This year was Kern County's first Nut Festival. Since Kern County grows a lot of different nuts. In particular: walnuts, almonds and pistachios. The festival was held down at the Kern County Museum in Bakersfield in the middle of the pioneer town set up at the museum. And various booths were set up around the roads and parks in the area.
I was able to go for free, since I was one of the finalists in the Nutty Food recipe contest. You were required to use one of the Kern County nuts in your recipe. There were two categories one for desserts and one for entrées. My entry was for an entrée, Pumpkin Gnocchi with Walnut Gorgonzola Sauce. One of the first things I learned after I entered was that not that many people know what gnocchi are.
Just in case you, gentle reader, are one of these that don't, but are too polite to ask, I'll tell you that gnocchi are a kind of Italian dumpling made, usually with potato, flour and egg. Mine were just made with pumpkin instead of potato. Most people seem to use a silent “g” in the “gn” though I've head at least one pronunciation that gets both letters in.
So I entered the contest and sent them a picture of the stuff. And I was selected as a finalist. It was a bit of a surprise, but most people submitted desserts so the entrée category wasn't quite as crowded. And the next thing I know is that I'm waiting until two Fridays before the festival to take my dish down to Urner's to be on the KBFX morning news show with most of the other finalists. And of course they had technical issues, so we call got just a few moments of screen time. And to anyone who can track down the footage somewhere on the Internet you will discover that I didn't faint or in any other way embarrass myself. (Hooray!)
|Yep, I was a Nutty Finalist.|
So then I just had to wait until the day of the Nut Festival (June 15th) and do it again for the official Judges. The only problem I had, was, well two problems, getting my dish there and finishing it at just the right time so it would be its best, and as a related issue, not being killed by the Bakersfield heat.
Well they did have a demonstration kitchen for us to use and using two burners on the electric stove, I got the dish done and sat out for the judges to look at with just a couple minutes to spare. Then the judging was delayed while something was waited for and my gnocchi didn't take well to the delay. Oh well. Next year if I do it again I'll pick a less fragile dish.
So, did I win? No, thanks for reminding me. But the dessert category was won by Charlie from Tehachapi (sorry, my memory has failed me for her last name) for her Triple Nut Baklava, which I was able to try, and I do have to say it was very good.
As for the heat in Bakersfield, I did survive, but it was a very close call. I was very glad to get back up to Tehachapi. Though I did bring back the apron they gave to all the finalists. So now I can proudly proclaim that “I'm a Nutty Finalist.”