alphabetically:

  • Apricot King – preserves and dried fruit – DT
  • Aptos Apiary – honey – DT
  • Ashby Confections – DT, WS
  • Bella Vista – olive oil – WS
  • Blossom’s Biodynamic Farm – DT, WS, LO
  • Blue House – dry beans and popcorn – WS
  • Copper Moon Apothecary – soaps, lotions and salves – WS, LO
  • Dirty Girl – tomato preserves – DT, LO
  • Fruition Brewing – DT weekly, LO & WS rotation
  • Good Faith Farm – olives and olive oil – DT
  • Hakouya Miso – DT, WS, LO
  • Hidden Fortress – coffee beans – DT, LO
  • Home Away – fresh pastas, sauces, charcuterie, olives – DT, WS, LO
  • Il Biscotto – traditional Italian cookies – DT weekly, WS and LO rotation
  • Pottery – DT, WS, LO
  • Prevedelli – preserves – DT
  • R & K Honey – WS, LO
  • Santa Cruz Cider – DT
  • Stocking stuffers – things like persimmons, pomegranates, kiwis – DT, WS, LO

Italian goodies

Some Italian restaurants—like Seabright’s Tramonti and midtown Santa Cruz’s Sugo—have created “miniature markets” inside their dining rooms in order to sell holiday gifts. Both are posting pics on Instagram of select offerings, so it might be a good idea to browse online before shopping. Also, Aptos-based Italian restaurant Mentone has a few items that would make good gifts. Visit Tramonti (IG @tramonti_santacruz) for pre-assembled gift baskets with artisan Italian selections or a la carte items like a package of Italian chocolates or fancy balsamic vinegar. If you can manage perishable items with your gift they have a refrigerated grab and go section with things like housemade marinated artichokes, jarred housemade Italian sauce, and packaged gnocchi. Visit Sugo (IG @sugoitalianpastabar) – for packaged pasta, sauce, and Panettone, an Italian type of sweet bread that’s traditional around Christmas. Visit Mentone (IG @MentoneCA) for tee- and sweat-shirts, beanies, wine, and cocktail kits. They are also taking pre-orders for Xmas Eve dinner with add-ons like a holiday wine pack and ManresaBread cookies and granola. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention downtown Santa Cruz’s Zoccoli’s Deli, which has been in business since 1948 and is fully stocked all year long with Italian groceries including sweets. All four of these places have gift cards that you can purchase as well, either for the entire gift or to combine with other items to make your own special gift.

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Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 5

A floral cupcake bouquet from The Giving Cake
Photo courtesy of The Giving Cake

Here is part 5 of my holiday gift guide to encourage everyone to shop local and shop from small businesses—it mostly has food-related gifts. I’ll post another guide soon.

Also see:

Gift guide part 1

Gift guide part 2

Gift guide part 3

Gift guide part 4

Note: past installments include events that have already taken place, but they also mention local businesses you can still support!

Restaurant Gift Cards

Just a reminder that your favorite local restaurant (or two) can use your support right now. Same with local ice creameries, breweries, wineries…you get the idea! Buy a gift card and you accomplish two things: you have a gift for a foodie friend or family member, and you are helping a small business survive these challenging times.

Sweets

There are so many sweet Santa Cruz County offerings that I can’t mention them all (I’ve included a couple in previous articles). I’ll highlight a couple here & if possible I’ll include a couple more in a near-future article. Local chocolatiers Mutari Chocolate have lots of delicious gifts like Chocolate Chunk Take & Bake Cookies, craft hot chocolate powder, single origin chocolate bars, and seasonal truffle gift boxes. Order and pick up at 504 A Front St. for someone in town, or have your gift shipped anywhere in the country. Visit mutarichocolate.com.

I don’t know if Anouchka Bakery does gift cards or not, but I just tried baker/owner Anna Landaw’s Snickerdoodle cookies for the first time (her flavors rotate, and she does pies and other items) & I can say with confidence that she knows what she’s doing. And she has free SC County delivery! Update Dec. 13: I discovered she is creating chocolate cream pies & delivering them on Christmas Eve. You can order half-pies or whole pies. Visit anouchkabakery.com.

Last but not least, Anna Lieby launched her new business The Giving Cake earlier this month—but she has been baking for most of her life. She offers boxes of cupcakes or intricate “floral cupcake bouquets” and donates all profits to local nonprofit organizations. Her current list of fund recipients: CASA, Center for Farmworker Families, Digital Nest, Homeless Garden Project, Imagine Supported Living Services, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services, Resource Center for Nonviolence, Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County, Teen Kitchen Project and Ventana Wilderness Alliance. I’m excited to be a first-time customer soon—I think I’ll start by buying myself a gift! For information, visit IG @thegivingcake or facebook.com/TheGivingCakeSantaCruz.

Jam and More

Speaking of Center for Farmworker Families, Love Cultivated’s owner Natalie McKinney donates five percent of her profits to CFF, which “promotes awareness about the difficult life circumstances of binational farmworker families while proactively inspiring improvement in binational family life both in the US and in Mexico.” Love Cultivated offers “small batch artisan provisions inspired by the farm and orchard.” I have bought and loved Natalie’s products which include jam and marmalade (made from fruit sourced from local farms and farmers’ markets using copper jam pans and no added pectin), goat milk soap (with milk from the McKinney Family goat herd, & flowers from the family’s cottage garden), and gardeners’ salve and whipped body butter. There are very limited quantities left for holiday shopping but remember you can always purchase post-holiday-season. Visit love-cultivated.myshopify.com or IG @love.cultivated.

Coffee

There are a multitude of local, independent coffee shops that you can support, including Coffeetopia (see Instagram), Cat & Cloud, Eleventh Hour Coffee, Pacific Coffee Roasting Co. (see Facebook), People’s Coffee (see FB), Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co. & Verve. They all have gift cards and various products for sale this holiday season. Verve is also offering (online only) holiday packages like the Cozy Coffee Gift Bundle. It comes with a 12-ounce bag of Holiday Blend coffee, a Verve-branded Kinto mug, a candle, and a Verve knit beanie. In addition, they are doing “Holiday Drink Happy Hours” at all of their locations from 2pm to closing where customers can get seasonal signature beverages for $3. This season’s specialties include Café De Olla Con Panna, which is a shot of espresso sweetened with spiced piloncillo syrup and topped with spiced whipped cream. Verve refers to it as “a holiday take on a classic Mexican drink.” Visit vervecoffee.com.

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Foodie Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Local gifts, part 4


One of the gift boxes available through the El Pajaro CDC (Community Development Corporation) Commercial Kitchen Incubator Program
Photo courtesy of EPCDC

Here is part four of my foodie holiday gift guide to support local small businesses. I’ll try to post another guide in a couple days. Happy shopping & stay safe out there!

Also see:

Note: past installments include events that have already taken place, but they also mention local businesses you can still support!

Food Gift Boxes from local entrepreneurs

There are two upcoming Kitchen Pop-Ups at El Pajaro CDC, 23 E. Beach St., in Watsonville. The pop-ups include artisan food products for sale, both separately and as part of holiday food boxes that contain enticing product combinations. I have tasted most of these products and they are fantastic. Hours are 3-7 p.m. on two Fridays: Dec. 11 and Dec. 18. Shoppers may order holiday gift boxes at epcdc.square.site, and curbside pickup is available. At this site, you can also order ahead and pick up selected boxes at the Saturday Westside Santa Cruz or Sunday Live Oak farmers market. Some of the entrepreneurs’ products are El Pajaro CDC jam (organic berry jam); Hakouya (miso dressing) Il Biscotto (Italian cookies); Mary’s Fruit Tarts (shortbread cookies); My Mom’s Mole (dry mole mix); Rogue Pye (assorted hand pies); Santa Cruz Balsamics (flavored balsamic vinegars); Scrumptious Fish & Chips (condiment sauce); Teresa’s Salsas (fresh salsas); The Green Waffle (assorted flavors of waffles); and Yoli’s Adobo (sauce). The EPCDC Commercial Kitchen Incubator Program offers a fully equipped, shared-use facility to help culinary entrepreneurs start or expand food businesses. Learn more at elpajarocdc.org. Since they launched seven years ago, they have helped more than 60 businesses. To shop, visit epcdc.square.site.

Packaged Meals

Have people to shop for that don’t have time for cooking or don’t like cooking? You might consider a gift certificate to a business that offers prepared meals. These three local companies offer pickup and delivery options, with menus rotating weekly. I have been a happy customer ordering from all of them!

Foodsmith, based in Soquel, has paleo, vegan, and keto meals with organic produce. You pick from breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner, for two, three, five, or six days. One recent paleo meal was Carne Asada Barbacoa Plate (grass fed beef with roasted peppers, sweet onions, dry-farmed tomatoes, butternut, chili-braised collards, cauliflower rice and avocado lime crema). Since 2017, Foodsmith has donated over 60,000 meals to people in need—including, this year, 1,500 meals to Grey Bears this holiday season (for those who are homebound) and meals to local hospital workers helping fight the pandemic. Buy gift certificates here. For more info, visit myfoodsmith.com.

Golden Roots Kitchen in Scotts Valley offers gluten-free organic dishes. Some are vegetarian or vegan, including the weekly frittata and a recent Roasted Cauliflower, Pomegranate and Pistachio Salad, and a few feature pasture-raised animal proteins including Fogline Farm chicken. Founder and executive chef Melanie Geist emphasizes a farm-to-table philosophy and takes extra steps like “soaking and sprouting to make our plant based food more digestible and bio-available.” Buy gift certificates here. Also, next week they will be offering packaged snacks like warm olives, pan toasted nuts and chai spice molasses cookies and featuring Hanloh Thai Food’s pad Thai kit. “We think this kit would make a really fun gift,” says Melanie. For more info, visit goldenrootskitchen.com.

Golden Roots Kitchen has featured select dishes from Hanloh Thai Food for the last few months, and recently Hanloh joined the same Scotts Valley commercial kitchen as GRK. Hanloh’s founder/chef Lalita Kaewsawang, a former staff member of Michelin-starred restaurant Manresa in Los Gatos, offers a rotating menu of what she calls “Thai comfort food and country-style cooking.” Recent dishes have included vegan green curry (vegetables from Spade and Plow and Windmill Farm), Drunken Noodles, Son-in-Law Eggs, and charcoal-grilled lemongrass chicken. Buy gift cards here. For more info, visit hanloh.com.

Monterey County

The next Big Sur Foragers Festival, an annual benefit for the Big Sur Health Center, was slated for January 2021. Like many events, it’s pivoting to a virtual format—and tickets for one of these offerings, a raffle, would make a great gift. Prizes include a family ‘staycation’ (a suite at beloved Carmel inn Hofsas House plus a gift card for Lugano’s Swiss Bistro, which I still haven’t made it to!), a $500 gift card to popular Moss Landing restaurant Haute Enchilada (one of my favorites when I drive down the coast), and a restaurant trifecta with gift cards from Tarpy’s, Montrio Bistro, and Rio Grill (the first two are Monterey and the latter is Carmel—all wonderful spots). Tickets are only $5 or 6 for $25 and you get to choose which prize(s) you’re trying for. Visit bigsurforagersfestival.org/raffle for more information and a downloadable form.  

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