California Strawberry Farm Tour & Culinary Event
This post was sponsored by the California Strawberry Commission. My travel, accommodations and meals were all covered. I was also compensated for this post.
Last week I had the chance to attend the #12Reasons to Love CA Strawberries – Farm Tour & Culinary Event in Pismo Beach, California. The event was hosted by the California Strawberry Commission.
I arrived Tuesday afternoon at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa and headed down for a happy hour. Here was the view from my room…in LOVE!
I got to catch up with some RD blogger friends. On the right is Robin, who taught me that as a RD you can make blogging a huge part of your career. I interned with Robin 2 years ago and wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
After meeting the other bloggers and/or RD’s, including Nik, Prerna, Toby, Patricia, Tammilee, Jocelyn, Vianney, Jodi, Matt & Naomi, we all took a group photo before sitting down to our first meal together.
Dinner was served buffet style and I went with salmon + salad + a cheesy pasta dish. Dessert was vanilla creme brulee with the most insane brown butter oatmeal cookie.
Then it was off to bed to rest up for our upcoming strawberry filled day. I woke up early the next day, since my body was still on Houston time, and was about to head to the hotel gym when Jenna texted me asking if I wanted to go on a walk. Beach walk > hotel gym exercise.
After our walk I did a quick hotel room circuit (3 rounds of this) before showering, changing and heading to breakfast for delicious food and a presentation on strawberries.
Then we had a presentation on strawberry farming and were able to ask questions. The “Dirty Dozen” list that the Environmental Working Group releases each year concerning pesticide residue on produce was brought up and we were given an interesting perspective.
We’ve all heard that there’s evidence that shows eating more produce is beneficial to our health and may reduce our risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. What I didn’t know was that the majority of research showing the benefits of fruit & vegetable consumption has been done with conventional produce…not organic. One study states that there are likely greater risks (i.e. cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease) associated with people not eating enough produce than the potential risks of eating conventionally-grown produce. I’m against anything that isn’t peer-reviewed and puts unnecessary fear into a person choosing produce at the grocery store. In my opinion, the “dirty dozen” list is based on non-peer-reviewed research and generates unnecessary fear among consumers. What are your thoughts?
There’s a website called SafeFruitsandVeggies.com if you want to read more.
Morale of the story: If your options are to eat conventional produce or no produce…choose conventional produce.
After wrapping up breakfast, we headed to Santa Maria to visit Farmer Tom Jones and his wife Ruth at Providence Farms where they grow both organic and conventional strawberries.
Farmer Tom let us eat as many strawberries as we wanted while telling us about strawberry farming. He said his love for strawberries farming is because it’s a combination of science and art. He also talked about how strawberries are a labor intensive crop and without his workers supporting him the farm wouldn’t survive. That said, Tom likes to keep his workers healthy and happy by offering them benefits and paid sick leave.
I also learned that strawberries are more flavorful at room temperature than ice cold out of the fridge. Our taste buds have a harder time tasting ice cold or really hot things, that’s why a melted ice cream base will taste sweeter than frozen ice cream. The nice people with the California Strawberry Commission recommended letting your strawberries sit out 10 minutes before eating them. These freshly-picked, sun-warmed strawberries were understandably the best strawberries I’ve ever had. I also learned that strawberries have more vitamin C than oranges? Which means I got PLENTY of vitamin C on this trip;)
Quick shout out to Photographer Bob! He was the best photographer! Always willing to take pictures with our iPhones and give photography tips. Such a kind guy.
After we all enjoyed our nice strawberry snack, we headed over to lunch at Presq’uile Winery.
Lunch started with strawberry lemonades and a gorgeous table setting.
Then we joined Chef Alfonso Curti for an interactive cooking demo. Chef showed us how to make panna cotta, which I had never made or eaten before. But life has taught me that if something has heavy cream…I’m gonna LOVE it.
Then lunch was served family-style. First up, burrata salad and stuffed eggplant. Burrata<3<3<3
Then gnocchi and ravioli. The ravioli was spinach + ricotta filled and served in a brown butter sage sauce. It was the best ravioli of my entire life. (Thanks to Prerna for being my model!)
Farmer Luis Chavez has never attended a day of school in his life but now employs over 300 people on nearly 300 acres. Farmer Luis let us all pick a clamshell worth of strawberries before we headed back to the resort.
We then had 3 hours of free time so I hit the beach for an afternoon walk.
Hello, Mr. Crab.
While walking along I saw a guy setting up his fishing pole so I sat and watched for awhile. My dad is a big fisherman so every time I see someone fishing it makes me wish I was with him.
Before I knew it the guy reeled in a shark! It was only about 2 1/2 ft long but ahhhyikes. I love the ocean, but hate swimming in it because of that reason right there. It is on my bucket list to catch a fish that weighs more than me one day. I wanna be strapped into a seat reeling a fishing in. Life goals.
Then I headed back to the room to hang out with Jenna and clean up before dinner.
Dinner started with a Summer Breeze, which had rum, strawberry puree, simple syrup, and pineapple juice. Tammilee said she could taste egg whites in it too. It was so refreshing after a long beach walk.
Then dinner was salmon with a strawberry salsa + pineapple rice + salad + roasted bell peppers. Eating seafood with an ocean view can’t be beat.
Desserts looked delicious (as dessert tends to always looks), but I was full from dinner and the cocktail so I passed.
The next day I grabbed a quick breakfast before heading to the airport to fly home. My love for California is very much alive. Can’t wait to be back in the gorgeous state soon!
Thanks to the California Strawberry Commission for such a fabulous trip!