Appetizers
July 31, 2012
Monterey winemakers are ready for annual sip-and-sample

Here's a big one for the sip-and-graze crowd: The 20th annual Monterey Winemakers' Celebration is a day of vino (40 wineries, 200 wines, 42 varietals) and tastes (10 restaurants, seven vendors).

Plus: winemaking displays, silent auction and "special promotions and pricing." Bonus: meets-and-greets with winemakers. If you taste one of their wines you like a lot, you can buy it at the Try and Buy Wine Marketplace.

Among the mainstream and small boutique Monterey County wineries will be Kori, Chalone, Silvestri, Dawn's Dream, Chateau Julien and Saint's Valley. Tastes will include bratwurst, pizza, sushi, sliders, cheeses, olive oils, chocolates and much more.

The fest will be 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 11 at the covered Barnyard Village Event Center, 3652 The Barnyard off Highway 1 in Carmel. Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 at the door. Designated driver tickets are $15 (no wine-tasting) and include "young adults between 16 and 20."

For tickets and more information: www.montereywines.org, (831) 375-9400.

July 31, 2012
Request from a reader: Trying to track down Belgian-style fries

Greg, a reader pining away for some especially good French fries, writes:

"Where in the Sacramento area can I buy good twice-cooked or double-fried French fries? These are sometimes called Belgian Fries or Flemish Fries. I can't find good examples anywhere in the area. I used to get them from A&W on Madison & Date sometime before they closed. Also, I may have got them unintentionally from the new Squeeze Inn in West Sac when they first opened. The line was out the door and I think they probably pre-cooked some fries in preparation for the large crowds. Then as the orders came in, they cooked the fries a second time to finish cooking them and presto - Belgian-style fries.

"If you would give me a few recommendations on where I might find good Belgian-style French fries in the Sacramento area, I'd really appreciate it."

July 30, 2012
Feasting, singing and dancing at 27th annual Festa Italiana

When it comes to restaurant fare, Italian is tied "neck and neck" with Mexican and Chinese as the most popular ethnic cuisines in the United States. That's according to the National Restaurant Association, which has 400,000 restaurant members.

Knowing that, you're now ready to eat and play at the 27th annual Festa Italiana. Load up on Italian sausage and meatball subs, pizza, pasta (including deep-fried ravioli), lasagna, chicken Parmesan, rice balls (arancini), stuffed peppers, polenta, calamari, cannoli, gelato and more.

Plus: gift and food items imported from Italy; bands and singers; activities for children; Italian auto, motorscooter and bicycle exhibits; bocce ball competitions; and a raffle for a trip to Italy.

The festival will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Croatian Center, 3730 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento. Admission is $12, free for ages 15 and younger. Free parking.

Information and ticket sales: www.festaitalianasacramento.com.

July 27, 2012
Evan's Kitchen will host 'Taste of Barcelona' wine dinner

Evan Elsberry is a chef who enjoys competing. For instance, his imaginative dishes have won numerous ribbons at the California State Fair over the years. Last year, he was among the top three winners in the Ultimate Clubhouse Sandwich contest at the Scottish Rite Center, and in the second annual Sacramento Tomato Fest at Town & Country Village.

Also, Elsberry is partial to pairing ethnic cuisines with matching wines. So far this year, he has hosted Italian- and French- wine-pairing dinners at his restaurant, Evan's Kitchen. Coming in October will be a Mexican-themed repast.

While we wait for that one, "A Taste of Barcelona" Spanish-themed dinner is planned from 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 6. The cost is $75 per person, with reservations at (916) 452-3896. Evan's Kitchen is at 855 57th Street, Sacramento, in the Antiques Mall. Visit at www.chefevan.com.

The menu looks like this:

First course: Tapas of Spanish olives, marinated artichoke, anchovies, chorizo, Spanish cheese and ham, chicken croquettes, and tomato-rubbed bread. Pouring NV Campo Viejo Brut Rose Cava.

Second course: Garlic and spring vegetables soup. Pouring Campo Viejo Reserva 2006.

Third course: Red wine-braised short ribs with wild mushroom ragout. Pouring Marques de Riscal Rioja 2006.

Fourth course: Paella with chicken, shrimp, chorizo, monkfish, mussels, clams, vegetables and herbs over long-grain rice in saffron broth. Pouring Ramon Bilbao Albarino Valinas.

Dessert: Creme caramel flan. Pouring Sandeman Royal Ambrosante Sherry.

July 27, 2012
Miraflores Winery is pairing vino with chef-made lunches

Food and wine pairings always get our attention, such as the program going on at the Miraflores Winery in El Dorado wine country.

Each weekend through Oct. 14 (including this Saturday and Sunday), the winery's "Pairings" program will feature local and Bay Area chefs creating seasonally inspired four-course lunches to be paired with Miraflores' award-winning zinfandel, tempranillo, voiognier, muscat and other varietals and blends. Lunches will be served on the terrace, overlooking acres of vineyards.

The lineup includes Sacramento-area chefs Lance Carlini of Enotria, Gabriel Glasier of Maranello, Christian Masse of Allez, and Karen Holmes of Karen's Bakery Cafe.

Prix fixe lunches are served from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekends; $40 a person, $30 a person for wine-club members. For reservations: (530) 647-8505.

For a complete list of participating chefs and the schedule of lunches, go to www.mirafloreswinery.com.

Miraflores Winery is at 2120 Four Springs Trail in Placerville.

July 27, 2012
Cowboy steak part II -- amazing steak photos suddenly appear on my phone

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If you're a meat eater, this is one of the great indulgences - a big, thick juicy steak you cook yourself. Enjoying a steak of this magnitude and in this manner involves care, knowledge, maybe a ritual or two, and a little bit of precision. You think about it, make a special trip to buy it, take it home and center your entire evening around cooking and then eating it.

One of the great steaks in this neck of the woods is the "cowboy steak" at Corti Brothers. Meat eaters know this cut well - and they know it's worth every penny. I wrote about my encounter with the cowboy steak, and followed up with a blog post about a similarly incredible steak from the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op here.

Since then, Nate Simon, a Sacramento physician and major food enthusiast, has been biding his time until he could tackle his very own cowboy steak. I learned about his meal as it was coming out of the pan. The photos came out of nowhere. I was eating a salad, of all things, when I got a text from Nate. It was the photo you see above - a great steak that had been cooked in a cast iron pan. The only thing missing was the campfire and the covered wagon. Prior to that, I had received a few texts of great-looking food while Nate was dining at a French bistro -- in Paris.

July 26, 2012
Sacramento chef lands job at world renowned Alinea

Scott Ostrander's known for being a behind-the-scenes kind of chef, a fairly low key guy who eschews the limelight yet known for a fierce work ethic. And now, he's preparing to say farewell to his native Sacramento for one of the country's most heralded restaurants.

On Aug. 22 Ostrander starts work at Alinea, the Chicago restaurant known for its three Michelin stars and recognized as the nucleus of the country's molecular gastronomy movement. Oh, and Ostrander picked Alinea while mulling an apprenticeship opportunity at Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bistro.

So who is this guy, anyway?

July 26, 2012
Restaurants and marketing part II

Last week, I compiled a list of restaurants doing a very good job at marketing and promoting their businesses. What led to the list? My recent experience with Erawan Thai Restaurant, which has good food and, at least until the review came out, very few actual customers.

Restaurants that sit back and wait for customers to discover their tasty food and friendly staffs are destined to lose out to those that realize this is a highly competitive business that requires smarts, persistence, exposure and repetition.

Many folks emailed me to point out restaurants I might want to add to the list. Two certainly stand out - Mikuni and de Vere's Irish Pub. Consider them added. These two do an excellent job. In fact, struggling restaurants looking for a boost would do well to study what these places are up to.


July 25, 2012
Update: River Rock Tap House closed temporarily

Despite tremendous growth in Sacramento's beer scene over the past year, one of midtown's main brew pubs has closed temporarily. River Rock Tap House, located at 2326 J St., shut down last week after a year in business. The location was the former home of Tex Mex Bar & Grill before transforming into River Rock Tap House in July of 2011. Since then, River Rock Tap House featured more than 40 beers on tap.

According to its Twitter feed, River Rock Tap House shut down due to bankruptcy. The pub's web page has also been taken down.

Former owner Michael Keolanui said via e-mail that a new ownership group has taken over River Rock Tap House and planning a re-model of the bathrooms, patio and other parts of the building. An announcement from the as-yet-unamed ownership group is expected soon.

July 24, 2012
Looking for scenic dining? OpenTable has 100 choices

San Francisco-based OpenTable knows something about restaurants and the people who eat at them. After all, it specializes in making free online restaurant reservations for diners across the country.

In a yearlong program, the company solicited restaurant reviews from many of its users. The result: critiques of more than 15,000 restaurants in 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Using that data, OpenTable determined its Diners Choice Award-winners for the Top 100 Scenic View Restaurants in the U.S. Though there are winners in 29 states, California swept with 37 awards.

To see the full list of winners, and visit them via links, go to www.opentable.com/scenic. Meanwhile, whet your appetites with this sampling of scenic dining in Northern California:

A Caprice - Tiburon
Fish Hopper - Monterey
Fog Harbor Fish House - San Francisco
Franciscan Crab - San Francisco
Grandviews at the Grand Hyatt - San Francisco
McCormick & Kuleto's - San Francisco
Miramar - Half Moon Bay
Moss Beach Distillery - Moss Beach (near Half Moon Bay)
Pacific's Edge - Monterey
River's End - Jenner
Rocky Point - Carmel
Skates - Berkeley
Spinnaker - Sausalito
Sunnyside - Tahoe City
Sutro's at the Cliff House - San Francisco

July 23, 2012
Pepperidge Farm celebrates 75 years, introduces new products

SRC PEPPERIDGE FARM 3 ITEMS A.JPG Bee photograpgh by Scott A. Craig.

When it comes to frozen fruit-filled turnovers popped into the home oven, our longtime go-to is Pepperidge Farm's raspberry and blueberry flavors. With ice-cold milk, of course.

So we were happy to learn that the company is celebrating it's 75th anniversary with some new products, which were recently taste-tested by our group of usual suspects.

As for company history, this slice is posted at www.pepperidgefarm.com: "It all began with a humble loaf of bread, which Pepperidge Farm founder Margaret Rudkin baked in her rural Connecticut kitchen. Created in 1937 to address her son's allergy to common preservatives, Margaret's simple recipe is the origin of a flourishing business."

P.S.: Pepperidge Farm bakes 142 billion of its famous Goldfish crackers each year.

As for new items - arriving in stores in August ($2.99 to $3.99) - we sampled pumpkin cheesecake soft cookies; Milano Slices salted pretzel chocolate-coated cookies; Milano Melts vanilla cream-filled cookies; and three flavors of Jingo crackers - lime and sweet chili, Parmesan-garlic, and cheddar.

We did not taste two other new products (because we didn't have them) - Goldfish soft bread (brown sugar and cinnamon flavors), and Swirl Bread (limited-edition caramel apple, through November).

The results, beginning with me:

July 20, 2012
Which restaurants do the best at marketing and promoting?

Good cooking, great service and a pleasant atmosphere. Those are the key components of a successful restaurant. But there's something even more important than that - getting the word out about these components.

That's right, there are some very empty restaurants out there serving good food. There are also some very crowded restaurants serving OK food. One explanation for that comes down to how these restaurants sell themselves - how they tell their story and explain why customers should give them a try. In this economy, especially, when families are cutting back on eating out, restaurants need to make their case - often, loudly and with creative ideas.

Marketing a restaurant is complicated. The best marketing ideas tell stories about the people who work there, about the food, the purveyors, the thinking behind the food. Like any good story, these are elements that help potential customers connect in some way with the business. Connecting equals likability.

There are other, more basic ways to connect - for instance, talking about quality and price, and what makes this restaurant stand out from all the others. One big mistake I occasionally see: restaurateurs making divisive political comments on Facebook or Twitter. You have the right to do it, sure. But it's incredibly dumb to slam Obama, Bush, Romney or others when it might alienate half your customer base.

Advertising is where chain restaurants beat locally owned restaurants pretty handily, mostly because the chains have the budgets to buy plenty of advertising. It's also because chains usually have a finely honed concept and plenty of fresh ideas about how to sell it.

But there are local places that are really doing well in this crucial part of doing business - and staying relevant. I was reminded of that when I recently received a detailed email from the Firehouse Restaurant in Old Sacramento. The reason? The executive chef, Deneb Williams, was rolling out an impressive new seasonal menu. The email explained what the restaurant was doing, the thinking behind the new menu and, finally, it provided the entire menu, which looks irresistible.

I was reminded in a different way when I drove by Fremont Park in midtown/downtown the other day. There was a lunchtime concert in the park - a wonderful idea by Hot Italian, the pizzeria that faces the park.

July 19, 2012
Sip and sample (and cool off) at Taste of the Delta

The weekend forecast is for heat - reason enough to head for the Delta for its cooling breezes.

Perhaps a more compelling motive is to attend the 11th annual Taste of the Delta, offering sips and samplings from 15 area wineries and 13 restaurants, and live and silent auctions. Plus, eight vendor booths (including the Department of Boating and Waterways) will be on site.

Taste of the Delta will be 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Village West Marina, 6649 Embarcadero Drive, Stockton. Take Interstate 5 south to the Benjamin Holt exit and bear right; drive about 1-1/2 miles and turn right on to Embarcadero and into the marina parking lot.

Advance tickets are $25 at www.tasteofthedelta.com, and $35 at the door. For more information: (916) 777-4041.

July 19, 2012
Can't get foie gras at restaurants? Try 'faux gras' at Morgan's

faux_gras.JPG "Foie gras," which translates to English as "fat liver," has long been regarded as a delicacy among food connoisseurs. To their disappointment, a controversial statewide ban on the sale of the goose liver pate at restaurants went into effect July 1.

Which has led chef Russell Michel to create "a great twist on a negative direction for foodies." Michel oversees the four-star Morgan's restaurant at the Sheraton Grand Hotel.

"Let the fight continue about the ban, but let's do something positive with this situation right now," he e-mailed this morning.

His alternative to foie gras is a creation he calls "faux gras." The recipe includes "naturally harvested duck livers" with cognac and black truffle, that "looks, feels and tastes like foie gras," he said.

The seared faux gras is served on toasted brioche with nectarine-cherry chutney, port wine syrup and sunflower sprouts (pictured). It's $13 on the summer dinner menu.

Chef Michel is also a member of Sacramento Connect, the Bee's blog
and community news network, with his blog "Ask a Chef"
(www.fox40.com/news/cooking).

Morgan's is upstairs at the Sheraton, 1230 J St., Sacramento; (916) 341-4100, www.morgans-restaurant.com.

July 18, 2012
The Kitchen named among "America's 20 Best Date Restaurants"

Coming off yesterday's news about the Davis Farmers Market making two national "best of" lists, here's another bit of acclaim for the Sacramento area's food scene. The Kitchen was named in a "America's 20 Best Date Restaurants" list by Men's Fitness magazine. Because hey, what better way to show a date that you're not all just ripped abs and protein powders then by taking them to a classy restaurant?

The Kitchen was named among some of the country's finest restaurants, including New York City's Blue Hill Farm, Chicago's Tru and Canlis in Seattle. A date at The Kitchen is certainly a classy move with its epic wine cellar and gourmet demonstration dinner - though would-be lotharios should be ready to pay $250 for dinner for two, not including wine. Men's Fitness noted The Kitchen's relaxed and freewheeling style, saying, "You and your date can meander into normally off-limit spots such as the pantry, wine cellar, and walk-in. A truly unique experience ..."

Here's a link to The Kitchen's menu for July ... enjoy, lovers.

July 18, 2012
Carpe Vino wine shop-restaurant wins Wine Spectator award

Good things are happening to Gary and Drew Moffat. They're the father-son co-owners of Carpe Vino, the classy wine bar/wine shop/restaurant in Auburn.The store is stocked with about 500 wines, an inventory that's in constant flux.

Recently, the Moffats created a digital list of 250 wines for the restaurant portion of the store. The Wine Spectator took notice of the "breadth and depth" of that list and gave Carpe Vino an Award of Excellence. Given that it's celebrating its 10th anniversary, "This couldn't have come at a better time," said Drew Moffat.

Which ties in nicely with the restaurant's monthly prix-fixe dinners. The next one - "Everything Corn" - will be at 5 p.m. July 24-28. The four-course meal (with options) is $49 a person, plus tax and tip.

Hmmm. We could start with creamed corn fritters with smoked pork belly, move to white sea bass with corn emulsion, and then ...

Reservations: (530) 823-0320, www.carpevinoauburn.com, www.opentable.com.

July 17, 2012
Davis Farmers Market makes national 'best of' lists

The Davis Farmers Market always feels like an idyllic slice of northern California living at 4th and C streets in downtown Davis. Drop by the market on a Saturday morning or Wednesdays and you'll find the masses shopping for locally grown produce as kids frolic on a nearby playground. Food vendors also set up shop to help fuel the fun.

Two national publications have also taken note. US News & World Report listed the Davis Farmers Market last week as No. 5 in its top 10 breakdown of farmers markets from around the country.

USA Today also noted Davis in a May travel feature titled "10 great places to shop at a farmers market." Farmers markets in Santa Fe, Boulder and Austin, Tx. were also included in the rundown.

For more information on the Davis Farmers Market and its recently released cookbook, visit www.davisfarmersmarket.org.

July 16, 2012
Take a bike ride out to Feeding Crane Farms on July 22

The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op is leading a bike ride out to Feeding Crane Farms, the newest organic farm in the area, on July 22 (Sunday). If you want to join in the fun and learn about an urban farm that focuses on supplying restaurants with specialty items and that recently started distributed a CSA box for home cooks, you have to act fast.

Deadline for registration is Tuesday (July 17). The cost is $15, which includes what will undoubtedly be a farm-fresh lunch. The leisurely ride to the farm in Natomas will leave Edible Pedal at 9 a.m., returning around 1 p.m. Round trip from midtown, it's about 15 miles. To register or to learn more, click here. You can also call the Co-op at (916) 455-2667.

July 13, 2012
Aimal Formoli to be next guest chef at Plates Cafe

Formoli.jpg

Plates Café and Catering is an innovative program that offers intensive on-the-job training programs to help formerly homeless women with children develop their skills and find careers in the hospitality industry. It operates in conjunction with St. John's Shelter for Women & Children.

One of the main attractions at Plates is the delicious and eclectic lunch menu, available weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On the first Thursday night of every month, Plates also showcases the work of a guest chef. In August, it's Aimal Formoli, the enterprising and creative chef behind the superb food at Formoli's Bistro in East Sacramento. It's an honor to be selected for this guest chef position and it's a treat for patrons to try the food these chefs present for their special dinners. The featured wine maker on this occasion is Naggiar Vineyards; the desserts will be by Drizzle Cupcakes.

July 12, 2012
Two upcoming events at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg

Here are two events on the horizon at the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg you might enjoy. Besides wine, each involves something near and dear to my heart: pet adoption and, in a completely different way, bread and cheese.

The Old Sugar Mill is a feel-good place - a short drive from downtown Sacramento, it seems as if you're way out in the country in a beautifully renovated setting that is ruggedly industrial yet refined. There are six wineries with tasting rooms, as well as a crush facility on the premises.

The first event is called "Pups and Pinot" this Saturday, July 14, from 1-5 p.m. featuring dogs up for adoption from Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary.

July 12, 2012
Tweets from the State Fair's Big Beef Rib Eat-Off
July 12, 2012
Burger Battle will sizzle in September, tickets are on sale now

Elk Grove website designer Rodney Blackwell knows something about hamburgers. He maintains the 19-month-old www.burgerjunkies.com, the all-things-burgers site that takes burger-lovers on visits to burger joints throughout California and far beyond.

Blackwell is the driving force behind the upcoming Sacramento Burger Battle, a throwdown and tasting event to benefit the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

The battle will commence the evening of Sept. 18 - National Cheeseburger Day - at Raley Field. Fifteen restaurants will flip their best offerings in a sizzling quest to find the best burger in Sacramento. Winners will be determined by a panel of judges and a people's-choice vote, so two restaurants could walk off with top honors. Craft beers, winetasting and live music will be part of it.

Ticket sales will be capped at 800 and are available now, so maybe it's the right time for attendees to get cookin'. Tickets are $45 general admission (7 to 10 p.m.), $65 VIP (6 to 10 p.m.); prices will jump by $10 on Aug. 1. Buy them at www.sacburgerbattle.com.

The burger champ(s) will get braggin' rights, of course, but also a custom-made championship belt modeled after the ones handed out by the World Wresting Entertainment organization.

One last thing: What is Blackwell's favorite burger?
"In Sacramento, it's the one at Mulvaney's B&L (1215 19th St., 916-441-6022). My favorite burger of all time is at the Playground in Santa Ana (www.playgrounddtsa.com)."

Good to know.

July 11, 2012
Food aplenty at Yolo County Fair opening night gala

YOLO - it's the acronym for You Only Live Once mentioned in the song by Drake. And hey, you can actually live out this axiom by feasting like there's no tomorrow at the Yolo County Fair's opening night gala. The Aug. 15 event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Yolo County Fair's agricultural building, featuring an array of local meats, wines, produce, restaurant food and more.

And get this: the tickets for this YOLO feast are only $10 in advance, or $15 at the door. Also keep in mind that tickets to the Yolo County Fair are free. For more information: (530) 402-2222 or www.yolocountyfair.net.

July 11, 2012
Red Robin chain adds two 'ghost pepper' burgers to its menu

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As Sacramento swelters under a heat wave, things could be hotter. For instance, the heat in the hybrid "naga bhut jolokia" chile pepper - known as the ghost pepper - has been ranked at 855,000 "heat units" on the Scoville capsaicin-measuring scale. That's about 300 times hotter than a jalapeño.

So use caution next time you grab a burger at Red Robin. It recently became the first national restaurant chain to add ghost peppers to the menus of its 460 units, though the brutal heat level has been mellowed.

The Fiery Ghost burger (pictured) is topped with ghost pepper sauce, cut-and-fried jalapeños and pepper jack cheese. The Cry Baby burger is loaded with crisp onion straws tossed in Sriracha dry seasoning, onions sauteed in Cholula hot sauce, pepper jack cheese and ghost pepper catsup. They're $7.99 each, with limitless steak fries. The burgers will be available through August.

To locate Red Robin restaurants, go to www.redrobin.com.

July 9, 2012
Mobile food vendors announced for SactoMoFo5

SactoMoFo 5 is on tap for July 21 at Sixth and X streets, featuring more than two dozen mobile food vendors, a beer garden, live music, an arts & crafts fair and even a "kid's corner" with a video game truck. You can also plan on plenty of lines, with between 8,000 and 10,000 attending the previous edition of SactoMoFo.

You'll see some new local vendors in the mix, including Star Ginger's Asian foods and Addy's Paella. However a few familiar vendors won't be in the mix, including Wicked 'Wich, Heavenly Dog and Fuzion Eatz. There's been a rift between some local mobile food vendors and SactoMoFo, leading to a new consortium called Norcal Food Trucks. We'll have more on what this means for the local food truck scene soon.

Either way, July 21 is slated to be another large scale celebration of mobile food so plan accordingly. Here's the line-up of vendors:

July 9, 2012
Tako Korean BBQ to open Friday, with a marriage of cuisines

The last time I talked with Alex Won and his business partner, Yoon Hee Cho, was in 2006. The occasion was a "Counter Culture" review of their Folsom Boulevard 'cue joint, Yunece 61 Smoked Barbecue & Grill.

On its menu, crispy spring rolls, taquitos and teriyaki salmon met hickory-smoked pork and beef ribs, tri-tip and hot links. An intriguing blend of cuisines, a curiosity at the time. The food was tops, and the restaurant had a good run before its not-so-good location finally did it in.

Now Won and Cho have re-teamed to create Tako Korean BBQ, opening Friday at the intersection of Alhambra Boulevard and T Street.

It will be housed in an architecturally stunning, long-abandoned Richfield gas station, an Art Deco-Moderne historic landmark that opened in 1936. The inside has been refurbished, of course, and a large patio has been added. The outside of the building has been cleaned up and - wisely - pretty much preserved. The restaurant's retro logo is a salute to the classic American gas stations of decades gone by, Won said.

The menu will show the type of fare that helped launch the red-hot food-truck movement that originated in Los Angeles and spread throughout California.

"The concept is Korean barbecue meets Mexican-style foods like tortillas and burritos," Won said on the phone today. "(The specialty) will be Korean beef short ribs served in tacos, burritos and rice bowls."

Beer and wine? "Our license is coming," Won said.

July 9, 2012
Fun for the family: A Sunday drive with a few stops at farms

This looks to have the makings of a fun and educational food and farm-related event for those looking for a pleasant Sunday drive with the kids out to the Sierra foothills.

It's called the Living Lands' Third Annual Farm Tour and Family Fun Festival. The tour is on July 15 (Sunday) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.. Those attending are encouraged to visit three of the six participating farms, meet the farmers and learn about their operations.

Then, from 1-5 p.m., adults and kids are invited to attend the festival at First Rain Farm in Nevada City. There will be lunch, ice cream, live music and a variety of activities, including butter churning and goat milking.

July 9, 2012
Two 'celebrations' will offer free coffee drinks, 61-cent hot dogs

Everybody likes a good deal. Get ready for these two:

First up: The Oregon-based Dutch Bros. Coffee company caters to folks in a hurry, selling its brews exclusively via 174 drive-through kiosks in seven states.

To celebrate the grand opening of its new outlet, at 7445 Madison Ave. in Citrus Heights, everyone is invited there for a free coffee drink from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday. Check it out at www.dutchbros.com.

Now this: Wienerschnitzel, the world's largest hot dog-centric restaurant chain (350 units in 10 states), has served wurst since 1961.

To celebrate National Hot Dog Month (July), the nine Sacramento-area restaurants will sell three favorites for 61 cents each, all day Sunday - chili dog, kraut dog and mustard dog.

For Wienerschnitzel locations, go to www.wienerschnitzel.com.

July 6, 2012
Bacon Fest announces BLT Week and a BLT bike crawl

bacon.jpgBack in January, Bacon Fest proved to be exceptionally popular with food lovers as well as lucrative for local restaurants and pubs that participated.

Fast forward to summer, and restaurateurs are eager to get involved with a new Bacon Fest-sponsored event: "Bacon Fest Sacramento presents BLT Week 2012."

It's the perfect bacon theme for summertime, especially with tomatoes reaching their peak.

What is BLT Week? I caught up with Brian Guido, the man behind Bacon Fest, to get the details.

July 6, 2012
Squeeze Inn launches food truck

Add the Squeeze Inn as the latest brick-and-mortar restaurant to launch a food truck. The much heralded local burger franchise, which was once featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, has now gone mobile.

The Squeeze Inn truck is an extension of the eatery's Power Inn location, and operated by former Squeeze Inn employee Ken Bourquin. He'd been given the blessing to run the truck from franchise owner Travis Hausauer, and started rolling about two weeks ago.

Squeeze Inn's truck will operate a little differently than other local food trucks. Instead of playing cat and mouse with parking enforcement on a daily basis and trying to entice office workers at lunchtime, this truck is emphasizing events and fundraisers.

July 6, 2012
The Habit Burger Grill to open outlet in Folsom

By Mark Glover
mglover@sacbee.com

Irvine-based The Habit Burger Grill will open its seventh Sacramento area outlet Wednesday at 1115 E. Bidwell St. in Folsom.

The Folsom restaurant is hosting pre-opening charity events on Sunday and Monday.

From noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, The Habit will be open and donate all proceeds to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Reopening from 5 to 7 p.m. that day, proceeds will go to the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's Pro-Start program.

July 5, 2012
Multi-course lamb feast at Taylor's Kitchen, after '101' class

LHDANNY JOHNSONTASTE.JPGWhen it comes to longevity and quality meats in the cold cases, Taylor's Market is in a separate league. Proving the point, the Sacramento icon will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a five-course wine-pairing dinner on Aug. 12.

Meanwhile, co-owner and head butcher Danny Johnson (pictured) is planning a lamb feast Tuesday after leading a "butchering 101 class" in which he will disassemble a lamb from Lava Lake Ranch, situated near Sun Valley, Idaho. The hormone- and antibiotics-free lambs raised there are free-range and grass-fed (www.lavalakelamb.com).

"The lamb I will butcher will not be the lamb we're cooking for dinner," Johnson was quick to point out on the phone this morning. "My class will focus on the different cuts of lamb and what (the home cook) can do with them."

As for his choice of Lava Lake Ranch: "It has a seasonal (lamb-raising) program, not 24/7 like so many other ranches. They're doing things the way ranchers used to do them."

After the class, Taylor's Kitchen chef Richard Telford will prepare a multi-course lamb dinner. During the evening, Lava Lake Ranch owner Brian Bean will give a presentation and answer questions.

The lamb dinner menu will include bresaola (air-dried salted lamb with arugula, fennel, pickled cherries and pine nuts), lamb carbonara (handmade fettucini with lamb bacon, English peas, egg and pecorino cheese), Moroccan spiced leg of lamb, and Manchego cheesecake (fig compote, honey and Marcona almonds).

The butchering class will begin at 6 p.m. (with appetizers), followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75 (plus $5.12 surcharge) at www.taylorsmarket.com, and at the door on Tuesday (availability permitting).

Taylor's Kitchen is at 2924 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento, adjacent to Taylor's Market. Information: (916) 443-6881.

July 5, 2012
Pot and pans -- a restaurant gets busted for peddling cannabis-enriched baked goods

Back in March, I noticed a new restaurant had opened on El Camino Avenue in the space occupied for years by the beloved Palomino Room (and later, a Chinese food buffet). What's more, this new place, The Farmer's Daughter, seemed like it might be one of those enlightened farm-to-table kind of places. It was farm-to-table all right - more, it turns out, than we could have imagined.

We lined up a visit with the intention of writing a "First Impressions" piece, but we were almost immediately taken aback. My girlfriend noticed the guy who greeted us had a roach clip thingy hanging from his cap. No big deal. Maybe this is what the kids call a fashion accessory these days.

We looked around the room. Weird décor, odd vibe. Then we got the news. There was a "snafu" in the kitchen and the food offerings would be limited. Was this a poor choice of words by the manager? Or was it a code word? I was oblivious.

I called the overall concept of the place "dazed and confused." I guess I could have asked, "What were these people smoking? Check out the story The Bee's Anita Creamer wrote yesterday. The Sheriff's Department just busted the joint and recovered 80 pounds of marijuana. Good thing I didn't order a brownie. According to a Sheriff's spokesman, desserts could be fortified with medical-grade cannabis.

The sandwiches and soup I sampled were decent. I haven't seen the entire report from the Sheriff, but I'm going to assume that these meager offerings weren't fortified with anything more than mustard or mayo.


July 3, 2012
Preserve summer's harvest with these handy classes

Summer gardens offer bountiful fruit and vegetables, often too much to eat fresh. Farmers markets and fruit stands also are brimming with bargain produce.

Get some expert advice on how to save some of that harvest for later with the help of the UC Cooperative Extension Master Food Preservers.

These experts have several demonstrations coming up at the Sacramento Cooperative Extension Office, 4145 Branch Center Road, Sacramento. Each event is open to the public with no pre-registration necessary. Here's a sample:

- The Pressure's On: UC master food preservers show how to preserve a bountiful harvest (and save time, too) through this introduction to safe pressure-canning techniques. The two-hour free class starts at 10 a.m. July 14.

- Tasty Tomato and Tomatillo Treasures: Get ready to tackle the summer harvest with salsas, sauces and more. This evening class, which has a $3 materials fee, starts at 6:30 p.m. July 18.

- All Dried Up: Learn how to dehydrate fruit and vegetables at home, with or without special equipment. This free class starts at 10 a.m. Aug. 11.

For more details, click on http://cesacramento.ucdavis.edu or call (916) 875-6913.



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