Lily Belli on Food: Disposable cup tax kicks in, Chaminade revs up a food truck and Lily’s summer kitchen
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… Residents in unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County: If you’re not already using a reusable coffee mug at your local café, you’re going to want to start bringing one from home. Measure C, aka “the disposable cup tax,” passed, and a new charge goes into effect as scheduled Friday. Starting then, residents in unincorporated areas of the county are required to pay a 25-cent fee on single-use disposable cups, joining residents in Santa Cruz and Watsonville who already have their own fees (25 cents in Santa Cruz and 10 cents in Watsonville, respectively). Retailers will retain the full fee until Jan. 1, when they’ll begin splitting the proceeds evenly with the county. The goal: to reduce waste and encourage residents to use reusable cups and offset the five million disposable cups that are thrown away in the county each year. I’m all for reducing waste, but please, for your barista’s sake, remember to wash your mug.
… Vegans, your mac & cheese just got gooder. Goodles, the Santa Cruz-based, Wonder Woman-endorsed startup I profiled when it launched last November, launched a vegan version of its nutrient-, protein- and fiber-packed boxed mac & cheese Tuesday. The Vegan is Believin’ version has a spiral noodle with vegan white cheddar cheese made from cashew milk. I’m a big fan of Goodles’ original recipes, which cook up and taste just like the noodles I remember eating as a kid, only better. And with 21 nutrients from plants, 6 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein in each serving, I don’t mind sharing them with my toddler, either. The vegan version has slightly less protein and a bit more fiber, and is kosher-certified. Order a four-pack for $13.57 or a 12-pack for $35.60 at goodles.com.
… Chaminade Resort & Spa completed a six-month remodel of its pool last month, and in addition to a fresh look and luxurious cabanas, the resort launched a food truck to serve pool guests. The Chaminade team opted for a mobile kitchen as a playful and practical solution to poolside dining — the property’s kitchen is a considerable distance away. Executive chef Avram Samuels developed the menu for the truck, named the Sandbox, which offers snacks like shrimp ceviche, six different sandwiches including a smoked barbecue chicken wrap and a locally foraged mushroom burger, substantial salads and ice cream treats. There’s also a generous menu of canned beverages, including cocktails and wine, and spirit pops. The Sandbox will be open year-round on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. — but to resort guests and fitness members only. More information at chaminade.com.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
I had never had yakitori or takoyaki before I encountered Yakitori Toriman and Daruma Kiosk, two local pop-ups that share a bill to offer these addictive Japanese street snacks. Now I’m obsessed. You can find these grilled skewers of pork belly, chicken hearts, lamb chops and more and Daruma’s fried, round, savory pancakes twice a week on the Westside of Santa Cruz — at Apéro Club on Saturdays and on Wednesdays at Humble Sea Brewing. Find out more about these two exceptional pop-ups in Friday’s Eaters Digest.
ON THE MENU
Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen Beachside opened last week in Rio Del Mar, bringing a bit of the Westside to the sleepy coastal village. Chef John Harry, whom I interviewed in advance of the opening, offers a seafood-centric menu influenced by his Georgia low country roots. On Wednesday, I’ll share my experience at the new restaurant and what it means for a changing Aptos.
42 – The number of businesses in my new guide to food trucks and pop-ups in Santa Cruz County. These non-brick-and-mortar food businesses are booming in the wake of the pandemic, but even I was surprised at how many I uncovered in my effort to create a comprehensive list. Use this guide, which will be updated regularly, to find them all.
LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
Last weekend, my husband, Mike, and I splurged on a deep house cleaning. (With two adults, a baby and a Labrador under one roof, it was time. I won’t go into details.) When our cleaner finally left, we walked around the house like we were in a museum, afraid to touch anything lest we pop the bubble of pristine perfection. I dreaded cooking dinner, knowing that no matter how careful I was, the pans would scuff the stove, olive oil would splatter and chopped bits of vegetables would fly everywhere. Instead, I finally hooked up the tabletop propane Weber stove my dad gave me for Christmas and moved the dinner party outside. I threw some chicken thighs into a quick marinade, sliced some zucchini and eggplant and headed out to the backyard. Not only did the kitchen stay clean, but cooking dinner became a fun experience for the whole family. Instead of clinging to my leg, my toddler played on the patio. Instead of relaxing in the living room, Mike brought me a cold LaCroix and DJed Jimmy Buffet songs through the speaker. Meanwhile, the chicken and vegetables charred and caramelized over the open flame. It’s seven days on, and I’ve yet to make anything other than scrambled eggs inside, and I can’t think of a reason to go back. If you need me, you’ll find me in the backyard in my summer kitchen.
THIS WEEK, I’M WATCHING …
… “Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend,” of course. If you’re looking for pure escapism, this is it. The classic Food Network show found a new home at Netflix, and for some reason it’s much better than I remember (and I loved the original show, including the Japanese version from the ‘90s.) Alton Brown returns to host with “Top Chef” winner Kristen Kish. Mark Dacascos returns, somehow unaged, to reprise his role as the Chairman with an intense kookiness that makes me cringe and laugh at the same time. A selection of highly talented, Michelin-starred “amateurs” take on a gamut of Iron Chefs that includes Marcus Samuelsson, Dominique Crenn, Gabriela Camara, Curtis Stone and Ming Tsai. The competition is fierce, as they say, but any ribbing is entirely good-natured, while the resulting dishes are utterly astonishing. It’s good, clean fun, although rather gluttonous. Tune in to tune out.
FOOD NEWS WORTH READING
➤ Six things to try at Eataly’s new Bay Area food hall, from gelato to Roman-style pizza (San Francisco Chronicle)
➤ Found Treasure: Klay Thompson-inspired cannoli (Edible Monterey Bay)
➤ To-go cocktails a step closer in California (San Francisco Examiner)
Thanks for reading! Eat well, my friends.