Vinocruz has returned! Which is great news for those of us who loved combing around the former wine shop specializing in wines made right here in our own Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. The new owners, Jordan Iversen and Matt Schofield, have finished jumping through all of the regulatory hoops and will open the wine shop this week—in a new location, at the corner of Soquel Drive and Main Street in greater metropolitan Soquel.
“We wanted to retain what made Vinocruz special in the first place: A focus on Santa Cruz Mountains wines,” Iversen says, but adds that Vinocruz needs to evolve.
“So we changed the business model to allow for a huge selection of wines by the glass (30-plus) and the option to taste Reserve wines that would normally only be available by the bottle, using the Coravin wine system,” he says. This is very exciting news to fans of locally made premiums. “We also wanted to add local beer, cider and wine on tap, something that was not previously available,” Iversen adds.
Chef Anthony Kresge, industry veteran and opening chef for Sotola, will be providing a choice tasting menu. “With a focus on local, we are trying to bring everyone a true taste of the Santa Cruz Mountains,” Iversen says. Stop by and welcome them back. vinocruz.com.
Oh My, O’mei
“Turns out that after studying the new lease extended to me that we have decided to not go with this opportunity. Because of this, O’mei closed permanently this past week,” Karl Cook emailed me on Monday.
The O’mei chef and manager of 15 years who had hoped to take over ownership, also thanked “the individuals who reached out to me did so in a very supportive way.” Grateful for all of the community support during a difficult time, Cook says he has not made any firm decisions as to his next move. “There is a good chance that you’ll see me offering ‘O’mei-style’ food here in Santa Cruz in the future.”
New Winter Hours for Downtown Farmers Market
Fans of the fresh and seasonal will want to note fall/winter hours for the Downtown Farmers Market. Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 8, the operating hours will change to 1-5 p.m. This means an earlier opportunity for the lunch break crowd to check out the market action before it grows dark (yes, winter is coming up). It’s true there is less of the flashy opulence of summer produce happening right now in the market, but think of the deep and earthy flavors coming up as the sun slides lower in the sky. I’m talking about beta carotene! Yes, that would include orange carrots, red (and yellow) beets, and deep green kales, chards, and of course our local hero—Brussels sprouts. As the temperature cools, many herbs, chicories and lettuces pop up in the market. This is their time to shine. And it’s the season for persimmons and pomegranates for salads and tea breads. Did I mention pumpkins? They’re not just for carving. Get ambitious and try making your own pumpkin pie from scratch this year, starting with organic pumpkins from the Farmers Market. And this is the last week for UCSC Market Cart at the foot of campus—the last day is Oct. 27. Until next year.
Dessert of the Week
It came together just by chance, this delicious juxtaposition of flavors. We bought fresh blackberries, small oatmeal cookies, and a container of crème fraîche, tinged with Madagascar vanilla from Vermont Creamery. Our hosts, Jim and Lisa, suggested perhaps some ice cream? Maybe strawberry ice cream? So, in a classic DIY moment, I boldly put some of each of these ingredients on our little dessert plates. We all went for it, and found ourselves amazed by how these flavors and textures worked together. The special discovery was the pairing of the cool, sweet strawberry ice cream with the pungent, delicately sour flavor of the crème fraîche. Cool and warm, fruit and cookie—almost everything you want in a dessert experience on a single plate. These are ideas you can try with whatever you have in your own kitchen—contrast of textures, sweet and sour, make the heart of a memorable sensory experience. Trust me.