November Holiday Guide

Posted on November 22, 2008 – 4:44 PM | by OldManFoster
  • Share

compiled by Niki Kangas


Bike BusinessNow more than ever, we’re burning all our dough in the flaming, greasy engines of our cars. Your friend who gets a gift from one of the following alternative transportation shops will thank you big time when they count their monthly gas savings, and good old Mother Earth will appreciate it too.

 The Bicycle Business
By Tony King

The popularity of fixed gear bicycles shows no signs of slowing down (no pun intended, I swear). Unlike San Francisco’s steep hills, or New York City’s gridlocked maze, Sacramento’s smooth urban streets and bike trails provide the perfect terrain for handling your one-speed whip. And there is no better place in Sacramento for fixed gear and road bike parts and service than The Bicycle Business.

Step inside The Bicycle Business and you’ll notice that the hardwood floors are well-worn with years of foot and tire traffic. Wheels, frames and customer’s bikes hang from hooks in the ceiling. The shop’s walls are decorated with old touring posters, aged photographs and logo-covered jerseys, while Indie-Rock or Ska streams from the stereo.

The Bicycle Business’ raised level is where you’ll find everything needed to convert your old road bike into a flashy “hot seat”: hubs, cogs, cranks, wheel sets, saddles, and (gasp!) brakes, produced by top-of-the-line manufacturers like Brooks, Sugino, Soma, Nitto and more. Where else in Sacramento can you get Oury handlebar grips or KMC Z-Chains in multiple colors?

The Bicycle Business carries track frames in many sizes, from the affordable SE Lager ($149.95), to the popular Surly Steamroller ($394.95) and their best-selling EAI Bare Knuckle ($734.95). There are additional frames by Torelli, Soma, Fuji, Independent Fabrications, Pake, and more. If you need a wheel set, The Bicycle Business can custom hand-build a set for you, using the rims (Velocity, Alex, Mavic, etc.), hubs (Phil Wood, Shimano, Miche, etc.) and spokes of any brand and color you choose.

If the fun of a bike build-up doesn’t appeal to you (or you’re simply eager to get out on the road), The Bicycle Business also features many complete fixed gear and road bikes, such as the affordable Fuji Track Bike (sale price $474.95), the Salsa Casseroll (sale price $849.95), or the spendy Fuji Obey (on sale for $1099.95).

One of the best things about The Bicycle Business is the service. The employees are knowledgeable, friendly and professional, providing excellent service while answering any questions you might have regarding either bikes or beer (go ahead, ask ’em!) What parts they don’t have in stock, they can order, contacting you as soon as they arrive in store.

On any given day, up to four mechanics are on duty working on customer’s bicycles. Tune-ups and regular maintenance (flat fixes, disc brakes cleaning, chain tensioning, etc.) are reasonably priced. They’ll even take your measurements and help you find the right sized bike for your build.

The Bicycle Business also features a complete and comprehensive website. Surf their site and pick-out parts and accessories, search for special close-out deals (there are many to choose from) or even build you own bike from the endless supply of listed parts. If anything, their website provides countless drool-over pictures and descriptions of parts.

The Bicycle Business makes buying a bike almost as fun as actually riding a one. This is the place in Sacramento for fixed gear enthusiasts and road bike scholars alike.

Bicycle Business
3077 Freeport Blvd
(916) 442-5246


Not just a place to kick back during the hectic holiday season, or a sanctuary to hide from psycho relatives in- Sacramento’s coffeehouses can be gift shopping destinations! Some ideas for under-the-tree fodder: a pound of locally roasted coffee, tasty teas, t-shirts, mugs, gift certificates or other merchandise from your darling’s favorite café, or how about a rad piece of some cheap local art that can often be found gracing the walls of Midtown’s best?

Le Petit ParisLe Petit Paris

Sometime about twenty years ago, a beautiful, young woman of savoir-faire named Tassina ‘Nicole’ stumbled into Paris while backpacking Europe. She would go on to return to Paris many times over, always bringing gifts back home to loved ones, like little treasures unearthed in its dreamy flea markets, boutiques, and specialty shoppes. The eventual result of this love affair was a little Midtown boutique called Le Petit Paris, which expanded in March of this year to include a café.

Nicole and her family still set off for Paris when the itch to roam its fragrant stone streets revisits, and there they all pitch in, hand-selecting the wares found in the boutique, which is stocked with high French fashions for every age (even infants), home décor, beauty products, and other simple and elegant Parisian pleasures. A ramble among its shelves and racks will beg the feeling of whiling away an hour in Paris’ heart itself.

The barista bar, Le Petit’s newest addition, serves up one of Sacramento’s top brews, Sargent’s coffee. They also carry European coffee and Parisian tea, but what really stands out about this place is its edibles. Not exclusively (but mostly) proffering French pastries, desserts, sandwiches and salads, I was pleased to savor an excellent tiramisu, a sparkling mineral water with lemon, and a cappuccino upon a recent trip to this cozy spot. Other notable delicacies included pain au chocolat and an interesting variety of Parisian Macarons in flavors like violet, pistachio, and fig.

A corner living room area with bookshelves (filled largely with books on French art, culture and tourism) bodes comfortable hominess while a row of café tables and chairs provide viable and relaxing workspace. My only complaint is that if you’re seeking a place to get work done, they do not yet offer wi-fi. Still, it is unlike anywhere else in Sacramento, a place where one can relax sipping heavenly coffee, seated beside Old-World and contemporary French finds that beckon us to leisurely take it all in, and perhaps that is why Ruben and Nicole haven’t jumped on the internet café bandwagon.

Another charming aspect of Le Petit Paris is that it’s very family-owned and operated; this summer while little Bella was between school and summer camp, the adorable youngster could be found skipping about, and it seems that either Nicole or Ruben (her parents) are always there, and that lends itself to great service and consistency, besides giving one the sense that their money is being well-spent in their community and ensuring success to a hardworking family that offers unique, quality products reminiscent of Paris’ famed romanticism.

One other interesting thing that makes this café an anomaly is that it sells Parisian tour packages, including accommodations, dinners, and personal guides for shopping and tourism. An upcoming package for you big spenders that promises to make one hell of a Christmas present is the Paris Walking Tour, scheduled December 24th through January 1st, and it costs $2699. Then there’s the Springtime in Paris tour, embarking in April. Check out their website for details.

1221 19th St.
(916) 446-3639


Want to make someone glow upon receipt of your gift this year? Getting them drunk is usually a surefire bet. These locally owned specialty wine shops and grocers await you to help you find that perfect bottle of buzzed bliss.

Corti Bros. by Michele Hebert

The Corti Brothers wine department is like a disheveled bookstore filled with carefully chosen tomes.  The corporate equivalent might be tidier and shinier, but the chances of finding a real treasure are slim. The breadth of the selection at Corti’s might not be immediately obvious as you scan the wine department because it’s deceivingly compact.  But if you make your way to all the nooks and crannies you start to get an idea.  The dessert wine section against the north wall boasts countless gems. One in particular stood out, the 1983 Contini Vernaccia di Oristano ($42.49), a rare sherry-like wine from Sardinia. If you get down on your hands and knees and look through the dust on the bottom shelf you’ll find Dickerson Vineyard’s 1989 Napa Valley Ruby Cabernet ($29), a deal considering not only its significant age but also it’s atypical upbringing (organically grown, natural yeasts, hand made).  To the left you’ll find the locked case of old wines, which I see as equivalent to the out-of-reach shelf of first editions – you probably can’t afford them, but you’re glad that they are there.  Peering inside will reveal Domaine Roumier’s 1961 Bonnes Mares ($500) and Josko Gravner’s 1998 “Anfora” ($108.39), as well as several bottles of Napa wine from the 1970’s, when those wines were made with long-term aging in mind.  As intriguing as the case can be, the rest of the wine department is ripe for exploration and experimentation. Tucked among the budget and sparkling wines in the aisle behind the deli, you can find a bottle of Malamatina NV Retsina Wine ($4.99), a Greek oddity made by macerating wine with pine tar.  Back among the regular wine shelves you’ll find not one, but two Irouleguys (2004 Herri Mina $20.99, 2005 Domaine Extegaraya $21.99), a wine made from the Tannat grape in the Basque region of France.  Nearby you’ll find a great selection of affordable Bordeaux from the classic and restrained ‘04 vintage (2004 Chateau Phélan Ségur St. Estephe $31.99), a bottle of which would make a great gift for the traditionalist in your life.  On the opposite shelf I found a temptation from Lodi in the form of a Lemberger (Blaufrankisch in Austria) by Mokelumne Glen Vineyards ($13.49).  Of the 10,000 varieties of the wine grape, Corti’s squeezes surprisingly many of them onto its shelves.  For an obscurist: black curranty Feteasca Neagra of Romania (Domain Tohani, $9.99) or rhubarby Amigne of Switzerland (Jean-Renée Germanier $31.49).  For the less adventurous: Cathy Corison’s excellent 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($61.99) or the Chardonnay of Jean Marc Brocard’s 2006 Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume ($39.99). Whether you browse alone or engage one of the helpful wine clerks, you’re sure to find a priceless gift among these shelves.

5810 Folsom Blvd
(916) 736-3800



Giving feels good, but it feels better still when the gift you’re buying somehow serves society. One way to do such a doubly good deed during the holidays is to pick up some awesome locally written and recorded music- in one fell swoop (or swipe), you’ll make a buddy’s toes tap delightedly, line the pockets of a Sacramento musician, and support a local record label! Furthermore, you might be supporting a local venue if you choose to score this present at a show. What a rockin’ way to spend conscientiously!

Nik’s Six Picks (and where to find them)

The Evening Episode The Physicist Has Known Sin!
Description: breathy, heavy, melodic, melancholy indie/electro reminiscent of PJ Harvey’s early days
Hear a sample:
Buy it online:

Agent Ribbons and the Star-Crossed Doppelganger 7″
Description: creepy cabaret telling poignant narratives, wrenched from booming soulful pipes; minimalist indie-vaudeville
Hear a sample:
Buy it online:

Two Sheds EP
Description: imagine Nico crooning in a barn, disheveled hair full o’ hay, at once indignant and sultry
Here a sample:
Buy it on iTunes

Iguanadon We Ryde Tonite,
Description: like noble, shrieking gryphons beating their vast black wings against the midnight sky on their quest for vengeance (for you reality-based types, it’s thrash)
Hear a sample:
Buy it at local record stores and at their frequent local gigs!

Good Mornings Black Gold, Texas Gold
Description: Sac alt-country at its best, flowing like the American River, sweeping cathartic soundscapes under lethargic, crackling, Beatles-esque harmonies
Buy it on iTunes
Hear a sample:

Rat Damage/Crucial Cause 7″ split
Description: supercharged silly-fun hardcore punk fronted by righteously raging vilified vigilantes
Buy it at Sacto Pyrate Punx Prezentz gigs. Only 400 or so left!
Hear a sample:

R5 Records
2500 16th St.
(916) 441-2500

1618 Broadway
(916) 446-3973

The Beat
1700 J St.
(916) 446-4402

United State
1014 24th St.
(888) 743-0273

At shows- go see your favorite local band and find their merch table! You’ll get the best price when you buy directly from the artist, and you get to make that chanteuse or screamin’ demon feel warm and fuzzy- everyone wants fans.

Online options: bands’ myspace pages generally have samples of and links to purchase music online through iTunes, cdbaby, or some other site. Being that it’s November, you’ve got plenty of time still to order local music online and wait for it to be shipped! Also, note that most records generally come with mp3 download passwords for you iPod-toters.


Your clan’s all in town, because this time of year’s all about getting together! Where are you going to go to show them the culinary heights to which Sactown soars without compromising that warm, familial feeling? Some suggestions follow. Many of these places also offer holiday parties, catering, and special prix fixe dinners in said casual environments.

The Shack The Shack

At once, the Shack is the comfortable, not-too-fancy neighborhood joint that dishes up stick-to-your-ribs pub grub along with a fantastic beer selection (served by razzing sharp-witted waitresses), and the four star dining experience where wine and exquisite food are optimally paired as you soak up the live sounds of a classy band or DJ. It just depends on what night or day you go.

With a kick ass patio piping mellow moods of reggae, rock and hip-hop and garlicky smells from the kitchen, the Shack aims to be a community interface, a gathering spot, and a good time. But although most are familiar with its lunchtime fame, many do not know that the Shack also serves as an evening event and dining superstar. Thursday nights, Gary Sleppy, owner and head chef, doles out gastronomic excellence in weekly changing themed prix fixe dinners, for $18 a person. Delicious wines, always local, are suggested for each dish, and run $6-$8 a glass. The theme may vary from ethnic foods to novelties like finger foods (he once did homemade corn dogs which he swears were among his best received plates).

The idea for Thursday nights came from weekly dinner parties he and a group of friends would have. Each week, a different friend would prepare dinner at their place, and it was always the highlight of Gary’s week. Eventually, the group of friends grew too large to be able to host the parties at a house, so Thursday nights (like an intimate dinner party in a more public setting) at the Shack were born. Gary expounds, “The goal is to have a place where the community can come together like a family.” What better place, then, exists in Sacramento to take your family out and whoop it up?

Another neat event going down at the Shack lately is Wednesday night’s small plates and sparkling wine. All manner of sparkling wine drinks are available, such as their Ballini (Prosecco with white peach juice), or champagne cocktails. A DJ spins house while you mingle with other patrons.

Beer lovers rejoice: every first Tuesday, the Shack hosts a $25 a pop Belgian beer tasting, from 6-8pm that usually runs as late as it needs to for each customer to try all the beers featured. Gary warns that it is waaaaaaay more beer than someone planning to get behind a wheel should imbibe, so have a designated driver or take your other car- a pair of boots.

Whenever you choose to call on the Shack, expect high quality food in a welcoming, no-frills homey environment. Expect not to go for broke too, and to be kept on your toes as the menu and atmosphere are always dynamic and creative. And expect to find my man and I chugging Rubicon IPA and scarfing cheese steak sandwiches on their outdoor couch, under the shade of flowering trees, while our laughing children play in the bubbling fountain EVERY CHANCE WE GET.

5201 Folsom Blvd
(916) 457-5997


Now you’ve fed your guests, and you’re all still wide awake and ready to take in some merry Midtown mayhem. Or, maybe you need to unwind on the dance floor or at a tavern after all that obligatory spending and hustle and bustle this time of year ushers in. There’s a myriad of options to explore when the sun sets over Sacramento, but get a designated driver, or sloppily hoof it while slurring a loud ballad; just make it home safely.

Bonn Lair Bonn Lair

Maybe it’s the Irish blood flowing in my veins, but to me, a good bar should feel much like a good coffee house- superior, savory assorted brews to choose from, cool, mellow regulars hanging out that might engage you in friendly and intelligent conversation, and magnificent music carefully selected by engaging staff. It should be locally owned, devoid of a creepy meat-market-y vibe, and decorated thoughtfully and creatively. Bonn Lair, oh, does it ever fit that bill. It’s like a Godsend vortex sucked a cozy hole-in-the-wall pub out of a dark corner in London and spat it right out of the heavens onto J St. They serve decent British pub grub, and won’t kick you to the curb when you bring in outside food- awesome, considering La Trattoria Bohemia, La Fiesta Taqueria, and plenty of other establishments are a stone’s throw away.

One quasi-complaint: they don’t serve hard liquor, but there are pros to go with that con- instantly eliminated from the crowd are the chattering ninnies who can’t sip on anything but red bull and vodka or sugary soda-liquor drinks, and the folks at Bonn Lair thereby don’t get as stupid-drunk and annoying. It definitely seems to lend itself to making for a chiller atmosphere. Besides, they do have wine, lampic, and cider for those of you who don’t find beer palatable (so difficult to conceive of!).

And the beer- my God, the beer- what a lineup they’ve got. I doubt anywhere else in Sacramento has a finer collection. They have 18 draft beers and around 40 different bottled imports and domestics, but they really take the cake on their British ale choices. I don’t know why, but Fuller’s ESB just tastes better here, and maybe that’s because of the authentic setting owners Dave and Bonnie Boyet created, very European in that it is a small and narrow space with a beautiful dark wooden bar lined with mirrors and eye candy for the tasteful alcoholic or beer connoisseur. A few barstools huddle around whichever killer bartender is manning the ship, and pew-like wooden benches and tables serve as intimate nooks throughout the rest of Bonn Lair’s interior, making it an excellent spot to take a few close friends or laid-back relatives. Out front and in the back are comparable, comfy patios for fair-weather relaxation. And one last good-bar essential that they’ve got covered: darts.

So if all that didn’t spell out S-U-P-E-R-L-A-T-I-V-E to you, maybe you tend to prefer glittery, up-tempo, dance floor conversation over a Sex-on-the-Beach and a small plate, and that’s cool too, but I think this yelp review regarding Bonn Lair written by a Gregory W. sums up the ardor incurred in people with sensibilities like mine, “…I love this pub so much I moved into the neighborhood so that I could walk.”

3651 J St.
(916) 455-7155


Let’s face facts: if you buy this stuff at the malls, it’s probably coming from sweatshops in foreign countries, which hurts our economy besides hurting tiny hands while leaving them empty. Buy local, vintage, thrift or handmade, and help change the world!

The Handmade Handbags of Haley Anthonisen

by James Cameron
A silk purse from a sow’s ear?  Well no.  But a trendy handbag from a man’s
discarded tie? 

Haley Anthonisen is at once an attractive, sweet-faced person strongly wedded to her faith and devoted to helping others and an entrepreneurial self-starter with an abundance of energy and creativity.  At age nineteen she puts most people to shame, attending college full time, working part time, and running a successful business.  Seated across from her at Ma Jong’s, a popular Midtown eatery where she has spent the summer working, the mid-afternoon sun frames a face that is intensely focused on the subject under discussion, her home grown company that utilizes both on the ground and internet marketing concepts in a tandem effort that returns a portion of its profit to charity.  The business is Haley Corina and the handbags are marketed online at and at Serendipity Boutique in Sacramento.
The charity in question is Women’s Empowerment, a Sacramento organization
located at the Salvation Army’s Loaves and Fishes.  Volunteers from all walks of
life work in a holistic program with homeless women to help them become self-reliant, providing them with job training and placement, and counseling in personal health and hygiene, empowerment and personal support issues.

So where do these twin passions—entrepreneurial business and societal justice
come from?  Haley explains, “My parents’ influence has been critical. They’re both entrepreneurs.  My mom is a marvelous photographer and runs a successful portrait photography business out of our home. My dad also has his own business, the Strata Marketing Group, a company which creates websites for other companies..  So I guess that’s where the instinct comes from.”  And the societal interest?  She continues. “Well, we’ve always been strong churchgoers and I guess our faith prompted that response in me.  

Growing up in Land Park, Haley exhibited her creative side early, working with her mom on paper art projects and then graduating to the use of a sewing machine in making clothes for her cats, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and O’Keefe.   As Haley’s proficiency with her sewing machine grew, she experimented with the creation of soft, colorful handbags from her dad’s old ties that would accent any outfit, and her business took off.  It kicked into high gear with a Second Saturday Art Walk when the orders rolled in and her entire family pitched in to help her fulfill them.  Haley Corina was off and running and hasn’t slowed down since. 

Her arrangement with Women’s Empowerment came soon afterward.  “When the business took hold, the idea of devoting a portion of revenue grew out of my involvement with the homeless there.  It’s such a worthwhile program and I want to help it in any way I can.”  And she’s pursued other ways of giving back.  Summers have been spent working on housing projects and with day care centers on Native American Reservations in California and Oregon.

What about the future?  “Well, I’m a sophomore at the University of Redlands.
I need to finish my degree and I don’t yet know what that will be.  But whatever
I do after graduation, I’ll need to have a strong connection to people and the problems they face. You can count on that. It’s all important.”

And you can count on her “giving back” as well.  That’s who she is.


I’ve got a couple little ones, and seriously, there’s nothing more sublime than their joy. Toys and possessions aren’t what make them happy, but the time we spend together. Your kids would rather enjoy your stress-free company than see you shop anxiously and constantly go into debt. Travel and experience with them, buy books to read them, or outdoor gear for running wild with them, or lessons or program memberships that will enrich them, or toys you will play with all year long with them when you get them their holiday loot. Going overboard and cramming piles of made-in-China junk down the chimney (so to speak) is wasteful and destructive, and considering the state of the world’s scary-rapidly changing climate, we just can’t afford it anymore.

Sierra REI Outdoor School

“REI?!” you might be thinking, “You’ve been shoving this buy local theme down our throats, what the heck?” You may not realize that REI is not a corporation, but a co-op, owned by its members. Membership is cheap and has pays for itself many times over with discounts you’ll reap, and the annual dividend always manages to outdo expectations. Go to your local REI and look into it!

Experiential gifts, especially to kids, will always be more memorable and formative than some crappy plastic toy or pair of socks. Instead of purchasing a plethora of dust-collectors, buy them what they need, then blow the rest on something fun and educational, like Sierra REI Outdoor School trips! There are many different types of outings, like cycling, hiking, overnight backpacking, navigation, paddling, outdoor photography, climbing, bird watching and snow sports. Each trip has a different length and cost, and edifies your little dude or dudette with essential, potentially life-saving skills and gives the two of you an opportunity to pal around.

Here’s an example of what a trip might entail. During the Overnight Backpacking outing, you and your mini-me will be given all the gear and food you’ll need (included in the cost) and shown how to pack it comfortably. Then, you’ll set off into alpine-country carrying modest tools that will supply you with some of the happiest times you’ll ever know! Imagine hanging out by a backcountry campfire together under the after-alpenglow twilight, strung with the thousands of blinking stars that are usually drowned out by city lights, while you eagerly rehydrate and slop up your salty freeze-dried dinner-in-a-bag! The last part is a lot more gratifying than it sounds- after a long hike through a granite wonderland. Your instructor will illustrate how to select the most favorable campsite, how to cook in the wild, and how to leave no trace, as well as basic navigation and survival skills in a pre-trip orientation class at REI. If you register for the May trip early, you save 20%, and the full price is $250 for members and $270 for non-members.

Don’t want to have to wait that long to go wild? No problem! Another excursion offered is Family Snowshoeing, and it’s also an overnight trip. For the more self-directed (you’ll have to pack a bit more on your own) and hardcore (we’re talking winter camping in a hut, here), this outing is designed to teach the basics of snowshoeing, packing, campsite selection, camp cooking, and as always, leaving no trace. The price includes most required gear and all meals, and is $200 for members and $220 for non-members. The next trip after the holiday season is January 17th, departing from the Roseville REI.

Post a Comment