Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Posts tagged “sacramento

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 gmail.com!

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!


Fit Eats Café and Food Delivery Service Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

Disclosure: I have partnered with Fit Eats to let you know about their awesome cafe and food delivery service that has helped me lose 15 pounds over the course of about a year. Results may vary from person to person. All opinions are my own. Use the promo code kristy65192 at check out to get a $10 credit towards your order!

Truth: I have battled my weight all my life. Correction. I have battled my weight since I was bullied about it in middle school, so let’s say pretty much most of my life. Although I have never been obese, I have been 30 pounds overweight in my lifetime and have yo-yo dieted (up ten pounds, down ten pounds) in the past.

In March of 2011, I adopted at Paleo/Primal diet of no sugar, no grains, and though it helped me overcome binging and helped curb my sugar cravings, I still could not lose the last 10 pounds. The reason why? Even though I rarely miss a day of exercise, quite simply I was eating too many calories than my body was burning off. I was rewarding myself like a dog with food for all the tough workouts I put myself through. Even though I got down to 117 on the Paleo diet, I never stayed there because I didn’t have any portion control. I think I peaked out last July at about 130 before I took major action. I could have actually weighed more than that, but I was too afraid to get on the scale until I lost some weight first!

I know, 130 pounds doesn’t sound overweight to most, but I am only 5’1″ and really do look my best between 110-115 . Plus, I was drinking ENTIRELY TOO MUCH every night and chasing that down with too many snacks (because I just LOVE to eat when I drink)! It was a vicious cycle of punishing workouts/eating and drinking to reward myself for the workouts/guilt/shame/repeat.

On July 5th of last year, I woke up with a major hangover. This is not usual for me, so I really must have tied one during our 4th of July block party. That’s when the shame set in so much I decided to do something about my weight because I truly felt like a marlin. Of course, I have lost weight a lot of times in the past, so I know what is involved and the science is quite easy. You don’t have to go on the Paleo diet to lose weight. You don’t have to go vegan. You don’t have to join Weight Watchers. You don’t have to do a cleanse or do Adkins or start a Keto program or cut everything out that you enjoy. You don’t even need to exercise. I say this carefully because exercise IS important, but if you have a lot of weight to lose, it can be more harmful than good. I truly believe it is more important to clean up your diet before you even consider exercising.

Creating a calorie deficit.
All of the above diets/food plans have been successful with one person or another because they in fact, created a calorie deficit in their bodies–their bodies used the stored calories/energy because they took in less than they needed for the day/week/month. But for most people, Paleo/Primal, Keto, Adkins, are not sustainable for the rest of your life (especially if you are a food blogger like me or have ANY sort of social life whatsoever). There are special occasions where you are going to have the birthday cake or the bread basket with dinner or the side of fries (God, do I love fries). What is most important, is that you don’t have ALL the cake or fries, etc. Trust me, there were plenty of fries that led to the weight gain!

Instead of cutting out everything, I decided I would log my calories (journal them, if you will) with an online food app. I happen to use My Fitness Pal. My calories right now per day are set at 1431. That means I have to eat less than that total in order to lose weight. Since it is challenging to stay under that amount (especially because I like to drink wine with dinner), I exercise 80-90 minutes a day to raise the calorie limit. I like to leave about 1500 calories for dinner.

It has long been argued that weight loss is not possible if most of the calories are eaten at night or if you drink alcohol, but I am here to tell you that is not the case. As long as you have a calorie deficit, your body will lose weight. The key is finding out how many calories YOU personally burn daily just to keep your body alive and running (or your BASAL METABOLIC RATE), and accurately logging everything you eat and drink to create a deficit. It will not matter if it is 100 calories less a day or even just 25 calories, eventually the deficit will add up to 3500 calories and that is roughly one pound. To find your basal metabolic rate (or BMR, and also called resting metabolic rate, click here.

Of course, logging everything you eat does take time, and meal prep takes a lot of time, so it can be a little daunting and seem overwhelming/like a part time job at first.

That’s where Fit Eats comes in!

Fit Eats is a café and food delivery service now serving Sacramento and anywhere within a 300 mile radius of Sacramento. They offer meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and all of them are labeled with nutrition information. They also offer meals that are gluten free, dairy free, Paleo, freezable, and vegetarian. You can buy 1 meal at a time or buy meals for the whole week, as there is no membership or minimum order.

You can buy the meals in the Fit Eats café (they have a downtown location as well as a location in Roseville), but I recommend ordering online to make sure you get exactly the meals you want because they don’t always have everything in stock in the grab and go refrigerators. If you don’t feel like getting in a car, you have have your meals delivered to your home or office for a $2.99 delivery fee on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, and the delivery fee is waived if your order is over $50.

Since I work fairly close to the downtown location, I like to pick up my meals. They come in an insulated Fit Eats totebag that you can choose to purchase or return to the store. My typical order is 4-5 meals, and I end up freezing one of them just to have an emergency meal on hand if my husband goes out of town or out with friends on a particular evening.

The menu rotates weekly, some menu items leave, some meals are added, some meals remain for a while. Like any good restaurant, this depends on the availability and seasonality of the ingredients being used. The meals come in small and large size and cost anywhere from $7.99 to $12.75. Again the nutritional info is printed on the package, and so are all of the ingredients. The same information is on the Fit Eats website so you can know exactly what you are getting before you order. In addition to macronutrient count, they also list Weight Watchers point values.

But I am all about the macros and calorie counting. When the Fit Eats menu comes out every Thursday, I try to choose meals that are the highest in protein, and labeled as Paleo or at the very least gluten free. Also a plus if it is freezable, but not a deal breaker. I mainly enjoy Fit Eats meals (large size) for dinner, as I usually eat a Quest bar for breakfast and steamed broccoli and egg whites for lunch. Sometimes, I’ll have a light cheese stick or turkey jerky for a snack.

Lastly, Fit Eats meals taste great! I have enjoyed every meal I have purchased so far. Some meals more than others, but everything has been above average and far better than any pre-portioned meal I have ever tried. It’s very hard to go back to anything in the freezer aisle at the grocery store after ordering from Fit Eats. Below are some of my favorite meals and examples of what you will find on the menu. Many of them are already on MyFitnessPal, so all you have to do is search for them! It’s that easy.

 

Steak Tacos with Corn Tortillas

 

Paleo Alla Carbonara with Spaghetti Squash
(one of my all-time favorites)

 

 


Chili Cheese Sweet Potato Fries

 


Rosemary Pork Loin with Red Potatoes and Butternut Squash

(another one of my favorites)

 


Steak and Eggs

 

Shepard’s Pie


Ready to count your macros and enjoy delicious food while doing it? To get a $10 credit to your Fit Eats account, use the promo code kristy65192 at check out.

You can find Fit Eats on Facebook here, follow them on Twitter here, and follow them on Instagram here.

You can follow my fitness journey and my other shenanigans in food, wine and travel on Instagram here.


Zinfandel Tasting at Beatnik Studios, Sunday, April 8th, 2018

I’d like to let you all know about a special event starring Zinfandel, which happens to be the first red wine I fell in love with!

Shortly after moving here in the summer of 2004, I began visiting Amador and Plymouth, home to some of the oldest vines in California. I quickly developed a taste for zinfandels that were very robust and jammy, and later on the more restrained and lower alcohol zins. I might have also moved on to enjoying other reds, but there’s nothing like a good zinfandel, especially paired with hamburgers, pizza, red sauced foods, and lamb.

Zinfandel first made its California debut in the 1860s, and is now grown almost exclusively in California. It was even considered being adopted as California’s state wine until the bill naming it so was vetoed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. His argument was that the varietal would snub other wines or make them less notable. However, I believe that Zinfandel itself has been slighted and it’s (sweet) rosé version has been the butt of many a wine snob’s joke for years, even though it has been the gateway wine for so many people (including myself!)

So join me in a Zinfandel appreciation event and tasting of California’s true historical grape at Beatnik Studios in downtown Sacramento. We’ll taste zins from all around the Sierra Foothills. The wineries will be arranged by regions such as Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Placer, and Nevada. The winemakers will also be there to talk about the wines they made and why California zinfandel is so special!

Artisanal food purveyors and informative seminars are included with each admission. Bella Familia Pizza is coming out to serve creations made by hand… they’re featuring organic their hand-made dough recipe with local ingredients on every pizza. Like I mentioned earlier, zinfandel and pizza is a match that can’t be beat!

While you’re there, check out the interactive Zinfandel video booth and make plans to visit the nearby wineries you discover. This is an afternoon of Zinfandel exploration you won’t want to miss!

For tickets, CLICK HERE!

JUST THE FACTS…
WHAT: Zinfandel Stories from Sierra Foothills
WHEN: Sunday, April 8th, 2018, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
WHERE: Beatnik Studios, 722 S St, Sacramento, CA 95811
HOW MUCH: $45 per person
WHY: Because the California wine lineup wouldn’t be complete without zinfandel and you need to taste them all!!
WHO: This event has been organized by the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) is a membership-based organization that advances knowledge and appreciation for American Zinfandel and its unique place in our culture and history. ZAP is a non-profit, educational 501(c)(3) organization.

PS: You MUST be 21 or over to attend this event. No one under 21 years of age will be admitted, including babies or infants in strollers or backpacks. No exceptions. Valid I.D. is required to enter all ZAP events.


Headed to Santa Rosa for WBC17

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This weekend, Andy aka (@curtisparkandy, on twitter, and pictured above) and I are headed to Santa Rosa for the Wine Bloggers Conference!

This year will be the conference’s 10th, and it will be held at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country. We are looking forward to meeting new writers and reconnecting with the ones we met last year.

It is particularly meaningful to me to attend this year because the conference is being held in the area most damaged by the fires that recently took place. It will be wonderful to play tourist in this area and promote this region just when they need us most. I feel it is my duty to serve the area because this wine country (Napa/Sonoma) is the very reason I moved to California. I fell in love during my very first visit to the region in 2003 and moved not far away to Sacramento in 2004 (also a growing hub of food and wine with its close proximity to Amador, Lodi, Napa, Capay, Dunnigan Hills, and more).

Thirteen plus years later I will discover even more of the Sonoma region along with my husband and hundreds of other bloggers. Our itinerary and agenda for the weekend is very exciting for anyone the slightest bit nerdy about the grape.

I am especially happy to be reunited with Elizabeth of Traveling Wine Chick tomorrow and our Oregon friends Neal and Alyse of Winery Wanderings for the Thomas George Estates wine dinner on Friday. I’m sure our interactions won’t be limited to those events, because we just love all three of those awesome people! We even stayed with Neal and Alyse for a few days last June and ran a half marathon in Eugene! Have to burn those wine calories somehow… 😉

While I am at the conference, I am also actively promoting one of my lady bosses, SG Coaching and Consulting. With over 35 years of experience, the SG team creates custom-tailored programs to fit your winery needs. They provide detailed analyses and work with you to make improvements that can will get people into your doors and make your business successful. They offer Digital Marketing, Event Planning, Front Office Improvements, Recruiting and Hiring, and Wine Club Management.

Friday Excursions
    
So let’s do this, Wine Bloggers Conference 2017!! Let’s get together this weekend, taste a lot, encourage tourism, learn from each other, inspire each other, network, and taste a lot more. Andy and Kristy Harris from cavegrrl.com are thrilled to participate and share the experience on this blog as well as our social media channels.

See you there! Cheers 🙂


Pre-Holiday Grand Tasting at Matteo’s Pizza and Bistro Set for Mon, Nov. 14th, 5:30-7:30pm

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This premium wine tasting probably should have been held on Halloween because the wines you’ll get to try are SCARY GOOD. Admission to the event is only $30 per person AND you get food during the tasting! Sounds to me like you should already be penciling this event onto your calendar with a giant permanent marker, but if you need more convincing read on…

First, the tasting is on Monday, November 14th from 5:30-7:30pm. So, if you have plans, cancel them and do this instead! Seriously, if you like great wine at all, Matteo’s Wine and Bistro/Matteo’s Cellar Wine Shop is the place to be.

The food menu served will be: pizza, polenta fries, meatball sliders, empanadas, a bread and cheese tray. So I guess I am running 10 miles that morning. 😉

The tasting will include wines from the following labels:
*indicates a cavegrrl.com favorite

Archery Summit, Arrowood, Bella, Brassfield, Bridesmaid, Borjon, Canard-Duchene, Carmenet, Chalk Hill*, Cliff Lede, Dominus, Don & Sons, Double Canyon, Duckhorn*, Dutton Goldfield*, Fisticuffs, Flowers*, Freemark Abbey*, Fuse, Gerard Bertrand, Groth, Guigal*, Hall*, Hartford Court, Hourglass, Jeio, Kansler, Lewis Cellars, Maldonado*, Mer Soliel, Obsidian Ridge, Petree Cellars, Pine Ridge*, Pride Mountain Vineyards*, Raeburn, Regusci, Resonance, Robert Craig*, Roederer*, Sonoma Cutrer*, VDR, William Harrison*, Yao Ming*

As you can see by the asterisks, a lot of my favorites will be served during the tasting, and I am looking forward to tasting some new favorites I can recommend to you.

To reserve your spot please email Margo(at)pizzamatteo.com. Cheers and hope to see you there! You can find Matteo’s Pizza and Bistro on Facebook here.

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Sacramento Hotel Association Fundraiser Farm-to-Fork Fall Fundraiser set for September 29th at Hyatt Regency Sacramento

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The Board of Directors of the Sacramento Hotel Association is proud to announce that the Association is expanding its community service activities with a new fundraiser as part of its program: The Hospitality Industry Helping in the Community.  For 2016, the new fall fundraiser—set for September 29 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento—will benefit two local organizations that work with youth in our community.

Featuring —
• Festive Farm-to-Fork Food Stations from local hotels and restaurants
• Craft Beer Tastings from local brewers
• Wine Tastings from area vintners
• Silent Auction of delightful gifts and prize packages
• Musical Entertainment

Tickets—$35 plus processing fee per person Buy your tickets HERE.

About the Beneficiary Organizations
SkateMD is a nonprofit with a mission to heal hearts by spreading kindness and skateboarding to special populations of children facing developmental, physical, emotional or family challenges. SkateMD serves special populations of children who may not otherwise be able to pursue skateboarding, who may not have easy access to skateboard equipment or facilities, and/or who just need some extra kindness in their lives.

Sacramento Sheriff’s Toy Project functions as the charitable arm of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Toy Project is a year-round program supporting the less fortunate children and families in the Sacramento area. They support area schools with after-school programs, school supplies, computers, clothing, shoes, jackets, bikes for transportation, summer kid’s camps and support scholarships for college-bound students.

Use hashtag #SHAFarmtoFork via Twitter and Instagram.
You can follow the Sacramento Hotel Association on Twitter here and on Instagram here.

Andy and I will be there to cover the event, so I hope to see you there!

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Dignity Health’s Care Begins with Me Event Set for Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

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Care Begins with Me, Sacramento’s premier annual health and lifestyle event focusing on inspiration and connection, will take place this year on Tuesday, October 4th, 2016 from 5-9pm at the Sheraton Grand Hotel.

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Guests will have the opportunity to attend care talks with Dignity Health doctors and hear from our featured keynote speaker Kimberly Williams-Paisley. There will also be a lifestyle, fashion, and beauty galleria, along with gourmet food and drinks.

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Don’t forget to bring your friends—because of course you care about them, too.

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To learn a little more about the event, you can watch the video below (highlights of Care Begins with Me 2015).

Looks like a lot of fun!

Tickets to the event are $20 for a Care Begins with Me member and $25 dollars for a Care Begins with Me non-member.

To register for Care Begins with Me, click here.

You can find the Care Begins with Me event page on Facebook here. Register and let all your friends know you’re going! See you there. 🙂

 

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Legends of Wine Returns September 17th, 2015

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It’s been Farm-to-Fork insanity here at cavegrrl.com headquarters! Andy and I are scheduled to attend so many events and dinners in celebration of this very special time of year in Sacramento. One of my favorite upcoming events is Farm-to-Fork’s Legends of Wine. I’m am thrilled that my mom will be coming out to visit during that week and will be going to Legends of Wine with us.

Legends of Wine provides the unique opportunity to sample and discover more about some of the region’s most celebrated varietals, as selected by two of Sacramento’s internationally recognized culinary powerhouses—Darrell Corti and David Berkley. Set against the backdrop of California’s majestic State Capitol, guests will sip a wide array of award-winning wines paired and presented with artisan cheeses and local delights.

If you’ve never attended Legends of Wine, here’s a brief look at last year’s event—some of my favorite wineries, along with some pictures of the impressive fruit and cheese arrangements we enjoyed.

First up is Bokisch Vineyards! They caught my attention at the first Legends of Wine in 2013 with their Tempranillo (one of my favorite varietals), and last year they served an Albariño.

Bokisch
capay wines
I was very impressed with Capay Valley Vineyard’s line up—their sparkling viognier was my favorite. 🙂

 

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Another notable winery was Casey Flat Ranch—their Estate Red Wine is excellent.

 

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Aaand… always a favorite of mine… Matchbook. Their entire flock of wines are both affordable and delicious. Maybe this year they will bring their Arsonist Chardonnay?
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Here’s one of Andy’s picks from last year: Michael David’s Sauvignon Blanc. Looking forward to trying more from them this year, and perhaps they will bring their Inkblot Tannat! 🙂

Along with the wines, there were fabulous displays of fruits and cheeses for the pairing:

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This year’s Legends of Wine is September 17th from 6:00-8:30 p.m. on the west steps of the State Capitol. Tickets are $59 each. To purchase tickets, head over to the Farm-to-Fork website here. See you there!

To keep up with all the delicious Farm-to-Fork events, click here, “like” Farm to Fork on Facebook here, or follow them on Twitter here.


Have an Offal Day Returns Sunday, August 16th 2-5pm!

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Last Sunday, I ran into Catherine (of Munchie Musings) at Cochon Heritage Fire Napa (held at Charles Krug Winery). She was happily grazing the wonderful offerings at the annual festival of all things grilled meat, just as Andy and I were. Over full bellies, we discussed some of the upcoming food events in Sacramento. While chatting she mentioned her festival Have an Offal Day 3, and I agreed I would pass the information about the event to you! 🙂

Have an Offal Day #3 takes place on Sunday, August 16th from 2 to 5 p.m. at Mulvaney’s Next Door (1215 19th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811).

What is Have an Offal Day? Well, it’s a day that honors offal. You know, the nasty bits. The parts of animals that are left when all the pretty and prime parts are butchered and sold. It’s things like hearts, kidneys, blood, intestines, from animals such as lambs, ducks, chickens, beef, and pigs, well, you get the idea.

The lineup of chefs this year includes:
Carina Lampkin (Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery)
Danny Origel (Roxy)
Tyler Bond (Dirty Feet Dining, Kru)
Keith Breedlove (Culinerdy Cruzer)
Patrick Mulvaney (Mulvaney’s B&L)
Brian Mizner (Hook & Ladder)
Brenda Ruiz (Biba’s)
Brock MacDonald (Block Butcher Bar)
Wes Nilssen (de Vere’s Pubs)
Don Dickonson (Yang’s Noodles and instructor at IOT Culinary School)
Andrea Reiter (Capital Dime, soon The Patriot)
Hank Shaw (James Beard winning author)

TICKETS are $68 (no additional fees)

Your ticket price covers the venue and other event expenses, as well as benefitting the Food Literacy Center. Thank you to the chefs that jump at the chance to play with offal for a day and to the audience willing to try it! 🙂 That’s so Paleo! Thanks, Catherine for all the meaty details.


Piatti’s Flair for Summer Fare Shines!

The flavors of summer are in full swing at Piatti!

Andy and I dined there just last night, so in this blog post I wanted to give you a quick peek at some of the items on the menu for the season.

It’s always a great evening on the patio at Piatti with my favorite person by my side and a starter glass of Prosecco.

Summer Menu

Carpaccio
The beef carpaccio is something we ALWAYS order. Every. Single. Time. We love it’s transformation in summer from a more traditional carpaccio with capers and dressing to a lighter style with blistered tomatoes and green olives. You’ll spot it on the appetizer menu, but next time I might order two of them for my actual dinner!

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It happened to be Wine Wednesday, and at Piatti they celebrate by giving customers 50% OFF selected bottles of wine. (They’ll give you a menu with their selected bottles on it.) We chose the Winemaker’s Blend (a red mix of Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Merlot from 3 different California AVAs) made by Schmitz 24 Brix Wines.

24 Brix Label Back

For my main course, I chose a duo of plates. First was the ultra-stunning heirloom tomato salad that was so in-my-face-farm-to-fork it almost gouged my eyes! 😉 Definitely one of the prettiest plates I have seen in a while, and it tasted just as phenomenal as it looks. I know you might be thinking, “Get a grip, it’s just an heirloom tomato salad,” but the special touches are that tomatoes and basil are REALLY in season right now and the mozzarella is made in house, cranking up the volume on flavor.

Heirloom Tomato Salad
My other plate was this trio of pork and ricotta meatballs (on the appetizer section of the menu). Reappearing in this dish was the lovely house-made mozzarella and a crushed tomato sauce. I guess I must really like tomatoes. The sauce was very flavorful and the mozzarella cheese finds a way to steal the show again, this time melted over the meatballs.

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Andy ordered the grilled rib eye (rare!) with romano beans and whipped potatoes, topped with blue cheese, mint and roasted figs. He was kind enough to pass over a few bites of his dish, and I was most delighted by the creative mint and blue cheese combination and the sweet touch of the roasted figs. If you didn’t think Piatti was the place to try a steak, think again. This dish was a knockout and the plating was almost as sexy as my date. 😉

Grilled Rib Eye
Thanks to our server, Alden, Chef Lance, and to Piatti for such an enjoyable meal.
You can find Piatti on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.


NakedWines.com Tour Makes a Stop at Sacramento’s Vizcaya on May 13th

Wine lovers, you won’t want to miss this!

Over 7,000 bottles of wine will be uncorked on NakedWines.com road trip across California, and this coming Wednesday, May 13th, the tour makes a stop right here in Sacramento at the Vizcaya!

More than 30 of your winemakers are hopping on the Naked Tour Bus and roaming around California to share their best wines with all the people (like you!) who funded them.

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So, how is this different than any other wine tasting?

Every wine you’ll taste was crowd-funded by regular wine drinkers, and the winemakers didn’t pay to attend and share their wines. We recommend going up to a table and asking one of the winemakers to explain it. (They’ll be wearing blue shirts).

Who is behind all of this? 300,000 wine drinkers realized they could get better wines at better prices if they supported winemakers to cut out all the costs you can’t taste, like marketing. They weren’t rich enough to do it alone, so they teamed up and invested people like Ken, Tom and Carmen below.

After winning fifty 90+ scores for his wines at Flora Springs, Heitz and Joseph Phelps in a 4 decade long career making Napa Cab, Ken is finally striking out on his own with a personal range of Napa wines at unbelievable prices. Even reserve barrel-­aged Napa Cabs for under $30.

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One of our first thousand Angels revealed a hidden talent for making world-­class wines in his garage at home. 75,000 Angels teamed up to invest in Tom’s first professional range of wines made with award-­winning fruit from Pickberry Vineyards.

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Carmen is an amazingly talented winemaker, but she had a hard time getting funding as South Africa’s first black woman to graduate in oenology since Apartheid. Angels saw her qualifications and immediately agreed to fund her personal project in exchange for exclusive access to these delicious treats.

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To purchase tickets to the event, you can go here. The Vizcaya is located at 2019 21st Street, Sacramento, CA 95818. The event begins at 6:30pm and goes until 9pm.

You can find NakedWines.com on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.


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:

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

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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 🙂


Seasons 52 Wows Us with Service and their Gluten Free Menu

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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. 🙂

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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!

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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! 😛

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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. 🙂

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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.


Frank Fat’s Celebrates 75 Years with a Special Pre-Fixe Menu until October 31st!

Last night, Andy and I were treated to a sampling of Frank Fat’s very best dishes in promotion of their 75th Anniversary Dinner Special.

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We met Head Chef Mike Lim and he spoke with us before our meal, not only about the food on the 75th Anniversary menu (below), but some other dishes available at Fat’s (a seasonal King Salmon dish and Farm to Fork People’s Choice Award recipient called Forbidden Salmon) and a Peach and Chicken Salad. Chef Lim will also be contributing a dish at this Sunday’s Farm-to-Fork’s Tower Bridge fundraising dinner.

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First I will highlight the 75th Anniversary Menu items. Instead of trying the most Paleo friendly items on the menu and skipping the Banana Cream Pie, I took one for the team and tried them all! 😉

Before I dive into the food we had, I will discuss the wine. I was distracted by making sure we had reported in with social media via Swarm, Twitter, Facebook, etc., Andy chose a 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewürztraminer. He did this because a slightly sweeter (but not too sweet) wine was going to pair very well with almost all of the food we were going to try (a lot of sweet and sour ingredients). He figured this wine would strike the most balance and it did.

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First course on the 75th Anniversary menu is a Chinese Chicken Salad: Shredded chicken breast with pickled cucumber, almonds, and a sweet and sour vinaigrette. The chicken is moist and cut in thin strips and there are crunchy fried wontons on top to give the salad multiple textures. The dressing on the salad was an amazing pairing with our wine (as Andy predicted). 🙂

 

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So instead of having to choose one main course each (as one would do if ordering from the pre-fixe menu, Chef Mike food bombed us with ALL of the dishes on the menu. Um, OK, twist my arm. (Everything you will see in this editorial except for the Yu Kwoks, Peach Chicken Salad, and Forbidden Salmon were inclusive on the pre-fixe.)  Next up was the Honey Walnut Prawns: Lightly fried prawns glazed with honey sauce, walnuts, sesame seeds. This dish is probably one of the most iconic at Fat’s, so no wonder it’s on the 75th Anniversary menu. It’s sweet, crunchy, and tangy. Again, a great pairing with the Gewürztraminer.

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Then came the Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry: Chicken breast and mixed vegetables in a Garlic Sauce–the one thing I didn’t feel guilty about eating! 🙂 I love stir fry dishes because of their high protein and vegetables as carb ratio. But of course, tonight would be different and I would have real carbs, as we also sampled the fried rice on the pre-fixe menu.

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Next the Fried Rice dish: Young Shew Fried Rice: With barbecued pork, Chinese sausage, lettuce, and shrimp. It was nutty in flavor and had hints of sesame oil. The pork in the rice had been rendered so it was slightly crispy. The shrimp were small but plump and the little peas were bright green and fresh––they burst like little caviar when chewed.

At that point in the meal, I knew it would be extremely easy to write about. I sat there and realized how much I was enjoying the food because I hardly ever eat foods like fried rice or shrimp with carmelized walnuts. And hardly ever eating them makes them taste so much better when you do treat yourself!

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Then, the eagerly awaited (and another signature menu item at Fat’s): Frank’s Style New York Steak: A 5-ounce NY steak smothered in sauteed onions and oyster sauce. We ordered it rare, as you really should. You can’t see in the picture, but it really did come out rare. It was tender and juicy and piled high with onions and the sweet oyster sauce. This also arguably went with the Gewürztraminer.

The 75th Anniversary menu ends in Banana Creme Pie, the ever popular classic dessert at Frank Fat’s. At $27.95 per person, it’s a real bargain and a nice sampling of the food that made Frank Fat’s the empire it is today.

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Other food we sampled during the evening that was not on the pre-fixe menu:

Yu Kwok dumplings
Yu Kwok Dumpling: Frank’s special beef and pork dumpling, a Frank Fat specialty. I stopped at two of them, but I would have been happy to have them all. I had been craving dim sum for quite a while, and these really hit the spot. They are crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle, and filled with spiced ground beef and pork. They came with an array of dipping sauces–most interesting a chili sauce with some nice heat and a very interesting flavor that Chef Mike told me came from salted back bean. Yum! 🙂

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We were also able to try the Peach and Chicken Salad with honey walnuts and what? Feta cheese. Super seasonal and very Farm-to-Fork–and off the wall, as I have never seen Feta cheese in a Chinese restaurant. Loved it!


forbidden salmon
My favorite dish of the evening was the “Forbidden King Salmon”: Salmon a la Plancha (grilled on a metal plate) and served with with Black Forbidden Rice, Heirloom Tomato and Lemongrass Veloute, Cilantro. It was with this plate I could truly see what Chef Mike is trying to do (and succeeding in doing) at Fat’s. He is using traditional Chinese techniques to make farm-to-fork cuisine. It’s not really a fusion thing, it’s more of using the methods already in place to elevate our bounty of seasonal ingredients.

The salmon dish was also a great example of incorporating different textures. The fish was perfectly cooked and flakey on top, the forbidden rice was almost a little sticky, but not as sticky as sushi rice, and there was a tomato and lemongrass veloute sauce on the bottom that brought the whole plate together.

It was all makings for a course I will not soon forget. Sadly, it won’t be available much longer, as salmon season is fleeting. So do yourself a favor and stop in for lunch to try the Forbidden Salmon. Take a half day off if you have to. It’s really that special.

Thanks to Frank Fat’s restaurant for hosting us, Chef Mike for stopping in the middle of a slightly busy dinner service to talk to us about the food, and thanks to Rosie, our server, who took very good care of us.

The fortune inside my fortune cookie really summed up the whole night:

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Though the 75th Anniversary Menu promotion ends October 31st and from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, Fat’s will be hiding a $75 gift card in different locations around Sacramento that are noteworthy to the Fat family’s history. Clues for the “15 days of Fat’s” promotion will be posted on the Frank Fat’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts as well as on the frankfats75.com website.

The special anniversary pre-fixe menu only lasts until October 31st, so make those reservations ASAP! You can find Frank Fat’s on Facebook here and follow Fat’s Restaurants on twitter here.


Farm to Fork Wine Dinner Series: Piatti Presents Matchbook on Wednesday, October 8th!

I am very excited to share this event with you put on by my long time advertiser, Piatti Sacramento.
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Matchbook
I’ll be attending the dinner and writing about it afterwards. I am really looking forward to the pairing of some of my very favorite wines with food by one of Sacramento’s best chefs, Lance Carlini! If you want to attend, call 916-649-8885. Hurry, space is limited and will sell out!

You can find Matchbook Wines on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Piatti Sacramento is on Facebook here and on Twitter here.


Farm to Fork Legends of Wine is September 18th, 6:00-8:30pm

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I can say in all honesty that out of the whole year, I love the months of September and October most. There are several  reasons for that. One of them is the weather. It starts to cool off just enough and the mornings are perfect for running. Another reason is that it is harvest time–more importantly to me, crush time in the vineyards. It’s also getting to be around the time I met Andy, and I am very excited to celebrate our 3rd anniversary this year.

September is also California Wine Month and the month Sacramento celebrates Farm-t0-Fork week from September 13th-28th, featuring several events to  celebrate the local sustainability and food production of the Sacramento region by featuring the farmers, chefs and culinary community that make the Sacramento region the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America.

One of the not-to-be-missed events is Farm-to-Fork Legends of Wine featuring wines selected by Darrell Corti and David Berkley. It takes place on Thursday, September 18th 6pm – 8:30pm on the State Capitol West Steps.

Darrell Corti, who was recognized by Saveur magazine as the man “Who knows more about food and wine than anyone else in the world,” and David Berkley, once recognized as “the man behind the White House wine list,” will host an evening of great wines and cheeses during Sacramento inaugural Farm-to-Fork Week.

Paired along-side artisan cheeses and breads, this event will offer free tastes from some of the region’s most celebrated wineries listed below:
Andis Wines
Legendre Cellars
Sierra Starr Vineyard & Winery
Boeger Winery
Matchbook Wines
Six Hands Winery
Bogle Vineyards
Michael David Winery
Sobon Family Wines
Bokisch Vineyard
Miraflores Winery
Spoto Wines
Casey Flat Ranch Winery
New Clairvaux Vineyards
Terra d’Oro Winery
Dancing Coyote Wines
Putah Creek Winery
Terre Rouge & Easton Wines
David Girard Vineyard
Rendez-Vous Winery
Uvaggio Wines
Feist Winery
Revolution Wines
VanRuiten
Family Winery
Jeff Runquist Wines
Scott Harvey Wines
Vino Noceto Winery
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards
Seka Hills Wines

To purchase tickets ($50 per person) head over to the Farm-to-Fork website and the Legends of Wine event page (click here).

You can keep up with all the events during the Farm-to-Fork celebration by liking their Facebook page here and follow SacFarm2Fork on twitter here. If wine and fancy dinners aren’t your speed, there is a free festival on September 27th featuring food demos and fun for the whole family!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Total Wine & More’s Local Favorite: My Rosé Picks for August

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A few weeks ago, I was chosen by Total Wine & More for their Total Wine & More “Local Favorite!” program. This program features a local media “influencer” each month and allows them to pick their favorite wines to recommend to customers. For the next month, I’ll be pictured next to my wine selections (with a tag that will resemble the one above) in the Sacramento (Arden) store with a link back to this website.

I was very honored to be approached, and I quickly decided I would select some rosés for the month of August. I couldn’t think of a more perfect wine for summer––a wine that pairs well with almost anything. I feel rosés are overlooked, slightly under appreciated and all too often confused with that sickly sweet white zinfandel stuff that was first made by mistake, (but a serendipitous one for them at that) by Sutter Home in 1975.

No, the rosés I am talking about are so much more than their cloying white zin “dopplegängers”. These wines have finesse, refinement and are fruity and flavorful, yet much drier. I discovered I truly did like pink colored wines again (and the difference between a white zinfandel and a rosé) a few years ago (2008 to be exact) when I tasted the Valley of the Moon Rosato di Sangiovese at the California State Fair’s Grape and Gourmet event. Since then, the rosé thing has been slowly catching on. I have tried and enjoyed several since: Bray Vineyard’s Rose of Barbera and Nichelini’s Rose of Cabernet to name a few.

Since that Grape and Gourmet event, every time the thermometer rises, my go-to wine is a rosé. And I think this summer especially, I am completely obsessed with interested in them and want to try as many as possible so I can learn even more about them.

Andy and I met up with Total Wine’s (Arden Store) Wine Manager Theo Snyder last Friday evening to taste an assortment of French and California rosés, so I could personally recommend three of them to you and the customers at Total Wine & More, Arden.

My first selection is a French rosé, Domaine Rabiotte Aix Provence Rosé 2012 ($11.99). It would fall into the “very dry” category, and it’s almost apricot/peach in color. It’s great appetizer wine, but I would be just as happy drinking it with sushi, a light fish dish, or even pork loin. It’s everything I look for in a rosé and it’s French, so it has sex appeal, no? 😉

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My second pick is the Sobon Rose Rezerve 2012 ($11.99). This rosé is a special blend of grenache, syrah and carignane and another great food wine. I could really smell the fruit when I examined the wine, and I could taste some minerality (I tend to love a little bit of earthiness in my wines) present. I wasn’t shocked that this rosé made my top three, because I have been a Sobon fan for years. Check out their Cougar Hill Zinfandel and their Barbera for more tasty adventures. 🙂

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My third choice is the Truett Hurst Zin Rosé Dry Creek 2012 ($17.99), which I feel is the perfect rosé wine for red wine lovers who might think they aren’t a fan of rosés. It delivers a burst of flavor and settles in between a Goldilocks-esque not-too-sweet, yet not-too dry flavor. This one works with or without food and if I stuck with straight rosés through a whole dinner, I would have this one for dessert with fresh fruits and cheeses.

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I’d like to thank Total Wine & More for asking me to take part in their “Local Favorites” promotion. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.


Summer Survival Wine Kit Giveaway Sponsored by [yellow tail] Wines

“Feel the heat burning you up, ready or not…”

I feel extremely lucky right now. I live in a small one bedroom condo and the air conditioning works great. I have access to a pool. I might not have a lot of money, but I am counting my blessings now that I have a steady job and the financial bleeding has stopped (until something else dastardly happens). 😉

This week’s temperature predictions top anything I have ever seen since I have been here (it’s my 9th summer) and according to Andy (a life-long Sacramentan) anything he has ever lived through as well. It’s supposed to be 109° today, but rather than bitch about it (like most people) I am going to swim, tan, sweat, drink water, eat ice and just get through it with a smile on my face. I’d like to apologize for said face in advance: melted, smeared and greasy! Ah, the fresh look of summer! Also, there will be lots of bad, half fixed hair (wig) days. Again, sorry. 😦

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To help YOU make it through the swelter, [yellow tail] Wines has sent me this lovely beach kit, which I am going pass on to one lucky reader. I want to help [yellow tail] introduce their latest wines: The [yellow tail] Pink Moscato (with notes of strawberry and watermelon) and Sweet White Roo (flavors of tropical fruit and lemon sorbet)! They’re a perfect match for your backyard BBQ or bringing to the beach (screwtops!)

The Summer Survival Wine Kit (pictured above) Contains:
One bottle [yellow tail] Pink Moscato
One bottle [yellow tail] Sweet White Roo
One huge beach towel
One pair sunglasses
Set of plastic wine glasses
One straw hat
One pair of sandals
…All in one big pink tote! (sorry, ice cubes not included!)

OK wine lovers (especially you sangria people out there, because this wine makes a great base for sangria or summer cocktail!) 🙂 The Summer Survival Kit is up for grabs for anyone local to Sacramento!

To win, please share this post via twitter or Facebook and leave a comment below. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR 4th of JULY? 🙂 Feel free to share a link to your favorite recipe or blog!

I’ll pick a winner on the morning of July 3rd, so you can have your bag o’ fun by the 4th of July! Stay cool out there. xo

You can find [yellow tail] on Facebook here and on twitter here.


Mikuni Sushi Highlights Gluten-Free Awareness Month with Special Gluten-Free Menu

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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.

aerojet
The Aerojet Roll contains hamachi, tuna, avocado and rice, wrapped in cucumber and a soy wrap.

kyushu hamachiThe Gluten-Free Kyushu Hamachi is Yellowtail sashimi, minced garlic, thinly sliced jalapeños and a special gluten-free citrus sauce.

Andy and I decided on a few other items and a bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay to celebrate #Chardonnay Day 🙂

chardonnayday

GF Black and WhiteOur 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.

GF Sea SteakProbably 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. 😉

tekka makiI ordered this roll, the traditional Tekka Maki (tuna roll) because it’s on the regular menu, too. And, it’s just plain good.

gluten free 3 rollFor our last dish, we ordered the Gluten-Free 3 Roll. There’s ebi, fresh salmon, hamachi, tuna, and a little wasabi inside a soy wrap. This was my favorite dish besides the Sea Steak!

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. 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.


Runaway Stage Productions’ 42nd Street Runs Through May 5th at 24th Street Theatre

Looking forward to seeing 42nd Street this weekend! Here’s a press release from my friends at Runaway Stage Productions. -cg

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SACRAMENTO – Come on along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway with Runaway Stage Productions as RSP presents the classic comedy musical 42nd Street, playing April 12 to May 5 at the 24th Street Theatre, located at the Sierra 2 Center.

Based on the classic 1933 movie musical of the same name, 42nd Street tells the story of naive young actress Peggy Sawyer who arrives to audition for the new Julian Marsh extravaganza, set to open on Broadway with aging leading lady Dorothy Brock. A classic backstage story, 42nd Street is a delightful throwback that the entire family will enjoy. The 1980 Broadway production won the Tony Award for Best Musical and became a long-running hit. The show was produced in London in 1984 (winning the Olivier Award for Best Musical), and its 2001 Broadway revival won the Tony for Best Revival.

RSP’s talented cast and crew include both well-known favorites and new talents. Award-winning Darryl Strohl (RSP’s Legally BlondeKiss Me Kate and Curtains) choreographs, Andrea St. Clair (AnnieKiss Me Kate) plays Anytime Annie, Amy Jacques-Jones (White Christmas) is Peggy, and newcomer Timothy Stewart takes on the role of Billy.

“RSP has waited to do this show until the talent was ready, and boy is it ready,” RSP Producing Director Bob Baxter said. “The cast is unbelievable, the dancing (tap, ballet and jazz) is breathtaking. I am excited watching the rehearsals, and I know the audience will enjoy the show!”

Jeremy Bolt directs music, with vocal direction by Deann Golz. They lead the RSP resident orchestra with a score that is full of famous musical numbers, including “Young and Healthy,”  “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me,” “Dames,” “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” and, of course, the iconic “Forty-Second Street.”

42nd Street performs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. 4/12-5/5, 2013. TICKETS – Opening Night – $19; Adults – $25; Seniors (60+) – $23; Students/SARTA – $21; Children (12 & under) – $18; Groups of 10+ – $19 each. Tickets can be purchased online at www.runawaystage.com (reservation convenience fees apply) or at the door. For further information or questions, please call the box office at (916) 207-1226. Free parking is available. The 24th Street Theatre is located at the Sierra 2 Center: 2791 24th Street in Sacramento.

You can find Runaway Stage Productions on Facebook here.