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The White Stuff: Skip the sugar bowl. There are many ways to make a dessert taste sweet.


Santa Cruz says good-bye to Severino Community Butchers as Justin Severino heads back East.

By Amber Turpin

Sweet Surprises
UNREFINED PLEASURE In spite of the sound of it, Xylitol is not another anti-anxiety prescription drug with a zillion side effects. It's an alternative sweetener that comes from birch trees and places a glycemic load of zero on your blood sugar. New Leaf's Culinary Academy is a new program that provides healthy food and cooking education to our community, with classes such as "Know Your Fats" and "Raw, Cultured and Sprouted, Oh My!" The latest class, "Baking and Cooking with Unrefined Sugars," offered a wealth of nutritional information, hands-on experimentation and delicious shared results. Nutritionist and chef Jennifer Brewer gracefully conveyed an abundance of nutritional wisdom and cooking instruction in a way that was far from overwhelming and actually quite inspiring. At the end of the class, located within Lifestyles Culinary Arts, a gigantic spread of alternative and healthy foods became our feast, with to-go boxes homeward bound and laden with sweets that I don't feel bad about eating for breakfast. Fortunately, this class was only the second in a series that continues into May, and for $35, it's a great deal on self-improvement;, 831.466.9060 ext. 117.

YUMMY MONEY If you happen to be out on the town for the First Friday Art Tour on Dec. 7, stop by Santa Cruz County Bank at 325 Soquel Ave. and see how seamlessly food and art can go together. Culinary Palettes: Artwork to Whet Your Appetite, appearing at all four branches, is the latest exhibit put on by the bank's Arts Collaborative program. The Friday reception, from 6 to 8pm, will feature work from 16 artists focusing on food and its core importance in our lives. Snacks by the Culinary Center of Santa Cruz, Surmonte Company, Blackboard Catering and Praise Cheeses Pass the Wine as well as wines from Vinocruz will augment the visual experience. Don't miss the live food carving demonstration by Petcharee Tamawong at 7pm;

FAREWELL After a delicious year of artisanal charcuterie and fine butchery, we must bid farewell to our friends Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott, owners of the much-loved Severino's Community Butcher. Sorely missed will be the spicy sausage, crepinette, Boston butt and finocchio salumi that graced our table after every farmers market visit, as well as the inspired work and conversation that fueled this sustainable craft. The couple are moving back to their home state of Pennsylvania to be closer to family but will continue their involvement in promoting food integrity with a friend who owns a handful of restaurants in Pittsburgh. TLC Ranch in Watsonville (, which up until a couple of months ago was the meat source for Severino's, may be reappearing at the Westside farmers market as well as on some area menus including that of Ristorante Avanti. Unless someone else steps into the butcher's apron (perhaps Justin's right-hand man, Chris LaVeque?), this will be a sadly gaping hole in our local culinary scene. It was great knowing you both and we wish you all the best.

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