Crunch-tacular: California Nut Festival

Do walnuts make you cheer? Are pistachios your go-to gobble? Get ready to chomp in Chico.

YOU, A BOWL FULL OF SHELLS, JOY: We're not making the claim that you're the sort of party goer who makes a beeline for the bowl of pistachios on the host's coffee table the instant you enter the front door. But, let's be honest: Nut lovers, all of us, will get to that bowl eventually, and probably sooner than later. Chips are fabulous, and pretzels are perfection, but if someone is a lifelong almond aficionado, there's no discussion: That's where they can be found as the evening wears on, alongside the platter of almond-awesome delights. Whether it is the crunch, the protein, the flavor, or that full feeling that famously comes with economical nut consumption, the in-shell wonders deliver on several fronts. It so happens that the Golden State is home to several types of nuttery, in the growing and prepping and packaging department, and a decade-long festival celebrates this fact each spring. It's...

THE CALIFORNIA NUT FESTIVAL, and it blooms right in the middle of April. That date for 2016 is Saturday, April 16, and a veritable mixed nuts jar of goodness is scheduled for the day. Patrick Ranch Museum is the place, and a trio of chefs will be on the grounds to demonstrate how to cook with these crunchy superstars (think dishes like Olive Oil Walnut Roulade, Papa a la Huancaina, and more). Vendors like Lucero Olive Oil, Chico Honey Co., and a host of places that make goods that are either good on their own, or with nuts alongside, will sell their wares. Will their be goodly grub for sale, too, and beverage tastings of a beer/wine nature? This is Chico, a center for the sippable arts. (Gourmet coffee, too, will make the scene.) And the opportunity to "learn about nuts" and "learn about agriculture" will give the spring soiree a fact-filled bent, with Harrison's California Chestnuts, All About Walnuts, and several other growers and bee-tenders and gardeners present and accounted for. Are you already dreaming of the next party you attend, and how you may just kind of quietly assume a spot near the sugared pecan bowl? We know you probably have a nut butter nearer at hand, in the fridge right now. Go dig in, dreamer. 

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