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Coffee chat with Elizabeth Ivanovich, author of "Going Coastal: Santa Cruz and Beyond"

Greetings everyone. Grab your cup of joe, coffee, java, tea if you must, and settle in for a fantastic coffee what with Californian author, Elizabeth Ivanovich. The author of "Going Coastal: Santa Cruz and Beyond", which book sellers classify as a travel book yet it's mainly concerned with artists, musicians, and quirky aspects of the place Elizabeth calls home. One of the things I truly enjoyed about this coffee chat was Elizabeth's "voice". It really came through in her answers and I was easily swept up in our chat. And I'm typing this blog as I look out into a clear blue sky and it makes me want to get to know more about this part of California. 
photo courtesy schamantra, Pixaby Images

Now, before I even got around to asking Elizabeth questions, she discovered I was an Aussie and asked me a question.

Elizabeth: Is it true that AC/DC's band name is phonetically pronounced "Acca Dacca" there? For some reason, I can't get my head around that...

DLYes, it is pronounced Aaa Cee Dee Cee, but we Aussies likes to play with words, shorten them, slang them up, brand them, and give them terms of endearment. So yes, many fans call them "Acca Dacca" but for no real reason other than it's a play with the words. Guns N Roses is "Gunners",  Jimmy Barnes is "Barnesy" and John Farnham is "Farnesy". These are slang term immediately recognisable by another Aussie, so it's like a code I suppose. If you don't get the reference, we know you're not an Aussie. Does that make sense?

Elizabeth: Ah, I see. I vaguely remember things like Barnesy (the UK music press does similar things in a lot of its stories), but I figured the whole AC/DC thing was like an alternate alphabet pronunciation thing, like that old Mike Myers joke about whether ZZ Top would be pronounced "Zed Zed Top" overseas...
photo courtesy derwicki, Pixaby images
Welcome Elizabeth

 DL: Firstly, since it's a coffee chat, how do you like you coffee (or not as has been the case) and what is your favourite time of the day to partake?

Elizabeth: I'm definitely hooked on coffee, to the extent where I'll time errand-running to coincide with the arrival of a new batch of coffees at my favorite roaster. (Santa Cruz County has several excellent homegrown artisanal coffee companies, so it's far too easy to enable a caffeine addiction there.) I use an Aeropress, and then make a cheater's latte by microwaving some milk and frothing it with a stick blender. I'll drink one of those with breakfast, and be craving another mid-afternoon. Depending on my mood or what I'm eating with it, sometimes I'll add some cocoa or chop up some Mexican chocolate for a mocha. On a (surprisingly rare) hot day, I might make myself a Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk, pour a coffee shot over ice cream for an affogato, or just pour some cold brew over ice with a dash of cream. Needless to say, this makes me a little indecisive during (frequent and mandatory!) trips to a coffeehouse...
DL: Your book "Going Coastal" is a real behind the scenes look at California's central coast. I had no idea Santa Cruz was an ice cream mecca. Do you think knowing the history of a place helps tourists treat that town as their own instead of just having strangers visit? Is that part of the reason behind the book?
Elizabeth: I do think that's part of it. For me, it's also about working out the identity of the Central Coast as a place, since so much of it (even for those who live here) seems hard to define, and only discussed in relation to the rest of the state. It's considered part of Northern California, but there's a different feel compared to, say, Silicon Valley (even factoring in the local tech companies) or the wine country (though we have mountain vineyards). Surfing has been synonymous with Santa Cruz for generations, but the surf culture has a different vibe than Southern California's. Meanwhile, I grew up in nearby Watsonville, whose cultural attractions were usually overlooked in comparison to the larger city's. (Happily, that seems to be changing now.) So, there were a lot of different things to explore. I've come to cherish the combination of genuine characters, the quirky and often whimsical artistic sensibility, and laid-back unpretentiousness that makes the community unique.
DL: Music is a huge allure of California for many people. For someone who live in Australia where we have an abundance of sunshine and beaches, so music has offered a connection to California through fifties movies and 80s LA scene. Is there still a live music scene in California? How has it changed over the years?

Elizabeth: That whole beach connection makes sense, though I admit it never occurred to me before now. (Aussie bands have held a kind of cool, indefinable mystique since I was a kid, and I'd imagine other American rock fans might have the same curiosity.) I can't speak for other parts of California...LA's scene, which I haven't experienced personally in a few years, is likely different than San Francisco's, for instance. (The SF scene seems very festival-oriented to me, but that's probably because I hear about those more often as an out-of-towner than individual club shows.) Santa Cruz County is one of California's smallest geographically, but there's always been great musical diversity: thriving jazz, reggae, punk, and blues scenes, just off the top of my head. There are a surprising number of venues around, and they tend to be cozy and offbeat. (Last year, I went to a fantastic Diane Coffee show at the Crepe Place, a small restaurant with an even tinier stage space near the bar. I couldn't see very well because of the crowd by then, but I'm pretty sure lead singer Shaun Fleming had to step outside to change outfits for the finale, judging by the shrieks and squeals I heard near the Soquel Avenue entrance.) There have been a lot of complaints about Santa Cruz's zoning laws from musicians over the years, but I've seen more busking there lately. I don't know if the city has relaxed the rules, or if street musicians are more savvy about finding loopholes now.

photo courtesy carolaselles, Pixaby images

DL: Are you a biscuit or cake kind of person? And which is your favourite biscuit/cake?
Elizabeth: As a home baker I tend to prefer biscuits, since they're easier to make and more versatile. (There's one for every occasion, and you can present a variety of them at once. You can eat more of them, too!) On the other hand, cake is a red-letter-day celebration, and the whole planning process is pretty tantalizing: choosing the layers, the filling, the frosting, decoration. I will always welcome a cookie (aagh, biscuit--force of habit, sorry!), but if a cake is around, I will eat a slice for breakfast every day (with my coffee drink of choice) until it's gone. So, I definitely am both. My cookie choice tends to change with my mood and the season. There's a dark chocolate truffle cookie recipe that's very close to my heart, though rolling the dough into balls first can be a little annoying. (I like to freeze the dough balls once they're made, so I can be spontaneous about baking them.) Oatmeal cookies are not only comforting, they're practically a meal. (Sustenance is important.) Right now I'm in a peanut blossom stage, using Alice Medrich's peanut butter cookie recipe with dark chocolate kisses on top. (They're so short and crumbly that it's a pain to get them off the parchment without breaking any, but the flavor is worth it in the end!) Once in a while I'll make an apricot cheesecake or banana bread with chocolate chips, and lately there's a chocolate persimmon loaf cake recipe that for once has me happy that my tree is laden with the squishy, difficult-to-reach fruit this year. For my birthday, though, it's nearly always a chocolate layer cake base, most often frosted with a chocolate ganache.
DL: Thank you, Elizabeth, for dropping by. And thank you, Reader, for stopping by.
California's Central Coast can be confusing. Electric guitars are made from car parts, bronze sculptures fill nursery gardens, and people actually want to watch a guy play the accordion! Elizabeth Ivanovich has deciphered these and other mysteries in GOING COASTAL. Meet local icons, discover the best of everything, and explore cultural life throughout the Bay Area. Equal parts character study, travel guide, and cultural analysis, GOING COASTAL reveals the California most visitors haven't seen.



 Going Coastal: Santa Cruz County and Beyond is available from the publisher, Other online vendors include Barnes and NobleAmazon, and Books-A-Million. (BookLocker will give you the quickest service, since it eliminates the middleman.) In Watsonville, Going Coastal is available at Kelly’s BooksBookshop Santa Cruz has copies on the shelf, and also allows online ordering. (Both stores often carry autographed copies, so feel free to ask!) In downtown San Jose, visit Seeing Things GalleryPowell’s Books has copies available for online or prepaid ordering. Indie Bound can help you find copies at independent bookstores, or you can order directly from the site’s online store. The book is distributed through Ingram.

Elizabeth is a native to California's central coast. She has a bachelor's degree in art history and a master's degree in drama. She was the arts and entertainment columnist for Santa-Cruz, California publication "Student Guide" for 13 years. This is her first book.
(Elizabeth doesn't have Facebook or Twitter. She is one of those free spirits we all wish we could be, not chained to social media). 


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