Charlie Lambert Ocean2Table
Dining Reviews

Santa Cruz’s Sustainable Seafood Outfit Ocean2Table

Why Ocean2Table is gaining more fans every day, plus a tour of almond croissants

Charlie Lambert of Ocean2Table with the catch of the day.

Ocean2Table is a fast-growing entrepreneurial idea that is gaining more fans every day.

The latest offering from this seafood subscription service is rainbow trout from ecologically-sensitive McFarland Springs aqua-farm in Lassen, California—rated a “Best Choice” by Monterey Bay Seafood Watch. I’ve loved finding more and more trout on our local menus and was bummed to discover that Ocean2Table was already sold out a day before the delivery date. So. A word to the wise: If you love your seafood fresh and the offerings varied, get in touch with this sustainable seafood outfit, the dreamchild of foragers Ian Cole and Charlie Lambert, and get on their email list. Do it now! www.getocean2table.com.

 

Puff Pastry Paradise

Every one of us has a guilty pleasure, gastronomically-speaking. And this month, mine is the almond croissant (AKA pain d’amande). Yes, it’s a great way to get through the winter. When, in a reckless mood, I want to treat myself to something absolutely sumptuous that cannot possibly be justified in the Court of Calories, I reach for a creation of multi-layered puff pastry, filled with marzipan, and topped with almonds. Every bakery of note in our region offers its own take on this Parisian staple (god bless the French!), and I’ve done the arduous fieldwork to uncover a lively diversity of styles.

At Companion, for example, the house almond croissant ($4.75) is as close to classic perfection as possible. The Platonic Form of Croissant, if you will. Well-shaped, generously-proportioned, this pastry is lightly filled with almond paste (marzipan), its golden-bronze exterior dusted with sugar and toasted almond slices. It is very, very good. At Gayle’s, where the croissant launched an empire, you can find a serious response to your almond pastry cravings. It is called croissant d’amandes. The gossamer pastry shatters in your teeth as you work your way into a heart of lava-esque marzipan cream. Shaped like a plump crescent moon, it is essentially decadence on a plate. ($3.95). You can throw caution to the winds and hit Verve, where the worthy bakers of Manresa create something worthy of a tryst between Julia Child and Michelangelo. Huge, light, perfect pastry is filled with a gooey, addictively buttery marzipan interior. Opulent to the max (and too large to actually be finished by anyone but LeBron James), this $5.50 monument to oral overload is topped with powdered sugar, sliced almonds and a rosette of marzipan cream. OMG. And yes, it is excessive. Some like it uh, more approachable. And for that, there’s Iveta’s new lovely lighter shade of almond croissant for a rock bottom $3. A slightly denser, moister pastry gently enfolds a hint of marzipan. It is a lovely, non-threatening marzipan creation. Divine with a slick of butter on top. Not too large. LeBron could eat three of these before breakfast.

 

Muns Syrah

The great grape of the Rhone, Syrah, is rarely given a completely starring role in California bottles. But Muns has made the leap and bottled 100-percent Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah grapes into its inky black 2013 Syrah, a wine that could hold its own with anything from Camembert to nuclear fission. We dipped into its earthy depths over dinner of pork chops and garnet yams the other night. If you take your time, you can almost watch this organic creature unfold. Black pepper, leather, ripe cherries, blood, and ultimately blueberry with a top note of chocolate. Not for the faint of heart is this 14.5-percent-alcohol beauty. Try Shopper’s and expand your oeno-palate for a mere $25.

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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