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PILE IT ON: The new self-serve frozen yogurt shop on Water street is the sinner's answer to the salad bar.


The salad bar concept is applied to frozen yogurt on Water St in Santa Cruz and the Ritz Carlton of Half Moon Bay finally realizes Santa Cruz wines are absolutely delicious

By Amber Turpin

BEES KNEES People near and far know of Bonny Doon Farm's legendary lavender products, but fewer are clued in to the farm's line of edible goods: honey! Referred to as "America's original fine English lavender estate," the farm was planted in 1972 by dedicated owners Gary and Diane Meehan. They grow three varieties of the plant, including their own cultivar called "Frieda" in honor of Diane's mother. Since the '70s the company has grown, with little advertising and lots of word of mouth, to stores around the country. The recent Martin fire almost destroyed the couple's home and livelihood, coming within 15 feet of the highly combustible lavender fields, not to mention their propane tank. Gary stayed up all night with a hose and some strong conviction to save the farm, and thankfully we can continue to enjoy their goods. The locally sourced honey, with help from supplier Meek's and area bee populations, comes in five diverse varieties. True Lavender, Lavender Infused, Orange Blossom, Big Sur Wild and Yellow Star Thistle broadly range in flavor and potency, but are equally delicious. If you suffer from allergies, try incorporating some local honey into your diet. Find it around town in places like Shopper's Corner or get it online at The Meehan's will also appear at the upcoming Capitola Art & Wine Festival, Sept. 6-7.

SELF-SERVICE The latest storefront incarnation at 738 Water St. will be a self-serve frozen yogurt shop called Top-A lot. This location has had many lives, most recently a very short-lived bike store, but perhaps the tangy "fro-yo" frenzy that is sweeping the world will help this new business succeed. Twelve yogurt flavors in soft serve machines, ranging from cappuccino to passion fruit, are stationed along a wall. You grab a one-size container, dispense whatever flavors you wish and proceed to the topping bar to embellish your creation with sprinkles, fruits, nuts and even Mochi balls. Just like a salad bar, everything is tallied up by weight (43 cents per ounce), making only you to blame for the cost of having bigger eyes than stomach.

PUTTIN ON THE RITZ Our fancy pants neighbors the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay are tipping their hats to Santa Cruz Mountain winegrowers with a new partnership that began this June. Every couple of weeks, a designated Santa Cruz winery will be featured at various locations throughout the luxury 261 room resort, spa, and golf course. There are special wine pairings on the chef's tasting menu at Navio, the hotel restaurant, and the corkage fee is waived Monday through Wednesday on any Santa Cruz Mountain AVA bottle here as well. Every Saturday afternoon from 2:30 to 3:30pm, get schooled by winemakers at "Eno-Versity" in the ENO wine bar and tasting room. We've already missed Alfaro Family Vineyards and Thomas Fogarty Winery, but up next are Bonny Doon, Burrell School, Testarossa, Storrs and Ridge, taking us all the way to Halloween. Check the Ritz website for the wine education class schedule that includes all of these wineries as well. or direct at 650.712.7000.

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