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Wednesday, July 23 2014
Pear Fair celebrates crop with fun
Kyle Grantham/
A patron sorts through a bin of pears at the annual Courtland Pear Fair in Courtland. The celebration of locally grown Bartletts and other pears will be held July 27.

It’s that juicy time of year again to embrace an iconic fruit that helped shape the Sacramento Delta farm region: The pear.

In particular, the familiar Bartlett is the star of the show at the 42nd annual Pear Fair, to be held Sunday in Courtland in the heart of Sacramento’s pear country. The fairgrounds are located off Highway 160 along the banks of the Sacramento River. Enter the parking lot at Wilson Road, about a mile north of town.

New this year is a quilt show in addition to the fair’s many favorite attractions including live music, kids’ activities, classic car show, wine tasting, duck calling contest, fun run and the 1 p.m. Pear Parade.

Of course, there will be tons of pears, both fresh and made into treats. Among the annual favorites on the very peary menu: pear smoothie, pear-tini, pear-mosa, pear pie, pear streudel and pear ice cream. The fun starts at 9 a.m. Sunday and continues until dusk.

Wednesday, July 23 2014
More tips on preserving tomatoes
Debbie Arrington
Before and after the hot-water bath: The jar on the left contains raw, peeled tomatoes before going into the hot-water bath for processing. The jar on the right has been processed for 85 minutes in boiling water. That cooking process presses juice down to the bottom of the jar.

An avalanche of home-grown tomatoes motivated me to get busy in the kitchen. Even though I’ve “put up” countless tomatoes, I still haul out the recipes and double-check the instructions.

So does Lillian Smith, a longtime UC master food preserver from Rio Linda.

“There are so many variables,” Smith said.

Take processing time, for example. “It depends on how you pack the tomatoes and the size,” Smith said. “They could be in the hot-water bath for 40 minutes at the least (for hot packed) up to 75 or 85 minutes (for raw pack).”

Chris Macias
Pickled cucumbers and carrots, hot sauces and other specialty goods will be on sale at Preservation & Co.’s retail shop starting Thursday

Sunday’s dispatch of “The Nosh Pit” detailed the struggles of Jason Poole to open his Preservation & Co. at 1717 19th St. He envisions Preservation & Co. as a home for his specialty foods business, which includes an award winning bloody mary mix, along with running a commercial kitchen that would cater to Sacramento’s top chefs and bartenders for making retail products. But the situation was looking grim for the moment, as Poole learned recently that his $13,000 walk-in cooler wasn’t compliant with city code.

Poole’s finally embracing some good news. He’s received the go-ahead to open Preservation & Co.’s retail shop starting Thursday. Along with stocking that bloody mary mix, the shop will carry his housemade pickles, hot sauces and other goods. Specialty foods from other small northern California companies will also be for sale.

As for the spot’s commercial kitchen operations, Poole hopes that’ll be up and running “in the next few weeks.” He’s still working out the certification process for his walk-in cooler and clearing other hurdles that can finally give him the green light for a full-fledged opening.

Just getting the retail shop open officially has provided a much needed morale boost.

GHL2M28DF.3Staff Photographer
Randall Benton/

Anyone who procrastinated more than a few minutes to buy tickets for the Sept. 28 gala dinner on the Tower Bridge is out of luck. All tickets for the $175-per-head dinner were gobbled up once they went on sale at 10 a.m. today.

According to the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, a primary organizer of the dinner that caps a two-week Farm-to-Fork celebration in September, 3,000 people logged on to at 10 a.m. to score tickets.

The dinner, which features an all-star cast of local chefs, is geared for 600 guests. Two hundred of those seats were claimed via a pre-sale on Friday for sponsors at a cost of $5,000 for a table of eight.

Proceeds from the Tower Bridge gala are used to fund a variety of activities during the Farm-to-Fork celebration, which runs from Sept. 13-28, including a free festival on Sept. 27 on Capitol Mall. The festival drew 25,000 in its 2013 debut.

GO82LKSUB.2Staff Photographer
Randall Benton/

The Tower Bridge will once again serve as the setting for a $175 dinner to cap Sacramento’s 2014 farm-to-fork celebration, an event designed to showcase the region’s restaurants and agricultural heritage.

Brian Mizner, executive chef of Hook & Ladder, and Jason Poole of Dawson’s will lead the consortium of some two dozen local chefs who will prepare a multicourse dinner for 600 guests at the Sept. 28 gala dinner.

Not far from the West Sacramento side of the Tower Bridge, a pig roast by Mulvaney’s B&L will be held on Sept. 14 at Raley Field. This $40 event is a new addition to Sacramento’s burgeoning farm-to-fork celebrations, and will include 20 whole pigs being roasted as a benefit for the Sacramento Food Bank.

“Everybody’s invited and everyone’s welcome,” said Patrick Mulvaney, chef and proprietor of Mulvaney’s B&L. “A pig roast and bluegrass is a pretty cool day. And it’s affordable.”

Isabelle Taft
Centro Cocina Mexicana lets heirloom tomatoes shine in this salad dressed with creamy avocado and garnished with cilantro and queso fresco.
Isabelle Taft
The fried green tomato slider at Red Rabbit features mozzarella cheese, pesto aioli, buttery brioche bread.

The tomato – much-loved but often relegated to bit parts like sauce or garnish – is finally about to take center stage.

Sacratomato Week kicks off Monday at 10 Sutter District restaurants, including Biba, Centro Cocina Mexicana, Red Rabbit and Ink, which will offer special tomato-themed beverages and foods.

Many of the restaurants’ summer menus already feature the tomato dishes they’ll be highlighting from July 21 to 27, but it’s worth making a special visit to celebrate tomatoes at their ripest, juiciest best. Tomato specials also will be making special appearances at Barwest, Blue Cue, Cafe Bernardo, Momo Lounge and Monkey Bar.

Organizers of Sacratomato Week held a preview event Thursday evening in midtown that offered attendees a chance to sample some of the upcoming dishes. Some tasting notes:

Courtesy of the Mondavi Institute.
Daniel Olivella is scheduled as the first chef at the Mondavi Institute’s new great chefs series.

Local foodies take note: in September, the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis will open its doors to the public for the first time ever as it launches its Great Chefs Program.

The first event on Sept. 13 will feature chef Daniel Olivella, a native of Spain who owns B44 Catalan Bistro in San Francisco and Barlata Tapas Bar in Austin, Texas.

In the morning, 24 attendees will cook with Olivella in the Mondavi Institute’s kitchen and then eat lunch with the chef. In the afternoon, Olivella will host a cooking demonstration and discussion with a larger group. The afternoon session will also include Spanish wine and tapas tastings.

Clare Hasler-Lewis, executive director of the Mondavi Institute, which houses the world’s only LEED Platinum winery, brewery and food processing facility, said Olivella was selected for his expertise in Spanish food and wine.

JOHN BLAIS/ Associated Press
Check out the 35 best burritos in America.

Which Mexican restaurants serve the best burritos in the land? According to the foodies in the field who report to the editors at the Daily Meal — the website that covers all things food and drink — 35 places go beyond the so-so and into the wow!

Naturally, California has a big presence with nine restaurants, including a bunch in San Francisco. Those are La Taqueria for its carnitas burrito (ranked No. 2; 2889 Mission St., 415-285-7117). The Papalote Mexican Grill for its carne asada burrito (No. 4, 3409 24th St., 415-970-8815, La Tapatia in south S.F. for its al pastor burrito (No. 7, 411 Grand Ave., 650-589-5881, El Farolito for its carne asada burrito (No. 11, 2779 Mission St., 415-824-7877). Taqueria Cancún for its wet vegetarian burrito (No. 18, 2288 Mission St., 415-252-9560).

The Daily Meal gives the top spot to La Azteca Tortilleria in Los Angeles for its chile relleno burrito, followed by Gordo Taqueria in Albany for its carnitas burrito (No. 6), La Perla Cocina Mexicana in San Diego for its carne asada burrito (No. 14), and Taqueria Los Charros in Mountain View for its carnitas burrito (No. 16).

To see a slideshow of the complete list, click here.

Fentons Creamery
Fentons Creamery celebrates its 120th birthday on Sunday — National Ice Cream Day — with a $1.20 special on its Junior Black & Tan sundaes plus free ice cream samples.

Here’s a cool birthday party, perfect for a hot July weekend: Fentons Creamery is celebrating its 120th anniversary. And what better day to commemorate that occasion than Sunday, National Ice Cream Day?

Founded in 1894, the famed ice cream maker is the oldest continuously operating creamery west of the Mississippi. It’s the birthplace of iconic Rocky Road, Swiss Milk Chocolate and Toasted Almond ice cream flavors. With locations in Oakland and Vacaville, Fentons still sells a ton of ice cream every day — all made on its parlors’ premises.

On Sunday from noon to 3 p.m., Fentons will host a special party at its Nut Tree Village location, 1669 E. Monte Vista Ave., Vacaville. Patrons can enjoy free scoops of Fentons’ signature flavors and meet the company’s mascot, Myrtle the Cow. Regularly $9.25, Junior Black & Tan sundaes (Toasted Almond and vanilla ice creams layered with fudge and caramel sauces, topped by whipped cream, almonds and a cherry) will be offered for $1.20. Prizes will be raffled every hour. Questions? Call (707) 469-7200 or click on

Matt Kennedy/ Matt Kennedy
The future home The Trade, Coffee & Coworking at 2220 K St. This shared workspace and office building will also house Sacramento’s first Blue Bottle Coffee shop.

One of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most buzzed about coffee roasters and cafes is set for a midtown Sacramento presence.

Blue Bottle Coffee of Oakland will be featured as part of The Trade, Coffee & Coworking at 2220 K St. The 4,000-square-foot space will house private and shared office spaces, along with conference rooms and other amenities for small business owners. The attached cafe, which will include its own seating and wi-fi, will take up about 900 square feet of The Trade and serve as a wholesale partner with Blue Bottle Coffee.

Blue Bottle Coffee is currently available at a handful of Bay Area locations, including San Francisco’s Ferry Building, and one cafe in Los Angeles. New York City also plays home to seven Blue Bottle Coffee shops. The small chain is known for its meticulous roasting and coffee preparation techniques, minimalist decor and popularity with tech workers.

Along with these cafes, Blue Bottle Coffee has hundreds of wholesale accounts at cafes, bookstores and other locations across the country that use Blue Bottle as the core of their coffee program.

Marti Dunne/ Photo courtesy Marti and Mike Dunne
Mike Dunne at one of his favorite destinations of his morning walk, the estuary of San Jose del Cabo.

Mike Dunne, the former longtime wine and food critic for The Bee, shared his thoughts about the State Fair’s wine competition and the enjoyments that wine in general can provide during a live chat on Wednesday.

His comments and answers to questions posed by chat participants provided further insights about the state of wine in California and how he best enjoys the many versions of the drink that blesses this region.

The following are excerpts from the hourlong session:

Question: What wine goes best with a deep-fried Twinkie?

Special to The Bee
Hoppy Brewing on Folsom Boulevard.
Special to The Bee
The burger at Hoppy on Tuesday comes with a commemorative glass.

It’s no secret that Sacramento has experienced a major craft-beer boom the past couple of years. With every new brewery that opens or expands, the question seems to come up: Which of them will survive and which will fade away?

Hoppy Brewing is often overlooked and, perhaps, under-appreciated in the new era of craft beer in the Sacramento region. But one thing is certain – it has plenty of staying power.

On Tuesday, Hoppy Brewing (6300 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento) will mark 20 years in business with an all-day happy hour (AKA “hoppy hour) and a special deal on burgers that includes a commemorative glass you can keep.

According the brewpub’s website, Hoppy made its commercial brewing debut with Hoppy Face Amber Ale on July 15, 1994. I asked Hoppy owner Troy Paski for a comment about longevity in an industry that has seen its share of ups and downs.

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

Appetizers Archives

Note: The Appetizers blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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