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.

 

 

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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.

 

Amgen Tour of California Returns to Delta

Tour of California is one of the best professional road races in the USA. It is a competition for both men and women and is attracting world class teams.

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Peter Sagan won the World Championship Road Race since winning Tour of California 2015. Will he be back to defend his title?

This year the race will start in Southern California and then conclude in Northern California. Stage 5 will start in Lodi. The final stage (8) will be in Sacramento.

 

“May 19, 2016 – Men’s Stage 5

Stage 5 will usher riders from the beautiful vineyards of Lodi to a long gradual ascent to an uphill finish in South Lake Tahoe, reaching a peak elevation of 8,600 feet – the highest in race history. The ride, essentially a 130-mile climb that gains in elevation from 50 feet to 6,650 at the finish, will showcase California’s diversity, from the rich soil of the Central Valley to the mighty peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.”

The VIP hours for the start are 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. If you want to view from the street downtown–plan for breakfast and watching the controlled start. They will be out of town after a few minutes. You can sometimes see your favorite riders and get autographs outside their team bus.

“May 22, 2016 – Men’s Stage 8

The capital city of California has hosted the Amgen Tour of California Overall Start for the past two years as well as individual stage finishes; 2016 will bring its first Overall Finish. This sports-crazed city is thriving with a new stadium under construction and several national sporting events taking place throughout the year.

The course will travel along the Sacramento River and cross Tower Bridge twice before returning downtown where fans will anxiously wait along the traditional finish circuits around the Capitol building.

Last year was the closest men’s race finish ever with general classification champion Peter Sagan winning by a mere 3 seconds after earning an intermediate sprint time bonus and bonus seconds on the final stage sprint. What excitement will this year’s final race day hold?”

“May 22, 2016 – Women’s Stage 4

The overall champion will be decided after 20 laps of a downtown Sacramento circuit on wide, fast roads. Fans can expect shakeups until the very end — last year, Sacramento saw a thrilling women’s finish when Trixi Worrack’s (GER) general classification win came down to sprint time bonuses and the final sprint for the stage.”

The festival is usually staged on 10th Street in front of the Capitol. The streets around the capitol will be blocked off most of the day. Ride your bike downtown and enjoy a fun Sunday outing. Watch the women’s circuit race and then watch the final laps of the men’s race. Final prize presentations follow shortly after each finish.

I am hoping Peter Sagan returns to defend his title. He is one of the most exciting professional riders in the world. Watch as he avoids a crash on the cobbles at Paris-Roubaix 2016. He’s the cyclist in white on the right who also avoided a spectator on the grass! Mad bike skills.

 

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.

 

 

Crazy About Peanuts!

Mom had fun pretending to be Lucy in the photo

Mom had fun pretending to be Lucy in the photo “booth”.

I feel like I have loved Snoopy my whole life. I grew up reading the Peanuts comic strip. My grandparents lived in Santa Rosa where Charles Schultz was the most famous person after Luther Burbank died. My bestest stuffie was a Snoopy (and I still have him). We skated in Schultz’s ice rink. I have so many ties to Peanuts that I was determined to see the Peanuts exhibit at the California Museum before it closed January 3.

California Museum is like the people magazine of museums. It mainly has a hall of fame for people who have made major contributions in the arts, business, science, sports and other fields. Their connection to California is permissive since so many people move here from somewhere else. For example, David Hockney who is British born and educated, but painted for many years in Los Angeles, has an exhibit. You can see Kristi Yamaguchi’s tiny skates. Or Robert Downey Jr.’s Ironman costume.

The Peanuts comic strip is still relevant. The focus of this exhibit is on Lucy’s long fall tradition of pulling the football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute. It also provided a window into how some of the characters evolved. None more so than my beloved Snoopy.

My mom and I arrived at the museum on Saturday at about 1:00 p.m. and we had the museum almost to ourselves. Mom’s senior admission was $7.50 and my adult fee was $9.00. Parking on the street is easy on the weekends (free on Sunday).

The exhibit is on loan from the Charles M. Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa. It is worth a visit too.

Peanuts holiday stamps

My Christmas cards will have Peanuts this year!

Most exciting news: I learned I can get a special California license plate with Snoopy for my Mini Cooper. It is a fundraiser for museums in California.

Most exciting news: I learned I can get a special California license plate with Snoopy for my Mini Cooper. It is a fundraiser for museums in California.

Has anyone seen the Peanuts movie yet?