Vine & Dine

Clos LaChance Wines

wine glassPinot Noir 2012

A visit to Clos LaChance, a small, family-owned operation in San Martin, is always a pleasure, especially when the weather is nice. Set in beautiful grounds and gardens, it makes an ideal picnic spot in the spring and summer, and visitors are free to do so with a purchase of their wine. There’s a bocce ball court, too—bring your own balls, or use the ones at the winery.

One wine that knocked my socks off at a recent tasting is the 2012 Murphy’s Choice Pinot Noir (about $38). It’s an impressive blend of hand-picked grapes from vineyards scattered throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. LaChance is the maiden name of Brenda Murphy, who, with her husband Bill, has been the owner of Clos LaChance Winery since 1992.

We took the Pinot to the Jack O’Neill Lounge in the Dream Inn to share with friends over dinner, and almost drank the lot before the appetizers arrived! With its enticing aromas of black cherry, berry and currant, and full-throttle fruit-forward flavors, this well-structured wine is a Pinot lover’s delight. The Dream Inn’s fairly new Jack O’Neill Lounge makes for a rich experience—good food and service with a marvelous ocean view to boot. Named after local surfer legend Jack O’Neill, the upbeat restaurant has a fine display of his personal memorabilia and some terrific old photographs of him, as well. Happy Hour is from 4-7 p.m, Monday through Friday, and food service 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Clos LaChance Winery, 1 Hummingbird Lane, San Martin, 408-686-1050. Clos.com.

Dream Inn, 175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 460-5012.

Electric Kettles

We have a new electric kettle at the Good Times offices, and it’s a beauty. It’s a Chef’sChoice Cordless Electric Hot Pot 675 and is just perfect for boiling water. It has a seamless stainless steel interior and the heating element is never in contact with the water, so there’s no build-up of mineral deposits. Growing up in England, I can attest that practically every household has an electric kettle. But it’s not just for making tea, it’s for boiling water—and, therefore, essential in every kitchen. I use mine many times a day, and can’t imagine living without one. The Chef’sChoice kettle is made by EdgeCraft and sells for $60 at Chefworks, 1527 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-1351.

The Hideout Restaurant

The brand-new Hideout is now up and running in the spot that used to be Ma Maison in Aptos. I went in and met the new owners, Austin Welch and Pete Vomvolakis, who gave me a little tour of their bright and shiny restaurant—complete with an upbeat sports bar area and an abundance of flat-screen TV’s. The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads and more. Welch and Vomvolakis have completely remodeled the inside and it looks beautiful. 9051 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 688-5566. Thehideoutaptos.com

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