Farm life

Illustration by Mark Stivers

It’s coming: More details are coming into focus for the fourth annual Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Celebration, which will return September 8-25 with its usual beloved events as well as some new twists.

If you do manage to snag tickets to the elite Tower Bridge Dinner, you’ll be greeted by nationally-recognized chef Rick Moonen. Moonen, who competed on Top Chef Masters, is perhaps best known for being an early champion for sustainable seafood practices.

“We have an appreciation and respect for chefs across the country, not just Sacramento,” said Molly Hawks (Hawks Restaurant). She and Allyson Harvie (the Patriot) are leading the chef team for the Tower Bridge Dinner—they are also the first two women selected to cook for the event—which includes Billy Ngo (Kru), Kelly McCown (the Kitchen), Ramon Perez (Puur Chocolat) and Mike Fagnoni (Hawks Restaurant). Also for the first time, chefs are pairing up with local farmers for each course.

The big Farm-to-Fork Festival, which takes place September 24 on Capitol Mall, is adding two more blocks, making it a half-mile long. Moonen will also be at the free festival along with a national, to-be-announced headliner on the music stage.

Take two: Smokey Oaks Tavern opened in the former Mighty Tavern space in Fair Oaks (9634 Fair Oaks Boulevard) earlier this month. It was originally going to be called Fair Oaks Tavern & Grill, but owners opted to rebrand because the name sounded a bit too similar to Fair Oaks Brew Pub. Smokey Oaks offers casual, American fare that leans slightly Southern. There are appetizers, salads and sandwiches, like a Cuban ($11) or shrimp po’boy ($12), along with a selection of smoked meat-based entrees, including beef ribs ($15), brisket ($16) and crispy chicken ($14).

Tacos over umbrellas: Tiki bar Rum Rok (805 15th Street) quietly and abruptly closed recently, lasting about six months. The Sacramento Bee reported last week that Chando’s Tacos will take the space over with a slightly more upscale version of its popular concept. Most exciting? It’ll stay open until 3 a.m. on weekends.

Fry no more: As first reported by FOX40, JJ’s Fish and Chicken (3916 Fruitridge Road) burned down in a fire last week. We’ll miss that reliably greasy, bright spot of soul food in south Sacramento. If you’re really desperate for JJ’s specific fry, a location recently opened in Fairfield (1791 N. Texas Street).