Photograph by Amber Turpin
Great Balls o' Fire!: The rare Turkish eggplant is in season.
Lulu's at the Octagon's coffee, Scotts Valley's newest addiction and orange (yes, orange) eggplant
By AMBER TURPIN
The Perfect Cup Lulu's at the Octagon is a new gourmet coffeehouse that appears to be succeeding at every level. Owner Manthri Srinath, who also owns Lulu Carpenter's and Coffee Cat in Scotts Valley, has created an establishment where the staff is nice and knowledgeable, the atmosphere casual and sophisticated and the product outstanding. Helpful displays showing the flavor profiles for each of several coffees (all roasted locally at Coffee Cat) and over 40 teas make going to get that cup of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe or Makaibari Darjeeling an interactive experience. And the coffee is superb. From a Seattle-based company comes the "Clover" electronic press pot, a machine that combines French and vacuum press techniques and controls temperature and other variables, eliminating the "aroma loss and waste" that plague other brewing methods, according to drink trainer (yes, Lulu's has one) Cedric Synnestvedt. The beans for each individual cup of coffee are first weighed, then ground, then brewed one at a time in the Clover. Assistant manager Jenny Watson says several of Lulu's espresso drinks are copyrighted—true signature creations. Lulu's does short pulls or shots of espresso ("ristretto" in Italian), since the "beginning of the shot is where the good coffee flavor is," Watson says. The new Pearl Valley blend of Indian and Indonesian beans is her favorite right now. Lulu's also sells a variety of quality baked goods like muffins, cookies and an unusual Earl Grey shortbread. My personal weakness is for the "Jomo salty roll," a guarded recipe created by the mother of Jomo, a former employee who left this delicious legacy for us all to enjoy. For more info, call 831.429.LULU.
'Crackberry,' Scotts Valley Style YoGizmo, a new Scotts Valley frozen yogurt shop, is the brainchild of owner Lisa Love and features "The Gizmo," a machine that turns plain, cultured frozen yogurt and a variety of frozen fruits into custom soft serve. Soy-based alternatives and Marianne's ice cream are also available for creating similar "Infruzions." YoGizmo bears a striking similarity to pinkberry, a frozen dessert chain that has exploded in popularity and number in Southern California, prompting celebrity raves and nicknames like "crackberry" and "liquid heroin." The characteristic tang, low sweetening and simple toppings of choice that draw people to this concept are now available for us to sample locally. Unlike the controversial pinkberry, full disclosure of all ingredients is posted (even the not-so-pure) along with nutritional facts. See www.yogizmo.com or call 831.439.9696.
Clever Disguise The orange Turkish eggplant is an elusive character, appearing rarely, first of all, and then only in disguise. Resembling an orange tomato or even a tiny, rust-colored pumpkin from a distance, this gently green-striped, globe-shaped nightshade has sweet flesh and a long shelf life. Curt Lucero and his father, Ben, of Lucero Farms in Lodi, grow this variety along with its purple, black, and white cousins. The Luceros moved away from our area in 1999 in search of cheaper land and a hotter climate for more crop diversity, and now grow colorful, all-organic produce for several Bay Area farmers markets, including our downtown Santa Cruz market every Wednesday.
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