Welcome to a new gastronomic year in Yolo County California. Our food culture is rooted in its proximity to year-round productive fields and pastures, orchards and vineyards. Some of our traditions are based on those found in places left behind by men and women who came to farm, work in the fields and processing plants, or study at UC Davis. The food is healthy, sustainable fare and is helping revitalize communities. Here’s how we celebrate throughout the year.
January is cold in the Sacramento Valley. Time to visit Manas Ranch Custom Meat Market, 26797 State Highway 16, three miles west of Highway 505. Pick up some of the chorizo — Fred’s grandmother’s recipe, or some Manas beef for a hearty winter meal. Check out Berryessa Gap Wineries seasonal food celebrations in Winters, including their sometimes January Big Pots, Big Reds commemorating the Feast of Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron Saint of Winemakers and Wine Grape Growers.
February is the Port, Wine, and Chocolate Lover’s Weekend Feb. 8-9, at the Old Sugar Mill Winery, 35265 Willow Ave, Clarksburg. The 26th Annual Duck Days, Northern California’s wetlands and wildlife festival, is Saturday, February 22. Food is available, but this is about the wildlife.
The Capay Valley Almond Festival is Sunday, Feb. 23, at Esparto Community Park, sponsored by the Esparto Chamber of Commerce. Drive through the beautiful Capay Valley and enjoy the fairy pink blossoms. The Guinda Grange Hall has food and local honey. According to Yolo County’s Agricultural Crop Report 2018, almonds remain in the number one spot with a gross value of $112,980,000, followed by Processing Tomatoes with a gross value of $100,944,000. Look carefully in the fields in February; you’ll see green fuzz – processing tomato starts.
March may be bud break in the vineyards, but thoughts turn to beer for some. Yolo County California has brewpubs from West Sacramento’s Jackrabbit Brewing Company to Winters’ Berryessa Gap Brewery to Woodland’s Blue Note Brewing Company to Davis’ Sudwerk Brewing Company. For a list, go to https://visityolo.com/.
Woodland’s Father Paddy’s annual St. Patrick’s Day traditional Irish meal with corned beef and cabbage is March 17.
April brings a pop-up dinner at Woodland’s Savory Café April 2, with Chef Toby Barajas, based on recipes from my “Davis Farmers Market Cookbook” (www.savorycafeonmain.com). April 18 is Picnic Day at UC Davis. The Lutheran Church at 8th and B Streets serves up a picnic of grilled chicken and ribs, beans, slaw and homemade pie for lunch and dinner. UC Yolo County Master Gardeners hold their annual tomato sales the first two Saturdays in April at the Community College in Woodland (see www.yolomgucanr.edu for dates). They feature heirloom tomatoes that grow well here and have been taste tested. April 1 marks the start of Picnic at the Park at the Davis Farmers Market.
May is time to gather Elderflowers along a rural road or a creek bank to make Elderflower Syrup – which goes in sparkling water or sparkling wine to create Yolo County’s signature drink. For my recipe, go to www.annmevans.com. May 2 is the California Honey Festival in historic downtown Woodland.
May 14 is the Spring StrEatery – a round up of music and street food with food trucks produced by Land & Ladle outside of the Davis Food Co-op. L&L are also managing the programing for the educational pavilion in the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame for the Cali Rice Fest May 29-31 in downtown Davis (www.caliricefest.com). This first-time festival offers performance, learning, tastings and excursions.
June features the Winters Farm-to-School fundraising lunch at Historic Wolfskill Ranch June 20. Dine at one long table under the historic olive trees for a multi-course, family-style meal. (www.wintersfarmtoschool.com/events). Matchbook Winery, outside of Zamora, off Interstate 5 or 505 at 12300 County Road 92B, has a wine tasting room and great views of the undulating Dunnigan Hills. Bring your own picnic basket. The grapevines should be leafed out by then. In the autumn, the leaves will be gold.
July boasts fireworks on July 4: Davis Community Park; Drake’s: The Barn at 985 Riverfront St. in West Sacramento; Winters High School; and Woodland High School. Several celebrations have old-fashioned pancake breakfasts. July is a good time for a picnic along the banks of Putah Creek at Winters or the Riparian Reserve at UC Davis, or a canoe ride and picnic at Lake Solano, where you can use one of the park’s grills.
The 13th Annual Capay Tomato Festival July 25 at Farm Fresh to You Farm at Capay Organic, 23800 State Highway 16, Capay, celebrates heirloom tomatoes and is home to the nation’s first heirloom tomato tasting.
August is the Woodland Yolo County Fair. Two food musts at the fair – Holy Rosary Taco Stand, Opening Night Gala, featuring local food and wine. Many of us are busy this month home tomato canning, blackberry gathering and backyard barbequing. Wednesday night is Picnic in the Park at the Davis Farmers Market, with food and live music.
Explore Woodland Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Clarksburg is a fun trip – visit Bogle Vineyards, feel some Delta breeze, and have a picnic and a glass of wine. Wine grapes are the third largest of the top 20 commodity crops grown in Yolo County California.
September is farm-to-fork month. Yolo County California has pop-up meals every weekend: Davis’ Village Feast sponsored by Davis Farm-to-School and Les Dames D’Escoffier, Sacramento — Saturday, Sept. 12, possibly the State’s only outdoor Grande Aioli in the best of the southern French tradition — with 300 people at one long table (www.davisfarmtoschool.org); Yolo Land Trust’s A Day in the Country, Sept. 13, features tastes from San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento region’s top restaurants; Woodland’s Dinner on Main, Sunday, Sept. 20 (www.woodlandsdinneronmain.org) with 700 people at one table down Main Street with the best of the city’s fine chefs and wait staff; and, Winter’s Carnitas Festival at Winters Rotary Park, which was the fourth Saturday in September last year. Check www.cityofwinters.org/carnitas-festival/).
October hosts Oktoberfests, including a first Saturday kick-off in West Sacramento at RoCo Wine and Beer and one hosted by Davis Sunrise Rotary, a night of beer, sausage and traditional music. Turkovich Family Wines has a Fall Harvest Festival in Winters. Celebrate rural life at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival in Capay Valley, Oct. 13, at Full Belly Farm with food, music, games and dancing. First Sundays of the month, year-round, are time for Food Truck Mania in downtown Woodland.
November is Berryessa Gap Winery’s annual Paella Cook Off at their Winters winery location (www.berryessagap.com). Thanksgiving reminds us of all we are thankful for. The Yolo County Food Bank and similar organizations could use some love any time of year. They feed the one in four people in our county who are food insecure. The Pre-Thanksgiving Davis Farmers Market on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a big one for locavores.
December is olio nuovo time, first pressed extra virgin olive oil, in Yolo County’s olive oil mills: Bondolio (preorder, they sell out fast), Yolo Press, and Seka Hills, to name a few. For a list, go to www.visityolo.com . Olives are Yolo County’s 15th largest crop in terms of farm gate receipts (2018). The Davis Food Co-op, in the spirit of the season, offers its 34th Annual Holiday Meal, free to all, Dec. 24, at the Veterans Memorial Building.
From charming B&Bs and Inns to larger hotels and smaller motels, there’s no shortage of places to lay your head for a relaxing getaway in Yolo County. In fact, there’s over 25 ways to R&R so you’re well rested and ready to discover all we have to offer. Visit our hotel page to explore our wide range of lodging properties.
— Article written by Ann Evans and originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise. Ann M. Evans is the author of the award-winning Davis Farmers Market Cookbook, which provides seasonal recipes for every level cook, available at local stores, the market and online. She lives in Davis with her husband, bees and chickens amidst an edible garden. Visit her website at www.annmevans.com or contact her at email@example.com.
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