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Welcome to Lily Belli on Food, a weekly food-focused newsletter from Lookout’s food and drink correspondent, Lily Belli. Keep reading for the latest local food news for Santa Cruz County — plus a few fun odds and ends from my own life and around the web.

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… The rain we had Sunday was good news for local mushroom fans, and I have more: Far West Fungi announced that it is launching the Santa Cruz Mountain Mushroom Festival, a family-friendly event that will be held for the first time at Roaring Camp in Felton on May 4-5, 2024.

Far West Fungi knows mushrooms — the 40-year-old family-run business has a large-scale culinary mushroom-growing facility in Moss Landing, storefronts in downtown Santa Cruz and at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, and sells at farmers markets throughout the Bay Area. The May event will feature DIY workshops, panel discussions, guided nature walks, cooking demos, kids activities and much more.

This brings the number of multiday mushroom events in Santa Cruz County up to two — which, honestly, for the number of fans and the proclivity for mushrooms in our area, sounds about right. The Santa Cruz Fungus Fair returns Jan. 12-14 and, for the first time since the pandemic, will be held at the London Nelson Community Center.

More info on both of these events to come. For now, I’d get my basket, guidebook and tools ready — it looks like it’s going to be a wet year.

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A course of poached tuna belly with caper berries and pickled onion at a Lago di Como winemaker dinner.
A course of poached tuna belly with caper berries and pickled onion at a Lago di Como winemaker dinner. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

… Last week, I attended an exceptional wine-paired Sardinian feast at Lago di Como in Santa Cruz. Each of the six courses was paired with a wine from Argiolas Winery, a celebrated Sardinian winery whose turriga, a blend of native varietals, put Sardinia on the map as a winemaking destination when it was first released in the early 1990s. This, despite the fact that the ancient island off the west coast of Italy is possibly the oldest winemaking area in the world.

I digress — clearly I walked away with a love for Sardinian flavors thanks to the skills of chefs Matteo Robecchi and Giovanni Spanu, who co-own Lago di Como with Robecchi’s wife, Lindsay Rodriguez, the head of hospitality.

I rarely cover wine-paired dinners like this because, in my experience, it’s hard to create a great one — too often, they overpromise and underdeliver. And, it’s no fun for me to tell you about a party you missed. But Lago di Como plans to offer special dinners featuring the cuisine from different regions of Italy as often as once a month — if the inaugural event is anything to go by, it’s worth making a reservation. See what I had to say about it here.

A small slice of the seasonal pizzas created by Jayne Dough.
A small slice of the seasonal pizzas created by Jayne Dough. Credit: Via Instagram

… Pizza pop-up Jayne Dough Pizza is putting down roots in Capitola at the former home of Reef Dog Deli at 311 Capitola Ave. under a new name: La Marea Café, which means “the tide” in Italian. The café is aiming to open in early November.

Owner Jayne Droese has offered seasonally inspired Detroit-style pizzas as Jayne Dough since 2020 at bimonthly pop-ups at Apéro Club on the Westside, farmers market appearances and community events. At La Marea, Droese will offer pizzas whole or by the slice, salads and other grab-and-go-options for lunch, plus bagel sandwiches and other breakfast fare, according to an announcement on Instagram on Oct. 18. Santa Cruz-based coffee pop-up Syllable Coffee will be served at the café as well.

Shopper's Corner Spotlight 10/24


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Woodhouse Blending & Brewing in Santa Cruz hosted live music acts for three years, drawing crowds multiple times a week to its brewery in an out-of-the-way lot off of River Street. But an anonymous complaint earlier this month drew attention to the fact that Woodhouse doesn’t have the entertainment permit required for such events. City officials have put a stop to live music until the permit is issued — which co-owner Will Moxham says could take months.


Lookout wine writer Laurie Love and I stopped by Saison Cellar and Wine Bar in Scotts Valley last week. Owner Mark Bright — the beverage director of Saison Hospitality Group and co-founder of Saison, a two-Michelin star restaurant in San Francisco — showed his passion for wines from Burgundy, France, and from the Santa Cruz Mountains, where he lives. He is enthusiastic about bringing the best of both worlds to his new wine bar in the Kings Village Shopping Center, which opens to the public this Thursday. Watch for a preview from Lookout in the days ahead.


Collective Santa Cruz's Glow Hard Full Moon Party returns to Moe's Alley on Oct. 28.
Collective Santa Cruz’s Glow Hard Full Moon Party returns to Moe’s Alley on Oct. 28. Credit: Via Luis Contreras

Local event company Collective Santa Cruz is hosting a Halloween-themed Glow Hard Full Moon Party at Moe’s Alley this Saturday. In addition to a lineup of entertainment that includes DJs, a drag show, circus performers and artists, the food vendors will be out of this world — vegan burgers by Pretty Good Advice, pizza by the slice from Upper Crust Pizza, dumplings by Miss Lippe’s Dumpling Party and mushroom popsicles by Santa Cruz Fungi, plus themed cocktails. Costumes are strongly encouraged and yes, it is a full moon that night. This event is 21 and over and tickets are $20 in advance/$25 at the door. More info at moesalley.com.


The Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appetit magazine arrived at my house this week, and the first thought that went through my mind when I saw the perfectly roasted turkey on the cover was, ugh. It’s not the holiday I’m dreading — I can’t wait to spend a few days devoted to my family, especially with all the horror going on in the world. It’s the food magazine industry’s relentless need to reinvent the same dozen or so dishes every year. Let’s face it — most people who celebrate the holiday are making a Thanksgiving dinner that as closely resembles the one from their childhood, or their parent’s childhood, as possible. Nostalgia is a key ingredient in all of these dishes — the majority of which we eat only once a year anyway. Thanksgiving is not the holiday to “mix it up” or try something new. Take it from someone who has literally spent her entire adult life creating complicated multiday, Excel spreadsheet-aided feasts that left her exhausted and, honestly, not that hungry. This year I’m focusing on family, not the food.

Inside Santa Cruz: Apple Pressing with Santa Cruz Cider Co


The wine grape harvest is in full swing and is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory, according to winemakers Lookout’s wine writer Laurie Love spoke to. This, plus a recap of Grazing on the Green earlier this month, her favorite local wine right now and what makes the sand in Zayante unique, in her latest wine column. (Lookout)

➤ Hotel Paradox’s new executive chef, Stefen Shatto, is building a new Solaire — the fine dining restaurant inside the Santa Cruz hotel — with an elegant anti-inflammatory menu that aims to be inclusive of his guests’ diverse dietary preferences. His goal: to draw visitors and locals back to Solaire and earn the first Michelin star in Santa Cruz County. (Lookout)

➤ New Leaf announced last week that it will leave its downtown Santa Cruz location on Pacific Avenue, where it’s been since 1996. It’s moving to a larger space in the Gateway Plaza on River Street in 2025. (Lookout)

Happy fall!

~ Lily

Lily Belli is the food and drink correspondent at Lookout Santa Cruz. Over the past 15 years since she made Santa Cruz her home, Lily has fallen deeply in love with its rich food culture, vibrant agriculture...