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Restaurants & Bars

Swanton, Donnelly & Marianne's (Santa Cruz area)

Melanie Wong | Jul 22, 200404:50 AM     2

Three weeks ago I took the scenic way southbound on the coast route. I made a first visit to Swanton, a chowhound favorite, lured by the signs along the roadside promising gelato. The fabled frozen treat was sold out, unfortunately, but there were plenty of beautiful and unadorned strawberries to sample and to buy. A heaping basket was $3...when I told my mom this, I thought she was going to have a stroke. But leaving them out on the counter to fill the kitchen with their fragrance, and after she tasted them, she agreed that they were special and worth the extra shekels.

Continuing on through Santa Cruz in stop and go traffic, I was driving slowly enough to notice the sandwich board on Mission promoting Donnelly Chocolates. A chance to check out the famous chocolatier was good enough reason for a quick U-turn. Samples of the candies and ice creams were offered. I settled on a small serving of the chocolate ice cream topped off with blackberry/cabernet sorbet for my ice cream fix. The chocolate was unbelievably rich, sort of like the frozen version of French hot chocolate with all that butterfat and chocolatey depth and over-the-topness. Very luscious, it was so concentrated and dense that it didn't seem to melt and liquify, just glistened and got a little softer in the cup. The blackberry was intensely perfumed and brambly flavored with the cabernet flavoring adding high tones and length to the finish but no tannic harshness. Loved the lemongrass and rose filled chocolates, but we got the rest of them mixed up so can't match up likes and dislikes with the names. I also bought a bag of the hot chocolate mix as a hostess present.

Then I stopped at Marianne's to pick up some hand-packed macapuno ice cream. It blows away Mitchell's version. The flavor of the day was fresh cantaloupe that was the essence of summer. Picked up a quart of this for the barbecue I'd be attending. I also tried the lychee flavor. This was very good with lots of frozen chunks of fruit, but not quite as intense as Marco Polo's version.

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