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Updated: 2018-02-23T04:22:02.540-08:00

 



Visiting the wild horses of Carson Valley

2018-02-21T14:04:19.456-08:00

all photos courtesy of Carson Valley ToursOne of my favorite wildlife shows has been Meerkat Manor. It was a soap opera, but with meerkats. It followed a couple of meerkat troops in the plains of Africa and monitored the social dynamics that take place. Each troop had a queen, her mate, and all the lesser meerkats who were responsible for childcare and security of the troop.What about the social dynamic of horses? After all, horses have been domesticated for millennia. They are, for the most part, kept apart in stalls and pens. What are horses like in the wild with no restrictions of man? What social structure and dynamic do they have?Normally cheapskate me would be just crossing my fingers hoping that I might see some wild horses from my own car. After four trips to Virginia City, this did happen when some wild horses actually wandered into town. OK. Good. Been there, saw that.This month was an entirely different experience when I went on a jeep tour to see the wild horses of the Carson Valley near Minden, Nevada. My guide was Dwayne Hicks, who runs Carson Valley Tours. Dwayne is a retired veteran who loves photographing the wild horses and the raptors in the area. He supplements his pension by selling his photographs and doing various tours in the valley. Dwayne loves the Carson Valley area the same amount as I love Sacramento - a lot. He knows its history, its inhabitants, its terrain, and its wildlife. He was a fountain of information and a wonderful tour guide. He is also nice enough to take care of the photography and send you the photos later. A bonus for me!Dwayne drove us out to the east side of the valley, trying to get away from the ever increasing housing that eats away at the horses' territory. We were on part of the Bentley Ranch (another blog post soon). The Bentleys are contrary to many ranchers in that they love the wild horses and so they keep their ranch pretty much free of fencing. Dwayne went over the rules regarding wild horses and the laws that are overseen by the Bureau of Land Management - no feeding or watering of the horses. Leave them alone and don't interact with them. Just observe. RedIt didn't take long before we came across a group of three stallions. These guys were buddies hanging out for a drink. Dwayne explained that males that don't have a band or care about procreating hang out together in bachelor groups. All the local wild horse followers know and name the horses. This group had Red and two others. Dwayne was looking for particular bands with his favorite horses. We took off over a couple of more hills and came across another bachelor band with a few more stallions. In this group was Socks and Socks Jr.  Socks is an older horse of about 20 years old. Socks had once had a large band of his own until one day a younger stallion, Samson, came into the area and challenged him. Dwayne says that at the time, Socks was not at his healthiest and so when Samson challenged him, Socks took a stand and then changed his mind and said, "OK. You win." and walked off with his son Socks Jr. The locals didn't see him for several weeks and feared that he had gone off to die, but he later returned, recovered and healthy. Ever since he's been hanging out as a bachelor.We moved further along and were very lucky to find more bands hanging out in close proximity to each other. Off to our right was Blondie with a group of about 14. Blondie has been in charge of his band for a few years and is about 10 years old. He was named, obviously, due to his recognizable blond mane. In the middle was Zorro with his two mares. He's a new stallion who only recently came into the region and decided he was ready to have his own band. He took over his females from another stallion, Skip. And then I was lucky enough to witness a confrontation...Zorro confronts BlondieSome of Blondie's group started to shuffle and Zorro, from a distance, saw and started galloping over. Blondie saw this and took a dump to mark his area. He then went out to meet with Zorro. Zorro approached all cocky and reared up. Blo[...]



Sacramento to shine at special Pebble Beach Food & Wine event

2018-02-18T21:28:40.371-08:00



Wow! This year Sacramento has 10 chefs going to the Pebble Beach Food & Wine weekend. During the weekend of April 5-8, they will be representing us and our Farm to Fork flavors. 

Our first female Sacramento representation will be Ginger Elizabeth Hahn, who is listed as from San Francisco as a way to promote her new location there. Meanwhile, nine other chefs will be representing us in a special Sacramento Farm to Fork event on Friday afternoon. The chefs are named and pictured above.

In the last three years that Sac chefs have attend PBFW, they've been usually scattered through other events such as the golf tournament, after-hours parties, and the Grand Tasting Tents. This year they get an event all to themselves!

Pebble Beach Food & Wine is a series of food and wine events sprinkled across four days. Celebrity chefs from around the country attend as well as California chefs. Among the celebrity chefs this year are Daniel Boulud, Jeremiah Tower, and Top Chef contestants John Tesar, Bruce Kaplan, Fatima Ali. 

Tickets are not cheap and are sold a la carte. The Grand Tasting Tents are $250 and our Sac F2F event is $225. 

I'll be there to cover it for you, but if you can, come join me for this extra special event. 





Keto Misconceptions - 6 weeks in

2018-02-16T19:29:53.795-08:00

When I started this Keto thing it was done sort of blindly. In the six weeks that I’m now ending (and will continue), I have done a lot of research and learned one primary thing – there are a LOT of misconceptions about the Keto diet.In this age of Fake News and over saturation of information, I think we can all agree on one thing, a lot of dissemination of fake news is in the self interest of an opposing opinion. In this case, the opposers to keto would be many in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. After all, they are more interested in sick people seeking treatment via drugs and procedures than finding health through natural means.So in this six week update I will cover not only where I am (at the end), but also the misconceptions I’ve learned that make keto seem so bad.MisconceptionsYou will be eating nothing but lots of fat from eggs, bacon, meats, and dairy. In truth, you will be eating a lot of that for the first week or two, but as you burn out all the sugars and convert your body to burning fat instead, your fat consumption decreases. That’s the first part of this misconception. If you do keto properly, the fat consumption is used to just keep you feeling full so that you don’t crave and cheat on other foods. My keto calculation is 20 g carbs, 65 g protein, and 85 g of fat. I don’t have to eat 85 g a fat a day if I don’t need to.  I only need to watch my carbs and protein and then eat enough fat to keep me feeling full and keep away any food cravings.The second part is the decrease of the consumption of fat as you become fat adapted. As your body learns to burn fat for fuel instead of looking for sugar, and because you are not as hungry anymore, it turns to burning your own fat instead of needing you to consume fat. That’s how people lose weight on this diet. Their bodies start consuming their own fat for fuel.So part three of this misconception would be regarding the types of fat being consumed. This is where many people, even those following keto, can get into trouble - the type and quality of the fat matters. You should be eating healthy fats like fish, avocados, and other high quality fats such as coconut and olive oil. I think people rely a little too heavily on dairy, which is high in calories and could contribute more to bad cholesterol.I can eat all I want as long as it is no-carbs and high fat. In actuality, keto folk pay attention to carbs first and foremost. The standard goal is not to eat more than 20 g of carbs a day, which can be hard for people, especially when sugar is in everything these days. The second piece to this misconception is that calories do still count. If your goal is to lose weight, you are still faced with a calorie intake goal that you shouldn’t go over. Fat has calories, so just because you kept low in carbs doesn’t give you free rein elsewhere. You still need to stick to your calorie goal and not overeat.FastingAs of Christmas I had no belief that:- I could go through a day without snacking or feeling hungry.- Easily say no to carby things – especially sweets.- That I could actually survive 18 hours without a single bite of food without my stomach crying out in rebellion.- Have any interest in continuing past my six week mark.Yet here I am with this daily routine now…I get off work at 6pm and I go home and consume my dinner by 7pm. The next day I drink green tea and water until my lunch hour, which isn’t until 1:30. That’s 18.5 hours, if I can wait that long. And it’s been easy! I would never have thought I could go without eating that long on a daily basis! I issue now is considering going 20/4. The reason? I'm finding I'm not hungry! But that does mean you have to put extra emphasis in eating hearty, healthy, meal. Many people even do 24 hour fasts or, rather, one meal a day!So where am I now at six weeks?My goal was to: go to six weeks, get my blood work done and then see how I felt. I wanted to get increased energy, rid of my tendonitis, check my gluten sensitivity, and lose a fe[...]



March Food Events - Cochon, Yountville

2018-02-15T20:43:32.540-08:00

Some of my favorite food events are coming in the next two months. They are definitely pricey, but if you can afford a special culinary treat to check off your bucket list, then either of these will do. Cochon555 at AT&T Park - March 4I love pork and this has always been worth the money. A couple of times local favorites have participated - Kelly McCown and Michael Tuohy.Cochon555 is a culinary competition to promote local family farming and whole pig cookery through the eyes of five notable chefs. Each tasked with the goal to win votes from celebrity judges and participants, chefs have one week to prepare a 200 pound pig and present a “Judge’s Plate” scored on utilization; technique; and overall flavor. The winner of the local competition is announced the Prince or Princess of Pork and advances to the national finale, Grand Cochon on September 30.  Grand Cochon spotlights the 'Best 3 Bites' from all Cochon555 regional events in a head-to-tail, winner-takes-all showdown for the crown.Tickets for general admission start at $130; VIP tickets (early admission + exclusive access to cocktail competition and allocated wines and spirits) are $200. Guests can purchase a $400 ticket that includes VIP and the Silver Oak "Swig for Swings" Vertical Tasting and Seminar with winemaker Nate Weis in the Press Box paired with four of the Giants' "Greatest Moments" on the big screen.Where:           AT&T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107When:              Sunday, March 4, 2018Time:               4 p.m. for VIP entry, 5 p.m. for General Admission, 3 p.m. “Swig for Swings” SeminarYountville Live - March 15-18Last year I went to Yountville Live and really enjoyed it. The location is, of course, beautiful, the food and music are wonderful, and it wasn't too crowded!  I think it's the best little secret right now and will be sad as it grows each year. Sometimes you want things to stay secretly your own.You can enter a chance to win a VIP experience here.Yountville Live will feature James Beard celebrity chef Stephanie Izard, chef and Food Network host Bob Blumer and local renowned chefs including Bob Hurley, Chris Kollar, Morgan Robinson, Nick Ritchie, Nate Lindsey, Cindy Pawlcyn, Anita Cartagena and more. The four day event will include headline performances by X Ambassadors, Foy Vance, and NEEDTOBREATHE and intimate performances throughout the weekend by Dave Barnes, Emerson Hart, Marc Broussard, Jon McLaughlin, Logan Brill, Corey Harper, Keelan Donova, High Noon and more. Health and  wellness guru from the Today Show, Joy Bauer and “Eat Travel Rock” TV host Kelly Rizzo will host events throughout the weekend. Also set to be featured are some of the most celebrated wineries.[...]



Old Skool Cafe - Educating Youth

2018-02-11T19:38:07.485-08:00

It's rare for me to go into San Francisco for a weekday event, but when I got an invitation, I decided to schedule work at our Bay Area location for that day so I could stay late to go to dinner at Old Skool Cafe.Old Skool Cafe is a faith-based, violence prevention program, providing marketable employment skills in the restaurant industry to at-risk youth ages 16-22. Old Skool Cafe provides the opportunity to transform the loop of incarceration and recidivism into healthy life loops. Youth come from jail, foster care or situations of abuse and neglect into a supportive environment. The invitation had piqued my interest because the program reminded me so much of Saint John's Program for Change, which I had written about in 2015. Both programs help those struggling and in need of assistance with support and education. Both use restaurant programs to teach skills that will lead the participants to jobs in the industry. Old Skool is a much younger program in terms of age and, of course, its participants. Back in about 2004, Founder Teresa Goines came up with the idea. The first few years she was operating the program from her own home and with help from caterers and people who were able to give them spaces to do occasional popup dinners. As word spread, she was blessed when a church gave them an old building to use with minimal rent. In 2012 Old Skool Cafe opened in the Bayview Hunter’s Point neighborhood. In 2014 they purchased the building and over the last six months they've been closed for renovation. I was invited to a soft opening as they prepare to reopen in the next few weeks. We were treated to a menu of International Soul Food that included gumbo, ribs, a Tongan ceviche style dish, and a West African peanut butter stew. Everything was executed very well, from service to the tasty dishes. Please watch my short video with interviews with the founder and one of the participants. allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ZW3chUVs_Ps/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZW3chUVs_Ps?feature=player_embedded" width="320">Old Skool Cafe1429 Mendell StSan Francisco[...]



One month of Keto

2018-02-04T12:21:53.049-08:00

shrimp alfredoLike pretty much everyone, I overindulged during the holidays. Plus, December is my birthday month. By January 1, I had reached my heaviest weight yet. I decided, like so many, to go on a diet. I started with a 3-day juice cleanse from Nekter because I had liked it the last time I did it and I kind of wanted to shrink my stomach in readiness for dieting. Then I started Keto.To jump directly to why and how I'm doing, you can scroll down. When U.S. News & World Report came out with their 2018 ranking of diets, Keto came in tie for last place. That hasn't stopped the huge increase of interest in it as well as the number of success stories regarding it. So what is Keto?I'm not going to get too technical here because there are plenty of other Keto bloggers (linked below) that can do a much better job than I. So just some basics. The goal of the keto diet is to adapt the body to utilize fat as its primary fuel source instead of sugar. Your body uses two types of fuel - glucose and fat. Glucose (sugars) get used immediately in the body because they are the easiest to access and use. To use an example, if you were a runner, the quick burst of energy you would need for a sprint would be from glucose. Whatever glucose is leftover is then stored as fat for the future. We get fat because we eat too many sugary and carb laden foods. Carby foods turn into sugars during the digestion process and then into fat, so on a keto diet, carbs and sugars are OUT! Running a marathon would be attune to using fat for energy. You have a large gas tank of fat that the body can use to keep fueling itself for the long run. In order to access that fat and turn it into the energy, you need ketones. Ketone bodies are molecules that are produced by the liver from fatty acids during periods of low food intake. When your body has no more glucose it goes into starvation mode and turns to the fat in your body for fuel.The idea of the keto diet is that you eliminate your body's access to glucose forcing it to use fat for energy instead. A keto diet means that you eat lots of protein, a good amount of non-starchy/carby vegetables, and a high level of healthy fats. People on keto primarily count their carbs first and calories second. Keto folk want to try to eat no more than 20 grams of carbs a day. A mini fun-size Snickers bar has 10.5 grams and a McDonald's small fries has 29. Even a cup of zucchini, which is a nice vegetable, has 6, so keeping to just 20 for a day is hard.This post is gonna get long if I get into too much explanation. The real reason for this post is why am I doing it and how is it going. While weight loss was my initial reason, I've actually got multiple reasons now, especially as I've researched more.Lose weight - People constantly say "where do you plan on losing weight from?" or "why do YOU need to lose weight?"  Same as everyone, I look at photos and I look pudgy in them!  So now I'm down 6 pounds in the month, but want to lose another 6. Keep in mind that larger people can drop 15 pounds in a month, everyone is different. Also know that the first drop in weight will be water weight as glucose = more water storage and as your body starts to switch to fat burning, it stores less water.  Drink more!Gluten sensitivity - I've been wondering for a while if I'm gluten sensitive. I love bread and pasta, but they make me sleepy and anyone who knows me knows that I have to take a nap every day because I get so tired by midday. Tiredness can be a sign of gluten sensitivity. After my 6 weeks are up, I plan to eat a pizza and then see how my body reacts. Energy levels - As stated above, I'm falling asleep by noon and have to take a nap every day. I can't figure out why and feel diet could be a big part of it. Keto talks a lot about increased energy as your body learns to use fat to sustain you. Instead of the up and down swings [...]



Foodie Podcasts - Updated

2018-01-30T06:36:02.795-08:00

As podcasts gain in popularity I figured it was time for an update to my list. I listen to podcasts at work where I can stream off my work's wifi. I feel pretty food knowledgable and a lot of it has to do with continuous education - through podcasts.The best way to find podcasts is through the recommendations of others. So here are my recommendations for foodie podcasts and at the bottom is a list of Sacramento (not foodie) podcasts.Sporkful - Host Dan Pashman hosts this James Beard Award nominated podcast. The slogan is "It's not for foodies, it's for eaters. These are only half hour podcasts, so usually stay to one interview or topic.Splendid Table - One of the most listened to podcasts features Francis Lam who talks to chefs, authors, restaurant owners, and food specialists. I like it because there are interviews mixed in with call-in questions and other fun food features.Milk Street - After Christopher Kimbal left PBS and America's Test Kitchen, he basically copied everything for his new Milk Street. Same format as the old podcast with call-ins, advice, and food information. Gastropod - This show mixes history and science to bring a new food topic to the show each week. You  might learn about the history and science of ice cream, for example. They interview people who have researched and written books on the subject or others who practice the science involved. An especially good one is the recent one on a sourdough study. I highly recommend that particular one.  Special Sauce - This podcast is done by Ed Levine, the founder of Serious Eats. He talks with friends and celebrities about food.  Good Food and Good Food on the Road by KCRW is a podcast covering all sorts of things food. Added benefit, the restaurant reviewer is the famed Jonathan Gold.Eater - If you follow restaurants and Eater.com, then this is for you. Interviews with famous chefs and restaurateurs about topics concerning the dining industry. Bon Appetit - No surprise, this comes from the magazine covering a variety of food discussions.Spilled Milk - Need a laugh? Then this one is a great one. Two besties talking about a different food each week, cracking jokes. Burnt Toast is the podcast of Food52.com and, as they say, includes stuff that they haven't put on the website. Hasn't been active for a few months, so it may be dead. Local Sacramento podcasts:Sactown People (My episode from August 2014)Serious Talk, Seriously (My interview February 2016)Finding Sacramento[...]



Chocolate Salon returns to Sacramento

2018-01-25T08:24:52.424-08:00

Are you a chocoholic? Or looking for some chocolatey goodness to give as a traditional Valentine gift? Then you need to go to the Chocolate Salon at the Citizen Hotel on  Saturday, January 27. Come and taste a bunch of chocolate, buy some as well, and listen to a couple of speakers. Here are some highlights:Great presentations, chocolate tasting, and more are taking place at the Citizen Hotel in downtown Sacramento. Featuring award-winning creators such as Amano Artisan Chocolate, 3D Candies, Farm Fresh To You, be a gourmet, Cowboy Toffee Company, The Cocoa Exchange, Raphio Chocolate, Rainy Day Chocolate, New Orleans Bill, Cru Chocolate, Z. Cioccolato, Endorfin, Michael's Chocolates, Tombo Toffee, Kindred Cooks Caramels, Fookie Fudge, Welk Resorts, and more.  Meet Art Pollard of Amano, recently ranked by the New York Times as the #1 Bean-to-Bar ChocolateMaker in the United States.Sacramento CHOCOLATE SALONJanuary 27, 201811:00am - 5:00pm Citizen Hotel926 J StSacramento, CA 95814Adults: $20 Advance Tickets, $25 Doorwww.SacramentoChocolateSalon.com  [...]



First Look: Punch Bowl Social

2017-12-15T21:47:32.883-08:00

I first heard about Punch Bowl Social when I was working at my last job dealing with restaurant software. At that time they only had about seven locations around the country. Sacramento is now #11 and opens today. I got a sneak peak on Wednesday and learned some interesting things.The reason that PBS had been on my radar at my last job was that it had a connection with famous Southern chef, Hugh Acheson. He's been on many episodes of Top Chef as a judge. He happens to be PBS' Culinary Partner. The restaurants are also interesting in that they are more than just bar/restaurant, they are activity centers. So let's start by going through what you will find at Punch Bowl Social in Sacramento. First to note is its location. It's directly across the main entrance of the Golden 1 Center and attached to the Sawyer Hotel. It is sure to be the place to hang after a game or a concert as it will be staying open until 2 a.m. every night but Sunday. Also noteworthy is that so far only the huge second floor is open with the additional first floor space scheduled to open in about February. I had to wonder why it needed a second floor!lobster rollThe answer came from the CEO, Robert Thompson, who was in town for the Grand Opening. PBS is headquartered in Denver and he was out with quite a corporate entourage for the press, soft openings, and opening day. He mentioned that while they love facing the arena, they also wanted a streetside (J St) entrance, thus the first floor. They wanted to be able to have some outdoor space, so the patio is off the first floor. Thompson also talked about the partnership with Acheson and how the chef not only helped with their menus, but also with training their kitchens to be able to deal with hustling meals to as many as 500 covers a night.sriracha friesQuite a few items were out for us to try. I loved the lobster roll in particular. I also noted the vegetarian nachos, not knowing if adding meat is an option. While I enjoyed the tacos, I did not really try the sriracha fries as they had gotten cold and I can't stand cold fries. One menu item I noticed that we did not get to try was Lobster Bacon Fries. Now those sound delish!During my conversation with Thompson I commented on how happy I was to see a drink menu that had a wide selection of non-alcoholic options. While they have boozy milkshakes and specialty punches to attract fun drinking, I always look to the mocktails and other specialty sodas or drinks. I tasted a cucumber cocktail that had a cardamom syrup. Very refreshing. Thompson is a non drinker himself, so also likes to have a variety of drinks other than Coca Cola products. Got a sweet tooth? Thompson said they don't do their own desserts and choose to enlist local bakeries in each city. It was easy to guess who got the gig for Sacramento - Ettore's. Good choice!fried chickenIt's the activities that really make Punch Bowl different. You can now go bowling in downtown Sac! There were two sets of bowling alleys - four lanes each - on the second floor. I'm guessing there will probably be at least one set downstairs. The thing is, there is SOO much to do. Here's a list of what I saw available:bowlingdartskaraokepoolfoozballshuffleboardcornholeAR/Wii stationsboard/card gamesgiant Scrabblecheckersarcade/pinballskeeballand I'm probably still missing somethingPunch Bowl will surely be popular for the pre and post Golden 1 event socializing. You'll probably find me at skeeball or Scrabble. ;-)[...]



Updating Jimboy's Tacos

2017-12-12T19:03:26.936-08:00

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 jus[...]



Mah Jong Table - Family History

2017-12-11T20:08:17.033-08:00

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

2017-11-28T05:51:18.857-08:00

​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

2017-11-23T08:19:52.663-08:00

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 Feastly.com. 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 Feastly.com. 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 Feastly.com.  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

2017-11-06T19:16:07.490-08:00


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

2017-10-28T21:56:28.120-07:00


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

2017-10-22T14:29:22.882-07:00

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

2017-10-28T22:00:11.043-07:00




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

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Stopping cows from farting

2017-10-03T08:46:52.154-07:00

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='https://www.blogger.com/video.g?token=AD6v5dzlEYCF3f-AYhcbJRdBnMK93k-8FW0Q7mbE8h9Ck0Uc_7iB316cMzN0dg3QKaVGGFOyHCYvtcAGYPcd_0T6Mw' 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 [...]



Pour your own beer at the new PizzaRev Taproom

2017-09-27T07:34:09.150-07:00

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

2017-09-11T22:13:16.794-07:00

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='https://www.blogger.com/video.g?token=AD6v5dx3xrBLatk4vJHFkeAlnzOd-qfpXkYBZ9sb1nwcGe-2s1TSNrW1Jg_q0sv-8vMc7I5B0eYk5ag_1wvSLzsq7w' 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="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Z7mORNrSBoA/0.jpg" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Z7mORNrSBoA?feature=player_embedded" 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 goi[...]



13 Ways to Identify a Dating Scammer.

2017-10-26T08:44:20.432-07:00

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 Match.com. 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 @contractor.net. I searched for a contractor.net website to no avail, but [...]



Quick look: Centro Bar & Kitchen

2017-09-09T15:55:51.244-07:00

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

2017-08-28T06:33:39.308-07:00

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

2017-07-07T17:54:26.318-07:00

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 t[...]



Louis Basque Corner celebrates 50 years in Reno

2017-06-13T21:14:58.191-07:00

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 prefe[...]