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[whitespace] Wine Glass Touch of Glass: Gariella features gourmet sandwiches and fine wines.

Photograph by George Sakkestad

Wine Shop Satori

Some ideas succeed better than others, like Paul Cocking's idea for a little wine shop to go with his bistro

By Christina Waters

GABRIELLA--the cafe--was purring right along when its owner got the bright idea to open a modest little wine shop, with a bit of a deli tucked inside. Voilà--Gabriella Wine Shop--where attractive young people do a smart job of ruling the sandwich universe.

Lined with wines, the back wall offers a who's who of local, premium wines, interspersed by the odd, rare vintage from estates like Cambria, Gary Farrell, Renwood and some Italians. Admiring the primitive artwork by James Dugat, I sat at the copper-topped counter last week and waited for my killer sandwiches. Just reading the blackboard list is grounds for salivation. A select quartet of wines by the glass was offered, some from Bonny Doon, some from Storrs.

Gorgeous salads of baby greens also provide such flavor accessories as walnuts, goat cheese and grapefruit. There are interesting fresh soups each day along with choice meatless specialties, like a portobello sandwich with goat cheese and artichoke hearts.

Paul told me he had intended to launch a wine shop, but as he admitted--pointing to the flock of alfresco diners sunning themselves over their roast rosemary chicken on the patio--"the lunch trade is really brisk." And there's a reason. The sandwiches at Gabriella's put a gourmet spin on some favorite classics. Take the tri-tip creation I had last week. It provides all the flavor power of a Philly cheese steak without the grease. Slices of lean, marinated tri-tip fill the center of a huge slab of fresh francese, caressed by aioli, carmelized onions, pepper jack and romaine. It's served warm so that the cheese has time to make love to the delicious tri-tip. It's a meal for two people for around $7. Serious flavors, big and bold, yet sophisticated, give a whole new meaning to "sandwich." Stop by Gabriella Wine Shop at 1016 Cedar St., Santa Cruz (457.1217); 11am-7pm daily, noon-7pm on Sunday. Each sandwich is hand-crafted, so be patient.

Ginger Quest: Part I

We are ginger addicts at our house, always on the lookout for a better ginger ale. At New Leaf last week, I stumbled upon a ginger beer with the Monterey Soda label. Bracing though not over-the-top gingery, the crisp brew is from a Salinas-based outfit making organic, hand-crafted natural sodas.

The stuff was so good I called up Monterey Soda founder Brad Barbeau, who admits that his small product line--a quartet so far--is booming right along. I told him I had enjoyed both the ginger beer and the tasty, full-bodied root beer. "They're handmade at a microbrewery in Berkeley, in 1,800 gallon batches," Barbeau (no relation to Adrienne) told me. In addition to an orange soda and a strawberry mango soda, Monterey Soda has plans to launch a vanilla cream soda soon, a plan that has been slowed down by what Barbeau calls "a worldwide shortage of vanilla."

Clean, pure flavors--that's what Monterey Soda delivers. Made sustainably, the ginger beer contains only natural ginger flavor, carbonated filtered water, organic cane sugar and citric acid. A mere 180 calories too. And we also liked the flavors of both "beers," which contain just enough sensory reference to unprocessed roots and bark to give them that homemade quality. Around $1 a bottle. (In my ongoing search for serious ginger, I just discovered another killer ginger ale. It'll wait until next week.)

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From the June 27-July 4, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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