California Walnut Harvest, Sacramento 2010

by Robyn on October 21, 2010

A mosaic of picture featuring the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento. The Law library, a political cartoon, the capitol building and the entrance to the hotel.

The Citizen Hotel

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.

Pictures of the walnut pesto demonstration with Mollie katzen and david touhy

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.

A mosaic of walnuts, just harvest, a salad with walnuts and pomegranates, pork tenderloain with walnuts and greens, and a cranberry walnut tart.

Dinner, California Walnut Harvest 2010

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.


Barbara Bakes November 1, 2010 at 2:47 am

So fun to read about this. I received an invitation as well, but since it was a week after BlogHer I just didn’t feel like I could go. Sounds like they treated/fed you well.

Robyn October 21, 2010 at 10:42 am

Oh Barb, this just scratches the surface. We had a delightful time learning, watching, talking and eating! It was great fun.

Barbara | VinoLuciStyle October 21, 2010 at 10:38 am

Nice to get some history; one of those things I’ve never considered. My apologies to the walnut!

The dinner looks amazing; thanks for sharing with us.

Robyn October 21, 2010 at 10:37 am

Thank you Paula! Yes, I have recipes! I will sharing them in an upcoming post. There are so many great ways to use walnuts in cooking. And, yes, isn’t it great there are enough walnuts for all!

Paula October 21, 2010 at 9:27 am

Chef Touhy’s dinner looks *to die for*. Wondering and hoping if you were given any of the recipes. Is that a walnut torte on the bottom left of your collage? Everything looks amazing.

Yet again, I never knew that walnuts at one time were reserved for royalty and the elite in society. Good thing now that there are enough harvested each year for everyone to enjoy!

Thanks for another wonderful post.

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