Tag Archives: Watsonville

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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Tickets available for Saturday’s Colectivo Felix farm dinner with Garden Variety Cheese and Beauregard Vineyards

Baby beet and carrot escabeche with seared sweetbreads and fried garbanzos from a May 13, 2017 Colectivo Felix dinner in Soquel. Photo credit: Tara Walker

Colectivo Felix, led by chef Diego Felix and his wife Sanra Ritten, is doing an on-farm dinner this Saturday, June 24, at Monkeyflower Ranch in Royal Oaks (near Watsonville). The meal will feature dairy and meat from Garden Variety Cheese and Monkeyflower Ranch, plus produce from Tomatero Farms and wine from Beauregard Vineyards. See menu below.

It’s part of a farm dinner series featuring local organic farms and pairings with local ciders and wines. Online tickets are $75 for food only and $100 with wine.

Diego, Sanra and their kids moved to Santa Cruz County last fall to help with the opening of HOME. Sanra’s sister is Linda Ritten, Home chef Brad Briske’s wife. Colectivo Felix utilizes HOME’s kitchen and garden for some of their events. Diego is originally from Argentina. Occasionally, HOME’s menu selections reflect South American influences (including a beef tongue empanada with green tomato chimichurri and plum chutney that I enjoyed during a December visit).

In May Colectivo Felix began a four-month dining tour (unique dinner parties in Washington, D.C., New York, SF and Santa Cruz/Soquel). I had the pleasure of attending a Colectivo Felix pop-up dinner at Soquel’s HOME Restaurant in May and meeting Diego and Sanra, who are gracious, humble and warm. The prix fixe meal was exquisite; chef Diego really knows his flavors. Highlights included goat cheese and peach filled torta fritas; baby beet and carrot escabeche with seared sweetbreads and fried garbanzos (an indescribably wonderful combination); and lamb empanadas with chimichurri aioli.

When Diego talks about how much he loves creating good food, his whole face lights up and his passion is contagious, making the dining experience even better. I hope to enjoy another Colectivo Felix meal in the not-too-distant future!

June 24 Farm Dinner Menu (Garden Variety Cheese/Colectivo Felix at Monkeyflower Ranch)

Welcome Drink

Yerba mate infused cachaça with citrus and muddled herbs

Passed appetizer

Ricotta + carrot & peach escabeche over quinoa bread



Aguachile (cold soup): lettuce + pinapple + cilantro + tomatillo + fish crudo + yam + California seaweed + cancha

Pinot Gris, Beauregard Vineyards 2014



Tomatero spring greens + smoked hard goat cheese + aguaribay & strawberry vinaigrette + cauliflower and brazil nuts

Rose of Pinot Noir, Coast Grade Vineyard Estate 2015



Monkeyflower Ranch goat + red chimichurri + roasted roots + kale salsa verde

The Lost Weekend, Beauregard Vineyards



Panqueques: Baked strawberry + pistachios + lavender yogurt helado


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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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Teen Kitchen Project news including Santa Cruz brunch benefit

Teen participants from Teen Kitchen Project’s new spot at El Pajaro CDC Incubator Kitchen

Teen participants from Teen Kitchen Project’s new spot at El Pajaro CDC Incubator Kitchen

The NEXTies of Santa Cruz (organized by Event Santa Cruz) recently announced that Teen Kitchen Project is receiving the 2016 award for “Nonprofit Organization of the Year” and TKP has even more good news to share; keep reading for details.

There will be a Teen Kitchen Project benefit brunch—actually two of them!—on Saturday, April 30 at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge (1001 Center St.). The TKP teens will be taking orders, cooking, and serving customers. A silent auction will have art, jewelry, flower bouquets, and more. There are two brunch seatings, 9:30 a.m. and noon. Tickets are $45 and include a menu featuring salad, fruit, baked goods, coffee, and tea. Each attendee receives an entrée choice (one selection is frittata with a side of Freedom Meat Locker sausage) and a choice of mimosa or orange juice. Kids under 12 cost $18. Purchase online. 100% of proceeds from tickets and auction benefit TKP.

For those unfamiliar with Teen Kitchen Project, executive director Angela Farley launched TKP in 2012 after her son was diagnosed with cancer. Farley decided she wanted to help other families affected by cancer, to at least attempt to decrease some of the pressure and feelings of being overwhelmed. Today, the organization regularly delivers free, organic meals to about 50 families affected by cancer, and has delivered more than 49,000 meals since 2012. There are families in locations across Santa Cruz County. Right now, 40% of the clients they serve live within five miles of Watsonville, but they hope to be able to increase this number. That leads to the next bit of news.

On March 7, TKP started cooking at the El Pajaro CDC (Community Development Corporation) Incubator Kitchen in addition to their original commercial kitchen in Soquel. They cook several days a week at the Watsonville kitchen, and will soon reduce their schedule to just two days a week in Soquel. The Incubator kitchen provides small groups of youth the opportunity to learn more about working as chefs in the hospitality industry. TKP’s “staff” adult mentor chefs are Stephanie Forbes, ElizaBeth Link, Cabrillo College culinary student Michelle Spencer and Cabrillo staff member Hector Quiroz. The “volunteer” adult mentor chefs are Tauna Coulson (Soquel kitchen), former Cabrillo Culinary Department instructor Kathy Niven (Watsonville kitchen), and Jesse Plasencia (Watsonville kitchen).

The program doesn’t just help the families it serves, it also helps teens gain valuable skills as they volunteer. These individuals are ages 14 to 19, in 8th grade or above, and have come from most of the area’s high schools. Most who work at the Soquel kitchen are doing this in exchange for community service hours, but there are some who sign up just for the experience. The required commitment is every other week for a minimum of eight weeks.

For more info on Teen Kitchen Project, visit their web site.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Celebrate National Frozen Yogurt Day Feb. 3 with free yogurt at Yogurtland

yogurtlandIt’s National Frozen Yogurt Day on Feb. 3, 2014, and Yogurtland — including the nearby locations in Capitola and Watsonville — are giving out free yogurt!

Here are the specifics: the promotion is from 4-7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 3. Visitors to Yogurtland shops get free yogurt and toppings.

Remember: frozen yogurt not only tastes good, it’s got benefits like calcium and probiotics. Bon Appetit!

Capitola details:
1955 41st Ave (next to Chipotle), 831-462-3100

Watsonville details:
1487 Main St (Target shopping center), 831-761-1500

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


Second Harvest Food Bank hosts holiday food drive kickoff lunch in Santa Cruz

Second Harvest Food Bank invites you to “Set a Plate for Kate”

Second Harvest Food Bank is having a kickoff lunch for its annual holiday food drive  on Nov. 13 in Santa Cruz. The event is at the Cocoanut Grove from 11:30a.m. – 1p.m. The lunch will be a buffet, and the program will include the event’s co-chairs speaking about why they are involved with Second Harvest. Tickets are $25; purchase online. For more information, email bly@thefoodbank.org or call (831) 722-7110, x226.

People are encouraged to attend this lunch to find out how they can help this holiday season. Distribution at Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County has increased by 32% in the last five years. Second Harvest needs donations of time, money, and food – what a great way to give back this holiday season!

Second Harvest Food Bank (831-722-7110, located in Watsonville) distributes several million pounds of food per year to local families, children, individuals and seniors in our community through over 180 agencies and programs. The organization helps 55,000 people each month. You can donate online — every $1 you give becomes four healthy meals that Second Harvest can distribute, and these meals include fresh fruits and vegetables.

Founded in 1972, Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County was the first food bank in California and is the second oldest in the nation. It began by distributing food from a parking lot in Santa Cruz to groups operating the Breakfast For Kids programs.

Second Harvest’s current campaign is themed “Set a Plate for Kate.” The campaign messaging includes the idea that if certain people gave up their “luxury items” even for one day, a lot of hungry people could be fed. For example, by skipping a $5 latte you could purchase 20 meals for Second Harvest, and instead of going out to a $50 restaurant dinner, if you gave the money to Second Harvest this would provide 200 meals! That is some serious food for thought.

Event details:

  • Second Harvest Holiday Food Drive Kickoff Lunch, Nov. 13 11:30a.m. – 1p.m.
  • Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz 95060


Organic farm dinner benefits Watsonville’s Live Earth Farm’s education program

Food from a previous Dig! dinner at Live Earth Farm

Live Earth Farm is hosting its fourth annual Dig! farm dinner in the fields to benefit LEFDP (Live Earth Farm Discovery Programs). The event features local chefs including Jonathan Miller (a popular chef at local school Let’s Cook! as well as a private chef and caterer), plus several farmers and artisans. The program is from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, September 22. Tickets are $150 and include food and wine. Purchase tickets online or make a donation of any amount to LEFDP, even if you can’t make the event.

The evening starts with appetizers and a tour of Live Earth Farm given by Tom Broz, the head of the family that operates the farm. Then there will be a four-course dinner — which includes wine from Storrs Winery, Birichino, Pleasant Valley Vineyards, Zayante Winery, and Cima Collina –followed by dessert which takes place in a renovated redwood barn. Another fun component of the event is a silent auction with lots of locally themed prizes such as a gift certificate for a workshop by fabulous food preservationists Happy Girl Kitchen Co.

The nonprofit education organization LEFDP teaches local youth about sustainability, organic agriculture, community, and the environment through farm visits, summer programs, workshops, and other hands-on activities. Over the course of 2012, LEFDP will support a diverse group of approximately 1,500 students, including low-income individuals from Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and Monterey counties.

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Annieglass hosts summer food and wine series in Watsonville

Beautiful pieces from Annieglass

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

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

Call (831) 761-2041 for more information.


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

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

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

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

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie

Feast on fabulous soup and wine to benefit Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes

A scene from the 2007 Empty Bowls fundraiser for Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes

Empty Bowls, an annual dinner and auction featuring gourmet soup, wine, and more, benefits Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes.

The event takes place from 5-9pm on Saturday, October 15, 2011.

Tickets are $60 and available online or by calling Loaves & Fishes Executive Director Margarita Cortez at (831) 722-4144.

Location: The Lagoon House at Pajaro Dunes Shorebirds

This is the eight annual Empty Bowls. Local artists have generously donated nearly 100 one-of-a-kind handmade bowls. Each dinner attendee selects a bowl of his or her choice to take home, and the gets to feast on gourmet soup, salad, bread, and dessert. Beverages include wine (donated by vendors such as Soquel Vineyards and Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery) and sparkling cider.

At Empty Bowls there will be live music by the Minor Thirds, plus live and silent auctions and a raffle. Live auction items include a cooking class for four led by Mimi Snowden (a renowned cooking teacher, restaurateur, and restaurant designer) and a week-long stay at Pajaro Dunes. Other prizes include golf, artwork, and wine tastings.

About the beneficiary organization: Loaves & Fishes is a community-supported food pantry and kitchen in Watsonville; services include providing a hot mid-day meal Monday through Friday every week of the year. Loaves and Fishes was founded in 1989; it helps people in need including migrant farm workers, poor working families, and individuals who are disabled, homeless, or elderly. In the last 4 years the organization has had increased numbers of people using its Food Pantry grocery program (up by 100%) and its Hot Lunch program (up by 60%). Loaves & Fishes raises 20% of its annual budget through Empty Bowls; if you’d like to help out in this time of great need buy your Empty Bowls ticket today or donate directly to Loaves and Fishes.

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Where to go on Mother’s Day in Santa Cruz and nearby: Restaurants part 2

Deep-fried ravioli appetizer at Ristorante Italiano

Dining out on Mother’s Day is a fun way to honor a great mom, and Santa Cruz has many restaurants offering special menus this Sunday. See Part 1 for more restaurants in the Santa Cruz area, one in Half Moon Bay and one in Glen Ellen, and see below for the second and final group of restaurants I am highlighting. Happy Mother’s Day!

Crow’s Nest

The Santa Cruz harbor restaurant with a great ocean view, always a bonus for special occasions, will be serving a special Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday. Call (831) 476-4560 for reservations. 2218 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz

Ristorante Italiano

Ristorante Italiano is serving Mother’s Day dinner beginning at 4pm on Sunday. The restaurant is offering a free tiramisu with dinner. Call (831) 458-2321 for reservations.

555 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz

Hindquarter Bar & Grille

Hindquarter will be offering brunch on Sunday. From 10:30am-2:30pm, the restaurant will be serving its regular lunch menu plus a few Mother’s Day specials. Hindquarter will be serving its regular dinner menu from 5:30pm plus it will have dinner and dessert specials for Mother’s Day. Call (831) 426-7770 for reservations.303 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz

Bittersweet Bistro

Aptos restaurant Bittersweet Bistro is serving Mother’s Day champagne brunch from 9am-2pm. The buffet includes Strawberry-Chipotle Glazed King Salmon, Greek Style Roasted Leg of Spring Lamb, Bourbon Glazed Corralitos Ham, Bittersweet Grand Marnier French Toast, Classic Eggs Benedict, Made to Order Omelets, Housemade Scones, Croissants & Muffins, Beet Salad, and Tomato Mozzarella Salad – plus a dessert extravaganza including chocolate fountains. There will be a special kids’ table with Grilled Cheese, PB & J Sandwiches, Chicken Fingers and Cookies. The price is $52 Adults, $18 Children 6-12, and $5 Kids Five and Under. For the 9:00 a.m. seating only, receive a $10 discount per adult. Call (831) 662-9799 for reservations.

787 Rio Del Mar Boulevard, Aptos

Sushi Garden

If you plan to go to Sushi Garden for Mother’s Day lunch or dinner, be sure to pick up this week’s Good Times. On page 26 there’s a coupon for a free roll on Mother’s Day, good on lunch orders of $20 or more and dinner orders of $40 or more. It’s good at both locations.

820 Bay Ave., Capitola, (831) 464-9192 and 1441 Main St, Watsonville, (831) 728-9192


The Chaminade offers its annual Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet from 9am-3pm; the price is $49.95 (adults), $17.95 (kids 6-12), and free for kids under 6. Call (831) 475-5600 for reservations.

One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

The Point Chophouse & Lounge

Mother’s Day brunch specials include candied walnut waffles ($9), Monterey Bay Eggs Benedict ($14), and $4 bloody marys and mimosas. Brunch is from 9am-3pm; call (831) 476-2733.

3326 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz

Whole Foods Santa Cruz

The supermarket’s Santa Cruz location offers Mother’s Day Brunch on Sunday from 10am-noon. Breakfast foods like cage-free eggs, fresh pastries and more will be available for $2 each. And Moms get free coffee from 8am-noon on Mother’s Day! Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

911 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz


Hoffman’s, located in downtown Santa Cruz, is serving Mother’s Day brunch and dinner. The restaurant is featuring its regular menus plus specials during both meals. Call (831) 420-0135 for reservations.

1102 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz

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