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Farm to Fork Wine Dinner Series: Piatti Presents Matchbook Wines, Spectacular from Beginning to End!

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If you missed Piatti’s last wine dinner for the year featuring Matchbook Wines, I feel really bad for you! It was even more than I thought it would be––even though I knew it would be amazing. Piatti is one of my long time advertisers, and I have always been a fan of their food, but I never knew it could be pulled off like this. This dinner was probably one of the best meals I have eaten there. I think it’s mostly due to Chef Lance Carlini who combines his take on Italian cuisine with Farm to Fork/seasonal and brings it to a whole new level.

And then there were my wonderful table mates. So, at the Piatti wine dinners, patrons are sat 6 to a table, so you prepare to make new fellow loving wine friends–at least for the night! I was lucky enough to sit with Sharon, Tamara, Eduardo, and James and be a fifth wheel. :)

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We were sat fountain side with illuminated trees surrounding us. We had been welcomed with an opening glass of Matchbook’s Rosé of Tempranillo as John and Lane Giguiere (owners of the winery) were making the rounds and introducing themselves to each table.

Then it was onto the opening dish: A wood fired spot prawn with Grass Valley polenta and a hatch chili chimichurri. It was paired with the wine we were already enjoying: Matchbook’s 2013 Rose of Tempranillo, Dunnigan Hills.

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As you can see. the plating was flawless on this dish. My favorite element was the chimichurri (a green sauce made of chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar) which I love on anything from seafood to chicken to beef or pork.


The second course presented to us was a Riverdog Farm Potato Gnocchi served with fall squash, Apple Hill apples, lacinato kale and cream. It was served with the 2012 ‘Arsonist’ Chardonnay, Dunnigan Hills. The upfront nose on the wine revealed aromas of toasty oak, caramel apple and crème brûlée. It was an automatic match with the plump buttery gnocchi and apples in the cream sauce. Gnocchi is the only pasta I even missed post-Paleo, so this was like eating dessert for me!  Also, lots of wonderful comments from my table mates––they also loved the squash and apples in the dish. It was the essence of fall! Great pairing, Chef Carlini! :)

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Then it was time to get serious. The third course presented to us was a Tinto Rey Red Braised Short Rib with Thyme Toasted Mushrooms and fresh Horseradish paired with the 2009 Tinto Rey Red Blend, California. The Tinto Rey is a red wine blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Graciano, Tannat and Cabernet.

So, if you didn’t gather from the course description, the short rib was actually braised in the wine with which it was paired. We didn’t even really need a knife on this one, just a fork to pull apart the meat. Again, the plating was gorgeous and the pairing was genius.

short rib copy

Dessert came soon after that: A Milk Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Cake, Sea Salt Caramel and Hazelnut––topped with Pomegranate arils. It was paired with the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County. I boxed up the dessert to take home to Andy, but took full advantage of the Cabernet. :) The Matchbook Cabernet Sauvignon has vibrant ripe red fruit characteristics followed by layers of spice and earth and chocolate and that’s enough dessert for me!

dessert copy

I was completely wowed by this wine dinner and I was seated with the best company! Thanks to the marketing and management at Piatti for the great partnership we have had over the years. And thank you, Chef Lance Carlini! Amazing job. :)

As of October 25 this year, Matchbook now has a tasting room located in Zamora here.  GO VISIT THEM! :)

You can learn more about Matchbook Wines here. You can find them on Facebook here and their parent company on twitter here. You can find Piatti on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

National Pizza Month: ZPizza’s Gluten Free Takeout–Hasty and Tasty!

So picture this: I work in Roseville (as a graphic designer/life saver) from 8:30am-5pm, and last Wednesday Andy and I have to be at a Kings Pre-season game by 7:00pm. Factor in a 30 minute commute time, and 10-15 minutes to get to the game from my house, and there’s pretty much NO TIME to cook and have a meal before we go.

Enter National Pizza Month and zpizza! They have a gluten free menu and salads suitable for a busy person like me.

All I had to do was call them ahead of time and let them know I wanted to pick up my order just a little after 5:00pm. I browsed their website, and chose what looked interesting to me. I thought their website was fantastic at showing what and was not available in gluten free. All you have to do is check a little box in the upper right hand corner, and the gluten free items remain listed, while the gluten items are grayed out. See?

online menu

So two items on the menu immediately caught my eye, beginning with the Arugula Salad! The salad has cucumbers, caramelized onions, parmesan cheese, candied walnuts and guess what? Arugula! Sold! I added on some avocado and chicken breast for an extra charge.

salad

The other menu item that grabbed my attention was the gluten free Italian pizza with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, ham, basil, pesto (yes!!) mozzarella cheese, and black olives. At first I was worried I didn’t order enough food, but as we ate, we both got really full. I guess we’re not used to having a treat as nice as pizza––even the gluten free variety––and any kind of dough is really filling. I had 3 pieces and it was so gooood. The crust was great and really crispy on the edges. The pesto was terrific and I only wish I had ordered extra on the side to dip the crust in! The crust had a nice buttery flavor and even a sort of flakey texture. I am glad I have Andy to eat the other 5 pieces, because I would have demolished them for sure! ;)

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Now, onto the wine we had with dinner! :)

wines

Andy brought over 2 different wines to have with dinner. The white wine he brought was a 2012 Chardonnay from Mercy Vineyards. The second wine he brought (yep, I am pretty lucky to have such premium wines with a take out dinner!!) was a Cinsaut from Miner’s Leap which is produced from 127 year-old vines in Clarksburg!

Andy said he chose the wine pairing to resist the traditional “pizza wines” like sangiovese or chianti, because this pizza had pesto on it and really lent itself to a lighter style of wine. Enter the Chardonnay from Mercy––a less oakey more fruit forward wine, but still a Chardonnay lover’s wine, and the Pinot Noir mimicky Cinsaut from Miner’s Leap. Try either of these two and you’ll just think wow.

Kind of too fancy for pizza, but hey, gluten free zpizza is pretty fancy–especially before a Sacramento Kings game, so OK I’ll take it. :)

You can find Miner’s Leap on Facebook here and Mercy Vineyards on Facebook here.

If you find yourself short on time, order your pizza from zpizza online by CLICKING HERE!!
You can find zpizza on Pinterest here, on twitter here and on Facebook here.

PS: The Kings won the game against the Toronto Raptors, 113-106! :)

Nike Women’s Half Marathon Entry Winner #2: Congrats to Karla!

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Last month, Whole Foods Market, Nike and I gave away 2 entries to the sold out Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco.

I wanted you to meet the entry winners, so you might perhaps comment below and cheer them on for the upcoming race on October 19th! Maybe you’ll even look them up in the race results following the race.

The second entry winner is Karla Euler from Jackson, GA. I asked Karla to share a little bit about herself, her daily diet, and how she is preparing for the race:

I am a 52 year old US Army Vet, mother of 3 grown daughters and grandmother to two beautiful grandchildren, both age 5.  I grew up in Southern California and now live in Jackson, GA.  I work as a Deputy Court Clerk so I spend most days inside a building which drives me to spend my off days outside as much as possible!  I enjoy yard work, hiking, swimming, biking, pretty much anything that will keep me outside and spending time with my family :)

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 I have always tried to maintain a healthy life style and I did up until my 2 grandchildren were born. I found myself making many excuses not to eat right or exercise just so I could spend all my spare time with my grand kids. The Nike Women’s Half Marathon will be my first and has given me the motivation and determination to get myself back into a healthy life style. I have ran numerous 5k and 10k’s in the past, but I am super excited about the SF Half!!  I have been diligently training for this and have loved getting back into exercise and healthy eating. I have more energy overall and feel better physically and mentally both.

The following is a typical day of eating for me:

A Cup of Black Coffee and then out for a run; I find that I do better when I don’t eat before a long run as I tend to eat dinner pretty late at night.

Breakfast:
Bowl of Oatmeal and a Banana, Black Coffee

Lunch:
Deli sandwich on wheat bread, cottage cheese with fruit

Dinner:
Baked Fish, yellow rice, garden salad, glass of milk

Additionally, I do take a multi-vitamin, fish oil, calcium supplement, and glucosamine tablet daily as well as drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

karla 1

Thanks to Karla for submitting her story to cavegrrl.com. I am hoping to meet her on the day of the run and wish her luck in person! :) Thanks to Nike and Whole Foods for allowing me to give two other women the chance to run in the race.

You can find Whole Foods on Facebook here and on twitter here. My local store is in Roseville on Facebook here.

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You can find the Run Nike Women’s Series and more information on the race on Facebook here.

National Pizza Month: Gluten Free Options Galore at California Pizza Kitchen!

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Happy National Pizza Month!! Yes, October is National Pizza Month, and to celebrate, Andy and I are selflessly sacrificing being strict Paleo ;) to try out some gluten free pizza options available in the area.

I can’t think of a more iconic place to begin the celebration than California Pizza Kitchen!

It’s been about 6 months since the renovation of California Pizza Kitchen at Arden Fair. This location of California Pizza Kitchen features The Next Chapter menu–updated with fresh and exciting dishes. We were invited to the event along with other local writers and were so impressed by the improvements that I decided I should eventually do a solo feature on their gluten free menu.

Of course, gluten free is a growing trend and a tasty gluten free pizza is in high demand. Especially for a pair of distance runners like Andy and me! :)

Here’s are the pizzas that now come gluten free (including the CPK classic BBQ Chicken pizza:

menu
Andy and I decided to order two salads and two pizzas. Hey, I had planned (and completed) a 10 mile training run the next day! :)

There are several salads on California Pizza Kitchen’s menu that are gluten free. We chose the Cobb Salad: Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon, avocado, chicken, tomatoes,
chopped egg, beets, fresh basil and Gorgonzola with housemade bleu cheese dressing (on the side). OK, so I love Cobb Salad and pretty much order it whenever possible. I have said in the past that a Cobb might possibly be my choice for last meal on Earth. I know that might sound a little odd, but the combination of chicken, avocado, bacon, and blue cheese crumbles is pretty much my favorite thing. New pizza variety perhaps? ;)

cobb

We also tried the Moroccan Spiced Chicken Salad with Roasted butternut squash, dates, avocado, toasted almonds, beets, red peppers, chopped egg, cranberries, and tossed with housemade Champagne vinaigrette.

moroccan chicken
The Morroccan Spiced Chicken salad was a refreshing take on a dinner salad. I loved the fall notes (cranberry) with the perfectly cooked butternut squash. The salads we ordered were the smaller size on the menu, so I can assure you, the portions are very generous.

Speaking of generous portions, the pizzas came out next! We ordered the Margarita pizza with Italian tomatoes with fresh Mozzarella, basil and Parmesan. Now, I haven’t had real pizza dough in as long as I can remember, but I have had about 10-20 different gluten free doughs since adopting a gluten free diet 3 1/2 years ago. I was pretty impressed with the texture and chew of the dough and the almost crispy edges of the crust. I also liked the sauce and cheese ratio on the pizza–as in, there was plenty of it! (See the slice on the lower right with the extra tomato? Mmmm. That’s the first slice I took! Sorry, Andy!)

margherita
And because we are meat lovers, we couldn’t pass up the Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage pizza with Cremini mushrooms, rustic pepperoni, spicy Italian sausage, fresh torn basil, Mozzarella and wild Greek oregano. I loved the huge chunks of sausage on this pie. Andy liked the fact that the pizza was cut into real wedges as opposed to squares. I was just having fun eating pizza with my best friend, no matter how you slice it. Pizza is something we just don’t get to have a lot of anymore, so it’s a pleasure to find a good gluten free alternative.

pepperoni sausage mushroom
For our wine pairing, we ordered a Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. A reasonably priced, full bodied red wine that reminded me more of a Cabernet. That was not an insult to wine, because typically a Cabernet is a finer wine than Malbec. Andy is always puzzled by my wine tastes and why I like a cheaper Malbec, but my taste in Cabernet is ultra expensive. :) Bodega Tamarí is part of Viña San Pedro Tarapacá, Chile´s second largest group in the wine industry, selling over 27 million cases of wine yearly and exporting wine to 80 countries worldwide.

malbec
I really loved the gluten free pizza at California Pizza Kitchen and I am so happy this restaurant is now giving gluten free people an option besides salad. With the revamped menu and new choices available along with the updated interior, California Pizza Kitchen is a perfect choice for parties or large groups of people. There’s really something for everyone on the menu and it no longer feels like a cafeteria inside the restaurant. Everything on the menu is reasonably priced, making it a good spot for family night out or even a first date.

California Pizza Kitchen has also recently begun a rewards program called Pizza Dough. For every $100 you spend, you get $5 in rewards, redeemable on your next visit. Also, as an incentive to join the program, you get a FREE small plate when you register.

Special thanks to the marketing team I worked with to produce this piece and to Brendon, the Assistant General Manager of California Pizza Kitchen at Arden Fair. I’ll have to try some of those New Zealand Pinot Noirs you told us about. :)

You can find California Pizza Kitchen on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Salmon with Hazelnut Shallot Butter and a Cauliflower Sweet Potato Mash

I love September and October in Sacramento. There are so many fun events to celebrate Farm-to-Fork and harvest time. There’s an intoxicating energy all around. The wineries are busy harvesting their grapes and there gets to be a little chill in the air in the mornings and when the sun goes down.

Though the Farm-to-Fork celebration has officially come to a close, it’s certainly not over. So many local restaurants and grocery stores have adopted this theme, and it’s exciting to see the concept take off locally just in the past two years. (Even though Alice Waters was practicing Farm-to-Table 40 years ago!! and Sacramento is not doing anything new.) ;)

I know that ever since I went Paleo (3 ½ years ago), I have made it a point to eat non-processed, local and organic foods when at all possible. I was extremely blessed to meet a partner who had adopted the same healthy eating habits as me and we have continued to be Paleo/Primal in the three years since.

We have made some incredible Paleo meals together with the best ingredients from two of my sponsors: Nugget Market and Whole Foods. We have also used other purveyors: Taylor’s Market and Sunh Fish for our meats and fish.

This Salmon dish is only an example of the kinds of things we prepare on a weekly basis. There is almost always something this special, so many times, it is more tempting to stay in than to eat in a restaurant. Don’t even get me started on all the eclectic wine that we have to pair up with whatever we make. ;)

The recipe was adapted from the Salmon Hazelnut Recipe from the book It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. The cauliflower and sweet potato mash was done on a whim and is all my own.

I hope you continue to practice Farm-to-Fork/Farm-to-Table at your house and when dining out beyond this month and celebrate this incredible agricultural paradise we are lucky enough to call home. :)

salmon
The star of this recipe is the compound butter that tops the salmon after it has been baked. You can use all or some of it, but we had a lot left over (even after using 1/2 of it on 20 ounces of salmon).
Make the compound butter ahead of time (recipe below) and use the freezer to re-solidify it if you happen to be short on time.

For the salmon

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp melted butter
salt and pepper to season
20 ounces wild-salmon (it was easier for us to portion after cooking)

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 400.  Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with salt.  Place salmon in the middle, skin side down. Brush salmon with melted butter and season again.

Place salmon in oven and roast it about 10 min. Be careful not to overcook. To serve, portion your filets and top each with slices of hazelnut butter and additional toasted hazelnuts.

compound butter
Hazelnut compound butter

Ingredients:
1/2 stick of butter
4 Tbsp hazelnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 small shallot and 1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, finely minced

Procedure:
Toast hazelnuts over medium heat until golden, then set aside to cool.
Sauté shallot and garlic in 1 Tbs of melted butter until shallot is translucent. Remove from heat.
Then add shallot mixture to the toasted hazelnuts, along with the remaining butter, thyme, and some salt and pepper.
Place mixture into the freezer for about 10-20 minutes.

Then place a large piece of plastic wrap on flat surface and transfer the butter mixture (after it has set up a little in the freezer) to the center of plastic. Form a log shape like above. Wrap tightly in the plastic and chill until solid. This will take 2 hours in the refrigerator, or about 45 minutes in the freezer.

salad
Spinach salad with red and yellow bell peppers, avocado, mushrooms, and salami from Taylor’s Market.

caulflower mash
For the Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Mash

Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower (cut into small pieces)
1 large white sweet potato (cubed)
1 shallot
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs chopped garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
Salt to taste

Procedure:
Cook cauliflower and sweet potato in boiling water until fork tender. Drain water and set aside.
Chop shallot into thin slices and sauté in melted butter in a small pan. Add the garlic. Cook until shallot is translucent.
Place cooked cauliflower and potato into a food processor with the shallot mixture.
Add the garlic powder and chicken stock and pulse until completely smooth. Season to taste.

 

bellagrace
Last but certainly not least was the wine pairing. A 2010 reserve Pinot Noir from one of our favorite (and super local) wineries, BellaGrace Vineyards. The grapes are sourced from Sangiacomo Vineyards in Carneros. It is a fairly ripe Pinot Noir, but with the distinctive strawberry flavors unique to the region. The wine is fairly acidic, which perfectly compliments the fatty characteristics of Pacific salmon.

You can find BellaGrace Vineyards on Facebook here or visit them in person at the winery (complete with a cave cellar) at 22715 Upton Rd in Plymouth from 11:00am to 4:00pm,  Fri-Sun. They also have a tasting room in Sutter Creek (73 Main St, Sutter Creek) open from 11am-5pm daily.

Cheers! :)

Seasons 52 Wows Us with Service and their Gluten Free Menu

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I try to avoid the Arden Fair Mall at all costs. I have been shopping there maybe about 10 times in the 10 years since I have lived here and it’s always been a pain. Probably because of frustrating trips to the Apple Store and the always promising long wait therein. Even with an appointment. For those of you that have been there you know what I mean. Then there’s the abundant parking at Arden Fair. ;) And the youngsters these days…hmmm. Nothing good can ever come from a trip to the mall. But wait!

But last Friday we did NOT go to the mall! We went to Seasons 52, a restaurant that happens to be tucked into the aforementioned mall. They have been there since January 2013, and I have been eager to come back since the media opening I attended at that time.

Eager to come back because of the concept of the restaurant and it’s direct fit with this website! :)

Every entree at Seasons 52 is designed to be less than 475 calories. Here’s a link to their menu. There are no freezers in the kitchen/pantry, so no meats or fish or vegetables are ever frozen. No butter or margarine is used in food preparation. Instead, extra flavor comes from natural caramelization on their wood-fired grill and brick oven. Seasons 52 also has a chef’s table for chef-hosted events and wine pairings, and features a piano bar with live music currently on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

A few months ago I was pitched to come back to Seasons 52 to try some of their new desserts for the upcoming fall season. I emailed back to say thank you and that the dessert angle was not really an editorial fit, but I would be happy to feature the gluten free menu. I knew the restaurant was popular for their flatbreads, but I was sure they could show me more. And they really did…

Seasons 52 Gluten Free Menu
First, a gander at their gluten free menu. It’s got a lot of choices. So many that Andy and I ordered a starter glass of wine while we decided on appetizers and entrees. :) A Borsao Rosé for me and a Selbach Oster Pinot Blanc for my man. By the way, once we were seated, it was like there was no mall. Just a romantically lit environment with several other couples and small parties dining around us. :)

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pinot blanc

Our server for the evening was Tanya, and she was more than delightful. Once we told her about my website and we asked to see the menu, she mentioned that she is also Paleo. I was pleasantly surprised and automatically won over. We were in the right hands!

 

Lobster Tail
For appetizers we ordered the Oak-Grilled Maine Lobster Tail served with melted lemon butter (above).

 

ahi roll
And the Tuna & Avocado Sushi Roll wrapped in soy mame nori, wasabi, natural pickled ginger (above). Our wines both complimented the appetizers, both seafood items. The lobster had a very pleasing texture and taste, but was tricky to navigate with just a butter knife. ;) We survived however, and also enjoyed the sushi roll. The rice was a welcome treat. I don’t have it that often, but really enjoy it when I do.

 

chardonnay
We ordered settled on a bottle of 2012 Markham Chardonnay to drink with our main courses. And the wine selection is the only thing even slightly negative that I have to say about Seasons 52. Sadly, there was not a single bottle of local wine on the menu. That’s a shame because there are so many stellar local wines coming out of Amador, Lodi, and even Placer County. I realize that a Master Sommelier put together the list for the entire chain, but to appeal to more customers (especially real wine drinkers) in a city like Sacramento, there really needs to be an addendum to the wine list featuring local juice. I will now step down from my soapbox and tell you about what we had for dinner! :P

 

 

Branzino
I ordered the Lemon and Herb Roasted Whole Branzino (a European seabass) with Meyer lemon, thyme broccolini, and crushed roasted potatoes. The presentation on this particular dish is pretty neat. A waitstaff member presents the plate with the Branzino closed and the lemon and thyme resting inside. Then, they open the top filet and remove the lemon and thyme, resting it on the side of your plate. The entree also comes with a little olive oil on the side.

 

Brussels Sprouts
We also ordered a side of Brussels sprouts with bacon to supplement our meal–I had a race and long run planned for the next day. The cast iron container is a nice touch––it kept the sprouts very warm so we could spoon a few onto our plate at a time.

 

 

scallops
Andy ordered the Caramelized Grilled Sea Scallops accompanied by butternut squash risotto, broccolini, lemon butter. I didn’t ask him to try the scallops, but he always cuts a little piece for me to try. We love ordering different entrées and eating family style. I was never a big fan of risotto and not eating a lot of rice on the Paleo diet, but really liked the risotto served with this dish. Once again, a buttery flavor is imparted without using butter.

We did clean our plates, but honestly it was the right amount of food. I wasn’t interested in dessert, but if you are there are some great options for you at Seasons 52. There are even two gluten free, but not sugar free desserts you can try from the gluten free menu. The desserts are served in little shot glasses to keep the portion/calorie count down. Each one is a smaller take on a classic dessert (carrot cake, s’mores, for example) Below is a picture of how you might end a meal at Seasons 52, just don’t eat all of what you see on the platter. :)

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After dinner, we went into the Piano Bar for a little music, and here’s what we heard:

Thanks to the staff at Seasons 52 for their immaculate service. We’ll definitely be back. You can find Seasons 52 on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Make a reservation on Open Table by clicking here.

Frank Fat’s Celebrates 75 Years with a Special Pre-Fixe Menu until October 31st!

Last night, Andy and I were treated to a sampling of Frank Fat’s very best dishes in promotion of their 75th Anniversary Dinner Special.

chef mike

We met Head Chef Mike Lim and he spoke with us before our meal, not only about the food on the 75th Anniversary menu (below), but some other dishes available at Fat’s (a seasonal King Salmon dish and Farm to Fork People’s Choice Award recipient called Forbidden Salmon) and a Peach and Chicken Salad. Chef Lim will also be contributing a dish at this Sunday’s Farm-to-Fork’s Tower Bridge fundraising dinner.

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First I will highlight the 75th Anniversary Menu items. Instead of trying the most Paleo friendly items on the menu and skipping the Banana Cream Pie, I took one for the team and tried them all! ;)

Before I dive into the food we had, I will discuss the wine. I was distracted by making sure we had reported in with social media via Swarm, Twitter, Facebook, etc., Andy chose a 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewürztraminer. He did this because a slightly sweeter (but not too sweet) wine was going to pair very well with almost all of the food we were going to try (a lot of sweet and sour ingredients). He figured this wine would strike the most balance and it did.

wine pairing

 

chicken salad
First course on the 75th Anniversary menu is a Chinese Chicken Salad: Shredded chicken breast with pickled cucumber, almonds, and a sweet and sour vinaigrette. The chicken is moist and cut in thin strips and there are crunchy fried wontons on top to give the salad multiple textures. The dressing on the salad was an amazing pairing with our wine (as Andy predicted). :)

 

honey walnut prawns
So instead of having to choose one main course each (as one would do if ordering from the pre-fixe menu, Chef Mike food bombed us with ALL of the dishes on the menu. Um, OK, twist my arm. (Everything you will see in this editorial except for the Yu Kwoks, Peach Chicken Salad, and Forbidden Salmon were inclusive on the pre-fixe.)  Next up was the Honey Walnut Prawns: Lightly fried prawns glazed with honey sauce, walnuts, sesame seeds. This dish is probably one of the most iconic at Fat’s, so no wonder it’s on the 75th Anniversary menu. It’s sweet, crunchy, and tangy. Again, a great pairing with the Gewürztraminer.

chicken stir fry
Then came the Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry: Chicken breast and mixed vegetables in a Garlic Sauce–the one thing I didn’t feel guilty about eating! :) I love stir fry dishes because of their high protein and vegetables as carb ratio. But of course, tonight would be different and I would have real carbs, as we also sampled the fried rice on the pre-fixe menu.

fried rice
Next the Fried Rice dish: Young Shew Fried Rice: With barbecued pork, Chinese sausage, lettuce, and shrimp. It was nutty in flavor and had hints of sesame oil. The pork in the rice had been rendered so it was slightly crispy. The shrimp were small but plump and the little peas were bright green and fresh––they burst like little caviar when chewed.

At that point in the meal, I knew it would be extremely easy to write about. I sat there and realized how much I was enjoying the food because I hardly ever eat foods like fried rice or shrimp with carmelized walnuts. And hardly ever eating them makes them taste so much better when you do treat yourself!

signature steak
Then, the eagerly awaited (and another signature menu item at Fat’s): Frank’s Style New York Steak: A 5-ounce NY steak smothered in sauteed onions and oyster sauce. We ordered it rare, as you really should. You can’t see in the picture, but it really did come out rare. It was tender and juicy and piled high with onions and the sweet oyster sauce. This also arguably went with the Gewürztraminer.

The 75th Anniversary menu ends in Banana Creme Pie, the ever popular classic dessert at Frank Fat’s. At $27.95 per person, it’s a real bargain and a nice sampling of the food that made Frank Fat’s the empire it is today.

pie

Other food we sampled during the evening that was not on the pre-fixe menu:

Yu Kwok dumplings
Yu Kwok Dumpling: Frank’s special beef and pork dumpling, a Frank Fat specialty. I stopped at two of them, but I would have been happy to have them all. I had been craving dim sum for quite a while, and these really hit the spot. They are crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle, and filled with spiced ground beef and pork. They came with an array of dipping sauces–most interesting a chili sauce with some nice heat and a very interesting flavor that Chef Mike told me came from salted back bean. Yum! :)

salad
We were also able to try the Peach and Chicken Salad with honey walnuts and what? Feta cheese. Super seasonal and very Farm-to-Fork–and off the wall, as I have never seen Feta cheese in a Chinese restaurant. Loved it!


forbidden salmon
My favorite dish of the evening was the “Forbidden King Salmon”: Salmon a la Plancha (grilled on a metal plate) and served with with Black Forbidden Rice, Heirloom Tomato and Lemongrass Veloute, Cilantro. It was with this plate I could truly see what Chef Mike is trying to do (and succeeding in doing) at Fat’s. He is using traditional Chinese techniques to make farm-to-fork cuisine. It’s not really a fusion thing, it’s more of using the methods already in place to elevate our bounty of seasonal ingredients.

The salmon dish was also a great example of incorporating different textures. The fish was perfectly cooked and flakey on top, the forbidden rice was almost a little sticky, but not as sticky as sushi rice, and there was a tomato and lemongrass veloute sauce on the bottom that brought the whole plate together.

It was all makings for a course I will not soon forget. Sadly, it won’t be available much longer, as salmon season is fleeting. So do yourself a favor and stop in for lunch to try the Forbidden Salmon. Take a half day off if you have to. It’s really that special.

Thanks to Frank Fat’s restaurant for hosting us, Chef Mike for stopping in the middle of a slightly busy dinner service to talk to us about the food, and thanks to Rosie, our server, who took very good care of us.

The fortune inside my fortune cookie really summed up the whole night:

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Though the 75th Anniversary Menu promotion ends October 31st and from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, Fat’s will be hiding a $75 gift card in different locations around Sacramento that are noteworthy to the Fat family’s history. Clues for the “15 days of Fat’s” promotion will be posted on the Frank Fat’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts as well as on the frankfats75.com website.

The special anniversary pre-fixe menu only lasts until October 31st, so make those reservations ASAP! You can find Frank Fat’s on Facebook here and follow Fat’s Restaurants on twitter here.

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