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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… An exciting new wine bar is coming to Scotts Valley later this month. Saison Cellar & Wine Bar will open to the public Oct. 28 in the Kings Village Shopping Center. You might recognize the name — Saison is a two-Michelin star restaurant in San Francisco and is widely recognized as the original fine-dining establishment to use open-hearth cooking in the U.S. Now, Saison Hospitality co-founder and beverage director — and Ben Lomond resident — Mark Bright is bringing the newest project from Saison Hospitality Group to our neck of the woods.

According to a media release, Saison Cellar & Wine Bar will offer a “curated and deeply personal” collection of wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains and France, chosen by Bright. Along with a comfortable but elevated customer experience, Saison Cellar will offer wine storage opportunities and other amenities to wine club members, as well as wine-focused events. More info on this soon, with the help of Lookout wine correspondent Laurie Love.

Inside Woodhouse Blending & Brewing in Santa Cruz.
Inside Woodhouse Blending & Brewing in Santa Cruz. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

… Woodhouse Brewing and Blending in Santa Cruz, once a site for live music multiple times a week as well as craft beer, has temporarily suspended all live music until further notice. The business, located near the Sash Mill off River Street, received two complaints related to its live music performances, drawing attention to the fact that the shows were technically outside of Woodhouse’s business permit.

Co-owner Will Moxham is working with city officials to update that permit — but the process could take several months. Until then, no live music is allowed outside at all, and indoor acts must be signed off on by the chief of police. More on this on Lookout this week.

Membership offer on Lookout

… New brewery Balefire Brewing Company opened Friday in the space vacated at the end of July by Greater Purpose Brewing in the East Cliff Village shopping center. Brewers and co-owners Leslie Buchanan and Nate Murphy are no strangers to the local brewing scene — they recently worked together at Steel Bonnet Brewing Company in Scotts Valley. Their partners, Matt Buchanan and Stephanie Murphy, join them as co-owners of Balefire, which will focus on offering American and English-style ales. The brewery is currently open seven days a week until 9 p.m., opening at 3 p.m. during the week and at noon Saturday and Sunday. I plan on making a stop there ASAP and will share more when I do. More info at balefirebrewing.com.

… Grove Café and Bakery in Felton will begin dinner service this Thursday, serving Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The opening dinner menu posted on Instagram shows a few small snacks, six appetizers, four entrées and three house-made desserts, all in chef Jessica Yarr’s comforting yet elevated style that puts vegetables and local meat at the forefront. The braised gigante bean ragout with a crispy chicken confit and brown butter; garlic pompushki, an Eastern European bread; and the tinned fish platter with house-made pickles caught my eyes. Don’t forget to finish with Yarr’s heavenly warm brioche donuts. Reservations can be made by phone at 831-704-7483. See you there!

shoppers corner


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Stefen Shatto, executive chef at Hotel Paradox, aims to reinvigorate and elevate the dining experience at Solaire.

Hotel Paradox has a new look and a new executive chef with big goals — and the experience to see his ambitions through. Stefen Shatto, the new executive chef at Solaire, is drawing on more than a decade of fine-dining and hospitality experience to develop an elegant, inclusive atmosphere at the 10-year-old restaurant. His ultimate goal: to draw visiting guests and the locals back to Solaire — and earn the first Michelin star in Santa Cruz County. Read the full story on Lookout.


Get your tickets now for the Homeless Garden Project’s semiannual Sustain Supper, a farm-to-table fundraiser for the local nonprofit organization featuring some of the area’s best chefs. The event is set for Saturday, Oct. 28, from 3-6:30 p.m. at the Homeless Garden Project’s Natural Bridges organic farm on Shaffer Road in Santa Cruz.

This year, the multicourse vegetarian meal will be prepared by chefs Yulanda Santos of Aubergine in Carmel, Anna Bartolini of La Balena in Carmel, Emily Beggs of Kin & Kitchen in Santa Cruz County and Leonardo Ramirez of the Charapa Project. The keynote speaker is best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Charles Duhigg, who is also a Santa Cruz local. Tickets are $195 per person through Eventbrite.


Harvest underway at Lester Family Vineyards in Aptos
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Lookout photographer Kevin Painchaud took so many beautiful photos of the wine grape harvest in the Santa Cruz Mountains this year that we compiled them into a visual story. Enjoy Painchaud’s lush photography and learn about the harvest process at Lester Family Vineyards in Aptos. View it here.


I want to thank all of the readers who somehow refrained from emailing me “What leftover wine?!” after I shared my storage tip for the rest of the bottle last week. Several of you told me you found it helpful, and it made me think of another nerdy hack — the best container for freezing liquids. It’s soup season, which means I constantly have a crock pot full of leftover chicken bones simmering into the best stock to store in my freezer. If you have a problem with jars cracking once you freeze them, make sure you are using these straight-sided jars, available at your local hardware store. Jars with sloping shoulders can break when you freeze them, but these wide-mouthed jars won’t. (The plastic quart containers that you always see chefs drinking from are also great, but don’t last as long.) Go forth and stock up!

Inside Santa Cruz: Apple Pressing with Santa Cruz Cider Co


➤ There are 16 food-focused seasonal events in Santa Cruz County between now and Halloween, including the Pumpkin Decorating Bonanza at the Felton farmers market and a peek into a new baking book with the authors at Bookshop Santa Cruz — both happening Tuesday. Check out the full list here. (Lookout)

Restaurants and customers throughout the Bay Area are dealing with a new nuisance — fake Instagram accounts posing as food businesses. Customers have been scammed into making purchases from the fake profiles; restaurants complain that Meta, the parent company of Instagram, has been slow to respond. (San Francisco Chronicle)

➤ In this fun read, the author shares her 12 favorite descriptions of food in literature, from the simple yet mouthwatering descriptions by Haruki Murakami in “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” to a sweet children’s poem exalting chicken soup with rice by Maurice Sendak. (The Atlantic)

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...