Slow Food Russian River 2012

I was delighted to be able to take part in Slow Food’s fresh food picnic, a celebration of emerging culinary talent, featuring Slow Food’s talented founder Carlo Petrini, Alice Waters, and Nikki Henderson.  The afternoon event was held at the lovely Rancho Mark West, where our hosts, Jim and Betty Doerksen, were kind enough to show us around.  Jim even shared with us his iconic 1907 Ford pick-up truck, which he has owned since high school.  This personal touch and experience added to the rich and community oriented feel of the event.

After checking in, we strolled up to the pond, which was beautifully decorated by food and wine tents all around its rim.  Within these tents, local agriculturalists showcased their finest; their products exemplifying the core essence of Slow Food.  The entire event, from its local community feel, to its hearty and delicious menu, allowed us to experience what Slow Food calls rediscovering the rich varieties and aromas of local cuisine.  The following is the menu of dishes presented at the event:

To Start
Shelling and pole bean salad with nepitella and charred tomatoes
Pickled summer veggies
Pork terrine with mixture of summer squash

To Savor
Smoked chicken with kimchee soy dipping sauce
English muffin patty melt with caramelized onions, cheddar and swiss
Wild nettle cavatelli pasta with foraged mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, fine herbs and pecorino riserva di Calabria

To Linger
Laloo goat’s milk ice cream
Straus organic ice cream
Dulce de leche brownies

In addition to enjoying good food and drink, we heard a talk about the new documentary film Ground Operations.  This film promoted the idea that America needs a million new farmers and that veterans want the job!  There were a variety of vendors at the event, including Claypool Cellars, home of Pachyderm brand fine wines.  SolSolutions, who powered the stage and the excellent display of bands with their trailer mounted Tower of Power, ensured a remarkable show which added to the overall memorable atmosphere.  The selection of bands included Dry Creek Trio, Cahoots and Con Brio.

Later, Alice Waters and I had a chance to relax, chat and catch up over a glass of wonderful La Jota Vineyards 2004 Howell Mountain Cabernet.  I also enjoyed talking to Adam Davioff of New Family Farms, where they are repowering horse powered produce in Sebastopol.  Carlo soon took the microphone and reminded us all of our purpose for gathering and our mission in this new day and age.  He reinforced the impeding significance of the “Slow Food Manifesto” and its importance for a sustainable future where every person, regardless of culture, age, social class, and social location, can share this glorious Creation.  Carlo’s discussion summarized and brought home the overall mission and vision of Slow Food.

Slow Food is an idea, a way of living, a way of eating and organization.  It is part of a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members in over 150 countries, which links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.  Slow Food is guided by three values:

Good: this means enjoying delicious food created with care from healthy plants and animals.  The pleasures of good food can also help to build community and celebrate culture and regional diversity.

Clean: this means nutritious food that is as good for the planet as it is for our bodies.  It is grown and harvested with methods that have a positive impact on our local ecosystems and promotes biodiversity.

Fair: this means food must be accessible to all, regardless of income and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor.

For more information concerning Slow Food, please visit

Carlo Patrini will of course be attending and participating in the Feeding the Plant 2012 Slow Food International Congress Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto, which will be held in Italy on October 25-29.  This would be a wonderful and intriguing event to attend if you have found Slow Food inspiring.  In general, this entire Slow Food event was a huge success and reinforced the core values and goals of Slow Food.

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