Last night, Andrew and I attended our first Sacramento event: the Best of Sacramento party, a benefit for the March of Dimes put on by Sacramento Magazine. We joined the crowds at the convention center and were given a wine glass, plate, and tote bag, then headed inside, where 300+ winners of the magazines annual “best of” competition plied their wares—which included excellent food, wines, desserts, music, shops, and services. We had Indian food; Greek food; Italian food; sushi. We had tiramisu and petit fours. We had some delicious wines, and local beer. Our hands-down favorite: the extensive cheese selections elaborately presented by The Firehouse Restaurant. The dance floor was packed by that time, but Andrew and I were content to look on, enjoying our cheese from the sidelines. There are few things more enjoyable—no matter where in the world we happen to find ourselves—than a cheese plate.
Newcomers as we are, watching Sacramentoans in action was as captivating as pursuing the food and wine. What is a Sacramentoan? It’s a question that’s been plaguing us—one we’re both interested in investigating, and writing about. Other cities have quickly identifiable characters (New York’s in-your-face attitude, Barcelona’s feisty Catalan spirit), expectations, dress codes, points of view. In some places, it takes only a few days to form a pretty clear picture of what makes that city unique: in Bucharest, for example, we knew within one weekend that the tension between the past and present had yielded what was clearly a jittery romance with new wealth; in Seville, the multi-generation families eating tapas at 1 a.m. told us all we needed to know about the city’s focus on family and food. But what of Sacramento?
We’re still searching. Last night, we saw fashionably dressed thirty-somethings wearing excellent shoes; we saw pairs of divorcees wearing surprisingly tight, short skirts. We saw a plethora of single older men wearing expensive suits, and teenagers in jeans and hoodies. There was a lot of politeness—excuse me’s when pushing through a crowd, I’m sorry’s when bags jostled bags—but rude line-cutting and harsh reprimands as well. The longest drink line we saw was for the Sac Brewing Company’s beer—a signal of something, or a result of the fact that the wine booths distributed only small tastings, while the beer was poured in full-glass servings?
We had fun at the party—hard not to, with so much food and drink and activity—and it was a good first step in our explorations. But we’re not zeroing in on anything yet. The search for the true Sacramento will continue. It’s our city now, and it’s time to start forming our own “best of” lists, finding the places that will truly make this city home.