Nothing irritates me more than when I'm visiting the Bay Area (or any place for that matter really) and someone asks me where I'm from and I say I'm from Sacramento. I see the city snobbery wash over and inevitably the cow town jokes kick in. Then when they find out that I like food, I get the eye roll and the ones who "think" they're funny will ask which Chili's is the best one to hit up for baby back ribs the next time they're cruising through Sac on their way up to Tahoe. Well, Sac may not be San Francisco but we're home to many great restaurants and I think it'll continue to attract many great, innovative chefs as we move forward into the future. But restaurants and chefs aside, we host a lot of fun culinary and cultural activities about town- this weekend for example. There was the Vegfest, the 65th Annual Japanese Food and Cultural Bazaar and the Banana Festival all within a few miles of my house. Feeling pretty ambitious I ended up hitting up two of them, sneaking in a short afternoon nap in between.

The Vegfest was held over on Del Paso in the Artisan Building and in the courtyard of the Greens Hotel (about 2 blocks away). Showcasing a variety of vendors, musicians and artists it was a festival to celebrate all things pertaining to raw, vegan, and vegetarian foods. My friend, Cate and I started out the festival with a delicious free sample of watermelon Italian ice from Little Jimmy's Italian Ices. It was refreshing, not overly sweet and non-dairy (the latter, being a big plus in my book!). We checked out a few more vendors including a quick peek at the Wonder Wormin' Vermicomposting System (we meant to come back for the speaker/demo, but forgot) and the cool succulent garden/sitting area of the Greens Hotel, then mosied over to the sleek Artisan Building. Things were a little busier over there. There was an array of tables set up including - vegan knitwear, vegetarian dog food, organic food delivery companies and sprouts. While we were looking we stopped by the Nacheez table to say hi to Ilsa and to try some of her spicy nachos. They were delish! Several of my vegan and vegetarian friends have been raving about Nacheez for awhile now but I hadn't gotten around to trying it. My loss. This stuff is really good and tastes just like real nacho cheese. It's soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, 100% vegan, low in calories (20 calories per 2 tablespoons), no cholesterol, a high source of B6, filled with B12, contains raw cashews and comes in mild or spicy. The only thing it doesn't do is give you a back rub. I ended up buying a jar in addition to the nachos. (Mr. S. really wants to try it now and see if it tastes like the "real stuff" like I say.) I also snuck a vegetarian egg roll from Loving Hut while we were listening to the band (which included a didgeridoo). It was pretty good, I may go check out their restaurant on Stockton Blvd. Did you know they offer a $4.95 lunch special, Tuesdays through Fridays? Sounds like something worth investigating.

Saturday night I took Mr. S. to the 65th Annual Japanese Food and Cultural Bazaar at the Buddhist Church off of W Street & Riverside Blvd. I love the event but some years I've skipped it due to out of town trips or because of the 100+ degree Sacramento heat. This year the temp wasn't too bad when we headed over at about 530pm. The place was packed as usual (they estimate about 50,000 people come to the 2 day bazaar) and after giving Mr. S. the tour (vendors, game booths, exhibits), I steered him over to the chicken line. Now Mr. S. is a sharp cookie and after 5 minutes of being at the festival he was dialed in that this was no cultural bazaar that I was bringing him to- it was all about the food...especially when he saw that I came armed with Wet Wipes (hey, this wasn't MY first time at the rodeo...I know how messy that chicken gets!).  [Now if you've never had the chicken there...go next year and GET IT. For $6 you get half a roasted chicken. It's seasoned and barbecued perfectly...they call it "teriyaki chicken," but it's not that goopy sugary sweet stuff, don't worry- not even close. It is messy though so bring wet wipes and get ready to grub down with two hands.] So with a tray of fresh off the grill steamin' chicken, somen salad topped with shiitakes and glazed Asian ribs served with steamed rice, we squeezed our way onto a table and finally kicked back. We ate, we chatted and we noticed how everyone seemed to be getting along. There was a real sense of community spirit. It was nice. And as I licked the last smidge of sauce from my fingers (in the most ladylike way possible) and gazed up at the paper lanterns above, maybe it was the chicken euphoria kicking in but I was already thinking about next year's bazaar....

1 Response
  1. I get the same reactions from people when I tell them I'm from Sac...even more so when I tell them I grew up in Manteca... :)

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