I have lived in Los Angeles for almost seven years now, and I’ve never been to the state’s capital. When I was offered an opportunity to attend a media trip to Sacramento, I had several reasons to look forward to it. The purpose of the trip up north was to partake in a tour of the California Olive Ranch (COR) with a group of food writers and bloggers. While there, I assumed I would have just enough time to trek around the city and find a few good eats. This trip would literally happen the day after my return from a media trip to Orlando (more on that coming soon), so it would be a whirlwind week of flights and fun. A venture to Sacramento just for olive oil? Sign me up.
The flight from L.A. to Sacramento was much shorter than it was sweet. My tiny plane bumped and hopped along in the clouds, and I must admit it was not the most pleasant experience. Anyone who has flown in a small plane knows what that can be like. I was happy to walk off the plane and into the quietest airport I’d ever been in. Kirsten Wanket, Marketing Manager from COR, was kind enough to pick me up, and we made our way to The Citizen Hotel. It is a Joie de Vivre property, and I do love a JDV hotel. They have never disappointed. After a quick bite at the hotel’s restaurant, Grange, it was time to hop in the car and make the 90 minute drive to the ranch in Artois.
At the ranch, I met the other members of the group. John from Food Wishes and his lovely wife Michele, Aleta of The Skillet Chronicles, Jane of The Heritage Cook and Amy of Cooking with Amy. We had a full day of meeting ranch staff and company executives, all of whom gave us a very personal, dedicated and eye-opening information on the ranch and its practices. The tour included a walk through the rows of olive trees, a ride on harvesting trucks, a stroll through the mill and a tasting of several olive oils. We left the ranch tired and dusty for sure, and I left with a renewed interest in the idea that the United States–California specifically–can produce olive oils to rival top international countries.
Mike Forbes, VP of Sales and Marketing, and Kirsten treated us to a beautiful dinner at Ella. The menu was chosen specifically to highlight COR oils. Amongst a table of food enthusiasts, it goes without saying that the conversation centered around cooking, wine and spirits, travel and topics of similar interest. The chit chat flowed as easily as the wine. By the evening’s end, we all made our way back to The Citizen for a nightcap at Grange before calling it a night. It had been a full day of exploration at the hands of the folks behind the California Olive Ranch. I’m positive we all went to bed with sugar plum visions of olives in our heads.
I only had a few hours the next day to enjoy the city, so I set out on foot to explore. My hotel was very close to the Capitol building, which also serves as a museum. It was a Friday, lunchtime to be specific, and the streets were active with government workers, elementary school students on tours and folks like me enjoying a beautiful day in Sacramento. I made my way down to Burgers & Brew for a burger that was forgettable. It was the first time I went for a disappointing special instead of choosing a restaurant’s reliable and tried and true staple. With no time to wallow in pity, I walked a few steps down the block for dessert at Magpie Cafe–a peanut butter sandwich cookie–that would serve as a consolation prize.
Before hopping in my shuttle back to the airport, I grabbed my bags at The Citizen and settled into a seat at the bar of the Grange for the last time. This was my fourth appearance in roughly 30 hours, so I felt a sense of ownership and maybe slight camaraderie with one of the bartenders. Happy Hour was in full effect, so I decided to sip what was listed as Sacramento’s Ruhstaller 1881 Red. It was lighter and more refreshing than I expected with hints of wood and citrus. I found out the friendly bartender had a hand in this brew. As luck would have it, I was sitting before a brewmaster. Here’s hoping Ruhstaller will find its way down in Southern California sooner than later.
Not even 48 hours had passed, but my Sacramento trip was marked with good olive oil, good food, good people. These were the sights and sounds of a Northern California I had yet to experience. I only had a mere taste of the city, and maybe that’s just enough for the time being. Now I have many reasons to go back for more.