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Once upon a time, Joe and Gavin Maloof were kings among men in this town. But the fun-loving brothers went from Maloof to Magoof when they tried earlier this year to take our once-beloved basketball team down south to Anaheim. Who would have guessed that the best Maloof of all would be a tiny, blond-tressed, stiletto-heeled Beverly Hills Housewife? On her Bravo TV show, ADRIENNE MALOOF charms us with her no-nonsense, anti-mean-girl approach to life in the 90210. In Season 1, she brought her fellow housewives to town (via private plane, natch), where she treated the ladies to a meal at Grange. Afterward, they all trooped out to Power Balance Pavillion to shoot hoops, then catch a Kings game from courtside seats. Adrienne may have a private chef, a plastic surgeon husband and gazillions in the bank, but this is one down-to-earth gal. Mwah!
Best Debut Novelist
When a Sacramento-based author gets a first novel published, it’s cause for celebration. When that same author makes The New York Times best-seller list within two weeks of publication, it’s reason to have a parade. Such is the case with VANESSA DIFFENBAUGH, author of The Language of Flowers, a tale of a young woman named Victoria who ages out of foster care and has nowhere to go. Through her knowledge of floriography, the 19th century study of flower symbolism and meanings, Victoria finds love, forges a career and heals her past. Diffenbaugh, a longtime foster parent, used funds from her book deal to form Camellia Network, a nonprofit organization aimed at helping young adults transition out of foster care. Now living in Massachusetts with her family, she returned to Sacramento in late August to launch the nonprofit with a fundraiser, as well as promote the novel, which was written in midtown cafes and analyzed in local writing groups. Diffenbaugh is still beloved in Sacramento, if the rousing applause she received at her Tsakopoulos Library Galleria reading and book signing is any indication. “It’s exciting to be here, where I’m surrounded by people I love,” she said.
Best Local Maestro
MICHAEL NEUMANN knows how to make beautiful music. For 33 seasons, he’s taken bows as artistic director and conductor of the Sacramento Youth Symphony, leading the group in performances throughout the world. In 2004, he opened the Folsom Symphony’s first season as music director and conductor. Today, he juggles both symphonies with aplomb. According to Folsom Symphony board president Bruce Woodbury, the maestro brings exceptional talent to Folsom. “His vast network of connections and his overall expertise in music bring so much to our stage,” says Woodbury. “His reputation and style bring high-caliber musicians to the area. Performers love to work with him.”
Best Local Leap to Hollywood
ANALEIGH TIPTON, former El Dorado Hills resident and St. Francis High School graduate, is redefining “triple threat”: A championship ice skater as a tween, she went on to be a finalist on “America’s Next Top Model” in 2008, then moved into acting. In 2011, she had roles in The Green Hornet and Crazy, Stupid, Love, working alongside box-office powerhouses Seth Rogen and Steve Carell, respectively. Her performance in Crazy, Stupid, Love as a teenage baby sitter with a crush on her employer garnered her an appearance on New York Times’ film critic Karen Durbin’s “Faces to Watch” list. It also landed her a starring role in Samaritan, scheduled for release in 2012. Last month, Season 3 of HBO’s comedy series “Hung” featured Tipton as a schizophrenic pimp, and she can be seen in the comedy Damsels in Distress alongside fellow Sacramentan Greta Gerwig.
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FOOD + DRINK
Best Gourmet Doughnuts
You can find all sorts of artisanal products these days: bread, cheese, beer, even popsicles. The latest foodstuff to get the artisan treatment? Doughnuts. This summer, Sacramento’s first gourmet doughnut shop, DOUGHBOT, opened in Southside Park, serving made-from-scratch doughnuts in such cutting-edge flavors as dulce de leche, chai tea, and peanut butter and jelly. Owners Bryan Widener and Dannah O’Donnell got the idea for the shop after trying a bacon maple bar at Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnut. Doughbot serves its own version of that inspired confection, along with a rotating menu of flavors. Our favorite? The Dude: a White Russian-flavored doughnut filled with Kahlúa-vodka custard. 2226 10th St., Sacramento; (916) 444-5157; doughbotdonuts.com
Best New Bakery
Divine smells waft out of SUGAR AND SPICE, a bakery that opened in early 2011 on a slightly dodgy stretch of 12th Street. Owner Carissa Jones concocts imaginative pastries such as spicy chili chocolate cupcakes, s’mores Pop-Tarts and an upscale version of the Hostess Snowball. She likes to mix things up, creating bread pudding squares in interesting flavor combos such as blueberry/white chocolate and hazelnut/dark chocolate. “It changes on my whim,” says pastry chef Jones, who worked in the kitchens of Slocum House and Mason’s. 1201 F St., Sacramento; (916) 952-5253; sugarandspice.me
Best Use of Social Media
Local chef Jason Azevedo loves two things: pork and people. He recently figured out how to combine the two through his popular Meatups. Held once a month at a local cafe or restaurant, the MEATUPS are a chance for local foodies to mix and mingle while picking up orders of artisanal sausage, bacon, hot dogs and other porky products. Using hogs sourced from local ranchers, Azevedo makes everything himself, including Louisiana-style hot links, Italian sausage, kielbasa and a fiendishly rich condiment called bacon marmalade (caramelized onions, bacon bits, rendered bacon fat and thyme). Azevedo uses Facebook and e-mail to take orders and announce Meatups. To get on his invite list, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or look for Jason Azevedo on Facebook.
Best Food Movement
History will record 2011 as the year GOURMET FOOD TRUCKS finally arrived in Sacramento. Long a mainstay of the food scenes in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, food trucks got their toehold here in February when Mini Burger Truck hit the streets, tweeting its location as it moved around town. Soon, other trucks started appearing: Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen, Mama Kim on the Go, Wicked ’Wich. In April, 9,000 people jammed into Fremont Park for SactoMoFo, the city’s first mobile food fest. Now, as the City Council is rethinking its anti-truck ordinances, a gathering of food trucks is held every Thursday evening at different spots around the region. Local food blogger Catherine Enfield, one of SactoMoFo’s organizers, says it’s only a matter of time before Sacramento is as food-truck-friendly as L.A.: “We’ve shown that if you tweet it, they will come.”
Best New Bottle Shop
Newsflash: Beer is the new wine. Looking to capitalize on beer’s newfound status as an artisanal product, Rob Archie recently opened PANGAEA BOTTLE SHOP next door to his Pangaea Two Brews Cafe in Curtis Park. He scours the world for interesting craft beers and rare and unusual brews, posting on Facebook when he gets in a shipment. Depending on the day, you might find Fantôme Saison (a Belgian-style farmhouse ale), Pliny the Elder (a cult favorite) or Samuel Adams Utopias, which retails for—gulp—$200 a bottle. Knowledgeable staffers can steer you to an interesting bottle you’ve never tried—Champagne-style beer, perhaps. While you’re there, why not pick up some cheese, crackers and charcuterie and have yourself a beer bash? 2743 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 454-4942; pangaeatwobrews.com
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