de Vere’s Lighter Side of Ireland + Thursday Specials

Thursday is the new Friday!

Well, at least if you live in Sacramento and visit de Vere’s, they sure are. And unless you live under a rock and have never been to de Vere’s Irish Pub, not even for one St. Patrick’s Day!

de Vere’s Irish Pub // 1521 L Street – Sacramento, CA 95814 

Last year I brought you Chef Wes Nilssen’s Lighter Side of Ireland and apparently it wasn’t a one-summer wonder, because he’s back at it AGAIN! And thankfully for all the Sacramentans! Most people think of this as the place for beer + footy (soccer for you Americans), but Chef Wes has been consistently working his magic in the back, creating dishes on dishes of goodness that seem to be under ordered, in my humble opinion.

A group of Sacramento’s best and most active food photographers and myself (not one of those said cool photogs) were invited to de Vere’s to try the newest Lighter Side of Ireland menu, the Thursday burger of the month special, and the Thursday Moscow Mule specials. Seriously, ALL three of those things were graciously provided for our group to try, salivate over, and snap some serious food porn.

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Sacramento Burger Battle 2016

Do you consider yourself a burger lover?

sbb2015ccfa250img_0027Then you must know about the Sacramento Burger Battle! 15 burgers from some of the top restaurants in Sacramento!  Sounds easy to handle to the novice, as was I. I’d heard over and over, there is strategy involved. There is a method to follow. Don’t eat with your eyes; your stomach won’t follow suit. Needless to say, I made multiple rookie mistakes, yet had the best (bloated) time ever.

img_9982In what world do you eat fifteen different burgers from some of your favorite burger spots in your favorite city? Oh, you don’t, then you better get over to Sacramento once a year to grub at the Sacramento Burger Battle!

My endorsement means nothing to this charity event for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. It sells out EVERY year; this year was no different. The ticket comes in at a hefty price, but the craftsmanship, quality, and quantity of burgers you devour are worth every dollar spent. You must experience it to believe it, but I can see the skepticism.

They sell two tickets to this event, a regular entrance ticket, and a VIP ticket. The VIP ticket gets you in an hour early, paid parking across the street from the event, and an extra special VIP cocktail during the VIP hour. I was lucky enough to call myself VIP for this event and got in an hour early, which might have been to my stomachs detriment.

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Here was the line-up from this year:

Pangaea Cafe – Enjoy Yo Self, Certified Angus Patty, Cheddar, Applewood Bacon, Greenleaf Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, House Pickles, Special Sauce on a Brioche Bun.

de Vere’s Irish Pub – B.M. F., Two 3oz Beef Patties (chuck, short rib, & brisket), Peppered Bacon, Tillamook Cheddar, Butter Lettuce Red Onions, House Habanero Pickle May

Dawson’s (at the Hyatt) – Steakhouse Burger, Duckfat Mushrooms, Sunfeed Beef Patty, Truffled Brie Cheese, Shallot Jam, Arugula.

Putah Creek Cafe & Bakery – Tuscan Burger, Blend of Certified Angus Beef, Ground Italian Sausage, Pancetta Bacon, Basil, Kalamata Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Garnished w/ Heirloom Tomatoes, Arugula, Prosciutto, Fontal cheese, Red Onion + Basil Aioli.

Tank House BBQ & Bar – Tank Burger, 100% Ground Brisket 80/20 w/ Smoked Sharp Cheddar, Horseradish Sauce, Sauteed Red Onion, Mushrooms Kale + Garlic on a Village Bakery Brioche Bun.

Flaming Grill Cafe – Flaming Grill Burger, Ribeye New York Bacon, Peanut Butter + Jelly w/ Duck Bacon Burger

Willie’s Burgers – Chili Burger (on Freeport Bakery buns)

Cecil’s Taste – Sactown Street Burger, 80/20 Ground Chuck Blend Seasoned w/ “Red Stuff,” Smack Yo Marmalade (Bacon + Cheese infused Marmalade), Melted Muenster Cheese, Wasted Sauce (Track 7 3x IPA Reduced Mixed into a Dijonaise), Sliced Red Onions + Artisan Lettuce on a Soft Pretzel Bun.

Localis – The Jerk, Jerk Crusted Grassfed Patty, Habanero Cheddar, Pineapple-Jalapeno Chutney, Walla Walla Onions on a Ciabatta Bun.

LowBrau – The Lou Burger, 7oz Creekstone Chuck/Brisket Patty, Thick Cut House Bacon, Pretzel Bun, White American Cheese, Spicy Sauce, Grilled Red Onions, House Pickle + Shredded Hearts of Romaine.

Iron Steaks – The Walburg, Chuck + Brisket 80/20, Dijon Roasted Walnuts, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Sweet Peppered Bacon, Pickled Apples + Garlic Aioli on a Caramelized Onion Brioche Bun.

Capitol Garage – Capital Garage Burger, Bacon Black Bean Burger w/ Aioli, Heirloom Tomatoes, Mixed Greens, Cheddar, Pickled Onions + Pickles on a Brioche Bun.

Bacon & Butter – The French Onion Burger – Storm Hill Beef Ground w/ Caramelize Onions + Bacon, Melted “French” Onions, Gruyere, Black Garlic Aioli + Lardon on a Bella Bru Onion Bun

Broderick Restaurant & Bar – The Broderick Brewky Burger of Dreams, Special 5 Dot Ranch Blend Beef, House made Track 7 Panic IPA Cheese, Yolo Brewery Orange Blossom Blonde Catsup w/Watanabe Farms Heirloom Tomatoes, Bike Dog Mosaic Pale Ale Mustard, New Helvetia Homeland Stout Brown Sugar Bacon, Jack Rabbit Order of the Rabbit Belgian Dubbel Pickles + Watanabe Onion Micro greens.

AJ’s Sandwiches – Pineapple Express, 1/2 lb of All Natural Niman Ranch Ground Beef, Grilled Onions, Jalapenos, Pineapple + Melted Provolone Cheese infused w/Barbecue + Boss Sauce

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If you aren’t salivating after seeing the pics and reading their ingredients, then I’m at a loss for words. I love, love, love how many of the restaurants highlighted other local breweries and farms from where they sourced their ingredients. Sacramento is all about supporting local and the ‘Farm to Fork’ movement.

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Please don’t ask me my favorite! However, everyone got a token to vote for their favorite burger to win the Peoples Choice Award. I’ll keep my vote to myself. It was a hard decision; I liked so many of them. They are all so different; they are kind of hard to compare! Also, there was a panel of fancy judges there to award top 3 burgers.

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1st Place: Pangaea Cafe

2nd Place: Cecil’s Taste

3rd Place: LowBrau

People’s Choice: LowBrau

img_9993The Burger Battle wouldn’t be complete if you couldn’t wash good burgers down with adult libations. Tastings of beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages were from the following spots:

Revolution Wines // Carvalho Family Winery // Laguintas Brewing Company // Yolo Brewing Company // Bike Dog Brewing Company // New Glory Craft Brewery // Knee Deep Brewing Company // Hoppy Brewing // Two Rivers Cider // Dry Diggings Distillery // Amador Distillery // Barsotti Family Juice Company // Silk Road Soda //Burly Beverages // H2Ops

All the sodium means our bodies were craving all the sweets. Luckily for us, the drink tent also shared space with Baker’s Donuts, Puskins Bakery (Gluten & Dairy Free only), and Milk & Cookies Sacramento. Of course, I tried one (or maybe more) of each item. They were a sweet treat after soaking my insides with burger goodness.

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Not only was the burger, drink, and dessert game on point, but they also had other small touches that made it memorable. They had napkins at every burger booth and wet wipes at all of the tables. It may seem like a minor detail, but they saved the day. Burger juice was in abundance and probably landed on more clothes than preferred, but our hands stayed somewhat clean thanks to the BB team. Also, they had live music playing on the stage the entire evening. At one point they even had a young man playing his accordion on a unicycle, now if that isn’t talent, I don’t know what is. The BB team shirts were awesome, they were a full image, taking over the whole shirt, of a cheeseburger with a number and their name on the back. I want to work next year’s event to snag one of those.

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I’m ashamed to say it’s taken me four years to get my burger lovin’ butt to this event, but I’m a changed woman. I had 15 different burgers at my fingertips and even though I didn’t manage my intake like a pro, I still enjoyed every bite I devoured at the Sacramento Burger Battle. Burger Battle 2017 is going to be different. I’m going with a strategic plan and a partner in crime to execute my burger eating strategy. If you think I’m exaggerating, you are sorely mistaken — all this goodness should not be missed due to a full stomach, it’s too good NOT to eat!

Proud of my fellow Sacramentens, raising money through bellies. That’s how we roll!

Sláinte to the Lighter Side of Ireland (Round Two)

The Irish know how to eat and drink.

It’s just that simple. De Vere’s Irish Pub invited us all back to taste their second menu reveal for their Lighter Side of Ireland menu. I knew without a doubt, we’d be attending this new tasting. If it was anything like the first round, I was going to be a happily fed and boozed lady for the evening.

de Vere’s Irish Pub
1521 L Street Sacramento, CA 95814
http://deverespub.com

Plus OneI cannot say ‘Thanks’ enough to Rodney for the invite, Henry for opening his business to us, Chef Wes for the fantastic cuisine, and David for crafting the hell out of some cocktails! It isn’t often that a company tries to deviate from their norm twice in one season, but lucky for us Sacramentans De Vere’s did and they did it with gusto! Not only did they kill it with flavor and creativity, but they also added a philanthropic aspect to the menu. They donate part of the sales of the new Lighter Side of Ireland menu to the Food Literacy Center.

Lighter Side of Ireland 2The new menu is also in conjunction with Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Weeks, which means they featured farms on the menu for these particular dishes. They pretty much touched on every awesome thing you can, philanthropy, locally sourced food, and great taste. I can attest to that because I sampled everything.

Heirloom SaladHeirloom Tomato Salad — You know those tomatoes that are so good, they don’t even taste like tomatoes? Yeah, that is this salad! The tomatoes are gorgeously vibrant and melt in your mouth. Add the texture of the crunchy croutons and the added burst of flavor with the Feta and you have a perfect summer salad!

 

 

 

Smoked Trout Deviled EggsSmoked Trout Deviled Eggs – I mean, they are deviled eggs, that says enough. The smokiness of the trout comes through in the creamy egg mixture, but it has no hint of seafood flavor. This plate will be gone in seconds, guaranteed!

 

 

 

 

Lamb BLTLamb BLT – They love them some lamb, and again they killed it. Lamb bacon is something I didn’t even know I needed to try. The lamb bacon was a somewhat crumbled texture, smothered between pesto mayonnaise and more of those deliciously fresh tomatoes. I can’t even begin to praise the carb pillow of perfection that is their house made focaccia! A different me could have been a little hesitant to order this, but after trying it, I would laugh at that person.

Fromage Blanc CheesecakeFromage Blanc Cheesecake – Not your average cheesecake, which makes it perfect for summer nights. The consistency is light, almost creamy jello like (awful descriptors, but I’m drawing a blank). The drizzle of blackberry coulis below the cheesecake is delicious and tart; I was scraping at the bits to eat it with every bite. Also, their fresh peaches on top were an added bonus. I’m a crust girl, and I thoroughly enjoyed theirs, the hint of sweetness from the added chocolate was divine!

Needless for me to ramble on, because the flavors and freshness speak for themselves. Chef Wes is killing it in the back and doing so in an incredibly humble way. Thanks for the good eats and chatting with us about each dish. It’s always fun to be educated about the produce, ingredients, and conception of dishes.

The menu was great, but I think the booze might have taken the show this time. De Vere’s now offers 12 handcrafted cocktails for $6 from 3 PM to 6 PM. These aren’t 20 minute-to-make handcrafted drinks, yet they taste just as fancy. David has taken great time and delicacy in his creations, and I got to taste each one. The best part, besides being hand crafted, is that they don’t use cheap alcohol. The integrity of the alcohol and ingredients are not compromised to meet this delicious price of $6. Do yourself a favor, make this your next Happy Hour spot!

img_9926 Drink Line Up

Dickel Manhattan // Pineapple Express // Sazerac // Dark & Stormy // Blueberry Mule (My fave) // De Vere’s Old Fashioned // Almost Famous Irish Coffee (How have I not had one of these before?) // Ancho Blackberry Cooler (Spicy, aaahh!) // Basil Gimlet (Another fave) // Mary’s G&T // Hemingway Daiquiri // Paloma

Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs

Tuesday turn up had a new meaning this week, thanks to the crew at de Vere’s! This menu only lasts until September 31st, so I suggest you get over there and give it a try.

Again, they aren’t going for your typical ‘pub fare’ with this menu, they are showing you a different, Lighter Side of Ireland.

Not Just Skew(er)ed to Meat Lovers: Osaka Yakitori in Sacramento

Osaka Yakitori
6023 Florin Rd – Ste 600, Sacramento, CA 95823
(916) 823-5525

FullSizeRenderA soft opening is such an odd name for an event…

I’m sure we all have our opinions on the Yelpers of the world. But I am one of them, proud of it and also appreciate the connections I’ve made through all different sorts of foodie cultures. Also, I can see the polarizing effect it has on the food culture, anywhere. That being said, a Yelper foodie friend invited me to the soft opening of a new spot in Sacramento, Osaka Yakitori.

 

IMG_9330The location is not where most midtown-based Sacramentans would venture, but if you’re familiar with the area, then you know it’s not as bad as some may perceive it. The new spot is in a newer shopping area on Florin Road, nestled front and center when you drive into the shopping strip.

From the moment we walked through the door until we got up to leave, the entire crew at Osaka Yakitori was awesome, welcoming, and very hospitable. They welcomed us with a huge, traditional Japanese greeting. The entire restaurant was dedicated to the soft opening on Friday night; the Grand Opening would be two days later on Sunday.

IMG_9331As I looked around, I enjoyed how clean and refreshing the decor was. There were two large murals along the back wall, which was a nice touch. I’m not sure what was here before, but Osaka Yakitori did a great job of making it all look brand new. As we sat down, we were handed freshly printed menus.

We tried appetizers, sushi rolls, yakitori, and entrees, all washed down with plum wine and saki bombs. By the time dessert was an option, we were so full we couldn’t even fathom trying to squeeze mochi or fried ice cream in our bellies!

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To start off our foodie adventure we ordered the Hot Wings and Gyoza. I was a little worried about the heat of the wings, but since it was on the side I was golden. The wings were perfectly fried golden and tasted great without any sauce. The gyoza was also perfectly fried and stuffed with the exact amount of tastiness.

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Next we each ordered a roll. It should be noted that J (my man) does not like seafood, nor does he like nori (seaweed wrap). Luckily for him, and others who are similar to him in sushi preference, they have an awesome roll – the “Servers Favorite Roll,” which is sesame chicken, cream cheese, avocado, unagi sauce, spicy mayo, and sesame seeds. Like J, you can get it with soy wrap if you’re not into seaweed. Can we note how fun the green color of the soy wrap is? I’m used to the odd, kinda creepy pink soy wrap. My roll option, as usual, was pretty basic when it comes to sushi rolls. I went with the “Osaka Maki Roll” – deep fried panko shrimp, avocado, unagi sauce, spicy mayo, green onions, and masago. Although we aren’t adventurous sushi connoisseurs, we loved the simple rolls we did try! J has already asked to go back for his roll, which has replaced his old fave roll!

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Even though a friend brought to my attention that what I love to eat at Japanese restaurants is essentially a huge chicken nugget, I always love to try Chicken Katsu when I try a new Japanese restaurant. I love the salty and tangy flavor of the katsu sauce, plus the crunchy panko coating on the chicken.  The serving size was just right, even though my eyes said it was too small. J originally ordered the curry, but the chefs still need to learn that recipe. Instead, the server brought him Beef Teriyaki, which was really good. The meat as tender and perfectly cooked. Both Bento Box entrees came with salad, gyoza, rice, and veggie tempura. Their tempura had just the right amount of batter – not too much, not too little.

Chicken KatsuOsaka Yakitori

IMG_9411As if all of this food wasn’t enough, I still had to try their skewered meats. After all, the name of the place has Yakitori in the name, so skewers are a must! Even though Yakitori is primarily thought of as chicken skewers, Osaka Yakitori offers other meats skewered as well (technically Kushiyaki). I went with pork belly. Even though it was my third selection, it was amazing! It wasn’t huge in size, but great in fat-meat ratio. Also, the seasoning was just right – it was juicy and full of flavor. Their yakitori pricing and portions were great, especially if you want to order a variety of them!

 

Sacramento, get off the midtown town grid for once! The food, the price, and the service make it worth the drive. Also, sometimes its fun to check out a different area than you’re used to – you never know what you’ll find out there!

The Lighter Side of Ireland: de Vere’s Irish Pub in Sacramento

So you’re telling me Irish food isn’t just gravy laden washed down with a pint?

IMG_7353I was graciously invited to de Vere’s Irish Pub by Rodney (aka Burger Junkies) to try out their new “Lighter Side of Ireland” menu. Henry, the owner, spent some time with us before the food starting rolling out. Since Sacramento gets way too hot, he wanted to bring a “lighter” summer menu to the table. He also intends to change the perception of Irish food being heavy and filling, showcasing it can also be light, culinary, and still satisfying. All I can say is that de Vere’s killed it with their new take on ‘The Lighter Side of Ireland!’

de Vere’s Irish Pub
1521 L Street Sacramento, CA 95814
http://deverespub.com

IMG_7355You better hurry, you only have six weeks to try this version of the ‘Lighter Side,’ as they will be changing it up again. It will still be under the same namesake, but all the dishes will be new.  Don’t fret, if you still want the other good ‘ole Irish food, it’s still on the menu. These additional items are just something new to try (for only six weeks). de Vere’s added four entrees and one dessert to compliment their already delicious menu.

Smoked SFullSizeRenderalmon Salad – Frisee, Arugula, Onion, Fingerling Potato, Crispy Soft-Boiled Egg, Wholegrain Mustard Dressing

Grilled Lamb Sirloin – Quinoa, Arugula, Summer Squash, Cranberry, Almonds, Herb Vinaigrette

Smoked Pork Shank Terrine – Cumberland Sauce, Dijon Mustard, Pickled Carrots, Fresh Fruit, Toasted Sourdough

Mary’s Chicken Thigh – Brentwood Corn, Cherry Tomatoes, Zucchini, Cranberry Beans, Preserved Meyer Lemon Chimichurri

Olive Oil Cake – Stone Fruit Compote, Basil Creme Anglaise, Brown Sugar Creme

FullSizeRenderThanks to the awesome staff, plates on plates of these goodies came out to our group. I didn’t go for want, nor did the others. There was an eclectic mix of people in attendance, but many were very skilled food/portrait photographers. So between some serious food styling and arranging, we tasted the goodness that was ‘The Lighter Side of Ireland.’

All the dishes were excellent, but I still had my favorites. By far, the freshness of each dish was easily recognizable in the taste, texture, and palate goodness! Since my end of the table ‘did not do seafood,’ I lucked out and ate almost an entire Smoked Salmon Salad to myself. The crispy soft boiled egg was fantastic, oozing all over the salad, but still having that crispy fried outer layer. The pieces of salmon melted in my mouth. I was happy I was one of the few who liked salmon at our end of the table; it was meant to be! The runner up for my next fave dish would have to be Mary’s Chicken Thigh. This plate was a nicely portioned chicken thigh nestled on a mixture of veggies and beans. The beans were my least favorite, but that is just a personal preference. The fried chicken was so moist and flavorful, the added goodness beneath it was just a bonus!

IMG_7383You almost forget you’re eating lamb when you eat the Grilled Lamb Sirloin. There is no hint of traditional gamey lamb taste, rather a very well seasoned piece of lamb. The textural mix of the quinoa and salad that it lies on is also really, really refreshing. My least favorite, but still of excellent quality, was the Smoked Pork Shank Terrine. It was popular with a few around me, who ate most of my share. I know I’m the one missing out, but something about the texture of the pork wasn’t for me. I loved how they plated this dish and could see it be a great starter or just something to nosh on while you enjoy aIMG_7385n adult beverage.

The dessert truly deserves its own post. Seriously, this will be the best $6 you spend all summer in Sacramento! The Olive Oil Cake baked to perfection, moist and flavorful with a perfect not-too-chewy-or-too-hard crust. I seriously can’t write about it without daydreaming about tasting it! The blend of the fruit compote, basil, and brown sugar flavors topped off the already perfectly baked cake. I’m pretty sure I ate most of two of these dishes, sorry to my fellow tablemates!

IMG_7364As the different dishes were served, I was able to sip on a Basil Gimlet, then a Pineapple Express. I don’t think I could have picked a more refreshing libation to start our Friday evening with, their Basil Gimlet was on point. The Pineapple Express was good, but the Bourbon came through heavily. It was different, but I enjoyed it. I also snuck sips of J’s Blueberry Mule, which made me think “Why I hadn’t thought to order one of these before?” Sub Blueberry Vodka for regular Vodka, so simple! He also had the Paloma but drank it before I could even get a taste…I guess that is a good indicator of how tasty it was.

I had such a fun time meeting local Sacramentans who are just as ‘weird’ as I am. By ‘weird’ I mean they do anything to get the shot, including taking plates outside to get a gorgeous shot of the new dish. Everyone was having such a great Friday evening, trying the delicious and fresh food, all while sipping on refreshing adult beverages. de Vere’s hospitality was beyond gracious, and I can’t wait to see what the Chef has in store for Sacramento in six weeks when he drops his next look at “The Lighter Side of Ireland!”

California crafted, Irish inspired!

Wine & Brew at the Sacramento Zoo 2016

Wine + Brew + Sacramento Zoo = Trifecta of Sacramento FUN!

SacZoo Wine & Brew - giraffe

It’s no small feat to keep this family friendly, animal loving haven open year round. So the Zoo came up with a fabulous idea for a fundraiser, which benefits the animal care and general maintenance of our beloved, local Sacramento Zoo.

Sacramento Zoo
3930 W Land Park Dr, Sacramento, CA 95822
http://www.saczoo.org

Wine And Brew Sac ZooI don’t think the Zoo gets old at any age. But adding adult libations to the mix makes it that much more enticing for those of the adult beverage drinking age. Add in the fact that it is also a fundraiser for said Zoo and you really can’t lose or not attend such an awesome event.

Can we please talk about the line-up real quick? For the early bird price of $45 or the normal, not early person price of $55 you have access to the following:

WineriesBogle Vineyards / Carvalho Family Winery / Helwig Winery / Matchbook Wine Company / McConnell Estates Winery / Mount Aukum Winery / Muddy Boot Wines / Renwood Winery / Sentivo Vineyards and Winery / Shenandoah Vineyards / Sobon Estate / Terra d’Oro Winery / Three Wine Company
Turkovich Family Wines / Weibel Family Vineyards & Winery

IMG_5995Breweries – Bike Dog Brewing Company / Device Brewing Company / Firestone Walker Brewing Co. / Great Basin Brewing Company / Hoppy Brewing Company / Knee Deep Brewing Co. / Lagunitas Brewing Company
Lost Coast Brewery / Napa Smith Brewery / Mendocino Brewing Company / New Helvetia Brewing Co. / Oak Park Brewing Company / Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. / Sudwerk Brewing Co. / Track 7 Brewing Co. / Two Rivers Cider Company / Yolo Brewing Company

If you are a Zoo member, you also had a slight discount for the early bird price. They didn’t forget about the Designated Drivers either, their cost was only $15 for a fun event, sans the booze.  They had a handful of Coca-Cola options to choose from for everyone, not just the DD’s. They also brought in food trucks to help balance out all the delicious beverages, all of whom donated
10% of their sales to the Zoo.

Sacramento Food Trucks – Drewski’s / La Mex Taqueria / GyroStop / The Sweet Spot

soalsbury steakNothing makes me happier than to see a huge line at an event, especially a fundraiser. Thanks to the Zoo for letting Girls on Food giveaway two tickets to this event. Our girl Rebecca had a great time at the event too. Sadly, I didn’t get to run into her, but from her IG post I know she had as much fun as I did.

As we were dropped off in our faux-Uber, really my little sister, we noticed the crazy long line. Thankfully we hopped into the Will Call line, then breezed in right away. From the moment, we walked into the Zoo all of the staff and volunteers were very kind and helpful.

Wine GlassesThe Zoo should think about selling libations more often, like every day they are open. 😉 As we handed our tickets to the volunteers they directed us to our wine glass pick-up, which was a few short steps away. The lovely volunteers gave us our glasses and then we were off to booze it up. Born and raised in Sac, I know this Zoo fairly well; essentially it is one large loop. Tossing caution and map to the wind, we decided to go toward the Tiger, where plenty of vendors were set up. We had perused the silent auction before we started tasting the adult beverages.

IMG_5990Thankfully the Zoo has so many fun photo ops, really for the kids, but when there aren’t any children, you just do it! There wasn’t one booth we didn’t try. And I can honestly say, every single vendor was sweet, poured generously, and didn’t mind chatting up everyone in line. Seriously, you’d think they were getting paid to hand out gratis drinks. Everyone was in a great mood, and it was a great vibe in the Zoo that night.

Going to the Zoo as a child is full of wanderlust, but add alcohol and it’s adult wanderlust. Admiring the giraffes while sipping on wine was something I’m not sure I’d ever thought I’d do. It was almost as if they knew everyone was enjoying them. Three of them lined up and started galloping together, running if you will. One even stood there, picture perfect for us to snap a pic. The other was just enjoying his dinner.

After a few too many tastes, we decided to grab some food. They grouped the food trucks in two’s. The GryoStop was the closest to us, so we went after it. Greek food is fantastic, so we had no qualms with our option. The other two were on the other side of the Zoo, but we would have been happy with those options too – American or Mexican. J and I decided to split an order of the Loaded Fries and a Beef/Lamb Gyro; it was the best decision we made that day. I’ve never tried this truck, but I’d certainly hunt it out in Sacramento after trying it. The Loaded Fries were amazing, who thought of combining tzatziki sauce with nacho cheese and topping it with feta is a pure culinary genius. No pretentious foodie here, just a girl who loves anything with a burst of flavor. After we had devoured these two delectable Greek goodies, we sent off to tackle the other side of the Zoo.

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IMG_6002I can’t even lie; I was stoked to head into the Reptile House with my wine glass. I already love the reptile house, but enjoying a beverage in there was even more exciting for some odd reason. Everyone attending the event was having a great time. We met new friends in there and burst through the doors laughing as we left. We then found the other two food trucks, but the lines were pretty long, and we wanted to try more wine and brew, so we skipped them for more booze. This area is already a picnic area, so it was a great setting for hanging out, eating, and relaxing if you were tired. They were playing music, and it was a great vibe.

We got back on the Zoo ‘loop’ to continue our tasting. The mixture of beer to wine options seemed spaced out well. It also helped that they had plenty of ‘Coca Cola stations’ with bottled water and soda. The bottled water was helpful to rinse out your glass, especially from the beer to wine transition or vice versa. I’m sure the DD population enjoyed those booths as well. Zinfandel was a common denominator with all the wineries here. Seeing as how many of these are local wineries, Zin is their specialty. I think almost every table had a Zin to pour; it isn’t my favorite, but I’m starting to more and more these days.  IMG_5996

The two and a half hours went by so quickly. Even though it was just J and myself, we had a great time. The staff and the attendees made it a great environment. It was worth the ticket cost and I’d encourage everyone to attend next year; you get your monies worth of booze, fun, and animals…all while donating to a great, local cause. If I could suggest one thing, I’d ask them to add two more food trucks. With all that booze flowing, we all were hungry; the lines proved it.

A shout out to the animals for letting us get wild and crazy in their hood for an evening!

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Ales on the Rails: A Craft Beer Fundraiser in Sacramento

PrintFriday night, set in the historic building that memorializes Sacramento’s railroad legacy, the perfect local craft beer fundraiser went down! Dubbed ‘Ales on the Rails’ the California State Railroad Museum (CSRM) Foundation offered more beer than anyone could drink for $50 for a general ticket and only $65 for a VIP ticket. Also, to encourage safety, they sold Designated Driver tickets for $25.

IMG_0331I think many of us forget about the CSRM, but they are continuously putting on great events for our community. Their most popular event, which sells out in less than an hour is their ‘Polar Express’ experience that runs during the winter (which deserves another post in itself). They killed it with this event, seriously, any self-prescribed beer connoisseur that was not in attendance failed! I know Sacramentans love beer. It’s a fact. They spend about the same price, during the sweltering summer and wait in ridiculous lines for the smallest pours. This event, was the complete opposite! The CSRM was highly air conditioned, there were no lines (except for the mac-n-cheese), and the beer exceeded the attendance.

IMG_0391I can’t write this without letting you know I’m  not an avid beer drinker. At all. So with that being said, know that I took myself out of my comfort zone and tried every single brewery there! I can appreciate the craft of brewing beer, but it just doesn’t tantalize my taste buds like wine, or vodka!

IMG_0371The setting was awesome! Huge, old school cars and locomotives were everywhere. Some you could wander through and others just made for a great background. They also opened the huge museum doors, which made for a gorgeous view of the two locomotives where the VIP could hang out, with a gorgeous view of the Sacramento sunset. It really was a relaxed and great vibe.

Beers in attendance: Amador Brewing Company, Carneros Brewing Company, Device Brewing Company, Gordon Biersch, Heretic Brewing Company, Hoppy Brewing Company, Knee Deep Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Mraz Brewing Company, New Glory Craft Brewery, New Helvetia Brewing Co., Rubicon Brewing Company, Six Rivers Brewery, St. Killian Importing Co., Track 7 Brewing Co., Wildcard Brewing, and Yolo Brewing Company.

Group ShotIMG_0363A lot of the breweries were serving IPA’s. However, some had lighter stuff as well. There was even a Chili Pepper Spicy Ale from Six Rivers Brewery, which I did not try, but J did. I was told it had a kick, a huge kick at the end. Crabbie’s served up an alcoholic ginger beer, which was tasty – but will continue to confuse the masses, since most ginger beer is non-alcoholic. Our favorite by far, they knew us by the end, wIMG_0394as Schilling Company. They were serving their hard ciders. They had ginger and pom-cran on tap, then towards the end they started opening their cans. They made me a hybrid of grapefruit and pom-cran and I’m pretty sure I fell in love, right then and there.

The food (not including VIP) was just as great and came in mass quantities. By far, Howe It’s Done catering killed it with their mac-n-cheese, topped with Italian style ground turkey, and bread crumbs. They weren’t handing out small samples either, these were huge, size of our hand, samples…AND you could
go back as many times as you wanted, say 3 or so 😉

FoodBest plated appetizer would have to go to Fat’s Family of Restaurants for their Chilli Otah Otah. It was tasty, lots of flavors going on at once. But the plating is what made it so attractive. Oh, and I cannot forget The Melting Pot who was there serving up chocolate fondue, which was the first thing that I did when I got there. A strawberry, a brownie bite, a piece of cake, and chocolate for dipping – I mean, people pay lots of money to eat at their establishment, and here we got it for free, as many samples of this as we wanted!

After we took in the whole scene, we decided to wander outside and check out our VIP status. We climbed up the authentic locomotive stairs and were transcended into the “New Orleans” themed car. Courtyard D’ORO was serving a plate of three appetizers, while Yolo Brew was serving up a special beer just for the VIP. The group consensus was the beef wellington was our favorite app. As we walked from the first train to the second, we stopped to get the next appetizer, which was a potato skin. This was another fave of the night, we probably could have ate the entire serving tray, but we hung out, devoured one each, and of course snapped some pics.

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Since this is a fundraiser, the DD’s still had to pay to enter. However, they still had access to all the food (minus the VIP) we did and they also had a table set-up with water and mini soda bottles. How’s that for accommodation? I thought it was a great touch. Also, they had the VIP swag bags available upon arrival. But since I wanted to enjoy the experience, I didn’t grab mine until we headed out. It was a great mix of beer and CSRM goodies – Yolo Brew 9Run6 beer, a conductor whistle, CSRM ride passes, Blue Diamond Smokehouse almonds, and a sticker all in a reusable bag.

IMG_0397It’s hard to believe this is a fundraiser! Everyone was enjoying themselves, especially all of the vendors. It was fun to interact with them and have them explain their product, they were all so passionate. They were kind to our lack of beer knowledge and liking, but would graciously pick one that they thought we’d enjoy. I’m hoping they continue to do this event annually, because as it grows, I know Sacramento will follow suit and attend.

The best underrated event in Sacramento in 2015, by far!

Apple-y Ever After: Apple Hill in Placerville, CA

IMG_9776Apple errrythaaang! In Northern California, Labor Day signifies the epitome of Fall, with the season opener of Apple Hill! If you aren’t from this parts of the Golden State, I’ll understand your ignorance to the bliss that is rolling hills and acreage of apples, pumpkins, and Christmas trees.

A short, one hour drive from our Capitol city of Sacramento, you find yourself nestled in the delights of apples and an array of its edible derivative. When I say Apple Hill, the only thought that comes to my mind is apple donuts. Even among the other apple goodness! There is apple wine, caramel apples, apple pie (a la mode, if you’d prefer), apple cider, and actual apples! There are plenty of options for you to visit, pop on over to the official website for all of the locations listed. Events, fun runs, ranches, they have it all!

High Hill Ranch
2901 High Hill Rd
Placerville, CA 95667
http://highhilltanch1.net

IMG_9771I always head to the busiest one first, High Hill Ranch, then find others as I see fit. HHR has it all. Most of all, they sell my favorite apple donuts in various forms. I prefer the ginormous apple fritters and the cinnamon sugar apple donut, but there are about 12 different options to choose from! Don’t get me wrong, there are other spots that sell apple donuts, almost all, but I love hitting this one up first. You get the most apple for your buck. HHR has everything that would embody fall – apples, apple cider, apple wine, caramel apples, fresh apple pies, a pond for fishing (crazy expensive to do), a ranch tour on a tractor, plenty of picnic tables, a fudge store, craft tents, kettle corn, and lunch food to balance out the sugar, apple high you are certainly going to have.

IMG_9781Their little wine shop has about five different apple wines, in addition to selling apple shakes and the cutest knickknacks. On the hot day I visited, I opted for the Apple Wine Spritzer, pretty fancy, huh? Apple wine plus Sprite, was the perfect elixir to drink while waiting in the face painting line.

This spot is crazy family friendly, as are most of the locations in Apple Hill! There is ample room for kids to run around and be loud. Most locations cater to families, with things such as face painting and plenty of picnic tables. If you’re trying to save a few pennies, bring your own food for lunch and treat yourselves to a dessert, while still enjoying your surroundings. From Labor Day to Halloween, most locations also sell pumpkins.

I’d set aside a whole day, from transportation to visiting multiple locations, it’s worth the day trip. If you can go on a week day, I’d suggest that. If you don’t mind crowds and lines, then by all means, go on the weekend. Once Apple Hill is open, it’s pretty much inundated with everyone within a 50 mile radius…it’s that fun, tasty, and enjoyable!

Apple Hill is like the California State Fair of Fall!

City Under Construction: Sacramento Cocktail Week

IMG_9197I’ve already been crushin’ on Hook & Ladder for a while…

But again, they’ve made me fall a little bit deeper. Sacramento takes its themed weeks very seriously. So, it’s no surprise that Sacramento Cocktail Week would be any different. Each night a location is selected and they host an event in the honor of Sac Cocktail Week.

Hook & Ladder killed it for Bacon Week, so I knew I had to check them out for an evening dedicated to their true love, libations. Their food is amazing, but they take their hand crafted adult beverages extremely seriously over there.

Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. 
1630 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95811
916-442-4885
hookandladder916.com
http://sacramentococktailweek.com

As we walked up, I knew we were in for a completely themed evening. I guess the bright orange construction roping and construction clad doorman were a huge hint. Construction, huh (is what you’re probably thinking)? Well, given our downtown is in shambles due to the new Sacramento Kings arena, I think this was their homage to the exciting beginnings that is happening in our city. Completely themed, the staff was donning bright orange vest and Sacramento Kings, purple hard hats. There were four “construction” stations, two inside and two outside:

Hammer & Nail Station – Shots, shots, shotsIMG_9234Draft Station – Beer

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Grout Mixing Station – Cocktails, The Brick & The Mortar

IMG_9220 Paint Shaking Station – Cocktails, Matte, Red & Primer

IMG_9202In addition to the stations, the bar was also serving their own menu of construction themed libations. Every drink was $8, which is a good deal for H&L. The stations all required you to prepay for a red ticket, which you redeemed at a station.

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The outside stations were where it was at, which is not to say the inside wasn’t tasty. However, outside the theme was taken to the extreme. Have you ever had a drink that was shaken via a paint shaker? No, me neither! The dramatics behind the cocktail making was a show in itself. I was thoroughly amazed and enjoyed their attention to detail. These drinks came in cups that emulated paint cans, although clear and plastic. They killed it with this station, from conception to execution and I was thoroughly delighted.

IMG_9211 IMG_9201 IMG_9204 IMG_9205IMG_9210IMG_9214I couldn’t justify ordering my next drink from the bar, so again, I found myself on the patio at the Grout Mixing Station. I even got out of line to watch a dude cut ice with a chain saw. I ordered one of each of the drinks, since I’m a (spice) wimp, I stuck with The Mortar, and my BF tried The Brick. This station was all about teamwork, the duo behind the station worked hard on the presentation of the drinks. Again, both tasted delicious and were aesthetically pleasing!

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IMG_9228Don’t worry; we both shared the Big Mike Bacon Cheddar Burger so we could walk out of there properly! It was definitely a night dedicated to cocktails, but their food was on point, per the usu. Their effort to stick with the theme and pay their respects to our local, hometown team did not go unnoticed. H&L kills at every single one of these themed weeks, time and time again. Sac(ramento) Cocktail Week was no exception!

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What isn’t there to like about a themed cocktail soiree?!?