.Time to Shine’s Farm Discovery Gala; Gorgeous Cocktails in Two Parts

Time to Shine is a gala farm-to-table event on September 18, 4-8pm, offering a fall feast in the fields, accompanied by expertly prepared foods, wines, beer and spirits, as well as live music and speakers tuned into our unique growing region. This open-air dining event is the annual campaign to support Farm Discovery programs offered to young people and their families at Live Earth Farm. Cooking, farming, camping, overnight farm immersion, family field days and many more environmentally exploratory open-air activities are part of Farm Discovery’s fun and informative offerings. The September 18 menu will feature seasonal organic produce from the prolific farm prepared by top local chefs. Appetizers by Diego Felix of Fonda Felix; salad by chef Tom McNary of Soif; main course catering from Cabrillo College’s Pino Alto and chef Andrea Mollenauer; and desserts from Companion Bakeshop and Penny Ice Creamery. Sip the finest from Storrs Winery, Birichino, Discretion Brewing, Venus Spirits and many other food and drink artisans. It all happens at the Farm Discovery Education Barn at 172 Litchfield Lane in Watsonville, roughly 20 minutes south of Santa Cruz. The family-style meal offers a meat and vegetarian option, and there are various table sizes to choose from so that you can dine with your own pod if you like. And of course it’s all outdoors. Here’s a chance to enjoy our finest weather, dine out in the organic growing fields, enjoy the company of friends and neighbors, and learn more about the program’s activities promoting health in food, farming and community. Multi-course dinner, drinks, live music, auction and fun on the farm. $175-$250. timetoshine.eventbrite.com.

Cocktails: Part 1

Beverly took me out for cocktails at Vim last Friday. I was happy that she did. Our mixologist—who never stopped moving, shaking, blending, pouring, and stirring potions while we watched­—knew a thing or two about Negronis. Mesmerized, we ordered white Negronis in which something complex and pale called Floc, a spirit made in Gascony from some distillation of Armagnac, was one of the main attractions, in addition to bitters and gin. Using Venus No.1 gin, this was a complex and exciting drink ($12). Whilst sipping, we shared a copper dish filled with an Elote Shrimp creation ($17). Packed into the warm baking dish were layers of polenta and fresh roasted corn, topped with feta cheese, plump butterflied shrimp and charred scallion crema. Utterly delicious, especially with serious cocktails. We took our time, even polished off one of the house cones of popcorn while awaiting our shared appetizer. Brunch is Sunday 10-2pm; dinner Wednesday-Saturday 5-8pm; closed Monday and Tuesday. vimsantacruz.com.

Cocktails: Part 2

Rita and I were celebrating a birthday recently and the occasion required sophisticated libations. Mentone delivered. She had the house classic Negroni and I had a blonde variation, the Spagliato Bianco (both $14). In mine there was the bite of quinoa, softened with prosecco and complexified with luxardo bitter bianco. I could have inhaled this lovely drink, but erred on the side of caution. Rita’s Negroni was a crimson poem of Nolets gin, Campari and carpano antica. Both of these gorgeous cocktails were punctuated by a single giant ice cube and slices of hybrid citrus. We shared an order of the house specialty Wagyu Bresaola ($22), plus exceptional focaccia while we sipped. Worth the drive across town. Mentone, Wednesday-Sunday, 5-9pm, Aptos Village. mentonerestaurant.com.

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