Prestigious nuts

Illustration by Mark Stivers

When warmth hits Sacramento in the spring, I break out my bike and ride to the paper’s Del Paso Heights (sorry, I mean Woodlake …) office. Entering the American River Bike Trail near C and 20th streets, to my right is the railroad and to my left is the Blue Diamond Growers plant and headquarters. Little did I know as I peddled past each day, the Blue Diamond folks were devising some delicious nut plans.

Last month, Blue Diamond released a line of almonds geared less toward casual snacking and more toward garden-party charcuterie boards. Flavors like Bold Sriracha and Habanero BBQ, which are packaged in cans, are by now pretty recognizble on store shelves. These new nuts have a different look—they’re packaged in dark gray resealable bags with pairing suggestions on the back.

The new line, officially Blue Diamond Crafted Gourmet Almonds, was showcased during a pairing event in early April at Canon in East Sacramento. Chef Brad Cecchi and blogger Alicia Lund arranged a grazing table with fruits, meats, cheeses and the nuts. Guests enjoyed a tour o’ nuts as each flavor (Pink Himalayan Salt; Black Truffle; Rosemary and Sea Salt; and Garlic, Herb and Olive Oil) was paired with wines from a rosé to chianti.

My personal favorite is the Garlic, Herb and Olive Oil. Eric Tinson, senior brand manager at Blue Diamond, tends to agree with my taste. But it’s a tougher choice for him; he’s put his heart in those nuts.

“They’re all my kids so I love them all,” Tinson joked.

The new line is available in most major grocery stores like Safeway and Raley’s, and on Blue Diamond’s website at about $8 for a 10-ounce bag. As distribution expands, Tinson said, he’s excited to see the almonds become a part of special occasions.

“[But] If you want to snack on these every day, please do,” he added.

So, I have been. Everyone who attended the Canon event went home with a 5-ounce bag of each flavor. I shared them with coworkers, who took them in with [varying levels of class and delicacy]. One writer was overwhelmed by the strong flavor after eating several of the truffle almonds at once. He’s since learned that it can be unwise to shovel handfuls of truffle-flavored anything in your mouth.

Later in the week, the nuts joined me for a Sac News & Review softball game, where dusty paws scooped them out of the sandwich bag they’d been transferred to. The team loved the almonds, but I’m sad to say they did not fuel a winning game.

Stop by the Blue Diamond Nut & Gift Shop to give them a try and if you like what you taste, pick up a bag for a wedding reception … or a Thursday night softball game.