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Dining Reviews

Home Restaurant’s Liquid Courage

Putting your money where your marketing is on sustainability

Soquel’s Home Restaurant highlights local, sustainably sourced products in dishes like this Monterey Bay seaweed salad.

So what’s up with the $1 charge for a glass of water at Home Restaurant? A few folks brought it to my attention, and manager/co-owner Linda Ritten explained that it’s part of Home’s high-priority goal to curb water waste and showcase sustainable ingredients. 

“We are adamantly against the wastefulness of importing sparkling water, or even bottled water, period,” Ritten says. “Home has a wonderful and expensive in-house water filtration system, and hence we feel it is fair to charge a mere $1.” 

Ritten admits people have asked why the restaurant doesn’t just tuck the cost of its reverse-osmosis water system in somewhere else, but the restaurant has chosen to be “open and honest about what we charge,” she says.

Besides, the opportunity to discuss the $1 water charge also provides an opportunity to highlight other thoughtful measures taken by the restaurant. “We use 100% recycled, linen-like napkins that are compostable,” Ritten says. “We compost all kitchen scraps. We are no longer importing any octopus, and are committed to using sustainable Monterey Bay and West Coast seafood, buying almost all of our produce from small local farms. We are proud of what we do and serve, and our serious commitment to creating a more sustainable future for our children and their friends.” 

Sounds like the charming restaurant where Brad Briske is chef has given its commitment to sustainability a lot of thought, and I was glad to have Ritten expand on the issue of water. For many of us eco-watchers, water is the final frontier. Kudos! 

Home is open Tuesday-Saturday from 5-9pm at 3101 N Main St., Soquel. 431-6131, homesoquel.com.

Red Tradition

A happy band of university colleagues has enjoyed toasting out the old year at an annual Red Restaurant gathering, in which adult beverages are consumed with gusto. Perfect with the vintage vibe of this former roadhouse, Italian restaurant and, for many years now, cozy and spacious saloon. We never miss the chance to grab the best couches and inhale such specialties as brussel sprout chips with capers and smoked sea salt ($6), those addictive truffle and rosemary fries ($6) and the decadent prosciutto-wrapped asparagus ($9). 

The extensive list of designer international single malts, bourbons and gins is punctuated with a few creative cocktails. Not to miss is the Prince of Darkness ($11) an update of the classic, wicked Negroni. The Prince features Tanquerey, Amaro, Campari, elderflower liqueur, lemon and simple syrup garnished with a grapefruit peel. Um yes. A few of these and you might work up some optimism for the new year.

Red Restaurant & Bar, 200 Locust St., Santa Cruz. 425-1913, redrestaurantandbarsc.com.

A Super Tuscan Bargain

Everybody knows that Shoppers Corner is the Fort Knox of wine treasures, offering the rare, the smart and the affordable in all shades of red, white and pink. And holidays cry out for some special ideas in wine pairing. Thanks to wine buyer/winemaker Andre Beauregard, I tasted something that you’ll want to include on your winter menu. Poggio Antico “Madre” 2014 from Montalcino, near Siena, is a gorgeous blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. At 14% alcohol, it can handle any meat you’d care to consider, but will do just beautifully with holiday pasta, brisket, smoked salmon, or turkey. With its perfect balance of tannins and fruit, this red wine is a rounded cascade of cassis, cherries, stone, and leather with a hint of kumquat on the nose. The long finish is perfumed with bay leaves. It drinks like a $50 bottle of wine, but at Shoppers, it’s yours for just under $30. Hurry and get some while it lasts.

Anti-Product of the Week

Instant Gluten-Free Oatmeal in a little 2oz microwaveable cup from Bob’s Red Mill. Seriously, we gave this stuff a fair shot. Added boiling water, stirred, waited 3 minutes, stirred again, and applied almond milk and demerara sugar. But no. It was not only unpleasant, it was beyond awful! GF oats, chia seeds, flax seed, and sea salt never tasted this bad. Truly terrible. I’ve tasted cardboard that was more delicious. Inedible for around $2.50. 

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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