Sacramento best mani-pedi at The Nails Stop

Finishing touch under Van's gentle care. Yes, happiness on the bracelet was right. Credit Are You That WomanRating: Star! Star! Star! Star! Star!
Yes, 5! Count 'em! Five stars! I'm in love with my (new to me) mani-pedi local The Nails Stop! Thank you Van for the wonderful treatments -- especially the foot massage!  I had been looking for a new manicure-pedicure location for a long time. Something closer to home. So lucky to find you less than two miles away on Stockton Boulevard. My hands and feet are so happy. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Everyone was incredibly friendly. The shop is small but that's how I like it. Definitely call for an appointment. Walk ins probably not a good idea but i'm okay with that.


Okay, I shouldn't give away all these fabulous places. Next thing you know, I can't get an appointment. Shop local. 

The Nails Stop
5671 Stockton Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95824
 Get Directions
(916) 452-6986


Every dog should have a girl

Mr. Peabody (and his boy, Sherman) wouldn't mind that I rewrote this famous quote, "Every dog should have a boy!" 

So why am I thinking about this now? Well, tucked away in a small metal box are scraps and scribbles from my life. Some more than 50 years old. It's no exaggeration to confess I saved every thought, every possible poem or insight -- well, nearly every one. Today, I scavenged through the weathered pages, faded pen and pencil, and set aside some things I want to share. Maybe more will come.

When I was nine years old, my father brought home a six-week old standard poodle puppy. A chocolate brown bundle of love. My mother asked, "Is this a small dog?" To which my father replied, "Just look how small he is!" One only had to check the dog's "shoe size" to realize he wouldn't be small for long. From the very beginning, he was my dog. Sleeping in the corner of my room as a puppy and, eventually, sharing twin beds. For 16 years he was a devoted companion. His name was Seymour.


SeymourThe prose - Seymour, July 1981:

Where's that little girl
And the puppy she loved so well?
She'd worry if he stayed out too late.
He'd lie by the front door until she was safely home.
Sleeping for her was easier.
Nights felt more secure,
So faithfully he slept at the foot of her bed.


Barbera Festival Highlights California's Celebrated Varietal Wine

Barbera festivalCourtesy of Balzac Communications & Marketing

More than 70 California wineries will present their wines at the 7th Annual Barbera Festival, taking place on September 16, 2017 at Terra d’Oro Winery in the Amador Foothills. New this year, wineries will not only showcase Barbera varietal wines, but also a limited selection of other Italian varietals, such as Sangiovese, Vermentino, Montepulciano, Fiano, and Nebbiolo.

The Barbera Festival is an outdoor wine and food festival highlighting Barbera varietal wines from more than 70 wineries from throughout California and beyond, including the Sierra Foothills, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Paso Robles, Livermore, Ventura County, Lodi and the Bay Area. In addition, noted area restaurants and chefs will again offer prepared gourmet food for sale, and more than 60 vendors of art and artisan crafts will be showcasing their wares.

“While Barbera becomes more and more popular in California, these wines still remain fairly obscure,” says Brian Miller, founder of the festival. “We started the festival several years ago to draw focus to this delicious varietal wine, and it’s grown into a huge success. Each year is a sell-out and we constantly get feedback from wine enthusiasts how much they love it.”

Barbera originated in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. John Doyle (Cupertino Wine Company, and later Las Palmas Winery) first imported Barbera into California and produced his first Barbera vintage in 1884. Post-prohibition, Louis Martini was the first to produce a varietal Barbera (a wine labeled as Barbera) in 1954. Today, about 7,000 acres are planted in California and nearly 200 California wineries produce Barbera wines. Barbera can also be found from Washington State, Australia, Argentina, and South Africa.

The 2017 Barbera Festival will again be held at Terra d’Oro/Montevina Winery, from 11:00am to 4:00pm on September 16, 2017. Tickets are $50 and must be purchased online in advance at http://barberafestival.com. Tickets include admittance, wine tasting, and commemorative wine glass. Food is sold separately. Free parking is available on-site. Attendees must be 21 or older to taste or purchase wine, and will be required to show photo I.D. as proof of age.

Check here for lists of participating wineries, artists, restaurants, and musicians.

All proceeds from the festival benefit the Amador Community Foundation.

Terra d'Oro Winery
20680 Shenandoah School Road
Plymouth, California 

Balzac Communications & Marketing


Farm to Table: Heal The Ecosystem Through Regenerative Farming

This summer, reSoul Food Farm Dinnertreat from the heat at peaceful Soul Food Farm at a series of dinner parties focused on regenerative farming. In the open, warm summer evening air, share a locally grown and produced, regenerative meal with others passionate about living well. The event series is  hosted by Alexis Koefoed, owner of Soul Food Farm, Spencer and Abbey Smith, leaders of the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management. Engage in deep conversation about how we can change our behavior, farming and consumption habits in order to improve the future of our world. Each event focuses on a different topic within regenerative living. 

This event is a Savory Global Network worldwide field day. Savory Global Network Hubs across the globe will be hosting similar events in their region. Together, they will regenerate our world. Join them at this very special event.  

The menu, designed and created by  Chef Anne Goffin and Alexis Koefoed, features locally sourced meats, produce and wines. 
 

Schedule:
5:00 pm - Arrive, appetizers and drink
5:45 pm to 6:30 pm - Short presentation before dinner
6:30 pm to 7:30 pm - Dinner and film
7:30 pm to 8:30 pm - After dinner walk to ask questions and look at pasture
8:30 pm to 9 pm (ish) - Coffee and continued conversation
Date: June 24. 2017
Time: 5 pm to 9 pm|
Location: Soul Food Farm
6046 Pleasants Valley Road
Vacaville, Calif. 95688 

Part of a three-part farm-to-table dinner series focused on the impact of regenerative farming on the ecosystem, community and economy, the following events are also at Soul Food Farm:

  Soul Food Farm
Jefferson Center
Savory


Whitney Portal Store & Hostel

4 Star Star Star Star - You don't have to climb to #loveWhitneyHostel

Whitney Portal Store & HostelSo remiss on my part for not penning this review sooner.  Whitney Portal Store & Hostel was the perfect overnight location on my short visit to Lone Pine.  I arrived later than expected and found the lobby open and staff waiting to check me in. A long day in Bishop, I happily climbed the stairs to my second-story private room and queen bed. Clean, quiet, TV, microwave and in-room coffee maker. I was a happy camper; minus the camping, of course. I was in Lone Pine for the annual Owens Lake Bird Festival. The hostel was conveniently located just a few blocks from the festival headquarters. Up just after dawn, it made for an easy morning commute.

For those on a budget, the dorm-style Owens Lake Bird Festival OWAC Bishiop 2017 Credit Barbara L Steinberg04rooms (male and female) are the best deal and all rooms have private baths. Views of Mt. Whitney come at no extra charge. The hostel is downtown Lone Pine and an easy walk to local stores and restaurants.


I didn't have a chance to really check out all the hostel has to offer as I was up and gone so early - I would likely have give then that fifth star had I been there longer. Thank you to owners Doug and Earlene Thompson!

Next time a longer visit and that extra star!

 

 

If my Subaru can't get me there, 
that's a good reason not to go!

Subaru logo


BeFries are fry perfection

IMAG3586

 5 Star Star Star Star Star

Yes, I finally found them. French fry perfection. Although, in this case, it's Belgian fry perfection. BeFries has stolen my heart. There can be no other fries beyond this moment. So lucky we just happened upon this new (less than one year) establishment while exploring the streets of Brighton. And happier still I had resisted ordering fries at the local pub.

This family of siblings -- Joe, Dash, Chan and Ezda (and friend Harry) have created fry magic. Locally sourced potatoes, fresh-cut and double-fried are crisp on the outside and a melting soft on the inside. Not overcooked crisp -- but a crust like nothing I have ever experienced. Delivered in their paper cone, the BeFries are also a perfect IMAG3590temperature. Slowly making our way through the large order, they were still nicely warm to the very end. 

First timers, we indulged in 10 dipping sauces. Moving from one to another and then back again, I decided Green Peppercorn and the daily special, Jerk Mayo, were my favorites. I have never used ketchup on my fries and the idea of 'mayo' is just something I've never understood. However, at BeFries I broke my fry purist rules with total abandon. 

Open seven days a week, I wish these young fry fiends nothing but success. And who knows maybe franchises down the road will cross the great wide pond and find their way west. I lied when I said, "These might just be the fest fries ever!" No 'might' about it. They are the BEST! Vote for BeFries for Brighton & Hove Food & Drink Awards 2017. I already did!

BeFries
46 West Street
Brighton, England
BN1 2RA

Photos on Facebook


Make Lemonade

Interesting that I wrote this more than 10 years ago, just publishing for the first time today and adding the current year's date. California will remember the winter of 2017.

We've all heard the old adage about when life gives you lemons.

Caples Lake Sierra Nevada Credit Barbara L Steinberg 2017The same can be said about California waters. Dry winters of little rain or snow translate into lackluster springs. The early browning of grasses across mountains and valleys; a mere window of time between the chill of winter and the fire of summer. In other words, no lemonade.

But in winters of plenty: Plenty of snow, plenty of rain and plenty of cold, that's a lemonade year. Hills above Fish Slough Credit David Mazel

While Californians pine and moan about the winter weather, I say, "Go live where they actually have winter weather! Places like South Dakota or Minnesota. Our winters of plenty--such as 2017--translate into a spring exploding with wildflowers from the hottest desert valleys to the coldest mountain peak. Our winters of plenty mean landscapes of wildflower eye candy.

Thank you Mother Nature for a winter abundant with lemons and a spring overflowing with lemonade.

 

 

If my Subaru can't get me there, 
that's a good reason not to go!

Subaru logo


Sacramento's Best Cookies

Goodie Tuchews wears the crown for more than 35 years! 

It’s shocking tGoodie Tuchewso hear that some of you are not into sweets! A box of expensive chocolate truffles holds no fascination and luscious cakes aren’t your Achilles’ heel. You don’t wait breathlessly for all those candy-laden holidays – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, or Christmas – to be swept away into a sugar coma. However, on the rare occasion when your sweet tooth is itching to be scratched do you know where to go? A place – special above all others – called Goodie Tuchews. Sacramento’s bona fide cookie castle and where Terry O’Reilly, owner and lone baker, reigns as the Cookie Queen.

It’s amazing – nay, stunning – that longtime downtown residents and workers say they’ve never noticed the cookie heaven at 1015 L Street (circa 2007)-- and for many more years at 10th & J streets. Terry’s love affair with cookies pre-dates Goodie Tuchews’ 1981 opening. For five years she honed her cookie skills as a regional manager for Cookie Magoo, a Berkeley cookie chain (which eventually succumbed to the wilds of Mrs. Fields.) Terry had a short-lived break on the road to cookie connoisseur when she went to “live” in Europe . Three months later she was back in Sacramento working at the family-run Goodie Tuchews.

Terry’s dad came up with the 10th Street location. Though lackluster, the rent was cheap. And the name? Just a fun play on words, Goodie Tuchews, it was somehow fated. They found out after the fact that people use to call the Cal Western building the “Goodie Two Shoes Building ” because it housed so many non- profits. Terry, along with her father, Gerald, and six siblings crafted their cookies. Six Cookie Magoo recipes (Terry was granted these as long as she stayed out of the Bay Area) evolved into 19 and a local cookie legend was born. Eventually the other family members left the business and Terry became the cookie maven in 1994.

In more than 25 years at her 10th Street shop and now 10 years at 1015 L Street, Terry has baked thousands and thousands of cookies. About relocating she said, “Everything happens for a reason. The new space is luxurious by comparison and a better location.” Though she’s joined the ranks of prettier storefronts, her cookies will never be cookie-cutter. Each one is made with love. The most popular cookie is always the semi-sweet, chocolate chip without nuts. The only cookie to ever be retired was the gingersnap – due to lack of interest. And rumor has it that the chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips is a real “adult cookie”…try it with red wine. My personal favorites are Snickerdoodle and Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut!

Quoting the Cookie Queen:  “People said, ‘We thought you’d never make it!’ I never imagined after more than 35 years that I’d still be doing this. I made myself a job that I love. My motto has always been, Peace & Cookies on Earth!”

I say, "Amen to that and eat more cookies!"  You can also enjoy Sacramento's Best Cookies and Ice Cream Sandwich!


Yolo County might just be the new Mediterranean for Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Capay Valley and California Blue Ridge Mountains Courtesy of Yocha Dehe Wintun NationMarch winds sweep across lowlands to undulating hills and valleys, where deep grasses rush like waves to an imaginary Mediterranean shore. In olive orchards, silvery white and green leaves shimmer on the zephyr and on warm autumn days, rich fruit dangles as precious jewels. Throughout Yolo County, they promise a bountiful treasure of liquid gold.

As in ancient times, the ripened fruit delivers a heavenly elixir. Among the oldest cultivated trees in the world, olives spread from Asia Minor (Turkey) to the Mediterranean thousands of years ago. The Mission varietal brought to Mexico as cuttings by Jesuit missionaries was first planted at Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá in 1769. Eventually growing as far north as San Francisco Solano de Sonoma (Sonoma Mission), these same Mission olives made their way to John Wolfskill’s ranch along Putah Creek in what is now Winters, California. Thanks in part to Wolfskill’s horticultural expertise, California’s olive industry flourished. Over time, supply exceeded demand, olive prices fell and so did the olive oil industry. Only in the past few years have producers and consumers renewed their love affair with California olive oil. Today, Yolo County olive oil is gaining a reputation as some of the best in the country. It’s time to discover it for yourself.

Why Yolo Olive Oil
Olives Courtesy of Visit YoloTerroir, a French term, literally translated means “earth” or “soil”. While most commonly associated with wine, terroir of olive oil is equally significant referring to the natural environment where olives are grown, including factors such as soil, topography and climate. The combination of warm days, cool nights and no fog create the perfect terroir for Yolo County olive orchards. Not only has California olive oil made a meteoric rise, but Yolo County might just be the new Mediterranean for Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).

“One of the most interesting micro-climates for growing olives, Yolo County gets warm but generally cools off at night. Olives like fog in the winter when they go to sleep after harvest,” stated renowned gourmand Darrel Corti of Corti Brothers gourmet grocery in Sacramento and Chairman of the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition. “They like the kind of climate that humans like—where the living is easy—not too hot, and not too cold or damp. “ 

Olive trees Courtesy of Visit YoloYolo County has been proven as a top olive oil producing region because of the increasing amount of acreage, the perfect mix of sunshine, soil and water—that Mediterranean micro-climate—becoming a tidal wave of both planting and milling.  Prior to 2011, olive oil wasn’t included in the county’s Top 20 Commodities. According to the Yolo County Agricultural Crop Report, olive oil burst on the scene at #20 in 2012 and then leaped ahead to #12 in 2015.

“We are quietly becoming the nucleus of the new wave of California EVOO production, not only because of the dramatic increase in plantings and improved technology, but because UC Davis’ Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science contains the UC Davis Olive Center,” said Dan Flynn, Executive Director, UC Davis Olive Center. “Escalation of the California industry has been dramatic, growing from 500,000 gallons in 2008 to more than 4 million in 2015-2016.” UC Davis Olive Center is doing for olive oil what UC Davis did for wine by elevating it to be some of the world’s best. Established in 2008, the Center put UC Davis on the map for olives and olive oil research and education.

Boundary Bend, Australia’s largest producer of extra virgin olive oil, arrived on Yolo County’s olive oil scene in 2015 – growing, milling and producing – shining a spotlight on Woodland, California. “Climactic conditions in Yolo County are some of the best suited for EVOO production in California. While the county has not historically been a large olive oil producer, there are a number of groves in the county that are among the top producers for both yield and quality,” said Boundary Bend’s president Adam Englehardt. “We’re betting heavily on the quality of olive oils produced in the county and, so far, we have seen results that have matched our expectations. Residents should expect to see the industry grow for both large and small producers. Especially with the support of local residents and retailers.”

COOC SipSwirl, Sip, Slurp, Swallow
Olives are to olive oil what grapes are to wine. Wine is generally better when aged. Optimally, olive oil should be consumed within a year of production as it degrades over time. (When buying EVOO always look for the “harvest date”.) As with wine, EVOO tastings and pairings are encouraged through Yolo County tasting rooms. The California Olive Oil Council (COOC) also encourages learning the “4 Ss”: Swirl, Sniff, Slurp and Swallow. Aroma and flavor are subjective and, as with wine, you should drink what you like. Positive attributes of EVOO are fruity, buttery, pungent, bitterness (fresh olives), black pepper, tomato; the list of descriptors is long.  The COOC’s rule of thumb is to sip EVOO “neat,” on its own without bread or other food. Savor the oil as you would any vintage wine.

Awards and Accolades for Yolo Olive Oil
Made with the most up-to-date technology, the quality of Yolo County EVOO is improving every year. Gone is the romance of granite wheels turned by horse or mule. The best oil is made with modern technology, which is something that no other food industry can say. According to Darrel Corti, “What we have today was unthinkable even 20 years ago.” 

LA Logo Olive OilYolo County olive oils are top winners at prestigious competitions internationally and statewide. The Los Angeles International EVOO Competition, New York Olive Oil Competition, California Olive Oil Competition presented by Yolo County Fair, California Olive Oil Council and California State Fair have heaped honors upon some of Yolo’s best including Bondolio, Grumpy Goats, Hillstone, Séka Hills, Frate Sole, Bariani, Yolo Press, Cobram Estate and Buckeye Creek Farm.  Celebrating its 25th year, the COOC put California EVOO on the world stage by establishing strict standards with its Seal Certification Program. A trade association, they encourage the consumption of certified California EVOO through education, outreach and communications. The COOC Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition is open to member producers only.  Yolo County’s Grumpy Goats Farm’s (Capay) took Best of Show 2017 for their Picual (Medium Producer) along with two gold medals for their Picual and Italian Blend. Cobram Estate’s (Boundary Bend/Woodland) Sevillano also brought home gold. The California Olive Oil Competition presented by Yolo County Fair is the state’s largest competition. Established in 2005, only nine oils were submitted and judged. A huge learning curve, the competition now attracts some of California’s best – tasters and producers—and more than 100 individual oils annually. The Los Angeles County International Olive Oil Competition is the top ranking EVOO competition in the U.S.

Olive Friends – A sample of tours, tastings, and stories
Seka Hills Olive Oil Mill Tasting Room Seka Hills Tasting Room Courtesy of Yocha Dehe Wintun NationWhile some producers are only available online or through retail outlets, other Yolo County EVOO producers and tasting rooms welcome visitors.  “The number and diversity of facilities varies from very large to small mom and pop.  It’s amazing!” stated Jim Etters, the director of land management for the Yocha Dehe tribe. A magical journey up Capay Valley offers a wide array of options including Séka Hills Olive Mill. Opened in 2014, this beautiful state-of-the-art facility was thoughtfully designed by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the owners and operators. The estate-grown Arbequina is milled at the 14,000-square-foot facility; you can try it, along with other Séka Hills products (like wine and balsamic vinegars) in the spacious tasting room. “It’s consistently wonderful,” Executive Chef Steve Toso, Biba Restaurant, remarked. “A nice fresh flavor and not too spicy. Wonderful on cooked fish and Mozzarella di Bufala.”  

Many growers are relative newcomers, but they are a dedicated and passionate lot. The couple behind Grumpy Goats, Pamela Marvel and Stuart Littell, traveled the back roads of California looking for the right weather, soil, water and community. Yolo County’s Capay Valley had it all. “This is it!” they exclaimed and relocated about 10 years go from the Bay Area. Why olives? Well, Pam and Stuart didn’t want to be completely tied down and olives are more forgiving than seasonal row crops. They require less water and love the heat. You’ll hear this again and again in a land of sometimes little water, where olives rule. The orchards are Coratina and Picual varieties whose Mediterranean roots are well-suited to the region. Grumpy Goats' Picual brought home gold from the New York 2017 competition,

Kim and Paul Consol, Star Rose Ranch, tell a similar story. Ten years ago they bought a horse. Soon after, 20 acres in Capay Valley followed. Olives planted as a hedgerow thrived with minimal irrigation and provide habitat for their heritage livestock and poultry. Probably the smallest producer in Capay, their grove contains 200 trees, mostly Italian varietals and a few California/Italian hybrids.

Bondolio Credit Barbara L. Steinberg 2017In 1986, Karen and Malcolm Bond bought a 10-acre almond orchard in Winters but it wasn’t very profitable.  Six years later, a vacation in the Italian countryside changed everything.  Some crusty bread, fresh EVOO and sea salt and the rest is Bondolio history. After additional journeys to Italy, more tastings and research, the almonds were replaced with 1,200 olive trees. Awards soon followed including California State Fair 2017 Best in Show EVVO and Best EVOO by an Artisan Producer. ““If you smell our oil it’s very fruity and grassy, sometimes herbs—the flavor profile of traditional Sicilian oils. Our very first year, we won gold at the New York show. Our phone rang off the wall,” Karen said. Bondolio offers private tours by appointment only and groups are welcome.

Originally from Italy, the Bariani’s moved to a 4-acre orchard near Sacramento. Necessity is the mother of invention. So when they couldn’t find good olive oil, they decided to produce their own, bottling their first oil in 1991. However, Californians had little interest in locally-produced EVOO. “We would go from store to store, but the response was always, ‘It’s too expensive,’” Sebastian Bariani said. Selling at farmers markets, devoted customers asked local stores to carry Bariani. A segment on Martha Stewart changed everything. By 2004, they needed more room and relocated to 200 acres in Yolo County. “We stumbled on this property and just loved it.”

Frate SoleLocated in Woodland, Frate Sole (‘brother son’ in Italian) EVOO is available at the farm, Davis Food Co-op, IKEDA’s (Davis) and Masullo Pizza (Sacramento). Additionally, the oil is used at The Press in Midtown Sacramento in preparation and as a menu item for dipping. Frate Sole’s robust Tuscan blend took Best of the Best at the California Olive Oil Competition presented by Yolo County Fair 2017.

Where to Buy Yolo County Olive Oil
Yolo County EVOO is regularly available at kitchen specialty and gourmet markets including Corti Brothers, Taylor’s Market, Bi-Rite, Market Hall Foods Oakland/Berkeley, Sprouts, Ikeda’s California Country Market/Davis, Well Stocked Kitchen & Home and Nugget Markets. Producers large and small can also be found at farmers markets in Sacramento, Davis and Palo Alto.

UC Davis Olive Center’s Estate EVOO is available at the UC Davis Bookstore and at Picnic Day.  Proceeds support the self-funded Olive Center.

Events
Bici and Bevi Yolo Wine and Olive Oil Ride – Yolo EVOO and wine is presented by Hot Italian and set to benefit the UC Davis Olive Center. Cap off Bike Month this May and join Hot Italian and Bondolio for a benefit ride to explore olive oil, wine, and pizza in Yolo County.

Olive Crush Festival – Enjoy a fun afternoon at the Séka Hills Olive Mill and Tasting Room celebrating the olive crush. The afternoon will be filled with olive oil and honey tasting, wine and sangria by the glass, mill tours, and live music, local vendors, food trucks and more.


Roots to Wine in the rolling green valleys of Yolo County California

Barbara Matchbook Wines Credit Janet Fullwood 2016

After too many years of little rain, California's valleys are lush with agricultural bounty thanks to plentiful rainfall. The back-roads of western Yolo County are shaking off their winter blues for the rich greens of spring and summer. Vineyards and orchards are humming back to life and soon will be burdened with luscious fruit. Family farms will labor to produce world-class wines, olive oils, and jams and jellies -- providing eager visitors with Mother Earth's very best.

That "best" isn't just about buttery Chardonnays and deeply rich Tempranillo or grassy olive oil. It's also about a sense of place, restful views, and family-friendly farms full of smiles. Bring a map and leave GPS behind. Let a quieter pace guide you through rolling hills and along numbered county roads -- a simpler time. Allow yourself to get lost in Yolo.

Roots to Wine, a guide to western Yolo County, is everything you'll need for this idyllic getaway either day-tripping or overnight. More is always better! Like so many before, you'll be saying, "I never knew this existed!"

Now you do!