Avant Garden
Dining Reviews

An Unofficial Start to Summer Foodie Season

New Music Works’ Avant Garden Party fuses food, music, wine

Chef Jozseph Schultz of India Joze will return to this year’s Avant Garden Party. PHOTO: ALEXANDRA CHILDS

The verdant pathways of Robert Eberlee’s gardens offer plenty of green space to spread out. There, on Sunday, June 9, the mesmerizing music of Erik Satie will be interpreted by musicians, singers and artists in honor of the mighty New Music Works. (If you ever took piano lessons, I’ll bet you can hum the opening passages of “Gymnopedie” right now.)

Yes, it’s the ever-fabulous Avant Garden Party, liberally laced with at least a half-dozen works by the French Dada composer performed by such accomplished guest artists as soprano Sheila Willey, pianists Sarah Cahill and Michael McGushin on four-hand piano, Bill Walker’s electric slide guitar, and the experimental jazz of the Poplin/Nichols duo.

For many Garden Party devotées, the piece de resistance is al fresco fare from the hand of master chef and world-wandering culinary surrealist India Jozseph Schultz. To accompany the Satie satays from the wizard of wok, you’ll be able to purchase wine, both various reds and some very special whites. Birichino’s memorable Albariño will be on hand, and an intriguing Gruner Veltliner—one of the few made on the West Coast—from Alfaro Family Vineyards. In addition to fascinating tea ceremonies from the experts at Hidden Peak Teahouse, this year’s party will also offer a silent auction headlined by a South African safari. Be amazed at Dag Weiser’s life-size paper installation of Satie’s Paper Castle sketch, plus a piano relay performance of Satie’s truly strange instrumental chorale. Musical esoterica, including special tributes to Satie in the form of edgy works from John Cage and La Monte Young. If you love Dada—and the spicy appetizers of Jozseph Schultz, or lusty live music performed in a gorgeous garden—this is truly the party that kick starts the summer.

New Music Works’ Avant Garden Party, 2-6 p.m. on Sunday, June 9. $17-$37. newmusicworks.org.

Fresh Favorites

During the initial frenzy, the kitchen at Bad Animal made some choice impressions. For example, a buoyant Mas de Chimeres Grenache from Clin d’Oeil ($11) that is now my current favorite red wine. Also lingering long in our memories is a glass of one of the house bubblies, a Cremant de Bourgogne from the house of Celine and Laurent Tripoz ($14) that was as crisp as it was lively. A substantial portion of paté ($12) was a fragrant homage to everything French, and arrived with cornichons and outstanding (no, really, the best I’ve had in years) bread.

Vim Peek

A spiffy neo-retro interior punctuated by indigo walls and a curved bar makes the new Vim an attractive addition to the Westside. Open less than a month, the small restaurant is still fine-tuning its menu. Attentive service is a big plus. The wine menu—which offers fine local varietals from Storrs, Birichino and Soquel Vineyards—also provided a memorable Italian red, a Marzemino 2015 from Costaripa ($14) with lively balance and welcome tannins.

The top dish of our opening meal at Vim was an entrée of perfectly prepared, plump sea scallops ($34) on a bed of tender cauliflower florets and chard. Grapefruit beurre blanc made a tangy sauce. Hoping to see a larger menu as they move forward, perhaps a green salad or fresh local salmon, and maybe a chicken entrée. Opening a new place involves lots of micro-details, and it takes time to establish a clear identity. More soon.

Vim, 2238 Mission St., Santa Cruz. Dinner nightly 5-9 p.m., until 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Closed Tuesday. vimsantacruz.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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