I remember way back when I first arrived here, and was guided to the most authentically “Santa Cruz” store in town. It was Staff of Life (over on Water Street in those days). And it was a revelation. A haze of patchouli and stone-ground whole wheat perfumed the cavernous interior, where the first dreadlocks in town cruised the bulk food bins in search of organic morsels whose skins had never touched plastic. Heaven for the alt culture, and filled with enough positive vibes to bump the Kremlin further into the Stone Age.
Well, I hope you’re sitting down, because it’s been 53 years since visionary founders Richard Josephson and Gary Bascou opened the doors of Staff of Life in Santa Cruz—and now a second location in Watsonville. And if you still retain that mental imprint of laid-back hippie ambience, you better take another look inside the gorgeous, superbly stocked natural foods market. Even though it’s not in my neck of the woods, I often find myself searching for specialty items in the spacious store.
It’s hard to get past the seductive garden shop in the front atrium, but once I do, I head over to the well-stocked GF bread case. If it’s gluten-free bread, it’s here. And the bakery has been one of the significant pit stops of the store from Day One. I was a fool for the enormous sunflower seed cookies, and still am.
Everybody loves a party, and this Saturday, May 14, you’re invited to stop by and help Staff of Life celebrate its 53rd anniversary, from 1-4pm at 1266 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. I’m always amazed at the size and range of the store’s premium wine inventory, and there will be lots of it available to taste on May 14. Spokesperson Hollie Wendt tells me that the wine tasting proceeds will go entirely to Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz. Here’s how it works: you purchase your wine glass for $3 (not many things are left in California that cost a mere three dollars). And with that purchase, you can enjoy five tastes. Wendt says that “if people want more tastes, they’re two for $1.” Name two other things you can purchase for one dollar! You can choose tastes from such wineries as Storrs, Alfaro Family Vineyards, Classic Wines, Oliver Macron Wines (perhaps a relative of the French president?), Planet Wines, Quintessential Wines. There are beers available to taste as well, including Other Brothers Beer and Best Day Brewing. Join your libations with some delicious samples from Piedmontese Beef, Smart Chicken, Sunridge Farms, Garden of Life, barbecue treats and housemade bakery items. A fun way to celebrate our landmark Staff of Life.
Fresh. Local. Salmon. Three words that give my tastebuds a thrill. There is nothing to compare with the plump fresh sweetness of our King Salmon. Who knows how much longer we’ll be able to enjoy this superlative seafood, or honor the heroic fish itself? Thanks to the fishermen of H&H Fresh Fish for pointing out the fluctuating salmon fishing openings and closings from now through September. For example, the season opened briefly last week, and is open now for five days, then again May 20-24. The first two weeks of June are the longest period. It’s all on the hhfreshfish.com website. And when the local King Salmon season is open, you can find the fresh catch at the Santa Cruz Harbor main shop. Or give them a call at 831-462-FISH.
Big Basin Vineyards Santa Cruz Tasting Room kicks off its monthly Winemaker Night series on May 19, 6-9pm with Blake Yarger. bigbasinvineyards.com.