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Posts Tagged ‘Local Farming’

PostHeaderIcon Spice Zee, Cherums and Plerries…Hybrid Fruit in California

You ask, what’s a plerrie anyway?  Or you could ask; “What do you get when you cross a plum with a cherry? A hybrid fruit of course!

Hybrid fruit is a potentially lucrative, and delicious, market. Fruit growers are motivated by the lure of inventing a product that commands premium prices, from 50 cents to $1 or more per pound than conventional fruit. The breeders are also aiming for fruit that will have a longer harvest period to be available to shoppers longer. And with the rise in cooking styles that celebrate the ingredients, American consumers are demonstrating a willingness to spend more on food and a desire to hear the stories behind their produce.
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PostHeaderIcon Second Saturday Farm Tour at Farm Fresh To You

Second Saturday Farm Tour; Saturday August 13, 2011


Come see where your food is grown! Farm Fresh to You (www.farmfreshtoyou.com), the organic produce home delivery service, invites the public to its farm in Capay in Yolo County for a farm tour on Saturday, August 13, 2011, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The farm address is: 23800 State Highway 16, Capay, Calif., 95607.

We will be harvesting eggplant or summer squash. $8 for adults, $4 for Farm Fresh to You customers and free for kids 12 and under (no charge for tractor rides with this new fee structure).

No RSVP is necessary. Call the Farm Fresh to You office at 800-796-6009 for more information.

Directions:

From the Bay Area:
Take Interstate 80 East to Interstate 505 North. Go approximately 20 miles; exit on Highway 16/Esparto, turn left at the light. Follow Highway 16 through Esparto and Capay. The farm is a 1/4 mile past the town of Capay on the right. Look for the Capay Organic metal sign. Follow the gravel road that leads to the left and park in the upper or lower parking lot.

From Sacramento:
Take Interstate 5 North through Woodland to the Esparto/Highway 16 exit. Turn left; then travel 3 miles to first stoplight. Turn right onto Highway 16. Follow Highway 16 through Esparto and Capay. The farm is a 1/4 mile past the town of Capay on the right. Look for the Capay Organic metal sign. Follow the gravel road that leads to the left and park in the upper or lower parking lot.

11 am to 3 pm
23800 State Hwy 16, Capay, CA 95607

PostHeaderIcon Tips on Mastering the Melon

Prime melon season in the Sacramento Valley region is upon us and stretches into September.

There are some amazing melons to choose from.  The varieties are bountiful when it comes to heirloom varieties.

Next visit to your local farmers market try to find these various types of melons and ask for a taste before buying!

Watermelon Family:

Crimson Sweet: Crisp, sweet and mild with medium red flesh.
Mickey Lee: Red flesh w/ a clean taste and a slightly grainy texture.
Moon and Stars: Bright to pinkish-red flesh and a sweet-tart flavor.
New Orchid: Pale orange flesh and a rich, honey-like flavor.
Yellow Doll: Yellow flesh, slightly tart.

Muse & Late-Harvest Melon Family:

Ambrosia: Sweet, floral, and deeply flavorful orange flesh.
Canary: Dense green flesh with a sweet flavor that’s musky in a good way, like grapes.
Charentais: Deep orange and juicy with a flowery aroma.
Eel River: Super soft texture, gentle flavor, and elegant perfume; orange flesh.
Ha-Ogen: Chin-drippingly juicy, with slightly savory, tropical flavors and pale green flesh.
Honeyloupe: Hybrid that tastes and looks like a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew; bright orange, sweet and juicy.
Galia: As sweet, juicy and succulent as a summer peach, with soft green flesh.
Green Nutmeg: Tiny, single-serving melon.  A bit spicy, with bright green flesh.
Tuscan: Earthly, clean flavor with hints of cucumber.  Rich, amber-colored flesh.

How to choose a melon:
Give it the once over:  Is it symmetrical?  Check.  No bruises?   Check.  No soggy areas?  Check.
Find the Couche (coosh):  That’s the flat spot where the melon rested on the ground.  If it doesn’t have one, it was harvested too early.
Locate the “full slip” or belly button, where the melon attached to the vine.  It should be smooth and clean, a sign it was ripe enough to detach on its own.
Lift it:  Does it seem heavier than it looks?  Good!  That means its juicy!

MELON TIP: If your melon doesn’t smell strong and fruity, let it sit a day or two to ripen before you cut into it.   Watermelon doesn’t ripen after picking so you need to use the steps above to pick the ripest one right off the crate.

PostHeaderIcon Sacramento River Delta Farm Sampler

Come out and visit your local farms and you will be able to buy some seasonal products from them. Featured farms are Steamboat Acres-Oganic pears, Fra…ncis Ranch- Organic Vegitables, Double M Farms-Free Range eggs, U-pick pears, Giacoma- Natural Honey, eggs, R. Kelley Farms- U-pick vegitables, Maggi’s Farm-pears, Ceccarelle Hood Ranch-pears

The mission of the Sacramento River Delta Grown Agri-Tourism Association is to promote agricultural sustainability and profitability of local farmers in the Sacramento River Delta area through agri-tourism and agri-education by providing public accessibility to local farms while enhancing the public’s awareness of production agriculture and the enjoyment of the rural farming experience.

PostHeaderIcon Alfresco Dinners in Fields a Roving Culinary Adventure!

Every summer, Outstanding in the Field hit the road to bring farm to table cooking back to the source.  Their mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.  Owner Denevan and his crew of cooks, servers and coordinators travel all across America and beyond.  They host alfresco dinners at long tables in the middle of farm lands; whether it be a cornfield, pasture or vineyard, they set up a creative long table, chairs and all place settings.  Uniqueness at its finest!  Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure – literally a restaurant without walls.

Chefs from nearby restaurants in the area they are offering the dinners create dishes from local ingredients.  Just picked berries, organic greens, free-range meats and local wines just to get you started.  Wherever the location, the consistent theme of each dinner is to honor the people whose good work brings nourishment to the table.  It takes a lot of ingredients to make a farm dinner. Some of the more important ingredients are people.  Farmers work hard throughout the growing season, reap the harvest and take it to market for all of us to enjoy. Food artisans and chefs transform the harvest with creativity, respect for ingredients, attention to craft and a desire to give nourishment.  These are the people that make it all possible. These are the wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to work that benefits us all.  They grow, nurture, create, ferment, chop, boil, bake and plant their way into our lives.

The purpose of Outstanding in the Field events is to recognize these contributions to the table.  As the sun sets, guests grab plates, sit down and meet their table-mates.  While consuming their five-course meal with a local wine pairing the guests will be educated on where the food comes from and a chance to chat with new friends until the rooster crows!  This year Outstanding in the Field is putting on dinners in 30 states plus Canada and Europe.  For tickets, visit http://www.outstandinginthefield.com

PostHeaderIcon Spotting Modern Victory Gardens on Downtown Sacramento Food Tours!

There are so many advantages to taking walks in a city’s urban neighborhoods.  Seeing the changes in landscaping; the beauty of the summer plants and flowers, bird baths filled with fresh water for the singing birds and most of all new sprouts in GARDENS.  Front lawn gardens!  As a tour guide walking through the tree lined streets in Sacramento four times a week, I have been noticing GARDENS popping up in homeowners front landscapes of their homes.  Tomato and pepper plants, Swiss chard, beans….you name it,  I am seeing it transpire into a beautiful modern victory garden and it sings to my heart!  Communities are rallying together to overcome the higher food prices creeping up in the stores as well as the higher gas prices to travel to get the fresh produce.  Yes, we have wonderful farmer’s markets surrounding Sacramento’s beauty but there is nothing like growing your own.   It is such a sense of accomplishment for oneself to know they are taking a very old concept dating back into the WWI and WWII era with Victory Gardens and putting a modern spin on it.

A Grassroots Food Revolution – The Modern Victory Garden

Harkening to the self-sufficiency of previous generations who planted victory gardens in their front and back yards as a means to support their nation’s war efforts – today many are undertaking the challenge of declaring independence from corporate food systems, reducing reliance on fossil fuels to bring food to the table, and cultivating a more healthy and fulfilling life.  This grass roots revolution is occurring in today’s modern version of the victory garden.   The “war” is a revolution – and the battleground is right here on the home front.   It is all about taking back responsibility and control of our own food supply.   Whether it is a modest container of tomatoes on a patio deck or a full fledged self-sufficient garden – each effort represents one step towards freeing ourselves from the forces that would keep us dependent on a system of petroleum fueled and factory farmed food.   Growing more of our own food heightens the taste and nutrition of  meals, and along the way we experience the empowerment and fulfillment that comes from learning the basic skills of providing for our families and ourselves

Grow What You Eat – Eat What You Grow!

I think we are already moving toward that place. Urbanites are  showing us that fruit and vegetable gardens can be beautiful while making a statement. The lawn as landscape icon was a declaration that you didn’t have to farm anymore. Perhaps we can replace it with a front-yard veggie garden that declares the age of the lawn over. What a proclamation that would be for thrift, self-sufficiency, horticultural skill, concern for the environment and the world we pass on.

Prince Charles said the other day that “we have to put nature back at the heart of the equation.” I think we should put every gardener at the center of it, too.

PostHeaderIcon The Wisdom of the Radish

The Wisdom of the Radish: And Other Lessons Learned on a Small Farm tells the entertaining, enlightening (and often humorous) tale of our first year of farming vegetables in Sonoma County.  http://wisdomoftheradish.com

The inspiration for the book sprang from desire to share the nitty gritty details of what it’s actually like to try to grow and sell food for a living. We love reading great books like Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but felt like there also needed to be a book out there that told the story of local food from the perspective of the people behind the farmers market stalls, and in particular the perspective of young, inexperienced farmers like ourselves–who will be the future of food in this country. And now that it’s all finished, if we may say so, the book is a great read for anyone who grows food or is interested in knowing where their food comes from–especially the farmers market shoppers among you.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to start farming? Not just as an experimental hobby or an idyllic-daydream, but as a down-to-earth lifestyle change where you put your economic future on the line? If you’re at all like Lynda Hopkins was just a few years ago, you’re a suburbanite who knows little, if anything, about growing produce or taking care of farm animals. Yet Lynda and her then boyfriend (now husband) did what many adventurous young couples have done in recent years — they started farming.

In The Wisdom of the Radish, Lynda shares stories from her first year as a newbie farmer. And let me tell you, it’s far from idyllic.

Her stories aren’t very romantic or glamorized, but they are thought-provoking and honest. Crop failures, unpredictable weather, and animal predators may seem like bad news, but thankfully those aren’t her only stories. A steep learning curve is aided a bit by the advent of the internet. Perhaps the most meaningful story woven throughout the book is her growing acceptance of what it means to belong to the farm — how tending to the plot of land and routinely caring for the animals roots her, grounds her, and transforms her sense of identity.

The greatest plus to this book? Lynda Hopkins’ storytelling. She’s gifted. Really gifted.

PostHeaderIcon Tour De Cluck…..Who’s In For Great Fun?

Back by popular demand, the second annual Tour De Cluck: A Bicycle Chicken Coop Crawl offers the chicken lovers and chicken curious among us another opportunity to visit a variety of our fantastic Davis, CA community’s chicken coops. Saturday, May 14th!  This bicycle paean to poultry will benefit Davis Farm to School’s work to support local food in a healthy school environment.

The coops featured will be presented as a self-guided tour in neighborhood clusters (coop loops!) all with nearby access to Davis’s extensive network of bike paths and bike lanes. Timed to coincide with “May is Bike Month”, our cycling coop visitors will find roving bicycle support and some limited emergency repairs provided by “Davis Bicycles!”, so dust off that bike and ride!

In addition to the egg-cellent Chicken Coop Crawl, The Tour de Cluck will feature presentations by backyard poultry experts to inform your chicken decisions, from breed selection and feeding options to coop design and construction! Also returning, the hugely popular Tour de Cluck Art Exhibit and Silent Auction! Here you will find the chicken and farm-related art and other tantalizing items of your poultry and local agriculture dreams. In addition, it’s never too early to begin practicing your cluck, bawk and cockle-doodle-do for the Kick-off Clucking Exhibition. We suggest you begin forming your flock now.

For questions, comments or further information, contact info@tourdecluck.org or visit www.tourdecluck.org

PostHeaderIcon The Artichoke is Actually an Edible Bud!

Fresh, local artichokes.  Have you noticed in your farmer’s markets and grocery stores……crates of local artichokes are starting to deliciously appear.

Artichokes are a marine climate vegetable and thrive in the cooler coastal climates.

Fun Facts About the Edible Thistle:
1. Artichokes where brought to the United States in the early 1800s by French immigrants settling in Louisiana. They made it to California in the late 1800s.

2. California now grows 100 percent of the artichokes eaten in the United States, and about 80 percent of the artichokes grown in California are grown in Monterey County.

3. Keep your artichokes fresh by sprinkling them with a little water, and stashing them in your refrigerator in an airtight plastic bag. (Artichokes shouldn’t be used as centerpieces if you don’t plan on eating them in the next 24 hours.)

4. Adding a clove of garlic, lemon, and a bay leaf to the water is said to infuse them with more flavor. (Although eating them pure and plain is a good way to really taste the artichoke flavor.)

5. Choose artichokes that feel heavy for it’s size and squeaks when squeezed—this means they are ripe and fresh.

6. A spring crop, the artichoke season is almost at its end, so if you haven’t had a chance to enjoy them (think: appetizer for your next dinner party), then you should do so before summer begins.

FRENCH FRIED ARTICHOKE HEARTS

1 cup fish batter mix
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup beer
2 pounds baby artichokes, prepared as directed and quartered*
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

solid all vegetable shortening for frying, about 1 inch deep Heat shortening to 350 degrees F. Mix together the batter mix, baking powder, water and beer. Dip artichokes in batter mix, then roll in bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese. Fry 2 or 3 minutes or until light golden brown.

ARTICHOKE CRAB DIP

1 c. crab meat
1 c. fresh Parmesan cheese
1 c. Hellman’s real mayonnaise
8 oz. can artichoke hearts, diced
1 sm. can water chestnuts
4 oz. sour cream or yogurt

Bake in shallow dish at 400 degrees until cheese bubbles. Serve hot. Toast – to go with dip: Sliced French bread (sliced finely), toasted; or English muffin, toasted in oven on both sides, cut into squares. Serve dip on toasts.

Join the fun at the upcoming CASTROVILLE ARTICHOKE FESTIVAL

May 21st and 22nd.   Click here for more details

PostHeaderIcon 9 Tips To Use Shopping at Local Farmers Markets

NINE TIPS FOR FARMER  MARKET SHOPPERS

  1. These boots are made for walking: If your work shoes are more fashionable than functional, bring some walking shoes just for market.
  2. Give me a nickel, Brother, can you spare a dime: Smaller bills and exact change are greatly appreciated by the farmers and their employees.
  3. Bless the child that’s got his own: Bringing reusable bags or baskets will help to keep you organized and your environment happy.
  4. To everything — turn, turn, turn: No two markets are just alike. The markets will continue to grow as we approach peak season. New growers arrive as new crops are ready for harvest.
  5. What’s going on: Feel free to ask questions. The growers, sellers, and the market manager will be happy to help.
  6. Respect! (Just a little bit): Please treat the displays with care. Squeezing can do costly damage to many delicate varieties. We are ready to help you pick out the best fruits and veggies.
  7. I see your true colors shining through: Know that good fruit does not have to look perfect on the outside to taste absolutely divine.
  8. You better shop around: It’s always best to take a quick trip around the market to find the best deals and quality.
  9. Getting to know you: Spark a conversation with your fellow customers. They will likely have a new recipe to share with you. Have fun!
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What Folks are Saying!

I booked this tour as a birthday present for my mother and I could not have been more pleased. Bethany was energetic, passionate and knowledgable. Highlights for us were the truffle macaroni and cheese at Morgans, nopales at 524, and the perfect cupcakes (and charming baker) at Sugar and Spice. This was a wonderful way to learn about the unique history of Sacramento and enjoy a beautiful day with a nice group of new friends. Can't wait to come back again and experience one of the new tours that are starting soon. Thanks for an excellent time!
Courtney Thorman, Cincinnati, OH

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