New projects from John Bargetto and Luna Sea Vodka, and travel across the pond with Scrumptious Fish & Chips and Mentone. It’s all here as Lily Belli delivers another scoop of Eaters Digest.
Howdy, friends. If you’re ready to ease into the weekend with an adult beverage, check out the new color-changing vodka from Westside distillery Luna Sea Vodka that turns from blue to purple. In Corralitos, winemaker John Bargetto has launched a new endeavor, Regan Vineyards Winery, that focuses on the diverse grapes from this estate vineyard.
Food truck Scrumptious Fish & Chips has unbeatable fried fish, but I’m also a huge fan of its loaded tikka masala chips — fusion food at its finest, as far as I’m concerned. And although I haven’t traveled overseas in a few years, a simple pizza at Mentone transported me back to Naples.
Mark your calendars for a visit from fermentation wizard Sandor Katz and Home restaurant’s spring garden party, while sip-and-strolls dominate the next two weekends.
Let’s dig in …
Fellow fermentation nerds, listen up: Bookshop Santa Cruz just announced that fermentation guru Sandor Katz is coming to Santa Cruz on June 1 to promote his new book, “Fermentation Journeys.” I’ve been a fan of Katz’s for years — his first book, “Wild Fermentation,” opened the lid on traditional fermented foods and helped inspire a generation of foodies, including myself. His “Art of Fermentation” emboldened me to make sauerkraut for the first time and seeded a deep love for the tangy, the vinegary and the probiotic. It’s been many years since I most recently saw Katz speak, and I’m excited to hear him share new thoughts on this ancient method of food preservation. The Bookshop event is free and open to the public. Proof of vaccination and masking are required. Register at bookshopsantacruz.com.
Winemaker John Bargetto‘s new endeavor, Regan Vineyards Winery, will focus on wines produced from his Regan estate vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Bargetto family has been making wine in Soquel for more than 100 years, and John is part of the third generation of winemakers. He co-owns Bargetto Winery, while his cousins Peter and Paul Bargetto own Soquel Vineyards with John Morgan. Now, John is breaking out on his own to focus on producing wines exclusively from Regan, where he grows pinot noir, chardonnay, merlot and nebbiolo in soil ranging from sand to clay. Guests can experience wine-tasting tours at the vineyard every Sunday for $25 per person. I’ll have more on what to expect next week, after a visit to the Regan and a chat with John this weekend.
Corralitos farmer Ryan Abelson, whom I profiled last month, has restocked his online store with sustainably raised pork roasts, chops, ribs and ground meat. The store is stocked only a few times a year, so order his delicious, ecologically raised pork products while you can at pajaropastures.com. Abelson is the only U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified pork farmer in Santa Cruz County offering individual cuts, and his pork is lean and flavorful. This is the first time he’s taken on his own butchering, and has added chorizo and Italian sausage to his lineup.
Westside distillery Luna Sea Vodka has released a new color-changing vodka that has to be seen to be believed. The liquid poured from the tall bottles is a deep indigo, but with a squeeze of lemon and the swirl of the glass, the vodka changes to bright violet. Distiller Deven Wek explains that both the rich blue color and the magical effect is due to a plant — butterfly pea flower. The tasteless flower naturally dyes the liquid and is also a pH indicator. When an acid, such as citrus, is added, it changes color. The vodka is as refreshing as it is beautiful, so light it almost evaporates off your tongue. Find it at U-Save Liquors, Mission Liquors and Point Market in Santa Cruz and Grady’s Market and Verutti’s in Capitola. This isn’t the only noteworthy announcement from this local spiritmaker. Watch for an upcoming story on Wek and Luna Sea Vodka next week.
Anyone who has spent time in the United Kingdom soon becomes acquainted with its time-honored tradition of the chippy. Fried fish with chips is considered Britain’s national dish, and small family-owned restaurants that specialize in this delicious combo, colloquially known as chippies, can be found in nearly every neighborhood. In Santa Cruz County, we have our own chippy in the form of Scrumptious Fish & Chips, a food truck owned by British expats Helen and Tim Korinth. The feather-light, crispy exterior of their beer-battered fried rockfish or Alaskan cod is a thing of beauty, and the spiced curry ketchup it’s served with is addictive (they wisely sell it by the bottle).
Come for the fish, but stay for the Loaded Tikka Masala Chips, their twice-fried, thick-cut fries topped with homemade chicken tikka masala curry. It’s fusion cuisine at its best and begs to be enjoyed with a cold pint. Find Scrumptious Fish & Chips at farmers markets throughout the county and breweries. See where they’re popping up at scrumptiousfc.com.
I’m still swooning over the margherita pizza my husband and I shared at Mentone last Friday night. One bite of the classic pie and we were transported back to the crowded streets of Naples, to a trip we took right after we got engaged. The pizza was just as we remembered — the bright, sweet tomato sauce with an almost soupy texture; the fragrant dough that was just set in the center; the dark, leopard-like spots on the crust; melted mozzarella that can be contained only by folding the pizza in half; the scent of basil as you take a bite. Enjoying pizza this good is easy, but making it is complicated. Bravo to pizza maestro and Neopolitano Francesco Ramunno.
Wine-tasting sip-and-stroll events are the thing now, apparently. Last weekend, the Pleasure Point Sip and Stroll took over the neighborhood at the end of 41st Avenue, and this Sunday, the Downtown Santa Cruz Spring Wine Walk will take place in the downtown mall from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. More than a dozen local wineries, including Bargetto Winery, El Vaquero Winery and Muns Vineyard will set up shop at participating businesses. This is a good opportunity to check out Big Basin Vineyards’ new downtown tasting room at lower Pacific Avenue, as it os also participating in the event. Tickets are $40 in advance and can be purchased through Eventbrite.
If you want a third dose of wine and walking, hit up the Capitola Village Sip and Stroll next Saturday, May 7, from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are also $40 through Eventbrite. Don’t get me wrong, I see the appeal — who wouldn’t love to enjoy some of our most vibrant neighborhoods with a buzz courtesy of our excellent local winemakers? Remember to drive safely to and from these events, and consider staying for lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants in the area.
Grab your spot now for Home restaurant’s Spring Garden Party next Sunday, May 8, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Regular dining will be closed. Instead, chef Brad Briske and his team will treat guests to a five-course tasting menu featuring their trademark hyper-local seasonal cuisine. This event also will also celebrate the release of a collaboration between Robby Honda of local cidery Tanuki Cider and winemaker Michael Sones of Westside’s Sones Cellars, who have teamed up to create Newtown Noir, a fermented sparkling apple-grape wine. Make your reservation at homesoquel.com.
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