TASTE News Service, April 10, 2017 - On Saturday, May 6th, 2017 the historic northern California town of Woodland will become the hub of all things honey as it hosts the inaugural California Honey Festival, with Mead as a central theme.
TASTE News Service, March 1, 2017 - Tickets are now on sale for the first-ever Taste of Yolo festival, set for June 10, 2017, in Central Park in downtown Davis CA.
TASTE News Service, February 6 2017 –A premier event in the world of hot rods and custom cars celebrates its 67th edition this month.
TASTE News Service, July 6, 2016 – Residents of California’s Capital have embraced the idea of eating dinner by the river. Actually, not just by the river, but right over the top of it. The Tower Bridge might seem an unlikely setting for something billed as a Gala Dinner, but the event is becoming a sold-out tradition.
By Matthew Guillory
February 11, 2016 - There is a lot happening at Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum as it heads into the second half of 2016 - exhibitions include glass (from ancient Roman to contemporary American), photography, colonial art, sculpture and European drawings.
Talks, walks and the like are great ways to learn a little more about the art on display. At their monthly noontime “Lunch & Learn,” museum docents dive deep into a specific exhibition for 30-minute sprints. And Gallery Bites -- also monthly at noon -- takes a half-hour look at a different gallery each time.
TASTE News Service, May 14, 2015 - Once home to the largest brewery in the Golden State, Sacramento's beer scene is back – in a big way. Home to more than 40 breweries, the Sacramento region is embracing its agricultural roots to create homegrown beers that are quickly attracting international attention. Beyond a staggering selection of local brews to choose from, Sacramento visitors will find some of the country's best beer events and activities that are sure to quench their thirst.
“In many ways, Sacramento is the birthplace of beer in California,” said Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau Tourism Director Nick Leonti. “It's only fitting that the region has reclaimed its title as one of the best craft beer destinations in the Golden State. There's enough variety here to please any beer fan, and it's not every day that you can enjoy an ale that was crafted from hops grown only a few miles away.”
Prior to prohibition, Sacramento was the beer capital of the West. The region's abundant fresh water supply, coupled with ideal growing conditions for California's first hops fields, led to more than 16 breweries in the city's downtown alone. Chief among them was Buffalo Brewing Company, the largest brewery west of the Mississippi River. Captain Frank Ruhstaller was a leader in Sacramento's beer production, helping to found several breweries including his namesake, Ruhstaller Brewery. Prohibition came, and the land formerly used to grow hops was converted to other crops. These crops can still be found throughout the region's farmland today, including almonds, pears, tomatoes and rice.
The Return of Sacramento's Beer Scene
Today's Sacramento beer scene is vibrant, and craft brew tasting rooms are scattered throughout the city's downtown and Midtown core, and across the region. Stalwart Sacramento breweries such as River City Brewing and Rubicon Brewing Company have been around for more than a decade, and they're still going strong as new breweries join the scene. Over the past five years, beer makers such as Track 7 and Bike Dog have added to the mix, while Ruhstaller Beer and New Helvetia Brewing Company have also opened, paying homage to Sacramento's rich brewing past.
Captain Ruhstaller's legacy can still be seen today in the region's remerging brew scene, with a new iteration of Ruhstaller returning to Sacramento in 2013. The modern day Ruhstaller's founder J-E Paino established a hops farm and yard in 2013 just outside of the city, and brews his beer locally. During harvest season, beer fans can tour the farm and see how the growing hops go on to become of the region's most popular brews. And Ruhstaller's fan base extends well beyond the Sacramento region, with distribution of its brews extending as far as Great Britain.
It's no surprise that the Sacramento region is also home to some of the country's best beer events. From the annual Sacramento Beer & Chili Festival, to the city’s own “Sactoberfest,” there's always something beer-related on the Sacramento region's calendar.
In March, beer fans flock to Sacramento for Beer Week – a non-stop, city-wide party designed to showcase the region's brews. Run by the Northern California Brewers Guild, Sacramento Beer Week is an 11-day celebration boasting everything from beer and food pairings to a festival on Capitol Mall with breweries from all over the state and beyond.
Coming to Sacramento in 2015 is the first annual California Craft Beer Summit and Showcase, hosted by the California Craft Brewers Association. The new event, open to both the industry and the public, will be the first time craft beer enthusiasts can come together in the same room with the master brewers to see, touch, taste and learn the process of creating craft beers.
Sacramento's food scene hits a high point in September during the annual Farm-to-Fork Celebration, a two-week event designed to highlight the region's robust agriculture and fresh-food scene. A favorite attraction during the Celebration is the Farm-to-Fork Festival, a massive outdoor fair held on the city's Capitol Mall featuring booths and interactive exhibits from farms, restaurants, grocers and more. As one would expect, food and drink take center stage at the Farm-to-Fork Festival, and beer is a main attraction. The Festival boasts a packed brewer's alley that showcases beers from across the region, and many of the 20,000+ attendees head straight for the alley to get a glass of their favorite ale to enjoy while checking out the Festival.
Beer-enthusiasts can do more than just sip their pints in Sacramento; the region offers a host of activities that showcase the region's brew scene. Thirsty fans can tour the region's breweries and pedal for their pints aboard Sac Brew Bike, a newer addition to the city. Or, you can sit back and sip your craft brew aboard the Sacramento Beer Train, which takes travelers along the rails through rural West Sacramento. Restaurants across the region also offer monthly beer pairing dinners, providing beer fans with a chance to sample the region's cuisine and local brews.
Editor’s Note: Planning a beer-inspired visit to the state capital? First check out California Wine and Food’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of local craft beer purveyors and area wineries.
TASTE News Service May 4, 2015 - Local, seasonal, sustainable: These may be culinary buzzwords in many places, but Sacramento restaurateurs have been cooking by these principles for decades. Surrounded by unparalleled agricultural bounty, Sacramento's restaurants showcase the region's best products, from juicy tomatoes to lush old-vine Zinfandel, sweet peaches to crisp corn, nutty almonds to succulent lamb. That cornucopia inspires Sacramento's talented chefs year-round, and the city's dining scene—especially in the convenient, central downtown and Midtown areas—has boomed in recent years. The city's fresh, new dining venues and its longtime favorite haunts alike offer top-notch, inventive fare and high style, together with the welcoming vibe that characterizes this friendly city.
In the neighborhood that surrounds the State Capitol, power-lunch places are now jointed by happening hot spots like Ella Dining Room and Bar, a venture from Randall Selland and family (the powers behind high-end stalwart The Kitchen). Ella's refined, luxe style (its signature is hundreds of wooden shutters, sourced from Europe) was created by an Amsterdam design team, and its distinctive look has been featured in magazines worldwide. The perfectly crafted small-plates fare and upscale cocktails (like a refreshing gin with house-made tonic) are just as sophisticated as the airy interior. Grange, situated in the showpiece Citizen Hotel, serves ever-changing, strictly local menus at breakfast, lunch, and dinner including well-priced nightly prix-fixe specials. The warmly lit, mod interior is framed by dramatic high windows and carved from the Citizen's renovated historic quarters. New to Sacramento in January 2014, Mother is now the can't-miss place to dine in the area. The restaurant offers a full, locally-sourced vegetarian and vegan menu.
Sacramento's hippest neighborhood draws nightly crowds not just to its art galleries and boutiques, but its hot restaurants as well. Gems abound in this dining-rich neighborhood, but two local favorites are Mulvaney's Building and Loan and The Waterboy, both of which reflect the personalities of their chef-owners with fresh, seasonal cooking. Patrick Mulvaney's intimate restaurant, which features a central display kitchen, is located in a historic brick firehouse and showcases local producers like Bledsoe Pork and Riverdog Farms on its compact but inviting menu. Rick Mahan's airy Waterboy is a favorite of locals, thanks to Mahan's local sourcing and impeccable but often adventurous California-Mediterranean cooking; the menu changes often, but he's as well known for dishes like steak tartare and sweetbreads as for a luscious, perfect burger. Local favorite Shady Lady, a speakeasy-style bar-restaurant pouring just-so traditional cocktails and serving small plates inspired by classic American fare, is the anchor for the vibrant, revitalized R Street Corridor, now packed with fun restaurants and bars that draw young crowds. Nearby Hook & Ladder highlights handcrafted cocktails and local craft beer along with its farm-fresh California cuisine. More top Midtown destinations include the longtime favorite Biba, featuring seasonally driven, meticulous Northern Italian specialties from cookbook author and TV personality Biba Caggiano; popular wine bar 58 Degrees & Holding Co., and bustling, beautifully decorated Mexican spot Zocalo. When it's time for dessert, tempt your sweet-tooth at Ginger Elizabeth. This downtown chocolatier and sweet shop, specializes in chocolates and macaroons, and many of the boutique's offerings are made with locally-sourced ingredients.
Old Sacramento and Other Areas
Downtown and Midtown Sacramento may be replete with great food, but Sacramento's other neighborhoods are equally mouthwatering. Historic Old Sacramento is home to the ultra-refined The Firehouse, famed for its deep wine cellar, high-end fare from award-winning chef Deneb Williams, and special-occasion-worthy tasting menus. Another perfect pick for a big night out is The Kitchen in Arden-Arcade, where the spectacular multicourse dinners are a show in and of themselves. Plan your visit a few weeks in advance! Craving a waterfront table? Try Pearl on the River, which overlooks the romantic Sacramento River and features impeccable service and a changing “live menu” concept of locally sourced ingredients. All these, and many more, combine to make Sacramento and its diverse restaurant scene a delicious destination.
Editor’s Note: To meet some of the people responsible for creating Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork identity, see article by Dan Clarke. If you’re planning on visiting Sacramento visit Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory first. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to area Wineries and Craft Beer Purveyors.
Berryessa Brewing Co.
Style: American IPA
Serving Style: Kegs
Availability: Seasonal at the time of fresh hop harvest. Good distribution in Winters/Davis/Sacramento area and some in San Francisco Bay Area
Appearance: “Light hay color. Thick off-white head.”
Aroma: “Citrus and spice.”
Taste: “A somewhat bitter pink grapefruit quality that is balanced with some gorgeous hops—they complement each other.”
Food Affinity: “Fish, especially fish & chips. The wet hop component would be a good interplay with the battered fish.”
Reviewed by Chris Delgado
by Dan Clarke
Sacramento has declared itself the leader in a category which has no universal definition, no absolute standards. However, a persuasive case can be made that this city in the most agriculturally productive state in the U.S. deserves the title “America's Farm-to-Fork Capital.” Sacramento is surrounded by farmland. Chefs in Sacramento have ready access to raw ingredients that their brethren in bigger and more glamorous locations could only dream about.
In the past Sacramento suffered the reputation of being a cultural and culinary backwater. Local radio personalities called the city “Sacra-Tomato” (and this was not meant as a compliment). Chain restaurants predominated and residents looking for a good meal would often drive to San Francisco, rather than patronize local options.
Times change, though. As Sacramento shed its inferiority complex, it began to realize that things weren't really so bad. In fact, for those who enjoyed their food, things were pretty special.
“Josh Nelson approached us in late summer of 2012, announcing that we should be 'the Farm to Fork Capital of America',” recalled Mike Testa, who's in charge of business development for the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau. In a matter of hours the Mayor had been contacted and soon agreement had been reached to promote the concept with “four really special events” to involve the community. Confessing to some apprehension, Testa remembers thinking, “If the locals don't buy in, then the rest of the world won't.”
Nelson is proud of his home town and is a good spokesman for it. He's part of a team that operates two fine dining restaurants in Sacramento, The Kitchen and Ella, and two wine market and deli operations. While he's quick to point out that his father, Randall Selland, is the chef in the family, Nelson has grown up in the restaurant business. “We always shopped small family farms for The Kitchen,” he recalled. “Since 1991 we've done this—not to be a 'locavore,' but to source the best product. We have a bounty of local crops. We have great product in the area.”
Years ago Los Angeles Laker coach Phil Jackson dismissed Sacramento as “a cow town.” The city puckishly embraced that identity last September with a cattle drive up Capitol Mall, the first of their four Farm-to-Fork Week events. Ostensibly celebrating the availability of high quality proteins in the area, it was a natural made-for-media opportunity and created national news.
A second occasion, a tasting on the Capitol lawn dubbed “Legends of Wine,” honored Darrell Corti and David Berkeley, locals with international reputations. The Convention and Visitor's Bureau considers itself a regional marketer and, especially for the purposes of defining itself as the Farm-to-Fork Capital, includes much of the surrounding area as parts of the whole. Yolo County, just across the Sacramento River to the west, is home to the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and lots of farm acreage.
In another gathering that was both symbolic and attention grabbing, authorities closed the Tower Bridge for a gala dinner with diners seated on the span that links the City of Sacramento and all that land to the west providing so much goodness for the table. Six hundred tickets to the $175 a plate meal went on sale in July of 2013 and sold out in a matter of hours.
The fourth and final event was the Festival on Capitol Mall and it surely was proof that locals were intrigued. The event was free and open to the public, who could meet growers, see cooking demonstrations and buy food if they liked. “We'd hoped for 10,000 people,” explained Mike Testa. “We got 25,000. The crowd was educated, engaged and eager to celebrate the Farm-to-Fork concept.”
As a former chef, Produce Express' Sales Manager Jim Mills has close ties to the area's restaurant community. “We have over 1200 accounts in the Sacramento Valley,” he commented. “These range from taquerias to the area's finest restaurants.” Mills has been pivotal in creating a liaison between specialty growers and an appreciative corps of area chefs.
One of those chefs is Patrick Mulvaney, whose Mulvaney's B&L has been in the forefront of Sacramento restaurants sourcing high-quality ingredients from nearby farms. A native of Long Island, Mulvaney worked as waiter in New York restaurants after taking a degree in English at Union College. Realizing that if he were to reach his goal of owning a restaurant, he'd need to understand how a kitchen worked, Patrick headed off to Ireland. There he apprenticed to a man who'd been Executive Chef for the P & O Cruise Line. On his return to the States, Mulvaney gained experience in the kitchens of several New York restaurants before working his way west. Eventually Mulvaney achieved a second degree in Food Science and Technology at UC Davis and later worked in the Napa Valley with the famed teaching chef, Madeleine Kammen. By this time, says Mulvaney, he had fallen in love with California and with the access to the fresh ingredients he found there. The menu at his midtown Sacramento restaurant changes daily and the chef is acutely aware of the ever-developing bounty available to him. “I moved here in 1994. It's now 2014,” he commented. “Has the percentage of iceberg lettuce to mixed baby salad greens changed in that time?”
Earlier this year Mulvaney was invited to create a dinner for the Beard House in New York City. Named for the late chef and cookbook author, the James Beard Foundation operates a restaurant that features notable chefs who bring their own culinary styles for one-night appearances. On March 13th, he and his Mulvaney's B&L kitchen crew presented a dinner there billed as A Promise of Spring: Savoring Sacramento. “It was a seven course meal,” explained Mulvaney. “Everything but the water, bread and Irish whiskey (served with dessert) came from California and most of that from within 50 miles of Sacramento. On a cold, rainy night in New York we were giving them food they wouldn't see for months—things like green garlic, asparagus from the delta and fava beans grown at Sac High's garden. It was a proud day for California, a proud day for Sacramento.”
Special events such as cattle drives and dinners on bridges capture public attention for a while, but the goal is to create an ongoing reputation for Sacramento as America's Farm-to-Fork Capital. “The model we looked at for success was Austin, Texas, which bills itself as “The Live Music Capitol of the World,” said Mike Testa. “This year we'll spend over half-a-million dollars on this issue, though some of that we hope will be offset (by participating businesses). Year two must be more than just the four special events,” he stressed. To that end, the Convention and Visitors Bureau has hired two full-time employees, Nicole Rogers and Kari Miskit, to develop the concept. “Nicole's job is to find the next steps to move this forward. Kari's is to make sure the story's being told,” said Testa.
This September, Farm-to-Fork Week will actually expand to two weeks. No cattle will be seen on downtown streets this year, but the Capitol Mall will again be the site of an expanded food festival open to the public (Latest updates on this September's events can be found at farmtofork.com).
Farm-to-Fork is undoubtedly a clever marketing concept, but underlying the hoopla of Sacramento's branding campaign there's plenty of substance. Jim Mills of Produce Express admits there's “a little bit of smoke and mirrors,” but emphasizes there is also “a whole lot of sincerity.” Patrick Mulvaney says “My goal is just to promote the wonderful work of the farmers. In an earlier era, the rock-stars were the chefs. Now we think that in the future the stars will be the farmers. As we begin to embrace our agricultural heritage and interact with the farmers, it lifts the spirit of the whole region.”
Editor's note: If you're planning on visiting this part of California's heartland, check out the Central Valley listings in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to area craft beer purveyors and to nearby wineries.