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Best of Sacramento 2011

(page 7 of 7)

CIVIC LIFE

Best New Infrastructure
“Bringing the outside in” was the central theme for the newly opened TERMINAL B at Sacramento International Airport. Through a well-thought-out mix of design elements, artwork and concessions, the masterminds behind Terminal B’s development have achieved their thematic goal. Designed by Corgan Associates, the new $1 billion terminal is divided into two parts: landside, where travelers check in, claim baggage and reunite with loved ones; and the airside concourse, where planes await at 19 gates to whisk people away for business or pleasure. A two-car “people mover” train transports up to 62 travelers between concourse and landside, with less than a minute between trains. Terminal B uses less energy, thanks to airy ceilings and large glass panels, filling the airside terminal with natural light during the day. Other eco-friendly elements include low-flush fixtures in the restrooms and trims made of recycled wood. The majority of the artwork commissioned for the terminal comes from Northern California artists, with pieces from Gregory Kondos, Joan Moment and Suzanne Adan representing Sacramento. But executing the theme didn’t stop with the building’s design: Travelers can nosh at locally based concessions that include Old Soul, Esquire Grill and Cafeteria 15L, while “Good Day Sacramento” and The Sacramento Bee host retail shops. Seating areas at each gate are comfortable and come equipped with USB ports and outlets for business travelers. With a terminal like this, it’s almost worth a security pat-down.

Best Volunteer Idea
Caring for public parks throughout Sacramento has been low on the city government’s priority list for several years, with budgets being slashed dramatically and maintenance crews dwindling. But that doesn’t mean the parks have been forgotten: In neighborhoods throughout the city, residents are establishing volunteer corps to ensure their parks stay well-groomed and clean. One group, LAND PARK VOLUNTEER CORPS , keeps the area’s busiest public park looking good, with monthly volunteer crews coming through William Land Park to perform tasks once handled by park employees: planting, trimming, pond cleanup, etc. Another group, FRIENDS OF FREMONT PARK, reclaimed its park from drug dealers and prostitutes by convincing the city to lock the public restrooms. These cleanup crews are doing a great job—and they’re happy to do it. As Land Park Volunteer Corps founder Craig Powell says, “It’s fun, it’s healthy, and it helps our community.”

Best Urban Revival Project
It’s been a heckuva year for K STREET MALL. The opening of Pizza Rock, Dive Bar and District 30 made K Street Mall a new hotspot for eats, drinks and dancing. New hanging planters, benches and other landscaping features have added to K Street’s beauty quotient. But this month, the return of cars to the previously pedestrian-only mall may take the area to a whole new level of hustle. While the area has seen more foot traffic in the past year, the addition of cars opens up the space to many more people, according to Lisa Martinez, director of marketing and outreach for Downtown Sacramento Partnership. “It’s part of our long-term vision,” says Martinez. Next up: developing the 700-800 block of K Street, where a mixed-use project includes the addition of 100-plus residential units with ground-floor retailers and a live music venue.

Best Green Idea
Thanks to a federal grant, Priority Parking president Aaron Zeff was able to install ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING STATIONS charging stations in two publicly accessible locations in Sacramento last year. The stations are part of the ChargePoint Network, which uses mobile apps to help EV owners find free or low-cost charging anywhere in the country. EV drivers visiting downtown can juice up at Harv’s Car Wash at 19th and L streets or at the Priority Parking garage at Ninth and L. Business was slow at first, says Zeff, but now there’s someone charging his or her car every day. One user is Stockton resident Catherine Kearney, who frequently charges her Nissan Leaf at Harv’s while she attends meetings nearby. When her car is fully charged, the ChargePoint system notifies her with a text message, so she can move her vehicle and allow another EV driver to “refuel.” “Sacramento is on the verge of taking the next step and really contributing to the planet,” says Kearney. “I’d love to see it become the green city it could be.” Expect to see more EV charging stations installed throughout the city in the coming year.

Best Civic-Minded Blog
Sometimes, the best ideas come under duress. In 2008, when business reporter Jon Ortiz was approached by his editor at The Sacramento Bee to come up with a blog concept focused on state workers, he resisted. “I thought it would beso narrow, and I wasn’t a big believer in blogs,” he admits. By choosing to focus on how state politics affects state employees, Ortiz laid the groundwork for The Bee’s STATE WORKER BLOG. A little over three years later, the blog has established itself as an information resource for the 220,000-plus state workers it serves. “It consistently is one of our best-read blogs,” says Bee executive editor Joyce Terhaar. Ortiz’s e-mail overflows with messages ranging from complaints about stinky colleagues to tip-offs on fraud. When he’s on vacation, his readers use the comments section as a virtual town square where they can share information, which is just fine with Ortiz. “I view myself as a conductor, and the people using the blog are the ones who drive it.” blogs.sacbee.com/the_state_worker/

Best Idea To Get Sacramento Reading
Anyone who wants to quickly launch a project can learn a thing or two from the Sacramento Public Library. At the end of February, the library received a grant from the California State Library to purchase and circulate E-READERS to library patrons. By April 10, the e-readers were loaded with content and ready to be checked out. Early response was staggering, with hold queues surpassing 200 requests within a couple of weeks of the program’s launch. Currently there are 300 e-readers in circulation, all of them dedicated to a specific genre or interest, such as Best-sellers, Biography, Teen and Science Fiction. Each e-reader is preloaded with 20 books, though the Best-sellers e-readers include more than 40 titles to account for new releases. When a second batch of e-readers was added, the library system set aside 60 of the devices to serve as “Lucky Day” items, giving patrons visiting a branch the opportunity to check out an e-reader without having to place a hold. The program’s success has made the Sacramento Public Library a leader among libraries nationwide: The team behind the project is now educating other library systems on how to implement e-reader lending programs of their own. Sacramentans wanting to request an e-reader can stop by their local branch or visit the website and search for Nook. saclibrary.org

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FOOD + DRINK

Best Gourmet  Doughnuts

You can find all sorts of artisanal products these days: bread, cheese, beer, even popsicles. The latest foodstuff to get the artisan treatment? Doughnuts. This summer, Sacramento’s first gourmet doughnut shop, DOUGHBOT, opened in Southside Park, serving made-from-scratch doughnuts in such cutting-edge flavors as dulce de leche, chai tea, and peanut butter and jelly. Owners Bryan Widener and Dannah O’Donnell got the idea for the shop after trying a bacon maple bar at Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnut. Doughbot serves its own version of that inspired confection, along with a rotating menu of flavors. Our favorite? The Dude: a White Russian-flavored doughnut filled with Kahlúa-vodka custard. 2226 10th St., Sacramento; (916) 444-5157; doughbotdonuts.com

Best New Bakery
Divine smells waft out of SUGAR AND SPICE, a bakery that opened in early 2011 on a slightly dodgy stretch of 12th Street. Owner Carissa Jones concocts imaginative pastries such as spicy chili chocolate cupcakes, s’mores Pop-Tarts and an upscale version of the Hostess Snowball. She likes to mix things up, creating bread pudding squares in interesting flavor combos such as blueberry/white chocolate and hazelnut/dark chocolate. “It changes on my whim,” says pastry chef Jones, who worked in the kitchens of Slocum House and Mason’s. 1201 F St., Sacramento; (916) 952-5253; sugarandspice.me

Best Use of Social Media
Local chef Jason Azevedo loves two things: pork and people. He recently figured out how to combine the two through his popular Meatups. Held once a month at a local cafe or restaurant, the MEATUPS are a chance for local foodies to mix and mingle while picking up orders of artisanal sausage, bacon, hot dogs and other porky products. Using hogs sourced from local ranchers, Azevedo makes everything himself, including Louisiana-style hot links, Italian sausage, kielbasa and a fiendishly rich condiment called bacon marmalade (caramelized onions, bacon bits, rendered bacon fat and thyme). Azevedo uses Facebook and e-mail to take orders and announce Meatups. To get on his invite list, e-mail him at testadurosalumi@gmail.com or look for Jason Azevedo on Facebook.

Best Food Movement
History will record 2011 as the year GOURMET FOOD TRUCKS finally arrived in Sacramento. Long a mainstay of the food scenes in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, food trucks got their toehold here in February when Mini Burger Truck hit the streets, tweeting its location as it moved around town. Soon, other trucks started appearing: Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen, Mama Kim on the Go, Wicked ’Wich. In April, 9,000 people jammed into Fremont Park for SactoMoFo, the city’s first mobile food fest. Now, as the City Council is rethinking its anti-truck ordinances, a gathering of food trucks is held every Thursday evening at different spots around the region. Local food blogger Catherine Enfield, one of SactoMoFo’s organizers, says it’s only a matter of time before Sacramento is as food-truck-friendly as L.A.: “We’ve shown that if you tweet it, they will come.”

Best New Bottle Shop
Newsflash: Beer is the new wine. Looking to capitalize on beer’s newfound status as an artisanal product, Rob Archie recently opened PANGAEA BOTTLE SHOP next door to his Pangaea Two Brews Cafe in Curtis Park. He scours the world for interesting craft beers and rare and unusual brews, posting on Facebook when he gets in a shipment. Depending on the day, you might find Fantôme Saison (a Belgian-style farmhouse ale), Pliny the Elder (a cult favorite) or Samuel Adams Utopias, which retails for—gulp—$200 a bottle. Knowledgeable staffers can steer you to an interesting bottle you’ve never tried—Champagne-style beer, perhaps. While you’re there, why not pick up some cheese, crackers and charcuterie and have yourself a beer bash? 2743 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 454-4942; pangaeatwobrews.com   

 

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