Now celebrating its second anniversary, Barceloneta continues to specialize in flavor entertainment, whether you dine indoors or takeout. Salads inflected with cloudlike chickpeas. Noodles in squid ink topped with strips of pepper and cubes of chorizo. It’s easy to put together a meal of many harmonizing flavors, just like we did last week.
First off was the order of Fideos ($14), a vermicelli-like thin pasta bathed in squid ink and tossed with fresh Monterey Bay squid. Micro-diced chorizo bits added welcome flavor hits; I love the idea of using sausage as a condiment within the dish itself. Piquillo peppers, chili threads and unctuous aioli pulled all the elements together into dreamy bites of faraway flavor.
Along with the Fideos, we shared the outstanding Ibiza Hippie Salad ($13), packed to go into broad swaths of shredded kale, cubes of roasted yam, preserved lemon, ribbons of pink pickled onion, and sunflower seeds. Two little containers sat within the salad box—one of flash-fried chickpeas that burst in the mouth into light nutty textures, and another of a puree of carrot, ginger and vinegar. This sauce would be addictive even on breakfast cereal. But on the gorgeous spiced greens, it was the stuff of high satisfaction. The Ibiza salad usually also involves plenty of the North African pasta called freekeh, but we’d ordered a gluten-free version of the dish, which meant no freekeh, but plenty of other ingredients.
Our other main dish was one of my Barceloneta favorites, the plump Gambas sauced with olive oil, sherry, chiles, and lots and lots of thin slices of garlic ($18). The shrimp were, in a word, perfect. Succulent, tender—not dry or overcooked, as can happen with carry-out orders. And they arrived with toasted slices of Companion baguette to help soak up all that unctuous sauce. A meal to repeat—often. Barceloneta, 1541 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Open 5:30-8:30, closed Sunday and Monday.
Let them Eat Joze!
Foodie for the People, a colorful documentary on the well-seasoned subject of Jozseph Schultz and India Joze Restaurant, gets its world premiere on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at the Del Mar Theatre. Jon Silver’s film contains many interviews with restaurant principals and local fans (including myself) of Schultz’s astounding culinary skills over many decades. Donations at the door. Proof of Covid vax or a negative Covid test within 72 hours is required. Masks required. Register on Eventbrite to get free tickets. A brief Q&A at Del Mar will be followed by a reception at India Joze, 418 Front St., Santa Cruz, 831-325-03633.
Autumn is not only harvest time in our bountiful winegrowing region, it’s also the perfect time to visit some of our panoramic wineries and discover new wines. Over two dozen wineries are showcased at this year’s Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains Fall Vintners’ Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23-24. Reservations are required, so get your tickets now—$45 for one day, $80 for two. Attendees can visit up to four wineries each day, enjoying flights of three-five wines at each. Details and tickets at winesofthesantacruzmountains. com
Great PumpkinYes, we pay a price to live here, but one of the rewards is the chance to enjoy an abundance of great bakeries, breads, and pastries. And sure enough, the flavors of the season are suddenly on the pastry shelves of our coffeehouses, as well. Pro tip: The best that anything gluten-free will ever taste is the seasonal GF pumpkin muffin made by Manresa Breads and available locally for a well-spent $5.50 at Verve. Go early in the day; these light, fragrant, complex little cakes sell out fast.