Pop(sicle) quiz, hot shot: How do you know you have a full-blown Santa Cruz discovery on your paws?
(a) It stars life-affirming mt stars life-affirming mushrooms like chaga, lion’s mane, cordyceps and tremella.
(b) It involves organic produce from sources like Monte Verde Farm and Sea to Sky Farm.
(c) It involves recovery from wildfire.
(d) It involves a lot of character, including charismatic rescue dogs with a taste for the SCF’s pooch pops.
(e) It involves smiley-face overalls, a tricycle cooler and a psychedelic-looking mushroom umbrella.
(f) It involves all of the above.
Good on you if you guessed “(f),” “Santa Cruz Fungi,” or a third answer to be revealed in a moment.
Santa Cruz Fungi started when Boulder Creek’s Paul Lazazzera reached enough frustration with his career in education and his own health challenges and decided to pursue a passion for life-affirming fungi full time.
First he started farming. Later, as he sought out new ways to ingest more of the mushrooms that pleased his palate and gut—while sorting out life amid COVID and the CZU Lightning Complex Fire—he started experimenting with gluten- and dairy-free mousses based in cashew and coconut.
Then his wife, collaborator and fearless owner of their 2023-born business Katie Sarna , suggested they freeze them.
A specific type of treat emerged: popsicles—now eight deep in flavors ranging from Cordy[ceps] Creamsicle to Verve Chagaccino to Porcini Pumpkin Pie to Key Lion’s Mane Pie—appear at events like the next two Midtown Block Party Santa Cruz (5-9pm Sept. 22 and 29) and Aptos New Leaf (2-6pm Sept. 30).
Look for the cooler tricycle, toadstool umbrella and overalls—which, like the popsicles, have smiley faces.
Then comes an oyster mushroom home-grow class at Mountain Feed in Ben Lomond come Oct. 7.
For the record, another valid response to the above question is “Extra Kitchen,” the same incubator space where SCF preps and which helped launch the likes of Adorable Bakery, Holy Roller Bagels and Salsa Buena.
“Santa Cruz Fungi fits into Santa Cruz so well,” says Extra’s owner-manager Matisse Selman. “In so many ways.”
GOOD TIMES (x2)
A double dose of events with heart await on the horizon. Farm Discovery’s Fall Feast takes place on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Live Earth Farm, with chef Jessica Yarr preparing the multi-course meal and Soif’s Dede Eckhardt handling the keynote (farmdiscovery.org). The same day Teen Kitchen Project hosts its own farm dinner fundraiser at Everett Family Farm in Soquel with chef Tim Eelman, who Good Times has spotlighted in this column as he readies new promising project The Village Big Sur (teenkitchenproject.org).
MORE NOURISHING NOSH
Another robust edible activity with compassion cometh Saturday, Oct. 7, via Gourmet Grazing on the Green, a food, wine and beer festival at Aptos Village Park. The Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group fundraiser comes loaded with 60 tastemakers and community tablers—think Venus Spirits, East Side Eatery, Hula’s, Pescavore Jerky, Ferrari Ranch Wines, Martinelli’s Cider and many more. $45-$99/ticket, sccbg.org.