Wine & Brew at the Zoo – And a Ticket Giveaway!


Photo Courtesy of the Sacramento Zoo

If the idea of an adults-only evening where you can sip a glass of wine while checking out the giraffes at the Sacramento Zoo sounds like your kind of night out, then you’re in luck! The Zoo’s annual event is back, (they took a year off in 2015), and the new-and-improved version of the event sounds like it may just be a wild success.

Formerly known as the “Kings of Feasts,” the event has now been re-branded to “Wine & Brew at the Zoo.” This year, 28 local wineries and breweries will serve samples while guests are entertained by live music, a silent auction and of course the exotic zoo animals. Food will be available for purchase from local food trucks with 10% of the sales benefiting the non-profit Sacramento Zoo.

Here are the event details:

What: Wine & Brew at the Zoo

When: Saturday, May 14th, 2016 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: The Sacramento Zoo, located at the corner of Land Park Drive & Sutterville Road

Tickets: Purchase tickets online at, or call 916-808-5888

And, SacFoodies has your chance to win tickets! Here’s how: Comment on this blog post OR on the SacFoodies Facebook post and tell us which winery or brewery you are most excited to try at the event (check out the complete list here). We will select a random winner on Friday, May 6th. Winner will be notified via email and/or via Facebook direct message.

Good luck!

SacZoo Wine Brew - vertical 2

Photo Courtesy of the Sacramento Zoo

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Darjeeling Gin is putting California Distilled Spirits on the map


When our new intern, Brandon Smith, mentioned there was a new distillery in Auburn, my ears perked up – I just moved to Auburn and, while I am well aware of the many craft breweries and tap rooms popping up, I hadn’t yet heard about California Distilled Spirits. Much to my surprise, CDS has had a ton of press in recent months, earning accolades throughout the region and beyond. So I took a little jaunt to meet Ed Arnold, owner of CDS, to check things out. Here are my notes from the visit, “distilled” into the real essence of how Darjeeling Gin is made.

Darjeeling Gin – from tank to bottle and from label machine to the shipping box – is hand-crafted by Ed, he is a one-man operation. His wife and 20-something-year-old kids are there for support and his son developed the CDS website. But, all had a good laugh over his success as it relates to the “family totem pole” when it comes to cooking, as Ed explained that he is the “consumer” of the household and at the bottom of that totem pole. But now, with classical music always playing while he works, this former HP executive, has put all his efforts into cooking, ‘er distilling, the perfect gin.


It all starts with the kettle, a hybrid still, sitting in the back of the warehouse in an inconspicuous industrial park. This is where the magic happens. Dry botanicals go in the upper, copper part and are held there during the process. Alcohol vapor then travels up the kettle steaming the botanicals and picking up the aromatics along the way, which is how the final product takes on the flavors of nine different botanicals.


“A lot of experimenting went into the recipe until I finally got it right,” Ed says. Hints of juniper come through – and we know from the name that the blend includes Darjeeling tea, which happens to be Ed’s favorite tea – but I couldn’t quite put my finger on any of the other “proprietary” botanicals. The goal was for the flavor to not be “so intensely floral” and he has perfected a wonderful balance of spices and citrus, with just a hint of floral, for a very smooth and flavorful finish.

Ed says his Darjeeling Gin is made for drinking neat over ice, but it’s also very versatile and, mixologist or not, you can experiment with different flavors by adding a variety of syrups or juices, such as elderberry and lavender, lemon or orange, and seltzer for a refreshing gin fizz. And, if you are a traditionalist, Gin and Tonic will never be the same (in a good way) with Darjeeling Gin.

Another key to the smooth flavor: “We have very good water in Auburn,” Ed says. “That, and I was lucky to hit upon something that people actually like.”

Scratch that, Ed, people are not only liking your gin, they are loving it, and giving it rave reviews. In fact, Ed’s Darjeeling Gin won “Best in Show” in the 2014-2015 World Beverage Competition. Yes, world renowned, but currently only available for purchase here in California and, thankfully for us, in many retail locations, bars, and restaurants around the greater Sacramento region. Click here to find out where to buy Darjeeling Gin.

“Word of mouth, press, and other reviews have really helped me spread the word,” Ed explains. “Darrell Corti of Corti Brothers was my first sale. And, I started with Save Mart here in Auburn and now it’s in every (Save Mart) store.”

Word of mouth will help Ed even further when he opens his distillery for tastings and sales on Saturdays starting this summer, thanks to new California law that now allows craft distilleries to sell on premise just as breweries and wineries do. He’ll also debut his first small-batch whiskey this summer.

In the meantime, Ed will be serving up tastings at the Taste of Excellence, benefiting the Sierra College Foundation this Saturday, April 23, at Sierra College in Rocklin. And, on June 16, he’ll be poolside at Thunder Valley Casino for the Rocklin Chamber of Commerce event Glitz Glamour Girlfriends.

Visit Darjeeling Gin’s Facebook page for more upcoming events and tasting opportunities.


California Distilled Spirits

Darjeeling Gin

Auburn, CA

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National Amaretto Day


Amaretto is one of my favorite liqueurs because of its sweet almond-flavor. Made from almonds or the pits of apricots, or a combination to the two, Amaretto is Italian for “a little bitter,” and originally made in Saronno, Italy – hence the brand name of the most popular brand Disaronno. It’s delightful to sip on the rocks on its own, or mixed in a variety of ways. So, in honor of National Amaretto Day today (who knew?), I’ve gathered a round-up list of my top five Amaretto cocktails from around the web:

  1. Classic Amaretto Sour – Amaretto over ice with simple syrup, lemon juice, an orange slice and a cherry. Yum! (Real Simple)


    Photo Credit: Real Simple,

  2. Amaretto Cranberry Kiss – Amaretto with cranberry juice and vodka. (Epicurious)
  3. Almond Joy Cocktail – Amaretto with cream of coconut, white creme de cacao, and heavy cream. (
  4. Disaronno Milk Shake – Amaretto with milk and vanilla ice cream. (Disaronno)
  5. Italian Sunset – Amaretto with orange juice, club soda, and a splash of grenadine. (

Have fun and experiment by adding your own unique twist to any of these recipes, and you’ll be on your way to pleasing any palate.


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Grilled Cheese Benedict at Bacon & Butter

by Brandon Smith

baconandbuttertextpng-300x46 bbcirclerlogopng-e1368302874966April is National Grilled Cheese Month and April 16 happens to be National Eggs Benedict Day. And while eggs benedict and grilled cheese don’t sound like two things to be celebrated at one time, the grilled cheese benedict from Bacon & Butter will have you questioning why this combination doesn’t have its own national day.


I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about Bacon & Butter. Friends, coworkers and many an online review have given me no reason to think the food at Bacon & Butter is anything short of incredible. Pair the reviews with rumors of substantial lines forming outside before the doors even open, and you’ve officially peaked my (and my taste buds’) interest.

I crawled out from under my rock and dropped in on National Eggs Benedict Day to get my first taste of Sacramento’s Best Brunch and the infamous grilled cheese benedict.  To make a long story short, Executive Chef and owner, Billy Zoellin, and the rest of the Bacon & Butter staff did not disappoint. Two perfectly poached eggs and thick cut bacon rest atop a grilled cheese sandwich comprised of Cheddar, Jack and Mozzarella between two soft slices of Bella Bru Challah bread and a liberal amount of some damn-good hollandaise.

For me, this was a true embodiment of what brunch should be: a meal combing the basic flavors of breakfast and lunch with deliciously prepared ingredients in a unique way. Everything about Bacon & Butter exceeded my expectations from service, to atmosphere and, most notably, the food (especially the freshly made Bacon Pineapple Fritters).The fact they use Farm to Fork ingredients isn’t bad either.


So well done, Bacon & Butter, you’ve successfully found a way to combine two seemingly different classics into a pair that fit together easier than Sunday morning. Check out the rest of the Bacon & Butter’s food, specialty cocktails and fresh baked goods here!

Bacon & Butter

5913 Broadway

Sacramento, CA 95820


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5th Annual Sacramento Beer & Chili Festival


Coming up this Saturday, April 16th, the Sacramento Artists Council, a non-profit organization working to keep art and music in local public schools, will host the fifth annual Sacramento Beer & Chili Festival at Roosevelt Park.

As a big fan of beer and chili myself, (okay, you got me, mostly it’s the beer but I’ll take a side of chili) I actually checked out this event back in 2014, and the announcement of the 2016 event has me dreaming about Watermelon Wheat paired with the chili from Blackbird….YUM.

What can you expect at the Sacramento Beer & Chili Festival this year? Well, in addition to a competitive chili cook-off and beer tastings from more than 20 local and regional brewers, you can also enjoy live music from local acts like The California Stars and The Bitter Diamonds. The festival is dog-friendly and bike parking will be available.

Tickets for Sacramento Beer & Chili Festival are available for purchase online. And don’t wait – the price increases by $5 on the day of the event.


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10 Things You Didn’t Know About…


SO 10 things

  1. I have 20 aunts and uncles. My parents each have 10 siblings. Perhaps that’s why they only had my brother and me!
  2. My grandmother started a few restaurants in Vacaville and Fairfield that are still open today. Even as a mom of 11, my amazing grandmother still fulfilled her dream of becoming an entrepreneur, and in a foreign country, at that! If you’re in the area, stop by Gordito’s in Fairfield or Azteca in Vacaville.
  3. My best friend and I hiked to Machu Picchu. During the summer of 2015, we headed out for an amazing adventure! In Peru, we hiked nearly 30 miles with other hikers from California, Ireland and Australia. After four days and three nights on the Salkantay trek, we reached Machu Picchu! It was the hardest, most rewarding experience I’ve ever had.
  4. I am currently taking Spanish classes. While my mom and extended family are fluent in Spanish, English is my first language. I can understand a lot of Spanish, but I’m a definitely a little rusty. I’ve recently begun watching Spanish novelas to help me learn. I’m currently following El Hotel de los Secretos—you cannot beat the drama!
  5. I love to paint in my free time. I mainly use watercolor, but I recently began experimenting with acrylic paints. Painting is great hobby and de-stresser for me. Unfortunately, I’m quickly running out of wall space in my apartment!
  6. Dog obsessed. If you lose me out in public, just look or listen for any nearby dogs. I’ll probably be sitting on the ground hanging with the pooches.
  7. Chocolate addict. When I first moved to midtown, I think there was one time where I visited Ginger Elizabeth three times in one week. I’ve since weaned myself down to three times a month. Progress!
  8. I escape in cooking. I’m all about experimenting and trying new recipes. It’s a fun easy way for me to unplug and take my mind off of work. My Saturday morning “It’s officially the weekend” ritual involves watching “The Pioneer Woman” and sipping my morning coffee in my favorite elephant-shaped mug. Bliss!
  9. I recently started reading for pleasure. I think I always dreaded reading because I was forced to read so much for school, but recently, I’ve found a few good reads that I just couldn’t put down. I just finished Tina Fey’s Bossypants—she’s my hero. I’m currently working on Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth.
  10. I’ve got a love for vintage cars. My boyfriend is a major car guy and has taught me a lot about the beauty of classic cars in the past five years. Our favorite times have been aimlessly cruising around town in his VW Bug or his old Ford Model A.
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2016 Sac Food Film Festival


Ticket On-Sale Image_2

It’s that time of year again! From April 7-16, Food Literacy Center and the Sacramento Farm-to-Fork initiative will be teaming up to host the 5th annual Sacramento Food Film Festival.

The 10-day festival will showcase award-winning short films, documentaries and family-friendly movies served alongside food and drink pairings from the area’s best local chefs and bartenders. To sweeten the pot even more, the festival also boasts music, art, “VIPea” experiences and more!

Starting on the evening of Thursday, April 7, an all-star cast of local chefs — from Localis, Hawks Public House, Kru Contemporary Japanese, Thai Basil Sacramento, Federalist Public House, Block Butcher Bar and Ten22 Old Sacramento— will be pairing delicious bites with award-winning short food films from the Sacramento area and beyond. Each day of the festival has a different food or film-related theme, hosted by various restaurants and venues in the Sacramento area and sponsored by generous local businesses.

Tickets are sold individually per event, ranging from free admission to $105 for the added VIPea experience. For a full schedule of events and to purchase tickets to the 5th annual Sacramento Food Film Festival, please visit: And don’t delay; events are already selling out!

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A Fabulously Sweet Evening at Andy’s Candy Apothecary


You might have noticed that last month on SacFoodies we celebrated all things fabulous. Well, even though it’s now March, I have something really fabulous to share with you today. Call it fabulous, marvelous, something out of a dream, or whatever you’d like – you’re going to want to know about this.

Sarah Maren Photographers

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Maren Photography and Andy’s Candy Apothecary

Have you ever had a dream that you were one of the kids that got to tour Willy Wonka’s factory and play in his magical room filled with candy? You know, the one that has a chocolate river, whipped-cream filled mushrooms, trees with gummy leaves and numerous other sweet treats. Well I’m about to tell you that right here in Sacramento you can have an exclusive experience that will make those dreams come true.

After hours, Andy Paul of Andy’s Candy Apothecary, provides exclusive, curated tastings of some of the highest-quality confections available, all in the privacy of his gorgeous candy store. From old-timey sweets, to artisan chocolates, to unique treats (spicy and zesty tequila lime tortilla chip brittle, anyone?), he leads groups through tastings akin to a wine tasting with a skilled sommelier. Speaking of wine, Andy also encourages groups to bring in their favorite wines to enjoy with the treats. An evening filled with candy and wine, how bad can that be?

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Maren Photography and Andy’s Candy Apothecary

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Maren Photography and Andy’s Candy Apothecary

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s not bad at all – in fact, it’s pretty great! I recently had the pleasure of attending one of these exclusive candy and wine gatherings at Andy’s with a group of 10 of my friends, and we had an absolute blast. We enjoyed 17 different candies (you read that right!) and brought a selection of wines which we paired with the unique candies that we tasted. Andy guided us through the tasting, encouraging us to enjoy each piece of candy and think about the nuances of flavors and textures (these are not run-of-the-mill candies, so it’s truly worth savoring each bite).

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Maren Photography and Andy’s Candy Apothecary

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Maren Photography and Andy’s Candy Apothecary

The seemingly never-ending selection of candies to try, and the fact that we had the store all to ourselves, made me feel just like a kid in Wonka’s factory (without the fear of turning into a giant blueberry) and it was the perfect way to spend a Thursday night with friends.

All in all, we learned a lot, tasted some delicious treats and had a great time. I’m already thinking of excuses to do it again.

If you’re looking to do something fabulous, book yourself a private tasting at Andy’s Candy Apothecary. I promise it’ll be sweet!

For pricing and additional information on private tastings, click here.

Andy’s Candy Apothecary
1012 9th St.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:30am-6pm; Sunday 11am-4pm

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Skool on K


If you love fish and you love Japanese food, make your way to Skool on K. The restaurant opened in February and is situated on K Street across the street from The Golden Bear. The space is bright and modern and there is even a small courtyard in front of the restaurant for sidewalk dining.

Photo 1

We began our dinner with Grapefruit 75 cocktails, a mix of shochu, (a Japanese liquor), fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and sparkling Rosé.  We enjoyed the cocktails alongside the creamy and salty sea urchin and uni flan appetizer, served in a small mason jar with accompanying crostini.

photo 2

Next, we shared a raw fish sampler plate which featured a cured trout paired with refreshing wedges of tangerine, radish and frisée, creating a stark contrast to the amberjack crudo paired with eggplant, mushroom and daikon. Also included on the sampler was a salmon tartare with miso ginger mustard and topped with a quail egg, which was my favorite part of the sampler plate. Intended to be wrapped up in nori, I might have actually preferred it with some light crostini. We also shared the squid ink spaghettina entrée, which was highly recommended by the staff. Featuring Monterey squid and shrimp with garlic and tomato in a red curry/ lemongrass dashi broth, this was the best dish of the evening.

photo 3

Lastly, we were treated to two desserts: a matcha white chocolate cake in a jar and a Meyer lemon buttermilk panna cotta, the perfect way to wrap up our meal. Thank you to the team at Skool on K for inviting the SacFoodies in!

Skool on K
2319 K Street
Sacramento, CA

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10 Things You Don’t Know About …


photo 1Jenna Buhagiar

1.) I’m currently eating for two. My husband and I are expecting our second child (it’s a boy!) in April, 2016. Our almost-two-year-old daughter is still deciding what she thinks about that.

2.) I’m a state-wide California girl. I was born in San Diego, began elementary school in Boulder Creek (a small town in the Santa Cruz Mountains) and grew up just outside of Sacramento in Rocklin.

3.) I have Aggie Pride and a fondness for Davis. I didn’t travel far from home for college, getting a degree in Communication from the University of California, Davis, and I love to visit my former stomping grounds. In fact, some of my favorite restaurants are in Davis – check out my post on C.R.E.A.M. (a must try for any ice cream and cookie lover!).

4.) Fried Chicken. Enough said? My friends know that I will order any form of fried chicken almost every time I see it on a menu. Fried chicken and waffles, fried chicken sandwich, fried chicken fingers … get in my belly.

5.) I’m a cat lady. But if you follow me on Instagram, you already knew that. My two cats – Blue and Neela – were my first babies.

6.) I love to cook (and I love to eat). My dad is an amazing cook and definitely passed on his love of cooking (and eating) to me. Growing up, my dad always cooked from scratch and I seriously didn’t know that baked goods could be made out of a box until I was in high school.

7.) I have a love/hate relationship with eggs. I love eggs in things – quiche, frittata, baked goods, fried rice, egg salad, you name it. But I just can’t get myself to join the “egg on top” bandwagon. I’m not a fan of a runny, scrambled or fried egg. And please don’t ever try to make me eat an omelet.

8.) Reppin’ for West Sac. Sometimes it feels like I rarely leave my West Sac bubble, but with our own Nugget Market and Target, why would I need to leave? Our budding craft brewery scene isn’t helping, either.

9.) Wine and beer are my friends. I always feel at home in a great winery or brewery. A daunting wine or beer list at a restaurant doesn’t scare me. Bring it on! I love to experiment and am always enjoying old favorites and trying new things (although not for the past nine months, but I’ll be back at it again soon!).

10.) When all else fails, make pizza. So simple, but sometimes the best meals start with fresh pizza dough. It’s my favorite blank-slate for home cooking.

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