Appetizers
January 20, 2012
Sacramento's Star Ginger restaurant offers $1 dishes to celebrate one year in business

By Mark Glover

mglover@sacbee.com

Star Ginger Asian Grill and Noodle Bar in Sacramento will celebrate its one-year anniversary next week by offering $1 menu items.

Sacramento restaurateur-chef Mai Pham's restaurant at 3100 Folsom Blvd. opened its doors on Jan. 25 last year.

To mark the opening milestone, select dishes will be offered for $1 from 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday - for dine-in only and one per person.

November 4, 2011
Marie's maple doughnuts take the cake in informal taste test

Some doughnuts, with their "come hither" sugar glazes, beg to be touched and eaten. These deep-fried confections taste deceptively light. What could be the harm in just one more?

They're the worst. And, by that, of course, I mean they're the best.

The newsroom staff here at The Bee recently had the opportunity to buy and sample maple doughnuts from three establishments in Sacramento: Marie's at 2950 Freeport Blvd., Yum Yum at 3671 Franklin Blvd., and Doughbot at 2226 10th St.

July 30, 2011
Going on Placer wine tour? Take a tip from Mike Dunne

Jocelyn Maddux at the Placer County Vintners Association sent a note to remind us about next weekend's Grape Days of Summer that takes wine lovers on a tour of seven different wineries near Auburn, Lincoln and Newcastle.

If you decide to take the tour, we suggest you pay $25 here rather than $35 at one of the wineries. The ticket price gets you tastings at each location, food, music and educational activities, plus a special event wine glass.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 6-7. The featured wineries are Casque Wines, Wise Villa Winery, Dono dal Cielo Vineyards, Fawnridge Winery, Lone Buffalo Vineyards, Mt. Vernon Winery and Viña Castellano Vineyards.

July 14, 2011
'Got milk?' advertising campaign to attend Eppie's Great Race

By Max Ehrenfreund

mehrenfreund@sacbee.com

Representatives of the National Milk Mustache "got milk?" campaign will attend Eppie's Great Race to offer chocolate milk samples and talk with athletes about their product.

"Lowfat chocolate milk has been scientifically shown to refuel and rebuild muscles effectively to help athletes recover after strenuous exercise," according to a press release.

The 25-mile running, biking and paddling triathlon, scheduled to start at 8 a.m. July 23, is one of many endurance events around the country the "got milk?" campaign is visiting.

July 2, 2011
Dunne picks will come in handy for Lake County wine event

Jennifer Hammond at the Lake County economic development program recently sent a note that the seventh-annual Lake County Wine Adventure would be getting under way soon. It's a two-day passport event that runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 30-31.

Buy your tickets to the event early, and you can get them for $35. Buy them on the day of the event at any participating winery, and you'll pay $40. A ticket entitles you to two days of activities, which includes wine tastings and hors d'oeuvres at each winery, a logo wine glass, art exhibits, and entertainment.

You can get more information by calling (800) 595-9463 or (707) 355-2762. You can also visit www.lakecountywineries.org.

Hammond's email reminded me of two features articles that wine critic Mike Dunne wrote for The Bee a little over a year ago, suggesting wineries, inns and activities for Lake County visitors. I decided to again share his lists with you, though I've updated the information where necessary.

IF YOU GO
Ceago Vinegarden: Ceago Vinegarden turns out solid takes on the county's two most fundamental varietals, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon, while hinting at the future with a citric and spicy syrah rose. 5115 E. Highway 20, Nice; (707) 274-1462; www.ceago.com.

Steele Wines: Jed Steele, the man most often credited with reviving winemaking in Lake County, today oversees the production of about 80,000 cases a year at his Kelseyville facility. While he draws grapes from afar, he remains devoted to Lake County fruit with such releases as the lean and silken Writer's Block grenache and the fleshy yet sharp-edged Shooting Star barbera; 4350 Thomas Drive (at Highway 29), Kelseyville; (707) 279-9475; www.steelewines.com.

Langtry Estate & Vineyards: Ever since British actress Lillie Langtry arrived in Lake County in 1888, wine has been made on her estate, which now spreads over 23,000 acres, though just 400 are planted in wine grapes. Long recognized for its petite sirah, Langtry today is gaining prominence for the structure and elegance of its cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux-inspired blends. 21000 Butts Canyon Road, Middletown; (707) 987-2385; www.langtryestate.com.

Gregory Graham Winery: Gregory Graham has received awards in such prestigious contests as the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and The Dallas Morning News' Wine Competition. 13633 Point Lakeview Road, Lower Lake; (707) 995-3500; www.ggwines.com.

Six Sigma Ranch, Vineyards & Winery: Visitors can relax on the manicured grounds around the old stage stop made over into a cozy tasting room, where the sauvignon blanc is as friendly and alert as Fly, the resident border collie, the tempranillo as soothing and enduring as the surrounding oaks. 13372 Spruce Grove Road, Lower Lake. (707) 994-4068; www.sixsigmaranch.com.

Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery: Clay and Margarita Shannon pour releases from their estate vineyards. Their proprietary blend Wrangler Red is immensely popular, and their 2006 reserve cabernet sauvignon was the only example of the varietal to win a gold medal at Lake County's recent first wine competition. 12601 E. Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks; (707) 998-1480.

STAYING PUT
Featherbed Railroad Bed & Breakfast Resort: Rooms range from $150 to $220. www.featherrailroad.com; (707) 274-8378; 2870 Lakeshore Blvd., Nice.

Tallman Hotel: A search on the hotel's website showed no availability for this weekend, but call to find out whether there have been cancellations. More than a boutique hotel that blends respect for history with an appreciation of modern amenities, the Tallman Hotel is Upper Lake's cultural focal point. In addition to 17 rooms, some in the original 1896 structure, some in a cluster of contemporary outbuildings, the grounds include the Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe and a conference center, all of which double as the backdrop for frequent blues performances, winemaker dinners and the like. Next door is Sheldon Steinberg's antique plumbing shop, The Elegant Bowl, where he restored many of the vintage bath fixtures in the hotel. Rooms range from $159 to $249. www.tallmanhotel. com; (707) 275-2244; 9550 Main St., Upper Lake.

The Bungalow: Several quaint bed-and-breakfast inns dot the shoreline around Clear Lake, but the arts-and-crafts-style Bungalow seems to generate the most recommendations from locals. It has just three rooms, but it is roomy and tidy, and boasts a deck overlooking the lake. Rooms range from $140 to $170. www.thebungalow.com; (707) 998-0399; 10195 E. Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks.

CHOWING DOWN
Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe: You'll find a diverse California and Mediterranean menu with such dishes as pan-seared crab cakes, risotto fritters filled with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese, and baby back ribs gleaming with housemade barbecue sauce in the dining room, as well as on the spacious and well-shaded patio. Every wine on the list, incidentally, was made within 30 miles of the restaurant. 9520 Main St., Upper Lake; (707) 275-2233.

Saw Shop Gallery Bistro: Once a saw shop -- check out the vintage chainsaw atop the bar -- the sunny, homey quarters today house a combination art gallery and bistro. The art ranges from acrylic landscapes on old circular saw blades to refined jewelry, while the New American menu is similarly diverse, including pork pot stickers with Thai chili sauce, steamed mussels fiery with jalapeno peppers, a pan-roasted pork loin chop with local pears and sauteed radicchio, and seared sea scallops with Southern grits and a Tabasco beurre blanc. 3825 Main St., Kelseyville; (707) 278-0129.

DIVERSIONS
Bring your bike: Cycling in Lake County is scenic and relatively easy, with gradual grades and several roads with shoulders. Lake County Pathways has published detailed guides to 11 suggested routes, including one entirely around Clear Lake (68 miles, a gain of about 500 feet; allow six to eight hours, more if you plan to taste wine). Pick up the guides at the Lake County Information Center, 6110 E. Highway 20, Lucerne.

Clear Lake State Park: Campsites, picnic areas, trails and access to the lake for swimming, fishing and boating help explain the popularity of Clear Lake State Park among outdoor enthusiasts. 5300 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville; (707) 279-4293.

Kayaking: Kayak rentals are popping up all around the lake, and at least one winery (Ceago) and one casino (Konocti Vista Resort) provide tie-up facilities. The group Konocti Regional Trails is working to establish a series of linked hiking trails that it hopes ultimately will encircle the lake, and also has mapped out seven water trails on Clear Lake, downloadable at www.konoctitrails.com.

November 10, 2010
Sacramento Food Bank hopes to get 7,000 turkeys on Nov. 19

By Dixie Reid
dreid@sacbee.com

The folks at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services anticipate a busy holiday season - and they're looking for a little help.

On Nov. 19, donors can drop off frozen turkeys and packaged side dishes such as stuffing, pumpkin pie filling, green beans and potatoes at the agency's Oak Park facility.

Donations can be made from 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 3333 Third Ave. in Sacramento.

Last year, Sacramentans delivered 6,592 frozen turkeys to the food bank, and all went to families in our community. This year, the agency needs 7,000 turkeys to ensure everyone it serves has a happy Thanksgiving.

Call The Bee's Dixie Reid, (916) 321-1134.

September 1, 2010
Midtown Sacramento's Le Petit Paris to close Sept. 26

By Leigh Grogan
lgrogan@sacbee.com

The e-mail opened with a simple "Farewell."

In restaurant (and fashion) news, Le Petit Paris, 1221 19th St. in midtown Sacramento, will close after opening almost five years ago. The boutique opened in October 2005 and specialized in everything Parisian, including handbags, silk scarves, children's apparel, men's accessories and home decor.

Owner Tassina Placencia added a cafe a few years ago, serving espresso drinks, desserts and French tartine sandwiches.

Placencia said, "After five wonderful and fulfilling years, we would like to thank all our loyal customers for supporting our dream, especially during this economic catastrophe.

"We hope we've brought a little bit of Paris to Sacramento, and in that created an interesting neighborhood and a local escape."

Placencia often said opening Le Petit Paris was like inviting a bunch of strangers to your home (after a remodel) and serving them coffee.

The boutique - open seven days a week - will continue to serve a full menu until Sept. 26. And there will be an amazing sale to coincide with the closing. Beginning today, all retail items are 50 percent off, including clothes, handbags, jewelry, soaps, perfume and housewares. Teas are also marked down. The store's one-of-a-kind fixtures, many of which were purchased and brought over from Paris, are on sale. Murano chandeliers are 50 percent off; bistro chairs are $50. All large items will be available for pick-up on Sept. 27.

Placencia invites customers and friends to stop by, say goodbye and "get that last purse you've always wanted, or bag of espresso beans."

Call The Bee's Leigh Grogan, (916) 321-1129.

August 27, 2010
Oroweat teams up with Food Network host for recipe contest

By Dan Berget
dberget@sacbee.com

Chef Claire Robinson of the Food Network's "5 Ingredient Fix" is teaming up with Arnold and Oroweat bread brands for the "Spin on Thin" recipe contest.

Readers and food lovers should submit their best recipes.

One Grand Prize winner will receive $2000 and an all-expenses-paid 3-day, 2-night trip for two to New York. Four finalists will receive $1000.

The contest runs through Nov. 29 and includes five different themes. The first theme, called Simply Delicious, lasts until Monday. Click here to get more information and to view official rules at the contest website.

Call The Bee's Dan Berget at (916) 321-4100.

July 31, 2010
Woodland firefighter cooks up plan to get on "Regis and Kelly"

Woodland firefighter Tara Daniels phoned into Appetizers today to ask us to work some magic with our faithful followers.

Daniels really wants to win a chance to compete in the Coast-to-Coast Fire House Cook-Off on "Live with Regis and Kelly," which airs weekdays at 9 a.m. on KCRA-TV. If Daniels gets enough votes, she'll get a round-trip ticket to New York City and some spending cash for her four-day stay.

Daniels is sure that her smokin' pear salad will beat all comers, but she won't have a chance to compete if she doesn't get enough online votes by Sunday. Click here to get a look at Daniels' video.

Daniels, along with fellow firefighter Walter Scruggs, captured the title of Champion Firehouse Chefs at this year's California State Fair. She has been working at the downtown Woodland fire station for about five years, and she's been the chief cook for her crew during that time. In the video, Daniels' firefighting buddies debate whether it's the pears or the pecans that make this dish so tasty.

"I like to cook meals that are healthy," Daniels says in the video, "but they have to taste good, too."

If you think Daniels is ready to take on Regis and Kelly and the Big Apple, you can vote for her at the site above, but remember that the voting ends Sunday.

July 29, 2010
Only hot culinary couples need apply to Pyrex contest

Appetizers is certain that America's hottest culinary couple lives in the Sacramento region, but if that hot couple doesn't enter Pyrex's contest, a dynamic duo from some other town will falsely claim the title.

If you think that you and your significant other really sizzle in the kitchen, click here to find out what you must do to enter the hunt for America's Hottest Culinary Couple. The entry must include a video and an original recipe.

The winning couple will become reality stars in an online cooking video series and take $10,000 cash and $500 worth of Pyrex products. You must enter by Aug. 16, 2010.

--C.M. Anderson, canderson@sacbee.com

July 27, 2010
Roseville boy's burger recipe to be in Red Robin cookbook

By Debbie Arrington
darrington@sacbee.com

Eric Moore knows his burgers. Soon, the 9-year-old Roseville boy will be a published recipe author, too.

His creation - Blackened Avocado Bacon Burger - was chosen from more than 11,000 entries to be part of fourth annual Red Robin Kids' Cookoff Cookbook.

Moore's recipe along with 49 others submitted by young chefs ages 6 to 12 will be included in the cookbook, available free online at Red Robin's Web site, starting Tuesday.

With the Food Network's Robin Miller serving as judge, the cookbook recipes were chosen based on their inventive combination of ingredients, fun flavors and a 100-word essay on why this recipe should be America's next "gourmet burger."

Moore's recipe combines a blackened hamburger patty, sliced avocado, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, Cajun spice and thick-cut smoked bacon on a hamburger bun.
Top prize went to 10-year-old Emma Potts from Bonney Lake, Wash., and her Spicy Honey Glazed Bacon Burger. That burger will be added to Red Robin menus for six weeks with 50 cents from each purchase donated to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Got a great burger recipe? Red Robin is starting on its fifth annual cookbook. Young cooks ages 6 to 12 can submit their gourmet burger recipe entries online by clicking here, starting Tuesday.

The grand prize winner gets a family vacation for four to Universal Orlando Resort, Red Robin gift cards for a year as well as a burger on the menu. Deadline is Sept. 12.

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

July 15, 2010
69 percent of imported olive oils in UC Davis study don't meet 'extra virgin' claims

A new UC Davis study confirmed what many experts already suspected: Most imported "extra virgin" olive oils are not what they claim to be.

In a first of its kind study by a U.S. academic institution, the UCD research team found that 69 percent of the imported oils sampled failed to meet internationally accepted standards for extra virgin olive oil. By comparison, only 10 percent of the California-produced oils in the test failed to meet those standards.

"Before this study, we had anecdotal reports of poor quality olive oil being sold as extra virgin," said Dan Flynn, executive director of UCD's Olive Center, part of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. "Now there is empirical proof. ... The oils that failed in our tests had defects such as rancidity. Many of these oils just did not taste good."

All 19 brands tested - 14 imported and five California-made - were purchased in March at supermarkets or big-box stores in Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles counties. Three bottles of each brand from each location were tested. The findings, released today, and the names of the brands evaluated are available online at http://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu.

Of the California-made brands tested, all bottles of Corto Olive, California Olive Ranch, McEvoy Ranch Organic and Lucero met the extra-virgin criteria.

Of the imports, only Kirkland Organic passed all the extra-virgin standards with samples from all three locations. Samples of Bertolli, Pompeian, Carapelli, Mezzetta and Mazola failed from all locations.

Working with Australian olive experts, the UCD scientists used USDA and international standards for evaluating extra virgin olive oil, considered the premium and most expensive on the market. By definition, extra virgin oil must be extracted from the olive without heat or solvent and meet specific criteria for quality, smell and taste.

But many of the oils tested did not meet those standards due to oxidation, adulteration with cheaper refined olive oil or poor-quality oils made from damaged and overripe olives, processing flaws or improper oil storage. Oxidation also may be caused by improper storage, including exposure to high temperatures and light as well as aging.

With rising interest in healthy cooking, the United States now represents the world's third largest market for olive oil.

The UCD study was funded by California olive oil producers and the California Olive Oil Council.

-- Debbie Arrington, darrington@sacbee.com



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