Tag Archives: Ashby Confections

Feast for foodies & beer/wine lovers for cancer research

The 2017 Gourmet Grazing festival is October 7.

The 14th annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green—Saturday, Oct. 7 at Aptos Village Park—features more than 75 vendors including local restaurants, caterers, wineries, breweries, and spirits distilleries. Proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG).

The event is from noon to 4 p.m. Buy $65 tickets at New Leaf Community Markets (downtown, Westside or Capitola locations) or online or pay $70 at the door if it’s not sold out. Adult admission includes food, drinks and a souvenir wineglass. Kids 10 and under are free; kids ages 10-20 are $35.

Participating food, drink & other vendors  include:

Alfaro Family Vineyards
Armitage Wines
Bargetto
Bonny Doon
Burrell School Vineyards
Café Rio
Cantine Winepub
Comanche Cellars
Corralitos Brewing
Dustbowl Brewery
East Side Eatery
Efi’s Dutch-Indo Kitchen
Ella’s at the Airport
Fresh Prep Kitchen
Hollins House
Hula’s Island Grill
Integrity Wines
Kathryn Kennedy
Kings Mountain Vineyards
Krazy Farm Cider
Loma Prieta
Malone’s Grille
MJA Winery

Muccigrosso Vineyards
Muns Vineyards
New Bohemia Brewing Co
New Leaf Community Markets
Odonata Wines
Pelican Ranch
Real Good Fish
Roudon-Smith
Santa Cruz Fish Co
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
Seabright Brewery
Scheid Family Wines
Shadowbrook Restaurant
Solaire Restaurant & Bar
Something to Taste
Soquel Cider
Storrs
Surf City Sandwich
The Crow’s Nest Restaurant
The Turkey Boat
Venus Spirits
Via Vega
Villa del Monte Winery
Whole Enchilada
Wrights Station Vineyards
Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine

Ashby Confections
Cinnamon Bay
Cowgirl Creamery
Fran Battendieri Jewelry
Friend In Cheeses
Goose Organics

Hive And Hum
K Deznyz Jewelry
La Vie Wellness

Notso Hot Sauce
Pacific Coffee Roasting
Pure Valley Water
Redwood Hill Farm

Sandbar Solar
Santa Cruz Fish Co
Skyros Ceramics
Smart Chicken
Sunridge Farms
Tomales Bay Foods

 

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, researchers from UC Santa Cruz, the Teen Kitchen Project, and WomenCARE Cancer Advocacy.

 

For over 20 years, the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living with cancer in the Santa Cruz community, by raising money to support beneficiary organizations and fund new research that will provide possible cures and better solutions for treating cancer. They have raised more than $22 million since 1995.

 

For more information on the event, see sccbg.org. Parking is limited at Aptos Village Park. There is free shuttle service every 15 minutes from Cabrillo College, where people can park for free.

 

Aptos Village Park: 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

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Food, wine and beer at 2016 Grazing on the Green benefiting cancer research

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The 13th annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green—Saturday, Sept. 24 at Aptos Village Park, features 70-plus vendors including local restaurants and caterers, other food businesses, and local wineries, breweries, and spirits distilleries. Proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG).

 

The event is from noon to 4 p.m. Buy $65 tickets at New Leaf Community Markets (downtown, Westside or Capitola locations) or online http://sccbg.org or it will be $70 at the door if it’s not sold out. If you have a group of 10, you can get tickets for $60 each. Adult admission includes food, drinks and a souvenir wineglass. Kids 10 and under are free; kids ages 10-20 are $35.

 

Participating restaurants, farms, and food vendors for 2016 include The Crow’s Nest, Café Cruz, Café Rio, Real Good Fish, Niman Ranch, SunRidge Farms, Ashby Confections, Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine, Cremer House, Ella’s at the Airport, Surf City Sandwich, Hula’s, Hollins House and Sid’s Smokehouse.

 

Participating wineries, breweries and distilleries include Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery, Beauregard Vineyards, Hallcrest Vineyards, Kathryn Kennedy Winery, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Sones Cellars, Wargin Wines, Wrights Station Winery, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Discretion Brewing, Seabright Brewery, New Bohemia Brewing Co. and Venus Spirits.

 

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, researchers from UC Santa Cruz, the Teen Kitchen Project, and WomenCARE Cancer Advocacy.

For more information on the event, see www.sccbg.org.

There is free shuttle service every 15 minutes from Cabrillo College; parking is also free.

Aptos Village Park: 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

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Santa Cruz restaurant news highlights, Part 2 of 2

Savory hand pies at Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting

Savory hand pies at Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting

Here is some restaurant news for Santa Cruz — I published Part 1 of this two-part series a few days ago.

Openings

Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting opened its new spot about 2 weeks ago, moving to Pacific Ave. (former Noah’s Bagels site) from around the corner on Locust. It’s got so many changes that it’s basically a brand-new place! Don’t worry: the amazing cupcakes, regular or mini-size ($4 or $2), are still available in flavors including signature Triple Orange (Earl Grey frosting on blood orange cake). Now you can order espresso from Lulu’s to accompany the sweet treats. New food items include granola with yogurt or milk ($5), spicy corn muffins with paprika garlic cream cheese, gluten-free vegan “miracle muffins” (ingredients include coconut and almond flour), and vegan scones (like lemon cherry; ingredients include coconut oil). There are savory and sweet “handpies” (mini $2, regular $5) with rotating flavors like potato-egg-cheddar or The Greek (feta, spinach, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts). Rotating soup varieties include chipotle corn chowder ($4/bowl). Current hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun-Thurs, and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri-Sat. In the future, hours will expand to 8am-9pm daily.
Location: 1411 Pacific Ave., (831) 466-0373.

Ashby Confections now has a second storefront—it’s keeping the Victor Square store in Scotts Valley, and is now offering lots of goodies—including selected handmade chocolates and caramels—at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge (it took over the space formerly occupied by Mutari; for more on Mutari, see “Changes” section below). Just today Ashby announced a new, freshly made ganache “made with Askinosie Chocolate dark milk chocolate made with single origin Filipino cacao with a touch of goat milk powder and sea salt.” They are serving lots of hot chocolates including “European style” and traditional South American-style drinking chocolates made by local company CACOCO. They also offer fresh honey marshmallows and vanilla bean whipped cream. Hmmm, and there is rain in the forecast the next few days…sounds like a good combination! In the future, Ashby will have a variety of chocolate milks and frozen desserts available at the Lounge. Current hours are Wed-Sun noon to 8 p.m. Location: 1001 Center St.


Opening Soon

Café Iveta will be opening its second location soon, probably in late March: an expanded restaurant at UCSC. The original Westside location—2125 Delaware near Swift—will remain open (and thriving!). The new location will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It will feature a full espresso bar and sustainable coffee, plus craft beer and wine. Campus hours will be 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon-Fri and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. Location: Graduate Student Commons (across from the Bay Tree Bookstore), UCSC, 1156 High St.

Changes
The Santa Cruz Food Lounge is now open 5 to 9 p.m. Wed-Sat with a full bar serving local wine, beer, cider, and artisan spirits. There will be special guest bartenders on occasion; this Saturday, March 5 features Tabitha Stroup (owner of Friend in Cheeses Jam Company) who will be “slinging original cocktails incorporating her delicious locally made jams” according to Food Lounge owner Andrea Mollenauer. On March 5 customers can also purchase food from Tanglewood…if you haven’t tried this yet, I highly recommend it. I tried Tanglewood chef Rachel Hughes’ meatballs at the last Artisan Market and they were delicious. Hughes is a former Ty’s Eatery sous chef. Tanglewood will be serving food at the Food Lounge bar regularly (except at the times other local chefs are doing popup dinners). Location: 1001 Center St.

Ty’s Eatery, which used to do a weekly pop-up Sunday brunch at the Food Lounge, is no longer a regular participant. However, Ty still does catering; for details call him at (925) 451-7944.

Mutari Hot Chocolate is no longer at the Food Lounge. Owners Adam and Matt Armstrong closed that location at the end of 2015, and sold the business to Katy Oursler and Stephen Beaumier. Mutari fans can still buy products online, and Oursler and Beaumier are hosting occasional popup cafés at Front Street Kitchen (504A Front St.). The next one is Friday, March 4, 5 to 9 p.m.

LionFish SupperClub has big news. It has discontinued the weekly Tuesday popup gig at the Food Lounge. LionFish is now offering dinner service every Wednesday through Saturday at nightclub MOTIV’s upstairs bar/kitchen (formerly known as Pearl Alley Bistro). Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Wed-Thurs and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fri-Sat. The grand opening celebration and Santa Cruz Chamber ribbon cutting is Friday, March 4, beginning at 5:30 p.m. LionFish will continue to hold occasional special events such as dinners (at various venues) and private culinary events. Location: 1209 Pacific Ave./110 Pearl Alley.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie. Have food/restaurant/wine/culinary event news to share? Write me at tfatemi@gmail.com.

Santa Cruz chocolate festival has sweet cause

Buttercup Cakes & Farm House Frosting at the 2015 Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival

Buttercup Cakes & Farm House Frosting at the 2015 Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival

The 9th annual Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival is Sunday, January 17, and there will be delicious sweets with a delicious cause: UC Santa Cruz scholarships. The event is from 1 – 4 p.m. at the Cocoanut Grove by the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

The Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival brings together about two dozen vendors. See complete list. Participants include local confectioners and bakers like Ashby Confections, Buttercup Cakes & Farm House Frosting, and Pure Heart Chocolate; restaurants like India Joze; and companies like MÄKSĒ Gourmet Rice Crisp Bars, My Mom’s Mole, and Nut Kreations. Wineries include Burrell School Winery and Vineyard and Sones Cellars, and breweries include Highway 1 Brewing Company.

Each food vendor will have treats such as truffles, cupcakes, or ice cream available in exchange for a tasting ticket. Buy tasting tickets at the event (admission is free) or online. Each $15 purchase gets you six chocolate or wine tastes.

There will be live music and a silent auction. Attendees can enjoy activities like cupcake decorating ($4) and face painting (prices vary depending on artist). Select booths will sell chocolate products like Valentine-themed gift boxes.

The festival benefits re-entry student scholarships at UC Santa Cruz (for students returning to higher education after an extended absence, often students who are also parents or military veterans).

The UCSC Women’s Club, a nonprofit organization open to women from both the campus and local communities, presents the chocolate festival. The club has meetings throughout the year (except for the summer) with engaging speakers, and also hosts interest groups including book clubs. In the last 37 years the club has awarded over 340 scholarships totaling nearly $250,000 to deserving women and men for research activities, tuition and childcare.

The Details
Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival
Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz
Sunday, January 17, 2016 from 1-4pm

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz’s Food Lounge: three upcoming events

Chocolates from Ashby Confections, one of the vendors at Food Lounge’s Artisan Market

Chocolates from Ashby Confections, one of the vendors at Food Lounge’s Artisan Market

Santa Cruz’s Food Lounge at 1001 Center St. is hosting many upcoming events in the near future. Here are details for three in the next week; the dates are Jan. 8, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15.

Friday, Jan 8: Food Lounge’s Artisan Food Market
From 4-8 p.m., the Food Lounge is the site of the Artisan Food Market, described as ‘farmers market meets cocktail hour.’ There will be several local food artisans and pop-up vendors, with an emphasis on prepared foods this time (lots of opportunities for purchasing food to eat on-site or to take home). There will also be local wine and beer, and cocktails—and the Food Lounge has announced that later in January, they will be adding artisan cocktails to the regular bar menu. Vendors will include longtime market participant Ashby Confections, Zocalo Gourmet Tamales, LionFish SupperClub, My Mom’s Mole, Ocean2Table Sustainable Seafood, Hand Made Meat Pies, and Hidden Fortress Farm (locally roasted coffee, hot drinks, and more). The band Wild Iris will perform. The Artisan Market series, which began last June, is held the second Friday of each month.

Tuesday, Jan 12: LionFish SupperClub’s Ramen Popup
From 5-9 p.m., LionFish SupperClub is hosting its first Tasty Tuesday of 2016. This one will focus on ramen. They promise three different ramen choices plus some side dishes and dessert. Traditionally, LionFish creates dishes for a popup every Tuesday night. They often rotate cuisines on a monthly. In 2015, customers got to visit places like India and Thailand through their delicious menus.

Friday, Jan 15: Ocean2table’s Pescetarian Popup
From 5:30-8:30 p.m., Ocean2table is holding a “Pescetarian” Popup dinner with a la carte items available for purchase. The main ingredients will be sourced from no further away than 50 miles from Santa Cruz. Their partners for the dinner are Fogline Farm, Lionfish SupperClub, and Crescent Farm. Charlie Lambert and Ian Cole started Santa Cruz-based Ocean2table as a company that provides sustainably harvested fresh seafood to the local community. Last April they launched a popup dinner series with the goal of encouraging community support for local, sustainable food.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Ashby Confections in Scotts Valley: First-class sweets for Valentine’s Day & beyond

Chocolates at Ashby Confections

Chocolates at Ashby Confections

Whether you have treats to buy for Valentine’s Day, or just want to treat yourself or someone else, Ashby Confections in Scotts Valley is a must-visit stop!

Valentine’s Day goodies include a five-piece set of heart-shaped chocolates that are each handmade and decorated.  It features a Honey Truffle, Liquid Toffee, 70% Dark Chocolate Truffle, Earl Grey Tea Truffle and a Mocha Truffle. Also, there are four-piece Valentine’s-themed sets: Aphrodisiac Truffles with either a “calming and relaxing blend” (herbs include Kava Kava) or “stimulating and invigorating” blend (includes Siberian Ginseng). Or you can create your own gift with chocolates such as Monterey Bay Sea Salt Caramels or Ceylon Cinnamon Ginger Creams.

In December 2013, chocolatier Jennifer Ashby opened the chocolate shop Ashby Confections in Scotts Valley, at 16C Victor Square. Have you visited yet? It’s chock full of tasty, award-winning chocolate made by a fabulous local artisan. This talented confectioner has lots of fans–ones like Chaminade Resort & Spa (they are utilizing her sweets in a special “An Affair to Remember” romance package this month), her many online customers (order at ashbyconfections.com), and people that pick up Ashby treats when they’re grocery shopping at retailers such as New Leaf Community Markets, Shopper’s Corner, and Staff of Life.

I first became an Ashby Confections fan after tasting the amazing chocolate at the 2011 Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival—they are a longtime participant of this festival that benefits UCSC re-entry students. At the January 2015 Chocolate Festival, the company received several awards: Best Truffle, Best Caramel, Most Unique Use of Chocolate, and Best in Show.

Ashby, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and the Culinary Institute of America, formed her chocolate company in 2004. Before opening the SV store, Ashby made and sold her creations at Heather’s Patisserie in Aptos.

Jennifer and her staff make everything at the shop by hand using fresh, local, organic ingredients whenever possible.  All of the chocolate is either fair trade or direct trade, and some of it is organic as well.  She regularly uses locally sourced ingredients, including ones from Route One Farms.

One chocolate she uses a lot these days is Askinosie, which is produced in Missouri by Shawn Askinosie and his team. It’s a relatively new addition to Asbhy’s confections. “It’s is single origin and sourced for either Tanzania, Ecuador, Honduras or the Philippines,” says Ashby. “We are using the chocolate from Ecuador beans in our confections now, she adds. “We also are blending our own milk chocolate in house now using the dark Ecuadorian chocolate.”  Ashby is proud to be using this chocolate.  “Shawn does direct trade with the farmers, and does profit sharing with them as well as numerous things to help the community that these beans come from, like building water wells.”  The flavor is complex, and the texture is smooth.  “The aftertaste is so pleasant.  Using his chocolate has definitely made my confections better,” says Ashby.

She has recently created several new products such as Coco Tortoise, which has caramel on toasted coconut with either milk or dark chocolate; Rosewater Marshmallows; and Dark Chocolate Truffles made with local honey. She is also coming out soon with a line of chocolate bars made with organic California olive oil and “other foods and spices that promote a healthy lifestyle, such as turmeric.”

In case anyone needs suggestions for a chocolate to try, the most popular items at the shop right now are Ghost Pepper Caramels. Ashby describes them as “pleasantly spicy with the amount of ‘kick’ that is found in medium-hot salsa…a delicious menagerie of sweet, spicy, salty and chocolatey.”  Another customer favorite is Rocky Road. But I’m sure whatever you try, you’ll enjoy. Bon Appetit! Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Store location: 16C Victor Square, Scotts Valley, 831-454-8299
Store hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tue-Sat, Noon-6 p.m. Sun
Web site: ashbyconfections.com
Facebook: facebook.com/ashbyconfections

Event Santa Cruz hosts Edible Night at Assembly

Ashby Confections is providing food for Edible Night at Event Santa Cruz

Ashby Confections is providing food for Edible Night at Event Santa Cruz

Interested in food, restaurants, beer, farms, and things of that nature? The November program for monthly speaker series “Event Santa Cruz,” which takes place at restaurant Assembly on Nov. 17, has an edible theme. There will be eight speakers, and it’s almost sold out.

Organizer Matthew Swinnerton, who started Event Santa Cruz in September 2013 to tell the stories of local businesses and the people that make these businesses run, is very excited about the program.  “There is something about an entrepreneur that is involved in the world of food,” he says. “Entrepreneurs usually have a lot of passion, but throw in an entrepreneur that loves food and deals with it for a living, oh man, that is passion ten fold.” He’s confident that attendees will hear some of the best talks Event Santa Cruz has ever had.

Scheduled speakers:

  • Zach DavisThe Penny Ice Creamery, Assembly, The Picnic Basket
  • Andrea Conklin MollenauerLifestyle Culinary Arts
  • Romney DunbarDunbar Productions
  • Tabitha Raquel StroupFriend In Cheeses Jam Company
  • Marci ProloAn Epicurious Lifestyle
  • Annie PautschBrew Cruz
  • Liz BirnbaumIncoming Board Chair, Slow Food Santa Cruz
  • Nesh DhillonSanta Cruz Farmers Markets

Participant Mollenauer says, “I was thrilled to be invited to speak. The very focus and passion I have for my business is our local community and how to feed it great food, so to be asked to talk about that in a room full of community members who are willing to be a part of that delicious conversation makes me smile.” She plans on sharing details about the next stage of growth for her business and how the community can get involved in that.

Speaker Zach Davis is also co-owner of Assembly, the night’s venue. He’s happy to have the program at his restaurant, which opened in March 2014 and continues to draw crowds. “We always imagined Assembly as a place where people would literally come to the table to meet and converse over nourishing food and drink,” he says. “I’m personally excited about sharing the stage with some folks I know and admire for their food expertise as well as their involvement in the community.” He looks forward to hearing about what motivates and inspires them. “For me it’s the people I work and interact with, and I appreciate the opportunity to share a little more about them.”

Matt Ruiz is the evening’s musical guest. Also participating are several local food and beverage vendors, who are providing refreshments for the first hour of the program, during which time guests are invited to come and socialize. There will be dumplings from Mortal Dumpling, and treats from Mutari Hot Chocolate, Ashby Confections, Cardamom Tuesday, Friend in Cheeses Jam Company, and Hush-Hush Kitchen.

Tickets are only $10; purchase tickets online at eventsantacruz.com. There are only 28 tickets left as of Thursday morning, Nov. 13.  There are also a limited number of “annual passes” available for $75. This grants pass-holders admission to 12 consecutive months of events, from now through Oct. 2015, so it’s a $45 savings over the entire year.
For more information call 831-332-8677.

Monday Nov. 17, 2014
6-7 p.m. refreshments, 7-8:30 p.m. speakers
Location
: Assembly, 1108 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz (Assembly’s not open on Mondays, so this event will be held in the main restaurant space)

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

2014 Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival: final news on specific tastes for Sunday

Valentine’s Day tortoises from Ashby Confections

Valentine’s Day tortoises from Ashby Confections

Come to the Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival on Sunday, January 19 (1-4pm, Cocoanut Grove) and taste samples from more than 25 vendors.

The UCSC Women’s Club sponsors this tasty benefit for re-entry student scholarships. Missed the last couple days of my column? Here are links to two Chocolate Festival articles:

2014 Chocolate Festival overview
Specific treat information for selected vendors including Lifestyle Culinary Arts, Original Sin, Snake & Butterfly Chocolate

Mission Hill Creamery is participating in the festival for its third consecutive year. The Santa Cruz company creates small batch ice cream from scratch, including organic ingredients from the Downtown Farmer’s Market. In exchange for your tasting ticket, you can try MHC’s:

• Original Vanilla Bean ice cream in a hand-dipped Dark Chocolate Mini Cone

Ashby Confections has been a long-time festival presence. Jennifer Ashby, a UCSC and Culinary Institute of America graduate, just opened her own store in Scotts Valley after years of being at Heather’s Patisserie in Aptos. Her handmade confections are made with single origin Swiss Grand Cru chocolate, real butter, fresh cream, and many locally sourced organic fruits and herbs. Festival samples will include:

• marshmallow treats
• truffles
• tortoises

Theo Chocolate, a Seattle company, prides itself on being the only true “bean to bar maker” of organic, Fair Trade Certified chocolate in the US and an independently owned, socially and environmentally responsible chocolate maker. The company controls and executes the entire manufacturing process, from bean sourcing through to the final molding process. At the festival, Theo will be sampling and selling 6 different bars:

• NEW! 70% Dark Chocolate Raspberry – Classic Bar
• NEW! 70% Dark Chocolate Ginger – Classic Bar
• 65% Dark Vanilla Nib – Eastern Congo Initiative Partner bar
• 70% Dark Sea Salt – World Bicycle Relief Partner bar
• 70% Dark Fig Fennel & Almond – Fantasy Bar
• 45% Milk Chai Tea – Fantasy Bar

Saratoga Chocolates benefits from chocolatier Mary Loomas, who has been trained internationally including Valrohna’s Ecole Grand Chocolat in France. At the festival, Saratoga will be sampling and selling the following truffles and bonbons:

• Midnight Dark Chocolate Truffle
• Valencia Orange Truffle
• Caramelized Coconut Truffle (Vegan)
• Milk Chocolate Truffle
• Mocha Truffle
• Hazelnut Praline Truffle
• Salted Vanilla Caramel
• Dark Chocolate Caramel
• Vanilla Caramel
• Ginger Cognac Truffle

Silver Mountain Vineyards, who also participated last year, will pour:
• 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir
• 2006 Alloy, Bordeaux blend
• 2009 Spencer’s Choice Pinot Noir

If you’re on Twitter, follow me @santacruzfoodie.

The 6th Annual Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival benefits UCSC scholarships

Cupcakes from Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting, a participant in the 6th annual Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival

This weekend is a sweet time of year: the 6th annual Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival is on Sunday January 20 and it benefits student scholarships. The event is from 1 – 4 p.m. at the Cocoanut Grove by the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

The Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival brings approximately 30 vendors to the Cocoanut Grove, and this year there will be wine tasting available for the first time. Participants range from local confectioners and bakers like Ashby Confections, Iveta, Snake and Butterfly Chocolate, Original Sin Desserts, and Buttercup Cakes and Farmhouse Frosting, to vendors from other parts of Northern California (Foxy’s Toffee, for one) and even other states (like Theo Chocolate from Washington). Other local companies who will be present include fabulous ice cream businesses Mission Hill Creamery and Penny Ice Creamery.

Each vendor will have treats – including gourmet truffles and cupcakes — available in exchange for a tasting ticket. In addition to the tastes you can get in exchange for your tickets, selected vendors will be selling chocolate products including some suitable for Valentine’s Day like gift assortments. There will also be a cupcake decorating booth which costs $2.

For the first time, wine will be available for attendees aged 21 and over; Alfaro Family Vineyards and Sones Cellars are among the participants. Buy tickets online or at the event. For $15 you get six tastings of food and/or wine. In order to drink wine, you need to buy a commemorative wine glass for $5 (includes one tasting).

Bid on items at a silent auction with both chocolate-themed and non-chocolate-themed items donated by businesses and individuals from the local community. Prizes include Giants tickets, wine tasting and restaurant gift certificates, and passes to Monterey Bay Aquarium. You can visit the festival for free (you don’t need a tasting ticket) if you want to participate in the auction or buy gifts from vendors.

The festival benefits re-entry student scholarships at UC Santa Cruz (for students returning to higher education after an extended absence, often students who are also parents or military veterans). The chocolate festival is presented by the UCSC Women’s Club, a nonprofit organization open to women of both the campus and local communities. The club has meetings throughout the year (except for the summer) with engaging speakers, and also hosts interest groups including book clubs. In the last 30 years the club has awarded over 300 scholarships totaling more than $200,000 to deserving women and men for research activities, tuition and childcare.

The Details

Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival http://santacruzchocolatefestival.com/

Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz 95060

Sunday, January 20 from 1-4pm

 

Annieglass hosts summer food and wine series in Watsonville

Beautiful pieces from Annieglass

The Annieglass Watsonville studio has been hosting a Saturday summer food and wine series, which has occurred on most – but not all – Saturdays this season. You have just a few more opportunities to enjoy it (the series began in May and ends August 25).

The events take place from 12-4 p.m. at 310 Harvest Drive. Each one focuses on a different artisan food vendor and/or a different winery. The August highlights are below. Also note that every weekend, from Friday through Sunday, Annieglass in Watsonville now offers “Pours & Tours.” The free 20-minute studio tours are at 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Wine tasting of Santa Cruz and Monterey County wines is available from 12:00-4:30 p.m. each day. The cost is $5 for 3 wine tastings or $8 for 6; if you buy a bottle the tasting fee is waived.

Call (831) 761-2041 for more information.

FOOD & WINE SERIES

August 4
Enjoy tastings of Pacific Crest Apiaries honey and wildflower bee pollen. Pacific Crest will be featuring some of their raw, hand-processed honey around and a selection of hand-crafted pure beeswax candles.

August 11
If you’re unfamiliar with Garden Variety Cheese, you’re in for a new and wonderful treat. Rebecca King runs a sheep ranch and only feeds the animals organically raised, irrigated pasture and organic brewer’s grain from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing. The result is great-tasting milk and then, delectable cheese.

August 18
Scotts Valley-based Bruzzone Family Vineyards specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

August 25
Jen Ashby is an amazing Aptos-based chocolatier; you’ll love the goodies she creates with seasonal ingredients for Ashby Confections.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie