Chico, Calif., is northeast of San Francisco and home to Sierra Nevada Brewery. It's a college town with the mountains in the distance.
I met my friends Bill and Nina at the brewery, which was so much larger than I expected — a city block or two. It contains a restaurant, the brewery with three parts, a parking garage, even its own little electric plant powered by the methane from the brewing process. The roof is coated with solar panels, too — so very Earth-friendly and Californian.
After a delicious draft by the bar, we headed to dinner at Madison Bear Garden.
It's a funky bar with an unusual selection of burgers. Nina and Bill recommended the Jiffy Burger ($7.99 with curly fries). I have no photo — it looks like any old burger on a bun — but just imagine: a burger with peanut butter, bacon and jack cheese. Seriously.
And it was quite yummy. I'm not sure I'll be slathering peanut butter on my next burger at home, but I'd order another one of these in a heartbeat. The peanut butter adds a lusciousness to the burger that's so good, and it counters the saltiness of the bacon so well.
We also tried the Buffalo Chips. What? Sorry, no amount of guessing will help here. These were homemade chips — thick and crispy — topped with balsamic vinegar and blue cheese. Mmmm! Everything is better with blue cheese.
Afterward, we skipped over to Shubert's Ice Cream. I'm a sampling nut, so I tried the toasted almond (super sweet and exquisite) and the chico mint, which was like mint ice cream inside-out — chocolate ice cream with mint chips. It tasted just like a creamy Thin Mint. Fantastic.