About Tara Fatemi Walker

Tara Fatemi Walker first fell in love with Santa Cruz as a UCSC student long ago. She returned in 2004 and is grateful to live in such a wonderful community. She loves to write about food, restaurants, and culinary events; see more of her writing at santacruzfoodie.com.

Staff of Life Natural Meats: Not Your Average Grocery Store Butcher

staff of life natural meats

A couple months ago, a friend raved to me about eating some wonderful grass-feed beef that she had cooked after buying it at Staff of Life’s new Farm to Fork meat department.

It took me a while to get there myself, as I’d received a Christmas gift subscription to local butcher El Salchichero’s CSM (monthly meat box) and was well-stocked in the meat department for three months. Last month, I finally tried Staff’s expanded meat products, and was very impressed so I decided to find out more.

Santa Cruz native Anthony Blanco purchased the Natural Meats and Seafood department at Staff of Life last November, and has been enthusiastically operating it ever since.

Many don’t realize that this is a separate business that first opened in 1997, and is run independently from the rest of the store.

staff of life natural meatsAnthony has more than two decades of experience as a local butcher, including jobs at Freedom Meat Lockers, Deluxe Foods, The Fish Lady, and New Leaf Community Markets. For many years he has cooked and prepared food for his family—which includes his wife Shana, 14-year-old son Shane, and 6-year-old daughter Hazel. He even prepares food for the family dog, Grace, who appreciates the cooked ground meat/rice/puréed organic pumpkin combination.

[Read more…]

Farm to Table (Without Leaving the Farm): Route 1 Farms Summer Dinner Series

route 1 farm dinner series 2015Imagine:

A leisurely walk through trees and fields overflowing with farm-fresh produce…

Hearing stories of the farm directly from those who grow the food…

Eating a wonderful outdoors meal made with fresh farm ingredients, dining next to friends old and new.

Those of us that live in the Santa Cruz area are so fortunate, for so many reasons. One of my favorite aspects to Santa Cruz: the abundance of independent farms that we’re surrounded with, all growing beautiful and delicious products.  Some of these farms even hold community events—like Route 1 Farms, who announced its annual summertime dinner series where you can have experiences like the one described above.

Tickets went on sale earlier this month.

You may be thinking – wait a second, spring just started and you’re already talking about summer? But tickets to this series sell out fast, so here are details.  In fact, at the time of this writing, each dinner was already half full.
[Read more…]

Family Dining on a Budget

family dining on a budget

Are you one of the many folks in the Santa Cruz area who is raising one or more kids?  If you’re anything like me, you probably accumulated a lot of debt with holiday shopping and travel! I thought it would be a great time to do some research and share a few tips on where to dine out for less money.

Please, please, please – if you know of any that aren’t on this list, share them in the “comments” section at the end of this article. [Read more…]