Carolyn’s Favorites

From Farm to Asian Pesto

by Carolyn on July 18, 2011

It’s full on summer.  Time to make Garlic Basil Noodles or Asian Pesto.  I’ve been waiting for the basil to come into season.  I make a trip to the Wednesday, farmer’s Market in downtown Santa Cruz, in search of basil.  The market is alive with activity.  Every stand is over flowing with gorgeous, vibrant, colorful produce and summer stone fruits.  I feel like I’m visiting a museum; each farm’s display, a work of art.  It’s late in the day and the vendors begin to break down their stands. This generates a whirl of activity, as last minute shoppers scurry around under collapsing tents and loading boxes.  I head directly to Blue Heron Farms (organic), knowing they grow huge beautiful basil.  I am not disappointed, though only a few bunches remain, I can see how huge and beautifully dark green, the basil leaves are.  We agree for me to pick up a case at the Saturday market on the West Side.  Santa Cruz is blessed with a farmers market almost everyday of the week, sometimes more then one.

Saturday comes and I meet Ben at the Blue Heron stand and host up my case of just picked basil.  Driving to the restaurant, the aroma of basil, coming from the back, is intoxicating.  I have an appointment to meet with our head chef, Juan, and create our Garlic Basil Pesto sauce.  Juan’s waiting for me and we begin measuring, chopping, pouring, and mixing all these fresh, organic ingredients.  We lean over the robot coup and inhale the delicious fragrance  emanating, as the blades turn.  It’s the very essence of  summer freshness.  A restaurant early in the morning is a special place.  It’s like being in the center of the hub of life.

When the sauce is complete we head to the wok and cook up some Garlic Basil Noodles.  First plain; then with prawns, next with tofu.  Everyone in the kitchen has completed their prep work and is ready for the day to begin.  I collect a handful of forks; pass them around and we all taste our creation.  In the silence of slurping noodles, I hear yum’s all around. Claudya in her beautiful handwriting, writes “Garlic Basil Noodles” in colored chalk on the Specials Board.

Come try it.  I’m sure you’ll slurp and yum.





Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

by Carolyn on December 15, 2010

My favorite for the past few weeks has been a cup of the  yummy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup along with a Vietnamese Tofu Sandwich.  I actually crave the new bread and I have never been a sandwich person.  I even try to resist (old carb avoidance thing) but it’s futile.  I like the way it fits into my mouth when I bit into it.  I like the texture of the bread and most important it tastes so good. That little bit of spice from the chili mayo, combined with the tang of the marinated daikon and carrots, adds just the right zing to the soft garlic tofu.  Now here comes the awesome part.  Dip the sandwich into the soup, then into your mouth.   Be prepared for the swoon effect of the “this is sooo good” to take you over.  Kendal who works on the counter turned me onto the Butternut Squash soup as a sandwich dip.  Thanks, Kendal!  I highly recommend this addictive combination.