Where People Come Together to Solve Problems
Tehama Together's Autumnal Dinner A Success
As the heavy sun set to the level of the table-top mason jars, rays of autumn light and laughter filled the air. Olive branches and pomegranates, walnuts and hand-polished persimmons trailed down centers of the long tables, with spires of fall flowers punctuating the procession. As if gift wrapped in napkin and twine, freshly baked demi baguettes waited patiently at each place setting for their pumpkin soup and olive oil accompaniments.
Inside the Lucero Olive Oil tasting room, guests were greeted with platters of seasonal hors d'oeuvres, New Clairvaux wines, and flights of Lucero’s own vinegars and oils. From the courtyard, the swinging tunes of Mumblefinger enticed the gathering to move outdoors, where the weather could not have been better in the warm October evening. As appetites and sparkling Edison lights invited all to the table, guests found themselves shoulder to shoulder with familiar faces and new acquaintances, anticipating another extraordinary Tehama Together Field to Fork, food experience.
And an experience it was. Not only was the ambience intentionally curated and the food perfectly prepared, but every course of the meal was accompanied by narratives which breathed life into each progression and caused one to feel that they were part of something truly special. Orle Jackson, the founder of the non-profit Tehama Together, opened the night welcoming all as friends and giving the history behind Field to Fork Tehama dinners, of which this was the third. Gratitude was expressed to supporters and vital members of the organization, and future plans for more farm-centered dinners were shared.
As the fresh autumn salad followed the roasted pumpkin soup, Lucero general manager, Liz Tagami, depicted the intricacies of producing olive oils of the Lucero caliber. Diners not only enjoyed the bright vinaigrette on their salads, but learned of the farmers, orchards, and precise husbandry behind the concoction on their plates.
The gathering was a hush while main course boasted of soul-warming roasted pork shanks, served with roasted butternut squash over creamy polenta. And amidst a decadent dessert of warm malva pudding, the patrons were treated to a smiling visit from the chef - Michelle Cave of Red Bicycle Catering - where she was applauded for the outstanding farm-fresh offerings of the night, and for the joy she brought to the table.
Serving around eighty people, Chef Michelle carefully sourced ingredients for the feast from local farms including Bianchi Orchards, Duivenvoorden Farms, Hooker Creek Farm, Lucero Olive Oil, New Clairvaux Winery, Inwood Community Farm, Farmelot, Rancho Llano Seco, Brush Arbor Farmstead, and Orland Farmstead Creamery.
While a handful of farmers volunteered at the dinner, those unable to be physically present attended in spirit as they looked on from their photographs surrounding the gathering at Lucero. These photos of “Farmers in the Field” were part of yet another project that kept the purposeful people of Tehama Together especially busy in October. This collaboration paired Tehama County farmers with local photographers who volunteered their time to capture the essence of each of 12 individual farms. The pictures were on display at the Saturday Market by the River in Red Bluff, among other venues, helping to further one of Tehama Together’s missions to build community by uniting local farmers with consumers.
Hats off to the pioneers behind Tehama Together, including Orle Jackson, Erin Bianchi, Natalie Peterson, Tiffany Gonsauls and the rest of the organization, for their commitment to the vitality of our community; helping to form crucial bonds between local farms and local folks. If the parting praises from the guests were any indication, this autumnal celebration was a delectable success; and next year’s dinners will be much anticipated. Via the gracious efforts and homegrown hospitality of Tehama Together, the hard work of family farms not only met plates and forks of diners, but minds and hearts of friends. For information about upcoming dinners contact Tehama Together at 530-527-2223.
Amanda Bork is a veterinarian and together with Tim is owner of Brush Arbor Farmstead in Cottonwood offering oak forest raised broiler chicken, pastured raised rabbit, turkeys, lamb, pork and eggs.