August 15, 2013
Sutter Buttes Brewing closes today for expansion plans

Today is the last day to hit up Sutter Buttes Brewing in Yuba City until October - the restaurant-brewery is expanding.

A new owner is in town. Joe Federico, who also owns the Happy Viking sports bar in Yuba City, is most notably adding a wood-fired pizza oven to change up the restaurant menu. After knocking down a couple of walls, the restaurant should squeeze in 25 to 30 more seats, according to brewmaster Mark Martin.

And in the brewery, Martin will add 20 barrel fermenters to expand production from 500 to 2,000 barrels per year. Expect some experimenting and more lagers, Martin said.

The restaurant aims to reopen Oct. 1. Hours may change with talks of adding Southern-style brunch on Sundays.

Sutter Buttes Brewing: 421 Center St, Yuba City, (530) 790-7999

August 8, 2013
Take a trip to Japan and visit Food Expo with Darrell Corti

RP CORTI AND WINE.jpgHow would you like to take a trip to Japan with internationally recognized wine and food expert Darrell Corti of Sacramento (pictured)? Along the way will be a stop at FoodEx Japan, the largest international food and beverage trade show-exposition in Asia.

Of course, all of this is vicarious.

For 11 days in March, Corti and Corti Bros. Market director Rick Mindermann traveled 2,000 miles through the country by cab, wagon, subway, bullet train and jet, visiting six cities. They dined at 29 different restaurants, cafes, and eateries, and spent a day tasting new-to-the-marketplace foods and drinks at Food Ex, with the thought of bringing some of the product lines to their store.

What was their best meal? "We ate at a yakatori house specializing in grilled skewered meats," Mindermann said. "We ate an entire shamo (game cock), cut into pieces. The breast was only seared on the outside, and mostly raw. It was better that the best seared ahi tuna I've ever had."

In Kyoto, Corti made a point of stopping at a McDonald's.


"He said he wanted to make sure that American culture was being properly represented in Japan," Mindermann said with a laugh. "He covers both ends of the food and beverage spectrum."

Midermann showed his expertise with camera gear and film-editing software, assembling a day-by-day blog of their excursion in 120 videos and 900 photographs. Check it out at :

"The blog site captures what it's like to travel with Darrell," Mindermann said.

Also at that link is Corti TV, an audiovisual window into Corti's world travels and the business of his store. In just over a year, more than 58,000 viewers in 134 countries have tuned in. Also: Word has it that another exotic trip could be coming up, this one in the fall. It too will show up at the blog site.

Corti added this thought: "The trip wasn't a blog - it was a real job."

Corti Bros. Market is at 5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, (916) 736-3800,

August 8, 2013
Gravensteins set pace for extra-early apple season

apple-gravenstein-lg.jpg Benefiting from mild summer weather and a warm spring, apples are rolling in early this summer. Leading the way is a fine crop of heirloom Gravensteins from Sonoma County.

"The crop looks incredible," said farmer Stan Devoto, who grows Gravensteins in Sebastopol. "We've had an almost ideal growing season. We had a lot of warm weather and very, very little rain."

That combination has spurred apples to ripen about two weeks early.

To celebrate the short season of this heirloom apple, The Fruit Guys offers a special Gravenstein Apple Box, available for shipment nationwide. Based in San Francisco, The Fruit Guys supplies fruit and vegetables direct to businesses and homes while working with small farmers to preserve heirloom varieties.

"Why the Gravenstein is so special, it has a long history, particularly in California," said Rebecca North, The Fruit Guy's head buyer. "Typically, it's the first apple of the season and starts the harvest."

"It's a really short window," added Chris Mittelstaedt, The Fruit Guys founder and CEO. "They don't store well. We get them in from the farms and literally deliver them overnight."

Now through Aug. 16, The Fruit Guys offers its special Gravenstein box with a portion of proceeds supporting small Northern California farmers. The special boxes also support the Slow Food Gravenstein Apple Presidium, a project of The Fruit Guys and Slow Food Russian River to encourage farmers to grow more heirloom varieties.

The boxes start at $29 for 16 Gravensteins with free shipping inside California. For more details, go to or call (877) 378-4863.

This weekend also is the Gravenstein Apple Fair at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol. For details and directions, click on

August 8, 2013
Casa Garden Restaurant event showcases X-Factor vocalist

FL CASA INTERIOR.JPGSacramento Bee restaurant critic Blair Robertson is a big fan of Casa Garden Restaurant. He praised the place in December not only because of its volunteer staff and good cause, but because of its approachable, well-executed food.

On Sept. 12, the restaurant hosts a special event called "Fly Me to the Moon." Sacramento's Jerry Lopes, a finalist on this season's X-Factor, will perform a wide variety of tunes, including a little Frank Sinatra. Casa Garden's Marlene Oehler called him "just awesome."

Reservations are highly recommended, as there will only be two 90-person seatings - one at 11:15 a.m. and the other at 1:15 p.m. On the menu: chicken cordon bleu with spring mix or a turkey cobb salad for the main course and harvest cake for dessert. Including tax and gratuity, the meal sets you back $22.

All tips go to the Sacramento Children's Home, and the volunteer staff comes from the Los NiƱos Service League.

Casa Garden Restaurant: 2760 Sutterville Road, Sacramento. Call (916) 452-2908 for reservations.

PHOTO: Casa Garden Restaurant's interior as pictured in 2010. Florence Low/The Sacramento Bee

August 8, 2013
Award-winning blogger prepares foraged feast for food literacy

Thumbnail image for hank shaw.jpg
James Beard Award-winner Hank Shaw, a Sacramento food writer and chef, will prepare an intimate feast to benefit children's food literacy education on Aug. 31.

Ingredients for the five-course meal will be foraged from the backyard farm of Amber Stott, founder of the California Food Literacy Center. He'll pair courses with local wines and craft beers, and it will all take place in Stott's manicured yard in East Sacramento.

Shaw's blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, won him the 2013 Best Food Blog award from the James Beard Award Foundation. It has also received honors twice with the International Association of Culinary Professionals. And he's been published in several venerable publications such as Food & Wine, Gastronomica and Organic Gardening.

Fourteen tickets go for $250 each, and they include a gift basket brimming with seeds, vanilla beans, a new cookbook and other treats per pair. Click here for more info and tickets.

August 8, 2013
Train guitarist releases pinot noir

Train_Press1.JPGMost people think of "Drops of Jupiter" when they think of Grammy Award-winning band Train. But winos might add a "Red" to that thought, as in "Drops of Jupiter Red" - one of guitarist Jimmy Stafford's wines with the Save Me, San Francisco Wine Company.

Stafford, in a collaboration with winemaker James Foster, has just released the company's fifth varietal "Soul Sister," a pinot noir. The medium ruby wine is sourced in the Central Coast, with "flavors of ripe cherries and strawberries, a hint of vanilla and a smooth finish."

Train has been known to host intimate wine tastings backstage with friends and industry folk. If you think you somehow have an in with Train, see about joining after Saturday's show at Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

The company's wines all run for $12. Order a bottle online here. Or hunt down "Calling All Angels Chardonnay," "Hella Fine Merlot," "California 37 Cabernet Sauvignon" and Petite Syrah-based "Drops of Jupiter Red" at Total Wine & More on Arden Way in Sacramento or one of the Sprouts Farmers Market outposts in Citrus Heights, Roseville and Elk Grove.


August 7, 2013
South: Southern cuisine comes to Southside

south.jpgSouthern hospitality and fried chicken will be the highlights of South, a restaurant scheduled to open in Southside this September.

The menu is split in two: "Old School" classics, such as fried catfish with red beans and rice or barbequed tiger shrimp over cheesy grits, and "New School" dishes with a California flair, such as crispy pork belly salad with a pepper jelly vinaigrette or seared halibut alongside okra succotash.

More traditional dishes are inspired by what co-owner N'Gina Kavookjian used to eat growing up - her family has roots in Louisiana and Mississippi - while the contemporary plates are the work of chef Michael Wright, who previously worked at Kavookjian's now closed Granite Bay restaurant, Eight American Bistro.

"A lot of people don't think Southern food is really refined, but it is," said Kavookjian, who owns the place with her husband Ian. "The food I ate as a child was balanced, fresh and layered with flavor."

Served for lunch and dinner, the "Old School" dishes are usually in the $8 to $11 range and the "New School" dishes run from $10 to $20. There will be brunch too - including chicken and waffles and eggs benedict on biscuits - in the $8 to $15 range.

"We want people coming often, not just for special occasions," Kavookjian said. "It's important to be accessible to the people who live around us."

A filling plate of fried chicken will go for $13. It's Kavookjian's mom's recipe and probably South's specialty - Kavookjian tells tales of her family hiding stashes and fighting over it at parties.

While most ingredients will be purchased locally, a few - certain Southern brands of grits and secret spices - will be imported. The beer list will be local as well, and Kavookjian hopes to eventually roll out a craft cocktail menu.

South resides in the historic "Paris French Bakery" and later Sacramento Tofu Company building in Southside Park. Kavookjian said she's going for a laid-back atmosphere made cozy with pillows and curtains - it's supposed to feel more like a Southern home than a business.

The owners spent a year walking around Sacramento looking for an ideal neighborhood for their restaurant, and they landed on Southside.

"It has a true sense of community," Kavookjian said. "Everyone knows each other and takes care of each other."

South:1915 6th St. in Southside Park

PHOTO: Illustration by InForm Design

August 7, 2013
Farrell's returns to Sacramento Thursday

farrells.jpegIt's been 40 long years since the airplane accident at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour off Freeport Boulevard that left 22 dead.

But Farrell's is returning to Sacramento. The new location's grand opening is Thursday at 11 a.m. near the busy intersection of Watt Avenue and Arden Way.

This week, Farrell's fans have previewed the space - 8,700 square feet and able to seat 300 guests - at events benefiting the Firefighters Burn Institute, Shriners Hospitals for Children and UC Davis Health System. Diners are slowly adding reviews and photos to Yelp.

August 6, 2013
Make That Sandwich Recipe Contest is worth $25,000

Since August is National Sandwich Month, it's a good time to remind everyone that the annual Make That Sandwich Recipe Contest is winding down. It's sponsored by Mezzetta, the purveyor of olives, peppers and other condiments, based in American Canyon (think Napa Valley).

Home cooks can submit original recipes using Mezzetta products to in any (or all) of the categories - cold sandwich, hot sandwich and vegetarian sandwich - from now through Sept. 2. The top prize is $25,000. Runners-up in each category can win $1,000. Full details are on the website.

Specialty-foods producer Mezzetta opened its doors in 1935 in San Francisco's historic North Beach.


A jarring success: Mezzetta foods no longer just a California favorite

August 6, 2013
Spice rubs join Smokin' Cups for a hot-off-the-grill taste test

photo.JPGTwo 'cue-centric products arrived here at Food Central, and we tested them simultaneously.

The family-operated Ferolito's in American Canyon, on the outskirts of the Napa Valley, makes spice rubs for chicken and pork. At, we learned that the rubs are from "a 20 year old family recipe," but no one got back to us with prices or availability.

We liberally rubbed a rack of St. Louis-style ribs with the pork rub, and did the same with two organic chicken breasts, using the chicken rub.

Next, we broke open the package of Cowboy-brand Smokin' Cups, described as "perfectly portioned cups of naturally flavored hardwood smoking chips." The trio of little aluminum foil cups contained hickory, mesquite and apple wood chips. Remove the tab convering the "smoke hole," place the cup on top of hot coals and it will release wood smoke for about a half-hour. We did. On two separate grilling sessions, we used the mild applewood chips for the chicken and the hearty mesquite chips for the ribs (seen in the photo).

We tasters ate, licked our fingers and huddled. We agreed the Ferolito's spice rubs looked and smelled good going on, and gave the pork and chicken great color when they came off the charcoal grill. Though the rubs were tasty, they were too tame for our taste. Where was the heat? The tongue-twisting bold flavors? And we were a bit surprised at the inclusion of "smoke flavor" as one of the ingredients in the pork rub, given all the other natural ingredients.

The Smokin' Cups performed as advertised, once the wood chips started smoldering in about five or so minutes. The cups gave off steady if thin streams of smoke, just enough to flavor the ribs and chicken breasts, without putting too much smoke flavor into the meats. The three-pack is available for $5 at all Lowe's hardware stores.

August 6, 2013
Temple Coffee makes list of country's best roasters

Thumbnail image for MAJ TEMPLE COFFEE.JPG

Congratulations to Temple Coffee on being named one of the best roasters in the U.S. by national food website The Daily Meal. It's the latest kudos for Temple -- and for Sacramento's coffee scene, which continues to flourish.

In 2011, Temple was named by CNN as one of the 17 best "small coffee makers." Simultaneous with The Daily Meal, Temple is listed here as one of the six best roasters by Yahoo! Shine.

"It's really exciting for us," said Temple owner Sean Kohmescher. "We sell a lot of coffee all over the United States. It's exciting to be on the list with the other top roasters in the country."

Called "28 Coffee Roasters We Love," The Daily Meal's list includes heavy hitters like Blue Bottle (Oakland) and Intelligentsia (Chicago). That's impressive company for Temple, which blew everyone away in 2010 when one of its coffees, Guatemala Hunapu Antigua Bourbon, scored 97 points by highly regarded Coffee Review -- the highest score of the year.

I was lucky enough to buy a pound of that extraordinary coffee before it quickly sold out soon after the score was posted. Fortunately, that coffee is back in stock and is currently selling for $15.50 for 12 ounces.

To see the complete list of roasters, click here, or here for the slideshow.

Photo: Sean Kohmescher is the owner of Temple Fine Coffee and Tea on 28th Street in Sacramento, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009. (Michael Allen Jones)

August 6, 2013
Cool treat holiday inspires A&W root beer float giveaway


By Benjamin Mullin

A&W restaurants throughout Sacramento are celebrating National Root Beer Float Day today by giving away free floats to customers.

Restaurants in the American-fair food chain will start handing the floats out at 2 p.m. and continue until the 10 p.m. closing.

In exchange, patrons will be encouraged to make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that serves veterans and service members who suffered physical or mental trauma during their military career after 2001.

You can pick up your free root beer at these Sacramento-area A&W restaurants:

3030 Capitol Ave.

812 Westacre Road

1601 Del Paso Blvd.

2312 Arden Way

2920 Del Paso Road

3820 Florin Road

4219 Marconi Ave.

6328 Rio Linda Blvd.

August 6, 2013
Coast to Coast Sandwiches team to take over Republic's food program


"Appetizers" reported on Monday that Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen was pulling out of Republic Bar & Grill to consolidate its operations at an upcoming McClellan Park location. Drewski's was among the first of Sacramento's mobile food vendors to branch into operating a brick-and-mortar eatery, and will finish its year-and-a-half stint at Republic on Sept. 1.

Another mobile food vendor is already in line to take over Republic's food program. The team behind the Coast to Coast Sandwiches food truck, which also operates the kitchen at midtown's Pour House, will begin running Republic's kitchen starting Sept. 4.

Instead of branding Republic's food program under the Coast to Coast Sandwiches banner, the team of Robert Ramos (pictured above) and Sean Figueroa will introduce a new business called Capitol Burger Kitchen. As the name states, burgers will be the focus here along with other hearty foods that pair well in a sports bar setting.

August 5, 2013
Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen pulling out of Republic sports bar


Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen was among the first of Sacramento's food trucks to branch out from mobile food vending to operating a brick-and-mortar restaurant. In February of 2012, Drewski's started running the food program at downtown's Republic Bar & Grill, selling its signature grilled sandwiches in a sports bar setting. However, the partnership between Drewski's and Republic is about to end.

Andrew Blaskovich says the satellite version of his Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen will end at Republic by Sept. 1. Blaskovich plans to use his upcoming McClellan Park location, which he expects to open in two weeks, as the hub of his operations which includes two food trucks and a recently opened cafe in Folsom.

"Basically, I outgrew the place," said Blaskovich about Republic. "The kitchen was too small for the overall volume of I'm dealing with. Besides, I couldn't park my trucks there and it costs me $1,300 a month for a commissary. Having my own facility saves me $1,300 out the gate and I have ample storage."

August 2, 2013
Sacramento region's wine grape harvest arrives two weeks early


The calendar's barely turned to August but activity's well underway in the region's wine grape vineyards. The annual harvest has arrived about two weeks early compared to a typical year, due to significant summer heat spikes in 2013 and its overall dry growing season.

In Lodi, which is home to 100,000 acres of wine grapes, varietals grown for sparkling wine production are already being harvested. Red grapes are also expected to be picked at least one to two weeks earlier than normal for this growing season.

"They're starting to move the tractors around, and you'll see more of that next week and over the next two weeks with earlier white varieties," said Stuart Spencer, program manager for the Lodi Winegrape Commission. "I wouldn't be surprised if we saw early reds and older vineyards getting picked around Labor Day."

While 2012 produced a monster sized crop with 3.89 million tons of crushed wine grapes - the second largest harvest in California history - Spencer expects an "average" to "above average" sized crop for 2013. (The above picture was taken near Lodi from the 2008 harvest, which reaped 3.05 million tons statewide).

August 1, 2013
'Summer of Riesling Sacramento' coming in Sept.

Riesling-Taste-Scale arrow.jpg

Ah, nothing like a perfectly chilled glass of riesling on a sweltering summer day. This white grape that's native to Germany ranks among the most refreshing of white wines, and like that hot weather, riesling also pairs remarkably well with hot, spicy foods. Given its food friendliness, range of expressions - from bone dry to some that'll rock your sweet tooth - and its potential for aging, riesling tends to be a favorite white for sommeliers and others with serious cellars.

Matthew Lewis, the local wine educator and sommelier, is now organizing a "Summer of Riesling Sacramento" which will run through September. This celebration is modeled after the "Summer of Riesling" program designed by wine bar entrepreneur Paul Grieco.

The final plans for Lewis' "Summer of Riesling Sacramento" are still be formulated, but you can look forward to a series of riesling and food pairing dinners at such hot spots as Kru, Enotria and Capital Dime. Riesling education and other events are also being scheduled. Watch this space for more info. coming very soon on this most sippable of events.

August 1, 2013
Small plates and sips with artist Gregory Kondos

kondos.JPGTwo events are coming up, both involving superstars of different types, and both involving food.

First this: Any event featuring internationally acclaimed Sacramento artist Gregory Kondos will sell out in a heartbeat, especially if it's limited to 60 guests. So...

Now this: "Gregory Kondos: Art & Antipasti in the Garden" will feature the artist in an "informal talk and conversation about his life and art." Enjoy a light buffet meal and sip a glass of wine while a living legend holds forth.

The event will start at 6 p.m. Sept. 8 at the historic Murer House, 1125 Joe Murer Court, Folsom. Tickets are $25 at (916) 985-3250, and

Also: Italian autos, motorcycles and motorbikes will be displayed from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 14 at Murer House. The event is free, but look for on-site sales of wood-fired pizza, gelato, gourmet food items, Italian beer and soda, and crafts. If you own an Italian vehicle, bring it.

Both events are fundraisers for the preservation and operation of the Murer House and Learning Center, built in 1925 by Giuseppe "Joe" Murer.

Bee photograph/Lezlie Sterling

Recommended Links

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Monthly Archives