Tag Archives: holidays

Christmas and Hanukkah goodies at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz & Capitola

Christmas and Hanukkah are coming soon—in case you need some inspiration, I looked to Whole Foods Market for a few tips. Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola (1710 41st Ave.) and Santa Cruz (911 Soquel Ave.) always have lots of delicious, seasonal products, and the company generously gave me a gift card to enjoy a few items.

You can place orders in person or online; they must be made 48 hours before you want to pick them up. Depending on occasion, customers can place their holiday orders through Dec. 29; pick up dates are from Dec. 19-31.

Whole Foods Market has partnered with James Beard Award-winning chef, restaurateur and author Michael Solomonov for a pre-made Hanukkah meal for eight. Solomonov wrote “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.” Here are details on the meal:

  • Chicken Schnitzel with Apple Amba SauceMatzo-crusted chicken cutlers with hawaij—turmeric, cumin and black pepper—then fried crisp and served with a tangy Apple Amba Sauce
  • Green Beans with Mushrooms and Tehina (Vegetarian) – Tender green beans roasted with mushrooms and tossed in tehina sauce—tehina, apple cider vinegar, shallots and fenugreek—topped with beluga lentils and crispy garlic
  • Twice-Cooked Eggplant (Vegetarian) – First charred for deep flavors, eggplant is then mashed and simmered with onions, red bell pepper, paprika and coriander, and brightened by sherry vinegar and lemon juice
  • Leek and Potato Cakes – Shredded potato, matzo and onion pancakes, fried until crisp and tasty

There are three other chefs that Whole Foods Market has collaborated with this holiday season: Nicole Rucker, James Beard Award–winning cookbook author Stella Parks, and cookbook author Jenné Claiborne. Their special offerings include desserts like Honey Chess Pie (think buttery custard, warming spices flaky crust, whipped cream and candied ginger – this is from Rucker, a four-time blue-ribbon pie contest winner and author of “Dappled: Baking Recipes for Fruit Lovers). Have a different kind of sweet tooth? There’s Parks’ Caramel Spice Cake (includes buttermilk spice cake, layers of cranberry jam, cream cheese frosting, and caramel glaze—pastry chef Parks wrote “BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts). Chef/blogger Claiborne, author of “Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes,” has created a vegan Southern holiday meal for two which includes mushroom étouffée (delicious – I tried it!) and black-eyed pea fritters.

Traditional offerings include classic roast turkey dinner (turkey breast for four or whole turkey for four, eight or 12—includes sides like green beans with roasted shallots), and prime rib or spiral-sliced ham dinner for eight. A la carte sides include creamed spinach and kale (includes cream, Parmesan and garlic), corn pudding, and cider-roasted Brussels sprouts with pepitas.

Other Whole Foods Market order-ahead offerings perfect for the holidays:

  • Appetizers & Party Platters like Crostini Kits (varieties include Chevre & Tomato Crostini, Smoked Salmon Crostini, Roast Vegetable Crostini), Crab Cakes, or Antipasti Platter. Each of these platters serves 10.
  • Desserts like Mini Pastry Platter or Berry Chantilly Cake (each serves eight) or Pistachio Chocolate Torte (serves six)

 Local Store Details

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

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

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

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Christmas shopping: last minute restaurant gift card bonuses

Photo caption: Sushi Garden is offering discount gift cards this holiday season

Two weeks ago I posted this article with eight different “gift card bonus offers” from Santa Cruz and Capitola restaurants. Here are a few more for any of you doing very-last-minute shopping.


Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville

Sushi Garden is offering 10% off if you purchase at least $50 worth of gift certificates. You have to buy them by Dec. 24, and they’re valid at all three locations: Capitola (820 Bay Ave.), Scotts Valley (5600 Scotts Valley Dr.) and Watsonville (1441 Main St.).Visit sushi-garden.com.


Capitola, Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz

Jamba Juice is offering a gift card deal this holiday season, through Christmas. If you buy $25 in gift cards, you get a $5 bonus card redeemable in January and February. For more information, visit jambajuice.com. Local stores include Capitola (3555 Clares St.), Santa Cruz (1550 Pacific Ave.), and Scotts Valley (214 Mt. Hermon Rd.).


Santa Cruz

At Blaze Pizza (1901 Mission St.), if you buy a $25 gift card by Dec. 31, you get a free pizza reward to use at in 2019 (Jan. 1-Feb. 28). Restrictions: You must be a Blaze Rewards member (but it’s easy to sign up). For more information, visit blazepizza.com/locations/santa-cruz.


And finally, even though it’s not food-related, I have to mention Bookshop Santa Cruz because it’s such a wonderful, independent resource—and it’s been so for more than 50 years! Through the holiday season, you receive a free $10 BSC gift card when you purchase four $25 gift cards, or a free $5 gift card when you purchase five $10 gift cards. Speaking of food, your gift recipients (or you!) can buy a cookbook or a different type of food book (Ruth Reichl’s Comfort me With Apples…Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, etc.). Visit bookshopsantacruz.com.


Best wishes for a great 2019!

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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.



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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Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer


Holiday food & gifts from organic New Leaf Community Markets

Complete turkey dinner from New Leaf

Complete turkey dinner from New Leaf

If you want suggestions on how to make your holidays less stressful, look to organic, Santa Cruz-based New Leaf Community Markets this season. They have a large variety of gifts including Andes Gifts – Fair Trade, handmade alpaca items – and PACT organic cotton socks, available in the Bloom Departments. New Leaf will also wrap your gifts for free in gift bags during the month of December.

New Leaf also has a blog that includes an early December entry entitled “Simple Tips for Holiday Success.” Check it out at newleaf.com/blog.

For holiday meals — including a la carte items or full dinner packages — you need to order by Saturday, Dec. 20 for pick-up on Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014.

New Leaf has Holiday Side packages – the perfect compliment to any centerpiece with three delicious options – savory, gluten-free and vegan, for $49.99 each.

Other holiday ideas, both traditional and alternative:

  • New Leaf offers easy catering options, here is the general (not-holiday-specific) catering menu. Selections include coffee/tea carafes, and assorted platters such as cheese, crostini, Mediterranean, and cookies
  • Butternut Squash Lasagna is a house favorite from the deli ($7.99 per pound, serves 3-4)
  • Parsnip Bread Pudding (also $7.99 per pound, serves 3-4) is a fun, different side dish and I personally recommend it – I had the chance to sample it around Thanksgiving
  • New Leaf’s Own pie crust is now available in the freezer section – made with all butter, and reportedly very light and flaky
  • A popular item that can be used as a festive snack or unique dessert: Angie’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt popcorn

The market has holiday packages like “Turkey Dinner” ($139.99, feeds 4-6) with Diestel brown and serve turkey, organic herb bread stuffing, buttermilk mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and more. There’s also a gluten-free dinner package ($139.99, feeds 4-6) with the same turkey. Accompaniments include wild and brown rice stuffing, citrus beet salad, organic green bean casserole, gluten-free dinner rolls, and gluten-free pumpkin pie. These packages are available at all New Leaf locations except for Felton and Boulder Creek, which are offering different holiday dishes.

Read more at the New Leaf web site newleaf.com/holidays.

Several store locations are hosting Holiday Solutions Stations to help customers during the holiday season. This is where you can place orders, find recipes and cooking tips, and ask questions about suggested pairings and/or accommodating your guests’ dietary restrictions. The stations also feature occasional holiday treat and drink samples.

Find the station at the front of each store—including downtown Santa Cruz, Westside SC, Capitola, Half Moon Bay, San Jose, Pleasanton—open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until Dec. 30.

Contact Info (there are also locations in Half Moon Bay, Felton, San Jose, Pleasanton, and Boulder Creek)

  • Westside Location: 1101 Fair Ave, Santa Cruz, (831) 426-1306
  • Downtown SC Location: 134 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, (831) 425-1793
  • Capitola Location: 1210 41st Ave, Capitola, (831) 479-7987

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Santana Row Holiday Wine & Dine benefits Second Harvest Food Bank

Santana Row is hosting a holiday wine & shopping event

Santana Row is hosting a holiday wine & shopping event

Santana Row shops and restaurants are offering a fun holiday event over four Tuesdays in December, and you have two more opportunities before it’s over.

The “Holiday Wine & Dine Around” is Dec. 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. Participants can enjoy complimentary wine and food tastings, plus shopping discounts, inside several Santana Row shops and restaurants.

Tickets are $15 and proceeds benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. The ticket price also includes a signature Santana Row wine glass. If you donate canned food when you purchase your ticket, you receive a $2 discount (this is when you buy in person through the Santana Row Concierge; note these tickets are cash only). Tickets are also available at SantanaRow.com. If you pre-purchase your ticket, go to the walkway between Left Bank and Sino Restaurant after 5:45 p.m. the night of the event to complete your registration.

You must be 21 years or older to attend. For more information, call the Santana Row Concierge at (408) 551-4611.

Santana Row, which features 70 shops and 20 restaurants, is located near Stevens Creek and Winchester Boulevards.

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Santa Cruz holiday shopping opportunities this weekend include gourmet food gifts

Fudge sauce from Desperately Seeking Chocolate, a vendor at Jingle Shells

Fudge sauce from Desperately Seeking Chocolate, a vendor at Jingle Shells

There are several Santa Cruz holiday shopping opportunities this weekend; here are two events that include gourmet food gifts.

Handmade Gifts $25 & Under Saturday

Saturday, December 7 is the 6th annual Handmade Gift Sale of $25-and-under items, from 10 am-4pm at Center Street Grill. There are gifts including artwork, handcrafted pens, aprons, wallets, and purses. The culinary items include local jams and preserves, gourmet honey, and confections. Read more.

 The Details: Saturday, December 7, free admission

Location: Center Street Grill, 1001 Center St, Santa Cruz


Jingle Shells at Seymour Center Sunday

Sunday, December 8 is the annual Jingle Shells Arts & Crafts Festival at Long Marine Lab’s Seymour Marine Discovery Center from noon to 5:30 pm, followed by the “festive whale lighting” at 5:45pm. Participants can explore the Seymour Center’s exhibits and aquarium, visit Ms. Blue (giant blue whale skeleton), look for migrating gray whales from the shipwreck deck, and meet local artisans while shopping for unique holiday gifts including jewelry, ceramics, handmade soaps, and seaglass. Vendors include three related to food: Desperately Seeking Chocolate will be offering dessert sauces including Single Malt Whiskey Fudge, Ginger Habanero Fudge, and – new this year – Balsamic Fudge. Twins Kitchen creates innovative jams and mustards using seasonal and organic fruits from local farms. Flavors include Strawberry Balsamic Jam with rosemary, Black Pepper Raspberry Vanilla Jam with lavender, and Apricot Bourbon Mustard. Farmer Freed  makes culinary salt blends using local organic ingredients. Seymour Center will be serving free hot cider. While you shop, you can enjoy live music. Also note that the Center’s Ocean Discovery Shop (this is separate from the special vendors appearing that day) is offering 10% off all purchases on Sunday.

The Details

Sunday, December 8: Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, and free for Friends of Long Marine Lab members, UCSC undergrad students, and kids 3 and under

Location: Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab, 100 Shaffer Road (past Natural Bridges State Beach, at the end of Delaware Avenue).

For anyone unfamiliar with the Center, it’s dedicated to educating people about the role scientific research plays in the understanding and conservation of the world’s oceans. Read more at Seymour Center’s web site or call (831) 459-3800.


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12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day One: Santa Cruz holiday cookies

Front Street Kitchen in Santa Cruz is a co-op kitchen that offers catering, culinary classes, and more

Front Street Kitchen opened in early 2012 in Santa Cruz, and it is the first participant in the Santa Cruz Foodie/Santa Cruz Restaurant Examiner’s “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway.” That’s right: today is Day One of TWELVE DAYS of food-related giveaways! You can win a great prize (limited to one per person for the duration of this promotion). Keep reading for how to enter contest.


Front Street Kitchen is a co-op kitchen that offers catering, culinary classes, and more. There are three talented local caterers involved, including Andrea Mollenauer (you may recall that during the Thanksgiving season, she shared her cranberry chutney recipe).

On Sunday Dec. 16 at 11 a.m. FSK is holding a community workshop entitled Holiday Cookie Baking. The owners emphasize this will be “more like a holiday community gathering” as opposed to a class. Here is the description:

We will be baking, decorating and exchanging some of the season’s favorite recipes; coffee and hot apple cider will be served. Bake in our well-equipped commercial kitchen with friends and family, take home both finished and ready-to-bake holiday treats for your holiday.

To make it even more fun, there are some optional festive activities:
* Recipe Exchange – bring 10 copies of your favorite holiday cookie recipe to share
* ‘Cutest Apron’ contest – winner takes home a prize!
* Special Holiday packaging ideas – available for purchase. Or bring your own packaging to transport your loot and save on paper waste

The cost is $25 per adult, and $10 per child 14 and under with participating adult (maximum 2 kids per adult for reduced rate). To RSVP, so FSK knows how many goodies to prepare, call (831) 588-4515 or email info@frontstreetkitchen.com. The venue is located at 504A Front Street; for more information see FSK’s web site and Facebook page.




One lucky reader will win FREE ADMISSION to Holiday Cookie Baking.

To enter, email your name to tfatemiwalker@yahoo.com and include the words “Holiday Cookie Baking.”

Or post a comment to this article on my Facebook page.

Either way, the entry deadline is Thurs. Dec. 13 at 6 p.m.

The drawing will take place that evening and the winner will be notified via email.

Good luck and happy holidays!

Help the hungry: donate to people in need of food and get free bowling

Many of us, myself included, enjoy going out to eat and do it relatively often, but not everyone has this luxury. Lots of folks in Santa Cruz County don’t even have enough food to eat at home, and you can make a difference in their lives this holiday season (as well as any time of year that you’re feeling generous). If you’re a bowling fan, you can even be rewarded for your donation. Santa Cruz bowling alley Boardwalk Bowl is conducting a food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank. If you bring in a can of food anytime until December 31, you get one game of bowling for free. Limit of one free game per person, per day. All donations will be given to Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County. For more information on this promotion, call Boardwalk Bowl at (831) 426-3324

Second Harvest Food Bank (831-722-7110, located in Watsonville) distributes 7.2 million pounds of food per year to local families, children, individuals and seniors in our community through over 180 agencies and programs. Hunger is an issue for nearly 1 in 4 children today across Santa Cruz County. You can donate to this worthy cause online — every $1 you give translates to $8 worth of food that Second Harvest distributes.

Boardwalk Bowl Location: 115 Cliff Street, Santa Cruz 95060

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