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Only the Shadowbrook Knows: Palate-pleasing wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains will be featured in the restaurant's Rockroom Lounge on Winemaker Wednesdays.

Dining for Dollars

Eat out like your life depends on it--your favorite restaurant's does

By Christina Waters

WE ALL HAVE our favorite local restaurants, those reliable, welcoming places that never fail to satisfy our taste buds. I'm going to give it to you straight. If you don't keep patronizing those restaurants you love, they won't be able to stay in business. Look around. You can see how tough times are right now for family-run businesses of all kinds. So just for the next 10 weeks (until the first of the year), pick a restaurant you care about and go there to eat. Meet your friends there. Take your work colleagues there for appetizers and wine after work. Just make sure you eat out often. Adopt your favorite restaurant now, and it will be able to weather the current economic jitters. If you don't go, it won't stay. End of sermon.

SPEAKING OF local landmarks, the Shadowbrook keeps on doing new stuff to please our palates. Every Wednesday new wines from a selected Santa Cruz Mountains winery will be featured starting at 5pm in the Rockroom Lounge. Shadowbrook Winemaker Wednesdays will offer two to four wines at 50 percent off the regular price, accompanied by complimentary bread and cheese. Ted Burke, longtime Shadowbrook owner, agrees that "this is a great way to promote the growing number of fine wines being produced in the area." And since there are 48 wineries in the area, that means there will be plenty of variety for those who make Wednesdays at the Rockroom Lounge a regular pattern. Next week, wines from Woodside Vineyards will be featured, and on Nov. 7, Roudon Smith pours luscious libations. Winemakers and winery representatives will be on hand each Wednesday to answer all your questions about the vintages you'll be sampling. Just to jog your memory, the Shadowbrook is that beautiful, multitiered establishment cascading down the Capitola estuary hillside, at 1750 Wharf Rd. For information, call 831.475.1222.

AZUR CHEF Clyde Griesbach is putting new spin on the dinner theater concept. "I've always wanted to match up local chefs with movies," the Mediterranean maestro told me last week. Well, he found a few other willing accomplices in Marc Westburg of Pearl Alley Bistro and Charlie Deal (Charlie Hong Kong; formerly of Oswald). So the guys are doing a three-day gig at Azur they're calling the Santa Cruz Chef's Food & Film Festival, Oct. 14 (last Sunday), Oct. 17 (tonight) and Thursday Oct. 18. "If the weather allows, we'll probably do dinner out on the patio and screen the movie, like they used to in Europe, against the back wall of the restaurant." If it's amazing Italian food you crave, inspired by the film The Story of Boys & Girls, you should consider arriving at Azur at 7pm for Griesbach's four-course meal involving salad of mixed greens with warm balsamic vinaigrette, followed by a penne pasta course topped with Bolognese mushroom ragu with shaved parmesan. An entree of turkey thighs stuffed with prosciutto and grilled with a reduction sauce will be followed by dessert of dried figs poached in wine with vanilla gelato. Mama mia! On Thursday, Charlie Deal will whip up food loosely inspired by Tampopo. "Tampopo" means dandelion, hence Deal's dinner will include a tomato and rice omelet with wilted dandelion greens, brandy-cured shrimp salad, yam sausages with soy and horseradish, grilled beef wrapped in lettuce, and ramen noodles in shoyu broth with shredded pork and spring onions. This is very sexy food for a prix fixe of $30, wine, tax and tip not included. Come at 7pm to dine; the movie will start around 8pm. That's at Azur, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz. For reservations, call 831.427.3554.

TAKARA TALKS TIKI--or does it? A sake bar does not a mai tai make. William Blake didn't say that, but he might have if he'd been a fan of fresh pineapple juice and rum. Here's the deal. I met my friend, whose name actually is Tai, at the original Takara on Soquel Avenue to check out the new "tiki bar." We were looking forward to a mai tai--something every respectable Polynesian-inspired, umbrella-in-every-drink tiki bar serves. However, Takara turns out to be a sake bar. Not a tiki bar. Ergo no mai tai--which requires two to three different rums, juices of pineapple and orange, grenadine and major garnishes of tropical fruit. So what we've learned here is that our region is still lacking that all-important accessory, a tiki bar.

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From the October 17-24, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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