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In autumn, the cool, foggy mornings and the golden light of evening beckon us to slow down, lower the flame and pull out the slow cooker, where warm spices can gradually marry with braised meats and vegetables.For those who love to cook, the bittersweet arrival...

Fall Feast: Eat the local harvest at Farm Trails benefit

In autumn, the cool, foggy mornings and the golden light of evening beckon us to slow down, lower the flame and pull out the slow cooker, where warm spices can gradually marry with braised meats and vegetables.For those who love to cook, the bittersweet arrival...

Fall Feast: Eat the local harvest at Farm Trails benefit

In autumn, the cool, foggy mornings and the golden light of evening beckon us to slow down, lower the flame and pull out the slow cooker, where warm spices can gradually marry with braised meats and vegetables.

For those who love to cook, the bittersweet arrival of autumn inevitably leads to a harvest feast. The shoulder season delivers an embarrassment of riches, from late-summer peppers and tomatoes to wintry pumpkins and carrots.

This Saturday, Oct. 29, the chefs at Rocker Oysterfeller’s in Valley Ford will celebrate Sonoma County’s harvest season with a fundraising Fall Feast hosted by Sonoma County Farm Trails to benefit agricultural education and the future of food. Guests will not only taste local apples and farro but meet the producers in person at the rustic yet elegant Tresch Barn at Olympia’s Valley Estate in west Petaluma.

“The Tresch family are sixth-generation farmers that have an heirloom apple orchard and an organic dairy,” said Carmen Snyder, executive director of Farm Trails. “It’s a relatively new event, and we envision it as every other year ... as a celebration of the fall harvest and our local bounty.”

The evening kicks off with a “Meet Your Farmer” reception and a family-style, farm-to-table dinner in the barn, then continues with a live auction of 4-H heritage turkeys and other tasty lots, followed by dancing to live music by Cahoots. Nick Papadapoulos from Crop Mobster will serve as the auctioneer.

“We are funding ag education, from sprout to young farmers,” Snyder said. “That means kindergarten all the way up to FFA and 4-H students in high school, plus scholarships for college-age kids and young farmers.”

The feast itself draws upon local products that have put Sonoma County on the map as foodie heaven, from whole lambs raised by Joe Pozzi of Pozzi Ranch to the buffalo farmstead gelato made by Double 8 Dairy. All of the ingredients are sourced from Farm Trails members, including lots of crisp, juicy apples from Olympia’s Valley Orchard.

“We will use whatever is coming out of the immediate watershed surrounding the farm,” said Brandon Guenther, chef/owner of Rocker Oysterfeller’s and Firefly Catering, who created the menu with the help of his co-executive chef, Matt Alias.

For appetizers, the chefs will be grilling up polenta cakes made with heirloom polenta. The toppings include a variety of local products, from Laguna Farm pesto and Valley Ford Cheese Co.’s Estero Gold Reserve to Twisted Horn Ranch Pulled Pork created by Estero Cafe of Valley Ford.

Dinner guests will be greeted by small cups of pumpkin and apple soup, garnished with a diced apple and toasted cumin seeds, along with polenta cakes topped with heritage turkey picadillo.

“People can taste the heritage turkey and be inspired to purchase their Thanksgiving turkey from the kids,” Snyder said.

The dinner menu itself could be easily duplicated by home cooks who want to throw their own harvest party for friends and family.

“It draws upon the farm-to-fork, California style,” Guenther said. “It’s pretty Mediterannean, with a nod to the Mexican .... Dia de los Muertos is right around the corner.”

As a salad course, consider sourcing some local chicories and topping them with fresh apples and toasted walnuts. At the dinner, the salad will also include the Valley Ford Cheese Co.’s Gorgonzola Dolce, which is so new that it’s not available to the public yet.

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