Tag Archives: Capitola

Santa Cruz holiday shopping: Gift card bonus offers for restaurants

Pono Hawaiian Grill is offering discount gift cards this holiday season

If you’re in Santa Cruz or Capitola and have some gift or stocking stuffer shopping to do, you’ll be happy to know that several restaurants are offering “gift certificate bonus deals” for the 2018 holiday season. Here are a few options – if you hear of any more, let me know at tara@santacruzfoodie.com so I can share with everyone, thanks!

Santa Cruz

Pono Hawaiian Grill (120 Union St.) – If you buy a $25 gift card, it costs $20. If you buy a $100 card, you get a $20 bonus certificate. The offer is valid until Dec. 31. For more information, call 831-426-7666 or visit ponohawaiiangrill.com.

 

Hula’s Island Grill: ((221 Cathcart St.): Purchase a $50 gift certificate and get a $10 card free to keep for yourself. Purchase $100 and get a $20 certificate free. Offer available until December 23. For more information, call 831-426-4852 or visit hulastiki.com.

 

Mission Hill Creamery (1101B Pacific Ave., 831-216-6421) is offering gift cards at a 20 percent discount. Purchase cards such as a $10 card for $8 or a $50 card for $40. The promotion is valid through Dec. 24. Visit missionhillcreamery.com.

 

Woodstock’s Pizza  – Now through Christmas, for every $50 in gift cards you purchase, you get 5 free “Woody Bucks.” The Santa Cruz location is 710 Front St. Call 831-427-4444 or visit woodstockscruz.com.

 

Denny’s: customers who buy a $25 Denny’s gift card will receive $50 in coupons for future visits. The offer is valid through Dec. 25. The Santa Cruz location is 1515 Ocean St. Call 831-426-4628 or visit dennys.com.

 

Capitola

Paradise Beach Grille (215 Esplanade): Buy a $100 gift certificate for $80. Offer valid through Christmas. Call 831-476-4900 or visit paradisebeachgrille.com

 

Chili’s  – If you buy $50 in gift cards, you receive a $10 bonus card to keep for yourself. The Capitola branch is at 1855 41st Ave. For more information, call 831-462-1813 or visit chilis.com.

 

IHOP – If you buy a $25 gift card, you receive a $5 bonus coupon. The Capitola branch is at 1549 41st Ave. For more information, call 831-475-0540 or visit ihop.com.

 

Happy holiday shopping & Bon Appetit!

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Thanksgiving, Hanukkah at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz & Capitola

Whole Foods Market’s favorite local wine and cheese pairings for the holidays. Courtesy of WFM.

Thanksgiving is almost here, and after that Hanukkah is right around the corner! Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola (1710 41st Ave.) and Santa Cruz (911 Soquel Ave.) have many Thanksgiving selections and several Hanukkah items, and they graciously gave me a gift card so that I could try a few out.

You can place orders in person or online. Thanksgiving pick up dates are through Nov. 23; Hanukkah pick up is Nov. 30-Dec. 9 and selections include wine-braised brisket dinner for eight, and potato latkes with applesauce. Thanksgiving choices at WFM (see a holiday showcase here) include a classic roast turkey dinner for eight (with optional organic turkey upgrade) with a fully-cooked bird, herb stuffing and mashed potatoes turkey gravy, cranberry orange sauce, and green beans with crispy garlic and parsley; spiral-sliced ham; vegan entrees and sides; traditional holiday sides; and desserts. Prime members get a special deal: through Nov. 22, they get organic whole turkeys for $2.99/lb. and whole turkeys for $1.99/lb.

 

Something new and intriguing is a vegan holiday meal WFM has created in partnership with award-winning chef Jeremy Fox, author of the “On Vegetables” cookbook. The meal includes Romanesco Cauliflower Roast with Miso Bagna Cauda, Cremini Mushroom Stuffing with Kimchi, and Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple and Hazelnut Dukkah. You can also order these selections a la carte.

 

WFM is also offering a special seasonal pie from Lisa Ludwinski, founder of Detroit’s Sister Pie and author of “Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit.” The Cranberry Crumble Pie, Ludwinski’s personal favorite for the season, features an all-butter crust, a sweet cranberry compote filling with juicy whole cranberries, grated pear and warm spices, and an oat crumble topping.

Other Santa Cruz and Capitola store highlights that are perfect for the holidays:

  • Seafood: Fresh, Whole Dungeness Crab
    • Crab season is a Bay Area holiday tradition. Pick up at least three sweet and rich whole crab, and save $1 per pound. WFM’s team of local fishmongers will crack and clean free of charge.
  • Specialty Wine and Cheese: Favorite local wine and cheese pairings this season selected by WFM
    • Bay Blue cheese, a mellow blue made in Point Reyes, paired with Sean Thackery Pleides red blend, a “red berry, tangy crowd pleaser”
    • Carmody cheese paired with Jay Vineyards J California Pinot Noir, a “highly drinkable, soft rich wine”
    • Crisp Roederer Estates Anderson Valley Brut paired with Mt. Tam organic cheese, because the wine “goes lovely with soft, ripened cheeses”
  • Local, Organic Eggnog including:
    • Straus Family Creamery, an organic eggnog finished with nutmeg
    • Clover Sonoma Organic Maple Bourbon Eggnog, a non-alcoholic classic
  • Special holiday dishes by Chef Trent of WFM
    • Creations include Ginger Cinnamon Spice Duck or Turkey breast, and Spiced Prime Rib
    • “Pick up your cut at the meat counter, pop into the oven and you are ready to serve your guests,” shared a WFM spokesperson.
  • Humphry Slocombe’s Coconut Shoyu Ice Creamnew and available for a limited time
    • Top your favorite seasonal pie with a scoop of this ice cream, the fourth exclusive collaboration available exclusively at Whole Foods Market
    • Created by San Francisco-based Humphry Slocombe and Chef Melissa King in partnership with WFM—they made their first collaborative flavor, Hong Kong Milk Tea, in 2017
  • Northern California’s Tsar Nicolai caviar
    • Tsar Nicolai sustainably raises and produces top of the line caviar in Wilton, CA.
    • This year, WFM is partnering with the brand for an exclusive trio bundle deal, available in the Seafood dept.

Local Store Details

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is 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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Mother’s Day restaurant highlights for Santa Cruz & Monterey: Shadowbrook, Chaminade, Portola & more

Shadowbrook is open during the day on Mother’s Day. Photo courtesy of Shadowbrook.

Dining out on Mother’s Day is extremely popular, so if you haven’t made reservations yet, better hurry: here are a few restaurant highlights for Santa Cruz County and Monterey. I’ll publish more in the next few days.

Santa Cruz, Capitola, Aptos

Shadowbrook

It’s very rare for Shadowbrook to be open during the day, but it’s happening on Mother’s Day. The restaurant is serving a dinner menu all day (11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.) in its main dining room. Mother’s Day specials are slow-roasted leg of spring lamb (porcini mushroom-crusted with organic baby carrots, wild rice ‘pilaf’ and Cabernet jus, $28.95) and sweet-glazed ham (lightly smoked with Gouda potato gratin, grilled asparagus, apple-mustard and ham hock jus, $24.95). Many other dishes will be available like New England clam chowder; signature salad which includes baby spinach, candied pecans, and bacon-wrapped prawns; and house specialty Angus prime rib. See full menu here.

Many of the large party tables (7 people and up) have been booked, but as of press time there were a couple cancellations for the private room, at 11:15 and 5:15—this holds 12-16 people. For smaller parties (tables of four, for example) they are booked from 11 a.m. to 2:30, but there are reservation openings after that scattered throughout the afternoon and evening. Call 831-475-1511 for reservations. In addition, the Rock Room Bar & Lounge is open beginning at 10:30 a.m. for bar service and 11 for food, and might stay open as late as 10 p.m., but there are no reservations accepted for that area. It’s first-come, first-served. The regular dinner menu will be available at the rooftop heated bar/lounge deck. The regular Rock Room menu will be available in the lounge and on the deck. Because of Shadowbrook’s popularity—especially on Mother’s Day—many people choose to buy restaurant gift cards for Mother’s Day and give these as gifts, to be used at a later date.

1750 Wharf Rd., Capitola

 

Chaminade

The Chaminade offers its annual Mother’s Day buffet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 13. Cost is $66.95 for adults, $18.95 for kids 6-12 and free for kids under 6. Selections include Belgian waffles; an omelet bar; mini quiches; gourmet salads; a seafood bar with teriyaki salmon, Dungeness crab legs and more; roast prime rib with au jus; bourbon glazed honey ham; and ravioli with porcini cream, fried leeks and wild mushrooms. Kids’ dishes are chicken strips and fries; mac & cheese; and mini pancakes. See full menu. Call (831) 475-5600 or visit  opentable.com for reservations.

One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Sanderlings

Sanderlings at Seascape Resort has a brunch buffet from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm; the price is $56.95 for adults and $21.95 for kids. This year’s selections include a prime rib carving station; a seafood bar; a salad assortment (includes roasted beet with radicchio, apple, pickled apple; and Cobb; fresh fruit; and freshly baked croissants and muffins. Other highlights include potato cakes; smoked bacon and chicken apple sausage; and a kids’ menu with chicken tenders, hot dogs and more. Call (831) 662-7120 or visit opentable.com for reservations.

One Seascape Resort Drive, Aptos 

Hollins House

Hollins House at Pasatiempo has a brunch buffet from 10 am to 2 pm; the price is $75 for adults (includes a glass of champagne). The menu will include made-to-order omelets featuring choices such as smoked salmon and green garlic chives; Yukon gold potato hash; Applewood smoked bacon and breakfast sausage; a carving station with items such as Pitt ham with honey mustard and Hollandaise; artichoke quiche; and a few salads (including Caesar, and build-your-own-Cobb). Other highlights include a croissant and bagel station, cupcakes and bread pudding with salty whiskey caramel. See full menu here. Call (831) 216-5358 or visit opentable.com for reservations.

20 Clubhouse Road, Santa Cruz

Monterey

Portola Hotel & Spa

Portola Hotel & Spa is hosting Mother’s Day brunch at its De Anza Ballroom. There will be live piano music, and each mother receives a complimentary Mimosa. The buffet is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 831-649-7874 for reservations. Cost is $54.95 for adults, $41.95 for seniors 65 and up, and $24.95 for kids. The menu includes ham-gruyere frittata, sweet & savory crepes, California cheeses & cured meats with crusty bread & crackers, wild King salmon, and prime rib.  The kids’ menu includes macaroni & cheese and grilled chicken fingers with Ranch. See full menu.

Two Portola Plaza, Monterey

 

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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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St. Patrick’s Day food and drink highlights for Santa Cruz County & nearby

My Mom’s Mole, Elkhorn Slough Brewing & The Green Waffle are collaborating for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo credit: My Mom’s Mole Facebook page

My Mom’s Mole, Elkhorn Slough Brewing & The Green Waffle are collaborating for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo credit: My Mom’s Mole Facebook page

There are many enticing foods and events for St. Patrick’s Day 2017 in Santa Cruz and nearby areas. Here are a few highlights.

My Mom’s Mole is hosting an event at Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. in Watsonville on Friday, March 17, from 4-8 p.m. There will be taco and green waffle options with shredded chicken and/or roasted root vegetables and mole sauce (My Mom’s Mole signature sauce and/or mole verde). A side of My Mom’s Mole signature cactus & kale salad accompanies each dish. The waffles are courtesy of The Green Waffle LLC and El Nopalito Produce is providing the nopales (cactus).

My Mom’s Mole, The Green Waffle, and El Nopalito Produce are three of the 30-plus locally owned businesses that operate out of Watsonville’s El Pájaro CDC Commercial Kitchen Incubator. Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. opened in 2016 and focuses on wild ales made with locally harvested yeast and other locally sourced ingredients.

Elkhorn Slough co-founder Julie Rienhardt said,“When locals come together to make great food and drink from the ingredients all around us, it takes delicious to a whole new level. We are proud to be serving our beer with My Mom’s Mole to the wonderful Watsonville community for a festive St. Patrick’s Day celebration.”

Location: 65 Hangar Way, Watsonville

La Sofrita is doing a “We’re all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day” popup from 5:30-9 p.m. Friday, at POPUP next to Assembly. Chef Anna says “while staying true to Puerto Rican classics and flavors, we will pay homage to the Irish.” The menu will include rellenos de papa, a classic Puerto Rican dish of mashed potatoes stuffed with savory beef picadillo, then gently fried; corned beef empanadas (plus a few of La Sofrita’s other empanada varieties) served with curtido, a lightly pickled cabbage slaw; and Puerto Rican chicken stew flavored with sofrito and adobo, served with Puerto Rican rice. Beer will also be available.

 

Location: 1108 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz

 

Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria is offering corned beef and cabbage dinner for $15.95. This includes potatoes, carrots, onions, horseradish cream and a slice of Irish soda bread. Dinners will be available Thursday and Friday, March 16-17, starting at 9 a.m. (cold) and noon (hot) for take-out service. Cost is $15.95. The restaurant has also created Guinness stout chocolate cake, Bailey’s Irish cream cheesecake and iced shamrock cookies. Gayle’s is at Learn more:

Location: 504 Bay Ave., Capitola

 

Ella’s at the Airport  is serving corned beef and cabbage for lunch and dinner. There will also be Irish-inspired drinks.

Location: 100 Aviation Way, Watsonville

 

Malone’s is offering what it calls “traditional St. Patrick’s Day food specials” plus Irish style beers and special cocktails, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Friday. There will be live music in the evening.

Location: 4402 Scotts Valley Dr., Scotts Valley

 

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Pi Day discounts at Blaze Pizza and Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

Blaze Pizza has $3.14 pies on Pi Day, March 14, 2017 Credit: Blaze Pizza

Blaze Pizza has $3.14 pies on Pi Day, March 14, 2017
Credit: Blaze Pizza

Pi Day, March 14, is tomorrow and people and businesses will be celebrating across the country—including restaurants and food vendors on the Central Coast such as Blaze Pizza and Whole Foods Market.

Blaze Pizza, which offers customers personalized pizza cooked in three minutes, has 185 restaurants—mostly in the US, but also in Canada. It’s celebrating Pi Day by offering $3.14 whole pizzas all day at all locations on March 14. Originally imagined as an unconventional “pop-up” event three years ago, Blaze’s Pi Day celebration has become very popular. They expect to serve close to 250,000 pizzas on March 14, 2017.

 

Whole Foods Market is celebrating Pi Day by offering customers $3.14 off both large bakery pies and large take-and-bake pizzas. Frozen products are excluded from this promotion.

This deal is only valid on March 14 and available while supplies last at shops across the county including Bay Area ones like Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey. Varieties of pies and pizzas vary from store to store, but may include pumpkin pie, apple pie, gluten-free apple pie, cherry pie, pepperoni pizza, cheese pizza, and vegan pizza. All WFM pies and pizzas contain no hydrogenated fats, no bleached or bromated flours, and no artificial flavors or preservatives.

Here are some facts about Pi Day provided by Blaze Pizza:

  • Pi Day is celebrated each year on March 14, to commemorate the irrational number of 3.141592653
  • In 2009 the US government recognized March 14 as National Pi Day
  • Pi, or π, is defined as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s an irrational number, meaning it cannot be written as a simple fraction
  • March 14 is also Einstein’s birthday. He was born in Germany in 1879
  • The first organized Pi Day was in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium. Physicist Larry Shaw had the idea to celebrate the day by marching around a circle and then eating some pies. They still have the celebration today

 

Local Blaze Details

  • Blaze San Jose-Almaden is at 5353 Almaden Expressway. Call (408) 440-2307 for details.
  • Blaze Marina is at The Dunes, 110 General Stilwell Dr. Call (831) 324-0246 for details.
  • Blaze Salinas is Northridge Mall, 796 Northridge Shopping Center. Call (831) 443-1123 for details.

For more Blaze locations, including one in SF at Stonestown, see the store locator.

Local Whole Foods Details

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

 

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Christmas 2016 at Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

Assorted cheese from Whole Foods Market Credit: Whole Foods Market

Assorted cheese from Whole Foods Market
Credit: Whole Foods Market

Whether you need to shop for a holiday feast or check some folks off your gift list, Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey have lots to choose from—including the always-dependable gift card idea (ones for the market itself or for other retailers).

Customers need to place orders for holiday dinners two days ahead of their desired pick up date. Food is available for pickup Dec. 18-24, and then again on Dec. 26 (WFM is closed on Christmas Day). Order in person or online.

For gifts, WFM has several selections where part of your purchase goes to a worthy cause. For example, they partnered with PBS Kids to carry the company’s toys and help raise money. I’ve seen some of the Aurora Plush Animals in the store (pandas, penguins, foxes and more) and they definitely look cuddle-able! Some of the animals are endangered species. There are also some colorful and fun PBS Kids toys made with a composite featuring rubber wood from mature trees that no longer produce latex. All net proceeds benefit PBS Kids’ mission of “building knowledge, critical thinking, imagination and curiosity to empower children for success.”

Other “gifts with a cause” include ones where part of proceeds goes to Whole Planet Foundation to help alleviate poverty worldwide. These include Alaffia trios (coconut oil triple-milled bar soap or whipped body butter); one percent benefits WPF. Or if you buy west elm kitchen products made from upcycled denim—such as potholders—a dollar from each purchase goes to WPF. In addition, they have gift cards for sale where one percent benefits the Whole Kids Foundation (which aims to support schools and inspire families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness). These include Chipotle and Best Buy physical gift cards, and Starbucks digital cards.

There are room sprays and handmade soy wax candles from Thistle Farms; scents include lavender & lemon (Gratitude) and Geranium & Citrus (Hope). Thistle Farms is a community, sanctuary and social enterprise led by women survivors of trafficking, addiction and prostitution. It provides housing, recovery support and education. Each spray or candle purchase directly benefits the women who made it.

WFM wine experts have compiled a list of “10 favorite wines for the holiday season.” Available online, each wine has several suggested food pairings plus a recipe for an additional food pairing. Two examples: Andover Estate Pinot Noir goes well with items like Sartori Herbs des Provence BellaVitano cheese or roasted winter vegetables, or with the dish “Easy Porchetta Pork Tenderloin” (recipe included). Autoritas Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with Vermont Creamery Coupole cheese, poached white-fleshed fish, or “Bay Scallop Linguine with White Wine and Parsley” (recipe included).

There are lots of other enticing articles on the WFM blog, including ones with recipes like “holiday cakes worth celebrating” (includes mini chocolate ricotta cakes and cinnamon-almond olive oil cake) and “holiday appetizers” (how about sweet potato bacon bites, spinach bites with honey mustard, or pigs in a blanket with cranberry-mustard dipping sauce? Ok now I’m hungry!).

For holiday appetizers, if you’re a cheese fan, WFM just announced a big “12 Days of Cheese” sale. From Dec. 13-24, a different artisan cheese is on sale for FIFTY PERCENT OFF each day! Some highlights with notes from the market’s cheese experts:

Vermont Creamery, Bonne Bouche (Dec. 15)

  • This mild ash-ripened goat cheese with earthy notes and a subtle hazelnut flavor is a visually stunning addition to any cheese board.

Uplands Cheese Company, Pheasant Ridge Reserve (Dec. 17)

  • The only three-time winner of the American Cheese Society Best of Show, this cheese has a sweet, broth-like flavor with notes of butterscotch and fruit.

Cypress Grove Chevre, Truffle Tremor (Dec. 19)

  • A silky, creamy soft-ripened goat cheese packed with truffles. Deep floral, herb and mushroom flavors. An American original!

Rapin, Le Maréchal (Dec. 20)

  • This creamy, raw-milk Alpine cheese is infused with flavor from herbs added by hand during the ripening process.

Papillon, Roquefort (Dec. 21)

  • This classic cave-aged sheep’s milk blue cheese shows rich spiciness, complex layers of flavor and a smooth texture.

Vermont Creamery, St. Albans (Dec. 23)

  • An American take on a traditional French cheese, sourced from milk from one farm. Delicate and smooth with rich creamy flavors and nutty notes.  Non-GMO Project verified.

As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving article, WFM’s 2016 holiday food shopping guide  features selections such as traditional turkey dinner for eight ($99.99). This comes with a fully cooked 10-lb. oven-roasted Diestel turkey, four pounds each of herb stuffing and mashed potatoes, a quart of turkey gravy, a pint of cranberry relish, 16 dinner rolls, and a nine-inch traditional pumpkin pie. You can also order turkeys (cooked or uncooked) and ready-to-eat sides a la carte.

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.

Whole Foods Market Monterey is at 800 Del Monte Center, (831) 333-1600.

 

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

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Thanksgiving 2016 at Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

A few Thanksgiving side dishes from Whole Foods Market Credit: Whole Foods Market

A few Thanksgiving side dishes from Whole Foods Market
Credit: Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey have a wide array of Thanksgiving selections. You can place your Thanksgiving dinner orders in person or online http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/online-ordering — and if you order by Tuesday, Nov. 22, you get a $10 credit to use on a future in-store purchase of $75 or more (valid from Nov. 27 through Dec. 31).

Another promotion WFM is currently offering is if a customer buys a fresh or frozen organic turkey from the meat department, they receive a few free items from the “365” product line: a free 365 stuffing, free 365 broth and two 365 canned vegetables.

WFM has an online 2016 holiday guide. Selections include the always-popular traditional turkey dinner for eight for $99.99. It contains a fully cooked 10-lb. oven-roasted Diestel turkey, four pounds each of herb stuffing and mashed potatoes, a quart of turkey gravy, a pint of cranberry relish, 16 dinner rolls, and a nine-inch traditional pumpkin pie. For the same dinner for eight with an organic turkey, the cost is $159.99. When customers pick up these dinners, products are cold but they are packaged in reheatable containers (WFM recommends allowing up to three hours for reheating turkeys).

Other prepared meals include spiral-cut ham dinner for eight ($129.99) that includes green beans with roasted shallots, sweet potato mash and more. I bought some sweet potato mash yesterday from the Capitola location’s hot bar and enjoyed it last night with my dinner; it went well with a roasted ready-to-eat chicken plus kale from my Live Earth Farm CSA that I cooked with olive oil and garlic. I’ll definitely be buying more sweet potato mash this season.

You can also order turkeys a la carte (cooked or uncooked), and ready-to-eat sides a la carte—in addition to the aforementioned sweet potato mash, stuffing, green beans with roasted shallots, and mashed potatoes, there are dishes like cauliflower potato puree with crème fraiche, broccoli cheddar gratin, sweet cornbread pudding, roasted butternut squash salad and vegan spicy pumpkin soup.

Want to cook your own Thanksgiving dinner, or are you tasked with bringing a dish or two to a friend or family member’s house? The store has lots of great ingredients, including made-in-house sausage that’s perfect for stuffing. If you’re hosting a feast at your house, WFM also stocks many party-friendly options including an exquisite variety of cheeses—actually each shop has between 250 and 1,000 varieties! One example, new this year at WFM, is an exclusive porcini flavored Herve Mons Camembert. If you want to pre-order appetizer platters, choices include a 3-pound fruit/cheese tray ($39.99); the cheeses are Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Saint Andre Triple Cream Brie and Chevre.

For dessert, pie choices include pumpkin, caramel apple, pecan and strawberry rhubarb. The latter is vegan and gluten-free, from the company Natural Decadence. Other selections include pumpkin vanilla roulade cake.

Local Store Details

 

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

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Alpine cheese night Tuesday Sept. 13 at Whole Foods Market

Gruyere is one of the Alpine-style cheeses featured at Cheese Night Sept. 13 Credit: Whole Foods Market

Gruyere is one of the Alpine-style cheeses featured at Cheese Night Sept. 13
Credit: Whole Foods Market

Attention cheese lovers: there is a cheese night from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 at Whole Foods Market stores across the country; this includes the local Santa Cruz and Capitola stores as well as locations in the South Bay and San Francisco Bay.

Customers are invited to visit for free samples, and each store will have an expert or Certified Cheese Professional available to talk about characteristics and flavor profiles of Alpine-style cheeses and answer questions. They will have cooking tips, too.

A market spokesperson shared that Alpine-style cheeses melt better than any other cheese and are great for cooking, and that in general, these cheeses are nutty and salty with flavors of hay and/or caramel. Most pair well with white wines like viognier, reisling, or pinot grigio. Some of the cheeses at the Sept. 13 event include:

 

  • Kaltbach Le Gruyère: Made in Switzerland, this cheese is matured for 12 to 16 months and is washed regularly with brine. Flavors are complex, ranging from caramel, nuts, notes of mushroom, hay and fruit, and crunchy, salty granules add an extra boost of flavor.
  • Emmentaler: This famous cheese – the Swiss with the holes – has been in production for 400 years in the valley of the Emme. It has a buttery, delicate and nutty taste.
  • Le Marchel: Handmade in the mountains of Vaud by Jean-Michael Rapin and his sons since 1992, La Marchel has the distinctive aroma of hay, and herbs impart a very rustic and savory flavor.
  • Pavino: Exclusive to Whole Foods Market, this Alpine-style cheese is made in Wisconsin but stands up to any made in the Alps. It is nutty, fruity, and robust with a sweet milky finish, and is also sprinkled with crunchy salt crystals.
  • Kalthbach Alpine Extra: Aged in caves located on the edge of the Wauwiler Moos area in the canton of Lucerne, Switzerland, this award-winning, raw-milk, semi-hard cheese offers a tangy aroma and complex flavor.

 

Joe Kaulbach, who oversees the cheese program for Whole Foods Market Northern California and Reno, explains the origin of this popular style: “Imagine, hundreds of years ago: small families are scattered across the rural Alps. One family has four cows; another has eight, another has 20. The cows are all roaming in the mountains; the families all need their cows milked and need to make cheese. So, traditionally the men went up into the mountains, built a hut, lit a fire from surrounding firewood, and put a copper cauldron on it. They would make ‘cooked pressed cheese,’ which was a new style of cheese in the 13th century: they’d cook the curds, press them into a form, and make wheels. At the end of the summer–and this still happens today–the cheese makers come down from the mountains with their cheese and their cows in a gorgeous pageant called the Transhumance. Then, they send the cheese to market. This is what provides their living for the year.”

 

Here are some related recipes that Whole Foods Market is highlighting for this event:

Swiss Family Sandwich

Turkey, Tomato, and Emmentaler Breakfast Sandwiches

Pizza with Le Gruyère and Prosciutto

Classic Le Gruyère Fondue

Celery Root and Potato Gratin

Butternut Frittata with Sage and Gruyère

San Francisco WFM locations are teaming up with Sur La Table to invite customers to cook with Alpine-style cheeses. The companies are giving away a Le Creuset fondue set and Breville panini press via the @wholefoodsmarketsf Instagram account. Users can follow the channel and tag a friend on relevant posts to enter to win.

Local Store Details

  • Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.
  • Whole Foods Market Capitola is 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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Mother’s Day brunch possibilities from Whole Foods Market

A few flower bouquets from the bounty available at Whole Foods Market in Capitola

A few flower bouquets from the bounty available at Whole Foods Market in Capitola

Did Mother’s Day sneak up on you? Perhaps it’s time to organize a Mother’s Day brunch at home, in which case Whole Foods Market has a few ideas to help. And at WFM locations in Northern California—including the local Santa Cruz and Capitola stores—several delicious, brunch-friendly cheeses are currently on sale.

First, the cheese: speaking as just one representative mom, I think that fancy, tasty cheese is always welcome at brunch (or really, any meal…). Here are a few recommended soft-ripened cheeses:

  • Guffanti-Robiola Langhe Two-milk: this rich, earthy cheese is made with cow’s and sheep’s milk. It’s currently on sale for $23.99/lb., discounted from $29.99/lb. WFM Northern California Regional Cheese Buyer Francesca di Donato suggests pairing with items like orange jam, pumpkin-ginger jam, fresh fruit, and/or walnut bread.
  • Cowgirl Creamery – St. Pat: St. Pat is the Creamery’s seasonal cheese. The green rind commemorates the arrival of spring. These creamy wheels are wrapped in wild nettle leaves, which di Donato explains impart a smoky artichoke flavor. It’s currently on sale for $23.99/lb., discounted from $29.99/lb. di Donato recommends pairing with dry wine or an Irish-style lager.
  • Marin French – Supreme Extra Creme Brie: With a smooth texture and slightly sweet flavor, this delectable cheese lives up to the “lush and buttery” description promised on its label. It utilizes high quality milk from neighboring Marin County dairies.  This brie comes in a wheel, and is currently on sale for $23.99, discounted from $29.99. di Donato recommends pairing with California sparkling wine, Petit Syrah, or IPA. I enjoyed trying it with a small serving of “figs and olives” from the Capitola store’s olive bar.
  • Mitica- Cana de Cabra: This creamy goat milk log hails from Murcia in the southeastern part of Spain. The flavor is mild, yet satisfying, with citrus notes. It’s currently on sale for $13.99/lb., discounted from $16.99/lb. Di Donato’s pairing ideas: for drinks, a lean white wine (Albarino, or an unoaked Sauvignon Blanc) and for food, almonds and/or fig spread.

If you like cheese but want something more “brunch-traditional,” how about some quiche? WFM offers several ready-to-eat varieties in small ($5.99) and large ($14.99) sizes. I recently sampled a four-cheese quiche (Gouda, Parmesan, Swiss, and feta), and it was very good.

On a budget for Sunday brunch? I found this frittata recipe while browsing the “budget-friendly recipe” section on the WFM blog. You can incorporate leftovers in it, too.

If you have kids that like cooking, here are two recipes from the WFM blog that look easy, even for young ones:
Gluten-free Baked Berry French Toast (for breakfast at home)
or Berry Oatmeal in a Jar (for bringing a small breakfast somewhere else)

Last but not least, don’t forget to include flowers when developing your brunch plan. They are always a wonderful way to make a woman feel appreciated and Whole Foods carries lots of great arrangements. When I was at the Capitola location yesterday, I saw many vibrant bouquets, and most of them were made from flowers grown locally. Some of them are also fair trade. These are called “Whole Trade” flowers, and when purchased they donate funds to local community organizations that support flower farm workers.

“Whole Trade provides more money to producers, ensures better wages and working conditions for workers, and cares for the environment,” says Lily Hussey, Marketing and Community Relations Lead for Whole Foods Market, Northern California & Reno. “Also, they donate 1% of sales to Whole Planet Foundation.” Learn more about Whole Trade.

No matter what you decide to do for your Mother’s Day food, I hope it’s a very happy day for you!

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.

On Twitter? Please follow me @santacruzfoodie.