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RestaurantsSanta Cruz
04.16.08

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Lettuce Rejoice: The Sunday market in Live Oak is back.

Dish

Fusion opens in the space formerly occupied by Pearl Alley Bistro.

By Amber Turpin


UPSTAIRS
Reported signs of life at the old Pearl Alley Bistro are actually real, due to the simple fact that the place never closed. My mistake. New owner Pati Murray has teamed up with Robert Morris, former chef/owner of Blacks Beach Cafe, to bring us Fusion. The wine list and dinner menu both highlight local treasures and farmers-market-driven dishes while also gathering ideas from the rest of the world. "Our goal is to use organic, locally grown produce, naturally raised meats and sustainable fisheries," says a note on the menu--always nice to know. "We're getting a lot of positive feedback on the food," says bartender Andrew, who generously poured samples of wine to help me decide from the thoughtfully crafted by-the-glass list. A DJ table and late-night menu (food is served until midnight on weekends) broaden the scope a bit, making this new restaurant lounge a welcome addition to downtown. I will definitely return to sample the almond-crusted day boat scallops with lime, vanilla and green chile vinaigrette and tear into one thing they didn't change, those chewy, salty, famous Pearl Alley rolls. (831.429.8070)

FORK ETHICS
In 1996, Tom and Constance Broz started Live Earth Farm. One acre of land and 20 CSA families have since turned into about 50 abundant acres and 650 CSA members from Palo Alto to Carmel, but the farm has never lost its focus on education. Currently students from Wavescrest Middle School spend a whole day once a week learning everything from field work and harvesting to preparing a fresh lunch. In fact, the desire to increase the educational offerings has resulted in Jessica Ridgeway's full-time Education Program Coordinator position and a new nonprofit, the Live Earth Farm Learning and Discovery Program. A mission "to offer 'farm to fork' education for the local community, focusing on sustainable agriculture techniques, viable local economies and the availability of nutritious food for all members of our community," says Ridgeway, will culminate in Live Earth's first annual Fine Farm Feast fundraiser this October. Modeled after the popular Outstanding in the Field alfresco experience, this event will bring together wine, music, a beautiful setting and, of course, a lavish five-course meal. Live Earth seeks producers, musicians, winemakers, chefs and anyone with an interest in contributing to this exciting first. Call or email to lend a hand: 831.763.2448 or lefeducation@baymoon.com.

LIVE OAK FRESH
Speaking of farms, the seasonal Live Oak Farmers Market officially began on April 6 and will happen every Sunday from 10am to 2pm. Shady Todd espresso cart, Frog Hollow Farm pastries baked fresh at a local commercial kitchen, hot crepes and all-organic breakfast and lunch items by Conscious Creations will supplement the array of just-picked produce from surrounding farms. Windmill Farms has vibrant greens and the first spring strawberries from a new plot of land in Moss Landing. Eggs are abundant at three locations: Everett Family Farms, TLC Ranch (bacon too!) and Faria Farms. For Sunday dinner, pick up some handmade ravioli from Marina's Pensi Pasta and exceedingly fresh fish from H&H. (www.santacruzfarmersmarket.org)


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