Monday, September 28, 2015

The Pear Bridge Dinner Celebrates Farm-to-Fork

While all the hoopla was going on with the Tower Bridge Dinner downtown, I had a lovely evening on a picturesque bridge on the Delta. The Pear Bridge Dinner was put on by the California Pear Advisory Board on a small wooden bridge in Walnut Grove. 

The bridge used was one built in 1951 to connect to Dead Horse Island. The local farmers used to take their old, worn out workhorses to the island to live out their final days free and easy. 

Before I show pictures, I had some thoughts about this dinner and the month long farm to fork celebration. It occurred to me, as I sat among the local delta farmers and pear growers, that there needed to be more bridge dinners like this. 

The Tower Bridge Dinner has become such a show piece with tables gobbled up by sponsors and VIPs and only a handful available to the public, only to be bought up in mere seconds. Here I was for an intimate dinner with farmers and I thought, what if each county or farm community put on its own bridge dinner? That way the people who really should be celebrating, the farmers, could enjoy this sort of harvest celebration together. It would also make more tickets available to pubic in different areas.  Have one in El Dorado County, Placer County, one on the historic covered bridge in Nevada County, with the almond growers down in Ripon and one with the rice farmers in Woodland. What if, on the same night as the Tower Bridge Dinner, there were a dozen other bridge dinners throughout the region? 

I think such an idea would better embrace the farm-to-fork spirit and give more people the opportunity to participate. There are smaller farms that can't afford to be a part of the Farm to Fork Festival or donate money or product to some of the large events. But if there was a dinner in their own community shared with their neighbor farmers on a smaller scale, it would be easier for them to participate.

On to the dinner...

The dinner was cooked by Giusti's restaurant on the river. I've never been to it, but it's a local landmark, having been there for 100 years. My tablemates told me that they only accept cash and like so many other small, farm town communities, they and other local businesses still work on credit.  Not credit cards, but actually just on your tab.  Apparently they often barrel roast, or smoke, their meats and for this dinner they barrel roasted pork for hours. Oh, and there were pears, lots of pears.

We arrived to find the picturesque bridge. There was wine and pear martinis. I was thrilled because they had craft River City Sodas as well. So often I'm only left with the choice of water. Our appetizers were pear and gorgonzola pizzas from Hot Italian.

Pear and endive salad with blue cheese and walnuts.

Barrel smoked pork rib roast with caramelized pears. We also had Dixon grown corn.

Pear and cheese plate with almonds and chocolate crumbs. 

Wine was provided by Bogle Vineyards

Thanks to their California Pear Advisory Board for their kind invitation to participate.

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