Lily Belli on Food: Into the Trout Farm pool, Beer Thirty’s Midtown spot has a name + a delightful shrimp boil
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… I have a couple of big pieces of news to share — first, the Trout Farm Inn is open!
I have been waiting to type that sentence for as long as many of you have been waiting to read it. Mountain residents have been eagerly watching the revival of the beloved historic restaurant, live music venue, bar and community pool for the past year. The resort originally opened in 1903 and once included a trout farm, cabins and fishing area, but was destroyed by a fire in 2016. It was rebuilt in 2018 and lay vacant until current owners Jessyka and Tachu Soto purchased it during the pandemic. They invited owners of Beer Thirty in Soquel and Beer Mule in Watsonville — Kym and Shawd DeWitt, Olive Moredock and Craig Renfroe — to join them in reviving the Santa Cruz Mountains landmark to its former glory.
After months of planning and hard work, on Monday the Trout Farm Inn in Zayante officially opened its pool to guests, and I headed up there Tuesday morning to check it out. In short, we are all in for a real treat. Here’s what you can expect:
The freshly renovated, heated saltwater pool, surrounded by white chaise lounges and colorful umbrellas, beckons from beneath a redwood canopy. They added a Malibu shelf to one end of the pool, which allows guests to enter the soft, clear water easily and adds extra seating in the pool, explains Shawd DeWitt. A second shallow-water soaking pool, shaded by a giant 25-foot umbrella, looks like the perfect place for small children to play.
Along one side of the pool deck, 12 colorful cabanas painted by local artist Jeremiah Kille boast large L-shaped sofas. One 10-foot-by-10-foot cabana accommodates six people, and you can join two together to double your space. Most of the cabanas are near the main pool, but I liked that there are a few near the shallow pool that would be great for families.
Right now, light snacks and canned drinks — kombucha, beer, cocktails, wine and cider — are available at the snack shack. Sadly, two crucial pieces of cooking equipment arrived damaged, and the Trout Farm team is working to replace them during a critical supply chain shortage. The bar and restaurant are still forthcoming — no timeline on that phase yet.
While there is more to come from the Trout Farm, including a reconstruction of the historic fishing pond, it’s clear that it is on its way to becoming a premier destination in the county. Bravo to the hard work already put in to revive this historic landmark just minutes outside of Felton.
Here’s how it works: The entrance fee is $10 per person during the week and $15 during the weekend and holidays. Children 2 and under are free. Cabanas can be rented for $25 an hour or $50 an hour for a double cabana. Unlimited monthly pool memberships are available for $125 and annual memberships for $1,200. The pool deck is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, while members can enjoy extended hours from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. All this information and more is available at thetroutfarm.com.
… Then, there’s the second bit of news, this one about the Beer Thirty team’s other project, on Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz, the site of the legendary Der Wienerschnitzel, its red and yellow exterior whitewashed some time ago in preparation for the makeover. The team’s third craft beer bar and sausage house finally has an official name: We will all be tossing back pints at Beer Run Santa Cruz. But … craft beer fans will have to wait a while longer before it opens, Kym DeWitt told me this week. The Trout Farm Inn offered her group an unexpected opportunity, took their full attention and slowed work on Beer Run Santa Cruz. When open, guests can expect a sausage bar and numerous beer taps similar to sister locations Beer Thirty in Soquel and Beer Mule in Watsonville. “Good things come to those who wait,” says DeWitt. Follow @beerrunsantacruz on Instagram for updates.
… I have a sad announcement: The Santa Cruz culinary community has lost a beloved knife sharpener, Terry Beech. Beech had operated Sharp Quick, a knife sharpening business, out of his custom 1970 Volkswagen van since 2005. Many members of the culinary community relied on his dependable and friendly service to keep their kitchen tools safe and sharp. He operated four days a week at the Felton and downtown farmers markets and at the New Leaf markets in Capitola, Aptos Village and the Westside. Local cookbook author Andrea Nguyen wrote a sweet article about her “knife man” in 2014, if you’d like to know more about Beech and his skills. Beech died last week, according to an announcement by the Santa Cruz Community Farmers Market, and will be greatly missed by his wife, son and daughter, and friends and family.
… Calling all chili chefs! Registration is open for the Chili Cook-Off at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Saturday, Oct. 22. If you think you’ve got what it takes to win this local competition, register for $75 at beachboardwalk.com. You have until Oct. 14. Good luck!
My Lily Belli on Food newsletter launched six months ago — that means for half a year, timely, critical, and often fun, reporting on your local food and drink scene has arrived weekly in your inbox. If you’ve enjoyed reading, this is the time to become a member. We are now offering 20% off membership with offer code Lily, or click the image below. Only members get full access to all of Lookout’s content, including Eaters Digest, released every Friday with dining news, reviews and the best food and drink events in town each week. Lookout strives to create a better Santa Cruz County with high-quality, trustworthy local news and information, and this includes sharing the stories of the people behind our food. Become a member today.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Faultline Brewing is nearing opening day at the Hangar in Scotts Valley. I spoke with assistant general manager Andrew Pederson on what you can expect when it opens in a few short weeks. Check it out in Friday’s Eaters Digest.
“Our current industrial agricultural system would collapse without farmworkers. And no one who has worked weeks, months and years in the field should be worried about deportation. It makes me furious. What would we do without these people?” — Ann Lopez, on her fight for justice for migrant farmworkers. Read a Q&A with Lopez by my colleague Mark Conley to get a peek into how she’s working to support farmworkers in Santa Cruz County.
LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
My husband, Mike, and I had an incredible dinner with my in-laws on Sunday. Inspired by the cover of the August issue of Food & Wine magazine, we decided to prepare our own shrimp boil using the recipe inside. Mike and I are big fans of crawfish boils — not only have we traveled all over the state to enjoy them, we threw our own in our backyard in February 2020, right before COVID hit. We even honeymooned in New Orleans with the intention of eating as many mud bugs as possible (only to discover that they were out of season while we were there). Since we used store-bought frozen shrimp rather than crawfish, this recipe for a shrimp boil was more approachable. Although the ingredient list looked long, we easily found everything at our local grocery store and it came together in about an hour. Everything was so flavorful, and pouring it out over newspaper on the picnic table in the backyard meant very few dishes to wash at the end of the meal. Even little Marco enjoyed grabbing ears of corn, potatoes and shrimp from the middle of the table. The flavors were incredible — not too spicy, lemony and bursting with Old Bay — and we all ate way too much. Try it yourself before summer’s gone.
THIS WEEK, I’M WATCHING …
… “Street Food: USA,” the newest installment of a Netflix series that focuses on street food throughout the world. In this series, each episode goes to a different American city — Los Angeles; Portland, Oregon; New York; New Orleans; Oahu, Hawaii; and Miami — and shares stories from its most beloved and iconic street food vendors. The stories behind the food and the chefs are fascinating and at times heartbreaking. You’ll never look at halal chicken, poke or carnitas the same way again.
FOOD NEWS WORTH READING
➤ S.F.’s North Beach was marked by vacancies. Now, restaurants are fueling a renaissance (San Francisco Chronicle)
➤ Is sustainability the future of the restaurant supply chain? (QSR Magazine)
➤ It’s official: The Choco Taco is over (Eater)
Thanks for reading! Eat well, my friends.