Yesterday, while we were having lunch in the garden, soaking up the extraordinary January sun and talking about - what else? - food, a friend asked me out of the blue and in all seriousness if I was 'a salad person'. I didn't know exactly what he meant by salad person - nor, apparently, did he - but, without hesitating for a second, I answered yes.
Do I eat a lot of salads? I guess so. It's not that I eschew entrées, but as far as I am concerned, anything that can be eaten can very well be eaten in salad form. I tend to mix quinoa, sardines, vegetables and even cheese together and eat it out of a bowl with a fork. I'll layer any greens I have with beans, cheese, vegetables raw or cooked, and salsa; I mix fruits with yogurt and top it with nuts, granola, and honey. I am, without any doubt, a salad person.
One of my favorite salads these days is very simple. I like a contrast of flavors: something salty, something sweet, something savory and something fresh, so variety is important to me. Color, too, is key, and I find orange particularly delightful. This is what I do: I grate a carrot, add a handful or two of raisins, crumble dried seaweed into it, and top it with sesame seeds. For dressing, I mix Bragg's Liquid Aminos - salty and tangy like soy sauce - with dijon mustard, and I eat this salad in my deep orange bowl.
Enough about salads, though. In Santa Cruz, there is plenty of vibrant food to try. Charlie Hong Kong, an Asian street food place on Soquel Avenue, has delicious - and cheap and mostly vegan - rice bowls; I'm a fan of the hoisin pork.
Cafe Brazil on Mission Street - which is what Highway One turns into, and it turns back into the One at the far end of town - is the choice breakfast joint of beautiful people, and how could it not be? With its yellow and green walls, big windows, luscious fruit bowls, and rich egg dishes, it's the perfect way to spend a weekend morning... or afternoon.
Afterwards, you just might have to go to the beach.