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PostHeaderIcon California Lemons Brighten Up March

Ever have one of those days where you think everything is just a bunch of sour lemons?  Looking at the glass half full instead of half empty, one can have a better appreciation for California’s wonderful lemon crop surrounding our region and take advantage of this amazing fruit.  During March, the Meyer lemons on our neighborhood trees and on our local farms are at the peak of flavor.  The lemons are sweet and tangy, and the zest pungent and deeply colored.  Along with the last of the mandarin crops, now is the ideal time to blend mandarin and lemon juices to make a tasty citrus cream.  Try the cream on any type of light cake; almond, butter or angel cake.  Come up with your own variation and use local lemons to brighten up your March!

Meyer Lemon and Mandarin Cream

5 egg yolks, 2/3 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp. Meyer lemon juice, 3 Tbsp. mandarin juice, 2 tsps Meyer lemon or mandarin zest, 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Beat egg yolks until lemon colored.  Add sugar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsps. mandarin juice.  Whisk in a double boiler until thick, stirring constantly.  Take double boiler off heat, cool slightly, add remaining juices and zests.  Set aside.   Whip cream until lightly firm.  Fold egg mixture into cream.  Spoon over cake, fresh fruit, custard…..use your foodie imagination and enjoy!

PostHeaderIcon New Midtown Eatery…Can you say Garlic?

A late-night eatery celebrating the virtue and flavor of garlic is expected to open soon on J Street – replacing Plum Blossom, which mysteriously closed this week.

The Garlic Shack will offer a funky, low-key vibe, with an under-$15 menu starring garlic in everything from Caribbean rice bowls and burgers to dessert, said owner Ken Powers.

“It’s going to be a fun place to come eat some food, drink some beer,” he said. “Almost everything we have will have garlic in it.”

After 20 years in the food industry, Powers is opening his first restaurant on a prime Midtown corner at 18th and J streets. The Sierra foothills resident has mainly worked at restaurants in the foothills and the Sierra Nevada, such as the restaurant at Rainbow Lodge. He also owns a garden store in Lake of the Pines.

On Friday afternoon, Powers and a crew of workers were busy cleaning and preparing for a renovation. A garage door will be installed in front, and a server station will be removed from the dining room. The restaurant will be able to seat 50 to 60 people inside and about 20 outside, with an indoor-outdoor dining room when the garage door is open, he said.

The interior will be painted gold and different shades of red. Powers is hiring Sacramento artist Mikey Dwitt, who’s also a tattoo artist, to paint a giant garlic man in silver and white on an interior wall and possibly smaller “garlic dudes” in a bunch of other places.

“It’ll be really sweet,” Powers said.

The Garlic Shack’s menu is still being developed and will include vegetarian items, soups, salads, rice bowls, burgers, entrees, appetizers and dessert. Items include a Caribbean rice bowl featuring pork, yams and black beans; a portabello Reuben with mushrooms replacing meat and garlic cheesecake. The items will range from $3 to $14.

The Garlic Shack is expected to open in mid- to late March. The restaurant will be open daily. Hours will be 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday or Thursday. Hours on Friday and Saturday, and possibly Thursday, will be 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. or “whenever people stop coming in,” Powers said.

He hopes to create a “very homey” ambiance for diners with details like serving beer in tall cans, which he’s still exploring to see if he can make happen.

“We want to make you feel at home,” he said.

Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.

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My friend Barbara and I went last Friday on the Midtown tour. We had already been on the City of Trees tour so we knew it would be great. We were the only ones so it was even better. The food was wonderful and of course Lisa did a great job on the history of the area. Looking forward to taking the tour in Nevada City, but will do that in the spring.
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