Pajo Bruich

DESTINATION IDEAL FOOD DAY: SACRAMENTO, CA

Today TNP travels with Executive Chef Pajo Bruich (of Enotria Restaurant) to Sacramento, where he takes us through an ideal day of eating. For this week’s Destination Ideal Food Day, let’s escape this bad weather and take a food tour with Bruich through Sacramento, California.

“When I have guests visiting me in Sacramento, there is a long list of places I like to take them. We have such a great culinary community here and it’s growing and flourishing. I love to share with outsiders the secrets to why our community is so fantastic! 

For a perfect day, I would begin with a trip to Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters. Locally, there has been an emergence of many artisanal coffee roasters, full of enthusiasm and knowledge and creating amazing, world class coffee. We share this philosophy of attention to detail and a deep appreciation for the art of serving people something you love. At Chocolate Fish, they use precision every step of the way, from their hiring and training process, to the way they roast the beans – with a combination of soul, skill and a sophisticated computer program to ensure efficiency – to weighing their espresso pulls down to the 1/10 of a gram and timing it to the second. Experiencing their coffee reveals how committed our local artisans are to their individual craft. This is exactly why I chose to use them as our sole coffee supplier for Enotria Restaurant. 

Next, I would take my visitors to one of our many local farms. One of my favorites is Feeding Crane Farms. We would tour the massive farm, which sits only miles away from our city center. They would be exposed to so many ingredients that are not being grown anywhere else – and in very small production. All of the best and most unique product never leaves Sacramento. The farm is certified organic and works with its chefs to create custom growing plots that suit the needs of individual restaurants. They boast baby varieties of beautiful vegetables, a plethora of greens and baby greens all in very rare varieties, blossoms of mustard, arugula and borage, and much more. It is stunning. The farmers’ dedication to creating something unique to only our region would shine through this experience. We get a large amount of our produce for Enotria through this farm.

After the farm, we would head to Sunh Fish, a local fish market owned by a young, talented and passionate guy named Nguyen Pham with big aspirations. At a whopping 19,000 square feet in size, it is the only wholesale and retail fish supplier in the city, and still it remains a secret to most people. Nguyen sources the most amazing and rare seafood you can imagine, and he always handles all the accounts personally, ensuring that the customer always gets the very best quality seafood. It is unreal how good his product is and I haven’t been able to access better seafood anywhere.

For lunch I would take them to Kru Restaurant for the omakase sushi experience in Sacramento. Billy [Ngo], the owner, is just so good at what he does, and it’s remarkable what he’s accomplished so early in his career. His philosophy of using the freshest ingredients is amongst the best in the city, as is his technique and ability to create flavor pairings that are unreal. We would sit at his sushi bar and see no menu. The best way to eat at Kru is to give the chef full reign to just cook for us. The freshest nigiri with amazing textures and flavors would prove that this may be one of the nation’s best hidden secrets, and a definite gem in Sacramento. 

After lunch, a quick stop at Passmore Ranch, where sustainable fish farming is unfolding locally with a vengeance. Michael Passmore has created an incredible ranch where he raises beautiful sturgeon, striped bass, catfish and trout. His product is used widely throughout Sacramento – lucky for us! But certain restaurants outside of the area have caught on, and he is now selling regularly to such places as the 3-star Michelin  Meadowood Restaurant. His product is that good! 

Next a stop at Pangaea Two Brews Café, where they take beer very seriously. With more than twenty beers on tap and an even larger variety of craft brews in the bottle, this place is not to be missed. Here, I would introduce my guests to Ruhstaller Beer, a truly local brewery that sources all of their barley and hops from the farmers that surround Sacramento with such bounty. Ruhstaller is brewed in Sacramento and is a great asset to our community. We serve Ruhstaller at Enotria and even pair some of the beers with dishes on our tasting menu.

For dinner, of course I would have to take them to my restaurant and treat them to a special meal. I believe Enotria Restaurant ties together all of the best Sacramento has to offer. My goal at Enotria was to bring all of these elements that are exceptional to our community under one roof  – to create a dining experience that is uniquely our own. When a diner from San Francisco comes to Enotria, they know all about our community and the excitement that is happening! They would dine on a seven-course meal, featuring products from various farmers, producers and artisans, all paired with our amazing wines. 

This truly would be a pretty perfect day, yet really shows only a snippet of why Sacramento is such a great place to cook, live and visit!”

*Photos by Donahue Photography