Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Event dining

Today is my 9th wedding anniversary. The only place my wife wants to go is, believe it or not, P.F. Chang’s. She loves going there because of her food allergies and their extensive gluten-free menu. I love her, so there we’ll be going.

Where do you like to go to celebrate? Waterboy? Masons? Let us know where and why!

Bad photo. Good tuna.

Ambrosia Cafe

Yesterday, in a rush to find something not fast, not expensive, and hopefully at least passingly healthy, I ducked into Ambrosia Cafe, right across from the Capitol at 11th and K Streets.  If you work downtown, this isn’t the place to go if you DON’T want to see people you know during lunch.  If the weather’s nice, though, it’s a great see-and-be-seen sort of place that doesn’t require a lot of time or money.

Ambrosia isn’t new and there’s long been a cafe there, by several names. Yet I find I forget about it frequently. Each time I have lunch there, though, I can’t figure out why it doesn’t stay on my mind longer.  They provide a casual walk-up-and-order atmosphere, a truly tempting looking deli case stocked with salads and sweets, and a varied, interesting sandwich menu (something I especially appreciate).  My two favorites are the BLT (it’s all about the quality of the B) and a well-flavored tuna salad.  Technically, the menu offers a tuna melt, but I’ve never been a fan of frying something already good by virtue of all the mayo.  I have no idea what the calorie count is, but it doesn’t taste heavy, so we’ll just leave it at that.

 If I ever make it out of the house early enough, I’m going to try their Creme Brulee French Toast because . . . hell, do  you need it explained. Creme Brulee. Breakfast. Sold!  The description implies it could give Cafe Bernardo’s Amaretto French Toast a run for its money, but we’ll see.



After blogging about it, planning to do it, putting it off, forgetting to do it, neglecting to do it, etc, we finally – FINALLY – got our act together and sent our check to the nice people at Full Belly Farms. We’re now proud, satiated members of Full Belly Farms – a local CSA. I owe it all to my old friend Jen who’s flickr page and blog are chock full of hunger-inducing shots of fresh food and strive to impress upon readers the importance of locally and sustainably grown food. Jenn takes the sort of food photos I dream about taking. Jealous!

Anyway – this is our second CSA box. Last week, I had to use google and a flickr tag search to identify all the goods we picked up. This week, everything in the box is more familiar, even though we don’t exactly know what to do with it all. As I type, the smell of roasted vegetables is filling our apartment. Red and yellow potatoes, green garlic, several kinds of squash and winter root vegetables. Some fresh rosemary from our porch – the only thing out there that hasn’t succumbed to frost and improper drainage. It’s probably the simplest meal we’ll eat all week, but it will probably be the best too.

All that for just $17 a week. Good nutrition. Good for the environment. Good for easing liberal guilt in a far more meaningful way than “carbon offsets.” [wink] Pretty much good all around. It forces us out of our culinary box and into theirs. You should join.

I am not a restaurant critic, really.

MSN has a list on its website of the 10 hottest restaurants in Sacramento. I have only been to three out of the ten. A mini rundown of where I’ve been:

Dragonfly: good. Unusual interior design, but good for large groups.

Bistro 33: haven’t been there in about 7 years– if it’s the one I think it is.

Pronto: good, but greasy. Don’t go there if you’re dieting (unless you want to break your diet).

There you have it. My one and a half cents on the local hip restaurants. Hey, if it costs more than 10 bucks for a lunch plate, it’s unlikely I’ll be going there…the budget crunch is not just in the capitol building.

Suzie Verdict

Okay I admit it. I was one of those folks in line for a free Suzie burger cheeseburger today. They’re handing them out until 1 PM, so you might just get in there if you’re lucky.

Cheeseburger, fries, a small beverage, and also included in the bag of free goodies were pickles and a few cut carrots. I’m not sure why the carrots were there, but I ate mine.

Now, about the burger: moderate size, toasted bun, not excessive on veggies. Good flavor…BUT pink in the middle. I don’t usually like my burgers pink, and so I didn’t finish it, but I’ll give them a try when they open for real on January 3rd. We figured they haven’t gotten all the glitches worked out yet. That’s a glitch they’ll need to fix ASAP.

The fries were good and the ketchup was carefully hand-served by an elderly gentleman. The menu and prices seemed reasonable. The kid cheese steak meal is advertised as $2.25 for sandwich, fires and soda. I don’t think you can beat that around here…I hope I didn’t misread it.

The décor of the place is charming–it still looks like the inside of a garage. The floors are concrete and the seating is black indoor picnic tables along with cheery decorations of a Jetson-like character that I imagine must be Suzie. It’ll be worth a visit with the kids just to see how the kids react to Suzie (Jetson).

I’m actually more interested in trying the cheese steak than the burgers but shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Burgers on the horizon

I’ve been patient. I’ve watched as the old Tune-up Masters was tidied and redone and the roofing was updated. I’ve watched as the parking lot was repaved and prettified. Outdoor seating has been added. Just last week the Suzie Burger signage was put up. It’s in lovely eye-catching red and yellow. Not to be confused with another burger purveyor with similar colors.

Last night the lights were on at Suzie Burger, but no one’s home just yet. Can’t wait. I hope the burgers live up to the hype.

Looking for lub or just a friendly greasy spoon?

Check out the website for the 49er truck stop here in Sacramento, where the I-80 crosses the I-5. I was “blessed” with an opportunity to meet a friend there recently (longer, more convoluted story). And no, I was not purchasing drugs or a companion for the evening, but I suppose you could do that anywhere, even at Mikuni’s or Rick’s Dessert Diner–if you look hard enough for purveyors of such things.

As with all things truck stop like, I was concerned about the appointed meeting place so I looked it up on the web and was reassured. Seemed like a nice place–online. But it wasn’t AS nice and pretty as it is on the website. Overall, though, it wasn’t as bad as a truck stop might be. (I worked at one once when I was in my teens, back in the Dark Ages. Scary.) The staff was friendly and it reminded me of the Midwest–yes, right here within a few miles of the center of the city.

Open House for Nerds

Cool, the California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts (because you know women and art aren’t very historical) will be hosting an OPEN HOUSE Saturday evening which includes FREE admission to the museum, and free parking. The primary purpose is to show would-be researchers a glimpse at the archives.

It’s 4-8 PM on Saturday evening, October 6th, and there’ll be refreshments. But I don’t think it’ll be much more than clear kool-aid (so as not to stain the documents) and maybe a few Costco cookies. (Have you ever noticed how cheap those cookies are?)

Oh yeah, the museum is at 10th and O streets, in the heart of downtown, a mere few steps away from our own beloved white house, the State Capitol building.

One less customer

I rarely go to Jimboy’s on 29th Street. It’s usually because of my restricted diet. Well, I went there today after nearly a year or more of not going. It’s crowded, but I am not sure why. They’ve lost a customer, even a rare one, today.

I asked for no beans, no guacamole, and no olives on a taco salad. I then noticed that the receipt said no sour cream, no guacamole, no olives. I went back and explained my dilemma to the cashier who explained to a worker my concern–in Spanish–but it was clear she was trying to explain what I wanted.

I was handed a takeout salad and I peeked at it–it looked “okay” with the exception of a Godzilla size dollop of sour cream. Brought it back to the office. The salad had chicken on it. Over-peppered, over salted. Oh, and there, under the chicken, was the half forgotten dollop of beans that someone appeared to have scraped off, but they gave it to me anyway. I almost didn’t notice it under the thrall of overripe tomatoes. No wonder the lady at the counter didn’t look me in the eye when she handed it over. Sloppy, people, sloppy. (P.S. This is not the first time they have made a mistake like this–but it is the last straw–or bean–for me.)

I’ll spend my money elsewhere next time, thank you.

Out and about in Sactown

Flat bumps in the road: what’s with the new ‘flat’ bumps (aka ‘speed tables’) on 24th Street? They’re not nearly as fun as the old speed bumps. Not only that, but it seems like they’re not slowing any of the SUVs down–just the smaller car drivers, who were probably not speeding on that street, anyway.

Burger Watch: They’ve finally started the construction work over at the future home of Suzie Burger. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to salivate already.

Traffic girth control: Both 19th and 21st Street are going to be downsized into two-laners with room for bikes. Find another route home, if you dare. Or maybe dust off that Trek and use your own fuel.

Shopping cart man: were BOTH those bikes on your cart yours? How can you ride two bikes, one pink, one yellow, when you’re pushing a full shopping cart? Is anyone out there missing a putrid yellow bike or a shocking fuchsia one? I may have seen them floating down Q Street on the back of a rust-dusted shopping cart.

Oto’s on Freeport:
New incarnation of the Japanese-food-focused grocery store is now open, in a highly visible spot. If you want tiny one-human desserts or to make your own sushi, this is the place to go.

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