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Photograph by Suzette Lucich
Gayle Force: The young Gayle and Joe Ortiz say 'cheese danish' at their new Capitola bakery.


Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria in Capitola turns 30! And more.

By Amber Turpin

Many happy returns
This Valentine's Day, Gayle's Bakery and Rosticceria in Capitola turns 30. A lot has changed since Joe and Gayle Ortiz opened their doors one day in 1978 to about 25 customers who spent less than $50 combined on the 10 menu items offered. Twenty-five million desserts later, a typical day yields about 1,500 patrons choosing from the 200 different baked goods produced. What was once a little mom-and-pop dream has become a bakery with a loyal clientele and national recognition, due in no small part to Joe's book The Village Baker, which garnered attention from Julia Child, not to mention all of us aspiring bread bakers. To honor the special occasion, Gayle's has been giving away prizes each day for the last month, either a 7-inch cake or two of the popular Blue Plate Dinners, as well as donating 30 percent of sales from Jan. 30 to the Second Harvest Food Bank. To top it all off, each daily entry has been submitted for a grand prize drawing on Feb. 14. The winner receives a catered dinner for 30 delivered to his or her home.

Bon appétit! For info visit; 831.462.1200.

Wine buy the Case
Saturday, Feb. 2, marked the first new wine-tasting format at Soif. Previously, the downtown wine bar's weekend tastings showcased flights of vintages from various regions around the world. Now, every Saturday from 1 to 3pm, a selection of six wines chosen straight off the restaurant's wine list is available for tasting ($8) and purchase, with a 5 percent discount per bottle and 15 percent per case. It's a "try before you buy" technique with more focus on the retail end, says Luke Kammann, wine shop manager. Competition from larger stores and the impending arrival of Whole Foods make this a great way to support a local business, gain some knowledge and sample Soif's thoughtfully chosen inventory. And the new format truly is all about the wine—no food, less staff, chairs upended. "It's fun to be in a restaurant while it's closed," Kammann points out as we tasted the day's 1-ounce offerings, including a surprising vintage Chenin Blanc aptly described as "opulent" and a staff favorite Barbera d'Alba. )

Panic button
If you're reading this and still don't have a plan for Valentine's Day, you may be beyond help. But try this anyway: Buy local chocolate. We have some standouts in the area, including Chocolate Vision's Champagne truffles infused with Barry Jackson's limited quantity Equinox sparkling wine and printed with red hearts ( Buy local wine. Vinocruz has local vintages and both Equinox and Chocolate Vision gift packs (831.426.VINO). Speaking of chocolate, the Davenport Roadhouse is featuring Donnelly chocolate fondue with seasonal fruit for its weekend-long Valentine's Day dinner menu. There are also special room packages available if you get swept away and want to extend the evening—wink, wink ( If you want to stay cozy at home but don't want to cook something elaborate on a weeknight, pick up one of the restaurant-worthy entrees and desserts available at Carried Away in Aptos, which is featuring an amazing three-course Prix Fixe Valentine's Day dinner menu for $29.50. Call 831.685.3926 to order.

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