The Foodie Fruity Wreath Making event returns to the Scotts Valley farmers market Sept. 23.
(Via Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets)
Food & Drink

Lily Belli on Food: Farmers market fun, fruit fly alert & diner coming to Soquel

Welcome to Lily Belli on Food, a weekly food-focused newsletter from Lookout’s food and drink correspondent, Lily Belli. Keep reading for the latest local food news for Santa Cruz County — plus a few fun odds and ends from my own life and around the web.

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… Mark your calendars for three free foodie events coming to the Scotts Valley and Felton farmers markets this fall — especially if you have kids. These events are all offered through Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets’ Foodshed Project, which educates children of all ages about foods grown in their region — but sneakily, by having fun.

Tuesday, Sept. 12 — the day this newsletter hits your inbox — is the Apple-A-Day Festival at the Felton farmers market. Celebrate the delicious, hardy apple and learn about how it grows and the delicious foods it can become. On Saturday, Sept. 23, create your own seasonal wreath to take home and enjoy at the Scotts Valley farmers market’s Foodie Fruity Wreath Making Extravaganza. On Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Felton market, decorate pumpkins of all shapes and sizes at the Pumpkin Decorating Bonanza, and explore the market for treats from vendors like pumpkin ice cream and cardamom carrot pumpkin bread. Find more info at

The oriental fruit fly has been detected in parts of the Bay Area, causing local officials to declare quarantines of homegrown and other locally bred fruits and vegetables in portions of Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties. Thankfully, the destructive pest hasn’t been detected in Santa Cruz County — although pest detection staff are on high alert. “We have high vigilance right now. Our pest detection staff is putting out traps and monitoring for these insects,” says Santa Cruz County Agricultural Commissioner David Sanford. Read more here.

Soquel's 41st Ocean Breakfast & Grill plans to open for breakfast and lunch at the end of September.
(Lookout Santa Cruz)

… New Soquel restaurant 41st Ocean Breakfast & Grill is nearing completion and plans to open at the end of the month, general manager Gil Mendoza told me. The restaurant is located in the old Peking Restaurant space behind Café Cruz and next door to cannabis dispensary Surf City Original. 41st Ocean will be an American-style diner offering breakfast and lunch to start. Owner Ace Serratos has plenty of experience crafting crave-worthy meals to start the day — he helped open the kitchen at Davenport’s Whale City Bakery more than two decades ago. The restaurant does not yet have a website or social media presence, so watch this space for a notification when the restaurant opens.

… Has the seasonal shift inspired you to turn on your oven and bake something delicious? Companion Bakeshop is hosting a series of fall baking classes this September and October, starting with a Kids’ Fall Pie Workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 13. There is also a Gluten Free Baking For Kids class on Wednesday, Sept. 20; Fall Pie Lab for Adults on Thursday, Oct. 5; and Sourdough Basics on Wednesday, Oct. 18. Cost for a class ranges from $85 to $150. All of the classes are held at Companion’s Westside Santa Cruz location. Sign up at

… There are still a few tickets left for Teen Kitchen Project’s fundraising farm dinner at Everett Family Farm in Soquel on Saturday, Sept. 23. Teen Kitchen Project is a local nonprofit that cooks and delivers healthy meals to clients in Santa Cruz County facing critical and chronic illnesses. The meals are prepared by teens in the program, who learn valuable kitchen skills. This is TKP’s primary fundraising event, hosted by Rich and Laura Everett at their beautiful family farm off of Old San Jose Road. Tim Eelman — the former executive chef at Big Sur Bakery in Big Sur — will prepare a seasonal, family-style meal with help from teens in the program. Tickets are $160 at


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Fruition Brewing's Fest festbier.
(Via Michael Hanson)

September is a weird month. On one hand, Santa Cruz County will enjoy day after day of near-perfect beach weather; on the other, many people are ready for fall. Watsonville’s Fruition Brewing’s festbier Fest is the perfect beer for this strange season we’re in. Check it out in Friday’s Eaters Digest.


My baby daughter, Cecilia, recently tried her first food. At almost 6 months old, she’s very curious about food and eating, and watches us intently at mealtimes. The other night we went out for ice cream, and on a whim I dabbed a bit of my raspberry sorbet to her lips. She licked it off with intense concentration, took one more dab, and then lost interest. The whole event was entirely unceremonious.

I had an entirely different experience with my son, Marco. When he was approaching the age to start trying solid food, I seriously considered what his first food should be. As a first-time mom, I was initially unaware that there is a huge conversation on this topic, but once my search browser was open I discovered that there are seemingly near infinite options, each with their own implication on what kind of eater that child would then become. There were advocates for infant cereal mixed with breast milk or formula — a safe, if not dull, option. Was there some other food I could give him that would encourage Marco, who was then 6 months old, to grow into a child with a wide-ranging palate? Was avocado the answer? Pureed squash? Applesauce? No, too much sugar!

In the end I chose … honestly, I don’t remember. After crossing the major allergens off the list, I offered him a safe version of whatever my husband and I were eating, plus lots of premade baby food. I did make an effort to present Marco with a variety of foods for him to explore over his first years of life, and now, at 2, he eats what most toddlers eat: pasta, fruit and air.


➤ Nonalcoholic beer used to be a punchline, but Athletic Brewing Company built a $60 million brand on alcohol-free beer that actually tastes good. Says co-owner Bill Shufelt, “It turns out over 30% of people [in America] don’t drink at all, and almost 60% of people barely drink. That’s a ton of money left on the table.” (GQ)

➤ In the days after a deadly fire devastated Lahaina, the local culinary community prepared thousands of meals for people affected by the disaster. Now a month on, chefs and organizers are still trying to nourish Maui residents, and putting their own restaurants on hold. “We really need to be stimulating our local businesses with funding that comes in so that they’re still there at the end of this, because emergency feeding centers eventually go away,” says Amanda Corby Noguchi, founder of the nonprofit Chef Hui. “We don’t want our local restaurant to go away.” (Eater)

➤ Some heroes wear capes; others protect consumers through class-action suits against food companies making false claims on food labels. Lawyer Spencer Sheehan has sued the makers of Pop-Tarts, Hint of Lime Tostitos, Snapple and many more for millions in damages. While his suits might seem frivolous, Sheehan views himself as “a tribune of the masses.” (New Yorker)


~ Lily