October 28, 2010
Pastry chef Cindy Lemmon returns to Bella Bru

By Chris Macias

Could there be an employee exodus going on at The Market at Pavilions? Earlier this week, we reported that store wine director Michael Chandler had resigned to help run The Cellar at Matteo's. Now we've got word that pastry chef Cindy Lemmon has left The Market at Pavilions to develop desserts for the Bella Bru Cafe chain. Lemmon's worked previously at Bella Bru, and a new location recently moved into a former Starbucks located at the Pavilions. Lemmon's trained under Nancy Silverton, the renowned pastry chef and baker, and also attended the San Francisco Baking Institute. We look forward to tasting her latest goodies ...

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253.

October 28, 2010
Cast your vote on Nov. 2 and get free fries from the Counter

By Allen Pierleoni

"Voting is cool," said the press release, and we agree.

One advantage to participating in next week's elections is a dollars-off special being offered at all Counter burger joints on Nov. 2.

On that day, show your "I Voted" sticker to the server and get a free side of french fries (usually $3.25). If you voted by absentee ballot, just say so and get the same deal. Counter has faith in its customers' honesty.

Another promotion will be on National Pickle Day (Nov. 14), when a $4 order of fried pickle chips will sell for $1.

The build-your-own-burger Counter chain has 16 units in California. The one closest to us is at the Fountains shopping center, 1005 Galleria Blvd., Roseville; (916) 773-2333,

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.

October 27, 2010
Zagat: Sacramento second-worst city for tipping

By Chris Macias

Sacramento diners pinch their pennies when it comes to tipping, compared to more than two dozen cities around the country. Those were among the results released today from Zagat's 2011 America's Top Restaurants Survey. While the national average for restaurant tipping was 19.2 percent, Sacramento ranked second-to-last in the survey with an 18.6 average tip. Only Hawaii ranked lower in this survey of 31 national markets, logging an 18.4 percent tip. San Francisco and Seattle tied Sacramento with an average 18.6 percent tip, showing that the west coast lagged overall in tipping compared to the rest of the country. New Orleans ranked highest for tipping at an average 19.7 percent.

In terms of overall tipping trends, the national average of a 19.2 percent tip is up from 19.1 percent last year.

In other Zagat news, here are the Top 5 Sacramento restaurants for overall food:

1. Le Bonne Soupe
2. The Kitchen
3. The Waterboy
4. Mulvaney's
5. Biba Restaurant

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253.

October 26, 2010
Oreos hit the gridiron with Heads or Tails and Football cookies

By Allen Pierleoni

Who doesn't like Oreo cookies?

Because Kraft Foods knows the answer to that question, it's marketing two new limited-edition versions of Oreo - with the football season very much in mind.

Before we get to that, take note that Kraft has joined the national Huddle to Fight Hunger initiative and will "donate 500,000 meals to the Feeding America (cause)." Details are at and

To continue: Oreos in the shape of footballs (called, appropriately, Football Oreos) are identical in taste and texture to the traditional cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie. They're a fun novelty, though, especially when you try kicking one through the uprights.

More interesting is the Double Stuf Oreo Heads or Tails cookie, continuing the football-season imagery. Picture the pre-game scenario, when the referee flips a coin to see which team kicks off and which one receives the football. In this case, "heads" is a traditional chocolate Oreo wafer, while "tails" is vanilla favored. Or is that vice versa? No way to tell.

Heads or Tails are $4.19 for a 15.25-ounce package; Footballs are $3.30 for 10.9 ounces. Find them at Safeway and other stores.

Meanwhile, we held an impromptu taste test of Heads or Tails:

"They don't flip worth a darn - they're too heavy! I tried flipping two cookies 10 times each, and I'm an experienced coin-flipper. They usually just went straight up, then came down the same way. With a little more exertion, they flipped one complete turn, but that was it. On the positive side, they're sturdy - they didn't break on impact."

"Regular Oreos can get too chocolatey. The vanilla cookie mellows out that flavor."

"What - no milk?"

"I like the original version much better. The 'vanilla' tastes artificial and I quit after two bites."

"It maintains its distinct Oreo quality. The difference is that it offers a great alternative for people who might get overwhelmed with the chocolate flavor (of traditional Oreos). My final test was to eat one with coffee. Not bad at all."

"I far prefer the traditional rich chocolate Oreo with its vanilla center. This does not get my vote."

"I'm not a big Oreo fan, but I liked these better than the all-chocolate ones."

"Hard to say which is heads and which is tails. Taste-wise, it's fine, although I prefer the regular Oreo to any vanilla version."

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.

October 25, 2010
New wine shop coming to Carmichael

By Chris Macias

Local sommelier and wine merchant Michael Chandler has some new plans in the mix. Chandler resigned from his duties as wine director at The Market at Pavilions over the weekend, meaning his popular Friday night tasting series is no more. Chandler will now focus on opening The Cellar at Matteo's at the 5 Points shopping center in Carmichael.

Chandler's working on the project with Matt Woolston, owner/chef of the Supper Club and Matteo's Pizza & Bistro. The shop will be located adjacent to Matteo's in what was its private dining room, offering both a wine bar and retail sales. Look for The Cellar at Matteo's to be open in about three weeks.

"I'm so looking forward to it," said Chandler. "We'll have the old guard wines but my goal has always been finding the hot new items. We'll probably have a shelf for $9.99 and under bottles. With this economy, you've got to have it."

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253.

October 22, 2010
Complimentary entree for veterans at McCormick & Schmick's

By Chris Macias

And the food news just gets better for military veterans. On Nov. 7, McCormick & Schmick's restaurants will offer a free entree to military veterans for its 12th annual Veteran's Appreciation Event. Menu picks include such seafood items as parmesan crusted tilapia, roasted cedar plank salmon and almond crusted rainbow trout.

"Our Veterans Appreciation Event has become a tradition that our restaurants look forward to each year," said Bill Freeman, CEO of McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants, in a statement.

For more information:

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253.

October 21, 2010
Midtown chocolatier turning attention to cupcakes Saturday

By Niesha Lofing

You might want to rethink those Saturday plans, and not just because it's supposed to be cold and rainy.

Saturday is cupcake day at Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates in midtown and the decadent chocolatier is offering an array of tempting fall-inspired treats.

All cupcakes are $3 and pre-orders are available for six or more cupcakes, states an e-mail from the shop.

Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates is located at 1801 L St., Sacramento. For more information, check out the shop's website or call (916) 706-1738.

Here's the lineup:

Spiced pumpkin cupcake
Spiced pumpkin cake topped with cream cheese frosting

S'more cupcake
Chocolate cake filled with house-made graham cracker Bavarian, topped with house-made marshmallow meringue frosting

Real red velvet cupcake
Owner Ginger Elizabeth Hahn's grandmother's light chocolate cake topped with cream cheese frosting

Salty caramel cupcake
Rich chocolate cake filled with Fleur de Sel caramel and topped with caramel buttercream

October 20, 2010
Food at Kings games expands to include local, seasonal options

By Niesha Lofing

Talk about fan fare that's worth the fanfare.

Sacramento Kings fans will have a wider array of dining options at games this season thanks to a retooled menu offering everything from carved turkey sandwiches with cranberry aeoli to fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables.

The shift is due to a partnership between Maloof Sports & Entertainment and Levy Restaurants, the Chicago-based and James Beard award winning company that's behind the food at the STAPLES Center, Grammy Awards and Kentucky Derby.

"We wanted to feature a lot of local ingredients, local farmers," said Ryan Golpeo, Levy's director of operations at ARCO Arena. "It's a little different twist this year."

The company took over the arena's food service in January, but wanted to wait until the new season to implement the new menu. The new dishes, along with the traditional favorites, were unveiled today during a "Taste of ARCO" event.

October 20, 2010
Free Applebee's for vets and active duty military

By Chris Macias

Whether you're a military veteran or on active duty, the folks at Applebee's want to thank you for your service with a free meal on Nov. 11. All that's asked is you provide proof of service - including U.S. Uniform Services Identification Card, U.S. Uniform Services Retired Identification Card, Current Leave and Earnings Statement, photograph in uniform or wearing uniform - and you'll get free pickings from a special menu (dine-in only). Items include: 7 oz. house sirloin, bacon cheeseburger, three cheese chicken penne, chicken tenders platter and more. More than 1 million members of the military enjoyed this deal in 2009, according to a press release.

For more information:

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253.

October 20, 2010
Yard House chain to open restaurant in Roseville's Fountains

By Niesha Lofing

An eatery boasting the world's largest selection of draft beer is slated to move into Fountains at Roseville, where tenants are enjoying an overall rise in sales this year despite the downtrodden economy.

Yard House, an upscale casual restaurant known for its big menu selection and even bigger array of draft beer, will be taking over the 13,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by garden retailer Smith & Hawken, according to a Fountains news release.

This will be the first Northern California location for the Irvine-based chain, which has restaurants throughout Southern California and in Las Vegas, Colorado, Illinois, Hawaii, Florida and Massachusetts.

The restaurant is one of several new additions to Fountains, which has seen a 14 percent increase in sales from January to September over the same period last year. Same store sales are up more than 5 percent.

"We have a very loyal group of customers who have weathered us through these economic times," said Gloria Wright, Fountains' general manager.

The shopping mecca, which opened in summer 2008 just months before the economy soured, has had some attrition over the years, but is currently 96 percent leased. Counting letters of intent, Fountains is 99 percent leased, Wright said.

Furnitalia, an Italian furniture store, and Boulevard de Amelie, a French gift boutique, are moving into Fountains and plan to open in November.

Yard House is scheduled to open in summer 2011.

Each Yard House will feature a center island bar and "endless fleet of tap handles ranging from classic lagers to more obscure ales," the company's website states.

The keg room houses up to 5,000 gallons of beer at a time, with three to five miles of individual beer lines stretching from that room to the island bar.

The American fusion menu features more than 130 dishes and also includes options for kids.

"The food is really great, and they have a really great happy hour," said Fountains' spokeswoman Heather Atherton, who tried Yard House in San Diego. "It'll be a nice addition."

October 20, 2010
A feast of buffet foods and desserts at 'Cause to Celebrate'

By Allen Pierleoni

Two restaurants at Town & Country Village will offer good reasons to celebrate from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 4 during the annual "A Cause to Celebrate" fundraising event. It will feature a feast of buffet foods, wine and beer, music and a live auction.

As for cuisine, Buonarroti Italian restaurant owner Daniel Alcantaro says he will offer a tasting menu of chicken, meatballs, fried ravioli, house-made gnocchi, butternut squash risotto, pizza from a wood-fired oven, bruschetta, and baked Brie studded with walnuts and cranberries, drizzled with truffle honey and baked in phyllo dough.

At the nearby Terrace restaurant, owners Michael and Margo Powers plan a spread of desserts as an evening-topper. The sweets will include custard layered pound cake, rocky road torte, chocolate cups with peanut butter mousse, and white chocolate with peanuts and puffed rice.

Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the door, at (916) 482-2370, Ext. 333, and "Celebrate" attendees will receive a $20 gift certificate for use at participating Town & Country Village stores.

"Celebrate" will benefit the Children's Receiving Home of Sacramento, which serves as a safety net for abused and neglected children. Town & Country Village is at Marconi and Fulton avenues, Sacramento.

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.

October 19, 2010
Jim-Denny's for sale

By Chris Macias

Have $295,000 to invest? If so, you can be the proud new owners of a Sacramento burger and breakfast institution. Jim-Denny's (816 12th St., Sacramento) was put up for sale Monday, just shy of three weeks since the diner received its biggest national exposure. On Sept. 29, Jim-Denny's was featured on the Travel Channel's "Man V. Food," where host Adam Richman attempted to conquer a stack of 13" pancakes.

Retirement plans for co-owner Patsy Lane prompted the sale, said daughter Joanna Lane.

"We'd been thinking about selling for a while," said Joanna Lane. "We have been super slammed and busy since we were on 'Man V. Food,' so we thought it would be a great time to sell while we're on top and doing well."

Jim-Denny's opened in 1934 on 16th and J streets, and moved to its current location on 12th and I streets after original owner Jim Van Nort returned from World War II. Jim Denny's has had three owners over the years, with the Lane family taking over the business in 2005.

The $295,000 listing price includes both the diner and land.

"We'd like to see someone come in and keep it going," said Joanna Lane.

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253.

October 18, 2010
Black licorice, red licorice: What's a taster to do?

By Allen Pierleoni

The American Licorice Co. - in business since 1914 - knows something about the popular confection. ALC proves that point again with its new line of "gourmet" licorice, Natural Vines ($3.49 per eight-ounce bag).

Natural Vines brand is available in two flavors - traditional and strawberry - and each has a lot going for it. For one thing, they're sweetened with molasses and cane sugar, not the ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup. For another, there's no artificial anything in the ingredients.

For more details and to find points of sale, go to To order online:

Let's not forget the most important part of this: How does it taste? We lined up an informal taste test of both Natural Vines flavors; here's a sampling of tasters' comments:

Black: I'm not a huge fan of black licorice, but this version was delicious. Just the right amount of zippy anise flavor. It brought back memories of the licorice drops my father brought back from Holland when I was a little girl.
Red: A lovely little strawberry candy, much better than the typical red licorice out there.

Black: Would like it maybe a tiny bit sweeter.
Red: Not overpoweringly sweet. Nice texture.

Black: Flavorful and not too strong.
Red: The strawberry's barely fruity and kind of boring.

Black: A very straightforward licorice flavor without being overwhelming. The texture is less chewy than chunky, but that keeps the aftertaste down.
Red: Quality stuff. Not too sweet. Proves that red licorice can be other than cheap-tasting.

Black: The licorice flavor is too strong.
Red: Tastes sweet and sour.

Black: Dense and chewy, almost had a chocolate-y flavor. Kind of like having a little cup of cappuccino. Love 'em: Where's the rest of the bag?
Red: Yuck. Tasted chemically sweet and not at all natural.

Black: Good texture and flavor, a big upgrade from the cheap licorice of my youth.
Red: Sweet and fruity, but didn't have the flavor depth of the black.

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.

October 15, 2010
Temple Coffee had a good time going big time

It has been a whirlwind week for the folks at Temple Coffee, which scored a chart-topping 97 points at for its Guatemala Hunapu coffee.

As I reported earlier, the score was the highest of any coffee in North America in 2010. Once the news hit the coffee obsessed among us, Temple's website lit up with orders from all over.

"We even had an order from Poland, which we had to cancel," said Sean Kohmescher, Temple's owner. "We checked and it was going to cost $185 to ship it."

I was lucky to score a bag of the coffee, but I had to buy it via the website and have it shipped to my house just a few blocks from where it was roasted.

Turns out, I could have scored some had I walked into the flagship shop on 10th Street. According to Nick Miller, an editor at Sacramento New & Review -- the fine weekly that balances cogent news, edgy opinion and enough pot dispensary ads to give our own Marcos "No Toke" Breton fits - the coffee-loving newsman with the obviously impeccable timing and taste was able to walk out with 12 ounces of the 97-point beans, thanks to a barista giving him "the best upsell I ever had." Turns out, there were a few bags of the beans remaining despite all the commotion from all over the country.

On his fine blog, Nick then went on to say, "feel free to pass by my pad Saturday morning for a cup."

If he provided an address, I would have joined him, assuming he doesn't make his coffee with a French press, or, if he uses a Chemex he pre-rinses those hideous paper filters - or, better, if he is wise enough to use the amazing Aeropress.

I don't like to provide tasting impressions by comparing my coffee to flowers or raisins or blueberries, but I will say that these beans made an incredibly smooth and balanced cup of coffee, with a mouth-feel that was practically creamy. That said, we don't have a lot of benchmarks for such high-scoring super-premium coffee around here, so I am going to defer to the folks at Coffee Review.

Alas, these special beans didn't last long. Temple is already sold out, even without Poland and thanks to the aforementioned upselling downtown. Sean tells me the shop is focusing on getting its coffee into the two local Whole Foods stores in the days ahead.

That's the latest success for this coffee shop, which is clearly enjoying some serious momentum.

Temple also sells its coffee at Corti Brothers and Taylor's Market.

October 14, 2010
Would you eat a spaghetti taco?


Spaghetti tacos anyone?

Fox40 asked me to come on Wednesday during their "Your Family" segment and talk with Rosemary Orozco about spaghetti tacos, the oddball dish that has infiltrated homes across the country thanks to Nickelodeon's hit show iCarly.

Here's the back story: In an iCarly episode, the brother of the main character, Carly Shay, makes spaghetti tacos for dinner. Children and tweens have been begging their parents to make the meal ever since. The New York Times featured the trend last week in its Dining & Wine section.

I offered up some ways parents could spike spaghetti tacos with more healthful ingredients, if desired (but let's face it, if you're making spaghetti and stuffing it into a tortilla shell, there's only so much nutrition involved). Use whole wheat noodles or the pasta that has added Omega-3s. If incorporating meat into the sauce, try turkey instead of beef. Throw some mushrooms and pureed carrots into the sauce.

What I didn't anticipate, however, was having to taste the tacos. Orozco seemed to like them and took one with her when the segment ended. As for me, I'll stick to spaghetti or tacos.

Have you or your children tried spaghetti tacos? What do you think of the dish?

October 13, 2010
More free recipes for insatiable cooks

rice.JPGBy Niesha Lofing

In our Food & Wine story about recipes and food branding today, the California Rice Commission was noted as one of the many organizations that's working hard to make sure consumers know how to prepare delicious dishes using its signature product.

What we didn't have room for, however, were recipes the commission provides on its website. Many are submitted by well-known local chefs, like the following recipe for a brown rice and sweet potato dish from Chef Mai Pham, of Lemon Grass Restaurant.

Click the link below to get her recipe. For more, check out the commission's website.

October 12, 2010
Tequila mixology class offers drop-dead twists

By Debbie Arrington

A drop-dead bacon and egg cocktail? That could be an option during a special Dia de Los Muertos mixology class hosted by Tres Agaves Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Lounge in Roseville.

Ashley Miller, Tres Agaves' executive beverage director, will lead three sessions on Oct. 22, featuring Tequila Espolon. Each 90-minute hands-on class will explore the many options and unique ways that bartenders create new specialty drinks.

The class - which costs $25 to attend - also will feature a tasting of Tequila Espolon's collection.

Student mixologists will be encouraged to try combining unusual ingredients with tequila including bacon, eggs, fresh fruit, herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cloves and pepper.

Tequila Espolon is a product of Mexico's San Nicolas Distillery, based in Arandas, Jalisco. Introduced to the United States market in 2000, this brand recently got a makeover with new labeling featuring striking artwork inspired by Mexican folk tales and traditions such as Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

The classes will be held at 5:30, 7 and 8:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 22 at Tres Agaves, 1182 Roseville Parkway, Roseville. For reservations, call (916) 782-4455 or click on

Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075.

October 12, 2010
Bargain hot dogs on the menu Saturday

By Debbie Arrington

Hot dog, here's a deal: a 59-cent lunch.

Wienerschnitzel, the world's largest hot dog chain, will offer that bargain Saturday at its new Sacramento outlet, located at 2464 Florin Road at the corner of 24th Street.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the new restaurant will host an open house with 59-cent hot dogs, a bounce house, free stuff and fun.

"We are very excited to celebrate with the community the grand opening of our new Sacramento location," said store owner Bal Soin in a release. "The day will be full of fun and of course der-licious Wienerschnitzel menu items and everyday value offers."

Despite its name, Wienerschnitzel is a California native, born in the Los Angeles suburb of Wilmington in 1961. Serving more than 120 million hot dogs a year, the Irvine-based chain now has 350 franchises in 10 states and Guam.

Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075.

October 8, 2010
Mexican cookbook author Diana Kennedy coming to Sacramento

By Chris Macias

Fans of Mexican cooking and ethnic cuisine, you won't want to miss this event. Diana Kennedy, the celebrated Mexican cookbook author, will be appearing at Borders books (2339 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento) on Oct. 27. Kennedy is out on a book tour to promote "Oaxaca al Gusto," a weighty tome of Oaxacan cooking that could double as a coffee table book. Many of the ingredients can't be found in the United States, but it's a fascinating study of one of Mexico's most diverse regions and its range of recipes. Tamales de iguana, anyone?

For more information: (916) 564-0168.

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253.

October 7, 2010
Hottest restaurant trends of 2010

By Chris Macias

The National Restaurant Association surveyed some 2,000 chefs for the year's top restaurant trends, and "going local" is all the rage for 2010. "Locally grown" produce took the No. 1 spot, while "locally sourced meats and seafood" and "sustainability" emerged as runners-up. With all the bounty surrounding Sacramento, our fair city embraces these trends well and others on the list as well.

Here's the list of the Top 10 restaurant trends for 2010:

1. Locally grown produce
2. Locally sourced meats and seafood
3. Sustainability
4. Bite-size/mini desserts
5. Locally-produced wine and beer
6. Nutritionally balanced children's dishes
7. Half-portions/smaller portions for a smaller price
8. Farm/estate-branded ingredients
9. Gluten-free/food allergy conscious
10. Sustainable seafood

For the full list of top trends and other survey results, click here (.pdf file)

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253.

October 6, 2010
UC Davis debuts $15 million research winery

By Chris Macias

The grape crush is underway at UC Davis and its new $15 million teaching and research winery. Construction was completed in July, and the 34,000 square foot facility also features a brewery and food processing plant.

The winery, which was built entirely with funds from private donors, features state of the art fermentation systems and designed to be self-sustainable in energy and water use. The winery comes equipped with onsite solar power generation and a system for storing captured rainwater for landscaping and restrooms.

"The new teaching-and-research winery and vineyard are game-changers for the winemaking and grape growing program at UC Davis, and they will help California winemaking advance dramatically in both quality and sustainability," said Andrew Waterhouse, the Marvin Sands Endowed Chair in UC Davis' Department of Viticulture and Enology.

For more information, visit the web site for UC Davis' department of viticulture and enology.

October 6, 2010
Temple Coffee gets close to perfect score, national attention

Temple Coffee is adding to its reputation for superior coffee. The Sacramento coffee house and roaster, was recently awarded an astounding score of 97 by for its heirloom coffee called Guatemala Hunapu Antigua Bourbon.

Big news? Actually, it's huge. Coffee Review has the most prestigious ratings in the industry and this is the highest score given any coffee in North America in 2010.

The news left Temple's owner, Sean Kohmescher, in disbelief when he first heard. When did it start to sink in? When the shop's website began getting hits from all over the country and Temple practically sold out its inventory of this particular bean to coffee lovers in New York, Virginian, Florida, and elsewhere.

Local coffee aficionados may be out of luck. Kohmescher said the Guatemala Hunapu is pretty much sold out at the Temple Shops on S Street in midtown and 10th Street downtown. But both shops held back enough to have special tastings this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. You'll get 14 ounces made in a French press for $5.50.

I managed to nab a bag of whole beans online -- $15 for 12 ounces, plus $5.45 for shipping.

Ted Stachura, the assistant editor at Coffee Review, said he knew right away he was tasting something special. Coffee roasters and shops throughout North America routinely send beans to the Oakland-based Coffee Review for an assessment. A rating in the high 80s or low 90s can help sales significantly and bring prestige to a business.

Stachura and Kenneth Davids, the editor and well-known author of books on coffee, were the tasters.

"To me, it had a fruit quality to it that was very distinct and very pronounced, almost a black currant character," Stachura said by telephone. "We definitely both really liked this coffee and we knew it was way up there in the score. It's very unusual to give a coffee a 10 in the flavor category."

Temple has only been roasting its own beans since March. The roaster is Ed Whitman. Wonder what he will do for an encore. Congratulations to everyone involved.

October 6, 2010
Call to readers: Where do you turn for recipes?

Where do you get your recipes? Do you turn to food company websites like McCormick or Foster Farms for dinner inspiration? Have you ever tried the recipes included in the owners manual of your favorite appliance?

I want to hear from Sacramento area home cooks for a story. Email me at or call me at (916) 321-1270.

Thanks and happy cooking!

October 6, 2010
Three new sandwiches are winners in Mezzetta's annual contest

By Allen Pierleoni

A couple months ago, the Mezzetta condiments company of Napa Valley announced its third annual "Make That Sandwich" contest.

We have a winner: Jessica Asakevich, 25, of Norway, Mich., took the $25,000 first-place prize (and a "culinary tour" of the Napa Valley) with her version of an Italian Philly cheesesteak. She named it the Balboa, after the Sylvester Stallone character in the "Rocky" movie franchise.

Check it: foccacia bread stacked with shaved and sauteed prime rib, melted provolone and mushrooms, and topped with strips of roasted red pepper, pepperoncini, hot cherry peppers, crushed garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and red onion.

The two finalists will receive $1,000 each for their original sandwich recipes. They are Merry Graham of Newhall, Ca., for her grilled Brie with cherry pepper pesto; and Lori DeFinis of Bensalem, Penn., for her rare roast beef with goat cheese and pistachio pesto.
For the recipes, go to

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.

October 5, 2010
Folsom woman becomes Martha's helper

By Debbie Arrington

Folsom's Colleen Gordon got a moment in the spotlight Tuesday with how-to maven Martha Stewart during the taping of Stewart's show in New York City.

Her five minutes of fame - originally shown live in New York - will be re-broadcast in the Sacramento market at 1 p.m. PDT Wednesday on the Hallmark Channel.

Gordon, a crafter herself, was chosen at random from the studio audience to help Stewart create luminaries out of gourds. That included drilling holes into the dried gourds while live on camera.

"I had never done anything like that before," said Gordon, reached by phone in New York. "I had five minutes to cram everything in my head like a big sponge before we went on camera.

"But my drill was set on reverse," she added. "(Martha) was drilling away on her gourd, but mine wasn't working. It became a big joke. Finally, we got mine working, too. And the gourds turned out beautifully."

The task seemed natural to Gordon, who is in the party business. Visiting New York with her husband Robb for a business conference, the 40-year-old Folsom mom owns Party Wishes (, which specializes in themed party planning for children and teens.

"I started doing parties for my own kids," said the mother of four children, ranging in age from 2 to 13. "We take care of it all - decor, favors, hosting. It's for moms who don't have a lot of time."

Stewart gave Gordon an extra surprise: The TV host plugged her Folsom party business.

"She had asked me off camera what I do, but then she repeated it on the air," Gordon recalled. "It was the best advertising I could ever have in the whole world - and it was free."

Gordon also got to keep the gourd. "Now, I've got to find a way to get it home on the plane," she said. "But it will be on my doorstep soon."

Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075.

October 4, 2010
Sake House in Roseville closes

By Chris Macias

Sake House, the Roseville restaurant run by Randy Paragary and nightclub maven Bob Simpson, has closed after less than a year in business. According to Simpson, another company approached him about buying the restaurant, which is located in the Fountains shopping center.

Sake House opened in January as Japanese restaurant and nightclub, with menu consultation by Billy Ngo of midtown's Kru and Red Lotus. Simpson has run nightclubs in Sacramento for more than two decades, including the Cosmopolitan, Empire and 815 L.

Simpson would not disclose the buyers of Sake House, but said that new operation is expected to open within three to four months.

"The Fountains was doing well with the opening of Dave & Busters, so this was all about trying to streamline a bit," said Simpson. "This was just a good business move. Personally, I have plenty of operations to run and it's time to slow down a little bit. I'm feeling positive about it."

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253.

October 4, 2010
Lake Tahoe Food and Wine Festival was off to a great start

By Allen Pierleoni

Harrah's and Harveys hotel-casinos at Stateline at Lake Tahoe sure know how to throw a party for foodies and the culinarily curious.

Beginning Thursday and concluding Sunday, the inaugural Lake Tahoe Food and Wine Festival featured nonstop food-and-wine pairings, special dinners, cooking demonstrations and educational seminars. The event-closing brunch was Sunday at 19 Kitchen Bar at Harveys, at which chefs from various Harrah's Entertainment properties contributed to the extensive menu, and took shifts sitting at a table to autograph copies of their collective cookbook.

Harrah's South Shore Room sold out Saturday night as author ("Medium Raw") and iconoclastic TV-show host ("No Reservations") Anthony Bourdain entertained an engaged crowd of fans. Among other topics, he discussed world travel ("I am grateful"), veganism, adventures in eating foods in other cultures ("I took a hit for the team with roasted warthog"), and a few Food Network chefs and series.

Among the post-show VIPs crowded into Bourdain's dressing room was chef-cookbook author and veteran TV host Martin Yan. Earlier in the day, Yan delighted a standing-room-only crowd that watched him bone a whole chicken in 18 seconds and use it in a fragrant stir-fry.

Part of the impetus for the festival was the West Coast release of "The Seven Stars Cookbook," edited by John Schlimm, with a foreword by Paula Deen (Chronicle Books, $45). It's a collection of 125 recipes from chefs at various Harrah's Entertainment properties around the country.

The centerpiece of the festival was the Beyond the Fork: An Affair of the Senses Epicurean Expoin Harrah's huge Special Events Center, which drew more than 1,000 people between 1 and 6 p.m. Saturday. There, many of the chefs who contributed to "Seven Stars" prepared their recipes from the cookbook. On offer at kiosks around the room were hearty samples of succulent scallop and crab dishes, five-onion soup, seafood gumbo, prime aged ribeye roast with fingerling potatoes, shrimp cerviche, and a host of desserts.

Co-starring in the events center were raffle drawings and prize giveaways, as well as acrobats, a juggling stiltwalker and other performers who were backdropped by live music. Premium wines were poured in the cooking-demonstration tent connected to the events center.

"We're very excited about the response to the inaugural event," said John Packer on the phone Monday morning. He is the director of entertainment and public relations for Harrah's-Northern Nevada. "We're looking forward to repeating next year, in bigger and better ways."

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.

October 4, 2010
Poor Girl going strong in food blogging contest

RB Kimberly Morales 1.JPGBy Niesha Lofing

Sacramento's Poor Girl, Kimberly Morales, is going knife-to-knife (and keyboard-to-keyboard) with food bloggers nationwide in the hopes of winning $10,000 and some major bragging rights.

Morales, who pens Poor Girl Eats Well, ihas made it to the third round of Project Food Blog, a contest open to Foodbuzz Featured Publisher Program bloggers. One other area food blog, Spicy Green Mango, also remains in the running.

The contestant pool grows smaller each week as industry judges and readers cast their votes for the bloggers who most successfully navigate the 10 challenges, which are designed to test the bloggers' culinary knowledge and writing skill, the contest website states.

The latest challenge asks bloggers to host a luxurious dinner party for guests.

Morales had an added challenge, however - do it on an extremely limited budget.

It's not just that she's trying to stick to her blog's roots. Morales was laid off last week.

"I was lucky enough that one of my readers sent me a gift card for Trader Joe's, which helped me go shopping," she said.

Her feast, which she dubbed "For the Love of Chocolate" and featured savory and sweet dishes centered around white, dark and milk chocolate, cost about $16 per person. Voting is taking place this week and the 100 contestants who make it through to the next challenge will be announced Friday.

A $10,000 grand prize would mean many things for Morales, most of all a financial lifeline.

"It would mean getting caught up on my rent and being able to have a little breathing room. Not always living on borrowed time," she said.

Click here to visit Poor Girl Eats Well.

Click here to go to Project Food Blog, where you can cast your vote for your favorite food blogger in the third challenge.

*Bee file photo by Randall Benton

October 1, 2010
Library to hold free cooking class on cancer-fighting foods

By Niesha Lofing

Carmichael Library will be offering a free cooking class this month focused on foods that may help reduce the risk of cancer.

Emily Webber, a Food for Life instructor with the Cancer Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to cancer prevention and survival through nutrition education and research, will lead the workshop, according to a Sacramento Public Library news release.

The class will provide nutrition information no the power of proper foods in a cancer-fighting diet, demonstration of healthy recipes and samples of food, the release states.

The free lcass will be held at 1 p.m. Oct. 23 at Carmichael Library, located at 5605 Marconi Ave., Carmichael.

To register for the class, visit the library's website or call (916) 264-2920.

October 1, 2010
Ruth Reichl takes her culinary expertise to Random House

By Allen Pierleoni

A year after Conde Nast closed the (cook)book on venerable Gourmet magazine, giant publisher Random House announced Thursday the hiring of former Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl. Her role as "editor at large will be to acquire books, write and work with writers," according to Publishers Weekly magazine.

In a statement, the former restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times and New York Times said, "I'm especially excited to have the opportunity to participate in the future of food writing as both an author and a book editor. I'll have the opportunity to connect to food lovers" in print and digitally.

Reichl, who appeared in front of a full house of foodies, chefs and home cooks at the Crest Theatre in March, is the author of the memoirs "Not Becoming My Mother," "Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise," "Tender at the Bone" and "Comfort Me with Apples." Her last cookbook, "Gourmet Today," appeared in 2009.

Connect with her at

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.

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