Sacramento possibilities

It was just a coincidence that I ate at Mason’s—one of the new upscale restaurants featured in our cover story “Sacto goes cosmo”—last week. It was a splurge for me and a culinary adventure: five courses paired with five previously unreleased Siduri wines, a Sonoma County vintner that wine guru Robert Parker credits with being one of “California’s top makers of Pinot Noir.”

Now, I’m a big-city girl—I moved to Sacramento from Los Angeles just under two years ago—but this dinner made me feel like one of those Sacramentans restaurateurs talk about in Kate Washington’s cover story, who had be tricked into trying something new.

With one look at the menu, I was both baffled and crestfallen. Salad of Dungeness crab with California avocado, shaved fennel and sweet white-corn vinaigrette. But I don’t like seafood, I whined silently. Sonoma rabbit rillettes and cured foie-gras terrine with pickled orchard fruits and grilled country bread. Rabbit? Right. But I’ve always wanted to taste foie gras. Moroccan spiced wild Tasmanian salmon fillet with summer vegetable “tagine” and preserved Meyer lemon. I hate salmon, I thought, and my internal whining became shrill. Honey roasted artisan duck breast and crispy confit leg with glazed baby vegetables and caramelized peaches. OK, cool. I know duck. Vanilla-bean-buttermilk panna cotta and Santa Rosa plum consommé. How wrong can you go with dessert?

As the meal progressed, the surprises multiplied, as course after course, bite after bite, sip after sip, my pleasure grew, until I found myself verily cooing at chef Philip Wang to explain the magic he worked in turning out salmon that was so exquisitely “unfishy.”

Just two days later, I was at a River Cats game satisfying my more down-home tastes by chomping on chili, cheese, garlic fries and washing that whole mess down with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

That juxtaposition got me to thinking: Maybe, just maybe, anything’s possible in Sacramento. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like foie gras. And next time, I think I’m gonna skip the chili, cheese, garlic fries, too.