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Photo by Ryan Donahue

Tea for (at least) two
Tucked in a quiet, greenery-filled nook in downtown Davis behind popular restaurant The Mustard Seed, the pocket-sized Tea List cafe couldn’t charm more if it tried. With thoughtful touches like manager Nahid Aram’s personal collection of cups and pots (including a 100-year-old tea set that her grandfather found on his travels, which sits above jars of loose-leaf teas behind the front counter), a softly trickling fountain in the courtyard and fresh-cut flowers bedecking the tables, this enclave is for lingering and de-stressing. Settle in for the cafe’s signature afternoon tea service (available daily from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a minimum of two people) and let the world slip by between sips. Choose your brew from a carefully selected list of 10 flavors like Persian, Margaret’s Hope darjeeling, vanilla black and peach apricot. A teapot is then delivered to your table with a mini hourglass timer to ensure your drink steeps perfectly—too short and it’s weak, too long and it’s bitter—along with a three-tiered platter of goodies like blueberry and raisin scones with strawberry preserves and Devonshire cream, classic cucumber sandwiches and fresh fruit from the Davis Farmers Market. Not to mention, Tea List’s tempting house-made treats like tiramisu, lemon mousse and madeleines are definitely our cup of tea. 222 D Street, Davis. 530-750-2700. tea-list.com

 

Olive GaPhoto by Jeremy Sykesrden
You step into a shop in Old Sacramento and an attendant hands you a pairing sheet with suggestions like “pomegranate balsamic + Persian lime” or “Sicilian lemon + honey ginger.” Unique in the Sacramento region, the upscale tasting room of the Chefs’ Olive Mix stocks dozens of specialty extra-virgin and infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars (both white and dark, flavored and not). Best of all? Every single one is available for tastings (plain in tiny cups, the way pro tasters do it), so you know you’re getting exactly what you want. We knew we’d love the rare varietal olive oils from around the world (like the buttery, mild Hojiblanca or more peppery Coratina), which rotate every few months and are displayed with information about their milling date and flavor characteristics, but we were wowed by the subtle, natural tastes of the flavored vinegars and oils, like the blood orange olive oil and the Sicilian lemon white balsamic vinegar. Unlike some Old Sacramento shops, there are no saltwater taffy barrels—but if you love food, you may just feel like a kid in a candy store anyway. 131 J St. 706-3105. chefsolivemix.com

New Veggie ValhallaPhoto by Ryan Donahue
Sure, Ella Dining Room & Bar is the place that in recent years has been known for serving the best bone marrow in town as well as other meaty delights, but new Ella chef Mike Thiemann (a Sacramento native who was recently executive chef at San Francisco’s celebrated Wayfare Tavern) has added a fresh emphasis on vegetables to the menu, including a section of veggie small plates. Though the menu changes, recent options have ranged from beauties like a gemlike beet salad (pictured) with multicolored roasted beets, shavings of raw roots and an innovative fenugreek aioli, to pickled farmers’ market vegetables, to carrot soup with Marcona almond milk, and a smoky, silky, rich appetizer of creamed mushrooms on garlic toast with a runny poached egg. Voilà, a new haven for vegetarians. (But fret not, meat lovers: that bone marrow isn’t going anywhere.) 1131 K St. 443-3772. elladiningroomandbar.com

Bigfoot SightingPhoto courtesy of Dragatomi.
Do you believe in Bigfoot? Well, the folks who run the not-so-big midtown shop Dragatomi sure do. The J Street retailer houses the region’s largest collection of urban vinyl designer toys and artwork. The vinyl character category is so hot that Disney is making big bucks off its line of Vinylmation Mickeys. Now, Dragatomi is getting in on the action by producing its very first piece—an 8-inch-tall vinyl version of the legendary Sasquatch (clutching a mini Mount Fuji) called Fujisan that was created by the celebrated Los Angeles artist named ... Bigfoot. And the store plans to introduce the figure at America’s pop culture mecca—Comic-Con in San Diego that runs July 12-15 (at booth #4935 if you happen to be there). After Comic-Con, Fujisan will be up for sale back home at Dragatomi, perhaps making a believer out of you, too. 2317 J St. 706-0535. dragatomi.com

Dressing for Success
Need an excuse to eat healthy? Feel free to thank Folsom entrepreneur Dorene Humason, whose zingy, flavor-packed, all-natural Jaden Chinese Dressing is all the incentive you need to gobble your greens. Tinged with tangy and sweet Asian spices like miso and cumin, Jaden comes in a handy bottle form or do-it-yourself seasoning packets. The lack of Asian salad dressings on grocery store shelves first inspired Humason to create her own line of them four years ago, and they now grace 2,000 supermarkets in five states, from Arizona to California, including high-end Bay Area markets like Draeger’s and Lunardi’s, and regional chains like Raley’s and Bel Air. After 30 years in the local food industry (including eight years as a food buyer at Tony’s Fine Foods in West Sacramento), Humason took a star turn on the first season of the ABC reality show Shark Tank—she was chosen from 10,000 inventors around the nation and ended up nabbing a coveted deal with New York real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran to promote her salad dressing. We’ll drizzle to that. 5800-815-2181. chefinblack.com

Photo by Max WhittakerCarving Station
This may sound a little weird, but ever wanted to butcher a goat? Maybe it’s a guy thing, but Taylors Market co-owner Danny Johnson understands that urge and wants to help. Johnson runs a series of meat-handling classes held at his iconic Land Park market, each costing a reasonable $40 and lasting about three hours. During the “Butchering 101” series’ Original Class, which will next take place on Sept. 15, Johnson carves, chops and saws (yep, saws) his way through half a hog, a whole lamb and a hindquarter of beef—and that’s after he warms up his blades on chicken, duck, turkey and fish. (The 101 series also includes other themes, such as a session on grilling tips taught by butcher Paul Carras, who is pictured.) On Aug. 18, the focus turns to hunters, who gather to learn how to take a cleaver to their kills, with a goat subbing in for wild game. Then on Oct. 21, Johnson will offer a field trip to Roseville’s Wintun Ranch, where he’ll work his way through a whole half of beef, and then host a dinner for 100 meat-obsessed guests. 2900 Freeport Blvd. 443-6881. taylorsmarket.com