The El Dorado County Visitor’s Authority is again honoring January, “California Restaurant Month,” with the El Dorado Epicurean, a week-long celebration of local cuisine, Jan. 22-29.
The grand finale, an extraordinary county-wide progressive dinner for culinary adventurers, will be held on Sunday, Jan. 29.
This year adventurers can choose from seven different itineraries that include a delicious four-course dinner with each course served at a different location. Each of the seven adventures is unique and offers a different taste of the outstanding culinary experiences available in El Dorado County.
The casual schedule allows adequate time for the diners to move from one location to the other: first course (appetizers), 4 to 5:30 p.m.; second course (soup/salad), 5 to 6:30 p.m.; third course (entrée), 6 to 7:30 p.m.; and the fourth course (dessert) from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The process is simple. First choose the adventure from those listed, buy the tickets and enjoy. It is a good idea to make plans early to ensure your spot.
The cost for the Culinary Adventure is $50 per person or $90 per couple until Jan. 13; then the price goes to $55 per person. Beverages and gratuity are not included. Reservations can be made by going to visit-eldorado.com or by calling toll free 1-800-457-6279. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, 542 Main St. in Placerville.
The El Dorado Hills Adventure
The El Dorado Hills Adventure begins with a unique culinary experience at Ruffhaus Hot Dog Co. in Town Center,with a trio of mini hot dog sliders made with housemade sausages.
Next, travel to Relish Burger Bar for mesclun green salad with blue cheese, apples, bacon, candied pecans and balsamic vinaigrette.
The entrée — Irish Wellington, a New York steak wrapped in puff pastry then baked until golden — is served at the newly opened, and delightfully decorated, Kinnee O Reilly’s Irish Pub and Restaurant.
Finally at Sienna Restaurant indulge the sweet tooth with the Pot de creme, a French dessert custard dating to the 17th century.
The Surf and Turf Adventure
The Surf and Turf Adventure, limited to just 10 epicureans, begins at Mia Sorella Olive Oils, Vinegars and More in El Dorado Hills with bacon-wrapped scallops with a spicy mayo or another delightful appetizer created for land lovers.
For the second course, head to Cameron Park’s Burke Junction, where at Kobe Sushi and Grill diners will enjoy a choice of seared scallop salad with mustard vinaigrette, seared albacore steak salad, garlic ponzu and mix greens and poke salad served with tuna, onion, seaweed salad and house dressing.
Just across the street Zac Jack Bistro will provide an entrée of cabernet braised beef short rib served with French green beans and potatoes gratin.
Then cross the freeway for a delightful dessert at Papa Gianni’s.
The Placerville Adventure
The Placerville Adventure starts at the enchanting Sequoia at the Bee-Bennett House with Sequoia Dungeness crab cakes served with a mélange of sauces and condiments.
The soup course of velvety rich New England or savory Hangtown Red clam chowder, or a crisp garden salad, all accompanied by warm French bread, is served at Powell’s Steamer Co. and Pub on historic Main Street in downtown Placerville.
After that, stroll down Main Street to one of the newer restaurants, Bricks Eats and Drinks, for a choice of one of two entrées — Persica loin chops or Chicken Victor with sun-dried tomato, mushroom, shallots, garlic and basil.
Finish the dinner at another delightful Main Street restaurant, Zia’s Italian Café and Gelato Bar, with a dessert of caramel gelato Coppetta with caramelized bananas, chocolate rosemary sauce, mascarpone crema and pine nut brittle.
The Crab Lover’s Culinary Adventure
The Crab Lover’s Culinary Adventure begins at Placerville’s recently opened Independent Restaurant and Bar with an appetizer of grilled artichoke halves with citrus dill honey aioli or house-made sage flatbread with garlic asiago spread.
From there head west on Main Street to Heyday Café for roasted tomato bisque soup.
The highlight of this culinary adventure — fresh Dungeness crab with warm bread — is served at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds on Placerville Drive.
After you’re filled with delicious crab head to Sequoia at the Bee-Bennett House to enjoy Bananas Foster, a decadent dessert made from bananas over vanilla ice cream with a sauce made from butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum and banana liqueur served as a flambé.
The Around Town Adventure
The Around Town Adventure is limited to just 10 Epicureans and begins in downtown Placerville at Cascada Restaurant with a choice of two house favorites: Cascada quesadilla — chicken, bacon, spinach, artichoke hearts, avocado, onions and tomatoes, topped with cheese and served with pico de gallo and sour cream — or camarones Don Felipe — jumbo shrimp wrapped in bacon, tossed in hot sauce and served on a bed of sautéed onions and peppers and a spicy picante sauce for dipping.
Next, venture a short distance across town to the El Dorado County Fairgrounds for a choice of fresh green salad or homemade clam chowder with warm bread.
For the third course head to Sequoia at the Bee-Bennett House for an entrée of chicken Saltimbocca — organic chicken stuffed with Italian proscuitto, Fontina cheese and fresh sage with red wine glaze.
The grand finalé is a truly decadent dessert at Heyday Café on Main Street. Diners will be served a warm triple fudge brownie topped with vanilla gelato.
The Fair Play Adventure
The Fair Play Adventure begins at the place with a forever view, Fitzpatrick Winery and Lodge on Fairplay Road, with crisp mescaline greens, seasonal vegetables and Katie’s vinaigrette dressing.
Right next door at Skinner Vineyards and Winery, Chef Giovanni Guadio will bring the senses alive by creating layers of flavor in his northern Italian cuisine for the second course.
At Gold Vine Grill, a few miles north in historical downtown Somerset, treat the tastebuds to chef Greg’s chicken Marsala, a wonderful choice.
At Lucinda’s Country Inn, a short distance away on Perry Creek Road, finish the culinary adventure with dessert bites and fresh brewed coffee while relaxing in front of the large fireplace.
The Pleasant Valley Adventure
The Pleasant Valley Adventure kicks off just east of Pleasant Valley, off Sly Park Road in the tasting room of Miraflores Winery, where adventurers will find a variety of chef-prepared specialty appetizers.
For the second course choose between a warm spinach salad with bacon and almond brittle and roasted tomato soup topped with creamy goat cheese at Auriga Wine Cellars, just a bit west on Pleasant Valley Road.
A drive a few miles further west takes diners to Zachary Jacques Country French Cuisine for an entrée of cabernet braised beef short ribs served with maitre d’ butter potatoes gratin and fresh green beans wrapped in proscuitto.
For the final course drive north to Sequoia at the Bee-Bennett House in Placerville for a delicious dessert of the decadent Bananas Foster.