Lily Belli on Food: Santa Cruz coffee shoes, the return of reusables and Big Basin’s downtown move
… Don’t forget your coffee cup next time you visit your favorite coffeehouse: Under a new ordinance, you may receive a 25-cent discount — or be assessed a 25-cent fee if you forget. Starting today, we will once again be able to bring in reusable containers and cups to restaurants and cafés in the city of Santa Cruz, and the city is encouraging us to do so. It’s one of many pro-environment laws that aimed to take effect way back in 2020, before COVID upended everything. Instead, our common fear of touching things suspended implementation, forcing restaurateurs to pivot in the opposite direction and use exclusively takeout containers to help prevent the spread of infection. This new “update” to the ordinance discourages businesses from using takeout containers and utensils, and encourages them to use either washable plates, forks and such or allow customers to bring their own. Booming demand for takeout containers has left businesses frustrated with the high costs and limited availability, and many will no doubt welcome the cost-saving benefits, as well as the environmental ones. The move puts Santa Cruz on the same course as other localities like Berkeley, San Mateo, Daly City and Half Moon Bay, says Leslie O’Malley, the city’s waste reduction manager. Need napkins, condiments and the like when you order takeout? Don’t forget to tell your delivery driver if you do; to prevent waste, you now have to ask. Or, better yet, bring your own …
… Last week, I got a sneak peek at Big Basin Vineyards’ new satellite tasting room on lower Pacific Avenue, which is slated to open in the next few weeks. Big Basin Vineyards produces award-winning, European-style wines from its own estate vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains and other select local vineyards. Now we’ll be able taste them without trekking up to its winery outside of Boulder Creek. Owner Bradley Brown and tasting room manager Emily Choinski showed me around the space now that construction is winding down and decorating, stocking and employee training is ramping up. Once it’s open, visitors are in for a treat. The bar, made from harvested curly redwood, dominates the space, and Brown’s own photographs of the redwoods, vineyards and local beaches will decorate the walls. Outside, a terrace seats 30 to 40 guests and boasts two fire pits. A menu of hearty bar snacks, including cheeses sourced from Tasting House in Los Gatos and a red wine-infused beef stew made by chef Brad Briske at Home, will fill guests’ bellies while they taste through Big Basin’s collection of organic estate-grown and Santa Cruz Mountains-sourced wines. The tasting room is situated on the ground level of a new apartment building and rests at the nexus of the wharf, Beach Boardwalk and downtown Santa Cruz. Its opening represents a push to connect the commercial and tourism centers of the city into one continuous corridor with a six-block redevelopment area, including downtown’s first big hotel opening in 90 years, planned in between. And Big Basin won’t be alone — Brown revealed that Westside bakery Ivéta is opening a second location across from his terrace. Iveta’s new spot will serve lunch and dinner, and the menu will feature some favorites from its Westside location plus Italian-inspired additions, craft beer, wine and frozen wine-based cocktails — “our version of an Italian sidewalk cafe,” owner John Bilanko tells me. Stay tuned for a deeper dive into what we can expect to see in the new tasting room and an opening day announcement …
… Skateboarding and craft coffee collided last week in an exciting, high-profile collaboration. Santa Cruz-based coffee company Cat & Cloud has teamed up with DC Shoes to release a pair of limited-edition kicks. If you skateboard, you know DC Shoes, and even if you don’t, you probably know someone who wears them. The Huntington Beach-based company, founded in 1994, sports its own professional skateboarding, snow, moto and surf teams. DC Shoes has also collaborated with the bands Black Sabbath and AC/DC, the TV show “Bob’s Burgers” and the estate of American graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. This collaboration provides national exposure to our Santa Cruz coffee scene and to Cat & Cloud entrepreneurs Chris Baca, who worked in the skateboarding industry before turning to coffee, Jared Truby and Charles Jack. The gray and white shoes retail for $60 and feature Cat & Cloud’s signature colors of pink and teal on the bottom sole and its logo on the insole. Interestingly, the material is infused with recycled coffee grounds. Why? They increase air-drying time, absorb odors and reflect UV rays, the shoemakers says. The shoes are available at dcshoes.com.
ON THE MENU
St. Patrick’s Day is a week from Thursday, and while we’ll soon mark two years since lockdown began on March 15, 2020, COVID cases are down, and with a little luck of the Irish we will actually be able to celebrate this year. This week, Friday’s Eaters Digest will tell you where to go to grab a pint of Guinness, have some corned beef and brag about your Irish heritage, no matter how far removed.
➤ NEW JOBS, SERVED FRESH DAILY: See all the most recent listings here.
- B2B Customer Service Specialist at Bay Photo Lab
- Theater Parking Attendant at Jewel Theatre Company
- Office Manager at Schooner Realty
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Local chef Jessica Yarr celebrates her Ukrainian heritage through her pop-up, Chicken Foot. Last week, she hosted the first of a series of fundraising events for relief efforts in Ukraine. If you missed it, don’t worry — there are more coming, including a collaboration with former Tartine baker Jennifer Latham in April. Read more about Jessica here.
1 — The number of farms growing asparagus locally, according to Nesh Dhillon, executive director of the Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets. Visit Clearview Farm’s stands at the downtown Santa Cruz and Aptos farmers markets for organic asparagus grown in Gonzales.
“There is a growing movement to plant agave in California, which offers a unique opportunity for farmers to transition to drought-resistant agriculture.” — Sean Venus of Venus Spirits, on using California-grown agave in a new agave spirit to be released this week.
A QUICK ASK
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LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
As you read this, my family will be enjoying a little winter vacation to north Lake Tahoe and, we hope, lots of fresh snow. We rented a house with five other friends, plus three other children all under 4 and two dogs. Is this insanity? We will find out. Marco will experience snow for the first time, and Mike and I can’t wait to bundle him up like a marshmallow and go sledding in the backyard. While there’s sure to be plenty of chaos, we’re looking forward to some big belly laughs, tender moments and, after the kids go to bed, great wine, food and board games.
THIS WEEK, I’M SUBSCRIBING ...
… to the Outstanding in the Field newsletter, so I don’t miss its March 20 ticket release for its spring and summer events. Last week, it shared its lineup of dates and locations, and there are nine events scheduled on the Central Coast this summer, including two in Soquel at Everett Family Farm and one in Watsonville at Lonely Mountain Farm. I let out a squeal when I saw an event in Murphys, California — my tiny hometown of just 2,000 people in the Sierra foothills. I can’t pass up the chance to enjoy one of these legendary Santa Cruz-based dinners in the place where I grew up!
THIS WEEK, I’M LISTENING ...
… Goodles, Santa Cruz’s boxed mac and cheese innovators, have curated several playlists on Spotify, and they rock. The newest playlist, Mixtape March, features high-energy mashups and remixes, and it’s perfect for whenever you need to really amp yourself up. In fact, it’s my new favorite running playlist — great for listening to while you’re working off all that delicious pasta.
FOOD NEWS WORTH READING
➤ Welcome to the NFT restaurant boom (Eater)
➤ ‘We’ll be heard’: California could grant fast food workers unprecedented power (The Guardian)
➤ A look ahead at EcoFarm 2022 and a talk with Mark Arax (Edible Monterey Bay)
Thanks for reading! Have a great week.