Enjoy chef Katherine Stern's seasonal cuisine at Bad Animal for one more week.
Enjoy chef Katherine Stern’s seasonal cuisine at Bad Animal for one more week.
(Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

Lily Belli on Food: Hanloh’s Kaewsawang coming to Bad Animal, a baking Companion and anchovies on ice cream

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… I have returned from my summer “staycation” and it feels good to be back! Allow me to catch us all up on what happened in the local culinary scene over the past week, starting with news of an intriguing transition at Santa Cruz wine bar Bad Animal.

Starting in October (exact date TBD), Lalita Kaewsawang of Hanloh Thai Food takes over as chef, replacing Katherine Stern, who for nearly a year has created beautiful, hyperlocal, farmers market-inspired dishes to pair with Bad Animal’s natural wines. As Stern finishes her stint on Sunday — preparing to open her own restaurant in Santa Cruz’s Midtown — I’m looking forward to seeing what she does in her own space. She’s been a mainstay of the local food scene for a long time, having served as chef at Seabright’s La Posta for nine years before opening her farmers market breakfast pop-up and becoming Bad Animal’s first “culinary artist in residence” last fall.

I fell in love with Kaewsawang’s fresh, seasonal takes on Thai dishes when she established her pop-up Hanloh in 2017. Back then, I was definitely a bit of a groupie — I followed Hanloh around town, chasing Kaewsawang’s salty, funky fried chicken wings with fish sauce, rich khao soi soup topped with crunchy noodles and addictive makrut-scented spicy cashews. Kaewsawang shifted to catering and meal kits during the pandemic, and I’ve missed her vibrant food. I can’t wait to see what she does in Bad Animal’s kitchen — and to have access to her cooking five nights a week.

… Despite the fact that only a madman would turn on the oven during our seemingly never-ending heat wave, the temperature hasn’t stopped me from daydreaming about fall baking projects. Right on cue, last week Companion Bakeshop released a calendar of baking classes. All eight classes will be held at the Westside Santa Cruz bakery, starting with a free community demo on Companion’s popular gluten-free buckwheat blueberry scones and ending with a kids holiday cookie and cupcake decorating bonanza Dec. 16. As noted on the website, the community demos are free and do not require registration, but other classes, like the class on sourdough basics, cost between $85 and $100 per person and should be signed up for in advance. Purchase tickets for these classes, including the holiday pie lab and kids Halloween workshop, and see the full schedule of events at companionbakeshop.com.

"La Cosecha Sagrada," a digital photograph by artist Fernando Armenghol, is on exhibit at the MAH.
(Via Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History)

… The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History has a new exhibit that focuses on agriculture in the regions of California and Mexico. “The Land of Milk and Honey” draws inspiration from John Steinbeck’s portrayal of the region as a “corrupted Eden” as well as the promotion of California as a land of opportunity. Multidisciplinary exhibits explore the artists’ views on agriculture’s environmental impacts, cultural culinary traditions, identity and migration, regional historiographies and familial and mythical connections to food. The exhibition runs through Dec. 31. More information at santacruzmah.org.

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As part of Lookout’s ongoing coverage of Santa Cruz County farmers markets, look later this week for an interview with Catherine Barr, the executive director of Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets, which includes the farmers market in Aptos at Cabrillo College. In it, Barr discusses how the market got its start 46 years ago, how state regulation serves farmers and farmers market customers, and her own unusual path to the position she has held for the past 30 years.


food entrepreneur Tabitha Stroup
(Via Tabitha Stroup)

“I’m doing this because I feel there’s a need for it. I need to be doing what I’m doing.” — Tabitha Stroup, on why she started Terroir in a Jar, a Watsonville-based business that turns local farmers’ excess produce into shelf-stable, highly merchandisable jams, vinegars, shrubs, preserves and more. Read more about Stroup in this farmers market profile.


Thank you so much for everyone who emailed and texted me recommendations on places to visit during my “Eating Day” in San Francisco last week — and to the reader who reminded me that the East Bay has an incredible food scene to enjoy as well. It was an impossible task to choose just a few places to stop, and my husband and I ended up visiting Ocean Beach Café for alcohol-free beers and zero-proof cocktails, Cotogna for wood-fired pizza and The Anchovy Bar for a quick early dinner. Our seafood-themed meal at Anchovy Bar, a new restaurant from the minds at nearby State Bird Provisions, was stunning — silky quick-cured local anchovies draped over toasted bread rubbed with fresh tomatoes; spicy halibut ceviche with black bean tostadas; and bay shrimp chirashi wrapped in toasted nori. But the best thing I ate all day, in a day totally devoted to eating, was Anchovy Bar’s ice cream sundae. Vanilla ice cream was topped with coconut whipped cream, salty tamarind caramel and a coconut-peanut-anchovy crumble. Yes, you read that right: This ice cream sundae was topped with tiny dried anchovies. It added a salty, briny crunch and set off all the umami buttons in my mouth. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since! Go for yourself and you’ll see that I’m right — see the menu at theanchovybar.com.


… to the most recent episode of “The Splendid Table,” on women beer brewers. The episode discusses how the modern stereotype of a white, male, probably bearded craft beer brewer is in conflict with those who brewed beer throughout most of American history. Experts like Theresa McCulla, curator of the Smithsonian’s American Brewing History Initiative, and filmmaker Atinuke Akintola Diver explain how, traditionally, beer was brewed by women and often by Black women. The stories they reveal are fascinating. Give it a listen.


Keeping moon cake traditions alive (Viet World Kitchen)
Food & Wine Best New Chefs 2022 (Food & Wine)
A viral guide to eating Asian food was totally wrong. Here’s why. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Thanks for reading! Eat well, my friends.