[the Goldies: Best of Santa Cruz 1998

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Staff Picks - Food and Drink

[whitespace] Best Jam
Ginger Peach Tea

One of the finest confitures that ever topped a piece of toast, this Republic of Tea/Stonewall Kitchen collaboration is as good as it sounds. Crystallized ginger and ginger peach tea are the not-so-secret ingredients in this thinking person's answer to Welch's grape jelly. Tangy and tart, yet not as astringent as orange marmalade, this stuff offers chunks of peach and ginger throughout its burnished golden mass. Absolutely not-too-sweet, it's also somehow cozy in a refined, Proustian way. It wraps its arms around your morning toast--especially delightful with rye--and nourishes. Not designer, simply enlightened. A big tastebud tempest for $5.99 (you can find it at Shoppers Corner and other progressive emporia).
Christina Waters


Slurpees

Best Reason to Love Springtime
Slurpees

Winter has its richly comforting hot cocoa, it's spicy mulled cider and it's healing teas, but springtime--God bless!--has the Slurpee. Icy, cool, refreshing goodness guaranteed to kill a few brain cells with its mighty freeze, the Slurpee announces the coming of 85-degree days, summer breezes and warm nights. With six 7-Elevens in Santa Cruz alone, there's never a shortage of the stuff, nor is there a lack of flavor combinations. Whether you've a hankering for the classic Coke and cherry combo or feel like experimenting with mango, blue raspberry or banana, Slurpees not only hearken spring's arrival but make you feel at least 10 years younger.
Karen Reardanz


Best Neighborhood Donut Shop
Dunlap Donuts, 38th and Portola

The early morning scene at this monument to the most American of pastries is all about Pacific Rim beach town. Damp surfers in Ugg boots and flannels congregate in booths slurping the filling out of jelly doughnuts while retired guys in Windbreakers hunch at the low counter over cups of Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company joe. All morning long a steady stream of worker bees stops in to fuel up for the hectic drive over the hill. And everyone, but everyone, gets a chance to decode the thick Cambodian accents emanating from behind the counter. That part's better than a crossword puzzle, but without the answers the next day. The doughnuts themselves are puffy, fresh and delicious, but the real attraction of Dunlap lies in its proximity to the beach, its well-lit, comfortable spaciousness and the funky, working-class hit you get off the place.
Traci Hukill


Lyon's

Best Chocolate Milkshake
Lyon's Restaurant

Rule No. 1: It's gotta be made with vanilla ice cream. And you gotta overdo the chocolate syrup. Then, you gotta undermix it so there are still some virgin lumps of ice cream to be happily unearthed by the long-stemmed spoon. And, of course, there has to be yet another milkshake's worth left over, served as a sidecar in an icy metal container. That is a proper chocolate milkshake. But if one is to indulge in an artery-choking, turbo-charged cholesterol blowout, one must be surrounded with the proper atmo. Don't get us wrong: Dozens of joints can knock out a killer shake, but can they also serve up authentic Naugahyde, cheerful waitpersons and a roomful of gray-hairs who--unlike their younger, aerobically fit, health-Nazi counterparts found in our city's more chichi restaurants--will not sneer at your caloriefest. By the way, the Buffalo wings ain't bad, either.
Kelly Luker


Best Alternative to Sunday Morn Breakfast Waits
Cafe Pergolesi

On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the waitstaff at certain popular downtown breakfast eateries have a grisly duty--removing the bleached bones of customers who died of starvation at that morning's wait for a table. The hung-over, the hypoglycemic and the impatient suffer mightily at these establishments, where the host's airy "Oh, about 25 minutes" is code for "45 at least." Some would argue that the tasty payoff is worth the demoralizing wait and the gnawing hunger pangs, but some days you just want to get to a sitting position (not on a curb) with a cup of coffee as quickly as possible. Cafe Pergolesi's the place. Able to seat vast hordes in a single rush, willing to toast a bagel in two minutes' time, and happy to whip up a frothy latté in mere moments, Pergolesi's size and the staff's alacrity make it an ideal place to sprawl with a Sunday paper and fuel up for a day of dedicated relaxation.
Traci Hukill


Best Year-Round Adult Drink
Campari

This persimmon-colored Italian aperitif with the musical name is an utterly correct cocktail, summer and winter. In summer, you offer your friends Campari and soda, perhaps with a lemon twist. Or you turn this into a vitamin C delivery system by mixing Campari and orange juice. Very refreshing and bartenders everywhere will spot you as a sophisticate. In the winter, Campari can help keep the chill away. Only you dispense with ice cubes and mix the gorgeously bitter crimson liquid with gin. We suggest a 50/50 blend of Bombay gin--don't waste your Bombay Sapphire on this--and Campari. Pour it into small but pretty glasses, sit in front of the fire and savor. We call the winter version "red drink" for obvious but compelling reasons. Even your non-drinking friends will enjoy holding a glass of red drink, it's so damn pretty.
Christina Waters


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From the March 26-April 1, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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