Is it really a mom’s world, Raley’s?

Have you noticed Raley’s new marketing campaign?  It’s a mom’s world, apparently, and we’re all just shoppin’ in it.

This ad probably wouldn’t have bothered me 6 months ago.  But then something happened.  I became a mom myself. Read more


Five Guys – so the East Coast can feel better about not inventing In-n-Out

Okay – here’s a post guaranteed to highlight my native SoCalness.  I may as well get my biases out in the open at the start: I think In-n-Out is the burger to beat.  I think people from NorCal are slow to embrace In-n-Out because it comes from SoCal and therefore must be suspect.  Anyway….

So President Obama likes Five Guys and there’s now a Five Guys open in Natomas – gotta give that a try, right?  The place gets excellent reviews and has been creeping west after starting in DC.  How’s the burger? It’s a solid B.

What kind of place is Five Guys?  It’s In-n-Out without the Palm Trees out front, right down to the super basic (but we have our own lingo!) menu. And the red and white color scheme.

A note to first-timers: where In-n-Out defaults to burger meaning burger and something with “double” in the title indicating there are two meat patties in the double-double, at Five Guys, the burger has two patties and the “little” burger, I imagine, has one patty.  I’ve never eaten a double-double so I’d have never ordered a two-patty burger from Five Guys but whoops, there it was, two patties.  You make your own burger by specifying the toppings – all of ‘em – that you want. Don’t assume you’ll get anything unless specified. My husband described it as “Subway sandwich style” burger making.

We placed a to-go order over the phone, so know that this review is based on eating a ten minute old burger that endured a car ride.  Our burgers kind of made it home in one piece.  The biggest failure? The bun. Oh, the horrible, squished, waste-of-calories bun.  It was so flat I wished it were one of those half-bun diet-friendly things on sale at the market now because why waste calories on compressed bread?  Five Guys should take some lessons from In-n-Out on this one: either pack your product better or invest in better bread.  Also, it was just plain, untoasted bread.  There’s no heaven like that of the perfectly toasted edges of an In-n-Out burger bun – amirite?

The burger itself was fine.  Tasty.  I don’t know that it was superlative or that I’d place it above all others in its class.  Also – it’s more expensive than In-n-Out. Just sayin’.

The fries are legit.  Thicker cut than most fast food and definitely made from fresh potatoes – you can taste that.  So A+ there.  How you rank them, if you’re a fryfan, is probably going to depend on why kind of fry you’re in the mood for.

Like I said, I give them a strong B grade overall. A tasty burger and one I would gladly eat again, but posing no threat to the current title holder in Cali.


Making it easier to pay the price

A few years ago, I mentioned that Sac should offer online payment of parking tickets.

Guess what? Now they are!

Maybe they have been accepting online payment for awhile and I’ve just been exceptionaly responsible lately – whatever – I’m glad they’ve taken some of the pain out of apying fees.

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Take me Down, S[ac] Underground

Did you know Old Sac has an underground? Me neither! But it does!  And you can check it out on a tour by the Old Sacramento Historic Foundation:

[Tours will be given] on Thursdays and Fridays, tours depart every 30 minutes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; on Saturdays and Sundays, tours depart every 30 minutes from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (although no tours will be available at 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. due to special stage performances in Old Sacramento).

Tours of the underground last approximately one hour and cost $15 for adults and $10 for youth (ages 6-17). Tour check-in is located at the Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street, in Old Sacramento. Underground visitors will need to be prepared to walk on uneven surfaces in areas that have low ceilings and in occasional small spaces.

I can hang with uneven surfaces (and really, in Old Sac, how many surfaces are even?) but small spaces under centuries old buidlings? Mayyybe.  But if you go, drop your photos into our woefully neglected Flickr pool and we’ll post them on our site.

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State Fair Bovine Buzz Kill

Rampaging, Pregnant Cow Shot To Death At State Fair reads the KCRA3 headline.

Wow, seriously? There are so many ways to go with that headline, I don’t even know where to start.

But it kinda makes me want to avoid the fair.  Not out of cow-fear, but out of baby-cow mourning.

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We’re totally gay and loving it!

Sacramento beat out cities like Austin, Portland, San Diego, and, would you believe, New York, coming in as the sixth gayest city in America.  The ranking over at the Daily Beast credits our central location (ah, the old “two hours from everywhere” credential!) and status as the state capital as attractive to gay couples looking to avoid the buzz of SF or LA.  Certainly Second Saturday’s epicenter at 20th and K helps keep the community vibrant and at the forefront of Sac social life.  So are you surprised we get such high marks?  We’re above even LA and DC.  Small towns can be more welcoming after all!

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Thursday Nights At The Zoo

No, no, don’t adjust your news feeds and readers – this is, in fact, a new post at Metroblogging Sacramento.  Time to brush away the cobwebs and get on with things.  I’m back from an extended maternity leave and trying to, you know, like figure everything out.  If the posts from now on sometimes take on family-friendly theme . . . well, hopefully that’s cool with y’all.

And speaking of . . .  if you’ve ever wondered where all the families go on Thursday nights in July, I think we found them – at the Sacramento Zoo’s Twilight Thursdays.  (No, not that kind of Twilight.  This is strictly Team Giraffe v. Team Red Panda.)

The Thursday events cost no more than regular admission, but the Zoo is open until 8pm, rather than the usual 4pm. Each Thursday through the end of July has its own theme, car show, and dinner special.  Tomorrow is British Night with, of course, British cars, a Beatles tribute band, and a fish-n-chip special.  If the higher prices of Zoo food scare you, bring your own picnic and eat on the lawn by the band.  Don’t like noise? Enjoy a less-crowded, hopefully cool, evening stroll through the zoo – some animals are more animated in the evening hours too.  Last week we enjoyed some Giraffe World Cup soccer (yeah, they were playing with a ball), some red panda antics, and a great view of a chillin’ lioness.

For around $10 – free if you’re a member! – it’s a great way to burn those hours after work but before bedtime.  Even if you don’t have kids.

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Dreaming about Happy Hour

I’m always looking forward to the end of work week by dreaming about Happy Hour.

On my normal days in the newsroom, I’m heading to the bars by 2 p.m. Last week, my friend/co-worker introduced me to Jamie’s Bar and Grill on Broadway. Guy Fieri dubbed it one of his “Funky Joints.” He salivated over Jamie’s prime rib, cooked in a smoker, for “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

Cosmo at Jamie's

The bartenders know how to make classic cocktails taste strong, clean and addictive. After my Happy Hour “appetizer” of a dirty vodka martini, I ordered a Cosmo. Yum! On top of all that, Jamie’s served up free chicken wings for Happy Hour customers. The crispy, spicy wings hit the spot for folks toasting the beginning of the weekend.

Cheers!

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Down by the river

Who says California doesn’t have seasons?
Sacramento River

For the month of April, we had our fair share of Spring storms. Mother Nature has also made wet weather somewhat convenient for folks who had outdoor plans for the weekend. After listening to thunder crashing outside of the newsroom, I found my car dusted with hail.

Hail in Sacramento

By the end of the work week, the stormy weather moves out of our area and leaves behind a sunny weekend.

Ginger Mojito and beer

Earlier this month, we took advantage of the warm weekend weather with dinner on the patio at Pearl on the River. We had a shaky start to our dining experience, but the delicious food and our thoughtful server transformed it into enjoyable evening.
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Second Saturday: April 2010

Spring seems confused in Sacramento.

We kicked off April with a wet and dreary Easter Sunday. Mother Nature followed that up with gray skies and chilly breezes for Second Saturday.

Second Saturday in Midtown Sacramento

Still, it looked like Midtown businesses, galleries and outdoor vendors got a decent amount of traffic from this monthly shopping affair.


Outside of Plum Blossom

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Spring Forward

Daylight Savings is killer to anybody working on a graveyard shift.

I am not looking forward to losing an hour of sleep. I am also dreading more sunlight shining at my bedtime. Last Spring, I remember smelling BBQ wafting over the neighbors, kids screaming and everyone enjoying their non-Vampire lifestyles. I’m grateful for investments in blackout curtains, earplugs and cocktails.

Still, I’m happy to welcome back warmer weather, flowers blooming and other signs of Spring.

One way to celebrate the season: exploring fresh veggies and tasty products at a farm. Today – Capay Organic Farms is holding an Open House. According to Edible Sacramento – folks are hiking around the farm, making lemonade and enjoying live music. It’s also free :)

I’m also looking forward to seeing Spring bloom at the U.C. Davis Arboretum.

U.C. Davis Arboretum


Slippery

Sacramento meteorologists say we should expect more wet weather this week.
Sigh.

My future garden could use the water. But rainy weather is a pain when I’m trying to stay awake on Eastbound I-80.
[vimeo]http://www.vimeo.com/9863372[/vimeo]

My solution: drinking plenty of water and singing along with my iTunes playlist. Good times.


Slurp It

Waking up to more rain. This weekend – I’m sure plenty of people are ready to hunker down at home with a decent supply of beer and munchies.

On Sunday – some folks want to stay inside and watch Team USA kick take down Team Canada for the Gold Medal Match in Hockey. USA! USA! USA!

On a dreary day like this one, I’m also willing to leave my cozy home and venture outside for a great bowl of noodles.

Dumpling Soup
I enjoy warming up inside Noodle City in Davis. It’s a small food spot packed with savory aromas of meat, soy sauce and soupy goodness. I ordered the Dumpling Soup on my last visit. It was a fine mix of broccoli, carrots and dumplings – all swimming in a savory broth.

On the other side of the Pacific, the New York Times posted a fun, educational article on the art of finding and enjoying the perfect ramen shop in Tokyo.

By the way, I’m still on the hunt for a yummy noodle/ramen spot in Sacramento. Any recommendations?

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Variations on Comfort Food

The ladies who lunch….

…end up at Tuli Bistro. On my lunch dates in Sacramento, ladies always suggest meeting up at this intimate foodie spot on S Street. Folks who have been working for 10-hours in a windowless office will enjoy the sunny skies on the patio. On colder days, we can warm up by the bar and the woodfire oven.

Mac-n-Cheese from Bistro Tuli

“That’s not from a blue box,” pronounced one chef behind the bar.

Tuli’s lunch menu offers modern, gourmet versions of burgers, fries, pizza and more. I always come back to this classic comfort food: Macaroni and Cheese. Tuli’s bakes gemelli pasta with three cheeses and cured ham. This scrumptious dish works for me in warm and cold weather.

Lately, I’ve been challenging myself to whip up my own versions of comfort food. This year, my hubby asked for Mac & Cheese for Valentine’s Day.
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Pizza and a Movie

Blue tails whipping in the air.
Wispy souls dancing on a breeze.
Metal monsters blasting anything that moves.

Yes, I finally saw Avatar in IMAX 3D. This our second attempt to watch the James Cameron film at the IMAX theater on K Street. On our first attempt, we made the mistake of trying to purchase our tickets at the theater. This time around, we reserved our seats online.
Great Success.
IMAX Theater in Sacramento
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