Dining Reviews

Toasting the Year’s End with Takeout Libations and Special Treats

Plus, treats galore for food lovers at Two Birds Books

The cookbooks and books about food at Two Birds Books provide wonderful holiday gift ideas. PHOTO: COURTESY DENISE SILVA

Book lovers Denise Silva and Gary Butler have given us a wonderful holiday gift: a new independent bookstore, Two Birds Books

For food lovers there are treats galore on the well-stocked shelves of this cozy shop. From the vintage—Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer, that has seen three generations through the basics of memorable dishes—to the latest bestsellers, Two Birds has an impressive inventory. If, like me, you often salivate over Mark Bittman’s step-by-step recipes in the New York Times, you will want to consider How to Cook Everything, Bittman’s mighty compendium of simple recipes for great food, or Modern Comfort Food from food goddess Ina Garten. 

They also have books about food, such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma and everything else that Michael Pollan has written. Quick, make a phone call to order or rush over to grab a cookbook gift for the foodie on your list. 

881 41st Ave., Santa Cruz. Open 10am-6pm, with limited capacity and curbside pickup. 831-900-5588, twobirdsbooks.com

Looking Ahead

If there’s ever been a year’s end worth celebrating, it’s this one. Toasting out the wretched 2020 is a requirement for stabilizing what’s left of our sanity, so I recommend you make plans now for the appropriate New Year’s Eve libations and special food treats. Given the current reality, it looks like your favorite items from Lupulo will be available on NYE at the corner of Cathcart and Cedar for takeout. Check the Facebook page of the lively craft brewhouse for details. 

Gabriella Cafe will be offering its regular menu, plus specialty small plates featuring Dungeness crab, oysters and champagne for New Year’s Eve. Reminder that Gabriella’s menu is stocked with delicious comforts such as the house focaccia, the seriously wonderful duck leg confit, Pacific halibut and a dreamy persimmon pudding with pomegranates and whipped cream. All of it fit for a rousing send-off to the strangest year in living memory. 

At Soif, you can pick up a Christmas Eve Dinner featuring either stuffed squab or prime rib, with Buche de Noel, and appetizers for $75 per person. May be picked up between 11am and 1pm on Dec. 24. And it’s not too early to think about Soif’s New Year’s menu. Check soifwine.com for details. 

Chaminade always does a splendid New Year’s dessert bar. Check the website for possibilities at chaminade.com or call 831-475-5600. 

Persephone in Aptos is running a special New Year’s Eve dinner menu, a takeout prix fixe featuring a mixed green salad, traditional Cassoulet with duck confit, sausage and white beans, with dessert of turmeric custard tart for $40 per person. Go to persephonerestaurant.com to reserve your dinner. 

Jack O’Neill Restaurant at the Dream Inn is offering a New Year’s prix fixe as well. Contact the dining room at 866-205-4152 for updates. 

Shadowbrook is offering takeout Christmas Day dinners, from noon to 8:30pm. From those outrageously good bacon-wrapped prawns to filet mignon and black truffle gnocchi, with suitably sensuous desserts—this is a celebratory menu. Ditto their New Year’s Eve takeout dishes, available for pickup Dec. 31 from 4-9pm. Visit shadowbrook-capitola.com or call 831-475-1511. 

Since so many dining options, dates and times have changed so quickly, I recommend that you contact your favorite holiday dining spots, such as Johnny’s Harborside, Hindquarter, Lillians, Chocolate, Bittersweet Bistro, Avanti, Venus Spirits, Mentone, Oswald, and Crow’s Nest and make sure they’re open and taking carryout orders when you want them. 

Meanwhile, remember that this will pass. Spring will come. Bake some cookies and make sure you stop by Ser, Birichino, and Surf City Vintners wineries to stock up for the New Year!

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