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[whitespace] Toasts of Summer

Irresistible food and wine events are sprouting along the Davenport coast

By Christina Waters

WHETHER THEIR UCSC diplomas helped or hindered, a select group of alumni hedonists have gone on to postgraduation glory as winemakers. Unable, however, to stay away from their beloved alma mater-by-the-sea, they return annually to pour wines, discourse on the psychology of oenology and generally whoop it up at one of the top soirees of summer: the UCSC Alumni Vintners Wine Tasting and Silent Auction.

It happens Saturday (July 28), 5-7:30pm, on the courtyard lawn at Elena Baskin Visual Arts Center. As you check out the amazing view, you'll be able to sample wines made by Gregory Nolten (Zayante), Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon Vineyard), Dawnine Dyer (Domaine Chandon), David Graves (Saintsbury) and many others. In addition to the established vintners, there are newcomers this year, including the enterprising Deborah Elissagaray (Cowell '91), assistant winemaker at Bargetto, who has recently started her own label, D'Elissagaray.

This year alumni chefs join the fun, too, including Roger Grigsby (Merrill '75) of Omei and Almar Grill, Contis Harding (Cowell '96) of Granzy's Gumbo Shack, Mark Curtis (Cowell '88) from Pearl Alley Bistro (represented by chef Marc Westburg) and Scott Roseman (Oakes '86) of New Leaf Markets. So obviously there will be fabulous food, as well as irresistible auction items--remember the auction goes toward scholarships so that there will be more vintner alumni in the future!

Restaurant gift certificates, winery tours, fine and rare wines, plus intriguing luxuries like a five-night stay in an apartment in Paris and an Indian feast for six delivered to your home by Shanti Singh. Tickets are $30. Call 459.2530 to RSVP and ask about discount Shakespeare Santa Cruz tickets as well.

Tiny Bubbles

Restaurant Azur teams up with Equinox on July 31 at 6:30pm for a five-course dinner paired with premium sparkling wines. Limited to 32 reservations--$85 per person (tax and tip not included)--the menu starts out with oysters on the half shell and includes citrus-marinated lobster salad, a risotto paired with '95 Blanc de Blanc, grilled halibut with sweet tomato dressing and salsa verde, and a dessert of peaches with honey-roasted hazelnuts. Gorgeous food, classic Santa Cruz setting. Azur is located at 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz. Call 427.3554 to reserve your place--credit card required at reservation.

French Kiss

Something Gallic this way comes--a chance to learn, and sample authentic French cuisine at Bargetto's Winery, July 28, at 3:30pm ($75). A lecture on pairing food with wines will be presented by Cordon Bleu translator and Santa Cruz native Ken Atkinson. A wine- and cheese-tasting including French wines and Bargetto vintages will be followed by a buffet from K's Catering, art-directed by Cordon Bleu chef Dominique Rossi, who caters events at the French Presidential Palace in Paris. You'll be able to parlez a bit of français, as well as sip and dine as Parisians do. Reserve by calling 423.3567 and look for this new series to continue with future lecture demos.

Travel Spot

Tune in to KOMY's new travel show Travel Spot, with Gina DiSantis, on Fridays at 1pm at 1340 AM radio. DiSantis has been expertly saving my travel b**t for 15 years, booking train reservations and car rentals in France, suggesting the quickest way to get from Zurich to Milan and coaching me on surviving Newark Airport during holidays. Call her up (either on the air, or at her travel agency, Travel Spot at 425.7822), and she'll help you plan the trip of your dreams.

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 25-August 1, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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