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Photograph by Pim Techamuanvivit
Money : Financiers by Pim et Isabelle, at Lulu's at the Octagon


Sweets by David Kinch's sweetie. Where do we sign up?

By Amber Turpin

John Steinbeck probably never imagined that the sleepy little coastal pocket that inspired most of his books would become the nexus of sustainable seafood outreach. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is being honored by Bon Appétit magazine as "Tastemaker of the Year" for its Seafood Watch program. The 11th annual Bon Appétit Awards in New York took place this month, a gala affair for the food industry put on by the sleek and glossy publication. In addition, the magazine's October issue features a thorough description of how successful the aquarium has been in transforming consumer attitudes and habits regarding seafood. The Seafood Watch team now produces and updates six regional pocket guides, a national pocket guide, three Spanish-language pocket guides and a mobile version available instantly on Internet-enabled phones and PDAs; the total distribution is over 24 million guides since 1999. The newest version, being released mid-October, will focus on sustainable sushi. The work of the Aquarium has not only created momentum toward real change, but has also served as an important model for other institutions and organizations nationwide. (

There is soon to be another spot to get your acai fix, the Brazilian "it" ingredient touting ultrahigh antioxidants and delicious berry flavor. Tucked into an interesting location on Water Street across from the county buildings and close to the jail will be Samba Rock Acai Cafe. Presumably, the offerings will include juices, snacks and of course the ever-popular acai bowl. The next-door neighbors at the Santa Cruz Record are excited about a new option for coffee, breakfast or lunch in this somewhat barren food zone. Apparently the owners started work on the new cafe in March, but report that they are hoping to open next month.

A busy summer of work took me away from the downtown vicinity for the last couple of months. So my latest stop at Lulu's at the Octagon brought some welcome and delicious surprises in addition to an unsurpassed cup of Clover-brewed joe. A new baker has been hired and the products have become "more grown-up," states one employee. Even visually, the baked goods seem to be of a higher caliber. Buttery scones, less cakey muffins and amazing crème-filled brioche now fill the front case. In addition, a tiny two-woman company called Pim et Isabelle is contributing a beautiful handful of items each week as of late July. The dainty nectarine financier (mini loaf-shaped almond cake named after its resemblance to a gold bar) I sampled was a perfect reflection of some patisserie-worthy skill. And in fact the two friends who power this exclusive baking company met in Paris. One of them, Pim Techamuanvivit, is of the blog Chez Pim, a big name in the food blogosphere. She's not only at the top of the blogging world food chain (and a guest judge on Iron Chef America), she also happens to be the sweetheart of local superstar chef David Kinch ... and a mighty fine baker to boot. Stop by soon to indulge yourself in the ever-changing selection of homemade pop tarts, Earl Grey madeleines, gingerbread cupcakes and more. (

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