Local Breweries Surprise Craft Beer Lovers at Strange Brew Festival

Written by Farah Vitale
Photos by Farah Vitale

Walking down the street to The Brewer's Cabinet, I was immediately surprised that after walking a few feet,  I was already in line to get in. Ahead of me, there were easily more than 30 people in line already. The guy in front of me was getting a little antsy and told me how great the festival was last year and wished he would have gotten in line earlier. I nodded but since I had never been, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Well except for a lot of craft beer, which already sounded pretty good to me.

 

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After about 15 minutes in line, I was finally inside the festival and excited to wander around on such a beautiful sunny day. I had my adorable complementary little Strange Brew beer glass, but still didn't know where to begin. There were booths of local breweries surrounding me, most of which I recognized. The place was pretty packed with 6 or 7 people standing around each booth. I walked over to High Sierra Brewing Company first and waited behind a woman discussing craft beer with the brewer. I immediately felt like a fish out of water for my lack of knowledge on craft beer. I quickly glanced down at my red plaid shirt and silently thanked myself. At least I looked the part and basically matched more than half of the crowd.

After going from booth to booth and trying a wide range of drinks, I could see why so many people loved coming. Each brewery had something different to offer and truly enjoyed watching everyone try their own "strange" combinations. After talking to them, I learned how much work actually goes into making craft beer unique and taste great. They didn't even seem bothered by my questions but instead seemed to love providing details and explaining everything craft-beer related. I felt much more at ease that I was actually understanding more about what the festival was all about.

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I found my favorite creation when I walked up to Brasserie Saint James' booth. Already a fan of their bar in Reno, I was excited to see what they had in store. Turns out it was a PEZ Saison, made with the actual PEZ candy. I loved the idea, and it definitely tasted better than I actually thought it would. While each booth had something different, the reaction from the crowd and myself was almost the same every time. We were all pleasantly surprised. Before I knew it, time was flying by and I had been there for two hours. Sadly, I had started the festival thinking all beer tastes kind of similar and boring. But when I left, I had a pretty good buzz and a new realization that beer can actually be strangely amazing.

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Bold Flavors Featured at South-of-the-Border - Special Dinner at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

Written by Erin Meyering

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Chef Dean Fearing prepared his famous south-of-the-border cuisine in a special five-course meal at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe on Thursday, Jan. 15.

Chef Fearing, who works at Fearing's Restaurant in The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, greeted the group with big, eager eyes and a wide, Texas smile in his chef whites and cowboy boots.

Fearing, an James Beard-award-winning chef, showcased his skill in creating delicious southwestern cuisine in this one-night-only prix fixe event. The menu included an incredible tortilla soup, barbecued shrimp tacos, chicken-fried Lockhart quail, and a maple-black-peppercorn-soaked buffalo tenderloin. A warm apple buckle with blackberry jam and bourbon vanilla ice cream completed the meal.

The quail, with jalapeno-creamed corn with crispy tobacco onions, was representative of a different style of cuisine, one not everyone visiting The Ritz-Carlton may be familiar with. And it was delicious. The entire meal, available with a wine pairing option, lived up to my own expectation for enjoying dinner at The Ritz-Carlton... famous for prestige and excellence.

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Not only do The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe staff members provide the best for customers in each and every experience, but its members also seek to expand guests' horizons by offering phenomenal, intimate experiences with big-name chefs. Chef Susur Lee, a highly celebrated chef and finalist in the popular cooking show,Top Chef Masters, presided over a pop-up dinner he organized at the property last year.

Look for more pop-up-style dinners with celebrity chefs at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe in the future. The events allow guests the opportunity to taste extraordinary flavors and grand experiences.

To enjoy a fabulous meal at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, visit http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/LakeTahoe/Dining/Default.htm

A Little Sauce Goes a Long Way

By: Farah Vitale

On my way to Whole Foods, I had pictured the creators of Italian Hearts to be a traditional Italian couple and as it turned out, I was spot on. Val and Sal experienced a struggle after losing both their jobs during the recession and they coped by cooking and feeding their friends. Soon they found a way to turn their favorite hobby into a career they love, by selling their special sauces. They've been in business for 2 years, sell their products in 30 stores and just won a Northern Nevada Development Authority Pioneer Award as a Nevada based growing business.

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Sal's family is from Acerra, in Southern Italy near Napoli, and Val's family is from Rome. As a proud Sicilian myself, I was eager to try their sauces and give my two sense. They had three sauces cooking in front of me.

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The Bella Amore Sauce is flavored with Val's Spicy meatballs made from organic grass fed beef and fresh ground Italian Sausage. It's slow cooked in small batches and seasoned with organic spices. 

The Three Meat Sauce is flavored with sweet Italian pork sausage, pork ribs and premium chuck roast. It's seasoned with organic spices and a dash of red wine.

The Val's Vegetarian Sauce is made with organic portabella mushrooms, carrots, garlic, red bell peppers and a dash of fine red wine.

I was surprised at how unique each sauce tasted. All were delicious and I was especially impressed with Val's Vegetarian. Since I'm always on the hunt for unique meals to make, I immediately asked them to share any specific recipes I could cook with the sauces. They happily let me in on a few recipes that have been passed down in their families.

A recipe Sal's grandfather would make was a soup with Val's Vegetrian Sauce.

First take 3 bunches of kale, take the big vein out, chop it into big pieces and set aside.

In a tall pot, crush 2 cloves of garlic and add a little bit of virgin olive oil to the bottom. Bring it up to temperature and if you want it hotter, you can add a little chili flake to it.

Then drop the pile of kale into the pot and put a lid on it. As it starts to wilt down, add your favorite jar of Val's Vegetarian Sauce, 2 cans of cannnellini beans with the juice, a little crack of pepper,and extra salt to taste. Wait until the kale gets tender and then grab some bread to go with your soup!

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Val told me about how easy it is to make her favorite Crock-pot Chili with her Vegetarian Sauce.

Take one jar of Val's Vegetarian Sauce, 3 cans of your favorite beans, add stew or hamburger meat to it and let it cook. When it's done, serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. Then dice some red onions, add some siracha and it's ready to go.

Val also shared their favorite pizza recipe that they made for dinner later that night. 

First, spread out the pizza dough on a cookie sheet and add any one of the three sauces onto the dough. Then layer on fresh mozzerella cheese and fresh basil leaves on top.

Slice up fresh red onions, mushrooms and small pieces of smoked bacon(without nitrates) and layer it on top to build the pizza. Add more mozzerella, put it in the oven and é fatto!

I ended my visit purchasing all three sauces and a lot of great ideas. Not only am I trying all three of these meals, I'm planning on making up my own recipes along the way.

Thanksgiving Food and Your Health: Have the Best
                            of Both Worlds



By: Farah Vitale Let's be honest, I enjoy splurging during the holidays as much as everyone else. So every Thanksgiving, I let myself splurge on all my favorite dishes and I remind myself it was just this one occasion. Then guess what happens next? Decemeber comes along and suddenly there's a huge Christmas dinner I talk myself into indulging in. Not to mention all the food I'm eating at Holiday parties too (I try not to think about that). Well this year, I'm breaking the cycle and taking a much more critical look at the food I'm making for the holidays. This year, I've decided to give myself some healthy eating guidelines and not only to avoid the guilt, but to actually feel good about the food I'm eating. So here are a couple of tips and recipes I'm following to make my favorite holiday dishes a little healthier and just as delicious: 1) Instead of using canned cream of mushroom soup in your green bean casserole, make your own creamy sauce using low-fat milk.
2) Opt for a gluten-free bread when making your stuffing, so that it only has a fraction of the fat.
3) Instead of traditional mashed potatoes, try making this garlic mashed potato recipe that contains Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Potassium, fiber, and has fewer calories and fat.

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LAKE MARY CABIN DINNER SERIES

Written by Jessica Santina

Photos by Dave Santina

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It's been a really long time since I went to a restaurant and licked my plate clean. And I don't recall ever having cleaned my partner's plate, too.

I did both last night at Sugar Bowl Resort during a Lake Mary Cabin Dinner, one in a 13-dinner series offered from July through September.

I'd never been to Sugar Bowl before (I'm ashamed to admit it, but no, I've never skied), and had no idea the Lake Mary Cabin even existed until a few weeks ago when I heard about this dinner series. The place is enchanting...and trust me, I don't usually just throw that word around. It had rained all day (and stopped just minutes before we arrived—how's that for perfect timing?) and that clean scent of fresh pine hung heavy in the air. The rustic cabin's best feature is the large, glass-fenced deck overlooking Lake Mary and the four rocky peaks comprising Sugar Bowl. But the large fire pit area and the winding trail leading down to the boat dock ain't so bad either. It's all tucked away carefully, sitting off a gravel trail near the main resort entrance; we nearly drove right past it.

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Once privately owned by an East Coast family, the cabin was purchased about 10 years ago by Sugar Bowl, and is used primarily as a wedding and special event venue now, as well as for this exceptional dinner series held each summer. As if the relatively affordable menu and spectacular scenery aren't enough, a portion of each dinner's proceeds benefits an area nonprofit. On the night we attended, the recipient was Arts for the Schools. Upcoming charities include Sugar Bowl Academy, Excellence in Education, Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, and Sierra Avalanche Center.

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The deck, adorned with strings of lights and heaters to keep diners toasty on cool Donner Summit nights, is where dinner is served. Chef Alan Davis, who in winter can be found at Sugar Bowl's fine dining room, Four Peaks, serves up French-inspired California cuisine with a focus on in-season, local produce, accompanied by an extensive list of wines hailing mostly from California.

I ordered a glass of 2010 Husch pinot noir from Anderson Valley, California, and my husband chose a Bollini pinot grigio from Trentino, Italy.

We tucked in with our wines and pored over the menu, then decided on two starters: pan-seared diver scallops and shrimp spring rolls.

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Scallops can be hit or miss with me, as they're often too chewy for my liking, but this one hit the bull's eye. They are seared delicately, atop a carrot confie—a carrot roasted in a lavender reduction until it's sweet and buttery, like no carrot you've ever eaten. The scallops are then drizzled in a pancetta buerre noisette, a brown butter with diced, sautéed pancetta, giving a nod to the classic bacon-wrapped scallop. The result absolutely melted in my mouth.

The Togarashi shrimp spring rolls are made with rice noodles, scallions, avocado, and carrot, all wrapped in thin rice paper and served with two dipping sauces: a sweet ginger sauce and a satisfyingly rich and salty sesame black bean sauce. On their own, the rolls are fresh with bright, summery flavors, but the dipping sauces make it feel complete. Both are delicious, but that sesame black bean is something special.

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For dinner, I went with something I never get to have at home and is one of my favorite foods: pan-seared Alaskan halibut. Seared to a perfect crispness outside and perfectly soft and flaky inside, the halibut is only lightly seasoned, so that the pure perfect flavor of the fish shines through. It's served over asparagus and Israeli couscous, a side dish I've never eaten before but loved for its lemon-chablis broth and in-season cherry tomatoes and corn. It's summer on a plate. When I was finished with the food, I literally cleaned my plate with part of my roll, wiping up all the remaining broth so as not to waste a drop.

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My husband, a pure Italian at heart, went with his go-to: pasta. He ordered the Dungeness crab linguini, served with roasted eggplant, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and oregano butter broth. I managed to bat my eyelashes and convince him to share a few bites with me. It reminded me of cioppino, with its briny, tomatoey, buttery broth. Once he was done with the meal, the two of us looked forlornly at the remaining sauce, begging to be sopped up with the rolls remaining in the basket. So we gave in and did it, despite being full.

Our responses to our meals were so greedy, in fact, that the couple at the table beside us figured they needed to have what we were having, and they ordered the exact same meals. They were not disappointed.

Finally, dessert. There was a Belgian chocolate mousse—a gloriously rich confection with just a hint of orange peel to add depth to the dark chocolate—as well as a French yogurt cake topped with pineapple compote. The cake, simple as a pound cake but much more moist, is prepared in the French style, drizzled with a syrupy pineapple compote that was as light and fruity as the mousse was dark and rich.

Finished (painfully stuffed, actually), we sat back in our chairs, rubbing our satisfied bellies and enjoying the view. Oh, and planning our next visit to Sugar Bowl's Four Peaks restaurant to savor more of Chef Alan Davis' culinary artistry.

The Lake Mary Cabin Dinners begin at 5:30 p.m. and at at 9 p.m. They are open to the public but they fill up quickly. Reservations are highly recommended. For reservations call 530-426-7002 or visit www.sugarbowl.com/lake-mary-dinners.

MAMMOTH FOOD AND WINE EXPERIENCE Written by Erin Meyering

Wine, wine, cheese, and more wine!

The Mammoth Food and Wine Experience delivers that and much more. The food and wine seminars are small enough to truly have a conversation and be immersed in the information. Food and wine if anything, is a great conversation starter.

My favorite seminar was "Food is Art" with superstar Chef Nyesha Arrington. She created a beautiful beet and wheat berry salad, which I've even recreated (to the best of my ability) at home.

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In addition, the large events such as the Grand Tasting (here's where the wine, wine, and more wine comes in), provide a terrific platform to talk to various wine pourers, about the best vineyards, how to select a wine, and how to pair specific wines.

Plus, there are several culinary schools competing to win your vote for the best dish, leaving you with some pretty fabulous food to try. There was also a vat of, still sizzling, seafood paella waiting for the masses.

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Mammoth Lakes, Calif. where the festival takes place, is tucked into the gorgeous mountains and high altitude greenery. Most people head there to ski and snowboard in winter, but in the summer, Mammoth Lakes is a real treasure.

Overall, the food and wine is such a treat, but the event's motivation — to provide assistance for those continuing with higher education in the Eastern Sierra through Mammoth Lakes Foundation, is a worthy cause... one to certainly eat and drink for.

Cheers!

For details on next year's event, visit http://mammothfoodandwine.org/

FOODIE FINDS IN FALLON, NEVADA Written by Erin Meyering I recently took a trip out to Fallon from Reno, where the food scene boasts delicious, hometown food and support from the nearby family farmers. I visited several local spots, all of which were pretty phenomenal. Pizza Barn First stop was Pizza Barn, a hometown treat, where you can find both locals and folks just passing through. The wood-fired pizza is perfectly charred, and you can watch the workers rigorously tend to it, constantly moving each pie around to cook it evenly and fully.

unnamed-3 Lattin Farms Rick Lattin, the owner, is such a gem in the community. He exudes a terrific amount of passion on his simple 15-minute farm tour, even getting down in the dirt, as any true farmer would, to sift through, and show off, a large handful of his farm's rich soil. Lattin Farms is open year-round, for the produce stand and bakery, but truly has a lot to offer during fall, which includes fresh cantaloupe, a corn maze, pumpkin patch, and other events.

unnamed Slanted Porch If you aren't from Fallon, it's worth the trip just to eat at the Slanted Porch. The favorites are a rich and really savory macaroni and cheese, and a local passerby strictly recommended the filet mignon, but there are also daily specials, which further the restaurant's mission — to support local family farmers and sustainable agriculture. And although the porch isn't completely slanted these days, you can hear the story about when it was, and how the restaurant got its name. Churchill Vineyards The estate is absolutely stunning, and just modest enough, to make you feel at home. Between wine tasting, and owner/winemaker/spirits maker Colby Frey patiently and simply explaining the process, you can learn which wine suits your fancy and how a small family winery works! The Riesling was certainly my favorite and I'll be back for more.

unnamed-1 Find out more and visit these Fallon treasures yourself: Pizza Barn at 1981 W Williams Avenue
http://www.yelp.com/biz/pizza-barn-fallon Lattin Farms at 1955 McLean Road
http://www.lattinfarms.com The Slanted Porch at 310 S Taylor Street
http://slantedporch.com Churchill Vineyards at 1045 Dodge Lane
http://www.churchillvineyards.com

A PROPER SALMON DISH For the salmon dish the bean puree was placed on the plate first. Visually this creates a nice foundation for the dish while adding moisture to the beans and a layer of texture and flavor.

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The corona beans beans were placed on the dish second and they serve several purposes. On the simplest level they visually create height to the dish and provide a stage for the star ingredient, the salmon. But more importantly the corona beans were chosen specifically do make the dish heartier by adding richness in taste. They also so a great job at creating balance for the strong flavor of the salmon.

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The wild salmon is the star ingredient of which the entire dish is based around and it was chosen purely on the fact that it was wild salmon season and therefor incredibly fresh (never frozen). Using fresh ingredients is the starting point for an great dish. Fresh = fuller flavor, brightness in color, and textural integrity.

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Next the Mediterranean salsa was placed on top of the salmon. It's positioning adds height to the dish and garnishes the fish. The salsa includes 3 different kinds of cherry tomatoes, olives, fresh herbs, olive oil, a touch of vinegar, salt and pepper. The tomatoes in the salsa add sweetness and acid to cut the richness of whole dish, along with adding another layer of color and texture, juiciness. The olives add a salty element, texture, and another contrast of color which creates depth and spectrum. Olive oil adds moisture. Vinegar adds acidity. Salt and pepper create seasoning and pull out the flavor of the ingredients.

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Basil oil was added to the dish last as a finishing touch and yet another layer to the color and overall flavor of the dish. It also adds an herbaceous element.

LONE EAGLE GRILL

Celebrates New Chef and Vegetarian Menu

By Erin Meyering, edible Reno-Tahoe editorial assistant Stuffed Roasted Bell Pepper with a potato purée   braised kale Boursin cheese and juniper mustard cream 

My boyfriend and I recently had the opportunity to dine at @Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe's Lone Eagle Grille in Incline Village. The reason for our visit is the restaurant has just debuted a new vegetarian menu.

We shared the Butternut Squash Risotto, the Living Butter Salad and fought forks for each bite. The risotto was creamy and we were both wishing the bowl was never-ending.

I, being a full-time vegetarian, notice it's been difficult at times to find a restaurant that serves a thoughtfully planned vegetarian meal, not just an array of side dishes you hope taste well together.

For my main dish, I ordered the Stuffed Roasted Bell Pepper with a potato purée, braised kale, Boursin cheese, and juniper mustard cream and my mind was changed. Despite feeling full, I found myself digging for more potato purée far after it was gone.

This area has several options for vegetarians, but for a night out with a view overlooking the lake and absolutely delectable, filling food, Lone Eagle Grille with Chef De Cuisine Shane Hammett is a fantastic choice.

All menus, including Lone Eagle Grille's comprehensive vegetarian menu, can be found at http://loneeaglegrille.com

I provided the recipe for the Butternut Squash Risotto below because it was simply too good not to share.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Black Garlic, Parmesan and Roasted Mushrooms

Serves: 4 (entrée portions) or 4 (appetizer portions)

One butternut squash, peeled and cut into one-inch cubes
2 cups cream
2 ounces black garlic, minced
2 and a 1/4 cup white wine
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
4 ounces olive oil
Two cups Arborio rice
One bay leaf
1/2 pound maitake and chanterelle mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt (to taste)

For squash:

Steam butternut squash in a medium-sized pot until soft enough to mash easily with a fork. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Once the squash is cool, place in a blender with two cups of cream and purée until smooth. Set aside.

For black garlic sauce:

Place two ounces black garlic in a sauce pot with 1/4 cup white wine and 1 cup of cream.

Simmer the black garlic in the cream for 20 minutes on low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar and remove from heat.

Add black garlic mixture and cream into a blender and purée. Set aside.

For risotto:

Combine 3 cloves minced garlic, one minced shallot, and 2 ounces olive oil in a large saucepot and sauté over medium heat for two minutes.

Add two cups of arborio rice and sauté for another two minutes.

Add two cups white wine, three cups of water, and one bay leaf, stirring constantly until the liquid is almost completely absorbed.

While the rice is cooking, toss the mushroom pieces with two ounces olive oil and three teaspoons kosher salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place tossed mushrooms on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.

Add roasted mushrooms, butternut squash purée, four tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese to risotto. Combine and salt to taste. Remove risotto from heat.

Final preparation/plating:

Place risotto in a bowl and garnish with a drizzle of black garlic sauce to serve

Butternut Squash Risotto.

BISTRO NAPA Atlantis Casino Unibroue Beer Dinner Menu 

I enjoyed a wonderful Unibroue beer dinner hosted by Bistro Napa in the Atlantis Casino Resort on Sept. 26. As I’ve mentioned before, dinners featuring a special menu built around a selection of beers, often a full line-up from one brewery, are popping up more and more in our region.  From the Bonanza Casino to 775 Gastropub, you can find multiple beer dinners to attend throughout the year. I’d previously attended a Mammoth Brewing dinner at Bistro Napa and simply gushed over the food menu and attentiveness that went into pairing each course with a particular beer selection. The Unibroue dinner continued that tradition and did not disappoint one bit. From the Ahi Carpaccio served with La Fin du Monde (a golden Triple style ale) to the Elk Sauerbraten served with the Grande Reserve 17, an oak-aged dark ale, each round of beer and food made me feel like European royalty.  Bistro Napa’s “Spirited Dining Series” of beverage-paired dinners continues in late October with a seasonal special evening of food and drink, followed by a Schramsberg Wine dinner in December. 

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