Disclaimer: Fabian's is a client of the company I work for.  Just know that they have  4.7 stars on Yelp and have had overall great reviews. So you don't have to take just my word for it.

If suburban folk don't venture downtown too much, then we downtown folk don't venture out to the burbs much either. Fabian's Italian Bistro had been on my radar for a while, but I had no real compelling reason to venture out to Fair Oaks.  Once upon a time when I was married, that was my hood and we probably would be regulars there if I was still married out that way. But these days I rarely make the drive up Sunrise Blvd.

In fact, Fabian's is easy to miss as it is tucked into a small shopping center at the corner of Fair Oaks and Madison Ave. It's a nice sized, attractive restaurant with a small bar area and a patio for better weather. We were seated at a lovely bay window table at the front of the restaurant.

As I only tasted my own dish and dessert, this is just a mini review of our meal.

The server was attentive and the foccacia bread is served with a plate of balsamic, olive oil, and herbs. A good start. 

We both opted for two pasta dishes.

I had the saffron pappardelle with jumbo shrimp, tomatoes, and leeks. They were generous with nice sized shrimp and the tender pasta is made in-house. I was a bit disappointed at first at the lightness of the sauce, more a broth than a thick, coating sauce. But the dish grew on me as I began to appreciate the lightness of the dish as the flavors developed and impressed me the more I ate.

My friend had the rigatoni mezzi with meatballs made from angus beef and pork. There were three large meatballs that I saw. I did not get a taste, but my friend enjoyed it.

She also ordered a side of shaved brussels sprouts with bacon, toasted almonds, and parmesan. 

For dessert I had to satisfy my cream craving by ordering the creme brulee. It came with a side biscotti and was a thicker version. Creme brulees range from too thin to too thick, this one is on the thicker side, which I prefer. I actually consider it poor quality when creme brulees can drip off a spoon.

Darcie opted for the bourbon bread pudding after learning that the bourbon was cooked out of the bread pudding and not involved in some sort of sauce poured over. It was a hefty serving and bursting with a caramel bourbon flavor. 

It's easy to see why Fabian's is a neighborhood favorite in an area filled with mediocre places or national chains. 

OK, It might be mid February, but we are in California, it's warming up already, and I think it's the early days of spring!

March 5 - Chocolate Salon San Francisco

The one in Sacramento is OK, but the one to go to is at Fort Mason in San Francisco. There's probably at least four times as many chocolatiers there. 

March 12 - Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry in Virginia City, NV

This one is for my offal followers as Rocky Mountain oysters are also known as bull testicles. Not for everyone! I've been meaning to go for years and this time I'm actually going as a judge! More than 20 cooks from around the region compete in the event, serving up fried, chopped, grilled or sautéed steer testicles for a variety of flavorful combinations.  Hope I like them!

Tasting tickets start at $5 for three samples or 10 samples for $12. Advance tasting tickets are available online

March 19 - 1st Annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Jubilee- Lathrop

The event will be a chocolate experience that brings together community, local flavors and unique chocolate tastings. The sweetest part? A portion of the profits will be donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manteca and Lathrop. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Jubilee will feature fresh chocolate samples from local businesses as well asGhirardelli ice cream eating contests, Ghirardelli Chocolate School, vibrant music and dance from local artists, and a children’s play area.

March 31 - April 3 - Pebble Beach Food & Wine 

I am hoping to go to cover our Sacramento chefs as they again represent our Farm-to-Fork Capital. This year it is Kelly McCown from The Kitchen/OBO, Bill Ngo from Kru, Oliver Ridgeway from Grange, Michael Thiemann and Matt Masera from Empress, Ramon Perez from Puur Chocolates, and Joseph Vaccaro from Selland Family Restaurants.

I also love seeing and tasting food from the famous chefs that we all watch on Top Chef and other cooking shows. 

April 7 - 16 - Sacramento Food Film Festival

It's our 5th year!  This year we have another lineup of great films and events all supporting The Food Literacy Center and their efforts to build an education center.

The 2016 Sacramento Food Film Festival is a celebration of food and film from all around the world! What better way to kick off this year’s festival than with an all-star cast of chefs pairing bites with short food films from America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital and beyond! 

Food Literacy Center and Selland’s Market Cafe present a family movie night and dinner. This will be an event the whole family will enjoy!

In partnership with America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital and the Sacramento Public Library, we will host a screening of Open Sesame, a thought-provoking documentary about the importance and impact of saving heirloom and open-pollination seeds on our health, environment and economy. Following the film, a panel of local experts will discuss how we can do our part locally! 

Join us at Lucca Restaurant & Bar for a night of culinary genius while enjoying the 2015 film Burnt starring Bradley Cooper. This event sells out quickly! 

Join us for a culinary journey to Scandinavia! Enjoy the film Noma: My Perfect Storm – a film about the world famous gastronomic restaurant in Denmark & a five course meal created by James Beard award-winning chef Hank Shaw and local Scandinavian food expert Karen Holmes of Karen’s Bakery Cafe! 

Kampai! Join us on a trip through Northern Japan as we watch The Birth of Sake – an award-winning film about the 2,000 year old tradition of brewing sake. Enjoy a taste of sake with Japanese food prepared by Billy Ngo of Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine and Taka Watanabe of Ju Hachi & dessert prepared by Ramon Perez of Puur Chocolat. 

As the finale of the 2016 Sacramento Food Film Festival, Cooking up a Tribute will not disappoint. Join us for a culinary tour of Mexico, Colombia and Peru while watching Cooking up a Tribute, a film that documents the journey of one of the World’s Best Restaurants’ as they close their doors for five weeks to tour the world with the entire staff, and design 57 new dishes paying tribute to local food traditions and ingredients and the power of global food culture. 

For my day job I have to keep up on restaurant news in general. Lately it's been filled with Chipotle stories. Honestly, I feel they are really getting picked on. I have to think it's a form of corporate jealousy. Here's a chain that found a winning formula of making good food with whole, ingredients that are sourced locally and with an eye to things like hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, etc. People responded to it and they became a business to be emulated. Not it's one to sling arrows at.

It's akin to the most beautiful, smart, popular girl in school who, behind her back, is being ridiculed and slammed as a slut by those that are jealous that she could have all three: smarts, looks, and a good personality. It's shameful behavior and yet it happens in every facet of life.

But I'm standing by Chipotle, even though I'm facing some disappointments with the changes they are being forced to make.  The thing is, it's not the same disappointments as the rest of the country.

As a person who wants to eat healthy, whole foods, I appreciate the Chipotle model. As a person who works on the outskirts of the restaurant industry, I appreciate the trials that restaurants go through to serve safe food.

The thing is, there are always health and safety concerns happening daily at thousands of restaurants throughout the country. Whether it is a problem with roaches or rats or sick employees, these are things that are dealt with constantly and yet Chipotle's has been magnified so dramatically by the press who keep harping on it months and months after. 

What makes it even more frustrating is that there's been no definitive cause for the illnesses. They have no idea where the e-coli came from and the norovirus could have been a sick employee or it could have been a sick customer. I also think a big part of the problems was just poor hygiene training of staff within individual stores. 

While I'm happy to see them now offering sick days for employees and they closed for thorough training of staff today, I am saddened and disappointed by some of the choices made regarding their ingredients.  I happen to prefer that they prepare and make their food fresh on site. Their issues over the last few months are the same that hundreds of independent restaurants face regularly, yet because they are a national chain they are being forced to centralize everything. Produce will now be prepped and packaged at central locations and then shipped pre-cut and pre-prepared to restaurants. I personally believe there could be a bigger issue of food safety done on a large, central scale and meanwhile lose the freshness of store preparation. 

Time will tell, but some of the Chipotle appeal has been lost to me now. I will still be a customer, but I'm disappointed how this has all played out and Chipotle has had to suffer... because I still believe in them. It makes me kinda believe the whole corporate conspiracy theories that have been floated about. Whether it's only the media overly feeding on a story that should be done or real conspiracy, there's high schoolish jealousy going on as far as I'm concerned. Leave Chipotle alone now for a while and go pick on some other story.