ella dining room and bar

How We Celebrated Halloween in Sacramento at Ella

halloween in sacramento

Beef tongue at Ella Dining Room and Bar

We celebrated Halloween in Sacramento last night by locking up our house in Land Park, snapping off the lights and heading downtown to Ella Dining Room and Bar, banishing the bowl of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and individually wrapped Twizzlers to the pantry. The question, seriously, is not really who will tear into the bag of Reese’s, it’s when. And how long it will take for the Twizzlers to vanish. I vote that my husband take all the candy to his office at the State, which would clearly help to light the fuse on any escalating situation through a sugar high.

I can picture my husband saying: “Do you really want to say that to the press? Here, have a Peanut Butter Cup, Mr. Peanutbutter.”

Fortunately for me I had already reviewed online the exceptional cabernet choices available at Ella prior to our arrival. You know, sometimes for balance you’ve got to have a little food with your wine. Since this was the last day of the month, it was also the last day of October Steak Month at Ella. It seemed only fitting to start with the grilled beef tongue, which is pictured above. This is the most incredible dish. I could have licked clean the plate with 3 more servings, it was that mouthwatering and delectable. Not at all the way my mother used to make it, and let me add that the only reason we ate beef tongue when I was a kid was because it was cheap in the 1950s.

What I did not expect was the spicy kick from the togarashi and the sweetness of the egg finish. I was still plucking the mustard shoots off my plate with my fingers and sucking them into my mouth as the server whisked away my plate. I paired this dish with a 21-year-old French Bordeaux, the 1994 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, from Pauillac. A super cumbersome name but awesome experience. This blend of merlot and cab truly soared, zinged, snapped, chopped and could no way be mistaken for a Napa Cabernet, with an exotic rich taste of earthiness and beautiful black fruit.

halloween in sacramento

Grilled Romanesco with Manchego Cheese

My husband chose the grilled romanesco, which is sort of a green, pointy vegetable, similar to cauliflower but a bit more root-ness in flavor, accentuated by a smidgeon of chili and a generous dollop of creamy, grilled Manchego cheese. This is the cheese of sheep, originating in a specific region of Spain, and yet another reason to look forward to our visit to Barcelona next summer. Incredible aged sheep cheese! We shared both of our first courses, including the roasted mushroom and chestnut soup that followed because we still needed to finish our entree, which proved impossible anyway.

We both ordered the 28-day dry aged grilled American buffalo ribeye because we honestly could not help ourselves. It was right there on the menu in front of our faces. Medium rare. The only thing that could have enhanced this dish was the 2012 Ghost Block Estate cab from Napa, and it did not disappoint. Fruity, bold and big flavors rounded it out. 14 ounces of beef proved to be a bit much for a woman who tries to limit her intake to 2 – 3 ounces, so we boxed it up to take home. Which was not tee-peed due to Halloween in Sacramento, thank goodness.

Depending on how hectic today evolves around my Sacramento real estate business, I might need to steal an hour to find the best online wine prices for that Bordeaux. After all, I acquired an extra hour last night due to the time change, right? See, much as I resist the time change to fall back and all, there is a silver lining.

August is Ella Maine Lobster Month in Downtown Sacramento

3 live Maine lobsters for Ella

Ella Dining Room and Bar offers a variety of Maine lobster dishes in August.

If you didn’t already know it, August is Maine lobster month at Ella downtown. We had a choice for dinner last night and were leaning toward Ethiopian when it occurred to me that it was Ella Maine Lobster month and the weather was perfect for sitting outside on the patio at Ella. Which we didn’t get to do, sit outside, because the patio was too packed, yet dinner at the bar is fine. Well, except for those lobster-related injuries.

It’s not like dining on lobster in Maine, though. I spent the summer of 1988 on the coast in Maine at Quahog Bay in a tiny little rented cabin. Our landlord next door had a lobster trap at the end of his dock, and anytime we wanted to, we could go over there and pull out a lobster for $3.00. It was not unusual to go to a restaurant in Maine and order 2 or 3 lobsters to go with your corn-on-the-cob and other fixins’.

When I tried to order 3 lobsters at Cano’s Restaurant on PCH after I returned home that summer to Newport Beach, the waiters stared at me like I just landed here from Pluto. They could not wrap their minds around the fact that I did not want 3 complete lobster dinners, just 3 lobsters with normal portions of side dishes.

I love lobster so much that I had stopped at a restaurant in Boston to pick up a box of lobsters packed for shipping before boarding the plane bound home. The lobsters arrived in Newport Beach a bit drowsy, sorta like waking up after a colonoscopy, for us old geezers, all fuzzy and not sure where they were. Because at the time I lived only a few blocks from the ocean, I dashed down to the beach to fill up a bucket of seawater in which to steam the lobsters. Ordinary tap water would not do.

My neighbors in Maine taught me how to put a lobster on its head and stroke its back, just until its legs relaxed and the lobster slumped. This was to ensure more tender meat, on the theory that the lobster would not wake up in time to freak out, to disguise its destiny. Then, faster than you can think of words that rhyme with Trump, you slip those sleepy lobsters into the boiling pan of steaming seawater, lid slammed on so they don’t escape.

But today I sit in downtown Sacramento, to celebrate Ella Maine lobster month, and to try not to spray the other diners with lobster juice as I crack open its claws to suck the succulent meat. No matter how careful I am, I still manage to cut my hands. And squirt every garment that requires dry cleaning. Small price to pay, though, for cold poached lobster at Ella. Not to mention, we will need to make at least one more trip to Ella Dining before the month is over.

Jay and Silent Bob Get Old in Sacramento


Jay and Silent Bob

Sacramento Community Center Theatre Entrance

The Jay and Silent Bob Get Old schtick at the Community Center Theatre in Sacramento last night was a POD recording, which the duo performed in person. It was mostly about how Jason Mewes (Jay) is old because he’s 41 and his wife just had a baby, which I found very difficult to find amusing because, quite frankly, I didn’t care. I thought I would care, but I didn’t. Even when they were grinding each other’s microphones on the stage, doing exactly what you think they would be doing, I didn’t find it funny. That’s not to say there were not a few amusing moments, but it was mostly the beginning and the end, and everything else stuck in between was too juvenile to be hilarious.

When we got home, I told my husband that it was not a show about Jay and Silent Bob getting old, it was more about the fact they barely made it past puberty. Still, it was an excellent excuse to enjoy dinner at Ella Dining Room & Bar. I never turn down that opportunity. Yet, it was my idea to go see Jay and Silent Bob, so I can’t complain too much about it, but let me try.

Jay and Silent Bob Get Old in Sacramento

On the upside, we had good seats, the middle of the second row. It was an excuse to get dressed up and go out. But you could say that about anything. You could say that about going to the dentist. You could say that about having to squat at a roadside in-the-floor hole-in-the-ground rest-stop in France. You could say that about flying Coach.

It sort of reminded me of the time my girlfriend, Ronnie, and I stopped by to visit the Grand Canyon on our way from Colorado to California. Our plan was to roast hot dogs on a grill and enjoy a lovely picnic while traversing the wonders of nature. Instead, we got there by driving very slowly down a long dusty road, and it was raining. It was also too chilly to stand outside without a jacket, and all of our warmer clothing was packed beneath piles of crap in the trunk. As a result, we sat in the car and chowed down cold wieners without the hot dog buns or condiments and watched raindrops pelt the windshield. And, even that moment in time was a lot more fun than going to see Jay and Silent Bob Get Old in Sacramento.

Lockboxes, Taxes, Lawyers, and Sacramento Realtors at Ella Dining

ella dining room and bar sacramentoEfficiency in real estate means spending the limited amount of time available in any given day in a productive manner, with the goal in mind that those efforts will benefit all of those involved. I’m just the kind of Sacramento Realtor who tries to be as efficient as possible. It could mean I spend 3 hours at a lunch at Ella Dining downtown catching up with another Realtor, an old friend and, when she is late, texting her explicit directions about where to meet the Valet and which one-way street to use as an approach.

This is one of the reasons I love going to Ella Dining for lunch. Yeah, drawback, it is downtown Sacramento, land of the one-way streets with the Capitol smack dab in the middle cutting off access to many east-west streets, but I don’t rely on Siri to get me there because, believe it or not, Siri doesn’t know where to find Valet. Apart from the food, which is spectacular, and the ambiance, which is captivating, and the service, which is unprecedented, I don’t have to figure out where to park, nor spend time driving in circles searching for a darn parking spot. I can run late, zoom up to Valet, hand over the keys and be done with it.

A 3-hour lunch gives the Valet plenty of time to make copies of all of my house keys, run over to my house and burglarize it, snatch all of the quarters from my parking meter tray, and be back in time to deliver the vehicle after dessert. I don’t care; life is short and then you die. Enjoy the time you have.

After driving to Vineyard to pick up a lockbox, I pulled up yesterday with one minute to spare to meet my reservation time at Ella Dining. My Vineyard clients seemed very happy after closing and said they received the absolute highest price possible for their home. Their escrow was smooth without hiccups. They had selected me in the first place among a plethora of Sacramento Realtors and they also are fans of my articles on About.com. There are no better sellers to work with in the world than sellers who intentionally weed through the inventory of agents in Sacramento and carefully and thoughtfully choose a listing agent. Many of those types of sellers are lawyers, too, and I love them to pieces, love working with lawyers. My favorite kind of client is a lawyer.

Since I was out in Vineyard to pick up a lockbox, it seemed best to use that time of travel to stop by my CPA’s home office, which is also in Vineyard, and deliver our tax folder in person. It beats photocopying all of the documents, finding a large envelope, weighing the contents, calculating postage and taking it to the post office. My CPA is one big joker. When he’s not tweaking digits, he’s joking around. His answer to almost every question is a one-liner, bada bing. I couldn’t help but wonder how my clients would view me if I acted like that. Good thing I don’t.


Listings in East Sacramento and Glucose Curves for a Cat


Pica the Ocicat in 2013

For a federal holiday on Monday, President’s Day, the real estate business in Sacramento was pretty active. We enjoyed beautiful weather, which tends to put people in a good mood, so maybe many were out wandering about and noticing For Sale signs, hard to say. Some guy called, insisting that I have a listing in East Sacramento on T Street, and for the life of me I could not figure out what he was talking about. I felt like I was on Saturday Night Live’s Celebrity Jeopardy. What is the name of the street you are on? Doesn’t know. What is the cross street? Doesn’t know. What color is the house? Doesn’t know. Are you outside right now?

He became a bit agitated, too, because he could not believe that I did not recognize my listing. It’s amazing how some people can’t see beyond the end of their nose. They can’t possibly be wrong, it must be you. No wonder, because turns out he was in Elmhurst, yet inquiring about a pending listing in East Sacramento off of Folsom. But we try to help all people who call, even the challenging, so I referred him to a Team Weintraub agent for assistance.

I also ran over to East Sacramento in the afternoon to check out two houses on a lot that I am listing. Although I sell in 4 counties, I am an experienced East Sacramento agent. Plus, my entire office on 28th & J supports East Sacramento, Midtown and downtown. This listing will be on the market the last Friday of this month. Just needs a little sprucing up. The income on that unit is about $2,000 a month, so it would make a nice investment for somebody. I try to imagine what kind of buyer is best suited for each of my listings when I take them. It helps me to target that buyer with my marketing.

The buyer for this will probably be a single, urban professional who longs to live within walking distance of Midtown for the restaurants, bars and nightlife but doesn’t want to live in a condo and can’t afford a big house. That type of person could buy this listing, live in the front house and keep the tenant in the back house. The income from the studio house is about $700 a month, which would help to offset the buyer’s mortgage payment, plus the back tenant can keep an eye on the front house when the buyer is traveling. There is an enormous updated kitchen, featuring granite and ceramic, and the bedrooms are separated in the front house so the buyer could even take on a roommate to help make ends stretch a bit further.

Throughout the day, my husband and I also used this time to perform blood glucose curves on our diabetic cat, Pica. He has been horribly stressed going to the vet for this procedure, so we decided to perform the testing at home, regardless of our own queasiness. Glucose curve testing involves sticking a needle into his paw pad. At first, we tried to prick it slightly and then squeeze out a droplet of blood. We ended up wasting a lot of test strips, and those suckers are expensive, like a dollar each. My husband tried holding Pica while I poked him, and then we’d trade an hour later, and I held him as my husband stuck him. We squeezed and petted and squeezed, and poor Pica yelped.

We obtained 8 results over 8 hours, one an hour.

By the late afternoon, all of my cautiousness, anxiety and trepidation about the procedure was gone. Vanished. It was like, gimme that damn paw pad. Poke, blood, test strip, done. I just jabbed it. I was ruthless. It’s amazing, the transformation that can come over you when you realize there is no way out and you just have to do it. Yes, I could eat a raw bird if lost at sea.

To celebrate our victories of the day, we went to Ella Dining Room and Bar for oysters, drinks and dinner. Toasted to our incredible success with the blood glucose curves . . . and the guy who called on the pending listing in East Sacramento — maybe he’ll be a buyer for the two houses on a lot in a few weeks? Never know. Can’t judge people. The oddest things can happen in Sacramento real estate.


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