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…Betty Jane is rolling again! That’s right, craft beer lovers – after a hiatus of more than two years, Brew Cruz’s flagship vehicle, a refurbished 1989 Thomas International school bus named Betty Jane, is back on the road. Since Brew Cruz launched its local craft beer bus tours in 2015, I’ve enjoyed at least half a dozen private brewery tours around Santa Cruz County, hosted by a gregarious and knowledgeable owner. Annie Wolff-Pautsch. Unfortunately, as Pautsch considered expanding its fleet to a third vehicle and offering personalized tours of South County’s thriving craft beverage scene, the pandemic forced a “temporary” shutdown. Then in 2021, Pautsch learned that his vintage vehicle’s engine no longer complied with California’s new diesel regulatory laws and would have to be taken off the road. The Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Air Resources Board gave Pautsch few options besides selling the custom-designed vehicle out of state or installing a new fuel-efficient engine — to the tune of $162,000. . Which, while price was not a factor, was not compatible with the bus chassis.
Frustrated but determined, Pautsch focused on promoting her second vehicle, a seven-seat 1964 Volkswagen bus nicknamed Slowboy. This year, it decided to review a low-use option that allows vehicles that don’t have “clean air” engines to run as long as they get less than 1,000 miles per year. In 2019, that would have been impossible — Pautsch reports that Betty Jane operated three to four days a week and clocked over 4,000 miles a year. But since the bus went off the road in 2020, 2021 and now in the first half of 2022, Pautsch was able to qualify. She can now drive Betty Jane up to 1,000 miles until the end of this year.
“I just want to spread the word out there. The big goal is to convert Betty Jane to electricity,” says Pautsch. “If anyone has a lead on someone interested in doing an individual conversion project to turn a vintage vehicle into electric, please let me know. Vintage vehicles are too special not to enjoy.
Now, Brew Cruz can offer a limited number of Santa Cruz-based brewery tours for 10-15 passengers. There are approximately 25 tour dates available until the end of the year.
Last weekend, Pautsch wrapped up her first private tour in over two years, and she’s happy to be back on her beloved bus: “It was amazing. The bus received several horns and waves. Seeing the familiar brewery faces I saw every weekend for six years was truly wonderful and moving. It was like the good old days. Tickets are $95 per person. More information at scbrewcruz.com.
…Staff of Life Market, a Santa Cruz-based superlative and local health food store, opened a new location in Watsonville last year and held many fun events to welcome the community. For example, on Tuesday, marketing manager Hollie Wendt I am told, the store will be selling cheeseburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, tater tots loaded with pulled pork, and sides of tater tots in front of the store from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. This weekly parking lot barbecue has become very popular, and the Staff of Life team is considering making it a weekly event. And every other Wednesday is Wine Down Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., which organizes a wine tasting in the store. This week, guests can try three wines from Oliver McCrum Wines, plus prosecco, moscato and a few other fun vintages plus specialty cheeses and sausages. All tasting items are 10% off. Check it out at 906 E. Lake Ave. in Watsonville.
… This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever written about, but what happened to free bread in restaurants? A small basket of bread and butter or olive oil was ubiquitous with a sit-down meal, but now I can’t remember the last time it was offered to me. OK, that’s not quite true – a couple of my favorite Italian restaurants, including Tramonti and Lago di Como, both in Santa Cruz, still offer homemade bread. Far more often, however, I see either high-quality homemade bread creations on the menu — like a towering oily focaccia at Mentone at Aptos for $5, homemade salted-butter bread at Bantam for $5, and crispy focaccia at Home to Soquel with sea-butter lettuce for $7 – or I don’t see it at all. I guess, with soaring costs weighing on restaurants, free bread was one of the first things to go. Maybe wasted bread was a concern? I can understand that too. But I miss it. It’s relaxing to snack on something with your drink while browsing the menu. And a plate of bread on the table can be very forgiving for a busy server with a full station if guests have to wait a while for their attention. Ah, free bread. I took you for granted!
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Good news for downtown Santa Cruz: Vamonos Comida, an untraditional taqueria, opened in the Octagon building last week and serves a mix of unconventional dishes — think fried chicken tacos — along with classic dishes. like street tacos and quesadillas. Find out what I thought of the new addition to Abbott Square, plus some summer treats to enjoy before the season ends, in Summary of Friday Eaters.
60 – The amount in tons of food scraps that the city of Santa Cruz expects to collect from residents once it launching new composition boxes next week. If you live in Santa Cruz and are patiently waiting for your new food waste bin, expect it the week of August 1st.
“The little story of the pandemic is that I was able to take time, like many of us, to find myself and realize what I really needed to do.” — Owner of Casalegno Gina Lund on how her experiences during the pandemic, including losing her home in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, inspired her to reinventing the historic store She has been running since 2009.
LIFE WITH THE BELLIS
My brother, Alex, is in France at the moment with his Parisian girlfriend, Alice. I know, poor thing, right? Not only is Alice a truly wonderful woman who adores my brother, but she’s an amazing host and a real foodie to boot. They blew up our family WhatsApp group chat with photos from their trip that look amazing – a speakeasy in Paris located behind a secret door in a laundromat; a fluffy floating island dessert in a bistro in the Bastille; okonomiyaki in a Japanese restaurant; glasses of wine by the Seine. But it’s by far the most French thing they’ve done – while hiking and camping in Annecy, they made fondue on the side of a mountain. I’m not a big fan of hiking, but if there was fondue I would go a lot more often. Here is the recipe, according to my brother: Start with a sachet of grated Gruyère, a box of Heineken and a few cloves of garlic. Boil the garlic in a little beer on a small stove, then add another dash of beer and the cheese until creamy and smooth. How dreamy is that? I mean, later they almost got struck by lightning when a storm rolled in, but hey, at least they ate like kings!
THIS WEEK, I ROSE…
…to a joke I’ve seen on Twitter several times this week. As Britain suffered a historic heatwave last week, worried fans of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ feared online that the poor baking contestants would be forced to film the dreaded episode of the Chocolate Week with temperatures reaching the triple digits. Have no fear – a spokesperson for Channel 4 confirmed that filming for the upcoming season wrapped earlier this summer. New episodes of GBBO are coming in September.
FOOD NEWS TO READ
➤ Diana Kennedy, expert in Mexican cuisine, dies at 99 (New York Times)
➤ Beer giant Anheuser-Busch sells Bay Area fulfillment center, lays off 142 people (SFGate)
➤ It’s judgment day for Paul Hollywood (Eater)
Thanks for reading! Eat well, my friends.