Celebrate Greek Culture this Weekend!

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Multiple generations team up to cook lamb for Lamb Pops!

My friend Scott and I dropped in on the Sacramento Greek Festival at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Alhambra and F Streets. With a $5 per person admission we entered a celebration of all things Greek. From fried cheese to a raffle for an original Gregory Kondos painting.

We started with appetizers including fried cheese and pita bread, spanakopita and skewered pork with yogurt sauce. Even sharing these dishes we hit “Tilt!” with yummy food. We needed to walk and digest. We discovered the gyro cafe across the plaza and a dinner buffet inside the hall.

We walked through the markets where you can buy a Greek pride t-shirt, Tupperware, jewelry or an icon. The kids zone offers an outlet for children to play. There is a full bar and a wonderfully slow coffee bar. Kathy cooked my coffee in a pan full of sand, guessing my nationality and keep us entertained until my very hot coffee was ready.

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We had bought baklava and baklava cheesecake at the desserts booth inside the hall. We scored an outside table and listened to trad Greek music by Mythos and watched dance lessons and more accomplished Greek dancers. The baklava was just the right balance of walnuts and honey and phyllo. Even with the delicious coffee we couldn’t finish the dessert, so Scott took one for the team and offered to take it home.

This is 54th festival but the first in a few years back in the courtyard of the newly expanded Greek Orthodox church. Church tours are available, check the program.

We live in Midtown so it was easy to walk to the Festival. There’s also parking at Sutter Middle School. The Festival continues through Sunday, October 8. Don’t just sit there–Go!

 

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Farm to Fork at Hook & Ladder

We took advantage of the tail end of Farm to Fork Sacramento’s restaurant week at Hook & Ladder. My friends were visiting from out of town and they are adventurous eaters. I wanted to try someplace none of us had been. The menu offered two choices of an entree, plus two choices of main, plus two choices of dessert. My friend and I made sure we tried it all–3 dishes each for $35 per person. Our other friend ordered the peach and pesto pizza.

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It started with a craftsman cocktail with a clever name. So clever the gin blotted it from memory.

We enjoyed the very competent service and ordered our drinks. I decided to splurge and try the cocktail. This is about twice what I normally drink. Actually, I rarely drink so how to measure? It was tasty and had a fun name I can’t remember. Sign of a good drink.

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Corn soup (cold)

We dug into our fun appetizers and agreed that we’d like more of both. But wait, we have entrees coming and a huge pizza for Nora.

We were comfortably digesting when our desserts arrived. Our server brought plenty of forks without asking. Yummy.

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Hook & Ladder is at S Street near 16th Street in downtown Sacramento. You can make reservations on Open Table. This is a good idea on the weekends. The atmosphere is not fussy, but not overly casual. And with cocktails $10 and over and a main in the high $20s, it is a good date spot or place to gather with well-heeled friends.

 

 

Now On-line: California Delta Tourism Website

The Delta Marketing Taskforce has quietly been working away behind the scenes to develop a 5 year strategy and build a website that promotes California Delta Tourism. As someone who remembers the battle over the logo a few years ago, I find this remarkable. It is a beautiful site.

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On places to eat there are over 40 restaurants. Other sections are yet to be filled out. It is a promising start. Check it out.

Poets in the Park and Ice Cream Too!

20160826_153712There have been several features in travel magazines about the Poet Laureate Park in the space between the Natomas Library and Community Center. The poets featured include many Sacramento poet laureates (who knew we had such?). The artist Troy Corliss created these poems in metal art calling them, “Poet’s Path: Circle of Laureates.” (2015)

20160826_153527There are other things to entice a family to seek out this park. Besides the library, there are two playgrounds, a picnic area, a green with a fitness track, and a rose garden.

20160826_153059It is much like McKinley Park in East Sacramento. I have never explored Natomas except to go North on Truxel toward the basketball arena. Instead turn south and find this lovely collection of public delights.

20160826_153015Saving the best for last: after a stroll through the park in the summer heat I was ready to google “nearest ice cream” when I spied Ms. T’s Good to Go Cafe. I ordered a handmade ice cream sandwich. I chose the just baked chocolate chip cookies and took my sandwich to a cafe table in the courtyard. Yum! Yum! It is worth a stop all on its own.

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Enjoying a Little Bit of Vietnam

My friend Anita and I were planning to meet up for lunch and she suggested that first wo go to the Happy Day Spa for a full foot massage.

20160530_141731I was not sure what to expect. They accept walk ins but Anita made reservations. We waited a few minutes and then we were escorted into a softly lit room with two long rows of cushy spa beds (like those sometimes uses for pedicures or facials). We sat down and removed our shoes. You keep your clothes on, but for the best experience where loose, comfy clothing. The spa attendant put our feet in warm water (so use the restroom before you start, haha).  The “foot massage” is actually a scalp, neck, arm and leg and foot massage. It is incredibly relaxing. It was just $25 for a full hour so I gave a generous tip.

Then we walked around the corner to the Vietnamese restaurant in the adjacent strip mall. Our expectations rose for the authenticity of the food at Bon Mua when we realized we were among the few non-Vietnamese people in the restaurant. The food was delicious. We enjoyed a great conversation about our mutual mentor the late Pearlie Reed, and ate till we were full.

Anita suggested that next time we save room to go to Vampire Penguin for shaved ice cream. Yum. Could have been a trifecta.

 

In Search of Pie on Pi(e) Day

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Happy Pi(e) day with a homemade chicken pot pie.

There are plenty of silly holidays and some may say Pi(e) Day is one of them. I take pie seriously. I brake for pie. I bake pies. I love pie. So I am happy to make a fuss over 3.14 (March 14). Of course you could look at this only as a mathematician might: 3.14159265… and on into infinity. It is a terrific number as numbers go. But even a mathematician needs to eat.

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Nido is in the original Magpie location on R Street between 14th and 15th Streets.

I had a meeting in West Sacramento today so I was limited to finding pie within the Sacramento environs. I went on Yelp and searched “pie”. The most promising entry was for Nido, which is one of the restaurants in the Magpie family. They have a daily menu so I thought if anyone will get into Pi(e) day, this was a safe bet.

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Handheld apple pie at Nido made with a butter crust.

Nido disappointed as they had only a handheld apple pie. It was fine as such oversized pop tarts go, but it was not a real meat pie or a real fruit pie. Heck, we would have celebrated with chocolate cream pie! Or we could have gone to Esquire Grill or Frank Fats and had banana cream pie.

I began to realize that there is a pie deficit in Sacramento. There are many fine chocolatiers in Sacramento, with Ginger Elizabeth leading the way. There is a rebalance in the cupcake establishments with the new Icing on the Cupcake at 18th and J. Cake in general is well represented between Freeport Bakery and Rick’s Diner. Who does pie proud in Sacramento? Or in the greater Delta? Would love your recommendations.

20160313_185105Just to be on the safe side, I made a chicken pot pie and an apple pie on Sunday so I would have homemade pies for today. A good meat pie is also underrated. It is great for using up veggies and leftover chicken. And there is nothing like apple pie for breakfast. Good thing Pi(e) Day is only one day a year!

Baconfest! Baconfest! Baconfest!

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A celebration of bacon is happening in Sacramento January 25-30 and the proceeds benefit Center for Land Based Learning. That is what I call a win-win.

The Baconfest website explains: Oh yeah, about our mission: We only care about celebrating local chefs, restaurants, and their all-natural, quality product and produce. We do not allow factory-farm hogs to be served at official Bacon Fest events. All the bacon must be housemade. And we’ve donated thousands of dollars in proceeds to the Center for Land-Based Learning in Winters. We love doing this!

Ten events over 6 days.

Check it out.