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Photograph by Nikki Bowen
Inquire Within: Paul Cocking, right, has put Gabriella Café up for sale.

Changes Afoot


Turn, Turn, Turn  Spring has sprung quite a few developments in the local restaurant scene. Paul Cocking , longtime owner of Gabriella Café , has put the date-night destination up for sale. Signs of activity have been spotted in what was Pearl Alley Bistro , apparently reopening soon by a former employee in a more casual format. Also downtown, a new Pakistani and Afghan place called Khyber Pass is close to opening. The Portola House , a Santa Cruz landmark, is no more. In its place will be The Point Chophouse and Lounge . Also on Portola is now another place to get an Acai bowl in the new Deli-icious store. I haven't been, so I can't report on whether it's as good as that at Café Brazil. Dave Larkin , owner of Coffeetopia , has acquired another location in what was once the Coffee Spot on Capitola Road near 17th. Someone has bought the shuttered Wienerschnitzel on Soquel Avenue, a building that holds so much potential. And we are still anxiously awaiting the grand opening of the new Oswald . Stay tuned ...

The Art of Food Two artists were featured at the latest Meet the Artist Dinner at the Davenport Roadhouse on March 20. Boris Tyomkin and Jordan Swank presented their artwork in the dining rooms while the kitchen concocted a special menu to complement their creative achievements. Prawn tequila cocktail and macadamia-encrusted mahi mahi with local veggies highlighted Swank's vibrant seascapes, while blinchiki (potato crepes with ground beef) and golubtsy (cabbage rolls) paid tribute to the classic Russian realist technique of Moscow-born Tyomkin. Also, Los Gatos restaurateur Jeff Hanson has been assisting the Roadhouse with the dessert program, taking it a notch higher. With help from his Ukrainian wife, Marina , he created the Russian specials of the evening. The blinchiki, traditionally made for special occasions, was beautifully presented with an embellishment of caramelized onions, crème fraîche and an incredible beet reduction. "It looks a little bit more fancy than what I usually see," Tyomkin commented. Golubtsy, a very typical dish that his grandmother used to make, was in this case prepared with lamb instead of beef and a minted tomato coulis.

Savory Suds In July, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing held its second Homebrew to Probrew contest. After six months of aging and refinement, the winning organic American-style barleywine was finally unveiled. Dave Bossie , the champion home brewer responsible for the creation, started his hobby in 1992 after his wife bought him a home-brew kit. "It's been downhill ever since," he jokes. The March 19 release party featured more than just an opportunity to sample this bold yet delicately fragrant and floral ale; it also featured six diverse food stations demonstrating both good and bad flavor pairings with the beer.

The brewery increasingly emphasizes food and beer pairings, in keeping with the new trend that sees beermaker dinners with special menus at top restaurants. Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is among 48 independent craft brewers in the United States invited to the culmination of this movement at Savor: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience in Washington, D.C., on May 16-17. "We've always felt that the robust flavors of our organic ales are perfectly matched with brilliant foods. We're excited to be a part of this groundbreaking event," said owner Emily Thomas .

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