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[whitespace] Wine Glass Holidays Are a Beach: Memorial Day means fine wine, good food and burying unwanted relatives in the sand.

Our Country Meets Old Country

Memorial Day Weekend hits the coast like a big pizza pie, and we all feed our faces with pasta, fine wine and amore

By Christina Waters

WHILE WE'RE REMEMBERING those who gave their passionate all for the greater good of our country, let's give a rousing salute to the irrepressible Italians who settled Monterey Bay. From one Mediterranean climate to another, they came, they fished, they stayed. And celebrating their robust influence on our lifestyles and menus, we have "A Day on the Bay 2002" lusty Fishermen's Feed Sunday, June 2, at the picnic grounds of Oblates St. Joseph--544 West Cliff Dr. (across from the surfer statue). Honorary hosts include some famous names in Santa Cruz history--Senator Bruce McPherson, Mary Stagnaro, Victor Ghio and others. You'll learn about our colorful history and celebrate the Republic of Italy's birthday (the official excuse for this bash) with a major spread of fresh-caught BBQ Monterey Bay salmon, crab, calamari, corn on the cob, bruschetta, pizettas and pastas. Tickets are $25 adv/$30 at door;$15 for children 9-15; under 8, free. Reconnect with your roots, or just dine like an Italian. Tutto bene--831.722.4144. And speaking of Italian, the owners of Star Bene are putting the finishing touches on their new Cafe Mare at 740 Front St. Look for a wine bar, sensuous fresh pastas and secondi piatti, plus panna cotta to kill for. (What I want to know is how can our Italian cousins actually eat a plate of pasta before the main course even arrives?)

Salmon! Run! Yes, it is wild salmon season, which means you have no excuse not to be indulging in our remarkable local salmon--easily the finest in the world. Marinate the steaks and throw them on the grill, or rub a glaze of garlic and olive oil onto a fillet and roast it for 10 minutes in a 450 degree oven. Staff of Life, New Leaf, Shoppers, Zanotto's-- everybody has it right now. Don't miss it while the season's open.

Only for Serious Foodies: Theo's chef Nicci Tripp has devised a multicourse fantasy to accompany seven outstanding Thomas Fogarty wines, this Thursday, May 23, at 7pm. Thomas Fogarty Winery's winemaker Michael Martella will be on hand to provide expert wine notes for a meal that starts with napoleon of sweet Maine lobster (with chardonnay) and rabbit and sweetbread ravioli (this chef is daring) with morels and spring fava beans (pinot noir). A seafood course of peppered yellow fin tuna (merlot) is followed by pancetta-wrapped tenderloin of buffalo (syrah), and dessert involves a trilogy of chocolate (use your imagination) paired with a Limited Edition Port. This stupendous food and wine event is priced at $125 per person, all inclusive, so please call Theo's at 831.462.3657 to see if there's any room left.

UCSC Farm & Garden Produce Cart--on the horizon! In fact, you would do well to be on the lookout for this idyllic impromptu emporium of freshly harvested organic goodies sometime around the first week of June.

And whatever you do, don't miss the two-weekend wine trek that is the 15th Annual Vintners' Festival. June 1 and 2 the festival unfolds at wineries and restaurants on the Santa Clara side of the hill. The second weekend, June 8 and 9, the festival happens in Santa Cruz County. From 11am to 5pm each day you'll be able to take part in barrel tastings, meet winemakers, sample fine music, art and food as well, and soak up some scenic winery ambience. Everything you need to know is at the SCMWA website--www.scmwa.com. Go there--and get the vintage details!

Guest Mini-Review: Here's a blurb from devoted reader and roving gourmet Ben Green, who calls himself a "Brit Abroad" studying at UCSC.

"As promised, I am happy to send you my appraisal of the Golden City Chinese restaurant on Mission. If you can look beyond the, er, interesting service, Golden City offers a wide and impressive menu--mostly delicious--for meat-eaters and veggies alike. The portions are huge and extremely reasonable, so take the family or a bunch of friends. You'll get the best sweet and sour chicken in Santa Cruz." So there you have it.

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From the May 23-29, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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