An Evening with the Nimans

I had the pleasure of attending “An Evening with the Nimans” at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, CA last night. I found out about the event through Slow Food Sacramento and through following Grange Restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

Bill and Nicolette Niman are owners and operators of BN Ranch – a seaside ranch in Bolinas, CA. They raise grass-fed cattle, heritage turkeys and goats on their ranch. Bill is a cattle rancher and the founder of Niman Ranch, Inc. Nicolette is a rancher, attorney, writer and author of the book Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms.  

The evening took place on the 7th floor – Metropolitan Terrace of the Citizen Hotel. The State Capitol was the perfect backdrop to a wonderful evening. Complimentary wine was provided by Frog’s Leap.

Frog’s Leap has been farming responsibly and producing wines since 1981. The literature we received shared that they have been farming organically since 1988. Frog’s Leap dry farms nearly 200 acres in the Napa Valley. I had a glass of their Sauvignon Blanc and look forward to making a special trip next time I’m visiting the Napa Valley.

Chef Michael Tuohy of Grange Restaurant introduced the Nimans to the crowd. Bill Niman talked about Sacramento being the bread basket of the world… pretty cool when you really think about it. There was mention of hopefulness and how we can move forward as a nation when it comes to how American meat is produced and what we as individuals can do to make it better.

Both Bill and Nicolette stressed the importance of getting as close to your food sources as possible. Growing your own, purchasing directly from local farms, farmer’s markets, CSA, and Co-ops. While some of the presentation included some pretty horrific slides of  “factory farms”, the message of the evening was a very positive one. We have the power as individuals to make sure that the meat/food we consume is healthy, nutritious, safe, humane and environmentally sound.

The presentation was followed by a book signing and special dinner in Grange Restaurant. I took some photos of the hotel lobby while my girlfriend Deede made a phone call outside.

We then waited in line at Grange for the book signing.

I opted to purchase a hardback edition of the Niman Ranch Cookbook. I will also be purchasing Nicolette’s book in the near future. (Next month’s paycheck, ha!)

The Niman Ranch Cookbook is filled with beautiful photographs of the farms, illustrated meat charts, cooking methods, easy to follow techniques and recipes contributed by famous chefs that serve Niman Ranch products in their restaurants. Suzanne Goin’s Grilled Tri-Tip with Black Olive Aioli immediately caught my attention as I flipped through the glossy pages.

Both Bill and Nicolette signed my cookbook.

Bill wrote: For Foodiddy, I hope this story inspires you to share it with others and in the kitchen as well.

Nicolette wrote: Best wishes in your writing on good food – keep it up!

I will proudly display my new cookbook with others in my kitchen, but first I have to finish reading it. 🙂

Deede and I stayed to partake in the special dinner option prepared by Chef Michael Tuohy and Grange Restaurant staff.

We were seated at a table for two in the upstairs dining area. (Note: It was very dark and hard to get decent photos while being discreet. I promise, the food looked way better in person).

The featured dinner was $35/person and included the following:

First course – BN Ranch Beef Sliders and Turkey Rillettes.

Main Course: BN Ranch Turkey Breast cooked “sous vide” with brussels sprouts & crisp bacon, whipped sweet potatoes, and natural jus.

Dessert Course: Butterscotch Pudding with Salted Butterscotch Cookies

I shared my first course with Deede and loved every bite. It was my first time eating Turkey Rillettes. “Rillettes” is a preparation of meat similar to pâté – in case you are unfamiliar with the term, I know I was.

The main event – I am not a huge lover of turkey,  it’s not my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. That thought process changed last night. I have never tasted such moist/flavorful turkey in my entire life – No offense Mom and Dad, but I say we load into the car and spend Thanksgiving at Grange next year, or I’ll buy our turkey directly from BN Ranch. The brussels sprouts and whipped sweet potatoes were heavenly as well.

Speaking of my Dad, he has always been a butterscotch pudding fan. I usually opt for vanilla or chocolate. One bite of the butterscotch pudding and I could not put my spoon down. This was no “Kozy Shack” or “Jello” pudding… it melted in my mouth. Deede and I both agreed that the butterscotch cookies took the dessert to the next level. If I could order them by the dozen (weekly) – I would. Dan would be in cookie heaven.

Deede ordered from the daily menu so we could share everything. She had the Zinfandel Braised Niman Ranch Short Rib, Whipped Potatoes, Spinach and Gremolata. The Niman’s had shown a slide of their short ribs to compare grass fed vs. grain fed beef. We had short rib on the brain after that.

She also ordered a dessert to share.

Warm Winter Fruit Strudel with French Vanilla Ice Cream and Granny Smith Apple Butter – it was delicious. It triggered a childhood food memory and I still can’t pinpoint the familiar taste.

We had a really nice evening. I’m very proud to be part of such an amazing foodie community in Sacramento, CA. and I’m glad I got to share it with Deede. I also actually ran into someone from Co-op classes that I’ve taken and it was great talking to him and sharing thoughts on the evening and future classes.

I said I needed a new hobby over a year ago. From fashion girl to foodie girl, what a difference a year makes. While I loved selling designer clothing, I don’t miss having a second job. It sure allows me the extra time to do things I really love.

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    • Kristen on January 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    OMG! I don’t know what I have planned for dinner, but it won’t compare now after looking at your post. I love Niman Ranch beef and am salivating for the short ribs. The turkey looks amazing too…. I think we should visit the Niman Ranch for a field trip! I love happy cows, turkeys and goats, especially when they end up on my plate. DON’T HATE!!! It’s done humanely, so there’s no guilt in it for me. My great grandfather was a cattle farmer, so I have a love for the animals and how they are treated during their time on our planet. 🙂

    • Steph on January 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    What a wonderful evening! The food sounds amazing. I’m drooling over the butterscotch pudding and salted butterscotch cookies. They sound delicious! I’m glad that you have found something that you truly enjoy!

    • Lora on January 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I love the Nimans and their approach to farming. I try to buy their products whenever I can. Last year I finally watched “Food Inc.” and it forever changed the way I view meat production and ever since I’ve been on the hunt for more responsibly raised meat. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to attend this event – I only wish that I could have been there as well!

    • deb on January 22, 2011 at 11:42 am

    The entire evening sounded delightful. There is nothing like reading through a new cookbook. Please post about some of the recipes you try in the future.

    • Hilary on January 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve been inside of The Citizen…it looks beautifully decorated. Your meal looks like it was scrumptious! I am a huge lover of the turkey so I probably would have been digging on that big time.

    But seriously, hello butterscotch! Oh my yum!

    By the way, your photography just keeps getting better and better with each post. 🙂

    • Tina on January 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    The food looks amazing! We buy our meat from a ranch that farms similarly. It makes such a difference in flavor as well. That short rib looks so good! Can’t wait to see what you start cooking up next!

    • Amy on January 24, 2011 at 9:18 am

    What a great way to spend the evening….sounds wonderful. So cool that they signed the cookbook, too!

    I agree with previous comments…the food looked delicious and your pictures of the food made my mouth water 🙂 You are doing great taking pictures and I enjoy coming here each and every time learning of your new adventures of food!

  1. I was so hoping to attend this, but unfortunately, I was ill that night and had to stay home. Sounds like it was a great event. Thanks for the blog post – at least I got to be there vicariously through you! 😉

    Found your blog via @DineGrange’s tweet. I’m a Sac-based food blogger, too. Always love seeing fellow local foodies on the web!

      • foodiddy on January 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Hi Dawn. Sorry you were unable to make the event, would have been nice to meet you. I just popped over to your blog and wow, your fig photos are amazing. Can’t wait to look through your past posts. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Rugby on January 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    So the other day my dad and I were pondering about this. I’m going to pass this post along, facebooking it now. Thank you for the awesome post and the happy coincidence.

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