Reno & Tahoe Food Tour | 100 Days: Drinks, Dishes & Destinations | KQED

– Just a few hundred miles
northeast of San Francisco, high in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, lies one of nature’s playgrounds. Here in the spring or fall,
you can ski the slopes in the morning, play golf
or swim in the afternoon. You can ride a steam train,
drink beer atop a mountain, explore the depths of a
mine all while breathing clean, fresh air, marveling
at the panoramic vistas, and of course tucking
in to the local fare. I’m here at the California Nevada border. Come explore Reno Tahoe with me. 100 Days Drinks Dishes and Destinations is brought to you by – [Narrator] With Ama Waterways guests can climb, pedal, and
journey beyond the beaten path while cruising on storied
rivers across Europe. You can find out more at – When I picture my dad, Josh, I remember his hands,
strong and worn, stained. That was years of hard
working as a lumberjack. His commitment, work ethic, values, that’s what really inspired
me to create Josh Cellars. – [Announcer] Otherworldly
and down to earth. Visit Napa Valley. – Come with me to stamp
your passport to delicious. I’m drinks and culinary
expert Leslie Sbrocco, and I’m traveling, tasting, sipping, and savoring the world
to share my bucket list of palate-pleasing experiences on 100 Days Drinks
Dishes and Destinations. Nevada, California’s
neighbor, takes its name from the Spanish term for snow-covered, referring of course to the
towering Sierra Nevada range straddling both states. Even with the white-tipped mountains, Nevada ranks as the
driest state in America, with less than 10 inches of rain per year. Nestled just inside the state line, Nevada’s second largest gambling town rises from the valley floor. Reno is known as the Biggest
Little City in the World, and whether you arrive by car or by plane, just know that you may feel the earth move beneath your feet. This area experiences more than a thousand earthquakes every year. And we’re actually further
west than Los Angeles. Sure there are casinos and big hotels, but there are lots of hidden gems, too. You can even climb the biggest
climbing wall in the nation at the Whitney Peak
hotel, which is the first non-gaming hotel in Reno. Or it’s family time here at McKinley Park. The pristine waters of the
Truckee River are right here, and you know you’re in the Sierra Nevadas when you see that flowing. So you can come here and
enjoy the beautiful water or you can just step across the road and eat with the locals. So everybody in Reno comes out for this, I mean it really is locals who are here for a Wednesday night out. First up, Mr. Margarita. I’ll just have the basic
standard old margarita, man. I love it. Next up, I’m waiting for
my raclette sandwich. They’re just warming it up here. – It’s warming up, kind of
like a little broiling system and there’s just like a big
waterfall of melted cheese. – [Leslie] This is awesome. – Okay, so we got it all melted here. All right, ready? – Ooey, gooey, waterfall of cheese. A little bit of France right here in Reno. Mm, bon appetit! It’s the creamiest of cheeses. It’s mild but it has this saltiness and then you put a little bit
of the prosciutto in there. All mine. Hungry Devils, just for the hell of it. Sounds like me. Why Greek food? – Tastes good. – [Leslie] So there are
lamb farms here in Nevada where you get your lamb? – [Cook] Yeah, the lambs run up and down the Mount Rose Highway every year. – That’s great. These lambs have a great
life and one bad day. Now I get my lamb. Oh my God, that looks great. Simply done, lamb the way it should be. I’ve never had a salad with chocolate covered espresso beans. I like it, I don’t love it. But I like it. They’re very hard to eat with a fork, I’ll just tell you that. What is this now? – Black garlic aioli with your fries, and then the chicken tikka masala roll. Chicken tikka masala. Not fiery, but certainly has a kick to it, and being in the egg roll
wrapping gives it a nice crunch. – We make our chips from scratch, and then we’ve also won best guac at Taco Fest the last two years. – Excellent. But I gotta tell you,
those chips are the winner. You know, everywhere you
go, there’s food trucks, all across America, but I have to say, I didn’t expect a food
truck park in Reno, Nevada to be so above trends,
all about young chefs doing something interesting. It’s fun to be here. House made gelato. From right here in Reno, Nevada. And make sure to go to Midtown, a neighborhood undergoing a renaissance, where you can hang and have a cocktail at Rum, Sugar, Lime. Rum, Sugar, Lime, Lorenzo’s gonna whip up one of his classic daiquiris. – [Lorenzo] What do you think, good? – That’s good. Packs a punch.
– [Lorenzo] Yeah. – [Leslie] Now Reno may
be glitz and glamor, but I’m gonna get my cowboy boots on to get the dirt and discover
the history of this area by heading to Virginia City, Nevada, which is home to the Comstock Lode, a 19th century mining center
that turned Virginia City into the most important industrial capital between Denver and San
Francisco in the late 1800s. The town that remains still celebrates its glory days of old. In fact, more than a few here
seem firmly stuck in the past, from juggling gunslingers to
the stubborn resident mule. So with a when in Rome attitude, I embrace the old west
and begin my journey. – What we call the Bonanza Years, the big Bonanza Years, 1859-1880, was the richest place on Earth. One of the most popular
names up here was Mark Twain. Now he wasn’t Mark Twain when he came here to Virginia City, he was Samuel Clemens, but he left here as Mark Twain. He was here in total about 28 months, and you can see a facsimile
of him right there, that’s a $10 word, he’s
not as good lookin’ as me, but still, well there’s a lot of people that think he got his name
down on the Mississippi River but it ain’t true. When he went into the
saloons, he’d be runnin’ a tab in there and he didn’t
want to drink alone, so he’d walk in and he’d say mark twain, mark two drinks on that
tab because he didn’t want to drink alone, always had a
partner, I understand that. So that’s how Mark Twain– – I didn’t know that. You do get this nostalgic feel here. – Well you do, it’s like
stepping back in time. If you wanted to step back in time, you could dress the part. – [Leslie] Okay. – [Deke] So go on in there, talk to Cindy, I’ll meet you down at the station. – [Leslie] Alrighty.
– [Deke] Alrighty. – Hi, Cindy! (saloon piano plays “O Susanna”) (train whistles) Hello, Deke. – [Deke] Howdy, Miss Leslie. – Howdy, how are you? What do you think? – You are just the prettiest
I’ve seen on this mountain. You’re a sight for sore
eyes, that’s for sure. – All right let’s go take a train ride. This train ride really
allows you to see the area. It’s hot and dry in the summer and very, very cold in the winter. The miners suffered these
horrible harsh conditions in hopes of riches. – [Deke] When the gold
was originally discovered and the miners started making their way up what’s called Gold Canyon,
and they established Gold Hill around 1859. The railroad was very,
very important and in 1869 was completed, before
that all of the materials and ore and all that
had to come up and down this mountain by horse and wagon. – Though it’s really quite comfortable, I’m changing out of my
slightly cumbersome long dress to visit the Chollar Mine. – [Deke] This opened up 1861. – [Leslie] So in this mine,
Deke, not this one alone but all around this area, how much money was pulled out of this room? – Well just in gold about 700 million, that’s when gold was only $18-20 an ounce. When the gold was originally discovered, there was a bluish gray clay that was getting in the way and they
just kept throwing it away. A big sample of that bluish gray clay was sent off to the assay office, come back almost pure silver. The amount of silver
taken out of the ground exceeded the amount of gold and that’s why Nevada called the Silver State today. – [Leslie] So they figured out how to build this up with timber? – Yeah, there were a lot
of deaths in these mines through the years, but
most of them were not ’cause of cave ins, it was because of fire and miners getting tangled
up in the machinery. Before electricity went in, and this was the first mine with
electricity, you would have candle holders and they
would light the candle. – [Leslie] Candle and wood, fire and wood. – What happened, you see there
is some water around here, well when you get down to a certain depth, then you’re gonna start
getting thermal water out of the ground here,
and that comes in hot, and it makes your air
temperature to be 140 degrees. – I mean, this was a
hard life, look at this. I mean, building these and
being in here all day long. – Absolutely, yeah well
at four dollars a day, they were the highest
paid miners in the world at that point, four dollars a day and at that time you could
live pretty darn well uptown. – Well how did they haul this stuff out? – So when the rocks come out of the mine, they were put into the ore cars and you would take the ore cars out and you would get them on
down to the stamp mill, and then the stamp mill
would make the big ones into little ones. – [Man] This is an 1864 Joshua Hendy California power panner
cast in San Francisco, brought up here in pieces,
put together, and put to work. – So that can still run? – Well what the hell are you here for? There we go. When the material comes in,
it drops into this crusher and then drops it into the
stamps on the other side. You can see those two cylinders. Those are the stamps. Each one of those weigh a thousand pounds. Breaks it down talcum powder fine. It comes out as a slurry. This is a concentrate table, or gold jig. The slurry comes across these ripples as this table shakes back and forth. Gold being heavier
gathered on the back side of those ripples, they’d
scrape that stuff out, pan it out, send it to the furnace, melt it down, put it in ingots, and send it out to be refined. This is just a little two stamp. Imagine 20 stamps on that back wall, gangs of five, side by side. That’s it.
– [Leslie] That’s fascinating. – That’s all you get, no more. – I don’t get any gold?
– No. You’re on your own. (train whistles) – [Leslie] So at its peak, how many people lived here in Virginia City? – [Deke] Well it fluctuated between 25 and 28 thousand people. There was only 4,500 miners. – So the rest of them were
servicing those miners? – That’s right, they were
catering to that whole lifestyle. Here we are in the Red Dog Saloon. This speaks about a whole
‘nother history and culture. 1960s and then early 1970s come along, psychedelic rock and roll, this is where a lot of it happened, right here. Big Brother and the
Holding Company played here when Janis Joplin was joining the group, played over against that wall right there. So it was just the
place to be if you were, you know, in the groove and on the move. – A little city with a big history. – Yeah, absolutely. Two completely different
histories, which is so exciting. – I see your gun on the table. Does that mean you’re leaving me? – I’m afraid it does. It ain’t easy being me. So I’m on my way down to get in a shootout and hopefully things’ll go my way. If meeting you was one of the last things that happened in my life,
that’s the way to go out. – My dear. – I just wanna give you a farewell. – I wish you well, I wish you well. – Try my best.
– All right. Try to stay alive. (bells ring) (Western music) (gunshots) (people clap) Deke’s demise was quite a blow. What’s a smitten gal like me to do? With Deke dead, my time
in Virginia City is over. You guys, to Deke! – To Deke!
– To Deke! – Next stop, just south
of here is a place where craft distilling meets craftsmanship. Driving south off the mountain we come to the small town of Minden, Nevada, the home of Bently Ranch
and Heritage Estate. Here, proprietor Christopher
Bently is focusing on sustainable techniques to grow grains for his unique spirits and to
raise his grass-fed cattle. I met up with him at his
impressive distillery housed in some of Minden’s
historic buildings. As a kid, you came here and played in these abandoned buildings, right? – Yeah this place was a death trap. I would climb on the rafters. – [Leslie] So was there always a desire to do something with this property? – [Christopher] Yeah,
I fell in love with it when I was a little boy and honestly, it’s an icon in the
valley, and the first well that was drilled for the town of Minden is on site over here, well number one, and all of our water
comes from the snow runoff from the Sierra mountains,
it’s very crystal clean. – [Leslie] And what
about the butter company? – [Christopher] Yes it
used to make butter, cream, and all kinds of dairy products. Today it holds our distillery. – [Leslie] Look at this. It looks like a piece of art. – So this is a Karl still. It came from Stuttgart, Germany. Right now we’re going through
final distillation for gin, so we place the botanicals
at the bottom of the pot, and we have a variety of gin. This is the American Dry is a shoutout to a classic London dry. Both our gin and our
vodka are made with oats, which gives you a very
smooth, rich, silky mouthfeel. And it’s not an easy grain to work with, so it took us a while to
figure out how to do that. We wanted to really get local
plants, local botanicals to capture those and we
made distillates of each one and we mixed them in the spirits and this just amazing
mad scientist routine. – So it goes from here, then up? – Yes it goes to, you
saw these plate lifts, there’s four different plate lifts and each one adds or removes a quality from whatever spirit
that you’re distilling. This still will produce about
1,000 cases of gin in one run. – [Leslie] The property is
spotted with vintage cars, tell me a little bit
of history of this one. – [Christoper] This one is from the White Motor Coach Company, built for the U.S. National
Parks System to lead tours, and it is precisely what we’re
going to be doing with it. – This originally was at the
Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. – [Christopher] Yes. – [Leslie] This is fantastic. The hand work on this
dashboard and the inside. I’ve never seen anything like it. This encapsulates his and his
wife Camille’s philosophy. – It does very much. You really can’t go
forward without knowing what came before you. One of the other things
we do is raise cattle. We have grass-fed beef, we
opened our own butcher shop so that we can really do high-end cuts and capture the high-end
restaurant market. We also have our meats locally available at the butcher shop for the community. – It was flour, it was butter, now it’s whiskey, vodka, beef. – We like to say everything
here was processing grain and we’re processing grain once more. Just in a little bit
more fun of a fashion. – Later I’ll get to indulge in Bently Heritage’s specialties, but first I’m headed west
just over the mountains to the ancient, breathtaking Lake Tahoe. Surrounded by majestic natural beauty, there’s just no better place to get away. And frankly, with the area’s good living, plenty choose to escape
here and end up staying. Just up the hill from the
lake is world-renowned Squaw Valley, site of
the 1960 Winter Olympics. The sporting spirit is contagious. And exhausting. I’m making my way to the
Village with its melange of shops, spas, and eateries
at the base of the mountain to meet an author and
historian whose knowledge of all things Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley is second to none. Hi, David. – [David] Hello, Leslie. – How are you? Such a pleasure. – Welcome to Squaw Valley. – Thank you so much. – [Announcer] Welcome
to Squaw Valley, U.S.A., site of the eighth Winter Olympic Games. – So the last time I was
here at Squaw, I was skiing, and now it’s sunny. – [David] Feels so different, doesn’t it? – [Leslie] It does. What kind of geology is this? – [David] This is granite. – [Leslie] This is granite. So you can start to see the lake, Lake Tahoe, behind us here. – Mark Twain wrote about it extensively and he marveled at Lake
Tahoe and it was the lake to which he compared all
others throughout his life. But no other lake in the
world ever measured up to Lake Tahoe. – According to Twain? – Yeah according to Twain, yeah. – All right, time to get off. So here we are at the Terrace Bar. Here we go, I think we need a drink. – Yes. – Cheers.
– Cheers. – And the views are
spectacular, look at this. – This area has been sculpted by glaciers within the last 10-20,000 years, and it gives the rocks this unique shape. – [Leslie] Really polished,
huge and polished. – To really get a good view of the lake, we need to go upstairs. – [Leslie] This is, this is stunning. – It truly is spectacular. What we’re looking at
here is the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra Nevada itself
is millions of years old. Rocks that are granite,
that’s been uplifted, and rocks that were laid
down by old sea beds and then uplifted. Lake Tahoe itself started
three to three and a half million years ago with the mountains on either side continuing to rise while the bottom of the lake fell down, creating the depression that filled with snow melt and water. – [Leslie] And how deep is Lake Tahoe? – At its maximum depth,
it is 1,645 feet deep, which makes it the second deepest lake in the United States and the
11th deepest lake in the world. The surface, you can
fit four San Franciscos on the surface of Lake
Tahoe, that’s how big it is. – [Leslie] Because San Francisco is seven miles by seven miles, right? – [David] Yeah, yeah. – [Leslie] Yeah I’ve been coming
up to Tahoe for many years and just the crystal clear
waters of Lake Tahoe, when you think of how deep it is. – [David] Yes it is one of the
clearest lakes in the world. At times, you can see a white disc lowered down into the water
to a depth of over 70 feet. And of course, when you’re near the shore, you can see the bottom very clearly and all the pebbles and rocks. – Well I tell you, we’re getting the wind, and at altitude like this, 8,200 feet, one beer is about good, right? – Yes. – Lot of water, hydration, and one beer. Cheers.
– Cheers. – Here at High Camp, there’s plenty to do in spring, summer, fall, and winter. And at the Granite Bistro
Cafe, they serve up hearty meals perfect after
a hike or day skiing. Wild salmon, tater tots with pulled pork, fresh salads, and regional cheeses. In terms of the Olympics,
that’s what Squaw Valley is so famous for. – People look back on those Olympics with great fondness and
said it was the last of the great Winter
Olympics because it was so small and intimate and
not heavily commercialized and because there was heavy involvement by a famous person we
all know, Walt Disney, who helped plan a lot of
the elaborate pageantry associated with the Olympics and it became popular and common then, from then on, for all Olympic Winter Games to have this elaborate pageantry associated with the opening and closing ceremonies. (triumphant music) – [Leslie] So this is the museum? – Yes this is one of three
locations in the area where Olympic artifacts and
memorabilia is on display. – The gold! – This is the Olympic Park, it
shows the competition venues, it also shows the Avenue of the Athletes where you would walk in
and there was very large sculptures that were made
by Walt Disney’s people. United States won the gold
medal for hockey in 1960 and that was the first gold medal, it was not 1980 as most people think. – Oh, the miracle on ice, right. – This is called the forgotten miracle. – [Leslie] And you wrote a
book on the 1960 Olympics? – [David] Yes. – How did tiny Squaw Valley
get the Olympic Games in 1960? – So, a really good story. Alex Cushing read in the
Chronicle that Reno, Nevada was gonna submit a bid
for the 1960 Olympics and he though well heck,
I can do better than that, and through lobbying,
publicity, and other techniques, he was able to secure the Olympics, much to everybody’s surprise. – [Leslie] Now we see a
lot of snow here right now, but we are in sunny California, right? – Yeah that was one thing
Alex Cushing had to overcome, because people would not believe that it snowed in California. He wowed them by telling them that Squaw Valley got 400 inches a year. – [Leslie] Well now
that I’m fully educated in the history of the area,
I’m heading back to Tahoe City to satisfy my longing
for that Minden booze and grass-fed beef. And across from the lake,
Fat Cat is just the spot. So tell me a little bit about Fat Cat. – Everything on our menu is local, we make everything in house, we’re close to San Francisco, and there’s a huge trend of knowing farm to fork
and the philosophies behind that, and I think
in these day and age, everybody wants to know
where their food comes from. – [Leslie] And their drinks. – [Clint] And their drinks. Our Source One vodka martini
is absolutely fantastic, can I get you one? – [Leslie] I would love that. – [Clint] Okay. – All right.
– Cheers. – That is good. – Isn’t that fresh? Delicious. – That is so pristine. Cocktails aside, I’m
really here for the meat. I’m a Midwestern girl at heart, beef, oh, look at this chef. – This is our lamb burger, and this is our mac and cheese burger. – That is decadent. Whose idea was this? – This was mine. – Is there bacon in the mac and cheese? – Yes, there’s applewood bacon, there’s fresh mushrooms, and
then over the Bently Ranch beef it’s just fantastic. – That is hedonism at its best. I mean, it’s dripping on my hand. So you’re sign out front
says 100% grass-fed beef. – That’s true. – Why did you make that choice? – It’s a four cycle process with all beef, and what Bently does
is compost, the compost turns into alfalfa, and then
the cows eat the alfalfa, and everything is all recycled the way we’re supposed to eat food. So the whole process of getting everything served locally to how we prepare it to the fresh ketchup, it’s
all what makes us a hit. – That’s a lamb burger. You know lamb, it can be
very gamey and earthy, this has a peppery kick to it and a touch of earthy gaminess
that melds so beautifully with the spicy kick of the pepper sauce and the gooey cheese. That’s a good burger too. – We call that a layered burger. – These are not easy burgers to eat, I just want to point out,
plan on making a mess. – That’s your ultimate experience. – And then if it spills all over you, you just lick it off. – You lick it off, that’s right. – The way you do it in Chicago. – You get every bite you can, you know? – I have been coming to the
Sierra Nevadas for decades, and not only is history preserved but nature is revered here. What’s exciting to me
though is this renaissance of eating and drinking
locally and how it’s all, and regionally, and how
it’s all intertwined. I have to say, I have learned a lot. Here’s to deliciousness. 100 Days Drinks Dishes and
Destinations is brought to you by – [Narrator] With Ama
Waterways, guests can climb, pedal, and journey beyond the beaten path while cruising on storied
rivers across Europe. You can find out more at – When I picture my dad
Josh, I remember his hands. Strong, they were worn and stained. That was years of hard
work as a lumberjack. His commitment, work ethic, values, that’s what really inspired
me to create Josh Cellars. – [Announcer] Otherworldly
and down to earth. Visit Napa Valley. – [Leslie] For more
information on all episodes, along with our expanded digital series including behind the
scenes footage and stories and links to follow me on
Facebook and Instagram, go to – Well actually it’s fairly original, just kept in really good condition. – Oh look at this. How do you get in here? – Actually I think I
opened the wrong door. – [Clint] Is that, is that nice? Delicious. (fanfare)

2 thoughts on “Reno & Tahoe Food Tour | 100 Days: Drinks, Dishes & Destinations | KQED

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *