Archive for November, 2012

Paragary’s Bar & Oven

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Last night a little foodie exploration and treat was in order, so off to Paragary’s Bar & Oven in Midtown Sacramento. I’d never been there before, but have heard wonderful things about it. Now, I know why!

Malbec ... beautiful color!

We shared a special Manhattan and it was really good. I am not a big mixed drink aficionado, and have not had a Manhattan since I don’t know when, but wow. OK, we didn’t officially share it, but I sampled it a couple of times. I sampled an aperitif, Branca Menta, which was interesting and I’ll have it another time, but I decided to just stick with wine. I wanted something a little earthy to pair with the Wood Oven Roasted Portobello Mushroom appetizer, so I ordered a glass of the Sangiovese (Perazzeta, Tuscany, 2010). My fellow foodie friend had the Malbec (Crios, Mendoza, Argentina, 2010).

We started out with the Wood Oven Roasted Portobello Mushroom, Polenta, Garlic, Herbs, Parmesan.

The Wood Oven Roasted Portobello Mushroom appetizer was fantastic. Each item was divine on its own, but a little of each together formed the perfect bite.

Little Gems Lettuces

We then shared the Little Gems Lettuces salad, with pears, bleu cheese, pecans, and fresh pomegranate. Every aspect of this salad was fresh and perfect. The balance of sweet, tart, savory flavors, and tender crisp lettuce was exquisite. In hindsight, I think this would have been lovely with a sparkling wine.

Entrees ...

For entrees, we tried the special tortellini (filled with ricotta, goat cheese, greens, and served with a Gorgonzola cream sauce, garnished with walnuts) and a Pizza Sampler (half homemade fennel sausage with smoked mozzarella, wood-roasted onions, roasted Calabrian chile peppers, and half roasted mushrooms with leeks, fontina, garlic, thyme, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese).

Tortellini close-up

Normally, I am not a big cream sauce fan (and don’t really want to develop much of a taste for them), but this was fantastic! The pizza was lightly topped and the crust was thin and perfect. This is the kind of pizza I want to make at home. The crust stayed crisp and held up to the toppings, but it was not tough. I love the slightly puffy rim and super thin base. (It also made for yummy lunch leftovers!)

Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake

I was only going to look at the dessert menu, but someone promised to share this with me. We shared the Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake with Espresso Gelato and Chocolate Sauce.

I’m not sure how many miles I’ll have to ride to work all of this off, but every bite was worth it.


This was my first trip to Paragary’s Bar & Oven, but my sincerest hope is that it will not be my last. Every aspect of the meal and experience was superb. Our server, Julie, was attentive, friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. The atmosphere was comfortable, elegant, and unpretentious. Check them out online:


B-cycle – coming to Davis?

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Check this out …

How can Davis really call itself “Bicycle City” without a bike sharing program? This sounds like a great idea! Be sure to BYOH (bring your own helmet)!

B-cycle at the Davis Farmers' Market

B-cycle bikes at the Davis Farmers' Market

Davis Farmers Market

Monday, November 5th, 2012

November 3, 2012
It’s Saturday morning I woke up extra early and with extra energy, but my cycling buddy wasn’t up for riding yet. A trip to the Davis Farmers Market was just what I needed! I’ve been having some trouble with my camera, so some of these photos are a little funky, but I think the beauty of the produce still shows through.

A late variety peach ... such a sweet and wonderful surprise!

Several vendors had beautiful displays of cut winter squash

Black Spanish Radishes ... I have never seen nor heard of such a thing! According to the vendor, they're spicy like a radish, but more starchy. She said they're great roasted.

Sugar Pie Pumpkins!

A beautiful bounty of squash ...

A Rainbow of Bell Peppers ... I can't eat them, but I love to photograph them! These beauties are from Towani Organi Farm. (For more info, see:

Remember the pesto I made back in August? (See: This is the booth where I got the basil. Towani Organic Farm owner Guy Baldwin and his team really do a beautiful job with their display and have lovely produce.


Towani organic Farm, cherry tomatoes

Towani Organic Farm ... I love this friendly little reminder.

Gorgeous display!

Some of the best gluten-free goodies I have ever tried.


Most vendors are happy to provide a sample for you. If the Flour Chylde Bakery offers you a sample, try it. If you can’t get to the Davis Farmers Market, you can find Flour Chylde Bakery products online, see: For the upcoming holidays, be sure to check out their special holiday flavors (


Another fall season favorite …

M. Garibaldi Farms ... Persimmons!

Stunning flower displays

Cauliflower perfection ... beautiful for roasting!


If you’re in the Davis area on Saturday mornings, stop by the Davis Farmers Market. For more information, see:

For information about other California Certified Farmers’ Markets, see:



Another Variation on the Piadine Dough …

Sunday, November 4th, 2012


After 3 minutes at high speed, it's perfect!


Just out of the mixer ... notice how much flour is on the board. You may be tempted to dump lots and lots of flour on your board, but resist!

This afternoon I am trying another variation on the Piadine Dough. I increased the whole wheat and rye flours, used unbleached all-purpose flour instead of bread flour, and used Annie’s Naturals Roasted Garlic Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil (see: instead of regular extra virgin olive oil. It looks and smells fabulous! I used a sponge method for the dough.

For the original recipe for Michael Chiarello’s Piadine Dough, from his The Tra Vigne Cookbook, see:

This recipe makes enough dough for one large pizza, two medium pizzas or focaccias. One of these days I will try ciabatta with this dough. I think it will make an amazing ciabatta!

Whole Wheat Rye Piadine Dough

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rye flour
1 7/8 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup water
2 tablespoons Annie’s Naturals Roasted Garlic Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (unbleached)
Flour for kneading, up to about 1/2 cup including your bench flour

Make the sponge:
Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it stand until it is dissolved. Add the rye and whole wheat flours, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time and stir until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you are using a stand mixer, such as a KitchenAid, you might want to use the paddle for this step, rather than the hook attachment. Let rest to allow the yeast to proof. I was a bit pressed for time today, so I only let it stand about 10 or 15 minutes. Normally, I would let it stand 30-45 minutes.

Mix the dough:
Add 3/4 cup of the remaining flour. If you’re using a stand mixer, use the hook attachment and low speed at this stage.  In a separate small bowl, stir the salt into the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and set aside. When the flour is mostly mixed in, add the olive oil, mix a bit, then sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup flour and salt into the dough. Continue to mix the dough on low speed for 3-4 minutes. You’ll want to stop and scrape the dough from the hook a time or two during this stage. After 3-4 minutes, turn the mixer to high speed and knead on high for 3 minutes. You’ll want to sprinkle in a little flour while it kneads, but be careful to not add too much (no more than 1/8 to 1/4 cup).

Just out of the mixer.

Turn the dough on onto a floured board (see above). This is a wet dough, so you want to have enough flour on your board to prevent sticking, but don’t be tempted to over flour the board. This dough is a bit delicate and deserves a very light touch. You will find that it comes together very quickly and is easily shaped into a round. When you’re first learning, you may be frustrated when dough sticks to your hands, but patience and practice will pay off. It’s almost as if your hands develop a non-stick coating after a while.

First shaping

If you're making 2 pizzas or focaccias, cut the dough in half ...

... then shape each piece into a round.

Place each round in an olive-oiled bowl, cover with plastic.

This dough can be left at room temperature to proof right away, or be refrigerated overnight for use the next day. It will proof pretty quickly, depending on the temperature in your kitchen, and the temperature of the water you use. I like to use cool water for my breads, and rarely use warm water. If you are using the dough right away, the first rise will take 45 minutes to one hour, until it doubles in size. Gently punch down the dough and fold the sides under to once again create a smooth top. Then, let it rise again until it just about doubles in size again. Shape into focaccia, or use as pizza, or … try something new! Tonight, I’m making a simple rosemary and sea salt focaccia, which I have to go prepare right now. Tomorrow, I’ll try ciabatta.


By the way … for you Costco shoppers out there, Costco now carries Annie’s Naturals Roasted Garlic Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil in 1-liter bottles.

Autumn on The Arboretum

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

We’ve been having some lovely late October weather …

UC Davis Arboretum


UC Davis Arboretum

UC Davis Arboretum