The fourth annual May Flower Festival and Feast on May 27 benefits the aromatic work of the College of Botanical Healing Arts, which is dedicated to research in plant-based medicine. This year’s festival happens up at the hummingbird-intensive UCSC Arboretum.
The culinary skills of the Teen Kitchen Project, working with chef Rebecca Mastoris, will create a vegetarian essential oil infused cuisine to stimulate the senses. In keeping with the intriguing gardens and flowering vistas of the never-better Arboretum, the event’s menu will offer a menu filled with edible flowers such as nasturtiums, borage, lavender, and pansies. It sounds like the sort of menu that would have pleased Shakespeare and other Elizabethan pleasure-seekers from long-ago gardens and far-away feasts. Eating a garden on a plate, while actually surrounded by a garden, makes a sort of surrealist magic, and also takes full advantage of the vivacious new developments up at UCSC’s surprising collection of rare plants. Mastoris, a wizard of vibrant menus featuring seasonal ingredients, regularly caters events at Live Earth Farms and is thinking along these lines. A main dish lasagna of stuffed Portobello mushrooms with preserved lemon will be joined by a side of garlicky kale with pine nuts, currants, lemon, and pickled onions. Dessert of lavender honey tea cakes will round out this late spring menu. The fourth annual Flower Festival unfolds on Sunday, May 27 from noon to 5 p.m., and the meal will be joined by live jazz and bossa nova classics by Trio Passarim. There will be demonstrations and a garden walk, plus the chance to savor an essential oil blending bar, as well as a silent auction. Guest speaker Karl Maret, M.D. is an expert on developments in the field of subtle energy medicine. This is a lot of sensory wisdom, experimentation, and enjoyment for $100 per person ticket. To purchase, go to cobha.org or call 462-1807.
Wine of the Week
Versatile to the max is the Altocedro Malbec 2016 currently sitting pretty on the Gabriella wine list ($30). We split a bottle at Easter dinner, and the deep crimson wine from the splendid province of Mendoza proved a sensitive partner to duck, lamb and fish. Yes, that’s what I said. Graced with enough tobacco, leather, and mystery spice to handle the red meats, this Malbec was restrained enough to allow the soft perfume of rock cod to expand. Give it a try at your next visit to Gabriella. I’m betting that whatever you order, this wine will do the trick.
Dessert of the Week
Strawberry Cheesecake, also at Gabriella. When you’re hot, you’re hot. The impact of absolutely perfect fresh strawberries topping a barely sweet, very light cheesecake sided with whipped cream, mint and candied hazelnuts, well, you can imagine. Tasting even better than it sounds, this Easter week dessert created by pastry chef Krista Pollack was itself miraculous. You know those times when you say to yourself, dammit, I’m an adult and I can skip the main course and just eat dessert? Well, for those times, there’s the pastry menu at Gabriella Cafe. Trust me.
Homeless Activism Soupline
Here’s a fundraiser we can all endorse. On Thursday, April 19, join the community enjoying a meal of specialty soups, salads, artisan breads and desserts created by more than 50 of our best restaurants. Local community leaders will be on hand to serve up these always unusual and delicious specialty soups. The supper runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Boardwalk’s Cocoanut Grove. Last year’s event helped to raise more than $80,000 to help those in need find safe and permanent homes. $20-$50. souplinesupper.org.