Lily Belli on Food: Santa Cruz’s permanent parklets progress, a prescription for produce, and summer flavors
Hello eaters! Jessica M. Pasko here. While Lily is out on maternity leave, I’m pitching in on the latest local food news. A little about me — I’m a writer and a native of upstate New York, living in Santa Cruz for over a decade. Our rich food culture is just one of the many things I love about our region, and I’m especially interested in the stories of the people who grow, serve and make the food we eat. Now, let’s dig in!
Santa Cruz transitions to permanent parklet program
Downtown Santa Cruz businesses that want to make their pandemic-era outdoor dining arrangements permanent must apply for a permit by the end of June, and while the city has worked with restaurants and incorporated their feedback on costs and other issues, it’s still a pricey proposition for some. Read more here.
Produce prescription program launches in Live Oak
Platos de Bienestar: Healthy Plates aims to make it easier for 60 patients of the Live Oak Health Center to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets, and participants can fill that prescription at the Live Oak farmers market. Read more here.
A smorgasbord of little bites
Downtown restaurant walk returns: This year’s Santa Cruz Restaurant Walk will take place Wednesday, June 14. The event, sponsored by the Capitola Coast Lions Club, features samplings from 15 different eateries in downtown Santa Cruz. Participating restaurants include Yakitori Toriman, Pono Kitchen & Tap, Woodstock’s Pizza and Pana at Abbott Square, among others. Funds will help support Common Roots Farm, a small farm in Santa Cruz where people with and without disabilities grow healthy food and build community. Tickets (available here) are $40 per person and the event runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Scrumptious Fish & Chips returns to regular Seacliff spot: The fish and chips truck is back to serving at the lower beach level at Seacliff State Beach once again. After extensive storm damage temporarily closed parts of the park, the truck has been stationed in the upper parking lot. Now, it has returned to its original spot near the snack shack building, just in time for summer. Find the truck there on weekends starting at noon; full schedule here.
Kuya restaurant popup at Apero Club: Popups Kuya and Funsies are partnering to present an array of Asian-inspired snacks and raw fish for an event at the Westside’s Apero Club on Monday, June 12. The planned menu includes a dish of hokkaido scallops with green strawberry, mint and avocado; rice cakes with beef fat, sesame, oyster sauce, fresno chile, cabbage and masago; and much more. Food will be served from 4:30 p.m. to sellout.
Emozioni now serving at Capitola Tap House: If you’ve missed the goodies from Emozioni Pasticceria, you can now find its fried “pizzettes” and focaccia at Capitola Tap House. Capitola Tap House, which opened last year, has also added beer and wine to its rotating self-serve taps in addition to kombucha and cold-brew coffee.
Oysters return to the farmers market: Fresh-shucked oysters have returned to the downtown Santa Cruz farmers market on Wednesdays. H&H Fresh Fish paused the popular item during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now it’s back to shucking oysters to order for on-site consumption. Can’t make it Wednesdays? H&H will also be shucking oysters at its Santa Cruz Harbor location on Fridays and Saturdays. Oysters run about $3-4 a pop.
Prepare for Jitterfest 2023: Watsonville’s The Slough Brewing Collective and San Juan Bautista’s Vertigo Roasters are once again collaborating to host Jitterfest 2023 on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The event, taking place at the Slough, will feature six coffee-infused beers, a special mug with art by Blind the Sun, food by Hapa Bros. and Hole Foods vegan donuts, and coffee service by Hollister’s Calavera Coffee. There will also be a makers market featuring local artists, music by DJ Ugly Eye and a latte art throwdown hosted by Vertigo Roasters, Calavera Coffee and Honeylux Coffee. Sign-ups ($10 to enter) for the contest are at 5:30 p.m. and the competition starts at 6.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Jim Denevan is the visionary behind Outstanding in the Field, the Santa Cruz company that puts on renowned farm-to-table al fresco dinners around the country — and beyond. He’s also an accomplished artist, as Wallace Baine detailed in a recent column. Denevan is bringing Outstanding in the Field full circle with an event next week at Gabriella Cafe, where he worked for a dozen years.
4 — That’s how many pounds of apples are in each apple pie that Gizdich Ranch makes. It’s also the most popular flavor. Laura Sutherland recently spoke with Gizdich matriarch Nita Gizdich about her pie prowess and how the Watsonville-based company got its start. Read all about it here.
“He’s been fishing since he could walk.” — Cindy Ellis about her boss, H&H Fresh Fish co-owner Hans Haveman. Lookout’s Jean Yi profiled the fishmonger as part of an ongoing series on Santa Cruz County’s farmers market vendors. And by the way, fresh-shucked oysters are now back at the downtown Santa Cruz market on Wednesdays.
THIS WEEK, I’M EXCITED FOR …
… the flavors of summer. I love leafy greens of all kinds, and I’ve been eating my fill of spring’s bounty — strawberries, baby lettuces, radishes and more. That said, the seasonal fare I look forward to most is what one of my favorite cookbooks, Deborah Madison’s “Local Flavors,” refers to as “the vegetable fruits of summers.” She’s referring to eggplants, tomatoes and peppers, but I’d also lump in summer squashes. While it’s still too early for tomatoes, I snapped up a couple of lovely cousa squash (a pale green zucchini varietal) and a small bag of corno di toro peppers Saturday from the Borba Farms stand at the Aptos farmers market at Cabrillo College. I’ll probably keep my preparation very simple, sauteed lightly with a little garlic and topped with a sprinkling of fresh herbs, so I can really savor those first tastes of summer. It will be a good teaser of what’s to come. A friend also gifted me some rhubarb and fava beans from her garden this week. The rhubarb will be turned into a syrup for cocktails and mocktails. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with the favas yet, but I’m leaning toward this recipe for favas with red onions and mint. It sounds like late spring embodied in a dish.
Sure, I see that meteorologists are predicting a week of gray skies and potential rain and technically it’s still spring for two more weeks, but I’m going to seize that early summer feeling any way I can, rain or shine.
FOOD NEWS WORTH READING
➤ Tupperware once changed women’s lives. Now it struggles to survive (NPR)
➤ Why BIPOC farmers need more protection from climate change (Civil Eats)
➤ A taco-filled eating tour of the Salinas Valley (Wine Enthusiast)