Food and drink in Northern Nevada is on fire. Restaurants, breweries, distilleries and hotels have been featured in Forbes, USA Today, Thrillist, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post… the list just goes on. At the Sparks Tribune we thought we’d jump in and talk about the food/drink/event scene in Northern Nevada.
Last Sunday afternoon we buzzed over to Hidden Valley Country Club for the ACF High Serra Chefs Association Rib and Zin Fundraiser. About 50 bottles of various Zinfandels’ stood at attention so we could see if they passed muster. Our favorites of the day were Nanna’s Short Cake Zinfandel, Fiddletown Cellars Concerto Barberra and Cigar Zin. The wines were donated by Writz Beverage Group, Sapphire Family of Wines, Encore Beverage, and Whispering Vine. BJ’s Nevada Barbecue Company (80 E. Victorian Ave, Sparks NV – 775-355-9920) catered the event and at one point needed to shoo us away from the potato salad – perfectly cooked, lovely big chunks of potatoes and just the right amount of dressing – so that the salad was wet but not drenched. But we digress from the “star of the event.” The pork ribs had a succulent juiciness kissed by just the right amount of smoke. There were two sauce options; we chose the cherry sauce. If we could have done cherry-barbeque-sauce shooters we would have.
Shout out to the American Culinary Federation High Sierra Chefs Association (Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Lake Tahoe and all surrounding areas of Northern Nevada and North Eastern California). We met the students in the apprenticeship program of ACF High Sierra Chef’s nonprofit educational arm who were staffing the event – Nyia Tow, Caleb McDonald, Clark Sedar, Julian Powell and Zach Rathmann. Side note, Hidden Valley Country Club is a lovely location for an event, and we learned they have a talented culinary staff that doesn’t serve the usual “country club-club sandwich.” After reading through the last few days of menus, we can tell you that the members at Hidden Valley County Club have hidden treasures in their chefs.
Not so long ago, the phrase “recipe search” meant going through page after page in cookbooks, dog-eared photocopies or index cards in a metal box your grandmother gave you . Don’t get us wrong–we still rush to cherished standby cookbooks Julie Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” James Beard’s “American Cookery,” Alice Waters “The Art of Simple Food,” The California Culinary Institute’s “Cooking A to Z,” and any Junior League cookbook. Today, it’s just so simple to Google “Swiss steak” and up pops 20 or more options and recipe inspirations. And let’s not forget Pinterest and the easy step-by-step recipes offered – after all who wouldn’t want to make hash browns in a waffle iron? Since we like to live in the food blogosphere, we’re going to select in each column a food blog that we think is worth its salt and your time. This week check out loveandlemons.com.
We got to tour the studio of Peter Hazel in Verdi. While everyone was sauce tasting and grape stomping at the El Dorado Hotel & Casino Italian Festival we were enthralled by a very large tomato made of hand-cut and glazed ceramic tiles in the studio’s plaza. So many people were taking photos with the tomato and posting to Facebook or Instagram. Later we learned Peter is known as the “Man behind the Grout” and had just returned from Half Moon Bay where his Great Pumpkin, the world’s largest and heaviest piece of pumpkin art, resides. Upon arriving at Peter’s studio we were greeted by a rather large Manta ray made from fused glass. The Manta ray had been at Burning Man and was now awaiting placement in Lake Tahoe. We saw mosaic fish, leaves, pumpkins, figs and the tomato – which, sadly, is leaving Nevada and going to California. Check out Peter Hazel’s website (peterhazel.com). Give Peter a call and ask him about abalone.