The Nutty Gourmet

dining_nutkreations.ONE.Dining.6.2.KarenPetersenSanta Cruz couple opens a unique nut bar in downtown Santa Cruz

Most nuts make wonderful, healthy snacks packed with protein, fiber, minerals and healthy oils.

At Santa Cruz’s new Nut Kreations, there are plenty of nutty products to pick from.

On my first visit, I was bedazzled and overwhelmed by the selection as I eyed the rows of triangular dishes in the U-shaped glass-fronted display case. Nuts are raw, roasted, spiced or sugared. There are also candied pretzels, chocolate chips and beautiful dried fruit, some of it also seasoned; everything you need to create a signature trail mix or granola. Attractive wall cabinets hold nut roasters, butters, oils, flours, syrups, sauces, extracts, teas, coffees and cookbooks.

For years, the idea for a nut bar has been incubating in the mind of Mina Feuerhaken, who owns Nut Kreations with her soon-to-be husband Brody. Mina, who studied Business Management at UC Santa Cruz and, later, graduate fashion design, has experience in the retail world, and envisioned a store that was truly unique. She also wanted to honor the family business. After all, the California Pistachio was previously named the ohadi after Mina’s Persian family, and the fourth generation continues to grow the nuts in the Central Valley.

For Christmas the couple sold pistachio gift bags to family and friends. After making 200 packages, they believed theredining_nutcreations really was a market. They had planned to get serious about the store after their upcoming wedding, but when the space opened up next to The True Olive Connection, and across from Asana Tea Cafe they knew it was an ideal fit. The need to order business cards prompted Mina to change her surname before the ceremony. To save money the couple painted the floors and walls themselves, and assembled cabinets from Ikea. Paintings on the wall are courtesy of the First Friday Art Tour.

Before introducing myself to the Feuerhakens I ordered a large bag of Kustom Fancy Nut Mix ($9.99 per pound) from Brody, which he scooped to my specifications. The crisp green peas, soybeans and sesame sticks, sweet cranberries and purple yogurt-covered blueberries, bits of pecans and cashews, and Virginia peanuts created a festive, extremely appetizing and addictive ensemble. Ingredients for a Standard Mix ($6.99 per pound) and an Organic Mix ($10.99 per pound) are also available.

Likewise, customers can have the owners assemble custom granola mixes beginning with one of three bases, then choosing six single-ounce embellishments.

The Feuerhakens order small quantities of the ingredients that last perhaps a week, mostly from California farms, to ensure a consistently fresh product. They have a roaster in-house and plan to add a grinder so customers can create nut butters and spreads.

Brody is proud of the nutty fair trade organic coffees which have already received accolades from a trade magazine. Almond and Southern Pecan Pie are just two of the unique flavors.

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