Fork full of fall
Savor the tastes of the season with SN&R’s fall food festival guide
It’s been settled: Sacramento is the Farm-to-Fork Capital—of the universe. At least, that’s what the branding-powers-that-be would have us believe. It’s true that our taste buds are spoiled rotten with the region’s fresh bounty. It’s enjoyed in the form of melons and berries sold alongside the valley’s highways; or in a simple and delicious date jam offered at the farmers market each Sunday morning; and now it’s experienced at new homegrown food celebrations like last month’s Farm-to-Fork Festival on Capitol Mall.
But even before Sacramento slapped “Welcome to America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” up on the old water tower a few years back, the region has been rich with food festivals that introduce eaters to diverse cuisines. With that in mind, here’s a sampling of the finest food fests and competitions to get your October grub on.
Filipino Fork / October 4
The Philippine National Day Association hosts this celebration of Filipino cuisine with tickets ranging from $75-$100. This food event will feature 12 tasting stations each with a different chef presenting a Filipino-inspired dish. Attendees will get unlimited tastings of well-known bites like lumpia as well as lesser-known treats like ube-filled (purple yam) desserts.
Megan Sapigao, chairperson for Filipino Fork and board member with PNDA, said proceeds will go to the nonprofit’s Outstanding Filipino Youth Awards Scholarship, an award she received while attending college. But the focus of the evening is on the chefs. Last year’s Filipino Fork was a sit-down event, but Sapigao hopes the new chef-station format will encourage attendees to mingle.
“There’s so much to be told about Filipinos in the valley, and there’s no better way to tell it than through our food,” Sapigao said. California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street, pnda-sac.org.
Sacramento Turn Verein Oktoberfest / October 12-13
What makes an Oktoberfest truly authentic?
“The beer, I suppose,” said Emily Via, vice president of the Sacramento Turn Verein. For five decades, the German heritage cultural center has hosted this weekend of beers, brats and authentic German food, along with plenty of entertainment and music. With $5-$40 ticket prices, this Oktoberfest party acts as a fundraiser to keep the center’s historic J Street building maintained. Not only is this a chance to get to know the center, but attendees will also get to try less commonly known dishes, like leberkäse, which Via describes as a “bologna-ish, meatloaf-ish meat … poured in a loaf pan and baked.”
Not that Via would disparage a brat, but she admits you can get those anywhere. Leberkäse is a dish that may not cross your path too often, so she suggests trying it. And what’s the best drink to pair with it? Same answer as above:
“Oh boy, well, beer.”
Sacramento Turn Verein, 3349 J Street, sacramentoturnverein.com.
Gumbo & Jambalaya Music Festival / October 14
Marvel White, the organizer behind this inaugural event, is bringing the spirit of Louisiana to Sacramento. When her family relocated from Baton Rouge, they brought Creole-inspired flavors along with them. Now, she’s invited chefs to break out their best gumbo and jambalaya recipes for the masses—with tickets just $5.
“Everybody has their own little twist,” White said.
The secret to outstanding gumbo?
“Juanita would say it’s all in the roux,” White said with a laugh. Juanita is her mother, who makes a pot of seafood gumbo each Christmas Eve for her family.
Attendees will vote for their favorite gumbo and jambalaya, and so will local judges, including Juanita.
This day would be missing the Southern spirit without music. In addition to gumbo and jambalaya tastings, musicians like West Bound Groove, Da’Jet, Levi Mozes and Queen Hollywood will perform.
And what may be the most adorably named pageant, Little Miss Beignet, will be crowned on stage during the event. Contestants must enter before the event—and no—grown women are not invited to enter (much to this aspiring Beignet’s dismay).
Miller Regional Park, 2701 Marina View Drive.
Fifth Alarm Chili Cook Off / October 20
Is it even fall if you haven’t had a bowl of homemade chili? Check that dish off your seasonal list as you enjoy your first, second and third bowl of chili during this chili cook-off. For the cost of one ticket ($15-$30), chili-lovers will get unlimited tastes of 12 types of chili made from scratch by participating teams. There will also be beer and wine, nonalcoholic drinks and an ice cream parlor.
Proceeds will benefit the Firefighters Burn Institute, which offers a range of free programs for burn victims of all ages. Attendees will get to vote for their favorite chili, so bring an appetite and discerning taste buds. California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street, ffburn.org.
Festivals not to miss
• Greek Festival, October 5-7: Holy baklava, Batman! This popular event is stacked with tasty pastries, lamb pops, gyros and larger dinner specials. It’s great for those who already love Greek food or for those who want to sample the cuisine for the first time. 616 Alhambra Boulevard, sacramentogreekfestival.com.
• Loomis Eggplant Festival, October 6: Finally, a wholesome reason to use that eggplant emoji. Invite your bestie up to Placer County for a day of eats and art all dedicated to the oblong veggie. 5775 Horsehoe Bar Road in Loomis, loomischamber.com/eggplant-festival.
• Russian Festival, October 14: Traditional cuisine including Russian barbecue, pastries, soup and award-winning wine is a highlight of this festival. Along with a full belly, you can also leave with Russian trinkets or literature. Holy Ascension Church, 714 13th Street.
• Machado Orchards Apple Festival, October 20: Enjoy food sampling, music, catch landscape artists recreating orchard scenes and take home apples straight from the source. 100 Apple Lane in Auburn, placergrown.org/machado-orchards.