Sierra Nevada Brewery Taproom & Restaurant – Chico, CA

Sierra Nevada Brewery

A quick day trip to Chico, CA provided the perfect opportunity to have lunch with my parents at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Taproom. They went through a recent remodel at the beginning of this year. I had nothing to compare it to since it was my first time, but after showing pictures to a friend who goes on the regular, she seemed very impressed with the recent updates. The view below is to the right of the front door entry with a glass walled step down.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Taproom Interior

The woodwork throughout was amazing. We got a table close to the kitchen and were able to look out onto the patio area. The menu went through some changes as well. Chef Daniel Grice was hired just days before the horrific Camp Fire – the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history.

Shortly after the Camp Fire started back in early November 2018, I read all about Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Resilience campaign through local craft brewery social media links. The campaign gave the recipe/tools to brew Resilience IPA beer to any brewery interested. The purpose of the campaign was to raise money for those impacted by the Camp Fire. I really wanted to support the campaign, so I purchased a Resilience Butte County Proud IPA t-shirt from the brewery’s website and I bought two 6-packs at my local grocery store back in December to share with my fam at Christmas. Supplies were limited and I just happened to be at the right place, at the right time. Over 1400 breweries across the U.S. and even in other countries hosted Resilience events/fundraisers. Locally I could feel the sense of pride friends, co-workers and the community felt to help those in need.
The overwhelming support helped inspire the Butte Strong Fund, a partnership devoted to the long recovery ahead.

Sierra Nevada Resilience

So back to lunch… The menu had many options and it took me a bit to decide.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Taproom menu
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Menu

I ended up ordering the lentil burger with white cheddar and fries. The burger had an aioli sauce and was served with red onion and green leaf lettuce. It was awesome, packed full of flavor and the texture was on point. Crisp on the edges and team moist on the inside. I just got through posting about eating healthier… then I post a photo of fries… LOL. It’s all about moderation. I did eat over half of my fries and I finished the burger. I feel like I now must recreate the lentil patty for a future meal prep Sunday.

Sierra Nevada Brewery Lentil Burger

We stopped into the gift shop after lunch to pick up some mustard and a 6 pack of Summerfest. I will definitely be back for a tour and tasting when I have more time. A fun afternoon with the rents and a perfect beginning to the rest of our adventure.


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Busy Food Prepping…

Where the heck have I been for the last 7 months? Well, I jumped back on the healthy eating bandwagon and joined some weight loss and exercise accountability groups on Facebook. I really needed to simplify the way I had been eating. It’s so easy to get excited about all things food (festivals/events, new restaurants, holiday parties and shared/found recipes) and next thing you know the pounds come creeping back on and at this age it takes more than a half-assed effort to get them back off. I had to go on auto pilot with meals and exercise until I met my first weight loss goal. I’m feeling positive about it and my brain has accepted the changes that I needed to make. You can’t get results without putting in the work and it was time for me to stop making excuses. One thing that happened over the holidays, my cookbook collection grew thanks to generous gifts and I’ve been obsessed and flipping through the pages for inspiration.

Working a full time job, collaborating on a side business with a girlfriend, helping Dan with our lighting business and taking care of a special needs pup, leaves me with little time for things like blogging. I’m still snapping photos like a crazy blogger would, they just tend to live on my phone or make their way to my personal social media pages. I’m still super passionate about food and now that I’ve learned that one of my friends literally has a FARM full of bees, fruit and veg in his backyard, I’m excited to try out and create some new, healthy, recipes in the coming months with whatever he decides to throw my way.

I do NOT do well in the winter months and yes I realize CA winters are nothing compared to some of the winters you east coast readers endure. My BFF lives in Maine, I know me complaining is ridiculous. But the extra (much needed) rain and very little sunshine really effects my mood. I am an outside CA girl through and through. I’d much rather be in my yard working or out on the trails than stuck indoors.This winter I really focused on getting my eating all dialed in and spending lots of time on my trusty treadmill to kick my seasonal depression and it worked. I had a much easier go of it and for once, I didn’t pack on the winter pounds. I’m calling that a huge victory.

I started doing weekly food prep and the concept has definitely changed how I eat. I’m the girl that can eat the same breakfast every single day – Green tea, 2 hard boiled eggs, cut up veggies and some sort of fruit. Not creative, but easy to pack and take to work. I use my Sunday meal prep time to create options for my weekly lunches and dinners. Friday night is usually a cheat meal out with friends.

I’m really into bowls. I got hooked on Poke bowls and fell into the Bibimbap craze with lots of local dining out and to-go options here in Sacramento. One of my new favorite bowl restaurants is Mixed Rice and Noodle Bar located at 7501 W. Stockton Blvd., Suite #110, Sacramento, CA. Bibimbap – the aesthetic of mixing colors, textures and flavors. Yes please, let me just run with that.

While my versions aren’t Korean inspired, they are definitely full of color and texture. I’ve been using a few Pinterest/Instagram finds to help guide me in balancing out my bowl ingredients. My options vary each week depending on my mood. I’ve got some of my favorites listed below by category.

  • Base – Lettuce, baby spinach, arugula, kale, soba noodles
  • Veggies – Carrots, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, leeks, cucumbers, zucchini
  • Protein – Eggs, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, edamame, black beans, tofu, veggie patties, chicken, ahi
  • Complex Carbs – Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, corn, barley, brown rice
  • Sweet – Apples, berries, figs, dates
  • Extras – Sauces, lemon/lime juice, flavored oils, avocado, Greek yogurt, sour cream, fresh herbs, seeds, nuts

I prep a bunch of ingredients on Sundays so I can mix and match things throughout the week. The hubs does his own thing, so it’s easy for me to get super creative with ingredients I like. Bowls of Goodness, One Part Plant, Half Baked Harvest and Damn Delicious were a great starting point for inspiration. Besides thumbing through their cookbooks and drooling, I do also follow all of them on the gram and have for years.

All mix-ins are served on beds of arugula, baby lettuce or spinach in a big bowl. I usually heat up the grains, potatoes, beans and the cubed veggie burgers, but the rest of my items are served cold.

I will also go with multiples of the same dish some weeks. Greek Couscous Salad has become a favorite for sure.

Chickpeas, roasted garlic and olive oil pearled couscous (I used Near East brand) orange, red & yellow bell peppers, red onion, grape tomatoes, English cucumber, feta cheese, Meyer lemon and flat leaf parsley. The dressing was made with the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

This past week was taco fixings. Butternut squash, black beans, red cabbage slaw, salsa verde, cotija cheese, cilantro and mini corn tortillas.

I steamed the butternut squash and then seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper. I then sautéed the cubes with some avocado oil in my cast iron skillet. The cabbage slaw was made with olive oil, cider vinegar, honey and smoked bourbon pepper and salt to taste.

I’ve had a lot of fun and really notice when I meal prep on weekends that it does set me up for success during the week. Are there times when I say say, “screw it” and head out with friends or stop and grab something from a favorite restaurant? Absolutely. Consistency over perfection is the only way to succeed at making this a lifestyle and not a quick fix. It’s only taken me 18 years of “dieting” to grasp this concept. It’s finding what works for you and that takes a lot of trial and error. I’m very much a work in progress.

If you’ve stuck around this long, you deserve a shout out. Thank you for all of the years of support you’ve shown me, even with my sporadic blogging you still keep reading and I’m grateful for that. I do love my blog and I use my recipes and revisit posts often and don’t plan on quitting anytime soon. I’ll hop on when I can to share new things. Until next time, Cheers!


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Sample the Sierra 2018

This was my first time attending Sample the Sierra at Bijou Park in South Lake Tahoe.  The girlfriends I went with had all gone to last year’s event and really enjoyed it.  Sample the Sierra is Lake Tahoe’s largest farm-to-fork festival celebrating locally crafted food, wine and beer with local artisans spread throughout the event – fine art, glass art, pottery, jewelry, handmade soaps, jams, spice rubs, honey, olive oil and hand-knitted and screen printed clothing. The event is sponsored by The Tahoe Chamber and a bunch of other local companies.

Sample the Sierra Food and Wine Festival - Event sold out sign

City of South Lake Tahoe Bijou Park Sign

Sample the Sierra 2018 Pairings list

We had purchased our tickets months ago – thankfully, because the event always sells out. We waited in line, got our IDs checked, and then received our plastic tasting glasses and event pairing maps and started tasting our way from booth to booth.

Tahoe Pops Handcrafted Popsicle Sign

First up was vodka and popsicles – Tahoe Blue Vodka and Tahoe Pops. Tahoe Pops uses Tahoe water as their main ingredient and they try to source as locally as possible for the other add-ins.  

Tahoe Pops Food Samples

I tried their Kiwi Lime (Ingredients: Lake Tahoe water, organic kiwi, organic cane sugar, organic lime juice, organic tapioca dextrose, and xanthan gum) and loved it so much that later in the day I went back for seconds and scored a whole pop. Besides the samples, they had their Tahoe Pops Ice Shack nearby so you could purchase full size popsicles.

According to their website, Tahoe Blue Vodka is “Made with pristine Lake Tahoe water, artfully distilled in small batches in Mountain View, CA, carefully bottled in Sparks, NV.” – we all enjoyed the samples. Yep – there is a theme… water from the lake. I can vouch for Lake Tahoe water. I loved it as a kid when we spent summers there and it’s one of the only places around that I will drink it straight out of the tap without any filtering. 

Our next stop was the Lake House/Bella Grace booth.

High on Food Mobile Kitchen Truck

Bella Grace Vineyards is located in Plymouth, CA. I sampled the 2017 Viogneir and found the hints of pear to be very refreshing.

Bella Grace Vineyards - 2017 Viogneir

The food pairing was provided by The Lake House – Paella with ingredients sourced from Perez Farms in Crows Landing, CA.

The Lake House Paella

The Paella (Roasted chicken, linguica sausage, shrimp and mussels topped with sofrito and creme fraiche) wasn’t ready when we rolled through, but my girlfriend went back and tried it – she said that it was delicious – so photo credit and review goes to Kristen.  

I was most excited to visit the Edgewood Tahoe/Auriga Wine Cellars booth. All senses were delighted from the visual beauty of the presentation to the amazing aromas… tasting did not disappoint and at the end of the day, I did give my poker chip to them as my favorite of the day. Edgewood chefs spent time with us explaining the ingredients as Denise and I weren’t able to identify one of them – Sea Ice.

Auriga Zinfandel Wine

Edgewood Trout Salad with Sea Ice

Sea Ice garnish on trout salad

Trout salad with a quick pickle/sea ice as a topper. 

Edgewood Tahoe Short Rib Sample

The presentation of all three Edgewood Tahoe items spoke to my inner designer self. I loved all of the details. 

Edgewood Tahoe Chocolate Mousse Sample

I sampled the short rib and Denise and I both had the chocolate mousse. I mistakenly didn’t take a photo of the menu/ingredients – so I wish I had more details on each item. I sampled the Auriga 2015 Zinfandel for pairing with my short rib and the combo was perfect. This got me excited for colder weather ahead. The mahjong style chocolate tile on the mousse prompted a conversation about Crazy Rich Asians and how I now need to go see the movie. 

The Loft's Wild Boar Cannelloni with Pink Vodka Sauce

The Loft and Lewis Grace Winery had an excellent pairing – Wild Boar Cannelloni with Pink Vodka Sauce and Pinot Gris – another favorite of the day. The Loft encouraged us to check out their live theater magic show on our next trip to Heavenly Village.

Lewis Grace Pinot Gris

Primo’s Italian Bistro and Lava Cap Winery really delivered with what is probably the best Caprese Crostini I’ve ever tasted. I loved the garlic and olive oil marinated tomatoes – teamed with perfectly toasted bread, creamy burrata (I think) cheese and the pesto topper. For the pairing, I had the Lava Cap Sauvignon Blanc. I was so excited to taste both, that once again I failed to photograph the signage with all of the details. Whoops… enjoying the moment for sure!

Caprese Crostini samples

Bottle of Lava Cap Sauvignon Blanc

Riva Grill and Crystal Basin Cellars were up next for us. A goat cheese tart with grilled peach and fig bruschetta and the second item was baby arugula and whipped burrata toast with mixed melon, tasso ham, roasted grape tomato and micro basil. Yay, I remembered to get an ingredient photo. The honey was provided by Al’s Bees Mountain Honey & other ingredients were provided by Salle Orchards and Towani Organic Farm. I didn’t sample any of the wine at this booth, but others did and really liked the Merlot.

Riva Grill Chef with samples

goat cheese tart with grilled peach and fig bruschetta

goat cheese tart with grilled peach and fig bruschetta sample

Crystal Basin Cellars wine

Blue Angel Cafe & Catering Co. teamed with Boeger Winery with ingredients from RHJ Organics out of Watsonville, CA – where my grandparents once lived. We tried a Beet Napoleon – layered with goat cheese, sage and butternut squash puree, topped with a balsamic glaze and microbasil garnish. We sampled the Boeger Barbera and it paired really well with the beets. I love beets, so this was right up my alley – I did overhear quite a few people “passing” due to the beets – they don’t know what they’re missing.

Beet Napoleon - layered with goat cheese, sage and butternut squash puree, topped with a balsamic glaze and microbasil garnish.

Boeger Barbera wine

Cafe Fiore joined Madrona Vineyards & Rucksack Cellars for the pairing of chilled marinated veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, olives, onions, carrots, artichokes, tomatoes, garlic and fresh herbs with a pour of Madrona Riesling. I loved the refreshing combo, the veggies were a nice change to some of the other heavier items had throughout the afternoon. Perez Farms provided some of the ingredients.

marinated veggies

Bottle of Madrona Riesling

Dessert was enjoyed at the Revive Coffee & Wine and Mediterranean Vineyards pairing. Lemon Blackberry Mascarpone Cake and gluten free Lava Cake topped with raspberries from Harris Tree Farm, Rainbow Orchards & Jacobs Family Berry Farm. The lemon blackberry cake was really sweet and paired nicely with the Mediterranean Vineyards Garnacha.

Lemon Blackberry Mascarpone Cake and gluten free Lava Cake

Lemon Blackberry Mascarpone Cake and gluten free Lava Cake

bottles of Mediterranean Vineyards wine

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino provided swag (Mardi Gras style beads, sunglasses, bottle openers/keychains and sunscreen along with their delicious (non-spicy) Jambalaya. Everheart Cellers & Hart 2 Hart Winery was a favorite of the group of girls I went with. Some purchased their wine to take home. I joined another girlfriend on the opposite side of the venue where all the beer was and missed out on the wine.

Purple Hard Rock Hotel Guitar Bead Necklaces

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Jambalaya

First up on the beer side was Ten Crows BBQ and their Pulled Pork topped with Coleslaw and a side of Seasonal Berry Cobbler – with ingredients provide by RHJ Organics. Outpost Brewing Co. was serving up the IPA suds. I loved the pairing – coleslaw is always a good choice as a side to pulled pork. The berry cobbler was more berries, way less cobbler, as in no cobbler. Ha-ha.

Pulled Pork topped with Coleslaw and  a side of Seasonal Berry Cobbler

Pulled Pork topped with Coleslaw

Outpost Brewing Co. Can of beer and glass of beer

Fox & Hound Smokehouse Grill and Bar and South Lake Brewing Co. served up St. Louis Style Ribs and craft beer which we waited in the longest line to sample. The ribs were sourced from Sierra Meat & Seafood. They were slow-smoked with cherry wood for 5-hours and served slathered with their signature mild BBQ sauce. The meat slid right off the bone and the sauce was full of tangy delight. They went home as winners of the Best Tasting Experience Award. All Sample the Sierra guests were given a poker chip to put in the glass jar of their favorite pairing and while they didn’t get my vote, they easily could have – the ribs were that good. Like I mentioned earlier, I voted for Edgewood, their items were amazing and the chef took time to chat with us, which I loved. 

St. Louis Style Rib sample

MacDuff’s Public House and Sidellis Lake Tahoe served up craft beer, Apricot Bread Pudding and Stone Fruit Salad with ingredients provided by Hooverville Orchards.  I’ve eaten at MacDuff’s before and really liked it, so it was fun to see them as participants. 

Apricot Bread Pudding and Stone Fruit Salad

I know it seems like I tasted a lot, but I honestly skipped a bunch of booths due to the lines or wanting to hangout with the girlfriends I went with. Cold Water Brewery and Grill had a Mr. Toads Wild Rye beer that I wanted to try – but the line was crazy long. A light amber beer with a touch of rye, yes please. 

I missed the Frescana Mexican Bistro Blackened Ahi Street Tacos, but borrowed another photo from Kristen because she said they were incredible. Wild caught sushi style ahi, avocado, cilantro-pepita dressing, frisee & pico de gallo served in a corn tortilla. This is the type of food I crave and order when dining out, so I’m bummed that I missed their booth. 

Blackened Ahi Street Tacos

Once we made our way back to the beginning of the event – we noticed that the finals had just started for the 7th Annual Sierra Chef Challenge. This was a “Chopped” style challenge.   
 7th Annual Sierra Chef Challenge

Four chefs each cooking against one another with a mystery box of food – they said locally grown, but one of the items was marshmallow fluff :).  All chefs had 30 minutes to create each course per round. Appetizers were round one, three chefs moved onto round two for the entree course and then it was down to Chef Patrick Harrity from Cold Water Brewery and Grill and Chef Jimi Nakamatsu from The Lake House. Both chefs from places that I didn’t taste the food – Grrrr… Kristen knew what was up, she went to the right places, ha-ha.

7th Annual Sierra Chef Challenge Contestants

7th Annual Sierra Chef Challenge Chef Patrick

We were sitting on Chef Patrick’s side, he was the reigning Sierra Chef Challenge champion. The dessert round mystery box was unveiled and it was hard to hear, but I’m pretty sure it included chocolate, pomegranate, marshmallow fluff creme and guajillo chiles. 

7th Annual Sierra Chef Challenge Chef Patrick

Chef Patrick made flat cakes (after an admitted baking fail) with a chocolate and pomegranate mousse and a guajillo chili marshmallow fluff creme anglaise.

7th Annual Sierra Chef Challenge Chef Jimi

open face crepe sandwich with a pomegranate marshmallow fluff mousse

Chef Jimi made an open-face crepe sandwich with a pomegranate marshmallow fluff mousse that included the guajillo chilies for some added heat.

The judges talked among themselves and then submitted the winner to the announcer.

Sample the Sierra Chef Contest Winner

Chef Jimi Nakamatsu from The Lake House took the 2018 Sierra Chef Challenge Winner title.  We even managed to get a  taste of his winning dish – pretty cool. 

I had a wonderful day spent with my favorite things – good friends, delicious food, unlimited wine and beer pours, laughter, random dog sightings (including a white mini schnauzer named Oliver), a much needed post event hike and a simple green salad with roasted chicken for dinner. Thanks to everyone that let me borrow their food and wine to take photos, their actual photos when I missed stuff and for being patient while I took notes on my phone and filmed video so I wouldn’t forget things for this post. The upside – I was so busy eating that I didn’t spend money shopping for jewelry and other handcrafted treasures.

Hmmm… wait a minute, that seems more like a downside kind of thing.

Already looking forward to my next trip to Lake Tahoe – I sure do love it there.


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