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Best of Sacramento 2011

(page 1 of 7)

 

Life can feel a bit unpredictable these days, but one thing we know for sure: Our region is full of innovative and intriguing people, places and things that make it a great place to live, work and play—always giving us fabulous fodder for our annual Best of Sacramento feature. This year, the editors have taken over, naming 41 of their favorites around town. But your voices also were heard: In our online survey at sacmag.com, everyone was invited to vote for local businesses in categories including media, retail and the arts. So enjoy the read and join us in saluting the region’s best.

 

STYLE + SHOPPING + BEAUTY

Best Blowout
Can you imagine anything more heavenly than a weekly professional blowout? Inspired by the blowout-only salons that cater to well-groomed Manhattanites, Folsom esthetician Carmen Gammon opened REPUBLIC BLOW OUT BAR n August 2010. Her blowout menu includes The Dirty Girl (a blowout with loads of volume), The Trophy Wife (sleek and smooth) and The Girl Next Door (lots of curls). Cost for a wash, scalp massage and blowout: $35. The blowout bar is attached to Gammon’s full-service Republic Salon and can handle individual drop-ins; appointments are recommended for groups such as bachelorette parties and high school promsters. “When you leave here,” says Gammon, “you’re ready for whatever the night holds.” 302 S. Lexington Drive, Folsom; (916) 984-4444; republicsalon.net

Best Adult Toy Store
Get your mind out of the gutter—we’re not talking about X-rated toys. DRAGATOMI in midtown sells collectible art toys (aka urban vinyl) with price tags that run as high as $1,200. Owner Joanne Suavillo was already collecting the cartoonish action figures when she decided to start an online store about three years ago. She was so successful (with customers from all over the world) that she followed up with a bricks-and-mortar shop on J Street in 2009. The shop’s designer toys are produced in limited quantities by artists who put their own 3-D spin on characters such as Badtz-Maru, Android and The Simpsons. Dragatomi carries all the big industry names: Kidrobot, Tokidoki, threeA Toys and Kuso Vinyl. And while the designer figures are awfully cute, they’re definitely for adults. “This is not for kids,” says Suavillo, “although we do have kids who buy our stuff.”  2317 J St., Sacramento; (916) 706-0535; dragatomi.com

Best Discount Denim
Designer jeans can cost an arm and a leg. Not at RENEW DENIM in downtown Davis. Founded by Davis residents Samantha and Barth Ballard (both of whom have extensive experience in the retail denim industry), the store carries designer jeans at 40 to 70 percent off their original prices. Brands include Joe Jeans, J Brand, Kunna and Denim by Victoria Beckham. 222 D St., Davis; (530) 297-5326; renewdenim.com

Best Designer Vintage
When Stefan Bloom and Erin Boyle opened Scout Living, their new midtown design collective, they invited Hector Lopez to set up shop in a small alcove of the store. An avid collector, Lopez scours estate sales, flea markets, thrift stores and antiques fairs from here to Southern California for high-end vintage women’s wear. His tiny shop-within-a-shop, MADEMOISELLE, is filled with his fashionable finds. He carries tons of Chanel apparel and accessories (purses, sunglasses, shoes and jewelry), plus a who’s who of other big designer names: Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, YSL, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Dior and more. Clients come from as far away as San Francisco and L.A. for special pieces, such as a 1920s opera coat from Emporium Capwell and a Chanel 2.55 handbag (the iconic quilted one) that retails for $3,200. “It’s simply the best designer collection in the city,” says Bloom. 1215 18th St., Sacramento; (916) 594-7971; scoutliving.com

Best Sunless Tan
Esthetician Meri Thresher ran a conventional tanning salon for five years before deciding she no longer wanted to subject her clients to the UV radiation of tanning beds. So last
year, she opened the city’s first sunless-only tanning salon, EYECANDY SUNLESS SPA. While you stand in front of a screen, she applies a sun-free tanning solution to your body, using a high-pressure, low-volume spray gun. For $40, you get a gorgeous golden glow that lasts up to seven days. And no UV rays! 2011 P St., Sacramento; (916) 977-3737; eyecandytanning.com

Best Bet for the Full-Figured Bride
As many full-figured brides discover, it’s hard to find larger-size sample wedding gowns at most bridal salons. Recognizing this untapped market, Sandra Gonzalez opened SPARKLE, a bridal salon for women sizes 14 to 30, this past July. “A bride shouldn’t have to sacrifice style just because she’s a size 14,” Gonzalez argues. The salon carries about 150 gowns designed specifically for larger brides, with clever construction and special boning to flatter a curvy woman’s figure. The dresses (many of them strapless) are sexy and body-conscious—not, as Gonzalez puts it, “frumpy-dumpy”—at prices from $900 to $3,000. In addition to wedding gowns, the East Sac salon sells a small collection of LBDs (Little Black Dresses) in larger sizes. 3200 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 538-6615; sparklebridalcouture.com

Best Place To Buy a Car
Buying a car can be stressful. So one automaker had a brilliant idea: Why not let consumers buy cars the same way they purchase sunglasses and blue jeans? Last November, The HYUNDAI STORE opened in Downtown Plaza. Located on the mall’s ground floor, the 7,000-square-foot showroom has cars that you can test-drive as easily as trying on a sweater at nearby Macy’s. Salespeople are paid a salary rather than a commission, and there’s a no-haggle, fixed-price policy. “You can purchase a car in about an hour without getting beat up,” says sales manager Tim Langston. “Nobody’s trying to ram stuff down your throat.” The first store of its kind in the country, it’s a five-year pilot program; if the concept works, Hyundai plans to roll it out in other markets. 545 L St., Sacramento; (916) 444-1101; hyundaistore.com

Best Product for an Expectant Mom
Being pregnant can take a toll on your body. With this in mind, Paige Birge Smith and Jill Birge Brewer (cousins who are both mothers) created PURE BELLY WRAP. Made of bamboo, it helps keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. And, when used with creams and lotions, it may help minimize stretch marks. It’s adjustable, so you can use it throughout your pregnancy. You can buy it at Goore’s, Whole Foods Market in Roseville and on Pure Belly’s website. purebelly.com

Best Thrift Store
Thrift stores are a dime a dozen. But one stands out from the crowd: GOODWILL'S MIDTOWN BOUTIQUE. Open since May, the 6,400-square-foot store specializes in vintage and designer-name clothing: Donna Karan New York, Dana Buchman, Calvin Klein, Ralph by Ralph Lauren, Adrienne Vittadini, Armani Collezioni, St. John and others. “We pick the best of the best,” store manager Aidan MacAllister explains. “It has to be almost brand new: no holes, no stains, only garments in the greatest condition.” Prices are wallet-friendly: $8 to $10 for a sweater (even cashmere), $25 to $30 for a suit. Proceeds help people with disabilities. Isn’t it nice to know the dough you drop on a Burberry blazer is going to someone in need? 1621 L St., Sacramento; (916) 441-4407; goodwillsacto.org

Best Old-Fashioned Barbershop
Barbershops are a place where men come for a cut, maybe a shave, and 30 to 45 minutes of fellowship. UNLCLE JED'S CUT HUT  in Oak Park is just such a place. Outside, men shoot the breeze. Inside, a row of chairs and washbasins are at the ready, and there’s a big-screen TV and memorabilia on the wall. We hear the mayor even pops in on occasion to get his hair cut. 3432 Third Ave., Sacramento; (916) 452-3222

 

Next page: Food + Drink

 

Life can feel a bit unpredictable these days, but one thing we know for sure: Our region is full of innovative and intriguing people, places and things that make it a great place to live, work and play—always giving us fabulous fodder for our annual Best of Sacramento feature. This year, the editors have taken over, naming 41 of their favorites around town. But your voices also were heard: In our online survey at sacmag.com, everyone was invited to vote for local businesses in categories including media, retail and the arts. So enjoy the read and join us in saluting the region’s best.

 

STYLE + SHOPPING + BEAUTY

Best Blowout
Can you imagine anything more heavenly than a weekly professional blowout? Inspired by the blowout-only salons that cater to well-groomed Manhattanites, Folsom esthetician Carmen Gammon opened REPUBLIC BLOW OUT BAR n August 2010. Her blowout menu includes The Dirty Girl (a blowout with loads of volume), The Trophy Wife (sleek and smooth) and The Girl Next Door (lots of curls). Cost for a wash, scalp massage and blowout: $35. The blowout bar is attached to Gammon’s full-service Republic Salon and can handle individual drop-ins; appointments are recommended for groups such as bachelorette parties and high school promsters. “When you leave here,” says Gammon, “you’re ready for whatever the night holds.” 302 S. Lexington Drive, Folsom; (916) 984-4444; republicsalon.net

Best Adult Toy Store
Get your mind out of the gutter—we’re not talking about X-rated toys. DRAGATOMI in midtown sells collectible art toys (aka urban vinyl) with price tags that run as high as $1,200. Owner Joanne Suavillo was already collecting the cartoonish action figures when she decided to start an online store about three years ago. She was so successful (with customers from all over the world) that she followed up with a bricks-and-mortar shop on J Street in 2009. The shop’s designer toys are produced in limited quantities by artists who put their own 3-D spin on characters such as Badtz-Maru, Android and The Simpsons. Dragatomi carries all the big industry names: Kidrobot, Tokidoki, threeA Toys and Kuso Vinyl. And while the designer figures are awfully cute, they’re definitely for adults. “This is not for kids,” says Suavillo, “although we do have kids who buy our stuff.”  2317 J St., Sacramento; (916) 706-0535; dragatomi.com

Best Discount Denim
Designer jeans can cost an arm and a leg. Not at RENEW DENIM in downtown Davis. Founded by Davis residents Samantha and Barth Ballard (both of whom have extensive experience in the retail denim industry), the store carries designer jeans at 40 to 70 percent off their original prices. Brands include Joe Jeans, J Brand, Kunna and Denim by Victoria Beckham. 222 D St., Davis; (530) 297-5326; renewdenim.com

Best Designer Vintage
When Stefan Bloom and Erin Boyle opened Scout Living, their new midtown design collective, they invited Hector Lopez to set up shop in a small alcove of the store. An avid collector, Lopez scours estate sales, flea markets, thrift stores and antiques fairs from here to Southern California for high-end vintage women’s wear. His tiny shop-within-a-shop, MADEMOISELLE, is filled with his fashionable finds. He carries tons of Chanel apparel and accessories (purses, sunglasses, shoes and jewelry), plus a who’s who of other big designer names: Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, YSL, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stella McCartney, Dior and more. Clients come from as far away as San Francisco and L.A. for special pieces, such as a 1920s opera coat from Emporium Capwell and a Chanel 2.55 handbag (the iconic quilted one) that retails for $3,200. “It’s simply the best designer collection in the city,” says Bloom. 1215 18th St., Sacramento; (916) 594-7971; scoutliving.com

Best Sunless Tan
Esthetician Meri Thresher ran a conventional tanning salon for five years before deciding she no longer wanted to subject her clients to the UV radiation of tanning beds. So last
year, she opened the city’s first sunless-only tanning salon, EYECANDY SUNLESS SPA. While you stand in front of a screen, she applies a sun-free tanning solution to your body, using a high-pressure, low-volume spray gun. For $40, you get a gorgeous golden glow that lasts up to seven days. And no UV rays! 2011 P St., Sacramento; (916) 977-3737; eyecandytanning.com

Best Bet for the Full-Figured Bride
As many full-figured brides discover, it’s hard to find larger-size sample wedding gowns at most bridal salons. Recognizing this untapped market, Sandra Gonzalez opened SPARKLE, a bridal salon for women sizes 14 to 30, this past July. “A bride shouldn’t have to sacrifice style just because she’s a size 14,” Gonzalez argues. The salon carries about 150 gowns designed specifically for larger brides, with clever construction and special boning to flatter a curvy woman’s figure. The dresses (many of them strapless) are sexy and body-conscious—not, as Gonzalez puts it, “frumpy-dumpy”—at prices from $900 to $3,000. In addition to wedding gowns, the East Sac salon sells a small collection of LBDs (Little Black Dresses) in larger sizes. 3200 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 538-6615; sparklebridalcouture.com

Best Place To Buy a Car
Buying a car can be stressful. So one automaker had a brilliant idea: Why not let consumers buy cars the same way they purchase sunglasses and blue jeans? Last November, The HYUNDAI STORE opened in Downtown Plaza. Located on the mall’s ground floor, the 7,000-square-foot showroom has cars that you can test-drive as easily as trying on a sweater at nearby Macy’s. Salespeople are paid a salary rather than a commission, and there’s a no-haggle, fixed-price policy. “You can purchase a car in about an hour without getting beat up,” says sales manager Tim Langston. “Nobody’s trying to ram stuff down your throat.” The first store of its kind in the country, it’s a five-year pilot program; if the concept works, Hyundai plans to roll it out in other markets. 545 L St., Sacramento; (916) 444-1101; hyundaistore.com

Best Product for an Expectant Mom
Being pregnant can take a toll on your body. With this in mind, Paige Birge Smith and Jill Birge Brewer (cousins who are both mothers) created PURE BELLY WRAP. Made of bamboo, it helps keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. And, when used with creams and lotions, it may help minimize stretch marks. It’s adjustable, so you can use it throughout your pregnancy. You can buy it at Goore’s, Whole Foods Market in Roseville and on Pure Belly’s website. purebelly.com

Best Thrift Store
Thrift stores are a dime a dozen. But one stands out from the crowd: GOODWILL'S MIDTOWN BOUTIQUE. Open since May, the 6,400-square-foot store specializes in vintage and designer-name clothing: Donna Karan New York, Dana Buchman, Calvin Klein, Ralph by Ralph Lauren, Adrienne Vittadini, Armani Collezioni, St. John and others. “We pick the best of the best,” store manager Aidan MacAllister explains. “It has to be almost brand new: no holes, no stains, only garments in the greatest condition.” Prices are wallet-friendly: $8 to $10 for a sweater (even cashmere), $25 to $30 for a suit. Proceeds help people with disabilities. Isn’t it nice to know the dough you drop on a Burberry blazer is going to someone in need? 1621 L St., Sacramento; (916) 441-4407; goodwillsacto.org

Best Old-Fashioned Barbershop
Barbershops are a place where men come for a cut, maybe a shave, and 30 to 45 minutes of fellowship. UNLCLE JED'S CUT HUT  in Oak Park is just such a place. Outside, men shoot the breeze. Inside, a row of chairs and washbasins are at the ready, and there’s a big-screen TV and memorabilia on the wall. We hear the mayor even pops in on occasion to get his hair cut. 3432 Third Ave., Sacramento; (916) 452-3222

 

Next page: Food + Drink

 

 

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   

 

Next page: Things To Do

 


THINGS TO DO

Best Way To Spend a Day
Grady O’Bryant likes bringing people together. And he does just that with his Meetup, SACRAMENTO DAY TRIPPERS. The group, which boasts 2,000 members, has been tripping all around Northern California since 2008: wine tasting in Amador, seeing plays in San Francisco, cheering at football games in Oakland, taking in the sights at Monterey Bay Aquarium. O’Bryant organizes some 50-plus outings a year. The group also holds a big New Year’s Eve bash and gets together to listen to jazz at MIX Downtown during the warm-weather months. (916) 443-8741; escapesac.com

Best Way To Expand Your Mind
Where do you go when you’re craving intellectual sustenance? California State Library’s FOOD FOR THOUGHT CULTURAL PROGRAM scratches that itch. Held the third Wednesday of every month, the free events have a format that varies: It could be a movie screening, author lecture or music performance. But it’s always something California-related. This month, pop-up-book author and illustrator David A. Carter talks about his books. “The series is meant to introduce people to what we offer here at the library,” says Rebecca Fontaine, special events coordinator at the library, which is like the California version of the U.S. Library of Congress. “Most people don’t know what we are really about or that we are even here.” 900 N St., Sacramento; (916) 654-0266; library.ca.gov

Best Way To See the Real Old Sac
In the late 1800s, the city raised Old Sac’s buildings 8 to 12 feet to help combat the effects of flooding. Now you can tour the hidden underground city that was left behind. Hourlong OLD SACRAMENTO UNDERGROUND TOURS ake you below several historic buildings, including the B.F. Hastings and Hall & Luhrs Co. buildings. You’ll learn about interesting residents of the era and view bona-fide artifacts from back in the day. Sturdy shoes are recommended and a new appreciation for Sacramento history is guaranteed. Tours run through November, then resume in April. historicoldsac.org/programs/programs-underground.asp

Best Place To Spot a Celebrity
Sacramento isn’t exactly teeming with famous people. But once a year, a slew of celebs come to town for induction into the CALIFORNIA HALL OF FAME. Founded in 2006 by then-first lady Maria Shriver, the Hall of Fame celebrates remarkable Californians who’ve had a major impact on the world. Past honorees include Tiger Woods, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Serena Williams, Jack Nicholson, Mark Zuckerberg and Clint Eastwood. In previous years, induction was held in The California Museum’s tiny downtown auditorium. This year’s ceremony will be on Dec. 8 at the much larger Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are available at $125 a pop. For fans looking to gawk for free, there will be a red carpet arrival out front for this year’s inductees, which include Buzz Aldrin, Magic Johnson, Carlos Santana and The Beach Boys. Bring your binoculars. californiamuseum.org

 

Next page: Garden + Design

 

HOME + GARDEN + DESIGN

Best Place To Stock Your Backyard Henhouse
Under a new city ordinance, Sacramento residents are now allowed to keep up to three egg-laying hens in their backyard. Which raises the question: Where exactly do you buy egg-laying hens? Answer: BRADSHAW FEED & PET SUPPLY. Located on a dusty stretch of Bradshaw Road about 15 minutes outside town, this old-fashioned country store carries 35 to 40 chicken varieties, including standard breeds such as Rhode Island Red, White Leghorn and Ameraucana, and so-called “fancy” breeds like Golden Polish, Mottled Houdan and Sumatra. The baby chicks ($1.25 to $5 apiece) are housed by the dozens in deep, glass-fronted drawers. Once you make your selection, a staffer pops your chicks into a brown paper bag, gives you a care sheet and sells you everything you need to get started as an urban chicken keeper: heat lamp, pine shavings, chick waterer, food, etc. The payoff comes five or six months later, when your chickens start laying eggs. 7285 Bradshaw Road, Sacramento; (916) 369-8225

Best Modern Furniture
Interior designer Curtis Popp is not about to tell you what to think of his Soft Side Table, the first offering from his CPOPP WORKSHOP. He will say, however, that the 18-by-18-inch round wooden table with three brightly colored legs is “approachable but not stuffy.” We definitely agree on both counts: The warm walnut or white oak tabletop, with green, blue, orange or yellow legs, illustrates that Popp knows how to put the fun in functional. He sells the tables exclusively through his website, though he’s been approached by retailers wanting to carry the line. There’s also been interest from renowned hotelier Ian Schrager, and the table was featured in the Sunset Idea House this fall. Next up for CPopp Workshop: a coffee table version of the Soft Side Table. (916) 207-9106; cpoppworkshop.com

Best New Florist
Philip Rice was still in high school when he started working for a florist in Colusa. After the shop closed in 2009, he decided it was time to move to “the big city.” Yes, Sacramento—that big city. After purchasing EAST SAC FLORIST earlier this year, he considered changing the name to something “more designery,” then thought better of it. “The name fits the neighborhood. It’s casual but elegant,” he says—a phrase that also nicely describes Rice’s design style. Rice has worked for two governors and the Tournament of Roses parade, and he flies all over the country doing floral design and lighting for special events and destination weddings. Here in Sacramento, he’s especially known for his unique plant combos, such as topiaries underplanted with succulents and decorated with manzanita limbs. “It’s amazing what a dead branch will do,” he quips. 5379 H St., Sacramento; (916) 457-2699; eastsacflorist.com

Best Home Décor
Can’t spare the time (or the money) to fly to Paris for the famed Marché aux Puces
flea market? Then do the next best thing and drive to FLEURI in Carmichael. Owned and operated for the past 13 years by sisters Sonia Moreno and Sylvia Frazier, this charming shop overflows with gorgeous French antiques, linens, garden décor, pillows, vintage ribbon, china, candles and other things for the home too numerous to mention. Frazier goes to Paris on a shopping expedition once a year and brings back all manner of Francophilic treasures: farmhouse tables, chandeliers, iron beds, fireplace screens, hotel silver, antique postcards . . . the list goes on and on. We’ll always have Paris as long as Fleuri is around. 7301 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael; (916) 973-9848   

Best Wine Design
Helwig Winery owners David and Nancy Helwig wanted their new Amador County winery to reflect the history of the area. When they met with SAGE ARCHITECTURE, they immediately knew they’d found the right people for the job. “They had a very creative, subtle approach in capturing the rustic charm we wanted without making it look dated,” says Nancy. Through the use of metal roofing, board-and-batten wood siding and galvanized metal, Paul Almond and Pam Whitehead of Sage designed buildings that stand out from their surroundings yet blend in beautifully. With a nod to sustainability, the architects made use of oak and pine harvested during the clearing of the site in the tasting room and other areas of the property. 11555 Shenandoah Valley Road, Plymouth; (209) 245-5200; helwigwinery.com

 

Next page: People

 

PEOPLE

Best Maloof

Once upon a time, Joe and Gavin Maloof were kings among men in this town. But the fun-loving brothers went from Maloof to Magoof when they tried earlier this year to take our once-beloved basketball team down south to Anaheim. Who would have guessed that the best Maloof of all would be a tiny, blond-tressed, stiletto-heeled Beverly Hills Housewife? On her Bravo TV show, ADRIENNE MALOOF charms us with her no-nonsense, anti-mean-girl approach to life in the 90210. In Season 1, she brought her fellow housewives to town (via private plane, natch), where she treated the ladies to a meal at Grange. Afterward, they all trooped out to Power Balance Pavillion to shoot hoops, then catch a Kings game from courtside seats. Adrienne may have a private chef, a plastic surgeon husband and gazillions in the bank, but this is one down-to-earth gal. Mwah!  

Best Debut Novelist  
When a Sacramento-based author gets a first novel published, it’s cause for celebration. When that same author makes The New York Times best-seller list within two weeks of publication, it’s reason to have a parade. Such is the case with VANESSA DIFFENBAUGH, author of The Language of Flowers, a tale of a young woman named Victoria who ages out of foster care and has nowhere to go. Through her knowledge of floriography, the 19th century study of flower symbolism and meanings, Victoria finds love, forges a career and heals her past. Diffenbaugh, a longtime foster parent, used funds from her book deal to form Camellia Network, a nonprofit organization aimed at helping young adults transition out of foster care. Now living in Massachusetts with her family, she returned to Sacramento in late August to launch the nonprofit with a fundraiser, as well as promote the novel, which was written in midtown cafes and analyzed in local writing groups. Diffenbaugh is still beloved in Sacramento, if the rousing applause she received at her Tsakopoulos Library Galleria reading and book signing is any indication. “It’s exciting to be here, where I’m surrounded by people I love,” she said.

Best Local Maestro
MICHAEL NEUMANN knows how to make beautiful music. For 33 seasons, he’s taken bows as artistic director and conductor of the Sacramento Youth Symphony, leading the group in performances throughout the world. In 2004, he opened the Folsom Symphony’s first season as music director and conductor. Today, he juggles both symphonies with aplomb. According to Folsom Symphony board president Bruce Woodbury, the maestro brings exceptional talent to Folsom. “His vast network of connections and his overall expertise in music bring so much to our stage,” says Woodbury. “His reputation and style bring high-caliber musicians to the area. Performers love to work with him.”  

Best Local Leap to Hollywood
ANALEIGH TIPTON, former El Dorado Hills resident and St. Francis High School graduate, is redefining “triple threat”: A championship ice skater as a tween, she went on to be a finalist on “America’s Next Top Model” in 2008, then moved into acting. In 2011, she had roles in The Green Hornet and Crazy, Stupid, Love, working alongside box-office powerhouses Seth Rogen and Steve Carell, respectively. Her performance in Crazy, Stupid, Love as a teenage baby sitter with a crush on her employer garnered her an appearance on New York Times’ film critic Karen Durbin’s “Faces to Watch” list. It also landed her a starring role in Samaritan, scheduled for release in 2012. Last month, Season 3 of HBO’s comedy series “Hung” featured Tipton as a schizophrenic pimp, and she can be seen in the comedy Damsels in Distress alongside fellow Sacramentan Greta Gerwig.

 

Next page: Arts + Entertainment

 

ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Best Way To Add Sizzle to Your Life
SIZZLING SIRENS, a sensuous all-woman dance troupe, has been bringing va va voom to Sacramento since 2008, performing everywhere from the Crocker Art Museum to Harlow’s. Make a night of it and check out the The Siren Show at RESTAURANT THIR13EN, which features live jazz and blues from the Harley White Jr. Orchestra, themed cocktails and an optional themed dinner. Another option? Fishnet Friday, a burlesque-themed dance party that takes place every first Friday at Marilyn’s on K. Want to get your own sizzle on? Take a class at Burlesque Academy. Private and group lessons are available. sizzlingsirensburlesque.com

Best Way To See Artistsin Their Natural Habitat
To the layperson, art making can be a mysterious process. CAPITOL ARTISTS' STUDIO TOUR gives Sacramentans a chance to see what an artist’s life is like behind the scenes. Held every September by the Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento, the free, self-guided two-day event allows you to tour 150 working artists’ studios and see for yourself how the magic happens. The art on display covers a wide spectrum, with textiles, furniture and sculpture among the offerings. “There’s something for every style,” says CCAS board member Cheryl Holben. The center encourages attendees to start their art collections by purchasing original works, many of which cost less than framed reproductions at major retailers. (916) 498-9811; ccasac.org

Best Alternative to the Multiplex
Sacramento isn’t a top-tier city when it comes to attracting independent films. So Robert McKeown and his wife, DeeAnn Little, started MOVIES ON A BIG SCREEN to bring documentaries, indie flicks and the occasional cult classic to town. Screenings have been held at different venues over the past five years that MOBS has been in existence, but for now they’re on Sunday nights at Oak Park’s Guild Theater. Tickets to most films are just $5. McKeown cites positive audience feedback as a reason why MOBS endures. “Our tagline is ‘We’re 5 years old and it’s all your fault,’” he says. The pair hope to add a second movie night. moviesonabigscreen.com

Best Band To Watch
When we first heard the name SISTER CRAYON, we thought we’d stumbled upon a children’s band. But one listen to the band’s ethereal, sometimes haunting
music and we were properly schooled. The band—Terra Lopez, Dani Fernandez and Jeffrey LaTour—put heart, soul and sometimes sweat into their live appearances. They have a solid fan base in Sac, and they love their fans back. Sister Crayon posted the following on its Facebook page after one Sacramento appearance this summer: “Thank you, thank you, thank you Sacramento. You never disappoint. Truly humbled and honored for your energy and support tonight. 916 got moves.” The Sammie-award winning band is currently touring, so you might not catch it here until next year. In the meantime, check out Bellow, its first full-length album under the Manimal Vinyl Records label.

Best Splashy New Arts Center
Not too shabby for a theater that was conceived as a gathering ground for students to show off their performance skills. Since its opening in February with A Chorus Line, THREE STAGES AT FOLSOM LAKE COLLEGE has drawn the Joffrey Ballet, Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!, Gloria Steinem, Harlem Gospel Choir, Rosanne Cash and other top touring acts. The complex also is a venue for professional groups closer to home, such as the Sacramento Ballet and Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, and youthful productions such as those of El Dorado Musical Theatre and Northern California Dance Conservatory. With three performance spaces—847-seats, 207-seats and 95-seats—there’s enough room to fulfill the original mission of showcasing college performances. This season, expect to see FLC’s Afro-Cuban Funk Band’s Jazz After Dark (Nov. 18), Monty Python’s Spamalot (Nov. 17 to 19) and Folsom Symphony’s A Joyful Celebration (Dec. 11) among other inspiring shows.

Best High School Touring Company
We’re busting with pride that MIRA LOMA HIGH SCHOOL was invited to perform at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival this past August. It’s not an easy gig to get: The school was one of 1,500 U.S. schools nominated and, following an arduous audition, one of only 50 nationwide selected to attend the fest. In Scotland, Mira Loma’s thespians performed Almost, Maine by John Cariani, “a romantic comedy with magic realism,” according to the school’s theater instructor Nikki Schallig-Weil. “It’s very American, which is why we decided to bring it.”

Best Usable Art
Fans of TWO ACCORDIONS quilts should be grateful that founders Joe Gallegos and Ruth Hansen met. The duo creates handsome, streamlined designs with a retro, ’60s mod feel, featuring abstract patterns in vivid colors. “Our goal is to keep our quilts simple and original,” says Gallegos, who was inspired by a tattered quilt made years earlier by his grandmother. Once he and Hansen started dating, he shared with her his vision for crafting modern, usable quilts. And these quilts are most definitely usable: Yoga mats and picnic quilts are among the styles they offer. Gallegos performs what he calls the “construction process,” which includes cutting and piecing the fabric, while Hansen sews the pieces together and adds their signature stitch design at the very end. The quilts can be found only at Scout Living on 18th Street while the quilting duo works on building up an inventory. twoaccordions.com

 

Next page: Civic Life

 

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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