This Saturday and Sunday, the farmers of Sonoma County are gussying up their barns and the fields, putting out the welcome mat for locavores during the annual Weekend Along the Farm Trails event.
One of my favorite farms to visit is Gabriel Farm in Sebastopol, run by a young couple who have devoted themselves to growing heirloom fruit, including many varieties of heirloom apples. Their Asian pears, in particular, are works of art. They grow eight varieties, including Shinko, 20th Century, Hosui and the prized Ya Li Pear, known as the “femme fatale of Asian pears.” They also use the Asian pears in a delicious apple juice and a couple of yummy jams.
The open farm event runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and costs just $25 per carload of people. To reserve, go to farmtrails.org. You can pick up a copy of the 2010-2011 Sonoma County Farm Trails Map & Guide at many visitor’s centers and farms in Sonoma County.
Here’s a recipe from Tim Vallery of Peloton Catering in Healdsburg for a chutney to serve with grilled pork and chicken.
Gabriel Farm Asian Pear Chutney
Makes 1 quart
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup yellow onion, small dice
Pinch crushed red pepper
2 cups Gabriel Farm Asian pear, peeled, cored and diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup Sonoma County wildflower honey
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup thyme, finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sweat the onions, garlic and crushed red pepper in the olive oil on medium to low heat until the onions become translucent. Add the pears, cinnamon, sugar, salt, pepper, honey and cider vinegar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce by a third (this should take about 15 minutes.) Remove the mixture from the heat and add the thyme and parsley. Cool to room temperature and reserve. This chutney will hold in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.