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Photograph by Amber Turpin
Tomato, Tomahto: Tomatofest featured 350 varieties of everyone's favorite nightshade.


Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing; San Lorenzo foodfest; more.

By Amber Turpin

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
The company will be waving goodbye to summer and hello to returning students on Saturday, Sept. 29, with a beer, sausage and bluegrass celebration. "Santa Cruz County's First Certified Microbrewery," on the Westside in the Swift Street Courtyard, has opened up its former warehouse space, just completed this June to include a new upstairs tasting room and outdoor beer garden. The event features a live acoustic bluegrass collective, nicknamed the "Sausage Trio" for the day, as well as Justin Severino on-site grilling up his handcrafted sausages from Severino's Community Butchers. All eight varieties of organic beers on tap will be available for $3, including the gold medal-winning Dread Brown, also the personal favorite of manager and self-proclaimed "libation specialist" Kelly Vaillancourt. "It's gonna be lots of fun," she says, and a good opportunity to sample all of the brewery's creations and wish the brewers good luck before they go to "the Mac-daddy of all beer festivals" in October, otherwise know as the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado.

Eat for the Children
On Sunday, Sept. 16, the Children's Center of San Lorenzo Valley, together with the SLV Rotary Club, hosted its annual "Taste of SLV" at Highlands Park in Ben Lomond. The center received more than $12,000 in donations in a multitude of forms from local restaurants, wineries, food producers and community members, all toward the goal of raising money for a new pre-kindergarten classroom. The evening's live auction featured some incredible items, such as a private tour of Heart O' the Mountain Winery, built for Alfred Hitchcock and never open to the public; lunch with Assemblyman John Laird; a private underground tour of the Boardwalk; and an "Instant Cellar" of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard wines. Jeff Emery, father of a Children's Center student and longtime winemaker for SC Mountain Vineyard, was also in attendance, pouring generous tastes of his donated wines plus those of Pelican Ranch, Zayante, Osocalis Distillery and Byington, where he is producing his wares these days during a period he describes as the "winery equivalent of couch-surfing." Dessert First of Boulder Creek added a sweet ending during the exciting auction with dark, spicy carrot cake and flaky pecan tartlets.

Tomato Crazy
A gargantuan amount of food, wine and people turned out for the Tomatofest in Carmel Valley. In this year's program, founder Gary Ibsen writes, "Each of our 50 chefs has agreed to donate 1,000 servings of a specially created tomato dish. That's 60,000 tastes for our 2,500 guests ... lots of food." Santa Cruz was represented quite well by some of our standouts. Chef A. Scott Cater of Casablanca served scallop and lobster roulade with heirloom tomato relish, and Mrs. A's Famous Salsa Buena was sampled in the "Salsa Showcase." Bargetto, Hallcrest, Mann Cellars, Martin Ranch, Pelican Ranch, Silver Mountain and Storrs wineries showed off the lovely Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. Happy Boy Farm and Cynthia Sandberg of Love Apple Farm contributed heirloom tomatoes for the 350-variety tasting event.

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