Food What?!
Food & Drink

Al Fresco Benefit Dinner for Local Nonprofit Food What?!

Plus local beer and wine now available at Malabar, and an accolade for Happy Dog Hot Dog cart

Doron Comerchero, executive director of Food What?!, which empowers local youth through education around sustainable agriculture and health. PHOTO: KEANA PARKER

Planning ahead matters even more as the last months of summer speed by. I want you to mark your calendar for Sept. 30 and plan to join adventurous diners in meeting some remarkable young growers. The event is the Fall Benefit Dinner celebrating Food What?!’s latest crop of proactive members.

The dinner’s theme is “Youth Voice,” and believe me, you’ll hear a lot of youthful enthusiasm, personal stories, and inspirational anecdotes. The FoodWhat?! movement helps local young people transition into their futures armed with confidence and a fresh toolbox of skills centered around growing and preparing food. The outdoor dinner happens under the redwoods at the Santa Cruz Mission State Park from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Some of the youth crew recruited and mentored by Executive Director Doron Comerchero and his capable team will share their stories, as you enjoy a meal they’ve prepared working with local chefs from el Salchichero, Oswald, Penny Ice Creamery, and My Mom’s Mole. This justly popular dinner will fill up fast, so make your reservations now. No cost, just a request for support at the end of the evening.

Top Dog

Congratulations to our very own Happy Dog Hot Dog cart, getting the nod in the “Money” section of Time magazine as one of the top 10 Hot Dog concessions in the country. Owner Daniel Aguirre, and his straightforward trio of beef hot dog, Polish sausage, and Corralitos sausage have caught the eye of locals, and national critics as well. Must be all that homemade mustard.

Malabar Excitement

Culinary shaman Raj Weerasekara has been making incredible and complex dishes at Malabar for many years. But now you can also order local premium beer and wine to pair with his brilliant housemade specialties—the curries, koftas, and kormas! A chilled white wine, or an ice-cold beer might be just the perfect partner to honor such gorgeous Asian vegetarian fare. The mere thought of enjoying a glass of wine with Weerasekara’s outrageous Mee Goreng has me dashing for the door, en route to Malabar. Dinner daily, except Monday. Malabar Restaurant, 514 Front St., Santa Cruz.

Wine of the Times

Winemaker Richard Alfaro is nothing if not passionate about the wines from his Alfaro Family Vineyards. He will be bringing that passion, and some rustic tales of life on his equally rustic Corralitos estate on Thursday, Aug. 23, to Persephone Restaurant in Aptos. The chef at the attractive Aptos dining room will prepare a five-course meal to accompany Alfaro’s guided tasting of Lester Pinot Noir, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Trout Gulch Chardonnay, Bates Ranch Cabernet Franc, and a Cremant de Corralitos. Chatting starts at 6 p.m., dining begins at 6:30 p.m. $120/non-inclusive. Phone Persephone for reservations: 612-6511.

Red Wine Pro Tip

You know it’s been hot. And you know what warm temperatures do to wine. Not a pretty picture. So! Time to break the rules. Stash that bottle of house red—in our case these days, a Grenache from Birichino—in the refrigerator. Do not even think of pouring it until it’s been chilled for at least an hour. Alex Krause may not speak to me again for suggesting this, but then again … he might. Room temperature, at which we have all been taught to serve red wine, really means “room temperature in the subterranean cellar of a 17th century French chateau.” In other words, the exact temperature the bottle of wine will achieve after one hour in your refrigerator. Your tastebuds will thank you for this, and the wine itself will open nicely. Meanwhile it will be a most refreshing antidote to the warm evenings of August. Or September.

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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