For decades, California’s small farmers, fishers and purveyors of artisanal foods have had no better champion than Alice Waters, the much-honored chef, restaurateur, food activist and cookbook author who opened her legendary Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley in 1971. It’s generally agreed that she has redefined our approach to what we eat, where we source it and how we cook it. Fittingly, she is widely known as “the mother of American food.”

After years of modest growth, Hot City Pizza has blown up in the past 24 months, becoming a beloved hole-in-the-wall destination for good pizza and amazing beer.

As part of Sacramento’s Farm to Fork week, the California Auto Museum, Hops to Table magazine and Dad’s Kitchen are hosting a beer-tasting event – the Sacramento Fresh Hops Beer Fest – featuring the offerings of more than 25 breweries, many of them from the Sacramento Valley.

With Halloween creeping up fast, pumpkins are starting to show up at supermarkets all over town.

These days, Lisandro “Chando” Madrigal, 34, is one of the kings of the local taco game, drawing crowds to his two locations of Chando’s Tacos, going mobile with a high-end food truck and prepping to open a third location in Roseville next month. He also has a phone app for ordering that allows savvy foodies to avoid the long lines. Recently, Chando’s got some attention when it won raves in a national burrito showdown run by journalist-statistician Nate Silver on his website and blog

Chocolate is expensive. We’re not talking Hershey’s Kisses, though everybody likes ‘em, but fine chocolate from Belgium and Switzerland, and from small-production companies in California. For instance, we’ve seen 2.5-ounce artisanal chocolate bars made in the Bay Area sell for as much as $12 at specialty stores, and bars of imported chocolate bars typically priced at $6 to $8.

Chef Evan Elsberry specializes in a number of dishes at his restaurant, Evan’s Kitchen, including prime rib, rack of lamb and seafood pasta. He also regularly matches ethnic cuisines with appropriate wines, usually coming up with some surprises. In past months, he’s sold out his Italian, French, Spanish and German wine-pairing dinners.

Thomas’ bakery has been busy this year with limited-edition offerings of bagels and English muffin. Over the past few months, consumers have seen maple french toast-flavored bagels and cinnamon-vanilla English muffins, followed by cinnamon-redolent apple pie muffins and bagels.

A fresh harvest of this popular nut will arrive in stores and markets soon, but pistachios are good for a lot more than snacking.

The plants are ravaged, the lower leaves yellowed or shriveled, the vines tangled around their cages. But the feisty Sun Golds and Better Boys with their big deep roots keep pumping out tomatoes, so there they stay. Maybe you’ll wait to pull them out. Maybe after the first frost.

This easy and unusual recipe comes from “Taste of Home’s 2004 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes”

Sunday’s cover story in Feast focused on Whitney Johnson, who’s described as the current maven of Sacramento restaurant design. Her clients include some of the most buzzed about bars and eateries in town, including Shady Lady, Hook & Ladder, Citizen Hotel and its Grange Restaurant, and a much anticipated barbershop and bar coming to the R Street corridor.

I didn’t appreciate the numerous lovable qualities of dried beans until my college years, when I was living on my own in a house with several other women, all of us strapped for cash. As soon as we discovered that beans are a tasty, economical and nutrient-rich alternative to animal-based protein, they began turning up at the center of our plates with real regularity.

The French region called Alsace is a charming place, about the size of Connecticut, separated from the rest of France by the Vosges Mountains and from Germany by the Rhine River. It’s full of picturesque, medieval wine villages with cobbled streets and Michelin-starred restaurants. Tourists come for hot-air ballooning, cooking classes, wine museums and of course, tasting the wines.

Here’s the thing about baked white fish, such as haddock or cod: We know we should eat more of it because it’s such a healthy choice. Trouble is, we also know that most baked white fish is dry and tasteless.

Rutherford area vintners take a hands-on approach to saving a vintage

Grocery Outlet, a privately held discount supermarket chain with Sacramento stores, announces it’s being acquired by new investors.

We took our autumn baking to a delicious new level by combining two fall classics, pumpkin pie and cinnamon rolls, then topping them with homemade caramel sauce. For added oomph, we sprinkled our creation with flaked sea salt.

A staple of Mexican food in south Sacramento has lost its patriarch, Miguel Unzueta, the owner and founder of Caballo Blanco restaurant. He died Friday at age 88.

The scent of sizzling pork and the spirit of community wafted around Raley Field on Sunday afternoon. FoodStock, hosted by Mulvaney’s B&L restaurant and a collective of local chefs, helped usher in two weeks of celebrations of Sacramento as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” with a pig roast for 900 people.

Somewhere inside Hook & Ladder, among the rustic wood paneling and industrial aluminum trim, Whitney Johnson has hidden a small dinosaur. The prehistoric beast could be embedded in a custom painting or serve as a magnet behind the bar.

When Nagato Sukiyaki opened for business on Dec. 23, 1970, it was a true mom-and-pop operation – plus two young boys, making the restaurant a home away from home.

The Sacramento region is in the midst of celebrating its self-designation as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” with a variety of food-related festivities running through Sept. 28.

The food runner at Aji Japanese Bistro in El Dorado Hills recently got a nasty earful from a customer. How dare this restaurant charge $20 for bringing in a bottle of wine from home?

Better than Brittle, Anchor California Lager and seafood nachos at Lou’s Sushi

The spicy fermented side dish has mythical standing at the Korean table.

In less than two years, the Sacramento region’s Farm-to-Fork event and related activities have grown rapidly, surprising even those who helped get it started.

They rattled, rumbled, hummed, purred and roared in the midday sunshine Friday: Dozens of tractors – big and small, new and old – kicking off two weeks of farm-to-fork festivities with a homespun parade on Capitol Mall.

The owners of midtown’s LowBrau are eyeing a project that will bring a new set of food and drink options to West Sacramento’s riverfront.

Even at $75, the Broderick Roadhouse “Off the Bridge” dinner scheduled for Sept. 28 was a relative deal. The multi-course meal on the final day of Sacramento’s “Farm-to-Fork Week” celebrations was designed as a more affordable alternative to the $175 Tower Bridge dinner that same day - not to mention some relief from the abundance of pricey farm dinners held regularly throughout the region.

Just as barbecue season continues (does it ever really end?), so does our search for great spice rubs and sauces. After years of tasting hundreds of them, we’re favoring on Kit’s Kansas City BBQ Rub by Miner’s Mix (think brown sugar), Roy’s Seasonings and Dizzy Pig rubs.

Over the decades, pizza takeout boxes from pizzerias nationwide have been adorned with surprisingly intricate art. Some boxes depict involved scenes showing pizza-makers at work in their kitchens, for instance; others are covered in scenes displaying everyday life in Italian villages.

After a four-year hiatus, it’s time to pig out again.

Sacramento is a booming craft beer town, with more breweries opening, several breweries expanding and plenty of breweries winning prizes. But sometimes it’s worth checking out the scene elsewhere to see what’s new and exciting and, possibly, what might fit in back here.

If you think the food at Centro Cocina Mexicana tastes as good as your grandmother’s, you’re very close to uncovering a crucial secret to this 20-year-old Sacramento restaurant’s success.

A class action suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that the Sacramento-based Farmers’ Rice Cooperative misrepresented the rice it sold to rice brokers, retailers and sushi restaurants.

Learn the basics of safe dehydration techniques as a method of preserving foods.

Whether or not the weather cooperates, September marks the beginning of fall baking season. It’s also the perfect time to try some recipes for “ordinary” cookies – good enough for a weekday lunch but not tied to any major holiday.

For so long the chia seed, though a nutritional powerhouse, was relegated to late-night television commercials hawking sprouting cat-shaped clay planters.

Every now and then, you might want to make a meal that, as Tina Turner said, is nice … and easy.

Mussetter Distributing Inc. specializes in bringing more variety and flavor to greater Sacramento area.

Several years ago, Lyonnaise salads were quite the rage in New York’s French bistros. Then the fad faded and I forgot all about them. That is, until this past summer, when I had the happy opportunity to teach some classes in Lyons and reacquainted myself with this regional delight.

Though tsimmes (a.k.a. tzimmes), a traditional part of the Rosh Hashana meal, generally is considered a sweet stew of carrots and other root vegetables, we decided to take our version in a slightly different direction.

The weather was ideal for the crowd of 2,000-plus foodies who gathered this past weekend at Northstar-at-Tahoe near Truckee, and spilled over into the ultra-luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel, a gondola ride above the ski resort.

Kathy Joseph’s command center is in Davis, but her winery and vineyard are in Santa Barbara County.

It took cheese to teach me how good white wine is.

Roseville’s Sammy Hagar-themed restaurant is set to reopen next Monday, and the legendary rocker will take center stage at a downtown welcome concert this Saturday.

On the shelves at Corti Brothers market, the cornflower blue boxes of the Sacramento Cookie Factory’s signature Sacramento wafer sit among the standard Nilla Wafers and Oreos, catching the eye with a distinctive drawing of the state Capitol on the packages. Food maven Darrell Corti is an ardent fan.

If you want to know which additives are in the wine you’re drinking, looking at a label will do you little good, as most labeling is voluntary in the U.S.

Two of the three best steaks I’ve had in recent memory were at High Steaks, the upscale steakhouse inside the massive Thunder Valley Casino complex in Lincoln.

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