.Cat & Cloud Fuels Downtown Laptop Crowd

Every writer sooner or later needs that perfect spot to plant a laptop and get to work. One of my new favorite spots is the Cat & Cloud at Abbott Square.

Yes, there are plenty of other folks here, and there’s food prep, coffee prep and life prep happening at all the various stations as the day gears up. But if you’ve got a project, then all of that—music, conversation, kitchen sounds—dissolves into white noise. It becomes easy to focus on the job at hand—in my case, finishing up a novel.

First things first: coffee. Cat & Cloud coffee doesn’t mess around, if you know what I mean. Right now, I’m rockin’ a huge mug of the Holiday Blend on tap, a dark roast with a caramel center and bittersweet finish.

With it, one needs—naturally—a pastry. For that, there’s an all-star lineup from Companion Bakeshop (the café, Cat Cloud Companion, is technically a joint venture between the bakery and the coffee roaster). My new favorite seasonal scone is dark wheat, studded with pumpkin seeds and cranberries. Heaven with a topnote of brown sugar. I also love the toasts with cheese and pepper jam, or avocado. Hearty stuff. The kind of stuff that writers need to fuel their genius and remove obstacles (ie: occasional writer’s block).

Long counters offer plenty of laptop space and outlets for charging devices. Clean, spacious restrooms are always a plus.

secure document shredding

The long community table are great for actual groups, or simply individuals who like to face each other while eating, flirting or brainstorming. The vibe at the indoor marketplace is quite eclectic, and that also adds to the sense of privacy and cocooning. Couples, yes, but mostly groups, work colleagues or school classmates. Fascinating conversations, if one wants to eavesdrop. But I don’t.

Family groups with kids also stop by for a light nosh. Shoppers about to head off to the stores. I like the 9-to-11 slot, when the energy feels freshest and the pastry choices are most, well, choice.

My writing went well.

Award-winning Brand

Congratulations, Ian Brand. You’ll want to run out and grab a bottle of Brand’s Le Petit Paysan Jacks Hill Chardonnay, Monterey County 2017 ($22) after reading a recent article by Esther Mobley in the San Francisco Chronicle. A winemaker’s winemaker, Brand was named the newspaper’s 2018 Winemaker of the Year.  

He’s a local who has worked at Bonny Doon Vineyard and Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard. When you’re next in Carmel Valley, stop by Brand’s tasting room and be blown away by the wines he creates from historic vineyards throughout the region.

Open Wed-Sun, noon-6 p.m. I. Brand & Family Winery, 9 East Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley. ibrandwinery.com

Pace-setting La Posta

It might just be the greatest pasta this side of Bologna. The dishes Katherine Stern turns out at

Seabright’s La Posta are always a treat. The other night, mine was a tangle of tagliatelle tossed with roast pork, radicchio and aged balsamic. Every element perfect, especially with a glass of Dolcetto d’Alba.

My companion loved his house-made lamb sausage, which arrived on a bed of black caviar lentils and rainbow chard, drizzled with chili yogurt. An exceptional winter dish.

We started with a salad of various chicories adorned with pomegranate, roasted kabocha squash and pumpkin seeds. And of course we indulged in the addictive house bread. We had not saved room for dessert of prickly pear semifreddo (doesn’t that sound unbelievably sexy?) So we’ve resolved to return for our birthdays—only a few days apart—and share a salad, a cheese platter (with red wine!), and then head straight for dessert.

New in Town

Tabby Cat Cafe, where the former Cafe Bene used to be (God I loved that place in the old


Open 7 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat-Sun. 1101 Cedar St., Santa Cruz.


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