It was a lunch review that was not to be. No place to park! We drove a circle ’round it thrice (apologies to Coleridge)—the downtown of Santa Cruz that is—but between the endless orange cones of city work crews and my hobbled post-surgery right foot, found no parking spots within walking distance, and decided to cut our losses and head back toward home. The Westside New Leaf was on our radar for some emergency lunch supplies. And when we got back home we laid out an intriguing array of found foods, starting with a custom green smoothie called Green Gardens. From two containers of Shakti Indian entrees ($7.99 each)—liberated from New Leaf’s very well-stocked deli shelves—we piled our plates with saffron rice, intense spinachy palak paneer, a thick dahl, and a lentil coconut curry studded with spiced carrots, cauliflower and peas. We applied a bit of microwave heat, a dash of Patak’s Hot Mango Chutney and a splash of Sriracha. Don’t be afraid to customize whatever you grab from the brimming deli section—make it your own! Jack added a side helping of his favorite Epicurean Solutions curried tofu with cashews and currants ($4.50)
Fresh organic cherries, at their absolute dark crimson peak, created our dessert. And the emerald green health drink, loaded with celery, ginger, lemon, kale and cucumber, was a serious thirst-quencher ($7). Our super veggie lunch items made an outstanding alternative to the sandwich. But I’m still hoping to get to my downtown destination sometime in the next few weeks. I might need to re-think transportation options into the very heart of Santa Cruz. Parking is a major challenge just now. (I will not be using one of those red motorized bikes!) Stay tuned!
Happy second anniversary to Paul Figliomeni’s Pour Taproom, made even better these days thanks to the inventive in-house Surf City Kitchen pub menu created by chef Anthony Kresge (whose talent has fueled Shadowbrook’s kitchen and, more recently, started up Sotola Grill & Bar in Capitola.) Figliomeni opened Soquel’s Surf City Sandwich in 2015, and has now stepped in to collaborate with the downtown home of countless beers on tap. 110 Cooper St., Santa Cruz. Food and beer daily from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and until 9 p.m. Sunday.
Hula’s Island Grill serves lunch daily except for Monday. It opens at 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, just in time for those tempting Happy Hour drinks and pupus of Mahalo Monday.
Product of the Week
Glutino brand makes some tasty gluten-free products. And our new favorite is a surprisingly delicious English muffin with luscious mouthfeel. The multi-grain is the best, but even the plain vanilla version (that’s a metaphor: it’s actually a blend of tapioca and rice flours) is excellent too. Of course the whole point of the English muffin is its texture, and that’s where gluten-free breads and pastries are often most challenged. Glutino’s muffins offer an appealing texture, slightly chewy, tender, and in the case of the multi-grain variety, loaded with something close to crunch, thanks to flax seed, sunflowers seeds, brown rice, and millet flour. No one would ever mistake these for the real deal, but they make a very nice platform for lots of butter and jam over a cup of serious Italian roast coffee. Not exactly cheap—roughly $1 per muffin, i.e., $6 per six-pack. But if you are avoiding gluten, these babies are like a hit of pure oxygen, a jolt of actual flavor and texture. In other words, they are worth every penny. We keep some in our freezer 24/7. Available everywhere.