.Santa Cruz Mountains’ Farmers Markets Lowdown

Plus, Cruz Kitchen and Taps offers ambitious breakfast, lunch and dinner menus

Nothing whets the appetite for summer like a full-bodied farmers market, and the Scotts Valley Farmers Market is opening up at a new location, the Boys and Girls Club off Scotts Valley Drive. Every Saturday until late November, regional farms and food entrepreneurs will raise their tents and fill their stands in the new Scotts Valley market space with incredible fruits, veggies, meats, breads, eggs, seafoods and gorgeously crafted food items. There will be a Strawberry Shortcake Giveaway on opening day, May 7; indulge in fresh strawberries with whipped cream stacked on top of irresistible Beckmann’s Bakery shortbread. There will also be free mini ice cream cones from Penny Ice Creamery from 11am-1pm. Art activities sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club will pop up, along with a market hunt featuring prizes orchestrated by Santa Cruz Public Libraries. New this year, Hidden Fortress Coffee sells breakfast favorites like pancakes, French toast, bacon and sausage alongside their full espresso bar menu. Stop by this Saturday and see what’s new and fresh.

And don’t forget the Felton Farmers Market every Tuesday 1-6pm up in the spectacular redwood setting, with live music, food trucks and a dazzling array of fresh harvests. The Market Match program helps EBT (CalFresh) users stretch their dollars. May is CalFresh Awareness Month and Santa Cruz County, along with Second Harvest Food Bank, are sponsoring a double match special for the month. A $10 swipe with an EBT card equals $30 in tokens for food and fresh produce at the market in May. Now that’s a good deal! This is the perfect time of year for strawberries, asparagus and green garlic. See you at the market.

The Truck Stops Here

A tip from a foodie friend sent me over to the Cruz Kitchen and Taps scene (formerly Saturn Cafe) to see what the creators of Drunk Monkeys were up to. It gave me a chance to catch some of the latest graphic artwork by the edgy Louise Leong, one of my former UCSC students, who is a very hot designer. Her work, along with that of other locals such as Janet Allinger and Marie Gabrielle, has been reproduced on the table tops in the circular dining space. Otherwise, so far, Cruz Kitchen is a decor-free industrial space with a bar in the back, a flat screen TV and big grey booths. Cruz Kitchen co-owners Dameon Deworken and Mia Thorn are running ambitious breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, and from the looks of it, the eggs specialties and the lunch sandos might be obvious choices. Beef short ribs and fish tacos looked appetizing as I placed my carryout dinner order. At home we found the most to enjoy in the fish tacos of two blackened white fish filets, topped with a zippy citrus and jalapeño slaw on corn tortillas ($16). Each bite was nice and fiery. Big flavor. An order of quinoa salad ($12) contained plenty of arugula and large wedges of red beets, some queso fresco but not much in the way of quinoa. Miso-honey mustard on top of an entree of braised pot roast ($26) hit the wrong flavor notes—too sweet. Mashed potatoes surrounded everything including asparagus, hidden under a canopy of potatoes and sticky sweet miso-mustard. The journey from food truck to full-service restaurant was not built in a day. Clearly more fine-tuning is in store for the recently opened eatery across from the Laurel Street hotel-in-progress. We’ll watch with interest to see how Cruz Kitchen shapes up.

Cruz Kitchen and Taps, 145 Laurel St., Santa Cruz. Monday and Thursday, 11am-8:30pm; Wednesday, 4-8:30pm; Friday and Saturday, 11am-9:30pm. Closed Tuesdays. cruzkitchenandtaps.com.

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