Treats on Beach Street

dining_picnicbaskethpI remember fondly our family picnics at various local beaches. Nothing ever tasted as good as the sandwiches my mom made on her blanket in the sand with freshly sliced sourdough bread, salami, cheese, tomatoes and dill pickles. Were they marvelous because of impending hypothermia, or because they were healthy and freshly made?

The Picnic Basket, a new endeavor by the folks at Penny Ice Creamery, brings a fresh and healthy taste of Santa Cruz to Boardwalk-area visitors. The menu includes food products from a venerable local list of who’s-who, with an emphasis on sustainability.

For breakfast ($3 to $8), begin with organic, brick oven breads and pastries from Mission Street’s Companion Bakers, or hot cereal from the 70-year old South San Francisco mills of Giusto’s Specialty Foods. You’ll find all-natural bacon or ham from the family farms of Niman Ranch, Heidi Schlecht’s Santa Cruz Plumline organic jams, and sweet and savory turnovers made in-house.

For lunch ($3.50 to $10) there are hot dogs from the Westside’s El Salchichero served with organic sauerkraut from Portrero Street’s Farmhouse Culture’s sauerkraut, Rib King’s naturally raised, apple wood-smoked Pulled Pork, lemon-roasted chicken Picnic Salad made with Mary’s free range air-chilled chicken from the San Joaquin Valley, and the Daily Grain salad with wheat berries from Pescadero’s Pie Ranch.

On one foggy morning, the bread pudding wasn’t yet ready, so I enjoyed a fabulous parfait ($5) with chunky fruit preserves, crunchy house-made oat granola with dried fruit and almonds, and the most clean-tasting, tart, creamy, plain yogurt, made without preservatives by Penny Ice Creamery. A cup of Verve coffee ($2.75) joined a mounded, cinnamon-scented strawberry scone ($2.50), light and crumbly with a sugar-sprinkled top.  | KP

The Picnic Basket, 125 Beach St., Santa Cruz, 204-2523. Beer and wine coming soon. Open daily from 8 a.m. until midnight. Visit facebook.com/thepicnicbasketsc

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