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What Would Dante Eat?: The Dante Society and Slow Food Santa Cruz have some ideas.


What happens when you mix the Dante Society and Slow Foods? A feast fit for a Medici.


Italian Party
Slow Food Monterey Bay, Slow Food Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz chapter of the Dante Alighieri Society came together a couple of weeks ago for the second year in a row to celebrate everything Italian. "Culture is food, so this is a great collaboration," says Jane Hancock, board member of the Dante Society. When 50 gastronomes put together a potluck, it is sure to be an outstanding array of dishes. There were beautifully simple baby zucchini, classic eggplant parmigiana, caprese salads and Italian sausage, to name just a few items. Wines were brought to share as well, and Limoncello too. For dessert, Massimo Caporale of Gelato Massimo offered up pumpkin and strawberry pinot grigio gelatos while an apple crostata, chocolate truffles and a towering Sicilian Marsala fig cake finished things off. The hosts, Jean and Jerry Thomas of Thomas Farms in Aptos, moved to the "oldest house on Pleasant Valley Road" in 1971 to start what is now a successful seven-acre farm. Speaking about his efforts within the organic movement and Slow Food, Jerry says that one of the "main challenges is getting more young people involved so it's not all old goats." For more information, visit or

I wonder how many people out there started enjoying food on a deeper level because of Mollie Katzen. The James Beard Hall of Fame recipient began her odyssey of vegetarian cooking guides with the original Moosewood Cookbook, one of the top 10 most popular cookbooks of all time, which she actually started working on in high school. On Oct. 29, Katzen visited our very own Capitola Book Café to promote her newest books, Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without and Eat, Drink and Weigh Less, and to discuss her lasting goal of getting people to eat better. Vegetarianism should not be just "anything but meat-ism," says Katzen, who's trying to come up with terminology that relates more to "garden- and orchard-based eating." Cooking tips, nutritional facts, ideas about mindfulness ("Nobody ever binges slowly") and constant humor made this book signing uncommonly fun. The River Café and Cheese Shop re-created some of Katzen's recipes for the crowd, using fresh goods donated by Everett Family Farm and Dirty Girl Produce. As she signed my tattered copy of The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, Katzen revealed what keeps burnout at bay: "I love to cook and I really care about how people eat."

If you happen to be taking a morning jaunt through the San Lorenzo Valley and need a quick caffeine break, stop in at Coffee 9 in Ben Lomond. Here lie a surprisingly large selection of coffee (several organic), teas and comestibles, including a house-made bran muffin that is unlike any I've had before. Of all the flavors—including lemon poppy seed, banana nut and a volcanic-looking blueberry muffin—the bran varieties (plain, raisin or upside-down candied walnut) are the most interesting. The crust shatters with a bit of greasy crispness while the inside remains dense, not too sweet, and full of bran texture, or at least with enough hearty chew to preserve a wholesome guise. It is a commitment to consume the entire thing, so bring a friend. 9505 Hwy 9, Ben Lomond. 831.336.4521.

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