Better late then never right? ☺

IFBC Day 3 was a smorgasbord of seminars:

  • Farm to Glass: Cider Tasting
  • Insects as the Next Superfood
  • Cultivating an Edible City
  • Tea and Dim Sum
  • Blind Olive-Oil Tasting
  • Putting Flavor into Words
  • Culinary Travel Writing
  • Deep Dive into Snapchat

I was initially looking forward to the culinary travel writing seminar; however, I ended up finding the cider tasting and dim sum seminars much more interesting and informative.  Gowan's Heirloom Cider conducted the cider tasting and I felt that they did a terrific job of providing a lot of info in a relatively short time period. It was a nice balance of lecture and cider tasting. We learned about how ciders are made, the differences between mass and craft cider; where the apples come from; what 'local' means and how to identify different styles of cider. We also learned that there's a California Cider Competition . Who wouldn't want to be a judge for that panel? Sign me up!

At the tea and dim sum seminar,  the Confucius Institute at UC Davis shared a lovely presentation on the history of tea and dim sum.. We tasted several different kinds of Chinese teas and learned how the various teas are grown and processed. We also gained insight as to the role of dim sum in the Chinese lifestyle and were given samples of the most popular dim sums.

IFBC Day 2 involved a Farm-to-Fork Panel presentation with Nicole Rogers, director of Farm-to-Fork of the Sacramento Convention & Visitors BureauMary Kimball, executive director of the Center for Land-Based Learning; Matt Byrne, CEO of SunFed RanchScott Ostrander, executive chef of Inn at Park Winters and Chelsea Minor, director of public relations and public affairs of Raley’s Fine Stores. Matt Byrne’s discussion about how the drought has affected the grass fed beef market was extremely informative and touched upon several issues that I hadn't thought about. I hope I get the chance to hear him talk about it some more in the future.  Also, after hearing about all the amazing dishes Scott Ostrander is churning out at Inn at Park Winters, I’m thinking Mr. S and I may need to do a weekend getaway there STAT!

Afterwards, all the attendees were treated to a Culinary Fair and Expo in the ballroom. I had a fun time wandering around with the gals from Bake it With Booze, sampling some tasty bites from local chefs and businesses.  My favorites were the spicy lamb tacos from the Lamb Board and the heirloom tomato-melon gazpacho from Hook and Ladder (and this comes from a girl who is not fond of raw tomatoes!).  Also, I discovered About a Bite, a cute little dessert shoppe where everything is bite-sized.  Turns out it's within walking distance of my office...this could turn out to be quite dangerous!

Owl's Brew White & Vine 

About a Bite's Rosemary Salted Caramels

Hook and Ladder's Heirloom Tomato & Melon Gazpacho

Bee D'Vine Honey Wine

Wow, I hope you survived last week's wretched heat. It was HOT. Like under boob sweat producing hot. Thank goodness, it's over...for now at least. Anyhow, if you were brave enough to venture out into the furnace-like temperatures you may have seen  a gaggle of folks milling about and staring intently at their phones over at the Hyatt. No, they weren't catching Pokemon, they're food and wine bloggers in town for IFBC, most likely attempting to capture a few shots of a sexy looking wine bottle or an intricate arrangement of figs in natural light.  Or if you're like me and lucky enough to live in town, you're rollin' on by after a full day at the office.  Really...there's nothing like walking 3 blocks in 107 degree heat and busting into the Hyatt lobby looking sweaty and tired whilst everyone else looks cool, calm, and crisp.

Anyhow, I thought I'd share a few photos from the IFBC. Unfortunately, I didn't get to attend any of the day time excursions like toCapay Valley Ranches or Old Sugar Mill because I had to work but several people mentioned that they had a blast. 

Here's a few shots from the Opening Night Reception I attended:

Almond Strawberry Trifles compliments of the folks at California Almonds
Marinated Cabecou from Laura Chenel...the herb one was so good, I'm going to have to pick some up.

California Cling Peach Caprese from the CA Cling Peach Board
Hope they start carrying Gowan's Heirloom Cider in Sac soon, the Gravenstein cider was terrific. Not overly sweet, no hinky aftertaste and extremely refreshing.


Look what showed up in my email yesterday...I'm super excited! Mmmm, homemade pies, quiches and pot pies.

Dear valued customers and friends:

It is with great joy that I announce the re-opening of the Real Pie Company!

Our new shop will be located at the corner of 16th and G streets in midtown Sacramento, next door to Lulu’s Kitchen. We are building the entire space out; and I have had the thrilling opportunity to design the space exactly the way I want it, including the construction of a temperature-controlled dough room.

I will keep you informed as we get closer to our opening this fall. Many of the elements of our shop will be familiar to you – we will continue to source beautiful produce from small farms in the region, so the menu will change frequently as we celebrate and utilize whatever seasonal, ripe fruit and vegetables that come through our door on a weekly basis. We will offer our nourishing house-made chicken pot pies and quiches in addition to our sweet menu items; and, as before, will be making our chocolate cream, coconut cream, and butterscotch banana cream pies as a complement to our fruit pies, galettes, tarts and cakes.

We also have a few new things in store for our customers, including limited indoor and outdoor seating, and a selection of locally-made ice cream as a delicious accompaniment to our baked goods.

We are very excited to announce a partnership with Amigo Bob Cantisano and Adam Nuber of the Felix Gillet Institute, and this fall we will be proudly showcasing many amazing varieties of heirloom fruit that have been harvested from abandoned mining camps and homesteads in the Sierras. Read here for more information on this inspiring non-profit project.

We have a new website in development, and look forward to keeping you up to date on our progress. I can’t wait to begin baking for you again! Please feel free to reach out to me at kira@realpiecompany with any questions or comments.

Warmest regards,

Kira O’Donnell Babich
Real Pie Company


3200 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95817
(916) 594-9058

I miss living in the Grid. Like REALLY miss it.  Although I love living with Mr. S and the kiddos, I miss being close to the all things I like to do. These days I feel like I spend a lot of time on 50 driving into downtown for work, driving back to the 'burbs and then turning right back around to meet up with friends in Midtown.  On weekends, I find myself down there again, grabbing a drink with buddies or a bite to eat with Mr. S. Being in the 'burbs bites.  For one thing, there's more Starbucks then you can shake a stick at but hardly any good independent coffee shops.  

One of my favorite places of late to unwind is a place down near Mandy's house-  Broadway Coffee. Not quite the Grid, but just on the perimeter.  It's located on a quiet corner as you enter OP.  The building used to be pretty non-descript but recently they gave the building a little mini-makeover and it's sporting a fun mural that makes it pop from its surroundings.  The shop serves Temple coffee and has the most scrumptious desserts. My favorite is the pecan whisky tart (heated) but I've had terrific lemon bars, apple bread pudding and cookies there as well. (They get their desserts from Desserts by Vesela and also carry some vegan eats by the Sassy Oh Baking Company.)  I also love that more often than naught, I can pop in there and grab a table with no wait.  So far the place seems to be immune to the hipster infestation that seems to plague most of the neighborhood coffee houses in the Grid and it's surrounding areas. Not to rant too much about the subject, but I'm so tired of entering a coffee shop, buying a coffee and having no where to sit because people are camped out there for HOURS with their stupid laptops. I wish there was a max time limit on patrons being able to monopolize a table. I know, I know...first world problems.

Anyhow, the best part of Broadway Coffee is the staff.  Seriously! In a time where good customer service is next to impossible to find, this little cafe nails it.  No matter when I've gone in, I've found each staff member to be friendly and welcoming.  My favorite barista though is Elizabeth.  This lady has a 1000 kilowatt smile and within 2 minutes makes you feel at home. 

If you get a chance, stop in and grab a cuppa, plop down at a table and savor a little "you" time.  You won't be sorry. 

I recently went on a vacation to Seattle. I hadn't been back to the Emerald City in about five years, but just minutes into the drive to the hotel I remembered why it was one of my favorite cities to visit. The lush greenery, overcast skies, and the petrichor--it's like a familiar blanket that envelopes me. Not to mention the coffee...Seattle is a town that knows how to do coffee right. I think Mr. S. and I had at least 5 cups a day. Seriously. Nothing beats a great cup of joe. I'm a big Stumptown fan, but we also ventured out and hit up several other coffee houses this visit. FYI- In the midst of our caffeine quest, Mr. S. and I discovered that Fonte also makes an amazing Americano. Give it a go.

If you're not already a fan of the Kimpton chain of hotels I highly suggest checking them out.  This is the second time we've stayed in a suite at the Alexis and we loved it. We got a great deal  (25% off, free parking, and a $40 gift card).  The free parking is a HUGE cost saver. Parking is crazy expensive in Seattle.  

Our Living Room 

The Dining Area (we were in the Ballerina Suite)

The Bedroom 

We also visited our favorite restaurant again- Cascina Spinasse in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. We did the Menu Degustazione (which includes every antipasto, primo and secondo on the menu) and every dish was spot-on amazing and the service was impeccable (just like last time). They've expanded a bit since the last time we were there but the restaurant has still retained it's rustic, romantic charm.  The housemade fontina fonduta stuffed Caramelle with pinenuts and sage was just one of my favorite dishes that night. It just melted in my mouth.

We did a few touristy activities as well- Pike Place, a ferry ride, the Space Needle, and a spin on the ferris wheel at sunset.  Mr. S. wanted to check out the EMP Museum, so we did that too.  

And I wanted to take a peek at Chihuly Gardens. The glass sculptures were absolutely mesmerizing. I could have spent the afternoon staring at some of the floor-to-ceiling pieces inside the facility.

Vacation, alas, it's always too short! When we got home I wanted to keep the vacation vibe alive so I made a batch of "Seattle brownies." It's a riff off of a recipe by Nick Malgieri that appeared in the NY Times called, "Supernatural Brownies." But this version has coffee and cocoa in it to kick it up a notch.

"I Left My Heart in Seattle" Brownies


8 oz. bittersweet chocolate

2 sticks of unsalted butter

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

1 cup AP flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons Guittard's Cocoa Rouge Cocoa Powder

4 large eggs

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1. Butter a 13x9 baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. 

2. Preheat oven to 350 F.

3. In a double boiler (or use a boiling pot of water with a metal bowl over it like I do), melt the bittersweet chocolate and butter. Once it's all melted down, add the instant coffee powder.  Mix together. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

4. In a bowl, combine the flour, sea salt, and cocoa powder together. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.

5.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs.  Then add in the sugars and vanilla.  Stir.  Add the melted chocolate/butter mixture and stir again.

6. Fold in the flour mixture. Mix. 

7. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Spread the batter evenly over the parchment paper. Sprinkle the walnuts across the batter.  

8. Bake in the oven for roughly about 35 minutes. At 30 minutes, I would stick a knife or toothpick in and see if it comes out clean.

9. Cool in pan on rack.  Once it's cool, lift out the brownies on the parchment paper. Slice. Place in airtight container or wrap with plastic tightly. **These brownies taste even better the next day when the flavors settle in. I know it's difficult, but set them aside until the next day.

I don't have a lot of vices but of the few I have, coffee is far and away the most prominent. My coworkers can attest to what a difference in personality I have if I roll into the office in the a.m. sans coffee. Let's just's NOT pleasant.  So imagine my delight, when by happenstance I stumbled across a coffee product line that was delicious, convenient, and good for me?  Lemme tell you about my two new fave beverages:

XX Espresso Cold Brew Coffee with Almond Milk and Triple Shot Cold Brew Coffee with Almond Milk by Califia Farms.  

Both are delicious and low cal, much better than whatever Mocha-Choca-Bullshit you order at Starbucks.  I've bought the individual sizes at the Rite Aid by my work and have bought both individual sizes and the larger sizes in the grocery section of Target.  Raley's and the Co-Op also sell some of their stuff too but I think it might be pricier.  There's other flavors too - Dirty Chai, Salted Caramel, Mocha, Mocha Mexica, and Cocoa Noir. Mmmm...

A few interesting facts:

Califia's bottles are recyclable (Plastic #5).

Califia's almond milk is Kosher. Their products are Pareve and Orthodox Union is their Rabbinical Certifier

Their products are non-organic currently; however, they are all non-GMO.

Califia's iced coffees with almond milk have no saturated fat, ares soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and carrageenan-free.

* This is not a sponsored post. The stuff just tastes good and deserved a shout out.

Dear Blog,

I know I've neglected REALLY neglected you and I'm sorry. 2015 was a chaotic year, full of a lot of ups and downs and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and needed a break. It was me, not you. But this year I'm determined to have a great year and one of my resolutions is to get back into cooking and blogging. So be ready! ☺

First thing on my To Do List is: getting over this frickin' cold/sinus infection. It's hard to be awesome when you're all stuffed up and your head feels like it wants to explode.  Not to mention, I sound like a cross between Darth Vader and Girl 6 with my heavy breathing and raspy voice. It seems like everyone is down with this creeping crud...and this stuff apparently likes to lingers. I've already missed two days of work because of it and I'm pretty sure my office is one step away from going all Outbreak. There's a lot of people out with a cold, flu, or bronchitis.

I've been doing all the things I'm supposed to: hydrating, staying in bed, sleeping a ton, Purelling the sh*t out of everything, and using Puffs Plus Lotion (trust me, these are the holy grail of tissues). Peppy loves having me home and has been sleeping as much as I have. This weather has been pretty conducive for it. We even watched a great movie the other night, "Love and Mercy".  

I've also been eating a LOT of soup. A friend of mine made me a delicious Lemon Orzo with Chicken soup that I'm going to have to get the recipe for so I can make more. It felt insanely good on my sore throat.  In the meantime, this is one of my current favs to make when I'm feeling under the weather:

Red Lentil Coconut Soup


  • 2 cups red lentils, uncooked
  • 1 white onion,chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, finely chopped, including seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh peeled and minced ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder 
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • 7 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can unsweetened light coconut milk
  • 1 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish (optional)
  • lime wedges for serving (optional)


1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and jalapeno and saute until the vegetables have softened and the onion takes on a translucent color.

2. Add the ginger, garlic, curry, cinnamon, smoked paprika, salt and tomato paste. Stir. Cook for 3-4 more minutes.

3. Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, lentils, and garbanzo beans. Stir. Bring the the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  

4.  Add the lime juice at the end. Stir.  Season with additional salt, if needed.

5. (Optional) Serve with cilantro and lime wedges.