Appetizers
February 26, 2010
Head to Whole Foods for shot at free groceries

daley2.JPGAttention Whole Foods shoppers!

If you're shopping the Sacramento or Roseville locations today or Saturday, be sure to have an Organic Valley product in your cart - it could mean free groceries.

Organic Valley farmer and owner Cindy Daley, a professor at the University Organic Farm at Chico State, will be surprising four shoppers at Whole Foods stores and paying for a week's worth of groceries, Wendy Allen, an Organic Valley spokeswoman said in an e-mail to The Bee.

Here's the catch - the lucky shoppers must already have an Organic Valley product in their cart to win. The timing of the giveaways is not being disclosed.

Daley also will be at the stores from 11 to 3 p.m. today and Saturday to promote Organic Valley's new drinkable yogurt.

The grocery giveaway is "a gift from the 15 California farmer-owners of Organic Valley to Whole Foods shoppers as thanks for devotion to organic foods and for keeping organic farmers on the land," Allen said.

February 24, 2010
Sacramento Beer Week deals

Sacramento Beer Week continues to chug along, with sold-out beer dinners at Mulvaney's B&L and a whole lot of suds sipping around the Sacramento area. The "Inaugural Gala" held on Monday night at the Colonial Theatre drew some 400 beer fans, who sampled from the likes of Rubicon, River City Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company out of Petaluma and more.

One bit of scoop we got during that beer-riffic event: Sacramento's Odonata Brewing Company is seeking a tasting room and brewery in the midtown area. That was the word from Peter Hoey, the company's founder and former brewmaster of Sacramento Brewing Company, who currently crafts his beers at Sudwerk in Davis. But, Hoey says that opening a midtown tasting room is tricky because of laws the prohibit single bottle sales in that area. He's still working these issues out, and we'll keep you posted when we hear more.

Red tape aside, plenty of great Sacramento Beer Week deals are for the taking. The event runs through Sunday, and here are some ways to enjoy this celebration on a budget:

Tonight

- $2 pints of Sudwerk and local music at The Townhouse Lounge (1517 21st St.). Tunes by Justin Farren, Blvd. Park and more. 7 p.m. - midnight. No cover charge.

- $2.50 house beers at "A Fermentation of Verse," featuring suds and poetry at River City Brewing Company (545 Downtown Plaza, Ste. 1115, Sacramento). 7 p.m.

- Pitcher of California microbrew and a dozen wings for $15 at Extreme Pizza (1140 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento)

Through Sunday:

- "Old School Happy Hour" with $1 beers from Miller High Life, Olympia, Mickey's Big Mouth and more at Monkey Bar (2730 Capitol Ave., Sacramento). 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.

- $2 off any beer and appetizer combo at Old Soul at the Weatherstone (812 21st St., Sacramento)

- 22 oz Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Glissade Golden Bock for $4.99 at Logan's Roadhouse (3698 North Freeway Blvd., Sacramento).

For a full line-up of events and beer specials:www.sacramentobeerweek.com.

February 23, 2010
Second helpings of light recipes

guacamole2.jpgWe received a handful of recipes fit to print while reporting today's Food & Wine story about our favorite light cookbooks, but unfortunately not all would fit in print.

But thanks to the wonders of technology, here are extra recipes.

Just click on the highlighted portion of the recipe name to get the desired recipe. Here's the menu:
Broccoli-cheddar soup.doc
Eggplant Parmesan.doc
Chicken Pot Pie.doc
Braised paprika chicken.doc
Roasted beets with anise.doc
Guacamole.doc

Did you miss the story? Click here to read "Heavy on the books, light on the cooking."

What are your favorite light cooking cookbooks? What makes them so great? Share your picks here.

February 22, 2010
Ski your way to gourmet eats in Tahoe

skiers.jpgTurns out you don't have to be in Whistler to enjoy the pairing of gourmet dining and skiing.

Just head to Tahoe, where the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area will be hosting its Gourmet Ski Tour Fundraiser from 1 to 3 p.m. March 14.

The on-snow gourmet tasting event is a chance for skiers and snowshoers to try out the ski area's gentlest trails and sample seafood, soup, breads, hors d'oeuvres and desserts from more than 15 of Tahoe's top restaurants, according to a news release.

The event concludes with margaritas and live music by Jo Mama on the Tahoe Cross Country lodge sundeck.

The fundraiser benefits the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association, a non-profit group that helping young skier programs and school ski teams.

Tickets are $30 for adults and children 13 and older, which includes a half-day trail pass from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Children 12 and under are free.

Season passholders can purchase event tickets for $25.

For tickets and information, call (530) 583-5475.

February 19, 2010
Tequila tasting tonight at Tres Agaves

The only female owner and operator of a Tequila distillery will lead a tequila tasting tonight at Tres Agaves Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Lounge in Roseville.

Carmen Villareal's Pueblo Viejo distillery produces hand-crafted tequilas, some of which are crafted especially for a woman's palate, said Heather Atherton, a spokeswoman for Tres Agaves.

Among the tequilas included in the tasting are Pueblo Viejo's Carmesi and San Matias Gran Reserva varieties. A bottle signing will also be part of the event.

Tequila Pueblo Viejo and all of the San Matias Tequila labels are being featured as Tres Agaves' distillery of the month, meaning bottles are 10 percent off this month at the store.

The tequila tasting and bottle signing will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. today at Tres Agaves, located at the Fountains at Roseville at the corner of Roseville Parkway and Galleria Boulevard in Roseville.

For more information about Tres Agaves, follow this link to its Web site.

February 18, 2010
Nor Cal chefs, restaurants among James Beard semifinalists

james beard foundation.jpgIt's the first of many highly-anticipated announcements in the food world: the James Beard Foundation has unveiled the semifinalists for its 2010 restaurant and chef awards.

Among the names unveiled today are several San Francisco and Napa area food industry stars, including Boulevard in San Francisco and Chef Timothy Hollingsworth of The French Laundry in Yountville.

Way to go Northern California!

The award semifinalists were culled from more than 21,000 online entries, which were narrowed by a panel of 400 judges comprised of food industry professionals, educators and journalists, according to a foundation news release.

Five finalists in each of the 19 restaurant and chef categories will be announced on March 22. The awards will be presented May 3 in New York City.

Click on the link below to see the list of semifinalists. Northern California contenders have been highlighted.

February 17, 2010
Beer week is coming

To the best of my knowledge, this is not a national holiday. There are no particular religious affiliations involved. No greeting cards, no candy, no fireworks, no special furniture and mattress sales. You don't even have to take off work, though it might help if you want the full experience of, yes, Sacramento Beer Week, which is this coming week.

The week of festivities features a slew of events, including Draught Beer Seminar & Luncheon at Lounge on 20, a California Beer Dinner at Mulvaney's, a Cider Pairing at Magpie and Tacos and Beer at Rubicon.

There are also plenty of Pint Nights and beers specials to commemorate Beer Week. There's so much going on that you really need to check the Web site for all the details.

Also read:
Three beers from Sacramento brewers and suggested food pairings
Brewers, chefs tap Beer Week

February 17, 2010
Hospitals, farmers markets the hot new pairing

almonds.jpgTalk about taking the old adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" to heart.

Sutter Davis Hospital is teaming with the Davis Farmers Market to provide produce and farm products at the hospital.

Plans include opening a small farmer's market at the medical campus, incorporating fresh local produce on cafeteria menus, selling gift baskets of farm products in the hospital's gift shop and hosting produce tastings in the cafeteria, Sutter spokespeople said.

The goal is to boost awareness of the relationship between eating farm fresh, local food and good health.

February 17, 2010
For Ben Food Crawl -- Good cause, good food, plenty of fun

In recent years, with the growth of new restaurants in town and the explosion of bike riding as a form of transportation around midtown and downtown, food crawls (and pub crawls) have become a great and growing tradition.

Gather lots of folks, travel from restaurant to restaurant on foot or by bike, have fun, eat well, meet new people and, better still, raise money for a good cause.

The latest food crawl should be really good. It will be Sunday Feb. 28 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Called the For Ben Food Crawl, proceeds will benefit 10-year-old Ben Fagan, who survived a brain tumor two years ago and is now trying to win the fight against a new cancer gripping his spine.

Here is a message from the Web site promoting the pub crawl: "It is our chance to purchase a ticket in support of Ben's challenge and have the opportunity to explore over 20 of Sacramento's restaurants wearing a "For Ben" T-shirt while believing, hoping, praying, and loving Ben.

See the list of restaurants at the For Ben Web site.

Tickets are $35 and may be purchased at Asha Yoga (1050 20th St., Sacramento), Bikram Yoga (9384 Elk Grove Florin Rd., Elk Grove), Horizon Community Church (446 Fairway Dr., Galt), and Starbucks at Laguna Blvd. and I-5 (2300 Longport Ct., Elk Grove).

February 16, 2010
White House chefs share favorite Obama family recipes

First Lady Michelle Obama launched her campaign to combat childhood obesity last week and boy, did people get moving.

E-mails started pouring in to The Bee, touting the nutritional benefits of one food or another. Recipes abounded.

martha.jpgMartha Stewart has even gotten in on the action, inviting White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and Pastry Chef Bill Yosses to her show on Monday to share the recipes for some of the first family's favorite meals.

Turns out the Obamas, like many of us, are lasagna fans.

Follow the link below to get the recipes. For more about the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, check out my column in today's Living Here section.

February 12, 2010
A lesson in dim sum with Chef Martin Yan

martin yan.jpgThere's nothing quite like going to dim sum with Master Chef Martin Yan.

For starters, the food never stops coming out the kitchen, a testament to his ordering skills and perhaps his cache as a beloved TV personality.

But Bee photographer Michael Jones and I walked away with more than just full stomachs on Feb. 1, when we spent the morning cooking with Yan at his Hillsborough home (click here to see the story about my cooking lesson).

We took with us a lesson in dim sum itself.

Here are the highlights.

February 11, 2010
Taylor's Kitchen in Sacramento gets new head chef

This just in: Robert Lind, former sous chef at Mason's Restaurant, is heading about two miles south to lead Taylor's Kitchen starting Tuesday.

Lind brings a "tremendous amount of food knowledge and creativity" to the restaurant, which is committed to delivering an innovative menu made from locally grown and produced foods, Taylor's owner Danny Johnson wrote in an e-mail to The Bee.

"This change will insure Taylor's Kitchen is in step with the long standing tradition of freshness and quality brought forth by Taylor's Market," he said.

Taylor's previous chef, Jenevie Wiles, is leaving to pursue other endeavors.

Lind's start date also means he'll be at the helm when the restaurant hosts its 2nd annual Mardi Gras Celebration Tuesday.

Three seatings - 5, 6:30 and 8 p.m. - are available for the three-course, prix fixe dinner. The $25 per person meal includes crabcakes with Creole aiolo, chicken and andouille jambalaya and bananas foster. Cajun music and beads will be on hand; dancing is optional.

For reservations call (916) 443-5154.

February 11, 2010
Bake your way to Valentine's Day bliss

chocolate cake.jpgValentine's Day and dessert are pretty much synonymous, but that doesn't mean you have to resort to spending $8 per slice of cake.

Why not get into the kitchen and bake your sweetie some sweets they won't soon forget?

You may just get some confection affection.

Here's some baking hints:

• If you love rich chocolate flavor, look for recipes calling for cocoa powder or bittersweet chocolate with a high percentage of cacao.

• Chocolate dessert recipes that call for instant coffee or espresso powder also usually are winners, since coffee tends to deepen chocolate's flavor.

• Turn to the experts for inspiration. Epicurious, Food Network, Martha Stewart, Nigella Lawson and Nestle's Web sites are great places to start.

Click on the link below for an easy, delicious recipe for Love Struck Chocolate Bundt Cake.

February 10, 2010
Midtown eatery Cornerstone facing closure

*This story has been updated from its original version

Owners of a popular midtown breakfast spot are considering legal action against their landlords after receiving notice that their lease isn't being renewed.

The Cornerstone, located at the corner of J and 24th streets, will have to close as early as this month.

The neighborhood restaurant has been a popular breakfast and lunch spot for 16 years.

"We really feel like we are a part of the neighborhood and it is heartbreaking to be told we are going to have to leave," co-owner Danny Leung said in a prepared statement.

February 9, 2010
Free pancakes on Feb. 23 at IHOP

That's right, a hot stack of pancakes is yours for free on Feb. 23 at all IHOP restaurants. It's IHOP's way of celebrating "National Pancake Day" - and can we lobby to get the day off for this? - and this freebie will run from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

IHOP is also asking for a little something in return. Though the pancake stack is free, diners are asked to leave a donation for the Children's Miracle Network hospitals. In Sacramento's case, the beneficiary of these donations will be the UC Davis Children's Hospital.

Last year, this National Pancake Day fundraiser reaped $1.5 million for children's charities, and IHOP served more than 2.5 million free flapjacks. So, enjoy your free stack and show a little kindness in return. Cool?

February 9, 2010
Decadent event beckons sweethearts to Auburn

chocolate2.jpgA box of chocolates is a welcome Valentine's Day gift, but an afternoon filled with chocolate? Now THAT's a fun way to celebrate.

Old Town Auburn will be host to the fifth annual Taste of Chocolate from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, according to an e-mail from event organizer Linda Robinson.

The event also includes entertainment by the "String A Longs" and the Sugar Plump Fairies, she wrote.

For $20, you'll get 10 tastes of chocolates at stores and restaurants. Some venues will be pairing the chocolates with dessert wines. Tickets can be purchased at Sun River Clothing Company, 1585 Lincoln Way, Auburn.

The event is a fundraiser for the Old Town Business Association and the American Association of University Women, which are its sponsors.

For more information, go to the business association's Web site or call (530) 888-1585.

February 8, 2010
Darrell Corti on Facebook - kind of

Darrell Corti.JPG

What's the hottest Facebook fan club for local foodies these days? It's a page with a tongue-and-cheek title that honors one of Sacramento's favorite grocers and gourmands: "Darrell Corti will always know more than you about Food and Wine."

The fan club has grown from just a couple dozen members to nearly 300 in just about two weeks. The group was created by Gretchen Allen-Wilcox, a former Corti Brothers wine merchant who now lives in Portland. She recently recruited Rick Mindermann, store director for Corti Brothers, to serve as a page administor.

Fire up your computer (or Facebook app for your iPhone or other mobile device) and check out the foodie fun. See pictures of the oldest wine Corti's owned: a bottle of Madeira from 1740 that was opened and shared in 2008. Read anecdotes from local food and wine folk about their memories of Darrell over the years, including getting pronunciations corrected and conversations about Kobe beef.

Corti himself has seen the page, but was away at VINO 2010 in New York City and couldn't be reached for comment on this Facebook tribute. (Darrell Corti also travels more than you when it comes to food and wine). Mindermann says the page makes Corti feel a little uncomfortable, but he's humbled by the tribute and amount of interest.

"He's very low-key and keeps everything close to his chest," says Mindermann. "For me, the page is partly a thank you from people and it also gives readers a better understanding about who he is and what he does. I think in six months we could be at more than 1,000 followers."

So, what are you waiting for? Stop playing Farmville already and become a fan yourself.

February 8, 2010
El Novillero to break tradition, open on a Sunday

Fans of El Novillero, the popular Mexican restaurant on Franklin Blvd., have always been stuck if they've wanted to eat there on a Sunday. For 30 years, family tradition has held that the restaurant stay closed on Sundays. But that's about to change, for the first time in three decades.

El Novillero will open its doors this Sunday, as a kind of Valentine's Day gift. So, if your sweetie is craving some family-style Mexican food, drop by El Novillero (4216 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento) from 2 p.m. - 9 p.m. on Sunday.

"We just decided we can't miss this opportunity to serve and be there for our loyal customers," said Joe Davalos Jr., El Novillero's owner, in a press release.

Enjoy this Mexican dining on a Sunday while you can. After Valentine's Day, the restaurant will go back to honoring its family tradition, with a big "closed" sign in the window to wind down the weekend.

For more information: (916) 456-4287

February 2, 2010
Order that Super Bowl pizza early

Are you ready for some Super Bowl? Yours truly will be parked on the couch this Sunday and rooting for the New Orleans Saints (Who dat! Who dat!), and doing my best not to fall into a food coma before halftime. That would be a 35-yard penalty for unnecessary lameness ... but it'll be tough with all the food going around.

Last week, we printed the results of our beer and buffalo wing tasting. That's as super a food/wine pairing as you'll find for the Super Bowl, but here's another food favored by the football fans and armchair jocks out there: pizza!

But, better plan on ordering this pizza early. A press release from the Pizza Hut folks came our way, and their pizza overlords report that they expect to sell 1.7 million pizzas on Super Bowl Sunday. Holy pepperoni, that's enough to cover more than 45 football fields.

So, huddle up and get ready to place those orders. Some pizza chains even have online ordering options, such as www.pizzahut.com and www.dominos.com. And for the tech-savvy pizza lovers out there, you can even order from Pizza Hut's iPhone app.

Bring on the Big Game and pass the red pepper flakes ... hike!


February 2, 2010
Taylor's offering a meaty culinary experience

This isn't your average cooking class.

While the new workshop at Taylor's Market does provide cooking tips, it's butchery that's the meat of the matter.

The store is offering a three hour Butchering 101 class later this month, led by owner and butcher Danny Johnson (or as his truck license plate states "BEEF DR").

"There's been a lot of buzz about being a butcher - it's the hot thing in the food world," Johnson said.

The first session, held last month, met overwhelming success.

Participants were taught how to communicate with their butcher, how to buy seafood, cut up a chicken and provided with insider tips on saving money when buying meat.

But butchering a lamb and hog stole the show.

"Everybody started flipping out," he said of their excitement.

The workshops also include a light breakfast and lunch.

The next session will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 27 at Taylor's on Freeport Boulevard. Cost is $40 per person. Bring your knives too - there will be a knife sharpening contractor on site.

For reservations, call the store at (916) 443-6881.

February 2, 2010
Don't wing it on Sunday: More tips, recipes for Super Bowl food

Super Bowl is nearly here and for many fans, that means readying the food game plan.

Last week, the Bee's Chris Macias and I provided Food & Wine section readers with a cheat sheet of party food picks, including which restaurants had the best wings and dip recipes.

But what if you want to make the wings and buy the dip?

Here's help.

We discovered some truly delicious store-bought dip while on our quest to test dip delivery systems.

Here are the ones folks couldn't stop talking about (and eating):

Stonemill Kitchens Three Cheese Peperoncini Dip (Raley's and Safeway) - This creamy mix of cheese and sour cream, which has a great kick of heat thanks to the peperoncinis, can be served hot or cold. Scoop it into a serving dish and no one will know it's not homemade. We won't tell.

EdamameHummus2.jpgTrader Joe's Edamame Hummus (Trader Joe's) - Even non-hummus fans loved this one. The edamame lends a smooth texture and a bright flavor to the chickpea spread.

Mrs. A's Famous Salsa Buena in Hot (Taylor's Market, Whole Foods Sacramento & Roseville) - We were tempted to double dip into this flavorful salsa, which is made with organic tomatoes, cilantro and no raw onions. An ice-cold beer garnished with lime would make for a perfect pairing.

And what would a Super Bowl party be without wings? Sure you could order out, but if you're looking to score a touchdown with party pals, this recipe for Asian spiced chicken wings made using a slow cooker might just do the trick.

Follow the link below to get the recipe.



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