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RestaurantsSanta Cruz
11.14.07

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Why Is This Man Smiling?: Because he's been to the Golden Bean chocolate bar.

Dish

The Golden Bean Chocolate Bar
Raw food just got a lot more interesting.

By AMBER TURPIN


Bean There, Ate That
The next step for Matt Samuelson and Chris Peck, creators of High Integrity Foods, is chocolate. Various life paths, from Circuit City and construction to movie sets in wintertime Lithuania, have somehow led to lucrative raw foods careers (Samuelson, who lives in Corralitos, created the original Café La Vie menu). Their new product, the Golden Bean chocolate bar, is beautiful in so many ways. The title and original artwork is a play on the Golden Mean, a concept related to the Fibonacci sequence, or "sacred geometry," as Samuelson says. Without conventional roasting or fermentation, the fair trade Peruvian cocoa beans are safely treated in hydrogen peroxide baths and processed at a small, family-owned facility in Portland, Ore. It's melted (nothing is heated above 120 degrees) and combined with all raw and organic ingredients: agave nectar, vanilla bean, Himalayan salt and a tiny bit of soy lecithin as an emulsifier, then tempered for a satisfying snap. The finished 62 percent bar is surprisingly (at least for a lifelong "cooked" chocolate fan) rich, smooth and complex. Look for the original on sale at the Food Bin, as well as possible coconut, goji berry and macadamia nut varieties in the future. Visit www.highintegrityfoods.com or call 831.713.8839 for direct sales.

Grape Getaways
Every third Saturday in November, January, April and July, the sleepy nooks and crannies of our Santa Cruz Mountains come alive with carloads of people searching for wine. More than 50 participating wineries, several of which are rarely open to the public, generously open their doors to the wine-loving masses during the popular Passport days presented by the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers' Association. Silver Mountain Vineyard, generally open by appointment only, is one such winery. But on Nov. 17 the breathtaking vertical drive up to the tasting room will reward you with not only a stamped passport and award-winning wine but an abundant harvest festival as well. Winemaker Jerold O'Brien seized this amazing spot partly due to his belief that "a mountain philosophy of independence and challenge is pivotal to producing strong character, both in people and in grapes." In addition to offering samples of wines made from organically grown grapes, he will be leading tours of the facilities, giving the public a look-see into his winemaking practices. Live music and local artists and producers will be on-site for this special one-day-only farmers market from 11am-5pm. www.scmwa.com or www.silvermtn.com.

Green Team
It may not be on calendars, but Nov. 15 happens to be "America Recycles Day." In honor of the date, mayor Emily Reilly presented New Leaf Markets (Santa Cruz and Capitola stores), Alfresco on Pacific Avenue, La Posta and three UCSC dining facilities with Green Business Certification awards. According to the Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program, with which the City of Santa Cruz has partnered, recipients don't just comply with regulations, they exceed standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste. And there are audits. These guys are walking the talk. For example, plans for the future expanded Westside New Leaf include an on-site composting system in addition to the store's other conservation efforts. It's one more reason to hop on a bike and visit these businesses (not to mention another great excuse for wine and pizza at La Posta).

Got a tidbit for Dish? Email aturpin@metcruz.com.

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