Randall Selland enjoying center stage
Twenty years ago, Sacramento didn’t have much of a culinary scene. But these days, not only do we have Biba, for the last 15 years we’ve also played host to Randall Selland’s The Kitchen Restaurant. Fellow foodie and food blogger Brendon of the wonderful Something in Season blog accompanied me for an indulgent evening at The Kitchen recently. Neither of us had been there before. Both of us had been longing to go. But neither of us knew too many people who were willing to pop the steep set price per person just to go enjoy a fabulous 4-5 hour meal.
The Kitchen Restaurant offers an experience not found at any other restaurant I know. The diner is practically in the kitchen itself. In fact, the whole theme of the restaurant is one of a “demonstration”. There is as much pleasure in the entertainment from the chefs discussing the food and cooking it in front of us as there is in the food itself. Brendon and I sat around a “Bar” of sorts, seats lined directly around the main cooking and plating area for the restaurant. We had front and center seats to the ramblings and rantings of Randall Selland, the head chef and proprietor, and Noah Zonca, Chef de Cuisine.
The food was amazing – explosions of flavor, or “layers” as Randall explains it, in every course. What follows is our menu for the evening, each even better than we could have imagined. Brendon has written up his thoughts of the evening along with photos as well.
Cody Upton, age 8, of Yuba City, California hangs on for the longest ride of the day
Mutton busting? That’s bull riding for little kids, on sheep. Pictured above, Cody Upton, age 8, has been mutton busting since he was 4. He’ll have to retire soon, though, as he is out-growing the sheep. You can find mutton busting events at many rodeos; this one was at the California State Fair Bull Fest event. (See more Bull Fest photos on my Flickr slideshow.)
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There are three simultaneous fires going on in the region. Yesterday, Oct 14, was the smokiest day I’ve ever seen here. You could look directly at the sun without a problem all day.
Sacramento isn’t renown for being a hot spot, so imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago the New York Times had a whole piece on Sac in their Sunday travel section. Featured prominently in the NYT article is the downtown burger joint Willie’s, whose owner cashed in the corporate life to run the restaurant.
Although independent ranching has been on the decline in California for years, the rodeo lives on. Every year around Fourth of July, the city of Folsom, California hosts its annual Pro Rodeo. Folsom, like so many of the outline towns around Sacramento, used to be surrounded by farm and ranchland. These days its acreage is covered with upscale housing developments, primarily bought by escapees from LA and the Bay Area who can get twice the house for half the price. Still the Folsom Rodeo draws locals and people from all over who love to watch the excitement of cowboys riding bucking broncos and bulls.
Biba Caggiano is the proprietress and head chef of Biba Restaurant in Sacramento, California. Although Sacramento never had much of a culinary reputation, that’s changing. Biba Restaurant is exquisitely good. She’s written seven cookbooks and starred in her own TV show on the Discovery Channel. She’s even won a James Beard award.
It is well deserved. I ate there for lunch one day this week. The restaurant was half empty at 12:30 (where the heck was everybody? the food is excellent!). I had the special – halibut and scallops with fresh diced tomatoes poached in parchment. It was delicious and so was their basic green salad, one of the best basic greens salads I have ever eaten anywhere.