Monthly Archives: August 2012

Placerville Brewing Company

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”

— Abraham Lincoln


Fish and Chips Anyone?

Fish and chips at Placerville Brewing Company was on Russ Salazar’s bucket list and we tried to go there a couple of weeks ago, but it was a Tuesday, the only day of the week they are closed. So, last Thursday we tried again.

Placerville Brewing Company is a cozy but spacious, family run and family friendly restaurant and brewpub. The present owners took it over about seven years ago and made a number of improvements, including additional parking and a great patio on the side of the restaurant. What I especially like is the fact that they have left room between the tables, so that when the restaurant is busy, which is very often, it doesn’t feel too crowded.

With the fish and chips (we voted it outstanding; panko crusted and not over cooked) we also shared an ABC (avocado, bacon, cheese) burger which was very, very good. With it we ordered the ranch beans, which are commercial beans nicely amended to make them even better. The menu says the ABC burger came with chips and salsa, but they must have been deported (I forgot to ask).
We opted for Parmesan fries “chips” ($1.50 additional) with the fish, but could have selected garlic and herb, Cheddar, blue cheese or pepperjack, or stuck with the plain regular ones.

Salazar had and loved a strong blond ale, I had water. A strong beer at noon on a hot day is nice, but I always want to take a nap afterwards.

As I mentioned, the fish was really good and the housemade tartar sauce was yummy. The fries were delicious and crisp, and remained crisp even when they were cold. Our server, Danielle, made sure we noticed that. I dipped my fries in the tartar sauce.

We had the opportunity to share a few minutes with Steve Meylor, owner and brewmaster. Meylor was hooked on craft-brewing 15 years ago when he earned a gold medal at the El Dorado County Fair for his first ever entry. Since then, he has brewed thousands of batches of beer, more than 225 types of those commercially.

Meylor brought us up to date on “what is brewing” at the brewery, literally. He also talked about some of the dinners and parties they have held there for up to 200 people. Proudly he added that they have partnered with Hill Country BBQ owner and authentic Texan, Allen Vickers to add delicious pulled pork, smoked sausage, tri-tip sandwiches, and fall-off-the-bone barbecue baby back ribs to the menu.

Well, the menu has lots of appetizers (try the wings), specialties, sandwiches and burgers, dinner plates and more. And you can get everything to eat in or take out — check out the menu on the Placerville Brewing Company Webpage The prices are a bit out of date.

In addition to the long list of craft brews they make and serve, they also have soda, ice tea and local wine, among other things to drink.
The brewery is open 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., every day but Tuesday and is located at 155 Placerville Drive. Call 530-295-9166 for more information.

Hanging Out in Pollock Pines: 50 Grand Steakhouse


50 Grand Steakhouse

I was invited to be a guest speaker for the Pollock Pines SIRS (Sons In Retirement) last week. They meet for lunch one Thursday a month at 50 Grand Steakhouse, 6401 Pony Express Trail In Pollock Pines. This was the second or third time I have spoken to them and, as usual, it was a lot of fun.

They meet in the large banquet room and lunch was salad, a half roasted chicken, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy and for dessert, strawberry ice cream. Now, that is real food.

With the salad they put real men’s salad dressings on the table, both 1000 Island and blue cheese, and with the chicken they serve rolls and jellied cranberry sauce.

The chicken was perfect, real fall-off-the-bone perfect. The mashed potatoes and gravy were wonderful, as was the corn. Most people took home half of their chicken for dinner, but not me. My plate was empty of everything.

If you are wondering, my talk was on hangings during the Gold Rush and to add a bit of reality and humor, I wore a real, 13 turn hangman’s noose around my neck.

I have no idea how long 50 Grand has been at its location in Pollock Pines. Some say the 1930s, some say the 1940s. All I know is that it has been a real long time since I had dinner there.

When I first moved to El Dorado County a little over 40 years ago, we went there every couple of weeks for prime rib, which they still serve as a special on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. I guess I am going to have to go back and give dinner a try.

They have a full bar and serve steak, seafood, ribs and more. Their relish tray is a trademark you will remember.

For more information call 530-644-1580.


Hunting Hot Dogs: Sacramento and Roseville

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

— Otto von Bismarck


Tale of the dog

I spent much of last week in Carmichael house-sitting, and I always take advantage of my time there to check out various restaurants that people might like to visit. When I told my friend Russ Salazar that I was going to be there, he said he had to be in Sacramento one day on business and that we should meet and try some of the hot dog places that we had been talking about.

Salazar showed up with an itinerary and his GPS and said, “We are going to visit three places: Wiener Works, Parkers Hot Dogs of Santa Cruz and Sonic. I figured if we split two dogs at each place we could do it.”

Wiener Works

Wiener Works is located at 5207 Madison Ave. For more than 20 years it has been in the same location. They take cash only, are a bit pricy, have no WiFi and, as someone commented, really haven’t given the place a thorough cleaning since they opened. On the plus side, the food is great, they steam their dogs in beer and, I’m told, they either make their own sausages or have them made for them.

They have lots of different sausages in different sizes, but we stayed small and ordered a chili dog ($5.95) and, something different, a red cabbage (cooked) and cheese dog ($6.40).

The dogs were delicious, all beef, solid and with a casing that snapped when bit, exactly what we were looking to find. The buns, chili and cabbage were good, but the cheese had very little flavor. I asked if they had any other cheeses other than shredded mild cheddar, and they said they didn’t.

They serve soda and beer, burgers up to a pound is size and great fresh-cut French fries (one-half pound is their “tiny” serving). They are open Monday to Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., Thursday to Saturday until 8 a.m. and on Sunday until 4 p.m. For more information call 916-334-8711.

Parker’s of Santa Cruz

Parker’s Hot Dogs of Santa Cruz is located in Roseville at 1604A Douglas Blvd. Their dogs are “old fashioned foot long 100 percent beef” and more reasonable that those at Wiener Works.

We ordered a “pick-me-up chili dog,” ($4.19) and a Ruben dog ($3.99). When we got the food, we commented to each other, “Who puts beans in the chili for a chili dog?”

The dogs were solid and good, the buns were good and the kraut on the Ruben dog was tasty and not so juicy that it soaked through. But, shouldn’t a Ruben dog have Russian or 1000 island dressing, not just kraut and cheese?
There are lots of good looking dogs on the menu, along with fries and onion rings. Soft drinks are available. The place is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, until 6 p.m. Call 916-786-2202 for more information.


Sonic — America’s Drive-In” is also in Roseville, 913 Pleasant Grove Blvd., and is a real drive-in, with carhops on roller skates (some of them). They also have some outside tables, which is where we chose to sit.

At the moment the specials are the wholly guacamole dog ($2.99) and the chili cheese Fritos Coney ($1.99). We ordered one of each, asked them to cut them in half and asked for water to drink (25 cents — but it was a big cup and came with ice, a cover and a straw). The dogs (and the napkins) are a bit skimpy, but what do you expect at those prices. Both the dogs were OK (the wholly guacamole dog was best), but more than a bit salty and soft. Overall they were worth the cost.

They have lots of other dogs, burgers, chicken, breakfast and more, and soda and speciality drinks like slushies. It is open from 6 a.m. until midnight. For more information call 916-771-4422.

Madrona Vineyards – Camino “Riesling for Summer”

Riesling: the Wine for Summer

For the past two years the International Riesling Foundation, created to promote riesling as the world’s most noble and versatile white wine, has sponsored the “Summer of Riesling.”

This year from June 21 until Sept. 22 some 300 wine bars and top restaurants in 32 states, joined by more than 100 fine wine shops, are participating in the three-month celebration. The wine bars and restaurants are featuring at least three rieslings by the glass along with bottle offerings.

Additionally, for the first year the event has gone international, with participation by restaurants in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Madroña Vineyards, a member of the foundation, is carrying on this event locally, featuring two riesling wines in its tasting room, at local restaurants and at one or possibly more winemaker dinners during the month of August.

These wines are the winery’s off-dry (1 percent residual sugar) 2010 vintage from its Hillside series and its dry 2010 vintage from the Signature series.

At a recent sampling of wines with a variety of different sushi dishes at Amerikan Ichi Sushi on Broadway in Placerville, Paul Bush, owner and winemaker at Madroña Vineyards said, “Riesling is the perfect summer wine. Not only is it full of flavors, it goes well with a large number of foods.”

Aroma and Taste

Riesling wines can be highly aromatic with apple, peach and pear at the forefront mixed with delicate floral undertones and often honey and spice on the nose.

On the palate, rieslings echo the apple, pear and peach along with citrus and tropical nuances. Rieslings also tend to pick up a noticeable “minerality” from their native soils, explaining why hints of slate or limestone can be exhibited.

Bush describes his 2010 Hillside Series Riesling thusly: “Mountain honey characters burst out then meld into tart green apple, finishing with a Riesling minerality that almost makes the wine seem dry.”

The 2010 Signature Series (Reserve) Riesling, he said, “has evolved over the years, emphasizing the unique fruit characters of hillside vineyards while celebrating the variety’s incredible acidity. With each year, we have refined our style, fermenting the wine drier while embracing its tart brightness. To our amazement, the result has been an incredible marriage of intense California fruit with European structure and style.”

Riesling’s Origin

Riesling wines originated in Germany’s Rhine and Mosel river valleys. Now, they are produced in numerous locations around the world and are experiencing a new “birth” as more and more people discover and enjoy them.

The derivation of the word Riesling is still not clear. One theory connects it to the characteristics of the vine’s dark, deep grooved wood, “russ” meaning dark wood and “rissig” being the root word for deep grooves.

However, the most likely connection is a negative characteristic of the riesling, namely, its poor flowering propensity in cool weather which is described by the German words “verrieseln” or “durchrieseln.”

The riesling grape’s origin is also a mystery but it is believed to be indigenous to Germany.

Interest in the varietal probably began in the early 14th century with the gradual shift of plantings from red to white grapes, when it was found that the transparent German red wines could not compete with the deeply colored French wines.

Although there are many other contenders for the honor of the “first planting” of riesling grapes, some claiming it as far back as 1232, the first documented evidence of the varietal was a sale that took place on March 13, 1435.

The cellar log of Count Katzenelnbogen at Ruesselsheim shows that Klaus Kleinfish sold the Count six vines of Riesling for 22 solidi.

As was done earlier this year when both Madroña’s New World Port and zinfandels were each featured for a month, in preparing for this celebration, Madronña Vineyards met with a number of local restaurants and asked them to feature a dish or dishes during the month of August, using one or both of the featured rieslings.

The list is continually growing but presently the following restaurants have decided to pair one or more of their dishes with a selected wine:
Placerville Brewery – 2010 Signature Riesling with fish tacos; Powell’s Steamer Company and Pub – 2010 Hillside Riesling and 2010 Signature Dry Riesling with Powell’s grilled tilapia; Kobe Sushi – 2010 Hillside Riesling and 2010 Signature Dry Riesling with miso marinated black cod; Bricks – 2010 Hillside Riesling with diver scallops and chipotle barbecued shrimp; Cold Springs Golf and Country Club – 2010 Hillside Riesling with fish tacos and spicy chicken wings; Snooty Frog – 2010 Hillside Riesling with Pacific Rim salad and smoked salmon tortellini alfredo; Los Pinos – 2010 Hillside Riesling with lomo de puerco and pollo Cozumel; Smith Flat House – 2010 Hillside Riesling with spicy special pizza and white night pizza; Cozmic Café – 2010 Hillside Riesling with thymely tuna and nut burger; Amerikan Ichi Sushi – 2010 Hillside Riesling and 2010 Signature Riesling with its signature Placerville monro roll; River Shack – 2010 Hillside Riesling and 2010 Signature Riesling with its swimmer sandwich, Artie sandwich and hot mama; Sierra Nevada House – 2010 Signature Riesling with its cheese and olive plate, grilled prawn cocktail and mango chutney pork chop; Zia’s Gelato – 2010 Hillside Riesling with fresh summer gelatos; Chantara Thai Cuisine – 2010 Hillside Riesling with spicy chicken salad and Thai cashew nut chicken; Café Luna – 2010 Hillside Riesling with fresh salmon filet dusted with Caribbean spices and Thai style chicken; Cascada – 2010 Hillside Riesling with carnitas altenas and camarones Santa Fe; and Heyday – 2010 Signature Riesling and 2010 Hillside Riesling with a pastry wrapped brie with cherry apricot rosemary chutney.

The winemaker’s dinner, with winemaker Paul Bush and Chef Dakota Lee Thomas, will be at Amerikan Ichi Sushi, 1234 Broadway in Placerville, on Thursday, Aug. 16 at 8 p.m.

The menu includes: first course — 2008 Signature Zinfandel paired with barbecued shiromaguro (albacore tuna) and hamachi (yellowtail tuna); second course — 2003 Dry Riesling paired with ikura (salmon roe), barbecued unagi (freshwater eel) and tobiko (flying fish roe); third course — 2010 Hillside Riesling paired with grilled wasabi salmon and seared maguro (blue fin tuna); fourth course — 2010 Signature Riesling paired with “Placerville Monroe Roll,” Chef Dakota’s signature roll; and the fifth course — 2007 Select Harvest Riesling paired with petit fours dessert and tiny pastel cake.

The cost is $55 per person and reservations should be made by calling the restaurant at 530-621-2100.

For more information on the celebration of riesling and events in the tasting room, call Madroña Vineyards at 530-644-5948.

Sushi Chef Dakota Lee Thomas

A 21-year-old Placerville resident, Thomas acquired his baking and pastry degree at American River College and then moved to Las Vegas, where he obtained his degree in Culinary Arts at Le Cordon Bleu.

Moving back to Placerville to be near his family, he worked on perfecting his technique at Zachary Jacques for a year and then found his way to Amerikan Ichi where he is restaurant manager and sushi chef. He prefers the atmosphere of a sushi bar over being in a kitchen, because it allows for more artistic creativity and personal contact with his customers.