Silvia Prevedelli of Prevedelli Farms in Watsonville.
(Via Prevedelli Farms)
Food & Drink

Eaters Digest: Berries at Prevedelli Farms

Lily Belli brings you her recommendations for what to eat in Santa Cruz County, along with a weekly guide to the most important food and drink events in the area. She’ll also point you to Lookout’s list of area food guides and the best in food news.

Hello again! I returned at the end of June after taking a four-month break to have a baby. Now, Cecilia is a bouncing, thriving 3-month-old, and I am brimming with new story ideas to bring to you, our Lookout readers. Thank you to contributing writers Jessica M. Pasko, Laura Sutherland and Ashley Spencer who have shared stories while I’ve been on parental leave, keeping you up to date on the world of Santa Cruz food.

We’ve rethought this Friday Eaters Digest column as we begin anew. It is retooled and geared to your Santa Cruz County weekends. Each week, Eaters Digest does three things for you. First, I’ll highlight a single dish or drink worth seeking out. Second, I’ll share the most important food and drink events in the area — and our growing list of area food guides on everything from farmers markets to the Corralitos wine trail. Third, I’ll catch you up on Lookout’s and other food stories that you may have missed.

And you now get Eaters Digest delivered as a free newsletter via email, as well as on our website. So you’ll now get two newsletters from me each week. Eaters Digest on Fridays and Lily Belli on Food on Tuesdays. Thanks for reading!

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Eat This: Berries at Prevdelli Farms

Many consider the tomato to be the star of summer fruits; others can’t let the season go by without peach nectar dripping down their arm, or shucking corn outside while the grill gets hot. But to anyone who grew up carefully navigating bramble bushes in boots and long pants in the heat of July and August, nothing beats the intense, sweet floral flavor of blackberries.

To us — I consider myself a member of this group — the mass-produced berries available in a plastic clamshell at the grocery store are a poor, watery imitation. If that’s your only experience with them, then you haven’t really tasted them at all.

Prevedelli Farms in Watsonville is one of the very few family-run farms left in Santa Cruz County that grow cane fruit like blackberries, and one of the only ones growing specialty hybrid berries that you’d never find in a store or on a roadside berry bush. They are the only growers of organic tart-sweet olallieberries, common countywide half a century ago but now mostly torn out due to delicate fruit that bruises easily when picked and transported. Prevedelli also grows rosy, raspberry-like loganberries, plump, tangy boysenberries and golden raspberries.

The flavors of these berries will transport you to your happiest, most idyllic summer memories, but the berries themselves don’t travel well. Pretty much the only journey they can successfully make in their fresh state is from the farm to the farmers market and straight into a mouth. And their availability is very limited — the olallieberries made a brief appearance at the farmers market in mid-July, but Silvia Prevedelli, the matriarch of the Prevedelli family, was doubtful that they’d have enough of a crop to bring to future markets. Each thimble-sized berry must be picked by experienced hands, which is an expensive endeavor, she explains. And the heat expected to come this week could mean trouble for the tender, perfectly ripe boysenberries — some might fry on the vine.

Boysenberries from Watsonville's Prevedelli Farms.
(Via Prevedelli Farms)

So consider this your sign to “run, don’t walk” to either the Saturday morning market at Cabrillo College, the Wednesday afternoon market in downtown Santa Cruz or their Friday farm stand to score on Prevedelli’s precious organic berries before it’s too late. You can also order flats through their website. My advice: Give yourself permission to splurge on what seems like too many baskets and eat them by the handful like you used to when you were a kid. Feed them to your own children until their hands and faces are stained purple. Maybe you’ll be inspired, like my husband was when I came home with six baskets of berries, to bake a pie — for the first time in his life. Of course, it turned out phenomenal — a true slice of summer.

375 Pioneer View Rd., Watsonville. 831-724-9282.

Best of the Weekend

Hop N Barley, the only locally run beer festival in Santa Cruz County, is back for its 13th year. On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than 35 craft beer breweries and cideries will take over Skypark in Scotts Valley for a sun- and suds-filled afternoon of brew tasting. Local soul cover band Harry & the Hitmen headline a lineup of six musical acts, and food trucks and lawn games round out the day. Tasting tickets, which include a wristband, a 5-ounce tasting glass and endless refills, are $50 at A portion of the proceeds benefit the Homeless Garden Project. Kids and dogs are free.

Celebrate creativity and local wine at Bargetto Winery’s 34th annual Art & Wine Festival at the tasting room in Soquel this Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. More than 30 artists and food artisans will have their products on display. Guests can come and enjoy the art and live music free of charge — the Paperback Ryders play on Saturday and Alex Lucero plays on Sunday – but purchase a tasting ticket for $20 to enjoy some of Bargetto’s best wines that they’re opening for the occasion.

Friday, July 14

Saturday, July 15

Sunday, July 16

Wednesday, July 19

Can’t Miss City Guides

News from the Week

From Soquel to Pajaro, fundraisers put the focus on farms, farmworkers (Lookout)
At New Leaf, a foray into self-checkout and a move in Capitola (Lookout)
San Jose’s biggest-ever Dine Downtown event offers deals at 47 restaurants, coffeehouses and more (Mercury News)
10 new Bib Gourmand restaurants join the 2023 Michelin Guide California (Michelin Media)
Kristen Kish will replace Padma Lakshmi as host of “Top Chef” (Eater)

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