Fitness, Food, Wine & Travel


Making Spirits Bright: A Look Inside the J.J. Pfister Distilling Company

The perfect drink always starts with the perfect pour of spirits. And the spirits are pretty perfect when they come from J.J. Pfister Distilling Company located right here in Sacramento!

J.J. Pfister Distilling Company is Sacramento’s only organic “farm-to-glass” distillery. To be an organic distiller, the products produced in the distillery have to be made from all organic ingredients. Also, there can be no pesticides or any other non-organic chemicals used in the distilling process.

Andy and I were invited to a media event at the distillery last month and treated to a spread of hearty appetizers, special cocktails, spirits tasting, and a behind the scenes look at how grain and potatoes turn into some of our favorite adult beverages!

Since this is a food blog, let’s take a look at the tasty vittles the people at J.J. Pfister provided for us, BEFORE I tell you about the distillery and its history. There was a gorgeous fruit and vegetable tray with hummus, gluten free crackers, potstickers, a charcuterie tray, a cheese platter, buffalo chicken skewers (a personal favorite), meatballs, caprese salad skewers, shrimp cocktail in phyllo cups, and even a few things for those with a sweet tooth. No thank you, I’ll have more vodka, please.

OK, enough with the food. Now let’s talk about what we really came for: the spirits! To best showcase the Capitol Gin made at J.J. Pfister Distilling Company, we were served a special cocktail called “Gin-gle Bells” The gin was combined with pomegranate honey, lemon juice, and apple cider, and packed a punch with its spice and herbaceousness. If you’re interested in trying it, the recipe is below.

Gingle Bells Holiday Drink 
• 1.5 oz. J.J. Pfister Capitol Gin
• .75 oz. pomegranate-rooibos honey
• .25 oz. fresh lemon juice
• 1.5 oz. spiced apple cider

Pomegranate-Rooibos Honey
• 2 cups raw honey
• 1 cup water
• 6 bags rooibos chai tea
.75 cups pomegranate molasses

Make pomegranate-rooibos honey. Combine honey and water in a saucepan on medium heat until incorporated. Add tea bags and let steep for 1 hour. Remove tea bags, add pomegranate molasses, and stir. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Combine gin, pomegranate-rooibos honey, lemon, and cider in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain mixture into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with apple slices and freshly grated cinnamon.

Though I love a good cocktail, I preferred the gin straight. It was interesting to taste and smell the ingredients: juniper, orris root, angelica, cardamom, cubeb berries, coriander, lemongrass, fennel seed, and lavender (aka botanicals, above) used to make the gin.

After sampling the food and drinks, we were taken on a brief tour of the production facility. While on the tour, we learned that the gin is actually made from an ultra-premium rye vodka base and the botanicals are later added in.

The machine below processes potatoes. Did you know it takes 15 pounds of potatoes to produce just one fifth of J.J. Pfister’s Potato Vodka? The potatoes are, of course, organic, and grown in Klamath Basin in Oregon.


The pipe-organ looking apparatus above is called a “Rectifying Column Still”. It has partitions that set up chambers within the still. As the still is heated from the bottom by pumping steam into the bottom and letting it rise, the mash enters at the top and sinks toward the bottom. As the liquid encounters the steam, the heat vaporizes the mash and forces the alcohol up the still. Each time the vapors reach another partition, they get rid of more and more water and grain solids, and eventually become ethanol. The ethanol comes out of the top of the still and transferred into a condenser to become liquid again. Sound confusing? Luckily, we don’t have to make it, we can just drink it!

The name J.J. Pfister comes from owner Kevin Keck’s great-grandfather. J.J. Pfister was born in Switzerland in 1844 and learned the knitting trade with his brother Henry. By 1876, J.J. had moved to the United States and started a business in a one-room factory (in which he also lived) knitting stockings, mufflers, and wristlets to sell on Market Street in San Francisco. This tiny operation eventually grew, and by 1916 the company was making their signature garment, the knit shoulder to knee swimsuit. J.J Pfister also made sweaters, knit caps, baby clothes and athletic apparel. If you tour the facility (which I highly recommend you do), you will see several pieces of clothing they produced.

Fast forward to 2015. By this time, Kevin Keck is a retired physician and his son Brian has earned graduate degrees in both Chemistry and Viticulture and Enology. The men decide to open their own distillery with Brian as Master Distiller. Their new business needs a name and the Kecks decide on J.J. Pfister Distilling Company in honor of their family patriarch, and to carry on his legacy and dedication to excellence.




Very soon, J.J. Pfister Distilling Company will launch other spirits, such as rum, bourbon, and rye whisky. For now though, they have their vodka and gin for sale in their tasting room. If you are still looking for Christmas gifts, they have holiday packaged bottles ready to go, and a portion of sales goes to both the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge and the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex in their missions to restore and preserve habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife. You can also find their spirits for sale at Total Wine & More and Nugget Markets. Click here to see a full list of locations, including restaurants, where J.J. Pfister spirits are available.

J.J. Pfister Distilling Company is located at 9819 Business Park Drive in Sacramento, and is open for touring and tasting on Fridays from 3-6pm and on Saturdays from 12-6pm. To schedule private events or tastings please call (916) 672-9662.

You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on Instagram here.

28th Annual Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction and Beer Garden Set for October 6th, 2018

The 28th Annual Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden returns on Saturday, October 6th, 2018 from 4-7pm. I am honored to be a part of this year’s planning committee, helping to organize some of my favorite local restaurants and wineries for my Curtis Park neighbors and for my husband, who I met at this event in 2011.

This year’s event will feature a special ticket for VIP is available (which includes admission at 3pm for an extra hour of wine sipping and tasting galore). We are proud to announce our VIP Restaurant sponsor will be one of Sacramento’s newest and (hottest) restaurants, The Diplomat, located directly across from our State Capitol building! The VIP wine sponsor will be Ironstone Vineyards.

Purchase tickets for the event HERE.

Returning to support this year’s event are Curtis Park Wine Tasting veterans Selland’s, Dad’s, Espresso Metro, Miso Japanese, La Famiglia Catering, Gunther’s Ice Cream, Casa Garden, Sugar Plum Vegan, and Oak Cafe as well as the culinary students from American River College (under the tutelage of the amazing Chef Roxanne O’Brien).

New to the event this year (so far!!) are Cellar Door Platters (a custom charcuterie, fruit, and cheese platter creation service), Seasons 52, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Burgess Brothers BBQ (Antojito’s), Thai Farm House BBQ & Bistro, Buffalo Pizza and Cornflower Creamery, and Adamo’s Restaurant!

Wineries set to participate are Revolution Wines, Moniz Family Wines, Tryphon Vineyards, Matchbook Wines, Seka Hills Winery, Steiner Family Vineyards, and Via Romano Vineyards. If you’re a cider fan, we’ve got Two Rivers Ciders coming, and as always Pangaea Bier Cafe‘s Rob Archie will coordinate his fabulous Beer Garden for all the brew lovers out there.

I have intentionally tried to reach out to restaurants that produce food that not only pairs with wine, but restaurants that will give this event more variety and make it more culturally diverse. If we all have one thing in common, it’s that we need to eat to live. Food can be a great connector to people who have different backgrounds. I feel this event is a great way to taste and get introduce Curtis Park residents to restaurants they might not normally seek out on their own. As one of my favorite travel hosts (and star of Netflix show “Somebody Feed Phil”) Phil Rosenthal says, “Food is the great connector for me, laughs are the cement. It’s all about getting to know people.” Yes!

Proceeds from the SCNA Wine Tasting, Silent Auction and Beer Garden help support upkeep and maintenance of the historic Sierra 2 Center and Senior Center, community events like the Spring Egg Hunt, Music in the Park and Curtis Fest. Additional funds go toward Bret Harte’s 6th grade Nature and Science Camp and the McClatchy HISP program and the debate club.

We are still looking for restaurants and wineries who want to showcase their food at the event, and particularly restaurants/wineries to represent different cuisines/wines throughout the world. If you are interested in participating, please contact me by calling 916-612-0035 or email me: misscavegrrl at!

For information about participating, donating or volunteering, you can also contact Terri Shettle at the Sierra 2 Center, 452-3005. No prior event planning is necessary, and it is a great way to connect with neighbors and support your community.

Click —-> donate an auction item, or here to purchase tickets for the event. See you there!

26th Annual SCNA Wine Tasting, Silent Auction and Beer Garden Event Set for October 8th, 2016

I can’t believe it’s been five years since I met Andy at the Curtis Park Wine Tasting and now we live here in Curtis Park together. We are really looking forward to taking our annual walk over to the Sierra 2 Center in a few weeks to enjoy food, wine and friends. 🙂 If you’d like to read how we met at this event, you can click HERE.

I am happy to share information on this event (which happens to be one of the BEST food and wine tastings of the year in Sacramento) put together by the Sierra 2 Center and I hope you will join us for the 26th Annual Curtis Park Wine Tasting!  -cg

The 2016 Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event promises to be one of the best ever! In it’s 26th year, the event boasts more than 20 of the best restaurants in Sacramento, more than 50 wineries, and the always popular Beer Garden orchestrated by Pangaea Bier Cafe & Bottleshop. We will have special demonstrations by culinary students of American River College and Oak Cafe along with hundreds of silent auction and raffle items.

The annual Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event is the largest fundraising event for the Sierra 2 Center and Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association. Proceeds from the event help us fund artistic, cultural, educational and recreational activities at Sierra 2 Center and throughout Sacramento, including the operations of the Senior Center and community building events. Additional beneficiaries of this event include Bret Harte Elementary School and C.K. McClatchy High School. The event’s success helps fund many different important community activities.

Advance until 11:59pm, Oct.5 : $45 (SCNA Members)/$50 (Non-members) Membership can be purchased or renewed during your registration process.

Online ticket sales will close at 11:59pm on Oct. 5. After Oct. 5: $60 all. REGISTER FOR TICKETS HERE.

Online tickets available until 11:59pm, Oct. 5. After Oct. 5, tickets available at Sierra 2 Center office and at the door the day of the event. Tickets are also available for purchase by visiting the Sierra 2 Center office at 2791 24th Street or by calling 916-452-3005 prior to 5:00 p.m. Friday, October 7, 2016. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door prior to the event.

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


“Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Bubbles and Bling”, Friday April 20th at The Crest Theatre

Fundraiser Benefits the Volunteer Center of Sacramento’s 50th Anniversary

Sacramento, CA –The Volunteer Center of Sacramento (VCS) will hold “Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Bubbles and Bling” on Friday, April 20 from 5:30-9pm at the Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento as part of its 50th Anniversary campaign!

The celebratory event will include desserts, appetizers, champagne and wine, a huge silent auction, a fun photo booth with a Breakfast at Tiffany’s backdrop, live music by The Honey Trees and of course a viewing of the classic movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on the big screen. Doors open at 5:30pm and the screening begins at 7pm.

To celebrate our role in the community of supporting other non-profit organizations, we have partnered with the Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center and the California Youth Crisis Line. All three non-profits will benefit from this fun night out.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through the Volunteer Center of Sacramento by calling (916) 567-3100 or online by visiting Call us to avoid the online convenience fee!

“We are excited about celebrating our 50th Anniversary, however, community support is essential for the success of this fundraiser,” said Frank Kennedy, VCS Executive Director. “We have strengthened the Sacramento community through volunteerism for the past 50 years and we look forward to strengthening it for 50 more.”

To find out more about the fundraiser, how to purchase tickets, or how you can help, please contact us at (916) 567-3100 or

About The Volunteer Center of Sacramento
Founded in 1962, the Volunteer Center of Sacramento works to strengthen the Sacramento community by connecting volunteers with opportunities to serve. We also run several programs such as BirthdayMAGIC which coordinates birthday parties for children in homeless shelters, Adopt-A-Family which provides food and gifts to struggling families during Christmas and our VolunTEEN series which offers fun and easy 3-hour projects for youth in need of community service hours. Visit to learn more about the Volunteer Center of Sacramento.

Sacramento Food Film Festival is March 10th! Tickets going fast!!

Some of the best movies I have seen in the past few years have been all about food!!

More specifically, documentaries about our food and its production and distribution.

Needless to say, the inaugural Sacramento Food Film Festival is right up my alley! It will be held on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at Guild Theater from 10am to 10pm. So basically, come out like you are camping out for a deal on an HDTV at Best Buy on Black Friday, ok? 😉

I know a lot of you seem to be aware and conscious of the serious food issues/problems that this world faces, but these movies will educate you (as well as entertain and provoke thought) to what is really going on and really going wrong with our global food supply.

Here is the film lineup for the day:

10:15 Lunch Line 63 min.

Lunch Line follows six kids from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago as they set out to fix school lunch — and end up at the White House. Their unlikely journey parallels the dramatic transformation of school lunch from a patchwork of local anti-hunger efforts to a robust national feeding program. The film tracks the behind-the-scenes details of school lunch and childhood hunger from key moments in the 1940s, 1960s, and 1980s to the present, revealing political twists, surprising alliances, and more common ground than people might realize.
11:30 The Last Crop 50 min.

The Last Crop follows Jeff and Annie Main, and examines how one family’s mission to preserve their small working farm’s existence for future farmers is challenging the status quo of farmland conservation and farm succession policies within California’s 36 billion dollar agricultural industry. I saw this movie early this month and absolutely loved it. Since the filmmaker keeps adding on to the length of the film as the story progresses (as it is a work in progress), it will be a little longer than 50 minutes.

12:30 Dive 53 min.

Inspired by a curiosity about our country’s careless habit of sending food straight to landfills, the multi award-winning documentary DIVE! follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and friends as they dumpster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage receptacles of Los Angeles’ supermarkets. In the process, they salvage thousands of dollars worth of good, edible food – resulting in an inspiring documentary that is equal parts entertainment, guerilla journalism and call to action.
1:30 Future of Food 88 min.
The Future of Food has been a key tool in the American and international anti-GMO grassroots activist movements and played widely in the environmental and activist circuits since its release in 2004. The film is widely acknowledged for its role in educating voters and the subsequent success of passing Measure H in Mendocino County, California, one of the first local initiatives in the country to ban the planting of GMO crops. Indicative of its popularity, the Future of Food showed to a sold out audience of 1,500 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco in 2004, a benefit for Slow Food, where it was introduced by Alice Waters.  

3:00 Food Matters 80 min.

With nutritionally-depleted foods, chemical additives and our tendency to rely upon pharmaceutical drugs to treat what’s wrong with our malnourished bodies, it’s no wonder that modern society is getting sicker. Food Matters sets about uncovering the trillion dollar worldwide ‘sickness industry’ and gives people some scientifically verifiable solutions for overcoming illness naturally.

4:30 Ingredients 67 min.
Inspiring and rich, INGREDIENTS unearths the roots of the local food movement and digs into the stories of the chefs, farmers and activists transforming our broken food system. This upbeat, beautifully-photographed film introduces us to the verdant farms and pioneering restaurants where good food is produced and served. From innovative farm-to-table programs in Harlem to picturesque sheep farms in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, INGREDIENTS shows the heart of an alternative food system – healthy, sustainable and tasty.

Through interviews with world-class chefs such as Alice Waters and Greg Higgins and sustainability-minded farmers in Oregon, New York and Ohio, INGREDIENTS weaves an uplifting tale that is equal parts earthy rebellion and mouth-watering homage.
Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth, INGREDIENTS is a fun, open-minded film that will satiate both veteran slow-food fans and the uninitiated alike.

Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth? Guys, need I say more? 🙂

6:00 Farmaggedon 90 min.Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasona-bly burdensome regulations. The film serves to put policymakers and regulators on notice that there is a growing movement of people aware that their freedom to choose the foods they want is in danger, a movement that is taking action with its dollars and its voting power to protect and preserve the dwindling number of family farms that are struggling to survive.

7:45 Farmers Panel Discussion 60 min.
WHAT’S ORGANIC ABOUT “ORGANIC?” delves into the debates that arise when a grassroots agricultural movement evolves into a booming international market. As the film moves from farm fields to government meetings to industry trade shows, we see the hidden costs of conventional agriculture. We also see how our health, the health of our planet, and the agricultural needs of our society are all intimately connected. The film compels us to look forward, towards a new vision for our culture and encourages us to ask, “How can we eat with an ecological consciousness?”

For more information on the event go to:

Special thanks to sponsors Simply Recipes, Whole Foods, Slow Food Sacramento, Munchie Musings, Mikuni Sushi, Guild Theatre, and the Sacramento Co-op.

You can find the Sacramento Food Film Festival on Facebook here!!

PS: If you buy a ticket by March 1st, you will be automatically entered to win a restaurant gift card from deVere’s or Ella.

Buy tickets here now! Hurry because the Guild only holds 200 people and tickets are going fast!!

Second Annual Riedel Wine Glass Seminar on Tuesday, February 28th

The Second Annual Riedel Wine Glass Seminar presented by the National Association of Catering Executives, Sacramento Chapter and Sacramento Magazine/Our Wedding Magazine in association with Sean Minor Wines and Arden Hills Resort Club and Spa will take place on Tuesday February 28, 2012.

Time: 6:30p.m.– 9:00p.m. (Doors open at 6:00 p.m.)

Tickets $75 are per person  and $85 after February 15. To register, please click here.

Arden Hills Resort Club and Spa is located at 1220 Arden Hills Lane Sacramento, CA.

This unique and fascinating wine glass seminar will be led by Sylvie Laly of the world famous Riedel Glassware. She will showcase Riedel’s Vinum XL glasses and teach about the relationship between the shape of the glass and how the wine tastes, and the enjoyment of wine to our Sacramento community.

The seminar includes a set of four Vinum XL glasses ($123 value) post presentation hors d’oeuvres and sample wine from Sean Minor Wines. Sacramento NACE is offering this fascinating seminar to all interested parties (over the age of 21), whether you are a sommelier, in the food and beverage field locally, a restaurant owner, or a wine connoisseur.

Please join this spectacular presentation where everyone will gain new perspective on how the bouquet, taste, balance, and finish of wines are affected by the shape of the glass. Representatives of all the newspaper companies, TV channels and free lance journalists are cordially invited to make this event a successful one. Doors open at 6:00p.m. Seminar starts at 6:30p.m. Post seminar hors d’oeuvres are from 8:00 – 9:00p.m. For more information please visit:

Below is footage from last year’s seminar:

Hyatt Renovation Celebration

So, if you haven’t been to the Hyatt Regency Sacramento recently, you must swing by and take a peek!

A little party was held there last night to celebrate the newly renovated lobby, lounge, Vines Restaurant, second floor meeting space, 12th floor suite and the amazing 360 degree view of the 15th floor Capitol View Room. I felt like one of the luckiest girls in the world–sipping wine at the top of the Hyatt with my sweetie, and taking in the absolute best view in town of Sacramento and the State Capitol.

Me and my date! 🙂

The Hyatt Sacramento applied for and received a Hyatt Community Grant
which nominates and honors local non-profit organizations for funding
built around the Hyatt’s philanthropic pillars–Environmental
sustainability, education and personal advancement, economic development
and investment or health and wellness. Hyatt Sacramento is one of only
27 Hyatt properties worldwide to be recognized to receive a grant. Their
nominated non-profit organization, the Stanford Settlement Neighborhood
Center received this honor and a $15,000 check at the event. KCRA’s footage of the new space is here.

Another reason to check out the Hyatt? It’s Dine Downtown week through January 18th, and Dawson’s Restaurant is one of the participating restaurants. You can check out their menu here, and make a reservation on Open Table here.

Built in 1988, the Hyatt Regency Sacramento was considered a key pillar in the redevelopment of the central downtown business community and a vital part of the future of Sacramento’s tourism industry.

You can like the Hyatt Regency on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Pictures of guests were taken by Tia Gemmell. You can see her full set of photos here.
Snaps of the view from the top were taken with my iPhone.

Sacramento’s Dine Downtown Week: Mayahuel and the best steak ever!!

Hello Sacramento! Welcome to Dine Downtown week! I just want to take a moment of your time to recommend a restaurant that might not yet be that well known. It’s called Mayahuel (pronounced Ma-Ha-Kwell) and it’s located diagonally from one of my other favorite restaurants, Ella. You’ve heard of Ella, right?
OK, well back to Mayahuel and Dine Downtown. It starts today and you must try this restaurant. First, they brought out this soup. It was made with nopales, and a little on the spicy side. It was kind of like an amuse bouche. 
During this time, the BF and I made our wine selection for the evening–yes, you can get decent wine in a Mexican restaurant–the Napa Toro Chardonnay. Feel free to like them on Facebook now. 😉 Because it was actually pretty good wine. 
I have to give a shout out to our server, Franscisco. He was the epitome of service. So polite, and so genuinely kind.
After meeting us, he presented the two appetizer choices from the Dine Downtown menu. First, was the Eclipse de Sol: it was composed of beets, orange rings in a citrus sauce with pickled onions, peanuts and a touch of oregano. 
Then came the soup, called Flor de Calabaza con Perfume de Tequila: a Creamy Squash Blossom soup with infused tequila. Yes, please! It was topped with tortilla strips, providing a pleasant crunch.

And now, for the stunning entrées. And I am not kidding here, they WERE stunning. I was so blown away with the flavors, the amount of food on the plate, and how perfect everything was cooked.

First, my BF ordered the Mixiotes de Pollo en Adobo Huasteco: Chicken and mushrooms with nopales in a Cascabel & Pasilla chile Adobo sauce, served with white rice and Mexican zucchini slices. The chicken was super tender and the sauce was mild, yet incredibly flavorful. As you can see, the portion was very generous. The wine we chose previously (the Napa Toro Chardonnay) was a great complement to this dish.
And then, let me present to you, the best steak I have ever had in a restaurant, the Ojo de Costilla con Costra de Chorizo Rib eye steak with a chorizo crust, on a bed of seasoned mushrooms in an adobo salsa. I was literally cutting my steak with my fork. It was exquisite, and I am not exaggerating. If you only try one thing off the menu at Mayahuel, please give this a go, (order it rare or medium rare). It will knock your little stockings off! I didn’t even mention the chorizo. It was so flavorful and added another dimension to the meal.
And then out came the mariachi band… they were wonderful and the crowd was loving it. I was so pleased to see the restaurant packed around us and everyone was in a convivial mood.

Then it was time for dessert. First, our server Francisco, brought out the Pastel de Queso y Chayote (a Chayote cheese cake and mole in chocolate sauce). Mole is a perfect addition to a dessert because of its components and texture. The chayote works in the dessert because it’s a squash and has an inherent slightly sweet taste and tender texture. That being said, I don’t think you’re gonna find this at the Cheesecake Factory, folks, only at Mayahuel! (Thanks to the BF for tasting the sugary treats).

The other dessert option was the Flan de Chile Ancho. It was a flan made with ancho chiles of all things, and finished with Grand Marnier. It has a beautiful strawberry and blueberry garnish. The BF tells me the combination of the ancho and the Grand Marnier was uniquely flavorful.

So, not only do you get the food I just showed you above, but for the $30, included at the end of the meal, is the 1/2 ounce tequila tasting. Our bartender, Oscar, was extremely knowledgeable and passionate, and had a true encyclopedic knowledge of tequila.

The tequila we tried was the Jose Cuervo Platino, and it was served in a champagne flute in order to provide the best tasting experience. It’s truly the stemware that makes all the difference in a tasting. It can really bring out the oaky and fruity notes of a particular wine or beverage. What a nice little digestif, and it was such a treat to get some background information on tequila from Oscar.

If you haven’t been to Mayahuel Tequila Museo, you are missing out on a true downtown gem. Dine Downtown week kicks off Monday, January 9th and runs through Wednesday, January 18th. This event is a great way to try out some of Sacramento’s finest.
Mayahuel is on Facebook here and on twitter here. To make reservations, you can call them at or check them out on Open Table here.

Sacramento’s Dine Downtown Week: Make Blue Prynt Part of Your Plans!

Sacramento’s Dine Downtown week kicks off on Monday, January 9th and runs through January 18th, 2012. For 10 days only, local chefs will create special three-course dinner menus for only $30 per person.

“Whether you’re a foodie, experienced restaurateur or someone looking for a little excitement in your diet, Dine Downtown is a great reason to venture out and dine at variety of restaurants that you wouldn’t normally try.” said Megan Emmerling of the Downtown Partnership. “From fine dining restaurants to casual neighborhood spots, we love seeing the participating restaurants flourish during the 10 days of Dine Downtown.”

Last night, I was fortunate enough to preview the menu that Chef Jason Lockard has created for Blue Prynt Restaurant. Before I even show pictures or describe the dishes, I can tell you that the amount of food you get for $30 makes Blue Prynt a steal. Also, it was a lot of fun to go to a place brand new to me, and to see that their menu was widely accessible to people on different diets.

(Click on the image to enlarge).

To begin our meal, we chose the St. Supery Élu, and chatted about the wine with our server Gary (bonus points to Blue Prynt for knowledgable waitstaff). The evening was already off to a great start because the BF and I love to talk wine!! The Élu is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, and was an excellent choice to pair with the main course that was to come.

I wanted to mention that if you opt for the $30 prix fixe, you’ll also get big basket of warm garlic bread. My BF and I are gluten-free, so we passed on it in order to leave room for the other courses.

The BF ordered the oysters on the half shell, served with a spicy Thai dressing…

And I ordered the shrimp cocktail, lemon poached jumbo prawns served with a fresh grated horseradish cocktail sauce. I didn’t eat a lot of the sauce, because I love fresh seafood by itself, but I really liked that kicked up horseradish flavor!

The additional appetizer option is a Mushroom Basket and is described on the menu as “a mix of sautéed Dragon Gourmet Mushrooms on a bed of house made rosemary garlic bread topped with creamy goat cheese and wrapped in a cumin dusted phyllo dough”

Now do I have your attention? 🙂

Not only did the prix fixe option include bread and an appetizer, we also had a salad/soup option.
There is a seafood chowder on the menu for a soup choice, but I went with a Caesar Salad, and BF went with a spring mix salad with dill and caper dressing.

For dinner we both ordered the “King of New York”, a 12-ounce choice cut strip loin with a crown royal and royal trumpet mushroom chasseur sauce, and served with blue cheese mashed potatoes and green beans. The mashed potatoes aren’t truly allowed in my diet, but I still had a few bites of them to try. I really loved the incorporation of blue cheese. I boxed the rest up to make room for the thick cut of steak on my plate! Beef and mushrooms is one of my favorite flavor combinations. So classic and never goes out of style, so good move by the Chef to include it on the Dine Downtown menu. Also, I want to explain that we each got a full entrée for our main course (one 12-ounce strip each) and did not have to share this plate. The BF polished his entire meal off Adam Richman style, but I don’t think I made it through 5 ounces before I threw in the towel. 

We also ordered the same thing for dessert (chocolate covered strawberries), so this picture represents what one person receives. We took the other portion home to enjoy later with The Improviser.
The Dine Downtown menu kicks off Monday, but why wait for that? Head into Blue Prynt for dinner tonight. They have a great mix of art on the walls, and even have Chimay on tap! 
Also, there is a Gin Tasting coming up on February 3rd for $12, as well as a Crab Feed on February 11th ($35 for all you can eat.) And if you want to just swing by after a long day at the office, here’s a link to their Happy Hour menu. 

Blue Prynt’s Facebook page is located here and you can follow them on twitter here.

For a full list of the Dine Downtown participating restaurants and their menus, you can click here.

Custom Holiday Meals from Whole Foods

The Holiday Order Station at Whole Foods Sacramento, at the left entrance of the store. 
On Wednesday, I was invited to pick up a sample holiday dinner from Whole Foods Sacramento. They wanted me to help spread the word on how they can take the hassle out of cooking for your holiday gatherings. I was sent a list of some of the items that are included in a typical holiday meal, such as: a small organic pre-cooked turkey, a Field roast stuffed en croûte, Health Starts Here stuffed acorn squash, Health Starts Here posole soup, Glazed sweet potatoes, Broccoli cheddar potato gratin, a Pumpkin pie, Wine, and Holiday Flowers. 
As many of you know by now, I don’t eat a lot of things on that list at all. I follow the Paleo diet, which is gluten, grain, and dairy free. It might seem a little extreme to avoid all of those items (even during the holidays, which are traditionally all about eating and celebration), but it is so worth it to me because I am doing well maintaining my weight loss by eating this way. I remain so focused on my athletic performance and just feeling healthy everyday I am on the planet! Life is too short to have medical issues, especially ones you can fix by eating clean! 🙂
Since a lot of the selections did contain corn, gluten, sugar, etc, I asked the marketing contact if we could put together a special meal and speak to all the people out there who have gone gluten free. People like me who are very selective and care about every bite. She agreed, and I am so happy to show you what Whole Foods can put together for you. It’s completely guilt free eating and the only thing you might miss about the meal is cooking all of it… if you like to cook like me. 😉
Here is the full spread they put together all laid out on the table. As you can see, it was spectacular. My list of Gluten/grain, and sugar free items were as follows: Crudite, fruit, & cheese, Organic Turkey, Brussel Sprouts with Shallots and Pecan, Roasted Root Vegetables, Wine, and Organic Flowers.
The crudite included broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, green bell peppers, celery, and a dip in the center. I tasted a little and it had sour cream base, but it was not the typical unappetizing ranch you find on a vegetable plate. This had more of a delicate scallion flavor. Of course, I avoided it because as far as dairy is concerned, I save myself for cheese!! 🙂 And vegetables this fresh taste great on their own.

This is the organic turkey. Preparation is so simple because the turkey is already cooked when you buy it. All you have to do is thaw it out and then bake it. I picked up my meal from the store at around 2pm, and simply continued to thaw the turkey before placing it in the oven at around 7pm. It was ready to eat by around 7:45 or so. The meat was delectable and so tender. I believe organic meats are the only way to go!!

This is the side of roasted root vegetables, it contained parsnips which are one of my favorite vegetables EVER!! It also has carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, and pecans. Wow. Pretty much my favorite things coming together on the plate. I make a dish pretty similar to this, so I wasn’t surprised to love it so much.
These are the roasted Brussel sprouts with shredded cabbage. Since sprouts are a form of cabbage, the dish was a neat little duo because of the two different textures. And pecans are like candy to me. Another wonderful side.
This is what my plate looked like all put together. 
And then, the cheese! Since I don’t do sugar of any kind anymore, cheese is my true indulgence, and I eat fruit to keep away any major sugar cravings. This little cheese and fruit tray was so pretty and contained a few different cheeses: some bleu, a brie, and two other cheeses that were spreadable. The tray also contained blackberries, strawberries, grapes, and blueberries. Then there were wonderful Marcona almonds, walnuts, and little bars of compressed fig in the box. 
Everything I ordered was perfect and packaged up so nicely. There was also a bottle of nice Riesling in the mix. Whole Foods has a great selection of other wines as well. Chardonnay or Pinot Noir would also be a great match for all this food.

To learn more about the holiday menu selections, you can go to You can also follow Whole Foods on Twitter @WFMNorCal Tag #WholeForTheHolidays for a chance to a win a turkey dinner! There will be one winner a week. Good luck!

To order your holiday meals you can go to: and to see a complete holiday forum with recipes and tips for a perfect party, you can go here:

Sacramento Opera presents Pagliacci on November 19th & 20th

Sacramento Opera / Sacramento Philharmonic Double-Bill Featuring Works by Mozart, Wagner, and a Fully-Staged Production of Pagliacci

One of the opera world’s most famous arias –“Vesti la giubba” — will be performed when Sacramento Opera Company presents its production of “Pagliacci” with the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra at the Sacramento’s Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, and at 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20. Tickets, from $21 to $100, may be reserved by calling the Community Center box office at (916) 808-5181 or by subscription at (916) 737-1000.

The “Pagliacci” Opera Talk, with the SOC production’s conductor Michael Morgan and stage director David Bartholomew, will be held at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Tickets, available at the door, are $10 general admission and $7 for Sacramento Opera subscribers

Composer Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s poignant though memorably musical tale of a traveling theater company playing in a small provential Italian town pits a jealous clown, his wife, her lover, and a lecherous actor, in a story within a story – a tragic play that mirrors real life events going on off stage.

“Pagliacci,” premiered in 1892 in Milan’s Teatro dal Verme with Arturo Toscanini conducting. A year later, it was heard in New York City. The opera’s verismo or reality style flourished in Italy especially, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but was also a force in France with composers Jules Massenet., Charpentier and Debussy.

The opera will be preceded during the first half of the evening, by a program showcasing the Philharmonic in selections from W. A. Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” and featuring guest soloists Shana Blake Hill, Igor Vieira, and Zachary Gordin, and Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll (orchestra only). The orchestra’s conductor and artistic director, Michael Morgan, is also artistic director of Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, as well as music director and conductor of the Oakland East Bay Symphony and the Oakland Youth Symphony.

A native of Washington, D.C., Morgan has led the Philharmonic for the last 13 years. In 2010, Morgan received the San Francisco Foundation’s Community Leadership Award and in 2005 was given the Governors Award for Community Service by the San Francisco Chapter of the Recording Academy. He was also the five American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Concert Music Award recipients in 2005.

David Bartholomew will stage the opera. A pianist and educator before he became a stage director, Bartholomew worked with the influential opera conductor Sarah Caldwell in Boston at the beginning of his career as a stage director. While resident stage director and artistic director of Tacoma Opera, he produced more than 20 operas from 1993 to 2004. Bartholomew is currently director of artistic operations for Opera Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Among the cast members of “Pagliacci” will be American tenor Roy Cornelius Smith who as the hapless clown, Canio, will sing the opera’s most famous aria. Smith’s rich resume contains appearances at the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera; Deutsche Oper Berlin; the Salzburger Festspiele, as well as the Volksoper Wien (Vienna) in Austria; and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. With the New Israeli Opera, he sang the Rabbi in a new production of Kurt Weill’s “Der Weg der Verheissung (The Eternal Road).” Smith has also appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.

“We are very fortunate to have Roy singing with us. Listen to him singing on his website: Amazing,” said SOC General Director Rod Gideons. “He is really a splendid talent and his realization of the role of Canio, the jilted husband, is both powerful and riveting, culminating in an unforgettable interpretation of the opera’s most famous aria, ‘Vesti la giubba’.”

Joining Smith on stage, soprano Shana Blake Hill will sing Nedda,baritone Zachary Gordin will sing the role of Silvio, baritone Igor Vieira will portray Tonio, and tenor Daniel Ebbers will be Beppe.

Hill has a diverse repertoire of concert and operatic experiences. She has sung everything from composer Bright Sheng’s “The Phoenix” with The Philadelphia Orchestra under Charles Dutoit to Violetta in “La Traviata” with Dayton Opera; and Maria in “West Side Story Suites” with the Lexington Philharmonic and “Susannah” with Opera Pacific. Her list also includes Rosalba in Daniel Catan’s “Florencia en el Amazonas” with Cincinnati Opera; Rosalinda in “Die Fledermaus” with Opera Southwest, and “Secrets of the Sky and Sea” with Berkshire Opera.

Baritone Gordin, an experienced interpreter of the bel canto works of Donizetti and Verdi, appeared in “Opera in the Cathedral,” in October with Sacramento Opera. In the basso range, he is well-versed in the 18th century’s rich coloratura bass repertoire, as well as works of contemporary composers. Formerly well-known as a countertenor, he is now performing as a baritone, for which he has received critical acclaim for the “intensity of his acting,” and the “beauty and power of his voice.” Praised by San Francisco Classical Voice for his “heroic performance” as Escamillo in San Francisco Lyric Opera’s “Carmen,” with West Bay Opera Other recent performances include Aeneas in “Dido and Aeneas” and El Cantaor in “La vida breve”

Vieira made his professional debut in his native Rio de Janeiro at age 17, singing the role of Dancaïre in Bizet’s “Carmen.” His baritone repertoire also includes the title roles in Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” and Debussy’s “Pélleas et Mélisande,” plus Junius in Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia,” Ford in Verdi’s “Falstaff,” and Lescaut in Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut.”

Tenor Daniel Ebbers will sing the role of Beppe. Ebbers appeared with the Sacramento Opera most recently as Cassio in Verdi’s “Otello” in 2008. Ebbers is associate professor of voice at University of the Pacific where he teaches vocal performance. He is also managing director and instructor at the Pacific Opera Institute.

The Sacramento Opera’s season will continue in 2012 with Verdi’s “Rigoletto” Friday, Feb. 24, and Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Community Center Theater. For more information, call (916) 737-1000.

Single Tickets: $28 – $100 (Available through the Community Center Theater Box Office at 916-808-5181)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call the Sacramento Opera offices at916-737-1000, or visit

You can find Sacramento Opera on facebook here and on twitter here.

Taste of History Dinner at Sutter’s Fort = History Tastes Delicious!

On September 25th, the Annual Taste of History Dinner at Sutter’s Fort was held. I attended with a fellow food blogger and we enjoyed an evening of music, conversation, and eating a multi-course dinner outdoors at a beautiful table settings inside the fort walls.

The evening began with a reception with appetizers by Whole Foods and Selland’s Market. Whole Foods made pear “hand-pies”, cider with sparkling water, and also sampled pistachios and yellow watermelon. Selland’s offered little cups of corn soup, cheese and honey served on cedar planks, and tiny pot pies with vegetable filling. Around the corner, Ten22 was serving fresh fried corn tortilla chips and mole sauce.

Well OK, I don’t think there was a Selland’s catering van back in the day… 😉
Vegetable pot pies from Selland’s.
Cheese and honey from Selland’s.
Corn soup from Selland’s.
I was THRILLED to get my hands on a slice of watermelon since my diet is gluten-free, corn-free. I was also snacking on pistachios from the Whole Foods booth.

While we were waiting to be seated, we ventured off around Sutter’s Fort and looked into some of the exhibit rooms. There are recorded guides to inform you of your surroundings and the purpose of each room.

This was the beautiful set-up for dinner, just before dusk.
Each patron got a beautiful mini-lantern, and a goodie bag from Whole Foods,
filled with discounts and information on local vendors.
Most of the chefs used old fashioned preparations to make their food. Right over the fire.
This was another appetizer available. It was from Ten22, and was an absolutely
delicious mole sauce. They had fresh fried tortilla chips to dip in the sauce.
There was also live music in the style of the era being played before dinner as we walked around to look at Sutter’s Fort and to sample the foods and wines available.

This was the first course, a Chicken Mole Salad prepared by Chef Jay Veregge of Ten 22 in Old Sacramento. It was paired with a River City Brewing Vienna Lager.

The second course was a Grilled King Salmon with Tomato Salsa and Creamy Polenta, prepared by Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney’s B & L. It was paired with a wine from Railbridge Cellars.

The third course, was quite possibly my favorite and sadly I don’t have a better picture of it. It was a slow cooked Beef Brisket with shell beans, corn, and Del Rio Farms herb salsa prepared by Scott Rose. For those of you in Paleo land, I didn’t eat the corn, but did have a few delicious beans. 😉 This course was paired with a wine from Bogle.

You can find Sutter’s Fort on Facebook here. The have a fun event coming up this week called The Haunted Fort. It will be on October 28th and 29th. Sutter’s Fort, once a portal for weary pioneers, again serves as the gateway to their restless spirits, who return to tell the tales of their lives and melancholy deaths at this special family friendly event. Tours leave every 10 minutes, tickets available here. For more information please call phone 916 445-4422.

Lounge on 20: Artistically Reinvented

Festa di Vino is this Saturday, May 14th!

A Wine Benefit for Children, this Saturday, September 25th, 5:30-8:30pm

Mercy Care Begins with Me Ticket Giveaway!

Saturday Showcase: Sac Mix & Sacramento Restaurants!

Luxe for Life Benefit Gala this Saturday, August 28th!

Hail to the Chef: Michael Vaughn, Head Chef of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, & Director of Food and Facility Services

Taste of Sacramento on September 24th at the Sacramento Convention Center

Anthony Bourdain Coming to Sacramento

Hail to the Chef: Shane McMahon, La Provence Restaurant

Tonight: Virtual Wine Tasting with the Sacramento Bee’s Chris Macias

Sacramento Zoo King of Feasts, June 26th! Win a pair of tickets!!

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