Young chef stirs excitement -

FullSizeRenderApril 26, 2016 – The “it girl” of the Santa Cruz dining scene at the moment is 25-year-old chef and entrepreneur Rachel Hughes. Rising up through the town’s effervescent pop up scene, Hughes has landed a regular gig cooking at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge every night when there isn’t a special event.

“As a younger cook I strive to push my imagination and artistry,” says Hughes. “I enjoy playing with food and concepts, and try to surpass people’s expectations.”

Born and raised in Santa Cruz, she started cooking when she was very young. By age 12, she was making dinner for her family. At 13 she took her first of many Cabrillo College culinary arts classes. She made her first wedding cake at 15, and started doing … Read More

Is Cremer House Haunted? -

12339187_764989786980504_4860073569682193835_oApril 19, 2016 – A team of ghost hunters have found signs of paranormal activity in the Cremer House restaurant in Felton and are planning to return at the end of the month to gather more evidence, according to owner Emily Thomas.

“It never really weirded me out until today, after they left I got the shivers,” said Thomas, who also co-owns Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing.

The restaurant is housed in the oldest building in town, built in 1874 by Thomas Cremer and his wife, who operated it as a boarding house, restaurant/tavern, gambling hall and brothel.

The ghost hunters came last Friday equipped with electro-magnetic frequency meters, other types of energy detectors and digital thermometers, according to Thomas. They plan to return with TV cameras and interview staff who … Read More

Sierra Mar chef John Cox Moving On, Murray promoted -

12991042_1021658527919710_7090551034356839886_nApril 19, 2016 – Acclaimed Big Sur chef John Cox is leaving Sierra Mar restaurant at the Post Ranch Inn in search of new horizons and chef de cuisine Elizabeth Murray will assume the reins as executive chef.

“We celebrate the time, culinary contributions and enormous passion that John has shared with Sierra Mar and Passport Resorts over the years, and wish him the very best in his new adventures. He will always be part of the Passport Resorts family,” said managing partner Mike Freed. 

“Chef Murray will continue to offer Post Ranch Inn guests the exceptional dining experience they have come to expect,” he added.

Murray, who was personally selected by Cox three years ago, has worked at top restaurants such as Coi in San Francisco, Georges at the … Read More

Strawberry industry hits back -

fc7d13f8-cb09-481f-b553-5d621ba74a35April 19, 2016 – Last week we reported that strawberries—the number one crop locally—had come out on top of the Environmental Working Group’s 2016 “Dirty Dozen” list of the most pesticide-laden produce.

Coincidentally, we already had a press tour scheduled for the following day with the California Strawberry Commission and they wasted no time slamming the EWG report.

“They don’t set their list according to any research-based science,” said communications director Carolyn O’Donnell. “A child would have to eat more than 1,500 servings of (conventionally grown) strawberries in one day to be affected by any residues.”

The Watsonville-based strawberry commission, which represents 400 conventional and organic growers statewide, organized the tour last Wednesday for about 15 reporters and food bloggers.

We visited the beautiful 41-acre farm of conventional grower Miguel … Read More

Companion Bakeshop expanding next door -

b3b8d8e5-e27c-4417-a994-fcbc37c179feApril 12, 2016 – Just like its naturally leavened sourdough breads, Companion Bakeshop is expanding organically into the space next door, which has been and will continue to be Odonata Wines tasting room.

“Who doesn’t like bread and wine,” says Companion owner Erin Lampel. “We love their products and they love ours.” The extra space will provide additional seating and allow Companion to double the size of its walk-in cooler, which is used for fermenting loaves overnight before baking. 

“We have a beautiful, ginormous oven but have only been operating it at about 25 percent capacity because there wasn’t enough cooler space,” she explains.

The wall has already been opened between the two beloved Santa Cruz businesses and the oven will serve as a focal point for the large … Read More

Pour-it-yourself taproom to open in May -

a3e5fd17-e66f-45c9-a5dc-7b82e10ef889April 5, 2016 – A giant wall of 70 beer and wine taps is going in on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. Build-out is now underway at the new Pour Taproom and restaurant, which is slated to open in May just two doors down from O’Neill’s surf shop.

Owner Chris Reno calls it “a self-activated, free-range tasting room” and is working on the project with childhood friend Nate Tomforde, who opened the first Pour Taproom two years ago in Asheville, North Carolina—one of the craft beer capitals of the country.

Reno, who grew up in Felton and now lives in Watsonville, says he spent time in England while in college and fell in love with British beer culture. He also discovered English literature and on returning home became an English … Read More

Good for what ails you: Blossom’s Farm launches Community Supported Herbalism -

223fdf89-9edb-499d-92fb-0e3cce71060cApril 5, 2016 – EMB first wrote about Carin Fortin and Delmar McComb’s biodynamic farmstead in Bonny Doon two years ago, shortly after they moved onto their new property called Blossom’s Farm.

The move enabled the couple, with a strong background in Biodynamic practices and naturopathy, to expand their offerings and begin a small farm stand on Saturdays. They currently anticipate having almost 100 different herbs growing this spring to use in their various herbal health and food products.

Holding coveted “pre-approved status” for the Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets, they were preparing their product line to offer to farmer’s market shoppers starting last November. However, much to their dismay, they discovered that a law had changed and their “herbal supplements” were not authorized with the county sell.

“This … Read More

Beer Trail Passport Coming in May -

11228033_892318284178160_261651783461248217_nMarch 29, 2016 – Craft beer lovers rejoice! The folks who brought you Brew Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beer Trail are launching a passport program that is packed with information and includes deep discounts on beer and food at local breweries. “There are so many local craft breweries that we felt it was time to establish an organization that could showcase it all,” says co-founder Bryce Root.

Ten Santa Cruz area breweries are participating in the first passport season, which begins May 9 and runs through September 30. Keepsake passports—to sell for $25—include useful facts, history and special passport deals at each brewery.

“This is not going to be a cookie-cutter corporate passport, it’s very Santa Cruz style and very specific to our region,” says Root. “It will feature … Read More

KT Vineyard Carries on a Legacy -

KTVineyardAutumMarch 29, 2016 – Sundrenched, parched and steep as they come, the hills of the Cachaugua Valley are dotted with vineyards and littered with dreams. It takes a special kind of will to farm here. Ask anyone who endured the Cachuagua fire of 2015 last September.

Those who live by the sea seem drawn to the instant warmth that hits you like a dry sauna when you emerge from the fogbelt. Many seaside-dwellers also have homes in Carmel Valley, living the bookend life, between the two best climates.

Karen Hoffman and her late partner, Dr. Tony Smith, dreamed of a retreat in these rugged hills and after much searching the dream came to pass. They acquired a ramshackle property in dire need of TLC and they threw their sweat equity … Read More


1914908_1000852956666934_3128882331590180259_nMarch 22, 2016 – Get ready for one of the biggest area restaurant openings of the year: Locally loved Bill Lee’s new restaurant, Billy Quon’s Sur, starts serving dinner to the public tonight.

The restaurant’s name is a reference to Big Sur, but Lee has taken his theme and made it more accessible and informal than present-day diners are used to getting in Big Sur itself.

Not only is Lee’s 10th restaurant conveniently located at the Barnyard Shopping Village—in the exact spot where Lee opened Bixby Martini Bar nine years ago—the food, prices and atmosphere are on the casual side of many of Big Sur’s own restaurants.

“We love the flexibility of the seating” Lee, a consummate host, said at a special preview on Monday night for more … Read More