Last Saturday I stopped by the Westside Farmers Market to inhale the sights, tastes and aromas of high summer harvests. Under the awnings in the parking lot across from the Old Wrigley Building, producers of incredibly fresh items had already spread their wares. I invariably head over to the Companion Bakeshop stand for an infusion of some intriguing gluten-free pastry for my resident non-glutenite. I scooped up a couple of intensely flavorful muffins filled with almonds and cranberries, and then began to stroll. Strawberries are major right now. And the cherry tomatoes in every possible shade of red, orange and yellow are displayed across wide tables. Plums, deep purple Santa Rosas and pale greengages are having a moment. Lots of pretty padron peppers everywhere. I cannot resist potatoes still lightly dusted with the soil from which they’ve been dug. Many of the farm stands now boast brilliant green bouquets of mizunas, kales and chards alongside bundles of cilantro, mint and dill. It’s all gorgeous to look at, so fragrant, and inspires ideas for the next big pot of bean stew I’ll be cooking. I bought a pretty mixed flower bouquet, and ended up with a supersized almond twist from Adorable French Bakery before heading back to my car. It’s the start of high season, with so many farmers markets. How lucky we are.
Sustain Supper Returns
Once again, this Saturday in the oceanview fields at Natural Bridges Farm, the tables will be set for a multi-course vegetarian meal featuring produce grown by the Homeless Garden Project programs. Chef Gema Cruz from Gabriella Cafe will join Anna Bartolini of La Balena in Carmel and Jessica Yarr of Chicken Foot in preparing a memorable meal. Join your friends and eco-colleagues at this al fresco gathering that begins with wine and passed appetizers at 4pm, and moves on to a farm tour, dinner and keynote speaker James Beard Award winning chef and author Bryant Terry. Hurry—this event sells out! Saturday July 23, 4-7:30pm. Shaffer Road and Delaware Avenue, Santa Cruz. $175. homelessgardenproject.org.
Noshing in the Grove
This season up at the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Grove performances you’ll be able to enjoy pre-show picnic dinners thanks to the Grille at DeLaveaga Golf Course. Pre-order your meal, Wednesday-Sunday (at least 72 hours before the show you’re attending) and pick up your order at the concessions window behind the Box Office. Charcuterie for two; a DeLa Salad with crostini, dressing and cookie; turkey Sandwich with chips, and more. santacruzshakespeare.org.
Pasta of the Week
The always-luscious Seafood Linguine Puttanesca from Avanti on the Westside is lavish with big prawns, little shrimp, slender tubes of calamari, bits of fish of the day, fat tomatoes, olives and lots of capers ($28). A welcome kick of red pepper in the background, and of course plenty of garlic! The tangle of long succulent noodles offers more comfort than should be legal (and plenty for lunch the next day). A terrific dish when you feel like treating yourself to super-charged Italian flavors.
New at Abbott Square
Vamanos Comida Mexicana is a brand-new dining experience owned by Belly Goat Burgers chefs Anthony Kresge and Brooke Johnson. Kresge also owns Reef Dog Deli in Capitola. Vamanos specializes in various tacos, quesadillas, chile rellenos and enchiladas. Just opened! Go check it out at the always welcoming Abbott Square Market, which is one of my favorite places to rendezvous with friends for coffee or some major lunch, like a quesadilla from Vamanos.