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Ella dining room interior PicmonkeyUrban and airy feeling at Ella

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.

Downtown

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.

Zocalo sidewalk dining PicmonkeySidewalk dining at ZocaloMidtown

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

Squash BisqueFirehouse Squash BisqueDowntown 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.

Saturday, 08 November 2014 13:40

November 7, 2014 Beer Pick of the Week

Berryessa tap handle Picmonkey

Freshie

 

Berryessa Brewing Co.

Winters, California

Style: American IPA

Alcohol: 5%

IBUs: 45

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.”

Chris Delgado Nov 2014 Picmonkey

 

 

Reviewed by Chris Delgado

Farm to Fork 2013 Gala Dinner Night PicmonkeyOver-the-water dinner setting

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 at Sellands Mkt PicmonkeyJosh Nelson got it started“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.”Farm-to-Fork Festival 2013 Capitol Mall PicmonkeyEvent on Mall drew 25,000

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.”

Jim Mills in Produce Express Whse PicmonkeyJim MillsAs 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?”Patrick Mulvaney late May 2014 PicmonkeyPatrick Mulvaney champions local products

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.

Thursday, 27 June 2013 23:19

2015 U.S. Senior Open Set for Sacramento

 

Del Paso CC PicmonkeyDel Paso Country Club in Sacramento.

The United States Golf Association has announcedthat Sacramento's storied Del Paso Country Club will play host to the 2015 U.S. Senior Open Championship June 22-28, 2015, .

With a list of past champions that includes such legends as Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin, the U.S. Senior Open is considered the world's premier championship in men's senior (ages 50 and over) golf.

A recent economic impact study done on the championship estimates that the U.S. Senior Open will pump an estimated $17 million into the Sacramento region's economy over seven days. More than 150,000 spectators are expected at Del Paso over the full week.

Del Paso, which underwent an $11.5 million makeover in 2007, has held USGA events before - the 1957 and 1976 U.S. Women's Amateurs, the 1960 Senior Women's Amateur and the 1982 U.S. Women's Open.  Thirty-three years after the USGA last set up shop at Del Paso, the 2015 U.S. Senior Open will come to Northern California for the first time ever.

The U.S. Senior Open features more than 15 hours of live television coverage on network and cable television and will be seen in 50 countries worldwide.

Tom Watson chipping PicmonkeyTom Watson is expected to be in the field for 2015 Senior Open at Del Paso.Current Champions Tour stars who can be expected to play in Sacramento are Fred Couples, Curtis Strange, Nick Price, Bernhard Langer, Peter Jacobsen, Mark O'Meara, Mark Calcavecchia and the ageless Irwin. Three-time major champion Vijay Singh turns 50 in 2013. Davis Love III turns 50 in 2014 and will be eligible to play, as will Sacramento native and Del Paso member Kevin Sutherland.

Since its inception in 1980, the U.S. Senior Open has been contested on some of the most famous courses in the world - Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C., Oakland Hills Country Club in Birmingham, Mich., Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills, Colo., and Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

"Sacramento looks forward to hosting the 2015 U.S. Senior Open," said Mayor Kevin Johnson. "It's an exciting opportunity both to support our regional economy and to showcase Sacramento on a national and international stage."

Del Paso Country Club opened in 1916, making it the oldest private course in the Sacramento Valley. Renowned golf-course designer Kyle Phillips oversaw the re-design that was completed in 2006. The course was lengthened to the extent that it now measures more than 7,100 yards from the back tees. The renovation included switching to rye-grass fairways and bent-grass greens and constructing a first-rate practice facility that will be popular with the U.S. Senior Open contestants.

"With the estimated hotel room nights upwards of 25,000, this will be one of the largest sporting events that Sacramento has ever hosted," said Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Steve Hammond.  "The duration of the tournament, coupled with the international television exposure, positions Sacramento to realize the benefits of this event even after its conclusion."

The field at Del Paso will feature 156 professionals and amateurs, including all of the top players on the Champions Tour.

In the years leading up to 2015, the U.S. Senior Open will be held at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich. (2012); Omaha Country Club in Omaha, Neb. (2013); and Oak Tree National in Edmond, Okla. (2014).

 

Editor's Note: Readers anticipating a visit to the Sacramento area may want to check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. In it are links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well links to area wineries and brewpubs.

Friday, 25 January 2013 22:13

January 04, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week

Dry Creek 2011 Chenin Blanc Bottle Picmonkey

2011 Dry Chenin Blanc

 

Producer: Dry Creek Vineyard

Appellation: Clarksburg

Alcohol: 12.5%

Suggested Retail: $12

 

“Dry Creek Vineyard is situated, fittingly enough, in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, but for years the winery has sourced Chenin Blanc grapes from an area more than a two-hour drive to the southeast. Clarksburg's vineyards lie along the banks of the Sacramento River just south of the State Captiol. Other grape varieties grown there produce good quality wines, but Chenin Blanc is the star of their show. Once very popular in California when made in a slightly sweet style, Chenin Blanc fell out of favor a couple of decades ago. What a shame. Wines like this dry Chenin Blanc merit comparison to examples from France's Loire Valley. They're worthy alternatives to the ubiquitous Chardonnay and much more affordable, but they deserve recognition for their own qualities.”

“The 2011 Dry Creek Chenin Blanc exhibits aromas of melon, with a little peach and citrus. Crisp and clean favors reminiscent of apple and citrus are there. Serve chilled, but not too col, so that the minerality will show through.”

Food Affinity: Would be fine with many chicken and fish dishes and even lighter treatments of veal. It's an absolutely wonderful choice with oysters and has been a frequent winner in a nationwide oyster and wine pairing competition sponsored by Washington's Taylor Shellfish Company.

Region: Central Valley     City: Sacramento     Contact: www.sacramentofrenchfilmfestival.org

Region: Central Valley     City: Red Bluff     City: www.redbluffroundup.com

Region: Central Valley     City: Esparto     Contact: www.espartoregionalchamber.com

Wednesday, 07 November 2012 20:22

Sacramento Named America's Farm-to-Fork Capital

In an effort to foster community pride, celebrate regional farming, and to create further demand for the region as a culinary tourism destination, the Sacramento Region is laying claim to being "America's Farm-to-Fork Capital" and made the announcement at a press conference on October 31, 2012.

Sacramento is positioned to claim this identity because no major city in America is more centrally located amid such a diverse range of high-quality farms, ranches and vineyards.Sacto Farm to Fork Announcement PicmonkeyMayor Kevin Johnson and Sacramento area chefs announce Farm-to-Fork program.

"This recognition as America's Farm-to-Fork Capital isn't something that this region needs to grow into because we've been walking this walk for decades," said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. "It is part of who we are and this is our opportunity to embrace that identity, celebrate it locally, and champion it to the rest of the world."

Sacramento is the capital city of the largest producing state of agriculture in the nation and, locally, 70 percent of the region's land is agricultural, forest or other open space. Additionally, the region contains 7,000 to 8,000 acres of boutique farms and provides numerous public sales platforms at more than 50 regional farmers markets, many of which are year-round fixtures.

In fact, Sacramento is home to the largest "Certified Farmers' Market" in California and offers the most ethnically diversified market in both produce offerings and customer demographics.

Local restaurants utilize the abundance of regionally-grown products to create a Farm-to-Fork freshness that's unparalleled in this country. While many local farms ship their products across the country — a process that can take days — regional restaurants can pick up fresh product in the morning and serve it to patrons for lunch and dinner.

"We buy blueberries from Stockton, lamb from Dixon, lavender from Placerville, fresh fish from Sloughhouse and broccoli and cauliflower from Sacramento," said Randall Selland, owner of The Kitchen, Ella and Selland's Market. "There is no other place in the United States that grows and distributes more food for consumers than the Sacramento region does."

Aside from local restaurants, regional farmers provide products to establishments across the United States. Superior Farms in Dixon provides product to restaurants in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Snake River Farms beef, which is raised at VanVleck Ranch in eastern Sacramento County, is distributed locally at Corti Bros. Market and nationally in San Francisco, New York, Denver, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Silva Family Farms, located in Yuba City, ships walnuts to New Jersey, Tennessee, Washington, Philadelphia, Dubai, Turkey, China, Korea and Spain.

On the heels of this proclamation is an announcement from Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau (SCVB) President & CEO Steve Hammond that Sacramento will host a culinary week in the fall of 2013.The week-long celebration will include events at local farms, at restaurants across the region, and will be anchored by a major festival on Capitol Mall. High-end dinners, wine tastings, other culinary-focused events—and even a cattle drive in downtown Sacramento—will be scheduled throughout the week.

"In 1992, Austin, Texas, became known as the Live Music Capital of the world because the city had more live music venues per capita than any other city. Since then, Austin has embraced this identity and used it to positively brand the city and draw in visitors," said Hammond. "Similarly, Sacramento is being named the America's Farm-to-Fork Capital because we have thousands of acres of boutique farms and year-round local sustainability. This region literally provides tons of food to the rest of the country and it will be the job of the SCVB to market that identity to the rest of the world."

The SCVB is currently in the planning stages for the 2013 event and is collaborating with the regional restaurant and farming community, The California Farm Bureau, The Certified Farmers' Markets, and the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, among others. The branding campaign will be on-going, and the culinary promotions will be an annual celebration.

 

TravMedia.com sources contributed to this article.

 

Planning a visit to the Sacramento area? In Taste California Travel's Resource Directory you'll find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options. Also in the directory arelinks to many "beer-centric" pubs and restaurants, as well as links to nearby wineries.

Old Sugar Mill PicmonkeyEarly fall visitors taste at the Sugar Mill.The Old Sugar Mill wine mall has added two area wineries -- Due Vigne di Famiglia and The Dragon & Chicken, home of Draconis Wines by Matt Powell -- making a total of ten tasting rooms. "This makes us a major U.S. wine destination," according to John Beckman, General Manager of the Mill and president of the Clarksburg Wine Company. They join Carvalho Family Winery, Clarksburg Wine Company, Elevation Ten, Heringer Estates, Merlo Family Vineyards, Rendezvous Winery, Three Wine Company and Todd Taylor Wines.

Beckman said, “When Sacramentans think of wine and wine country, we want them to think of the Old Sugar Mill first. The addition of these two fine wineries just adds to the breadth and depth of our existing and outstanding offerings for our guests. And while we love when folks come out here to spend the day, we are so close to downtown and midtown, you can come out here at the spur of the moment – no advance planning required!”

Due Vigne di Famiglia wines are produced by two area families: the Mussos with a generation of growing Italian varietals in El Dorado County; and the Houle family, which uses Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and Malbec for classic Cabernet and Meritage bottlings. Musso family wines include the rare Dolcetto and Nebbiolo varieties, plus Primitivo, Barbera and Petite Syrah, a Clarksburg area specialty.Draconis Winery barrell sample Picmonkey Taking Draconis barrel sample.

Draconis by Matt Powell has its first public sales site at the Mill. According to Powell, Draconis has been an "underground winery -- known only to its mailing list -- and for its crafted, handmade wines in the old style" by its Burgundian-trained winemaker. Known for intense and silky smoothness, the wines are made in the "Reductionist" style, specializing in 100 percent Zinfandel, Petite Syrah and Syrah.Beckman added, "Matt Powell is pioneering the use of our large attractive campus by new wineries who will be moving in; it's the first winery not in the Gallery itself. We're seeing the kind of strolling that you find downtown."

The Old Sugar Mill has seen three years of increased traffic for events and winery sales, Beckman said. "We're a go-to site for everyone in the Sacramento area and are drawing from the Bay Area and throughout the state."

The Old Sugar Mill is located at 35265 Willow Avenue in the historic town of Clarksburg, fifteen minutes southwest of the Capitol building in Sacramento. Open seven days a week; individual wineries' hours vary. For further information on wineries and events visit www.oldsugarmill.com.

 

Sources at PRWeb contributed to this article.

 

Editor's note: Visiting wineries in California? Taste California Travel's Resource Directory contains links to the websites of all of the state's wineries, as well as links to thousands of Lodging and Dining options.

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