Tag Archives: Aptos

Thanksgiving highlights for Santa Cruz & Scotts Valley

The dining room at 1440 Multiversity in Scotts Valley
Credit: 1440 Multiversity

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and there are lots of offerings you can choose from—including a unique day at Scotts Valley’s 1440 Multiversity, restaurants with lunch or dinner, and caterers and personal chefs that have prepared food options. Here are a few highlights.

 

1440 Multiversity is offering an inclusive day of Thanksgiving programming. The cost is $125; this includes breakfast (8-9 a.m.), lunch (noon-1:30 p.m.) plus Thanksgiving dinner (4:30-6:30 p.m.). Tickets must be purchased by 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17. The dinner menu includes Oven Roasted Turkey, Cranberry Confit, Turkey Gravy (vegetarian entrée available); Roasted Brussels Sprout Apple Hash, Chive Gremolata, Fresh Horseradish; and Green Bean Casserole, Wild Mushroom, and Oven Dried Shallot. For the day, attendees will have full access to the campus including workshops, hiking trails, movement classes such as yoga, and an infinity tub soak at the Healing Arts center (participants also receive a $20 discount on any healing treatment of 50 minutes or longer, including massage). A kirtan concert follows dinner. Buy tickets and see full schedule online.

800 Bethany Dr., Scotts Valley, 1440.org

 

Vegetarian Thanksgiving to go: organic prepared food business The Open Hearth is offering a to-go Thanksgiving menu. All orders must be placed by Friday, Nov. 17 and will be ready for pick up Wednesday, Nov. 22 after 4:30 p.m. Selections are Winter Squash Apple Bisque; Pomegranate Persimmon Spinach Salad w/ Goat Cheese & Pomegranate Vinaigrette; Baked Tofu Strips (with Wildwood sprouted firm tofu); Garlic Mashed Potatoes; Portobello Mushroom Gravy; Roasted Brussels Sprouts (with Rodoni Farms sprouts); Cashew Carrot Spread; Jumbo Cornbread Muffins; and Cranberry Apple Crisp. Founder/chef Beth Freewomon has been offering ready-made meals made from organically grown, gluten-free, plant-based and whole unprocessed foods to the local community for more than 10 years. Visit IAmTheOpenHearth.com or contact 831-471-9677 or bethfreewomon@yahoo.com

 

Whole Foods Market has many take-out and catering options available in Santa Cruz and Capitola. All orders must be placed by Tuesday, Nov. 21; WFM recommends ordering as soon as possible, as some selections will sell out. WFM partnered with Philadelphia-based fine dining vegan restaurant Vedge to create a Vegan Meal for Two ($39.99), which includes lentil-mushroom stuffing, mustard-glazed cauliflower, a chocolate toffee mini cake and more. A la carte vegan dishes include roasted butternut squash. Gluten-free selections include several pie varieties from the company Natural Decadence. A traditional turkey dinner for eight for $119.99 contains a fully cooked 10-lb. oven-roasted turkey, herb stuffing, mashed potatoes, organic turkey gravy, and two pounds each of organic cranberry orange sauce and green beans with crispy garlic and parsley (the latter two selections are vegan). For a similar dinner for eight with an organic turkey and slightly different selections, the cost is $159.99. You can place your Thanksgiving dinner orders in person or online at wholefoodsmarket.com/online-ordering. They also have a comprehensive online holiday guide which includes lots of tips and recipes.

911 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz (831) 426-9901

1710 41st Ave., Capitola, (831) 464-2900

 

Chaminade has a Thanksgiving buffet from noon to 6 p.m. The cost is $60 for adults, $20 for kids 6-12, and free for kids under 6. Selections include roast turkey with warm orange-cranberry compote, roasted Dijon-crusted lamb leg with mint jelly, apple cider braised pork loin with dried cherry bordelaise and crispy prosciutto, butternut squash ravioli with porcini crème and roast vegetable bruschetta, a Greek display (dolmas, falafel, tzatziki, hummus and more), several salads, and winter squash soup with toasted pepita seeds.

One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz (831) 475-5600

 

Aquarius at the Dream Inn is offering a buffet from 1:30-7 p.m. Cost is $64 for adults and $29 for kids 12 and under. Selections include Diestel free range turkey and prime rib carved to order; butternut squash bisque; a salad bar; cheese and charcuterie including Cypress Grove Bermuda Triangle, Marcona almonds, honeycomb, prosciutto, smoked duck breast, assorted pates and seafood and vegetable terrines; and traditional Thanksgiving sides like Yukon gold mashed potatoes and glazed sweet candied yams. Desserts include pumpkin pie, Kentucky bourbon pecan pie, mini pastries and cupcakes.

175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz (831) 426-4330

 

Severino’s Bar & Grill is offering a buffet from noon to 4:30 p.m. Cost is $42 for adults and $17 for kids 5-10; ages 4 and under are free. Selections include turkey, Angus prime rib of beef, honey-baked country ham and leg of lamb carved to order; traditional stuffing and Yukon mashed potatoes; Caesar salad; clam chowder; fish of the day; and vegetarian ravioli. Desserts include pumpkin pie, pecan pie and vanilla crème brulee.

7500 Old Dominion Court, Aptos (831) 688-8987

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The 2016 California Beer Festival: Santa Cruz Beer Week finale

Last year’s California Beer Festival at Aptos Village Park Photo courtesy of California Beer Festival

Last year’s California Beer Festival at Aptos Village Park
Photo credit: California Beer Festival

The 2016 California Beer Festival (CBF), at Aptos Village Park from Friday, Aug. 12 through Sunday, Aug. 14, is the final celebration to cap off Santa Cruz Beer Week (Aug. 7-14). See the Santa Cruz Waves Beer Week site for details on lots of activities including a collaboration between burger and Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. at burger’s Aptos location on Thursday.

California Beer Festival details

Tickets range from $10 on Sunday to $99 for a three-day VIP pass that includes lots of benefits. Live music includes Sambada (Friday night) and Prince tribute band The Purple Ones (Sunday).

Location: Aptos Village Park, 100 Aptos Creek

More info or advance tickets: (805) 628-9588 or californiabeerfestival.com/santacruz

  • Friday, Aug. 12: “Food & Beer Pairing” (5:30-8:30 p.m.) plus live music. Several Brew Masters are pairing up with gourmet chefs. Each is competing for attendees to vote for them for “best food and beer pairing.” A $50 a la carte ticket includes food samples, beer, live music and one CBF souvenir pint glass. Must be 21 years of age or older to attend.  Pairings:
  1. The Jerk House & Brews of Santa Cruz
  2. Pour Tap Room & 101 North
  3. Hollins House & Seabright
  4. Ulterior & Leopold 7
  5. Peter B’s & Peter B’s
  6. Burt’s & Burt’s
  • Saturday, Aug. 13: “Craft Beer Heaven” (Gates open at 12:30 p.m. and beer sampling is 1-4:30 p.m.). There will be more than 85 craft beers available plus live music, food, and bocce ball. You must be 21 years of age or older to attend. General admission is $50 and VIP tickets are $75. Designated driver tickets are $25.
  • Sunday, Aug. 14: “Sunday Funday in the Park” (11 a.m.-6 p.m.) There is no beer sampling on Sunday but there is beer and food for sale. That day, kids 12 and under are free. Anyone over 12 pays $10. Families are encouraged to attend and people can bring lawn chairs and blankets.

Festival profits benefit the Gen Giammanco Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial support to student athletes in Santa Cruz County.

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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.

 

Lots of food and wine at biggest Grazing on the Green ever to benefit cancer research

Food at a previous Gourmet Grazing on the Green

Food at a previous Gourmet Grazing on the Green

The 12th annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green, Saturday, Sept. 19 at Aptos Village Park, has more food and drinks than ever before! As of press time, there are 73 vendors including local restaurants and caterers, other food businesses, and local wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG).

The event, which is from noon to 4 p.m., usually sells out so it’s smart to buy tickets ahead of time. Buy $70 tickets at New Leaf Community Markets (downtown, Westside or Capitola locations) or online. If you have a group of 10, you can get tickets for $60 each. Admission includes food, drinks a souvenir wineglass, and live music.

Participating restaurants, farms, and food vendors for 2015 include The Crow’s Nest, Café Cruz, Café Rio, Solaire Restaurant and Bar, Real Good Fish, Niman Ranch, Smart Chicken, New Leaf Community Markets, Ella’s at the Airport, Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine, and Sid’s Smokehouse.

Participating wineries, breweries and distilleries include Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery, Beauregard Vineyards,  Cima Collina, Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery, Kathryn Kennedy Winery, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Sones Cellars, Bonny Doon Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Discretion Brewing, Seabright Brewery, and Venus Spirits.

Non-alcoholic beverages will include drinks from Tulsi Teas, Pacific Coffee Roasting Co., and Pure Valley Water.

Proceeds from SCCBG’s events benefit these local cancer support and research organizations: Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Association, Katz Cancer Resource Center, UCSC’s fellowship program for cancer research, the Teen Kitchen Project, and WomenCARE Cancer Advocacy.

More details:
There is free shuttle service every 15 minutes from Cabrillo College Lot E; parking is also free.
For more information on the event, see sccbg.org or call (831) 465-1989.

Aptos Village Park: 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Cantine Winepub in Aptos celebrates anniversary with wine, cider, and beer popups

Cantine Winepub, Photo courtesy of Shani Studios

Cantine Winepub, Photo courtesy of Shani Studios

Saturday, August 8, is the one-year anniversary of the opening of Aptos’ Cantine Winepub, and it’s celebrating with a day of special pop-ups with local winemakers, brewers and cider producers.

Owner Jason McKay is very excited about this milestone, as it’s the realization of a lifelong dream for him—one in which he would create a space for people to come together, enjoy great wine and beer, connect, and relax. “It’s been a great first year – being part of the Aptos and Santa Cruz Community,” says McKay.

On Saturday afternoon, attendees can enjoy music from DJ Dustbowl aka Amee Chapman plus wine tasting with Sante Arcangeli. The evening festivities will feature live music by El Quarto Verde, beer tasting with Uncommon Brewers, and cider samples from Reef Points Hard Cider.

If you’re unfamiliar with Cantine, it offers a diverse range of wines, craft beers and artisan foods in a comfortable lounge setting. The winepub traditionally offers six to eight wines on tap, with a featured wine-by-the-glass menu that changes daily. This way, frequent customers always have something new to try on each visit. Recent options have included wines from Alfaro, Kathryn Kennedy, Big Basin, Salmandre, and Force of Nature.

The winepub’s food menu features tapas that are designed for sharing. These are created using seasonal ingredients. Selections may include cheese and charcuterie trays; Kelly’s Bakery focaccia; house-made meatballs in slow-roasted tomato sauce; tortilla Espanola with sherry-braised onions, manchego, and chorizo; marinated kale salad; and roasted beets and fennel with crumbled goat cheese and citrus balsamic dressing.

In addition to wine, there are eight domestic craft brews on tap (Discretion Brewing, Sante Adairus, and more) and over twenty beers, ciders, mead and other beverages by the bottle.

Location: 8050 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 831-612-6191
Hours: Monday 4-9 p.m.,  Tues-Thurs 4–10pm, Fri-Sun noon–10pm
On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz Beer Week 2015 & California Beer Festival

Attendees at a previous California Beer Festival Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Waves

Attendees at a previous California Beer Festival
Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Waves

Santa Cruz Beer Week is August 2-9; the finale is the California Beer Festival at Aptos Village Park from Friday, Aug. 7-Sunday, Aug. 9. From Aug. 2-7 there will be a few restaurant-brewery pairings, among other activities. See the official beer week web site or the Santa Cruz Waves special site for details on several events including:

  • August 2, 5:30 p.m.-close: Beers from Discretion Brewing will accompany food at Assembly during a special beer-themed dinner. Santa Cruz Waves hosts the evening, which will include “Summer Fish Fry with Song of My Heart battered cod, shrimp, chickpeas, green beans, and new potatoes plus malt vinegar aioli; mussels with Uncle Dave’s Rye smoked ham hock broth; and buttermilk bran cake with Oh Black Lager ice cream and caramelized bananas.
  • August 3, 5 p.m.-close: There are two events: the first is at The Hophead Public House in Scotts Valley, featuring Lagunitas Brewing Company. The second is “Nubo Brew & BBQ” at New Bohemia Brewing Company on 41st Ave. Surf City Sandwiches will provide BBQ sliders and side dishes. Young & Lowe will perform music from 6-8 p.m.
  • August 7, 5:30-8:30 p.m.: A beer and food pairing competition will be held at Aptos Village Park. Five breweries and five restaurants are competing.

There are also events August 4, 5, and 6.

The official three-day California Beer Festival is at Aptos Village Park Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9. Tickets range from $10 general admission for Sunday (no food or beer included), to $99 for a three-day VIP pass that also includes the Friday night competition. There are several a la carte options. Saturday’s theme is “craft beer heaven” and Sunday it’s the “hamburger and hops music festival” with live music. There is no beer sampling on Sunday (but there is beer and food for sale). That day, kids 12 and under are free.  If you’re interested in attending the festival, see the website for advance tickets.

Saturday hours: 12:30-5 p.m. Beer sampling: 1-4:30 p.m.
There will be more than 85 craft beers on tap, live music, food, and bocce ball.  You must be 21 years of age or older to attend.

Sunday hours: 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Families are encouraged to attend.

Proceeds benefit the Gen Giammanco Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial support to student athletes in Santa Cruz County.

Location: Aptos Village Park, 100 Aptos Creek Rd., Aptos

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group’s gala dinner a big success

Spring Forward Against Cancer 2015 attendees enjoying themselves at Sesnon House in Aptos

Spring Forward Against Cancer 2015 attendees enjoying themselves at Sesnon House in Aptos

Cabrillo College culinary arts students used their talents to transport dinner guests to Morocco at the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group’s Spring Forward Against Cancer gala earlier this month. The successful benefit, held at Sesnon House, raised thousands of dollars for cancer research via Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG).

To celebrate SCCBG’s 20th anniversary in a grand fashion, event organizers used the theme “A Night in Casablanca.” Attendees enjoyed an atmosphere modeled on “Rick’s Café Américain” which included live piano, first-rate food and wine prepared and served by Cabrillo students, and KSBW news anchor Dale Julian serving as emcee. There was a silent auction with prizes such as a trip to France, local handmade jewelry, and restaurant gift certificates.

If it’s not already on your calendars, make sure to save the date for September’s Gourmet Grazing on the Green: it’s Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 at Aptos Village Park. The annual event hosted by SCCBG usually sells out a few days ahead of time. I’ll be sure to publish a preview/ reminder article as the food and wine celebration gets closer. It’s a wonderful event; last year there were more than 25 participating restaurants, farms, and food vendors plus a couple dozen wineries, breweries and distilleries. Attendees pay one admission price to benefit SCCBG and then receive complimentary food and drinks from the generous local chefs, winemakers, etc. who have donated their products.

Over the last two decades, SCCBG has distributed more than $1.5 million to directly support the Santa Cruz community. Proceeds from SCCBG’s events, including April’s Spring Forward gala and the upcoming Gourmet Grazing on the Green in September, benefit these local cancer support and research organizations:

  • Hospice of Santa Cruz County
  • Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Association
  • Katz Cancer Resource Center
  • UCSC Cancer Research
  • Teen Kitchen Project
  • WomenCARE Cancer Advocacy

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz area restaurant news highlights through February 2015

Hideout Burger served with housemade chips (note: it's usually served with fries)

Hideout Burger served with housemade chips (note: it’s usually served with fries)

Some of this is more recent restaurant news for the Santa Cruz area, and some is much older. I recently discovered that quite a few people I know weren’t aware of certain closings, so I am distributing information that might seem out of date to those who keep on top of local restaurant news.

Openings
The Hideout opened in Aptos in January. I haven’t made it there yet, but I’ve been hearing positive comments. It’s open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 9p.m. except Tuesdays, when it doesn’t open until 5 p.m. Sandwich/burger selections include Reuben, roasted vegetables with goat cheese, grilled chicken club, and a signature burger with a ground beef/bacon patty and crumbled bleu cheese (see photo above). Dinner entrees served after 5 include Merlot-braised short ribs, pistachio-crusted chicken, New York strip, and Petrale sole piccata. Several pasta dishes, soup, salads, sides, and starters round out the menu.
Location: 9051 Soquel Drive, Aptos (most recently the site of restaurant Ma Maison)
Contact Info: 688-5566, thehideoutaptos.com

Opening Soon
Mutari Chocolate House
is opening in early March; co-owner Adam Armstrong says they’re aiming for March 5th. He and his brother Matt will be the first tenants to officially open in the Food Lounge, the new venue from Andrea Mollenauer of Lifestyle Culinary Arts. They create their product Mutari Hot Chocolate on site. This chocolate is “Stone Ground Bean to Bottle” made from cacao that is “always certified organic and ethically traded (and mostly Rainforest Alliance Certified).”  You can enjoy hot chocolate at the Chocolate House or buy your own bottled mix to take home — it’s also sold at retailers like Artisans Gallery so you may have noticed it in the last few months. Learn more at mutarichocolate.com and facebook.com/mutarichocolate. I got to experience a hot chocolate tasting at Mutari last fall when they had their factory at Front St. Kitchen and I really liked the varieties I sampled. The new Chocolate House will serve coffee, hot chocolate, sipping chocolate, mini cupcakes (from Buttercup), and more.

More on the Food Lounge: Mollenauer and partners Cat Hernandez and Sally Kane are launching this unique space that has lots of options including: you can throw a party there, have an event for your business, or attend a pop-up. Other tenants at the Lounge include Fogline Farms, Ocean2table, and Mortal Dumpling. Officially the Food Lounge will be an “innovative community-minded event venue, commercial incubator kitchen, and full-service food hub aimed at fueling, educating, and inspiring Santa Cruz.” Visit scfoodlounge.com to sign up for the email list.
Location: 1001 Center Street, Santa Cruz

Verve Coffee is opening a new location at 1010 Fair in Westside Santa Cruz at some point in the future, in the former spot of Chimera Tattoo. This is the same plaza where Bantam Restaurant is located.

Closings
Two venues in downtown Santa Cruz on Pacific shuttered their doors:
Sushi restaurant Benten closed Jan. 31.
Noah’s Bagels closed on Feb. 24.

Santa Cruz restaurant The Greek closed at the end of November. A permit taped to one of the restaurant windows indicates a Korean eatery will be opening in the future. A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page mentioned that owner Vasili was retiring (yes, this is the same Vasili that formerly owned Vasili’s in Westside Santa Cruz).

Changes
Downtown Santa Cruz restaurant Assembly is now closed on both Mondays and Tuesdays. They used to be closed on Mondays, and beginning January 6 they are only open Wednesday through Sunday. This is continuing “at least through the winter months.”
Location: 1108 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz
Contact Info: 824-6100, assembleforfood.com

Soif is closing in late March for a few weeks, to do some remodeling.
Location: 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz
Contact Info: 423-2020, soifwine.com

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Don’t miss Gourmet Grazing cancer research benefit with a wide array of food & wine

Attendees at a previous Gourmet Grazing on the Green

Attendees at a previous Gourmet Grazing on the Green

It’s time for the 11th annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green, where you can enjoy a large amount of first-rate food (from local restaurants and caterers)—plus beverages from local wineries, breweries, and distilleries—in a friendly and festive atmosphere. And you will be helping support the very worthwhile Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG).

Gourmet Grazing is Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 from noon to 4 p.m. at Aptos Village Park.

The event usually sells out a few days ahead of time, so I recommend you buy tickets soon. This year organizers are allowing 1,200 tickets to be sold instead of 800, so it is possible that tickets won’t sell out as fast—but you never know! SCCBG Board member Mary Anne Carson commented: “Due to its popularity, we’ve expanded our space in order to bring in more food purveyors, restaurants and vintners, as well as more Grazers, this year. We look forward to another stellar event and raising even more funds for the benefit of our beneficiaries.”

Purchase $65 tickets at New Leaf Community Markets (downtown, Westside or Capitola locations) or online. If you have a group of 10, you can get tickets for $50 each. Admission includes food, wine, beer, a souvenir wineglass, and live music. The event is outdoors; last year it actually rained for a short while, but everyone just ran under the few sheltered spots and it stopped as quickly as it started.

New this year is a “big bottle silent auction,” courtesy of new festival partner Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association (SCMWA). There will also be a bottle booth operated by SCMWA, an alliance of more than 60 wineries promoting wine produced from the Santa Cruz Mountains Viticultural Appellation.

Some of the food creations that participants will taste have been created with products generously donated by event sponsors Coke Farm, Watsonville Coast Produce, and presenting sponsor New Leaf Community Markets.

Some of my favorite dishes from last year’s festival included Café Rio’s Rio Prawn Spring Roll (included mung bean noodles, sprouts, carrots, green onion, basil, and mint) and Johnny’s Harborside’s Gazpacho Seafood Cocktail (calamari, scallops, shrimp, garnished with baby romaine and a watermelon radish). For more 2013 highlights, see my recap article.

There are more than 25 participating restaurants, farms, and food vendors for 2014 including The Crow’s Nest, Shadowbrook, Café Cruz, Café Rio, The Whole Enchilada, Solaire Restaurant and Bar, Hula’s Island Grill, Santa Cruz Fish Co., Everett Family Farm, MacKenzie Bar & Grill, Friend in Cheeses Jam Co., Redwood Hill Farms, The Penny Ice Creamery, and The True Olive Connection.

More than 25 participating wineries, breweries and distilleries include Venus Spirits, Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery, Beauregard Vineyards,  Burrell School Vineyards, Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Seabright Brewery, Sones Cellars, Bonny Doon Vineyards, and Kathryn Kennedy Winery.

This year, Kathryn Kennedy Winery will pour wine including 2011 Kathryn Kennedy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains, which sources say is “amazing.”

Proceeds from SCCBG’s events, including this year’s Gourmet Grazing, benefit these local cancer support and research organizations: Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Association, Katz Cancer Resource Center, UCSC Cancer Research, the Teen Kitchen Project, and WomenCARE Cancer Advocacy. Over the last decade, SCCBG has distributed more than $1.5 million to directly support the Santa Cruz community.

There will be a raffle, with ticket sales benefiting SCCBG. Prizes include jewelry, restaurant gift certificates, a wetsuit from O’Neill, and SCMWA Wine Passports.

More details:
There is free parking and free shuttle service from Cabrillo College Lot E.
For more information on the event, see www.sccbg.org or call (831) 465-1989

Aptos Village Park: 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

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Summer specials at Aptos restaurant Au Midi

Paella from Aptos restaurant Au Midi

Paella from Aptos restaurant Au Midi

Aptos restaurant Au Midi started two summer promotions last month, one for Wednesday and one for Thursday, and it just added a third which will occur every Tuesday. Each one is a special dish for $19.50.

  • Tuesday they serve “Viva le Midi” with bouillabaisse
  • Wednesday it’s “Viva Espana” with paella
  • Thursday it’s  “Vive Paris” with canard a l’orange (duck a l’orange)

The dishes are served the entire evening, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. These promotions will last all summer.

I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Au Midi in April, and I hope to go back soon for one of these specials — hard to decide which one. During my dinner, the service was gracious, the atmosphere comfortable and the food delicious. One standout was a beet and goat cheese mousse salad, and I notice it’s still on the current menu (I know some dishes rotate with the seasons). Also highly recommended: the French apple pie served with gingerbread ice cream.

Husband and wife Michel and Muriel Loubiere are a great team. He is fabulous with customers, and she is a talented chef.

Au Midi is also a participant in the “Date Night Santa Cruz” program.  If you’re unfamiliar with this offer, it works like this: customers buy a $50 package that includes dinner and a movie for two. The tickets can be redeemed any Monday through Thursday evening, except holidays and special events. When you purchase the  Date Night product, you select which restaurant you are buying a ticket for (they are mostly in Santa Cruz, plus a couple in Aptos including Au Midi). You can decide later which movie theater you’re going to of the three in the “Nick Family.” Each restaurant gives customers a certain value to spend on dinner. For more information, see the Nick’s Date Night web site http://www.thenick.com/Date-Night-Santa-Cruz.html.
Au Midi is at 7960 Soquel Drive. Call 831-685-2600 or visit http://www.aumidi.com for reservations or details.

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