EATERS DIGEST: Humble Sea Tavern opens, Fungus Fair fun and about that Kimchi Dog
Though the calendar claims it’s winter, Lily Belli is feeling in a springtime mood. The latest Eaters Digest contains the latest news about Humble Sea’s new location in Felton, a taste of the kimchi dog at Steamer Lane Supply, a preview of a fungus fair this weekend, and much more.
Happy spring, food people. At least, that’s what it feels like. As much as I’d love to be staring out a rainy window, the sun is shining, alas. As they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, so I have some suggestions for some great things to eat and do to get you out of the house and into our amazing local dining scene, including a winemaker dinner series, Japanese tapas and my current lunch obsession.
And while all this sunny weather isn’t good news for our local mushroom hunters, there are still a few fun fungus-themed events to check out this week.
Read on for food news…
“WE. ARE OPEN!!!” An Instagram post by Humble Sea Tavern announced last night that the highly anticipated Felton restaurant has finally opened its doors. The launch is right on schedule — the crew began some light remodeling of the historic Cremer House building on Hwy 9 in October, and last month marketing head Lee DeGraw told Lookout that they planned to open in February. This is the third location for Humble Sea Brewery owners and San Lorenzo Valley natives Nick Pavlina, Taylor West and Frank Scott Krueger after their flagship Swift Street brewery and a second taproom in Pacifica.
The full-service restaurant will offer lunch and dinner five days a week and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. DeGraw describes the menu as “elevated comfort food,” with inclusive options for all guests and dietary preferences. They also boast a full bar with craft cocktails, wine, and select beers in addition to Humble Sea’s own suds. Their hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They are closed Monday and Tuesday. All tables are first-come, first-served.
Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the promotional body for our local viticultural appellation, has released the schedule for their second annual Taste of Terroir wine dinner series and it looks incredible. Seven themed events will take place between March and November at wineries throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. Some are winemaker dinners, like the opening event “Taste of the Ocean” on Saturday, March 12 at Equinox Winery, where chef Diego Felix of Colectivo Felix will prepare a pescatarian feast paired with wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Others are exclusive tasting salons featuring rare wines, like the “Wines of Montebello Road” event in August, where guests will have the opportunity to taste distinct wines from famed Ridge Vineyards. Prices range from $65 to $175, depending on the event. Visit winesofthesantacruzmountains.com to make your reservations.
Popup restaurant Full Steam Dumpling is adding another themed night to their lineup. Izakaya Night will now pop up every Thursday at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge, joining Szechuan Night on Wednesdays and Ramen Night on Fridays. Following the tradition of Japanese izakayas, Full Steam will offer a menu of after-work bar bites, Japanese tapas and donburi rice bowls to go with drinks from the newly-opened After Hours bar inside the Food Lounge. I’m already a huge fan of their other weekly popups, and can’t wait to try Andy Huynh’s new menu, which last week included dashi-butter mussels with whiskey and black garlic oil, a vermicelli rice noodle salad and Korean fried chicken bao sliders. The seasonal menu changes frequently, and is posted to their Instagram every week. Follow along at @fullsteamdumpling.
I’ve been a regular at Steamer Lane Supply Co, the little West Cliff Drive snack shack on the edge of Lighthouse Field, for years. Not only does it have one of the best views of any restaurant in the county, located just steps away from its eponymous surf spot, the Lane’s menu covers all the bases, and then some. Despite its small size, the takeout-only restaurant offers a full menu of coffee drinks featuring Westside’s Alta Organic Coffee, housemade baked goods, breakfast items, lunch plates and surf snacks. Owner Fran Grayson, who previously had the Truck Stop food truck, manages to perfectly toe the line between healthy and satisfying while hitting those comfort food buttons, almost always for less than $10.
Over the past few years, I’ve tried and loved almost everything. The breakfast tacos with bright homemade salsa, fresh herbs and avocado, the perfectly greasy weekend smash burgers on a toasted brioche bun and the salmon poke rice bowls with house pickles and seaweed salad have all been past obsessions. But lately I’ve been giving into intense cravings for the Kimchi Dog. Until recently I had overlooked it on the menu, but now I’ve eaten more of them than I should really admit. It’s a delicious amalgam of cultures and textures — a snappy hot dog split open with melted jack cheese and loaded with tangy house kimchi, crumbly queso fresco, pickled carrots and a sesame-ginger mayo. If it sounds like a lot, it is, but I wouldn’t remove a single element because each is integral to creating that harmonious balance of tangy, crunchy, melty and savory. I’m pretty sure it is a perfect food. Go see for yourself everyday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. More info at steamerlanesc.com.
Strolling through the downtown farmers market last week, the scent of citrus stopped me in my tracks. The bright floral aroma radiating from the Brokaw Nursery stand lured me in towards a display of golden fruit — tennis ball-sized Moro Blood Oranges, fluorescent Eureka Lemons, and dainty Daisy Mandarins, small enough to fit in my palm. I zeroed in on the Meiwa Kumquats. My friend once described them as “nature’s Sour Patch Kids,” and the association has stuck with me. When fruit is in peak season, I don’t resist the urge to splurge. For the next day and a half, I indulged in the pure joy of popping whole, perfectly tart-sweet kumquats in my mouth and feeling like a kid again. Next time you’re at the downtown market, stop by and treat yourself.
Mycophiles and fun guys and gals, head over to the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History this Saturday, Feb. 19 for a Mini Fungus Fair. Co-hosted by the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz, this first-ever mini fungus festival boasts many of the same family-friendly activities that normally take over the London Nelson Center every winter. Join local fungiphiles for a display of dozens of species of local mushrooms outside the museum (where the first Fungus Fair launched almost fifty years ago) at Tyrrell Park, plus fungus-forward food from Areparia 831, mushroom products from Far West Fungi, a mushroom ID station and more educational demonstrations. This event is from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. More information at santacruzmuseum.org.
Head up to the Slow Coast Wine Bar, Beauregard Vineyards’s satellite tasting room in Davenport, for a special wild mushroom and wine pairing dinner on Saturday, Feb. 26 from 4:30-8 p.m. The four-course menu, prepared by chef Chad Hyatt, author of ‘The Mushroom Hunter’s Kitchen,’ looks amazing. Wild mushrooms take center stage in all courses, including an entree of cornish game hen with a candy cap mushroom and red wine glaze with morels, and a black trumpet mushroom chocolate cake with huckleberries and walnuts. Enjoy the full menu on its own for $65 ($55 for wine club members) and add a wine pairing of Beauregard wines for $35. Make your reservations now.
Santa Cruz Burger Week returns for a fifth year Feb. 23 through March 1. This companion event to Santa Cruz Restaurant Week shines a spotlight on the humble yet extraordinary burger. Participating restaurants offer burger specials for $10-15, and many aren’t afraid to get creative. For example, this year Betty Burgers is offering a Bettys Banh Mi burger inspired by the Vietnamese sandwich with crunchy pickled carrots, jalapeno, cilantro and Tabasco sauce, and Makai Island Kitchen is topping their burger with kewpie mayo and pineapple-jalapeno chutney. Check out all the burger specials, many of which include non-beef and vegetarian options, at santacruzrestaurantweek.com.