A Note From Biba

30 Things Every Sacramentan Must Eat

30 Things Every Sacramentan Must Eat - Lasagne

Excerpted from Sactown Magazine

The sheets of pasta in celebrity chEf-owner Biba Caggiano's lasagna are so thin you could read a copy of Il Mondo through them, yet for all that fragility, the pasta remains pleasantly firm and supple as you bite through the 10(!) layers of it in this vaunted dish. While the pork and veal Bolognese sauce made with imported San Mariano tomatoes grown in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius is meaty and tasty and the béchamel sauce rich, the epicurean experience here is all about those silky layers of pasta. The coveted entrée has been on the menu at the chef's eponymous midtown restaurant for 30 years, but you can only order it on Thursdays and Fridays, largely because making it is such a daunting process (pro tip: it often sells out on Friday nights, so make an early dinner reservation) - a staff of kitchen helpers labors for the better part of a week in the lasagna-industrial complex known as Biba's Kitchen, arriving at 4 a.m. to produce a precious five to seven pans. In fact, we're told that the pasta whisperers are none too pleased when the lasagna- which no less a gourmand than Darrell Corti himself has deemed the single best dish in Sacramento - gets a press mention like this one, as it means they have to up the output to meet the surge 2801 Capitol Ave. in demand. To this, we can only say, scuzi - and grazie.

Doctor's Corner for July 2017 - My Latest Favorite Cocktails and Wines

It has been a while since the last Doctor’s Corner, and it is entirely my fault. I have been slightly overwhelmed by my medical research work, and I haven’t visited any new wineries, eateries, or other places of interest. It has just been work, work, work. I hope you understand.

So this month I will briefly showcase some interesting cocktails and wines that I enjoyed...but rest assured it is by no means a complete or exhaustive list. Next month I promise to do better. Remember, these are my personal preferences.

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Pre Dinner Cocktails
Manhattan - my favorite. A blend of Maker’s Mark Bourbon and Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth, with brandied cherries. With or without bitters, it always hits the spot.

Biba’s Boulevardier - A close second. This is basically a Negroni with rye whiskey replacing the gin. We use Pendleton 1910 Rye Whiskey, Campari, and Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth, and garnish with an orange slice. I love it.

Red Wines
Although I taste many excellent wines each week, I prefer red wines. No offense to white wine drinkers. And i have a preference for Pinot Noir.

Fiddlehead Cellars Pinot Noir - Our Wine of the Month. An elegant wine with rich mouthfeel and a nice touch of acidity on the finish. From the Sta. Rita Hills appellation in Santa Barbara County.

Foxen Pinot Noir - Also from the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, this wine is always a crowd pleaser.

Crawford Family Wines Pinot Noir - A new wine for me. I found it to be remarkably delicious. Enough said. Also from Sta. Rita Hills.

Merry Edwards Pinot Noir - A Russian River Valley wine, distinctively different but very appealing and food friendly.

Foxen 7200 Cabernet Sauvignon - my choice of Cabernet Sauvignon may strike you as unusual. It is not a Napa Valley or Sonoma Cabernet as you expect. Rather it is from the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara appellation. Smooth, satisfying and not overpowering, with distinct Cabernet notes.

Boeger Barbera - Boeger wines from El Dorado are consistently top notch, reasonably priced, and never disappoints. This Barbera is a winner. As you may already know, I enjoy a hamburger once a week at lunch. And, a Biba Burger with a Boeger Barbera is a hard act to beat.

The few wines discussed today are by no means the only wines available at Biba Restaurant. I do believe they are representative of the wide spectrum of California wines we carry.

Remember: wine in moderation may be beneficial to your health. Wine in excess may be harmful to you and others. Drink responsibly

Doctor's Corner for February 2017 - Boeger Winery in El Dorado County

Last week, between the rain storms, Biba and I felt the urge to get out of town for a bit. So what did we do? We drove to Boeger Winery in Placerville to taste their latest Barbera release. And it was most enjoyable…. the drive as well as the wine.

Boeger Winery in El Dorado County
This may sound familiar as I have written about Boeger Winery on several occasions. Greg and Sue Boeger purchased the land in 1972, mainly a pear ranch at that time, planted grapes, and in 1974 built a winery. Greg tended to the vineyard and made the wine while Sue handled the books. Now, 45 years later, it’s time to reflect on what has transpired. The small husband and wife operation has flourished and become a top notch winery with 85 acres of estate vineyards and an annual production of over 25,000 cases. Quite an accomplishment. Yet it has remained a family owned and operated endeavor. Greg meticulously tends to the vineyards but has turned the winemaking duties over to son Justin. Sue still manages the business end with help from daughter Lexi in advertising, marketing, and label design. And the wines….well, they just keep getting better and better.

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We arrived at the winery tasting room at about 11:30 am after a 40 minute drive (east on Highway 50 until exit 48, then left on Schnell School Road, and right at Carson Road for about a quarter mile). Greg and Justin Boeger were both available to discuss the wines. As I had a prior commitment in Sacramento at 2 pm, we tasted only two wines, the 2015 Barbera and the 2014 Merlot. And it was well worth the drive.

2015 Barbera
A wine that is often underappreciated, Barbera is a great food wine. And the 2015 vintage is excellent. Brimming with aromas of ripe, red fruit - cherry and red currant, the wine is lush with great mouthfeel, a nice touch of acidity, and a lingering finish. My first impression: I thought I was back in Italy. Wow, what a wine. This is an excellent Barbera, California or Italy. Congratulations to the entire Boeger family. And I think it has good aging potential, although I don’t believe I could hold out very long.

2014 Merlot
Merlot has always remained a favorite of mine. Not over-the-top or in your face with tough tannins but rather a subtle, subdued elegant wine, well balanced and very drinkable. Also very food friendly. I think you will like this wine as much I did.

This concludes our wine tasting trip. Sorry for this very brief report. Other wines produced by Boeger Winery include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Petit Sirah, Meritage, Cabernet Franc, and of course, Zinfandel. Quite an array of excellent wines.

Boeger Winery, located at 1708 Carson Road, Placerville, CA 95667, is open from 10 am to 4 pm daily. Only a 40-45 minute drive from Sacramento, it is well worth a visit.

P.S. I liked the Barbera so much we will be serving it as Wine of the Month for March 2017.

Doctor's Corner for December 2016 - Boeger Winery in El Dorado County

I apologize for not sending out the November Doctor’s Corner….mea culpa. Yesterday, Monday December 5, 2016, Biba, John Black, and I visited Boeger Winery in El Dorado County, and we tasted some very delicious wines.

Boeger Winery in El Dorado County As you may already know, Greg and Sue Boeger purchased a pear ranch in 1972, planted grapes, and then built a winery in 1974. What started as a small, husband and wife operation has grown and flourished over the past forty years, with 85 acres of estate vineyards and an annual production of over 25,000 cases. For many years Greg tended to the vineyards and made the wine while Sue kept the books and handled the business end. To this day it remains a family operation with some minor modifications. Son Justin is now winemaker (except for Pinot Noir which remains Greg’s project), Greg takes meticulous care of the vineyards, while daughter Lexi assists Sue with the bookkeeping and marketing end of the business.

We arrived at the winery about 11:00 am after a short 40 minute drive - east on Highway 50 until exit 48, then left on Schnell School Road, right on Carson Road for about a quarter mile. At the very attractive tasting room we were met by Greg and Justin Boeger. What better way to taste wines than with the winemakers. Carl Kienert, National Sales Manager, joined us a bit later.

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Let me describe the wines.

2015 White Pinot Noir - a new wine for me. Bright, fresh, with apple aromas, and a nice touch of acidity on the finish. I thought it was excellent.

2015 Rosé - a blend of Barbera (46%) and Mourvedre (54%) this light, bright, crisp Rosé has an aroma of strawberries. Excellent.

2014 Sangiovese - blended with 10% Barbera, this Sangiovese is one of the best I have tasted. A medium to full-bodied wine with earthy tones and delicious mouthfeel - Wow. Excellent

2014 Tempranillo - another winner. Medium-bodied with soft tannins. Excellent.

2015 Zinfandel, Rosa Canina vineyard - grown at 3000 feet elevation, this rich, well-structured Zin with firm tannins, has great mouthfeel with distinct herbal aromas. Not your usual Zinfandel but outstanding. I would like to taste this wine in 6-12 months.

2015 Zinfandel - this is the Estate Zinfandel. Soft and fruit-forward with tame tannins, a Zinfandel for all occasions. Excellent.

2014 Pinot Noir - Greg Boeger’s personal project. The grapes are grown at about 3000 feet elevation - this vintage is darker in color and has a distinct Pinot Noir nose and mouthfeel. Pinot clones include 2A, 114, 116, 667, and 777. Amazing what Greg has accomplished.

2014 Migliore Reserve - an Estate blend consisting of 48% Refosco, 21% Carignane, 20% Aglianico, 7% Charbono, and 4% other, this wine calls for food. Excellent.

2014 Merlot - smooth, soft, and delicious. What more can i say. Merlot is still alive and well. Excellent.

2014 Meritage Reserve - a blend of 49% Cabernet Franc, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 6% Petite Verdot, and 1% other. This wine is elegant, well balanced, and an excellent example of a Bordeaux blend. Outstanding.

That concludes our wine tasting. One final note I feel obligated to mention: Boeger wines are consistently very good to excellent and always priced very fairly. Many thanks to Greg and Justin Boeger.

Boeger Winery is located at 1709 Carson Road, Placerville, CA 95667, and only a 40-45 minute drive from Sacramento. I recommend a visit, Tel: 800-655-2634. The winery web site is:www.boegerwinery.com

Wine of the month for June 2018 - Bella Grace Vineyards Vermentino 2017 Amador County

A white wine that is not Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling, and from our neck of the woods in California…...that is surely something different. The Vermentino grape is widely planted in Italy. However, it has rarely been noticed in California…..until now. The husband and wife team of Michael and Charlie Hovill, with 20 acres of grape growing land and meticulous sustainable vineyard management, have a winner.

A zesty, fresh, aromatic grape variety with typical aromas of lime and grapefruit, this medium body wine, a winner of both a Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and a Best of Class award at the California State Fair Competition is a terrific wine for our long, hot summers. We recently enjoyed a bottle with fish (Biba had salmon and I had halibut), and it was a perfect match.

For the entire month of June 2018, we are offering the Bella Grace Vineyards 2017 Vermentino at the reduced price of $36 per 750 ml bottle and $9 per glass. I think you will like this wine. For further information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Tel: (209) 418-5040.