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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.

Lake County People’s Choice Wine Tasting to be Held Saturday, June 14th, 2014

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Lake County is a wine region that might not have the cachet of Napa Valley, but I can definitely tell you they are making wines of Napa Valley caliber. Currently, Lake County has over 8,400 acres producing winegrapes. There are now 167 growers and 32 wineries in Lake County. I was first exposed to a large cross-section of wineries who call Lake County home at the Wine, Tunes & Classics event held at the California Automobile Museum last year.

The event combined a showcase of classic cars, music, and featured wineries from the Lake County Winery Association. There, I was able to taste and find several wines I really enjoyed. I was also told about the People’s Choice Wine Tasting that was held in 2013, and unfortunately already had plans for the weekend.

This year, however I am excited to attend the People’s Choice Wine Tasting this coming Saturday at Guenoc & Langtry Vineyards (21000 Butts Canyon Rd, Middletown, CA 95461). The event will begin at 1:00 PM and ends at 4:00 PM.

It will be an afternoon of wine, music, and fun. Music will be provided by the popular band “The Special Guests”.  The Yuba College Culinary program will be featuring some of their sweet treats, and food trucks will be onsite to satisfy your culinary cravings and stop by the photo booth to create a lasting memory of the event.

Tickets are $35 per person ($25 if you buy before June 10th with a special promo code–see below). Designated drivers encouraged and will be admitted for free. You must be 21 or older to participate in this event.

The Lake County Wine Competition is open to wines that contain at least 75% Lake County winegrapes and bear a Lake County appellation on the label. Lake County’s reputation for both high-quality wines and high-quality winegrapes continues to grow. The 2013 competition drew more than 120 wines to be judged. This number is expected to increase this year.

People’s Choice Wine Tasting – Special Offer
Treat your favorite Dad to an afternoon of wine, food, music, and fun and celebrate Father’s Day at the People’s Choice Wine Tasting on Saturday, June 14th. Eighteen of Lake County’s premium wineries will be pouring their award winning wines at Langtry Estate and Vineyards. Use promo code “4dad” to get $10 off the ticket price.  This offer expires on June 10th. Tickets will be available at the door for $35. For complete details or tickets, go to www.lakecountywineries.org/choice

To purchase tickets, follow this link. For more information on the Wine Awards you can visit the website here. Don’t miss your chance this year to be a wine judge!

You can find the Lake County Winery Association on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Dametra Café: Mediterranean Fusion at its Finest in Downtown Carmel

Return to Mundaka: A Spanish-Style Tapas Restaurant in Downtown Carmel

It was less than a year ago when we last visited Mundaka, a small plates restaurant nestled in the heart of downtown Carmel. Since then, the restaurant has continued to thrive and recently celebrated its 5th anniversary!

During our recent stay at The Vendange Carmel Inn and Suites Andy and I were honored to be invited back to Mundaka for dinner to try some new items on the menu, as well as some of our favorites from last time.

Please excuse the photos in this post. They are rather dark as was the room in which we were seated. ;)

We began the meal by ordering the Bravas: Fried potatoes, brava sauce, aioli. It happens to be one of the most classic tapas in Spain, and a must try at Mundaka.

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Of course the Bravas were excellent, but I think the Crudo was the first new thing on the menu that caught my eye. When the plate came out, I was surprised to see such a beautiful presentation of multi-colored julienned vegetables: Carrots, Brussels sprouts, beet purée, candied walnuts.

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The juxtaposition to the Crudo dish was the Charcuteria! Time to get our fat on! The plate was composed of Serrano ham, Iberico sausages, house cured lomo. Slice upon slice of meaty goodness. And there was more to come!

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I guess you could say our main event was the Carne: Hanger steak, truffle fries, free foie butter. The hangar steak was tender and flavorful, and cooked a perfect medium-rare. The fries were the very skinny variety–like matchsticks, if you will–they soaked up the foie butter that had melted onto the plate from the steak.

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Next up: A pan fried sole, salad of baby poached potatoes, grapefruit, arugula, saffron vinaigrette. This was probably my least favorite dish of all, but I still liked it, so that’s not much of a complaint. I just felt like the potatoes were a little clunky and didn’t belong on the plate with the fish.

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By this point, we were getting full and decided on a few non-dessert items to close out the meal:

Dessert #1: Huevo: Fried duck egg, crispy Iberico bits, toast. It was such a simple dish, but the quality of the ingredients and the richness of the duck egg combined with the Iberico was very rich and indulgent. Highly recommended as a starter dish or for a grand finalé!

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Dessert #2! Again with the eggs, ha! Tortilla: Potato, egg, onion, sea salt.

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So maybe we worked backwards, but my one of my favorite foods is egg, so these plates were like dessert to me. If you’re more into sweets and coffee for your finalé, Mundaka has a dessert, coffee, and digestives menu, pictured below:

dessert menu

What to drink? Mundaka serves a “Party Wine” house wine (red blend) poured from a giant bottle for $5 a glass (if you don’t ask what is in the blend). We enjoyed 2 different cavas (one, a rosé) and switched over to the Party Wine later in the meal. (Below is a photo of the bottle of sparkling rosé that Andy ordered and the glass of cava that I ordered).

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Mundaka uses organic, local, free-range, line-caught, sustainable, fair-trade ingredients, and DOESN’T use ingredients containing hormones, pesticides, high fructose corn syrup, or anything artificial. That’s so Paleo!

Mundaka is located on San Carlos Street between Ocean and 7th Ave and open daily from 11am-5pm for coffee/lunch/pintxos and open daily at 5:30pm for Tapas/pintxos. You can download a sample menu here. You can find Mundaka on Facebook here. You can make a reservation at Mundaka via Open Table here.

A big thanks to Mundaka for their hospitality during our second visit. Always a delicious and memorable meal! :)

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Menu:
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To finish, a shot of my stunning dining companion. Love that guy! :)

andy

It’s OK to Run like a Girl Because the Girls on the Run 5K is May 17th, 2014!!

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JOIN ME
at The Girls on the Run of Greater Sacramento‘s 4th annual 5k spring race will be Saturday, May 17th 2014 at North Natomas Regional Park.

Registration is just $25 until the end of this month and $30 after that. Race day entry is $35.

Packet Pickup will be held on May 16th from 12-7p at Sports Authority on Arden Way (1700 Arden Way, Sacramento, 95815).  Packets will also be available for pick up the morning of the race.

Event Itinerary:
7:30 am day of registration opens/packet pick-up opens
8-8:40 am partner booths open, Happy Hair and photo booth open
8:40 am race warm-up begins
9 am race begins

Want to practice running the course before race day? Click here for a map! :)

Be a Running Buddy!
Run side by side with one of our girls at the Girls on the Run 5K on Saturday May 17th. Running Buddies are special volunteers who motivate and support our girls during the 5K in their journey to the finish line. Click here to sign up.

*Running Buddies must be female volunteers, age 18+, and willing to submit to a no-cost background check. All Running Buddies must register online via the link above AND register for the race.

Thanks to race sponsors Lucca Restaurant, Sactown Magazine, and Athleta.

Girls on the Run of Greater Sacramento, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization, which currently serves over 600 girls throughout Sacramento, Natomas, El Dorado Hills, Elk Grove, Folsom, Rocklin, Roseville and Yolo County. The mission of Girls on the Run is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

Girls on the Run of Greater Sacramento is a curriculum based youth sports program for girls in grades 3-8. The program stresses the importance of equally developing the emotional, mental, social and physical aspects of each girl. The curriculum encourages independent thinking, healthy group dynamics and problem solving and emphasizes the importance of making healthy choices.  The girls, led by trained coaches and volunteers, meet two times per week for 12 weeks every spring and fall. The goal of the program is to foster a respect for healthy living while celebrating each girl.  Every practice focuses on fitness, character development, positive reinforcement of each individual child, and having fun, while training each girl to run a 5K. Each of GOTR’s 12-week seasons culminate in a 5K run where parents, coaches, teachers, families and friends gather to celebrate and support the girls who, for many, are running their first 5K.

Visit www.gotrsac.org site to learn more about the Girls on the Run organization! You can find Girls on the Run Sacramento on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Vendange Carmel Inn & Suites: An Original Wine-Themed Hotel Experience

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It’s no secret that Andy and I love wine. I mean, that’s how we met. So, when I was invited to stay at the Vendange Carmel Inn & Suites, a beautiful wine-themed inn about a mile from downtown Carmel, I was more than excited to visit.

When we arrived, Andy and I met with one of the Inn’s proprietors, Brian Lee, and he gave us a little background on the property, and the story behind its concept.

He explained that in 2012, he and his brother Jonathan bought the 86 year-old block of lodging with flowered wallpaper and $40 per night rooms. At the time it was called the Carmel Crystal Inn, and was not exactly the type of place travelers would recommend on TripAdvisor.

Brian then told us about coming up with a new name for the property, and how he and his brother remodeled everything they could without ruining the hotel’s historic integrity. As far as what they should call their new venture, Brian had attended UC Davis, (a university well known for its viticultural program) and had a lot of exposure to wine-centric terms during his time there. He also thought about how the number of wine tasting rooms in Carmel had multiplied since his return from college. He figured putting a wine-themed stamp on the new place (especially a local one) would create a solid brand. So, he pulled “Vendange” (a French word meaning “grape harvest) from the wine making lexicon. More specifically, it’s a French word describing late harvest fruit.

Along with the rename, they finished the bathrooms with stone and Spanish marble, gave each room brand new furniture (including one of the most comfortable beds on which I have ever slept), linens, duvets and down pillows. They landscaped the grounds, drained a foul-smelling pond and put in a gorgeous fire pit in its place, and renovated the lobby with fixtures that compliment the hotel’s history and also reflect the family’s love of wine.

The Lee brothers then partnered with local winemakers (beginning with Twisted Roots). The wineries (13 of them now) sponsor themed rooms and suites that reflect their wineries’ personalities and the feel of their winery’s tasting rooms.

“We wanted to do a theme, but we wanted it to be modern and not antiquey, like so many other places in Carmel,” Brian told us, “We live in wine country, so we chose a wine theme. We wanted to work with the wineries because they make very good wines and we support local businesses. It seemed natural to partner with them. It’s a win-win situation: They get the exposure (and references), and we get the theme.”

After learning a little about the history of the Vendange, it was time to check in!

We were a little hungry from our drive (about 3 hours from Sacramento), so Andy and I really enjoyed the wine and cheese reception (5-7pm on weekends in the hotel lobby). There are both white and red wines from which to choose (so you can do a little tasting), and a few cheeses, salami, grapes, nuts and crackers. It was fun to chat with some other people who had also just arrived.

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Then it was off to take a look at our home for the next two nights: The Ventana Room:

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The Ventana room was decorated handsomely with custom canvas prints, and the winemaker’s story on the room wall. In the living area, there was a Ventana Vineyards wine barrel that had been converted into a custom snack bar, designed to hold Ventana Vineyard branded snacks and wine for sale. There was also a throw on the bed embroidered with the winery’s logo, and the wall had small vines from the vineyard affixed to them.

Here are some scenes from inside the room:

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I was impressed to learn about the green features of the hotel including water saving shower heads and insulation made from recycled blue jeans. Also, the gardens on the grounds are on a drip irrigation system.

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I can’t say enough about the bed. Not only was the bedding gorgeous, but the mattress was just the right balance between soft and firm. I felt so refreshed when I woke up both mornings. :)

One of my favorite things about the Vendange is the landscaping and the fire pit. Andy and I had a great time sitting outside both evenings after dinner and enjoying a little more wine by the fire. There is live music by the fire pit in the summer.

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hotel exterior

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Here’s what to expect at breakfast time: A spread of fruit, bagels, pastries, granola, yogurt and coffee, and it’s there for guests from 8-10am. If that’s not early enough for you, there’s Carmel Bakery & Coffee Company on Ocean Avenue about a mile away from the hotel (they open at 7am).

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The parking lot even has a wine theme, and the lines to indicate the parking spaces are painted a deep purple inside of white. Here’s Andy’s car parked just outside our room.

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Wineries that have a room decorated at the Vendange include: Blair, Cima Collina, Dawn’s Dream, Galante, J. Lohr (a Paso Robles winery that sources Monterey County vineyards), Joullian, Manzoni, McInTyre, Otter Cove, Ross’ Place, Tudor, Twisted Roots and Ventana. If you belong to one of the wineries’ wine clubs, you’ll receive 25% off the rate when you stay in their room.

Vendange is conveniently located a short drive away from the Monterey Peninsula Airport, just off of scenic Highway 1, with free parking for guests. They are minutes away from downtown Carmel’s shopping and fine dining, scenic 17-Mile Drive, and the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Vendange Carmel is located at 24815 Carpenter St., Carmel, CA 93923.  Telephone 831.624.6400, fax 831.624.5111.  Website: www.vendangecarmel.com, email: reservations at vendangecarmel dot com.

You can find Vendange Carmel Inn and Suites on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here. Ventana Wines can be found on Facebook here.

Come Fly with Me at the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon & Half Marathon!

Calling all runners…Come join Andy and me for the 16th annual Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon on May 4th, 2014! We’ll be running the half marathon for the third year in a row, and this year, I will be there as a guest of the race director and reporting on the race itself.

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I am very excited about this particular race because it’s held very near my hometown, and during the race, I get to run by my college alma mater, Antonelli. I am happy to be coming home to spend time with family (who I have not seen since last year’s Flying Pig), so I am really looking forward to the trip.

As far as any particular goals, I am just hoping to beat my time from last year, and so is Andy. One of the nice things about this race is that you can get a printout of your time pretty much immediately after crossing the finish line. It looks like this:

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I can tell you that the course is pretty tough and very hilly. The hills not so much steep as they are long, but there quite a few of them. I’m not trying to scare anyone away with that disclaimer, I just wanted to warn that this is not a PR course. That being said, the race IS not only fun, but it’s one of the most well-organized races I have ever run. And if you used to live in Cincinnati like me, or you live there now, once you see the course, you’ll agree that it is the best tour of the city you’ll ever take on your own two legs. And the spectators come out and support the runners in droves. Cincinnati definitely has the best cheer section I have ever seen. Mile after mile.

Here’s me finishing my first Flying Pig Half Marathon in 2012. It was my first half marathon and one of the happiest moments in my life!

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This year Packet Pick-up (bib, timing chip) is at the Millennium Hotel Cincinnati, 150 West 5th Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202, in the Grand Ballroom. You can pick up your t-shirt and other premiums at the Duke Energy Center, across the street from the Millennium.

Here are the hours of the expo: Friday, May 2, 2014, 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 3, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

All preregistered Half Marathon participants will receive a commemorative moisture-wicking t-shirt, limited edition poster, goodie bag, and a “special gift.” All Half Marathon finishers will receive a finisher’s medal, a mylar blanket, and Finish-area refreshments.

The 16th annual Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon weekend powered by P&G will be May 2-4, 2014. Follow the Marathon on Twitter @runflyingpig and ‘like’ their page on Facebook. Hope to see you there! :)

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