Prickly Fruits: A Walnut Creek Tasting

The Ruth Bancroft Garden lays out its cactus-poky orbs and sweet things.

Ruth Bancroft Garden

A FLURRY OF FRUIT FESTIVALS: It isn't difficult to locate an entire weekend devoted to a single fruit in California, which is considered to be one of the hubs for all things juicy and peel-covered and sweet. The only issue is narrowing down which weekends to go to, especially considering that some fruits have multiple large-scale happenings. (Strawberries, we're looking right at you.) Even the apple gets a three month-long spotlight in Oak Glen, while simultaneously enjoying the pie-themed love around San Diego-close Julian. So finding a fruit that's a little off the beaten bowl -- that's like a beaten track, but only in food terminology -- can be a delightful challenge for the foodie forever in search of new flavors. But that challenge is given a helping hand every October when The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek invites the curious, the cuisine-minded, and the cactus lover into the succulent- and local-lovely plant expanse to snack upon the pricklier side of the fruit family.

NOPE... these fruits don't get multiple weekend-long parties around the state, complete with a carnival and live music, but they are in many a yard and store. Granted, they're not in every produce section, but if you taste palm fruit and dragon fruit during your walk, won't you seek it out in your market or online? The better to zest up salads? The pricklies aren't just pretty additions to a salad in a magazine spread. The date for the walk and taste is Saturday, Oct. 18, the cost is $20, and you might sup upon other treats from the garden that aren't so prickly, like pineapple guava. It may be a few years before palm fruit or dragon fruit festivals are popping up in foodie hot spots around the state, but the more love for them grows, the more their prickly profile rises.

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