EATERS DIGEST: Fall festivals, a luscious plum and Reef Dog’s perfect pastrami


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It’s finally fall, officially – by far the best season. My heart is sprinkled with pumpkin spice and melts as the cooler days begin. simmered stews, forage of mushrooms and pumpkin patches are my love language.

This week there are plenty of activities to get you in the mood for a seasonal change, including Harvest Festival at the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Oktoberfest at New Bohemia Brewing Co. It’s a beautiful time. of the year to stop by your local farmers market a weekly habit – look for fall beauties such as Emerald Beaut plums.

This week I also returned to Reef Dog Deli to try the pastrami sandwich made with homemade pastrami, and it’s as memorable as the chef Anthony Kresge’s winning BLT.


And while health experts love to remind us that winter is coming, they also say it’s a great time to eat indoors at local restaurants — yes, mask-free. Don’t let cooler evenings keep you from enjoying a fun night out. Find out what health officials have to say about it below.


On Sunday, President Joe Biden declared the pandemic to be “over” during a “60 Minutes” broadcast. While her statement was hotly debated in the news cycle this week, I wanted to know what it might mean for local restaurants. In short, can we now dine safely indoors – without a mask?

The clear answer from health experts is, yes! At least it’s a lot safer than it has been in a long time. UC San Francisco Chair of Medicine Dr. Bob Wachter announced this week that he’s finally ready to dine indoors without a mask, and has estimated that his chances of dying from dine-in without a mask indoors are around 1 in 200,000 – that’s around 13 times less than to be struck by lightning.

Santa Cruz County Health Director Dr. Gail Newelwho has been a voice of caution throughout the pandemic, agrees.

“It’s a great time to go out and eat inside,” she told Lookout on Tuesday. Currently, local transmission of COVID-19 is so low that a few weeks ago the county entered the lowest community level based on criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that inside masking is optional in most situations. It offers the usual conditions that immunocompromised people should continue to mask indoors and assess the risks based on their personal circumstances.

However, this does not mean that the pandemic is over. “We have no idea what President Biden meant when he declared the end of the pandemic,” Newel said. She and her colleagues feared that would mean funding that supports free testing and vaccinations for local residents would dry up. Fortunately, this is not the case and these programs will remain in place.

Newel hopes what Biden meant is that we’ve gone from pandemic to endemic, which means we’re learning to live with the virus. COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, she says.

With the holiday season and colder weather approaching, another surge is likely on the horizon, so November is a good time to enjoy a few meals, Newel says. And we should all consider receive the final COVID-19 booster shot this includes defending against the newer variants – and expect to get another one every year, “like the seasonal flu vaccine”.

Eat this

At the downtown Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market on Wednesday, I took advantage of the stone fruit samples offered by Pinnacle Organically Grown Produce, and the sweet, honeyed flavor of a speckled green plum stopped me in my tracks. It was an Emerald Beaut plum, and I brought home half a dozen fist-sized fruits. This is one of the people who manage the Pinnacle booth always recommend I found out as I left.

By Saturday my family had eaten them all, so I headed to Westside Market to see if I could find more. I spotted them at Ken’s Top Notch Produce, where the person who checked me out confessed that the Emerald Beaut was also his favorite. It really is an exceptional fruit and clearly has a lot of discerning fans. Grab them while you can – treats like this are worth a special trip to your local farmer’s market.

Reef Dog Deli in Capitola attracted me a few weeks ago when the chef Anthony Kresge heard that I was looking for the best BLT in the county and invited me to try his. I was impressed, and this week I was back to try another star on his menu, the pastrami sandwich. Like BLTs, I’m a sucker for a good pastrami sandwich, and they’re not that easy to find. At Reef Dog, Kresge pledges to make his own pastrami – a multi-day process involving overnight brining and a 13-hour smoke that turns tough cuts of beef brisket into super-tender, incredibly flavorful peppery slices of heaven. . Paper-thin slices, topped with sharp Vermont cheddar, homemade onion jam and whole-grain mustard on toasted Jewish rye delivered daily by the Golden Sheaf Bread Company of Watsonville, is like eating a warm hug – if that makes sense. Pastrami-phile friends, take a look.


The Harvest Festival at the UCSC Farm is on Sunday.

The Harvest Festival at the UCSC Farm is on Sunday.

(By Facebook)

This Saturday, you can soak up the redwoods while enjoying local art, music, wine and craft beer at the 19th Annual Bonny Doon Art, Wine & Brew Festival, 12-5 p.m. at Bonny Doon Equestrian Center. Don’t worry about going hungry while you work up an appetite at the silent auction, which benefits local schools: grab a gourmet grilled sandwich from Epoch Eats, tasty tacos from Tacos El Chuy, fresh oysters from Parker Presents “Bill the Oysterman” and filled with hot dogs by the River Dogs of Boulder Creek. Tickets are $65 in advance at

On Saturday, dust off your lederhosen and dirndls and head to New Bohemia Brewing Co. for Oktoberfest. This Pleasure Point brewery specializes in bohemian-style lagers and ales and is releasing a traditional Festbier Oktoberfest Lager for the occasion. Enjoy live polka band The Thirsty Nine, schnitzel sandwiches and a German-themed menu. All ages are welcome; this event lasts all day. More info on Prost!

This Sunday, enjoy seasonal festivities for the whole family at the UCSC Farm Harvest Festival. Events include live music; practical workshops; children’s activities; and apple pie and salsa making contests. My Mom’s Mole, Companion Bakeshop and Penny Ice Creamery will serve up delicious fall treats. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Adults are $5 while children, UCSC and Cabrillo students are free. More info on