Lily Belli on Food: Walter White at Oswald and a vibrant Crohn’s cookbook with mass appeal
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…… “Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston paid a visit to Oswald restaurant in Santa Cruz on Saturday night. I saw his Instagram post, in which he thanked bartender Clay for mixing up a great cocktail, only Sunday morning — otherwise I probably would have rushed down there and pressed my nose against the glass windows like the wide-eyed fangirl that I am. What was Walter White doing in our not-so-sleepy little beach town? Enjoying a Memorial Day weekend getaway with his wife? It turns out he was mixing business with pleasure. Cranston and “Breaking Bad” costar Aaron Paul teamed up to release Dos Hombres Mezcal and are making promotional appearances at restaurants throughout the Bay Area. Paul visited Luna Mexican Kitchen in Campbell, and Cranston made later appearances at El Jardin Tequila Bar on Santana Row and Taurus Steakhouse in San Carlos, among others. I couldn’t reach anyone at Oswald by publication time to see what it was like to serve the acclaimed actor, but next time I visit you can count on me taking Cranston’s seat at the bar.
… Heads up, cider lovers: Santa Cruz Cider Company’s Strawberry Cider, one of my favorite seasonal summer beverages, returns Wednesday to its downtown farmers market booth, and will be available through the summer at its Watsonville cidery, farmers markets and local partners. This is the fifth year sisters Nicole Todd and Natalie Henze have brewed their strawberry cider, which has become a much-anticipated fan favorite. I had a chance to sample this batch early at the cozy tasting room off Hangar Way a few weeks ago, and was wowed anew by the intense strawberry flavor and aroma. Todd uses local strawberries, primarily from Windmill Farm in Moss Landing — more than 200 pounds per small batch. Henze recommends drinking this cider as fresh as possible to enjoy the maximum strawberry character. “Drink fresh and buy often is our motto,” says Henze. 500-milliliter bottles are $12 each or three for $30. Find it on draft at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing and Shanty Shack Brewing and in bottles at Staff of Life and Shoppers Corner in Santa Cruz; Vinocruz, Sunnyside Produce and AJ’s Market in Soquel, and Wild Roots Market in Felton. More info at santacruzciderco.com ....
… If you or a loved one suffers from Crohn’s disease — a little-understood autoimmune disorder that, among other side effects, wreaks havoc on the digestive system — you know how it can dramatically change one’s relationship with food. Foods like bread, sugar, fruit and eggs can become triggers for dangerous physical side effects. And because the disease can be different from person to person, until one discovers what specific foods are one’s personal triggers, all foods can be suspect, making eating a challenge. If this sounds like you, I recommend picking up a copy of “Crohn’s Disease AIP Cookbook: Recipes to Reduce Inflammation and Eliminate Food Triggers on the Autoimmune Protocol,” a new cookbook released last week by Santa Cruzan Joshua Bradley and co-authored by clinical nutritionist Kia Sanford.
The book is full of dozens of gorgeous recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snacks that omit all possible autoimmune triggers, including nightshades like potatoes and tomatoes, sugar, dairy, eggs and gluten. Thankfully, I don’t suffer from any dietary issues, but I was attracted to the vibrant recipes nonetheless, including fried chicken with sweet potato waffles, roasted saffron chicken with stone fruit, coconut clam chowder with lemongrass, barbecue jackfruit with celeriac slaw, coconut shortbread cookies and carrot cake. That’s intentional, says Bradley: “Anyone, whether or not they have any dietary restriction, would find that they can eat this food and feel really good.”
Before his diagnosis, Bradley was a passionate home cook who hosted regular multicourse, themed pop-up feasts in his home, restaurants and outdoor spaces for 20 to 30 guests. “I cooked like a madman all the time,” he says. The onset of his sudden and severe symptoms 10 years ago befuddled doctors and caused Bradley to lose 90 pounds in three months. His body was so inflamed that the lab that processed his tests sent a representative to his doctor’s office to see if he was a real person.
In 2014, he and his family moved from Portland, Oregon, to Santa Cruz to be closer to health resources and Stanford Medical Center. Working with Sanford, his nutritionist, helped him regain his ability to cook, and when a publisher came knocking on Sanford’s door asking for a Crohn’s-compatible cookbook, she and Bradley decided to write one together. “It became clear that having her scientific perspective backing up my recipes would be valuable,” Bradley says.
For Bradley, assuaging the anxiety around food for people with autoimmune diseases was paramount in creating delicious recipes. “This is how I cook every day. Food is such an emotional point for people, and you tend to focus on the things you can’t eat,” he says. “Part of the goal of the book is for people to find themselves in these recipes. That’s why there’s so many cultural influences. You can try these and then branch out. There’s a lot of great food that can still be had.” Order “Crohn’s Disease AIP Cookbook” through your local bookstore or find it online at Amazon.com. More info at gotostepone.com.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
If you walked along the water in Santa Cruz last weekend, you might have noticed a fleet of boats anchored around the wharf. What are they all doing here? In this Ask Lookout from last Wednesday, I share that they are commercial salmon boats here to fish for king salmon. And it’s likely many of them will stay through June until the season opens in northern California on July 8.
2 – The number of local farms that still grow olallieberries. These sweet-tart berries used to be grown widely in the area, but now you can find them at only two farms, Prevedelli Farms and Gizdich Ranch. Gizdich berries aren’t available yet, but Prevedelli Farms — the only organic grower — will offer them at the downtown Santa Cruz and Aptos farmers markets for the next three to four weeks. Find more berry-licious local treats in Friday’s Eaters Digest.
“The thing that made me so interested in going to China is that all of the historical stories about sauerkraut repeat the same general idea that sauerkraut comes from China. The nomadic peoples of Central Asia encountered cabbage, preserved cabbage in China, and then brought the idea westward into Europe.” — Fermentation guru Sandor Katz. In his newest book, “Fermentation Journeys,” Katz shares fermented foods he encountered while teaching all over the world, including China. He comes to Bookshop Santa Cruz on Wednesday, and I spoke to him about how the landscape of fermented foods has changed since his book “Wild Fermentation” came out in 2003.
LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
Last week was devastating. I haven’t moved on, and I don’t think I ever will. I’ve drifted through every day since, somehow eating meals, making dinner for my family, writing about food, all with a hole in my stomach. I’m angry and scared, and so I’ve been focusing on little things I can do. I can hold my son close. I can donate money to March For Our Lives, which was founded by survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. I can sign up to volunteer for its phone bank and events. I can steel myself for what will likely be a long battle against senseless gun violence in this country. But there’s a lot I can’t do, and struggling with that reality keeps me up at night.
Somehow life goes on. On Friday, I took Marco in for a checkup with his pediatrician. He had to receive some routine vaccinations which, despite the best efforts of the sweet nurse, are always traumatic. Right after we finished, I had to drop him off at his grandparents’ house for the day while I went to work. Poor Marco was still sniffling, eyes red from crying, when his “Nonno” and “Nonna” welcomed him with open arms. “Poor little guy,” my father-in-law said. “Would some pancakes make him feel better?”
I felt my emotions rise into my throat. “That sounds great,” I answered. My father-in-law asked, “Maple syrup OK?” “Of course,” I croaked out, suddenly on the verge of tears myself. I was overwhelmed with the relief that there are still some problems that have simple solutions. Sometimes, all it takes to turn tears into smiles is pancakes.
THIS WEEK, I’M CONSIDERING BUYING A LEG OF SPANISH HAM …
… because it was such a hit at a dinner party last weekend. My friend Tallula Preston, co-owner of Fruition Brewing in Watsonville, is an incredible cook, and she treated me, my husband and few friends to a Spanish tapas-themed feast last Sunday complete with a flight of hand-selected sherries. She also splurged on an entire leg of jamon serrano, a cured ham similar to Italian prosciutto, which came with its own spit and stand. We had a fantastic time trying to slice translucent strips of the nutty, fatty pork between courses. Of course, we barely made it through a half-inch by the end of the party, and joked that this summer would be Summer of the Ham. “I’m just going to bring it to every party I’m invited to,” said Tallula. In fact, that’s a pretty fun idea. You can literally ham it up at your own party: a 14-pound Noel Consorcio serrano ham is just $109.99 at Costco. If properly stored, it will keep for two to three months.
FOOD NEWS WORTH READING
Thanks for reading! Eat well, my friends.