Yvonne Thebergé shows off the strawberry orange blossom sorbet. Photo by Christina Waters.
Basket Ball Artisanal food impresarios Zach Davis and Kendra Baker continue their handmade roll through the tastebuds of Santa Cruz. It wasn't enough that this entrepreneurial duo gave us downtown's Penny Ice Creamery, and plenty of national coverage for the little shop's innovative hand-made desserts. They needed to bring us more. Much more. And so there is the delightful, beachfront Picnic Basket, facing the Boardwalk and seaside volleyball courts. Yes, the same Picnic Basket that got yet another shoutout in this month's Sunset Magazine. Open early enough to please the caffeinadoes who stroll the beachfront in the morning, the small establishment, tucked under the Beach Street Inn & Suites, has a tasty listing of morning pastries to accompany all that Verve-fueled coffee.
“And we just added a breakfast burrito,” co-owner Davis told me proudly. “That's pretty good.” He immediately posted a mouth-watering image on Picnic Basket's Facebook site as proof. Currently the cafe opens at 7am and stays open until midnight on weekends, around 9pm on other days. “But we'll be thinking about extending those hours as the summer warms up and the Boardwalk starts opening late,” he added.
Davis agrees that the Basket enjoys “an awesome relationship” with Chris LeVeque and El Salchichero. “We're doing a meatloaf special, and his hot dog. Plus he made some pastrami for us, and it was so popular that now he is selling it at his shop.” That would be the El Salchichero next to Kelly's on the Westside.
On a recent visit I buried my face in a cone of deeply crimson sorbet intensely flavored with Dirty Girl strawberries and orange blossom—$3.50 for two scoops to heaven. As I feasted, I checked out the cozy booths and tables in the shop. And then I considered what I might have had for lunch. Pulled pork sandwiches, or a baguette topped with ham, blue brie and fruit preserves. Doesn't that sound to die for? And there's a ricotta beet panini with walnut tapenade for those who still refrain from carnivore territory. Truly inventive sandwiches—for enlightened picnics—that go well with the voluptuous ice cream offerings.
Wine Time! Don't forget this weekend's Vintners Festival—Saturday and Sunday, June 9–10. Among other things, this is a great reason to trek up to Silver Mountain Winery, which has been making fine wines, and some award-winning pinots, for 33 years. Special tastings, art, artisanal food items—it’s a true mega-festival in one atmospheric location. Get your Vintners Fest tickets at www.scmwa.com and make some new vintage friends.