EATERS DIGEST: Pretty Good Advice pays it forward, Birichino has some fun & Laili is back — phew
This week, Soquel restaurant Pretty Good Advice showed its gratitude to customers, and the community received an early holiday gift with the return of Laili. I also share a new wine perfect for the season, a few seasonal treats that are worth seeking out and a new local company that launched with the help of Wonder Woman.
A special thank you to a reader, Shari, who shared a recent experience at Pretty Good Advice with me. Read the heartwarming story below, and share your tips and experiences with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Wednesday, chef Matt McNamara of Pretty Good Advice woke up and decided that he was going to give away his food for free. For the rest of the day, all customers who visited the Soquel restaurant or ordered online were given their meals at no charge. “During the pandemic our business has gotten better while I’ve watched other businesses struggle,” says McNamara. “I watched the community really rally around us and support us. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, I wanted to give back.”
McNamara sat at the front of his restaurant and connected with the community that supported him and his staff. “There were fist bumps, there were new people that I met, there were smiles,” he says. “There were people saying you’ve lost your mind and people saying it was the greatest thing of all time.”
The experience was so rewarding that McNamara is considering doing it on a regular basis. After assessing the costs, he decided it was “entirely worth it.”
Laili has returned! After a four-month hiatus, the downtown Santa Cruz restaurant has announced that it is back open for takeout and delivery orders Wednesday through Saturday. Indoor and outdoor dining is still closed, with no specific date set for reopening, so guests will have to wait a bit longer to dine in that beautiful courtyard. Welcome back!
As 2021 draws to a close, the Lookout team is reflecting on the people in our lives who got us through another strange year. Who is that person in your life? A cashier at the local grocery store who always had a story to tell that made your day? A dishwasher at a local restaurant that unfailingly showed up? A neighbor who made meals for community members in need?
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If you know someone like this, please write in to nominate them for our Unsung Santa Cruz campaign, which will highlight some of the wonderful people who make up our community. Send suggestions with a brief description of why they should be celebrated to email@example.com.
On Tuesday, Santa Cruz-based company Goodles launched its new mac & cheese product. With former execs at Annie’s and Kraft and Wonder Woman on the team, it’s sure to be a success. Read more about Goodles here.
Birichino has released a Beaujolais Nouveau-style wine that would be perfect for your holiday table. Owners and winemakers John Locke and Alex Krause have a great sense of humor about their wines, and had a lot of fun with the name on this one: Car Car Glou Glou Akashita.
Allow me to translate. Old-vine carignane from Lodi was vinified via carbonic maceration, the winemaking technique associated with nouveaux of Beaujolais. “Glou Glou” is a French colloquialism for a highly quaffable beverage (think “glug glug”). And Akashita refers to a Japanese red-tongued monster, whose image is displayed on the bottle — and perhaps in the mirror after a few glasses of this young yet luscious, berry-scented wine. $23 per bottle, available at Birichino’s downtown tasting room and at birichino.com.
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The pumpkin round, one of my favorite seasonal baked goods, is back at Staff of Life markets. Made in-house, this large, darkly colored loaf of whole wheat bread is made with organic flour, pumpkin and spices, and covered in pumpkin seeds. It’s a delicious, savory alternative to the sweet loaves you typically see.
I love it with fried eggs and bacon, made into French toast and as a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve also used it in a savory autumn bread pudding with roasted squash, apples, sausage and leeks, and I have a feeling this would be the perfect bread to use for post-Thanksgiving sandwiches.
Porcini mushrooms are popping up everywhere. At least, I’ve seen pictures of them on social media — my forays into the forest have so far been unsuccessful at locating this beloved bolete, despite finding lots of oyster mushrooms. So I was thrilled last week when my husband came home with a huge porcini, a gift from a friend at Ocean2table. While my mushroom hunting needs work, I had no problem making this into a memorable pasta.
It can be challenging to find this delicious mushroom. Even the folks at Far West Fungi said it’s hard to say when they’ll have it in, based on how many their foragers are finding. Your best bet is to look to local restaurants. Chefs throughout the county seem to have their sources, and are adding porcini-centric specials to their fall menus.
Beauregard Vineyards’ Slow Coast Wine Bar is hosting a Sip & Shop event on Saturday from 1-5 p.m. The Davenport tasting room is hosting local artisans Ashby Confections, potter Jasper Marino and Adorned by Wisdom Jewelry. Stop in to try Beauregard’s excellent wines and stay for some holiday shopping. 450 Highway 1, Davenport.
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