Lily Belli on Food: More local beer, Abbott Square brunch deals and Palm Deli’s next chapter
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… Two Santa Cruz County breweries added key infrastructure to their brewhouses last week, which means more craft beer is on the way from Fruition Brewing in Watsonville and Discretion Brewing in Soquel. David Purgason, Fruition’s owner and head brewer, tells me that a new American-made canning line will allow Fruition to can “what we want, when we want.” Up to this point, Fruition worked with a mobile canning company that came once a month, and it would can several beers at a time.
With its own line, Fruition will be able to release canned beers every week rather than once a month. Although Purgason didn’t can any Fruition beers before the pandemic, he and his partner, Tallula Preston, have recognized its value in the past couple of years, and don’t see the popularity of cans decreasing any time soon. Notably, Fruition is only the third brewery in the county to purchase its own canning line, after Humble Sea Brewery and Discretion.
Speaking of Discretion, the brewery recently installed a new 60-barrel fermenter for fermenting beer and a 60-barrel brite tank, a temperature-controlled serving tank where beer can hang out until it’s packaged in cans, bottles or kegs. Co-owner Rob Genco tells me that these tanks are two key pieces in Discretion’s new, soon-to-be-completed 20-barrel brewhouse, which, when finished, will double its daily brewing capacity from 20 barrels to 40. For perspective, a full-sized 15.5-gallon keg is half a barrel — that’s 80 kegs of Discretion beer produced per day.
Genco says the brite tank is particularly useful because lagers like its popular Shimmer Pilsner, Oh Black Lager and new Italian Pilsner, Stefano, take six weeks to ferment, while ales like Uncle Dave’s IPA take only two weeks. Now, Discretion will be able to produce more of these thirst-quenching styles in time for summer. Genco reports that there has been a “sharp growth curve” since COVID, and this new equipment will allow Discretion to give the people what they want — more beer ...
… On Sunday morning, I headed down to the newest brunch spot in town — Abbott Square Market. Beginning last weekend, most of the businesses now offer brunch specials from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. The bar menu at Front & Cooper already offered bloody marys and mimosas, and has added three new low-alcohol cocktails, including two European-style spritzes and an Americano made with vermouth, Campari, soda and an orange. Burger joint Belly Goat is offering a classic American breakfast with eggs, hash browns and bacon or sausage and a stack of pancakes. I ordered a crispy waffle from Cat & Cloud Coffee, a beautiful confection dolloped with dark cherry compote and fragrant with orange zest. Cat & Cloud also offers avocado toast on Companion Bakery bread with arugula, cherry tomatoes and olive oil with a fried egg. Flashbird’s new classic bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a toasted homemade bun was perfectly melty and crunchy.
If you need something extra to line your stomach, add a piece of their fried chicken, but whatever you do, don’t skimp on the honey mustard sauce. Joey Ward, the general manager for Abbott Square Market, says that Veg on the Edge will soon offer a plant-based brunch option, and pizza spot La Bufala plans to add savory and sweet crepes to the menu. Brunch guests can enjoy live music in the courtyard starting at 11 a.m. For more information, visit abbottsquaremarket.com ...
B Corporations, including the Santa Cruz businesses highlighted here, make it their mission to balance profit with...
… The Palm Deli in Aptos changed hands last month. The new owner is Hassan Ayyad, who took over the deli and market on Valencia Avenue off Soquel Drive on March 15. Ayyad is no stranger to this type of business — he already owns a local chain of market delis that include the Point Market in Pleasure Point, Pacific Point Market and Café in Santa Cruz and Off the Hook Deli on 41st Avenue. Ayyad says that he will be making a few changes at the Palm Deli, and is notably adding The Barrel breakfast burrito to the menu.
The Barrel, made with eggs, potatoes, bacon, avocado and cheese, is the most popular menu item at the Point Market and has been named one of the best burritos in town in local publications. Ayyad also plans to add more local vendors to the market and increase Palm’s collection of hot sauces, as he’s done at his other markets. Ayyad confesses that the transition has been a little rocky — several employees left when the business changed hands — and he asks that new and returning customers give Palm Deli some leeway while it hires and trains more staff: “Be patient with the changes. Good things are coming.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Alcohol consumption is on the decline, especially among millennials, but many local restaurants haven’t noticed. Most still do not offer compelling alcohol-free beverages options, although several local restaurants are taking their booze-free options more seriously. Find out more about how this national trend is playing out locally in this story from last Thursday.
3 — The number of days it takes baker Laurel Tisserand to make one set of her highly detailed cookies. Read more about her new cottage bakery in last Friday’s Eaters Digest.
“There was a guy sitting next to him, and there was a little jar of sugar on the counter. And he goes, ‘Hey, buddy, pass the sugar, will ya?’ And he goes, ‘Oh, yeah, no problem.’ He gets the sugar and hands it to the guy. He pours it in his coffee, and he doesn’t even know it’s Alfred Hitchcock.” — Ed Ferrell, on the golden years of Ferrell’s Donut Shop on Mission Street in the middle of the past century. Read more in an upcoming feature on the history of the iconic donut shops.
LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
Marco is growing like a weed, and suddenly has an appetite to match. Up to this point, I assumed that a baby-sized human would eat a baby-sized amount of food, but a few days ago when I watched him devour an entire, full-sized banana smeared with peanut butter bite by bite, it became apparent that this expectation is wrong. I know his little body and brain are rapidly changing, but it’s still shocking to watch your 11-month-old eat half a quesadilla, only to put him back in the high chair an hour later for a smoothie and some crackers. A few months ago it was enough for Mike and I to give Marco a little bit of whatever we were eating. Now I’m cooking extra just for him. Four scrambled eggs in the morning has become five, plus an extra half-slice of bread and butter.
THIS WEEK, I’M LISTENING TO ...
… “Making Sense: The Umami Mama,” an episode from Vox’s “Unexplainable” podcast. If you’ve ever wondered what “umami” is, or what it has to do with monosodium glutamate (MSG), give this a listen. When scientist Kumiko Ninomiya, aka the Umami Mama, proposed the existence of a fifth type of taste in the 1980s, it challenged thousands of years of assumptions that there were just four — sour, salty, sweet and bitter. The heated debate that followed in the scientific community ultimately created a new framework for quantifying taste. Now scientists are asking, could there be a sixth taste? Or a 50th?
THIS WEEK, I’M FOLLOWING ...
… news about unionizing workers at publishing giant Condé Naste. If you read Bon Appetit magazine, you probably watched the 2020 reveal of an old photo showing top editor Adam Rapport wearing a racially insensitive costume, which led to his resignation. After that, BA employees came forward to report that the magazine has a shocking history of racial inequity, with employees of color systematically paid less and given fewer opportunities for advancement. Now, after two years of organizing, employees of BA and hundreds of other workers at Condé Nast publications such as Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair have announced plans to unionize. Read more about the new union at condeunion.org.
- Community Programs Operations Director at Ecology Action
- Admission and Records Technician at Cabrillo College
FOOD NEWS WORTH READING
➤ Avocado prices surge to a 24-year high (Mercury News)
➤ They worked in S.F.’s top Michelin-starred spots. They’re now opening their dream restaurant in a sleepy coastal town (San Francisco Chronicle)
➤ L.A. Times lands a new food editor two years after Meehan fallout (Eater Los Angeles)
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Thanks for reading! Eat well, my friends.