Stepping out: Favorites and not so favorites while wandering

By From page B2 | March 16, 2012



“Fat gives things flavor.”

— Julia Child

Out wandering again

Trip one: I did a bit of house-sitting in Carmichael for my daughter in late February while the family went to Disneyland. I had a list of things to do (eat), which included my usual pastrami and Swiss from a favorite sandwich shop there, the Sub Depot on Fair Oaks Boulevard, along with sampling the new “thick cut” cod at Long John Silver’s and the new “premium cod fillet” sandwich at Wendy’s.

Well, I got the pastrami and Swiss and really enjoyed it. The shop is about one mile away, so I justified the fatty treat by walking both ways, and stopping at a thrift store along the way.

The following day I drove to the Long John Silver’s on Auburn Boulevard to try the fish. It was disappointing.

The “thick cut” cod pieces are about three-quarters of an inch thick and about the size of a silver dollar or 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You get two pieces, a couple of hush puppies and a side in the basket ($5.99). I ordered the two piece basket and cole slaw, rather than the usual fries. The fish was old (brown) and the batter was tough, so I sent them back. They were kind enough to give me three, freshly cooked and very nice pieces to replace them. However, and this is a complaint I have with them and a few other fast food places, the fish was very oily from being deep fried. I don’t know why they aren’t drained for a few seconds, it would make a world of difference. I contacted the company and they sent me a letter good for two meals, but I am not sure if I am going back.

After that “bad fish” experience I decided to forgo the trip to Wendy’s until next time.

Trip two: My friend Russ wanted to go back to Bones in Pleasant Valley to try the pastrami and the Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, so last Friday we did. I had heard that the black bean burger was very good, so we substituted that for the Philly. We ordered one with fries and one with onion rings, both of which are very good: hot and crisp.

The bean burger was very good, both of us agreed on that. It was different and at first I thought it was burned, but as I ate it I figured out that was the taste of the beans and began to like it more and more. We had it with the grilled onions, which I would replace with raw onions the next time. The pastrami, on the other hand, got mixed reviews.

When we ordered we were asked what kind of onions we wanted on the pastrami and Swiss. On a pastrami sandwich? None. When we got the sandwich it was on a hamburger bun with lettuce, tomato and Bone’s sauce. A proper pastrami sandwich has mustard and pickles.

The pastrami was very, very lean, with no visible fat, and as far as I am concerned pastrami has to have fat or it can be tasteless. That made it a bit tough and not very flavorful, but Russ said he liked the texture. Both of us agreed that the lettuce, sauce and tomato needed to go and the plain bun needed to be replaced with the Hoagie roll they use for their large burgers.

Owner Bill Miller came buy to ask how things were and we passed on our comments. He was surprised and said his pastrami sandwiches never had tomato and lettuce on them. He thought the bigger roll might be a good idea.

Trip three: Rafael Garcia, the owner of FreshMex Mexican Grill across from Kmart, told me that mahi-mahi was becoming difficult to get and becoming too expensive for his grilled fish tacos, so he switched to basa, a type of catfish, which he grills and seasons with a Chipotle-ranch sauce.

He asked me to stop by and try a couple and give him my comments. I did, and asked the staff to dress them up the way they like them (my usual request when I am not sure). They came with a bit of lettuce and cabbage, corn, etc. I really liked them, especially the tang of the sauce. And the fish was very sweet. Give them a try.

Trip four: A couple of weeks ago I was invited to an event at Mount Aukum Winery. Afterwards, the winemaker, Michel Prod’hon, who knows I like his viognier, offered me a sample of a viognier dessert wine he is making. It was delicious and full of deep, wonderful flavors. I don’t know when it is going to be released, but I am sure it will sell out fast.

Sequoia By The Night

On Thursday, March 22, at 6:30 p.m., Nello Olivo Wines, along with Nello and Danica Olivo, will host “Sequoia By The Night,” an evening at Sequoia.

On this evening, Sequoia, which is located at 643 Bee St. in Placerville, will open its dining room to the public for a fantastic dinner. Former owner Nello Olivo, who maintains ownership of the Bee-Bennett House, said, “We hear from so many patrons and friends of Sequoia who are disappointed that the restaurant is now closed. We thought it would be enjoyable to sponsor an evening to bring back that experience of having a wonderful dinner in that warm Sequoia atmosphere everyone remembers.”

Chef David Bagley has prepared a four-course fixed price dinner, which begins with a smoked chicken on wasabi slaw appetizer followed by a soup course of artichoke bisque. The entrée is tenderloin stuffed chicken or a vegetarian choice, and chocolate air on sweet crisp tops the evening as dessert.

Outstanding Sequoia gift cards, which are no longer accepted by the new ownership, will be valid for this event. Nello will also cover corkage fees for his wines purchased that day at the tasting room located in Sequoia’s cellar.
For reservations or more information call 530-622-5222.

Pruning clinic at Mellow Vineyard

Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18, join Linda Neal at Mellowood Vineyard for pruning clinics. If you want to hold the professional No. 7 Felco shears in your hand as you decisively shape the vine for the upcoming season, if you want to learn the difference between shoots and suckers, buds and nodes, cordons and spurs, this is your event. The clinics start at 9:30 a.m. and will be followed by a tasting of Mellowood wines. Meet at the tasting room at 2979 Mellowood Drive in Fair Play.
There is no fee but reservations are required. Call 530-306-9454 or e-mail [email protected]

Painting sessions at Lava Cap Winery

Remember, you can unleash your inner artist and enjoy a memorable day of sipping Lava Cap wine and painting a masterpiece at Lava Cap Winery on Saturday, March 24, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Aimee Rebmann from Creative Juices Events will offer two guided painting sessions “Glass of Red,” from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. or “Whimsical Picnic,” from 2 until 4 p.m.

No experience is needed to create an amazing painting. Grab a friend or come solo and enjoy this special event.

Cost includes all art materials (16 x 20 canvas and acrylic paints), a special Lava Cap wine tasting and a spread of crackers and gourmet cheeses. In addition, wine by the glass or bottle and assorted gourmet deli items are also available for purchase in the tasting room.

Register on the Creative Juices events Website

El Dorado Winery Association Passport Weekends

Passport Weekends are coming up shortly on two Saturdays and Sundays, April 14 and 15, and April 21 and 22. Thirty-two El Dorado County wineries will be hosting the region’s annual Passport wine and food event with plenty of luscious wine and food pairings, barrel tastings, enjoyable art and music, and fun.

This event typically sells out each year, so you will want to line up your friends and make reservations. For more information and tickets contact the El Dorado Winery Association at 1-800-306-3956 or visit

Celebrate the day

Birthdays to celebrate today: French painter and sculptor Rosa Bohneur (1822); signer of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution George Climer (1739); the fourth President of the United States James Madison (1751); Mexican and Civil War general John Pope (1822); filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci (1941); actors Erik Estrada (1949), Lauren Graham (1967), Isabelle Huppert (1955); Jerry Lewis (1925), Leo McKern (1920) and Kate Nelligan (1951); game-show host Chuck Woolery (1942). It is also “Lips Appreciation Day.” Do something nice for your lips today. Buy some lip balm or, better yet, kiss somebody.

Doug Noble

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