Felton pumpkins
Dining Reviews

Pumpkin Decorating Bonanza at Felton Farmers Market

Plus seasonal dishes at La Posta and a Paint Night at Sotola

Local kids at last year’s Pumpkin Decorating Bonanza at the Felton Farmers Market. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SANTA CRUZ COMMUNITY FARMERS MARKETS

The Felton Farmers Market hosts its annual Pumpkin Decorating Bonanza on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2:30-6:30 p.m. At this free event—fun for kids and everyone—you can talk with farmers, enter a raffle, take part in a scavenger hunt and enjoy face painting and live music.

The main event features free Rodoni pumpkins ready to be decorated. Veggies, string, pipe cleaners, buttons, googly eyes—use whatever fires your imagination. With more than 25 years under its belt, the Felton Farmers Market is a beloved San Lorenzo Valley fixture. The seasonal market runs May through October, so the last day to enjoy this market is Oct. 30.

Stock up on the season’s organic produce, herbs, eggs, and flowers, plus your favorite local specialty ice creams, coffees, fresh breads, seafoods and pastries.

Seasonal Menu at La Posta

An exceptional dinner last week at La Posta confirmed once again that chef Katherine Stern is a master of seasonal flavors. Stern keeps stride with the expressive trends of the culinary zeitgeist.

An example: in New York several weeks ago, I had noticed the prevalence of wild herbal flavors and sauces (e.g. sorrel and nasturtium) in mains as well as desserts. Stern’s kitchen always seems to be ahead of the curve. Our dinner began with a shared salad of rose-colored chicories, luscious burrata, a few slices of nectarine, a perfect cylinder of yellow beet, and a dusting of toasted pistachios ($13). Early autumn in every bite. The salad was almost too beautiful to consume. But we forged ahead. The contrasting bitter greens, buttery cheese and salty crunch of the pistachios were brilliant together. The tart sweet nectarine played a memorable topnote. Salad that exactly matched the month of October.

To partner our meal, Katya chose a floral/salty Ligurian Vermentino ($12) and I opted for a quartino of the house red, a satisfying light Piemontese Barbera ($12). With our salad, we consumed shameless quantities of the spectacular house breads, especially the addictive walnut dark with lightly salted butter. Also addictive. Katya’s entree of Fogline Farms chicken breast ($28) was stuffed with spinach and ricotta, and presented sliced into plump cylinders on a bed of leeks and crispy roast Brussels sprouts. Crisp buttery bread crumbs were strewn here and there, adding the right texture note to the succulent poultry. My entree was the evening’s special chitarra pasta. Piled high in a robust mound, the pasta had been well tossed with housemade Italian sausage, loaded with fennel, Early Girl tomatoes, and spicy red chiles ($21). A dazzling dish, which is exactly what I expect of La Posta. Dazzling dishes. Especially pasta.

More easy-to-love dazzle came in the form of an apple cornmeal cake ($9). Truly flavors of autumn. The wedge of cake arrived on a pool of fennel crema topped with quince mousse that had been subtly spiked with red wine. Unexpected and resonant flavors combined in each bite. Apple, quince, fennel. A brilliant dish. Kudos to the kitchen of La Posta.

Wine and Paint Night at Sotola Bar & Grill

While you’re sipping wine at Sotola on Nov. 1, from 5-7 p.m., local artist Anastasiya Bachmanova will guide you, step by step, through the creation of your very own original painting. At the end of the night, take home a unique masterpiece—perhaps a one-of-a-kind Christmas gift? Light wine-pairing snacks will be served in addition to the wine.

Sotola—231 Esplanade, #102, Capitola. sotolabarandgrill.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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