▪ Beer Cap Maps
Starting at $39; www.beercapmaps.com
Searching for a way to commemorate your latest road trip or create a customizable piece of art? Look no further than Beer Cap Maps. Made in Wisconsin from specially treated plywood, these cutouts come in both state and country designs. Fill with your own caps. The company sells directly to customers via its website, and says it can take up to a month to get your map after you order it due to high demand.
▪ Jeremiah Weed Sarsaparilla Whiskey
$18.99; available at Corti Bros (5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento); cortibros.com
Flavored, underproof whiskeys generally don’t get much play from the craft spirits crowd, but here’s a bottle that’s a good fit for any home bar. This whiskey comes blended with sarsaparilla root – a key ingredient in traditional root beer – along with spices and other flavors for an old-timey taste with a kick. While many flavored spirits can come across as cloying, this number has a well-balanced character that’s both sweet and spicy. And at 70.4 proof, a pour served neat or over ice goes down smooth. Add a shot to a root beer float for a cooler-than-Fonzie adult beverage.
▪ Samthong Meat Market sausages
$10 per package; Samthong Meat Market (6235 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento)
Attendees of the annual Hmong New Year Festival at Cal Expo know not to skip the grilled Hmong/Lao sausage served with sticky rice and a side of chili/herb/fish sauce. But you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving weekend for a fix. Samthong Meat Market, a small grocery store adjacent to Laos Kitchen Restaurant, sells these rustic sausages year-round. Stuffed with garlic, ginger and herbs, they’re redolent of lemongrass and feature a nice meat-to-fat ratio. Eat them the Hmong way or go wild-style and buy some baguettes, pickled daikon and fresh herbs at an Asian grocery and make a bánh mi.
▪ ‘A New Napa Cuisine’
$50; 296 pages; Ten Speed Press; www.christopherkostow.com
We recommended this book in October, and we’re happy to see it win some serious accolades. Chef Christopher Kostow, famous for his food at the three-Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood near St. Helena, recently won The International Association of Culinary Professionals’ “Cookbook of the Year” award for his debut work. Featuring more than 100 recipes, it goes beyond the food to feature “the hidden landscapes of Napa Valley, that have influenced and inspired Kostow’s unparalleled cuisine,” according to Ten Speed.
▪ Ataulfo mangoes
Prices vary; Vinh Phat (6105 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento) or other Asian markets
Ataulfo mangoes, sometimes known as honey mangoes, are good enough to make you forget the bland, fibrous Tommy-Atkins variety that rules the supermarket the rest of the year. The good news is that they’re in season from now until June-July. These mangoes are small with a thin pit, and are higher in both sugar and acid than other varieties. The flesh has a luscious, custardlike texture. They are good eaten out of hand or doused with lime, salt and chili.
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