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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… Chef Katherine Stern of The Midway has announced that she is pausing her farmers market residency indefinitely, and this Saturday and Sunday are the last two days to order her seasonal, market-driven brunch menu for the foreseeable future. The reason? Stern is taking a break to focus on her new Midtown restaurant at 1209 Soquel Ave. in Santa Cruz, at the intersection of Seabright Avenue and Soquel Avenue, on the same block as the Rio Theatre.
Stern was the executive chef at California-Italian spot La Posta in the Seabright neighborhood for nearly 10 years before launching her farmers market food stall in 2020 at the Westside market on Saturdays and the Live Oak market on Sundays. At The Midway, she offers a short, hyper-seasonal menu of breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes driven by high-quality ingredients from local farms. Stern hasn’t let many details slip about her new brick-and-mortar spot, but it’s likely that she will continue her commitment to local, seasonal ingredients, which she skillfully prepares into comforting but elevated European- and Californian-inspired dishes, baked goods and preserves. Follow The Midway on Instagram at @themidway_s_c for more info.
… Meanwhile in Aptos, Cavalletta is struggling to open in the space previously occupied by Restaurant Malik Williams at 9067 Soquel Dr. The restaurant is a new project from Nick Sherman, the chef/owner of Trestles in Capitola, and partner Shawn Ryberg. It will focus on sourcing local, seasonal produce and seafood, and offer Italian cuisine including wood-fired pizzas. While Ryberg and Sherman hoped to welcome guests by the end of summer, opening day has yet to arrive due to — you guessed it — permit delays, the mysterious, shadowy bane of many would-be food businesses. “Who knew there were so many rules to opening a pizza and pasta joint?” a recent post reads on Instagram.
Anyone interested in showing their support for the restaurant can purchase gift cards for future use in person or online at cavallettarestaurant.com. Better yet, make a reservation for a Monday night at Trestles — that’s when the Capitola bistro transforms into a Cavalletta pop-up. Sherman offers a short, direct lineup of dishes that may be offered on Cavalletta’s menu. I visited in July, and adored the silky beef carpaccio, cheesy fried arancini, a zippy, crunchy Italian chop salad and more. Make reservations on Yelp.
… Want to learn how to shuck an oyster with H&H Fresh Fish? Join me, along with co-owners Hans Haveman and Heidi Rhodes, for an oyster-shucking demo and a look behind the scenes at our local fisheries on Wednesday at the Santa Cruz Harbor. This event is the latest installation of Lookout’s “Inside Santa Cruz” event series, and it was sold out — but six tickets just opened up at the last minute. It’s free for Lookout members and $15 for everyone else. Get your ticket here.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Last week, news broke that, for the first time in 90 years, the Santa Cruz Seaside Company would not renew Twisselman Enterprises’ lease for its four concession stands, including the iconic Hot Dog on a Stick. The Twisselman family has been a concessionaire at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk since 1934, and took ownership of the Hot Dog on a Stick in 1963; the family later founded three more food kiosks.
Allison Twisselman, the fourth generation to run the family businesses, said the news was a “complete shock.” The Seaside Company did not share its reasons for not renewing the lease, but told Lookout on Friday that it will take over operations of the four businesses formerly owned by the Twisselmans. In a follow-up story Friday, Allison reflected on her family’s history at the Boardwalk and what the future might hold for her family’s company.
ON THE MENU
Stefen Shatto is the new executive chef at Hotel Paradox’s restaurant, Solaire, and he has big plans for the newly renovated space. He’s bringing his background working at Michelin-noted restaurants around the world as well as hotels and catering companies along the Central Coast to the 10-year-old restaurant. There, he’s crafting elevated dishes with local ingredients, eschewing processed sugars and gluten, and making his own honey on the roof. Watch for my interview with Shatto, coming soon.
LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
I enjoy going out for a beer, cocktail or glass of wine, but I don’t drink that much at home. My husband, Mike, doesn’t drink alcohol, and unless I’m out with friends or covering a restaurant for work, I prefer to enjoy other kinds of beverages during the week. So when the weekend rolls around, I want to indulge in a glass or two of really, really great wine. But that left me with a problem — what do I do with the rest of the bottle?
John Locke, one of the winemakers and owners of Birichino in downtown Santa Cruz, came to my rescue. He gifted me a 375-milliliter glass bottle — enough to hold about half a bottle of wine — and some sage advice. Locke told me to fill the bottle to the top with my leftover wine — air is the enemy! — and store it in the fridge. If stored this way, the wine should be good for several days, even a week, after being uncorked. I’ve been doing this for the past couple of months and I’m thrilled to tell you that it works! I really don’t notice much of a difference even a week after opening — although I think some of that has to do with the quality of the wine, too. If you’d like to try this yourself, here’s the bottle I use.
FOOD NEWS WORTH READING
➤ Lookout’s wine correspondent, Laurie Love, is back with a new wine column. Last week, she reported on the local pinot noir harvest; how winemakers determine ripeness; new wine bottles made out of paper; shared her current favorite local wine; and listed some of the best upcoming wine-focused events. (Lookout)
➤ Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello died suddenly Friday at 61 due to an acute allergic reaction. In addition to being behind some of the Bay Area’s most legendary restaurants, Chiarello was known for his TV appearances on Food Network and Bravo’s “Top Chef.” (Los Angeles Times)
➤ As summer temperatures rise, nocturnal harvesting — when workers pick fruits and vegetables at night — is becoming more common. While this protects both workers and crops from the heat, it poses other safety concerns and logistical challenges due to limited visibility. (Civil Eats)