Santa Cruz’s age of Aquarius

Santa Cruz’s age of Aquarius

There really aren’t that many restaurants in Santa Cruz County that have an excellent ocean view with equally engaging food. And THAT is why I love Aquarius restaurant at the Dream Inn. The Dream Inn is the coastline’s tallest multi-story hotel that had probably gotten to be a little shabby by the time LL proposed to me there all those years ago, but in recent years received an upscale hipster-worthy remodel from new management Joie de Vivre along with a total foodie remake of the restaurant, newly christened Aquarius. I LOVE this place . . .  LL and I go there a few times a year for lunch when schedules permit – are we really that busy?? This Monday, there were only three other tables seated, and we sat watching some hardcore couple in wetsuits playing kettleball in the surf with a couple of sea lions peeking their shiny heads up from the sea. If you ever are traveling along the coast between San Jose and Monterey, this is one restaurant worth stopping for both the food and the view – and it’s even a hotel restaurant. I’ve dug up a few photos for you to see why: Artisan reuben sandwich I say "artisan" because the pastrami came from Santa Cruz's own El Salchichero butcher shop, home of locally raised meats and artistry in the hands of owner Chris LaVeque. Then the sauerkraut isn't just any sauerkraut - it's Farmhouse Culture, also a Santa Cruz creation. Aromatic, spicy, and delicious. The scene of the crime The Dream Inn, now a Joie de Vivre-managed property, houses Aquarius. It's also where...
Paradise and Lunch in Big Sur

Paradise and Lunch in Big Sur

The Sierra Mar restaurant at Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn occupies one corner of paradise; an expanse of hewn wood and plate glass expertly cantilevered over the crystalline azure Pacific Ocean. It’s the kind of place where you might run into Jon Hamm at dinner or Lucinda Williams and Lucy Wainwright at lunch, as we did, or have afternoon cocktails with the owners of Springfield’s best tattoo and piercing parlor, as we also did. Where you enjoy your meal at a table overlooking whales spouting in in the sea below. Click to see the food.

Food for the soul

Food for the soul

Seen on my lunchtime walk at the beach: a yellow school bus parked next to a red fire truck, bus driver and firefighters all perched on the low storm wall, alternately sipping coffee, crunching apples, rummaging through coolers, watching the water, waiting for us to need them. Contractors sitting in their pick up trucks, some eating, some holding cell phones to their faces, also gazing out toward the water. A mom’s boot camp taking over a few parking spaces: t-shirt clad women sweating through crunches on blue or purple yoga mats rolled out on the asphalt next to their babies in strollers, attention directed toward a handsomely built man who counts down from 30 and calls out encouraging words. They stop for a few minutes at the nearby drone of a small plane and watch it climb and loop in the sky, practicing contrail cursive.   I walked past an elderly couple sat sharing a sandwich at one picnic table; at another, a group of students were gathered around a laptop. I nodded hello to a Franciscan nun in her full black habit, to two Hare Krishna women with shaved heads and saffron robes, and to a young Amish couple pushing a stroller – she in a long indigo dress and white bonnet, he in black pilgrim hat with a long beard. People from different walks of life, all proudly wearing their faith on their sleeves. I walked past the large Samoan man we often see, clad only in blue track shorts, sweating profusely and grinning broadly at me in recognition. Past a thin man riding his yellow unicycle with a...
Viva sem fronteras!

Viva sem fronteras!

Having one’s head in the clouds is a evidently a good thing these days. It was obvious from the buzz, if not the signs, at this year’s Cisco Live convention in Las Vegas. Food is fuel for the soul and technology is fuel for the imagination – or is it the other way around? Find out more

Man on wheel

Man on wheel

Have you ever seen the movie Man on Wire? We did, a few months back. It’s a very nicely done 2008 documentary that probably fell under your radar, about Philipe Petit’s 1974 illegal walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Oddly, though, a few weeks later, a friend gave me the book Let The Great World Spin. It’s novelist Colum McCann’s fictionalized account of that same tightrope act. So balancing acts have evidently been working overtime in my brain, Last Saturday, then, when our local paper reported the King of the High Wire Nik Wallenda was slated to perform a stunt at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, I knew I had to go. Who’d want to miss the chance to see a man taking a stroll around a 52-foot Ferris Wheel? Definitely not me! The early morning fog was giving way to blue skies as I gathered Kid Two, his Buddy, and a pocketful of quarters. We set out for a bit of morning adventure, and the boys took in a few rides while we waited for The King of the High Wire to begin. When the time came, a crowd of two hundred or so gathered under the Ferris wheel, jostling for position. The wheel s-l-o-w-l-y started to move. Parents and teens brandished smartphones in anticipation. Roller coaster oriented children complained loudly at the interruption. Finally Nik Wallenda appeared, riding s-l-o-w-l-y to the top of the wheel. He summoned his balance pole from the ground, straddled the top of the ride, stepped out to the top, and strolled s-l-o-w-l-y around the wheel as it made a rotation....