Find the Angels: You'll have better luck if you have some of Bonny Doon's Le Vol des Anges first.
Bonny Doon says its new Le Vol des Anges dessert Roussanne may be the best thing it's ever done. Who.
By Amber Turpin
Gift envy is a shameful affliction that strikes even the most generous and selfless among us. It happened to me this year when I saw, but did not receive, the fabulous gift baskets from Chocolate on Pacific Avenue. Any true chocolate lover would have wanted one of these, complete with various hot chocolate mixes, a copper pot and mug for the beverage, a fact book on the history of chocolate, a Venezuelan chocolate bar and even a chocolate-scented candle. A bottle of chocolate stout, Bonny Doon's Bouteille Call dessert wine and a 2004 Bergerac Rouge offered accompanying enjoyment. Perhaps these gift baskets will reappear in time for Valentine's Day so some of you friends of chocolate fans will get another chance (hint, hint). By the way, Chocolate has added some new dinner items to the menu that sound intriguing (and the kitchen always uses free-range and organic meats). They're also open late, at least by Santa Cruz standards—great for when a decadent Criollo craving hits. (831.427.9900)
Turn, turn, turn The fleeting nature of seasonal produce is also what makes eating it so rewarding. Yearning for summer's sweet young corn in the middle of February delivers so much more satisfaction from that first cob months later. A small window of opportunity to taste our season right now comes in the form of olio nuovo, or "new oil." This is to olives what beaujolais nouveau is to grapes, and makes the first presses of the olive harvest a party in our sister agro-climates worldwide. Two Santa Cruz Mountains producers, Belle Farms and Valencia Creek (of award-winning Olio del Le Colline), are offering bottles of this unfiltered and distinctive extra, extra-virgin product this month only at the Monterey Bay Certified farmers market on Saturdays at Cabrillo College. Both of these small farms have olive groves with trees from Italian stock. Although exciting items such as this tend to be saved for special occasions, collectors among us beware—the unique, bright qualities of olio nuovo fade quickly, so it's recommended to use the oil within a month or two. To order direct from Belle Farms call 831.728.9125. Also visit www.valenciacreekfarms.com for a look at their wide offerings.
The twee mold Sadly, mold and fungus generally tend to conjure unpleasant thoughts within the minds of the mainstream population. But to completely avoid these would be to miss out on countless culinary joys, from edible mushrooms to cheeses to yeasted breads. And don't forget alcohol. Botrytis cinerea (also called noble rot) is a fungus that's cause for celebration among winemakers and wine lovers worldwide; it causes grapes to shrivel, which concentrates sugars while maintaining enough acid to avoid an overly cloying wine. When carefully cultivated, the resulting product is an intensely full, complex and honeyed elixir aptly attributed with its fancypants nickname. Last year's Roussanne grapes from the Beeswax Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco appellation of Monterey County have yielded one such outstanding wine. Bonny Doon Vineyard is proclaiming its Le Vol des Anges to be "the greatest dessert wine we have ever produced ... and possibly the best thing we have done, full stop." I hands-down agree. (www.bonnydoonvineyard.com)
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