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Earth Day is so much more than recycling bottles 

click to enlarge SMELL THE GREEN:  Spring asparagus, harvested at the peak of the season, is among the many farm fresh foods served at the Earth Day Food & Wine Festival. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE VINEYARD TEAM
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE VINEYARD TEAM
  • SMELL THE GREEN: Spring asparagus, harvested at the peak of the season, is among the many farm fresh foods served at the Earth Day Food & Wine Festival.

I like to think of myself as green. I recycle constantly and conserve water, but I know I could do so much more. So can you. That’s why we greens appreciate the annual Earth Day Food & Wine Festival that will soon celebrate its eighth year in SLO County on Saturday, April 12. No matter what you do there, you can’t help but be a green advocate. Yes, even those who are too lame to care about taking care of this great planet will love the Earth Day celebration for its excellent choices in contemporary foods from our finest restaurants, great wines, and live music.

This is the first year the grand tasting will be in its new venue in the beautiful “Beaverstock” meadow at Castoro Cellars on Highway 46 West. More than 200 local growers, winemakers, and chefs join hands to make this one of the most delicious and entertaining tasting events you’ve ever attended. As they like to say on the website, “For a bunch of farmers dedicated to sustainability and nurturing the earth, we know how to throw one heck of a party! 

Think of it this way, you buy a ticket and you’re privy to all of this delicious food and wine, and dancing to some great live music by the Damon Castillo Band. Meanwhile, your money is helping fund farmworker education and sustainable agriculture research by the Vineyard Team, which in turn promotes farms, wineries, and restaurants that are dedicated to sustainability. By attending this amazing festival, you’ll learn exactly what farmers devote themselves to nurturing the earth so you can continue to support them throughout the year.

The Vineyard Team’s executive director, Kris Beal who started this festival locally, noted their success story over the past seven years in her latest spring newsletter.

click to enlarge ALL SMILES:  Everyone, from the participants to the guests, are all smiles at the very green Earth Day Food & Wine Festival. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE VINEYARD TEAM
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE VINEYARD TEAM
  • ALL SMILES: Everyone, from the participants to the guests, are all smiles at the very green Earth Day Food & Wine Festival.

“The success of this event has leapfrogged well beyond our wildest dreams, especially in regards to the positive community response we receive each year from festival participants and attendees. It’s a lot of work putting on such a great party, but it’s extremely rewarding to be able to applaud all the farmers, ranchers, winemakers, and chefs who really walk the walk in terms of sustainability.” Here’s a stat to impress you, the weekend-long festival is committed to zero waste and has typically generated less than two pounds of waste for more than 1,400 guests. Yet they’re not the only ones committed to being green, the new winery venue is another major supporter that lets little go to waste.

The Udsen family has been promoting environmental responsibility in their farming and winemaking at Castoro Cellars throughout their 30-year history in Paso Robles. Recycling is strongly encouraged by the owners and their staff. They provide containers for glass, cardboard, plastics, and metals. They also strongly encourage the use of both sides of a sheet of paper before disposing of it in the proper container. These are choices everyone should make on a daily basis. All of the concerts held at Castoro Cellars are run completely on solar power. Not only is it off the grid, it’s cleaner power that doesn’t cause interference or electronic buzzing while the band performs.

Now that you know the businesses you are supporting and the great examples they present to the public, let’s take a look at the stars that will be showcased during the main event on Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m. for general admission.

But first the important ticket information: If you act fast, you can still order tickets online at earthdayfoodandwine.com or by calling 466-2288, for only $75 per person, otherwise tickets will be $85 each at the gate. Designated drivers and children older than 10 can buy tickets at only $40. Although small children will be welcomed free, your furry pets will not be, so please leave them in the comfort of your home. Parking costs $25 per vehicle but it’s limited to very few cars. There are luxury shuttles from three locations, Paso Robles, Atascadero, and SLO, so be sure to check it out on the Earth Day Food and Wine Festival website in advance.

Among some of my top faves in SLO County is chef Chris Kobayashi, whose family owns Artisan in Paso Robles, who will team up with the awesome Windrose Farm from Paso Robles and Charter Oak Meats from Atascadero. You can count on delicious treats at their table. Thomas Hill Organics will pair some exciting dishes to complement Castoro Cellars’ array of fine white and red wines.

Fig Good Food of Atascadero is making herbed quinoa and warm spinach bowl with asiago cheese with Claiborne & Churchill’s excellent Alsatian style riesling and gewürztraminer, maybe even some of their pinot noir. That’s not the only superb vegetarian dish here.

Jeffrey’s Catering of Paso Robles is making grilled vegetable Israeli couscous with Niner Estate’s olive oil, plus coriander crusted pork tenderloin with bing cherry coulis, perfectly paired for Niner’s chardonnay and pinot noir. An up-and-coming winery, Burbank Ranch Winery & Bistro in downtown Paso Robles, will feature their own chef preparing duck confit spring rolls with a pear and fig sauce paired with their wines.

Don’t forget this important note: Bring refillable water bottles but leave those horrid plastic bottles behind. Castoro Cellars eliminated plastic bottle sales in 2005, preferring to offer a safe, free alternative for visitors. And this festival was the first to provide water stations where you can refill a stainless steel bottle or simply use your wine glass to drink water, reducing a major source of waste. Join me for a great day at Castoro Cellars in celebration of the ultimate green event, the Earth Day Food & Wine Festival. 

 

Contact Cuisine columnist Kathy Marcks Hardesty at khardesty@newtimesslo.com.

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