Lily Belli on Food: Hanloh x Birichino collab, Fungus Fair, and good eats in Santa Barbara?
… Valentine’s Day is this Monday, and if you plan on celebrating, there are plenty of places to grab an amazing meal. I’ll share a few of my choices for a more traditional romantic evening in Eaters Digest this Friday, but I also have my eye on two out-of-the box collaborations. Lalita Kaewsawang’s rustic Thai kitchen, Hanloh, is teaming up with Alex Krause and John Locke at downtown Santa Cruz’s Birichino winery to offer two special pickup meals to enjoy at home. The Woven Noodles Platter “bánh hỏi” is a Thai feast for two. It includes grilled lemongrass beef skewers or sautéed black pepper tofu, coconut turmeric pancakes, shiitake mushroom egg rolls, and a slew of sides, with coconut sticky rice with mango for dessert. All this pairs with one of Birichino’s newest releases, 2021 Car Car Glou Glou Akashita Carignane, a Beaujolais-nouveau-style red wine made with old-vine carignane. Or, pick up one of Hanloh’s pad thai meal kits to make at home, paired with Birichino’s 2020 Pétulant Naturel pinot noir rosé, a fun and fizzy sparkling wine. I’ve made her pad thai meal kits at home several times, finding them easy to make and delectable. Preorders are a necessity for a Saturday pickup at Birichino’s tasting room in downtown Santa Cruz. Meanwhile, Latin American chef Diego Felix of Colectivo Felix and the Westside empanada speakeasy Fonda Felix has put together an exclusive five-course dinner for just 10 couples on Monday, Feb. 14. The meal will take place in 11th Hour Coffee’s outdoor courtyard, at owners Brayden and Joel Estby’s new Westside location. Hurry and snag your spot here ...
… Your Place, a Santa Cruz restaurant that served organic, farm-to-table breakfasts, lunches and dinners for eight years, has closed. The Mission Street restaurant had a dedicated local following, and was known for its welcoming atmosphere, cultivated by owner and chef Rachel Wisotsky. Wisotsky tells me that she was unable to secure any government funding, and while she was able to remain open for a while, COVID fears kept her clientele from returning. After struggling for the past two years, she didn’t see a way forward. While she’s sad to see her restaurant go, she’s grateful for the time she had and the community she built, and is looking forward to spending more time with her family. Fans of the local chef can still enjoy her home-cooked meals through her catering services. She offers weekly dinners with free delivery to Santa Cruz, Felton and Boulder Creek. Last week’s menu featured lamb, steak, salmon, sand dabs, chicken parmesan, or eggplant parmesan with sides for $25. Text 831-840-5166 to sign up for updates. Your Place joins the list of eateries and bars lost during COVID, including 99 Bottles, Saturn Café, Poet & Patriot and Pour Taproom …
UC Santa Cruz student Tommy Alejandrez was living on the streets when he met former NFL player Zack Follett on a busy...
… Much like fruiting polypores in the duff after a stimulating winter rain, the Fungus Fair has spread from its home at downtown’s London Nelson Community Center to forests and fields throughout the county and reappeared as Fungus February. The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz have partnered to bring a series of mushroom-themed events all month long, including an outdoor art class focusing on scientific illustration, hikes through the Santa Cruz Mountains with local fungus experts and meetups for fungiphiles. On Feb. 19, a Mini Fungus Fair will be held at the Museum of Natural History, the site of the first Fungus Fair nearly 50 years ago. Dozens of species of local mushrooms will be displayed outside in Tyrrell Park, along with family-friendly activities. If you consider yourself as a fun guy or gal (sorry for the pun, I couldn’t help myself), go to santacruzmuseum.org for more information and to sign up for these special events.
ON THE MENU
After going mostly virtual in 2021, SF Beer Week returns this Friday for a week-plus of craft beer events throughout the Bay Area that will extend to us on the Central Coast. On Wednesday, I’ll preview the week’s events, with an emphasis on those in Santa Cruz County. Traditionally, participating breweries and beer-centric pubs and taphouses have pulled out all their stops to present unique and engaging celebrations featuring carefully curated brews, some created specifically for an event. The kickoff event for our region is at Other Brother Beer Co. in Seaside, and Santa Cruz County breweries Corralitos Brewing, Discretion Brewing, Fruition Brewing, Humble Sea, New Bohemia, Shanty Shack, Steel Bonnet, The Slough Brewing Collective and Woodhouse Blending & Brewing will be in attendance. More info at sfbeerweek.org.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Sorry to my Lookout team, who, since we have been working remotely for the past six weeks, was not able to help me taste test a few dozen Santa Cruz County-made products from local grocery stores. Somehow I managed on my own, and compiled a list of my current favorite grocery store buys. Check out all 13 here. I’m still open for ongoing additions to the list. Text or write me at email@example.com.
Did you know … 70% of readers view Lookout on their phone? Heck, you’re probably one of them. Not only can you read this newsletter in the palm of your hand, but you can now also text me directly on your iPhone or Android device by subscribing to my Subtext channel. By signing up for my texts, you’ll get first notice of each Tuesday edition of this newsletter. The setup is simple: Enter your contact info in the form, and you’ll receive a bite-sized message from me shortly thereafter. I’ll be sure to include some of your tips in next week’s newsletter.
30 — Pizzas donated by pizza pop ups the Pizza Series and Sleight of Hand Pizza to the Holy Cross Food Pantry as part of a national campaign for Pizza Across America. The event is coordinated by Slice Out Hunger to fight food insecurity on National Pizza Day.
“The pandemic has trained us all to pivot and expect the unexpected.” — Mutari owner Katy Oursler on operating a business over the past two years. As I reported last week, Mutari chocolate café will close after Valentine’s Day due to the scheduled demolition of the building. Oursler and co-owner Stephen Beaumier hope to reopen at another, undetermined location.
A SAVORY DEAL
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LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
My little family took our first trip together last weekend. The three of us drove down to Santa Barbara to celebrate the transition to parenthood for one of my husband’s oldest friends and his fiancée. In almost every way, the trip couldn’t have gone better. Nine-month-old Marco traveled well, and slept during most of the drive. Santa Barbara was gorgeous, our Airbnb was charming, and it was wonderful to see our friends and enjoy their beautiful baby shower.
Oddly, though, all our meals stumbled between mediocre and bad. My ability to read between the lines of menus, locations and Yelp reviews usually yields decent results when traveling. But not this time. I don’t want to sound like a snob, but since it’s my job to have discerning tastes, I hope you’ll forgive me. Time and time again, we ate at places with lines out the door, places highly recommended by diverse friends and online communities, only to receive incredibly lackluster meals. What gives, Santa Barbara? I don’t want to judge Santa Barbara cuisine by a single weekend, so I ask for the help of those who can point me in better directions. Surely, a region overflowing with bountiful produce, a long agricultural tradition and storied wine must have restaurants to match. Santa Barbarans and others in the know, help me out. Where should we eat next time? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THIS WEEK, I’M LISTENING ...
to The Splendid Table’s most recent podcast episode, “Cooking Winter Vegetables with Hetty McKinnon and Amanda Cohen.” If you, like me, need to inject some mojo into your winter cooking, especially in the vegetable department, give this a listen. Salad queen and cookbook author Hetty McKinnon discusses how to build the perfect salad, her never-ending tahini dressing and vegetable stews. Chef Amanda Cohen of the vegetable-focused New York restaurant Dirt Candy talks about cooking with citrus and making vinegar at home.
THIS WEEK, I’M WATCHING ...
“Taste the Nation,” Padma Lakshmi’s excellent travel and food show on Hulu. In this 10-episode series, Lakshmi explores America’s rich and diverse food culture by visiting various immigrant communities throughout the U.S. She talks and eats with Iranians in Los Angeles, the descendants of German immigrants in Milwaukee and first- and second-generation Peruvians in New Jersey, among others. I loved every episode, especially Episode 5, where Lakshmi explores the long history of Chinese food culture in San Francisco.
FOOD NEWS WORTH READING
➤ Top San Jose Restaurants (San Francisco Chronicle)
➤ Your Favorite Fast Food Is Probably From California (The New York Times)
➤ Found Treasure: Zoccoli’s Deli Sandwiches (Edible Monterey Bay)
Thanks for reading! Have a great week.