Monthly Archives: July 2013

Steppin’ Out – Zachary Jack Specialty Foods and C. G. Di Arie Tasting Room, Part 1

The tasting room isn’t quite ready yet, but Zachary Jack Specialty Foods is and has been open and doing a good business for the past several months.

Both these businesses are in the old Zachary Jacques Restaurant, which is located about three miles east of Diamond Springs at 1821 Pleasant Valley Road.

“We thought about saying we had gourmet foods, which we do” said Lynette Evans, who with her husband and chef, John Evans, own this business along with ZacJack Bistro in Cameron park. “But, we thought the word gourmet might make people think things are expensive. We wanted to let people know that we have a lot of specialty foods that are not expensive and very affordable, so we used that word instead.”

As I walked along the neatly stacked shelves I noticed quite a number of pastas, pasta sauces, chutneys, curries, oils (including some very exotic ones like avocado oil), pickled items, and Harvest Song preserves.

There were also nuts for cooking and/or eating, trail mixes, dried fruit, crackers and more, things perfect to take along on a visit to the local wineries, many of which are just a few miles down the road.

“We get our nuts from Napa Nut Co.,” added Lynette, “And we put labels on them that you can understand. In fact, we do that wherever we can.

In addition to the canned and packaged goodies, there are freshly baked breads, and in the cooler section cheeses and patés, along with what I think is really great, gourmet meals you can take home and easily prepare.

Chef John Evans, who is famous for his “Everyday Gourmet Cuisine,” has come up with vacuum packed, precooked items like marinated short ribs with Bordelaise sauce, lamb shanks and buttered poached white prawns. He cooks them sous-vide (sealed and in a hot water bath) and then you simply take them home, warm them for a few minutes in hot water, open the package and serve (yes, he includes directions). I’ve done it, it is simple and they are very delicious (love the short ribs).

To go with these meals, or as a separate meal, they have a number of salad kits that come with their own house-made dressings (tried those too, delicious). And, as a treat some very decadent desserts, also made by Chef John, that you can purchase whole or by the slice, along with several flavors of gelato they get from the Italian Ice Cream Co. in Folsom.

Recently they have added locally sourced free range eggs and fresh vegetables. The eggs come from “just down the street” and vegetables from Humble Bee Hill Farms in Shingle Springs.

“We try to get everything we can locally,” added Lynette. “Freshness is very important to us, and it helps the local economy.”

They also sell quite a selection of interesting and reasonably priced wines, beers and sodas, along with coffee from America’s Best in San Francisco.

“We are looking forward to the opening of the C. G. Di Arie tasting room in the east end of the building, “ said Lynette, “which should be on Saturday, July 20. They are such nice people and their wine is outstanding.”

If you are not familiar with C. G. Di Arie, the winery is in the Mt. Aukum area of El Dorado County with a tasting room in Amador County.

Chaim and Elishiva Gur-Arieh are the owners. Chaim, who has a PhD in food science and a palate to match, is the winemaker, producing some of the finest and very best balanced wines around. Elishiva is a world class artist who manages a lot of the day to day winery business and also knows great wine. They are two of the most delightful people I have ever met.

Presently the hours at Zachary Jack Specialty Foods is from 11 a.m. until 6:30, Tuesday through Sunday. However, those hours are likely to change once the tasting room is opened.

The next time you are thinking about a picnic, something for a wine tasting trip or a great gourmet dinner, drop by Zachary Jacks Specialty Foods. They can help you select exactly what you need and can even help you with party and event planning.

For more information call 530-626-8045.

Steppin’ Out – Sizzler

On Father’s Day this year, the Sizzler in Cameron Park reopened after about a month of being closed for an extensive remodeling. A week or so after they reopened, my friend Russ Salazar and I decided to give them a try, to see what had been done.

Located at 4085 Cameron Park Drive, the place is very nice from top to bottom with new paint inside and out, new counters, several large-screen TVs, an outside mesquite barbecue and some really well trained staff.

We did our regular walk-around-the-salad-bar first (it looked really good) and then took a look at the very large menu on the wall that even I could read without glasses (and probably from 100 or more feet).

A nice young lady came over to us and asked if we had any questions or needed any help. I told her that the menu was a bit confusing at first, because in the Sizzler Seniors section it said, “Endless Salad Bar & Beverage ($10.99),” followed by “includes coffee, tea or soft drink & plated garden side salad.” I asked her why I would want a “plated garden salad” with an “endless salad bar.” After looking at it for a few moments, she said that statement apparently applied only to the menu items after it.

We stepped up the new black granite counter and ordered two of the endless salad bar and beverage from the senior’s menu. When questioned about our beverage, I said iced tea and Salazar said, “Milk.”

Salazar often orders milk, something that is always on the menu at the County’s Senior Nutrition Program meals. After several people were questioned amongst the staff (there appeared to be a lot of bosses there), it was decided it wasn’t one of the drinks included as a “beverage” with our meals.

We were then directed to our table by a lovely young lady and then set off to get some of the salad, soup, pasta, Mexican food, potatoes and desserts.

Sizzler has a great looking salad bar, with two minor problems. The first is that the plates are at the wrong end. You pick up your plate and if you go to the left, you first come to salad dressings. If you go to your right, you first come to desserts.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, a lot of the items are not labeled. That may be a result of just being reopened, or someone isn’t doing their job.

I walked around and filled my plate with some green salad (good blue cheese dressing), and several of the ready-made salads, along with some fruit. Depositing my plate a the table, I went back for some soup.

I found an unlabeled soup full of meat and sausage and ladeled myself a small bowl. I picked up a couple of packages of saltines (I love them in the small packages since they stay fresh). I told Salazar it was delicious, so he went to get some. He came back with vegetable-beef, soup which was also wonderful. No skimping on the meat in either of them.

For my second pass through the salad bar I made myself a soft taco, picked up some more fruit and tried a chunk of potato. Next it the potato was an unlabeled bin that I thought was a different kind of potato. It turned out to be chicken wings, real chicken wings with bones. And, after looking around, I found Buffalo Sauce. Again, everything was good.

Salazar made himself a taco and said the guacamole he put on it was very good.

He doesn’t often eat guacamole because he doesn’t like cilantro, which many restaurants add to it. I did some checking on that and found out it is actually genetic. To some people cilantro tastes like soap.

While standing next to me at the dessert bar, Salazar told me that something was missing; something that all salad bars had: squares of Jell-O. I pointed to a black plastic container in which there was almost invisible, purple Jell-O. I took one and commented on its ability to bounce (my Jell-O often turns out like that). Smiling, Salazar said the thought it might be good for retreading tires.

The food was good, the service was good, the prices were reasonable and the place was clean. That is about all you need for an enjoyable lunch.

The menu at Sizzler is the same as before with steaks, seafood, steak combos, ribs, chicken (yes, they still have Malibu Chicken), pasta, handcrafted burgers, signature sandwiches and more. There are also lunch specials, an “Ultimate Value Menu,” a kid’s menu and the senior menu.

Hours are from 11 until 9:30, and until 10 on Friday and Saturday. For more information call (530) 672-2593 or visit www.sizzler.com and follow the links to the Cameron Park restaurant.