Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Posts tagged “events

Wine Wednesday: Don’t Miss TAPAS Grand Wine Tasting, April 27th, 2014

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So I am pretty sure that the wine event I am promoting today was specifically designed for me. See, Tempranillo is my favorite red varietal, and the most extensive tasting of domestically produced Tempranillos and other Iberian varietal wines, featuring nearly 40 TAPAS member vintners is about to take place at the seventh annual Grand Wine Tasting held at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco on Sunday, April 27, 2014. I’m in! :)

Trade and consumers will be able to taste Tempranillos, Albariños, Garnachas, Verdelhos, Tourigas, and many other varieties, in a casual walk-around setting where they can chat with the growers and vintners. Explore the diversity of grapes and styles produced across the western United States.  Many TAPAS members are limited-production, family-owned wineries and will be pouring small lot wines that are not widely available. Many of the wines will also be available for sale at this event.

This year’s event will highlight Tempranillo’s aging potential with a Kickoff Seminar comparing pairs of Aged and New Tempranillos from the same vintner.  See one of the reasons why Tempranillo is the fastest growing variety worldwide!

The event schedule is:

12:00 Noon – 1:30 p.m.  – “Aged Tempranillos”  This one-of-a-kind seminar will feature pioneer vintners pulling aged Tempranillos from their cellars to pair with their current release wines.  Compare mature and young Tempranillo wines and taste how the world’s fastest growing variety mellows with age to become civilized and refined. The session will be moderated by Stuart Spencer, owner and winemaker of St.Amant Winery and President of TAPAS.

Tickets are $95 and include early admission to the Consumer Tasting.

2:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Consumer Tasting.  In conjunction with the walk-around tasting, the TAPAS Wine School (included with admission) will feature these informative consumer-oriented seminars and guided tastings:

Garnacha/Grenache: A great European wine grape which produces world class wines.  Taste an exciting selection of Garnacha wines vinified by premier American wine producers specializing in Iberian grape varietal wines made in the USA. Vino dulce: Taste rare dessert wines crafted by top American winemakers in a variety of styles.

Tickets to the Consumer Tasting are $60.

TAPAS President Stuart Spencer noted, “The TAPAS Grand Tasting is a unique opportunity for you to discover, savor and celebrate this treasure chest of exotic and delightfully food-friendly wines. You will gain appreciation for what some visionary winegrowers are doing here on American soil. Don’t miss it!”

About TAPAS: TAPAS started at the 2004 Unified Symposium, when Tempranillo winegrowers from California, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Arizona met for the first time to discuss their avocation.  Since that first visionary group pointed the way, the organization has incorporated and grown to over 100 members.  The first Grand Wine Tasting was held at Copia in Napa in 2008, and has continued annually since then, as one of many initiatives to promote Tempranillo and other varietal wine grapes native to the Iberian Peninsula and wines produced from them in North America.

To purchase tickets, click here.

You can find TAPAS on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.


Wine Wednesday: 5th Annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff Takes Place Sunday, May 18, 2014

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Oops. So I haven’t posted anything since last Wednesday, which was also Wine Wednesday. Well, this one comes from my friends at HALL Wines. Their 5th Annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff is on Sunday, May 18th, and here’s a press release I received to tell you all about it:

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The fifth annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff features an all-star line-up of both San Francisco and Napa Valley based Chef teams vying to win a culinary pairing challenge. Bringing together local foodies and wine for a good cause, over 15 chef teams will compete for a local charity as judged by industry judges (including Sacramento’s own food and wine writer Chris Macias) by creating small bite dishes paired with the recently released HALL 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. During the event, guests will be invited to taste farm-to-table dishes from each chef team paired with the wine and vote on their favorite for the People’s Choice Award.

The 2013 HALL Cabernet Cookoff drew more than 480 culinary and wine lovers and raised $30,000 for the top four winning team’s sponsored charities.

5th Annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff combining a bevy of well-known culinary teams competing in a food/wine pairing challenge. Chef teams participating in the HALL Cabernet Cookoff include:

  • Tyler Rodde, Oenotri
  • Victoria Acosta, The Grill at Meadowood
  • Rodney Worth & Audrey Perrone, The Pear Bistro
  • Corrie Beezley, The Farmers Market Pantry
  • Christopher Ludwick, Earth’s Bounty Kitchen & Winebar
  • Valentina Migotto & Dario De Conti, Ca’ Momi
  • Jesse McQuarrie, Feast Catering
  • Brian Overhauser, Jamieson Ranch
  • Jason Toji & Spencer Weiss, Press
  • Will Wright, Bounty Hunter Smokin BBQ
  • Nenad Stefanovic, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins
  • Kara Lind, Kara’s Cupcakes
  • Mark Dommen, One Market Restaurant
  • Alex Marsh, Yankee Pier Larkspur
  • Daniel Capra, Paula Le Duc Catering

WHEN:  Sunday, May 18, 2014, from 11:00am – 2:00pm PST                                   

WHERE: HALL Wines, St. Helena: 401 St. Helena Hwy. South St. Helena, CA 94574. For more information, please visit www.hallwines.com/cabernetcookoff or via social channels using #cabernetcookoff. To purchase tickets to the event, please visit CellarPass.


The Third Annual Sacramento Food Film Festival is March 20-30

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Happy Saturday! I’m just passing along this press release to all of you… looks great and the California Food Literacy Center is this year’s beneficiary!
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SACRAMENTO – As food and wine pairings continue to rise in popularity, the farm-to-fork capital is offering a different kind of pairing: food and film. The 3rd Annual Sacramento Food Film Festival will take place March 20-30 and will include food, wine and beer pairings with seven films about food. Festival proceeds will benefit California Food Literacy Center, a Sacramento nonprofit providing food literacy education to local low-income children.

“This is a chance for guests to soak up the amazing food and drinks that Sacramento has to offer while also feeding their minds,” said Catherine Enfield, festival founder and food writer.

Movies and Venues:
Ten 22, March 20
The festival’s red carpet premier at Ten22 on March 20 features appetizers, drinks and screening of the award-winning movie, “Spinning Plates.” Cost is $40.

Sterling Hotel, March 22
On March 22, the festival continues at the Sterling Hotel, featuring a sneak preview of the highly anticipated, new Ruhstaller Nugget hop beer, bites from Adam Pechal and screening of “Beer Wars.” Cost is $30.

Lucca, March 25
“Bottle Shock” will be screened at Lucca on March 25 and will include a four-course dinner based on the film. Cost is $40, and $50 if including a wine pairing.

The Guild Theater, March 26
On March 26 the “Cafeteria Man” will be shown at The Guild Theater and will include appetizers, an appearance from the film’s star, Tony Geraci and a panel discussion with local leaders in food literacy education.

Clunie Center at McKinley Park, March 28
Selland’s will offer a family spaghetti dinner on March 28 and screening of “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” at McKinley Park’s Clunie Center. Cost is $15 for children, $25 for adults.

The Guild Theater, March 29
The Guild Theater will screen “The Slow Food Story” for free on March 29.

Sunh Fish, March 30
The festival wraps up on March 30 with a sushi and uni tasting by Billy Ngo from Kru, and Q & A with the film’s producer, Alexander Finden, at Sunh Fish and screening of “Sweet, Sexy Ocean.” Cost is $35.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.sacfoodfilmfest.com.

“We are proud to be the beneficiary of such a creative event that not only gives people the opportunity to enjoy the amazing food of the Sacramento region, but also helps spread food literacy through the creative medium of film,” said Amber Stott, founding executive director, California Food Literacy. “We look forward to good food and good conversations.”

California Food Literacy Center was established in July 2011 to educate and inspire low-income children to eat healthy food. Students learn fruit and vegetable appreciation, how to read nutrition labels, basic cooking skills and environmental impacts of their food choices. The nonprofit also runs the Food Literacy Academy, which trains community members as food literacy teachers. To date, the nonprofit has 60 active volunteers and serves 2,400 kids annually. After just three months of food literacy education, 70 percent of students request the foods they have tasted in class, including broccoli, celery and oranges. Ninety-two percent of K-1st grade students say healthy food tastes good, and 88 percent of children understand how to read a nutrition label. To make a donation: www.californiafoodliteracy.org.


David Brown, The Biggest Loser Contestant, Speaks in Sacramento Area, Monday, March 10th

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I don’t own a television. Instead, I subscribe to a service that allows me to watch my favorite TV programs (slightly after they have aired). Completely fascinated with food shows, of course Hell’s Kitchen, Masterchef, Top Chef, etc, are all on my watch list. But, there’s another program I have watched every season since its debut, and that is The Biggest Loser.

The Biggest Loser. I am a fan of the show for so many reasons, (although I do have some minor complaints about it). I have seen so many people transform themselves over the years. Much like I did in my mid twenties when I started exercising and began a more healthy eating regimen.

Well this season (season 15) of The Biggest Loser really had my attention most, and I am not sure why. Maybe it was all the people who ended up being “cast” on the show. Maybe it was the theme this season “Second Chances”. Whatever it was, I was enthralled and couldn’t wait until the next episode. I felt for so many of the contestants. I know all about emotional eating… I used to yo-yo 30 pounds back and forth.

This season, I watched pretty openly, happy to see all of the contestants progress. I really didn’t pick anyone to win or have a “favorite”. I was touched by many of their stories and backgrounds. Everyone deserves a second chance. Period.

When I heard David Brown tell his “story” during this season’s The Biggest Loser, I was almost uncomfortably sad, as I am sure any of you that watch the show were as well. The tragedy of being a widower (and father of two daughters) as a young adult, led to his weight gain as an adult.

At 409 pounds, David Brown was given a second chance and a place on The Biggest Loser ranch. During the time on the ranch and the time before the show’s season finale, David lost an amazing 222 pounds (more than 54% of his body weight).

As anyone who watches The Biggest Loser can attest (especially if they are female ;)), David had the most dramatic makeover (probably in the show’s history)…I’d be lying if I said my jaw did not drop after “makeover week” (WOW) and that I didn’t shed tears for him AND his family’s reaction to is new self. (Brown remarried in 2004 and now has three daughters.) DAMN YOU, MAKEOVER WEEK, making me so emotional!! ;)

To be honest, I didn’t see David coming in on the final path to win, and I am not sure if he did either–but he did something amazing which for so many people is still the hardest thing to do… He took the first step on that path to wellness and weight loss, which David refers to as the “winning step”. Then week by week, he transformed himself. And then took second place in The Biggest Loser triathlon.

After a 222 pound weight loss, and 2.2 million steps logged, he comes to the Sacramento area to tell the story of his journey and as a witness of God. He’ll be at Oak Hills Church in Folsom, CA this Monday, March 10th from 6:30 to 8:00pm.

The venue’s address is 1100 Blue Ravine Rd, Folsom CA.  Tickets are $10 each or $15 per couple. Dinner is included if you pre-register. To pre-register, please contact Kory Lewis. The email is kory dot lewis at bayside online dot com. Hope to see you there!!

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Dawson’s at the Hyatt Regency’s Monthly Wine Dinner Featuring Goldschmidt Vineyards

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Lately, I have been very selective in the events I attend and the restaurants, products, services, et cetera I choose to promote, but last week when I was invited to attend the monthly wine dinner held at Dawson’s at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Sacramento, I jumped at the opportunity.

For a while now, Dawson’s has been one of the most underrated restaurants in town. Andy and I had attended a few of the Dawson’s wine dinners last year and found them to be quite economical (despite a $79 per person price which might seem like a lot of money to spend on a Thursday night). The value is to be found in the quality and amount of the food (4 courses with wine pairings), the wine featured (always a higher-end label) and the service (look for Ardy and tip him well–he’s terrific). Dawson’s even offers free valet parking to wine dinner guests upon arrival. I am not sure you can get a better deal anywhere else.

Before dinner, we were treated to a charcuterie, cheese, fruit, and sparkling wine reception. Andy and I were then introduced to the chef (Jason Poole) and the wine representative (LT Nedjar) Mr. Nedjar was there representing the label featured that night: Goldschmidt Vineyards. Follwing our introduction, both gentlemen returned to going over the menu and the wines one last time to make sure the experience would be seamless for the dinner guests.

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Upon seating, we were presented with the menu. Typically, the menu and the pairings get published online and via an email blast before the dinner. I love the email blasts because I can sit at my desk at work and daydream about what I am going to eat that evening! ;) Below is the menu from Thursday night’s dinner:

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Just before our seating, the sous chef  Michael Grande walked us through the menu. Both times I have seen Chef Grande, he has been so enthusiastic about the wine dinner’s course line-up and his excitement is contagious. :) Soon, we were invited into the dining room for the meal to begin.

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The first course of the evening was a Hamachi Crudo with baby coconut, Rising C Ranch Melogold Grapefruit, Blood Orange and Avocado Oil, Yuzu Emulsion, and it was paired with the Boulder Bank (a label owned by Goldschmidt) Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2011. The acidity and fats in the dish balanced very well with the Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand-style, high acidity, though not a complete grapefruit bomb. I was actually reminded more of canned peaches, as the wine was a touch sweet.) Still, it was a perfect compliment to the hamachi and the fruit essences in the dish.

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The second course was a Coke Farms Baby Beet Caprese Salad with house-made mozzarella (yes!!), an herb salad, morel ash, and finished with double Solera Vinegar. It was paired with the Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot, Dry Creek Valley 2011. We were told that the grapes that go into this particular merlot are literally on the front of the property at the winemaker’s residence, so they get extra attention. My only complaint about this course was that I wish I had been served a little more of it. :) The cheese had the wonderful elasticity that fresh mozzarella has, with just a hint of salt. The beets were earthy and al dente. The merlot was a delightful pairing for this course.

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And then the third course happened. And I was officially wowed. It was a Cranberry Bean Cassoulet with a Confit Duck (leg), house-made boudin blanc, Tails and Trotters Pork Belly, and County Line Farms Baby Mustards. It was paired with two different wines to highlight the different proteins and flavor profiles in the bowl. The first wine was the Forefathers Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley 2009, and the second wine was the Hillary Goldschmidt Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 2011. The last time I had duck as part of an entrée was back in the fall at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. It was a grilled breast and braised leg served with roasted wine grapes. As memorable as the main course was at Chez Panisse, I will say without hesitation that the cassoulet at Dawson’s was the better dish. I am still thinking about the slice of crispy pork belly that topped the cassoulet at Dawson’s. For me, it was the best bite of food of the night, and I will be daydreaming about the cassoulet for a long time to come! I could have used an extra slice of that salty, rich pork belly instead of the sausage that was nestled underneath the duck. I am not sure how the dish was intended to eat, but I enjoyed its components one at a time. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but everything tasted oh so right! ;)

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Ultimately, to me, the food was more remarkable than the wine (sorry, Goldschmidt!), but there are some really great things going on in the kitchen at Dawson’s. However, the wine made a terrific impression with Andy, as he purchased a case of Cabernet that evening before we left.

But before our exit, we were served coffee and one last course, the dessert. Usually, there is a dessert wine presented at the Dawson’s wine dinner, but this time it was suggested we save a little of the Forefathers Cabernet to pair with our dessert. The dessert was a Dark Fruit Consommé (interesting concept there!) with a Crispy Hazelnut Cake, Dark Chocolate Pave, and Toasted Fennel Oil.

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I loved the texture of the cake–it was spongey and soaked up the fruit consommé’s vibrant flavor. The chocolate on top served as a ganache-type frosting. It was a well-executed part of the meal and a memorable finish.

About the winemaker: Nick Goldschmidt, originally from New Zealand, gained international notoriety as winemaker at Simi Winery. Since 2007 he has been a consulting winemaker for several premium brands around the world, and is very well known for his single vineyard, handcrafted, small production artisanal wines that consistently score in the 90s in most wine publications. In fact, all his wines are 100% single variety, 100% single vintage, 100% single vineyard. You can find more information on their website here, or find them on Facebook here.

Dawson’s wine dinners are held every third Thursday of the month and have featured labels such as Alpha Omega, Far Niente/Nickel & Nickel, Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Hall Vineyards, Palmaz Vineyards, and Rodney Strong.

Tip: Check into Dawson’s using your smartphone and receive special perks for being a loyal customer. A free glass of select draft beer using Foursquare or a free glass of select wines using Yelp!

Dawson’s is now one of only two Sacramento restaurants to carry the prestigious AAA four diamond designation.

You can follow Dawson’s on twitter @DineDawsons and find them on Facebook here.


An Evening in Napa: Dinner Aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train and a Stay at The Meritage Resort

And we’re back! Happy 2014! Andy and I took a little overnight trip to Napa a few weeks ago, sponsored by The Napa Valley Wine Train and The Meritage Resort. What a way to kick off the new year.

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Back in Napa again at last and a return to one of our favorite places to stay: The Meritage Resort. By the way, at the end of this column, read about the inaugural Masters and Makers @ Meritage event being held at The Meritage Resort in February over Valentine’s Weekend. Attention couples, a great way to celebrate!

Here’s the lobby at The Meritage, and a shot of the room in which we stayed.

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After checking into our room, we had a glass of wine to kick off a romantic evening. I was so excited to return to the Napa Valley Wine Train for dinner, and this time I was able to bring Andy as my guest. I originally wrote about The Wine Train on my other website: cakegrrl.com. You can read the entry by clicking here. :)

The Wine Train Depot is located at 1275 McKinstry Street in the Oxbow district, just 5 minutes from downtown Napa on foot.

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TrainDiagram2013This is a diagram of the wine train. The Napa Valley Wine Train consists of nine rail cars and two engines on point: Lounge Cars (3), Lounge Car with Wine Tasting Bar (1), Gourmet Express Dining Cars (2), Silverado Car Al-Fresco Style Dining(1), Vista Dome Dining Car (1), Power Car (1), Chef de Cuisine Kitchen Car with Glass Observation Corridor (1)

Andy and I were assigned to the beautiful Vista Dome.

The Vista Dome is a 1952 Pullman domed rail car that offers the most private dining experience. The Vista Dome Car is an elevated observation style dining car expertly refurbished using Honduran Mahogany paneling and brass accents. Perfect for a private function or one of our special events, this domed rail car hosts up to 56 dining guests.

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Above is a picture taken inside the Vista Dome! I was feeling so spoiled and lucky to be sitting beside Andy. :) Especially when the server brought out the welcome glass of Chandon. All guests on the wine train get a glass of sparkling wine included with their dinner.

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Corkage on the Napa Valley Wine Train is $15.00 per 750ml bottle and $30 for a Magnum sized bottle. If you bring one bottle of wine on board and buy a bottle
on board, they will waive the corkage for that bottle. FYI, most of the wines on the Wine Train menu are very reasonably priced.

Andy brought a bottle of 2010 Bell Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon to share with our dinner. You can read more about the wine as well as buy it here. We highly
recommend!

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Our server was Petar, and here is a photo of him explaining the courses featured in the dinner we were to be served.

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menu
Here’s a picture the dinner menu we chose from. It is slightly different from the other dining car. Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald offers a unique menu for this dining option with all selections prepared in the kitchen located on the first floor of this car. The meals are freshly prepared on the train using fresh, environmentally responsible ingredients, humanely raised, hormone free meats and fresh, line caught fish. For a closer look, you can click here.

For our appetizers, Andy went with the Salmon Crepe and I chose the Rabbit Confit. The lighting in the Vista Dome was dim, but I did not want to use a flash, so please forgive the photos I took of our meal. They are slightly dark.

The Salmon Crepe is served with Crème Fraîche, American Caviar and Honey Onion Marmalade.

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Here’s a picture of the rabbit confit. Paleo? Heck no, but delightful and such a great treat. The Rabbit Confit is served on Porcini Toast with Wine Poached Mangoes and Fried Leeks.

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For our second course, I chose the salad, and Andy went with soup special.

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It was a shrimp and seafood bisque, and though we have been experiencing warmer than normal temperatures this winter, the temperature had dropped enough by the time we boarded the train to appreciate a delicious soup. :)

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The salad was not for dieters. ;) It was a Red and Green Apple Endive Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese, Hazelnuts and Mustard Vinaigrette. I was happy because I am on a real hazelnut kick right now and have been for a while.

After our second course, a sorbet trio was brought out. I forgot to snap a photo of it. The flavors were mango, pineapple, and mixed berry. They are made by the chefs at the Wine Train and were a wonderful intermezzo.

Then it was time for the entrees. Andy and I both chose the Roasted Beef Tenderloin on Potato‐Fennel Gratin topped with Fried Lotus Root and Red Onion Marmalade in a Red Wine Cabernet Reduction. I had reviewed the menu ahead of time and chosen my entrée and that is mainly why Andy brought the Bell Cabernet. The wine pairing was excellent. And though I gave a little bit of my beef portion to Andy to finish, it was all so good I had nothing left on my plate.

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After dinner, we were welcome to explore the train as the servers were busy plating our desserts. Below is a photo of the other dining car.

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And here’s a picture of the very narrow kitchen and a cook who obviously loves his job!

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It was quite the adventure walking from car to car and fun to catch some fresh air between courses. It sort of felt like we were in a James Bond movie! After that, we were re-seated to enjoy our desserts, as well as a glass of port that Andy and I shared.

Below is a picture of the dessert I chose, a Chocolate “Pot Pie” and below that, Andy’s dessert: a Blondie with Mint Ice Cream. This job is so tough, isn’t it? In typical fashion, I had a few bites and then shoved my dessert over to Andy, who did not object to finishing it. I was eying the blondie on his plate and asked for the chocolate-dipped edge. He gladly shared with me. I love eating meals with my best friend. :)

Chocolate Pot Pie
Blondie with Mint Ice Cream

Wine Train FAQs I found particularly interesting:
Q: Is a tip included in the price?
A: Optional tipping is solely based upon the guests’ experience on board. It is not unusual for guest to leave 3%-8% additional based upon receiving excellent service. Your tip should be on your food and beverage service (the value of your on board pre-paid meal is $55.00) per person tax included, and not the train fare.

Q: Is Wine Included?
A: One glass of welcome wine is included with every Wine Train package for guests who are over the age of 21. Wines are included during the Vintner’s Lunches and the monthly Moonlight Escape Dinners. Cocktails, beers and wine can be purchased on board throughout your journey. More than 100 wines are on the wine list and in the Wine Tasting Car.

Q: Do you have to drink wine on the Napa Valley Wine Train?
A: No, you do not have to drink wine on board the Napa Valley Wine Train.  For our guests who do not want to drink wine, we also offer juice, soda, non-alcoholic wines, beers, cocktails and brandies.

During the 3-hour-long, 36-mile (58 km) round-trip between Napa and St. Helena, passengers can choose to enjoy a gourmet  meal prepared on board. They can also sample several of the region’s wines available at the wine bar located in one of the lounge cars. The train offers optional stops for tours of Domaine Chandon Winery in Yountville, Grgich Hills Estate in Rutherford, and a motor coach tour of Raymond Winery in St. Helena and ZD Winery in Napa for an additional fee. The train hosts several special events throughout the year including murder mystery dinner theater, vintner’s luncheons, appellation dinners and holiday excursions. Guests are invited to explore the rest of the train after the entree and prior to the dessert.

The Napa Valley Wine Train has been in operation since September 16, 1989 and has now carried more than 2 million passengers.

Here’s a list of special events on The Wine Train, including a special Valentine’s lunch and dinner.

You can find the Napa Valley Wine Train on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Since I was a return guest, I was presented with some chocolates as a parting gift. (Some guests around us were repeat customers and also got chocolates as well, not just the journalist!) Since I was a little sad my mom (who lives in Ohio) was not there to enjoy this experience with us, I decided to send them to her and they are currently en route to the midwest. :)

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The next morning, it was time to pay for all those glorious calories and the night of indulgence aboard the Wine Train. :) Lucky for me, The Meritage Resort has a killer gym with a great view. And I put in over an hour on this bad boy:
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Then it was time for a well needed shower, just in time for check out. Thanks for everything to the staff at The Meritage Resort and see you next time!

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And now some information (provided by my public relations contact) on an upcoming event being held at The Meritage Resort!

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The Meritage Resort and Spa will host the inaugural Masters and Makers @ Meritage Napa Valley food and wine experience February 14 to February 16, 2014. This celebration will showcase Napa Valley and Sonoma County wines and farm-fresh foods through creative wine tasting experiences, seminars, culinary classes, a wine maker dinner in the Estate Cave, a wine tasting gala and more. Join The Meritage Resort’s Executive Chef, Krisztian Karkus, Master Sommeliers, including Gillian Balance from Treasury Wine Estates/Beringer and Fred Dame with Southern Wine and Spirits as well as some of the best and most well-known wine makers in the region.

The weekend of events is aimed at teaching each attendee, no matter their wine tasting background, from novice to aficionado, more about the wines the Napa Valley is famous for. Guests are able to choose from a variety of educational and fun activities throughout three days of tastings and events with master wine makers and master sommeliers making this the wine event that is not to be missed.

Masters and Makers @ Meritage begins Friday, February 14 with The Master and The Makers Tasting, an Amuse Bouche set to highlight five quintessential blended wines from the Napa Valley. Guests will taste the wines and listen as a Master of Wine and Master Sommelier taste and review each of the wines, giving their opinions and helping guests understand the art of wine tasting. The Friday night Reserve Wine Dinner in the Estate Cave will be led by Master Sommeliers as they take attendees on a food and wine journey and featuring Pine Ridge Vineyards.

On Saturday, guests are able to choose from one of three activities during the day and attend the evening wine tasting gala. The daytime activities include a Custom Wine Tour set to visit three classic Napa Valley wineries with tours and tastings at each, plus a picnic lunch. The Perfect Blending, an educational and hands-on course about what makes the perfect Bordeaux Blend including lunch and your own “Meritage Blend” with a custom wine label. Foodies may want to choose Cook to This! Trinitas Cellars Cooking Class and Wine Pairing, giving attendees the opportunity to create their own multi-course lunch with the help of culinary experts perfectly paired with wines selected by Trinitas Cellars.

The Gala and Grand Tasting on Saturday evening will transform The Grand Ballroom at The Meritage Resort into a majestic tasting room with live music and over 65 wineries from Napa Valley and Sonoma County to showcase many of the finest wines produced in the region. Alongside the wines will be endless culinary creations from the chefs at The Meritage Resort including a selection of seafood, caviars, cheeses, meats and decadent desserts.

Masters and Makers @ Meritage will close on Sunday with the farewell Bubbles & Brunch and a casual afternoon of tasting 30-40 wines at the Appellation Tasting paired with cheeses and charcuterie.

“We’re looking forward to bringing all of the premier wineries to one convenient spot to offer a premiere wine and food experience,” said Michael Palmer, general manager of The Meritage Resort and Spa. “Our goal with the Masters and Makers @ Meritage is to give attendees an exclusive weekend wine and food experience that only Napa Valley can provide.

Masters and Makers @ Meritage 3-Day All Access Passes are $509 per person, and include entry into all events on Friday, two events on Saturday (one daytime event and the evening gala) and all events on Sunday. Guests may also choose to purchase events and activities individually. Discounted room packages are also available, the $950 package includes a 3-Day All Access Passes for two and a two night stay, valid February 14-16, 2014 only. A portion of all ticket sales from The Gala and Grand Tasting will be donated to the Napa Valley’s COPE Family Center. Complete Information is available at TheMeritageResort.com/Napa-Valley-Restaurants/Masters-Makers/.

About The Meritage Resort and Spa
The Meritage Resort and Spa is an extraordinary four-diamond Napa Valley luxury resort set against a hillside vineyard. A destination unto itself, it features 322 Tuscan-inspired guestrooms and luxury suites, seasonal farm-to-table cuisine at the Siena Restaurant and wine tasting in the Estate Cave featuring Trinitas Cellars. Regain a healthful balance with curative treatments at Spa Terra—a lavish underground spa with steam grottoes, soaking pools, treatment alcoves and tranquil walls of water. The resort boasts the most comprehensive event and meeting space in the wine country, including the two largest ballrooms in the Napa Valley, the Estate Cave and three covered terraces. Crush Ultra Lounge offers guests a chance to relax with a full bar, sports entertainment and six bowling lanes. Far more than a place for relaxation, our unique property is an Old World escape from the ordinary. The Meritage Resort and Spa experience is the perfect blend of gracious hospitality, unrivaled amenities and peerless personal care. The Meritage Resort and Spa, We are Napa. TheMeritageResort.com.


Post-Race Wrap Up: Nike Women’s Half Marathon Series

It’s been exactly one week since I crossed the finish line in San Francisco at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. I was so honored to have run with the Whole Foods Market team and promote their stores. It makes me so happy to have a fitness/healthy living themed website and that I can inspire others to take care of themselves just a little bit better/more.

This website keeps me motivated, too. It keeps me in such a good place mentally with food and exercise. I would never expect someone else to live a lifestyle that I had not already adopted for myself. It makes me happy to be nearly 100% gluten free and about 90% sugar free. I feel so grateful that Whole Foods Market reached out to me and offered a place for me in a sold out race, paid for my race entry, and funded nearly all groceries I brought home in the last two months. It was such an advantage to have the best food available to me (local, organic, grass-fed, you name it) to nourish my body and help train for the race.

So here are some photos I took and some reflections I had on the race:

I was unable to pick up my bib prior to the Expo, so I attended on Saturday. Props to the staff at the Expo for being so efficient. I walked right up to an open computer kiosk and was helped immediately. I also received my pace bracelet so I knew where to line up for the start of the race the next day.

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Then I met with some of the staff at the Whole Foods booth inside the Expo. I was given my team shirt that I was supposed to wear during the race (if I wanted to wear it) and I was all set! Let the nerves kick in…

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But first, it was dinner at a great restaurant (walking distance from the hotel in which I stayed) called Le Charm. I posted this picture because I was wearing the Nike Women’s Finisher’s necklace from last year that my friend Maria gave me. By the way, if you are ever in San Francisco check out Le Charm (SOMA district). They have a great $35 pre fixe dinner and a very sensible wine list.

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A little bit about the race. It’s crowded. Like, really crowded. This race had a record 30,000 participants. And the pace bracelets we were given didn’t mean much because somehow despite being corralled in the second wave of runners, there was a huge bottleneck from people who were walkers/joggers and must have taken off during the first start time. It was bob and weave for nearly the entire race. But, it was the biggest race I have ever run in, so there was really no way around it. And the course was challenging. If you have ever run the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati, it was similar to that, only a little higher in total elevation gain.

So, those were the little caveats of the race. And here’s me running in it! :)

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The positives? Quite a lot. The weather was perfect. It was pretty chilly before the start of the race, but I stayed about a half mile from the starting line, so I jogged to it as a warm up.
The same course I described earlier as challenging, is also quite amazing and scenic. You get to see a lot of touristy San Francisco, as well park areas and some very nice residential areas. I loved running past the Argonaut Hotel, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and the Buena Vista Café (Fisherman’s Wharf). And one good thing about the hills that start just after that, if you must run uphill, you then get to run back down! Thanks to a few long runs in Incline Village, I am more able to handle/control my downhill running, so I was able to take advantage of the downhills to make up some of the time I lost to the crowds earlier in the race. And I know I was smiling in the photo below because I was feeling strong and there was a great song channeling into my ears. The air felt so good on my head and in my lungs.

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The spectators were pretty thick along the course and it makes me happy to think that some of them are just locals who got out of bed and wanted to watch all the runners go by.

My official chip time was 1:55:14, which was an 8:48 min/mile pace. Not a PR, but I am happy with my time considering the circumstances. I finished 139th out of 3065 people. And yes, the part about receiving a Tiffany necklace from a San Francisco firefighter when you finish the race is true!! So, I get to wear my “medal” for this half marathon every single day.

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When I got home from San Francisco that afternoon, I ran 3.1 more miles because I knew I would be pretty trashed the next day anyway. I also thought about all the women who had just run the full marathon. And my total for the day 16.7-ish still didn’t even come close to the majestic 26.2. That day got my mileage for the next week off to a great start, and by yesterday I had put in 55.7 miles… which is the most I have ever run in a week. Am I considering a marathon? You bet I am. But I still don’t feel like I am ready. I would like to run at least 3 or for more 1/2 marathons and a 20 mile race before I attempt to run a full marathon. The reason why is because I would like to run the entire marathon as opposed to walking any of it. To me, that’s the point of a race of any distance. To run it as fast as you can on that given day–although nine times out of ten the race will not be perfect, so you suck it up and just try and do your best.

I took this shot of me wearing my finisher’s shirt and my 2013 finisher’s necklace. You can tell I was tired, but felt so satisfied. Thank you SO MUCH Whole Foods Northern California for asking me to partner with you for this event and I hope we can do it again next year!! :)

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You can find Whole Foods on Facebook here and on twitter here. My local store is in Roseville on Facebook here. The Nike Women’s Series is on Facebook here.

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I Ran the Run for Courage: The Race to End Human Trafficking

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I’ll begin by saying that “human trafficking” should just be referred to as “sex slavery” because that’s exactly what it is. Human trafficking is just too light of a term to describe what goes on every day. Even in the United States. Even in my state. Even in Sacramento, California.

There are an estimated 4 to 27 million slaves in the world today. Slavery by modern standards has been broken into 2 categories by Unicef and the US government: Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking. Sex trafficking as: “a commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”

And there are 100,000-300,000 sex slaves in the U.S. Right now. In 2013. Typically the victims are young girls (average age is 13) who seek love, affection, approval. Approximately 60% are foster home youths. Vulnerable souls who may be homeless, bullied or orphaned. The statistics are sickening. We live in an evil world.

Some victims don’t report their situation because they are afraid. Or they are shamed. Or maybe they are just loyal to their “master”. Sometimes it’s just hopelessness that leads their silence. My heart is heavy for these broken souls, and that is why I am trying to help the Run for Courage, Inc. organization and Vicki Zito spread her message.

Vicki Zito founded Run For Courage after her 17 year old girl was taken from local suburb and made a sex slave for 8 days before the FBI finally came to her rescue. Following the tragedy, and having never heard the term “sex trafficking”, Vicki Zito, Ashlie Bryant, Stephanie Loos, Amy Johnson, founded Run For Courage, Inc.

Here are some other facts from the Run for Courage website:

  • It is estimated that 100,000 to 300,000 children are being sexually exploited each year in the United States and approximately 1.2 million sex trafficked victims overseas.
  • The average age of the victims recovered in The United States is 13 years; overseas, the average age is 10 years.
  • Trafficking of minor girls is the fastest growing crime in the U.S.
  • Pimps can make up to $652,000 on 4 girls
  • Convictions net 5-8 years in CA
  • With “good behavior” it is much less
  • Convictions net 12-15 years from the Feds

I found out about the organization when a friend of mine (Jed, winner of the 5K for 3 years in a row) ran the race last year and afterward attended a party that Andy and I were having. He was wearing the medal he won and he told us a little about the race and the cause.

I then found Run for Courage online, but it still didn’t register to me how much of a massive problem that sex slavery really is (even locally). It was not until this year then I was sent an email from my blogger buddy Margaret asking if their were any bloggers out there who would be interested in covering the 2013 Race for Courage (taking pictures of the race and writing about it). And then there was the moving interview with Ashlie Bryant I heard on the Armstrong and Getty show. You can listen to the interview here.

I immediately called Erin Walsh (Margaret’s contact for the organization), because my plan was to see if she might be interested in having me actually run the race and write about it from a runner’s point of view. We spoke for a while about the sort of post I would write, and a few days later I was on my way to pick up my race packet at Sports Authority in Folsom.

I was not sure whether I wanted to run the 5K or the 10K… I was eager to try and improve my times for both distances. I finally decided on the 10K, and decided I would try and break 50:00 mins. (My PR at the time was 50:31.)

Everything was perfect the morning of the race. The weather cooperated, and I had plenty to eat and just enough sleep the night before. I put on my running clothes and pinned on my number, and I was ready for battle!

The Run for Courage was one of the best organized local races I have run. There is such a great vibe in the air. There are so many volunteers and sponsors at Run for Courage. Even though we all gathered there together to benefit a cause born out of an unpleasant situation, everyone had a smile on their face. There were even entire families that ran the race together. The course was very well marked and there was always someone to cheer you on and point you in the right direction to keep you on course.

As for me, I ran as hard as I could. The entire time. The course is not an easy one. It is mostly paved, but it is a bit hilly, and there are many parts of the course where I was running on dirt, gravel, and across several foot bridges. I found a few people to run with that really kept me going, but by the fourth mile, I was getting a little tired. I remembered thinking about a training run i had done the week before that was 11.25 miles long. I remember being at the 9th mile and thinking… “it’s only two more miles and we’re done.” So, I applied the same attitude to this race. I told myself that it would all be over in less than 20 minutes. I was not struggling for air, and I was not in pain. I actually felt blessed. So on I went, and I reached the finish line just 11 seconds shy of my goal. I crossed at 50:10, still a new personal record by 20 seconds! My average pace per mile was 8 minutes and 5 seconds. I was pretty thrilled with that.

Thanks to Erin Walsh and Ashlie Bryant for allowing me to be a part of the Run for Courage. I only hope I can encourage my readers to run the upcoming race in Oakland on November 2nd, or to join the race next year.

I hung around a little bit after the race to watch the awards ceremony, and to chat with some others who had also run the race. That day over 2,800 people registered to walk or run and there were 300 volunteers!

You can run the Run for Courage 5K or 10K on November 2nd in Oakland at Lake Merritt. Learn more and register for the race here.

You can visit the Run for Courage Facebook page here.


Total Wine & More Wine Classes and Events

I’ve had the privilege of attending numerous food and wine events (at no cost to me) since I started writing about the topic in 2005. See, this website is good for something. :) My love of wine began when I was about 24. Someone introduced me to a few labels you could actually get in Ohio back in 2002 without traveling very far: Yellowtail Chardonnay, Penfolds Shiraz, and Beringer (shriek) White Zinfandel. I was intrigued with wine not only because I liked the flavor and smell, but because it seemed to amplify flavors in food and make all the things I cooked taste so much better. Even the White Zinfandel ;)

So I kept drinking the very mainstream stuff until I came out to California for the first time in 2003. I visited Napa Valley and had my first winery tour at Mondavi. I also saw V. Sattui and Coppola’s estate. It was really something for me to experience. I felt something I had never felt before standing there in front of the chateau at Francis Ford Coppola Winery: like I belonged there. In California. In Napa Valley. On a Sunday. A warm, breezy afternoon, two glasses in. Feeling this warm, true, honest feeling as much as possible. This. Is. The. Life.

After my inaugural trip, I became obsessed with relocating to California and living my dream.* I worked two jobs and by June of 2004, I made it happen, moving myself and my most essential belongings 2,319 miles in my car in 3 days.

Fast forward 9 years later, and I am still loving wine, learning more about it everyday and have (not so) secret aspirations to eventually become a sommelier. In an effort to learn more and an indulgence to taste some really great selections, Andy and I recently attended a wine class at Total Wine & More led by Theo Snyder, the manager at Total Wines & More, Arden Location.

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It was titled “Romancing the Rhone”. A “Bordeaux, How do I love thee … let me count the ways” class will be offered on Thursday, October 10th, from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

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Included with the classes are little snacks (cheeses, fruit, and charcuterie)  that pair really well with the wines, but don’t overpower them. The wine still remains the focal point.

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And does it ever. At the class, you get a printed breakdown of all the wines you’ll be trying, as well as a writing utensil to take notes. You can write all the things you liked/disliked about the wines. Theo is an encyclopedia of knowledge and I promise you, you will walk away with something you didn’t know before the class.

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My mind was um, blown to say the least with this white châteauneuf-du-pape (25% Roussanne, 25% Grenache, 25% Bourboulenc and 25% Clairette) which I didn’t even know was produced/existed. That one is a must try.

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We tried about 6 different wines during the class. Beyond that, they were all French wines (hence the Rhône name of the class) and very obscure to me. I don’t have the chance to try them that often, because I usually try new wines at local fundraisers and wine events, at which mostly local wines are poured. I loved having a forum to taste new things and discuss them with people of all knowledge levels. To hear feedback from other class members noting what they liked and why. And to hear Theo tell me all the stuff I didn’t know.

Want to get in on the next one? Here’s how. October 10th. If you can’t make that class, but would like to learn more and see a full schedule of wine events, you can click here.

You can visit Total Wine & More’s facebook page here. Cheers!


Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association’s 23rd Annual Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event: October 5th, 2013, 4-7pm

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It’s that time of year again, and I can’t believe it’s already here! The Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association’s 23rd Annual Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden event presented by Cook Realty, benefitting Sierra 2 Center for the Arts & Community, McClatchy High School Drama Club and Debate Club, and Bret Harte Elementary School will take place on Saturday, October 5th, 2013 from 4-7pm at the Sierra 2 Center.

If you are a wine lover and only attend one event per year, this is the one you should experience. Make it your mission to visit Taylor’s Market wine booth to meet Dick Ebert (wine guru at Taylor’s Market) and check out “Dick’s Picks.”

cavegrrl.com readers may recall this event as especially important to me because it is where I met Andy almost 2 years ago. If you don’t know our story, here’s my post from last year to get you up to speed :)

This year, the event boasts more than twenty of the areas finest restaurants, fifty wineries, and a dozen breweries will be sampling their culinary treats and beverages to nearly six hundred enthusiasts within the halls and courtyards of the historic Sierra 2 Arts & community Center. Attendees will spend an indulgent three hours sampling food and drink, vying for high-end auction items and ‘experiences’, and socializing with other guests. In addition to the usual tasting rooms and outdoor pavilion, the event features an outdoor Craft and Belgian Beer Garden orchestrated by Pangaea Two Brews Café and, as a unique offering, cooking demonstrations by Roxanne O’Brien’s culinary students from American River College’s Oak Cafe.

The Wine Tasting & Silent Auction committee has confirmed some of its favorites will return again, like The Supper Club, Lucca, Aioli Bodega, Tower Café, Chops Steakhouse, Espresso Metro, Taylor’s Market, American River College’s Oak Café, Dad’s Kitchen, Gunther’s Ice Cream, and Freeport Bakery.

Scott’s Seafood will also be returning with their fabulous oyster dish. Newcomer of Wicked ‘Wich mobile food truck fame is Chris Jarosz, introducing his brick and mortar restaurant, Broderick’s.

On the beverage front, the aforementioned Dick Ebert, is again coordinating the more than fifty wineries to bring the palate to a perfect state of seduction. There will be no shortage of ways to pair the food options with the beverages flowing from table to table, with representatives on hand to answer questions and provide suggestions.

As tantalizing as the gustatory elements might be, they’re not the only aspects of the event that patrons look forward to. Each year over one-hundred fifty items are put up for bid on silent auction or included in a raffle. The spa certificates, unique art and photography pieces, ceramic sculpture, “green building” consultations, fencing lessons, and musical instruments have no problems finding bidders. But the items that cause the most stir are the experience-based packages and the private group dinners. These ‘experience packages’ combine the best in educational and cultural outings, culinary and gustatory adventures, and outdoor recreation experiences. Vacation rental packages for Lake Tahoe, Santa Cruz, and Cabo San Lucas will surely get even the most reluctant bidder in the game.

In addition to the art, entertainment, and service donations, we have lined up such things as Date Night packages, Private wine tastings in Napa, Cut your own organic Christmas Tree outing, Create the Flavor of the Month at Gunther’s Ice Cream and more. Italian language classes packaged with Italian delicacies and Chianti, Date-night packages including restaurant and entertainment vouchers, private wine-tasting experiences at wineries, and the opportunity to create the ‘Flavor of the Month’ at Gunther’s Ice Cream are small representatives of what will be offered this year. Not to be missed!

One of the most fun and unique aspects of the Curtis Park Wine Tasting & Silent Auction event is the ‘neighborhood dinners’—privately hosted, themed events for six or more people, donated to SCNA for individual seat purchase by neighbors. This year, more than a dozen of these “dinners” will include themes such as southern-style Kentucky Derby Day brunch, a ‘Pub Crawl’, French and Indian cuisine, Specialty Wine and Cheese pairings, and more.

The Sierra 2 Center for the Arts and Community is a charming, Andalusian Spanish Revival-style stucco building built in 1923 as an elementary school.

Located on three lushly landscaped acres in the beautiful Curtis Park neighborhood within easy reach of midtown and downtown Sacramento, the historic site was saved from demolition by SCNA in 1979. SCNA’s members and community volunteers renovated the school, transforming it into a non-profit center for artistic, cultural and educational activities.

Included as a beneficiary of the event in 2013 are two groups that are as important to the development of young people in our community as any: the C.K. McClatchy High School Drama Club and the Debate Club. SCNA is proud to promote and support these two groups through our fundraising efforts. Additionally, local school Bret Harte Elementary has been gifted with $30,000 since 2003 for its participation in the event.

The remainder of the event proceeds goes to the upkeep and restoration of the Sierra 2 Center, and to support SCNA initiatives such as the operation of the Senior Center at Sierra 2, hosting neighborhood gatherings such as Music in the Park and children’s playgroups, the artisan festival in William Curtis Park-Curtis Fest, and enhancing general neighborhood quality of life.

Advance tickets thru 10/2: $35 SCNA Members; $45 Non-members. Tickets from 10/3 to event day are $50 for everyone. To purchase tickets or receive more information on the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association’s 23rd Annual Wine Tasting & Silent Auction, please call the Sierra 2 Center at (916) 452-3005. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.sierra2.org thru 10/2. The Sierra 2 Center is located at 2791 24th Street, Sacramento, 95818

You can follow the Sierra 2 Center on twitter here and find them on Facebook here.

RSVP for the 23rd Annual Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden on Facebook here.


American Red Cross Tablescapes Event 2013 Returns to Pottery World September 26th

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The American Red Cross Capital Region Chapter invites you to Tablescapes 2013 on Thursday, September 26th, 2013,  at Pottery World, located at 4419 Granite Drive, Rocklin, CA 95667. The event starts at 6:00 p.m. and lasts until 9:00 p.m.

The Tiffany Circle, Society of Women Leaders, of the American Red Cross, is a powerful leadership network of women who want to change lives and strengthen communities through a focused investment of their time, talent and treasure.

Join us for this magnificent annual American Red Cross event and mingle with interior designers, event planners, florists, and artists showcasing themed table setting displays. Gather ideas for every occasion and holiday, as you enjoy live music, wine tasting and light refreshments. Cast your vote for the best design and see how your vote matches up to our panel of local celebrity judges.

Bring your checkbooks as Pottery World is generously offering 15% off all purchases made at this event and 10% of all sales proceeds will go directly to the American Red Cross.

Tickets are available for advance purchase for $30 at american.redcross.org/2013Tablescapes or by calling (916) 993-7082. Tickets will also be sold the day of the event at the door for $35.

Discounted tickets may also be purchased in advance at Pottery World for $25.

You can find Pottery World on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

 


Luxe for Life Benefit August 17th at the Elks Tower Ballroom

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Luxe for Life
Elks Tower Ballroom, Downtown Sacramento
7:30pm | Private VIP Reception beginning at 6:30pm

This year, Luxe for Life will be held at the Elks Tower Ballroom on August 17th, starting at 7:30 p.m. The event will showcase local restaurants, cocktails, live and silent auctions and a live band, complete with dancing. The evening’s host will be artist David Garibaldi.

Evening includes:
Cocktails
Tasty nibbles by Sacramento’s finest restaurants
“Objects of Desire” silent and live auction
Dancing to live music

Cocktail Attire strongly suggested.

Ticket information:
Single tickets: $125

Jet Set Couple Package: $300;
Includes Two (2) VIP event tickets, with reserved VIP seating, private VIP reception & hosted Bar; name recognition on event website; and name recognition on event signage.

BUY TICKETS HERE.

For sponsorship information, please contact Sarah Mullins at 916.290.8201.

The Sacramento Children’s Home is committed to helping build strong families; to opening doors to the future; to maximizing potential; and ending the cycle of child abuse. The Sacramento Children’s Home provides care to the most vulnerable children and families in the Sacramento community. Established in 1867, the Sacramento Children’s Home has always been deeply committed to the care of children and families. Our community-based, residential and educational programs address the issues of children, newborn to 21, and range from prevention of child abuse and parenting education, to acute trauma treatment.

You can find the Sacramento Children’s Home on Facebook here.


I Hate These “Burger Lines”… Buy Your Ticket to the Sacramento Burger Battle Now!!

The Sacramento Burger Battle is September 18th, at 7pm, Raley Field!! Purchase a VIP ticket and skip those burger lines!!


Everybody eat up
Everybody eat up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

If you haven’t heard ’bout the juicy burgers
About the throwdown on top of Raley Field
You live under a rock
I feel so bad for you
Maybe you’ll be there this time…

Everybody eat up

OK now it was close, the burger competition
Won by Chef’s Table, but, can they do it this year?
You don’t need to mustard
Hey, hey, hey
You don’t need no ketchup
Hey, hey, hey
To be the winning burger

And that’s why I’m gon’ get a burger
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
Tasty burger
Can’t let it get past me
Not wrapped in plastic
Talk about those grill marks
I hate these burger lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a burger
The way you tasted
Must wanna win badly
Go ahead, vote for me
Everybody eat up

What do they make fries for
When you got a burger?
What do we need buns for?
That’s hottest bite in this place!
Make them feel lucky
Hey, hey, hey
Raise so much money
Hey, hey, hey
The Burger Battle
Hey, hey, hey

OK now it was close, the burger competition
Won by Chef’s Table, but, can they do it this year?
You don’t need to mustard
Hey, hey, hey
You don’t need no ketchup
Hey, hey, hey
To be the winning burger

Everybody eat up
Everybody eat up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

OK, sorry, I love that song… had to put it to good use! Here’s all you need to know about this year’s Sacramento Burger Battle!

Ticket sales are on for the 2013 Sacramento Burger Battle, which will be held at Raley Field on Wednesday, September 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at Ticketmaster or at the Raley Field box office.

Prices start at $55 and include burger samples, drinks and side items from vendors, and parking. For $75 guests can purchase a VIP ticket, which includes early admission to the event and a raffle ticket.

Competing restaurants include 2012 champion Chef’s Table and People’s Choice winner Krush Burger. They will be met on the field of battle by returning contenders de Vere’s Irish Pub and Ettore’s, as well as newcomers Roxy Restaurant and Bar and Bacon & Butter. The remaining competitors will be announced over the weeks leading up to the event.

The winner of the 2013 Sacramento Burger Battle will be chosen by a panel of judges that includes food writer Chris Macias, award-winning chefs Patrick Mulvaney and Randall Selland, and Rick Mindermann from Corti Brothers. The competitor with the best burger will receive the custom-made belt presented to last year’s victor and will go on to represent Sacramento in the Burger Division at the World Food Championship in Las Vegas later this year. The People’s Choice award will be given to the competitor with the most votes by event guests.

The inaugural event in September 2012 raised more than $27,000 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) through ticket, merchandise, and raffle ticket sales.

Conceived by nationally ranked burger blogger and Sacramento resident Rodney Blackwell, the Sacramento Burger Battle is designed to showcase the local food and dining scene as well as raise money for CCFA. “I’m excited to see what burgers will be presented, and especially what returning competitors have in store for the judges and guests,” says Blackwell.

To stay updated on the latest news regarding competitors and vendors, as well as special announcements, follow Sacramento Burger Battle’s Facebook Page and Twitter account, or sign up for the free e-newsletter at sacburgerbattle.com


Recap of the California State Fair Cooking Demo & Recipes

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Look at that beautiful crowd! I want to thank all the people who came out to our cooking demo at the California State Fair. I realize many people were just passing through the kitchen and saw a place to sit down for a while, but there were a lot of people who stayed through our class, and many who actually new about Paleo, and wanted more information.

I was impressed there were a few couples in the crowd that showed up to see the demo because they already practice the Paleo/Primal diet/lifestyle. They were so nice to us (important because of my semi-stage fright/shyness), and it was fun to compare notes and results. It was a real encouragement to have like-minded people in the audience cheering us on!

Andy made a dish from last year, his ever-popular Bacon Wrapped Dates, which are simply three of the best ingredients you can find, bundled in a little package and secured with a toothpick. Pecan halves, Medjool dates and thick-cut premium (preferably applewood-smoked) bacon. Below is Andy making a tray to be baked in the oven (while we are actually doing the cooking demo) so some samples would be ready to be passed around before the end of the class.

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We were supplied with pitted Medjool dates (along with the rest of our ingredients) this year thanks to Savemart. The pitted dates saved a step in prepping those trays, as Andy places half a pecan in place of the pit, and wraps the date in one half slice of thick cut bacon, then secures each piece with a toothpick.

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After your tray looks like this, place in the oven at 400°F and bake for 12-15 minutes (start checking them when it gets close). The bacon should be cooked and browned.

For my part of the demo, I made this Paleo Mud Pie. Recipe is below:

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Serves 30-40 people

Crust:
3 cups almond flour/almond meal
1 stick of butter or 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine crust ingredients and spread on a large baking/jellyroll pan (you’ll want the pan to be at least 2″ deep).

Bake the crust for 20 mins at 375°F, or until you can smell the butter and the crust has turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare your filling:

For the Filling:
8 medium -10 large Avocados
1 cup honey (ohhh yeahhhh)
8 Tbs Almond butter (once again, ohhh yeahhh)
1 cup cocoa powder
3 Tbs instant coffee
1/4 cup hot water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Topping:
1-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Place the instant coffee in the hot water and allow to dissolve completely.
So, since there are a lot of ingredients quantity wise, you’ll want to split the recipe into half and then mix it all together in a big bowl. For instance: In a food processor, pureé the 4-5 avocados in a food processor, add 1/2 cup honey, 4 Tbs almond butter, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, then 1/2 the coffee mixture and 1 tsp vanilla. Transfer the mixture into one big bowl, then repeat with the remainder of the ingredients.

Then you’ll combine both chocolatey mixtures into one big bowl and stir together to incorporate fully. When the two mixtures are combined completely, spread them over the cooled crust, and then refrigerate the pie for 2-3 hours before serving.

To serve, sprinkle 1-2 cups chocolate chips over the pie. If you can get mini-chips, even better. I prefer the Enjoy Life brand because they are dairy free.

Paleo. Chocolatey. Mocha. Goodness.

The State Fair experience makes me want to do some local cooking demos/classes. Would anyone be willing to attend/pay for that sort of thing? Just curious. Leave me a note and tell me your thoughts!! xo


Another Giveaway! Win 2 Tickets to Off to the Races, August 17th, 5:30-8:00pm

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Here’s a press release from my friends at Eres Rice Communications! Don’t forget to leave a comment below and enter to win a pair of tickets to Off to the Races, Saturday, August 17th at the Pavilions!! :) -cg


SACRAMENTO––As Race for the Arts celebrates 15 years, “Off to the Races,” the Race for the Arts’ premiere event, continues its tradition in the beautiful garden setting of The Pavilions Shopping Center on Fair Oaks Boulevard.  Guests will be treated to music performed by six-time Elly Award winner  El Dorado Musical Theatre, along with additional entertainment.

Guests will taste a sampling of wines from Napa Cellars, St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery, Mount Aukum Winery, Sean Minor Wines, Cielo Estate Winery, Barefoot Wines, Heringer Estate Winery, and Lava Cap Winery.

An assortment of scrumptious hors d’oeuvres will be prepared by Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Fabian’s Italian Bistro, Monsoon – Cuisine of India, Roxy’s Restaurant & Bar, Sutter Street Steakhouse, The Mandarin, T&R Taste of Texas, Florez Bar Grill, Cafe Bernardo, and Raley’s Fine Foods, and Starbucks.

Honoring this year’s artwork  provided by world-renowned Sacramento artist Wayne Thiebaud, Capital Confections will be sampling their Sofi-Award winning gelato.

August 1 – 17, enter the Pavilions’ Shopping Spree – a chance to win a $1,000 Shopping Spree at any of the shops in the Pavilions Shopping Center.  Additionally, win $1,000 for your chosen arts organization or school program. One entry form per store per day, please.

“Off to the Races”, Race for the Arts’  premiere event, a wine & food tasting sponsored by The Pavilions
When:        Saturday, August 17
Time:          5:30 – 8:00 pm
Where:       Pavilions Shopping Center, Fair Oaks Boulevard (east of Howe Avenue) Sacramento
Cost:           $50
INFORMATION:  (916) 933-4056, www.raceforthearts.com, and tickets available online and at the door.

You can find Race for the Arts on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

ENTER TO WIN! Win a pair of tickets to Off to the Races by leaving a comment below. Which one of the featured restaurants (listed above) are you looking forward to trying? I will draw a winner on Friday. Remember, if you follow me on twitter and retweet this blog post, you get an extra entry!


4th Annual Grape Days of Summer Wine Tasting: August 3rd and 4th

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Here’s a press release from my friends at the Placer County Vintners Association! Hope you can join us for the 4th Annual Grape Days of Summer :) -cg

AUBURN, Calif., July 16, 2013—Many Sacramento residents aren’t aware that there are nearly 20 award-winning wineries right in their own backyard—along the Placer County Wine Trail.  The trail runs from Lincoln to Loomis, Newcastle to Auburn and up into Meadow Vista, which is also convenient for Reno and Tahoe residents.  On August 3rd and 4th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Placer County vintners invite local residents to try the region’s noteworthy wines at Grape Days of Summer, a farm-to-table wine tasting event.

Vintners are partnering with local restaurants and artisans for the annual event in which attendees will enjoy wine and barrel tastings, complementary fare, live music, vineyard tours and educational experiences.  Educational activities will include sessions on winemaking, farming, sustainable practices in the vineyard and more.  Tickets are $30 per person in advance and can be purchased at http://bit.ly/vKYTb3, $40 per person at the door.

Highlights of Grape Days of Summer include:

  • Celebrate local agriculture at Le Casque with an Alpaca demonstration, hayrides and a historical farm tour.  Food provided by Flower Farm Catering.
  •  Dono dal Cielo will feature the local sounds of Ghost of the Opera House on Saturday afternoon and Two Barrels Shy on Sunday afternoon.  Karen McGillivray, the winery’s owner, will lead educational vineyard tours at 12 and 2 p.m. both days and food will be provided by the Chef’s Table.
  • Have a “A Zinful Experience!” at Lone Buffalo Vineyards, where you’ll experience an interactive sensory tasting, sip the winery’s gold medal-winning 2010 Thunder Beast Zinfandel, and enjoy grass-fed bison and PlacerGROWN beef sliders prepared by Café’ Zorro’s Gourmet Garage Catering. 
  • Popie Wines and Ciotti Cellars will provide an interactive bottling session of a special PlacerGROWN blend of wine and the High Hand Café will provide food & wine pairings.
  • Wise Villa Winery will offer guests live music and gourmet tastes from its on-site bistro.

For a Grape Days of Summer event map and other information, visit www.placerwine.com

ABOUT PLACER COUNTY VINTNERS ASSOCIATION:

The Placer County Wine Trail is organized by the Placer County Vintners Association, a nonprofit association created to provide a forum for wineries to collaborate on events and programs.  Together the Association also develops marketing programs to raise awareness of the Placer County wine region.  The group believes that sharing best practices with all county wineries inspires the vintners to provide a high quality experience for winery visitors.  For more information and maps, visit www.placerwine.com or call (916) 663‐4486.

ABOUT PLACERGROWN:

Supported by Placer County, PlacerGROWN is the information source dedicated to educating residents about the freshest agricultural products the region has to offer.  Through its website, social media channels, and other outreach programs, PlacerGROWN connects community members with the farms, orchards, ranches, wineries, nurseries, farmers’ markets and specialty food stores in one of the most diverse growing areas in Northern California. To discover the bounty of agricultural products produced by farmers who call Placer County home, or for more information about PlacerGROWN, visit www.placergrown.org.

The Placer County Wine Trail runs from Lincoln to Loomis to Newcastle and Auburn and is easily accessible from I-80 and Highway 49.

RELATED LINKS:

Placer County Wine Trail website

Placer County Wine Trail on Facebook

PlacerGROWN website

PlacerGROWN on Facebook

Photo Credit: Barry L Walton


Last Night’s Sneak Peek of Capital Dime

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Yesterday around 9:30am, I received an invitation to a preview tasting of Capital Dime, Midtown Sacramento’s newest (and highly anticipated) restaurant owned by Noah Zonca (former chef at The Kitchen) and Rick Lobley (co-founder of Ink and Empire). I sent in my RSVP with Kobayashi-like hot dog eating speed. OMG! What do I wear?!?!? ;)

What is the concept of Capital Dime? According to the Chef, the restaurant’s goal is to make the farm-to-fork movement accessible to affordable for almost everyone. Most of the the plates will be priced around $10, in a setting that can be formal, but not snobby (there are booths in the downstairs along with a few flatscreen TVs). And their logo is pretty neat, too.

In my opinion, the odds of success are in Chef Zonca’s favor. He waited until the real estate prices were lower to open Capital Dime, and has several long time relationships with farmers and suppliers (securing good pricing for him to pass onto customers). Not to mention all those loyal fans from The Kitchen. And the great location. And the tasty plates were tried:

To start, Andy and I enjoyed a cocktail named “Boxers and Bobbysocks,” created by head bartender Rene Dominguez (who has worked at Ella Dining Room and Bar), containing gin, bitters, muddled cherries and rosemary.

Some of the bites we tasted were (shown above in the slideshow) an artichoke dip on a crostini paired with pulled pork in a mini tostada. The next course was a spicy shrimp and watermelon salad featuring a few Asian ingredients: bonito flakes, fish sauce juxtaposed with fresh mozzarella and squash blossoms arranged beautifully on a tea leaf. I liked the salad more and more with each bite as it took me a minute to wrap my brain around the combining flavors. I like just about anything with watermelon in it this time of year. The next sampler was a slider of pastrami (cured and smoked in house) paired with shoestring fries. The fries were topped with what appeared to be gravy, bacon and cheese. Look ma, no calories!!

The dessert was a soft chocolate-chip cookie. I try to stay away from these types of things, happy with the natural sugar level in my drink, so Andy happily snarfed had four of them. Andy, thanks for taking one for the team, I know it’s hard work. The chef says there will not be a dessert menu and doesn’t currently have a pastry chef. Noah, this is my formal application. LOL. Pick me! I’d serve my gluten-free s’more pie from the party and I put on at Caverna 57 on Saturday.

Capital Dime will be participating in Sacramento’s Bastille Day Celebration on July 14th. They will have a booth with free appetizers from 11:30 am to 3 pm.

Capital Dime is located at 1801 L St., Suite 50, in the former space of L Wine Lounge. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here. Here’s a video from last night posted by The Sacramento Bee, with Zonca being interviewed by Janelle Bitker. Andy and I are in the very beginning! :)


Runaway Stage Productions Presents The Wizard of Oz, July 5th-28th

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Here’s some info from my friends at Runaway Stage Productions on their latest performance. I’m looking forward to seeing it this Friday night! -cg

Join Dorothy as she’s swept away from farmland Kansas and enters a world of color and magic. Dance and sing along the yellow brick road with her companions, Toto, Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion. And click your heels together as you rediscover the real story of OZ in this fantastic musical treat for the whole family! But watch out for the Wicked Witch of the West and her winged monkeys. Fantasy and excitement await you on the road to discovering your heart’s desires at Runaway Stage Productions.

“Since the movie is so beloved, great care is taken to bring the spirit of the story to the live stage,” RSP Artistic Director Bob Baxter said. “We have a few magical tricks up our sleeves, and I am sure audiences will enjoy the live production of this classic family tale.”

The RSP production will use the Royal Shakespearean script and closely follow the classic Judy Garland MGM film. A resident orchestra accompanies a talented cast that includes RSP favorites Director Bob Baxter as the Cowardly Lion, Eduard Arakelyan as the Scarecrow in need of some brains, Hal DuBiel as the Tin Man searching for his heart, Amy Jacques-Jones as Glinda the Good and Ruth Phillips as the Wicked Witch. Lydia Smith plays Dorothy.

“As usual, RSP has worked very hard to find the best talent in Sacramento, as well as the best choreography, puppetry, full live orchestra, and all the special effects we can do at the 24th Street Theatre,” Baxter said. “Audiences have come to expect the best in community theatre from RSP, and The Wizard of Oz is no exception. I am excited to bring this wonderful show to our audiences at an affordable ticket price.”

Baxter said RSP’s production will stretch the technical aspects of the company and bring the magic of “The Wizard of Oz” to life on stage as a rewarding and fun adventure. The score includes the classic songs “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “If I Only…,” “We’re Off to See The Wizard” and more.

“Families, children and yes, even adults all relate to this story,” Baxter said. “It is part of American culture, and the fantasy, live on stage, makes this show the perfect family show to see again and again!”

The Wizard of Oz performs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM 7/5-7/28, 2013. TICKETS – Adults: $25 – Seniors (60+): $23 – Students: $21 – Children (12 & under): $18. Tickets can be purchased online at www.runawaystage.com (convenience fees apply) or at the door. For further information or questions, please call the box office at (916) 207-1226. Free parking is available. You can find Runaway Stage Productions on Facebook here.


A Weekend in Carmel: The Hofsas House Hotel

Remember a few weekends ago when Sacramento felt hotter than Christie Brinkley in the Uptown Girl video? (Here’s a link for the children in the audience). Well, Andy and I were able to escape the brutality (before melting) on a little getaway in Carmel, kindly hosted by the Hofsas House Hotel.

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It happened to be my birthday weekend, which made the trip even more awesome. And again, so happy to have Andy in my life and to treat him to fun couple of days in return for treating me to great wine and occasional dinners out, as well as most of dinners made at his home on the weekend. Below is the front of the part of the hotel in which we stayed. I have never seen such great landscaping in my life as I saw in Carmel. All the flowers and plants just seem to love the cool (but not cold) climate.


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Upon on our arrival, this spread of wine and cheese (from The Cheese Shop) was waiting for us (a $30 upgrade for hotel patrons), along with a lot of information about the hotel, and two passports for The Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea.

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For visitors to Carmel, the wine tasting passport is $65 which entitles the buyer to one $10 flight at each of the ten tasting rooms. It can be used in one day or spread out over a weekend, several weeks, or even months. The Wine Tasting Passport is available for purchase at the Carmel Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center on San Carlos between 5th & 6th in Carmel-by-the-Sea or for purchase online here.

The Wine Walk by-the-Sea is a self-paced self-guided stroll to ten tasting rooms in the 1×1 square mile of Carmel-by-the-Sea: Blair Estate, Caraccioli Cellars, DeTierra Vineyards, Figge Vineyards, Galante Vineyards, Manzoni Cellars, Scheid Vineyards, Shale Canyon Wines, Vino Napoli and Wrath Wines.

Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea offers the opportunity to savor superior still and sparkling wines without ever having to think about transportation, parking, or even dinner plans. Each tasting room on the Wine Walk will offer recommendations for dinner or call to make reservations. As an added bonus, corkage is waived for bottles purchased at a Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea tasting room at participating restaurants for one bottle per visit, per party. You can find Carmel Wine Walk-by-the-Sea on Facebook here, or follow them on twitter here.

We decided to wait until the next day for the wine walk, as we had dinner reservations at 7:30pm at Mundaka. Before dinner, we sat on the balcony of our room, enjoying the wine and cheese left for us and the beautiful view on an unusually warm evening.

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We also were treated to the Sunset Beach Package (available July-October 2013).

The Hofsas House Sunset Beach package Includes: Wood and starter for a 3 x 3 foot beach fire, Comfy oversized beach blankets to relax upon, all the fixings for s’mores including marshmallows, Hershey bars, graham crackers and long handled roasting sticks (for 10 people), and a safety flashlight.

Total cost for this upgrade is $60. Return the beach package tote bag and skewers and you will receive a $10 refund.  Beach fire must be ordered from the Hofsas House 24 hours in advance and subject to availability. This particular package can be booked through the Hofsas House concierge or if reserving online use Booking Code: HHSunset.

Speaking of upgrades, there are several at Hofsas House. Other packages available are:
1. In-room his and her couples massages starting at $160 for 45 minutes.
2. Hotel room decoration (for a special event: anniversary or birthday theme) for $75.
3. Beach fire setup including flowers, s’mores, blanket, flashlight and message in the sand for $139.
4. Golf add-ons (Hofsas has partnerships with 6 area courses) starting at $65 per person (including cart).
5. Two-for-one admission Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets.
6. Champagne and cheese pairing with Hofsas House engraved flutes.

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Included with your stay at Hofsas House is a continental breakfast, abundant with fresh French Roast coffee, tea, juice, fruit and pastries from a neighborhood bakery. For those of you like myself who do not eat wheat, there is also fruit available. Most importantly, there is a refrigerator in your room, and you can pack necessary breakfast items. We brought a Tupperware container full of cantaloupe. Below is a picture of the lobby, warm and welcoming.

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Below is a shot of the Brut Rosé from Caraccioli Cellars. We stopped at two wineries on the Carmel Wine Walk By-the-Sea and Caraccioli was one of them. If you’re lucky, a sweet young lady named Anyssa will wait on you. You can find them on Facebook here. And on twitter here.

Caraccioli Cellars

The other tasting room, and actually part art gallery we stopped by was Figge Cellars. Along with superb wines, the tasting room was also a unique art gallery with pieces like the one below. You can find them on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

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Each night we enjoyed dinner at local places: Mundaka (in downtown Carmel) and Fandango (in nearby Pacific Grove), but after each we retired to Hofsas.

In Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Theis family is celebrating six decades of European hospitality in this Bavarian-inspired Hofsas House Hotel.

The Hofsas House Hotel is within walking distance of everything Carmel has to offer, including a stunning beach, fine restaurants and shops, and the aforementioned wine tasting. It provides peaceful respite and European charm just minutes from Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur and Pacific Grove. The Hofsas House’s 38 spacious, one-of-a-kind rooms boast European comfort and lovely views, not to mention amenities like fireplaces, private balconies, wet bars, kitchens and patios. Large suites provide the perfect stay for newlyweds and everyone else seeking an extra special getaway. Dutch doors in every room allow guests to welcome in the ocean air, and free WiFi enables them to stay connected if they wish.

The Hofsas House Hotel family works to ensure every visitor’s experience is special, striving to offer the highest quality personal services.  or the personalized concierge services for guests and their families, including their four-legged family members, who are welcome, as well. The pet fees are as follows: $25 fee per night for one dog, and $40 per night for two dogs. If you mention you would like the “Tail Wagging Package” you’ll get these items with your room upon arrival:
1. A Hofsas House dog frisbee
2. Special dog bed
3. Letter from the onsite pet concierge Cajun
4. Tips and recommendations for your four-legged friends stay
5. A Package of treats
6. Coastal Canine Magazine
7. A special amenity package from California Pup

Hofsas House Hotel is located on San Carlos Street, north of Fourth Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea. For more information, call (831) 624-2745 or visit www.hofsashouse.com. You can like them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

I’d like to extend my gratitude to the Hofsas House Hotel for hosting us during our stay in Carmel and being a direct ambassador to the wineries and restaurants we visited during our stay.

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Run Like You’re Being Chased by a Knife-Wielding Lunatic…

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Even a year ago I never thought I would be the first female across the finish line at a 5K. Or at any race for that matter.

See, I’m a TREADMILL runner. I only started road racing competitively back in May of 2011 (before then it was just a few fun runs here and there). The Hot Pink 5K in Roseville was the first race I remember really trying to run fast. My time was 25:55. And then, I met a real runner (who would quickly become my boyfriend), and oh Lord, did I have something to prove! ;)

The next 5K I ran, I got a race comp in exchange for advertising. It was the Race for Awareness 5K in Lodi. I improved my time by a whole minute (24:55)! Yes, I admit I ran 20 seconds faster per mile just to impress a man. But, I am more of a long distance runner, and I don’t have a lot of natural speed. I am more like a stubborn determined freight train. Still, my confidence grows with almost every race I run, and I am getting faster. Part of this is honing skills, but I think more of it is just knowing I can do it.

I ran the Carlsbad 5000 in 2012 and my time was 24:59. I was encouraged because the course is a lot more challenging, and I knew the 24:59 would have been worth a 24:50 or so on a flat course. I chose to run the Zoo Zoom 10K after Carlsbad, and my time was 50:31. This is my standing PR for a 10K. I am intimidated to try and best it.

In the fall, I joined the River City Rebels, and I ran their annual Cross Country race “The Rebel Rebellion 5K”. My time on that course was 25:32. It was my first cross country race and one of the first times I felt like a REAL runner. I felt like my ancestors (I am 1/8 Cherokee Indian) running in the wild. The course is rocky and hilly, and the hills are quite steep. I was running with some really fast women: Jaymee Marty, Krystal Buck, Carol Parise, and some of my new teammates Samantha Lawler, Lori Wray and Karen Jeffers (currently the fastest woman on our team). That day, all I wanted was not to suck or come in last place. ;) I didn’t do either.

PS: It’s a great race and I highly recommend you join us for the next one. There is also people’s race for all speeds and fitness levels.

Then last December, I ran the Woodland Holiday Mile, and my time was 7:25. This is not at all an elite time, but this is amazing for someone who used to run a 9 or 10 minute mile at maximum speed. I won 3rd female overall at the race, and my confidence level was boosted so much that I signed up for a race the very next day. The Fit for Girls 5K. I just HAD to try and beat my 24:55 road PR. I improved my time to 24:32 and I won 3rd in my division. :) I couldn’t believe I was earning things other than finisher’s medals. Surreal.

So, I waited until this month to try and PR again with the Girls on the Run 5K. The conditions were perfect. The race is exactly 1.4 miles from my house, giving me a great little warmup run on my way to the starting line. Looking around at everyone, I never imagined the outcome of the race. Once the race began, all I could think of was Andy telling me to go out fast and that I needed a 7:50 mile. I think I might have run a 7:35 or 7:40. All I knew was that there were only 5 people ahead of me and I could actually see the cyclists. Whaa?

Now, I am sure it was perfectly strange for the kids ahead of me (I’m guessing their ages here, but an 11 year old girl, an 8 year old girl and a seven year old little boy) to have a 35 year OLD lady huffing and puffing behind them. Especially the little boy, who looked back at me strangely and every time I would try to pass him, would cleverly cut me off and keep his lead by a few feet. The other two people ahead of me were: a woman who was pacing the 11 year old (who probably would have beaten me by at least a minute had she not been running for and with the little girl–I’m not sure), and a guy in this 20s who was in the lead for most of the race.

The most surprising part of the race came at around the 2nd mile when the lead runner started walking or perhaps had some sort of shoe malfunction (I’m really not sure what happened) and I FINALLY passed those kids (all three of them, and the pacer). I took the LEAD, and held onto it for at least a 1/4 of a mile. I don’t want to exaggerate, but it felt like longer. Of course, every second of a 5K can feel like an eternity. But, every time I felt like I wanted to slow down, I heard Andy in my head yelling, “If you don’t feel like you’re dying, you’re not running hard enough!!” Well OK then! The cyclists were getting a kick out of me, I think. This short little choo-choo train huffing and wheezing and puffing, running for dear life. Like, “you’re being chased by a knife-wielding lunatic” dear life. Andy says that’s what it feels like when you’re in the lead. :) Also, never look back!

It was fun for a while, but I was passed by the guy who had previously been in the lead the whole time, and another guy in his twenties. I had no illusions of winning the race, but we were almost 2.75 miles in and it hit me that I could actually be the first female across and win the award. At this point one of the two cyclists stopped to wait for the runners who were behind us, and the other cyclist kept going to lead us home. As I passed about the 3 mile mark, I heard a girl cheering, “Looks like you’re gonna get third!” I was encouraged by this at a time when I was almost out of gas. I looked at the clock and it said “23:59″. I was hoping to break 24 minutes, but I wasn’t crushed I didn’t make it. I knew I was going to PR again, and be the first female across the line, and that was enough for me!

As I finished, I looked at the clock and it said “24:18″. Mission accomplished! One of the race volunteers handed me an award. It was a $50 gift card for Athleta. Wow. Stubbornness Hard work really does pay off. ;)

I think the shoes (pictured above) I decided to test out that day (Skechers GOrun) helped me take 5 seconds off my total time. They were sent to me from Skechers through the River City Rebels. I was really able to push off every stride and propel myself a tiny bit further. So, a big thanks to Skechers for the shoes. I plan on running my next road mile in them as well.

Well, I got the celebrity treatment from Andy that day. He opened a special bottle of bubbly to celebrate my win, and made scallops for dinner (so the pictures of him and the wine above are from that). Swanky! I need to win more often! LOL. Love that guy. :)

The truth is, I may never win a race again, but the importance of it all to me is how far I have come, and I know I’m going to get even faster. And if I can do it, you can do it, too!

The Girls on the Run of Greater Sacramento
‘s 3rd annual 5k spring race was held last Saturday at North Natomas Regional Park. 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.

Interested in running or volunteering? 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.


The Party Begins at the Sacramento Music Festival this Friday, May 24th!

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This weekend, the Sacramento Music Festival is back! This year, the festival is celebrating its 40th Anniversary!

As always, it’s one GIANT PARTY in Old Sacramento and surrounding hotel ballrooms pulsing with the rhythms of jazz, swing, blues, zydeco, rockabilly, bluegrass, Latin music and more. There will be dancing in the streets! Music will be running morning, noon, and midnight. There will be specialty concerts and events, like the Saturday Parade, evening lineups of dance and party bands, and a Memorial Day Salute to Service. They’ll also have world class music groups that you don’t want to miss. There’s plenty to do all weekend long. Here’s a link to the full schedule of performers.

NOTE: the PARADE takes place on SATURDAY at 10 a.m. this year. Also, bring the KIDS! FREE admission for those 12 and younger. There’s a FREE SHUTTLE between venues for festival goers.

Along with traditional favorites and festival mainstays, the 2013 Sacramento Music Festival will feature: Los Lobos, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, Ben Taylor, The Blasters, John Lee Hooker, Jr., The James Hunter Six,Wanda Jackson, Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks, Jimmy Pailer, Johnny “Guitar” Knox and the Beer Dawgs.

I am personally most excited to see Sister Swing and Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers!! :)

You can visit the website to find information on tickets, music schedule (posted in April), Special Events, food vendors, maps, hotels, venues, travel, and more. http://www.sacmusicfest.com/  You can find the Sacramento Music Festival on Facebook here and follow it on twitter here!

You can buy tickets (ranging from single day to all access weekend pass) here.

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Wines, Tunes & Classics Event, Sat, May 25th at California Automobile Museum

WTC-header_draftLake County Winegrape Commission presents a a fun afternoon of tasting Lake County wines paired with great food from Chic Le Chef.

Saturday, May 25, 2013 from 3:00 pm-7:00 pm at the California Automobile Museum: 2200 Front St., Sacramento, CA 95818

Participating Wineries: Aliénor Wines,  Bell Hill Vineyards,  Brassfield Estate Winery,  Bullion Creek VineyardsCache Creek Vineyards,  Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill,  Diamond Ridge Vineyards,  Gregory Graham Wines,  Langtry Estate & Vineyard/Guenoc,  Mt. Konocti Winery,  Noggle Vineyards & Winery,  Rosa d’Oro Vineyards,  Shannon Ridge Winery,  Six Sigma, Steele Wines,  Thorn Hill Vineyards,  Vigilance Winery & Vineyards,  Wildhurst Vineyards.

During the wine tasting, guests are invited to view the opening of the Elegance in Motion: Cars of the Golden Age exhibit. It will feature luxurious marques from the Roaring 20s and Art Deco Era highlighting over twenty of the most stunning vehicles ever manufactured. The display will include deluxe models such as Stutz, Hispano-Suiza, Duesenburg, and Auburn.

You can purchase tickets here. For more information about the event, click here. You can find the Lake County Winegrape Commission on Facebook here and on twitter here.


Girls on the Run 5K 3rd Annual Spring Race is this Saturday, May 18th!

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Girls on the Run of Greater Sacramento will be holding their 3rd annual 5k race in Natomas on May 18, 2013 at 9:00am at North Natomas Regional Park. The spring run will benefit 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.

The race is being emceed by KCRA’s Edie Lambert and her husband Lloyd Lavine. The race start and finish will take place on Via Ingoglia in front of Inderkum High School.  The 5k is a designed to be a fun and supportive community event for families. Sponsor booths and kid-friendly activities will be on site, including a face painter and cheer sign booth where supporters can make signs to cheer on their runners. Walkers and runners of all ages, genders and abilities are welcome to register and attend! A pre-race group warm-up will be led by Fitness Rangers of East Sacramento, and prizes will be awarded to the top male and female finishers.

Girls on the Run of Greater 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.

Interested in running or volunteering? Registration is still open! Visit www.gotrsac.org site to learn more about the Girls on the Run organization and register! You can also click here to register! You can find Girls on the Run Sacramento on Facebook here.


Congratulations to Sacramento’s Frank Fat’s, Winner of James Beard America’s Classics Award

I was honored to be invited to yesterday’s media tasting of the America’a Classics Menu at Frank Fat’s. Of course, the menu at Frank Fat’s is not a perfect editorial fit for my Paleo/Primal website, but a James Beard award is not something you win everyday. I was happy and excited to attend and celebrate with members of the Fat family (who had just barely returned from the awards ceremony that took place Monday night in New York). It was like being a part of Sacramento history and a great excuse to take a little vacay day from being strict Paleo. Andy and I sat down with one of the most interesting amalgamations of Sacramento food writers and media personalities including Hank Shaw (also a winner of a James Beard award this year), Kitty O’Neal, Tina Macuha, Sarah Singleton, Chris Macias, and Chef Michael Tuohy (bonus)!

We were served family style at a large round table. As servers placed each course in the center, the plates spun around on a lazy susan, and smart phones hastily snapped pictures of each dish before they were devoured sampled. Even Kitty O’Neal was live tweeting her lunch! It was great. ;) Now, Andy is such a well behaved sidekick. He has been trained in the ways of food bloggery. He is well aware of the “wait, I have to take a picture of the food first before you dive in” rule.

So, without further delay, here’s a rundown on what we enjoyed.*
*Disclaimer: I did try almost everything we were served except for two dishes, a chow mein and the banana cream pie dessert, but only because I don’t react well to wheat or sugar.

The first course was a Char Siu Slider: Honey glazed pork with pickled vegetables served in a steamed “laughing” bun. These sliders could be a meal by themselves, and it would be fun to see variations of this dish with different fillings for the little pockets of dough.

charsiu_sliders

Next was the ever popular Fat’s dish and an award-winning recipe: Honey Walnut Prawns–Crispy shrimp with glazed walnuts and a special sauce. Props to the chef for being light handed with the “mayernaise” (sic), as it is delightful to enjoy the crispiness of the fried shrimp, along with the creaminess of the sauce which includes mayonnaise (too much = soggy), and the sweetness and crunch of the walnuts. The trifecta of delectable was achieved.

prawns

Alert alert!! Bacon alarm sounding!! OK, so bacon in everything has come (and actually gone) as a “thing” (and as a food writer I feel like it’s rather silly), but not when it comes to the classic pairings. Bacon Wrapped Scallops were up next. And this dish puts bacon back where it belongs. Wrapped around seafood! The scallops were served with green beans and an oyster cream sauce. I handily gobbled 2 of these, as they were the closest thing to Paleo on the menu, and a combination of two of my favorite foods. What a classic dish, and Fat’s version has such a pretty presentation. The scallops reminded me of little snails on green grass.

baconscallops

The Gai Lan served as a tasty side to our meal. It’s a Chinese broccoli dish, drizzled with oyster sauce. Just love the emerald color on those greens!

GaiLan_chinesebroccoli

The San Gai Shee Chow Mein is comprised of egg noodles with chicken, black mushrooms and snow peas. I passed on it only because I was filling up fast, and I heard there was steak coming. And, yes, I’m a wimp. Well, actually, I was trying to avoid gluten as much as possible. It looked and smelled delicious! :)

Chowmein

Then it was time for Frank’s Style New York Steak. It’s described on my menu as “smothered” in onions and oyster sauce, and from the picture you can see it’s true. That meat is getting no air at all! It’s practically choking in caramelized onion-y goodness! I was happy to see another gluten-free offering. Kevin Fat, (one of the family members, Director of Business Administration for Fat’s Restaurants, and the main host for the luncheon) remarked that it was one of the original dishes on the Frank Fat’s menu. It’s fascinating to think that “fusion” cuisine began ages before the term was actually coined.

steak

For dessert, we were each presented with a slice of Fat’s Famous Banana Cream Pie which was apparently so good that Andy had 2 slices (one was mine) and even brought a third one home! Fat’s makes 15-25 pies twice per day. Now, that’s a lot of time on the treadmill. ;) If you want to impress your friends, you can bring one of their pies to the next party you attend, as the pies can be ordered as a whole (with a 12 hour notice) if you simply call the restaurant. It’s up to you if you want to slip it in some tupperware and pass it off as your own. Not that you would ever do that! :P

pie

The James Beard America’s Classics Award has been given every year since 1998 to recognize the most beloved regional restaurants. Characteristics of the nominees and winners include timeless appeal and quality food that reflects the character of their communities. Along with Frank Fat’s, this year’s other nominees included: Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville, TN, C.F. Folks in Washington D.C., Keen’s Steakhouse in New York City, Kramarczuk’s in Minneapolis, MN. The Fat Family was honored and quite taken aback by the nomination and the award win (they did not nominate themselves).

“This award recognizes everything my father believed in – outstanding food, generous portions, caring service and a simple, but deep-rooted desire to make people happy, ” says Frank Fat’s President and CEO, Jerry Fat. “He loved his customers, they all loved him, and I believe that his spirit is what has kept us so successful all these years.”

To celebrate the James Beard award, Frank Fat’s will be hosting America’s Classics Month May 13-31, featuring same menu served at the media lunch and showcased in today’s post. It is priced at $29.95 per person (2 person minimum) and is a dine-in only offer.

To read more about Frank Fat’s history and the Sacramento Bee review by Blair Anthony Robertson, click here. You can find Frank Fat’s on Facebook here and on twitter here.

At the media luncheon, we watched a video about the restaurant that was played at the awards ceremony. I am posting it below because it pretty much sums up the spirit and greatness of the Fat’s empire.


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