March 29, 2010
Terminal B to showcase Sacramento eateries

The new Terminal B at Sacramento International Airport is slated to have a local flavor. Dos Coyotes, Squeeze Inn, Mulvaney's B&L and other local restaurants are all in talks to open eateries when construction finishes on Terminal B in late 2011. The idea is to showcase Sacramento's culinary offerings and entrepreneurs, instead of relying on the same ol' Cinnabon and Burger King options.

"We want people who land in the airport to know they're in Sacramento," said Karen Doron, spokeswoman for the Sacramento County Airport System.

Proposals are still being accepted, and the list of confirmed airport eateries isn't expected to be known for months. But, the prospect of a "locals only" food program sounds tantalizing to many restaurateurs.

"Conceptually, it's a great idea to have local, sustainable businesses at the airport," said Mulvaney's B&L owner Patrick Mulvaney, who's mulling a proposal to open at the airport. "Do you really want a Cinnabon when you can have that last 'Squeeze With Cheese' (from Squeeze Inn) before you fly overseas?"

Restaurant owners interested in landing their own Terminal B eatery can call the airport's airport properties division: 916-874-0719.

March 29, 2010
Cafeteria 15L opens today

Mason Wong's name no longer hangs on the sign of his downtown restaurant. But you will find this restaurateur's signature of sorts when you ask for a drink. Order some water at Cafeteria 15L and it'll be served in mason jars.

Mason's Restaurant has morphed into Cafeteria 15L (15th and L streets, Sacramento; 916-492-1960), ditching its previous fine dining menu for familiar comfort foods and lower prices. Pronounced phonetically like "Cafeteria One-Five-L," the restaurant opens today and will host an official grand opening bash on April 6.

Let's get back to the name. "Cafeteria" conjures all kinds of images of lunch ladies, fruit cocktail and mystery meats. Can this have the makings for a Sacramento hot spot?

"That was the whole idea, to change people's perceptions of 'cafeteria,'" says Wong. "We're going to make it a cool name."

The restaurant's remodeling has taken five weeks, aiming for a more casual and social vibe with community tables and funky furnishings. Garage doors have also been installed into a side of the restaurant, which will open into an upcoming patio on 15th St. The capacity of Cafeteria 15L's dining room has been increased to 150, up from 105 when the restaurant was called Mason's. Wong says the remodel's price tag cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Jonathan Kerksieck
, former chef de cuisine at Grange, has signed on as Cafeteria's executive chef. The menu's still being fine tuned - everything from the size of its cupcakes to the thickness of a chili - but look for plenty of comfort foods with an upscale twist. Think: tater tots with spiced ground beef, patty melt sliders and buttermilk fried chicken - and water in mason jars to wash it down.

Apart from rib-eye steak, no entree will cost more than $20 and many items are available for single-digit price tags. A series of "Blue Plate Specials" will also be offered for $16. And just like the policy at Mason's, which opened in 2006, buy dinner at Cafeteria 15L and the cover charge to the adjacent Park nightclub will be waived. With cover charges ranging from $10-$15 on weekends, it's a good dining and dancing deal.

"It was tough to get rid of the (Mason's) concept," says Wong. "We put a lot of heart and soul into that place. We'd been studying comfort food for the last few years. Plus, the economy was very tough. Typically a restaurant won't do a remodel for seven years. A lot of times you just have to roll with the punches and trust your gut."

On the Web:

March 29, 2010
Pasta Pomodoro chain serving up deals for family dinner

pastapomodoro.jpgLove may be king in old Napoli, but good deals reign supreme at a string of Northern California Italian eateries.

Bay Area-based Pasta Pomodoro restaurant group has launched a Monday night promotion called "Cena di Familia," a family-style $35 three-course supper for four.

What's more, during April, 25 percent of the proceeds from each Cena di Familia meal sold will go to Bay Area food banks, the company stated in a news release.

March 29, 2010
Enough already? Are restaurants over-identifying ingredients?

A couple of years ago, The Bee published a story about how local restaurants were celebrating the locavore movement by identifying the names of farms where the meat and produce originated.

Then, more restaurants jumped on the bandwagon. Now, the inevitable saturation. Are we naming so many names on menus that it no longer means anything. I went to a high-end steakhouse recently where the server started to tell me about the ranch where the meat was raised, fumbled over the name, grabbed the menu for a look, then told me. I had never heard of it. As someone who sees lots and lots of menus, I still like to see the sources mentioned on occasion, and I do like to know if I am getting organic food and meat raised without steroids. But it should be done selectively or all those farms just becomes a blur.

At least one prominent chef in town is putting on the brakes, it seems. I spotted this little missive by owner/chef Rick Mahan of the Waterboy and the new and wildly successful OneSpeed. He does make an important observation -- more and more patrons want to know where the food comes from, and the servers need to be able to tell them.

Mahan writes: It's become pretty common to walk into a restaurant, look over a menu and read all about (in every dish!) farmers and ranchers supplying the great ingredients used by the restaurant to produce their food. This is a great, albeit over-done, practice. I know, I'm guilty of it, I've done it, I'm trying to do it less because I'm beginning to find it distracting and also think it's becoming cliche; I'm just leaning towards educating my staff as best I can so they'll be well equipped to answer all the questions you, our guests, may have pertaining to where, how and when the ingredients were brought to us.

March 26, 2010
Sampino's Towne Foods now has Saturday hours

Maybe you're like me and you've told friends about how good the food is at Sampino's at 16th and F streets, especially the sandwiches and the meats, and you appreciate the attitude in the shop that is so old-school it's inspiring.

But the charming Italian deli and gourmet meat market with the seriously good food didn't have the most accommodating hours for those who didn't live or work near there. Now, folks who are not able to get to Sampino's during the week (they officially close at 4 p.m., though they are often open later) have a chance to go on Saturdays.

Sampino's just started opening Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This deli has some of the best sandwiches in town, including my favorite, the superb "Le Rustique" -- prosciutto with warm, gooey brie and a dash of Tabasco on a very nice ciabatta.

But that's not all. Owner Michael Sampino, who works alongside his dad Bill (a veteran butcher from Corti Brothers and David Berkley), told me he recently bought out the entire beer inventory at Rick's Uptown Market just before it closed. What's he doing with the stash? On Saturdays, he's giving it away as a customer appreciation gesture.

Now that's old school.

March 26, 2010
Chef Michael Tuohy reveals Reichl reception menu

reichl.jpgSo what do you serve culinary legend and award-winning food critic Ruth Reichl during a reception in her honor?

Garlic and sapphires of course.

Reichl's 2006 memoir "Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise" is the theme of her lecture tonight, part of the California Lectures series, so it was only fitting to carry the theme into the dishes served, said Michael Tuohy, chef at Grange Restaurant.

"There will be lots of garlic for sure, and Sapphire martinis," he said.

The menu will include a dizzying array of delectable dishes, from local lamb tartare with shallots, herbs and white truffle oil to lemongrass panna cotta with fresh grapefuit.

"Just the fact that it's Ruth Reichl means it's gotta be good," Tuohy said.

March 23, 2010
Enotria breaks ground on $1.5 million expansion

Flanked by city officials - and a 6 liter bottle of Frank Family cabernet sauvignon - a groundbreaking ceremony was held this morning to commemorate the expansion of Enotria Restaurant and Wine Bar.

The $1.5 million project on the corner of Del Paso Blvd. and Arden Way will include an events center, expanded restaurant and new wine bar. But more than giving this longtime wine bar a makeover, it's hoped the expansion will give a boost to Del Paso Blvd.'s business traffic.

"This is going to be a major change to the boulevard," said Sandy Sheedy, the City Council member who represents this north Sacramento neighborhood in District 2. "It's about changing the perception (of the neighborhood) and making it inviting. We're eclectic and we need to enhance that."

Enotria's staff is meanwhile planning to enhance its food and drink offerings, along with hiring additional servers. Look for Enotria to brew its own Belgian styled beer, and a small plates menu designed by executive chef Anthony Brenes for its new wine bar. Brunch will also be offered once the remodel is completed.

The first phase of the renovation is expected to be finished in September, which will include the construction of Enotria's 1,250-square-foot events center. A restaurant remodel will follow, with a grand opening planned for December.

Enotria will remain open during its remodeling, and currently features a $40 dinner for two (bottle of wine included) each Wednesday and Thursday.

"This expansion shows faith in the area and enormous faith in the recovery of the economy," said Susan Barry, the expansion's project coordinator. "The project has moved slowly, but zip-a-dee-doo-dah, we're here a year later and we've broken ground."

March 22, 2010
Midtown Cocktail Week returns

Mark Aug. 9 - 15 for the second annual Midtown Cocktail Week, a veritable days-long bash of spirits and cocktail culture. Participating venues and watering holes are still being worked out. Last year's participants included L Wine Lounge & Urban Kitchen, Mulvaney's B&L, Zocalo, Ink Eats & Drinks along with cocktail making workshops and other activities. We'll keep you posted with more information as it's announced. You can also check:

March 22, 2010
Sacramento food blog secures James Beard award nod - again

han3k.jpgHe's done it again folks.

Local food blogger Hank Shaw has secured a James Beard Foundation award nomination for his "Hunter Angler Gardener Cook," the second year in a row his work has received the honor.

The nomination, which the foundation announced today along with other finalists for this year's awards, took Shaw by surprise (Shaw is pictured at left in a Bee file photo by Anne Chadwick Williams).

"From what I understood, the Beard Foundation doesn't go to the well twice in a row," he said.

Shaw's blog is up against Ed Levine's "Serious Eats" and "Grub Street New York" by Aileen Gallagher, Daniel Maurer and Alexandra Vallis.

March 19, 2010
Running event to satisfy donut cravings, do-gooders

Forget goodies at the finish line - one upcoming run is putting sweets right in the middle of the race.

The March 27 Donut Dash 2.0 will start at 8:30 a.m. at the corner of Freeport Boulevard and Sutterville Road and lead runners, joggers and walkers through two miles of Land Park to Marie's Donuts, according to Sutter spokesman Gary Zavoral.

Participants then eat four donuts or 6 donut holes (or if your stomach can't handle fritters and fitness at the same time, nothing at all) and follow the same route back to the park.

Proceeds benefit the Child Life Program at Sutter Memorial Hospital, which provides support for hospitalized children and their families.

The money raised will be used to help purchase art supplies, toys, movies, video games and items for child patients, he said.

Cost is $40 per individual or $70 per family.

The first 125 participants will receive a T-shirt.

To sign up, follow this link to the event listing.

March 19, 2010
Think you can judge Iron Chef America? Don't wait by the phone

donatella jacket cover.jpgAnd now, for the answer "Iron Chef America" fans have been waiting for: just how does someone get to be a judge on the show?

I recently had the opportunity to ask Donatella Arpaia, a frequent judge of the Food Network show and judge on "The Next Iron Chef," that very question after interviewing her for a story on food presentation that will appear in Wednesday's Food & Wine section.

"They called me - I didn't call them," she said, laughing. "They're wonderful."

Arpaia, a corporate attorney turned successful Manhatten restauranteur, has several award-winning Manhatten and Miami restaurants, including Anthos, one of only two Greek restaurants in the world to have earned a Michelin star. Her first cookbook "Donatella Cooks: Simple Food Made Glamorous" hit stores next month (jacket cover at left courtesy of Rodale Books).

Food Network contacts a variety of people in the food industry to serve as judges for "Iron Chef America," and executives seem to seek out food authorities with strong culinary opinions and those very knowledgeable about food, she said.

Looks like some of us will be relegated to armchair judging. Oh well.

As for 'The Next Iron Chef," Arpaia confirmed rumors that another show may be in the work.

Will she be involved?

"Oh yes, I think so," she said.

March 16, 2010
An evening with the sommelier from the French Laundry

For those who want to take their food and wine knowledge to a whole new level, you'll want to circle March 27 on your calendars - and prepare to dole out $170 for an evening that could last five hours or more.

That's the night you'll be able to rub elbows with Anani Lawson, the sommelier at the French Laundry, one of the world's great restaurants. Lawson is doing the event on his own and he is careful to note this is not a French Laundry-sponsored evening. Nevertheless, he's the wine expert at the restaurant and he will be holding court and talking about wines all night while tasting an apparently lavish multi-course dinner.

Lawson told me by phone that this could be the first of many such wine events he will conduct when he's not on duty at Thomas Keller's famous Yountville restaurant.

"I'm still finalizing the selection of wines. The plan is to have a forum where people can be exposed to wines that they don't instinctively think about and wines they see all the time but don't necessarily see the value of them," Lawson said. "Everyone wants to have the trophy wines, but they might not think about the everyday wines."

Affordable? The French Laundry fixed price dinners are $240 per person. So what does the sommelier consider affordable, everyday wine?

He says he is thinking of a pinot noir that retails for $48, for instance, and a Riesling or white Rhone blend that sells for as little as $15. Those wines and many more will be on site for tasting at the clubhouse at the Pavilions, a new residential development behind Loehman's Plaza off Fair Oaks Boulevard.

Part of the evening will involve pairing wines with food, but the rest will be open to participants to chat with Lawson about anything they choose. Thus, registration is limited to 18 people.

Speaking of pairings, the event itself involves an unusual pairing - the highly regarded Lawson with the unheralded and youthful Pajo Bruich, an ambitious cook who runs a part-time gourmet catering operation but is all but unknown even in the local food community.

Turns out, Bruich and Lawson hit it off when Bruich dined at the French Laundry months ago and eventually decided to join forces to showcase food and wine at a high level. Bruich says he plans to present several culinary surprises during the evening, employing a multitude of modern cooking techniques.

"We are planning to go all out. We are trying to bring the element of surprise to the meal," Bruich said.

If Bruich pulls it off, this could be the start of big things for him. His parents run a restaurant repair business in Lincoln and he says his catering business is not yet allowing him to devote his full-time efforts to it.

Lawson says he was impressed when he presided over Bruich's table at the French Laundry.

"Just like most people I meet, we exchanged business cards. I looked at his Web site and said, 'Hey, maybe we can do events together.' I was the sommelier for his dining table. He showcased to me some type of passion as we described the food to him. It lead to me believe he had a unique passion that I had a connection with."

Lawson added, "When I met him, I said, 'Wow, Sacramento. Why not Sacramento?'"

Those interested in a long, intense, inspiring, educational and more than likely delicious evening should act quickly to reserve a spot.

Here is information from Bruich's promotional mailer. The Web site at the end is the place to register for the event:

This is guaranteed to be our best event to date, with the most dramatic food ingredients and preparations experienced yet! Without giving away too much of the surprise, here is a snippet of the menu....
~ Ultra Grade Wagyu "Calotte" or Cap of Rib Eye
~ Royale De Foie Gras
~ Purebred Japanese Kurobuta
~ Brillat Savarin
~ Valrhona Chocolate and much more! It will definitely be an amazing night in food and wine. Anani has access to some of the rarest and hardest to get wines. He promises to deliver on some memorable wines to enhance the food and create a fabulous dinner!
Beth Daane, of Beth Daane Photography will be on site to capture the magic of the evening.
The evening will start with a cocktail and canape reception at 5:30, followed by a formal seating at 6:00pm.
• March 27th, 5:30 pm
• The Club At Pavilions
• 2430 Pavilions Place Lane
• Sacramento, Ca 95825
• $170 per person, inclusive of service

March 12, 2010
Wine exports drop in 2009

The domestic wine industry wilted in 2009, rocked by the recession and tightening wine markets around the world. According to figures released today by the Wine Institute, a San Francisco trade group, wine exports in 2009 decreased 14.9 percent from the previous year to 417.9 million liters - or 46.4 million nine-liter cases. The value of wine exports dropped 9.5 percent to some $911.8 million in winery revenues.

While the wine industry nutures its collective hangover, there are signs that the market may rebound in 2010.

"The California wine industry was not immune to the global recession, but faired better than most wine producing countries," said Robert P. Koch, Wine Institute president and chief executive officer, in a statement. "Fourth quarter sales were up nearly 16 percent compared to the same period in 2008, giving us reason to believe that 2010 will be a good year."

Exports to the European Union proved to be especially tough in 2009. Volume shipments slid 21 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year. 42 percent of domestic wine exports are shipped to Europe.

"2009 was a tough year in an already highly competitive UK wine market, with pressure on prices, reductions in stock holdings, and cutbacks in the number of wine offerings occurring in all sectors," said John McLaren, Wine Institute trade director for the United Kingdom.

But, there was good news in Japan, where the United States overtook Chile as the largest bulk wine exporter to Japan. Bulk table wine exports to Japan were up 42 percent by volume and 34.4 percent in U.S. dollars.

March 12, 2010
Event for famed food writer Ruth Reichl is sold out

By Al Pierleoni

Sorry, foodies, the April 26 appearance in Sacramento by award-winning food writer and restaurant critic Ruth Reichl has sold out -- but there's a waiting list, and there's still space at the pre-event reception.

To join the waiting list for "An Evening with Ruth Reichl" at 7:30 p.m. at the Crest Theatre, call (916) 737-1300 or e-mail

The pre-event fundraising reception -- dubbed "Garlic and Sapphires" after one of Reichl's memoirs -- will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Citizen Hotel, 926 J St., Sacramento. Cost is $100 per person, tax-deductible. Register at or (916) 737-1300.

Reichl is a former restaurant critic for the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and the author of several books. She is a four-time James Beard Award winner.

The Citizen Hotel reception will feature Bombay Sapphire martinis and California wines, with "garlic surprises and seasonal dishes." It is co-sponsored by Grange restaurant and the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op.

Call The Bee's Al Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.

March 12, 2010
Oh my, how Americans love pie

banana cream pie.jpgDid you know that 1 in 5 Americans have eaten an entire pie by themselves?

Seems reasonable in a gluttonous sort of way.

The American Pie Council also recently reported that 113 million people have eaten pie for breakfast.

Guilty as charged.

This little factoid is a bit odder: apparently 1/3 of Americans have eaten pie in bed.

Seriously? Pie in bed?

Pie's a dessert associated with wholesomeness, red-checkered tablecloths and grandmothers, not sexiness. Notice that there's no pie in the food scene of the 1986 drama "9 1/2 weeks."

But no matter where you eat pie, Sunday is the perfect day to indulge in a slice or two (or eight if you're among the 1 in 5 who eat the whole thing) since it's Pi day, a celebration of the mathematical constant 3.14.

Want to learn more about Pi Day? Check out my story from this week's Food & Wine section and click here to see accompanying recipes.

Check out the American Pie Council's Web site for more Pi Day-worthy recipes.

Do you plan on celebrating Pi Day with a favorite pie? Share your pie recipes or where to purchase a great pie in the comments section below.

Bee file photo by Owen Brewer.

March 11, 2010
P.F. Chang's expands gluten-free menu

Back in January, after pondering some dietary issues, I penned a Food & Wine story called, "Should You Get Rid of the Gluten?" Judging by the amount of calls and e-mails I received, this form of digestive distress very much resonated with readers around Sacramento. For part of the story, we included a list of local eateries with extensive gluten-free menu items. One of those listed was P.F. Chang's China Bistro, which listed such dishes as chicken lettuce wraps and Chang's lemon scallops on its gluten-free menu.

P.F. Chang's recently expanded its gluten-free menu to 28 items, and now includes beef dishes, to boot.

"More and more of our guests are asking for gluten free options and we're proud to offer them a greater variety of P.F. Chang's classics," said Gregg Piazzi, director of culinary training for P.F. Chang's China Bistro, in a statement.

Here's the full menu of P.F. Chang's gluten-free intems, with prices included. Thanks, and wishing good digestion to all ...


GF Shrimp with Lobster Sauce - $12.95
GF Moo Goo Gai Pan -$13.25
GF Ginger Chicken With Broccoli - $12.75
GF Philip's Better Lemon Chicken - $12.95
GF Chang's Spicy Chicken - $12.95
GF Chang's Lemon Scallops - $14.95
GF Salmon Steamed With Ginger - $17.95
GF Cantonese Shrimp or Scallops - $14.95
GF Mongolian Beef - $14.95
GF Beef with Broccoli - $11.95
GF Beef a La Sichuan - $13.95
GF Pepper Steak - $13.25
GF Hong Kong Beef with Snow Peas - $10.25
GF Dali Chicken - $12.95


GF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps - $7.95


GF Egg Drop Soup Cup - $2.95/Bowl - $5.95


GF Singapore Street Noodles - $9.95


GF P.F. Chang's Fried Rice - $7.95/Combo - $9.95


GF Buddha's Feast - $7.50


GF Spinach Stir-Fried with Garlic
GF Garlic Snap Peas
GF Shanghai Cucumbers (Small: $2.95/Large: $4.95)


GF Flourless Chocolate Dome - $5.95

Lunch Bowls:

GF Buddha's Feast - $7.25
GF Shrimp with Lobster Sauce - $8.95
GF Moo Goo Gai Pan - $8.95
GF Beef with Broccoli - $8.95
GF Pepper Steak - $8.95

March 10, 2010
A taste of El Dorado in San Francisco

Let's say you're taking a trip to San Francisco but still have a thirst for home. Well hello, it'll be your lucky day on March 20, as two dozen El Dorado County wineries will show their stuff at Postrio in San Francisco (545 Post St., San Francisco; 415-776-7825). Some 100 wines will be for the tasting, along with food and live jazz grooves for $38 a head. Participating wineries include:

Auriga Wine Cellars
Boeger Winery
Girard Vineyards
Holly's Hill Vineyards
Lava Cap Winery
Miraflores Winery
Narrowgate Vineyards
Perry Creek Vineyards
... and many more.

The tasting runs from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. For more information:

March 10, 2010
Grand opening set for Cafeteria 15L

The wait is almost over to see the rebirth of an upscale Sacramento restaurant that's being turned into an urban eats spot.

Cafeteria 15L, formerly Mason's, will hold its grand opening on April 6, with proceeds from the event benefiting a Hope Productions Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides fundraising and marketing resources for youth and children's charities.

The downtown restaurant is transforming itself due to the economy's toll on fine dining restaurants.

As Bee columnist Bob Shallit reported in January, the decor, menu and pricing all will shift to encompass the restaurant's "urban casual" feel.

The new menu will include dishes like buttermilk-battered fried chicken, meatloaf and sausage-filled corn dogs, Shallit wrote.

The Cafeteria 15L reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. and includes live music by "Utz! & the Shuttlecocks," hosted food and a no-host bar.

Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 at the door. For tickets, go to Hope Productions' Web site or call (916) 782-4673.

March 10, 2010
Taylor's offering additional butchery classes

JV BUTCHERY 350.JPGInterested in learning more about the cutting techniques and tips presented in the Food & Wine story about butchery today?

Taylor's Market is offering more butchery classes in coming months, the themes of which will vary slightly depending on the season.

A March 20 butchery class will focus on lamb, while a class on April 17 will concentrate more on barbecue cuts, said Danny Johnson, lead butcher and Taylor's owner (shown left).

Spots are still available for each class, which is limited to 25 people. Cost is $40 per person.

Future classes may also delve into sausage making, he said.

For more information or to sign up for one of the classes, call Taylor's at (916) 443-6881.

Bee Photo by Jose Villegas

March 9, 2010
Skinny on calories, (somewhat) light on flavor

Thumbnail image for skinnycow.jpgSkinny Cow, a line of low-fat ice cream sandwiches and bars by Dreyers Grand Ice Cream, has launched two new flavors of its truffle bars and sent The Bee some to try out.

It took about 1 minute to empty both boxes.

The new flavors include white mint and caramel, both of which are drizzled with chocolate.

I thought the white mint was light and refreshing, like the low-calorie love child of an Andes Mint and a Peppermint Patty.

Others, however, weren't fans.

March 8, 2010
Wienerschnitzel unveils Lent-friendly Sea Dog

Let's say you're observing Lent, but have a hankering for a hot dog. Well, observant Christians, you know that eating meat is a big no-no on Fridays through Lent. So what to do if you want to say, "TGIF," by hitting up a Wienerschnitzel?

This veritable hot dog emporium has an answer for this Lent quandary. Wienerschnitzel recently added a fish focused "Un-DER the Sea Trio" to its fast-food menu. You might have to save the chili dog for another day, but here's what you can have at Wienerschnitzel that won't prompt a trip to the confession booth: the Sea Dog, Fish Wrap and Fish n' Chips.

Holy mackerel!

According to a press release from Wienerschnitzel's hot doggin' headquarters, here's what you can expect:

"Each of the three new fish items features flaky, white Alaskan Pollock. The Sea Dog includes an Alaskan Pollock fish fillet, crunchy lettuce and a zing of tartar sauce, served on a 6" bun. The Fish Wrap consists of an Alaskan Pollock fillet topped with a unique combination of salsa and mayonnaise and wrapped in a steamed flour tortilla. The Fish N' Chips includes two perfectly deep-fried fish fillets laid atop a generous portion of Wienerschnitzel's famous hot, crispy French fries."

See you at church ... and the drive-thru window!

March 5, 2010
Holly's Hill wine dinner @ Gonul's

Back in January, I took a look back at the memorable wines of 2009 in my first "Wine Buzz" column of the year. One of the bottles singled out was the Holly's Hill Vineyards 2006 El Dorado Patriarche, a wonderful Rhone-style blend of mourvedre and syrah that shined wowed us its juicy cherry fruit. Such Rhone-style wines just seem to shine in El Dorado County, and Holly's Hill Vineyards is an especially consistent producer.

Here's a chance to sample the latest Holly's Hill wines in tandem with some tasty food. Gonul's J Street Cafe (3839 J St., Sacramento; 916-457-1155) is hosting "A Taste of the Rhone Valley" winemakers dinner on March 23, fetauring the wines of Holly's Hill. Though we'd love another taste of the 2006 El Dorado Patriarche, the latest vintage of this wine will be served, along with others that will be paired over four courses plus dessert.

The dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $49.50 per person. Here's the menu:

Sauteed prawns & scallops
, with a spicy mango sauce
Holly's Hill 2009 Viognier

Stuffed Durham Ranch chicken, with apricots, dates, preserved lemon, golden raisins, shallots, goat cheese and cream cheese
Holly's Hill 2008 Grenache

Bonless short rib, with red wine and dark chocolate sauce
Holly's Hill 2007 Patriarche

Filet mignon roast,
with a three-pepper glace
Holly's Hill 2006 Syrah

Apple crisp
2008 Late Harvest Roussanne

March 5, 2010
UC Davis profs' chocolate book up for prestigious award

chocolate5.jpgA rich book on chocolate co-authored by two local professors is among finalists for an International Association of Culinary Professionals award.

"Chocolate: History, Culture and Heritage" by UC Davis Professor Emeritus Louis Grivetti and Howard-Yana Shapiro, global director of plant science and external research at Mars, Inc. and an adjunct professor at UC Davis, is a scholarly work that considers the history of chocolate by theme and topic throughout the centuries. Chapters explore topic such as chocolate and religion, medicinal chocolate and chocolate preparation in early North America.

The book is one of three finalists in the IACP's "culinary history" category, the group announced Thursday. The cookbook awards are "considered the gold standard for culinary publishing," according to an IACP news release. More than 500 entries were submitted this year, making it one of the most competitive ever.

March 2, 2010
Dave & Busters coming to Roseville

Dust off your "Dance Dance Revolution" skills and work off those buffalo wings. Dave & Busters is coming to the Fountains in Roseville, with an expected opening date in early May. For those not in the know, Dave & Busters is like Chuck E. Cheese for adults - but minus the robotic puppets and playscapes that are like petri dishes of the latest cold bugs. Dave & Busters features interactive games, an old-school arcade (anyone up for two player on Galaga?) and lots of games to test your athletic skills after downing pints of beer. The menu features plenty of gut busting fare, including burgers, steaks and fried shrimp platters.

Dave & Busters will be the latest addition to "restaurant row" at the Fountains in Roseville. Current eateries include: California Pizza Kitchen, McCormick & Schmick's, The Counter, Tres Agaves, Boudin, Noodles and Sake House.

While Dave & Busters prepares to open, look for a "dining after dark" special at the Fountains on Sunday through Thursday evenings until March 31. Stop by one of the "restaurant row" eateries after 8 p.m. and you'll get a 20 percent discount.

Good deal ... but really, who's up for a Galaga challenge?

March 1, 2010
Sacramento Beer Week to return in 2011

Sacramento sure loves its suds. That's the final verdict as Sacramento Beer Week wrapped up on Sunday, after seven days, 300 events around the region, and who knows how many hangovers. The mood was festive throughout this first-ever beer celebration, with opportunities to try some fine local brews and beers from parts beyond. A crowd of 400 packed the Colonial Theatre last Monday for Sacramento Beer Week's "Inaugural Gala," and the beer loving masses seemed to be everywhere. Anyone get a table at Rubicon Brewing Co. over the weekend? If so, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

"Rubicon was packed for three days straight," says Dan Scott, Sacramento Beer Week's executive director. "(Rubicon owner Glynn Phillips) said two of them were the busiest days he's ever had. There were just really great stories about attendance. On a rainy Monday night, the Golden Bear went through 200 pints of Guinness. Streets of London ran out by 4 p.m. of the Sierra Nevada Beer they were serving. A bunch of events at the Shack and Pangaea Cafe were just wall to wall."

So it's no surprise to report that Sacramento Beer Week will be back next year.

"Oh yeah, we'll be back," says Scott. "Our intention was to start small, but there was such great participation from local business owners that it just took off. People went to bars they didn't know existed, and tried beers they hadn't heard of. That was the point of entire week: to get people out to try new things, and enjoy it enough to do it again."

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