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Photograph by Will Mosher
Truffle Kerfuffle:A riot of chocolate heads to the Attic this weekend.


The Chocolate Festival is heading our way.

By Amber Turpin

Don't just choc a little
Official training for Valentine's Day indulgence begins this Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival, held downtown at The Attic. The UCSC Women's Club is putting on this event as a fundraiser for re-entry student scholarships, a smart and tempting way to coax some money out of us. From 2 to 5pm more than 15 different chocolate creations will be available for tasting ($5 for three, $10 for eight, $15 for a taste of it all), courtesy of some local masters of the craft including Lloyd and Lindy Martin of Chocolate Visions, The Buttery, Chocolate, Marianne's, Marini's and many more. Live music by Kuzanga Marimba and a silent auction will provide additional activity between treats. Certified Master Baker Stephany Buswell will reveal the art of "Making Truffles and Tempering Chocolate" in a special demonstration. Buswell started out in the early '80s at Gayle's and has since had her own bakery and won awards and is currently a full-time instructor at the new Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell.

Properly pollanated
In the last few months, the Capitola Book Café has brought eager Central Coast foodies the gifts of Anthony Bourdain, Molly Katzen and, most recently, locavore movement guru Michael Pollan. On Jan. 16 the bookstore was standing room only for an hour and a half as fans waited for Pollan to show, his newest book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, clutched to our chests. "This is one of the incubators," he remarked, referring to Santa Cruz and the organic movement. Proud applause. Feedback regarding last year's bestseller, Omnivore's Dilemma, relayed hopelessness from readers about what was left to eat. His latest work is his response and highlights how the current ideology of "Nutritionism" in America completely leaves out the pleasure, ritual, culture and beauty of eating. Bites of wisdom from his speech included rules like "Don't get your fuel from the same place as your car" and "Avoid anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." Basically, eat whole foods—just like the sweet carrots handed out by Jen from Happy Boy Farms as we departed into the winter night.

Oswald watch
The Thursday night Cookin' at the Kuumbwa series is a highly entertaining and affordable way to eat a good meal while listening to live jazz. Our intimate little gem of a music venue concocts the right blend of elements for a great evening: good food, local wine and outstanding musicians. On Jan. 17, local tenor saxophone boy wonder Jesse Scheinin and his quartet were paired with another local wonder, guest chef Damani Thomas of Oswald for a solid night out. The savory mushroom bread pudding with fennel marmalade and Jerusalem artichokes was a delicious match for the young band visiting from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. I also had a chance to get an Oswald update, as I know most of you, like me, anxiously await the reopening. Early spring is the envisioned grand opening in the completely revamped location that once housed the Garage sports bar downtown. A full bar, vast square footage and an innovative menu await, and Thomas says he has some "new tricks" that he's been developing in his test kitchen over the past year.

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