Lily Belli on Food: Feting local winemaking, Manresa Bread’s Westside outpost + Thanksgiving prep
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… A new event is coming to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History this fall that will celebrate Santa Cruz’s winemaking history. Rootstock Santa Cruz will take place Saturday, Nov. 5, at the MAH and will include a history panel with winemaking experts and a tasting of local wines that reflect the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation.
Panel speakers include: John Bargetto, winemaker at Bargetto Winery and Regan Vineyards Winery; Barry Jackson, winemaker at Equinox Winery; Foxx Viticulture’s Prudy Foxx, a leading local viticulturist; Jeffrey Patterson, winemaker at Mount Eden Vineyards; David Amadia, marketing manager at Ridge Vineyards; and Jeff Emery, winemaker at Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard. It will be moderated by the knowledgeable and gregarious John Locke, owner and winemaker of Birichino. Guests can sip wines from 15 local wineries at the grand tasting following the panel and a gallery of history wine artifacts and photos provided by the MAH, Santa Cruz Public Libraries and San Lorenzo Valley Museum will be on display for the weekend.
The goal, says MAH event coordinator Nikki Patterson – who was once Randall Grahm’s executive assistant and Bonny Doon Vineyard’s office manager — is to share and celebrate the legacy of our local wine industry. “I have a deep reverence and admiration for our local winemakers,” says Patterson. “I wanted to celebrate the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA (American Viticultural Area), our viticulture tradition and amazing wines from our region.” Rootstock looks unmissable for both wine lovers and history buffs. Tickets are $150 for both the panel and tasting, or $75 for the tasting alone. More info is at santacruzmah.org and tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.com. I’ll see you there.
… Exciting news from the baking world: Manresa Bread is opening a location in Santa Cruz. The new 300-square-foot bakery will open in the Swift Street Commons, around the corner from Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard’s tasting room, on Nov. 7, joining a cohort of artisan coffee shops, breweries, wineries and restaurants already at the most happening district on the Westside. This cozy space will be open every day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to offer laminated pastries like croissants and kouign amann, signature breads and grab-and-go items.
I can hear cries of “finally!” from local fans from here. Manresa Bread baked goods have been available at Verve Coffee Roasters shops throughout the county for years, but you have to travel “over the hill” to one of the four locations in Los Gatos, Los Altos, Campbell and Palo Alto for full access to its nationally acclaimed bread and pastries — or order them online. Head baker Avery Ruzicka, a 2020 James Beard Award finalist, lives in Santa Cruz and started Manresa Bread while working at Manresa, David Kinch’s three-Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant in Los Gatos. Ruzicka says she’s been “waiting for an opportunity to bring the bakery close to home,” and the new space “will be the perfect jumping-off point to do so.”
You can preorder bread and pastries to pick up on opening day through Tock (with a $40 minimum purchase and four days’ notice). Preorders for holiday treats, including Manresa’s famed panettone and new giftable harvest tin of sweet and savory holiday goodies, are already available.
… Heads up, Venus Beachside visitors — the new Rio Del Mar restaurant will be closed for a while this winter while it undergoes some renovations. The exact date and timeline have not yet been set — I’ll share it with you as soon as I know — but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get your fill of halibut fish & chips, lobster rolls and oysters Rockefeller before the break. The plan, Sean Venus told me over the summer, is to move the bar area from the back of the restaurant to its front corner. There, with natural light pouring in from the windows and a view of the bay, it will be more of a central fixture of the restaurant — the better to show off the Westside distillery’s award-winning spirits and craft cocktails. Other updates will freshen up the 30-plus-year-old space as well. See the menu and make reservations at venusspirits.com.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
My recent reporting has focused on restaurant openings, but two closures startled Aptos and Ben Lomond last week. Restaurant Malik Williams closed suddenly after just opening in March and Tyrolean Inn served its last schnitzel Sunday after decades in the San Lorenzo Valley community. No word yet on what’s next for either space. See more in Friday’s Eaters Digest, plus some seasonal beverage recs.
$1.775 million — Amount approved by the city of Santa Cruz to establish a new permanent home for the farmers market in downtown Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market and the city approved a memorandum of understanding Friday that outlines the goals for a future space, although where it might be has yet to be determined. Read the update here.
“We always aim to create an immersive experience, not just an event.” — Jalen Horne, who, together with business partner Kendall Denike, established Collective Santa Cruz, a new event and apparel company that’s earned legions of local fans with its vibey market-style events. Next up: a Halloween bash at Moe’s Alley on Oct. 27. Learn more about the Santa Cruz phenomenon.
LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
This might be overkill, but I’m already thinking about Thanksgiving. Yes, I know we’re still two weeks from Halloween, but I have my reasons. I love cooking, especially with my mom, and for years we would spend all day in the kitchen on Thanksgiving preparing the meal, happily roasting, sauteing and simmering while sipping wine and listening to Fleetwood Mac. I still love to cook with my mom, but ever since I had a baby and we started hosting the holiday at our house, I realized I want to enjoy the holiday in a different way and not spend all my time in the kitchen. I want to relax, maybe go for a long walk, and sit back and enjoy the snacks we spent so long planning and crafting while watching the National Dog Show (IYKYK). So this year I’m getting really serious about doing everything I can in advance. Stock is going to be made this weekend and stuck in the freezer, followed by pie crust. A casserole and stuffing will probably end up there, too. I also like to stick a few loaves of great bread in the freezer — they freshen up beautifully in the oven. Is anyone out there nodding their heads? Here’s a good list from Food & Wine on what can be made ahead — and what definitely shouldn’t.
THIS WEEK, I’M MAKING RESERVATIONS …
… for Vim’s Haunted Halloween Tea. In August, the Westside restaurant started doing special tea services once a month with literal towers of sweet and savory treats by chef Jesikah Stolaroff. I was blown away by my first visit and have been waiting for reservations to go live for the Halloween-themed tea ever since. Reservations are now open for Saturday, Oct. 29, and Sunday, Oct 30. I snagged a reservation for me and my girlfriends and you can bet we will be dressing up — our vibe is “elegant witch.” It’s going to be frighteningly fun.
FOOD NEWS WORTH READING
➤ Could California Safeways change under new owner? (San Francisco Chronicle)
➤ I am tired of watching people go to Italy (Eater)
➤ Alaska cancels snow crab season, threatening key economic driver (NBC News)
Thanks for reading! Eat well, my friends.
FOR THE RECORD: This story has been updated to clarify the location of Manresa Bread’s Westside location.