The Joy of Cooking in the Sierra Foothills

FAMILIES ARE SPENDING more waking hours in the kitchen than any other room. Kitchens have become a hub of family life, as a lounging room, dining room and study room, as well as for cooking.

The average kitchen has almost doubled in size since the 1920s. Besides appliances, modern kitchens have tables and chairs, flat-screen TVs and even iPad docking stations.

Generation X adults, including men, spend more time shopping and cooking, watching cooking shows on TV and talking about food than previous generations.

Not coincidentally, this has led to a growing interest in cooking—from kitchen stores to cooking classes to culinary travel. More people are choosing cooking schools as a career choice, rather than college. And more colleges are offering culinary curriculum.

Culinary travel is one of the fastest-growing trends in the travel industry. More than one in 10 travelers report that food or wine was a major factor in choosing their destinations. The experience includes visiting a farmers market, sampling artisan products, attending a food or wine festival or going wine or beer tasting.

Our region is well suited to the culinary adventures, thanks to its award-winning restaurants, farms, wineries and craft breweries.

LOCAL ROOTS FOOD & FARM TOURS offers culinary tours of Sacramento and the foothills. In Grass Valley, merchants are pondering a local food tour in the historic downtown.

NEWCASTLE PRODUCE in Newcastle, the BriarPatch Cooking School in Nevada City and Tess’ Kitchen Store in downtown Grass Valley all offer top-notch cooking classes.

TESS’—a premier kitchen store and cooking school in the foothills—also offers a Chef’s Table sit-down meal with one of its in-house chefs, Alan Tangren, who is a veteran of Chez Panisse in Berkeley. It rivals or exceeds any “big city” dining experience.

Here’s the menu for Dec. 6:
Pumpkin Soup with fried sage leaves
Cabbage stuffed with Salmon, herb butter sauce Arista—Pork Loin roasted on the bone with garlic, rosemary and sennel seed
Polenta Gratin with parmesan Red Wine & Syrah Grape Sorbet Bosc Pear Tart with almond cream
Mignardises—Quince Paste, Chocolate Tartlets

Tess’ and Dedrick’s Team Up
Tess’ Kitchen Store is now offering gourmet cheeses from Dedrick’s Cheese Store, a popular artisan purveyor in the foothills. Dedrick’s is stocking a display cooler at Tess’ with some of the world’s finest artisan cheeses. It will provide cheese, salami, crackers, olives, pates, fruit pastes and more for Tess’ customers, restocked weekly.

Cheeses include Point Reyes Blue, Humbolt Fog, Vella Dry Monterey Jack, Cypress Hill Lamb Chopper (a vegetarian cheese); Bucherondin (French goat cheese that is ideal for the holiday table); and Red Dragon (Welsh pub cheese with brown ale and mustard seed).

Dedrick’s is based in Placerville, but it has other satellite locations in Truckee, Lake Tahoe and Plymouth. It also sells cheese at the Nevada County Farmers Market at North Star House in Grass Valley and the Nevada City Farmers Market.

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