It was very convenient that it happened to be our montha-versary
Sunday morning, June 2nd, Andy ran the Lake Chabot Half Marathon. It’s worth noting because he finished 27th out of 179 runners, and it was trail run. (Meaning rather treacherous and very hilly at times).
Then we were off to Sonoma for a night’s stay at MacArthur Place Hotel. I was approached a few months ago via email to schedule a visit to this former 19th century estate just few blocks from Sonoma’s Historic Plaza. Now, MacArthur Place is a luxurious 64-room retreat and spa. I’m not kidding when I tell you: this place is magical.
Each of the Inn’s 64 rooms and suites are individually designed. Suites include special touches like fireplaces, original art, 2-person hydrotherapy tubs and patios or balconies that overlook the estate’s opulent gardens. The in-room shampoos and soaps are made locally with grapeseeds from neighboring vineyards, organic olive oil, lavender and rosemary.
These are beautifully appointed rooms, rich with woods and luxuriant bedding, some with outdoor showers, many with decks where you can sunbathe in privacy. Yes, please.
Upon check in (we stayed in the Azalea suite), I was greeted by a card and a box of chocolate truffles.
Here are some interior shots of our suite:
I was so excited when I saw the room. It also had a fireplace that could be seen from the huge tub/hot tub.
We decided to change into our swimsuits and enjoy the pool area before dinner. We brought a bottle of dry rosé and some plastic cups and laid out in the sun. It was heavenly. I thought about the fact that we had to check out the very next day and I became momentarily depressed!
Then it was off to Happy Hour, because Lord knows, I can’t miss complimentary wine. MacArthur Place offers a daily Happy Hour in the Library complete with good local wines and appetizers (cheese, fruit, and crackers) – just enough to get your appetite going for dinner. If you’re lucky, you’ll get Cynthia pouring your wine for you!!
Speaking of dinner, the Inn’s restaurant Saddles is housed in a century old barn that was designed to replicate the barn at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Originally used to house prize Trotter horses and buggies, the Barn is now home to a top-of-the-line steakhouse featuring a wide selection of Prime, Grass Fed and Dry Aged Beef. After Happy Hour in the library, we headed to our room to gussy up again, and then we walked across the property to Saddles Steakhouse.
During that walk, I encountered the largest wall of jasmine I had ever seen! It’s just about my favorite thing that grows wild here in California.
Though not gluten-free, we did try out the bread. Come on, it’s brioche, housemade, and comes with two different spreads. If you’re going to treat yourself, this is the time to do it!
Andy ordered the Oysters on the Half Shell with house mignonette, and I ordered the Chopped Iceberg Lettuce with bacon, tomatoes & a blue cheese dressing. My plan was to cut up my steak and eat it with the salad… BOOM! Steak salad with blue cheese!
The next morning, the treadmill was waiting for me. The gym at MacArthur Place is small, yet you can still get the job done. There’s an elliptical, a treadmill, a bike and some other standard gym equipment (weights, mats, etc.). You can also opt to run outside, like Andy did.
The grounds of MacArthur Park are particularly lovely. There are statues made from different mediums everywhere. One piece of giant artwork are these life-sized stone chess pieces sitting on a giant chess board.
MacArtur Park Hotel also offers complimentary continental breakfast (inside Saddles Restaurant) from 7am-10am. Andy and I were able to grab some fruit and a few other things before we checked out and headed back to Sacramento.
May is Celiac Awareness month and Mikuni Sushi has created a special Gluten-Free menu for people seeking to avoid wheat.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by the ingestion of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. An estimated 1 in 141 Americans has celiac disease, yet 83% of those who have it are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (also known as NCGS or gluten sensitivity) is a non-specific immune response to gluten that presents with symptoms similar to celiac disease. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not result in damage to the intestine, according to preliminary research. It is estimated that about 6% of the population has this condition. Researchers don’t fully understand the long-term effects of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet is the current recommended treatment.
The demand for gluten-free food has skyrocketed in the past few years, I think as a result of more being discovered about Celiac’s and NCGS. Also, many diets have shown increased weight-loss results by cutting back on wheat or cutting grains out altogether (as we do in the Paleo diet). Let’s face it. It’s hip to be gluten-free, and if you manufacture a product that contains wheat, it’s a great idea to have a gluten-free alternative.
Also, I am of the belief that eating rice is ok in moderation or as a treat. Andy and I might eat at a sushi restaurant once every couple of months, and sometimes we eat rolls/dishes with rice in them and sometimes not. I wanted to showcase a variety of dishes with and without rice, even if not completely Paleo.
I sat down with the Executive Chef of Mikuni (Midtown), Daniel Schmoock (who is heading off to Japan this weekend to keep up-to-date on the latest food trends happening in the Far East) to talk about the gluten-free menu and its development. Chef Daniel has been with Mikuni’s for about 15 years and began his tenure with the restaurant group at the Fair Oaks location.
It turns out the gluten-free menu was born from customer demand and a rather lagging economy. The challenge was to make the menu interesting and fun like some of the unique rolls on the established Mikuni menus. A lot of those rolls contain gluten because they have tempura shrimp or vegetables in them. Chef Daniel told me it was also tricky because some of the ingredients used in a normal menu (such us the fish roe or tobiko) had been cured in soy sauce that contains gluten, making the ingredient unsuitable for use in a gluten-free menu. One contaminated ingredient spoils the whole dish. Chef Daniel also commented on the labels of some imported products (frequently used in restaurants) stating that some ingredients are not always entirely listed.
Before our chat was over, he recommended a few of his favorite dishes on the gluten-free menu–The Aerojet Roll and the Gluten-Free Kyushu Hamachi–for us to try first.
Our server recommended the Gluten Free Black and White (pictured above): Lightly seared, buttery Albacore tuna toro (belly), topped with thinly sliced jalapeños, gluten-free citrus sauce and sesame seeds.
Probably the most Paleo item on the menu: the Gluten-Free Sea Steak: Seared rare tuna in Mikuni shichimi gluten-free soy dressing on top of daikon radish with sesame seeds. I could probably eat this “allday errrday” and not tire of it.
There are several other creations on the menu including nigiri and sashimi options, a few other rolls (1,2, and 4 in addition to the #3 we tried) as well as a few salads, gluten-free miso soup and there are non-raw options like Gluten-Free Shioyaki Salmon, Teriyaki Salmon, Teriyaki Chicken and Teriyaki Beef.
On June 1st, the “Oh Snap, Let’s Eat! Mikuni Photo-a-Day Instagram Contest” begins. Each day of June, there will be a theme (like “This is How I Roll” or “Chop it Like it’s Hot”) and a daily prize. To enter, you’ll need to follow @mikunisushi on Instagram and post a photo that best represents the theme of the day with the #mikuniexposed hashtag and mention @mikunisushi. There are no limits to the number of entries per day and you can be as creative as you like!
I also wanted to point out that Mikuni even offers a Karui (Lite) Menu featuring Mikuni dishes that are 500 calories or less, but are not necessarily gluten-free. It’s great to have so many choices. I love it that I could go to Mikuni and splurge with a deep-fried creation on a special occasion (like the recent Here We Stay roll), or just keep it lean on a normal day.
You can find Mikuni on Facebook here and on twitter here. Thanks to Mikuni Midtown for the inside scoop on the gluten-free menu and thanks to Chef Daniel for taking time out to sit down with us before our meal.
LUNA is graciously sponsoring this Gluten-Free LUNA Protein Bars Giveaway through my website/Facebook page! You can enter to win 3 boxes (36 bars) of your favorite flavors shipped directly to your door!
Also, you can enter to win a stocked vending machine in your office loaded with LUNA Protein bars (for 6 months!!) over on their Facebook page here.
Last December, I accepted a position with a PR firm in downtown Sacramento. It was one of the happiest days of my professional life. I had dreamed of working there for such a long time. Finally, it seemed I would be able to make decent money, pay my parents the remainder of what they loaned me a few years ago, pay down credit cards, pay off my school loan and most of all, fix up my condominium which despite being livable, was still quite dilapidated from being flooded two summers ago.
I hit the ground running, working on formatting a proposal that would be a key factor in the company’s win of a bid to do business with a certain Department of the State of California. I was in the office quite a lot (leading up to and right after Christmas) working 9-10 hours a day, making sure my work was accurate and completed by the designated deadlines.
To meet my deadlines and take time to check my work, I would often work through standard lunchtimes (when everyone else would go out to eat). I did this for many reasons: 1. I didn’t eat out for lunch because it saved me a ton of money. 2. I got a lot more work done when there were fewer interruptions and less noise. 3. I don’t really eat lunch, so why would I start going out for lunch?
Of course, just to be social and to get to know my coworkers a little more, I made it a point (especially in the beginning) to go with “the team” for lunch once a week (usually on Fridays, despite the fact I really couldn’t afford the extra $50-60 a month to do so). It was then I discovered I got along better with the guys on my “team”. It seemed like I was always sitting across from the women in my department. Still, I tried to be friendly towards them (despite my almost painful shyness), and I tried not to think about it too much. I just wanted to fit in.
I’m not sure what happened after the holiday, other than when I was asked about my diet, I responded that I had cut out flour, sugar, and most daily since March of 2011. I have to also say that other than on this website, I really don’t talk about Paleo that much (unless I am asked). I really don’t care what anyone else eats. Really, I don’t. Like any normal office setting, (especially a PR company) it was typical for the break room to be wallpapered with bagels, muffins, donuts, cookies, et cetera (if it had wheat in it was on the table). There was always an excuse for constant eating. And pressure to eat constantly. It was always someone’s birthday or anniversary, or a client that was coming in (so we had to have food for them), or a client that brought something in for us.
I was not there to eat, I was there to work. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE to eat. I just like to eat after my work is done. And, I would rather eat with my loved one. I don’t like to cram in errands and a sandwich in my mush in a hour time frame. In January, I treated my coworkers with some fun food samples from the Fancy Food Show, and again in February, I brought in a slew more from the Gluten Free Expo. And, I wasn’t really there to make friends, though I did respect my colleagues and definitely wanted them to like me. But, again, I was there to work and make money.
The donut and cake food frenzy continued past the holidays and I would always say “No, thank you.” or “None for me, thanks.” Maybe it was just too weird for people in the office. I could feel the awkwardness at times, but tried to overlook it. Besides, I thought I was safe because the HR department had set an appointment with me to receive benefits, and they had just placed me in the Business Journal’s People on the Move Section on January 24th! I was a PART of this company! I felt comfortable enough to wear some different hairstyles around the office, and I finally let my condition (alopecia) be known to a few people in the office. So, looking back, I’m not sure if it was my diet or my baldness that did me in…
Or maybe it was the day I went down to the second floor to get information on choosing medical, eye and dental insurance as well as other benefits in the human resources office, and I was accidentally handed a spreadsheet with a list of all the company employees (including the partners) and their salaries on it. I have to admit I stared at the sheet a few minutes before I even realized what it was… then I handed the paper back to the HR person and said, “I don’t think you intended for me to have this.” Yes, I am sure that didn’t help my cause either.
Then, on Valentine’s Day, Andy sent me a card about the size of Vermont, and a dozen red roses from Relles. I don’t think it helped my popularity either, but it sure did make me feel special. It’s so important in life to have a supportive partner. Especially when eating a certain way. And, especially when I lost a job I loved and worked so hard for, just short of three months after it started. On the day after Valentine’s Day, I was called down to the Human Resources office around mid-morning. My department director and the HR director were seated in her office. Within minutes, I was being escorted out. I was shocked and scared. Most of all, I didn’t know how I was going to tell Andy. I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me or think ill of me. My heart ached for explanation, and all they would tell me was, “It just wasn’t a good fit.” They must’ve really wanted rid of me because she practically walked me through how I could apply for unemployment that very morning and “it would be no problem” getting it. Huh?
So, I’ll never really know what it was. I am pretty certain one of the women in my department had it out for me (simply because she didn’t like me) and complained until I was gone. But I do know this: I was judged by my lifestyle and rubbed out. And maybe it was just everything combined about me that made me an outcast. And, sometimes people just suck.
I was never going to write about any of this because I was too embarrassed and to be honest, it’s still rather painful to think about (and actually pretty messed up that something like this could happen). That being said, I believe everything happens for a reason…LOL, though I am still trying to figure out what The Man upstairs has in store for me next. When LUNA contacted me about their latest promotion and the gluten-free bars, telling my latest debacle became somewhat dutiful.
Since gluten free snacking at work can be such a challenge (especially if people think you’re a freak for not eating wheat), LUNA wants to help you practice healthy workplace snacking with the “Feed Your Strength…At Work!” Facebook contest. Through June 30th, visit LUNA’s Facebook page and share how your office practices healthy habits and you’ll be entered to win a stocked vending machine full of delicious LUNA snacks including LUNA Protein- a great gluten free snack option that comes in five delicious flavors (Chocolate, Chocolate Cherry Almond, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookie Dough and Mint Chocolate Chip) and has 12 grams of filling protein per serving so that you can do your best at work. The bars are quite delicious, however, they do not protect you from a knife in your back! My favorite is the Cookie Dough, as I have been on quite the cookie dough crack habit lately.
Two winners will receive:
1. A vending machine at their workplace stocked with LUNA bars for six months.
2. Six nutrition sessions with a LUNA nutritionist.
This week, you can enter to win 3 boxes of LUNA Protein bars, any flavor of your choice. Click here to enter the giveaway!!
Note: I realize that LUNA Protein bars are not Paleo, but I support healthier gluten-free products that would be of particular interest to athletes (especially runners).
Sometimes you just need to eat a pizza. Like, damn.
The crust for this pizza was made with Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix, which contains rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour and xanthan gum, so it’s not Paleo, but is a much healthier wheat crust alternative. It gives the crust such a close-to-the-real-thing texture, but you can omit the mix and just use cauliflower and cheese and eggs, but like… it just won’t be very close to real CRUSTY goodness.
But this will:
1/2 package Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, Rolls and Focaccia Mix
1 head cauliflower
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
Line a pizza pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 385°F.
Follow Bella Gluten-Free Pizza Dough package directions for 1/2 the package. Steam cauliflower in the microwave until it is “falling apart” tender. Allow to cool. Pulse the cooled cauliflower in your food processor with the rest of the ingredients until they are well combined.
Spread onto lined pizza pan and place in oven to bake until raised and slightly browned. Meanwhile, prepare the BBQ sauce! When your crust does become slightly browned, you will want to remove from oven, but keep oven on, as you will be using it again to bake the pizza after you top the crust.
BBQ Sauce Ingredients (adapted from Mark’s Daily Apple BBQ Sauce Recipe):
1/3 cup (about 3 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 – 1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 – 2 tablespoons honey
2 – 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Colman’s mustard
2 tablespoons water
1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
In a small bowl mix together tomato paste, butter, hot sauce, honey, vinegar, mustard and water. In another small bowl mix together allspice, cinnamon, pepper, chili powder, paprika and onion powder. Mix the spices in with the wet ingredients. OK. There you go.
Spread on half baked pizza crust and then top with your favorite toppings. This time, I did mushrooms, onions, and chicken (tossed in a little of the BBQ sauce and whatnot).
Then bake until it’s all browned and bubbly like. Come on, I know you have enough common sense to figure it out! xoxo
Drink some fine Milan Ruz with the pizza! Cheers!
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 Vineyards, Cache 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.
Last Saturday was the annual Komen Race for the Cure at Cal Expo, and Andy won his division! (Race photo by Morinico Photography)
To celebrate the win, I made one of his favorite foods (pizza!) these Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Tots (the pizza was a primal-ized BBQ Chicken Pizza, which I will share with you later this week). I had made an earlier version of the tots last week for myself, but was not satisfied with the texture or really, the flavor. This time, I used a combination of cauliflower and sweet potatoes, and it was a success! I also coated the tots in almond meal for extra crunch. Here’s the recipe!
1/2 head caulflower
2 medium sweet potatoes
3 large eggs
1/4 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/8 cup coconut flour or gluten free flour (to use as a binder)
cracked pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup olive oil or a can of olive oil spray
1 cup raw almonds
1 Tbs coconut flour
1-2 tsp your favorite spice mixture (you can be creative here: chili powder, curry, rosemary, cumin)
Peel and cut potatoes into cubes and microwave until soft. While the potatoes are microwaving, pulse the (raw) cauliflower in a food processor until it’s texture is finely “crummed”, do not purée. Set aside in a large mixing bowl. When the potatoes are tender, set aside and allow them to cool.
Rinse out and dry the food processor, then pulse the almonds until they are almost breadcrumb consistency, then pulse in the coconut flour. Then if you wish, add in your favorite spices or extra parmesan cheese to finish off the breading. Set mixture aside on a plate and rinse and dry the food processor again.
Preheat oven to 385°F
Then place the sweet potatoes in the food processor and pulse to mash them up. Then add the cheese, the coconut milk, the eggs and the coconut flour, and pulse until smooth. Then remove the potato mixture and add it to the cauliflower crumbs. Stir until well combined.
Coat a baking sheet with olive oil or olive oil spray. Form the cauliflower and sweet potato mixture into little cylinder shapes and then roll in the almond/coconut flour/spice mixture. Set each shape on the baking sheet. This recipe will probably yield about 24 tots. Lightly drizzle the tots with olive oil, or pulse them lightly with the spray. This will help them get extra crisp.
Bake in oven until golden brown. (30-40 mins) Salt to taste.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
Formerly Stanford Home for Children, Stanford Youth Solutions presents its 8th annual signature event: Vintage 2013 on Thursday, April 25th, from 6-10pm at the North Ridge Country Club. The North Ridge Country Club is located at 7600 Madison Avenue, Fair Oaks, CA 95628,
There will be a wine and food tasting, a live & silent auction and live music.
The event will be filled with themed room experiences with special cocktails and tasty bites from Zocalo’s, Matteo’s, Bella Bru, and Mulvaney’s. Walk in the clouds in the Sky Bar, feel the serenity of the Rain Forest, get backstage access to our version of Red Rocks, and taste exquisite wines while perusing our silent auction packages in the Vintage room & patio.
Red Rocks: A Red Rocks Amphitheatre experience to you in this backstage access themed room.
Rain Forest: Let the soothing sounds of nature sweep over you in this tranquil oasis. Refresh your palette’s with Ella’s famous Gin & Tonics.
Sky Bar: Enjoy the cloud-top bar with martinis, ice sculptures and sushi.
Vintage: For true wine and food connoisseurs, enjoy local and regional wines and taste local restaurant offerings.
Special entertainment will feature Joe Castillo, sand artist and finalist on America’s Got Talent – be one of the first in Sacramento to see him LIVE!
A new addition this year in the Rain Forest room is Stanford’s version of a Giving Tree! They will have mystery bottles of wine placed in the custom made Giving Tree. You can choose 1 wine bottle for $20 OR 3 for $50. Values of the mystery wine range from $10 to $100!!! Take a chance, win some great wine, & GIVE back!
This year’s special honoree is Rob Lynch, President and CEO of VSP Global.
Vintage 2013 goes GREEN! The color green symbolizes healthy relationships, nature, balance, and sustainability. This year, a fun twist on the color green highlights Stanford’s new brand and the lasting evolution of the youth and families they serve.
Compliment your favorite outfit with a bit of green to show your support of Stanford’s mission and your commitment to well being, harmony and a healthy life. By participating in Vintage 2013, you will be giving the gift of healthy relationships to challenged youth and their families.Vintage 2012 was hailed the event of the year and this year’s Vintage promises to be even better.
Tickets are $100 per person and $125 at the door. To purchase tickets, click here.
You can find Stanford Youth Solutions on Facebook here. You can watch highlights of last year’s event below:
It was ironic to return home from shopping at Grocery Outlet (Woodland location) on Monday and find this basket of goodies on my doorstep from my friends at Grocery Outlet corporate! They sent me a variety of products to promote “a fresh face-lift during the spring season”. All the products in the basket cost at least 50% less than they would at a conventional grocery store.
I am currently trying to drop a few pounds (big race in a few weeks), so I wasn’t at Grocery Outlet panning for gold (wine deals) this time like I normally am… I was there looking for collagen supplements. I also picked up some cauliflower and organic lettuce, as well as a bag of kale and onions. I was happy to see some products in the gift basket I could put to good use.
The products included in my basket were:
Numi Blooming Tea (Grocery Outlet Price $2.99, Regular Price $8.99)
Tru Roots Brown Rice (Grocery Outlet Price $2.99, Regular Price $4.99)
MET-RX Big 100 Bar (Grocery Outlet Price $19.99–12 ct. box, Regular Price $27.00)
Maui & Sons 100% Pure Coconut Water (Grocery Outlet Price $1.29, Regular Price $2.49)
Natrol Acai Berry Diet Capsules (Grocery Outlet Price $6.99, Regular Price $9.99)
Laci Le Beau Super Dieters Natural Tea (Grocery Outlet Price $2.49, Regular Price $4.29)
Best of Burt’s Bees Gift Set (Grocery Outlet Price $8.99, Regular Price $14.99)
Epielle Green Tea Facial Mask (Grocery Outlet Price $0.69, Regular Price $1.49)
Organic Now Shampoo and Conditioner (Grocery Outlet Price $2.69, Regular Price $3.99)
Body Shop Macadamia Nut Body Butter (Grocery Outlet Price $3.99, Regular Price $19.00)
Total Grocery Outlet Price for Basket Items: $53.10
Total Regular Price for Basket Items: $97.22
I am loving the teas and the Natrol Acai Berry Diet Capsules (the Grocery Outlet Gods must have been reading my mind) and what girl doesn’t love Burt’s Bees? I’ll surely be using my facial mask and the body butter to keep my heels from looking frightful.
You can find most of these products at your local Grocery Outlet store (product selections and availability will vary by store).
A few weeks ago I was sent two varieties of Wonderful® Pistachios to sample and tell you about. Their new flavors are Salt & Pepper and Sweet Chili. I am pretty “nutty” about pistachios to begin with, but these new flavors piqued my interest even more!
Did you know that pistachios have only 160 calories per serving (30g), are an excellent source of vitamin B6, copper and manganese and a good source of protein, dietary fiber, thiamin, and phosphorus?
I prefer pistachios because they are about 3 calories less per nut than an almond. We used both varieties as an emergency salad topping a few nights ago when we were out of walnuts! They were so good. Other recipe uses: Coarsely grind the pistachios in a food processor and use them as a coating on lamb or turkey, grind them even further into a nut butter, or just enjoy them right out of the bag.
By themselves, the Salt and Pepper variety make a flavorful and satisfying snack. You can swap Wonderful® Pistachios Salt & Pepper for popular kettle-fried Salt & Pepper chips – pistachios give you 49 nuts per serving; compare that to just 15 potato chips per serving (who eats just 15 potato chips?)
I preferred the Sweet Chili. They had an exotic sweet and spicy flavor and a great crunch. A perfect substitute for flavored tortilla chips with three times the fiber and protein.
Last Wednesday, Andy and I participated in a virtual wine tasting organized by Thirsty Girl.com, a member-driven community that brings together women who are passionate about wine, food, travel, libations and fun. Now, just because it’s mainly women involved, it doesn’t mean that men get shut out of the fun. There were a few males that joined our group during the twitter tasting to give their opinions on the wines we tried.
Approximately once a month, Thirsty Girl (follow them on twitter here) chooses a featured winery and sends wine samples to members of the Thirsty Girl group (made up of wine writers and bloggers). Then we all sit down at a scheduled date and time to review the wines, give the winemaker valuable feedback, brainstorm and sometimes execute the perfect wine pairings, and almost have more fun than you would at a cocktail party. Which is a lot like twitter is anyway. One big virtual cocktail party.
This time around, the featured winery was Villa Maria Estate Wines, a family-owned estate in Auckland, New Zealand. The wines we sampled were a 2012 Villa Maria Estate Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc and a 2011 Villa Maria Estate Private Bin Pinot Noir. Some of the people who joined Andy and me for the tasting included @urbanblissmedia, @oakmonster, @alawine, @luscious_lashes, @dvinewinetime, @thienkim, @stilettowines, @keridwyn, @sonadora, @mywinespot, @dreamsofjamaica, @travelwinechick, @VillaMaria_Wine, and the winemaker himself, @AlastairMaling. I am sure I am leaving out a few people, sorry! Anyway, I took some of my favorite comments from the evening and posted them below. Enjoy!
The first comment is from the best wine drinking buddy I know. My boyfriend and partner in wine, Andy. Follow him on twitter here. Here’s his description of the Sauvignon Blanc.
The winemaker, Alastair Maling (on twitter here) commented on the Sauvignon Blanc’s uniqueness:
Then leave it to me to cause trouble! Thirsty Girl (@beathirstygirl) asked if any of us had paired the wines with food during the tasting and I responded like this:
The wine maker quickly shot me back with this (funny!)
A common observance on the Pinot Noir is that it improved quite a bit (as most wines do) the more it aired out in the glass or decanter. Then another pairing idea:
Another feature on both of the wines I liked (along with a few others) is that the wines are screw cap closure (key in portability)! As commented by @theeleanorprior:
You can also find Thirsty Girl on Facebook here and you can find Villa Maria Estate Wines on Facebook here. And if you’re on twitter, be sure to follow Head Thirsty Girl @lesliesbrocco and Thirsty Girl @beathirstygirl!
Many wines were flowing at my boyfriend Andy’s house last night as we sat in on a twitter tasting (more on that tomorrow), and unloaded the latest samples shipped to me just in time to show you before Easter arrives. One of the wines is the one you see above: Carpenè Malvolti Prosecco Brut ($19.99).
You can start your Easter dinner with the popping of the Carpene Malvolti Prosecco’s cork and sipping it with a light first course or appetizer. A soup or fish course would be perfect. This Cilantro Lime Shrimp dish from Skinnytaste.com would be a good fit as would my very own recipe for Hard Boiled Eggs with Avocado, Cumin, and Curry.
This Prosecco is full of juicy green apple fruit flavors and has gentle bubbles. It was more of a fruit forward sparkler even though classified as a brut. Adding peach puree or other juices to this Prosecco makes a delicious and very easy cocktail. Or, you can simply enjoy it alone with it’s light 11% alcohol content. Cheers!
Last weekend, Andy and I joined a group of other travel journalists on a media tour of the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa.
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa (which underwent a $65-million renovation in 2009), features 550 guestrooms (32 suites), a President’s house, TusCA Ristorante, Knuckles Sports Bar, Lounge, fitness facility, tennis courts, fire pit, 2 swimming pools/whirlpools, Accista Spa, and a conference center (with 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space). It is located next to and overlooks the Pebble Beach Company’s Del Monte Golf Course. The beach and bay are just minutes away, as are prime attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Below is a rundown of all the amenities and services to be enjoyed during one’s stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa.
Rooms & Amenities: 550 renovated guest rooms, 32″ LCD flat-panel TVs, iHome stereo with iPod®docking station (love!), Hyatt Grand Bed™, In-room safes and refrigerators, bathrooms with walk-in rain showers, and raised sinks.
Guest Services: Complimentary shuttle from Monterey Airport, Hyatt Fast Board™, PDA Check-in, Self Check-in kiosks, the Regency Club, a 24-hour fully automated business center, a gift shop with wine tasting room, pet friendly, les clefs d’or concierge.
Dining & Entertainment: TusCA Ristorante, award-winning Knuckles Sports Bar, Fireplace Lounge with live entertainment, a coffee bar with barrister, in-room dining.
Meetings & Events: 40,000 square feet of flexible function space, unique indoor & outdoor settings for weddings and social gatherings, innovative catering for onsite and offsite events, expert planners and an AV company on-site.
Accista Spa with full service salon, Pebble Beach Company’s Championship Del Monte Golf Course, a full-service racquet club, corporate team-building events, 24 hour gym, pools, massage therapy, biking, jogging and walking trails, YogaAway™.
Local Attractions: Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur Coastline, Monterey County Wineries, Pebble Beach Golf Courses, and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Our stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa began with a check in and storing of our bags in our room. Upon arrival, we discovered this (pictured below) in our room. It was a cheese, nut and dried fruit plate with some sparkling waters (available on the room service menu) Thank you, and yes, please!
After settling in, it was time for our dinner at TusCA Ristorante inside the main lobby building. It was so nice to have dinner at the hotel because we had been traveling for quite a while, and I was a little too tired venture out for fun. TusCA features farm-fresh California cuisine with a Tuscan twist.
Our first glass of wine was the house Chardonnay: Canvas, by Michael Mondavi, which I am told he makes exclusively for the Hyatt. We studied the menu (lots of wonderful things from which to choose… entrées ranging from pizzas and pastas to main courses both with meat and vegetarian friendly). You can download their dinner menu here (the menu changes) to get an idea of the plates you might see at the restaurant.
Each table gets a basket of bread to begin (a bit laughable to us, being Paleo), but we LOVED the roasted garlic that it came with and shared it before our salads came.
I ordered an Argula, Bosc Pear, and Reggiano Salad with the Lemon Grape Seed Vinaigrette on the side.
Andy ordered the Roasted Beet Salad with Frisee, Tarragon, Hazelnut, and Grapefruit Vinaigrette:
Before we chose our main courses, Chef Mike came out to greet Andy and I at our table and to talk to us about this website and the Paleo diet. I thought it was admirable that the chef did a little homework and wanted to prepare a suitable Paleo meal for us! He was willing to swap out any noodles or rice with extra vegetables, even for the special that evening: Whole Wheat Pasta with Chorizo, Kale, and Mussels. Since the special could be “Paleo-ized”, that’s what Andy chose. I went with a Chicken Breast with Cauliflower, Cashew, Rainbow Chard and Maple Jus.
Chef Mike even treated us to a special Paleo dessert: Dried Cherry and Almond Dark Chocolate Bark garnished with a strawberry. We were thrilled. We are so used to just skipping dessert altogether, so it we were delighted by the gesture!
The meal at TusCA was wonderful, as was the service from our waiter, Josh. Thanks again to Chef Mike and staff for our warm welcome to Monterey.
On Sunday, May 12th, 2013, TusCA Ristorante will serve Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Live entertainment will be provided by the David Morwood Jazz Band. Reservations are strongly suggested. You can find TusCA on OpenTable here or call the restaurant at (831) 657-6675.
After dinner, Andy and I walked over to the Fireplace Lounge (steps away from the restaurant–in fact, you don’t even have to go outside since the lounge is situated between TusCA and the main lobby area). We sat down at a table and ordered a round of drinks while we listened to some live jazz. On weekends, Fireplace Lounge welcomes the local talent of jazz musicians Marshall Otwell and Dr. David Thomas Morwood. There is always entertainment on weekend evenings and Sunday mornings.
Across from Fireplace Lounge is Knuckles® Historical Sports Bar which has been voted by locals as the number-one sports bar on the Monterey Peninsula for ten years in a row. Recently, they launched a Cheese and Beer Pairing Menu, and have introduced California’s first Table Tender system which offers self-service draft beer with two taps at a table seating up to 12 people.
The next day, Andy, me, and the rest of the invited writers took a tour of the property. The Hyatt Regency Monterey has two heated, outdoor free-form pools (one of which Frank Sinatra once drove his car into). There are also two outdoor whirlpools, a new 12,000-square-foot full-service spa, featuring spa suites and a host of soothing treatments, the Hyatt Stay Fit gym available 24 hours (with men’s and women’s shower rooms), jogging paths; bicycle trails and bicycle rental, a racquet club with lighted tennis courts; tennis lessons available, and the on-property, 18-hole Pebble Beach Company’s Del Monte Golf Course with preferred tee times for hotel guests.
Below is a picture of the carpet in the conference center. I loved it! The unique thing about it is that it is non-repeating in its pattern!
There is also a President’s House on the property. A four-bedroom, five-bathroom stand-alone home with a complete kitchen, a private patio, a heated swimming pool, and an open-beam living room and den, both with fireplaces (which was occupied at the time of our tour).
After the outdoor tour, our group was given a tour of the Accista Spa facility. I was quite impressed with both the gym and the spa at the Hyatt Monterey. The gym had at least 4 treadmills as well as several ellipticals, stationary bikes, free weights, toning and strength training machines, resistance bands, exercise balls and stretching/yoga mats. Take it from me, this is the place to stay if you love working out! PS: It’s open 24 hours a day!
Each member of our tour group was treated to a spa treatment that morning: massage or pedicure, etc. Andy and I chose a 50 minute Signature Accista Couples Massage. Shout out to Elli (my masseuse) for her great work on my shoulders and legs. In the locker room there is water with fresh fruit in it and in the waiting room there is fresh fruit, water, dried cranberries and pecans. They must have known I was coming. To see all the ways to spoil yourself at Accista Spa click here for their menu.
We had the rest of the day to ourselves, so Andy and I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and then had dinner at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto. I mention the restaurant because I think it’s important you go there if you visit Monterey. It’s so old school, but not outdated. There are great deals on wine and locals get discounts. I had my favorite meal (a Cobb Salad) only with halibut on it instead of chicken. Loved it!
A big thank you to the management and staff of the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa. Andy and I were honored to tour and stay at the property and give my readers a look at what your hotel has to offer their guests, as well as so many improvements you’ve made over the hotel’s development. You can find the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Facebook here and on twitter here.
PLYMOUTH, CA – March 22, 2013 – Everyone is invited to Enjoy All That is Spring with the Wineries of Steiner Road on Sat., April 27, 2013 11am-4 pm.
This FREE Food and Wine event will delight the senses. Guests can stroll through the beautiful grounds of nine wineries, taste a variety of wines, listen to live music, experience all the blooming flowers and enjoy special treats.
Taste some small bites of spring lamb sausage, turkey and vegetable wraps, asparagus bruschetta, apricot pastry wrapped baked brie, wood fired pizza, Italian fare appetizers, tapenade cheese spread and crostini, tri-tip sliders, and artisan cheese and wine parings!!
Visitors also can enter to win two tickets to the sold out Barbera Festival June 8th, 2013 by visiting at least 5 of the 9 participating Steiner Road wineries: Shenandoah Vineyards, Amador Foothill, Bella Grace, Deaver Vineyards, Driven, Dillian, Renwood, Charles Spinetta and Dobra Zemlja.
Steiner Road Wineries, off Shenandoah Road (Hwy. E-16), east of Plymouth, CA, in Amador County. Questions: Contact Camille Sobon, (209) 245-4455.
The wineries of Steiner Road also have a new Facebook page. Connect with them by clicking “like” here.
A few nights ago, I threw together this quick salad so that I could open my package of Nudo Olive Oils and sample them. I had just returned home from shopping at Nugget Market, and had picked up a few blood oranges. I was particularly interested in trying the Mandarin variety of Nudo (produced with mandarins from Southern Italy which are harvested right off the tree and into their olive press).
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/4 red onion, rough chopped
1 blood orange
1 1/2 Tbs Nudo Mandarin Olive Oil
pinch sea salt
Peel the mandarin orange and slice it widthwise. Rough chop 1/4 of an onion (so that the pieces with collect on a bite-full of salad). Place the slices of blood orange on a plate, and arrange pieces of onion over the slices. Then place some chopped avocado over the orange/onion duo. Then salt the plate and drizzle with the Nudo Mandarin Olive Oil.
About Nudo Italia:
Nudo means ‘naked’ in Italian. The company was named Nudo because they only wanted to sell simple, pure products with no pesticides, additives or modifications.
Other varieties of Nudo include Olive Oil Stone Ground with Garlic, Olive Oil Stone Ground with Basil, Olive Oil with Lemon, Olive Oil Stone Ground with Fresh Mint, Olive Oil with Thyme, Olive Oil First Cold Pressed, and Olive Oil with Chillies. The oils are sold separately or as a part of different gift sets.
The most unique gift on their site, however, is the option to “adopt” an olive tree for yourself or someone else. You can also choose the grove from which the tree will grow and your oil will derive, and the delivery method in which your oils will arrive. The cost? $49 for 3- 500 mL (16.9 fl.oz) tins. For more information about tree adoption, you can click here.
Andy and I attended the Mikuni Ignite Party on Tuesday to celebrate the reopening and to get a peek of the David Garibaldi painting that was unveiled (a long mural of Michael Jackson, Elvis and Taro depicted in between the two icons).
It was interesting to hear Andy talk about visiting this location in the late 1980′s. He told me that he and a friend used to come here before there were any other Mikunis. At that time, I was living in Ohio and the only thing I knew about Sacramento was that it was the capital of California. What a difference a quarter of a century makes!
After a two-month aggressive reconstruction schedule, the interior of Mikuni Fair Oaks is completely restored with bright colors on the walls, beautiful flooring, and the sushi bar is full of fish ready to be rolled and served. The chefs and waitstaff are smiling and happy to return to work. The buffet that was put out for the Ignite Party guests to enjoy included gyoza, sashimi, tempura, sesame chicken, and numerous sushi rolls. There were even lamb chops. And you can bet those didn’t last long… especially around Andy. The food was so delicious and indicative of the great spirits of everyone in the kitchen. A cake was served at the end of the event, and Taro’s sense of humor was apparent. It said “Mikuni is on Fire!” I agree completely! Welcome back.
Mikuni Fair Oaks will offer 10% off to Koki Club members, 15% off to Mikuni Blue card holders and 20% off to Mikuni Black card holders from Wednesday, March 6th through Wednesday, March 13th at their Fair Oaks location only.*Please show your Koki Club card to take advantage of this offer. If you are not currently a member of the Mikuni Koki Club, you can join on-site.
PS: Taro Arai will be appearing at the Sacramento Food Film Festival next Friday, March 15th. Join my friend Catherine of Munchie Musings for sushi from Mikuni and Kru and then watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi after, sponsored by Mikuni .
I found Simple Squares at the Fancy Food Show last January, and they were also featured at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo last month. The makers of Simple Squares were kind enough to send a sample package to me. I was really impressed with the quality of ingredients and the different/unique flavors. Each flavor is made with five ingredients, and they happen to be all natural and organic.
The flavor line-up includes Cinna-Clove, Coconut, Coffee, Rosemary (my favorite), and Sage. Coming soon will be Ginger. The bars are not overly sweet and actually a little bit savory. With those components, I could almost see them cut into small pieces on a cheese plate, and paired with wine as an appetizer or a dessert.
But the company’s founder Kimberly Crupi Dobbins (whom I met at the Fancy Food Show) says she developed Simple Squares after traveling extensively (42 straight days) and being advised to follow an elimination diet. Which I am sure if any of you have tried to cut wheat, sugar, and dairy from your diet and tried to have a snack at an airport or even on a plane, you know it’s pretty tough. Kimberly says, “Refusing to compromise yet recognizing the need to indulge, I set out on a mission to create great tasting and healthy snacks.”
Simple Squares are high in protein, low in sodium and sugars, contain no wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, or corn, and no refined sugar brown rice syrup, or agave nectar. Sounds perfectly Paleo to me.
OK, so I know soy and soy products are not considered paleo or primal, but I found a gluten-free, non-GMO soy sauce I love and want to tell you all about.
Little Soya meets all FDA standards for labeling as a gluten-free product. Each batch of soy sauce they produce is tested twice by separate labs to ensure our results are accurate. Also, Little Soya contains no MSG!
Little Soya also contains 45% less sodium than then leading brand on the market. Their lower sodium content makes a great salt substitute in many of your favorite recipes. Their fun, fish-shaped containers are re-sealable and recyclable!
I used Little Soya in a mixed vegetable stir fry recently and here’s how I seasoned the vegetables:
Little Soya Stir Fry:
4 cups mixed chopped vegetables
1/2 cup LIttle Soya Soy Suace
1 Tbs fresh crushed ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp five spice powder
1 Tbs crushed garlic
1 Tbs honey
Combine the soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, five spice powder, garlic and honey. Set aside. Heat 1-2 Tbs oil in a wok or large sauté pan and sauté vegetables until tender. Pour sauce over the vegetables and heat through. So simple and delicious!
Please join me for the 25th Annual Winter Wine & Food Fest on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at the Sacramento Convention Center. Food, Wine Tasting and Silent Auction take place from 5:00 p.m.- 7:30 p.m, and the exclusive VIP Live Auction is from 7:30 p.m.- 10:00 p.m.
1,000+ people are expected to attend this exclusive event, featuring more than 100 of the best local restaurants and wineries. Guests will enjoy a live and silent auction, live entertainment and delicious food and drink from elite restaurants and wineries. Come hear the compelling stories of two Wish Ambassadors, Chris and Emily.
This year, Joe and Pat Harbison are being honored for greatly contributing to this event.
This elegant Make-A-Wish® event raises funds to grant wishes for children ages 2 and 1/2 to 18 with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich their human experience with hope, strength, and joy. All proceeds raised stay within Northeastern California and Northern Nevada chapter and make dreams a reality for our local wish children. Last year this fundraiser was able to grant 87 wishes to children.
This year, there will be more than 300 silent and super silent auction items and about 35 live auction items including the following:
Admission is $85 per person ($100 at the door) OR $185 per person ($200 at the door) for VIP tickets. No one under 21 permitted. For tickets contact Melissa Arnold at 916.692.3921 or email marnold(at)necannv.wish.org.
Hello, Sweethearts! I have compiled a few Valentine-themed events & gift ideas that l find lovely and delightful, and I would like to pass them on to you!
Casque Wines and Cupid have teamed up to create the perfect gift for your special someone. They teamed up with Chef Joe at the Flower Farm Cafe who is busy baking and decorating these delicious (and beautiful) Cake-Pops. They paired them with some of our favorite wines and added a couple of stemmed glasses for the perfect gift!This Friday, Saturday and Sunday (February 8-10), they will be offering the following special: 2 Cake-Pops, 2 Stemmed Casque Glasses, and Bottle of your Choice ~ Sauvignon Blanc, Calotte Blanc or Vermentino for only $28. The Cake-Pops will also be available individually for $1.50 each. Stop by this weekend for some Cake-Pops and Casque!
With the perfect mix of scrumptious, decadent flavor, SMIRNOFF Kissed Caramel Flavored Vodka possesses a seductive aroma to complement its smooth caramel flavor while its counterpart, SMIRNOFF Iced Cake Flavored Vodka, offers a light, sweet aroma met with a refreshing, smooth iced cake flavor.These luscious and tastefully satisfying new flavors from the world’s #1 premium vodka are sure to add a nice touch of sweet romance to anyone’s Valentine’s Day.
CUPID’S KISS: ½ oz. Smirnoff Iced Cake, ½ oz. Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, ½ oz. Chambord. Directions: Add ingredient in a shaker with ice, shake and pour into martini
glass. Add white chocolate to rim.
He loves me, he loves me not…It’s complicated. If your relationship is dark, yet spicy and complex with many layers, then Sobon Zinfandel Fiddletown is the wine for you! If you thought your relationship was complicated, this full-bodied red will have your palette changing its relationship status.
A stunning multi-faceted wine featuring intriguing aromas and flavors of spice, black currant, plum, smoky oak and a dusty-cherry component typical of the Fiddletown area. Massive and full-bodied, with an impressive, complex finish. Sustainably farmed. Thanks to Total Wine & More for the feature!
Nugget Market is pretty much a one-stop Valentine’s shop! You can pick up these truffles made my Truffle Gateau. Handmade locally, these chocolates are made with fresh ingredients and are designed to be paired with a variety of wines and cheeses.
Natural Vines are made from all natural ingredients and contain no artificial flavors or preservatives and no high fructose corn syrup — the licorice is naturally sweetened with cane sugar. Available in two flavors, Black and Strawberry. They were a big hit amongst my coworkers!
FOR THE COOK
. Get FREE SHIPPING on every order of $24.00 or more, placed between now and midnight, Central Time, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013. Order any combination of items from their website: Char Crust® dry-rub seasonings (from hot to mild), aprons, golf shirts, cookbooks, and yes, even, “Rub Your Meat” T-shirts. Nice.
I really dug this recipe for a Chocolate Almond Flour Beet Cake on my friend Julia’s site, The Roasted Root, so I am sharing the link with you. I encourage you to check it out here! If you need a taste tester, I’d be happy to help!
Happy Valentine’s Day to all and thanks to all the product sponsors and advertisers in this post!
This Thursday evening, February 7th from 6:30 to 8:30pm, 33rd Street Bistro & Rick Kushman present Kushman on Wine and Food. He will be educating you about wine and maybe a few other bonus items, who knows?!? Fun, humor, conversation, knowledge are guaranteed. This month’s topic is Chardonnay (How much oak?), Pinot Noir (Rich? Bright? Other?) and Cabernet (What do you really like?). Tickets are $35 (on sale at the door and at 33rd Street Bistro) and include appetizers. I took a class lead by Rick last summer at Lava Cap Winery and it was a lot of fun! Don’t miss out!
For our first seafood & vegetable dinner this weekend, I made stuffed mushrooms and used three different products I picked up or were sent to me from vendors at the San Francisco Winter Fancy Food Show.
Redwood Hill Farm sent me three different products to taste, and one of them was a goat milk cheddar cheese. I was instantly intrigued because I love cheddar cheese. I had bought a few dozen crimini mushrooms earlier in the week, and needed to use them. So, I thought I could use the cheese somehow to make stuffed mushrooms. Another important element I used was a gluten-free seasoned coating mix from Hodgson Mill I also brought home from the food show. The final result was amazingly good, and I didn’t even use any eggs as a binder. Andy sautéed some shrimp (a wonderful departure from red meat) and I made a big salad to round out the meal.
My recipe for the stuffed mushrooms is below. I’d like to thank Redwood Hill Farms for the cheese samples and for the coupons for some of their other products that were sent to me.
Stuffed Mushrooms with Redwood Hill Farms Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese
12 medium to large crimini mushrooms
1 diced onion
2 Tbs crushed garlic
1/3 cup almond meal
1/2 block of Redwood Hill Farms Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese (finely grated)
1/4 cup Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Seasoned Coating Mix
2 Tbs Karoun Dairy Lite Kefir Cheese (Labne)
1 Tbs olive oil or butter
cracked pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 385°F. Remove stems from mushrooms and chop finely. Lightly oil a 13×9 pan and place mushroom caps gill side down on the pan. Roast the mushrooms while you are preparing the stuffing filling (10 minutes once oven has come to temperature.)
Then heat a pan with your oil of choice and sauté the onion with the mushroom stems. You probably won’t need any salt in this dish because the seasoning mix and the cheeses are salty enough on their own. Cook until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have cooked through. At this point, the mushroom caps should be ready to take out of the oven. Remove the caps from the oven and flip them over, allowing them to cool as you prepare the rest of the mushroom filling.
Add the crushed garlic, almond meal and the seasoned coating mix to the mushroom stem/onion mixture and coat evenly. Then add the kefir cheese and stir until well combined. Lastly add about 3/4 of the shredded goat milk cheddar (save 1/4 of it to top the mushrooms once they’ve been filled). Add a little bit of cracked pepper to your mushroom filling and then fill the caps. I find it is easier to pick up the caps and scoop filling into them rather than trying to fill them with a spoon. Then once I have scooped some filling into a cap, I dip it into the extra shredded cheese so that the cheese sticks to the top of the mushroom rather than a bunch of cheese ending up on the pan.
Once you have filled the mushrooms and topped them with cheese, return the pan to the oven and bake at 385°F for about 25 minutes. The cheese will turn a nice golden brown on top and the mushrooms will develop an even more roasted flavor. I was so happy with the way they turned out and I hope you will give them a try!
For some fun cheese and wine pairings, you can go to Redwood Hill Farms’ website here.
On the evening of January 31st, I made my favorite meal–a Cobb salad–so that I could enjoy chicken and bacon one last time until March 1st (at least, maybe longer… we’ll see how it goes). During the month of February, I’ll only be eating seafood and eggs as my main sources of protein. Gone are the days of bacon-wrapped dates, at least for a while…
Why am I going mostly vegetarian? I just felt like I was eating too much meat, that’s all. It was getting to be pork or chicken or beef almost every single night for dinner. I don’t feel like it’s very good for me or for the environment, even though I buy organic and grass-fed meats when at all possible. I asked myself if I would have been willing to kill and butcher every single piece of meat that I had eaten since my diet has been so meat heavy (in the last two years). And, though I would have definitely been willing to hunt/forage/kill/clean some of the meats in the meals Andy and I have enjoyed (especially the holiday ones), I have to admit I would not want to have to kill something everyday or clean it everyday. I’d rather go pick an apple and get down with some almond butter!
I decided since February is the shortest month, it would be completely doable to cut out feathers, fur, or animals with snouts. I’ll be enjoying seafood once or twice a week, nuts (in moderation), some cheese (organic), Greek yogurt, and rarely–organic beans/lentils for protein. Not as Paleo, but again… I am always questioning why salami or bacon is Paleo and some other things like organically grown beans, corn, or rice aren’t…
I had a charcuterie plate for dinner about 2 weeks ago, and I was just sitting there thinking, man… I probably shouldn’t be eating this. So many calories and cholesterol… So much meat… So much salt. Need. To. Cut. Back!
So veggies for a month it is! But first…
I studded my last meaty meal with Santé Roasted Salted Pecans, sent to me after attending the NASFT Winter San Francisco Fancy Food Show. What I liked best about this variety of Santé is that it didn’t have any added sugar like some of the other varieties do. I rarely buy pecans because of their high calorie content, so when I get them sent to me, it’s a rare treat.
In addition to the Roasted Salted variety, Santé also offers Candied Pecans, Cinnamon Pecans, Sweet & Spicy Pecans, Candied Walnuts, Cardamom Cashews, Chipotle Almonds, and Garlic Almonds.
Some fun nut and wine pairings can be found on their website here.
You can buy Santé Nuts local to Sacramento at Whole Foods market and at Draeger’s in the Bay area. There is also a product locator you can use on their website. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.
This month, stay tuned for some vegetarian recipes using more products from manufacturers I met at the Fancy Food show! It will be exciting to use my creativity in the kitchen and share with you here… maybe even gain some vegetarian readers while I am at it.
The 1st annual San Francisco, CA Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo (www.gfafexpo.com) will be held on February 9 and 10, 2013 at the San Francisco Marriott Airport Waterfront Hotel. Jenny McCarthy’s non-profit organization Generation Rescue is the primary sponsor for the event (www.generationrescue.org). In addition, Dr. Peter Green from Columbia University will be the keynote speaker (www.celiacdiseasecenter.org).
The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo was started by Jen Cafferty of gfreelife.com in 2008. Jen’s team is excited to include San Francisco as part of their “road show” in 2013. More than 2,500 people are anticipated to attend the Bay Area’s first sizeable gluten-free event in years!
The following gluten-free experts will be at the expo:
Silvana Nardone (www.silvanaskitchen.com), founding editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine
Cybele Pascal (www.cybelepascal.com), who has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show
Kyra Bussanich of Crave Bake Shop (www.cravebakeshop.com), who won two episodes of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network
Kathy Smart of Live the Smart Way (livethesmartway.com), who has appeared on the Dr. Oz show and will be the face of GlutenFreeFind.com
Brandy Wendler, Mrs. Alaska 2011 (brandywendler.blogspot.com)
Amy Fothergill (www.amythefamilychef.com), who is a chef in San Francisco
The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo is the largest and fastest growing gluten-free consumer event in the United States. Their growth continues in 2013 as the GFAF Expo expands its event locations as well as their focused demographic.
The Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo will bring the nation’s leading chefs, best-selling cookbook authors, and highly regarded nutrition and health experts to help people learn how to prepare healthy, tasty meals and baked goods without gluten and some of the most common allergens. With over 100 vendors, attendees can sample products before buying them at the store.
“Living on a restricted diet doesn’t have to mean living without the joy of cooking, baking and eating foods that look and taste great,” said Jen Cafferty, mother of two and founder of the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo. “There is nothing like this in the area – a place where individuals, parents, and others can spend from a few hours to a full day sampling hundreds of products, and discovering that special dietary needs and cookies that taste like cardboard are not synonymous.”
I can’t wait to connect with other gluten-free people as well as gluten free product manufacturers, and bring some of their products to this website!
Open to the general public, the event features themed cooking sessions that will enlighten both beginners and more experienced home chefs, as well as a vendor fair, where attendees will meet and sample among more than 100 gluten-free companies under one roof. All of the vendors are 100 percent gluten-free and many also will showcase products free of the top eight allergens: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.
The Expo will include a dedicated area featuring nut-free products. The Expo is not just for those who are gluten sensitive and have food allergies. It is a great resource for those who have celiac disease, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, food intolerances, anti-inflammatory diseases and those who are autistic. The Expo is a perfect platform for athletes and those who are health-conscious. Offerings will include raw foods, supplements, health foods, protein bars and shakes, and detox options.
A variety of experts will give presentations on topics including:
-Pie Crust 101
-The Science Behind Gluten-Free Baking
-Safely Eat Out & Travel Gluten & Allergen-Free
A detailed schedule can be found at
The Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo Vendor Fair will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10, 2013 at the San Francisco Marriott Airport Waterfront Hotel. The cost to attend the Vendor Fair is $20 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 – 12. Early admission tickets (9 a.m.) are available for an additional fee online. General tickets are available online or at the door. The ticket price also includes an allergen-free arts and crafts area for kids, as well as staged presentations related to gluten-free living and cooking.
To purchase tickets or obtain additional information, including vendors, presenters’ bios and the full schedule of classes and stage presentations for each day, visit www.gfafexpo.com.
There are 45 million people with food allergies and intolerances. More than 18 million Americans are on a gluten-free diet. Over 3 million Americans have celiac disease. Celiac disease is two times more common than Type 1 Diabetes and seven times more common than Multiple Sclerosis. About 1 in every 133 people has celiac disease – a condition in which the body cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and commercially available oats. More than 300 symptoms ranging from digestive issues to depression are linked to celiac disease, and more than 95 percent of people who have it are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. A gluten-free diet is essential for those with celiac disease, which many sufferers erroneously believe or have been told by medical professionals is irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance. In addition, many families with autistic children are reporting a reduction in their children’s symptoms with a gluten-free diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an average of 1 in 110 U.S. children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
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About the Expo:
The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo is the premier gluten and allergen free event in the United States. The GFAF Expo serves over 20,000 people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivities, auto-immune/anti-inflammatory diseases and autism as well as athletes and the health conscious community each year.
As founder of the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo and President of Gluten Free Classes, Jen Cafferty is a nationally recognized expert on cooking and living gluten & allergen-free. She considers it her personal mission to help others who follow a restricted diet learn delicious, nutritious and convenient ways to live a happy and healthy life.