Picture from Hop’N Barley Festival 2020
(Via Hop’N Barley Festival)
Food & Drink

Lily Belli on Food: Hop’N Barley returns, fundraising for Ukraine, and my new favorite pickle

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… Here’s some good news for beer lovers — the Hop’N Barley Beer & BBQ Festival will return July 9 to Skypark in Scotts Valley. Since 2009, the locally run beer extravaganza has filled Scotts Valley with craft suds, two stages of live music and barbecue, and for the first time since 2019, the festival will be back in full force. In 2020, organizer Pat Grube held a virtual Sip Fest, where participants purchased Hop’N Barley pint glasses with its trademark Abe Lincoln logo at local breweries, and proceeds went to the Second Harvest Food Bank. There was no event in 2021, so fans were thrilled to learn it will be back this year. “We’ve received so much positivity just from social media,” Grube says. “Everybody is pumped. People are ready to be back in the sun with people.”

Historically, around 60 breweries and cideries attend, and Grube hopes to have a full lineup. Proceeds from this year’s festival will benefit the Homeless Garden Project. I have so many fun memories from this event over the years, including my first tastes of new breweries like Fruition Brewing, and I even helped organize it in 2016 and 2017. Tickets go live this Saturday at hopnbarley.org. Follow along on Instagram at @hopnbarleyfest. Many other beloved local events, including Santa Cruz Pride, Redwood Mountain Faire and Santa Cruz Shakespeare, are also coming back. Check out my colleague Wallace Baine’s guide to summer events to make your summer plans …

Lily Belli, Lookout's Food & Drink Correspondent

… Last week on Mission Street, the sign for Vasili’s Greek Restaurant came down and one for Namaste India Bistro went up. While many, including myself, were very sad to see the beloved Greek restaurant go after 20 years, the idea of a good Indian restaurant is exciting. This is the third location for the local chain, which has sister restaurants in Los Gatos and Monterey, and when it opens it will be the only Indian restaurant on the Westside. But the owners aren’t new to Santa Cruz — in fact, a member of the family-run business known simply as AJ told me his family ran Mumbai Delights on Pacific Avenue from 2016 to 2020. Fans can expect to see a similar menu at Namaste, with some new items as well. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner six days a week, and while a date isn’t firm, they hope to open in the next two weeks if everything goes well. “We are trying to bring some Indian vibes inside the restaurant,” says AJ. “People who loved us, we are coming back.” …

Tatiana Burdiak (left) and dance partner Billy Prusinowski
Tatiana Burdiak (left) and dance partner Billy Prusinowski will perform traditional Ukrainian dances at a Ukrainian fundraiser Sunday in Felton.
(Via Blair Davis Photography)

… The news and images coming from Ukraine are a blow to the heart. I encourage you to support Ukrainian relief efforts if it’s possible for you to do so; Lookout has compiled a list of local businesses and organizations that are fundraising. But if you’d also like to experience and learn about Ukrainian culture, consider attending the Ukrainian fundraising event at Hallcrest Vineyards in Felton this Sunday.

Santa Cruz-based chef Jessica Yarr is serving her delicious California takes on traditional Eastern European dishes and Hallcrest Vineyards is donating 50% of its wine and cider sales. Enjoy traditional Ukrainian folk dancing performances by Bay Area Ukrainian dance ensemble Zoloti Maky and indulge in traditional Ukrainian vinok flower crowns made by Swallow Secret Garden. “This event has been a bit of light, a bit of hope,” says organizer Tatiana Burdiak, a proud Ukrainian American who has “lived and breathed” her Ukrainian culture since she was a young girl growing up in Ohio. While there are large populations of Ukrainians in the Midwest and on the East Coast, there isn’t a huge base in Santa Cruz. A lover of traditional Ukrainian dancing, Burdiak started a Ukrainian dance troupe in Santa Cruz with dance partner Billy Prusinowski in 2016. They will perform on Sunday; before a dance called pryvit, the troupe will present the audience with bread and salt — an offering of health and prosperity.

Burdiak and organizers Tyler Drogin, Anya Gura, Marianna Wyllie and Anna Adamski created the festival in the wake of a March 5 protest against Russian aggression in Ukraine. “With Ukrainians, we are all very interconnected. When something happens to one family member, we all feel it,” says Burdiak, who has friends and family still in Ukraine. “The goal is to bring Ukrainian culture to life. Being able to share this heart and this culture is so meaningful.” All proceeds go toward supporting Ukrainian hospitals, the purchase of protective body armor and other charities. The event is free to attend, but you may register via Eventbrite.

ON THE MENU

There are five Ferrell’s donut shops in Santa Cruz County, but I’ve often wondered, which one is the original Ferrell’s? Well, a conversation with Mike Morse, who has owned the three “original” Ferrell’s donut shops in Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and Aptos for nearly 50 years, revealed that none of them is. In fact, the story behind Ferrell’s Donuts goes back to at least the 1940s. As I explore the history of these donut shops, including the relationship to the Mission Street and Ocean Street Ferrell’s shops, I want to know your Ferrell’s donut stories. Email me at lily@lookoutlocal.com or text me.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Santa Cruz-based cookbook author Andrea Nguyen
(Via Facebook)

Have you ever wanted to write a cookbook? Local author Andrea Nguyen has written six cookbooks focusing on Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, including the James Beard Award-winning “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen” and my favorite, “Vietnamese Food Any Day.” In a new podcast, “Everything Cookbooks,” she and her co-hosts discuss their industry tips and tricks. In this Q&A with Andrea, she shares how Santa Cruz influences her cooking, the ins and outs of writing a cookbook and where to get great Asian produce locally.

THE NUMBER

3,000 — The number of donuts made daily at the Original Ferrell’s Donuts’ production facility on 17th Avenue in Live Oak.

THE QUOTE

“I think life is very simple. People complicate it, but it’s all about love.” — Elias Stanom, co-owner of Achilles by the Sea, on why he chose to make its falafel heart-shaped. Achilles by the Sea, a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant, opened recently in Santa Cruz. Read more in Friday’s Eaters Digest.

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LIFE WITH THE BELLIS

Last weekend, I celebrated my birthday with a few close friends at Beauregard Vineyards’ tasting room in Bonny Doon. It’s one of my favorite wineries in Santa Cruz, not only because Ryan Beauregard makes delicious, estate-grown wine — although that’s certainly a big factor — but also because of the location. A visit to Beauregard’s cabinlike tasting room feels like a mini-vacation, although it’s just 15 minutes from the Westside. The weather was a bit misty, but my friends and their children enjoyed running around in the redwood grove, taking turns on the swing over the lawn, breathing in the fresh mountain air while sipping lean, earthy Pinot Noir and crisp Chardonnay, and occasionally going inside to get warmed up by the pot-bellied stove. Tasting room manager Jennifer Post always makes her guests feel welcome, and occasionally pours extra tastes of vintage bottles. Thank you, Beauregard team — I can’t wait to come back.

THIS WEEK, I’M SNACKING ON ...

… Freckles Pickles, a new cottage business selling fresh, organic pickles. Like many of us, owner Chris Ley started a garden in the first months of the pandemic, and the resulting glut of cucumbers grew into his new obsession: pickles. I’ve tried making pickles a number of times, and I’ve never been able to get mine as zippy, as snappy, as utterly addicting as Ley’s. He cures his organic pickles, which he grows himself, in a salt and vinegar brine that preserves them without heat. The result is a pickle that is so delicious, I can’t resist tipping back the glass jar to drink every last drop of the brine. Find him vending in front of the downtown New Leaf Market, or on Instagram at @freckles.pickles.

FOOD NEWS WORTH READING

Supreme Court agrees to hear pork producers’ challenge to California animal anti-cruelty law (Los Angeles Times)
Vegan Fridays for all? More schools offer plant-based meals (Civil Eats)
Houston restaurant veteran sees ‘best and worst’ of humanity while volunteering in Poland with World Central Kitchen (Eater Houston)

Happy spring! If you’re hungry for more of my reporting, please join us as a member. Only members get full access to all of Lookout’s content, including Eaters Digest, published every Friday with food news, dining reviews and the best food and drink events each week. I appreciate your support!