On November 20, 2013, Event Santa Cruz, a monthly event founded by Matthew Swinnerton that showcases thriving local businesses and the people behind them, organized an Edibles Crawl to several food establishments in downtown Santa Cruz. At 5:30 pm, a group of approximately twenty people convened at the corner of Cedar and Lincoln next to the weekly downtown farmers’ market.
The Edibles Crawl food tour, led by Christine Bennett, began with a sampling of canned “synergy” drinks from Aaron Hinde, President of LifeAID Beverage Company, Inc. Our first stop was the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market, where longtime manager Naish Dhillon introduced us to the market. While there we visited Fran Grayson, owner of The Truck Stop, a mobile food truck and catering service.
In addition to owning and operating a food truck with a motto “make it delicious and charge a fair price,” Grayson also farms organically at Branch Out Farm in Soquel, and has deep ties to the sustainable farming community in Santa Cruz. After talking about her business, including some challenges of running a food truck in a small town, Grayson and her partner Juan Cuevas served our group with hot and fresh deep fried treats.
Our next destination, located across the street from farmers’ market, was the unique and popular store Nut Kreations, which provides “the freshest and highest quality nuts, dried fruits, seeds, granola, tea, coffee and other natural treats … in a relaxed beautiful environment.” Mina Feuerhaken, who founded Nut Kreations in 2011 with her husband Brody, discussed the origins of her business with our group, answered questions, and provided delicious samples of nuts and chocolate. Most nuts and fruits at Nut Kreations are sourced from California’s central valley and sold in the store or online.
The group and I were having a great time, and there were still two stops remaining on the Edibles Crawl. After Nut Kreations, we walked to Pearl Alley and up a flight of stairs to the bar at Motiv. The bartender at Motiv, Ilya Romanov, poured glasses of 2011 pinot noir by Soquel Vineyards for our entire group. But that’s not all; each person was also given a box of cheese and crackers, as well as a box of grapes, strawberries, and chocolate.
Our final destination on the Edibles Crawl, and a favorite for my sweet tooth, was The Penny Ice Creamery. Kendra Baker, a very talented pastries and confections chef and co-founder of The Penny Ice Creamery, The Picnic Basket, and the soon-to-be Assembly restaurant on Pacific Avenue, spoke about transforming a dream into a very successful reality. Baker and her partner Zachary Davis employ local people as often as possible in all aspects of their business, and source many ingredients locally. Baker treated our group to absolutely incredible tasting apple cider floats with vanilla ice cream. The apple juice was sourced from Everett Family Farm in Soquel.
After the snacks, drinks, desserts and inspirational stories from local food entrepreneurs, the Edibles Crawl was over for the night, and it was time to pack into the Nickelodeon Theater for Event Santa Cruz #3. The evening featured presentations from Aaron Hinde (President LifeAID Beverage Company, Inc.), The Hoffman Family (Owners of Hoffman’s Bistro and Patisserie), Scott Roseman (Founder and President of New Leaf Community Markets), Rachel Otis (Director Child Nutrition at Live Oak School District), and Patrice Keet & Rhiannon Crain (On the Board of Directors for The Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery). The night concluded with a couple live acoustic songs performed by Ian Bell, a guitarist originally from England, now living in Santa Cruz.
Event Santa Cruz #4, set to take place on December 13, 2013, at the Wrigley Building (2801 Mission St, Santa Cruz), will break format from the previous events, and feature a full live concert performance by Ian Bell. For more information on Event Santa Cruz, including interviews, videos of previous speakers, and to register for the next event, please visit EventSantaCruz.com.