Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Posts tagged “restaurant

We’re Married! (Part Two)

The next day of our Las Vegas adventure began as each of our mornings do. With a workout! I was off to find the hotel gym and Andy went out for a run. He usually runs 5 miles a day during a vacation that is not wrapped around a race (although a lot of our getaways are).

The gym at the SLS is shockingly small, and every treadmill in the place was taken. Time was an issue that morning (we had two major things to accomplish and were not sure how long each one would take), so I took my run outside to the scenic Las Vegas Strip!

Then it was errand time! The first item to cross off the to-do list was to get our marriage license. This is a very important document you have to have to get married in Las Vegas. Even if you roll up to any one of those chapels, you have to first get the marriage license at the Clark County Courthouse. Also, bring cash. It’ll cost you $77, and the courthouse does not take plastic.

Doesn’t Andy look excited?


After we got our license (by the way, there was barely any wait and it was really easy), we headed to Tuxedo Junction to choose a tuxedo for Andy for the big day! I had found Tuxedo Junction through a web search, and then looked at their Yelp reviews to help me ultimately select them as our preferred vendor! The store manager Armando (Mando) was a tremendous help in putting together a really hip ensemble for Andy. We looked at several styles (and laughed at others) before Andy pointed to one he liked best on the wall. Armando informed us that they might not have everything in that particular style ready to go that day. But after taking Andy’s measurements faster than I have ever seen anyone take measurements before, and a trip to the stockroom, he emerged with an even more stylish jacket and the rest of the pieces of the suit.

Armando guided Andy into a fitting room as I pulled up the Yelp app (there’s a 15% off discount when you check in to Tuxedo Junction) to retrieve the discount. A few moments later, I looked up and there was Andy, dressed up more than I had ever seen him before. Wow. Tears began to well up in my eyes! My husband-to-be, looking pretty much like a perfect mannequin, was standing in front of me waiting for my approval. What a hunk!

I’ll stop gushing and post pictures of the tuxedos that did NOT make the cut 😉 :

 

 

The tuxedo needed a few temporary alterations, so we had lunch next door at Gianna’s Pizza… they served a Chopped Chef Salad that we shared that was just enough to tide us over to dinner.
After about an hour, Andy’s tuxedo was ready to be picked up. Since we were not going to have enough time to drop off the tuxedo before leaving on Monday morning, we opted to leave it at the hotel’s front desk and have Tuxedo Junction pick it up (for $10 extra).

Then we returned to the SLS Hotel and our room. Since I was determined to wear my human hairpiece, the Ellen Wille Cascade, to dinner and the show that evening, I began styling my hair. I hot rolled away as Andy caught a nap. And when my hair was done, I did my makeup. And then… it was time to put on the Nicole Miller gown I had rented for that evening. I rented it from a website called Rent the Runway. They offer designer clothing you can rent for a special occasion at an affordable price. They also make receiving/returning the rentals a snap. I also really liked the option of a FREE backup size (that comes along with your order) in case the size you ordered did not fit.

For dinner, we chose to stay at the hotel (because of the Carvey/Lovitz show being at our hotel). The restaurant we chose (Katsuya) and the show (at The Foundry) were literally footsteps away inside the casino. Since we were early for our dinner reservation, we sat at the sushi bar and had pre-dinner drinkys. 😉

Andy opted for the Kiwi Envy… a boozy blend of Bombay Sapphire Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, kiwi, and lime juice. My God, it was good and I need to replicate it at home soon. Since I was watching calories (Betty Boring) I ordered a vodka and Diet Coke.


As you can see, it truly was happy hour…


After our cocktails we were seated in front of the sushi bar. Andy likes to watch the chefs make everything and rarely wants to sit at a table when we eat at a sushi restaurant.


Yes, there are three different glasses in front of me, all different wines, and all mine. There goes the calorie watching. Time to have some fun!

 

Food we had at Katsuya: I chose to be a little adventurous and order this Lobster & Truffle “Chawan-Mushi”. You had me at lobster and truffle. It was like a congee, and I have to say I didn’t LOVE it. It was just ok. But, it was beautiful to look at! Also, Andy and I share food almost every time we go out because it allows us to taste and experience more food. I pick most of the dishes because I am more picky than him. 😉


Next up, I chose the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic soy reduction and toasted almonds. Very good, but already slightly having panic attacks about my sodium intake, retaining water, and fitting into my wedding gown the next day. So salty, crispy and irresistible!

Then we tried a dish that Andy picked out, the Salmon Sashimi with Caviar. The little pieces of salmon were filled with an onion chutney and then topped with caviar and placed on a little cucumber chip. I really enjoyed this dish. It was easy to eat in one bite–most pieces of sushi I am struggling to remain dainty/eat in two bites and make a mess. This would be a great passed appetizer at a party.

 


The next dish we tried was my favorite! The Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. It’s basically a little crispy rice patty on the bottom (the texture of the rice was crispy on the outside and slightly chewy in the middle!!!), topped with spicy tuna and a few slices of jalapeño.


 

We also ordered a few rolls: The Special Katsuya Roll: Tuna, yellowtail, salmon, scallop, crab and avocado wrapped with rice, soy paper and cucumber, served with wasabi ponzu on the side. It’s always fun to order an atypical sushi roll (cucumber instead of nori on the outside).


Then there was the Tiger Roll. This one was calling my name, and I answered because there was caviar AND truffle oil involved, along with shrimp tempura, cucumber, and avocado.

 


The wine we chose was an Alsatian Riesling. It was on the drier side and very crisp. It was a great pairing with all the plates we ordered. At that point, we could have ordered more food, but I was getting pretty full. I was also so excited to see the show and ready to get our seats inside the club!


Our seats were pretty close, but then again, the Foundry is pretty small, so I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house. We ordered a few more drinks (wine this time). There is a bar conveniently located in the back of The Foundry. I can’t stop thinking about how much fun we were having and yes, how good we looked! Everyone around us was in a great mood. All major fans of Carvey and Lovitz, I suppose. I had seen Dana Carvey’s Netflix special Straight White Male, 60 (do yourself a favor and watch the special) fairly recently as well as his interview with Howard Stern, and had also seen Jon Lovitz a few months earlier on The Celebrity Apprentice. I could not believe our seats were so great and Andy wanted to see the show just as much as I did! AND THAT WE WERE FINALLY GETTING MARRIED THE VERY NEXT DAY!!


Someone at the bar was nice enough to take our picture together. 🙂

Andy took these pictures of me wearing the Nicole Miller gown. 🙂


I was having too much fun!


So. Happy.


Dana Carvey. Love him!

 

 

It was harder to get a good picture of Jon Lovitz, but I tried! Both comedians’ sets were excellent, and at the end they came out onstage together for a while. Somehow, Andy managed to procure another drink during a bathroom break. It was so fun to see him cut loose and know he was enjoying himself as much as I was.

Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz Reunited have a few shows coming up on June 30th and July 1st, 2017, so you can go to The Foundry’s website and order tickets. It’s so worth it!

So there you have it. We finally got married because we wanted to see a Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz comedy show that happened to be in Las Vegas. 🙂 Next post, the Big Wedding Day!


You Light Up My Life: Flame and Fire Restaurant in Roseville

flames

Flame and Fire is one of most unique dining destinations in Roseville, and we were finally able to check it out a few weeks ago.

If you already live in that neck of the woods, you probably know about Flame and Fire (located off Hwy 65 in Roseville, Pleasant Grove exit) and their exceptional food. Andy and I had been eager to visit this traditional Brazilian Churrascaria since our visit to another restaurant in the Bay area with a similar concept/dining experience.

What is a Brazilian Churrascaria? Basically, it’s a place where meat is cooked in churrasco style, which translates roughly from the Portuguese for ‘barbecue’. At Flame and Fire, diners can choose from a variety of fifteen succulent types of meat at dinner and seven types of meat and lunchtime. The menu is fixed price and patrons are are served several times throughout their meal.

The food is served by Gaucho Chefs who slice and serve the meats table side. This manner of service is known as Rodizio style and uses a card or chip (with the green side showing) to signal one of the rotating Gaucho Chefs to visit the table and serve what meat he happens to be carrying (cuts of beef, chicken, lamb, pork and Brazilian sausages to name a few). When the diner has had enough, they turn their dining card to the red side to show the Gaucho they do not want more food at the moment.

placecard
The other side says “NO”, but the servers pretty much only saw the “YES” side during my meal. 😉

Before meat service begins, though, guests are invited to visit the salad bar that is packed with over 30 different dishes and sides like Brazilian feijoada (stew of pork and black beans), farofa (a toasted cassava flour mixture), rice and beans. It’s like a compilation of all the best appetizers you’ve ever had.

salad bar one
The salad bar is also adorned with several cheeses such as Origiano Parmesan, Gorgonzola Blue, Coranzon Ronda Manchengo, Swiss and Gouda and cured meats.

wine and cheese
meats and cheeses

To the side of the salad bar there are large containers with fish stew, rice and a potato dish with bacon and cheese.

fish stew

The little kid in me wanted to try everything, but I knew I should save more room for all the meats that would come to our table, so I opted for a salad with a few different toppings and actually used the chimichurri sauce available on the salad bar as my dressing (the healthiest option on the bar because it contains only herbs and oil). TIP: Grab some for your meats later on in the meal. I also tried some of the wonderful cheeses available.

salad bar two
salad bar three
Often, Andy and I order a glass of wine (a starter glass, if you will) just as we are being seated. I usually go for something with bubbles! Then we peruse the wine menu together and find a bottle of wine to share that we think we will both enjoy. We decided on a bottle of Spanish wine made by Numanthia because it would pair nicely with the meat.

wine

I should also mention the little side dishes that are placed on the table to enjoy with every meal at Flame and Fire, pao de queijo (melt in your mouth cheese bread) and fried bananas:

bread
bananas

After we finished our selections from the salad bar, it was time for the gauchos to add our table into their rotation of service. It is very lovely to watch the servers come around one at a time and offer you what they are carrying. Below are a few of our favorite items from the evening, and some of what you can expect to see during a dinner service:

ribs

parmesan pork on plate
cutting pork
pork tenderloin
Picanha
my favorite cut

meat trio
lambchops

andy with meat

We sampled picanha (top sirloin) and the restaurant’s signature meat dish, fraldinha (bottom sirloin) and my personal favorite, chicken wrapped in bacon, Brazilian sausage, filet mignon, lamb chops (Andy’s favorite), pork ribs, parmesan chicken. Everything was so tasty and the interactive service was so much fun!

We were too full for dessert, but Flame and Fire does offer a delicious endings to their feast with a signature Flame & Fire Sovrete (ice cream) or Traditional Brazilian Flan. Also, roasted caramelized pineapple can be sliced at your table!

gaucho slicing
You can find Flame and Fire on Facebook here , follow them on Twitter here and check out their Instagram page here. Make a reservation to dine at Flame & Fire by clicking here.

facade

 

 


12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: Piatti eGiftcards

It was a very hectic weekend over at cavegrrl.com headquarters, so I apologize for no gift idea yesterday. I will make up for this with two blog posts today and two gift ideas (day eight and day nine of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover).

I’ll begin with Day eight’s idea: eGiftcards from Piatti Ristorante and Bar. The best thing about this gift idea is that you don’t even have to get in your car to buy one. You can complete your transaction entirely online and the eGiftcard is delivered immediately into the recipient’s email inbox. You can personalize it and choose your own design like this:

egiftcard

Then with that they can buy a meal that looks as incredible (and Primal friendly!) as this:

10635749_903236529687203_8019232583614289126_n
The eGiftcard is the easiest and most convenient way to treat friends and family with the gift of dining at all Piatti locations:
Northern California: Mill Valley, Danville, Sacramento, & Santa Clara
Southern California: La Jolla
Washington: Seattle
Colorado: Denver
Texas: San Antonio: The Quarry

You can purchase a Piatti eGiftcard here.

You can find Piatti Sacramento on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here. Tune in later today for day nine of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! Cheers 🙂


National Pizza Month: Gluten Free Options Galore at California Pizza Kitchen!

California-Pizza-Kitchen
Happy National Pizza Month!! Yes, October is National Pizza Month, and to celebrate, Andy and I are selflessly sacrificing being strict Paleo 😉 to try out some gluten free pizza options available in the area.

I can’t think of a more iconic place to begin the celebration than California Pizza Kitchen!

It’s been about 6 months since the renovation of California Pizza Kitchen at Arden Fair. This location of California Pizza Kitchen features The Next Chapter menu–updated with fresh and exciting dishes. We were invited to the event along with other local writers and were so impressed by the improvements that I decided I should eventually do a solo feature on their gluten free menu.

Of course, gluten free is a growing trend and a tasty gluten free pizza is in high demand. Especially for a pair of distance runners like Andy and me! 🙂

Here’s are the pizzas that now come gluten free (including the CPK classic BBQ Chicken pizza:

menu
Andy and I decided to order two salads and two pizzas. Hey, I had planned (and completed) a 10 mile training run the next day! 🙂

There are several salads on California Pizza Kitchen’s menu that are gluten free. We chose the Cobb Salad: Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon, avocado, chicken, tomatoes,
chopped egg, beets, fresh basil and Gorgonzola with housemade bleu cheese dressing (on the side). OK, so I love Cobb Salad and pretty much order it whenever possible. I have said in the past that a Cobb might possibly be my choice for last meal on Earth. I know that might sound a little odd, but the combination of chicken, avocado, bacon, and blue cheese crumbles is pretty much my favorite thing. New pizza variety perhaps? 😉

cobb

We also tried the Moroccan Spiced Chicken Salad with Roasted butternut squash, dates, avocado, toasted almonds, beets, red peppers, chopped egg, cranberries, and tossed with housemade Champagne vinaigrette.

moroccan chicken
The Morroccan Spiced Chicken salad was a refreshing take on a dinner salad. I loved the fall notes (cranberry) with the perfectly cooked butternut squash. The salads we ordered were the smaller size on the menu, so I can assure you, the portions are very generous.

Speaking of generous portions, the pizzas came out next! We ordered the Margarita pizza with Italian tomatoes with fresh Mozzarella, basil and Parmesan. Now, I haven’t had real pizza dough in as long as I can remember, but I have had about 10-20 different gluten free doughs since adopting a gluten free diet 3 1/2 years ago. I was pretty impressed with the texture and chew of the dough and the almost crispy edges of the crust. I also liked the sauce and cheese ratio on the pizza–as in, there was plenty of it! (See the slice on the lower right with the extra tomato? Mmmm. That’s the first slice I took! Sorry, Andy!)

margherita
And because we are meat lovers, we couldn’t pass up the Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage pizza with Cremini mushrooms, rustic pepperoni, spicy Italian sausage, fresh torn basil, Mozzarella and wild Greek oregano. I loved the huge chunks of sausage on this pie. Andy liked the fact that the pizza was cut into real wedges as opposed to squares. I was just having fun eating pizza with my best friend, no matter how you slice it. Pizza is something we just don’t get to have a lot of anymore, so it’s a pleasure to find a good gluten free alternative.

pepperoni sausage mushroom
For our wine pairing, we ordered a Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. A reasonably priced, full bodied red wine that reminded me more of a Cabernet. That was not an insult to wine, because typically a Cabernet is a finer wine than Malbec. Andy is always puzzled by my wine tastes and why I like a cheaper Malbec, but my taste in Cabernet is ultra expensive. 🙂 Bodega Tamarí is part of Viña San Pedro Tarapacá, Chile´s second largest group in the wine industry, selling over 27 million cases of wine yearly and exporting wine to 80 countries worldwide.

malbec
I really loved the gluten free pizza at California Pizza Kitchen and I am so happy this restaurant is now giving gluten free people an option besides salad. With the revamped menu and new choices available along with the updated interior, California Pizza Kitchen is a perfect choice for parties or large groups of people. There’s really something for everyone on the menu and it no longer feels like a cafeteria inside the restaurant. Everything on the menu is reasonably priced, making it a good spot for family night out or even a first date.

California Pizza Kitchen has also recently begun a rewards program called Pizza Dough. For every $100 you spend, you get $5 in rewards, redeemable on your next visit. Also, as an incentive to join the program, you get a FREE small plate when you register.

Special thanks to the marketing team I worked with to produce this piece and to Brendon, the Assistant General Manager of California Pizza Kitchen at Arden Fair. I’ll have to try some of those New Zealand Pinot Noirs you told us about. 🙂

You can find California Pizza Kitchen on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.


Seasons 52 Wows Us with Service and their Gluten Free Menu

l
I try to avoid the Arden Fair Mall at all costs. I have been shopping there maybe about 10 times in the 10 years since I have lived here and it’s always been a pain. Probably because of frustrating trips to the Apple Store and the always promising long wait therein. Even with an appointment. For those of you that have been there you know what I mean. Then there’s the abundant parking at Arden Fair. 😉 And the youngsters these days…hmmm. Nothing good can ever come from a trip to the mall. But wait!

But last Friday we did NOT go to the mall! We went to Seasons 52, a restaurant that happens to be tucked into the aforementioned mall. They have been there since January 2013, and I have been eager to come back since the media opening I attended at that time.

Eager to come back because of the concept of the restaurant and it’s direct fit with this website! 🙂

Every entree at Seasons 52 is designed to be less than 475 calories. Here’s a link to their menu. There are no freezers in the kitchen/pantry, so no meats or fish or vegetables are ever frozen. No butter or margarine is used in food preparation. Instead, extra flavor comes from natural caramelization on their wood-fired grill and brick oven. Seasons 52 also has a chef’s table for chef-hosted events and wine pairings, and features a piano bar with live music currently on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

A few months ago I was pitched to come back to Seasons 52 to try some of their new desserts for the upcoming fall season. I emailed back to say thank you and that the dessert angle was not really an editorial fit, but I would be happy to feature the gluten free menu. I knew the restaurant was popular for their flatbreads, but I was sure they could show me more. And they really did…

Seasons 52 Gluten Free Menu
First, a gander at their gluten free menu. It’s got a lot of choices. So many that Andy and I ordered a starter glass of wine while we decided on appetizers and entrees. 🙂 A Borsao Rosé for me and a Selbach Oster Pinot Blanc for my man. By the way, once we were seated, it was like there was no mall. Just a romantically lit environment with several other couples and small parties dining around us. 🙂

rose
pinot blanc

Our server for the evening was Tanya, and she was more than delightful. Once we told her about my website and we asked to see the menu, she mentioned that she is also Paleo. I was pleasantly surprised and automatically won over. We were in the right hands!

 

Lobster Tail
For appetizers we ordered the Oak-Grilled Maine Lobster Tail served with melted lemon butter (above).

 

ahi roll
And the Tuna & Avocado Sushi Roll wrapped in soy mame nori, wasabi, natural pickled ginger (above). Our wines both complimented the appetizers, both seafood items. The lobster had a very pleasing texture and taste, but was tricky to navigate with just a butter knife. 😉 We survived however, and also enjoyed the sushi roll. The rice was a welcome treat. I don’t have it that often, but really enjoy it when I do.

 

chardonnay
We ordered settled on a bottle of 2012 Markham Chardonnay to drink with our main courses. And the wine selection is the only thing even slightly negative that I have to say about Seasons 52. Sadly, there was not a single bottle of local wine on the menu. That’s a shame because there are so many stellar local wines coming out of Amador, Lodi, and even Placer County. I realize that a Master Sommelier put together the list for the entire chain, but to appeal to more customers (especially real wine drinkers) in a city like Sacramento, there really needs to be an addendum to the wine list featuring local juice. I will now step down from my soapbox and tell you about what we had for dinner! 😛

 

 

Branzino
I ordered the Lemon and Herb Roasted Whole Branzino (a European seabass) with Meyer lemon, thyme broccolini, and crushed roasted potatoes. The presentation on this particular dish is pretty neat. A waitstaff member presents the plate with the Branzino closed and the lemon and thyme resting inside. Then, they open the top filet and remove the lemon and thyme, resting it on the side of your plate. The entree also comes with a little olive oil on the side.

 

Brussels Sprouts
We also ordered a side of Brussels sprouts with bacon to supplement our meal–I had a race and long run planned for the next day. The cast iron container is a nice touch––it kept the sprouts very warm so we could spoon a few onto our plate at a time.

 

 

scallops
Andy ordered the Caramelized Grilled Sea Scallops accompanied by butternut squash risotto, broccolini, lemon butter. I didn’t ask him to try the scallops, but he always cuts a little piece for me to try. We love ordering different entrées and eating family style. I was never a big fan of risotto and not eating a lot of rice on the Paleo diet, but really liked the risotto served with this dish. Once again, a buttery flavor is imparted without using butter.

We did clean our plates, but honestly it was the right amount of food. I wasn’t interested in dessert, but if you are there are some great options for you at Seasons 52. There are even two gluten free, but not sugar free desserts you can try from the gluten free menu. The desserts are served in little shot glasses to keep the portion/calorie count down. Each one is a smaller take on a classic dessert (carrot cake, s’mores, for example) Below is a picture of how you might end a meal at Seasons 52, just don’t eat all of what you see on the platter. 🙂

Photo-Apr-28-1-33-39-PM-e1398817013890
After dinner, we went into the Piano Bar for a little music, and here’s what we heard:

Thanks to the staff at Seasons 52 for their immaculate service. We’ll definitely be back. You can find Seasons 52 on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Make a reservation on Open Table by clicking here.


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

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

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

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

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

charsiu_sliders

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

prawns

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

baconscallops

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

GaiLan_chinesebroccoli

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

Chowmein

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

steak

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

pie

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

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

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

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

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


Piatti Sacramento: Welcome Back!

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Sunday evening, Andy and I had dinner at the newly remodeled Piatti Ristorante on Fair Oaks Boulevard in Sacramento. The restaurant (which had been closed for 4 months) has just reopened after a replacement of the flooring, ceiling, lighting, bar top and furniture.

Piatti has been a long time advertiser of cakegrrl.com and cavegrrl.com, but the staff did not know I was going to visit this time around. I say this because I want you to know we were delighted with a wonderful meal and greeted with fantastic service by our server, Chris.

pronti-salad

I ordered one if my favorite dishes on the menu, the Pronti salad with grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, salami, chickpeas, olive, peppers and capers.

Andy tried the crispy skin half chicken with charred Brussels sprouts, bacon and three herb pan jus. I love Brussels sprouts, but I don’t ever remember them tasting that good. The chicken was exactly as advertised. Crispy skin and tender/juicy on the inside.

Andy and I shared a 1/2 liter of chardonnay from the restaurant’s “Barrel to Table” system of wines on tap. Through “Barrel to Table” wines are served through a custom tap and barrel system which eliminates oxidation and brings the freshest, highest-quality wine to the table using the most environmentally sustainable technology – no corks, foils or bottles.

The new head chef is Lance Carlini, formerly of Scott’s Seafood Grill and High Steaks steakhouse at Thunder Valley Casino. I can tell you the menu has not changed much, and many of the appetizers are exactly the same as before. To all my gluten-free/Paleo readers, I can safely say there are many of options for you, even though Piatti is well known for it’s classic pizza and pasta dishes. To get a peek of the Piatti menu, click here then click on “menus”.

On February 25th Piatti will be having a 20th Anniversary party. Proceeds from the event will benefit Assistance League of Sacramento. Come down for the great food, wine, beer, cocktails and live music – it’s for a great cause! The event features a creative menu by Executive Chef Lance Carlini, distinctive wines, craft beers, a special cocktail bar plus live music from Natalie Klempau & The Knockouts. You can purchase tickets here.

Piatti in Pavilions is one of eight restaurants in the California-based group, and the only one in the Sacramento area. For more information or to make dinner reservations, you can call (916) 649-8885 or go to Open Table here. You can find Piatti Sacramento on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Seasons 52: Fresh, Healthy, Seasonal and a Destination for Wine Lovers

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Last Wednesday evening I attended a preview dinner at Seasons 52 with a few other Sacramento food bloggers, as well as a number of local TV and radio personalities. Seasons 52 is located in the former Fresh Choice space at Arden Fair Mall.

The “Seasons 52” name and menu are inspired by the seasons and the fresh appeal of the farmer’s market. Every week of the year, the restaurant (under the direction of Senior Director of Culinary Chef Clifford Pleau and Executive Chef Partner Jeffrey Martell) strives to feature the freshest ingredients at the peak of ripeness and flavor, and offers them in ways that showcase culinary art and creativity. Wood-fire grilling and brick-oven cooking result in meals that are naturally lower in calories with nothing on the menu over 475 calories. The award-winning wine list was created and developed by Master Sommelier George Miliotes (you can find his bio here)– one of over 180 Master Sommeliers worldwide – features an international selection of 100 wines, including more than 52 offered by the glass.

The contemporary-style decor is Frank Lloyd Wright inspired and is highlighted by soft lighting, lush greenery, rich colors, contemporary art, stone and warm wood accents which present dramatic architectural lines that also are organically comfortable. There is a circular piano bar featuring live music nightly, an open kitchen with a brick oven, a chef’s table and a customized, climate controlled wine chateau holding upwards of 2,000 bottles of wine. The restaurant also offers two private dining rooms for private and semi-private business and social events.

When I arrived, I was given a glass of champagne (Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Sainte Anne, Champagne MV) and a short tour of the restaurant, including a walk past the chef’s table, the kitchen (with a view of the aforementioned brick oven and wood-fired grill, the main dining area, the wine cellar, the private dining areas and the bar areas. At the end of the tour, I was seated at a a long table alongside Catherine Enfield aka Ms. Munchie of Munchie Musings and Darrel Ng of Cowtown Eats for a multi-course gastronomical tour of the Seasons 52 menu and wine pairing. Glad I wore my stretch pants. (Kidding!) 😉

To begin, we were presented an amuse of Dungeness crab and Hass avocado on a spoon, paired with Aveleda Vinho Verde, Portugal 2011

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Our first course was a duo of organic salmon, lemongrass sea scallop, roasted on a cedar plank with a glass of Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Central Coast 2010
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The third course served was a salad of organic field greens, grilled mushrooms with toasted pistachios and truffle dressing and a glass of Sinskey Pinot Noir, Carneros 2009.

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The next course was a small plate of Sonoma goat cheese ravioli, roasted garlic, basil, organic tomato broth, and I have to admire the culinary team at Seasons 52 for remembering my gluten-free request. Instead of the ravioli’s they brought me a sampling of the delicious tomato broth, and a mixture of garlic, basil, and goat cheese. I was still able to taste the dish in effect without the pasta element. It was dreamy. The wine pairing was a glass of Retromarcia, Chianti Classic 2009.

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I applaud the kitchen staff for boxing up most of each course as the dinner was served. I enjoyed making it to the end of the meal without being uncomfortably full. I also wanted to bring part of the salmon dish home so Andy (big salmon fan) could try it.

Our last savory course was a mesquite-grilled Piedmontese striploin & Manchester Farms all-natural quail, mashed sweet potatoes and red wine sauce with a double wine pairing: a glass of Alto Moncayo Garnacha, Campo de Borja 2009 and a glass of De Toren Z, Stellenbosch 2009.

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I am pretty sure the sauce must have contained sugar or gluten, because it was omitted from my plate, but the entrée did not need any sauce. I don’t know if you are familiar with grass-fed meat, but it is much more flavorful than standard corn-fed beef. Bonus points for the Brussels sprouts… a personal favorite of mine.

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For the dessert course, we were presented a plate of  “Mini Indulgences“, smaller portions of classic desserts such as cheesecake, lemon pound cake, and s’mores, served parfait-style. I opted for the shot of fresh fruit with no added sugar. Yay! The desserts were served with a glass of Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2010.

Seasons 52 opens tomorrow, January 28th. You can make a reservation on Open Table. You can find Seasons 52 on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.


Dine Downtown 2013: Blackbird Restaurant & Bar: a Field Mark of Sophistication

Sacramento’s Dine Downtown Week is now in full swing and it has been so much fun so far! Andy and I have had the privilege of trying out three different menus from a list of nearly 30 restaurants, and last night’s trip to Blackbird Restaurant and Bar was incredible!

I am only disappointed it took me this long to discover them. Since their opening in April last year, I had heard so many great things about the food and the atmosphere, the art on the walls, and so on. I kept reading Blackbird’s menu and wanting to go because almost everything on it was paleo! Now that I have a few more hours a week (since my work commute time has been drastically cut), it’s fun to be able to spend a little bit more time with Andy and hit some new-ish places like this one.

Here’s the Dine Downtown menu we enjoyed (understatement of the year so far) at Blackbird:

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Tip: If you like wine (even remotely), do yourself a favor and spend the extra $15 for the wine pairing. You get three full glasses of wine. If you don’t think you can manage three full glasses, split the pairing with someone. It’s so worth it!

The first course was a Japanese Hamachi. It was some of the best raw fish I have eaten, and reminded me of dishes I have had at both Yoshi’s in Oakland, and at Taro’s here in Sacramento, but this was superior. The hamachi was topped with kumquat, castreltrevano olives, fine herb and maldon sea salt. It was paired with a glass of Forlorn Hope Semillon (2009) “Nacre-Yount Mill Vineyard.”  The wine was very dry and the perfect platform for the hamachi. I couldn’t believe how beautifully the flavors paired up. I must have liked it, because it was the first time I ever finished a dish before Andy.

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Next up was the Roasted Beet Salad. It was another perfect plate of food. I got really into beets in 2011 when I enjoyed a course made by Pajo Bruich (while he was at Lounge on 20). Then, I had another remarkable beet dish at Place Pigalle in Seattle. Lately, I have bought them at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday. A little bit about beets… in my opinion, the whole vegetable should be used in some way. The greens on top can be cut and sautéed with onions and bacon, just like kale or spinach.
At Blackbird, the beet salad was served with burrata (a soft and stretchy cheese), ver jus (the pressed juice of unripened grapes), pistachios and upland cress (which is different and less bitter than watercress). The pistachios really made the salad, providing a little bit of crunch. It was paired with a French Sauvignon Blanc: Patient Cottat, 2009, Menetou Salon. I am usually not a big lover of Sauvignon Blanc, but I liked this less grapefruit, more grassy selection.
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I was already in heaven, but there was more to come. Our wine for the third course was brought to our table (Folk Machine Pinot Noir, 2011 Potter Valley) and then our plates were presented shortly after. The third course was a braised short rib, also known as Winnemuca Will, with hay roasted parsley root, whiskey laquered pearl onions & toasty oats. The meat was so tender and rich–again, the portion size was perfect. The toasted oats on top were such a treat and added another level of texture to the meat. And what is my favorite vegetable that makes a cameo? That’s right! Parsnips!! I think I was dancing in my seat at that point. 🙂
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Overall, this was the best meal we have had during Dine Downtown because of the level of flavor and elegance with the finest (yet fewest) ingredients. I love that the menu didn’t allow any substitutions. It was like: “Welcome to our house. Let me show you what we do best and what we think you will like, and here’s the wine that goes with it.” At the end of a long work week, I was ready for that. I was happy to not have to make any decisions and just be delighted course after course.
Blackbird made me feel like I was dining in San Francisco or New York, but I am right at home and I love that. I love that Sacramento has more than a few restaurants/food trucks/eateries to brag about. It’s so hip to eat here now!

Blackbird Kitchen and Bar is open for business Tue-Thur 11:30am-10pm, on Friday 11:30am-11pm and on Saturday 4pm-11pm. They are closed on Sunday and Monday. Their Happy Hour runs from 3-6pm, Tuesdays through Friday.

Join Blackbird Kitchen and Bar tonight for Dine Downtown by making reservations on Open Table here or you can call them at (916) 498-9224.

You can follow Blackbird Kitchen and Bar on twitter here and find them on Facebook here.