I received an invite from the California Walnut Association to attend the celebration they were holding in Sacramento, CA October 14 and 15th, Silly me, but my first response to them was I’d have to check to see if I could be in the area in October. They responded that they were picking up the tab and I would hear shortly about travel plans. This being a farm tour I said, “Yes!” Most farm tours I’ve been on have been local, so I drive to the farm and let the fun begin.
The Walnut Association did not disappoint. I flew into San Francisco, CA and then waiting for more of our group to fly in also. We would then board a bus to Sacramento. It was great having an hour or so to get to know some of the rest of the people invited. Three were from the east coast, one from Seattle and then me from SoCal. Little did I know that there was another SoCal blogger on her way, but that’s for later in the evening for me to discover.
Our evening began with the introduction to the California Walnut Commission. We would be having dinner, however we’d begin after a bit of mingling with a hands on cooking demonstration by Mollie Katzen, renowned chef and author of several cookbooks including The Moosewood Cookbook. She would be joined by Chef David Touhy, chef of Grange, the hotel’s restaurant. In a short time the room was filled with lover’s of Walnut pesto! It was quick, simple and flavorful! The addition of sage made this a must have for fall and our Thanksgiving table.
From there we proceeded to dinner. It is believed that walnuts were first cultivated in Persia. At that time they were such a valuable commodity only royalty and members of high society were allowed to consume them. To say our dinner was for royalty would be an understatement. Chef David Touhy, and his staff, prepared a meal using walnuts in every course. Each dish thoughtfully incorporated walnuts to celebrate the harvest yet, not tire of us of the nutty flavor of the walnuts. He outdid himself.
Prior to dinner we heard from Dr. Brian Wansink about his thoughts on ‘Mindless Eating’. He’s a very entertaining speaker, I must say he reminded me of a comedian who’s name escapes me. However, his thoughts and ideas on how we eat are intriguing. We were also given a copy of his new book on the same subject. After our meal we heard from Mollie Katzen, David Wansink and Petra Kolberg about celebrating “health nuts” in a good way. The Walnut Association will be announcing a new “health nut” program soon. Petra would be joining those of us who wished to participate on a walk and yoga session in the morning.
I also had the opportunity to dine with the Mariani family. They are one of the walnut growers I will introduce you to in the coming posts.