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The Goldies

Staff Picks

Photographs by Robert Scheer



Best Place to Say "Hello!"

This would have to be the Wet Zone--the intertidal zone, really--that constantly shifting stretch of sand where the land meets the sea and nothing is certain except that your feet are wet. Maybe it's the comedy of slowly getting soaked or the ecstasy of having your bare feet massaged by the sand, but even the surliest surfers seem to have smiles plastered across their faces as they patter through the zone trailed by dripping dogs. And maybe it's the agony of walking on pebbles or the bombardment of negative ions, but even total strangers smile right back when they reach this rich strip if you say "Hello!" (Sarah Phelan)


Best Martini in a Former Catholic School

If ever there was an unexpected and atmospheric place to savor a long, slow cocktail, it's got to be the terrace at Chaminade, where a velvety lawn gets lost in a eucalyptus grove overlooking the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor and shimmering deep blue sea beyond. In the winter you can enjoy your Bombay Sapphire martini at polar temperatures, while you keep cozy in front of a fire. When you do, you'll be sitting roughly where a bunch of Catholic lads regularly played basketball against local teams (according to my father, who was one of those homegrown jocks) as a break from the scholastic rigors set forth by the Marianist fathers. In warm weather, have that icy martini served out on the terrace, so you can toast the facility's secular mission as a matchless rendezvous site. Watch the sunset, listen to the grass grow and give a prayer of thanks to the wily churchmen and their on-target sense of location, location, location. (Christina Waters)


Best Place to Learn to Eat Flowers

Flowers look beautiful, but did you know that some of them taste good, too? Check out UCSC's Agroecology Farm and Garden, where docents will teach you everything you've always wanted to know about double digging your vegetable beds, sustainable agriculture and more--including which flowers to add to your dinner table. Nasturtium leaves are surprisingly hot, honeysuckle is sweet, as might be expected, and the blue stars of the borage plant will add a twinkle to a salad. And while you're at it, you might find yourself inspired by the dedicated apprentices to start an organic garden. (Sarah Phelan)


Best Rabble-Rouser

That Barbara Graves really knows how to bust up a party. Appalled at the prospect of a strip mall and Borders superstore in her neighborhood, this resident of Capitola formed a coalition--W.A.V.E.--and stepped in just as the swooning Capitola City Council was ready to pucker up for suitor Redtree Properties. Detractors call Graves "crazy." Translation: She's a tough cookie, passionate about her community, and she don't take crap. You go, girl. (Kelly Luker)


Best Anti-Kid Law

A skate ban on sidewalks makes sense. However, in a county where skateboarding is a favored form of transportation for young people and the local skate industry brings in good sales-tax revenues, keeping skaters off the streets of the county's cities and incorporated areas with the threat of fines and confiscation of their plank is unfair. Some people are afraid of teenagers. Others don't like the clatter of skateboards. Understandable, but if noise is the issue, let's keep Harley-Davidson motorcycles or even cars off our streets. We should ticket skaters who use city sidewalks or grind people's planter boxes, but there is no good reason skaters shouldn't be able to use downtown streets, like any other legitimate mode of transportation. (Michael Mechanic)


Best Place to Release Pent-up Aggressions

The fields of Brussels sprouts roll for miles along Highway 1 north of town. Even if your parents never forced you to stay at the table until you swallowed every one of those noxious little balls--and even if you've since come to love the adorable member of the mustard family--this is the place to come for some cheap therapy. Follow the trails west of Wilder Ranch toward the ocean, filling your pockets with errant sprouts that have rolled into the path. When you've gathered all you can carry, stand on the edge of the cliffs and whip the sprouts as far out into the churning brine as you can. Ahh. Breathe deeply. (Laura Counts)


Best Post Office

They have it all wrong, see. It's the customers that go postal in most post offices, waiting in lines that seem to wind through Dante's 12 circles of Hell. But not so in little Soquel, where there's rarely a crowd and everybody gets a friendly greeting from Terry, Cathy or Beth. And just like its big brother downtown, this outpost has priority and overnight service, boxes, tape and padded envelopes. Yup, 95073 gets our stamp of approval. (Kelly Luker)


Best Aggro Granddad

Who has three grandkids, body piercings, a goatee that changes colors regularly and the ability to travel 80 mph without a motor? Why, that'd be "Bio Bob" Stiles, SC's craziest granddad. Not only does Stiles still play guitar for his punk band Schlep (with his wife, Jojo, on bass), he helped develop the death-defying sport of land luge, in which elongated, specially designed skateboards and their prone riders plummet down steep hills at hive-producing speeds. Most kids wouldn't even try this on a bet, but Grampa Bob travels the country for competitions, while his son, a pro skater, works that particular circuit. Stiles is a role model for those who believe youth never fades as long as you remain young at heart. (Michael Mechanic)


Best Game of Hidden Pictures

Next time your folks come to town, take them down to the pastoral Pearl Alley mural for a wholesome game of Find-the-Genitalia. The goal? See if Mom and Pop can locate the wieners in the water or the exquisitely fig-shaped images colored in graduating shades of pink and coral and cunningly disguised as parts of tree trunks. Freudian and O'Keeffian they certainly are, but the best part is the look on the players' faces when they see those wild things plastered up there on the side of the wall, in front of God and everyone. (Traci Hukill)


Best Store to get Trapped in for a Year

The store has everything from couches and fresh-baked croissants to books and TVs. And then there are the computers, the camping gear and the freezers chock full o' every kind of "microwave your dinner in six minutes" meals imaginable. Oh yeah, Mom and Pop Costco sell microwaves, too. And no worries: everything comes in bulk supply so there's no chance of running out of food during your sequestered year. But actually, would being stuck there for a year be so bad? The shoppers might get annoying, but otherwise it means a year without work-related and/ or financial responsibilities. Maybe that's the only thing you can't find yet on the Costco shelves: in-store vacations. (Lauren Walsh)


Best Street Music

Why, in a town replete with talent, is it so hard to find street buskers that you'd even want to encourage with a donation in their open instrument cases? What happened to the Bob Brozmans of the street scene? Now it seems any old hippie with a crappy acoustic guitar and knowledge of a few stale covers tries to make a living. As for the old guy with the violin, I'd rather listen to a squeaky door hinge. With that in mind, The Channel Three--a young jazz trio of standup bass, horn and drum--was a welcome addition to the street. These cats dish up some groovy stuff and have started making appearances in local clubs. As for some of you rock bands, maybe you should unplug and try hitting the streets. Hell, there's nowhere else to play around here. (Michael Mechanic)


Best Spot on the Central Coast

Okay, this one's controversial since the five-mile necklace of awesome visuals up the North Coast contains at least three celestial moments of California dreamin'--Waddell Creek, Scott Creek and Davenport Landing. Of these, Scott Creek wins. Bringing all who enter its breathtaking lagoon and exquisite beach to their knees, it is the first morning of the world permanently located north of Davenport. Nowhere else on the coast do the redwoods seem so perfectly placed on mountain ridges, making midnight-hued zigzags along meadows facing China. Ducks, geese and herons all glide among the lagoon's cattails, barely visible through morning mists of gothic proportion. In deep fog, the effect is pure enchantment as Highway 1 disappears into a landscape that looks exactly as it did to Ohlone hunters. Such beauty sings in all seasons, the brilliant chartreuses of spring as well as the brown and purple tweeds of autumn. But I'll take it on a wild, wet day when land, sky and water unite in an alchemical wedding of quickest silver. (Christina Waters)


Best Honey

Many moons ago, before homogeneity became the industrial catchword of the day, the flavor of that most natural of sweeteners would reflect the journeys of its maker, the honeybee--a life spent in alfalfa fields, perhaps, or slow summer days in orange groves. Drop into Hansen's Feed near Corralitos and pick up a jar of the store-brand honey that tastes just like a picture postcard from those traveling bees. But call ahead for availability--the fuzzy little guys don't work on an assembly line, y'know. (Kelly Luker)


Best Cheap Ski Trip

DON'T HAVE MONEY, a car or ski gear? Never fear, Neptune's Kingdom at the Boardwalk has provided a pauper's alternative to the actual downhill wallet-busting adventure. Approaching the game, you grasp the poles and step into the skis mounted on a swiveling device that allows you to control your descent by wiggling your hips and feet. A video game with a monitor the size of a home theater displays the slopes whooshing by as you virtually plummet down the mountain. And if you screw up, you get the visual experience of a head-over-heels fall down a mountain at around 80 mph. This brings us back to some of the obvious benefits of the game. Barring falling off the machine and spraining your ankle, there is no risk of injury or physical discomfort. And a buck ain't bad for a ski trip these days. (Conan Knoll)


Best Place to Rebound

Judging from the popularity of the ball court at this alternately maligned and exalted public park, I figure it's a great place to rebound, lay-up and free throw. Fine. Sports are great. But watching lean, sweaty men jump around at Santa Cruz's Laurel Park outdoor court just might be one of the safest cures for the brokenhearted, especially those whose faith in the male of the species is a bit shaky. One can gaze upon a courtful of athletic physiques engaged in fierce competition and remember that goodness and beauty exist, that there are plenty of well-muscled fish in the sea and that, if nothing else, there will always be spectator sports. (Traci Hukill)


Best Leftie Sugar Daddy

SCAN indeed has a friend in Gordon Pusser. The liberal-lovin' do-gooder forked over an $8,000 loan to SCAN, leased the political action group $22,000 worth of equipment and owns the offices that SCAN leases. It was no wonder that a few SCAN-ners got nervous about their pal Pusser owning the major assets, paying the staff and collecting rent. Apparently, this has all been worked out and everybody's kissy-smoochy again. But hey, Mack Daddy G.--was it love or were you just buying their affection? (Kelly Luker)


Best Pace to Finish Your Novel in an Altered State

AROUND 8AM, long before downtown Santa Cruz wakes up, a few poets, planners and philosophers have already claimed their worn wooden tables in Georgiana's Cafe. With the mighty Bookshop Santa Cruz guarding their backs, and the morning revving its engines just outside the long row of windows, this spot spells heaven for brooding existentialists who can't get properly cynical without caffeine. A tall double latté--the kind served in a glass and separated into bandwidths of cream and buff--can generate the first half of a decent poem. Or an entire love letter. Or a quick sketch. At Georgiana's, you can simply sit, look out the window, watch the town wake up and only appear to be the second coming of Jack Kerouac. Or better yet, Joan Didion. (Christina Waters)


Best Thing About Winter

WHEN WINTER RAIN flushes debris down angry rivers, the unimpressed ocean hurls the whole darn mess back in our face. But the piles of uprooted trees, slashed tires and Styrofoam cups seem to trigger a basic instinct to gather and build, display and defend, and pretty soon a driftwood village full of tumble-down teepees stretches along the shore. But warring kids ransack each other's forts for lootables, and neither the four-wheeled driftmobile nor the deluxe stone temple can stop the incoming tide. As if recognizing their antlike status, people struggle home, supporting an oversized log in their arms. (Sarah Phelan)


Best Booty

OOOH, that chef extraordinaire of Oswald tries to hide his finest assets behind a voluminous apron, but we know better. Maybe it's all that running back and forth from chopping block to Farmer's Market that has put the gluts on our favorite Toots--who knows? The bottom line is this: The rest of the town may love your croutons, Charlie Deal, but we gals love your buns. (Kelly Luker)


Best Feeding Frenzy

YOU CAN track the anchovies' progress parallel to the coastline in autumn by the line of pelicans giving chase about a quarter mile out to sea, but nowhere can you get a better view of the inevitable feeding frenzy than at the beach at the end of 17th Avenue. Drawn in swarms to the shelter of the cove there, the anchovies provide an all-you-can-eat buffet for noisy flocks of pelicans dive-bombing the water with greedy zeal. For each pelican that resurfaces with a beakful of anchovy, there are two seagulls waiting for crumbs to drop. It's cacophonous, murderous mayhem, and it's poetry in motion. (Traci Hukill)


Best Noncommercial Organic Garden

THEO'S chef Kate Davis has to be spoiled rotten by the delirious proximity of organically grown vegetables tended by Etan Hamm at his Soquel restaurant just a few steps outside the kitchen door. Hers for the picking. The inspiration potential of this lot-turned-Eden is staggering. On bamboo terraces beans by the dozens of varieties grow to infant or epic proportions, depending upon the chef's whims. Squashes tendril around forests of rosemary, sage and thyme. The cabbages and broccolis look like blue-green sculptures nestling in the aromatic compost. As remarkable as this seasonal abundance is, even more so are the umpteen varieties of roses. In full bloom, they join the vegetables in creating nothing less than a garden of earthly delights. To take one of Hamm's tours is invariably to be joyfully late for dinner. And with that first bite of salad, still bearing the imprint of the late afternoon sun, tasting fresher than a bold lover, the spell is complete. (Christina Waters)


Best Way to Get a Speeding Ticket

I drive through Scotts Valley via Mt. Hermon Road at least once every other day. About a quarter of those trips I can count on seeing some poor sucker pulled over by our local ChiPs. I'm not one to speed, but then I also don't feel it's necessary to check myself if I'm only five or 10 over the speed limit. On Mt. Hermon, however, I never--repeat never--go over the speed limit. If you want to be safe, the secret is to be obsessed about how fast you are driving. Or if you want to see the Scotts Valley version of Cops, just pull into one of the many parking lots along Mt. Hermon, sit back and watch the drivers pass. Give it about 10 minutes and you should see the Highway Patrol at its best. (Lauren Walsh)


Best Bird

Presumably the United States chose the eagle as its national bird because of its powerful beauty rather than its tendency to feed on the weak and the wounded. Similarly, the great blue heron gets my vote for best bird of Santa Cruz despite its nonvegetarian tendencies--it swallows live eels whole and has a squawk that sounds gratingly prehistoric. For though cliff swallows make topnotch bugbusters and pigeon guillemots resemble Lycra-clad mountain bikers, it's the spindly-legged bird in the blue dress that captures the weirdly wild and free aspect of this town. (Sarah Phelan)


Best Secret Walk

IF YOU LOVE a good bicyclist/in-line skater/jogger jam, then head to West Cliff Drive. If the whole point was to find some peace and quiet when stretching your legs, start walking along the railroad tracks from the Boardwalk and don't stop till you hit Capitola. Breathe in the fresh eucalyptus and ponder the vagaries of life while sneaking a peek into the neighbors' backyards. This--not a spandex nightmare with an ocean view--is the real Santa Cruz. (Kelly Luker)


Best Homeless Sign

A few years ago, the homeless in San Francisco introduced cardboard signs to go along with the empty-coffee-cup look, making literacy a prerequisite for making it on the street. Sure enough, the squares of cardboard have popped up here in Santa Cruz, too, ranging from the mundane to the bizarre: My own favorite--"I'm ugly/everyone hates me/I need a beer"--may be full of low self-esteem, paranoia and alcoholism, but it gets a laugh every time for its grumpy in-yer-face honesty and clearly poetic logic. (Sarah Phelan)


Best Biceps

Anybody who commutes to San Jose via Soquel's Old San Jose Road has seen him. From early in the morning till late at night, Henry Hyman is out there a few miles up the road from Soquel village holding a vase of flowers for sale, waving to just about every car that drives past. Though he's no spring chicken, we're willing to bet that the muscles Henry has amassed from holding said bouquet at arm's length for about eight hours a day would put Schwarzenegger to shame. Oh, yeah, and those floral arrangements are beautiful, too. (Kelly Luker)


Best Late Night Circus

Around two in the morning on a Friday or Saturday, the usually Safeway on Mission Street turns into a three-ring circus. It is not unusual to see people chasing each other up and down the aisles lobbing fruit or other readily handy missiles around with reckless abandon. Often these sufferers of an artificially altered mental state can be seen sliding through the aisles knocking over displays in their madcap search for beer and munchies. The one lone cashier is hardly the master of ceremonies. On the contrary: He is sufficiently overwhelmed by the large number of substance abusers that his only hope of restoring order is to speedily check out all the clowns in the store. (Conan Knoll)


Best Nondesigner Vegetarian Cooking

We'd have to jump in and say Saturn Cafe, with a nod to India Joze, where exotic condiments lend atmosphere, firepower and complexity to meatless dishes of which our favorites include those incredible deep-fried chickpea beignets. Make no mistake, you can feast on fine meatless creations all over the Santa Cruz County dining map. A pasta here, a spiced tofu stir-fry there, with billions and billions (God, I miss Carl Sagan) of salads in between. But at Saturn, the vegetable kingdom rules. Soups made without chicken stock manage to exude big, homey flavors, while tomatoey pasta dishes feel as filling as a plate of ribs (okay, almost as filling as a plate of ribs, but nobody dies). To wrap your mouth around Saturn's veggie burger is to experience meat-free bliss at its finest. How do they do it? Don't ask--just eat. (Christina Waters)


Best Public Toilets

For those of us cursed with walnut-size bladders (most of the female gender, that is), the county of Santa Cruz is merely land that must be traversed from one lavatory to the next. Big kudos to Lucky Stores for putting theirs up front. Then there's the 26th Avenue toity, which gets disinfected every morning and is single occupancy. Best reason to hold it till you burst: The Port-o-San at the Hook. (Kelly Luker)


Best Way to Look Odd

As local comedienne Jacqi Bowe once said, "In Santa Cruz, you can walk downtown in your bathrobe, and the only people who'll stare at you are those wearing the same robe." Yes, looking weird ain't enough anymore. If you're seeking to stand out from the crowd, just try walking the length of Pacific Avenue in a suit and tie with well-polished shoes and you'll stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. (Sarah Phelan)


microwaved octopus

Best Way to Gross Yourself Out

Try microwaving a cooked octopus and you'll see what I mean. In this case it was only a single tentacle, but that was enough to put me off this cousin of calamari for life. As it heated up, the tentacle waved desperately at me through the glass door, then burst wide open, sputtering oils across my oven and giving off a nauseating smell that permeated my kitchen for a week. There probably are delicious ways to cook and reheat this eight-legged creature, but nuking it sure ain't the ticket. For me, any future encounters will be alive, in the deep and at a safe distance. (Sarah Phelan)


Best Place to Pick Up Free Publications

This sure ain't Berkeley, but a large number of Santa Cruzans are exercising their First Amendment rights in print. Whether you're in the mood for a good political rant or tips on your spiritual quest, free publications abound. A recent renaissance of zines produced by kids of all ages--covering everything from psychobilly to extraterrestrials--is the hardest to find, but there's still all sorts of weirdness to be found at the back of Bookshop Santa Cruz. Close runners-up are the Capitola Book Cafe and Santa Cruz Public Library, which both harbor more free stuff than you'd ever really want to read (and the library has a free magazine bin for scavengers). (Laura Counts)


Best Place to Run into Old Friends and New Lovers

Stand in front of the rack of special bargain wines at Shopper's Corner for longer than two minutes and not only will you find at least one or two new libations that vintner, vineyardist and connoisseur Jim Beauregard likes, picks up and offers at low, low prices, but you'll also run into your dentist, your lawyer (well, one of your lawyers at least), your eighth-grade teacher and people you used to work with who have gained a lot of weight. It's fun catching up on marriages, work and children, all the while checking each other out to see who's got more cellulite. This particular area of Shopper's is also a hotbed of singles possibilities. Lots of babes, from the very young to the multi-divorced, hit this spot after morning workouts. All that revealing spandex acts as a very quick, very to-the-point personals ad. Nothing is more appealing than a guy who needs help finding the right detergent, unless it's a gal unable to decide on Italian or Oregon wine with her pasta dinner. Responding to this sort of low-key lifestyle distress can hardly be called sexual harassment. It's just plain polite. And if one thing leads to another, hey, we're all adults here. (Christina Waters)


Best Kneejerk Reaction by UCSC Educators

UCSC is officially a clothing-nonoptional campus these days. Gone are the carefree days of exposing your body and mind to education. Although it was never clear whether or not the clothing-optional rule was ever more than folklore, it was taken to heart by the student body. Many nights did naked bicyclists titillate students as they streaked across campus. Disturbed by rumors that bare bodies were acceptable, school officials rose to the occasion and squelched the possibility of public pubes. As of Jan. 1, the 1997 rule-book of UCSC student conduct strictly forbids nudity that isn't officially sanctioned. Apparently only educational and artistic nudity will receive the chancellor's seal of approval on this formerly free-balling campus. (Conan Knoll)


pierced tongue
Best Body Part to Get Pierced

Being an orally fixated lot in general, it's no surprise that Santa Cruzans are sticking their tongues out for ritual mutilation at an astonishing rate. Piercer Ken Coyote of Curiosa estimates he pierces 15 to 20 tongues a week, which suits him just fine because they heal more cleanly and quickly than other body parts. After the tongue, he says, the next preferred site is the seasonally popular navel, followed by the snout and finally by eyebrows and nipples, tied for fourth place. Whatever happened to the day of the clip-on earring? (Traci Hukill)


Best Place to Catch Spring Fever

Ahh, you can smell it in the air--spring has sprung. What exactly is that smell driving people to distraction? Is it the cool ocean breeze, Santa Cruz's floral cornucopia emitting sweet scents? No, this is something a little more urgent, a little more base, a smell awakening the dormant biological urges in us all: pheromones! When the deep dark winter is over, all the bundled up bodies and their unintentional hormonal signals come out to play. The sunny and woodsy environs of UCSC seem to be especially potent around this time of year. Watching these young and beautiful scholars in their spring gear is enough to get the oldest curmudgeon feeling woozy and worked into a feverish sweat. (Conan Knoll)


Best Voice of the 'Other' Little People

Oh, that bruised and battered minority of welfare-hatin', Limbaugh-lovin', Prop. 209-supportin' right-wingers. Somebody had to step up to the plate for them and bear the wrath of our goose-stepping liberals. Thank goodness it was Daryl Alan Gault, who holds forth weekdays from 1 to 2:30pm on KSCO (1080 AM) radio. You may hate his views, but he delivers them with intelligence, forethought and a little something missing from our holier-than-thou progressives: humor. (Kelly Luker)


Best Protest Vehicle

This one was almost a tie, but John Lightfoot--the guy who thinks Stephen King killed John Lennon--is only a part-time Cruzan annoyance. The winning aficionado of vehicular propaganda, which we'll just call "The Surfmobile," can be found on any surf contest day along West Cliff Drive near Lighthouse Field with a few curious tourists milling about reading. The van's owner has meticulously covered every inch of the vehicle's surface with his protest writings, in which he rails against the commercialization of surfing, the crowding of the waves and the big contests he believes have ruined the sport. Whether or not you agree with the guy, you gotta admire his chutzpah. (Michael Mechanic)


Best Place for Grown Men to Act Like Toddlers

On any Sunday, to borrow a surferly phrase, one can paddle out to any number of local surf spots and witness the most remarkable phenomenon: grown men, many of whom hold respectable positions on terra firma, squabbling, sulking, not sharing, hissy-fitting, cursing, brandishing fists and generally acting like children as they vie for alpha status in the lineup. Some of this behavior is excusable when, say, a hard eight-foot swell is sucking up over dry reef, threatening board, limb and life--but 38th Avenue on a one- to two-foot day? Come now, boys, play nice. (Traci Hukill)


Best Place for Bands to Scavenge

So your band, Wounded Pickle, is booking for a summer tour and you need to mail your CD, Vespa Crash, to a bunch of zines. Trouble is, you sling java for meager dough, and padded envelopes cost $1.89 each at the office supply. Well, guess who receives tons of padded envelopes and hard-to-find mailers for 7-inch and even the rare 12-inch wax? And guess who often throws the stuff away if nobody wants it? Try dropping by KUSP or KZSC and ask. They'll probably be glad to unload some of their packaging clutter, and you can use the money you save to fix your van when it breaks down in Portland. (Michael Mechanic)


Best Coffeehouse Run Entirely by Surfer Children

Filled with exuberant attitude by its hip young staff, this East Cliff beach community Mecca sprawls with fat couches, lots of tables and chairs and an airy wall of hanging plants. Caffé Bene beans fuel Chill Out's expert espresso drinks, including the very potent Big Chill--an industrial-strength elixir of coffee powered by two shots of espresso (a bargain jump-start for $2.50). You can specify your choice of half-and-half, low-fat milk or even no-fat milk for cappuccinos--big, bold and beautiful at $1.90--every day from 6am to 8pm. (Christina Waters)


Bets Spot for Blackberry Pickin'

We're only letting you in on this because the thickets by the Golf Club Drive entrance to the Pogonip (off Highway 9) are so laden with berries that even the birds and berry seekers can't eat them all. Early in the morning one July 4, it took all of 20 minutes for a friend and I to pick enough plump juicy ones for two fat pies (with a lot of nibbling during the picking process). They reach their peak in late June to early July. Wear long pants and bring a bucket, but don't get too greedy or you'll be marked for days with scarlet hands. (Laura Counts)


Best Place to Sample New Wines by the Glass

I'm never above preaching to the converted when it comes to one of the sweetest bistros around. Not only does this place run by the two Marks (Westburg, who's actually a "Marc", and Curtis) have a sexy name, but it's also got a great California-meets-the-Left-Bank feel. Pearl Alley Bistro is the place to go when your palate is weary of one more safe merlot, one more tame, moderately priced chardonnay and one Meridian vintage too many. Best of all, for serious wine geeks, the by-the-glass menu changes often and wanders the globe from New Zealand to the Languedoc, so that you can expand your palate without using up your frequent-flyer miles. It's about as much legal fun as you can have for under $10. And if wine's not your thing--remember, Pearl Alley now offers fine single malts and designer vodkas. (Christina Waters)


Highway 9
Best Way to Get from Santa Cruz to Felton

If you're pressed for time, Highway 9 may not be the route of choice--the crazy curves tend to slow you a bit. But if you have the extra few minutes, this is the way to go. Gigantic trees loom on both sides of the road, except, of course, where there is nothing but air--as in sheer drop-off. It's like driving through a primal forest, green and lush and majestic. It's easy to forget nature during freeway jaunts, but it all comes back cruising down Highway 9. (Lauren Walsh)


Best Place to Wipe Out on Blades

You can't beat West Cliff Drive for beautiful scenery and better-than-average chances of an NDE on blades. Look at the waves and you risk tripping in a pothole. Get into an arm-swinging stride and a dog sinks its teeth into your wrist. Burst into a power sprint and pedestrians are guaranteed to stop dead, oohing and ahhing at the sunset. The solution? Skate in threes, with one scanning the blacktop, another watching for chew-happy canines and the third yelling, "Run for your lives, we're out of control." Happy trails! (Sarah Phelan)


Best Residential Litmus Test

Is this a coffeehouse or a stealth operation? I strolled past the cavernous coffeehouse for months thinking it was a warehouse of some sort when I first moved to town. The Jahva House's exterior sports no name plate, no catchy emblem--just the address painted in red on a deep green background. On the other hand, when you find Jahva House for the first time, it's like walking into a private nonstop party. It's like a little badge of honor that says, "I may not be a native, but at least I've been here long enough to find this place." (Traci Hukill)


Best Smoochin' Spot

If you're going to drive to the beach in your car and just get in the back seat, you might as well stay in the motel room. Instead, try heading out to the end of the breakwater by the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor at sunset. It's a short scramble over the rocks to get out there, but it gives you a panoramic view of the Monterey Bay, and you can watch the fishing boats going out for the night. The niches in the rocks also give a little privacy so you don't have to treat everyone else to a demonstration of your tongue gymnastics. (Laura Counts)

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From the March 27-April 2, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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