▪ Common Cider
$6.99 for a 22-ounce bottle; available at local drinking establishments and retailers; www.commoncider.com
This hard cider ironically comes from Drytown in Amador County, but soon will be made in Auburn when the company expands to a new cidery there. Common had an impressive showing at the recent New York International Beer Competition, where it took gold and bronze medals in two categories and was named “cider of the year.” Outside of bars and restaurants, find the ciders in five flavors at Whole Foods, Total Wine, World Market, BevMo and some Raley’s supermarkets.
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▪ Sacramento Food Film Festival
Prices vary (includes free events); Thursday -March 29; foodliteracycenter.org
The movies, menus and venues have been chosen, and organizers are poised to screen the fourth annual Sacramento Food Film Festival. The program will feature 11 food-related films, most paired with special meals (from bites to four-course dinners) at top restaurants and other venues. Look for plenty of food for thought, segueing to discussions. Some events are free, others range from $15 to $70. Closing the festival will be the activist documentary “Food Chains” at the Turn Verein community center. All proceeds go to the Food Literacy Center, which teaches “low-income elementary children cooking and nutrition to improve ... health, community and environment.”
▪ Ol’ Fashioned Maple Soda
$6 for 8 ounces of Real Vermont Maple Syrup; multiple retail outlets; vermontmaple.org
While you await news of the 2015 maple sugaring (sap is still frozen later than usual in Vermont’s maple forests), step outside the syrup-on-pancakes routine. Make your own old-fashioned soda. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of real maple syrup into a glass of seltzer; add ice. You’ll avoid preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup but get plenty of nutritional benefits like antioxidants, phenolic compounds and naturally occurring minerals.
▪ Chopsticks: A Cultural and Culinary History
$30; 224 pages; Cambridge University Press; www.cambridge.org
Many diners make a point of using chopsticks when they eat at Asian restaurants. It just seems like the polite and culturally correct thing to do. What they may not know is that chopsticks have been around for, oh, about 6,000 years and come with their own set of etiquette. It’s all detailed in the scholarly and fascinating “Chopsticks: A Cultural and Culinary History” by historian and university professor Q. Edward Wang. Before you dive into your favorite dish, you should know that it’s bad manners to leave your chopsticks “standing vertically in a bowl of rice or other food while dining.”
▪ Crystal Creamery’s White Chocolate Raspberry Dream
$3.50 for 1.75 quarts; available at markets including O’Brien’s Market, Nugget Markets and Wal Mart; crystalcreamery.com
A popular limited-edition flavor of Crystal ice cream is set to return to freezers in the next few weeks. White Chocolate Raspberry Dream features white chocolate-flavored ice cream with raspberry swirls and dark chocolate raspberry mini-cups. Crystal Creamery releases limited flavors throughout the year. Past flavors have included Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie, Peppermint Blizzard, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie and I’m Your Huckleberry.
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