July 30, 2009
Sacramentans react to the "beer summit"

News flash: three guys are having a beer tonight. Sounds pretty ordinary, save that the fellas tossing back a cold one are President Obama, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. Joseph Crowley of the Cambridge, Mass. police department.

If you don't know the back story, Gates was arrested by Crowley in a case of mistaken burglary. President Obama remarked that police had "acted stupidly," Crowley responded with bitter beer face, and the whole case stoked the powder keg of race relations. Can't we all just get along? Well sure, and it helps if the cooling down session involves beer. So President Obama invited Gates and Crowley to the White House to knock back a cold one while hopefully finding common ground.

President Obama reportedly opted for a Bud Light, while Gates chose Red Stripe and Crowley was good with a Blue Moon.

What did local suds lovers think of this so-called beer summit? Watch the above video and find out

July 29, 2009
Free food offer, recipe idea for National Lasagna Day revelers

buca.jpgLooking to celebrate National Lasagna Day today? Here are two ways to commemorate the cheesy occasion.

If you're looking to let someone else do the heavy lifting, Buca di Beppo is offering a free lunch-size serving of its popular lasagna with any purchase of a small or large pasta or entree today.

The offer is available at Buca di Bepo's 87 locations nationwide, including its restaurants at 1249 Howe Ave., Sacramento and 1212 Galleria Blvd., Roseville.

The free lasagna offer is not valid with other coupons, offers or to-go orders, but can be boxed and taken home for dine-in guests, a restaurant news release states.

Want to impress your family with a delicious, homemade lasagna tonight?

Try this recipe - an easy-to-prepare, quick-to-disappear dinner in my house - which comes courtesy of Paula Deen and the Food Network Web site.

Lots O'Meat Lasagna

lasagna.jpgPrep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Serves: 4
Notes: Recipe courtesy Paula Deen, 2008


1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground oregano
1 teaspoon ground basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1 (5-ounce) package grated Parmigianno-Reggiano
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
9 oven-ready lasagna noodles
2 (8-ounce) packages shredded mozzarella


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large saucepan, combine ground chuck, sausage onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until meat is browned and crumbled; drain.

Return meat to pan and add oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese, Parmesan, parsley, and eggs.

Spoon 1/4 of sauce into bottom of a 13-by-9 baking pan. Place three uncooked lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Do not overlap noodles. Spread 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture over noodles, top with 1/4 of sauce and 1/3 mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce, reserving 1/3 of mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

July 24, 2009
A drink of Drank


Work's been a little hectic lately, so it's a recent Saturday night and I'm decompressing at home. The time's arrived to pop a can of Drank that's chilling in the refrigerator.

Drank's billed as an "anti-energy" drink, with calming powers to "slow your roll." Think of it as Red Bull in reverse. But does Drank really provide a carbonated dose of mellowness, or is it just snake oil in a purple can?

But first, some background - especially if you're not up on southern hip-hop culture.

Listen to songs by Three 6 Mafia, Paul Wall, Lil Wayne and you'll hear references to "drank," a potent mixture of soda, codeine cough syrup and Jolly Rancher candies. Also known as "purple drank," "sizzurp" and "lean," this concoction inspired a sub-genre of hip-hop called "chopped and screwed," where music slows down to woozy tempos and reflects life at half speed.

The underground version of this drink can be lethal. Houston's DJ Screw, a pioneer of the "chopped and screwed" movement, died at the age of 29 following an overdose of alcohol and codeine.

So the purple can now found nationally at 7-11 stores is a legal version of "drank," which sells for around $2. You won't find codeine in Drank, a product from Houston's Innovative Beverage Group. Drank's "slow your roll" properties are purportedly from such active ingredients as melatonin, valerian root and rose hips.

And yes, on this night I could use some slow in my roll. So I cued up a re-mix of Mike Jones' "Still Tippin'" and opened my can of Drank.

The taste wasn't bad at all, something like 7-Up mixed with a grape Flintstones vitamin. Compared to medicinal taste of many energy drinks, the crisp and lightly sweet flavor of Drank is cool by me.

So I drank my 16 oz. can of Drank, hoping to feel legally chopped and screwed, or at least a little sleepy. And then I drank some more.

90 minutes later I'm on the couch watching "Saturday Night Live" and feeling, well, pretty normal. I'm certainly not amped up, but the sandman doesn't seem to be knocking on my eyelids either. It's been a relaxing evening, though not really out of the ordinary.

I did slept pretty hard that night, which may or may not be due to Drank. I like the idea of Drank being hip-hop's answer to hot milk, but wish it would've wound me down much more.

July 23, 2009
Jonas Brothers menu @ Hard Rock Cafe

The Jonas Brothers have their own lunch box, 3-D movie, legions of screaming fans ... and now the teen-poppers have their own menu at the Hard Rock Cafe. But this "Lines, Vines & Trying Times" menu is about more than just grubbing on a cheeseburger in the JoBros' name. $5 from each menu will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a cause close to Nick Jonas' heart. The 16-year-old pop star was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005. He wrote a song about this fight, "A Little Bit Longer," which is guaranteed to generate some tiny tears in the audience when played live.

So here's the deal: "Lines, Vines & Trying Times" is a $20 prix fixe menu that includes a choice of a cheeseburger, veggie burger, honey mustard grilled chicken sandwich or caesar salad, plus a drink. And here's the bonus: each order from this special menu comes with two raffle tickets to win an autographed Jonas Brothers guitar. (Cue a teen scream of, "Eeeeeeeyaaaagh!")

The menu runs through July 30, and the raffle winner will be announced by Aug. 4. Good luck, and happy eating at the Hard Rock.

July 22, 2009
Napa wine tasting @ Lounge on 20

Might as well call this tasting "Napa on 20." So here's the scoop: Lounge on 20 (050 20th St.) is hosting a Napa wine tasting on Aug. 12 from 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Sounds like a fun event, and I'm not just saying this because The Bee's is one of the sponsors. For one, some groovy jazz tunes will be performed by the Mat Marucci Trio as folks sip away. Lounge on 20's kitchen will also be cranking out some edibles, and look for special sale prices on the wines. As for the Napa wineries to be featured, here are some currently on board for the event:

Pine Ridge Vineyards
Merryvale Winery
Foley Wine
Luna Vineyards
Rubicon Estate
Flora Springs
... and about a half-dozen more.

Tickets are $25 through, or $30 at the door. See you there ...

July 22, 2009
Dream Dinners offering fame, food for winning recipes

Do you have a fabulous recipe that you think others would enjoy as well?

Enter it in Dream Dinners 3rd Annual Recipe Contest and you might just walk away with $500 worth of Dream Dinners meals.

Dream Dinners, a meal-assembly franchise with a location in Natomas, is holding the contest through Aug. 28 and is looking for recipes featuring London Broil, chicken breast, pork chops and cod.

For more information, check out my blog.

July 17, 2009
Help Hawks get on "LIVE! with Regis and Kelly"

Hawks Restaurant in Granite Bay has a shot at being featured on "LIVE! with Regis and Kelly" next week. But, food-eating people of Sacramento, this appearance won't be possible without your help. Hawks is one of the contenders for the show's "Ultimate Hometown Grill Off," featuring recipes from chefs around the good 'ol U.S.A. Hawks has entered with a maple brined pork chop with grilled peaches, but will go mano a mano with pork recipes from four other contestants.

So here's the deal: log on to and follow the link to to the "Ultimate Hometown Grill Off." Videos are posted from Hawks and the other contestants, and look for a "vote now" button. The top vote-getter will then get flown to New York City next week and demonstrate the recipe on the show. Note: voting closes on Sunday @ 7 a.m. and registration is required to vote.

Happy clicking, and good luck to Hawks.

July 13, 2009
A hot (dog) deal @ Wienerschnitzel

We've been thinking a lot about hot dogs over here, and not just because July is National Hot Dog Month. My colleague and Counter Culture columnist, Al Pierleoni, recently became my new BFF after bringing me an amazing Chicago-style hot dog from Heavenly Dog in Elk Grove. Read my pal Al's review of Heavenly Dog soon in "Counter Culture," which runs each Friday in the Bee's Ticket section.

And here's another reason to say "hooray!" for hot dogs: All Wienerschnitzel outlets are giving away a free chili dog on Tuesday from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Or if you aren't down with chili dogs, Wienerschnitzel you can opt for a free Tastee Freez small cone. Apparently, July also doubles as National Ice Cream Month. Yay for marketing maneuvers disguised as national holidays!

July 10, 2009
Mulvaney's B&L in good company

OpenTable, the convenient online way to make reservations for dinner, has compiled a list of 50 favorite restaurants throughout the country. The survey tallies 2.5 million reviews of 9,000-plus restaurants.

Sacramento's own Mulvaney's B&L on 19th Street is one of the standouts. Congratulations!

For more information,

July 8, 2009
Grape & Gourmet: Twitter fingers are ready

Who nabbed "best of show" honors at this year's California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition? Get those results live while I Twitter from Grape & Gourmet, the wine and food feast to be held at the Sacramento Convention Center. I'll also be sipping some of the award-winning wines and sending tweets with my tasting notes. Come follow along @chris_macias.

Also, don't forget to check our database of winners from the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition. We've listed all the winners, save for the "best of show" awards which will be announced tomorrow. Check it out, and see you at Grape & Gourmet ...

July 8, 2009
Local market's tri-tip saves time, cooks up beautifully

I was on vacation in Lake Tahoe the first time I tasted Ikedas California Country Market's pre-marinated tri-tip. It was deliciously flavored, extremely tender and juicy and left me wanting more.

tritip.jpgI've been an Ikedas tri-tip junkie ever since, trekking to the Davis store (there's also an Ikedas in Auburn, off Interstate 80) to get my fix.

The store sells a tri-tip made with Ikedas seasoning, as well as one with Ikedas marinade. The seasoned tri-tip is slightly spicy, while the marinated tri-tip has a touch of sweetness to it that makes the flavor dance in your mouth.

I cook my 2 1/2 pound Ikedas seasoned tri-tip this weekend over medium heat on the grill for about 45 minutes, which, after resting for about 15 minutes, resulted in the meat being cooked to medium.

Served alongside grilled white corn and a tangy and sweet summer salad, it made for a beautiful, simple summer meal (the recipe for my salad is posted on my blog).

Ikedas has two locations: 3500 Lincoln Way, Auburn and 26295 Mace Blvd., Davis. The store also carries locally grown produce, exceptional pies and other goodies.

July 7, 2009
Hunger relief: Pastors on a bamboo bike built for three

Three Lutheran pastors from West Virginia are in the middle of a 100-day journey throughout America to raise money for worldwide hunger relief. The pastors -- David Twedt, Ron Schlak and Fred Soltow -- left Chicago May 13 and plan to arrive in Minneapolis on Aug. 19.

They hope to bring in $5 million -- $1 for every pedal stroke on their odyssey. They will be in our area Saturday July 11 and will participate in events open to everyone. That day, the trio will begin a public ride at 9:30 a.m. in Winters, departing from Main Street and Railroad Avenue and arriving in Davis around 11 a.m.

Then it's on to Sacramento to visit the First English Community Church's community garden (3860 4th Ave.) at 1:30 p.m. and make several other stops along the way. Cyclists are encouraged to join the ride.

The pastors chose a bamboo bike because bamboo is the material of choice for new bikes being built for the needy in Ghana. In America, bamboo has become something of a novelty for bike frames, as it has for everything from floors to kitchen cutting boards. Prominent California bike builder Calfee Designs, long know for its high-quality carbon fiber bikes, built the three-person bamboo bike. Though that bike is one of a kind, bamboo bikes are now a part of the company's regular production. Such frames are considered strong as well as eye-catching.

For more information about the events in Davis, contact Jack Kenward at 530-753-5747 or

July 1, 2009
Evan's Kitchen determined to do veggie wine dinner

Give Evan Elsberry credit. Not only is he a very good cook, he's a stubborn restaurateur. After promoting a full vegetarian wine dinner in May and then canceling it when interest was low, Evan's Kitchen on 57th Street is trying again

Vegetarian groups were apparently unaware of the big dinner and perhaps Elsberry didn't reach out to the right Web sites and blogs the first go round. Several folks said they would have made reservations had they known.

So now we'll see how many diners are out there willing to pay $60 for what looks to be a wonderful night of food and wine, absent the meat.

Here's the information Elsberry sent me:

First Course: Yellow Gazpacho and Ratatouille

Second Course: Tomato and Melon Salad with Tomato Sorbet and Basil Tempura

Third Course: Layered Grilled Tofu and Marinated Eggplant with Rice Noodles, Sea Beans, Crispy Ginger and Coconut Red Curry Emulsion

Fourth Course: Provencal Vegetables in Jicama ("Cannelloni") with Red Pepper Jus and Artichoke Sauté

Dessert: Almonds and Marjoram Mirliton with Citrus Fruits

Wines for the meal will be selected from among the 562 medal winners at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition held in early June. Chef Evan will marry the wines to complement the varied flavors of the courses and dessert. On July 9, the "Best of Show" wines will be announced at the California Grape and Gourmet food festival to be held at the Sacramento Convention Center where Chef Evan will present one of his specialty appetizers. ( The "Best of Show" wines will be served at the September State Fair Gold Medal Wine dinner, date and menu to be determined.

$59.95 per person. Reservations Required. Call 916-452-3896.

July 1, 2009
Ella hires new chef

That didn't take long. Ella Dining Room and Bar only recently embarked on a national search to replace Chef David English, who is departing for Italy in three weeks.

But the popular upscale restaurant on K Street looked no farther than Napa for someone to fill English's big shoes.

Kelly McCown, executive chef at Francis Ford Coppola's Rubicon Estate Winery in Napa, will start at Ella on July 6th.

A graduate of the California Culinary Institute, McCown is also a trained pastry chef.

He has held several prestigious posts, including chef de cuisine at Martini House, the Michelin-rated restaurant in St. Helena; sous chef at Greystone Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa; and chef de cuisine at Flying Fish in Seattle.

A press release from The Selland Group, owner of Ella and its showcase The Kitchen Restaurant, calls the new hire "an amazing catch. We could not be more thrilled to be hiring this eminently qualified, talented, energetic, and charismatic new executive chef for Ella Dining Room and Bar."

July 1, 2009
Need dinner inspiration? Fish fajitas are delicious, healthy

fajitas.jpgI came up with a fabulous recipe for fish fajitas after flubbing a halibut ceviche that I'd been obsessing about.

Check out the recipe by going to my blog,

Happy eating!

July 1, 2009
Grange hosting book signing for acclaimed chef

MarkMiller.jpgMark your calendars Southwest cooking fans - Grange Restaurant & Bar is hosting a book signing for super chef Mark Miller.

The Sacramento event on July 15 celebrates Miller's newest cookbook, "Tacos" (Ten Speed Press, $21.95, 176 pages).

Grange Executive Chef Michael Tuohy also will create a special menu for lunch and dinner, highlighting dishes from the Miller's cookbook, according to an e-mail from the restaurant officials.

Miller has created more than 13 restaurants, including Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, where he now lives, and Fourth Street Grill in Berkeley.

The book signing will be held during lunch service, which begins at 11:30 a.m., and dinner service, which begins at 5:30 p.m.

For more information, visit Grange's Web site.

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