Pad thai from Hanloh in Scotts Valley.
(Photo by Anne Martinete.)
Food & Drink

EATERS DIGEST: Rustic Ales’ food transition, Hanloh pad thai at home & Gayle’s holiday treats

A makeover will bring Todd Parker’s pizzas to Sante Adairius’ Midtown location in the new year, but before then, don’t miss your chance to prepare Lalita Kaewsawang’s pad thai in your own kitchen, perhaps with dessert courtesy of a Capitola institution. Lily Belli digs in on all that and the coming week’s top foodie events in Eaters Digest.

I wish the holiday season lasted a little bit longer. Not just so I could soak in more magic, more treats, more sipping eggnog by the fire, but because I honestly just need more hours in the day. It always feels like a mad dash to the end of the year, when all I really want to do is slow down. Does anyone else feel that way?

Lily

Before we ring in 2022, here are my end-of-year resolutions. I’m going to try to visit the Kitchen at Sante Adairius Rustic Ales before it closes for a few months. I’m going to make more time to cook my favorite Thai food at home, with help from Hanloh, and to eat more Christmas cookies from Gayle’s Bakery. And I won’t forget to donate to vital nonprofits like Second Harvest Food Bank doing crucial work in our community.

How are you savoring the holiday season? Tell me at lily@lookoutlocal.com.

News

Chef Todd Parker’s current menu of elevated pub food at the Rustic Ales Kitchen inside Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Portal in Midtown is coming to an end, and the last day to order fan favorites like the chicken liver toasts with Blenheim apricots and chanterelles, the sriracha shrimp roll, and the red beans and rice will be Jan. 2.

Parker has finally secured permits to improve the kitchen and plans to break ground early in the new year. The kitchen will be closed for a couple of months, during which time he will put in a ventilation system, a high-tech pizza oven, fryer, range and full prep area.

The restaurant will reopen in the spring to serve Detroit-style pan pizza, similar to what guests might have enjoyed during the pandemic at his pop-up Pizza Pals. Parker says his pie will be a little unique, with a focaccia-style crust with an open crumb. The Manresa alum will apply the same concepts he has always cooked with to pizza, and will continue to work exclusively with local producers and farmers.

The new menu will start off simple, with pizzas, a few salads and desserts, but the expansion will allow him to grow into a full pizzeria, with wings and more menu options. “This menu has been fun, but we want to do pizza,” says Parker. “We were really excited about what we were doing before, and now that we have some great equipment it’s going to be even better than it was.” Follow along on Instagram at @pizzapalspizza.

The Second Harvest Food Bank has just reached the halfway mark for its Holiday Food and Fund Drive. This year, the nonprofit set out to raise enough money to provide 5 million healthy meals to local residents in 2022, and it still have a ways to go. This holiday fundraising effort makes a huge difference in the lives of food-insecure community members in Santa Cruz County, and there’s still time to give. Donate here by Jan. 15. No amount is too small!

Eat this

I’ve missed Hanloh chef Lalita Kaewsawang’s beautiful, vibrant Thai food ever since she pivoted from pop-ups to catering service during the pandemic. But last week, I was able to get my hands on one of her Rustic Pad Thai meal kits and enjoy her amazing cooking in my own kitchen.

Each kit includes everything you need to make pad thai for six, including all the ingredients, cooking instructions with visual aids and a video to show you how. Unpacking it was like opening a delicious Christmas present, as I pulled beautiful prawns, tofu, eggs, her homemade pad thai mix, shallots, noodles and other carefully packaged ingredients from the box.

Chef Lalita Kaewsawang of Hanloh.
(Anne Martinete)

Preparation and cooking was easy, took about 20 minutes and required only basic kitchen skills and equipment. The pad thai I plated and topped with crushed peanuts, bean sprouts and chili powder might not have been as perfect as Lalita’s but it was pretty darn close, a perfect balance of tangy, sweet, salty and heat.

Hanloh is next offering pad thai kits for Dec. 23 and Dec. 30. Advance purchase is required and can be made at hanloh.com. Vegetarian options and delivery are available, or you can pick your kit up at her kitchen in Scotts Valley.

Every time I go a while between visits to Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola, I forget what a complete gem it is. On my most recent visit, I might have made a bit of a scene darting back and forth from one side of the counter to the other, unable to decide among homemade lasagne, a chicken salad sandwich on a flaky croissant, a turkey sandwich on a long, thin baguette or a giant, almond-covered bear claw.

All things wining, dining, brewing and agriculture, from the mountains to the coast.

The holiday treats are on full display, sparkling with Christmas spirit: holiday cupcakes decorated with wreaths; beautiful buche de noel, sleek winter princess cakes, and iced stollen, a German Christmas bread.

I was drawn to the holiday cookies, as charming and sweet as childhood memories — sugar cookies decorated as Christmas trees or snowflakes, peanut butter thumbprints with Hershey’s Kisses, gingerbread people, butter cookies decorated with green and red sprinkles, and many more. Stop in before the holidays are over and enjoy something special.

Events

The Santa Cruz Food Lounge is hosting a Holiday Artisan Food & Gift Market on Saturday. This market will feature more than 15 artisans offering small-batch foods such as jams, coffee and chocolates, and locally made gifts for the kitchen and home, including kitchen decor, plants, art, natural body care and more.

The Food Lounge bar will be open with holiday-themed cocktails, local beers and hard ciders, hot spiced cider and other festive sippers. Stop in from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at 1001 Center St. in downtown Santa Cruz.

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Visit Soif on Tuesday for an amaro and vermouth tasting with Reed Cormier of Oliver McCrum Wine & Spirits. These speciality liqueurs are perfect for winter sipping. Cormier will share his knowledge about the producers and mix a special cocktail for guests to enjoy.

Oysters, cheese boards and olives will be available for purchase. This event is on Soif’s heated patio, so dress warmly. Admission is $25 for the general public and $10 for wine club members. Visit soifwine.com to reserve your place.