Brie, pear and caramelized onion flatbread at VinoCruz
Dining Reviews

VinoCruz: Local Libations Meet Well-Crafted Bites

A happier hour at VinoCruz, plus a yogurt so decadent it moonlights as dessert

The Brie, pear and caramelized onion flatbread at VinoCruz is the perfect sweet-and-savory treat to go with a locally made happy hour libation. PHOTO: KEANA PARKER

Wine tasting is one thing. Wine tasting along with a creative variety of Happy Hour enticements … that’s our idea of a Happier Hour.

If you’re smart enough to check out the intimate VinoCruz tasting room—devoted solely to fine wines made in our Santa Cruz Mountains viticultural region—and if you do so during the 3-6 p.m. Happy Hour, you’ll be deliciously rewarded. How rewarded? Check this out: Tap & Taco Tuesday offers $5 tacos and $2 off beer on tap. Wednesdays during Happy Hour enjoy 25 percent off the Winery of the Month selections (Integrity Wines are this month’s featured premiums). Thirsty Thursday generously gives us 20 percent off all by-the-glass libations—wine, beer and cider! And Flatbread Friday—now a big local favorite event—features half off all of the house flatbread pizzas. Very good house flatbread pizzas, that is. So now you know what you’re doing for your next Happy Hour excursion. I’ve done the thinking—you do the drinking. VinoCruz is located at 4901 Soquel Drive, in Soquel. Open 3-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 3-10 p.m. on Friday; noon-10 p.m. on Saturday and Noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Closed Monday. vinocruz.com.

 

Extreme Cream

Product of the Week: Peak Yogurt. The name says it all. Not just a name, Peak Yogurt is also a description of the product, a yogurt so creamy it makes ice cream taste like skim milk. Think of it as extreme yogurt, yogurt without apologies, yogurt for grownups. How does it do that? This all-organic product made from the milk and cream of pasture-raised cow offers us the unbelievable experience of triple cream content—16-percent milk fat. That’s quite the opposite of “low fat.” If yogurt were a triple-crème Brie—one with extra cream added to bump up its butterfat content—it would be Peak Yogurt. Thick, creamy, with a very clean finish, this San Francisco product fearlessly embraces butterfat content. Peak Triple Cream Yogurt just might be the ultimate experience in yogurt. So thick you could (almost) stand a spoon straight up in a container, Peak Yogurt is currently available for $2.65 at New Leaf Markets. The day I looked for Peak Yogurt, it was available in flavors of Plain and Vanilla. A Strawberry version is also made by the Peak people. The Vanilla version is barely sweet (using teensy amounts of organic cane sugar), impossibly decadent in its creaminess. The Plain version could easily substitute as an organic version of sour cream. You think I’m exaggerating? I invite you to try it for yourself. OK, so there are a few calories involved here. But life’s too short to not indulge in this sensational yogurt. peakyogurt.com.

 

Wine Wanderlust

Make plans to check out the new developments in Aptos Village on June 9 while tasting wines by 10 of our top local wineries. The Aptos Wine Wander concept is cozy; the wines will be poured at a variety of Aptos Village businesses located on Soquel Drive and Trout Gulch Road. Wine Wanderers will be encouraged to walk business-to-business to explore the shops and sample wine. “We are excited to be a part of this whimsical, community-oriented event that draws people into locally owned businesses while showcasing the amazing wines made in our region,” said Mary Gourlay of Barry Swenson Builder, which is developing the Aptos Village Project. The event is 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 9. Proceeds benefit local elementary schools, and tickets (including commemorative glass) are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Essentially, this allows those who have been curious about the ongoing construction in Aptos Village to take a peek, while checking out their favorite existing businesses and sampling some of our best regional wines. scmwa.com.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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