Lily Belli on food: Santa Cruz coffee shoes, the return of reusable items and the move from downtown Big Basin

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…Don’t forget your cup of coffee the next time you visit your favorite cafe: Under a new ordinance, you can get 25 cents off—or be assessed 25 cents if you forget. Starting today, we will once again be able to bring reusable containers and cups to restaurants and cafes in the city of Santa Cruz, and the city encourages us to do so. It’s one of many pro-environment laws that were meant to come into effect in 2020, before COVID turned everything upside down. Instead, our common fear of touching things has suspended implementation, forcing restaurateurs to pivot in the opposite direction and exclusively use take-out containers to help prevent the spread of infection. This new “update” to the ordinance discourages businesses from using take-out containers and utensils and encourages them to use washable plates, forks and the like or allow customers to bring their own. The growing demand for take-out containers has left businesses frustrated with high costs and limited availability, and many will no doubt appreciate the cost-savings benefits, as well as the environmental benefits. The move puts Santa Cruz on the same course as other locations like Berkeley, San Mateo, Daly City and Half Moon Bay, according to Leslie O’Malley, the city’s waste reduction officer. Need napkins, condiments and more when ordering takeout? Remember to let your delivery driver know if you do; to avoid waste, you must now ask. Or, better yet, bring your own…

Lily Belli, Lookout Food & Drink Correspondent

…Last week, I got a glimpse of Big Basin Vineyards’ new satellite tasting room on Lower Pacific Avenue, which is slated to open in the coming weeks. Big Basin Vineyards produces award-winning European-style wines from its own vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains and other select local vineyards. Now we can taste them without walking to his winery outside of Boulder Creek. Owner Bradley Brown and tasting room manager Emilie Choinsky showed me around the space now that construction is winding down and decorating, stocking, and employee training are ramping up. Once opened, visitors are delighted. The bar, made from harvested curly redwood, dominates the space, and Brown’s own photographs of local redwoods, vineyards, and beaches will decorate the walls. Outside, a terrace can accommodate 30 to 40 people and has two fire pits. A hearty snack menu, including cheeses sourced from Tasting House in Los Gatos and a chef-prepared red wine-infused beef stew Brad Briske at Home, will fill guests’ bellies as they taste through Big Basin’s collection of organic wines from the Santa Cruz estate and mountains. The Tasting Room is located on the ground floor of a new apartment building and sits at the crossroads of the wharf, beach boardwalk, and downtown Santa Cruz. Its opening represents a push to link the commercial and tourist centers of the city into a continuous corridor with a six block redevelopment areaincluding the first in the city center hotel grand opening in 90 years, planned in between. And Big Basin won’t be alone – Brown has revealed Westside Bakery Ivéta is opening a second location across from its patio. Iveta’s new location will serve lunch and dinner, and the menu will feature favorites from its Westside location as well as Italian-inspired additions, craft beer, wine and ice-wine cocktails -” our version of an Italian sidewalk café”, owner John Bilanko tell me. Stay tuned for a deeper dive into what we can expect to see in the new tasting room and an opening day announcement…

Big Basin Vineyard Tasting Room on lower Pacific Avenue.

(Via Big Basin Wineries)

…Skateboarding and craft coffee collided last week in an exciting, high-profile collaboration. Santa Cruz-based coffee company Cat & Cloud has teamed up with DC Shoes to release a limited-edition pair of shoes. If you skateboard, you know DC Shoes, and even if you don’t, you probably know someone who wears them. The Huntington Beach-based company, founded in 1994, has its own professional skateboard, snow, motorcycle and surf teams. DC Shoes has also collaborated with the groups Black Sabbath and AC/DC, the TV show “Bob’s Burgers” and the estate of American graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Collaboration Provides National Exposure to Our Santa Cruz Coffee Scene and Cat & Cloud Entrepreneurs Chris Bacawho worked in the skateboarding industry before turning to coffee, Jared Truby and Charles Jack. The gray and white shoes are $60 and feature Cat & Cloud’s signature colors of pink and teal on the bottom sole and its logo on the insole. Interestingly, the material is infused with recycled coffee grounds. Why? They increase air-drying time, absorb odors and reflect UV rays, explains the cobbler. The shoes are available at dcshoes.com.

Image of Cat & Cloud's exclusive shoe.

Cat & Cloud exclusive DC shoe.

St. Patrick’s Day is a week from Thursday, and although we will soon mark two years since the lockdown began on March 15, 2020, COVID cases are down, and with any luck from the Irish we may actually celebrate this year. This week, Friday Summary of eaters will tell you where to go for a pint of Guinness, grab some corned beef and brag about your Irish heritage, however distant.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Local chef Jessica Yarr celebrates her Ukrainian heritage through her pop-up, Chicken Foot. Last week, she hosted the first in a series of fundraising events for relief efforts in Ukraine. If you missed it, don’t worry — there’s more to come, including a collaboration with former Tartine baker Jennifer Latham in April. Learn more about Jessica here.

THE NUMBER

1 — The number of farms growing asparagus locally, according to Nesh Dhillon, executive director of Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets. Visit the Clearview Farm stalls at the downtown Santa Cruz and Aptos Farmers Markets for organic asparagus grown in Gonzales.

THE QUOTE

“There is a growing movement to plant agave in California, which provides a unique opportunity for farmers to transition to drought-tolerant agriculture.” – Sean Venus of Venus Spirits, on using California-grown agave in a new agave spirit to be published this week.

A QUICK REQUEST

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LIFE WITH THE BELLIS

As you read this, my family will be enjoying a little winter vacation north of Lake Tahoe and hopefully lots of fresh snow. We rented a house with five other friends, plus three other children all under 4 and two dogs. Is this madness? We will find out. Marco will be experiencing snow for the first time, and Mike and I can’t wait to wrap him up like a marshmallow and go sledding in the back yard. While there is certainly a lot of chaos, we look forward to great laughs, tender moments and, after the kids are in bed, good wine, food and board games.

THIS WEEK, I SIGN UP…

… to the exceptional in the field newsletter, so I don’t miss its ticket release on March 20 for its spring and summer events. Last week he shared his list of dates and locations, and nine events are planned for the Central Coast this summer, including two in Soquel at Everett Family Farm and one in Watsonville at Lonely Mountain Farm. I let out a scream when I saw an event in Murphys, California – my small hometown of just 2,000 people in the Sierra foothills. I can’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy one of those legendary dinners in Santa Cruz where I grew up!

THIS WEEK, I’M LISTENING…

…Goodles, Santa Cruz Boxed Mac and Cheese Innovators, have curated several playlists on Spotify, and they are awesome. The new playlist Mixtape March, delivers high-energy mashups and remixes, and it’s perfect for whenever you need to really amp up. In fact, it’s my new favorite running playlist – great for listening while you work on all that delicious pasta.

FOOD NEWS TO READ

Welcome to the NFT restaurant boom (Eater)
‘We will be heard’: California could grant fast-food workers unprecedented power (The Guardian)
A preview of EcoFarm 2022 and an interview with Mark Arax (edible Monterey berry)

Thanks for reading! Have a good week.

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