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Fogo de Chão in San Jose: A Meat Lover’s Paradise!

When Andy and I visited San Jose a few weeks ago, we dined at a Brazilian churrascaria called Fogo de Chão (pronounced fo-go dée shown). It’s located in Santana Row close to Hotel Valencia, our host hotel for that weekend. A churrascaria is a place where meat is cooked in churrasco style (Portuguese for ‘barbecue’), and it’s pretty much like Paleo heaven. :)

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If you have never dined at a Brazilian steakhouse before, there is a procedure to the meal, and it’s really quite fun. After being seated, diners are given a cardboard token (looks like a drink coaster) that is green on one side and red on the other. This token is used to signal the gaucho chefs to begin meat service to your table. But first, it’s off to the salad bar!

The salad bar features premium items such as 24 Month, Aged Parmesan, Aged Manchego Cheese, Prosciutto, Brazilian Hearts of Palm, Artichoke Bottoms, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Smoked Salmon, Italian Salami, Jumbo Asparagus, Tabbouleh and Shitake Mushrooms, not to mention at least large bowls full of different lettuce mixes to use for the base of your salad. It would be easy to get full on just the salad bar alone, so pace yourself.

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When you are ready for the meats to be served, turn your token green side up, signaling that you are ready for our gaucho chefs to begin tableside service. This continuous service is known as “Rodizio” style.

There are 16 cuts of fire roasted meats to choose from including top sirloin, filet mignon, rib eye, bottom sirloin, beef ribs, lamb, chicken, pork ribs, pork loin (encrusted in parmesan cheese and linguica (a Brazilian-style, cured pork sausage). The gaucho chefs are very attentive and efficient. I would advise you to come not only hungry, but starving! Below are some of the meats the gaucho chefs serve on a nightly basis:

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Pictured from left to right: Lamb (cordeiro), Chicken (frango) Pork Ribs (costela de porco), Pork Loin (lombo), Pork Sausage (linguica), Top Sirloin (picanha), Beef Ribs (costela), Bacon Wrapped Filet and Bacon Wrapped Chicken. Wow! So very Paleo! :)

When you are full, you flip the token to the red side until you are ready for more offerings.

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In the photo above, Andy is being served the signature steak of the restaurant, the Picanha (pea-CAN-ya), a prime cut of top sirloin.

The meal also includes limitless service of traditional Brazilian side dishes, including: pão de queijo (warm cheese bread), crispy hot polenta (like polenta fries), garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized bananas. (not so Paleo) :(

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Fogo de Chão is a recipient of the prestigious Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence for eight consecutive years. I chose a reasonably priced Cabernet made by Trapiche (a label I had at least heard of before). It was quite good.

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Below, the gaucho chef serves Andy a bacon wrapped filet mignon, and a bacon wrapped chicken.

Bacon wrapped meat

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Someone looks happy! Ask him how many lamb chops he had! ;)

Then, after we had signaled we were done with our meal, one of the gaucho chefs brought out this cake to celebrate Andy’s birthday. What a fun dinner! Thanks so much to the staff at Fogo de Chão, San Jose for taking such good care of us! :)

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Lunch at Fogo de Chão San Jose is $34.50 | (Salad Bar Only – $24.50) and is served Mon-Fri 11:30-2:00.
Dinner is $54.50 | (Salad Bar Only – $29.50) and is served Mon-Thur 5:00-10:00, Fri 5:00-10:30, Sat 3:00-10:30, and Sun 12:00-9:00.
Children 6 and under are complimentary. Children 7 to 12 are half price.  Any beverages, desserts, tax, and gratuity are additional.  An 18% gratuity is added to all parties of 6 or more.

You can like Fogo de Chão on Facebook here, and follow them on twitter here.

Farm to Fork Legends of Wine is September 18th, 6:00-8:30pm

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I can say in all honesty that out of the whole year, I love the months of September and October most. There are several  reasons for that. One of them is the weather. It starts to cool off just enough and the mornings are perfect for running. Another reason is that it is harvest time–more importantly to me, crush time in the vineyards. It’s also getting to be around the time I met Andy, and I am very excited to celebrate our 3rd anniversary this year.

September is also California Wine Month and the month Sacramento celebrates Farm-t0-Fork week from September 13th-28th, featuring several events to  celebrate the local sustainability and food production of the Sacramento region by featuring the farmers, chefs and culinary community that make the Sacramento region the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America.

One of the not-to-be-missed events is Farm-to-Fork Legends of Wine featuring wines selected by Darrell Corti and David Berkley. It takes place on Thursday, September 18th 6pm – 8:30pm on the State Capitol West Steps.

Darrell Corti, who was recognized by Saveur magazine as the man “Who knows more about food and wine than anyone else in the world,” and David Berkley, once recognized as “the man behind the White House wine list,” will host an evening of great wines and cheeses during Sacramento inaugural Farm-to-Fork Week.

Paired along-side artisan cheeses and breads, this event will offer free tastes from some of the region’s most celebrated wineries listed below:
Andis Wines
Legendre Cellars
Sierra Starr Vineyard & Winery
Boeger Winery
Matchbook Wines
Six Hands Winery
Bogle Vineyards
Michael David Winery
Sobon Family Wines
Bokisch Vineyard
Miraflores Winery
Spoto Wines
Casey Flat Ranch Winery
New Clairvaux Vineyards
Terra d’Oro Winery
Dancing Coyote Wines
Putah Creek Winery
Terre Rouge & Easton Wines
David Girard Vineyard
Rendez-Vous Winery
Uvaggio Wines
Feist Winery
Revolution Wines
VanRuiten
Family Winery
Jeff Runquist Wines
Scott Harvey Wines
Vino Noceto Winery
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards
Seka Hills Wines

To purchase tickets ($50 per person) head over to the Farm-to-Fork website and the Legends of Wine event page (click here).

You can keep up with all the events during the Farm-to-Fork celebration by liking their Facebook page here and follow SacFarm2Fork on twitter here. If wine and fancy dinners aren’t your speed, there is a free festival on September 27th featuring food demos and fun for the whole family!

Enter to Win a Race Entry to the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon on October 19th, 2014!

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Once again this year, I am partnering with Whole Foods Market Northern California, and I will be running for them in the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon. I am really excited to have been asked again (by Whole Foods), and I am even more excited that I WILL BE GIVING AWAY TWO ENTRIES to this SOLD OUT race right here on this website (SCROLL DOWN FOR INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO ENTER)!

You might be familiar with this race because of it’s scenic course through San Francisco and the only half marathon series to give it’s finishers a Tiffany necklace instead of a finisher’s medal!! Not only that, but the necklace is given to you by a firefighter dressed in a tuxedo! :)

Here I am following last year’s race wearing my finisher’s necklace (and shirt from the race!):

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I’ll be sharing some recipes with food provided to me by Whole Foods Market, and providing my training reports from now leading up to October 19th.

It’s been a while since I have run a half marathon (last November), so I will be putting in some hard work from now until race day. Here’s a favorite post of mine sponsored by Whole Foods from last year’s training.

Here’s this year’s course map:

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This giveaway is for a race entry only. Once you win, you will be responsible for the $180 entry fee.–The entry does not include transportation, hotel, or parking the day of the race. Keep in mind there is NO race packet pick up the day of the race, so you will need to make arrangements to attend the expo on Thursday, October 16, 12:00PM – 8:00PM, Friday, October 17, 10:00AM – 8:00PM, or Saturday, October 18, 8:00AM – 6:00PM to collect your bib number.


TO ENTER TO WIN A RACE ENTRY FOR THE NIKE WOMEN’S HALF MARATHON ON OCTOBER 19th, 2014 at 6:30am, PLEASE DO ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:

1. Like cavegrrl.com on Facebook here.
2. Leave a comment in the comment section below and tell me why you want to run the race!
3. Like Whole Foods Sacramento on Facebook here or Whole Foods Roseville here.
4. Follow Whole Foods Northern California on twitter here.
4. Share this post on Facebook.

I will be choosing TWO winners on September 1st!
Good luck! :)

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.

Wine Weekend Getaway at Hotel Valencia Santana Row

OK wine lovers! Looking for a fun alternative to Napa Valley that’s within driving distance of Sacramento and the Bay area?

Andy and I just checked out the Hotel Valencia at Santana Row in San Jose. They’re doing a Wine Weekend Getaway promotion (available Fridays and Saturdays only) that includes luxurious accommodations for two, a bottle of local wine with artisan cheeses and a prepared picnic lunch for a day of wine tasting.

I surprised Andy for his birthday weekend by planning the trip and coordinating some activities we would do during our stay at Hotel Valencia.

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Andy did not know much about the birthday weekend in store for him. Just that we’d be driving to somewhere about two hours away, and that wine would somehow be involved (duh!). Speaking of wine, upon arrival, we were greeted with a lovely fruit and cheese plate and a bottle of local wine. Surprise, Andy, and welcome to Hotel Valencia at Santana Row!


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For Andy’s birthday dinner that evening, we walked to nearby Fogo de Chao, also located in Santana Row. I’ll be writing a separate blog post about our meal there. It was fabulous! Another benefit of staying at Hotel Valencia is the proximity from your room to delicious places to eat. Just walk there and walk back and no hassles with parking. :)

The next morning, I hit the gym in the hotel for a little damage control. The gym is small, but very nice with three treadmills, two elliptical machines, a stationary bike, and a weight station. There are also towels on ice and a large container of water to take care of your thirst. :)

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Following the workout, Andy and I headed down for the complimentary breakfast buffet at Citrus restaurant (located inside Hotel Valencia) that runs from 6-10am daily.

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The hotel’s breakfast buffet is the best I have ever seen for being complimentary. There was an assortment of fruits (melons and berries), an oatmeal station, sausages, and an egg dish (the first day was an omelette of sorts, and the second day was scrambled (as pictured above). There is also coffee and juice bar, as well as a station to toast bread and bagels (if that is your thing) ;) It was nice to eat a great meal that we did not have to go out and find or pay extra. A very big bonus for Hotel Valencia guests! :)

The hotel’s interior is very unique, (as you’ll see in several of the photos below). I would describe it as modern with a Spanish flair that is present in the color and even in the hotel’s logo. It has 212 rooms.

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Most rooms are approximately 350 square feet and feature views of the Santana Row neighborhood or the beautifully landscaped courtyard. They are furnished with either two double beds or one king bed with custom bedding, 42″ flat panel color TV, an oversized armchair, desk, and private bar. The full bathroom offers a traditional bathtub and shower combination. Rooms feature complimentary wired and wireless high-speed Internet access and daily newspaper, upon request.

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After breakfast, we relaxed by the pool (pictured below) for a few hours. Don’t worry, I didn’t swim for at least 30 minutes. ;)

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Following swimming and sunbathing Then it was time for the rest of the birthday activities to be revealed. I told Andy that first, we would be going wine tasting and then I had planned a larger event that evening that would be outdoors and we would be picnicking in the parking lot. So after the hints, Andy assumed we were headed to a Giants game! Ha… silly him. :P

Equipped with the picnic basket, we set out to explore one of the four wineries to which the hotel has given us tasting passes. After deciding not to purchase wine at our first stop, we decided to head up the mountain to visit and do a tasting at Ridge Vineyards. (We were not given passes to Ridge, but were set on dropping in anyway). Why? Well, Andy and I met over a tasting of Ridge’s Cabernet at the Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event nearly three years ago.

The staff at Ridge couldn’t be more friendly and loved hearing about how we met. We tried several of their wines and decided on a full case to take home. Gotta love that industry discount! ;) A big thank you to Ridge Vineyards. We’ll be back to sit outside with some wine and take in the magnificent view at your winery when we have time to stay a little longer!

By the time we were done at Ridge, it was almost time to head down to the main birthday event! A picnic and concert at Mountain Winery: Creedence Clearwater Revisited.

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The view through the trees taken at Mountain Winery.

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The picnic basket and blanket (above, provided by the hotel–amazing job on the fruit and meats, by the way), and the tailgate party (below) we had at Mountain Winery before the start of the show. I highly recommend tailgating before a concert at the winery to avoid exorbitant dinner costs.

So happy Andy and I finally saw a show together at Mountain Winery. Stu Cooke and Doug Clifford still rock!

PS: Don’t worry Paleo friends, no crackers were harmed/eaten during our picnic (and were returned with the blanket and picnic basket). ;)
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We had such a great time over the weekend and at the show! A huge thank you to my friends at Hotel Valencia for helping me arrange a wonderful birthday getaway for my best friend!

Hotel Valencia Santana Row is located at 355 Santana Row, San Jose, Calif. Information about upcoming events and packages are available online at www.hotelvalencia-santanarow.com, or call 866.842.0100 for reservations and additional information about lodging at Hotel Valencia Santana Row.

You can find Hotel Valencia on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

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More about Hotel Valencia:

Hotel Features:

  • 212 elegantly appointed accommodations
  • The only hotel located on Santana Row, away from the hustle and bustle of San Jose and Silicon Valley
  • Complimentary deluxe continental breakfast served daily in Citrus Restaurant
  • Vbar, an ultra modern lounge with expansive balcony views
  • Fitness Center
  • 4,000 square feet of meeting and event space
  • Outdoor year-round swimming pool
  • Complimentary wireless Internet in guest rooms and all public areas of the hotel
  • Business center with 24/7 access
  • Same day laundry and valet
  • 24-hour room service
  • Handicap accessible facilities

Nearby Attractions:

  • Santana Row – dynamic mix of upscale shopping and entertainment!
  • A myriad of dining options from Strait’s with Singaporean cuisine to
    Left Bank, a French bistro. There is something for every palate!
  • Santana Row has ongoing programs of street entertainment from music
    to movies.
  • Across Stevens Creek Boulevard, Valley Fair mall offers more than 250
    stores for your shopping pleasure including a new Luxury Wing as well as
    Nordstrom and Macy’s.
  • Winchester Mystery House—the world’s oddest mansion. 160-room
    Victorian mansion designed by Winchester Rifle heiress.
  • Levi’s Stadium – Hotel Valencia is only 11 miles away from the New Levi’s
    stadium which is home to the 49ers as well as a multipurpose facility for
    other sporting events and concerts.
  • Home to NHL’s San Jose Sharks!

Win a Pair of Tickets to Sactown Wings on August 23rd, 2014

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Sacramento’s booming food festival scene now has a special day to dedicate to the ever popular party food: the chicken wing. That day is August 23rd at 2pm (until 7pm) at Fremont Park (16th and P streets). event flyer below

I was very happy to team up with Xoso Sports to help promote this event because the proceeds from it will benefit the Food Literacy Center! :) I recently interviewed Nick Berruezo (founder of Sactown Wings and Xoso Sports) and here’s what he had to say about it:

Cavegrrl: How did you come up with the concept to have a wings festival in Sacramento?
Nick: The wing fest concept actually came from a friend of mine, and I hadn’t heard of anything like it in Sacramento.  There are a lot of wing lovers out there, and some of them might even be considered fanatical about their wings, so I thought it could be a fun, popular event for Sacramento! Plus, there are some great local restaurants and bars who have some amazing wings, and I thought this event could help bring them future business.

Cavegrrl: What made you decide to name the Food Literacy Center as a beneficiary?
Nick: I met with my friend Nicole Rogers with the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Farm to Fork division, who also serves on the board of the FLC and she put me in contact with Amber Stott with the Food Literacy Center.  The FLC has a great mission to educate the community about healthy, sustainable eating and Amber and Nicole were very excited about the event. It seemed like a great opportunity to work together!

Cavegrrl: Please tell me about attendee ticket options. I understand there are different levels.
Nick: There are three different ticket options:
-$10 Event Attendee: Admission only. You can purchase food and full priced beer at the event.
-$30 Wing Eater: Includes admission, 15 wings from Chicago Fire, souvenir beer mug with two free beers, and $2 beer refills.
-$40 VIP Wing Judge: Includes Wing Eater package plus additional 10 wings (2 each from five wing vendors) and a Sactown Wings Judge t-shirt. You’ll be one of only 100 people who get to vote on who has the best wings!

Cavegrrl: Do you have any entertainment lined up for guests of the event?
Nick: So far, our entertainment will consist of games: corn hole, bear pong (giant beer pong), giant jenga, and some live bands, which tentatively include the Golden Cadillacs and Musical Charis.

Cavegrrl: What else do you think my readers should know about the event?
Nick: I think the ticket packages are a great value and we’re hoping that this event grows and becomes an annual event.  It’s a great opportunity to not only support the Food Literacy Center, but many local restaurants, brewers, and musicians at the same time!

Awesome, Nick! Also, I want to thank you for generously donating a pair of tickets to give away on cavegrrl.com! :)

TO WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS TO SACTOWN WINGS ON AUGUST 23rd, PLEASE SHARE THIS POST ON FACEBOOK, “LIKE” THE SACTOWN WINGS FACEBOOK PAGE (CLICK HERE), AND LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW STATING YOUR FAVORITE PLACE FOR WINGS IN SACRAMENTO! Please leave some way I can contact you if you win. I will announce the winner on Friday, August 1st! Good luck! :)

Sactown Wings will take place on August 23rd from 2-7pm in Fremont Park. You can purchase tickets here.
You can like their Facebook page here and follow them on twitter here!

The Food Literacy Center’s mission is to inspire kids to eat their vegetables. They teach low-income elementary children cooking and nutrition to improve their health, community and environment.

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Roasted Carrots with Curry and Pecans

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Every year Andy and I get together with another family for a nice dinner party on the back deck at our house in Incline Village. We collaborate on a menu for our guests and make a fuss over the food and wine. The first year, we tricked everyone into eating a fully Paleo meal. Since then, all the guests know it’s a Paleo meal, and no one seems to mind. :) No one misses the bread or the sugar!

Typically, I am in charge of two side dishes, and Andy grills the meat (main course), makes a big salad, and makes his classic Bacon Wrapped Dates.

I have to say, Summer Solstice Party Number Three was a success and for one of my sides, I made and served these carrots.

I used a stevia sweetener called Pyure Sweet in the recipe. Many thanks to the manufacturer for sending me the samples.

Ingredients:
(feeds about 8-10 as a side dish)
1 cup pecans
5 pounds carrots
8 Tbs coconut oil (or butter)
1/4 cup Pyure Sweet
1 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs curry powder
1/2 cup lemon juice
Sea Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper

First, you’ll need to toast the pecans. You can do this in the oven or in a skillet on low heat. Whatever works for you. Just be careful not to burn them. Let them cool once toasted, and give them a rough chop. Set aside.

So, I personally choose the oven to toast my pecans, because it heats up the oven for my carrots that go in next. I have the temp at about 375°F for toasting the pecans. I heat it up to about 400°F when it is carrot roasting time.

Before the carrots go in, you’ll need to clean them up by peeling and cutting them into “french fry” shapes. It’s up to you what size you cut them down, but make sure they are uniform so they will cook evenly. Then, put them on a sheet tray (or two) that’s well oiled/greased (coconut oil or olive oil works best), salt liberally with sea salt, and roast until browned. I would tell you how long to leave them in the oven, but it all depends on how thick you have cut them, so I am leaving that up to you.

While the carrots are roasting away, you can make the curry sauce. Melt 8 Tbs of coconut oil (or butter) together over low heat in a saucepan with 1 Tbs molasses, 1/4 cup of Pyure Sweet stevia blend, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and 1 Tbs curry powder. Make sure all ingredients have combined over the heat (without boiling) and set aside.

Remove the carrots from the oven when they are close to being done. Drizzle the curry sauce over the pan/pans of carrots. Return to the oven and roast an additional 5-10 minutes.
Then the sauce has saturated and cooked into the carrots, remove them from the oven, and sprinkled the toasted pecans over them.

Serve the carrots warm or room temperature. A perfect party side dish and a true crowd-pleaser! :)

Raley’s Food for Families Refresh Dinner at Vierra Farms kicks off Summer Donation Campaign

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Last Wednesday, Andy and I attended a fundraising dinner at Vierra Farms held by Raley’s Food for Families. The purpose of the event was to introduce a new program to supply fresh produce to food banks and to kick off the Fresh Summer Donation drive.

Food For Families Farm to Fork Dinner Vierra Farms

The event was catered by Beth Sogaard Catering. The meal began with a House Smoked Salmon Salad on fresh spring greens with grilled apricots, herb and pollen crusted chevre, shaved celery, cucumber ribbons and a shot of honey-lemon vinaigrette.

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The main course was a duo of meats: Raley’s Free Range chicken breast stuffed with sweet peppers, spinach, basil and fontina, and an herb-glazed Raley’s Black Angus Beef tenderloin with a grilled young artichoke, on a bed of truffled potato puree and cherry tomato-basil-sweet corn compote with arugula pesto.

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There was a short presentation by both Michael Teel and Jennifer Teel-Wolter. Jennifer then kicked off a donate-by-texting program and guests of the dinner could text the amount of money they wished to donate and their name throughout the evening. By the end of the event, nearly $300,000 was raised!

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In honor of National Fruits and Vegetable Month (the month of June), Raley’s Food For Families is launching a pilot program designed to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables at local food banks. Food For Families’ partner food banks throughout Sacramento and Placer counties will now be provided with access to a variety of fresh produce, in addition to dry goods, to distribute in their respective communities. This new program allows food banks to choose what they need in their community.

Raley’s also announces their Fresh Summer Donation campaign, beginning June 9 and lasting through July 31, to help increase donations of fresh produce to local food banks.

Food For Families has raised more than $31 million and donated more than 21 million pounds of dry groceries to food banks in our communities since the program began as a holiday food drive in 1986. Raley’s Co-Chairman and Owner, Joyce Raley Teel, and CEO emeritus, Charles Collings, founded the program.

Today, food banks throughout Northern California and Nevada benefit from this non-profit program. Food For Families helps feed hundreds of thousands of hungry families year round.

Raley’s absorbs all administrative costs of the program with 100 percent of every donation going directly to help feed the hungry. All donated food is distributed by local food banks.

Customers can donate in four easy ways: At the checkstand at all Raley’s, Bel Air or Nob Hill Foods; online at foodforfamilies.org; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/raleysfoodforfamilies.com; or by texting the keyword ENDHUNGER to 85944. 100% of all donations go towards feeding families in need in the community in which the donation was received.

Raley’s will provide a matching donation for every dollar donated during the Summer Donation drive, up to $25,000, now through July 31. Customers can donate at any Raley’s, Bel Air, Nob Hill or Food Source store, online at Raleys.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/Raleys.

You can find Raley’s Food for Famillies on Facebook here and follow Raley’s on twitter here. Get in on the social media conversation with the hashtag #followthecart. To donate to the program, click here.

Special thanks to Raley’s Family of Fine Stores for most of the photos.

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