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Munchie Musings

Updated: 2017-12-12T19:03:26.916-08:00


Updating Jimboy's Tacos


Disclosure: My friend works at Jimboy's corporate and my visit was known and the meal was comped. There will be many people who may read this that don't live in the Sacramento region and therefore have never heard of Jimboy's Tacos. Sort of like In-n-Out Burger, it's a California thing. In fact, it's such a California thing, that you can't really classify them as a Mexican restaurant, despite the word "Tacos" in their name, because theirs is not typical Mexican fare. It's California Mexican, I guess. After all, Mexico doesn't really have Parmesan cheese on their tacos like Jimboy's does. As my disclosure above states, my friend works for Jimboy's and so I've heard a lot about the changes her company has been going through over the last few years. You can read a pretty in depth history of them in this excellent article by Sacramento News & Review - The Jimboy's Story. That's why I'm not really going to get all detailed here. Long story short, over the decades Jimboy's let people get franchises of their brand, but each restaurant was different. There was no consistency in look, food, etc. Basically, it was anything goes and there was no standardization and branding. That's why you would often find the burritos better at one location and the tacos better at another location. I really did know that if I went on one side of town, they did much better burritos than the one closer to my work downtown. My friend even said some owners did their own recipes.That's changing. Jimboy's is working on updating everything. They have a new look to their restaurants and they are standardizing their menus and adding new menu items. Franchise owners have been told that they can either get on board, or they can no longer be Jimboy's restaurants. This is a good thing.I was invited to check out the new look and a new dish at one of the newest locations in Sacramento. The LookThe new look is definitely a big change from the 70's era plastic booths. This new location was bright with lots of new wood furniture and accents. The brightly lit "Tacos" sign beckons you to read the menu that is now on modern screens versus the menu boards of old. The accent wall has large quotes tying them to the company history.  In the corner there was a big screen TV with a football game on. Definitely a more enticing look, especially to attract newbies who may never have had Jimboy's before. The FoodOne thing Jimboy's is really trying to promote is that they use fresh ingredients and do everything by scratch every day. There's no use of canned goods. Instead, vegetables are freshly chopped and meats cooked in small batches. This shown through in the new menu item they wanted me to try.The new Street Fries are plank cut fries covered in queso, tomatoes, jalapenos, and more. Basically think of fries as nachos. I'm not kidding that I actually sat there eating the fries and mentally noting how crisp and fresh the jalapenos, tomatoes, and onions were. Another thing I noted was the how well covered the fries were. You know when you get nachos and the queso is only on the top chips so that you get frustrated that the ones underneath have no cheese? Not the case with these fries. There was plenty of cheese and toppings so that I got to enjoy every bite. Plus, you can choose what type of meat you want. They will differ in cost, but I opted for putting carnitas on mine versus the ground beef or chicken.Jimboy's are famous for their tacos that are grilled to have a crispy shell that is sprinkled with parmesan cheese. I've never been a fan of crisp shell tacos, but I figured I ought to order just one. It was a little on the salty and greasy side for me, but I could easily see why they have a following and make particularly good hangover food. Finally, I saw cream filled churros on the menu and just had to check them out. They were nice and hot, but I was disappointed in those and would suggest you just stick to plain churros. The transition to the new look and menu is a slow one. The other day I went to a location that hasn't changed[...]

Mah Jong Table - Family History


Original post: 2011

Over Thanksgiving I brought home the antique mah jong table that has always been in my family. It was my mother's and has a bit of history from her family that is interesting enough to share.

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The story as I was told...

My mother was an upper class Filipina who grew up in Manila. My grandfather was one of the first Filipino actuaries and I say it was fate that I ended up working in the Actuarial Office at work. Anyway... during World War II the Japanese moved in to occupy the Philippines. As in Europe with the Nazis, the Japanese moved in and took over families' homes and pretty much trampled over the locals. My mother's family was forced out of their home when it was taken over by a Japanese officer. Also similar to the Nazis who stole valuables from the Jews, the Japanese stole as well. When the Americans finally liberated the Philippines and the Japanese fled, the family was able to return to their home. That's where they found this mah jong table which had been stolen from some other family. They didn't know who it was stolen from, and so it's been in the family since. My mother ended up with it. After she died, dad says the uncles actually called to see if they could get it back, but dad told them I had always claimed it for myself some day. 

Please watch the video to see how really cool it is.

Update 2017

I sent in photos and this information to Witherell's, an antique dealer here in Sacramento that sometimes participates in giving estimates on PBS' Antiques Roadshow. Here is what they said:

Giving Tuesday for Food Literacy


​It’s #GivingTuesday! Instead of Black Friday or Cyber Monday, today is centered on giving back & helping kids feel good. By donating and sharing your #FoodLiteracyFeels, you’ll be making a difference in the lives of Sacramento children. When our kids feel good, we feel good! But right now, this isn’t happening. Only 4% of kids eat enough vegetables to protect their health. Poor diets are making our kids sick. 40% of Sacramento kids struggle with childhood obesity. YOU have the power to prevent this. How YOU can helpDonate! You can protect kids’ health and help them feel good by donating today! Your gift of $180 (that’s just $15/month) funds one low-income child to learn cooking, nutrition, and to eat their vegetables. [...]

Feasting Filipino with Feastly


Forget Thanksgiving, my November is filled with Filipino food. I stopped in at Pinoy's Place in Hayward the first week, attended a Filipino popup dinner last week, and next week is the special Filipino festivities and dinner at the California Museum. I've said before, I lack knowledge of my mother's cultural foods and so I try to gain more by eating it when I canThat Filipino popup took place at a small cafe borrowed for the event. You can find a great selection of popup feasts throughout the Bay Area via This website presents chefs in a few select cities that put on these events on a regular basis. Many are professional chefs that do not have restaurants and are looking for a way to share their food. All different kinds of meals are available, such as...I opted for the Pinoy Heritage 8 course meal and was surprised to find that it was a chef I had experienced before. I had run into Chef Francis Ang at Cochon and Heritage Fire events in the past. It was his deep fried balut that I had tried a year and a half ago. Some notable points on his resume include working for Gary Danko, being named Food and Wine magazine's "People's Best Pastry Chef" for the West Coast, as well as, being nominated for Zagat's "30 Under 30" in San Francisco. Be sure to check out his future dinners on I'll be trying to get him here in Sactown for a popup. Turns out he's going to be working with our own Ramon Perez of Puur Chocolat at the Dandelion 12 Nights of Chocolate next month. Hopefully these shots will entice you to try out either Francis' food or  Please read on a bit for a couple of interesting notes as well.Deep fried quail egg and pomegranate soda with basil seedsThis amuse buche has an interesting note in that it was supposedly a play on Sarsaparilla and egg drink in the Philippines. Turns out Sarsi is a brand of soda and the Sarsaparilla is their root beer. People will pour it into a glass and then add an egg. Some people beat the egg first, but others don't. Then they drink it down. It's supposed to be an energy booster because of the protein and sugar. Probably a hangover cure too.Octopus salad with eggplant salted egg kale cherry tomato and Squid InkKalabasa flan with pinkabet, delicata squash, acorn, xo bagoongChicken Pancit with malunggay noodles, black truffle powder At this point was the chicken pancit. The interesting piece of the dish is that the noodles were made with malunggay. The English known name for it is Moringa. Apparently it's from a bushy plant with tiny leaves. It grows in Asia and in the Philippines it most often served in their monggo bean dishes and soups. amberjack bulangang with miso, guava, Taro, winged Bean, radishBlack tea Panna cotta, calamansi sorbet, honey crispCalamansi is a small citrus fruit used in a lot of Filipino dishes. It is pretty tart.Coconut flan with dacquoise, yuzu, banana ice creamUbe caneleUbe is the same as taro and Filipinos use it often in desserts where it is usually bright purple in color. [...]

Passion Fruit Posset


Back in 2011 I made lemon posset. It's an easy British dessert made with just cream, sugar, and lemon. Lately, I have been thinking of things to use my passion fruit puree with and it occurred to me that the posset would be perfect. 

If you have fresh passion fruits at your grocery or Asian store, it's perfect to garnish at the end with the seedy insides of the fruit. Here, I used raspberries. 

Where to get the puree? You can get a big container of Perfect Puree at Whole Foods in the freezer section. 

Passion Fruit Posset
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup passion fruit concentrate (reserve a couple of tablespoons)

In a saucepan, stir together 3 cups of cream and sugar. Bring to a boil, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the majority of the passion fruit puree. Pour into serving glasses, and refrigerate until set, about 5 hours. Before serving, drizzle a bit of the remaining puree on top. Garnish with fruit (optional). 

Video - Hunan Restaurant in Davis


Last year I read this article about Chinese restaurants in Davis catering to Chinese students. They have an American menu and a Chinese menu and the chefs do not cook across the menu. Certain dishes are cooked and seasoned completely differently by each side. 

I finally got the chance to check them out and it was well worth it. We had a delicious meal of tan tan noodles, farmhouse lamb, and fried fish in sweet chili sauce. 

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Why you should soak your almonds


At work I keep a jar of almonds and chocolate chips to snack on. Nuts are always a healthy choice and dark chocolate has been shown to be beneficial as well. We all know that almonds are nutritious and make a healthy, low calorie snack with lots of fiber to make you feel full. What people don't realize that pretty much all almonds that you are eating are actually stopping you from absorbing all their healthy nutrition because they are either raw or roasted, but not soaked. Almonds have tannins and enzyme inhibitors that keep you from getting the nutrients. When an almond drops from a tree to dry ground, it doesn't automatically start growing. In fact, it could sit in the dirt for months and not do a thing. That's because almonds are coated with tannins that naturally protect the seeds so that they will sprout in the right season - spring, after the rains. The water washes the tannins away, signaling it is safe to allow the almonds to sprout. When you eat raw or roasted almonds that have not been soaked, your body isn't able to absorb all the nutrients from the nuts because of the tannins and inhibitors. You need to soak the almonds overnight so that the tannins are released. Another benefit of soaking is that germination changes the proteins and fats in the almonds, reducing the fat content and making the nutrients easier to digest. Sprouting almonds is also the only way to release lipase, an enzyme which digests fat.Look at all the tannins that come off in soaking!    “Soaking in warm water also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, present in all seeds, and encourages the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. The action of these enzymes also increases the amount of many vitamins, especially B vitamins. During the process of soaking and fermenting, gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.”So even if you are eating almonds just as a snack food, you really should soak them first, rinse, and then dry out again in an oven or dehydrator. What I found is that after soaking and drying, I had softer almonds that weren't as satisfying to chew. I've found the solution is to roast them in the oven for a few hours at 200 degrees. [...]

Video - Pinoy's Place


Check out this video of Pinoy's Place as I improve my video skills. 

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Stopping cows from farting


Professor Ermias Kebreab explains the trialOK. The above title is really false, which I'll explain shortly. But it grabbed your attention. After all, we generally think that cows are making too much methane gas that contributes to climate change and that it's coming out as farts. Turns out that is false. While they do emit a considerable amount, 95% of it is coming from their breathing and not from the other end. This little detail was revealed to me recently during a visit to UC Davis' feed lots where they are studying ways to reduce these emissions.Food bloggers had been invited by Mootral, a new supplement created by Swiss company Zaluvida. UC Davis is world renowned for its agricultural programs and is one of the few research centers in the world that can handle many types of animal studies. Mootral is in California for a six month trial of their supplement to test it in our conditions. It should be noted that California's Air Resources Board and other agencies have been tasked with reducing factors that contribute to climate change - and that includes through agriculture and livestock. So these studies help toward these efforts. We were met by UC Davis Professor Ermias Kebreab, Don Harper, in charge of the cattle operations at UCD, and Breanna Roque, a graduate student working on the Mootral trial. Harper explained the feeding that the cows receive and the nutrition involved, especially at finishing lots. The primary focus at UCD is for large cattle operations to feed the masses of Americans who are used to cheap beef in the stores. That means they focus on finishing with corn and other ingredients rather than on totally grass fed cattle. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Video shows the corn, steamed/pressed corn, cotton seed, almond husks, 3 stages of feed mixture moving to more corn, molasses, added vitamins/mineralsOne interesting bit of information was about how blessed our California cattle are. Due to our agricultural bounty, their feed is often supplemented with byproducts that we humans don't consume. Such things as the husks from almonds or the cotton seeds. Not only do they help to rid us of these excessive byproducts, eliminating waste going to landfills, etc., but it takes them out as competing with humans for other products that we do eat, such as corn. Other ingredients included processed corn and spent grains from alcohol processing. Added to the feed mixture is molasses and other vitamins and nutrients, providing a very precise nutritional mix. the feederThe Mootral is all natural. It's basically garlic and citrus extracts that are added to feed pellets and given to the cows at only 15 grams per day. The Mootral works to reduce the amount of gases created in the cattle's digestion by 30%. I had to ask how the emissions are measured and that's when we learned the fact about the breathing. The cattle are encouraged to eat out of a special feeder that they stick their heads in. As they breathe, a fan system sucks up their exhalations into a device that is able to measure how much methane, hydrogen, oxygen, etc. is exhaled. There are many companies and scientists trying different methods to reduce emissions. Professor Kebreab tells us that after the Mootral trial there will be another one with dairy cattle and a seaweed supplement. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>We finished wi[...]

Pour your own beer at the new PizzaRev Taproom


Thai chickenDo we need another make-your-own pizza place in town? If you are a beer drinker, you'll say "YES!" when you hear about the newest addition - PizzaRev TAPROOM. The reason I've capitalized the TAPROOM is because, unlike other PizzaRevs which do serve a few beers, this one has an entire bank of taps and you can serve your own beer.It may surprise my regular readers to see me touting a feature I'll never use because I don't drink, but this was something new to me that I thought readers would appreciate. Really, it might be not new at all, but my friends and I had never seen this serve yourself concept/method before.Like all the other similar pizza places, PizzaRev has a bank of ingredients and you go down the line and tell them what you want on your pizza. There's thick, thin, or gluten-free crust and then an assortment of sauces, meats, vegetables, and cheeses so you can be as creative as you want. There is always the list of set pizzas on the menu board as well (margherita, Mediterranean, etc.). When you get to the register and select your drink, you can choose to use the Coke-your-way soda machine or choose beer and wine. Choosing alcohol means you will receive an electronic wristband so you can go serve yourself at the bank of beers/wines.There are 24 taps along two walls. Two are wine, the rest are beers, including many local favorites. Hold the wristband up to the machine and it will trigger it to allow you to pour your beer, dispensing a measured amount. While we were there for the VIP soft opening, the wristband allowed 32 ounces of beer. So apparently they can be programmed. MargheritaAs for the pizzas, we choose to try the Thai Chicken (Thai sizzle, mozzarella with buffalo milk, sweet chili chicken, shredded carrots, fresh cilantro, fresh green onions) and a regular Margherita. We enjoyed the Thai one with the exception that they could reduce the amount of the the Thai sizzle sauce. It's pretty strong and sticky and easily overwhelmed the pizza. plenty of hot sauce optionsThis PizzaRev should do very well being that it is located a mile from Sac State and affordable for students. It has a good amount of seating and a lovely fire pit outside as well. For more on make-your-own pizzas and a comparison of other brands, read Comparing Fast Casual Pizzas.[...]

Camel Racing in Virginia City


You may have read my bio and know that I grew up in Saudi Arabia for all my school age years. My dad was there for 16 years and during our vacations back in the States we would often get the (stupid) question - Do you ride to school on a camel?Suffice it to say, I never rode a camel. I saw plenty of them, of course. I even was given freshly milked camel's milk by a bedouin in the middle of the desert, but I never rode a camel. That is, until last week. Not only did I ride a camel, but I raced one. Every September for the last 58 years Virginia City has hosted camel races. Not just camels, either. They also race ostriches and zebras. This traditional, fun, family weekend has been one of the staples of Virginia City's tourism calendar. Lucky for me, Fridays are devoted to media, who are invited to ride.This is my third posting of Virginia City on my blog, but in the upcoming November issue of Sacramento Magazine you should find a piece I wrote about it as a great getaway weekend for adults and for families. I arrived Friday morning to find a dozen camels, four zebra, and about ten ostriches and a handful of emus. All of these exotic animals come from Hedrick's Promotions, Inc. based out of Kansas. Joe Hedrick has a history in rodeo and with dealing with exotic animals. Over the decades he has amassed about 70 camels, 50 ostriches, and more on his Kansas ranch. I'm assured by the the Virginia City Chamber members who have visited his ranch that the animals live a very good life there, with plenty of open acreage to wander about. We were given an orientation about what to expect, sign waivers, etc. Then we got to ride a camel around the ring to see what it was like when they were just walking. Very bumpy.  allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />While we waited we got to hang out behind the scenes. The ostriches, like the camels, are very tall. I definitely was having to look up at these crazy birds. At one point I had my back to them and my elbow resting on the bars of the enclosure and next thing I know, I got bitten! Others have fared worse, I hear, with bruises and hurtful nips. For me it was like someone with a set of plastic, duck bills on their hand that clapped onto my arm. Shocking at most. Finally it was our turn for the last race of the day. It was quite difficult for me to climb up as there was no ladder and I'm only 5'3". I was finally on board and then was shocked to get a soaking! I thought the camel was somehow peeing on me! But how can a camel pee up and cool? Turns out a gust of wind came just at that moment and blew water off the awning behind me. At virtually the same moment the gates were open and we were off! width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>All I cared about was hanging on and I think you can see that in my expression. I asked a woman in the audience to film me, so that's why the poor quality of my video. Thank goodness Daniel from Visit Virginia City got the great still shots!If I continue to go back each year there's a chance I can graduate to zebra or ostrich! So why not?Check out the Virginia City calendar. There's always something fun going on. Next month: Outhouse Races![...]

13 Ways to Identify a Dating Scammer.


You've seen the stories on Dateline or in the news. Lonely women who become victims to dating scammers. I'm always a bit dismayed that there are women out there that can't spot the signs.  I guess when you are looking through rose colored glasses...I first came across a dating scammer years ago on He had attractive pictures and was conversational. He was also (supposedly) working overseas, so he wasn't available for an actual meet.I just ran across another one over the last month. It always takes a while to figure out they are scammers.  Oh, I don't even let them get as far as asking for money. I have them figured out way before that.  Still, there are several signs I'd thought I'd share.1) Few pictures. They only have 1-2 pictures in their profile and they are attractive, but not super attractive.2) Poor spelling and/or grammar.  In this day and age of emails and text messaging with emojis and acronyms, we have become very forgiving for occasional poor spelling and grammar. So this is a sign, but not necessarily enough to be a red flag right out of the gate.3) Flowery or strange language. Flowery language just seems like trying too hard. But more often it's a matter of the sentence structure doesn't flow like the way we talk here in America. A sure sign of a foreigner. Many of these scams are coming out of Africa, just like the lottery winning scams.4) All about you, nothing about themselves. If getting any more information about their lives, likes, and dislikes is like pulling teeth, it's a sure sign. Instead they will focus all on you and how wonderful you are and all your interests. Or, they'll ask you about what you are looking for in a man so they can be all those things.5) They Google you. Expanding on #4, if you have a good presence on the internet, whether via articles, news items, or profiles on public sites, they have plenty of information to use. Because of this blog I do have a lot if you search for me on Google. It was actually this one that was the red flag for me to know they were a scammer. He started talking about how he wanted to open a restaurant one day (setting up for asking for money later??), how he knew about SactoMoFo and Sacfoodtrucks (even though he's supposedly in the Bay area, not local), and how his daughter was going to turn 13 on my December birth date. I'm sorry, but a parent says their child is 12, not that their child is going to be 13 on December X when it's only February.6) They often have a pre-teen daughter. I guess they seem it makes them look like an awesome dad. Why daughters and not sons? Have no idea. But both of my cases had 12 year old daughters...supposedly.7) They won't meet.  They might say they are nearby, but will conveniently cancel or be a no show at any arranged meet.  Thank god I never reached this point that I was investing time to wait for a scammer.8) They ask you to use the Whatsapp app to communicate.  While Whatsapp is a legitimate app used by thousands or millions of people, it is particularly used for international communication because it uses little data by using wi-fi instead. Many people use it to communicate with family and friends in other countries. But it's also a preferred method for those foreign scammers.9) Their email address is suspect. It turns out there are a lot of anonymous email sites out there and a few are particularly favored by these foreign scammers. In my case, the email was I searched for a website to no avail, but then I came across an article talking about how is often used by scammers.There are many companies that provide free email services and most people use them for legitimate purposes. However, because there is no charge and hence no [...]

Quick look: Centro Bar & Kitchen


Given a choice of sitting in a parking lot of cars due to a big rig accident or finding something to do to kill a couple of hours, I opted to turn around and have dinner in Reno. Sometimes I am in the mood for the casino buffets, but not this night. Instead I asked my friend, Eileen, for a recommendation. She goes to Reno often and has a good knowledge of the Reno dining scene. She sent me to Centro Bar & Kitchen near downtown. part of the menuCentro is on California, a smaller business street. It occupies a medium sized space that has roll-up garage doors to take advantage of great weather. It has an industrial feel of brick walls, wood, and metal surfaces and furnishing. The bar area is backed with an open kitchen with additional kitchen space hidden toward the back of the restaurant.The menu features small plates that were hard to choose from. I was by myself, so I could only order two, but so many others interested me. My only thought is I would have liked to seen more vegetable items, like Brussel sprouts or spiced edamame.  The first choice was the Sticky Ribs. They were fried and then tossed in a thick, sticky coating of a sriracha style sauce and then topped with pickled carrot and chimichurri. I was warned they would be spicy and they were, but nothing I couldn't handle. They were definitely messy, but super tasty and meaty.My second choice was the Octopus with the black garlic sauce and greens and orange slices. The octopus was cooked well, but I found the garlic sauce overpowering and I would have liked less of it. The salad and orange did help to cut it a bit, but not enough. I still needed to kill some time when I checked the accident status of Google maps, so I opted for dessert. I chose the lemon sponge cake with vanilla ice cream and berries. The presentation is lovely, but the sponge cake was dry and dense. Sponge cake makes one envision something light and airy. Not here. Now these two last items might make it seem that I wouldn't recommend Centro. In actuality, I'll happily return. I had gotten there early for a Friday and found the staff to be really friendly and great service. As I lingered the place filled to capacity and I was able to watch other dishes be prepared from my bar seat near the kitchen. Every dish I saw pass by looked delicious and people seemed to be enjoying their selections. And, as I mentioned, there were many other items on the menu that interested me. So yes, I do plan to return on a future trip to Reno.[...]

Hawaiian Baklava


Repost from 2015Last month when I was in Hawaii I tasted some extraordinary honey.  It's from the ohia lehua flower and the honey has a tropical sweetness unlike any mainland honeys. Then last week I had a bit of inspiration on using some of my macadamia nuts. Why not make a Hawaiian baklava with macadamia nuts, coconut, and Hawaiian honey? Not only did it make perfect sense, but it made delicious baklava!Roasting the macadamia nutsPreheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Scatter about 1/2 pound of macadamia nuts on a cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the nuts are a golden brown.  Remove and cool.  Chop finely for the recipeHawaiian Baklava1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough2 cups chopped roasted macadamia nuts1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes1 cup butter1 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 cup water1 cup white sugar1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract1/2 cup Hawaiian honey1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.2. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon and coconut flakes. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut stack to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.3. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.4. Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.5. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.[...]

Joe Marty's hits a home run due to Sampino's takeover


chicken piccataI might live only three blocks away from it for the last 12 years, yet I never did go to the old Joe Marty's or the new until this last week. I'm probably better off for waiting that long. After all, the old Joe Marty's struck me as mostly a sports bar with typical bar type food. Then it burned down and the spot lay vacant for a number of years. When new owners opened hoping to ride the wave of nostalgia, it seemed to do OK business. Then earlier this year Sampino's took it over and I am feeling pretty lucky to have it so close now. And, to be clear, the official new name is Sampino's Kitchen at Joe Marty's. For a little history, Joe Marty's was opened in 1938 by an ex-baseball player and his friend. At that time Edmunds Field occupied the site of today's Target. You can see what the area looked like thanks to a giant photograph adorning a wall. "In the bar, almost every square inch of wall space is covered with autographed pictures of baseball greats and not-so-greats. There are quite a few of Joe DiMaggio, who played with Marty on the San Francisco Seals. The 1936 Pacific Coast League batting champion with San Francisco, Marty also played in the big leagues for the Cubs and Phillies, then played for the Sacramento Solons. Marty opened his namesake bar-cum-pizza joint in 1938 and it was the place to see and be seen through the ’50s and ’60s. It was then owned for many years by Marty’s long-time friend Noboru Keiunji, who can still be found most nights at the bar."  Liz Kellar 2002The above description (pre-fire) pretty much explains the decor today, just fresh and new because of the rebuild after the fire. We came in after seeing a movie at the Tower and because I knew Sampino'shad taken it over. Now when it comes to Sampino's, I'd only ever been once due to its location and its hours, but I knew its reputation. Their location at 16th and F has been known for its fine Italian delicatessen, house made cannoli and tiramisu, and their Friday night dinners. I was looking forward to trying the food now at Joe Marty's. It's no surprise that the menu is Italian focused now. Better yet, good Italian.We ordered two entrees and they came with a choice of salad or minestrone. No brainer here. You need to order the minestrone. This soup was hearty and robust, full of flavor. The tomato base is tangy and rich. No watery soup here. Within is a load of vegetables. I didn't happen to notice if the minestrone can be ordered a la carte, but it would certainly be a great meal on its own.I'm pretty much a sucker for Chicken Piccata as soon as I see it offered on a menu. This was also packed with flavor with a thicker sauce than some. I loved it with just two reservations. The chicken arrived sliced and I would have preferred my chicken filet be left whole for me to cut. Mostly because chicken can be dry and I'd prefer it be left alone to help retain juices. The other is the lack of many capers. I love capers and so when I order piccata I like to have them. They were there, and I think they were blended into the sauce more than whole, but I need me some capers. My friend ordered the Eggplant Parmesan. I've never been a chicken or eggplant parmesan fan and so I did not try it. It did look just as well prepared as the soup and my piccata though. As you can see, entrees came with garlic bread and a vegetable side. We didn't have dessert, but they do offer those famed cannoli and tiramisu I mentioned earlier. I  mentioned to my friend how lucky I am to have such great food within walking distance from me now. With Masullo's, Selland's, South, Iron Steaks, and all the other nearby R Street/[...]

Louis Basque Corner celebrates 50 years in Reno


Reno, like many cities, has seen its ups and downs. Finding a restaurant that can survive past a few years, yet alone a few decades, is hard to do in any city. In the case of Reno's Louis' Basque Corner, it's a restaurant that has been a local favorite for decades and occasionally gets a tourist who's not interested in casino buffets or chains. Established in 1967, they are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. I have yet to see any kind of announcement on their Facebook page or website, but I'm sure they'll be celebrating the accomplishment somehow this year.Louis' reminded me of Poor Red's up in Shingle Springs in that it features long communal tables and a set menu that includes soup, salad, appetizer, and dessert along with whatever entree you choose. They are also similar in that they are famous for a signature cocktail.  Louis’ signature drink the Picon Punch, which is known in some corners as the "Basque cocktail" is based on a bitter orange spirit called Amer Picon made of bitter oranges, gentian and cinchona. It was invented by a Frenchman named Gaëtan Picon in 1837, and the drink evolved from a French aperitif and stomachic on its own into the punch through the hands of the Basques, especially in the earlier Boarding Houses and the Basque-American restaurants. I, of course, did not drink that (allergic), but we did enjoy the friendly service by the attentive staff and the very young owners! The original owners, Louis and Lorraine Erreguible, have apparently retired and sold the business to two young men, Chris Shanks and Brian Elcano. Turns out they were serving us and I only discovered this when reviewing their website tonight.You can tell this place is a local favorite as it was packed with people. We had ended a long drive up from Sac and arrived at 8:15. Large parties had just left and so most tables were now empty, but we were seated at a table that already had two other couples enjoying their meals. As to the food, there were hits and misses. First we were served a vegetable, beef barley soup. This was a hit - hearty with ingredients, it could easily be a meal in itself. There was plenty of bread to sop it up as well. The salad was on par with Olive Garden or a crab feed. Not memorable. After that we were served the first course of mussels and rice along with the included Basque beans and our entrees. The beans were the hit with meaty flavor from the stock and pork. Turns out the owners shared the recipe back in 2005 and you can find it here.The mussels were the disappointment. Basically steamed and thrown on some rice with no seasoning. It would have been nice if they had been served with a nice wine and herb jus from the steaming.The entrees, though, were winners. Basque are eaters of offal and being that I host Have an Offal Day, I had to have the sweetbreads!  I've always had sweetbreads as an appetizer, not as an entree, so I was a bit overwhelmed by such a generous serving! I had mine with peppers, onions, and garlic. It also includes mushrooms, but I'm not a fan and asked for those to be left out. The sweetbreads, though, were wonderfully tender and fried up crisp. As an FYI, they apparently also occasionally serve tripe and other offal dishes as specials, but the sweetbreads are on the regular menu.My friend ordered the lamb chops and was served two very thick chops, grilled to his preferred medium rare.Dessert is cheese and fruit plate or vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. Since we were stuffed, we passed on dessert.I recommend Louis' if you keep in mind the communal tables and family style dining are both hits and misses.[...]

Need Some Dim Sum Help?


If you enjoy Chinese food then there's a very good chance you've gone to enjoy dim sum. Dim sum, a selection of bite size morsels of deliciousness, has been a part of Chinese cuisine for many centuries. Dim sum are the small snacks served at teahouses, offering variety and the opportunity to eat as little or as much as one wants.Lately there has been a lot of discussion about cultural appropriation of foods. That (usually) white people are taking on and becoming experts of cuisines from countries that they have no connection to. Prime examples are Rick Bayless and Mexican and Andy Ricker with Thai food. One person that might fall into that controversy would be Carolyn Phillips with Chinese food. Towards the end of our event Phillips makes a very profound comment - that the younger generations throughout China are moving toward Western diets and soon thousands years of culinary history will disappear if it isn’t documented. So really, is it so bad that some people have taken enough interest to thoroughly respect it, research it, and document it?Carolyn Phillips has been researching Chinese cuisine for over 30 years. She’s written several books and has been nominated for a James Beard Award for All Under Heaven. She’s also known as Madame Huang, appropriate since her husband is author J.H. Huang. In her book, All Under Heaven, Phillips "divides China's food traditions into five major regions that share the same geography and climate, as well as similar basic ingredients, cooking styles, seasonings, and interaction among the cuisines. These were then further narrowed down into 35 unique food traditions."I was joining her and a roomful of other hungry diners at Peony Restaurant in Oakland’s Chinatown. The event was a Dim Sum Sampling with a dose of education. Phillips has another small book, easy to take to dim sum with you, called The Dim Sum Field Guide. In it she goes over each piece of dim sum you might encounter and she gives you the area of origin, ingredients, and variations. She also tells you the proper way to eat it with which sauce. Each one is illustrated by Phillips’ own hand.Before we start, Phillips gives a short talk on dim sum etiquette. Start with the steamed selections before moving to the heavier fried selections. Always serve the person(s) of honor and eldest first. When the bill comes, fight over it or lose face. Phillips chose the Peony Restaurant because she considers it the best in the Bay Area. The owners have hired and imported cooks from China that specialize in a style or selection of dim specialties. Everything is made fresh in house. Phillips explains that nowadays many restaurants get their dim sum frozen from centralized kitchens that produce thousands. (See below video showing Peony.)swan puff w/ roast duck and chive/shrimp dumplingshrimp dumplings w/ XO sauce and siu mai (middle)I'm definitely looking forward to a future road trip with friends to enjoy the offerings of Peony Restaurant again soon.sweet dim sum: white sponge cake and black sesame rolls allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #454545} [...]

First Taste of Yolo on June 10th


It's time to cross the river to Yolo County and enjoy some great food at the first ever Taste of Yolo event on June 10th. Instead of focusing on just one city, Taste of Yolo features the bounty of the entire county. The first of these soon to be annual events takes place in Davis. Future plans will have the event moving to other locations in the county - Woodland one year, Winters or Capay in the future.Food, of course, is the draw and the focus. After all, Yolo County is filled with fertile farmlands supplying not only our region, but the rest of the country. Taste of Yolo will include cooking demos, food sampling, wine tasting, and local food purveyors.Nearly 90 exhibitors from Davis, Woodland, Winters, Clarksburg, Capay Valley, and West Sacramento will have booths, with each community represented by a specific cluster of vendors. “There will be restaurants offering bites from their menus, wineries, breweries, olive oil, nuts, honey, fresh produce, and more, all from Yolo County producers,” says Mo Stoycoff, Events and Marketing Coordinator for Visit Yolo. “Visitors will also be able to buy products on site and take them home in our complementary tote bags.” The Nugget Market culinary stage will be headlined by Chef Tanya Holland, owner and executive chef of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland and author of Brown Sugar Kitchen cookbook. Also, appearing will be Chef Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney’s B&L in Sacramento, and Chef Fred Reyes of Buckhorn Steakhouse in Winters. TICKETSGeneral Admission ($15) ticket holders receive admission to the park and food tasting. Wine/Beer Tasting ($35) ticket holders will receive a glass and a wristband (must be 21 or over and be able to show valid I.D.) for wine and beer tasting, in addition to food tasting.DO/DON'T BRINGNo outside food or drinks are allowed. No bottles, coolers, chairs or shade umbrellas. No dogs or bicycles inside the park (bike valet is available on 5th and C). Bring your I.D., sunscreen, hat or whatever makes you comfortable.  To purchase tickets, go to For more information about the festival, call Visit Yolo at (530) 297-1900 or email courtesy of Taste of Yolo [...]

A Visit to Park Winters


As you travel down the road you might be concerned that your GPS is wrong. After all, there is nothing around you but farmland and the occasional farm house. Eventually you come across one farm house that stands out among beautiful flowers and shading trees. You've arrived at Park Winters.Park Winters is a renovated farm house that is now a Bed and Breakfast Inn. It's become popular for the weekend getaway or the intimate wedding. I'm here by invitation to enjoy one of their farm dinners, al fresco. Love the door to the poolWe've arrived earlier than expected and take the time to stroll the grounds. The owners have taken the time to enhance the property with a swimming pool and event building. There's a sunken garden and the old water tower has been converted into a three story "room" available to reserve. Inside the house are an additional four rooms.Park Winters offers farm dinners throughout the year, no overnight stay required. The six course dinner is $125 per person. They've just introduced an Al Fresco Farm Dinner with four courses for $85. Chef John Iocono prepares wonderful dinners featuring items from the property's garden. GARDEN HUMMUSAlgonquin soil - Radish - Cucumber - Carrots - FlowersEMERALD FARM CURRYAsparagus - Alliums - Carrots - Fingerlings - CilantroBRICK OVEN ROASTED CORNISH GAME HENMustard Frisée - Arugula pesto - Arugula greens - Green grapesFRENCH CHOCOLATE MOUSSECaramelia chocolate - Citrus - Whip - Pistachio crumbleTake the time to stroll off dinner before the drive home. From downtown Sacramento it took us about 45 minutes.For more information and dinner tickets go to of the gardenArtichokesSunken garden[...]

Great weather this weekend for the Sacramento County Fair


We all know how miserable hot days can be for attending fairs and events at CalExpo. You can rejoice, though, as this weekend promises to be very nice weather to take the family to the fair.The fair starts today and runs through Memorial Day. Some of the fair fun you can enjoy includes over 40 free events, performances & activities every day of the fair! Fair admission is only $6 and children 12-and-under are admitted free every day!Deep fried chocolate covered marshmallows, S'mores funnel cake,Deep fried oatmeal cookie. Chocolate covered frozen cheesecake, At a media event last night we got to try some latest fair food and check out some of the attractions. You can see some of the sweet treats above, but I have to give a shout out  to the Elote corn we tried from Noel's Food. That was the winner of our taste contest in the savory category. Very good! The cheesecake above from The Ice Cream Company won the sweet category. Twice as nice #sharethefairA post shared by catherine enfield (@munchiemusings) on May 24, 2017 at 7:22pm PDTThe Ramos Bros motorcycle trick was fun to watch close up. - Ramos Brothers Circus (Big-Top style) performs 3x per day every day of the fair.- Walk on the Wild Side – exotic animals up close and personal (free with admission)- Great American Petting ZooPig races! #sharethefaiirA post shared by catherine enfield (@munchiemusings) on May 24, 2017 at 6:55pm PDT- All Alaskan Racing Pigs—Each show has four pig races. - Other premium (separate admission required) events include Lil’ Monster Trucks (Thursday and Friday), Stars and Stripes Bull Riding (Saturday), Gran Jaripeo (Mexican Rodeo & Fiesta) (Sunday), Tractor Pulls (Monday).- 6 different live musical groups on both the community stage and the main stage throughout the fair (listed below), plus juggling acrobats (Something Ridiculous), hypnotists (Steve Bayner), a pirate (Capt’n Jack Spareribs) even a dinosaur (Charlie the Velociraptor)!- Midway of fun! Over 30 rides to choose from- All the Fair Food you come to expect, including a 2-story pizza truck!- Awesome Shopping with over 100,000 square feet of vendor spaceFor more information on the Fair and a daily schedule visit and #ShareTheFair on:Facebook:, Twitter:, and on Instagram:[...]

Discovering Ripple


I actually love dairy products, but know that I should cut down on them. Can't really get rid of cheese, but I have stopped buying milk for some time. This has led me to try many milk alternatives, like soy, almond, cashew, etc. I've found one that I'm really enjoying — Ripple.Rippleis a pea protein milk. It's high in protein, low in calories, high in nutrients. It also tastes good. I bought it for a quick, after workout drink, but have found that I really like it over my cereal as well. Keep in mind I was the person who put a couple of tablespoons of sugar on my corn flakes. Now I can eat my high fiber cereal with just some Ripple.I needed to do better with upping my after-workout protein. I work out and then jam to work and so often I neglected eating protein, thus depriving my muscles of necessary nutrients. I now blend up a glass of Ripplewith a raw egg and it's like a quick, healthy, protein filled eggnog.PROTEINI also do a super healthy "tapioca" by just adding two tablespoons of chia to the chocolate Ripple, shaking it really well, and letting it sit overnight. You can find Ripple in the refrigerated dairy section of most supermarkets. If you are looking for a good, non-nut, non-dairy alternative, then give Ripple a try.[...]

Wine! Food! Amador Four Fires is Saturday!


Are you a fan of the wineries of Amador County? Then you might want to schedule a road trip for Saturday for the Amador Four Fires Festival. The Four Fires refers to four regions with open fire cooking. Traditional foods of Spain, Italy, France, and Heritage California will be paired with wines of the region. Five great chefs are participating as well: Beth Sogaard Catering – Chef Beth SogaardHotel Sutter – Chef Chris MartinJackson Rancheria Casino Resort – Chef Matthew Broucaret & Chef Darius SomaryTaste Restaurant – Chef Mark BerknerVendage & Co. Catering – Chef Carolyn KumpeThe day includes lots of food, lots of wine from 40+ wineries, demonstrations, a live recording of the BottleTalk podcast with Rick Kushman and Paul Wagner, seminars, and music. Here are some of the seminars:TICKETS Amador County Fair and Event Center18621 Sherwood St, Plymouth, California May 6th from 11am to 4pm[...]

Food Truck Cinema starts Saturday


It might seem unlikely, but the weather report says it will be 78 degrees on Saturday. Yay! Perfect timing for outdoor movie season to start. And what could be better than pairing outdoor movies with food trucks so that you don't have to worry about bringing food.Food Truck Cinemas take place throughout the summer at Woodcreek Golf Club in Roseville. Gates open at 6 pm and the movie shows as soon as it's dark enough. Saturday's sundown is scheduled for 7:50, so expect it to start 8:15 or after. Pets are allowed and there is a season pass available for $49. Otherwise, the tickets are priced for adults/children at $10/5 or there is preferred seating (front and center) for $13/6.Food Truck Cinema is more than an outdoor movie it’s a comprehensive experience combining gourmet Food Trucks, local live music, and pop culture films. We are bringing back the community atmosphere of neighborhood movie houses.  Food Truck Cinema is creating a combined atmosphere that will make the audience want to return. All of this on the lawn in a safe, comfortable, cozy, picnic atmosphere. Food, Music, and Movies independently have worked for years put them together and you have a spectacular night of entertainment. (A killer combo if you will!)! The musical entertainment this Saturday is Thunder Cover, from Sacramento, CA. They are an energetic and fun cover band. In an area that is full of cover bands, Thunder Cover separates themselves with a high energy show and a unique set that features some of the biggest hits of all time. Everything from The Beatles to Foo Fighters. From Michael Jackson to Maroon 5. From Tom Petty to Justin Timberlake. From The Eagles to Nirvana. And the list goes on and on.This year's schedule:April 22 - Pitch Perfect              - featuring Turnt Up Tacos, Gyro King, Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen, A Honest PieMay 20 - Mission Impossible             - featuring Chando's Tacos, Flavor Face, Tailgater44, Cowtown CreameryJune 17 - Toy Story             - Cousins Main Lobster, Turnt Up Tacos, Kado's Asian Grill, OMG YogurtJuly 3 - The Secret Life of PetsJuly 22 - Pretty WomanAugust 19 - The GooniesSeptember 23 - The Raiders of the Lost ArkOctober 28 - Hocus Pocus[...]

First Look: Woodlake Tavern


It doesn't take much beyond saying "$1 rib night" to get me in the door! Pork is my favorite meat and I love good ribs! That's what you get on Thursdays at the new Woodlake Tavern on Del Paso Blvd.Once upon a time this corner of Arden and Del Paso was known as the home of fine dining Enotria. It was the place for Valentine's Day, anniversaries, and special occasions. Alas, all things come to an end and after a stint as Cask & Barrel, the building has now been divided into two different establishments by the same owners. Today we take a look at the barbecue based Woodlake Tavern. It occupies the true corner of the building in what used to be Enotria's bar area. Inside you will find the space has been redone to a casual atmosphere befitting the food. There's one long bench  that has tables that can be split or combined for a large party. Scattered along the windows are the smaller two and four top tables. There are also a couple of round tables for moderate sized parties.Deneb Williams is the chef/owner and spent many years helming the kitchen at the iconic Firehouse restaurant in Old Sac. It's nice to see him out roaming the dining room floor now, talking to guests. Barbecue is fine any night, but they are currently running two special nights. Sunday nights is Sunday Supper at $18 for adults and $12 for children. It features family style servings of brisket, ribs, chicken, and sides. Thursdays is Bourbon and Ribs with the $1 per rib price and bourbon drink specials.I was with two friends and we each ordered a half dozen ribs and a side, therefore being able to share three sides between us. I chose the mac n cheese which we all admitted to being a fine, creamy example. Loved it. One friend ordered the sauteed spinach because we needed a vegetable and something to cut the fat. It was the other friend's choice that impressed the most. I would never have chosen the warm potato salad and yet it was the star. I'm not a big mustard fan, but there was a tangy kick that was both amplified yet supplemented by the vinegar, pickled onions, and wilted arugula. I don't see it on the website menu, so it may not be a regular item. I highly recommend it if it's available.As to the ribs, they were how I liked them. If I have a choice, I prefer dry rubbed ribs with sauce on the side. But if you are going to serve them sauce, I like a light hand. These ribs were brushed with a coating of a Kansas City style sauce, then cooked a bit longer to get them nice and sticky. I hate sopping, messy ribs and so I was happy. Sauce was not offered on the side and we didn't need it. They were also cooked well - tender and easy to pull off, but not overcooked so they fell off the bone.We were so full from our selections, making us laugh again at the idea that one of us had initially ordered ten ribs for herself until I went with the half dozen. Definitely a case of appetite overtaking common sense. Barbecue and traditional sides are, after all, pretty heavy and filling fare.Even so, we peeked at the dessert menu and were torn between the Meyer lemon cheesecake and the strawberry shortcake. You can see our choice. Our only disappointment was the biscuits being hard and dry. We therefore had cheesecake envy after seeing it at another table.After such a satisfying dinner I am looking forward to not only returning, but trying Uptown Pizza next door where they are using some of the smoked meats from Woodlake Ta[...]

Intimate Yountville Live


If you love a good food and wine event but hate dealing with crowds, then I would suggest Yountville Live next year. There are many events that have food and wine and some are now adding music. Think about Bottlerock in Napa or Outside Lands in San Francisco. Both have huge crowds. Not so for Yountville Live. At least, not yet.This event was a more intimate event where I never felt like I was battling crowds. While part of this could be price point, I believe it's more a case of it is still a bit of a secret. I've been at food tents where there are lines to get the bite. Not here. I've been to places where it's impossible to find parking. Not here. (If you didn't find street parking there were convenient, luxury shuttle buses available to parking and the other venues.)Even though I could go for only one day and for the tasting tent and none of the dinner events or classes, I was impressed and look forward to returning next year. Chocolatier Chris Kollarcooking demos with samples![...]