Mandapalooza hits Placer restaurants

Mandarin flavor breakout during California Restaurant Month
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Gus Thomson/Auburn Journal

Makenzie Kirkwood, barista at Nectar Cafe in Downtown Auburn, will be part of a mandarin celebration at several Placer County restaurants this month.

The tangy taste and bright hues of Placer County’s mandarin crop will be front and center at participating restaurants starting Friday during the inaugural “Placer Celebrates Mandarins” Restaurant Week.

A dozen Placer County restaurants have signed on for an event that’s part of Visit California’s Restaurant Month throughout January highlighting California’s culinary traditions and innovations.

Placer’s farm-to-tabletop culture, with a bounty of varied crops, has long been the pride of the region, Visit Placer CEO Rob Haswell said.

“Now we can feature local restaurants and eateries who use these great ingredients, attracting visitors and foodies from throughout the region,” Haswell said.

For Auburn’s Nectar Cafe, the event means serving a mandarin crisp melding cranberries and mandarins topped by an oatmeal crumble.

Others taking part in the Auburn area include Joe Caribe Bistro and Cafe in Bowman, Carpe Vino in Old Town Auburn, Il Pizzaiolo in Colfax and Loomis, Tin Lantern Bar and Grill in Meadow Vista, Flower Farm Cafe in Loomis and Foresthill’s Makers Mountain Eatery.

All of the eateries will be featuring a mandarin-inspired dish, dessert or drink.

Communities across the state will join Placer’s in showcasing local dishes and products, Visit California President and CEO Caroline Beteta said.

“California’s ever-evolving food culture and innovative culinary offerings make it the perfect destination during our ninth California Restaurant Month,” Beteta said.

Visit California is partnering with agricultural products promoter PlacerGrown on the local effort. PlacerGrown is providing up to 100 pounds of the county’s signature Satsuma mandarins to each participating restaurant.

“It’s a nice melding of tourism and agriculture,” PlacerGrown CEO Carol Arnold said. “This is such a great idea.”

Visit Placer will be updating participating restaurants and the dishes they will be serving at its website.