Category Archives: Going Green and Sustainable

Sacramento — America’s Farm-To-Fork-Capital

Chef Ravin Patel holds cute little mason jars of baby root veggies in edible "soil.''

Chef Ravin Patel holds cute little mason jars of baby root veggies in edible “soil.”

 

When one thinks of California’s top food cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles come to mind immediately.

As for Sacramento? Not nearly so readily.

In fact, a publicist for the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau told me that when arranging a tour recently for an out-of-state food writer, the visiting scribe’s first question was, “Is there an airport there?”

Why, yes, there is. It is the Golden State’s capitol, after all.

Indeed, Sacramento is home to nearly half a million people, as well as 1.5 million acres of farmland. With a year-round growing season, it produces more than 120 different crops that are enjoyed not only locally but abroad.

It grows more sushi rice than any other place. In fact, chances are if you eat any sushi in California, the rice was grown in Sacramento. The city produces 80 percent of the nation’s caviar. The breadth of the bounty includes everything from almonds to Kobe beef to wine grapes.

The fork in Farm-To-Fork.

The fork in Farm-To-Fork.

Even the table was decorated with freshly grown provisions from Sacramento.

Even the table was decorated with freshly grown provisions from Sacramento.

I was reminded of just how crucial Sacramento is to our plates when I attended a special private dinner last week in San Francisco that spotlighted the city’s culinary treasures. It was a Sacramento roadshow, as Executive Chef Oliver Ridgeway of Grange Restaurant & Bar and Chef Ravin Patel, chief culinary officer of Selland Family Restaurants, trekked down from Sacramento to EatWith’s South of Market event space in San Francisco to prepare a multi-course feast for a dozen food journalists and bloggers. All of it featured fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood sourced from Sacramento.

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Introducing a Revolutionary New Product — Coffee Flour

Get to know Coffee Flour, an intriguing new product you're going to be seeing a lot of.

Get to know Coffee Flour, an intriguing new product you’re going to be seeing a lot of.

 

Did you know that for every pound of coffee beans produced, there’s nearly an equal amount of waste created?

Coffee Flour aims to tackle that immense problem. It is the first company to dry and finely mill that pulp waste on a large scale to create a type of flour that has five times the fiber of whole wheat flour and more iron than any other grain.

Surprisingly enough, the resulting flour tastes nothing like coffee, either. Instead, the gluten-free coffee flour tastes heavily of citrus and cherry.

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I Think I Can, I Think I Can (Plus A Food Gal Giveaway)

My former nemesis, now my sweet friend.

My former nemesis, now my sweet friend.

 

For years, I’ve suffered from a malady.

One that I’ve shamefully hidden, glossed over and tried to ignore.

You see, I am a can-o-phobe.

There, I said it.

I am one who has never canned.

Oh sure, I’ve made jam. And I’ve made pickles. But all ones that could be easily stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Petrified that I’d end up killing friends and family (or at least making them deathly ill), I’d never had the nerve to water process the jars to attempt to make them shelf-stable instead.

Until now.

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Scenes From the Inaugural BITE Silicon Valley

"Top Chef'' winner Brian Voltaggio hamming it up with his crew at BITE Silicon Valley. Gee, can you guess why his Los Angeles restaurants are called Ink and Ink.Sack?

“Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio hamming it up with his crew at BITE Silicon Valley. Gee, can you guess why his Los Angeles restaurants are called Ink and Ink.Sack?

 

If ever there was a place where food and technology intersect, it’s Silicon Valley.

So it was only apropos that the inaugural BITE Silicon Valley extravaganza be held this past weekend at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

The three-day affair brought together some of the country’s most famed chefs, cutting-edge food entrepreneurs, food scientists and food activists to not only talk about how technology has impacted food, but to offer delicious tastes of their work.

Food and technology -- not football -- were the focus of attention this past weekend.

Food and technology — not football — were the focus of attention this past weekend.

Event chair Jose Andres, renowned chef and founder of the ThinkFoodGroup, spoke passionately about how his humanitarian organization, World Central Kitchen, has worked in developing countries to bring about more efficient and safer cooking methods.

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Tantalizing Tastes From the 8th Annual Maui County Ag Fest

San Francisco Chef Ritchie Nakano shows off his saimin dish at the Maui County Ag Fest live cook-off event. Nakano was the only chef to use Spam in his dish.

San Francisco Chef Richie Nakano shows off his saimin dish at the Maui County Ag Fest live cook-off event as Maui Chef Jeff Scheer looks on. Nakano was the only chef to use Spam in a dish.

 

MAUI, HAWAII – Despite its rich soil and tropical, year-round growing season, Hawaii actually imports about 90 percent of its food. To promote a growing trend toward locavorism, the Maui County Farm Bureau has hosted its Maui County Ag Festival for the past eight years.

For the fourth time, I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest judge for the event by the Maui Visitors Bureau.

The all-day event on April 4 drew hundreds to the Maui Tropical Plantation to eat, drink, and mingle with chefs and farmers. A lively farmers market gave folks the chance to buy Maui-grown strawberry papayas, avocados, apple bananas and even hand-pounded poi.

An assortment of food trucks made sure there was no shortage of food. In fact, I hate to admit that my day consisted of: Pigging out at Chef Kyle Kawakami’s Maui Fresh Streatery Gourmet Food Truck, which changes its menu according to the local ingredients available each week; followed by judging 12 dishes prepared by chefs in the live cook-off; then judging another 12 dishes in the Grand Taste event, where each chef had to make a dish spotlighting an ingredient grown by a local farm.

Maui Fresh Streetery truck.

Maui Fresh Streatery truck.

The truck's poutine topped with Maui Cattle Co. braised short ribs.

The truck’s poutine topped with Maui Cattle Co. braised short ribs.

My eating didn’t end there, either. Even though I vowed I was done after that, I somehow ended up at the chefs after-party at Chef Sheldon Simeon’s Migrant restaurant, where plate after plate descended upon the table in a non-stop parade.

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