Crackin' Good Time: California Nut Festival

The Chico-based bash butters up buffs looking for their nutty favorites.

HOW DO YOU GET TO THE NUT, as in the nutmeat, as in the flavorful center that's sitting just beyond that tempting shell? You might crack it, or split it, or pull one half off, then the other, or maybe you simply draw the nutmeat out, deftly, a skill that takes time and practice. Nuts don't come in a single flavor, in short, and that goes for their actual flavors, as well as their shells, how we extract them from those shells, and what we ultimately use the nuts for, before devouring them. Do we turn them into a creamy, toast-ready butter? Do we use them for a savory dish or as a salad topper? Or will we fold our favorite nuts into a bowl of cookie batter? The many avenues taken by a cook who is nutty over nuts are plentiful and piquant. If you're that person, then you surely know that the Golden State boasts its own day devoted totally to the pleasures, gifts, and many uses of nuts, specifically those nuts grown around the North Valley area, so, yeah, you're headed to...

CHICO, the longtime home of the springtime California Nut Festival. That's where you'll indulge in a host of chewy gems, from almonds to walnuts to pistachios to chestnuts and pecans, mmm, mmm, yum. Count on cooking presentations of the nutliest sort to rule the Saturday, April 21 event, and an art show, and wine tastes, and beer samples, and, oh yeahhhh, "plentiful gourmet food offerings" (we had to make "yeah" extra long there to drive home the fact that "plentiful gourmet food offerings" is a pleasing prospect). A ticket to all of this sheer nuttiness is $30, while children ages 7 to 12 may enter for ten dollars (and kids under 6 are admitted for free). The event is not only located at historic Patrick Ranch Museum, but it also helps the important site by raising money that helps the institution to "... preserve and interpret agricultural history of the Sacramento Valley."

ONE QUESTION LINGERS: Are you eating a few spoonfuls of peanut butter that morning, before you go to the fest, or throwing some walnuts in your morning pancakes? Probably, right? For just because you're attending the California Nut Festival doesn't mean you won't nosh on nuts before and after. And, of course, during.

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