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What: Kendall-Jackson’s new Harvest Celebration offers an afternoon of food, wine and farming in the garden. Five farm-to-table chefs from across country will serving signature dishes at booths set up in the garden, Other chefs and producers serving tastes include Mark Stark of Stark Reality REstaurants, Douglas Keane of Two Birds One Stone, Josh Silvers of Jackson’s, Daniel Kedanof Backyard and Ken Tominaga of Hana; Hog Island Oysters, Tsar Nicoulai Caviar and La Quercia Prosciutto; Nicasio Valley, Point Reyes Farmstead and Chevoo cheese producers; Volo Chocolate and Fiorello’s Ice Cream. There will be gardening, cheese and wine classes inside the winery.

This new event replaces the Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival, which has been running for 20 years. A smaller crowd is expected — up to 1,000 guests vs. 2,400 — and the event aims to celebrate the bigger world of farming, food and wine.

“We wanted to mix it up and make it a little nicer,” said Executive Chef Justin Wangler. “Instead of being on the grass lawn, we decided to take the festival into the garden, under the trees, with bands playing music.”

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1.

Where: Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, 5007 Fulton Rd.

Tickets: $125, to benefit the UC Master Gardener program of Sonoma County. The Master Gardeners will give demos and tours of the K-J garden.

Reserve: kj.com/events/harvest-celebration

The long, warm days of summer are now in the rear-view mirror, but for serious foodies in Sonoma County, that means the best is yet to come.

Welcome to the shoulder season of early fall, when the long, growing season of the temperate North Coast provides the best of both worlds: the juicy, sweet corn and tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers of summer, overlappingy with the warm, earthy butternut squash and sweet potatoes, mushrooms and root vegetables of fall.

“The fun thing about harvest in Sonoma County is that it’s almost like we have an extra season,” said Justin Wangler, executive chef at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens in Santa Rosa. “The tomatoes are going crazy, but we already have squash and pumpkins coming in ... right now it’s my favorite time to cook, because you have so many ingredients.”

There are plenty of iconic harvest parties that you can attend, including Kendall-Jackson’s brand new Harvest Celebration this Sunday set inside the pristine garden at the winery and the long-running Sonoma County Harvest Fair on Oct. 6-8 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Or you could simply use some of these wine-and-food celebrations as the inspiration to throw a harvest hoedown in your own back yard.

We asked chefs from both of these celebrations to provide insider tips on creating a casual food-and-wine bash that helps hosts with the heavy lifting while providing a delicious feast for guests.

Here are the top 10 tips from the folks participating in the Kendall-Jackson Harvest Celebration (formerly the Heirloom Tomato Festival) as well as a few of the chefs competing and judging the Sonoma County Harvest Fair’s Professional Food Competition. (for more information on the K-J event and the winners of the food competition, see related stories inside)

1. If you want to highlight the shoulder season, Wangler suggests assigning half of your guests to bring dishes made with summer vegetables, like corn and tomatoes, and the other half to bring dishes crafted out of fall vegetables, such as pumpkins and mushrooms. That way there will be plenty of variety on the table.

2. Of course, some overachieving guests may want to combine both seasons. For K-J’s Harvest Celebration, chef Daniel Kedan of Backyard in Forestville will serve up some fried green tomatoes with mushrooms. “That’s summer and fall in one plate,” Wangler said. That’s OK too, and you could even make it a contest. Who can come up with the best shoulder season dish, embodying the best of both worlds?

3. Make sure you have some hearty meats to go along with all those yummy vegetables. For the K-J Harvest Celebration, Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants will be grilling up some juicy rib eye steaks, and Chef Douglas Keane of Two Birds One Stone in St. Helena will be serving his Hoisin Glazed Pork Ribs. Flat iron, flank steak or tri-tip would also work well.

4. If veggies and seafood appeal more to the crowd, you could concoct a big seafood, sausage and chicken paella on the grill, which is easy to make, wine-friendly and can feed a hungry crowd. K-J’s Harvest Celebration will feature the paella from Yay! Paella of Santa Rosa run by Stan Halverson.

5. Make sure you’ve got some tasty appetizers to whet people’s appetites. Bethany Barsman, chef/owner of Out to Lunch catering in Petaluma, won Best of Show Appetizer in the Harvest Fair Professional Food Competition this year for her Prosciutto Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse, Sliced Figs and La Crema Pinot Noir Sauce.

Want more? Visit BiteClubEats.com.

“This time of year we like to use the fall flavors — the fig and the pinot — and we love goat cheese,” she said. “My general manager came up with the original idea for the prosciutto cup. We had made a dish with crispy prosciutto, and we were all eating it like crazy.”

Along with a few stellar appetizers, Barsman suggested serving some simple Roasted Fall Vegetables tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper plus garlic. “We use sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cremini mushrooms, sweet onions and red peppers,” she said. “I’ve been eating it with a quinoa salad, or you could serve it withe some balsamic grilled chicken breasts.”

For decorating the table, she suggested picking up some gourds and baby pumpkins, clipping some grapevines that are turning colors, then pulling out all your copper and wooden platters for a natural, rustic look. “I love candles,” she said. “You can wind little candle lights through your centerpieces.”

6. Tim Vallery, chef/owner of Peloton Culinary and Catering in Healdsburg, and his Chef de Cuisine Patrick Tafoya, won the Sweepstakes Appetizer Award this year at the Harvest Fair Professional Food Competition for racking up the most points for a wide array of hors d’oeuvres, including a Stuffed Heirloom Tomato BLT and a Cremini Mushroom Bisque with Black Pepper Zinfandel Essence and Herb Oil.

For harvest party hosts, Vallery recommends visiting the local farmers market, picking up some of your favorite ingredients and keeping it simple. “Just get some tomatoes and basil and create an amazing little salad,” he said. “You can get a little bouquet of flowers and some bread, all in one shopping spree.”

7. Madeleine Stewart, chef at Kelly & Young Wine Garden Inn in Cloverdale, was a judge for the Harvest Fair’s appetizer competition. She suggested going to the farmers market or into your own garden for heirloom tomatoes and setting up a serve-yourself BLT bar.

She likes to set out some Costeaux Bakery bread with a toaster, sliced tomatoes, lettuce and some bacon that’s been woven together. (3 slices down, 3 slices across, baked in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes). Some of the bacon can be cooked extra crispy, for those who enjoy the burnt bits.

8. Is a fall brunch before a football game in your playbook? If not, why not? Chef Jim May, who works for Papapietro Perry Winery in Healdsburg, suggests making an Eggs Benedict Buffet. Just pre-poach the eggs, then warm them up at the last minute. Put out ham or bacon, some Hollandaise sauce and sliced English muffins with a toaster. And don’t forget the Bloody Marys!

9. Speaking of cocktails, the evenings are growing cooler as the sun sets earlier. Why not serve something warm and spicy? Stewart suggested serving some mulled wine or hot apple cider with bourbon and caramel sauce. The Italian Negroni is another popular cocktail having its moment right now.

10. Did anyone say dessert? If you run out of time, make a dash for Oliver’s Markets, which was the Sweepstakes Dessert Exhibitor at the Harvest Fair Professional Food Competition. Top winners included their Naked Chocolate Mousse Cake (Best of Show Cake/Pastry) Peanut Butter Chocolate Tart (Best of Show Dessert) and Red Velvet/Chai Mousse Cake (Best of Show Decorated Cake.) But they carry all kinds of sweet treats, including the Mexican-style Volo chocolate bars made by Jeff and Susan Mall of Healdsburg.

Oliver’s also carries a wide variety of local cheeses — such as the Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery’s Goat Milk Cheddar, which won Best of Show Cheese at the Harvest Fair Professional Food competition — along with an array of nuts, dried figs, jams and honeys.


The following two recipes are from the culinary team at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens. Both dishes can be paired with the Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay.

Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, mixed varieties

1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

— Kosher salt, to taste

— Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup micro basil or 1 dozen basil leaves, sliced and torn

2 large balls fresh mozzarel la, cut into wedges

— Flaked sea salt, such as Maldon

Slice the tomatoes in wedges. In a large bowl, add tomatoes, olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and half of the basil. Toss and allow to marinate for 2 minutes. Arrange the sliced tomatoes and mozzarella on a serving plate, showcasing each color. Pour the marinating liquid over the sliced tomatoes and mozzarella. Garnish with remaining basil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.


Grilled Corn with Lemon Verbena Butter

Serves 4

For corn:

4 ears of corn on the cob, husks on

4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

— Kosher salt

12 lemon verbena leaves

2 lemons, halved

1 teaspoon olive oil

— Finishing salt

— For lemon verbena butter:

1/2 cup clarified butter

10 lemon verbena leaves

Preheat the grill to medium heat.

Gently pull back the husks on each ear of corn but do not remove. Remove the silk on each and rinse the ears with water.

Brush the corn with butter and sprinkle with salt. lay three leaves of lemon verbena on each ear. Gently pull the husks back up around each ear of corn. Using kitchen twin, tie the husks at the top of each ear to help keep them sealed. Soak the ears in cold water for 15 minutes.

In a bowl, toss the lemon halves with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Place the ears of corn on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes, rotating them every 5 minutes. Grill lemons, cut-side down, for 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned and slightly tender. Remove corn from grill and allow to cool to the touch. Peel back or remove husks.

For lemon verbena butter: Heat clarified butter to 145 degrees. Remove from heat and add lemon verbena. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve: Serve corn with lemon verbena butter, grilled lemon and finishing salt on the side


The following recipe is from Bethany Barsman, chef/owner of Out to Lunch Catering in Petaluma, and General Manager George Panoski. The recipe requires a mini-cupcake pan for 12.

Prosciutto Cups with Laura Chenel Goat Cheese Mousse and Sliced Figs with La Crema Pinot, Sonoma Honey Reduction and Blackberry-Pinot Compote

Makes 12 small cups

For prosciutto cups:

6 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 24, 1-inch strips

— Vegetable spray for pan

For goat cheese mousse:

5 ounces Laura Chenel Goat Cheese

2 ounces heavy cream, whipped

— Pinch coarse-ground black pepper

1 tablespoon honey

For pinot honey reduction

1 bottle of pinot noir

1/4 cup honey

For Blackberry Pinot Compote:

2 cups blackberries

3/4 cup pinot noir

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

For garnish:

4 small figs, cut

Preheat convection oven to 350-375 degrees. (375-400 in regular oven.) For prosciutto cups: Spray the 12-serving mini cupcake pan with the vegetable spray.

Line each cup with two strips of prosciutto. Bake until crispy in hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes, checking every 5 minutes.

For goat cheese mousse: Mix all ingredients together well. Set aside in the fridge.

For pinot honey reduction: Reduce the win to less than half on medium heat, then add 1/4 cup honey and reduce heat to low, stirring consistently, until thick. Set aside to chill.

For blackberry pinot compote: Over medium heat, combine 1 cup blackberries, wine, sugar and lemon juice in a small pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the blackberries and cook 10 more minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside to chill.

Assembly: Line up the prosciutto cups. Fill a piping bag with goat cheese mousse and pipe mousse into the cups.

Top with a drizzle of pinot honey reduction, then a slice of fig. Top the fig with a dollop of blackberry compote mixture. Arrange on a tray and serve.


The following recipes are from Tim Vallery and Patrick Tafoya of Peloton Culinary and Catering in Healdsburg.

Stuffed Soda Rock Farms Heirloom Tomatoes

Makes 8 servings

For the tomatoes:

8 mixed heirloom tomatoes, medium size (preferably from Soda Rock farms)

— Olive oil, as needed

— Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

For the stuffing:

2 cups sourdough bread, diced 1/4-inch (preferably from Costeaux Bakery)

4 ounces bacon, diced 1/4 inch

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced 1/4 inch

3 garlic cloves, peeled then slivered

8 ounces Yanni’s Loukaniko sausage, diced 1/4 inch

1-2 cups chicken stock

— Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons Italian parsley, picked and minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, picked and minced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the top quarter-inch of the tomatoes to remove the stem and create a flat portion.

For the tomatoes: Using a spoon, carefully remove the inner fruit and seeds from the tomato. Be careful to avoid cracking the tomatoes. Season the tomatoes inside and out with olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the filling: Over medium heat, render the bacon until crispy, stirring occasionally. Strain the bacon and reserve the rendered fat. In the same pan, using some of the bacon fat, add the sausage for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat of the pan and add the onions, then garlic and sweat until translucent. Deglaze the pan with 1 1/2 cups of the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour the chicken stock mixture and most of the rendered bacon, reserving some for garnish, over the bread. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes. The mixture should be moist but not soggy. Add more stock as necessary. Add the herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Generously fill the tomatoes with the stuffing. Roast the stuffed tomatoes in baking pan tented with foil for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees, or until tomatoes are softened and the filling is heated through. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes, or until desired color is achieved.


Cremini Mushroom Bisque

Makes 8 bowls

1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems separated from the caps

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 yellow onions, thinly sliced

1 quart water

1 tablespoons whole balck peppercorns

15 garlic cloves, peeled, minced

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

3 cups heavy whipping cream

— Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For mushroom stock: Toss the stems in half of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the stems on a sheet tray for 15-30 minutes until slightly browned. Reserve any juices. In a 2-quart sauce pot, combine the roasted stems, half of the onion, 3 garlic cloves, water and peppercorns. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain and reserve the mushroom stock for the soup.

For the mushroom soup: Toss the mushroom caps in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the caps for 15-30 minutes, depending on size, until very soft. Reserve any juices. IN a heavy bottomed pot, over medium heat, sweat the remaining onions, garlic and thyme in the butter for 7-10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Stir constantly. Add the roasted mushroom caps, reserved mushroom stock, reserved roasting juices and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves. Add the cream and return the soup to a simmer. Working in small batches, puree the soup in a blender (or with an immersion blender) and season with salt and pepper. For a smoother consistency, strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve before serving with Black Pepper Zinfandel Essence. (see recipe below)


Black Pepper Zinfandel Essence

Makes 1 cup

1 bottle zinfandel (preferably the 2013 Trione Vineyards and Winery)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns, lightly crushed

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1/2 bunch fresh thyme

Combine all ingredients, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce temperature to a simmer. Simmer until wine has reduced to 1 cup. Strain and reserve in the fridge.

Staff writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @dianepete56.

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