Companion Bakeshop
Dining Reviews

Companion Bakeshop’s Sourdough Secrets

No more excuses for bad baking in Santa Cruz

Companion Bakeshop now offers classes on making breads, pies, pastries and more. PHOTO: COURTESY OF COMPANION BAKESHOP

Mortals rarely master the life-giving art of baking great bread. At least not quite the way the pros at Companion Bakeshop have.

But even amateurs can polish their baking skills to a high gloss by taking one of Companion’s mouth-watering classes, starting with a July 31 Summer Pie Workshop from 5-8 p.m. The very hands-on classes are kept small, 10 to 15 students at most. All are held in the kitchens of Companion’s mothership on Mission Street in Santa Cruz. 

You’ll take your baking skills to another level and learn about ingredients, beautiful presentation, professional techniques, and tricks to create satisfying results. At the Sept. 1 Sourdough Basics class, for example, you’ll not only learn the basics of bread making, but students will take home their own sourdough starter and a loaf of bread as well. (There’s a Jan. 15 sourdough class, too.) The Oct. 5 class builds skills for brunch pastries—galettes, scones, quiche, oh my. November and December classes focus on holiday pies and holiday sugar cookie decorating.

Classes are offered at various times, including afternoons and evenings, so there’s no excuse to avoid becoming a better baker. Cost is $80 and includes a take-home example of the pastry created in class.

companionbakeshop.com/workshopsandevents

Missing in Midtown

It was the opening night of Santa Cruz Shakespeare, and my friends Tom, Ellen and I needed a quick dinner before we drove up to Delaveaga Park. Oyunaa Mongolian Cuisine, with its luscious dumplings, was our choice. We walked to the door only to find that a sudden PG&E power outage had closed Oyunaa’s doors for the next few hours. So we headed for Jaguar, a few doors down Soquel Avenue, only to find that it was also closed—permanently. What is it with Midtown? Why aren’t there more dining choices, and why do the ones that take a stab often fail to succeed? (Big questions, for sure, and ones we’ll be exploring in future columns.) 

We sprinted for Lillian’s and were quickly accommodated. Small table in the bar OK? Yes! Orders taken swiftly, and pasta also arrived quickly—along with those gooey, delicious arancini. Thank god for Lillian’s, always full but somehow able to squeeze in a few more. But seriously, there just aren’t enough choices in this neck of the woods. 

Orin Martin Tells All

Orchard wizard Orin Martin, UCSC’s Alan Chadwick Garden guru, has a new book coming out in late August, Fruit Trees for Every Garden, from 10 Speed/Penguin Random House and written with daughter Manjula Martin. Stay tuned for more about a book celebration Sept. 15 at the UCSC Hay Barn. Orin Martin’s definitive book is available for pre-order now!

bookshopsantacruz.com

M is for Mole

The 7th-annual Mole & Mariachi Festival gets down and spicy on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park. That means Mariachi bands including Mariachi Feminil Orgullo Mexicano, folk dancers, kids’ activities, and the main event: the Mole Tasting Competition. Mole—an unforgettable sweet and savory Mexican sauce, often containing chocolate and sensational on everything from chicken to ice cream—will be available to sample. Tasting kits will be available for purchase; six tasting tickets for $10.

Festival attendees can also purchase a wide variety of mole-inspired food items from local vendors who will be selling tamales, tacos and more at this admission-free, solar-powered, zero-waste community event. 

thatsmypark.org/events/mole-and-mariachi.

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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