Author Archive | Laura Ness


Sweet times for award-winning
Mutari Chocolate in Santa Cruz


Heavenly is the first word that pops into my head as the elemental essence of chocolate wafts from the Mutari factory and shop on Front Street in Santa Cruz. Inside, piles of cacao beans in burlap sacks imprinted with their country of origin line the floor, while empty sacks adorn the walls.

This isn’t just a chocolate shop; it’s a window on the world of cacao.

Owners Katy Oursler and Stephen Beaumier took over Mutari three years ago. Gourmands to the core, the couple stone grinds ethically sourced, single-origin cacao beans to create their drinking chocolate and confections under the Mutari and White Label brands.

“We are one of only about 150 bean-to-bar makers in the U.S.,” … Read More

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BOLD and Little Figge to Open Carmel Valley Tasting Room

November 20, 2018 – What was once the Figge Cellars tasting room at 3 Pilot Rd. in Carmel Valley is set to open on December 7 with two new brands: BOLD and Little Figge. The former is the province of Christopher Miller, a Master Sommelier, with experience developing world-class wine lists in places like LA, New Orleans and Seattle. He also makes wine, more on that in a minute. The latter brand is that of the late Peter Figge’s wife, Amy, whose maiden name happens to be Little. At first, Amy wasn’t crazy about the name, but it grew on her. In fact, she helped design the label.

All of the wines served under the BOLD brand and some of those under the Little Figge brand were made by Miller, … Read More

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Calling All Chefs to the 38th Annual Clam Chowder Cook-Off & Festival

What could be better than chowing down on chowder on a nippy day in February at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk? If you’re a consumer, probably nothing, but if you’re a professional chef, winning Best Chowder in either the Professional Boston or Manhattan categories might be a crowning achievement.

The City of Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk wantschefs, caterers, food service providers and food truck operators to show off their culinary chops at the Professional Clam Chowder Cook-Off to be held on Sunday, February 24, 2019. This is your chance to show the world you have what it takes to thrill the crowd with your most excellent chowder recipe.

The benefits are many:

  • Giant exposure on event day. This is the largest and longest running Clam
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Big Sur Food & Wine Beckons: Get Tickets Now

October 23, 2018 – Undeniably, Big Sur is among the world’s most captivating natural wonders. Constantly shaped by eternal forces, the very place deeply impacts all who live or wander here.

If you’re looking for an experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere, Big Sur Food & Wine Festival is for you. Beginning Thursday, November 1, with the Opening Night Kickoff, and ending on Sunday with a new event, called Gourmet Marketplace, there are plenty of things to catch your fancy over this 4-day event held at storied locations including Ventana Big Sur, Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur Roadhouse and the Henry Miller Library. 

Organizers Aengus Wagner and Elsa Rivera are thrilled at the way this year’s event is coming together.  They just announced details of the auction, to be held … Read More

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Famed Lester Vineyards Open for Tastings

October 9, 2018 – Few vineyard settings take the concept of “Pleasant Valley” to the level of Lester Family Vineyards. The sweeping sea of vines, stretching southwest towards the shimmering glow of the sun, the towering redwoods that seem to guard it like sentinels, the old barn filled with a lifetime of treasures, the grassy lawn and the oak-shaded outdoor seating area, make this a place naturally endowed with Santa Cruz Mountains charm. You could charge any amount of money and people would still want to come here, for the sense of serenity and being in the heart of an outstanding vineyard.

Considered by many winemakers and enthusiasts to be one of the great vineyards in the region, this place started with the dream of the late Dan Lester, a … Read More

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