Kitchen Gardens: Le Cigare Volant

Shelton says nine out of 10 watermelons aren't worth picking. But Bonny Doon Vineyards harvests at their ripest peak. (Chip Scheuer)

Last week, Le Cigare Volant chef Ryan Shelton drew from the restaurant’s bio-dynamic gardens in San Juan Bautista to create dish after dazzling dish of seasonal creativity. Dry-farmed green and crimson tomatoes, honeydew melon and shell beans converged in Shelton’s sparkling salad course. Grilled corn and squashes adorned a platter piled high with roasted suckling pig. And into vast platters of paella, perfumed by smoked paprika and local shellfish, came more of the fresh herbs and vegetables from the chef’s in-house garden.

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Roswell Hour at Bonny Doon Vineyard

Prices so low, aliens must be in charge. Photo by Christina Waters.

Getting Doon cheaply is what’s in store if you stop by the Tasting Room from 3pm to 6pm, any day but Saturday. During those hours you’ll be able to savor a glass of Bonny Doon Vineyards wine at half price—51 percent off, to be precise. It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to know that this is a bargain of extraterrestrial proportions, and another reason to consider the Ingalls Street watering hole as Santa Cruz’ answer to Area 51.

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Cabrillo Culinary Students’ End-of-Year Feast

Spring definitely brings out the hunger artist in us all. The opportunities to savor find local food and wine (and beer and ice cream) is too tempting to resist. For example, the food scholars of Cabrillo College’s Culinary Arts Program will present their final dining showcase of the spring semester this week, May 15–17, at the beautiful Pino Alto Restaurant in the historic Sesnon House.

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New Chef, New Name, New Flair for Bonny Doon Vineyard Cafe

Ryan Shelton comes from Palo Alto's 2-Michelin star Baume. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

With the transfiguration of the Cellar Door bistro into Le Cigare Volant, proprietor/winemaker Randall Grahm plays to his strengths, as well as to his sense of play. Named for Bonny Doon Vineyards’ flagship wine, the restaurant simultaneously debuts chef Ryan Shelton, who brings to the cafe’s exhibition kitchen deep experience in the alchemical ways of tres contemporary French cuisine—molecular cookery replete with scented and spiced foams.

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La Posta Springs Eternal

Chef Katherine Stern shows chickens some tender loving care and picks up an egg too. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

The chickens are happy and squawking in their backyard territory. The kitchen herb garden is loaded with fragrance. And chef Katherine Stern’s seasonal menu sprouts beautiful plates of agnolotti with fava leaves and sugar snap peas, shaved asparagus salad with green garlic, and my new favorite—tender potato gnocchi laced with fava beans, green shallots and wild nettles.

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