Beth Love House vegan cooking workshops Santa Cruz
Dining Reviews

Cookbook Author Beth Love Teaches Plant-Based Creations

A ‘Raw Vegan Coolinary’ workshop, plus dry-farmed tomatoes and Mole and Mariachi Festival

Beth Love prepares for a hands-on workshop at her home. PHOTO: KEANA PARKER

We’ve all been eating with our hands since we were toddlers. And many of us still love to do it, hence the popularity of the wrap and all of its siblings. Innovative culinary teacher and cookbook author Beth Love thinks outside the pita when she dreams up her unexpected recipes and designs for wrapped foods, homemade crackers and unexpected dipping strategies.

“When people reach for some type of wrapper or cracker,” says Love, “they often choose foods made with unhealthy ingredients such as refined flour, saturated fats, sugar, high levels of salt, and chemical additives.”

So she aims for the new and different in the next of her hands-on vegan workshops: “Crackers, Wrappers, and Dippers: Raw Vegan Coolinary.” “I teach people how to make delightfully tasty plant-based creations out of fiber-rich, healthy ingredients such as carrots, dark leafy greens, flax and sunflower seeds, and lemons.”

Love says she aims to stimulate new ideas and variations on familiar spreads, flavors, and wrap techniques through her workshop, and while she’s at it she hopes to inspire her participants to choose tasty but good-for-us items, rather than the all-too-easy carb and fat-laced alternatives. For example, she’ll be teaching participants how to make raw seed and veggie crackers, as well as use various tart and tangy leaf wrappers to fill with goodies.

“One of the major motivations for my class topics is my intent to make healthy, plant-based food accessible to as many people as possible,” Love explains. “So a number of my classes offer alternatives to some of the unhealthiest foods people eat.” She also listens to people’s excuses for not eating healthier foods and tries to address those in her classes. “And of course I create classes based upon demand. When enough people tell me how much they love something I make, I create a class around it.”

Her workshop will include a tasting “party” with all ingredients and equipment provided. And Love will send participants home with information about dehydrating, soaking and spreading to achieve intriguing wrappers. If you care about great flavors that maximize the benefits of whole plant foods, Crackers, Wrappers, and Dippers: Raw Vegan Coolinary is for you. To register for this Sept. 9 class (2-6 p.m.; $75, children under 14 free.)

Unsavory O’Mei

After having enjoyed so many fine meals at O’Mei restaurant over the years, I find it sad indeed to see its doors close as a consequence of the unapologetic support of a white supremacist on the part of its owner Roger Grigsby. It is impossible for me, or anyone, to condone Grigsby’s racist actions. That Grigsby is a skilled and highly educated restaurateur makes this situation ironic.

Fruit of the Week

The Italians call them pomodori, but I call them late-harvest, dry-farmed tomatoes and right now, this very minute, is their zenith. Whether you like to cruise the farmers markets for the freshest seasonal produce, check out the UCSC Farm and Garden Cart, or the irresistible displays at your favorite grocery, this is the time to sink your teeth into the ripest, most sweet and succulent tomatoes you’ll get all year. Feast!

Wine of the Week

I discovered the outrageous Morgan 2014 Pinot Noir 12 Clones at a recent Pizzeria Avanti dinner (they’ve enhanced their menus recently and the new wine list is quite appealing). From Santa Lucia Highlands grapes, this 13.8-percent alcohol beauty offers well-balanced helpings of spice, cassis, plums and star anise. A lively and complex Pinot. $32 at New Leaf.

Event of the Week

Yes, we love the salsa-intensive Mole & Mariachi Festival coming to the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park once again from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 9. You know what to expect—lots of different mole sauces to vote for and taste, plus beer, wine, food, piñatas, music, dancing and a mega-raffle. Free admission. Bring your appetite!

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