A Santa Cruz Fungi popsicle.
(Jessica M. Pasko / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

Lily Belli on Food: A ‘fungicle’ pop-up, Tortilla Flats touch-up and Farm Discovery’s 2023 season

Hello eaters! Jessica M. Pasko here. While Lily is out on parental 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 Fungi brings an unusual twist to popsicles: mushrooms

Paul Lazazzera and Katie Sarna selling their fungi-based popsicle fare.
(Jessica M. Pasko / Lookout Santa Cruz)

With flavors including key lion’s mane pie, chagalate and cordy creamsicle, Paul Lazazzera and Katie Sarna are introducing their mushroom-infused frozen treats at pop-ups around Santa Cruz County. Read more here.

Shoppers Spotlight Lily Belli 5/23

Tortilla Flats’ new owner touches up a Soquel staple

Soquel Village standby Tortilla Flats has gotten an updated paint job under new owner Zolina Zeravica.
(Via Tortilla Flats)

While Zolina Zeravica is aiming to keep what’s made Tortilla Flats a local fave, the longtime employee-turned-owner has given the Soquel Mexican restaurant a colorful paint job and has added new cocktails and tequila tastings to the menu. Read more here.

Farm Discovery kicks off summer season, plans fall feast

summer campers at Farm Discovery
(Via Farm Discovery)

Summer camps are in full swing at Pajaro Valley nonprofit Farm Discovery, which is aiming to expand its mission of educating about food and building community connections to more youth in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Its Fall Feast in the Fields, set for Sept. 23 and featuring chef Jessica Yarr, is again a big piece of the fundraising puzzle. Read more here.

Farm to Fork gala to support Pajaro Valley farmers and farmworkers

Community Bridges and the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association are partnering to put on the annual Farm to Fork Gala on July 30 in Pajaro. This year, the dinner and auction will support the agriculture workers impacted by the flooding earlier this year. Tickets are $175 per person or $1,400 for a table of eight.


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chocolate banana slugs
(Laura Sutherland / Lookout Santa Cruz)

There’s still time to shop for all the fathers (or father figures) in your life before Father’s Day this Sunday. And who doesn’t love chocolate? Laura Sutherland has the lowdown on the best chocolate-centric gifts available locally, sure to please anyone on your gift list. Take a peek here.


Garden Variety Cheese products for sale at the Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers Market.
(Jean Yi / Lookout Santa Cruz)

50 – That’s the number of dairy sheep Rebecca King started out with when she launched her Garden Variety Cheese line. Lookout’s Jean Yi profiled the Royal Oaks-based business in the latest spotlight on our local farmers market vendors.

“In the last 16 years, our dining team fed our students through pandemics, fires, floods and strikes. Even through the biggest of obstacles, our team was able to come to work, prepare nutritious food, and serve our customers.” — Dan Tokar, who is retiring this month after heading up UC Santa Cruz’s dining services program for 16 years.


… about my favorite summer food memories. One of them is definitely the trip I took last summer to Lisbon, Portugal. Last summer, my brother, mother, stepfather and I headed across the pond to attend a cousin’s wedding and explore my stepdad’s hometown of Margate, England. We followed this with a four-day trip to Lisbon, somewhere I’d always wanted to visit. It was everything I’d hoped for and more, especially the food and drink. It got me hooked on the late afternoon/early evening combination of high-quality potato chips and a glass of crisp vinho verde, and meals composed mostly of good cheese, olives and maybe some tinned fish. Afternoons were so hot that the best thing to do was take a nap and then head out for dinner later when the sun was making its descent. I’m not doing any international travel this summer, but I do plan on trying to channel the feelings of my trip via food, including an upcoming tinned fish party I’m looking forward to having with a few friends.

Tinned fish souvenirs from Portugal.
(Jessica M. Pasko / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Another fond summer memory that’s been taking up a lot of space in my brain as of late is of the hot summer nights back East when I was growing up, when the fireflies were out in force. Sometimes, those nights were just too hot to think about cooking anything complicated and eating anything super heavy was out of the question. I recall at least a few times when my mother threw up her hands and decided we’d just eat corn and tomatoes for dinner. Those are some of the meals I loved best — perfectly sweet yellow and white cobs of corn, slathered with butter and sprinkled with just a little salt, accompanied by fat slices of tomatoes from her garden with just a little salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Very simple but somehow just perfect.

And no summer is complete without at least one dish of vanilla-chocolate swirled soft-serve ice cream.

What are some of your favorite summer food memories?


SF Chronicle names new restaurant critic (San Francisco Chronicle)
Iconic wharf eatery Firefish Grill to reopen (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
What would regenerative farming mean for almonds? (Forbes)

Happy eating!

~ Jessica