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Though it has always been worth a visit, Sacramento is increasingly becoming a destination worth savoring. Add in a host of restaurants, art galleries and cool shopping areas, and you have a truly hip city, so much so that the state capital was recently named “the new Oakland” by travel website Thrillist.
Three years ago, the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau established a program to promote the city as “America’s Farm to Fork Capital.”
 the marketing staff can make a strong case for its importance as an agricultural powerhouse for such distinctions as growing 80 percent of the world’s almonds and domestic caviar, and for its production of high-quality rice that fills the steamers in some of Japan’s best sushi restaurants.
“I feel that Sacramento has a cool soul about it,” says Michael Thiemann, who moved back to his hometown in 2013 to open Empress Tavern after cooking around the world and spending four years as Tyler Florence’s corporate chef working at Wayfare Tavern and other projects.
Never having spent time in Sacramento before my recent foray, I can’t prove or disprove that statement, but I did find a fresh energy in the dining scene, and while some places showed signs of ambition without the needed focused execution, I found some things to love.
For many years, Caggiano — along with the Kitchen, which serves a $135 fixed-price menu — were about the only places that garnered a national reputation.
For 25 years, Randall Selland has featured his own brand of dinner and a show with a dining counter surrounding the demonstration kitchen.
Selland and his wife, Nancy Zimmer, have been a force in the dining scene, opening Ella and Selland’s Market Cafe and in June debuting Obo Italian Table & Bar.
Thiemann credits McCown with shaking up the dining scene by creating a chefs’ collective.
McCown is one of the participants in September’s Farm-to-Fork Celebration, a month of farm tours, wine tastings, street festivals and restaurant events.
A Farm-to-Fork Festival on Sept.
Despite an increasingly crowded market, Sacramento’s first third-wave coffee roaster continues to lead the pack in both ambition and national rankings. With vaulted ceilings, exposed brick and original tiling made from 500,000 pennies, the whole space glows whenever the sun shines. In addition to the standards, Temple offers cascara tea — brewed from the coffee plant’s berries and infused with nitrogen — as well as Kyoto-style iced coffee and a full dessert and coffee pairing menu.
More than 1.5 million acres of farmland occupy the Sacramento region, supplying more than 40 farmers’ markets, as well as much of the world’s sushi rice, tomatoes and even caviar.
Fittingly, farmers will heavily dot the half-mile length of the family-friendly festival on Capitol Mall, along with advocacy organizations focused on subjects such as nutrition, food access and childhood obesity.
“As the Sacramento region’s reputation as a food destination continues to grow on a national scale, our September Farm-to-Fork Celebration will also expand to provide even more experiences for residents and visitors,” said Steve Hammond, CEO of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, in a statement.
From farm tours, to intimate dinners, to our incredible Farm-to-Fork Festival on Capitol Mall, there’s always a unique opportunity to learn more about where your food comes from.
In other words, it’s not all about chefs creating plates of locally sourced everything at fancy restaurants.
Taylor’s Market butcher Danny Johnson will pit two mystery chefs against reigning champion Adam Schulze of the Waterboy in a race to break down hogs donated by Guinda’s Riverdog Farm.
The second annual edition promises interesting panel discussions, interactive displays and, most important, a tasting festival.
On Friday and Saturday, the Rare Barrel’s Jay Goodwin will talk sour beers; Beachwood BBQ & Brewing’s Julian Srago will discuss coffee porters; and chefs and brewers will pair up on food- and beer-pairing demos.
“There are really amazing opportunities for beer lovers to learn from their favorite craft brewers,” said Leia Ostermann, managing director of the California Craft Brewers Association, which puts on the summit.
With more than 165 breweries pouring 450 beers, it’s the biggest event of its kind in California, spread out and organized by region, just west of the California State Capitol.