Tag Archives: Penny Ice Creamery

Dads & Grads gifts: Gilroy Premium Outlets, Santa Cruz restaurants & cookies

Selections from Le Creuset at Gilroy Premium Outlets. Photo credit: Le Creuset

Waited ‘til the last minute to buy the dad or grad in your life a gift for this weekend? If they like to cook or are a candy fan, see below for a few gift ideas at Gilroy Premium Outlets. Remember that the outlets feature nearly 150 stores, incorporating a range of tastes. For the dad not particularly interested in food, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th has a great selection of clothing and ties, plus designer sunglasses and wallets. And Bose is a good option for the dad that loves music or television.

Outlet hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.


Also, if you are shopping for a Santa Cruz foodie or are interested in purchasing a gift with a Santa Cruz theme, see end of article for more ideas.

Gilroy Outlets Food and Cooking Gift Ideas

    • Gift possibilities include grilling skillets, tongs, basting brushes and panini sets for Dad
    • Personalized gift boxes for dads and grads
    • Unique flavors including draft beer
    • Kitchen gadgets, cutlery, small appliances, BBQ accessories


Gilroy Outlets restaurants or cafes to purchase gift cards

  • Erik’s Deli Café
  • Starbucks


For refreshments while shopping, in addition to the aforementioned Starbucks and Erik’s Deli (the Sandwiches with Character at the latter are always popular), three options are:

  • All Natural Carts  (fresh fruit parfaits you can eat on the go)
  • Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
  • Gilroy Market Place (specialty coffees, pizza, garlic fries, sandwiches and more)


Santa Cruz Gifts/Gift Cards

Lots of folks appreciate restaurant gift cards; one idea is a card from The Glass Jar, which owns Assembly, The Picnic Basket and The Penny Ice Creamery. Purchase a card at any of these three, and your recipient can choose which venue to redeem it at. Same with Soif and La Posta, you can purchase gift cards at either restaurant, and they are good at both.


Last but not least, Pacific Cookie Company has options if you want to mail a gift. These include what they refer to as “dad-inspired cookie gifts” like Executive Sweet Pack (15 cookies, currently on sale for $23.50 from $26.50). Graduation-themed gifts include Congratulations Cookie Gift Tower (a dozen cookies, $21.95).

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Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

Family-friendly Santa Cruz benefit with food, wine, Warriors prizes

Ice cream at Mission Hill Creamery, an official Santa Cruz Warriors partner and a participant in this weekend’s Taste of the Warriors

Ice cream at Mission Hill Creamery, an official Santa Cruz Warriors partner and a participant in this weekend’s Taste of the Warriors

The inaugural Taste of the Warriors—Saturday, Oct. 10, at downtown Santa Cruz’s Kaiser Permanente Arena—is a family-friendly event with food, wine, beer, and entertainment. The Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association and the Santa Cruz Warriors (the 2015 champions of the NBA’s Development League) are partnering to host this benefit for Santa Cruz City Schools (SCCS). In addition to serving wine from 19 local wineries including several South County vintners, the event will feature selections from several restaurants including local chefs who are SCCS alums. There will be photo ops with championship trophies from the Golden State and Santa Cruz Warriors. For more information or tickets, visit santacruzbasketball.com. The party will be from 6:30-9:30 p.m. and the arena is at 140 Front St.

For the kids, there will be a special area with a jump house, face painting, basketball hoops, and kid-friendly food. Adults can enjoy beer from Uncommon Brewers and New Bohemia and wine from the aforementioned wineries; their tickets include a souvenir Warriors wine glass. There are lots of restaurants and food vendors including Hoffman’s Bistro (Adam Hoffman is a SCCS alumnus), Assembly, Kianti’s, Pacific Thai, Back Nine Grill & Bar (chef Michele Costa is a SCCS alumna), Pleasure Pizza, Ristorante Italiano, Whitings’ Food, Goose’s Goodies (owner Marci Prolo is an alum), Penny Ice Creamery, and Mission Hill Creamery. Back Nine is serving rib tips; Hoffman’s is dishing up bruschetta and pineapple pulled pork sliders; Ristorante Italiano is providing homemade meatballs with marinara and meat dipping sauces plus mini Caprese salads; and Goose’s will provide toffee. Participating wineries include Alfaro, Armitage, Bargetto, Bartolo, Bottle Jack, Burrell School, Byington, Clos LaChance, Dancing Creek, Equinox, Odonata, and Stockwell Cellars.

Tickets have been on sale for a while at $50 in advance or $70 at the door. Those under 21 pay $10. On Oct. 7 organizers announced a 2-for-1 ticket deal. For that promotion, you need to call the Warriors ticket number (831-713-4400) or buy tickets at the door. Event proceeds will benefit SCCS, which serves 7,000 students. Since relocating to Santa Cruz in 2012, the D-League Warriors have collaborated with the district through the Read to Achieve and Math Warriors programs.

“We’re proud to host this event as part of our ongoing commitment to support our public schools,” said Santa Cruz Warriors President Jim Weyermann. “We are all champions when we stand together.” He described the upcoming event as “a family night that celebrates our community’s culinary talents, exemplary winemaking and dedication to education.”

Other highlights for Oct. 10 include an appearance by Warriors dual champion James Michael McAdoo who will take photos with fans; a raffle with autographed Warriors prizes such as jerseys signed by MVPs Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Flowers will be provided by alumna Wendy Melrose of Lina Floral.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz hosts family-friendly Mole & Mariachi festival

Mole ingredients from a competitor's table at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival. Photo credit: Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Mole ingredients from a competitor’s table at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival. Photo credit: Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

The 3rd annual Mole & Mariachi Festival is Saturday, Sept. 19, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park. The food and music festival has free admission. If you want to sample moles, there is a $10 tasting kit for sale. A list of mole competitors and other vendors is below.

In addition to sampling mole, attendees can purchase local food, beer from Discretion Brewing, and other beverages including chavelas (a drink made from beer, tomato juice, and spices). Food vendors include The Penny Ice Creamery and Garcia Fish Tacos.  There will be music and dance performances, kids’ crafts, piñatas every hour, and a raffle.

This year, six local restaurants and chefs—including first-time participant Jozseph Schultz of India Joze—will prepare moles. Festival attendees and a panel of local judges led by Patricia Santana will select their favorites. Santana and her husband Leonardo own Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant in Aptos. In 2013 the judges’ panel chose Manuel’s as the winner of the inaugural mole cook-off with a recipe Leonardo developed.

Santana is excited and honored to be a judge this year; she is very passionate about mole. “This year, it will be fun to not compete, and actually get to enjoy other moleros’ creations without the stress of bringing our own,” she says. “I salute every mole maker bringing their best entry. In my opinion, mole is the king of sauces in the Mexican kitchen, but one needs to keep in mind there are seven different types of mole – and as many recipes as there are mole makers,” she adds. “This sauce is a labor of love, and every cook has their own secrets.” On mole day at Manuel’s (Sunday), her husband gets up at 2 am to have the restaurant kitchen to himself.

At the festival, free kids’ activities will include face painting, crafts, bubbles, and a mural project coordinated by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History.

Four folk music bands will perform: Mariachi Gilroy, Mariachi Alma de Mexico, Mariachi Juvenil Alma de Mexico and Trio del Sol. Also performing will be Estrellas de Esperanza, a children’s Mexican folklorico dance group from Watsonville, and Centeotl Grupo de Danza y Baile, a Santa Cruz-based dance group that preserves cultural connections with Mexico.

All event proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park (including educational programs and restoration and improvement projects) via Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. The event encourages alternative transportation by providing free trolley rides from downtown and having bike valet service at the park. For more information on the festival, visit the event web site.

Location: Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, 144 School Street

Mole competitors:

  • El Chipotle Restaurant in Soquel (preparing a rojo Oaxaqueño mole)
  • El Jardin Restaurant in Santa Cruz—People’s Choice award winner at the 2013 festival, and a winner at the 2014 festival (preparing “Jorge’s Traditional Mole,” a red mole poblano)
  • My Mom’s Mole from Watsonville (with a 25-ingredient Guanajuato-style sauce that is spicy, not sweet, prepared by chef Cesario Ruiz)
  • Gerald Gonzalez (a home cook from Contra Costa County that will prepare “Mole de Paz,” a mole poblano)
  • Mariquita’s (home cook Emma Pinto Valedez will prepare her grandmother’s mole poblano recipe)
  • India Joze (Schultz will prepare a to-be-announced mole sauce)

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

National Ice Cream Month in Santa Cruz includes Mission Hill Creamery’s birthday

Ice cream from Mission Hill Creamery, used with permission

Ice cream from Mission Hill Creamery (photo used with permission)

July is National Ice Cream Month, and here in Santa Cruz this coincides with Mission Hill Creamery’s 5th birthday plus a contest where you can win free ice cream for a year.

First, the Mission Hill Creamery news: Dave Kumec founded this wonderful artisan ice cream company in July 2010. To celebrate Mission Hill’s fifth birthday, the downtown shop is offering $1 ice cream scoops from noon to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21. There will also be live music and drawings for Santa Cruz Warriors merchandise. Kumec loves giving back to the community. I asked him to reflect on the last five years. “I feel like the business has become a grown-up,” Kumec shared. “We had some challenges early on, but now we are finding a great groove. It’s all about the team you surround yourself with and our team is fantastic. It’s a fantastic career knowing you make people happy all day long.”

Kumec and Mission Hill started out in the former Front Street Culinary Center, and moved to the current Pacific Avenue site in 2012. They serve a variety of ice creams, desserts, milkshakes, and floats—with local and organic ingredients like Straus organic cream and Santa Cruz County strawberries—plus coffee and espresso, and packed pints. Mission Hill Creamery products are also sold at many Northern California stores and other venues including Whole Foods Market and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Next, here are details for the ice cream contest Downtown Santa Cruz is sponsoring. It’s a coloring contest, and the Ice Cream for a Year prize will be comprised of 50 gift certificates: 10 gift certificates for a scoop, from each of the 5 participating locations. The idea is you get one scoop of ice cream per week, for all but two weeks of the year.

How to play: pick up a coloring sheet at one of Downtown Santa Cruz’s five participating stores: Cold Stone Creamery, Marini’s Candies, Mission Hill Creamery, Pacific Cookie Company and the Penny Ice Creamery. Return your completed coloring sheet to the Info Kiosk in front of New Leaf Market on Pacific Ave. by July 31 and you will be entered in the contest. The winner will be notified by email during the the first week of August.

People are encouraged to follow Downtown Santa Cruz on Facebook and check out the front windows of Palace Art on Pacific Ave. to see featured coloring sheets, and participants are encouraged to post photos of both ice cream treats and coloring sheets on Instagram with the hashtags #downtownsantacruzicecream and #downtownsantacruz.

Location details:
Mission Hill Creamery, 1101B Pacific Ave. near Cathcart
The Penny Ice Creamery, several locations including original downtown branch, 913 Cedar St.
Pacific Cookie Company, two locations including downtown, 1203 Pacific Ave.
Marini’s Candies, two locations including downtown, 1308 Pacific Ave.
Cold Stone Creamery, 1129 Pacific Ave.
New Leaf Market, 1134 Pacific Ave.
Palace Art, 1407 Pacific Ave.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz Farmers’ Markets Pop-Up Breakfast Series continues Saturday

Bloody Marys from Chef Brad Briske, at the 2014 pop-up breakfast series.  Photo credit: Carolyn Lagatutta

Bloody Marys from Chef Brad Briske, at the 2014 pop-up breakfast series.
Photo credit: Carolyn Lagatutta

The summertime pop-up breakfast series at the Westside Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley farmers markets is in full swing, with the next event this Saturday, July 18 in Scotts Valley. There is limited seating; tickets are $36 and are available for purchase online and at the markets. Different local chefs are featured at each event; this Saturday it’s Kevin Koebel of Local FATT—see menu below.

The August 22 breakfast features chef Mark Denham of Soif Restaurant & Wine Bar, and chef David Jackman of Chocolate is cooking for the September 12 breakfast. Both are at the Westside market; see web site for full menus.

Graduates of Santa Cruz’s Food, What?! youth empowerment program provide service at the events. Upon arrival, attendees choose their seats by placing their own plate and silverware at a space along a u-shaped, family-style table. A local band provides music while guests drink a hot beverage and await the first course. At 10 a.m., plates of seasonal cuisine made with ingredients sourced from the markets begin rolling out. As the guests eat and visit, farmers and chefs share their knowledge and perspective regarding agriculture, community and consumer choice within the food system.

The first summer series occurred in 2013, and it draws more and more fans each year. The 2014 Pop-Up events sold out well in advance. These farm-to-table meals are hosted at the Westside and Scotts Valley Markets between June and September. The June event at the Westside Market featured Kendra Baker and Carlo Espinas of Assembly, the Penny Ice Creamery, and Picnic Basket. As a market spokesperson states, “the goal of these ticketed, outdoor, events is to highlight our rich local agriculture and food artisan community while raising funds for the markets’ public educational programs including the Foodshed Project.” For more information call 831-325-4294 or email education@santacruzfarmersmarket.org.

July 18 Pop-Up Breakfast Menu
• DRY FARMED TOMATO CARPACCIO with collard-whole cream, tarragon savory bread pudding and cherry-balsamic syrup
• CORN BEEF AND HASH TIMBALE shredded roasted potato, slow cooked brisket and spinach
• ROSEMARY EGG FLAN topped with meyer lemon, macerated raw beet and a cilantro-arugula coulis
• FIG AND FENNEL SALAD mint, chevre and strawberry vinegar reduction
• BRAISED GREENS roasted alliums, olive oil and salt
• SWEET FINISH honey-lemon curd with lavender shortbread

Read more about the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Markets at santacruzfarmersmarket.org.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

National Ice Cream Month — win ice cream for a year in Santa Cruz

mission hill july 2014

Ice cream and espresso at Mission Hill Creamery

To celebrate National Ice Cream Month, there is a delicious Downtown Santa Cruz-sponsored contest with a grand prize of free ice cream for a year!

One winner receives 50 gift certificates for free ice cream – so the idea is to use one per week. To be exact, the prize is “approximately” one year of free dessert.

How you play: visit one of the five participating venues and pick up an Ice Cream Month punch card. The venues are the Penny Ice Creamery, Pacific Cookie Company, Mission Hill Creamery, Marini’s Candies and Cold Stone Creamery. Through July 27, have your card punched every time you order a treat from one of these sweet places.

Then, on July 27, visit Mission Hill Creamery at 3 p.m. for a special event. Vice Mayor Don Lane (the “Vice Cream Mayor,” he even has an ice cream tattoo!) will present a special Vice Mayoral Proclamation. Anyone who has a completed Ice Cream Month punch card (ten punches) will be entered in a raffle for free ice cream. You must be present to win. If you have eaten enough ice cream by July 27 that you have more than one punch card filled out, each one of these counts as a separate raffle entry.

Follow the Downtown Santa Cruz Facebook page to learn about featured ice cream flavors every day. You don’t have to eat that particular flavor to get a punch; it’s just another highlight of ice cream month in Santa Cruz. Not to whet your appetite or anything, but Sunday’s featured flavor was Macapuno (baby coconut) at Pacific Cookie, Saturday’s was Oreo Overload at Coldstone, Friday’s was Ricotta Fig at Mission Hill, and the 4th of July highlighted the flavor The Great Morgani at Marini’s.

Today’s featured flavor? Blackberry Sweet Corn at The Penny Ice Creamery. Mmmm, I can taste it already…

Remember — since National Ice Cream Month is July, we are halfway through already. You better get eating!
Mission Hill Creamery, 1101B Pacific Ave.
The Penny Ice Creamery, several locations including original downtown branch, 913 Cedar St.
Pacific Cookie Company, two locations including downtown, 1203 Pacific Ave.
Marini’s Candies, two locations including downtown, 1308 Pacific Ave.
Cold Stone Creamery, 1129 Pacific Ave.
On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Special Santa Cruz film, food & wine event includes Assembly, Vinocruz, and The Del Mar

Preview food from soon-to-be-opened Assembly at a Feb. 6 Santa Cruz event

Preview food from soon-to-be-opened Assembly at a Feb. 6 Santa Cruz event

There is a fabulous collaborative event in the Santa Cruz community next week; tickets are selling fast for this “Spinning Plates” evening of film, food, and wine.

As you may recall from my article earlier this month, the team behind Santa Cruz’s The Penny Ice Creamery and The Picnic Basket—Zach Davis and Kendra Baker—are about to open their first full-service restaurant, Assembly, with Executive Chef Carlo Espinas. On Thursday, Feb. 6 you can preview Assembly’s food and watch an award-winning restaurant-related documentary film, “Spinning Plates.” The event will also include samples from The Penny Ice Creamery and The Picnic Basket, and Vinocruz is pouring wine that evening.

When you purchase a ticket online (see information at The Nick/Del Mar web site), you can choose to buy a ticket that includes the film, food and wine ($24) or just the film and food ($18). You also select which time you’d like to enter for the refreshments: 6:30, 6:50, or 7:10 p.m. The movie will be screened at 8 p.m.

Ike Jablon, Director of Marketing & Special Events for Nickelodeon Theatres (this encompasses The Nick, Del Mar & Aptos Cinema), is excited about the event and the community’s response to it (as of press time, the 6:30 & 6:50 admission times had already sold out and the last time is quickly approaching sell-out status). “I’m looking to have our three theatres collaborate as much as possible with other locally owned businesses in the area. When we found out about the film ‘Spinning Plates,’ it seemed like a perfect fit for us to work with Kendra and Zach.” Jablon adds that since the film is about the creativity and perseverance it takes to own and run a restaurant, it aligns perfectly with the team that has worked so hard and opened two Penny Ice Creameries, the Penny Kiosk Downtown, The Picnic Basket and soon Assembly.

Davis shares Jablon’s excitement. “We’re huge fans of The Nick/Del Mar and thrilled to be putting this event together with them,” he says. “It’s really special to be bringing The Penny, Picnic Basket and Assembly together under one roof. The Assembly portion of the food will be indicative not only of Carlo’s menu and style, but also of his excitement about getting involved in the community outside of Assembly’s four walls.”

An update on Assembly: As of January 30, 2014, the opening date of this highly anticipated restaurant (it’s going to be the largest in Santa Cruz, seating 100 diners!) is set for February 25th.

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

Upcoming Santa Cruz restaurant Assembly hires veteran San Francisco chef

Carlo Espina will be Executive Chef at Santa Cruz restaurant Assembly (photo credit: Nader Khouri)

Carlo Espinas will be Executive Chef at Santa Cruz restaurant Assembly (photo credit: Nader Khouri)

The team behind Santa Cruz’s The Penny Ice Creamery and The Picnic Basket are opening their first full-service restaurant – Assembly – in a few weeks. They just hired Carlo Espinas as Executive Chef, and this is great news for the local dining community!

California Culinary Academy alumnus Espinas is moving to Santa Cruz next week, leaving his current chef position at San Francisco’s Comstock Saloon. After Espinas’ 2005 CCA graduation he worked at Incanto under chef Chris Cosentino, where he learned a lot including the importance of seasonally changing menus (you may recognize Cosentino’s name from TV’s Top Chef Masters and Chefs vs. City). Espinas also worked at SF restaurants such as Piccino Café, where he served as opening chef, and Camino, where he worked under Russell Moore who spent 20 years at Chez Panisse.

Assembly, opening in the next couple months at 1108 Pacific Ave.,  is slated to be a 100-seat restaurant with “rustic California Cuisine.” Speaking of his culinary styles and passions, Espinas says, “…My food tends to skew towards Mediterranean and regional American cuisine. California is the intersection of all of this: amazing produce and growing seasons that are coupled with rich cultural traditions from all over the country and world.”

Espinas is excited to cook for the Santa Cruz community and to make Assembly visitors feel like family. His own family is a big influence on his vision. “I am one of six in my family and I have 46 cousins, just on my mom’s side. Coming from a large, extended Filipino family, I grew up in a culture that centers around the table; chatting, laughing, and eating,” he explains. “I like food that brings people to the table, that facilitates conversation and cheer; and food that excites and satiates. I often think about my family when I cook…it keeps me grounded and focused on food that is tasty, tantalizing, but approachable.”

Assembly co-owners Kendra Baker and Zach Davis couldn’t be happier that Espinas said yes to their job offer. Baker first met Espinas when she was pastry chef at SF’s Bar Tartine, and has been keeping tabs on him ever since. “I knew Carlo was one to watch,” Baker says. “When Zach and I started talking about people we would want to work with, he immediately came to mind.”

Pastry Chef Anna St. John will also be part of the Assembly team. An experienced Penny staff member, St. John will work with Baker to create a range of tantalizing desserts.

It seems there is nothing Baker and Davis can’t accomplish in the culinary world. They started The Penny Ice Creamery with a Cedar Street location in August 2010 and expanded with a Pacific Ave. kiosk in November 2011 and a Pleasure Point location in February 2013. They also run beachfront café The Picnic Basket. What’s next? Hard to imagine, but in the meantime I can’t wait to try Assembly!

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Great 2013 Gourmet Grazing festival raised money for Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group

Asian Tuna Tartare on rice crisp & slaw with candied ginger peanut dressing from The Chef’s Table. Photo courtesy of SCCBG

Asian Tuna Tartare on rice crisp & slaw with candied ginger peanut dressing from The Chef’s Table. Photo courtesy of SCCBG

The annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green features a wonderful atmosphere, amazing food, and lots of delicious wine and beer. The 10th annual Gourmet Grazing, a sell-out, was held Saturday Sept 21, 2013 and raised important funds for the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group. Everyone had a great time, even with the rainy weather! Read my preview article.

If you missed it this year, I recommend planning ahead for 2014. Buy your tickets early, either online or at New Leaf Markets. Because only a limited number of tickets are sold, the festival doesn’t get overly crowded. It’s enjoyable for families (I brought my young daughter) and individuals of all ages.

Here are some highlights from the 2013 festival to whet your appetite for 2014!


  • Café Rio: Rio Prawn Spring Roll with mung bean noodles, sprouts, carrots, green onion, basil, and mint
  • Johnny’s Harborside: Gazpacho Seafood Cocktail with Calamari, Scallops and Shrimp and garnished with Baby Romaine and a Watermelon Radish

I must confess I had seconds of both of the above; they were that good!

  • The Whole Enchilada / Haute Enchilada: Delicious and refreshing Peruvian Ceviche with shrimp, Peruvian corn, onion, clam juice, sweet potato, mango, cilantro, habanero chile, and fresh lime juice.
  • East Side Eatery (Pleasure Pizza’s newest spot): Chicken Pozole which was hearty and satisfying, especially given the weather. It had a fun “add your own toppings” spin including green onions, queso fresco, and jalapenos. Apparently the version at the restaurant itself also includes avocados, so I’m sure it’s even better there!
  • Fresh Prep Kitchens: Mushroom and Asparagus Quinoa Risotto
  • The Chef’s Table: Asian Tuna Tartare on rice crisp & slaw with candied ginger peanut dressing (see photo)
  • Severino’s: Lobster Ravioli in a cherry-white wine-cream sauce
  • MacKenzie Bar & Grill at Pasatiempo: Pulled pork slider with coleslaw (very addicting!)
  • Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine: Lamb & Beef Gyro Wrap with heirloom tomatoes, lettuce & tzatziki sauce, served with Beet Salad
  • Solaire at Hotel Paradox: Sous vide shortrib over sweet polenta

Beer and Wine

  • Kathryn Kennedy: the winery poured a few exclusive bottles of their 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, for the lucky few that had a chance to taste before it was all gone!
  • Santa Cruz Ale Works: Santa Cruz AleWorks IPA, Santa Cruz AleWorks Kolsch
  • MYKA Cellars: 2012 Mitzi Unoak Chardonnay, 2012 Malbec Dry Rose, 2011 Kane Cabernet Sauvigonon
  • Santa Cruz Mounting Brewing: Madame Grey – Milk Honey Stout infused with earl grey, Fresh Hop Black IPA, Wilder Wheat

SCCBG has funded cancer research and local groups — including many that support people living with cancer — since 1995. The organization was started by a small group of friends who used to play tennis together once a week; they had each lost a relative or friend to cancer and wanted to do something to make a difference. The first event the group hosted was a Spring Forward Against Cancer Tennis Tournament and Celebration; these tournaments are still held each year. Proceeds from SCCBG’s events, including this year’s Gourmet Grazing, benefit these local cancer support and research organizations: Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support and Services, The Katz Cancer Resource Center, UCSC Cancer Research, and WomenCARE.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Fun Gourmet Grazing with food & wine benefits Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group

Seared ahi tuna from 2011's Gourmet Grazing on the Green

Seared ahi tuna from 2011’s Gourmet Grazing on the Green

The annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green allows attendees to partake in unlimited wine and beer plus lots of delicious gourmet food from local restaurants and food vendors, while raising funds for the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG). The 10th annual Gourmet Grazing is on Sat Sept 21, 2013 from 12-4 p.m. at Aptos Village Park.

The event usually sells out a few days ahead of time, so it’s recommended that you buy tickets immediately. Purchase tickets for $65 at New Leaf Community Market or online. If you have a group of 10, you can get tickets for $50 each. Admission includes food, wine, beer, a souvenir wineglass, and live music.

SCCBG board member Mary Anne Carson explains the festival’s popularity: “We offer the ‘best of Santa Cruz County’ all in one beautiful spot for a great value! Grazing is a delight for all of the senses: smell, sight, sound, touch and best of all, taste! We’ve offered high quality at a great value for the past 10 years which is why this event has a strong loyal following and will sell out!  Every year there is something new and every year the food purveyors, restaurants and chefs have become more creative.”  Some of my favorite dishes from last year’s festival included The Whole Enchilada’s squash blossom and zucchini tamale with avocado green salsa, and Café Cruz’s Southwestern gazpacho with shrimp. For more 2012 highlights, see my recap article.

There are more than 30 participating restaurants and food vendors for 2013 including The Crow’s Nest, Café Cruz, Penny Ice Creamery, The Whole Enchilada, Fresh Prep Kitchens, Solaire Restaurant and Bar, Hula’s, The Fish Lady, New Leaf Community Markets, Friend in Cheeses Jam Co., Niman Ranch, Redwood Hill Farm, Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine, Sweet Cheeks Bakeshop, and True Olive Connection. Some highlights: Cafe Rio will serve “Rio Prawn Spring Roll” which includes mung bean noodle & sprouts, carrot, green onion, basil, mint, and house made hoisin sauce. Severino’s will be serving lobster ravioli in a cherry white wine cream sauce paired with a raspberry salad. Together We Eat Catering is serving a Summer Strawberry Panini featuring strawberries from California Giant Berry. East Side Eatery is serving Chicken Pozole with chicken, hominy, spicy tomato broth, and garnish of fresh corn, cilantro, green onions, queso fresco, lime wedges, sour cream, tortilla strips, and diced jalapeños.

More than 25 participating wineries and breweries include Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery, Beauregard Vineyards,  Burrell School Vineyards, Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery, Heineken, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Seabright Brewery, Sones Cellars, Bonny Doon Vineyards, and Vino Tabi. One highlight: Sante Arcangeli Family Wines will be pouring their 2011 Chardonnay, Split Rail Vineyard & 2011 Corralitos Duet Pinot Noir.

For the full list of participating restaurants, wineries, breweries, and exhibitors, click here.

All funds raised by SCCBG through events stay local. “We’ve raised well over $1 million since our inception in 1995 for the benefit of and distribution to local cancer support groups and cancer research at UCSC,” says Mary Anne Carson. “This is one of the hardest working, most passionate group of individuals I’ve ever encountered. SCCBG is an all volunteer organization.” Proceeds from SCCBG’s events, including this year’s Gourmet Grazing, benefit these local cancer support and research organizations: Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services, The Katz Cancer Resource Center, UCSC Cancer Research, and WomenCARE. Last year the event raised more than $65,000 (up from $56,000 in 2011).

More details: there is free parking and free shuttle service (every 15 minutes) from Cabrillo College Lot E. There will be a raffle, with ticket sales benefiting SCCBG. Prizes include gift baskets and gift certificates contributed by businesses such as Whole Foods Market, Trader Joes, Paradise Grille, and Coke Farms, a wetsuit from O’Neill, wine tastings, and wine.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.