In 1959, Sam Gordon opened Sam’s Hof Brau on Watt Avenue. It was the happening spot to have a drink and impress someone on a date, according to Gordon’s great-grandson, Mickey Schlesinger …
Let me introduce you to Kelly Siefkin. She’s vice president of communications and marketing for Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. She talks fast, and is quick with numbers and statistics, so I’m struggling to keep up. Today, she’s wearing a green patterned dress, with green earrings and black flats, and carrying her cell phone. We’re touring the food bank campus on Bell Avenue—110,000 square feet on 12 acres. It’s a big facility, but the food bank feeds a lot of hungry people in and around the farm-to-fork capital.
Frank Sinatra is singing “The Way You Look Tonight.” At least I think it’s Sinatra. The music has a decided Italian vibe, which makes sense since I’m here this evening to learn how to make an Italian veggie burger dinner. What makes this meal Italian? It could be the dried oregano or fresh parsley in the veggie burgers. Then again it could be the homemade basil buns, herb and rice stuffed tomatoes, or raspberry Italian soda. It could be the instructor—Lucia Oliverio—as her parents are Italian immigrants. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
For those who haven’t taken a class at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, I’ll set the scene. The school is upstairs in a light-filled space that could double as a set for a cooking show. In front of the kitchen island, with its large commercial stoves, there are rows of tables holding bottles of cold water, along with cubed cheese and crunchy breadsticks. Monitors above project images of the wooden cutting boards below, in preparation for the cooking demonstration to come. For $5 you can purchase a glass of wine. Sip it while you read through the recipes and the shopping list. Imagine how you’ll spend the $5 coupon after class (no, you can’t use it to purchase another glass of wine). There’s a complimentary glass offered with your meal, so pace yourself. You haven’t started cooking yet.
Andrea Seppinni loves dessert. About two years ago, she founded Conscious Creamery with her husband, Kevin. Their company makes artisan gelato—without dairy, eggs, mixes, artificial fillers, emulsifiers or stabilizers. Rotating crops of flavors are crafted from cashew cream, sugar, and fresh, usually local, fruit.
I’m inside a shipping container located in a residential neighborhood. On both sides of the aisle, rows and rows of tender plants—heads of lettuce, herbs and microgreens—grow in trays. They bask under energy-efficient LED lights, bathing everything in a red-tinged glow. A thin film of water flows past the plants’ roots, providing nutrients, while fans circulate the air. Jason Levens, 36, the founder of Aldon’s Leafy Greens, spends a lot of time in this engineered environment, tending his hydroponically grown charges, but he loves the work. “Every single plant in here I’ve seeded,” he says.
When I Google “hydroponics,” I discover it comes from the Greek words for water and work—water working. It is a way to grow plants in water, without soil.