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The Label's the Thing: Mott Jordan designed the label for this year's Shakespeare Santa Cruz vintages.

Dramatic Vintages

Shakespearean vintages, the 'stinking rose' blowout and Bastille Day at Theo's

By Christina Waters

SOMETHING LIQUID this way comes--and it's bearing an enigmatic red and black label commemorating the 20th season of Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Yes, that would be either the Cuvée 2K Claret, produced and bottled by Roudon-Smith Vineyards (and drinking beautifully right this moment), or the elegantly structured 1999 Central Coast Chardonnay made by Bargetto Winery, the Shakespeare festival's white wine offering this year.

Both vintages bear a label designed by the talented Mott Jordan, depicting the split moods--the dark and the light--of England's greatest gift to the world. After all, the 2001 season includes that dark and bloody masterpiece Macbeth, as well as the sunny enchantment of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Clearly, one would want to sip a glass of the velvety dark red claret during the Macbeth intermission, and then bring a bottle of the chardonnay to the Festival Glen for a Dream performance picnic. The 20th Anniversary SSC Festival wines are $15 per bottle/$160 case. Sample them at this year's performances, or call the winery contacts: John Bargetto, 475.2258; June Smith, 438.1244.

A Rose by Any Other Name ...

Major stinkin' fun is to be had once again as the giant Gilroy Garlic Festival fills the entire Central Coast with the pungent aroma of sautéed garlic. Over the years, the mighty festival devoted to the stinking rose has served more than 26,000 slabs of garlic bread, 11,191 helpings of garlicky pasta con pesto and close to 8,000 platefuls of that wonderful, sensuous calamari.

Bay Area food-meister the loquacious Narsai David will be ringmaster for the nonstop culinary action at this year's festival. The Cook-Off Stage will be loaded with chefs and demos--most of us do attend for the earthy, joyful food, although I'm sure there are people who just like the music, the souvenir possibilities (consider garlic everything from pickles to wreaths) and one of the greatest people-watching scenes on the planet. After all, more than 120,000 garlic-lovers will be attending this year. That's July 27-29, 10am-7pm, $10 admission; seniors and kids (6-12) $5. Go early--south on 101 until you spot the Garlic Fest signs.

Allons enfants! to the Bastille Day celebration at Theo's, this weekend, July 14-15. Saturday enjoy a Parisian array of brasserie dishes offered in addition to chef Dressen's regular menu (ha! there is nothing "regular" about Pete Dressen's remarkable cooking). Or come to Theo's on Sunday and dine in the style of Manet, in the restaurant's opulent garden. Pizza from the wood-fired oven, salads, gourmet grill and desserts--$30 per person, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity. Reservations are available from noon to 4pm. Theo's: 3101 N. Main St., Soquel (462.3657).

Ginger Quest: Part II. A reader named Tony confessed by email that he's been stopping by Cost Plus "from time to time and picking up a four-pack of Stewart's ginger ale." The stuff is so popular it's always sold out. So I haven't yet tried it. But our current ginger of choice is the blend of African and Chinese ginger roots that goes into the very tangy, spicy and refreshing Outrageous Ginger Ale from Natural Brew. It's distinctly gingery, with a full, rounded center and a long, fiery finish. Maybe just a little too sweet for true adult satisfaction. But quite zippy and robust. Organic to boot. At enlightened groceries and natural foods stores.

Email me your hot food tips, new favorite restaurants, discoveries, gripes and sudden culinary insights. You tell me--I'll tell everybody: [email protected]

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From the July 11-18, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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