road trip chapter 3: Santa Cruz


The object of our road trip (besides drinking a lot of good beer, obviously) was to spend a few days with family in Santa Cruz.

Kelly's Bakery

We had to have at least one breakfast at Kelly’s, of course.

Kelly's Bakery

Their pastries, poached eggs on polenta, and bagels with capers and lox would all be good any time, but eaten at an outdoor table as the Santa Cruz morning fog dissipates in the sun, everything tastes better.


We also went to breakfast at Hoffman’s in downtown Santa Cruz, a favorite of my brother-in-law’s.

eggs benedict


The service was a touch flaky (note to waitstaff: when an allergic customer asks you what kinds of nuts are in something, don’t just say “I dunno” and wander off) but the food was excellent. Jon got a very fine crab and avocado eggs benedict, and I fell for the chilaquiles. The waffles with strawberries looked like they had a quart of berries on top. The basket of scones that arrived with our coffee was a nice touch, too. Nice place, I wouldn’t mind trying them for dinner some time.

Santa Cruz Mtn Brewing

For lunch one day we took advantage of the arrangement between Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery and Kelly’s Bakery. As with several other businesses in the Swift Street Courtyard business park, you can get a pint of beer at the taproom counter, then order from Kelly’s menu and have your food carried over by someone from the bakery.

burger and fries

Jon got their hamburger, which was surprisingly good.

fish tacos

I had fish tacos, which were fantastic: the fish was deep-fried and very crispy, and served in soft corn tortillas with lots of cabbage and cilantro aioli, plus a big salad.

Vine Hill Winery

We also had to visit a few wineries, of course. Vine Hill was a new addition to the building, so we stopped in to pet their dog and taste their wines. They had a nice chardonnay.

a good wine tasting

We always have to stop at Sones. When we went into the tasting room this visit,  it was full of people who had just discovered the winery for the first time and were excitedly buying one of everything. We pretty much do the same thing whenever we go – you just can’t help yourselves. I don’t know of any Zinfandel I like better than theirs.

Quinta Cruz

We also stopped into Quinta Cruz/Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, and had a nice discussion with the server about how awesome Rock of Ages was. They make really lovely Old World-style wines, but unfortunately not everything is available for tasting. We’ve never gone wrong with any of their wines, though.


On Saturday we walked to the nearby farmer’s market. It was another beautiful day and everything looked wonderful.





We wanted to cook one dinner at my brother-in-law’s apartment, and when we found the pasta booth I knew what I wanted to do. We bought several tubs of the goat cheese-green onion ravioli, plus a container of basil-walnut pesto. Then we picked up a gorgeous bag of salad mix full of edible flowers, and some pink fingerling potatoes. Dinner was taken care of (along with a Sones Sauvignon Blanc and a pie that was brought from Emily’s Bakery).

Bonny Doon

Finally, our big splurge dinner for the trip was at Le Cigare Volant, the Bonny Doon winery restaurant.

bread plate

The whole menu is done as small plates, so for four people we needed to order nearly one of everything. We started with a bread plate…

grilled octopus

…and an adorable little container of grilled octopus.

coconut dome

When we ordered the ceviche, we didn’t really expect it to come looking like this…

broken shell

…but the coconut milk dome just needed to be broken apart, at which point it began to melt over the seafood.

cherry tomato salad

This unlikely-looking plate was a lovely, fresh cherry tomato salad with basil foam.

avocado corndog

And this was an avocado corn dog, which I’m still not really sure about.


The waitress absolutely insisted that we get the fingerling potatoes, and she was not wrong. Crisp, seasoned wedges in a cute little pot, they were perfect potatoes – but what you don’t see is the big wodge of cream in the bottom of the pot. Yum.

squash blossoms and harissa foam

I’m afraid this looks absolutely disgusting, but I’m told it was very good. Squash blossoms stuffed with hummus, served with couscous and harissa foam.


And I think this was arctic char with cornbread, but I have only the vaguest memory of tasting it.


I was a little distracted by my duck with snap peas and a lettuce roll. This was beautiful.


Jon was the only one who felt up to dessert, and got this cute creme brulee with lots of berries.

Le Cigare Volant

On the whole, it was lots of fun, but I thought much of the food wasn’t quite delicious enough to hold up to the level of fussiness. Very amusing presentations, though.

morning fog

On Monday morning, as the fog burned off, we headed back north on the final leg of our trip.

road trip to Cali

on the beach

We’ve just begun to recover from our week-long road trip to Santa Cruz to visit my brother-in-law. We spent two days driving south, a few days there, then three days coming back. We hit an astounding number of brewpubs along the way. Here’s a (rather long) photo essay of some of the week’s eats and drinks.

HopworksHopworks Brewery

We left Mount Vernon bright and early, with our first stop at Hopworks in Portland. It was pouring down rain (my feet got soaked just going the short distance from the car to the door), but the brewpub was bright and cozy and the Women’s World Cup was just starting. We could happily have stayed there all day, but we dragged ourselves away at halftime.

Ancho chicken sandwich

steak sandwich

blue cheese salad

The sandwiches were excellent, especially the chicken ancho, and the salad had chunks of Rogue Creamery blue cheese almost too big to eat. Plus their beer is amazing – I had a pint of Evelyn’s Sunshine Imperial IPA, which was badly needed after our drive through the storm.

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This week’s Caturday is brought to you by Clara, our cat-in-law. She’s a pretty thing, a bit round these days, but not as pear shaped as our own gray Stella. She has  gorgeous eyes,  loves chasing a laser pointer bug, and has her people firmly wrapped around her paw. She likes to sit in the kitchen sink.

pale green eye

Avanti (no food photos)

sunset surf

There are several very nice restaurants in Santa Cruz, but the one my brother-in-law and his partner had been most excited to take us to was Avanti. A charming little Mediterranean bistro in a strip mall off of Mission Street, this was one of the highlights of our trip. However, we went in the evening, it was pouring rain outside, and our table was dark. The pictures we took are unspeakably bad. So you shall have to envision the food I am about to describe, and I will appease my need to stick photos into posts by showing off some images I took from the ocean cliffs nearby.

top of the bluff

Avanti was one of those places where I look at the menu and immediately want all of it, simultaneously. It was all perfectly seasonal and local and delicious-looking, and I couldn’t see how I could possibly choose. Eventually I calmed down and was able to focus, and we avoided some of the problem by ordering three antipasti for the table.

calm seas

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coffee & toast

the surfer's dog

We’re back from (partly) sunny California! Spring break is over, we’re back at work and looking at a rather involved couple of weeks ahead. I want to do a few posts on some food highlights, but in the meantime you’re welcome to keep an eye on my Flickr stream for photos as I get them loaded in.

We were visiting my husband’s brother in Santa Cruz. The house is fabulously located less than a mile from the seashore, and just a few blocks from a pizzeria, a good grocery, a large collection of wine tasting rooms (more on those later) and a great bakery and cafe. On the first morning of our visit, we discovered that most of the breakfast goods in the house had almonds in them, so off to Kelly’s French Bakery we went.

Kelly's French Bakery

I’m happy to report that Kelly’s makes a very nice cappuccino. I promised a coworker that I would drink a cappuccino in Santa Cruz for her, which is the sort of mission I take very seriously.

Kelly's French Bakery

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