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Santa Cruz and Monterey County food & wine events this weekend

Dolmas are one of the delicious foods at Eat Like A Greek!
Dolmas are one of the delicious foods at Eat Like A Greek!
Eat Like A Greek! Food Faire

There are many food and wine events occurring this weekend in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, from May 16-18, 2014. Here are a few highlights.

Greek food fair in Santa Cruz May 16-18
The 8th annual Eat Like A Greek! Food Faire is in the downtown area next to the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church. The free festival features live Greek music plus a food including moussaka, dolmas, spanakopita, grilled marinated lamb souvlaki and handmade pastries like kataifi (shredded wheat pastries saturated with honey and spices).

New foods this year include gluten-free options plus two Greek yogurt parfaits: one is made with a sour cherry mixture that comes from Greece, another has organic blueberries, walnuts and local honey. In addition, organizers have added “a bevy of premium Greek white and red wines to the Taverna.” Athena Wolfe, who does marketing for the fair, says that Greece's agro tourism business--and in particular the wine business--is booming. “Many of them are winning medals in wine competitions, so we thought we'd offer a sampling to the public at the Food Fair,” shares Wolfe. Other beverages available will include American and Greek beer, traditional Greek spirits, and coffee.
Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, & noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Location: 223 Church St. at the corner of Center.
Call 334-4400 or visit https://www.facebook.com/EatLikeAGreek.

Sustainable seafood festival in Monterey May 16-18
The 13th annual “Cooking For Solutions” is at the Monterey Bay Aquarium May 16-18. There will be “sustainable and organic food from land and sea” plus public presentations and cooking demos by chefs including Alton Brown, all included with aquarium admission. Many additional “food and wine adventures” and culinary salons can be purchased online; some events are sold out. The three-day celebration features more than 90 chefs and 70 wineries and breweries.
Location: Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row.
For details go to at cookingforsolutions.org or call 648-4800.

Dare to Pair Food & Wine Challenge May 18

Surf City Vintners is hosting the 5th annual “Dare to Pair” food & wine challenge. Cabrillo College is joining with Surf City Vintners to hold the event, as the competition is a benefit for Cabrillo College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program. Teams of Cabrillo culinary students prepare appetizers, and these are paired with wine from each Surf City Vintners winery. Attendees walk from winery to winery (all located within a couple blocks of each other) to taste the food and wine. "This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to showcase their skills, and for the public to enjoy their culinary creations paired with our great local wines," said Eric Carter, director of the Cabrillo Community College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program.

The event takes place Sunday from 12-3:30 p.m. Tickets are $60 in advance (buy from any Surf City winery -- see web site -- or at Pino Alto Restaurant on the Cabrillo campus. Call (831) 435-3000 for more information. If tickets do not sell out, they will be available the day of the event for $70.

Participants vote on their favorite pairings for the People's Choice awards, and a panel of chefs and restaurateurs also judge the competition including Kirsten Ponza (Executive Chef of The Chaminade) and Sheri Moise (owner of Johnny’s Harborside), and Ted Burke (owner of Shadowbrook). There is an after-party at Equinox Champagne Cellar from 3-5 p.m., and the awards ceremony takes place at 4:30 p.m.
Location: Surf City Vintners wineries, Swift Street Courtyard, Swift & Ingalls Streets in Westside
 Santa Cruz

Staff of Life Anniversary Party May 17
The local grocery store is having a 45th anniversary party from noon-4 p.m. Saturday. There will be live music, dancing, BBQ, wine tastings, raffle prizes, product demos, and free samples.
Visit www.staffoflifemarket.com or call 831-423-8632.
Location: 1266 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz

Homeless Garden Project Farm Fest May 18
HGP is hosting Farmfest 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. It’s free and there will be kids’ activities (games, face painting, and more), food, live music, and a beer garden operated by Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Company. Local radio station KUSP is co-sponsoring the festival, which aims to highlight the tangible benefits of community involvement at HGP to encourage those taking a new direction in their lives. “Many people who are homeless and come to participate in our programs tell me that the community at the farm makes a difference in their outlook on the world and in building self-confidence and self-esteem,” says Darrie Ganzhorn, HGP Executive Director. “Farmfest is an invitation to the wider community to join in.”

There will be cooking demos by local chef volunteers including Oai Phan, who is preparing an Asian dumpling with kale. Phan moved to Santa Cruz from Vietnam about 30 years ago, and has volunteered at the farm almost every week for the last five years. Phan says, “Food always brings people closer and nothing makes me happier than to see a big smile on people’s faces when they eat my ‘rabbit food.’
Visit www.homelessgardenproject.org or call 831-423-1020.
Location: Shaffer Road and Delaware Ave. in Westside Santa Cruz

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