Life Lab
Dining Reviews

Brunch For A Cause With Life Lab

Kids’ gardening nonprofit with roots at UCSC grows nationwide programs


Watching how much fun kids have digging around in the dirt, planting seeds, tending them, and watching actual living plants emerge from their handiwork—nothing beats it.

Setting up outdoor science and gardening projects for K-12 school children is what Life Lab is all about. The incredibly inspiring Life Lab program has seeded itself all over the U.S. in the decades since it started up at the UCSC Farm property. And this Sunday, May 19, from 11 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. at the Life Lab Benefit Brunch, the public is invited to see how the garden grows over at MacQuiddy Elementary in Watsonville.

You’ll enjoy a delicious brunch prepared by Ella’s at the Airport and learn all about the school’s vibrant garden during this free reception. All your questions about Life Lab successes, here and across the country, will be answered. And you might find yourself inspired enough to make a meaningful donation toward planting school gardens in your own community. Put it on your calendar and RSVP at

Ridge Wine Dinner at Persephone

Even in Paris, where the wine bar is set sky high, the name “Ridge” gets respect. One of California’s most esteemed wineries, Ridge and its legendary winemaker Paul Draper set standards that still stand tall. Current winemaker Eric Baugher will be on hand to present some of the recent vintages from this outstanding winery, paired with courses created by chef Cori Goudge-Ayer of Persephone Restaurant.

The Aptos dining room will host the wines of Ridge on June 6 at a five-course winemaker dinner. Uni with favetta on crostada will be joined by an Estate Chardonnay 2017. Other dishes will include duck rillettes with honey kumquats, paired with a Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel 2016. A braised pork belly with cannellini bean puree will be joined by an Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014. And the finale of artisanal cheeses will join a vertical tasting of Ridge Monte Bello from 2014 and 2015 (worth the entire occasion alone!)

6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6. Persephone Restaurant, 7945 Soquel Drive, Aptos. $200/person, all inclusive. For tickets go to

Wine Wander in Aptos

Not that you need an excuse to wander around atmospheric little Aptos Village, but if you do … then consider the June 8 Aptos Wine Wander. The concept is simple. You stop by The Mulberry Gallery at 8050 Soquel Drive to register and purchase your $40 ticket and commemorative glass. Then you continue to explore—uh, wander—and discover a favorite new wine from one of 10 Santa Cruz Mountain Wineries participating: Armitage Wines, Big Basin Vineyards,  Burrell School Vineyards and Winery, Integrity Wines, Lester Estate Wines,  Nicholson Vineyards, Regale Winery, Roudon Smith Winery, Sante Arcangeli Family Wines, Windy Oaks Estate, Wrights Station Vineyard.

Tastings will be offered at Aptos Village businesses located on Soquel Drive and Trout Gulch Road. Proceeds benefit Mar Vista, Rio del Mar and Valencia elementary schools.

Tickets ($35/adv) at

Carrot Cake Correx

I was dreaming when I told you a few weeks ago that the colossal GF Carrot/Walnut mini-torte (from Manresa by way of Verve) costs a mere $4. Wrong. This gossamer, spice-laced piece of heaven is big enough for two and costs, accordingly, $5.50. So pack some extra bucks when you hit your neighborhood Verve in quest of this fabulous pastry. It is a superstar in the gluten-free galaxy.

Westside Gets Vim!

Vim, the new restaurant from chef Jesikah Stolaroff, has opened at the 2238 Mission St., home of the former 831 Vietnamese. Intriguing menu, full bar—welcome to the neighborhood.

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